OK, here's my question: he says he finds me attractive, he says he was happy until he found me flirting with other men (after 20 years of marriage). He has always, since our wedding, said he just is not interested in sex as much as I am. He says I need to just accept that. That it should not be as important to me as it is.
He also thinks that kissing/hugging/caressing is "a waste of time" if it is not part of sex. So, you know, I can have none of that, except in the middle of the sex act.
So if he thinks that it is "sex addiction" on my part (his most recent comment), and that I should not need or desire sex more than he does, and that he can't have sex or kiss or hold me unless he realllllllly wants to in that moment because that would be "fake", well, where does that leave me?
I'll first recommend that you start your own thread here in the SSM forum, by pressing the New Topic button in the forum's topic/thread listing. Then give us an introduction to yourself and your situation, perhaps a brief history of your relationship. That will help folks a lot in figuring out what advice they can give, if any --> no one wants to give bum advice based on not understanding the situation.
From what you have said so far, I see two things going on with your H:
First, he doesn't understand the importance of intimacy, particularly emotional intimacy, to a woman. You aren't just sex-staved, you're intimacy starved. His attitude is a very common trait among men; that is, it's a pretty typical male viewpoint to devalue and even belittle emotional intimacy and bonding: sharing and talking about deep feelings; non-sexual touching, hugging, kissing; spooning and cuddling, etc. Men are brought up to NOT need or want such things -- else you're a sissy. So in the first place, he needs to learn how to open himself up to such intimacy, as well as realizing that women are very different and that most women NEED this high degree of intimacy in order to feel happy and fulfilled in a relationship.
Second, he has the very typical LD spouse attitude that if sex isn't important to him, then why should it be so damn important to you? He's wrapped up in his own viewpoint, and refuses to see the validity in your desires and needs for physical intimacy -- especially since they seem to threaten his. And like most LD spouses he just doesn't 'get it' that sex is far, far more than a simple physical act or physical release for you -- that physical and emotional intimacy are intertwined and that both are important to a healthy and happy relationship.
HOWEVER, despite that I've acknowledged two areas where your husband needs to reeducate himself and change his way of doing things, the cold facts is: I can't change him, and neither can you. He will eventually have to be brought around to changing himself, and the only way to do that is to begin to make changes in YOURSELF and how you interact with him.
Take a hard look at Phases 1 and 2 that I outlined in this thread, and look for ways in which you can make yourself better --> for yourself <-- and get out of anger & resentment mode (if that's where you are). Look for ways that you can begin meeting his relationship needs on his own terms, and without asking for anything in return (for now). If he is to come around, finally 'get it,' and start working with you to fix the problem, you've got some groundwork to do first.
This isn't easy -- I know from my own experience. It's far, far too easy to say "I'm miserable, my spouse is the one causing ME pain, my spouse is the one who needs to change!"
* It's HARD as heck for the men here to go from being 'that angry jerk' who only 'wants to get laid' to being seen as a loving husband again by their LD wife.
* It's HARD as heck for the women here to go from being 'that nagging bitch' who only 'wants to get laid' to being seen as a loving wife again by their LD husband.
But I'm convinced that this is a NECESSARY step toward producing positive change in the LD spouse (and the relationship). for over 20 years, I was angry, resentful, bitter, disconnected, and distant: and nothing ever changed and in fact, things only got worse over time. It was ONLY when I was able to flush enough of the negatives, and start loving my wife --> ON HER OWN LD TERMS <-- that we began to make progress and she began to move in my direction with regard to physical intimacy.
Me 50, W 45, M for 26 yrs S25, D23, S13, S10 20+ year SSM; recovery began Oct 2007
I have pretty much decided that I am NOT going to see a change in him. So I am working on myself, with the assumption that my marriage will never change in the ways I would like to see. My hope is that I will become a better person, and live up to my vows, and gain some sort of contentment and peace in the face of loneliness and frustration, without seeking that intimacy from men other than my husband and without feeling like I have become a martyr.
You are dead ON, that I am not only sex-starved but desperately intimacy-starved. Last time I tried to explain that to my husband, he suggested I "plant a flower, or go shopping, or something."
You are right, I should start my own thread. Actually, I did, a few days ago, and then I thought, "geez! when he reads that, he will have a fit!" so I decided to take it down, for now at least. I think I am too upset to speak well about it--and the whole story is so convoluted and long, and as a woman it is just mortifying,too.
After all, you guys are SUPPOSED to be chasing us around the bed, right? and we are SUPPOSED to be coy. Man, I would give anything for that.
Or almost anything. I realized, at about the last possible minute, that I would not give up my marriage for that feeling of being wanted and feminine. But what a crap trade-off. I thought I would have that WITHIN my marriage.
