When To Split

The hardest part of this blog is here, the question about when a man can feel he has “done enough” and starts thinking about divorce.

“Jamesash” wrote in the comments on the “calculator” post:

Something different I have been wondering about – the title of this sub-site/blog (which is being really helpful and insightful for me) is “Why your wife won’t have sex with you”. The subtext here is that this is the man’s problem. To paraphrase JG – “if you want to change the sexual dynamic in your relationship, it is up to you to make the changes that will make your wife feel more amorous” (in fact, JG never used these words, but I beleive the intent expressed is close to what she has written).

As the blog is addressed to men, that’s pretty much the only attitude I can take. Because, as I have said over and over again, I’m trying to give guys a sense that there is something they can do. If I tell a guy he has to wait on his wife’s decision to straighten up and fly right, that their sexual impasse is entirely her problem, I’m essentially telling him he’s POWERLESS. That’s emasculating, and it’s the absolute worst thing a man who wants to recover sexual confidence and love can hear.

However, sometimes things are hopeless. Jamesash continues:

So my question is this – after 10 sexless years, I have reached the point where most of the feeling I have left for my wife is anger and resentment. No doubt I could be more sensitive and thoughtful in many ways but after 10+ years of trying I am not willing to try any more. So what happens next? Separation seems likely, although strangely (to me) I do not think my wife wants this.

I’m sure she doesn’t. There are a lot of merely practical reasons why a breakup now is not in her — or your — best interests. Setting up two separate households out of assets and income that are presently sustaining only one is an extremely expensive business, one which will essentially demolish you both financially, even leaving aside the cost of the divorce itself.

And although children can adjust to any divorce which is absolutely necessary (and they will certainly be better off if there is any question of physical danger), divorce is a major challenge to their sense of security, especially at younger ages. It could set them back in their emotional development. Some children are more sensitive than others to the loss of their father’s presence on a daily basis. I’d like to say girls are more at risk (because I’ve come to believe that losing my father to divorce had something to do with my sexual insecurities later in life), but it really depends on the individual child. Older children may be less fundamentally vulnerable, but the teen years are the ones in which a child often needs a father desperately.

But in any case divorce will loosen/weaken children’s relationships with their non-custodial parent, and even in these days of the Men’s Rights Movement, that still tends to be the father. And children’s relationships with the custodial parent change, too, when there are fewer options for a kid to resort to for interaction, advice or nurturance. Trying to be both parents to a kid by yourself is a rough emotional (and practical!) business, and excesses and lapses of varying intensity are inevitable. Major alterations to both parents’ relationships with their kids are part of the emotional sacrifices you make in divorce, and the sacrifice of your previous relationship with your kids often looms larger for a separated parent over time. Be sure you take that into account.

But, in the end, pure practicality and “considering the children” are not the only bases on which to make the divorce decision. Believe me, Jamesash, your wife knows within the height of a raised eyebrow what your feelings are toward her. She knows, although perhaps only half-consciously sometimes, that they are uniformly negative. So it’s unlikely that she can even think about opening herself to you and giving you pleasure now, because — let’s be absolutely frank — she realizes that you hate her. For her, sex with you these days would not only be a physical chore, but an admission that your ugly feelings toward her were somehow acceptable or right. Making love would require her to surrender herself to your opinion, to accept your dismal view of her as a human being. As long as she can continue to believe that it’s okay to live her life feeling Unloved if she doesn’t actually have to have sex with a person who despises her, she’ll refuse.

Jamesash, your situation is equally sad. You are living with a daily sense of failure, anger and helplessness. You’re feeling Unloved, too. So there is the possibility that both of you would be happier enough apart that the fury, emotional disruption and horrendous expense of divorce could be worth it. Because sometimes it is simply impossible to change a negative emotional spiral like the one you’re in once it gets underway. You continue:

My attitude has become “if she wants to keep this marriage together, she better start thinking about how to make me happy”. This would be a pretty alien concept for her – she tends to think she is always in the right and also has a ‘shoot first ask questions later’ approach to our relationship when it comes to discusions, sometimes apologizing days later for angry statements after the damage is done.

There are few people in the world who don’t more-or-less automatically assume that what they want and what they think is right and good, and that those who defy or disagree with them are wrong and bad. People without this basic confidence in their own judgment and needs are ordinarily very sick indeed. And as I’ve pointed out before, a pattern of blow-up/hurtfulness followed by a days-later apology is not unusual even in the best marriages. But, Jamesash, what you perceive as your wife’s radical personal protectiveness (“I’m always right” and that classic “the best defense is a good offense” thing) is clear evidence that she sees you as The Enemy.

I’m guessing this whole mess started fairly early in your marriage, when she somehow came to believe that there was no other way to deal with you than by defending herself, maintaining her self-esteem, keeping you at arm’s length so you couldn’t hurt her. True intimacy and trust between you became too dangerous somehow. So the negative spiral began, her defense engendering defense and anger in you, and thus (as she saw it) more need for defense on her part, and so on. The walls went up, the sniping and undermining began, and eventually the seige turned into the stalemate of the status quo.

Under those circumstances, Jamesash, there is no way in hell that she is ever going to start thinking about how to make you happy. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

But this is the most crucial thing you said:

No doubt I could be more sensitive and thoughtful in many ways but after 10+ years of trying I am not willing to try any more.

If YOU, Jamesash, — the one who is apparently least happy with thestatus quo, the one who is probably the most agitated, the one with the largest problem — if YOU are really, truly, absolutely not willing to try any more, for any reason, your marriage really is over. Again, this is no moral or emotional judgment on either of you, it is just a fact. Hang it up.

Comments in response to this post:
Julia writes “There are few people in the world who don’t more-or-less automatically assume that what they want and what they think is right and good, and that those who defy or disagree with them are wrong and bad. People without this basic confidence in their own judgment and needs are ordinarily very sick indeed.”

Julia, you state this much too strongly. I understand EXACTLY what Jamesash was talking about in describing his wife’s inflexibility. I think mature, decent, sophisticated people (and there are many in this world) have a little voice in the back of their head, even during an argument, saying “hmm…am I biased here? Am I being fair? Is there more than one way to see this issue? I’m not being a selfish bastard am I?” Usually this voice is wrong, but it serves a necessary “Editor” function. Even when I am in an argument, I try to bend over backwards to see things from her perspective. What I have grown to resent is that my wife makes no such effort, has no internal Editor, never questions for one nanosecond the feelings that come straight out of her superego (or is it her id?). As my Dad would say, she has no filter – it’s just brain –> mouth. I resent that I take the effort to be so careful in what I say, and she makes none. It increasingly seems to me that this is the typical pattern of arguments in modern marriages (in vivid contrast to our parents’ generation)- feminism has beat in to me and other men that we should be ashamed of our crude, base instincts, yet women have a mandate to express every little desire as a demand as if straight from the mouth of God.

And finally, Julia, it is typical of a woman to denigrate a man’s decency and good manners in the setting of an argument as a lack of the All-Important CONFIDENCE, which apparently is to women what big tits and blonde hair are to men.

Patrick • 2/21/04; 10:59:56 AM

Patrick, with that phrasing I never meant to “denigrate” anyone. In fact, I think I’m making a sincere effort here NOT to denigrate anyone, but only to explain why/how certain behaviors and communicative strategies come about.

What I was trying to say, and will repeat here, was that a pretty firm confidence in one’s own opinion is something we all share (including you, obviously, or you wouldn’t have been so sure that you saw an insult that I never meant or skirted so close to outright offensiveness in your reply).

