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Is This All There Is?

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happyindoors
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Is This All There Is?

Post by happyindoors »

I could use some insight if anyone has a moment to read this and respond. It's long, but rather than toss out a vague issue and then spend a bunch of time trying to answer questions, I'm just laying it all out here:

My wife and I are both in our mid/late 40s. We’ve been together for 27 years. 21 of them married. We’ve been through a lot together. A lot of good times, and a lot of really difficult times too. We both had rough childhoods and brought a lot of baggage into our relationship and marriage. My wife was sexually and physically abused by her stepfather in her very early teens, and while I knew about it shortly after we met (she told me), it didn’t really become a relationship issue for us until after we were married. We were both incredibly naive about what abuse does to a person, and even all these years later I'm still learning and trying to navigate what is/isn't abuse fallout.

I was raised in a Christian cult, and sex, sex education, and any sort of male/female relationship advice/guidance was off the table outside of heavily supervised courtship with the purpose of marriage within the faith. I rebelled against the cult path, and fumbled through dating and teenage sex on my own, with decidedly mixed results until I met my wife to be. Over the years, we’ve been in therapy separately and together trying to sort through all this (our histories and marriage issues) and have learned a lot. There’s a ton about our marriage that works, and works really well. We love each other. We're committed to each other. We work hard as people and parents and are on the same page on most things in life and faith. But one area that has never really worked across 21 years of marriage is our sex life. And admittedly, we got a head start before we were married. Which was a mistake. But my wife went from being a very sexually adventurous woman (with me - I've been her one and only partner,) to someone that is only available for sex within a very specific set of circumstances that almost entirely focus on her and then are quickly over. For the most part, there is no sex that isn't initiated by her, and then what we do is entirely up to her. I can ask, but the results have historically been negative, and years of getting told "no" or hearing her groan or make a disgusted face hasn't endeared me to wanting to put my pride/feelings on the line anymore. We’ve read books, articles, talked and fought about the issue, been to therapy multiple times and in multiple settings - and progress is always very temporary, then some sort of major life trauma or change happens (job change, illness, move, fertility issues, miscarriage, issues with our son, health, etc) and then we’re soon back to square one.

Personally, at 48, I’m of two minds. One is that I’m fortunate to be with someone I love and who loves me. As far as I can tell, neither of us are going anywhere short of one of us dying. We’re dealing with a lot of pressures: raising a child with some significant (albeit temporary) challenges, some ongoing health issues for both of us, outside work pressures (for me), and our personal and collective histories which are admittedly rocky. And in spite of all that, we’ve overcome in a lot of areas. We laugh a ton, have fun together, and as a family really work hard to navigate life together in a joyful way. But in all that is right with us, I don’t feel physically connected to her. Outside of a handful of times over the years, I feel more like she's a roommate that I love and wish I could have better sex with. :lol: My attempts to talk about it over the years have backfired to a degree that I no longer feel safe to discuss it with her, and given how little time we have to discuss much of anything these days outside of our child, work, and health, it seems like a hornets nest not wise to kick. Plus, historically, no matter how gently I've tried to discuss it with her, it simply adds baggage for her, and I end up feeling stupid and humiliated for again trying to discuss our sex and intimacy. I've pointed out to her that there is no good way for me to approach the subject, and she's agreed. And she's agreed that it's unfair there's no good way for me to approach her. So I don't anymore.

But there’s also a part of me that’s frustrated that I’m 48 and have been having infrequent repetitious sex for almost the whole of my marriage. My wife will point blank tell me she can’t handle sex discussions because no matter how gentle, she ends up feeling like she’ll be “forced” into doing something she doesn’t want to do. Or forced into sexually “serving" me, when emotionally she’s not able. Which I don’t want that either. And she’s said the problem largely has nothing to do with me, it's in her head, but it also means nothing ever really moves forward either. It's a wall I can't climb. But sex has always been important to me. And I thought I married someone of a similar mind. And maybe it’s the “wages of sin” and all, or life just kicking us a lot, or the sexual/physical abuse fallout, or all the above - but what we want, need, even like about sex has seemingly drifted into different hemispheres.

