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    Trouble on the horizon
    An_251234 posted:
    Wanted to bounce this off anyone that's interested...

    Last sexual intimacy was (best guess) last year, about July or August. Nothing since then. Finally approached her about it, asked bluntly "Can we have more sex?" Followed with, "I feel alone." Short and to-the-point. Virtually no reaction. Started initiating again, knowing I would be turned down. Had a "discussion" in bed (I know, I know, don't do that in the bedroom--my mistake). She made a remark, 'Don't get your hopes up.'

    Initiated again a week later (I feel like I'm being a good husband by "doing my part" and initiating), got eye rolling and a look 'are you kidding me?'.

    One week later--the weekly "good husband" initiation--got the remark, 'Am I being cornered here?'

    I know the inherent flaw with message boards is that the information tends to be one-sided, so I'll do the best I can:

    She's very low on affection and communication. I've pointed the affection aspect out to her; she simply replies that I'm the same way. The most I've gotten out of her is that "closeness" is missing between us. I'd agree with that. However, what's bizarre is that she gets the backwards idea (to me) that sexual intimacy follows feelings of closeness. Experience tells me this is the other way around.

    She requires an enormous amount of attention in the evenings--maybe that's just what she's used to. Without her knowledge, and again trying to be the "good husband," I've even scheduled all her favorite activities throughout the week, whether I feel like doing them or not. Don't know if she's really noticed this or not. I also try to take her flowers to her office on a regular basis--I can actually get a reaction out of her with that. I can't seem to get this woman's bloody attention.

    I attempt to do my 50% of the child-rearing and housework around the house, just to make sure everything is equatable. That's a given. FYI; just covering my bases here.

    Now for some background:

    -- Cross-country move in December 2011 for her job.
    -- Miscarriage in January 2012.
    -- Attempted to go off my medication to treat anxiety/depression in February 2012; didn't go well and put strain on marriage and family; learned lesson, went back on (feeling fine now).
    -- Miscarriage in October(?) 2012.
    -- Married almost six years with one child.

    The major areas of my life are not going well, and I've told her as such. Again, no reaction from her. I have no friends and my family doesn't take an interest in me, despite my best attempts to keep in touch with them. (I've resorted to hand-written letters, which is quite enjoyable.) I feel alone in my marriage. I've told her this--no reaction. I have a very advanced science degree and a lot of experience that I can't really use because we live in a city that would require me to commute several hours a day. The temporary, part-time work I do have I find ridiculous and soul-sucking. The second child that I so desperately wish for is not working out. It's unclear to me if she is willing to try again.

    She's all over me about buying a house of our own, which I'm on board with...except I'm leaning toward a Come-to-Jesus moment when we seriously start looking at loans and locations to move. She's a somewhat aggressive, angry, controlling person, so when this moment comes, I expect the sky will fall. The moment I'm referring to is the opinion to wait on the house and work out the relationship problems before moving ahead with the house. To me, this makes perfect sense: I would really like to not import old problems under a new roof. My feeling is that she'll feel that loss of control and go ballistic. Of course, I could be wrong.

    I've probably left out some relevant pieces of info. (apologies in advance).
    dfromspencer responded:
    Dude, you have some serious problems! About the only thing I can suggest is, more open communication. Communication is the key to a happy, successful marriage. I know you said you've tried, but keep trying. You sound like you love her very much, and don't want to fail in your marriage. Keep trying.

    Have you asked her to seek professional help? Have you suggested couple's therapy? It sounds like she could use both? A lot of what you said, would be better dealt with from a third party. Someone who is impartial.

    One thing about the sexual aspect, have you asked her why she doesn't want to have sex with you? She might be psychologically deterred to sex, and not know it? You did say she had two miscarriages, right? That could damage her thinking of sex, she may secretly hold this against you? Or. she may think that she is the one that is broken, and not know it?

    I feel that, the only hope you have, is in finding, and both of you going to counseling?

    I wish you all the best!!!

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
    I have to agree with Dennis that your situation sounds like it calls for couple therapy. There is a lot going on that needs to be gone through carefully and with guidance.

    That said, it does sound like you love her and are very much trying to make it work. Rather than just doing, though, many people find it helpful when they ask for their partner's input- to try to understand their partner's experience. So, ask her about how she feels about your marriage. Ask what makes her feel good and what she wishes were different. Also, ask her how she feels about your sex life. Is she lonely, too? What makes her feel this way. It may be that you continuing to initiate sex when she's made it clear that she's not interested just feels like you pushing her to do what you want, rather than caring about her feelings. You might even find it helpful to ask if this is the case. I'm sharing lots of questions you could ask, but I'm not suggesting that you just pour them all out to her at once. You need to find a good time to open a discussion - a time when you are both open to talking- and start gently and with caring, even sharing the love you feel for her.

    I have written about a lot of topics that you might find helpful in my The Art of Relationships blog. A couple of entries, in particular, that you might want to look at are: Errors in Communication and Repairing Relationship Problems .