But what I was trying to get across was that Jamesash’s wife’s (possibly extreme) outward surety might be indicative of her actually feeling MORE unsure and unconfident than people usually do, on the inside. I’m sure you’ve heard of inferiority complexes, which are usually compensated for by infuriatingly “superior” or intrusive behaviors.

Perhaps her defensiveness is too vigorous for anyone’s general standard of “decency and manners,” and apparently it’s at least too vigorous for Jamesash himself to tolerate, but there’s really no way for outsiders like you and me to take the data offered and make any strict judgments about the extent of her sins against The Universal Moral Order.

I don’t deny that some people are TOO confident of their inherent rightness, but I’m sure you’ll understand why I hestitate to agree that it’s only women who have this problem today, or that it’s caused by feminism, for pity’s sake.

Women have been assertive, aggressive and even downright abusive in defending their opinions or thrusting their (uncensored) complaints on their husbands LONG before Betty Friedan came along.

And vice versa, needless to say.

Back then AND today the involved parties on both sides have had to decide to either cope or quit. And back in the days of more difficult or more highly condemned divorce, people were more-or-less forced to cope.

But in any case the odds for all of us are better in attempting to cope if we at least acknowledge (if not approve) what could be going on in the “too defensive” or “too opinionated” person’s mind and heart.


Typical Woman

Julia Grey • 2/21/04; 2:04:43 PM

I am concerned that Jamesash has given up on happiness. In 1996, I found myself mired in the same relationship as Jamesash. I was in a situation where I was unhappy, undersexed, and spiraling into a depression that was choking me. I was the martyr. Poor me. Divorce was not an option. I took the vows and I made a bed I had to sleep in. I loved my wife but I was unhappy. How is that possible? I prayed, literally, for a change, for some intervention to change my suffocation.

One summer day after coming home from work, I found a note on the table. She was leaving. No explanation, no reasons, no nothing! I died inside. I lost 32 pounds in twelve days, I drank to ease the pain, and the pain was constant. The worst thing I had ever endured. The point is, I endured. 7 years of hell cleared up in 6 months. I was finally breathing again. I was single and in charge of my own happiness again. My prayer had been answered. God had a plan, he just didn’t let me in on it.

I soon found a wonderful woman who was interested in only making me happy. How had I given up on my own happiness so easily? I look back now and of course hindight being so clear, I had been in boot camp for the real relationship. Now I have a wonderful wife and 2, soon to be three, wonderful children, and everything I ever thought marriage was has come true (well maybe not the sex part, maybe there’s no pleasing some).

I guess my only advice to Jamesash is to listen to Julia and read between the lines of what she is saying. Only you can decide what and when. Ultimately only your happiness is important. A happy husband makes a happy wife. This all sounds hedonistic, but I belive this life is the only one you have, and 10 years of sexless marriage is a waste of quality time you could be having. I promise, it is difficult, but not as difficult as trying to wrestle from the quicksand where you reside. I certainly don’t want to sound preachy, but God does have a plan, but somehow he has forgot to let you in on it.

Genuine • 2/21/04; 2:13:41 PM

Great column, Julia, but I agree with Patrick that you overstated the “confidence” thing a bit. “Very sick indeed” seems to me to be something one needs inpatient psych hospitalization for, not just an minor adjustment. I used to be a very confidant man, but after years of “take no prisoners/ win at any cost” arguments with my wife, I have a confidence problem. I don’t know if my wife’s tactics stem from feminism or just her feistiness, but either way, they don’t usually end up with a good result for me. Even when I pick my battles, I tend to lose them.

Patrick: I really liked the description of a filter between your brain and your mouth. I have that same filter installed. Another interesting filter is the one between my wife’s ears and her brain. I can ask in a straightforward way for a kiss or a hug and she hears it as whiny or pitiful. She says I should just kiss her or hug her, not ask. Yet, when I do go ahead and initiate the hug or kiss, I often feel like I am hugging a lump, or I end up kissing a cheek where the lips were initially the target. Which is worse…the cold shoulder when I take action, or the accusation that I’m whiny when I ask for something? Or is it all just kind of bad?

As for the initial blow up, followed by an apology a day or two later, yes, it’s very common. I deal with it all the time.

Harry • 2/23/04; 7:56:08 AM

Unlike Genuine – great note, btw – I believe in a life hereafter. But I also believe you prepare best for that life by being the best at being yourself. If you’re miserable, you’re not being what you can be. If you’re contributing to the misery of your wife, same deal.

Some people take this idea and imagine the extreme, that you have to be nice to everyone all the time, that you then have to undertake the burden of always being your best, of always being a light shining in this world. Ain’t true. Every decision in life trades helping one versus hurting another. Can’t be avoided, don’t worry so much about it.

But you can and should be happy in your nearest and dearest relations. You should not be unhappy with the person you sleep with, with the family that you share a home with.

It may be that you’re married to the wrong person, that your motives and hers were a too confused when you wed (or when you had kids). It may also be that leaving is still not the right answer.

How willing are you to go through the mating process again? Are you willing to settle? To take on a different woman’s baggage – maybe her ex, maybe her kids’ problems?

Many people look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What happened to me? How did I get here?” The person you live with sees you much more clearly than anyone else can.

You already know this person. You may not like her. She may not like you. But you know each other. The simplest truth of all is that there’s a fine line between hate and love.

Bruce • 2/23/04; 10:12:40 AM

I agree with Patrick that you overstated the “confidence” thing a bit. “Very sick indeed” seems to me to be something one needs inpatient psych hospitalization for, not just an minor adjustment.

Hmmm. Perhaps we’re just not understanding each other.

Let me try again. I was saying that these wives’ apparently outsized assertiveness might be just a higher degree of the kind of basic confidence we all have in ourselves. Even people who are not AS confident as these women appear to be still have that basic confidence, because if they didn’t, they would be total basket cases. You guys have at least enough confidence in yourselves to stay out of the loony bin. You’re talking to me in a forthright manner and standing up for yourselves quite well. Therefore you are normal, and clearly don’t need to be institutionalized!

I’m also saying that the very ferocity of this assertiveness in these women might be a defensive over-reaction to their more fundamental LACK of confidence in themselves, their situations, their needs, etc. It’s the “fight or flight” thing again. They’re fighting back like this and being “too aggressive” because they’re scared or unsure in some very basic way.

Harry, I think that asking for expressions of affection is pretty clearly not the way to go with your wife, but maybe you could pick your “moments of action” better to get a more welcoming response. Can you give me some more specifics about the times when you tried to hug or kiss her and didn’t get the reaction you wanted? What else was happening at the time? Was she doing something, like washing the dishes?

Maybe in her mind just allowing a hug or a cheek kiss (not totally, overtly pushing you away) is “enough.” I know it isn’t for you, though. If she let you kiss her lips but was still a “lump” would that be okay with you? If not, what would be?

You have to know what you really want before you can figure out how to get it. What exactly do you want in the way of a response from her when you go to hug or kiss her? Does she have to melt in your arms and return a big soul-kiss for her response to be satisfactory, or would something less be okay?

One reason I ask this is because she may have sensed that nothing short of the soul-kiss scenario will satisfy you, and she’s not prepared/able to instantly react that way whenever you happen to “request” it. So she just allows the contact and doesn’t actually respond because she knows anything short of total surrender will somehow disappoint you anyway, so it’s simpler and less trouble to just let it happen.

