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sexless marriage

there was another post like this a while back where someone's husband wouldn't have sex with her - this is the other way round. I never feel like having sex with my husband, and he's really frustrated and angry and hurt by it.. I'm not entirely sure it's all about libido. We have a lot of problems in our relationship based on imbalance. I've always been the one that earns the most money, and since we had our baby I've always worked, and he's stayed home with her, which I have resented hugely. I have wanted to stay home with her and it just hasn't been possible. He's a phd student and doesn't make a lot of money teaching as an adjunct. we've had countless fights about him looking for other work, and I"ve told him that I don't believe he is as 'unmarketable' as he claims (he's a phd comparative lit) and that if he really wanted to, he could be the one that went out to work every day and earned the money. he doesn't do anything about this though, and i've been doing all the money earning... and also all the housework. he doesn't do that either. he's a great dad, and i love him, but i'm starting to wonder if the lack of respect i have for him - because i think he doesn't respect me, and doesn't want to go and get a job - is killing my attraction to him. how can i feel attrracted to someone who lumps everything on me? i know he's doing a lot by taking care of the baby every day, and he's her dad and i would prefer that to a babysitter, if i had a choice - but my best choice would be me! I'm sick of sitting in an office.

if you're feeling resentment towards someone in a marrriage, you can't exactly want to have sex, right?
but i really don't want my marriage to go down the toilet. we have a one year old girl, and she's very important to both of us. i'm not at the point where i'm going to chuck it all away, but something has to happen to improve our relationship.

anyone else married to a student and acting as family breadwinner and sick of it? or - better still, finding ways to cope with it, and want to help me out here by telling me how? I'm totally miserable.


Sat. Jul 22, 8:40am

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I'm assuming he knows your feelings on this? And that you have tried to talk about it? Does he know that you don't want to have sex because of your resentment, or does he think it's just that you don't want to have sex? I really feel for you in this situation. I imagine it is very frustrating! It's possible he's depressed and that is why he thinks he's unmarketable. talk to him-about everything that is bothering you-calmly. And if you both can't take active steps to change things, I honestly would recommend talking to a therapist or counselor together if you really want your marriage to be successful. It takes two peope to fix the problems in a marriage. Good luck to you!

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 12:13 PM

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I am not the breadwinner in our family but stay at home with the kids. I too, live in a sexless marriage (my own choice) and it is because of the lack of respect that we don't have sex. I have completely lost all respect for my husband as a father and husband. At this point I am biding my time until they are grown and I can leave. I stay because: #1 we would live in poverty if I tried to support myself and kids; #2 the lives of my kids would change way too drastically if I left. They would go from me being home all the time, to me hardly being home at all, and I know their father would stop spending any time with them if they were not under the same roof; #3 I know my husband would become dangerous to me and my kids if I tried to leave; #4 I do not want the court to have more say in my kids' life than me.
That being said, I have made a choice to stay. The no sex causes problems but it is after all, my body and I feel I have absolute say in what goes on with it.
Yes, it is very dysfunctional but the alternative is even more so.
So, I am hardly the one to be giving advice, but the first thing that pops into my mind is "why do you stay?" How would things change for you if you left? Would he still be watching and caring for your child or would he have to go out and find a good paying job and no longer be able to care for her? You sound like you are in a good financial situation if you are able to support yourself and child (plus husband), so there must be some reason why you stay since you are not dependent on him financially. Is it possible to cut your work to part-time so you can with your child more? I really empathize with your desire to be with your child. It is that great mothering instinct that makes you such a great mom. Therapy is not cheap but perhaps some marriage counseling would be beneficial to you both. I know you will find a solution.

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 12:44 PM

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i am in the same situation. my husband has been unemployed for 3 years. i work 80 hours a week as a physician, still completing training. he stays home alone and plays video games all day. he won't lift a finger around the house unless i tell him at least 3 times to do something. he is starting to talk about kids, but i don't want to have kids with someone who can't take responsibility for himself. i have threatened divorce. i told him if he didn't get a job that could pay for marriage counseling in X number of months that i would leave him. he still hasn't budged. the problem is that since he can't support himself, he'll have to move back in with his parents halfway across the country. i dont' have the money to move him back. then he complains that i don't appreciate what he does around the house. hello??? when was the last time he said thank you for putting a roof over his head, paying all his bills, and taking care of him for the last 3 years? i am still young (under 30) and i have no kids. i want to get out now while i still have a chance to find someone better.

