Saturday, August 3, 2013

Real Sex Lives: "Having no intimacy with her for 23 years is killing me."

Store your sexuality away in that box. It'll keep. Maybe.
(You have arrived in the midst of a grand celebration in which we're re-running IBWMW's all-time greatest Real Sex Lives stories.)

Today's truth teller is crazy madly in love with his wife, but his wife is physically--and possibly emotionally--unable to have sex with him.  And that's pretty much been the story for the last 23 years.Where does that leave him? That's what he's trying to figure out.


Ever hear of “vulvodynia”? Me neither until I read about it. It’s one of those woman-things that’s quite real but insurance companies don’t pay for diagnostics or treatment for whatever excuse they’re using on a given day. The scuttlebutt is it can take up to ten grand to find out. Then there’s not a whole that can be done about it. She doesn’t have an official diagnosis. But when you’ve been around Her for over a decade and you both know the exact nature of the problem, when you read the symptomology, it’s not rocket science, no matter what the insurance bastards have to say.

All those blissful billions of nerve endings sistas have, in Her they experience a massive malfunction when stimulated. Instead of pleasure, they send PAIN! to Her brain. And they don’t all agree with each other across the topography of Her magic places; up near the clitoris, they say PAIN!, along the outside of the labia 5 mm from the bottom they say YAHOO!, inside the all-powerful opening, they say everything from WTH? to PAIN! To YAHOO to JEEBUS WTF ARE YOU DOIN’?! So yeah, so much for the science lesson and now that we know the problem has a medical name, my husband-guilt goes into overdrive—I may NEED sex, most preferably with Her, but if it hurts Her, then “sex” just turns into the thing I have to “sacrifice”—or else I’m a selfish male asshole, isn’t that how it goes? Once sex is out of the equation, all the “other” problems that come with 23 years married and quarter century living with Her go into a slow nuclear burn.

She was the girl I “did the right thing” by… I was abstinent until our wedding night, because that was how She wanted it and I wanted to be with Her more than any other girl I’d ever been around, let alone those I’d been with before Her. She rolls her eyes every time I say it, but it’s the authentic truth: I saw Her in her younger sister’s dorm room and that was it, no other female human being had any appeal to me whatsoever. It wasn’t my “other brain” that sang, it was the whole deal, head to toe, both brains included. I must have done something right that first night out because we began to see each other a lot, She drove five hours to see me, I moved to her town first chance I had so five hours was five minutes. I wrote her mammoth love letters, I wrote songs for her that my band played at gigs, I photographed the daylights out of her although she protested (a lot). We got married [too] young. Her mom wrote her a letter trying to talk her out of marrying a 23 year old musician/photographer/writer —“dreamer” was what her mom said, and I think “loser” was in there somewhere; thankfully FIL-to-be loved me. I was working-class like him but college educated and could spend hours under the hood of an old car with him and honestly have a great time. He’s quite possibly the most honorable guy I’ve ever met.

Then came the wedding night. She was the fourth virgin I’d been with out of a dozen others from the time I was fifteen (I know that makes me a high school and college boy-slut jerk, right?). The other three virgins, things worked out fine, I actually went and found out how to make those first times better than the way most women describe them—maybe they lied to me. I’ll never really know. She brought me with her to the “lady doc” and She did her homework assignments with me as prescribed. I did extra homework to make sure everything was going to go well, because I’d waited and She deserved nothing but my very best.

So we were both a little shocked after I came up grinnin’ like fool from giving Her a nice and loud, jumping-all-over-the-damned-place-orgasm, when intercourse, after appropriate recovery and well-earned snuggling, was impossible and waaaay more painful that it should have given all the conscientious preparation—in retrospect, we were both shattered. Unfortunately we were too ashamed and scared to tell each other just how shattered we were— for the first decade or so that we were married. The honeymoon wasn’t the intimate emotional-physical-sexual discovery and bonding experience we’d planned. Instead it was just another one of our many trips together, except that this trip was an emotional nightmare and we talked very little and we only tried to have sex one other time, again to failure and a lot of me apologizing for letting Her down. I was convinced it must be my fault.