That’s why I’m thinking that finding more relaxed moments might be helpful. A move for a hug when she’s bringing in the groceries will be more likely to be refused (or merely tolerated) than pulling her into a hug while you’re sitting on the couch laughing at a movie together. Make eye contact first, though. Smile. Maybe say something nice. THEN move in. An unconnected “dive” at her out of the blue is likely to startle and dismay her, and remind her that you’re (supposedly, to her) too fixated on the Merely Physical.

Julia Grey • 2/23/04; 10:44:12 AM

Ten years is a really long time. A long time to wear down all the marvelous qualities that drew Jamesash to his wife in the first place. A long time to build the resentment that finally festers into hate.

Who wouldn’t bet that those wonderful qualities are still there? Probably displayed more frequently to those friends and relatives with whom his wife seeks support and understanding. I even venture to guess that on occasion, these pleasant qualities are shared with Jamesash. Sometimes we just slip unconsciously into niceness. Maybe that provides the hope which has sustained Jamesash for ten years. Maintaining an unforgiving, constant hostility toward the person whose face you see on the pillow next to you every morning works better in literature than in life.

While I agree with Julia that the best chance for change comes from the person who most badly wants that change, we may also agree that doing nothing in a special way can open channels of communication. As the folks in Alanon suggest to the spouses of people with serious drinking problems, you have to let go and put your attention and effort into building your own life. You need to accept the idea that you are powerless to change another person.

Somehow when the partner is no longer being badgered by someone else’s desire for them to change they are freed from being constantly on the defensive. Then, with no one to resist and as they see their partner beginning to build a more satisfying life, they may wonder why they are being left out. When that happens in education it’s called learning readiness. In marital relations maybe it’s jealousy.

In any case, Jamesash wants it to turn out differently than it has so far. In despair he sends email to WYW instead of walking out the door. For most of us, hope is stronger than memory. But there is no guarantee that by letting go the alcoholic’s spouse has found a better tool to stop the drinking. That wouldn’t be letting go, would it? At the bottom, it is our own life that we can put together, and that is hard enough.

In the forty plus years of our marriage neither my wife nor I have been able to change the other to match our vision of the perfect spouse, the one we thought we were getting when we lived in that rosy glow at the beginning, and we have tried. The significant changes occurred when we both were independently motivated to change.

Jack • 2/23/04; 2:47:19 PM 

My discussion above had no intent of stating that Jamesash needs to run from his marriage. I am quite frankly against the easy way out without some constructive attempt, i.e. dum de dum dum, counselling or therapy. My first wife wanted no part of it. We knew we had problems, but people don’t “air their laundry” or have outside help.

We do change and we should adapt if we can. It sounds like there is an impasse to the adaptation. It sounds like the thing that is missing most is the thing that keeps Jamesash’s foundation solid. Without the brick of sex, and intimacy, the wall only crumbles. He sounds like he has adapted and learned to live with it. My point was merely questioning why anyone should live with it? Mrs. Jamesash will either concede to his wants, or Jamesash settles, or neither. In my first marriage, I settled, and lost. Thank God.

Genuine • 2/23/04; 6:33:58 PM 

It is valuable for me to have the insights you have all been sharing, thanks. As you know, it is hard to compress a long term marital problem down to a couple of paragraphs, so much is left out. For instance, my wife is an energetic, talented, life loving woman, her friends and co-workers all think the world of her. And, while I see more of her dark side, the do see the real her and they are right to think she is special.

We still share many interests and enjoy doing some things together, although it is hard for us to be together for more than a couple of hours without friction (relaxing vacations together do not seem possible). Sex is definitely not possible. I think our mutual commitment to the kids is what keeps us together, not leaving my kids is very important to me, more important than sex.

But the kids are almost out of the house, and the idea of being involved in a sexual relationship again is very appealing to me. What I have totally given up on is the idea of having sex with my wife, she is an attractive, fit person, but after all the sexual rejections I have experienced, the only way I have been able to sustain my own sanity is to no longer see her as a sex object, she’s become more like a sister or something. Plus, there is the anger.

I am an upbeat person though, I am thankful for my family’s health, thankful we have the roof over our heads and for the food we have on the table. It’s just that it would also be nice to get laid every now and again.

Patrick, I also misunderstood JG’s intent in the passage on “confidence”, but I understand it better after reading her follow-up comments.

Jamesash • 2/23/04; 8:01:50 PM

Julia, I guess my comments at the beginning of this thread were a bit hostile, so I retract the nasty tone, if not my general praise for people who argue with good “sportsmanship.

I was set off because your comments inadvertently touched upon my personal sore spot, womens’ obsession with a man’s Confidence. You brought it up in an earlier post, but I think it bears more emphasis. My fellow men, listen up! I have learned way too late in life that women find Confidence VERY VERY attractive and important. More important than anything else, and in fact it apparently makes up for a lot of other deficiencies.

This quite frankly annoys me – a certain level of confidence is healthy, but I find excessively confident people to be abrasive – too much confidence also strikes me as a sign of mediocre intelligence, too. But it doesn’t matter what I think! Women love it, and I do think it is hardwired into their brains, just like the way men feel about T & A.

Harry, don’t kill the mesenger, but asking permission for a hug or kiss is a major turn off to most women because it isn’t Confident enough (whereas most men would find a woman who asks permission for a hug or to hold hands completely charming). Personally, my dilemma is that I have worked (too) hard to change my behavior, manner of speaking, body language, etc. so that my wife finds me more Confident and attractive, and yet I secretly know I’m a big phony.

Even though it’s working (!), I can’t enjoy it because I actually resent her for being attracted to Confident Phony guy. I feel like the wife who gets breast implants to please her husband and then hates him for treating her like an object.

Patrick • 2/23/04; 10:47:57 PM 

Thanks for the advice Patrick. I actually responded to Julia in an email, so I’ve kind of been sitting back and waiting.

I agree that asking for a kiss or a hug can be a turn off for my wife. One of the reasons I do this is that sometimes her responses to my “unannounced” kisses and hugs are not good…like kissing your grandma, or hugging Jabba the Hutt (after Leia does the number on him with her chains). So I ask, because I want some participation.

After this last time, however, I will just take what I can get from her without asking. Whether I get Grandma Jabba, or the sexy woman I thought I married, I’ll just be happy I have someone in my life who is a great mom to our daughter, a hard worker, and a funny companion

Harry • 2/24/04; 5:24:40 AM 

I am definitely loving the Grandma Jabba picture!

I too think Confidence begets a response. There is of course a fine line between Confidence and being a jerk. Some women actually like jerks.

Genuine • 2/24/04; 5:48:46 AM 

I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years. We knew each other and were dating for about 4 years before that. Sex became a problem for us about a year before we got married and it has only gotten worse. Now we are at the point where we rarely have sex. (I’m now the more limiting factor here, not her). As miserable as this situation makes me, when I weigh all the pros and cons of staying married (especially given that there are two kids now), I have decided I can eat the pain and stay with it and just let this aspect of my life be very unhappy.

I could say something like–If i could go back in time I would pick a different woman. But this kind of idle dreaming is both counterproductive and it masks the fact that I am and have been a large part of the problem in ways I am unable to detect even after years of introspection and reading everything I could find on the subject. She and I got to this point together, and since she is a good person I have to assume I’m at major fault (along with her or not).

