Dr love, Please advise me on how to save my marriage.I’ve been married for nearly 3 yrs and we are both 51. My wife has been married twice before. Sex has been difficult from day 1, my wife says she was abused by her first husband. I have tried my best to understand her and love her very much. I cannot kiss her and put my tongue in her mouth, give or recieve oral sex, touch her intimately, or really let go as she prefers things to be over quickly.Sex has now become less than romantic and a ritual that takes place about every 2 or 3 weeks, and only on a sunday morning. I have always been a spontaneous person and I have a good sex drive. I feel angry and rejected.She has also been through the menopause since our marriage. She refuses to discuss her past or seek counselling and I’m left waiting for it to happen at the same time when she feels ready.My wife has also become obsessive in the way the house and my possesions are arranged. She will arrange my books in pyramid style, and follow me from room to room tidying up and checking if I have left even a book on a coffee table for 5 mins. If I empty my pockets on to my bedside table, within 5 mins she has piled the coins into a pyramid shape.What can I do to stop her underminding every decission I make. The desire for any physical contact with her is beginning to deminish, and resentment is quickly taking over. Please advise.
I hear how angry you are. Part of your distress stems from the fact that you are personalizing your wife’s avoidance of sex (you take her refusal as a personal rejection) when, in reality, her avoidance of sex isn’t about you. It’s about her terrible fear of sexual contact, which surely brings up feelings and memories that she isn’t willing to face. Even her compulsive, ritualistic behavior around the house is an unconscious way of avoiding intolerable feelings.By staying so busy, her mind is trying to distract her from her own emotional struggles and crippling anxiety. She is so busy running, avoiding and not facing herself, that I am afraid that she may never have the courage to face her feelings and change. The fact that she has refused therapy tells me how scared she is of meeting her feelings head on. Her refusal to get help means that the ball is in your court, literally and figuratively! This means that you need to decide how much you will and won’t tolerate.If you are clear that you aren’t willing to continue living the way you are living, then you will take a stand. You might begin with an intermediate step in which you ask her if she realizes that she is driving you away from her, and ask her if this her intention. She may be so afraid of becoming close to a man that her unconscious is actually arranging to drive you away. Ask her if this is what she wants to have happen.You might also point out that her avoidance of sex and her various rituals help her to keep you at a distance and avoid the feelings that would come up if she let you get closer to her. Avoiding her feelings may feel more comfortable than the alternative–facing the feelings tied up with her previous sexual abuse–then point out that she is going to be facing even more horrible pain down the line when she loses her relationship with you and ends up terminally alone.If this type of exploration doesn’t move her to get help, then you may need to take the ultimate stand in which you tell her that you will have to leave if she doesn’t get help. I am not at all convinced that she will be willing to get help, even with a gun to her head. She may feel safer to let the relationship go rather than face the feelings that she will need to face in order to heal. Before you take a stand, make sure that you are actually ready to leave the relationship if she doesn’t take your bait.This is a tough nut to crack. I hope she isn’t damaged beyond repair. Let me know what happens.