Our marriage was publicly known to our friends and family as the model for “doing it right” but in private, in our bed, it was emotionally tortured and sexually just awful. In the first year I kept trying to get her to take this all to her doctor. I was a fix-it guy, something doesn’t work you go fix it. In the meantime you work around it. I had a vocabulary, I had some experience with a bunch of other fun things to do with two human bodies. I didn’t know what “vanilla” meant back then but I discovered She was a vanilla’s vanilla. Missionary only or nothing, well, almost nothing, She’d let me go down on Her, which I was all too eager to provide because all I wanted was to make Her happy. I couldn’t help but wonder it that was a response to our wedding night shocker or if She just really was “not into anything else” as She told me that first year. Over the first few years we tried to have sex and failed. Eventually intercourse, as brief as possible and as an afterwards She endured, was possible. Bottom line, She refused to go see a doctor and refused to try any workaround. I just wanted Her to be happy so I settled. That’s what a “good guy” does. I loved Her.

I was devastated but I loved Her. And it hurt even worse that Her body was (and is to this day at late forty-something) rockin’. It was like coming to the table every meal, every damned day, where the table is loaded with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne and never being allowed to even touch any of it, well, one strawberry, a couple times a year, and I had to down it quickly so it wouldn’t hurt her too much. That’s been our “sex life” for 23 years.

Somehow we managed to have two kids. We were stupid, thinking: well, maybe this will be something we can do right, in spite of the “problem.” Economics put me home as the Stay-At-Home-Dad. It was kinduva “choice” for me, I had already bailed on my arts careers in favor of a desk job but the economy was tightening up around the millenium, both of us wanted to raise our own kids and, since we couldn’t afford daycare anyway even with both our jobs, I had the time so I downshifted. Ha! More like “shifted-sideways” because any SAH parent knows kids are never “down” even when they’re unconscious.

Now that our kids were a distraction from our intimacy crisis, our silence about the “problem” continued until I went back to college to finish whatever-degree-was-cheapest-and-fastest-to-finish and could get me back to an arts-based career (I was always a better artist than a paralegal), and when our eldest entered kindergarten. One day, out of the blue she tells me matter-of-factly, no tears or anything, our wedding night devastated her. “It was one more thing in my hard life that was hard. I always believed sex was going to be something easy, natural, organic I could count on to not be more work. But it wasn’t and it isn’t and I’m done with sex for good.”

I was devastated, hell, beyond shattered all over again. I felt numb, surely She didn’t mean it. After two kids, birthed the way evolution geared it, she still had a body that was rockin’. That table filled with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne I was not allowed to touch? Not even on the table anymore. I blamed her for waiting until she was married. I kicked myself for being stupid for breaking the Rule for Her that I established when I was still in high school: no moving forward with a girl without sexual compatibility being established. It was a socially unpopular Rule (one my fundamentalist parents would have freaked out over had they known) but it had always weeded out girlfriends who liked the idea of me more than me. Until Her. And here we were thirteen years married, I broke my Rule for Her and I was getting’ spanked for it (not even the fun kind).

I had a shitstorm to deal with because I was around younger twenty-somethings every day on campus and four different women (older twenty somethings) made me an offer no man could refuse, except me. I was still head over heels in love with Her. I had thirteen years emotionally invested in Her and the last thing I wanted to do was complicate that—it was plenty complicated already, dammit—and I already knew Her shit; why would I want to have to learn to deal with another woman’s? And I kicked myself for it while simultaneously glad I still wanted Her more than those very appealing other women. I was noble, it’s what a “good guy” does, right?