I have read this website a lot and I think it is distinguished among things I have read in print and on the web by its honesty. It is honest in particular in the way it addresses the things I could do to change myself so that I am more lovable-sexier etc. When I consider what I would have to do to effect this change, I find that it entails making myself over into something I would rather not be. I’m not a cave man when it comes to my idea of what a man is, but I could not stand myself if I changed into the kind of emasculated emotional slave I’d have to be to change her attitudes about me. (By the way, a lot of the advice that seems to be given to women in the “sexing up your marriage” literature I’ve read seems to consist of–just do it to make him happy. This seems to me to be terrible advice for a variety of reasons.)

Whether I just guessed wrong on the girl all those years ago or created the situation myself does not really matter. I know I am going to be accused of loving self-righteous anger over solving the problem (and I have searched my soul about this precisely due to what gets talked about on THIS website), but I think it makes some sense to interrogate where this kind of self-righteous anger we all think is counterproductive comes from. If it comes from the defense of self-image–a self image or core concept of personhood, then I think it is worth defending IF YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE COSTS.

I can’t make myself into a doormat as a way of begging for her love and attention. That kind of emotional slavery is worse than no sex, because it would devalue everything in my life. I hope I am being clear about what I mean. Sometimes you just can’t make that deal. Sometimes the cost is too great, and you just have to face up to what hand you got dealt and how to play it. I’m staying in the game, but the pot I’m playing for is definitely smaller than my naive former self believed was possible. I don’t think we believe that you have to sacrifice your self respect to experience love, do we?

Frank • 2/26/04; 2:44:02 PM 

I could not stand myself if I changed into the kind of emasculated emotional slave I’d have to be to change her attitudes about me.

Frank, I’m so sorry you feel this way. Truly. It breaks my heart.

I understand what you are saying, though. You see the changes you would have to make as “emasculating” and “slavish,” whereas I, being who I am, see them as the kind of thing that can actually empower and elevate a man as a human being, making him more confident of his own worth and happier in his life.

But you can’t help the way you feel. And feeling that thinking/acting in a certain way makes you a “doormat” means you’re pretty much stuck, I guess. I disagree with your take on these things, but then, I would, wouldn’t I? <smile>

I don’t think we believe that you have to sacrifice your self respect to experience love, do we?

Absolutely not! Respecting yourself is crucial to a genuine relationship, and insecurity, desperately hidden fear and self-hatred are the real sources of many people’s inability to really love others. If you are, for example, so worried about your basic human value that you must always be in a position of greater overt or APPARENT power to maintain your “self-respect,” you do have to give up on intimate love and and real adult-to-adult partnership. You can’t have both. That is just a fact.

But if you can stand the pain of your situation, Frank, I guess you’ll be fine. *I* wouldn’t want to live that way, but, hey. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice. We all have to make our own decisions about the inevitable trade-offs in life.

Good luck!

(And stop back by when you can…I’ll be talking more later on about defining and maintaining — even DEFENDING — real masculinity later on. Believe me, it isn’t going to consist of exhortation to be a Woman With A Penis. Yuck. That is NOT sexy!)

Julia Grey • 2/27/04; 8:32:22 AM 

Frank sounds like a man forced to be a “metrosexual”. I think that is what the are calling it. (I read a recent article on being a “Retrosexual” which was a great story) At least it appears to have this tone. I am not sure it is being something that you are not or actually changing something that you are. Frank sounds somewhat similar to me in that he is passive agressive when it comes to his sex life.

“As miserable as this situation makes me, when I weigh all the pros and cons of staying married (especially given that there are two kids now), I have decided I can eat the pain and stay with it and just let this aspect of my life be very unhappy.”

Why, is my question? Have you given up the battle, or is the war already over? I think that you should be the man you are wanting to be, and you should work out these problems, because I think that over time you will only have each other. The kids will grow up and the rest of your life will go away, and now you are left standing in an empty house with a roommate not a partner.

Genuine • 2/27/04; 6:24:10 PM 

One of the things some women do that men (alright, maybe just me!) find to be so upsetting in a relationship is using the witholding of sex as a tool to lever behavioral modification in the man. Now admittedly, this description embodies a male perspective on this occurence and, being a keen reader JG’s insightful writings, I know the female perspective is likely to be very different.

My sense is that from the woman’s perspective, with the onset of domestic life together, comes a sharper awareness of all the annoying habits and behaviors of the male partner (belching, never washing the dishes, leaving the toilet seat up, whatever). As the woman’s annoiance builds, it ultimately manifests itself as a diminishing of the woman’s sexual interest in the male.

The man sees this lessened interest as a rejection of his person, the woman sees it as a stuburn reluctance of the man to “grow” into the behavior required for a successful long term relationship.

Interestingly, I know a few divorced people (men and women) who say the best sex they ever had with their spouse was at the end of the marriage! Probably not the case for anyone reading this.

Jamesash • 2/27/04; 9:06:06 PM 

“Metrosexual” doesn’t sound sexy to me, because it sounds like a man who is overfussy about his appearance (good looks are sexy, but looking too obviously as if you spend a lot of time in front of the mirror isn’t).

I’m not quite sure what in Julia’s advice inspired the talk about not wanting to be an emasculated emotional slave; somehow I suspect that what Frank sees as emasculated slavery would be something I’d see entirely differently.

Actually, my husband does belch, never washes the dishes, and leaves the toilet seat up, and that’s fine, since belching and leaving the toilet seat up don’t happen to be on my particular list of dislikes, and as long as he puts the dishes in the sink, I’m happy to move them to the dishwasher. But I do expect respect from him on the things that do matter to me; I sure wouldn’t be a happy camper if he saw that as meaning sacrificing his self-respect.

Lynn Gazis-Sax • 2/27/04; 11:06:58 PM 

Why, is my question? Have you given up the battle, or is the war already over?


The kids will grow up and the rest of your life will go away, and now you are left standing in an empty house with a roommate not a partner.

You’ve got to be kidding. When my children grow up and no longer need me to “take care of them” in my half-assed way – which, as far as I can tell, is probably, maybe, all in all, a small bit better than if I weren’t moping around and paying them bills, then again maybe not, who knows… anyway when that day comes, and there’s a specific day I have in mind too, the youngest one’s high school graduation, the very next day I’m gone, absolutely one hundred percent for sure. If at that time I can’t afford to rent a dump of my own, there remain razor blades and high bridges, and think of the old-age medical bills I’d elude! But there’s no way I’ll stay with this horrible bitch who has smashed my life one second longer than my duty to my children demands.

no lie • 3/9/04; 6:56:47 PM 

So what do you do if you have lost your confidence and stature in your wife’s eyes, when she’s seen your depression and self-doubt and has to live with the lowered bank balance from your business mistakes?

How can you hope to come back from this situation?

enndee • 5/20/04; 7:49:55 PM 

My wife uses sex as leverage too. We’re both 29 with no kids. I’ve had enough… I gained confidence after completing the bodyforlife challenge and completely changing my mind and body

I love my wife like I love my sister. I have no interest in her sexually at all. I could deal with 6 times in 7 years, but there’s no spark, no feelings, no nothing. Kissing is disgusting to her because saliva is gross. Sex is unbearable to her. I honestly believe I’ve raped my wife 6 times in our 7 years of marriage. I can’t take it.

I don’t want to hurt her because I consider her my best friend, but I’m drowning inside. I’m afraid if I don’t get out I’ll die inside. My religious beliefs prohibit divorce… I can always repent later, I think I will. Should I tell her I’m leaving or just wait until I receive the advance for my book? I’ve already planned on giving her half — she deserves it and I want to make sure she’s ok. I still love her, just not like a man loves his wife.