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 1:05 PM

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To the women in the position of strength in their marriage: men tie their self-worth to their job/financial status/level of success. When they don't have these things, they like to see just how little they can get away with doing (house, kids, job search, etc) and make you prove you love them. Then when you don't leave, don't stick to your ultimatums, they lose respect for you. I wish I weren't talking from experience (first hand as an ex-wife/ex-gf and second hand as a daughter). I do think that anti-depressants (for him) and marriage counseling can make a difference in your cases if it hasn't been going on for years.

To the woman who fears the repercussions of leaving her husband: that could be my mother talking 25 years ago. We even talked about it 7 years ago when I was 29...she chose not to leave because she knew he would take a baseball bat to her car, stalk her at work and maybe cost her her job, raise hell outside her home and get her evicted, and ultimately lose the love of his (adult) kids because we'd never want anything to do with someone who did this to our mother. As much as I love and miss my father, the unspoken truth is that the quality of her life has been greatly improved since he died. I hope you find a way out before you're 54, like my mom was...and that your children don't grow up believing that the way he treats you is normal and acceptable (see reference to string of ex's above)...and then sedate themselves with food. I wish I had some advice to offer that didn't involve arsenic or tub-diving toasters.

When will men realize that there is no such thing as June Cleaver... heck, even in the 50's the housewives were drinking their asses off and sleeping around to deal with their lousy lot in life (yes, I have those in my direct line of ancestry too).

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 2:51 PM

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Honestly, the only way I could see to fix a situation like this is to talk about it. If you haven't told him all of your views on it, he can't be expected to read minds. That said, I can kind of understand where he's coming from too. Taking classes (especially graduate level) is a lot of work as well, and I imagine he's probably not happy with the fact that he relies mainly on your income either. My husband and I have had a similar situation together since I'm 4 years younger than he is and was still taking college classes after he graduated. I've always hated that I had to feel like a useless tagalong while I racked up debt and he earned a paycheck.

The only way we've managed to get through it is being open and honest about all of our feelings. If you need to make lists of time management and who spends what time on what chores to balance things out it might help. Just make sure that whenever you talk to him don't turn it into an argument. Present your side, and make sure you also listen to his. Compromise is a beautiful thing. If you feel overwhelmed by it, marriage counceling is really helpful as well. It raises a lot of important questions and issues that you may not even know are burried there. It's nice to clear the air once in a while and get back to the reasons that you fell in love in the first place.

Probably the best advice I've ever gotten is to try to make time to see things the way you saw them when you met/dated/got close in the first place. More than likely, he's still the same person that you married. It's nice, sometimes, to remember why you did. I wish you the best of luck. Hopefully everything works out as well for you as it has for me and my guy ;)

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 2:54 PM

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ok, here's a new twist to the situation...

I'm a gay man, in a 3 yr relationship. we haven't had sex in 3-4 months, and I would have to average our sex to 3-4 times a yr.
I've tried talking about it with him, and he claims he is attracted to me, and would like to have a more active sex life with me, but has lost his sex drive. His erections are not as hard as they once were (he's 53) and it takes longer to achieve them.
we've had some financial trouble over the past 3 yrs, and I know that weighs heavy on his mind. that and some health issues ( we just found out he is HIV Positive, and I know this was before we met!) So with health/medical stuff, and the financial worries, I know he's got a lot on his mind. He hates his job and feels trapped because of his age and limited marketable skills. He isn't a talker though. I try to engage him, and will share some of what he's thinking/feeling, but then feels I'm trying to therapize him. So mostly just holds his worries to himself.
I know he's not having an affair, he'd never cheat, he couldn't handle the guilt.
I hate not having a sexual relationship. I love him, I care about him and I don't want to leave him, but something has got to give. I have needs that aren't being met, and I don't know what to do about it. We rarely touch, and sometimes I feel I have to beg him for a real kiss, and not just some lame peck on the lips.

So, know that you woman are not alone.

Saturday, July 22, 2006, 8:01 PM

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I've never been married, so there's a limited amount of advice I can give. I do find that losing respect for a guy and losing the desire to sleep with him are highly correlated. I don't know how rebuildable that is -- maybe totally? Maybe not at all?

However, FWIW, I do have a lot of experience being a Ph.D. student. To the poster who thinks the graduate student is just the same as the husband who plays video games all day, that is possibly the most insulting thing I've seen anyone write on this site.