Again, we didn’t talk about the “problem,” except for briefly when the vulvodynia discovery happened three years after She announced to me She was “done with sex for good.” All along I kept saying to myself, “Dude, don’t be a selfish asshole, it’s gotta be hell for Her, put yourself in Her shoes—if you imagined that your parts were fine then discovered on The Most Sexually Auspicious Occasion in Life that they didn’t, how badly would that suck? How guilty and ashamed would you feel that you were depriving your mate of the thing they always looked forward to and already had plenty of good experiences with?” Along with the self-recriminations and heart-driven motivation to Sacrifice for Her—because that’s really what it was always about for me, my whole life was oriented around this amazing, breathtaking woman who possessed my heart, even though She could never articulate why She said “yes” to me, why She loved me or much else in the intimacy department let alone sexually—I began to realize I really had some authentic needs that weren’t being met. Those unmet needs interfered with my career, my sense of myself as me, my sense of being worthwhile and valuable to another person; to Her I clearly was not. For me sex wasn’t, and still isn’t, about “gittin’ some” or an event-count, and it was so much deeper than fairy-tale romantic hoohah. Sex presents a vital affirmation on the deepest level that I, as a male human being was loved, desired, needed, wanted, important to the woman I wanted to be with. When I was having sex, I was young, sure. But I know how much taller I walked, how much “brighter” I was in my worldview and confidence. Women constantly underestimate the power they have with men. I don’t know why. Mom is the first and most important woman to a boy. When he becomes sexually active, the girl he’s having sex with becomes the next most important woman in his life. Why? Because women can do that to us. It’s just nature’s most authentic sexual truth.

After I was complaining about how I wasn’t getting published any more except in pissant non-paying literary journals, one of my mentors told me, very emphatically, “If you don’t have sex with your woman, if you cannot go into a hotel lobby and land any woman you desire right then and there, how the hell can you pitch your work and sell it?” I realized, well shit, this celibacy[-against-my-will] crap is definitely impacting my work now. I ain’t young anymore so the sell is even harder to buyers are wealthy confident young guys, often with either super model-type girlfriends or wives. I have to be twice as confident, twice as self-assured as they are, and let me tell you, those guys are pretty damned confident and self-assured. But I no longer am. For 23 years I’ve had no affirmation from a woman on the deepest level and that’s a long time for a guy like me to go with no emotional feedback from the person I adore and try like hell to give Her what She needs, including the supreme sacrifice from me.

I’d be pitching a story in front of a bunch of younger guys, rich guys, and here I’d be mister working class SAHD artistic creative guy trying to sell myself, my ability to spin a yarn over and over again, always be fresh and innovative, quality driven but with almost no self-esteem when it came to feeling worthwhile to other people. That I could still pitch demonstrated I had enough self-esteem to think I had something to offer, but I was the guy who couldn’t make his marriage to Her be intimate, let alone be rock solid and awesome. I was the guy who gained too much damned weight and had zero incentive from Her to lose it—I found out later stress is a major impediment to losing weight, and men need testosterone to be able to lose it and SAHDs apparently lose testosterone in the process. I was the guy who turned down other very appealing women who seemed to desire me enough to offer me a sexual relationship. I kind of wondered it they were just nuts or something because if She doesn’t want me why would they. I was getting gigs before I had begun to really think about this stuff and now I was getting “we’ll pass” all the damned time.

I’m not a buff, hairless, cut-no-body-fat-washboard-abs, six-foot something, wealthy guy that most women these days seem to want. I am debt-free (apparently that’s something), honest, passionate, honorable, and I give more than I take, always. She has always come first, then the Offspring, then me. The only time I move ahead in that priority sequence is when it’s directly related to my ability to put funds in the family bank account. And now, that’s become a sore spot for me. I know my economic shortcomings have to be a turnoff or at least an irritant for Her, despite her protestations that that doesn’t matter to her. Every other woman says it is. All I know is having no intimacy with Her—emotional and lately intellectual—let alone sexual, for 23 years is killing me. I honestly don’t know how much longer I can stand it. I am not dead, no matter what society puts on me as a mid-forty-something guy. And it’s heartbreaking because I still adore Her.

At my “advanced age” I don’t honestly think I would fare well in the attracting a partner let alone a mate—apparently over 40 and male=dead and asexual--because if you get an erection, especially upon seeing a woman under 40, that’s a bad thing, you’re a “dirty old man” (jeebus, the crap our culture buys into). I’ve been online in my darker more depressed moments at 3:00 a.m. on those dating websites, trying to figure out what women want in a guy. I’m nowhere near any of those descriptions put out there by women I find appealing. So much for a fix-it or a workaround. Besides the genuine bottom line I keep coming back to, and feeling so utterly stupid for feeling it, is I just want Her. I ache for Her.

