Dear Dr. Love:I have been married for almost 3 years now and my wife and I dated for 3 before that. Needless to say, my problem with my marriage is sex.I am 28 and she is 31. For the whole time I have known her, she has been VERY sexually inhibited. I have, admittedly, pressured her to try to relax and enjoy the many pleasures of sex. However, now I have found us in such a rut, I don’t think we can ever recover.The reason I am writing is to ask you whether you think it might be time for me to move on. We literally have sex 1 to 2 times per month (for 3 years since marriage), usually once. During the week my wife is ALWAYS too tired to have sex. During the weekend, she often mysteriously suffers from sudden stomach aches, cramps, sore limbs, headaches, emotional distress and just pure high-strung anger at me to get out of sex.I am afforded a break from these distractions merely 1-2 times per month, and then we have begrudging, quick, unenjoyable sex. I am VERY, VERY attracted to my wife, and I tell her how sexy she is to me and why, very often. The response to this and all other of my advances is basically one of: ‘you just want sex (pervert). ‘Yes, I do. I want to make love to my wife. I am sooooo frustrated, because she literally is a touch freak, and I cant even hug her sometimes without a snappy return. I don’t want to make her out to be the complete heavy, she says she is trying. But, I can’t see any future for our sex life.I want a vibrant, oral, positioning, fun, experimentative sex life, and she wants a soap opera man. I have quite literally tried to be romantic and suave to give her that (as I can understand her point of view). I never get any reaction.Then she says I need a better approach to asking for sex, which we talked about, but every time I try, she sees me coming a mile off, and shoots me down (very coldly) before I even get out of the gate. I tried for a long time to be extra attentive toward her needs (walking more with her, calling her work to say I love her, listening to her work bitches more attentively) all of which had no effect.I am a good husband, damnit, I do the dishes every night, and all the outside work (she does her own flowers) and cook when I beat her home. I don’t think she has it too rough, we both make a good living, live in a nice neighborhood, and have a secure life. I can’t see any reason why we can’t have a good sex life, or a sex life PERIOD!When we talk about it, as we do often, she agrees that she needs to lighten up, and work harder to at least make the sex more often. However, the next day, we’re right back in that rut again and I have to wait another 3 weeks for sex. I have really been questioning whether to just leave her. I want to, to be honest, because I know deep in my heart, that it’ll never get better.I’d LOVE for her to change, and everything to work great, but I know now, after 3 years of the same, it’ll never happen. She’s been promising for 3 years. We didn’t even have sex on our honeymoon nor 2 weeks after (OK, granted, I got drunk at the reception but is that such a HUGE deal?)Anyway, I’d opt to see a counselor, but I think only after several thousand dollars and years of therapy would that be any help, due to my wife’s inability to stick to a regimen she doesn’t like. The reason I’m thinking so hard about leaving her is that we don’t have any kids (and I dont want to until our sex life is on the money – no she doesn’t know this), I’m still young 28, and there are other problems in our relationship that kinda make me want to leave her also.To be honest, though, if the sex were there, I could deal with the rest pretty easily. I am VERY frustrated, as I said before. I want her so bad sometimes, to kiss her and make love to her and she’s very unreceptive to that. I am extremely resentful, too, which is childish, I know.I find myself almost looking for an affair, which I absolutely hate. It goes against the safe, secure, life I’ve always wanted. I am like most men, I see sexual time ticking away, and feel that I am wasting it with her.The last piece of information is my own fault. Yes, I did know how she was before we got married, except we had sex about 1 per week then, and she totally agreed with my sexual philosophy about enjoying life in the bedroom and having that deep intimacy together. She also promised before we got married that she’d be more attentive to that once we were husband and wife (always a romantic idea with her). I love her, but I can’t stand not being able to be with her. Can you help?Signed:VERY lonely husband looking to get out
Dear Very Lonely Husband Looking to Get Out,You are in a tight spot (only not the one you had in mind!). I hear that you are basically asking me for permission to get out. I must say that I don’t see much hope here.The biggest reason why is because you don’t report any period of time in which your sex life was different, better or more frequent. This means that having more and better sex isn’t part of your behavioral repertoire. It’s hard to bring something back that never was.Even though the odds are against you, this isn’t an impossible prospect if both partners want to change. The fact that she says she will make an effort and then does nothing about it is not encouraging. The reason why she isn’t making an effort is because, I think, she figures that you will put up with anything.You did marry her even though the sex wasn’t great. So, the only hope you have here is to shake her up bigtime. Tell her that you are considering separation and divorce. Tell her that you are not willing to accept the lack of sex any longer and that you are not happy with her lack of follow-through with her promises to change her behavior.You should also ask her what her refusal of sex is telling you. How does she want you to interpret her behavior? How does she want you to feel about her refusals? And, I would also ask her how she wants you to feel when she promises to change and then does nothing. Is she trying to make you feel like your needs don’t count for her?I would also point out to her that every effort that you have made to approach her in ways that she finds more appealing (the romantic soap opera man) has been met with coldness or outright refusal. Tell her that this leads you to think that she doesn’t want to have a sexual connection with you. Ask her to examine why she wants to push you away sexually. Ask her why you wants to drive you away, period.The goal of the discussion is to make her see that her behavior is pushing you farther and farther away. You also need to help her to examine if this outcome is what she wants to achieve. Many times people act in ways that produce reactions or outcomes that they don’t intend. Is this her case? If she does intend to push you away, then she needs to own this and you can then act accordingly. If she does not intend to drive you away, she needs to see what she is doing that has that effect on you.I have the idea that she may be aware of her effect. Perhaps her parents treated each other with disregard and she is merely repeating what she observed. I also think that she has been led to believe that she could deprive you and that you would never walk.You yourself said that you married her despite the fact that she didn’t want sex often. Your marrying her under such circumstances told her that this was acceptable to you. What you probably never communicated to her is that you had a secret wish. That after marriage she would change. That was your idea. From her side, she only saw that you accepted her the way she was.In order for this situation to shift, she needs to be put off balance. She needs to hear that if she doesn’t follow through on changing this permanently that you will have to leave. This is the only hope to move this mountain of inertia that keeps the situation as it is.I suspect that your wife may have been sexually molested, hence her aversion to sex (have her do my Psychological Check-Up). Another possiblity that must be explored is that she is harboring a great deal of anger towards men (perhaps she hated her dad). She needs to see that she is mistreating you, discounting your needs and feelings, treating you with cold disdain, asking you to make changes and then pushing you away.I have given you a lot to work on. If it doesn’t work out with her. Be aware of your own danger zone: that you tolerate being given much less than you desire all the while hoping that your partner will change.Your next step is for us to do your Psychololgical Check-Up to find out if this pattern stems from your own unfinished business from childhood.Good luck. Let me know what happens when you confront her.