A series of posts on non-sexual marriage

Readers may be interested in the vexed and sad problem of the non-sexual marriage.

I have published a series of posts on the subject here:

13 types of non-sexual marriage

The asexual non-sexual marriage

The closet homosexual non-sexual marriage

The used-to-be-sexual non-sexual marriage

Men who have sex with men

Also, I’ve written a piece on:

Passive-aggressive celibacy

It’s a big, complex subject. I’m really interested on your comments on my views.

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4 Responses

  1. OMG!!! Dr. Steve you just described my STBXHusband!!!

    The person I left, my husband is not recognizable as the person I loved & married almost 23 years ago. The person who told me on the second date he was going to marry me – is not the person I face over a lawyer’s desk who seems interested in destroying me and what little is left of my puny self-esteem.

    I was never really interested in getting married. I had seen my parent’s very strained marriage and what my narcissistic mother did to my father’s sense of self. As well, I saw that he “loved her to survive” by going along to get along with what was outright abuse of myself and him. My brother was always seen as the ‘golden child’ and avoided a lot of this. My brother, btw, has validated every single thing my mother ever did to me – and for that I am very grateful.

    However, STBXH was about to lose a good job and be deported back to Canada. We’d been living together for 2 years, my mother was pushing me to be a ‘normal girl’ and get married. The U.S. government set the date and I planned a wedding in 6 months. It didn’t seem like a big deal, just a natural progression of the relationship. I could have and probably would have just lived with him – since a broken engagement when I was 18 and three very abusive relationships in between – one which included a guy whom I now believe was sociopathic who tried (and almost succeeded) in killing me and my spirit. – had turned me off to marriage.

    The first 5 years of our marriage we still had a great relationship & good sex life. Now, though, I see that STBXH was very jealous of my career. It got to the point that every time I had an audition I didn’t tell him – because of the nastiness and sullen mood I would get from him at home. When I had to fly to L.A. twice to audition during pilot seasons – he was less than enthused and not supportive.

    This lack of support started to escalate… very very slowly. I couldn’t cook right, the laundry was done wrong, I was a lousy housekeeper, I didn’t fold clothes the right way. Back 11 years ago I was still quite svelte and men would hit on me in front of him as well as when I was alone. I always said no. Always. Never have I cheated on him physically. Ever. And only one time was I emotionally ‘unfaithful’ – and that was a couple years after we stopped sleeping in the same bed. I also got into therapy because I was sure it was me that was messing up. It had to be me – no relationship of mine ever went right – in my mind.

    About 1 year into our marriage I had my first infertility surgery. I tried to get pregnant right away when I was 27. I had a miscarriage and my PCOS started to become an issue. Over the 12 years of my treatment I took STBXH to many RESOLVE conferences – but he wasn’t thrilled about going. And became downright angry when I asked him as time went on.

    The worst was our sex life. About 5-6 years in, verrrry slloooowly – STBXH stopped initiating. At first I didn’t think much of it – I didn’t mind initiating. But within a couple years, I was the one doing all the asking. It was demeaning. I wanted to keep the marriage together and I still loved him. I begged him to go to counseling with me but he flatly refused. His behavior over a 12-13 year period became increasingly hostile and passive-aggressive. He was only nice when I was in the midst of yet another infertility treatment (I had at least 25 separate procedures over the years and two major surgeries). I could hear people tell him what an attractive wife he had and he would just roll his eyes. I did many things to try to get him interested and every single thing was greeted with “you are really stupid!!” Any little affection was greeted with “that’s WIERD.”

    In the bedroom I tried to do whatever I could to make him happy as well. I was “loving to survive.” By the end when we got this 2 family house (where we live separately) we had not slept in the same bed for about 5 – 6years nor had we been intimate in all that time. Prior to that if we had sex 2-3 times a year, it was a lot. And when I did ask he would tell me I was a nympho or that sex was wierd and disgusting. BTW I do mean just SEX – the loving making was LONG GONE.

    By the time we were married 15 years – there was no affection on his part at all. It had happened so slowly and insidiously I was like the “boiling frog” analogy. I had gotten used to it. Today in 2007 I can safely say it has been about 13 or 14 years since I was held, told “I love you”, had my hand held or any small sign of affection from him or any man. I barely remember what its like for a man to kiss me or even be sweet to me.

    At 10 years of marriage, in 1995 – I was diagnosed with atypical MS, fibromyalgia and a host of overlapping problems. On top of my PCOS. It took me 6 months to get a proper diagnosis and in that time he was raging at me almost daily. I can remember times when I would be laying in bed, paralyzed on the left side or just so sick I couldn’t stand up – and he would yank all the covers off the bed and call me a lazy cow. When I finally could get around I tried to cook and do little things – but raging there too. He used to step over me if I was crawling on my hands & knees to the bathroom. Thank god for my late dog – who started to be very protective of me and would growl at him.