I am working on calming down, through counseling and other stuff. And much of the whole story is sexually-tinged, so seeing it online for all the world to see---ugh. I did not want to leave it there.
Perhaps at some point I will get the courage to post a thread for myself.
I don't know if this is the right place to post, but I guess I'm asking questions based on the 4 phases. Our marriage was going well until our third child (son) was born. My wife almost exclusively devoted her attention to him. I asked her to spend time together and to have sex. Most of the times, she turned to him even more or ignored my requests by not saying or doing anything. After about 18 months, I was wearing down, it was getting old. But then she stopped breast-feeding and things started to get better. Then, oops, she got pregnant again and this time was extremely sick. We had no time together, and now, without enough energy, I had to do all (ALL) the housework and we had even less time together than before.
The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, which brought us together in a big way. But then, oops, she got pregnant again, sick again, and it was me all over again doing all the housework, having no time with my wife. Late in the pregnancy, I couldn't take it anymore. I did a lot of reading, online and in books. I was in a men's group at our church, and we did a book review on Larry Crabb's book Men and Women. The last date night we had was to go see the movie Fireproof. Everywhere I turned I felt like I was doing as much as I could to get things back on track but that she was ignoring me and authors like Larry Crabb defined her as selfish; he said spouses need to be "other centered" which is how I was trying very hard to be.
Then I came across the SSM book, and every page it seemed it was talking about me. I finally figured out that without closeness to my wife, I had lost my feelings of being connected to her. Then I talked to my wife about how I felt. She had no clue that her continual rejection of me over the past 2 years was creating a problem. I told her I did not feel connected anymore, but I didn't know how to change it because I had been trying, asking for time, attention and sex, but she was rejecting me.
She promised to do better. I told her I was going to back off serving her (housework) because I had no energy and without a connection with her, I felt I had no way of recharging my batteries. Now the baby came. We have always had problems with her not wanting to do housework of any kind. It's not getting done at all now. And I stopped doing any. Oh, and she told me she thought I was always angry, so that's why she stepped backed. I told her it wasn't intentional, but I recognized that I was much more discontent because she wasn't doing anything to me my needs and rejected me when I asked her to do something that made me feel important to her. Then I told her that the reason I have been discontent is that I have been asking her to meet my needs, but she has chosen not to. That's when she promised to do better. That was almost 2 months ago, still no change.
I have really enjoyed myself, going back into woodwork as my hobby and building things. Putting energy into tinkering with our cars, which I enjoy. And trying to spend more time with the kids - but I have found that the tension in our relationship adversely affects my relationship with our kids, which is something else she picked up on and said was a reason she took a step back. I have found my previously high sex drive is pretty much gone. It feels good not to be in bondage to the high sex drive. But I also found that since the baby was born, she has returned to be (was sleeping on the sofa every night - never really understood why - claimed she wasn't comfortable anywhere else), but I am not comfortable with her there. I feel like she's invading my space. I question whether or how long it will take for those feelings to return, especially if she doesn't make any effort to do things differently. Baby is now a month old and she is back on the sofa. Fine by me, when we do sleep in the same bed, I don't like her being too close. It used to be that I always wanted to be as close to her as I could be, that's what I enjoyed, even if we weren't having sex.
I guess my question is what am I to be doing to meet my spouse's needs? She won't spend time together. Can't have sex for another few weeks per her doctor, and I'm not confident she will initiate anyway when it is time. I just spent most of the last 12-18 months doing the majority of the housework. I have bought her little gifts once in awhile, but it never appears as though she genuinely appreciates them. I relieve her of cooking usually once a week by ordering in or going out.
What's left? I honestly don't know what else I could be doing or could have done to make things turn out any differently. Perhaps I was doing too much and she became complacent. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm a giving person, and I guess I have the attitude that if I bend over backwards for you, you're not going to take advantage of me. Apparently I was wrong - with my own spouse! And I told her I felt she was taking advantage of me.
I'm open to suggestions. But I have told her how I felt, that I have needs that aren't being met. If she doesn't have any interest in making an investment into the marriage, I feel like I'm wasting my time pursuing her. Given that it's been almost 3 years now, I don't see things getting any better until she decides she can positively influence the outcome. I tried to have her read the SSM book with me. She read the 1st chapter, but nothing else.
Any ideas? Otherwise, I'm going back to the workshop - I'm kind of enjoying this self-healing thing!
Me 35 W 30 Together 11 years (long distance dating) M 9 1/2 years S 7 D 5 S 3 D newborn
For Phase 2 (educating yourself), my favorite relationship / sexuality books (so far):
In addition to Michele's The Sex-Starved Marriage and The Sex-Starved Wife, I recommend the below.