Mr. Disgusted • 7/25/04; 8:47:27 PM 

November 19, 2003 Two No-Brainer “GO” Signals

Further to the brief discussion of divorce in the comments thread, here are two situations in which the Big Split is almost always inevitable, sooner or later: alcoholism/addiction and domestic violence.

An alcoholic/addict spouse should be given a chance to get her act cleaned up, and if you are a person of unique lovingkindness and bravery, you could also stick around for precisely one relapse and subsequent detox (sometimes it takes a relapse for people to GENUINELY understand their situation in relation to the seductive substance). But a second “fall” should prompt you go out the door and never look back. You can waste years in these sad “it’s-okay-now-oh-wait-no-it’s-not” relationships, and as wonderful as many of these damaged folks are when they’re clean (alcoholics in particular tend to be marvelous when sober), they’re pretty much hopeless if they don’t “get it” after two tries. Save yourself what could be decades of pain and cut your losses.

If you get hit (shoved, deliberately tripped, crashed into with a car, threatened with a gun…the “first violence” variations are endless), leave instantly. I guarantee it’s all downhill from there, and when it comes to violence, “forgiveness” only encourages more of the same. Of course, if you’re one of those people who’s silly enough to think such things are exciting, high romantic drama — or if you have a death wish — sure, go ahead and give your spouse a second chance (to do a better job on you the next time). But at least you should know enough to run like a fire-tailed rabbit if it even LOOKS like it’s going to happen again. At which point you should also (figuratively, at least) move to Montana and change your name.

And let me just say this additional pompous bit of obviousness, although, yes, it should go without saying: your case, your marriage, your violent or drunken spouse is not different from all the others in the world, and there is no movie miracle on the way Just For You.

I’m sorry about that. I really am.

I just want to provide a single counter: I was hit, pretty hard, with intent to injure, once, a few years ago in my current relationship. She instantly realized what had happened, and took that as a strong indicator that she really needed help, and it was a catalyst to some beautiful changes.

I’ve no idea what kept me there and wanting to see those changes happen, but changes can happen.

However, to those who’d take this as a strong reason to stay together, she got the first punch in, but if push came to shove I am the physically stronger person and could protect myself if a second punch were imminent.

If you can’t protect yourself, or if you’ve any inkling that the second attack might involve a weapon of any sort (even just a frying pan), get the hell out.

Dan Lyke 11/19/03; 12:03:21 PM

the whole “staying with an abusive man (or woman)” phenomenon is so foreign to me. i can’t even imagine hanging around after the first punch–i’d be therelong enough to call the police and pack up my things.

i used to have a friend with a seriously abusive boyfriend, and this ruined our friendship: i didn’t understand why she wouldn’t leave. more so, i was tired of getting emotionally involved in her problems. i don’t mean that to sound cold, but what would always happenn was that she’d come over, crying, saying things were bad and she wanted to leave. that she would go back and pack her things. then she’s leave my place and vanish for a few days. each time, i was sick with worry, convinced she’d confronted him and left her for dead in her apartment… and each time she’d show up a few days later saying they’d made up and gone away for a few days. seems her relationship upset me far more than her. not surprisingly, we’re not friends anymore (which actually came about because in one of their “together” periods, she wanted me to socialize with them (meaning him) and i refused… –alyssa

alyssa ettinger 11/20/03; 8:28:50 AM

“If you can’t protect yourself, or if you’ve any inkling that the second attack might involve a weapon of any sort (even just a frying pan), get the hell out.”

I see what you’re saying, but there should be no need “to protect yourself.” If you find the need to protect yourself, that’s a clue right there to get the heck out of there.

Josh 11/21/03; 3:18:37 AM

My husband and I were (are) both alcoholics and we got sober within six months of each other. I could go on for a while about the sexual problems of active addiction and of early sobriety (I also work with addicts professionally, now), but I don’t necessarily want to do it here in the public comments section. If anyone has any questions or concerns in that area, feel free to e-mail me. If you like, send a copy to Julia, and I’ll copy my responses to her, too– that way she can contribute her always valuable insights, and maybe she can disguise it and cycle it back through the main pages later, if it’s interesting.Marijo 11/21/03; 6:12:17 PM
Marrijo- My name is Jason I am an alcoholic. I was a drug addict from 9-18 yrs. old. I stoped doing drugs when I found out I was going to be a father 6 yrs. ago & i’m clean to this vary day, but then I started drinking more. I met a lovely woman 4 yrs. ago married and had a child with here. in the begining i drank alot of beer prety heavy. She kept telling me to stop, and I didn’t listen. After a near death car crash 2 dui’s fines jail time ect., I still didn’t listen, I just cut down my drinking to once a week or once every 2 weeks for about a year now. I have never hit my wife or abused her in any way,and we fight quite a bit, but I know that I have hurt her emotionaly. We are seperated at this time as of 10 day’s ago. I am now realizing what I have done. We still talk & see each other, but she is having mixed feelings on our future together. I havent drank since and I never want to again, but because of things I have said in the past she has her gaurd up. I am entering a program, and I’m just going to better my life all together. I will always be in love with her, & I love her very much. What can I do to speed this up? Jason 12/23/03; 10:43:25 PM


25 Responses to “When To Split”

  1. bin There Says:


    Twenty years ago I gave up booze and drugs because it was about to cost me my family. I can’t say that what came next was any bed of roses, but reverting to using would have been the end of me.

    There is no “speeding things up.” You will have to work on your relationships and your sobriety every single day for the rest of your life. Since this is a relationship site, I’ll stick to that topic.. About all you can do – and there is no speeding it up – is try to earn her trust any way you can. You have to become sensitive to what she means when she says things. You will have to mean exactly what you say and then live up to it. You will have to be almost predictable in everything you do.

    Hopefully, she won’t be playing defensive games or seeking to establish a power hold over you by using your addiction or your behaviors while under the influence as a weapon against you. Just be prepared to lose her completely, for she may not like the clean and sober person you become. She also may not like being second in importance to your sobriety. Your using and abusing has cost you a great deal of trust from your wife. It cost me, and I doubt I will ever get it back no matter what I do. I hope your wife is much more forgiving than mine was/is.

  2. Debbie Says:

    I havent read your whole blog, but speaking as a wife whose husband is a sex love addict possible gambling addict, no drugs or alcohol involved, and me having found out all the secrets etc.

    Prior to knowing our sex life was DEAD and not because i am non-sexual, but because of the nasty rude way i was treated, perhaps, well not perhaps definately being more attentive and loving, understanding, a back rub or a sweet nothing in the ear, a cup of tea or coffee for her really helps, unfortunately this needs to be done on a permanent basis. My husband has made a conscious decision to treat me better, and in return me, the wife actually feels comfortable enough to want to trust and have sex with my husband. Unfortunately as to trust well that is a big problem. Sometimes makes me the wife and woman think that well “he can just have sex with anyone that looks good enough to him” so perhaps I am also just another number? Thats possibly the feeling that the recovering spouse finds difficult to deal with. So time will tell. Its been 2 years already, and a very sorely damaged marriage.

  3. Joshua Says:

    What I want to know Is that while I admit that an alcoholic or self obsessed person Is at fault. It seems to me like these people’s partners act as though they never had any faults. And why In the hell did you marry someone you knew deep down you would not be happy with or knew they had these Issues that you could not cope with. No wonder I decided to remain single and celibent. Fuck all the stupid drama.