Here's the thing about grad school: research is a lot of work. Teaching, esp. as an adjunct, but also as a TA, is a lot of work. And the world is full of jerks who assume you are playing video games all day, when in fact what you generally have is more flexibility, not fewer hours at work. The only reason that people suffer through all this work for low pay and no respect is because they want to be professors when they finish -- at least they think they do when they start.

What is happening to your husband, OP, is this: The job market (for professors) is brutal. Also, to get and take a good job there is a 99% chance you will have to move halfway across the country. Can you, with your high-paying career, do that? No? Well, then your husband is realizing that he can't have the career he once believed he was working towards. You probably, quite sensibly, think he has acquired many useful and marketable skills that could be put to good use at other jobs. BUT I guarantee that the faculty in his department promote the philosophy that to leave academia for another career is to fail. Worse, that it would be proof that he is an inadequate scholar, not worthy of teaching Comp. Lit. Grad school is all about brainwashing in that regard -- it's like being programmed into a cult.

I suspect that if you want to improve your marriage and spend more time with your kid, you probably need to cut back on your own work hours and bite the bullet and cut back on expenses, too. I'm assuming you, OP, didn't marry a grad student in Comp. Lit because you expected he was ever going to be wealthy.

As for the housecleaning, two things: check out the great article that ran in the NYT a couple of weeks ago about how the principles of animal training can be applied to partners. It's hilarious, and also true. (Work for incremental progress, not a transformation; praise progress lavishly.) Also, there's a book called "Housecleaning for Men," a humorous but practical How-To book which offers strategies and task break-downs that make it a lot less mysterious and overwhelming to people who aren't used to doing it.


Sunday, July 23, 2006, 12:43 AM

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To OP -
Like others suggested please try counseling. Your little girl deserves that you both give this your best. I also recommend Dr Phil's books on couples and family. Obviously, the sex problem is a symptom. So many couples find that having young children in the house is a huge strain on their relationship. Good luck.

Sunday, July 23, 2006, 7:04 AM

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Re Neon's comment about housework:

There's some kind of reality-type show or brief series in the UK about women employing dog-training techniques to get their husbands to do domestic things. It works....things like "As soon as you (insert task here), I'll cook your favorite dinner."

Last time I had to deal with this (just sick of being expected to do more around the house because I was in a job that paid less than the guy I was with - he was an associate professor, status was everything), I hired a cleaning lady 2x a month to do the heavy-duty stuff...even talked the pr*ck I was living with into paying for 2/3 of it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006, 10:04 AM

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to the 12:43am poster - i made the comment about my husband playing video games all day. my sincerest apologies if you thought i was comparing that to being a grad student. both my husband and i went through grad school, and i know how stressful it is. i wound up with a job, he didn't. i was simply trying to compare the frustration of having an unemployed husband. mine has been unemployed for 3 years now. coincidentally (or not), that is also how long we've been married too.

and respect isn't the only feeling i've lost for him. i've also lost trust. he lies to me about everything - like what he does with his money, with his time, how long he has been hiding his mom's credit card from me, etc. so i have two questions. can you regain respect for someone? and more importantly, can you regain trust? and can you stay married to someone you don't respect and don't trust?

Sunday, July 23, 2006, 12:37 PM

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Thanks, 12:37, it did sound as if you were equating grad school with video games -- I'm glad to hear that you weren't. :-)

Ugh, lying!! That's terrible. Obviously I can't offer you advice (My approach with bfs has been to dump 'em if I catch 'em lying about serious stuff.) but I'll be interested to read what others have to say.


Sunday, July 23, 2006, 12:54 PM

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Hey, 12:37 poster, personally, I don't think it sounded anything like you were comparing playing video games with grad school! You were just describing your own, similar situation of being with someone who does not seem to pull their weight. It sounds more like neon has had a lot of bad experiences with other people's reactions to graduate students!

By the way, I also don't think the fact that someone is studying for a Comp Lit PhD means they will not be able to earn a lot of money - though if he's used to hearing comments like Neon's, then it may mean that he is not feeling especially confident of doing so. People make all kinds of crazy career changes in the world of work, but seen from the stiff and rigid academic's poing of view it may seem quite daunting. Also the motivation for going to grad school is not always that the person wants to be a professor. Many of the grad students I know, knew from the start they did not want to stay in academia...some changed their minds, and some didn't, many picked grad school because they were not sure what they did want to do.