    As I said, this can all be very difficult to do because you seem to be in an entrenched, negative pattern. So, again, you might find that couple therapy is the way to go. I do wish you well.
    An_251234 replied to dfromspencer's response:
    That was pretty much the answer I was expecting. Thanks for your input.

    I know: communicate, communicate, communicate...I'll keep at it. My idea at this point is to use a book I've found to try an open a dialogue with her. She won't read it, but it's worth a try. After that, I'll suggest she first see a physician, then a psychologist. If that goes nowhere, then it will be marriage counseling.
    An_251234 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    I do have a plan of sorts to attack this problem, but whether or not it will work is another question.

    On her end, she seems perfectly happy with the way things are. When I brought up to her the fact that we haven't been intimate since last summer, she replied that it's 'normal.' Okay, maybe she's gotten to the point where once or twice a year is enough for her. Fine. I think I would be more at peace with what's going on if she would just come out and say it. I can't stand all this mystery stuff. Just say it and let me know instead of chasing my tail.

    She knows I'm unhappy. I feel like my feelings are not being respected and that I'm being taken for granted.

    I'm backing off (again) on the initiation thing. It never works anyway--it was just a wild idea on my part. Honestly, I can do without the rejection--I don't need that. If she wants to, she knows where to find me. I pursue sex because I like the feeling of being desired, and also because I feel like I have something to give back. The fact that I get a physical release out of it is par for the course, as the saying goes. If I don't get that, I guess that's my problem.
    rohvannyn replied to An_251234's response:
    I wish you luck on the situation, it sounds very difficult. Have you asked her, in a simple and honest way, why she doesn't care about you or your feelings? And if there is any way you can help her? She is dead wrong about it being normal for married people to have that little intimacy. I should know, I went through a dry spell like that. From what you say, it's about way more than sex or intimacy, in fact it sounds like she either doesn't care about how you feel or is possibly even hostile to you. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about that. Simplicity sounds best here, and gentle honesty.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
    rohvannyn responded:
    A couple final thoughts: You said "However, what's bizarre is that she gets the backwards idea (to me) that sexual intimacy follows feelings of closeness. Experience tells me this is the other way around."

    For me, and for many I know, that's exactly how it is. I can't even think about sex before I feel close with someone, and I feel close usually by talking to them or engaging in other, lesser intimate behaviors like hugging, hand holding, sitting together, etc.

    It also really sounds to me like she probably has unresolved issues about the miscarriages and it could be causing her to be depressed. Sometimes depression shows itself in odd ways. I'd say she needs help. Especially considering the "go ballistic" aspect of your first post, and that you say she is aggressive and controlling, which can be really daunting to deal with.

    Couples counseling might be one of the only ways to go. If you are religious, sometimes you can get that through a church if money is an issue. Again, best of luck to you. I admire you for keeping up an effort and still trying.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
    An_251234 replied to rohvannyn's response:
    I actually don't pepper her with a lot of questions right now. She knows I'm having a difficult time with everything lately, and she's been giving me more "space."

    She's always had a fairly poor attitude towards sex in general. I thought that would change, like a lot of people in the same situation--but I was wrong. Like many absurdities in my life right now, I can't wrap my head around the idea of someone rejecting all the sex they could ask for. Any time, any where, any way...sounds enjoyable--nope!

    She senses a change in my attitude lately. I can feel it. She's been extra nice to me lately and hasn't been doing one of here blow-up anger meltdowns that she's prone to on the weekends. So there's that.

    I have a list of possible books dealing with this that I'll show her--she can choose one that interests her (or not). Maybe that will open a dialogue. Of course, somehow this will end up being my fault.
    An_251234 replied to rohvannyn's response:
    I'm sure it's different for everyone. The kicker is that all the things you list are being done now, and they have in the past, too. Sure, there are drop-offs, like when we were moving, etc. Hug and kiss, morning and night. Check. Hand holding. Check. Snuggling on the couch. Check. Compliments. Check. Flowers at work. Check.

    I know depression can be strange beast, but she certainly doesn't act depressed. Quite the opposite, in fact. She seems very content and happy. That's great. But I'm miserable.

    I'm fairly confident in saying that I don't think she respects me as a sexual being. She's one of those people that just doesn't "get it." This makes sense because what others would consider a treasure--as much sex as they want--she instead is more partial to the evening-book-and-tea thing on the couch. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but when it carries on my the lion's share of a year, I begin to feel like I'm co-parenting and that's it. I get to wonder whether my feelings are valid in her eyes or not. These are the kind of tricks that go on inside my head; I'm not feeling sorry for myself--I refuse to do that.

    Since I've been acting different towards her, the good news is that she's backed off the aggression/anger thing. She's actually been quite nice to me lately--not so bossy.
    rohvannyn replied to An_251234's response:
    Well, I'm glad you are seeing some progress at least. I hope things improve for you. Also, kudos for resisting feeling sorry for yourself, that can get pretty toxic.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ

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