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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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