  4. margarita Says:

    i have been reading this site for some time now and i find it very interesting–my situation with my current husband is the mirror image of the paradigm of this blog–im the horndog and he’s the icicle–and it was that way in my first marriage 2–i am astonished at the sheer number of women who simply cant have a good time in bed, and i believe i have a plausible theory–many women are terrified of being labeled slutty and with good reason–it wasnt long ago that if you were labeled a slut you were in real physical danger–i havent read everything on this site so i dont no if miss julia has addressed this issue or not–

  5. A Woman Says:

    When to split….
    When you start losing your soul no matter if you the man or the woman… and wonder who you are and what happened to the real you…and you know YOU…have given your all to yr partner and really tried…if your pleas of help and support and the need for change falls on deaf ears. A partner is supposed to be there and support you not degrade/abuse you and likewise. So after being together for 2 yrs and married for 16…i left….the decision was easy….the after effects of divorce….the nastier person gets nastier and more manipulative….the financial implications incredibly stressful…and the emotional turmoil the children go through is not easy….my soul….is happier…im broke…stressed…but my soul is relieved..oh what bliss it is to have ME back. Take the good you had as memories take the bad as lessons learned…leave the baggage…in the past where it belongs and grow forward.

  6. JEL Says:

    My Lord, I see why many will go to Hell in a handbasket (and no, I don’t have anyone who has replied to this blog in particular in mind because that final judgement is definitely not mine to make), but I’m overstating a truth to make a point that I’ve never heard the selfish view point of men in my life at one time before reading this site.

    Okay, let’s be clear, perhaps you aren’t getting the point of this site (or at least what I believe it is from my interpretation of the author’s original article); she’s giving you what is very likely an insight of your wife or female companion’s point of view. So shut the heck up with your selfish needs and TRY to hear the voice of your spouse or partner.

    Crap! I’m tired of the poor sexless husband stereotype! what about the older, smart, mature sexless woman who has busted her butt for two men in her life to be whatever the heck they needed, have kids (for them and for her), work professionally (to help bring the bacon in and did so very well, thank you!), and is doing her best to be the “helpmate” that the Bible says we’re supposed to be, and yet has to wait for sex when her spouse “gets the urge” because like a good majority of men has been bombarded by sex via porm, publicity, Tv, etc;, and now can only be truned on when he sees a 19 year old model? So, when that happens, you think that we’re just morons and should turn over and let you give us a pop from the rear and enjoy yourselves?

    And please if your the rare guy (and do know you are rare) that really goes through s little foreplay (meaning more than 30 minutes) and comes into her with the image of HER in your head, well then disregard my comments. But if your like the majority of the supposedly “poor sexless” guys who’s comments I’ve read are on this site who are thinking about YOUR needs and YOUR sex and YOUR feelings, and you only work at it because you’re hoping that eventually she’ll come back to thinking about YOU, well read on.

    You know when she MAY turn around, when she sinicerely believes that you LOVE her and want only HER, not just a good-looking woman, that’s blonde, big-breasted, smart and (14 years old, because know this virtually ALL the woman put before you in the ads are not more than 16, so just of yourself as a pedophile) young.

    What the heck do you think your wife wants? Heck, I’ll 47 and beautiful (but a little over weight for some and perfect for a good majority of men), smart and hard-working, and trust me, the 23 and 28 year-old guys look good to me too, but I’m realistic and I want to love my spouse, and remain faithful not just to our covenant, but to my own love for him. But when like many of you, he let’s his mind go and thinks “selfishly” and only wanting a slim, blonde bomb, I say to myself, what the heck am I doing in this relationship? I’m mixed, average-sized breastwise, and have had four children, I’ll never return to being 20 (and for sure do not want to), so I do the best with my age, must accept that I’m aging adn still a desirable woman (if not by a few selfish boys like I hear here), definitely by those few men (who I also heard here) would love me jsut as I am.

  7. BlueRed Says:

    Jel, you will not be 20 again. But you can be as attractive as 19 years girl, or even more. Just believe it. You do not attract men with who you are, you attract them with the way you look, the way you dress, and how open about sex you are.

    Men will love you just as you are, but it does not mean they will make love with you as you are.

    Hey girl
    As I’ve always said I prefer your lips red
    Not what the good Lord made
    But what he intended

    That’s what it is all like. I love my wife, but I will not make love to her unless she looks an behaves the way that turns me on And I know she loves me, and she will not make love to me unless I behave the way it turns her on (of course the way I looks less important). Which means we rarely have sex. This is difficult to endure, but I find it better than having boring sex. If you like classical music or progressive rock, you will not listen to Rihanna or Lady Gaga (although watching them is not bad).

    If you want to swim fast, swim with the flow of the river – not against it.

  8. JEL Says:

    I had to reread this reply because at first I only looked at it from a here’s another selfish man’s answer. I do “hear” you. I know men often need to visually be stimulated to get turned on, where we women use both sides of our brain (I’m not knocking men, it’s simply a fact that from birth we do) thus we can psyc ourselves into wanting sex as well as be driven by visual stimulation. (Note that I’m definitely simplifying this part of my argument .). I think though that love is also about making the effort to have sex even when your spouse doesn’t look, do or isn’t your idea sex doll/toy. Why, because they are a person, not an object and really good sex(not just physical but emotionally and mentally pleasurable sex) is about using all of yourself to please someone else. Even when I was a few years younger and in better shape than now, we had our best sex when he focused on pleasing me. And in turn, I did the same. Yes, we were both a little more attractive to each other ten pounds lighter, but there were things he didn’t care for about me, style wise ,shape wise and habit wise then and there are still similar things now. Even though we’re both working on getting back into shape, reality is that we both will and are getting older. Our bodies thus are changing and so will our sex. But it doesn’t have to end, especially at age 39 and 46,please I know 60 year olds that still have regular sex. And I disagree that men only have sex based on ow you look. Many have sex for there own needs, and there are women who do to (trust me I could easily be one of them), and this is the issue. Just like in love, when you put the others desires ahead of your own, sex is a lot better than when you’re focused on your own ejaculation.

  9. JEL Says:

    Excuse the typos and spelling errors please, as I can’t figure how to edit properly in the iPad version of this WordPress blog. Also I forgot that I wanted to reply to the final statement about swimming. I don’t want to swim fast, but long and steady, to make it to the end, whether in life or in the bed (and thus perhaps even experience multiple endings, that is in the bed of course 😉 .)

  10. BlueRed Says:

    As for giving – I have a different experience. I noticed that the best sex we have when we both are focused on pleasing each other. And this happens when we both want to please each other. No lust – no good sex.
    The effort to make sex when woman does not look sexy…. no way. I believed in that when I was young and romantic. Now I am 45 and I will rather preserve my masculinity than risk having to go for Viagra.
    As for love – my offer is fidelity. Despite of lack the of good amount of satisfactory sex.
    And as regards swimming…. going with the flow takes you much further with much less effort. You will make it there – if “there” is where you want to go. If not, then getting out the river, and walking where you want to go, may be better than swimming against the flow.

    • JEL Says:

      Well, all I can saw to this is at least he was honest. But I’m wondering whether your partner (if you have a mong-term partner) is saying the same thing. Just to clarify, “lust” is not equal to focusing on pleasing each other (at least not in my book). As for not being able to make love unles she’s “sexy” to you, I guess at 50 or 60 you’ll be having sex with 20 year old (unless you want to define a different image of “sexy” that you have that differs from the typical media version). And as for swimming, you’re right going with the flow helps you get further with less effort (great for the lazy) , but if the flow takes you to the rapids and into the rocks, I’d suggest you swim against the current and maybe even grab a branch and get out of the water, and like you suggested, walk.

