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I Am Living in a Sexless Marriage

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From the U.S.: I am about 6.5 months pregnant, and since I have gotten pregnant my husband has refused sex all but one time early on. I am very frustrated. He says it is because it is weird to think about with the baby, but I know that is not the real issue because we have always struggled. Sometimes he will admit that he has an issue — or we have an issue. But after he admits that, he refuses to discuss solutions because he is too embarrassed to make any steps to change it. (I believe.)

He has always struggled. When we were dating he said he didn’t want to be sexually intimate (we were a few times) because he thought it was sinful before marriage. When we married, the sex still wasn’t very good, and he said it was because I nagged too much or we fought too much. When we started trying for a baby, he said it was because I was putting too much pressure on him.

Obviously, we did successfully get pregnant eventually, though it took a long time. At the time, I legitimately thought he was struggling BECAUSE of how hard I was pressuring him for a baby, but in hindsight I think he just wanted a baby badly as well, and that was the only reason we had the sex we did. (We had sex 1-3 times a month, right around when I ovulated, though he wasn’t always successful in achieving ejaculation.)

I have tried to have discussions with him about this, but he always tries to shut down the discussion. Sometimes he says “well do you want a divorce?” which used to make me feel sorry for him but now makes me angry, because it is unfair and untrue, just as it is unfair and untrue that it is my pregnancy, or my nagging, or any other factor which is causing this.

That said, I want to make it very clear that I DO NOT want a divorce. Beyond the fact that it would place me in a very bad place financially, he is a good, hard-working, kind-hearted, affectionate man and I am in love with him. I see the way he interacts with the dog and can imagine what a good father he will be. He is excited about the baby and involved in the planning process.

Is there anything I can do? I have tied hard to talk to him to no avail. If it comes down to it, I will stay in the marriage, even if I never get sex. I sometimes think it was his highly conservative upbringing which causes this, though he rejects that idea. Do you have any advice?

I Am Living in a Sexless Marriage

Answered by on -

A.

A positive sex life is an important part of communicating love and tenderness and commitment in a marriage. You are probably correct that the various reasons your husband has had for avoiding sex aren’t the real problem. And you may be right that he is having a difficult time overcoming the teachings of his upbringing. When people have been repeatedly told that sex is sinful and should be avoided before marriage, it’s difficult for some people to flip a switch on their wedding day and suddenly have uninhibited joyful sex.

The best thing you can do is be both sympathetic to his difficulties and compassionate toward yourself. You already know that you won’t get anywhere nagging or scolding. But perhaps he will hear you if you talk about how much you just want the two of you to be close on all levels: spiritual, emotional and physical. I hope he will consider some couples counseling to help the two of you find ways to help him relax into being a mature and sexual partner. He sounds like a jewel in every other way and certainly worth the effort.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Am Living in a Sexless Marriage

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Am Living in a Sexless Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/10/02/i-am-living-in-a-sexless-marriage/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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