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    This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
    Help with having a very difficult discussion
    queston posted:
    I'm struggling a bit with this one: something I really feel I need to talk to my wife about, but I have a feeling it is likely to go very badly.

    Background: My marriage of 25 years has been through a pretty rough patch in the last 4-5 years, but things have been improving significantly over the last 6 months or so. We saw a couple counselors, the first of which was useless, but the second one was helpful.

    Anyway, the one thing that remains in the crapper is our romantic/sex life. My wife doesn't desire sex much, and, to be blunt, the lovemaking script she insists on is so lame, dull, and unfulfilling that I'm not sure that I desire it much anymore, either. (Well, it'd be easier if I didn't, is what I really mean. It still frustrates me a lot when we don't have sex, but it frustrates me just as much, usually, when we do.)

    Romantic gestures don't seem to really mean anything to her. For example, we could go out to dinner on a date, and she'd enjoy it, but as soon as we got home she'd throw on her sweat pants and curl up with her book. She also doesn't seem to care about any of my bedroom-specific efforts. I try to follow the "ladies first" principal, but she mostly seems intent on getting it over with.

    The general lack of romance and sexual excitement in our marriage is starting to eat away at my feelings of romantic attraction toward her. We love each other very much, but it's starting to feel like we're slipping out of love in the romantic sense of the word.

    How does one begin the "our sex life really sucks" discussion? I think she's generally aware that there are many things (not just frequency) which I'd like to be different about our sex life and about the amount of romance in our relationship. But she tends to not react well when I try to initiate any discussions about these sorts of things.

    I *know* that she's aware that I find our (in)frequency of sex frustrating, but perhaps she is deluded that I actually find what we do satisfying and simply wish we did it more often.
    Spankyrae responded:
    Have you discussed this area of your marriage with the counselor? If not, I certainly would.
    queston replied to Spankyrae's response:
    Not really. We talked briefly about the fact that we didn't have sex much, but we had more pressing issues at the time. I think we all assumed that the bedroom stuff would take care of itself if the bigger things were addressed.

    We're not currently seeing her, so bringing it up with her would require dragging my wife back to counseling. (She's generally lukewarm about the whole concept.)
    Spankyrae replied to queston's response:
    Understandable to see the other issues as more pressing. But, the lack of sex (and IMO, this is symbolic of a lack of intimacy more so) is a very important issue. And one very worthy of going back to counseling for.
    3point14 responded:
    Have you tried approaching it by asking her if she's satisfied? Have you tried asking her what you can do to make it less of a chore for her? Have you both expressed your fantasies? Does she give you any kind of loving attention outside the bedroom besides like, being married to you?

    Not gonna lie, man, it does seem like this conversation has the potential to go very awry. Do you think her lame, dull vision of sex is what she wants it to be?

    Maybe try approaching it from the "I'm so proud of how far we've come" angle, ask her if there are any things you can do to be a more satisfying husband (in general) and then hopefully open up the conversation to how you'd like the sex life to progress.
    queston replied to 3point14's response:
    Warning: really long response.

    Have you tried approaching it by asking her if she's satisfied? Have you tried asking her what you can do to make it less of a chore for her?

    I've asked that type of question before--she always says that she's perfectly satisfied. I guess, if nothing else, asking again would give me the opportunity to bluntly respond "well, I'm not."

    My general for a long time would be that if sex were more satisfying for her then she might be more into it. That's pretty-much my top priority, it's what I get the most pleasure and satisfaction. (I'm 47 years old. to be blunt, I've probably had something approaching 10,000 orgasms in my life. It's not the be-all, end-all for me that it once was. Now, *her* having a really good orgasm, that makes my whole week.)

    But she seems very resistant to that approach. It's almost as if she doesn't want sex to be fulfilling and satisfying for either of us.

    Does she give you any kind of loving attention outside the bedroom besides like, being married to you?

    Honestly, not all that much. This fall, she told me that every little thing she has to do--for work, for church in the household, for the kids--is on her mind constantly, but doing anything for me just kindof falls away immediately. I was pretty hurt by that, but I really think it's true. For example, a very small thing: she has always cut my hair. Nowadays, I have to ask, ask again, re-ask, nag, practically beg to get her to do it. She'll snuggle up with me on the couch if I initiate it, but otherwise she'll sit on the other couch or in a chair by herself. She almost always stays up beyond my bedtime.

    Maybe try approaching it from the "I'm so proud of how far we've come" angle, ask her if there are any things you can do to be a more satisfying husband (in general) and then hopefully open up the conversation to how you'd like the sex life to progress.

    That's good. That kindof fits my personality and my way of doing things. I'm afraid it kindof also fits into her controlling nature. I'm not sure the conversation would ever make it to what she could do to be a more satisfying wife.
    3point14 replied to queston's response:
    Well, make it be more about what she can do, question! Don't let her control this conversation. Don't let her manipulate you.