Two days ago she told me, “I’m emotionally dead inside, except for being angry. I’m really angry.” She even tossed in a Probstian, “I got nothing for ya’” to assure me there was nothing I could do about it. Somewhere along the line this has to be my fault. 23 years of not being able to fix anything, not being allowed to try any sort of workaround. I have teenage kids, one with Aspergers, one who’s bipolar. I can’t just leave them. I’ve devoted the past sixteen years bonding and being deeply attached to them. Economically I’m not independent enough to make a go of it on my own. Sexually and physically, despite having lost 40 pounds (working on the final twenty) and having one of four jobs as a paid mid-level sports official (if you cannot keep up with under 21s you don’t get to work—I work), I’m so busted up and demoralized I’m not going to attract or gain a partner anyway. And I keep wanting Her. Just Her.

A female high school friend (yay Facebook, bane of my existence—it sucks to have three high school ex’s trying hard to get back the “one that got away.” Hell one named her kid after me—jeebus ) told me it’s completely unfair for a married woman to tell her husband unilaterally that she’s not going to have sex with him anymore (No, she’s not one of those three ex’s). I may have even read that in a blog comment somewhere too, so it must be a real thing. In principle, I agree with that. But my situation just isn’t that simple. She has a physically broken sweet-parts. She’s had a life of hard work where nothing comes easy. She has shattered expectations. I don’t know if She honestly loves me anymore; She still won’t tell me and She doesn’t say the three magic words anymore. I do hear a blistering critique of my flaws on a regular basis, often really unfair ones (my sixteen year old has begun to ask my why Mom is always riding me about stuff—I just don’t have an answer).

I do know her expectation of me is that I’ll stay with Her until She’s dead. She talks about us buying a place, where we’ll hole up together once neither of us can work anymore. It make me do a double-take every time; it confuses the hell out of me why She has no problem expecting me to continue to live with Her anger, her admitted emotional deadness, that she’s got nothin’ for me, when she knows how important intimacy and sex is for my very soul. How can I live with Her when there is nothing I can give Her?

I’ve tried to show my adoration, my affection for Her, my passion for Her above every other woman on the planet in every nonsexual way I can. I work my ass off doing anything that’ll pay (and I still pitch and pitch) in the toughest economy since the Depression to pull my weight. One of the two jobs that pays money regularly I get to put up with obnoxious fans, temperamental young players and far more often that people realize, threats of violence against me—I don’t care, I love the work too much. I dumped 40 pounds. I constantly and actively listen to Her go one for hours about how shitty Her life is. I’ve learned to clean the place up to Her standard despite two very challenging Offspring. I still do my damnedest to show her where my heart I with Her. I endure the unrequited love and the rejection from Her. I drive hard to be the very best Dad I can possibly be for the two kids I adore—if I read one more bullshit female author’s blog about how there’s nothing hotter than a good Dad (or a man who cleans), I’m going to explode because in my house that’s not the case. Nothing and no one is “hot,” except Her and She’s got nothing for me.

It’s galling, it’s living every day heartbroken, and feeling stupid for being unable to not be in love with Her. It’s so demoralizing that there’s nothing I can do to fix it or try a workaround, sexually or emotionally.

Everyone keeps telling me, leave her. I can’t. To quote a character in Juno (shudder), “the sun still shines out her ass” in my heart’s stupid foolhardy eyes. I feel alone. I am alone, married for 23 years to Her. And that truth is just too hard to take.

I used to have this recurring dream that started about a year after we started seeing each other. The two of us, old in our own place somewhere on the central coast, and we hosted big communal meals outside under the oak trees. It was our thing and we were happy. Five or six years ago that dream has been replaced with another recurring dream. In this one I’m alone, homeless “in a van down by the river” and I’m anything but happy. Damn, that’s just depressing. Somehow I can’t let that happen. But I really don’t know how to do that.