My wife has consistently told me over the years that she has no sexual fantasies. (Save for one, where she was the center of an orgy where all the men were me. Because of course she'd be the center of an orgy where all the men are me. I guess I should be happy all the men were me, but even in her fantasies it's all about her.) She has no desire to "try anything new," and she "likes what we do"....which means she wants to be serviced orally, satisfied to the point of exhaustion, and then for me to be done as quickly as possible while she climbs on top and doesn’t participate. Quite literally. She climbs on, and then doesn't move except maybe to lean herself forward so I can move my hips. Sometimes she'll kiss me while I'm going at it as she knows I'll finish faster if she does. And she's a tiny, agile woman. Waif like. Yoga twice a day. Fit. Is often mistaken for Kate Moss. But on me it's like once she's in place, she can't/won't move. And she used to treat my junk like she was riding a bucking bronco. But no more. And it’s been like that for years. I don't get it, and when I've asked, I get a lot of "I'm tired", etc.

So it’s the same routine every time. And honestly, it's boring and I can do it all on autopilot. It's so repetitive, no matter how hard I try, I often find my mind wandering to work issues I have to deal with, or stuff I have to do around the house, a phone call I have to make, or a text I have to respond to. And she has no idea because she's not looking at me anyway because my face is buried between her legs, and she's ultimately getting off repeatedly, so it doesn't matter. I see people often share the "sex is like pizza" analogy. But I've done my best to eat one thing off the menu for over 20 years now, and I'm tired of pizza. I'm NOT tired of my wife as a wife, partner, friend, and mother to our son. But as a lover - I'm admittedly tired of all this. And no, I'm not in danger of straying and blowing up our life simply to get off. Nothing is worth that mess.

My wife hates change, I overheard heard her telling our son this just yesterday. The older she gets, variety (with anything) stresses her out. She craves and thrives on routine. I’m not like that with most things. And the older I get, the more I crave variety and adventure...ANY variety. And she knows this. She sees this trait in our son too. And it’s not like she and I are old. Everything works, and works well in the genitalia department in terms of giving/getting pleasure. I’d probably be good for two "pops" (or more) if you give me 5-10 minutes between rounds. I suspect anyway. It's been years since I had the chance to try with her. And my wife is multi-orgasmic. It takes her 8-12 intense orgasms before she’s fully satisfied. Every time. And she’s been like that for years. But it only goes one way. She gets satisfied, and after a few short seconds of uninspired oral from her, there’s really no other focus on me. And it’s odd to say, but my wife doesn’t even purposely touch me that much when we have sex...or even outside the bedroom for that matter. I don’t feel the least bit desired. It ends up just feeling like I’m servicing her, and then she “lays back and thinks of England” so to speak - while I finish. Which makes me feel kind of gross. Like I'm doing it TO her, not WITH her.

Part of me thinks that with the abuse she suffered, having our sex be the same thing every time provides her some measure of safety. There’s no alarms, no surprises, no opportunity to get “hurt” or be scared by something new being introduced or requested. But I’ve also started to notice a slide towards me not really caring if we do it because it’s always the same and we aren't really sharing anything beyond fluids. It’s become just another task for me to accomplish. And something about that just seems sad to me. Like there should be more. But we’ve been down this road so many times over the last 20+ years that I don’t have the energy for the fight that it would take to gain the tiniest bit of ground that will be quickly lost. I feel like I live in a beautiful mansion with dozens of bedrooms. And each year more of the bedrooms are closed and locked forever. And only a couple remain open, and only at certain moments, and only for certain activities. And I get it, there’s probably people in sexless marriages that might feel like something is better than nothing. And maybe it is. But it’s also been years of the same infrequent, scripted, one sided sex...which...meh.

Whatever we’ve done to get to this point, even with counseling, books, arguing, talking, the Bible, nothing is really changing or sticks. The needle hasn’t moved towards a more sharing and equitable sex life between us. There’s not going to be “quickies” or unplanned sex in my future. My wife isn’t going to surprise me with a bj down in my home office or a new position or some piece of lingerie she bought with herself and me in mind. She’s made it clear these things aren’t on her radar or something she’s able to do….”right now”…as she’ll say...but wherever the future indicated by "right now" is, never really comes.