    This was not helped by him, a month before my diagnosis – trying to have me signed into a mental institution. My mother, when she found out I was disabled, told him (in front of me) to leave me because I was “useless” to him. My mother had called me ‘a burden, a freak’ and told me ‘no man would ever want me’ my whole life – mostly because of my PCOS symptoms and my strong opinions. But by 1995 I no longer had an opinion – I would pray daily for death because I was so ill and in so much pain.

    I was able to fight for my disability, fight for my job (with the 2nd largest corporate law firm in the world – who used a lot of lawyer to try to cut me off) by myself and fight for social security so that STBXH wouldn’t have to bear the burden of keeping the co-op we lived in together. However, he has never acknowledged my effort. In 1996-97 I went through a remission, had an IVF and got pregnant. After years of miscarriages, I was very happy. The day I brought the babies home, STBXH walked out the door and came back 4 hours later after calling me names and doing a couple unconscionable things to me. Also within a week my remission was over. Andrew stayed home for 3 months to help but had nothing to do with me other than calling me names and berating everything I did. When he went back to work he would go to meetings & running practice after work for hours. I had no help with my twins at all. NONE. If my neighbor and dear friend didn’t stop by every night after work, I would not have been able to shower. This went on for 18 months.

    Once I was diagnosed btw, STBXH never apologized to me nor has he ever. When we did sleep in the same bed – my insomnia from the brain damage was a problem so I slept on the floor of my twins’ room. Of course I would walk up barely able to walk. One had severe colic for 7 months and screamed 24/7. Every time they caught a cold, it was my fault. After about 2 years of the illness I started to sleep better but I have night sweats. STBXH would literally edge or push me to the edge of the mattress. Finally, about a year after the girls were born – I started sleeping on the couch. I had been pushed out of bed enough times that I had a permanent bruise on my forehead and a goose egg over one eye. My legs were black and blue from being mule kicked in bed. STBXH had the income – I had become what I call a “chore whore.” My only “payment” was to live there like the Nanny.

    Every thing I tried to do for myself was undermined. Even my friends started to notice. A couple of them were strong enough to get me out of the house once in a while but phone messages were never received and STBXH succeeded in cutting me off from everyone but 2-3 people. Anything from my old life, I found out, was shredded or tossed away by him. I was literally a prisoner. I couldn’t imagine being disabled and picking up my 2 kids and going to a shelter. I was from an upper middle class family, it was unthinkable. And shelters don’t even take disabled women very often.

    I persisted in thinking if I just loved enough or tried harder – he would love me again. I didn’t realize until a few years ago, he was incapable of it.

    I was still trying though I wasn’t sure I still loved him till about 3 years ago, when it became clear my ‘love’ was nothing more than a bad habit. Unfortunately someone came into my life who exploited my vulnerabilities and my compassion and drew me into something I couldn’t seem to see or find my way out of. It was against every moral & ethical bone in my body but my many years of caring for this person blinded me. It was also the straw that broke the camel’s back in my marriage. We moved into this house and I now live on the basement floor. He lives on the second floor. After that other “relationship” exploded and due to what happened I had to go to the hospital 2x and then a clinic for the PTSD. Then I got trauma counseling on top of my other therapies and started to see what had been done to me. STBXH has also persistently undermined me from finishing my conversion or even practicing rituals like Shabbat on an ongoing basis. That’s all in the divorce decree so of course, he’s fighting me.

    Unfortunately I am dependent on him financially now and he is using that to drag out the divorce & especially, custody. I can’t just up and leave here as I really have no place to go. I don’t go out much and spend 95% of my time raising 2 of the best girls in the world. However, I am still deeply gutted. I can’t even talk about sex except in the 3rd person and I know I will never date again. I don’t trust myself at all. And I know for sure I don’t love STBXH. Nor do I like him very much. My therapist said he is a “sexual anorexic” as described by Dr. Patrick Carnes.

    I still put up with a lot of ambient abuse from him because he knows I am dependent. He is angry that I am trying to keep clear & sharp boundaries. And though my narcissistic mother has passed on – her legacy of telling me that I was ‘nothing & no one’, that I am ‘a freak’ and ‘no man will ever love me’ continues on. What I know rationally is very different from how I feel emotionally.

  2. Barbara – Oy! Hard to know what else to say.

    Oh yes, your comment, “he would just roll his eyes” reminds me: have you read John Gottmans’ work on relationships. Top stuff. For him their are four signs a relationship very likely going to fail (criticism, stonewalling, contempt, and one other I can’t recall right now). Contempt is the worst one and it is signalled by, that’s right, rolling of the eyes.

  3. Well my STBXH was a wonderful husband for 7 years… then it was a slow insidious ride down… took me 27 years to wake up from the mind control and shredded self esteem.

  4. barbara – Good to see that you’re on the way back.

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