That said, it sounds like in the OP's case, her husband is absolutely intent on sticking with academia, since he is an adjunct now??? Presumably he too hates the idea of sitting in an office for rigid hours each day, and that's why he does not want to just "get any job". I suppose the best thing is to find a compromise. OP, have you investigated the possibilities for you to change from full-time to part-time, and how that would effect your household income? Once you actually have that information at least your husband would have an idea of how much more money he would need to contribute -- it may be that a side job (e.g. editing or consulting) would do the trick? If not, in the end, it may need you to be patient for a little while longer, until he graduates.

Hope you are able to find the right balance, to prevent your love from turning into contempt. As with all struggles in life, one of the best ways to cope is to look at how many good things you do have going for you, and concentrate on the enjoyable aspects of each day.


Sunday, July 23, 2006, 3:02 PM

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To the 12:44 pm poster -

I do not doubt you when you write "I know my husband would become dangerous to me and my kids if I tried to leave." You are the expert on your husband and know more about him and how dangerous he is than anyone else.

I do not have any idea how dangerous he is to you and your kids now, but if he would become dangerous if you left, he cannot be 100% safe to be around today.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE (7233); - see link below) is a good thing to have around. Domestic violence counseling and information is offered free around the country. If your husband ever does become really dangerous, it is good to have a safety plan in place and any number of domestic violence agencies can help you put one together. A safety plan does not mean that you ever have to leave but rather is just what the title suggests - a plan to have handy in case you ever need it.

I have no idea about your current job skills or education level or economic situation, but if you have the time, the money and your husband does not actively prevent you, it would be most amazing if you could invest time in learning, brushing up on or maintaining marketable job skills so that when the time comes to leave your husband (and it sounds like you are planning on that time coming eventually) you will be in a position to do so and pay your own way.

Good luck!


Sunday, July 23, 2006, 5:45 PM

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Another idea

To the poster who's sick of spending the day in an office while her husband is home with her baby - could you try to work out an arrangement to work from home, or at least work from home a few days a week? There are such great advances in telecommunication. I know in my office, if someone has been with the company for 2+ years, they'll try to make arrangements for them to work from home sometimes if they want. It may be worth a discussion with your manager. You'll still have to work, but it can be more on your time, and you won't have to miss the big events in your daughter's life!

Monday, July 24, 2006, 10:45 AM

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Well off "alone" - but it's not for everyone, either

12:18 pm poster -- Your question deserves its own thread, but I'll "weigh in" as a 39-y-o bachelorette and say I've never had more fun than I'm having now. I've never felt particularly inspired to be married, and while I think it works for many people, it's not for everyone. There are a lot of things you can do if you are unmarried, not a parent, etc. that people who are more tied down don't have the opportunity to do, and I don't mean partying.


Monday, July 24, 2006, 12:40 PM

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Average Ph.D. salary $45,000 IF there is an opening, benefits vary

While I am not married, I empathize as I care for an invalid parent whose expenses run $40,000 per year.

I am a Ph.D. is Decision Sciences and STatistics with 15 years of corporate experience. Researchers with corporate experience make generally double what most other professors make.

I chose teaching part-time because I KNEW that I would have to care for my parents. I had an on campus position until both my parents went into the hospital and my mothers sister and her husband went into the hospital. I am an only child and the only child on my mother's side of the family. So ... all four came into my direct care. I drove between 600 and 1200 miles each weekend to care for them.

As I am finishing my Ph.D. even as a researcher with 15 years of corporate experience, one college offered me $30,000 for FULL TIME work as a FULL professor! Another, a private, well respected, one of the top 10 hospitals in the Midwest offered by $49,000. I can barely eat on this with my mother's expenses.

Now, realize some may think this is great -- but my corporate job paid no less than $80,000 and there was overtime.

I now teach online -- there are 124 accreditated online schools in the US, over half are seeking people, some in literature, I know because I have applied to every one with an opening.

Funny thing -- without rank, teaching the same basic load of an instructor 6 courses a semester -- I make MORE after taxes and that does NOT account for any drive time, parking fees, suits, dry cleaning, etc.

So...I teach full-time online -- making the same or more than my full professorship AND I also now work a corporate job to pay the bills.

