Doomed to Divorce?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I am a married mother of three beautiful children. My husband & I have been together since we were 16 years old, 18 years. Our relationship has always been pretty rocky. Although I was never sure why. My husband is the best father I have ever seen, both emotionally & financially. He is also a very loving husband, attentive, appreciative, & affectionate. So what’s the problem, right? I have separated from him a couple of times and had relationships with other men, not a secret, but we always end up back together. I would always regret leaving & could never understand why I was always stirring things up to the point of separating.

After some recent self reflection & many months spent trying to figure out the problem, I came to realize the issue was sexual. I am not sexually fulfilled in any way. My husband is very sexually inexperienced, having only two partners including myself. Sex is usually under three minutes and size is somewhat of an issue. I have gently tried to bring some of these things up, but he gets extremely offended & brushes it off. He has sought medical help for the PE, to no avail. Even with all the good I just can’t seem to get past this. I love my husband very much, but I can’t see myself living like this much longer. Can this be fixed or is it inevitable we will split up?

A. Within relationships, it is not unusual for there to be a mismatch of sexual desire, interest and/or satisfaction. The key to correcting these issues is to find a compromise that suits and satisfies both of you.

It would be extremely premature and a monumental mistake to think that the only way to solve this problem is to separate. Separation would likely be a great loss to you and your children, especially from a man who you describe as “the best father I have ever seen, both emotionally and financially. He is also a very loving husband, attentive, appreciative, and affectionate.” Sex can be an important part of a relationship but the qualities you describe your husband as possessing are far more essential to a healthy and happy marriage. Many women would say that you are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful husband and father for your children.

To this point, you said that you have only “gently” hinted at this issue with him. You’re ready to end the relationship but you have barely spoken to him about it. You need to be more direct with him about how much of a problem this is for you. He needs to know. The fact that you have hardly mentioned this issue to him indicates that there may be a serious lack of communication in the relationship, at least with regard to this issue.

You should strongly consider marriage counseling. This could include you and your husband going to counseling together as a couple or separately for individual counseling with both of you seeing the same therapist (I would recommend the latter). Through marriage counseling you may find that this problem can be resolved fairly easily. A therapist can coach you on how to speak to your husband about this issue, teach you more effective ways to communicate and may help your husband overcome any issues he is facing regarding sex and intimacy.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jun 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Doomed to Divorce?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/09/doomed-to-divorce/