(If you wish to undergo the terrifically cathartic process of ripping your soul out and plastering it all over the internet for everyone to gawk at, rip that motherfucker out and send it in to IBWMW at

(photo: Wicked Knickers) 


Anonymous said...

The situation the reader described had my genuine sympathy at first. However, by the end of it I was irritated, shrugging and saying like the wife, "I got nothing for you".

You are romanticizing your pain and making it clear there is nor will there be any compromise, no workable solution on any level. Though that may be true painful fact between the two of you, you still have options. You won't take them. You have given her all your power. Btw-this is coming from someone-a woman-who is a proud-feminist,not some male reactionary "misandry" ranting nutjob.

Almighty She with the capitalized pronoun (like a "goddess" you claim or the way some power playing couples would refer to the domme or master) unilaterally chose permanent celibacy for both of you is not a fair nor reasonable demand. Yet you allow it.

Although I sympathise with her medical condition, the fact she will not work around other kinds of sexual connection, not care about your physical (with her or from another source) AND emotional needs is a breach of her vows to you. You don't state a plan, a hope. I understand just...venting sometimes. I get it, but it comes off in this letter that you are forever trapped in this hell--but don't you see that you, YOU stacked (pre-emptively it looks like in anticipation of suggested paths to some solution) chairs up against every exit.

In addition to the medical issues maybe she's also asexual. Maybe she grew up with some previous physical or emotional trauma related to sexuality. Maybe she's not that into you, nor was for a long time but was brought up that divorce isn't an option. Maybe she's an emotional sadist. Maybe she's depressed. Maybe she's shut down because she's with someone who someone who has no backbone and therefore someone she can't respect but is just as fearful of the unknown as you. Maybe some toxic cocktail of all of it.

What are YOU going to do with the situation, where are YOUR boundaries and expectations and standards as a partner here? Your repeated statement: none. She's a goddess, I can't step away on any level, I can't stand up for my self. I'm not worthy. I'm in pain, so much pain. I got nothing for me, here.

Another thought, just putting it out there: The continued description of a partner that is so "hot" who has a 20 year history of being emotionally rejecting, sexually rejecting, yet domineering reads a bit like cuckhold fetish stories where the heat and core of the fantasy is (usually the male) always being deprived, sometimes for years. Sometimes they have the added thrill of sexual humiliation of having to declare or demonstrate it to a group. So, hey- maybe you are getting something out of all this.

People can get cosy in their hells. They get the drama of an occasionally adrenalin pumped vent of their exquisite emotional pain than face the fear of so many things that are a part of being alive. A real connection to others...(sexual or emotional), risking failure in doing something they love, or heck-risking SUCCESS in doing something they love.

I knew a creative woman in an abusive relationship whose therapist warned her at a painful crossroads with her emotional hot/cold and conflict driven boyfriend (he squashed and discouraged all her considerable artistic talents on every level, even as a hobby-which perhaps in some ways paralleled her fears about pursuing it with more intent): Don't have a baby with this man. You will be bound for life to just more of this. On that, she immediately ceased her hormonal birth control and was pregnant soon after.

Bound by fear and numbness was a handy out for not facing other challenges in her life.

How about you?

Jill Hamilton said...

To all the newcomers stopping in today: the general rule w these is that there's no judging/reprimanding with these. It's brave and hard to write these so everyone gets some slack. Happy happy lalalala.

Anonymous said...

Hey-I was the previous commenter. Been a longtime reader and fan. In online dealings in general I long ago learned to focus on the positive and keep negativity off the page but this just.. pushed my buttons this morning. I really do wish him well and some positive outcome of facing all this, (maybe seeing it in print helps).

I do understand if you remove the previous comment. Maybe it isn't the appropriate place for it. Sorry.

Jim said...

It's a sad story, but my reaction is that if the writer isn't seeing a psychotherapist, he should be. If this is "killing him" and he's a "fix it" guy, then he should go fix himself. And news flash ... he can't fix her, only she can.