Everyone has a choice, there are lots of editorial jobs and freelance writing positions as well, so he can have his dream, he just has to adjust. And, I guarantee -- I also write for a business magazine and edit articles, I make double for one article what I make for teaching one class whether I am on campus or I teach it online.

Axia college is a community college of the University of Phoenix and they are in desperate need of professors online. They have nationwide ads for people with graduate degrees. His salary there would be better than just adjunct pay.

Finally, with regard to his attitude, there is a wall that you hit when you are finishing that nothing on this earth seems to want to move. You can get some things done and not other things. If it lasts too long, he may just need to be hit upside the head with a newspaper and told move it or lose it.

Monday, July 24, 2006, 1:09 PM

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Hi. I'm only a 19 year old guy - I know it might seem silly me posting on here but this issue has been on my mind a lot recently. I am really concerned about, when I hopefully get married, the marriage turning into a sexless one. I know it's not all about sex and there's more to a marriage - but nobody can deny it's an important factor. I'm a reasonably attractive bloke and I'm one of the good guys, so to speak, when I'm in a relationship I'm faithful, funny, caring, romantic, just independant enough to not crowd the lady, etc (Not trying to brag I just want you to get an idea of what I'm like). But i'm just conerned because everywhere I look there are sexless marriages, my parents for one, a few of my friends parents, many women at work, one is perfectly happy about the fact, she even brags about her husband getting his "present" only on his birthday and new years. And I'm really worried I'll end up like that as well.

I was just hoping someone would be able to give me some advice on this so I won't end up like that with the woman I love.

(Anyone who is about to say I'm only interested in sex - don't bother - I'm not some randy teenager who just wants to make sure he gets his leg over - I can't stand guys like that. I'm acctually a huge romantic, half the time to my down fall, just for the sake of being romantic not to get some sex)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 2:07 PM

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am i missing the part of the marriage vows that include sustaining a sexual relationship? i keep hearing echoes of " good times and bad, in sickness and health..." unless otherwise specified before marriage, i think a couple has made a commitment to face life's challenges TOGETHER, even if your relationship is the focus of those challenges. while there may be frustration associated with getting through a tough time, if you truly love each other still i think you could work things out. maybe the sexual tension is increasing because it has become a focal point of rejection? or maybe feelings of suspicion are starting to creep up?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 2:51 PM

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Hi there, 19-y-o guy!
What a surprise to see this thread crop up again! I was thinking there would be an update from the OP.

My opinion (FWIW, as you will see from above posts I'm not married and not sad about it either) is that while marriage is a gamble, there are certain things you can do to load the dice in your favor. For instance, marrying someone who likes to have sex with you, and preferably someone who is comfortable with her sexuality and knows what she likes. Because if she doesn't enjoy sex to begin with, you shouldn't count on it improving later.

Also, maintain the health of your relationship and your integrity. As mentioned above, losing respect and trust instantly turns a hunk into something as attractive as a slime-covered hagfish.

One thing I've heard a lot of married people say is that they get "in a rut," so to speak, and are doing the same things all the time. So be sure that you cultivate your creative side as well as your honesty, romantic side, and sweetness. That way no one gets bored. My suspicion (prejudice?) is that women are bored by repetitive sex a lot faster than men are, in general.

Even with all that.... As women's bodies change with age, we receive cultural cues everywhere that we are no longer sexy or desirable -- and if that's the message one hears all day, sometimes one starts to believe it. And I think that if I felt ugly and unattractive I wouldn't want to have sex. So you will have to take the responsibility for making your wife feel that she is still attractive after having the kids, through menopause, etc.

As for the woman who boasts about her husband getting his "present" twice a year -- I work with one like that too. I think it must be a psychiatric disorder. One, who would think like that? Two, who would go on about it at work??


Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 6:47 PM

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It is truly horrifying to learn that someone with a PHD gets paid almost less then me and I don't have a college education. I am a nanny with tons of background and experience and have worked for good families. I can't imagine spending all that time and having student loans and making 40,000 a year. Very sad when you consider how much it costs for 1 year of tuition for college.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 9:28 PM

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A really great book that explains easy to use "training" techniques for everyone (humans and animals alike) is called DON'T SHOOT THE DOG. I am sorry, I don't know who wrote it, but it is a small paperback, easy to get thru, and quite funny. I had to read it for a class I took years ago, but the ideas are easy to use, and easy to keep up. If you get a chance, check it out!
Good luck!

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 1:52 AM

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