The last time we really tackled all this was about 5 years ago. I brought it up in her preferred method of communicating hard stuff - I wrote her a letter - and she flipped out and raged at me, and I just hung on and rode out the storm. I wasn't critical of her. I just told her I loved her, but was confused, and that what we did together seemed to be narrowing and more infrequent and I wondered why. I wanted to be supportive and see if there was something I was/wasn't doing. She felt "threatened" by the questions. The end result was a bunch of promises that she'd do better with new rules she attached. The promises (which I didn't ask for) quickly fell to the wayside other than the frequency picked up for a while...but she never answered my questions beyond some vague excuses about "liking what she likes." But the rules stuck. Which…I’m not up for more rules. I'm tired of rules. But believing the best about her, I think in her heart of hearts, she probably wants it to be different to some degree that I doubt she can even articulate or envision. Knowing her like I do, I can almost bet she feels like a failure as a lover...but also paralyzed to do anything about it for reasons only she can articulate but won't. Whatever the case, there's always a host of reasons that stack up so that nothing really moves past the intentions.

So is this all just part of aging as a couple with baggage? Is this a byproduct of abuse? Is this all there is? Is this all something - I don't know, desires maybe - I need to “die to” in deference to my wife and her abilities, desires, history of abuse and mindset as a 43yr old woman, wife and mother? If I need to let this go, I can do that I think. I know where her limits are, and since this is my foreseeable future - If it's going to continue like this, I'd just love for the limits to stop getting pulled back further before I just lose interest altogether and then have to tell her that. Which I'd really like to avoid. What’s the forward path here? IS there a forward path here? Because in reality, I CAN actually foresee some sort of agreed upon sexless marriage on the horizon, and it's starting to bother me way less than it used to.

Thanks for your time,

Scott
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by Deleted User 1731 »

Hey Scott, we should get together have drinks and talk about our wives. lol I feel your pain brother. I am sure the elders here will give you many thoughtful responses, and prayers. It's very frustrating at least for me, because in the final analysis it will lead to one decision, and you had already made it. Physical sexual expression is not the only way. So no, this is not all there is. Read the chapter on sexual transmutation in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill if you want to know what I mean. Good luck brother, and God bless. I am in Southern California, if you are near by, I am ready for that drink.
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by SLS »

Welcome happyindoors. Glad you are here but I'm sorry for the hurt that is present in your MB.

One thing I wanted to ask (and maybe I just missed it when reading your post). You mentioned therapy and counseling. Were the counseling sessions based on your marriage generally or just on the impacts of sexual abuse?

In other words has your wife had the opportunity to seek help solely to help her heal from the damage caused by sexual abuse? That kind of trauma has deep effects. If she has never been able to recieve help specifically for that trauma it may be very hard for her to engage sexually beyond what y'all already do.
Happily married to Serafina for 6.75 years. She is my Venus. ::luv2
happyindoors
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by happyindoors »

In short, yes, she spent roughly 5 years in one on one therapy for sexual abuse, and 2 years simultaneously in a women’s support group called “Healing Hearts” for sexual abuse. It was overall beneficial for her, but the abuse she suffered had a strong element of control attached to it which has been really difficult to unravel. More on that as I get time to post.

SLS wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:34 pm Welcome happyindoors. Glad you are here but I'm sorry for the hurt that is present in your MB.

One thing I wanted to ask (and maybe I just missed it when reading your post). You mentioned therapy and counseling. Were the counseling sessions based on your marriage generally or just on the impacts of sexual abuse?

In other words has your wife had the opportunity to seek help solely to help her heal from the damage caused by sexual abuse? That kind of trauma has deep effects. If she has never been able to recieve help specifically for that trauma it may be very hard for her to engage sexually beyond what y'all already do.
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by Irnmyk »

happyindoors,

I read this thread early today and have followed it while I pondered it.

The sermon that I sat through after I read it dwelt with the principles involved heavily, but I won't go there yet (partially for my own anonymity).

One question I need to ask for the benefit of my thinking is: you describe the rest of your marriage as pretty well balanced and not a problem in the same sense of the seriousness of the one you present in great detail here. (Thanks for that, you were right, you saved a lot of follow up questions.)