    Be real about your expectations, and try for yourself to find out why she wouldn't want a mutually satisfying sex life.

    It kills me that she doesn't do more for you. You're an incredibly empathetic, kind person. You've put so much effort into this marriage, and from what you say it sounds like you definitely do your part to make her life easier. So...WTF? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but as a person who believes strongly in giving what ya get out of a relationship, it's outrageous to me that she refuses to treat you with the care and attention you deserve. Having to nag to get a cuddle in? Freakin' ridiculous. It sucks.
    3point14 responded:
    And I'm going to have to be a total b***h here, but it seems like you and MCK are going through kinda the same thing.

    Obviously your wife lacks the (to me) more blatantly abusive qualities that her husband exhibits, but I think the passive-aggressive emotional abuse of withholding love is almost equally bad. It's a love killer.

    Maybe read that thread again? I'm not saying d-i-v-o-r-c-e, but wanting to feel and be loved is not an unreasonable request from a man or woman, no matter how long you've been with that person. ((hugs)) I think as hard as this conversation might be with your wife, it's really really necessary. You can do it!!
    tmlmtlrl responded:
    Pi gave you great advice on how to get the conversation going.

    I still think she will blow up no matter how you put it. Her natural reaction will probably be to be defensive. But that shouldn't stop you. And you can always look at her and say "I see that you're upset so we can talk more about it later" (and then do that) or even "You can be defensive all you want but we're going to keep having this conversation until we can resolve this issue on at least some level". She needs to know this is important to you (and your relationship) and it's not going to go away.

    I am just flabbergasted at the way people want to downplay sex and/or intimacy in a relationship. IT IS IMPORTANT. It is not shameful to say it is important.

    And you know what -- because it is important to YOU it should be important to HER.
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
    queston replied to 3point14's response:
    I don't think that's being a bitch. I have seen that connection myself for a long time. I appreciate your advice, as always.
    Spankyrae replied to queston's response:
    Now, *her* having a really good orgasm, that makes my whole week. It's too bad she can't enjoy that. That's a very great quality for a partner to have.

    Did you say before if she was sexually abused in the past? I can't recall if it were your case or someone else's. Regardless of the reason for her coldness, if she's not willing to change it, then you'll have to decide how to handle the same ol, same ol. Myself, I wouldn't accept it. This is important to you, understandably, has been an ongoing issue, and you should be assertive with her about how significant it is.

    A relationship works well when both parties are willing to put forth the effort that's needed to make it work. And honestly, when the relationship is going smoothly & healthily, I don't think that is a hard thing to do.
    stephs_3_kidz responded:
    I'm not defending your wife here, queston, but 25 years of marriage, where she's called the shots and controlled the sex life and now you are trying to figure out how to change it. Odds are she's pretty set in her ways. Obviously she's not concerned about how your lack of satisfaction and her lack of participation are affecting you. It sounds like she never really has, and she's always gotten away with minimal effort so I'm sure she doesn't see a need to change now. It sounds like your wife is just the type of person who can't really see beyond herself and her own feelings.

    I don't know how else you can convince her that you need a change. The situation you are in onw is the direct result of letting things go on too long that are a detriment to your relationship.

    I hope that others who are young and in the same position read this and see that 25 years later you are still trying to figure out how to find a happy balance in your marriage.
    MissCaptainKirk replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:
    steph, IDK if you were talking to me but I been reading this and seeing the similarities.

    I really feel for you, queston, but since I'm stuck in a similar spot I don't have any advice for you. (I'm sorry.) I really admire that you want her to enjoy sex and it's a priority for you. I admire your patience with her.

    I'm a girl and I think about sex constantly and am really frustrated, I imagine that this kind of thing is even harder on a guy. (No pun intended there at all.)

    I think everyone here is giving you good suggestions. I have talks w/ my husband about our sex life from time to time. It's difficult to ask for what you need but also be delicate about it. But I think that this conversation w/ her will be good, even if you have to stop-and-start it over a few times like tmlmtlrl said. Me and my husband's sex life has gotten a little bit better since he started changing. So talks can do a lot.

    IDK your whole story of your relationship, but if it's like my relationship then know that there is hope, she can change. It may take a LOT of talks and repetition and everything but change is possible.
    After 25 years, I think it's going to be real difficult to institute change. But it is possible.

    I wish you lots of luck, my friend.
    stephs_3_kidz replied to MissCaptainKirk's response:
    Oh, MCK, you or any other young person or anyone who is in a "young" relationship and is having troubles of this magnitude.

    I think it's important for everyone in a relationship to remember that this kind of stuff has to be fixed early on, or it just becomes a bigger battle and harder to fix.
    MissCaptainKirk replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:

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