I also agree with Anonymous ... romanticizing pain isn't a positive thing. It doesn't make him a hero. It just makes him a guy who seems comfortable with the familiarity of his pain and in some ways is trying to celebrate it.

We only get one shot at life and we're all responsible for our own happiness.

Jim said...

I just saw how harsh that sounds, and I do feel bad for the guy. Writing this takes some courage and I'm sure there are others in his same situation who will take comfort in the fact that they are not alone.

But ... the situation described in this beautifully written piece is not psychologically healthy for either party.

Where's the happiness in any of this? It's not "love" if there is no happiness.

A good therapist can help sort all of this out, and help him (and her if she likes) find their individual paths to happiness while maintaining their commitments to support each other and their children.

Kellie @ Delightfully Ludicrous said...

Ouch, that one got me right in the feelings.

Anonymous said...

Everything the first commenter said. EVERYTHING. And Jill, I realize that you want to keep things positive here, but part of the reason this man wrote in, I'm guessing is not only to vent but to invite different perspectives/views on the situation. This is a sad, tragic situation, but he has to claim his part in creating it. He is being mistreated and taken for granted because he's allowing it. If readers can help him see he has power he's not using, that's progress.

Anonymous said...

I gather that he's in his late 40s...his anxieties about trying to find a mate via online dating (or other channels) seem to me completely misplaced. Unless he's really really let himself go, or he lives in rural Wyoming, he will find plenty of attractive 40-something women to date. Including some who will have the experience of staying in a dead marriage too long in common with him. Children do complicate things, and I don't know how old his youngest is, but he will have another shot at love and good sex, if he wants it.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem to be interested in 40-something women, given his disbelief that 20-something women might not want his sexual attentions.

Anonymous said...

What everyone said. Mostly, he needs to go into therapy and then see if he can get his wife to go. She's full of anger? Maybe therapy can help her with it. I'm so willing to bet that the anger is what is behind her medical condition - making her clench up, denying them both pleasure. And, yeah, maybe the marriage wouldn't survive. But better to know. Because, you know, intercourse isn't the end all and be all of sex. If they can find a way back to loving each other (if she ever did), I can think of some dandy ways she can reciprocate his attentions without penetration. But first, I really REALLY hope Mr. Husband here gets himself some help. He's got a lot to sort out, and I hope he does it.

And as for re-entering the dating pool? I can think of two friends, right off the bat, who are cool, attractive women (one single, one divorced) who would love love love a sexual relationship -- more if it happens, but a kind playmate -- who fall right into your age range.

Anonymous said...

The guy has fully vented and in so doing he has come upon several ways to try to save his marriage.
One by one he argues against taking any of those ways of dealing with it, and thus he walls himself into the corner he has made by fetish-izing his devotion to wifey despite no reciprocity.
In my own (>30 yr) marriage, I, too, have some mismatched intimacy issues & made similar mistakes.
I tried several ways of dealing with the issue (and gotten in trouble by having an affair in one case.)
Since the wreckage of my affair has been cleared away, the answer seems to be to be able to seek variety in erotic art with women who do this for a living.
I restored my ego at a life success seminar, and now I take full responsibility for my lifestyle. Other people may judge me, I do not care.
Like the previous writer, I recognize that this life of ours is not a rehearsal:...this is all we get. (sorry I no longer believe in heaven).
The time I spend in the arms of a beautiful woman, even if only for an hour now and then keeps me going as a replacement for the genuine article. It was great while it lasted, though.
Now past 60, It almost seems like "forever" is too high of a goal for two regular people to keep a fire of romance hot.
The universe knows I tried.

Anonymous said...

Dear T - No, it may not be possible to keep romance hot forever. But when two people are really committed to each other - and that means to each other's erotic pleasure and satisfaction, as a necessary part of their overall emotional wellbeing - it can be often hot and regularly pleasurable. Yes, it takes more work. More daring. More exposing of oneself - one's fantasies and fetishes - to someone else, but it is possible. I am sorry you and the writer of this have given up.

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

I have to be honest and say that this is a way better guy than me and I don't think I'm really that qualified to give advice. But I don't think that intercourse is the end all be all of sexuality. People smarter than myself have written at length about that. If you really want to stay in that situation I think you should explore those options and certainly what has been said again and again, therapy. But if I were you I would have left years and years ago.