  11. Mark Says:

    I am a man who truly enjoys more than anything that sense of satisfaction that I have pleased my woman…so much so that I make sure that her needs are met ever before my own. I am caught up in this trap of penis size and the confidence factor that goes with it. Even though I am smack-dab in the AVERAGE range, the fact that I am not 10″ is a detraction to me. I have also built up in my mind that the reason why my wife has no sex drive is partially due to the size issue. I am conflicted, however, because I KNOW in my heart that I ALWAYS take her needs into consideration and do whatever I can do to make sure she is satisfied. I would be happy just being given the opportunity to please my wife (I genuinely enjoy foreplay, I love oral sex (even though she does not) and I am fascinated like a school kid in a biology lab at the female mystique.

    The issue of sex as leverage is one which REALLY needs to be explored and understood. Women need to understand how painful it truly is when they reject us. We come to them with open arms, and love, and we basically get slapped across the face and get told to “F ourselves”. The amount of damage this does to a man, and the pain he had to endure because of it is without bounds. Nothing is more painful that having the one person in your life which claims to “LOVE” you, when all you want to do is please her and make her feel good…at the expense of even your own pleasure…

    • JEL Says:

      I enjoyed Mark’s open and revealing comments about his lack of confidence due to physical traits. I hope men are aware of the fact that women too suffer from wanting to have sex due to there cahnging physical traits especially after having children, age, etc. The breasts aren’t as firm, the stomach not quite as muscular and toned, etc., and these play a factor as to her “feeling” attractive and feeling is important for women to want to have sex. That said, these issues haven’t been a reason why I don’t want to have sex (rarely to be honest), but I have felt that they are the reason why my hisband doesn’t. And since he won’t discuss why (at times will chalk it up to pressure at work, which I know does have an effect on male libido), I can’t address these issues (and some of them I can’t fix short of plastic surgery (whihc he also is against). So what’s a person

  12. Lisa Says:

    You know how guys always say they want “a lady on their arm but a whore in bed” well, personally for me as a wife, I want a nice guy outside the bedroom but in bed I need the bad guy for a little passion and spice. Yes, some of us women like to be “taken” even when we protest a little. We like to know we can show our strength and get a little lippy but we want it to come up against a man confident enough to not turn his tail and run just because of our words. I like my words to come up against the brick wall of his confidence in himself and our relationship.

    I’m not talking about being a jerk in bed and slapping her around or being demeaning to her, I’m talking about a man who can’t be pushed around so easy by his wife’s moods and lets her know that he loves her enough to not let her passing feelings and moods get in the way of their relationship. Showing her respect is never off the table even when you’re being the bad guy. Sometimes even telling her just that (with a firm grasp on her shoulders and looking into her eyes, “I love you and care for our marriage too much to let your “moods and feelings” get in the way of us”) in the midst of her protests so she can know he’s coming from a place of true concern for the marriage and their life together and not just using her for sex.

    There’s a reason that old Hollywood stereotype of the protesting woman melting into her lover’s insistent kisses is done over and over again in movies and romance novels. It’s because women respond to it. It’s the man’s insistence that shows her how much he loves her even when she acts like she doesn’t love him. (which is just a defense mechanism, even if she does love him. She sometimes tests that love by seeing what he’ll do, fight or flee. Does he love me enough to show me he’s not a wimp when it comes to protecting our relationship? If he flees, then she just sees him as a wimp who left her with all the power in the relationship. She wants him to FIGHT for her, even if he has to fight her very self to win her.) He just has a confidence that the love is there in her as well behind her protests so he knows he’s not forcing her or raping her despite her initial misgivings. Of course, I don’t want any men here thinking that they can just keep going with having sex if she’s protesting all the way to the bedroom and never shows that surrender to his strength. If you see real fear in her eyes, you can bet her feelings aren’t just the petty passing moods that all women have or a test of his belief in their relationship but something much deeper. If your wife has abuse issues or has been raped in the past, then she might not feel the same way. However, if you’re pretty sure your wife loves you and doesn’t have abuse issues then maybe she protests because she’s not confident of your love. Sometimes that little bit of manly insistence can be a really big turn on.

    • Lisa Says:

      oops, I meant this comment to be on the Do women prefer bad guys?” post. I’ll recopy it there.


    • JEL Says:

      Hmmm, I really agree with Lisa when I look at what I’ve been going through since I began to reply to this blog. I wouldn’t say I “test” my husband concerning whether he’ll leave me when we come to heads over our marriage (come to heads isn’t really appropriate because for the most part, he would never meet with me to discuss anything),but after I make a decision to pursue a course of action, I am praying that he’ll want to work on our marriage together and not just let me leave. We’ve come a long way and the sex part hasn’t really improved (and now I don’t want sex as much either after all the waiting, lack of response to actions I take to look better, initiate, etc.), so he has lots less pressure in that area. Despite this, we seem to finally be communicating a little better on our marriage overall and making every day choices that bring us together more. And my prayer is that with more time together, the sexual desires will be stired up too!

  13. Lucas Says:

    Lisa – “sometimes a little bit of manly resistance can be a really big turn on” well, let me tell you something, I have been doing exactly the “manly resistance” thing for years now with some success in terms of having sex with my wife – but ultimately at a huge cost. It slowly but surely eats away at a man to have to carry on like this every time he has sex with his wife. Eventually he feels low and despicable and starts to resent the fact that he lives on a one way street. One day he will decide one of the following “stuff it – I am exhausted with all this badgering that has to take place AFTER I have been so careful and loving – I will just become a slob and badger her without all the nice stuff” OR – in my case – “Stuff it – I just can’t be bothered hassling my wife for sex, I can’t be bothered being loving when it is never returned and in some ways I just wish I didn’t have any sex drive at all.” Then one day he stumbles across a woman who puts her arm around him, whispers in his ear, runs her fingers through his hair and in the end is just a nice warm woman for him to spend time with – and he has an affair. I wouldn’t mind Lisa if I “only” had to initiate sex or show some “manly resistance” 90 or even 95% of the time with my wife – it is just that it is absolutely 100%. The last time my wife decided having sex (or even being intimate in any way to be honest) was her idea the planes were yet to hit the World Trade Center. I suppose I can keep going for a while like this – but our marriage is being driven by my wife in only one direction. Like most women you seem to think that we enjoy pushing women around all the time – and also like most women you even admit to being a little bit thrilled by it from time to time. But boy – you women have no idea of the emotional cost on the men you expect to keep delivering your fantasy – and I suspect that you have no idea how close you are to losing the man in your life – assuming of course that like my wife you never ever initiate sex.

  14. cletermfw Says:

    I think everyone like this blog!