Understanding the differences between the sexes
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray
Despite his several attempts to repackage his basic material, this 'old' (1985) original presentatin is still, to me, John Gray's best book on the topic. I like everything except for his "Love Letters" approach to conflict resolution, which is a bit 'old school' and not very effective. The chapters on how men and women feel loved in a relationship are a must read.
Note: Like Jayce, I do NOT recommend Mars and Venus in the Bedroom. While there is *some* good advice there, it is poorly written and organized, and not general enough to a majority of couples (more John Gray's personal experience than anything else). For a better coverage of intimacy issues between the sexes, see The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, below.
Why Men Don't Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes, by Barbara Pease and Allan Pease.
A fun read which covers much of John Gray's classic material in a more light-hearted, day-to-day practical fashion.
The 5 Sex Needs of Men & Women, by Gary Rosberg, Barbara Rosberg, and Ginger Kolbaba.
The book is written specifically for Christian couples, but does the best job of explaining intimacy differences between the sexes and offering potential solutions in the area of Michele's Intimacy Dilemma of any book I've yet come across. If the religious theme / bits don't apply to you, ignore them -- it's worth the read anyway.
Communication and Conflict Resolution
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver
An excellent guide to conflict resolution and learning to communicate effectively with each other -- without fighting.
Sexual Arousal and Passion
Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies by Michael J. Bader.
Written for a psychologist audience, this book is nonetheless very good at explaining why people get turned on by what they do, and why it varies so widely from individual to individual. If you have ever wondered why you have the strange (and perhaps alarming) sexual fantasies that you do, or want to understand why your mate gets turned on by what they respond best to, this is a great read.
Passionate Marriage, by David Schnarch
I have, admittedly, not gone through this book in detail yet, but it comes highly recommended by many of the old-timers on this forum. It's on my shelf, waiting to be read!
The Guide to Getting It On, by Psy.D. Paul Joannides and Daerick Gross Sr.
DanceQueen turned us all on to this fat, informative, and yet often funny book several months ago. It's a keeper, and better than the old classic The Joy of Sex, by Alex Comfort and Susan Quilliam.
She Comes First and He Comes Next, by Ian Kerner.
Written by a sex therapist, both of these books are obstensibly about oral techniques, the first book him-on-her, the second book her-on-him. However, in addition to the very good information and techniques for oral pleasure, Ian also goes in-depth into male & female sexuality and covers a lot of material outside of the bedroom, particularly in the second book.
Men -- both in and out of the bedroom
The New Male Sexuality, Revised Edition, by Bernie Zilbergeld.
This is a great read for BOTH men and women, which completely untangles tne common myths and misperceptions that *both* men and women have regarding male sexuality and the male sexual organs. Our marriage counselor / sex therapist had me read it before we even scheduled our first session with him. If you can't convince your spouse to go to a sex therapist, but he has problems with sexual desire, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, or some other sexual problem: get this book. There are chapters that cover each topic and which lay out the exercies and techniques commonly used to treat such issues.
No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Dr. Robert Glover.
Along with Passionate Marriage, this is a very frequently recommended book on this forum, because many of the men who come here are failing, in one way or another, to turn the women in their lives on due to a lack of masculine energy and 'power.' They've stopped being The Man in the relationship, and their wife knows it. There are other recommended books on this topic, such as The Way of the Superior Man, by David Deida (which I've not read), but NMMNG is the one to start with.
Me 50, W 45, M for 26 yrs S25, D23, S13, S10 20+ year SSM; recovery began Oct 2007
New here, first post, just started reading SSM. I'm HD husband, wife is LD. 3 young kids.
First, a 1000 thanks to Bagheera for his work and commitment to this topic and site. After reading this thread, BOY am I glad I own the book, my wife doesn't know it, and she doesn't know I'm working behind the scenes to make things better.
So far, I've latched onto the 180-degree/seesaw effect method of 'if it's not working, do something else', so I'm not going to nag her about having sex, not going to whine and complain when it doesn't happen, be generally likeable and approachable when with her. And, I hope this isn't taking the principle too far, I'm going to try (okay, did try this weekend) not initiating conversations. My feeling here is that I WANT to talk to her and be close to her, but there is a human nature tendency to fill voids, and I want to see her coming to me, instead of me coming to her. I'll be a great listener, establish and keep rapport, ask questions after a conversation is started, etc. Anyway, if it sounds like I'm wanting distance from her b/c I'm pissed, that's not it at all, I love her more than ever; but if she's always being solicited by me, there's no room for her to initiate, either conversations or sex.
If I may, I think RJRJR might be skipping the first step that Bagheera lists, and that's the problem.