What I read, without benefit of further input to your overall situation is that I see a control freak. Is she in the other aspects of your life that you describe so rosily a "I have to be in control" person?

That doesn't mean that I am right about that, it just means that it is an initial reaction based on what you have presented.

I'd like to know more about that before I opine further.

Thanks
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by happyindoors »

Baggy wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:01 pm Hey Scott, we should get together have drinks and talk about our wives. lol I feel your pain brother. I am sure the elders here will give you many thoughtful responses, and prayers. It's very frustrating at least for me, because in the final analysis it will lead to one decision, and you had already made it. Physical sexual expression is not the only way. So no, this is not all there is. Read the chapter on sexual transmutation in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill if you want to know what I mean. Good luck brother, and God bless. I am in Southern California, if you are near by, I am ready for that drink.
Thanks man, really appreciate it. I'm the opposite coast, but if I were local, I'd be down for that drink.

I started the chapter, and need to revisit as it was late and more heady than I'd anticipated. The gist of the bit I read seemed to indicate channeling sexual energy to other pursuits. Am I on the right track with that?
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by happyindoors »

Irnmyk wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:25 pm happyindoors,

I read this thread early today and have followed it while I pondered it.

The sermon that I sat through after I read it dwelt with the principles involved heavily, but I won't go there yet (partially for my own anonymity).

One question I need to ask for the benefit of my thinking is: you describe the rest of your marriage as pretty well balanced and not a problem in the same sense of the seriousness of the one you present in great detail here. (Thanks for that, you were right, you saved a lot of follow up questions.)

What I read, without benefit of further input to your overall situation is that I see a control freak. Is she in the other aspects of your life that you describe so rosily a "I have to be in control" person?

That doesn't mean that I am right about that, it just means that it is an initial reaction based on what you have presented.

I'd like to know more about that before I opine further.

Thanks
Thanks for the interest and question.

In short, no...or rather...it's not that simple. My wife is highly organized. She's been that way since I met her. That said, part of it is (I think) because she grew up in chaos. Her Mom and Dad split when she was young, and her mom was (and still is) unreliable and a narcissist. Her Dad was a serial cheater and gambler. He left, and her mom quickly found and married the man that ended up abusing my wife. Making matters worse, my wife told her mom what was happening, and she didn't do anything. It took a teacher at school realizing something was wrong before anyone believed her, called the cops, and the step-Dad was dealt with. And even then, she and her mom and brother ended up homeless and lived in a shelter when it all fell apart. I met her roughly 4 years after all this ended. And she was this shockingly beautiful, level headed and driven young woman that was unlike anyone I'd ever met. She's still like that. She was determined to not end up like her Mom, and had a path she'd charted to get there. And we were able to merge our paths, goals, and direction, and never really looked back from the time we met. And we made a TON of mistakes, but we've hung in there together. Her organization skills allowed her to climb the rungs of academia to the point that before she retired from the outside work-force to raise our son (her dream was to be a mom, so she was 100% wanting to be a stay at home mom), she was being tapped by colleges to help set up and run departments relating to autism and speech pathology.

But back to your question - no, she doesn't have to (or even want to) be in control overall. She's quite content in letting me lead in spiritual, financial, parenting, home and my work decisions. Even still, with that amount of trust we also discuss the decisions that will effect the family as I also rely on her wisdom and input. But ultimately, the buck stops with me and it's not something I take lightly.

The ONE area though, which I detailed in my original message, that we just don't click on is sex. And in that realm, I have no say. And no amount of counseling, prayer, discussion, therapy, good thoughts, well wishes, thoughtful notes, love languages, affirmations, or the like have been able to crack that code. And I'm not comparing my wife with women in porn, or TV/Movies, or some idealized version of what I think my wife should be like. I'm comparing my wife to my wife. The way she used to be in the early part of our marriage, vs the way she is now. And yeah, there's definitely control issues in this realm. But I can't tell exactly why...because even post sexual abuse therapy she was loosening up again and starting to have fun with sex. But then we went to couples therapy to work on marriage stuff, which was needed, and it's like she's never been the same. And I distinctly remember a session where she asked the wife in the therapy couple we were seeing if "she had to have sex with me if she didn't want to..." And I remember thinking that was super weird, because I wasn't asking her to do that. At all. And the therapist of course told her no, she didn't have to. And everything changed after that. And I've asked her why on several occasions, and the most I can get out of her is that for her to have sex, she has to feel emotionally and physically available. Which...OK...fair enough. But it doesn't answer for why our sex became so one-sided. And infrequent. And why it's stayed that way outside of the times we were trying to conceive. And why we've been locked in to doing it one way, and almost solely focused on her, ever since.