  15. Spike Says:

    My wife began to withdraw sexually when our first child was a baby. Normal, right? So I figured, and so I gave her time. 12 years later, she has withdrawn to that sick place where she will, as an earlier response described, have sex with me only once a month, letting me touch her sexually only with my penis, requesting always that I hurry up because we don’t have a lot of time, and not wanting from me any further sexual attention. She usually goes the extra step of criticizing me in some non-sexual aspects as she removes her pants ( but never her shirt.).
    I came to realize a while ago that the love of my life, who I have shown and continue to show devotion and affection to every day of our lives together, is a textbook psycho emotionally abusive type. And since realizing this, which I was only able to do after finally, she fell of the tall pedestal I had had her on, experiencing her abusiveness, emotionally, has become much less devastating to me. Not that it doesn’t continue to suck…. I just feel I am finally able to not let it destroy me, despite her best efforts to do so. Our sex life, by the way, was incredible in our first years together. Off the charts! She loved it. (sorry to be crass, but this is significant – she swallowed! She liked to. She came easily. Anal…nothing was off limits. Now she tells me Penis is gross, fluids are “ewe!” and that she is completely normal. She will not not not see a counselor. If not for our kids, I’d tell her to cut the shit or get out of my life. But they are more important to me than my sex life is, even though there are times, a lot of times, when the lack of affection and sexual loving have me out of my skull depressed.

    I don’t know what else to do besides be the best husband lover father friend at all times and have faith that ultimately something will click in her mind to turn her back into a loving lover instead of the self-pitying abusive cold crazy mother she is now.

    • sexlessnomore Says:

      Sounds much like my ex Spike. There was very little she wouldn’t do… in fact, I privately fretted that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her!

      What I came to realize is that all that crazy, neverending sex we were having wasn’t fueled so much by her freaky-deakiness, but her own insecurity. In short, she thought that her acting like Pornobabe, would get me to like her.

      And it worked, in part. Admittedly, her uninhibited sexuality was a huge reason (though I stress not the ONLY reason) why I fell in love with her. When we moved in together, 80% of her sexual motivation vanished, because she realized that I was in love with her for more than just sex. When we had our first child together, you could have made that 90%.

      I, like you, didn’t pressure her at first, thinking that her libido would bounce back. When it didn’t, when it got steadily worse, I began to attempt to talk to her about what the problem may be, that’s when the false promises and lies began. When I became frustrated with those false promises, she thought in her own opinion that I was like all the others, that I only wanted her for sex. Nothing i could do or say could dissuade her from that stance. That’s when the old ‘do x and you’ll get y’ gambits and the anger and coldness began.

      As angry at her as I was, I HATED myself even more. I hated myself for not being the kind of man that could turn her on, for wanting sex as much as I did. Hating myself didn’t do much for my attractiveness, but I couldn’t help it. I figured if I ‘punished’ myself enough, I’d atone for whatever it was that I did and she’d find me attractive again.

      People think the craziest things sometimes, I know.

      It wasn’t until I began to change, in a positive and proactive way, that I realized that:

      a) I wasn’t a bad person, that I deserved a full and rich sex life
      b) That my wife couldn’t make me feel bad about myself; only I had that power.

      Armed with these truths, I set about building a life that I actively wanted to live and be proud of. I took great care to tell my wife she was most welcome to be a part of this journey and that I harboured no ill will for the past between us, but things were going to be different from now on.

      At first, she tried to sabotage it. Then, when she realized she couldn’t, she started cheating on me. It was devastating, even though a part of me was prepared for it. To me though, it was telling. Nothing I could have done would have saved my situation. She had manipulated things to a point where she felt secure and nothing for her was going to tamper with that. When I took away her power over me, she shrivelled into nothing.

      Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m typically very wary of women who come on too strong too early when we are dating. Not to think that every woman who’s sexually open is ‘damaged’ in the way my ex was, but it’s enough to give me pause.

      I’m not sure what advice I can give you except you won’t be able to do ‘nothing’ hoping she’ll come around… no more than you can stick your hand in fire and think it won’t hurt. Do something – anything – that will help overcome your depression first.

      Good luck

      • Spike Says:

        Thanks. Feeling stronger every day since she “fell off the pedestal” I’d had her on, but it’s slow like a new tree (i hope) growing. I’m liking that, though it sure isn’t the relationship I expected when I so happily committed myself to it 13.5 years ago. Brutal woman.

  16. Helgan Says:

    So what is supposed to happen now? I’ve been reading and trying to be patient. I’ve gone so far as to tell her, ‘I’m trying something different (not asking, initiating or arguing about sex) so now she initiates once a week but then there is always some reason to rush me ( I forgot we have to be somewhere) or my favorite now that I dont initiate ( I must immediately respond to her advances no matter how vague) ” I was trying to get your attention but you weren’t interested ” I tired of being lead by the nose to jump through hoops only to be told I didnt do it in the right sequence. It seems like the more I try to communicate with my wife, the more confused she becomes about what she wants. I love my wife and I want this relationship and to be happily married but I dont think its truly possible. Ask a woman what she wants then give it to her and shes unhappy. She answers you, you deliver but then your interpretation or delivery is never what its supposed to be. I’ve come to the conclusion that women really don’t know what they want and when things go wrong would prefer to blame their husbands rather than look at themselves. For example when women break up they get together with other women and all agree it was his fault, he’s to blame even if she cheated. Then its ‘ I was lonely, I was unhappy in the relationship or my favorite he was horrible in bed ! ‘ I’ve never heard a woman take the blame for it not working out ! I’ve heard men say ‘ I fucked up, I could’ve done something differently and even ‘fuck her’ which in man language means: I was a dumb ass but it hurts to admit it. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m stuck ! I’m staying till my youngest graduates from high school (14 more years) I’m still trying to make it work without having a mistress. However if on graduation day thing aren’t GOOD I’m GONE ! I just hope I can stay positive and be open to see change.

    • Don Says:

      Jack in the first round of comments above writes:

      “While I agree with Julia that the best chance for change comes from the person who most badly wants that change, we may also agree that doing nothing in a special way can open channels of communication. As the folks in Alanon suggest to the spouses of people with serious drinking problems, you have to let go and put your attention and effort into building your own life. You need to accept the idea that you are powerless to change another person.

      Somehow when the partner is no longer being badgered by someone else’s desire for them to change they are freed from being constantly on the defensive. Then, with no one to resist and as they see their partner beginning to build a more satisfying life, they may wonder why they are being left out. When that happens in education it’s called learning readiness. In marital relations maybe it’s jealousy.”

      This is exactly what I did to break the impasse in my own marriage Helgan. I had to learn the hard way that nothing I was prepared to do was going to change her desire for me, so I was better serving myself by enacting positive change in my own life and no longer pestering her for sex. If sex was going to happen, I wasn’t turning it down, but I was no longer going to (metaphorically) hump her leg with a pitiful look on my face in order to get some. That was killing me, but that was the rut I had found myself in and that was what I had climbed out of.

      The thing is, when you begin the process of change, she’s more or less forced to adjust. This will be the acid test as to whether or not your marriage is salvageable. Expect at first your spouse to attempt to sabotage your attempts at change (ex: if you’re going to the gym, she may complain that ‘the times you are going are inconvenient for her.’ Be prepared to compromise these details, but not the initial premise. So offer to go at a time that’s more convenient for her, but do not accept that ‘no time is convenient’. It’s not the time, it’s the act and what the act represents that’s bothering her.) Most well-adjusted marriages can see through these changes for the better, but if your wife is wielding sex as a source of personal power, it will be apparent very quickly. Maintain your focus, and stick to your guns.

      But also note that a lot of this sabotage is coming from a real sense of insecurity. It will be tempting, depending on how much bad blood there is between you two, to use this knowledge to play her or otherwise gain an advantage. I urge you not to. Make sure that she knows that this is your quest for positive personal growth and she is welcome to join you, Good luck.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Guys beware in some cases a woman will cease having sex with the husband hoping to cash on his savings, 401k & insurance by hoping this behaviour will drive him to suicide or drink .

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