Anonymous said...

I could have written that essay.

Married nearly a decade and a half to the mother of my kids, and we haven't had sex now for 10 years. (Kids were IVF).

I still love my wife. Intellectually we share so many things. But there is no intimacy. We barely kiss anymore. She simply has no interest in sex. None.

Emotionally, I don't think I could cheat on her. But I'm 48, and I never expected sex to be gone by 40. And as the essayist wrote, it's not about the score, it's not about the number of times, all those 20-something measures of's about the connection, the intimacy, the need to be needed and desired.

My self-esteem is shot. Yes, I'm in therapy. Have been for years now. And on antidepressants.

dusky said...

As a writer of one of these tales I have found the comments a bit harsh people! And what a horrible situation for both partners.

I find sex vital to life. I have nothing but sympathy for anyone who feels the same and lives without it. So I feel that for our writer. I also feel it for his wife. To me, it is clear that she would actually want sex if she were able to achieve it, because she has tried and she is depressed and disappointed that it has not worked for her. Awful as it is for our writer to live without sex, he COULD chose to have sex - she doesn't even have that option. But my sympathy still extends to him because he cannot have the sex he wants - sex with the woman he loves.

On one point I do agree with other comments - something must be done. The real problem is that this is no longer just a sexless marriage - the emotional intimacy isn't there anymore either. It is possible to have a sexless marriage that does have intimacy, even for those of us who find sex so necessary. But not by martyring oneself to the situation, only by dealing with it... somehow.

Kestrel said...

Sorry to join in so late but....
Wow. Does he take his hair shirt off to shower?
Seriously, guy. I don't think she loves you. Love, you see, is that beautiful miserable pain that keeps you all locked up ...and giving one person the key.
She not only lied to you about how awful your first time was, shenthen compounded it for however many times afterwards before she came clean. She should have said "I have an issue with having sex that is so difficult and painful that I am not going to have penetrative sex any longer. Do you want a blowjob or a handjob?"
OR she should've said "the pain that sex brings me is such that I don't want to have any part in a sexual relationship with you or anyone ever again. You may discretely find a decent, healthy sex worker and get relief there but here are the boundaries I need..."
IF she cared for you as much as a fraction of the obsession you do for her then there would be SOME solution that didn't involve you being twisted and contorted into a non-sexual being form. She would love you enough to HELP FIX the awful problem no one asked for. But she isn't. She's so self-centered, in fact, that she's not only denying you a healthy marriage benefit, she's denying you the ability to engage in any act whatsoever that would bring you closer. She is making you suffer from the ailment she possesses.
1. You need therapy. With her and preferably with a sex-positive therapist. No "good spouses do whatever they can to make the other person happy - as long as it isn't her and it isn't about sex."
2. You need to acknowledge that you love her (personally, I think you don't even see her as she really is but rather the beleaguered woman who suffers countless tragedies and how could you add your own pain to her lengthy laundry list of issues?) but that she is NOT treating you with love in return. Every word of your article screams how she makes you feel small and nagging and controlled by your penis like an 18 year old boy.
3. The conversation doesn't stop at "NO MORE." That's where it begins.
4. Your children already know it. Because of those lovey dovey chemicals, couples The Morning After are chipper, snuggly, smoochy, in love and relaxed. You are showing them that they (just like you!) put up with whatever the situation is and don't demand more than the crumb you are worthy of - or more than the scrap she throws at you by way of NOT being a bitch. You've primed the pump for your kids to view their own happiness as coming after that of anyone else in the family tree. They might not love their partners as much as you do but it doesn't matter. Marriage is the stereotype we all see: no-sex parents, someone doing housework begrudgingly while someone works for cash miserably.
5. You're going to die with an unloved dick, sore palms and empty heart.
Go. Leave. Get help. Don't just lay down and let Her and Her Issues be better than You and Your Just as Valuable Needs.

Kestrel said...