So yeah...in this area, she's in control. In everything else, not really.
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by SeekingChange »

Have you happened to read the thread that's recently been active here? You should check out the article shared in the OP, it seems to address your very question: https://befullywell.com/past-trauma-makes-me-hate-sex/
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by Deleted User 1731 »

happyindoors wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:33 am
Baggy wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:01 pm Hey Scott, we should get together have drinks and talk about our wives. lol I feel your pain brother. I am sure the elders here will give you many thoughtful responses, and prayers. It's very frustrating at least for me, because in the final analysis it will lead to one decision, and you had already made it. Physical sexual expression is not the only way. So no, this is not all there is. Read the chapter on sexual transmutation in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill if you want to know what I mean. Good luck brother, and God bless. I am in Southern California, if you are near by, I am ready for that drink.
Thanks man, really appreciate it. I'm the opposite coast, but if I were local, I'd be down for that drink.

I started the chapter, and need to revisit as it was late and more heady than I'd anticipated. The gist of the bit I read seemed to indicate channeling sexual energy to other pursuits. Am I on the right track with that?
Something like that. It's a higher form of sexual expression. Men do it all the time, when we see an attractive woman, when we are pursuing a woman, or when we first start dating. Remember how much energy, creativity you had when you first dated your wife? Remember those late night conversations, the hours you spend picking her the perfect gifts, the time you spent with her friends and family when you rather just hang out with your buddies? You can tap into that same energy to move forward when you decide to accept her as she is. One final thought. When you are in your death bed, you are not going to think or regret not having enough sex. Yet we constantly think about sex, at least for me. So it's not the most important thing, but definitely not the least.
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Re: Is This All There Is?

Post by happyindoors »

SeekingChange wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:18 am Have you happened to read the thread that's recently been active here? You should check out the article shared in the OP, it seems to address your very question: https://befullywell.com/past-trauma-makes-me-hate-sex/
In short, my wife doesn't hate sex. As I've thought about this since my initial posts, the issue seems to be that since her sexual abuse was a forced scenario, she's found personal sexual freedom in being able to dictate the how/what/when/where of our sex life. She absolutely loves what I do for her and is very vocal about it. But it's one sided. Counseling has only reinforced this. On a rational level, I get and support the idea and practice that no woman, abused or not, should feel like they have to have sex when they don't want to or do things they aren't comfortable with. But there's also an aspect in all this that's wildly lopsided in that our intimacy really only goes one direction. I feel like I'm paying for something I didn't do. Christianity's answer seems to be to push the idea of the "generous wife", which in the case of my wife only made things worse. And for the record, that was something she heard and pursued on her own. I didn't know that was even a thing, and it only made her feel forced on a larger level and angry at me by default since I was the man she was supposed to be sexually generous with. There was literally 3 years of our marriage where every time I brought up wanting to have sex, she'd get angry and not tell me why. (This was on top of just the usual tension surrounding us having sex.) She finally fessed up that she was mad because she thought she HAD to have sex with me because of some vague Biblical principle. So her response was to deny me and not tell me why. Which then morphed into where we are today (and have been for the last several years), where we have sex a couple times a month, but we're only doing what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and nothing else. I don't know...but I suspect there's no good answers here. The Bible offers no insight into marriage and sex in the context of sexual abuse, and I've yet to meet a counselor that didn't just act like the topic was not unlike trying to diffuse a bomb in an earthquake. I mean, even the thread you pointed me to, there's far more questions than answers. It honestly feels pretty hopeless.
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