Sorry, Jill! I had too much free time in the waiting room. My comment should be broken into chapters. :)

Valentine said...

Hi Jill - I'm not sure whether you pass these notes back to posters (or whether it would be more appropriate to post this directly on your site), but (1.) really really good physical therapists can do a lot with vulvodynia, (2.) valium compounded in vaginal suppositories (~5-10 mg) can help along with the physical therapy to break the vicious cycle of muscle tension and nerve sensitization that makes this so miserable, and (3.) there are ongoing studies (e.g. at the hospital for special surgery in New York see p. 29 here: on the relationship between "unprovoked vulvodynia" and mechanical hip problems.

In other words, although it's hard to say how open the people in this case might be to intervention (and so much of the intervention is so demoralizing), these may be hope of finding ways to heal chronic pain. (I just had hip surgery after 10 years of immense pain that turned out to be pretty much totally fixable by surgery to correct a labral tear and bony impingement in my hip -- that pain almost entirely manifested as the feeling of stabbing ice picks up various parts of my crotch, so not exactly making it easy to figure out it was a problem in the hip.) Anyways, I realize this particular thing may not be the solution for everyone, but a LOT of research later, the combination of PT (including relaxation training) and localized muscle relaxants appears to be helping the majority of the people who reported improvement in various scary internet message boards as well as the case histories of PTs (who'd managed to keep people away from nerve surgeries).

I find it only to easy to imagine how somebody could become a hollow shell with that many years of that kind of pain, and having been there for the last 10 myself, I had to share this.

It's really an unimaginably horrible feeling to have your pelvic nerves go crazy (and people are NOT good at talking about this stuff, so if someone like this woman was kind of prudish to start with, it would just be a hell of non-inquiry and non-fixing! intolerable!!) So fucking 19th century, boo.

Anonymous said...

I am a male who just turned 46, and my heart goes out to this guy. And I would urge him not to read the extremely harsh comments penned by people who have clearly never dealt with his demons.

As someone who is experiencing a lot of similar situations, I would say that he is not just venting or 'wearing a hair shirt' (always nice when you can reduce a fellow human's pain into a callous one-liner. Nice). This is likely the one and only time he has ever been completely honest and open with his feelings with ANYONE. Give him a freaking break if he wallows in self-pity for one post. Seems to me that he's entitled, especially when Jill has been kind enough to offer him a non-judgemental platform to express himself.

This guy is a man who is devoted to his marriage and refuses to cheat; a dedicated father to children with real problems; an overweight middle-aged guy who feels invisible and overwhelmed by self-doubt; a man whose sex life is over, just when he feels more experienced and self-confident and ready to enjoy it; a caring man whose wife has totally shut him out. And all you want to do is rag his ass for being honest?

That's unfair, not constructive, and just wrong. Think about how many women's blogs out there slam men for being uncaring assholes while this guy has undoubtedly been feeling like a total loser, alone with his misery. And then maybe cut him a little slack, okay?

in bed with married women said...

Anonymous, thanks for the compassion for this fellow. I hope he reads it and feels it. And good luck to you too in your situation. I would ask you to write about it--very cathartic!-- but uh, well, see above.

Chucks said...

I am a 76 year old male - married 52 years to the same woman. Before marriage we were sexually active and life was good. After
marriage our sex life took a slow dive downwards. Her period weeks, with pms, was Hell. She refused to get medical treatment
for the pms. Then 7 years into my marriage she decided to have a secret affair with my business partner. Our sex life virtually
ceased and she started to ridicule me as a man.
I had badly wanted to end our relationship but we had 2 young daughters that I worshipped. Her secret affair continued for at least
4 years. She even left our hotel bed, on a out of town trip, so she could go to his hotel room.
Whenever I returned from a business trip, she would be angry with me. Her anger is something I will never understand. One thing I
have not mentioned is my wife had a very ugly face. Her body was very sexy but her face was not attractive. I think I married her
because she gave me blowjobs in public places before we married.
I am nearing the end of my life and I am extremely angry with myself. I thought she would come back to me but she never has.
I would tell the younger guys, if they face a similar situation, to leave the marriage asap.