“The Problem with Sex”- How are marriages defined and does sex really matter?

My husband and I are having a problem. It’s a problem we’ve had before. I guess you could say it is a continuation of a problem that is difficult to solve. There are so many problems that can plague a marriage and the topics are as follows: money, time, sex, intimacy. I am separating “intimacy” from “sex” because you can have one without the other or both working in tangent. I prefer the latter, but everyone has their own mix.

I enjoy sex. I think about sex the way I imagine a 16 year old boy does. Having never been a sixteen year old boy, I cannot be sure, but I do know that as a 45 year old woman my libido does not resemble my peers. I could and would have sex every day with a willing partner. Do not misinterpret that, please. Not any willing partner, but one with whom I share a certain something.

In the past I did not have to be love, and when I was younger, it could be much, much less even, but I did have to have some connection with the person. As an single mom with two little boys, who I had sex with was done with much more consideration and finesse. Now as a married woman again, I am content and happy with having sex only with my husband. This comes with one slight caveat: he does not enjoy having sex as frequently as I do.

This creates quite a problem. I have been rejected. I have been pushed away. I have been asked to just wait until a later time. All of this is done with kindness and love and a complete understanding of what I am being asked to do, but it is done all the same.

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My friends do not understand my concern, and often talk about how happy they are when they are able to get away without having sex for weeks or months at a time. One of my friends has not had sex with her husband in years and does not ever intend on it.

“So do you let him have affairs with other women?” I asked, unable to believe what kind of jail this poor man was living in. She was shocked and even a bit hurt.

“No, absolutely not,” she answered. “Why would I do that?”

“So you are just expecting your husband, who wants to have sex, to just deal with the fact that you don’t want to?” I wasn’t trying to shame her or even make her feel bad. I just wanted her to see how terrible this could be. “You are the only person he can have sex with and you don’t want to do it again, and this is the end of the story?”

“Oh, it’s not like that,” she answered. “It’s just really painful for me.”

“Yeah, sure, yeah, I totally get that,” I responded more warmly. And I truly felt terrible, but I also felt there is a total disconnect and lack of empathy when men are asked to remain celibate because their spouse is unable or unwilling to have sex with them, which brings me to the problem in my own marriage.

Six months ago, I silently promised myself I would no longer initiate sex with my husband. Things have been fine. When he feels like it, we have sex. He knows our once a week triste keeps me happy, so he always happily provides his companionship. When we have sex, it is great. We both really enjoy being together and there are no issues.

Here’s the problem: I have become resentful of his control over our sex life. I understand this is a normal byproduct of our sex life. He is a man and he wants to be in control, but there is something that just feels bad. In addition, he has not even mentioned that it is odd I have not initiated sex once in six months, which leaves me feeling like he really appreciates the respite.

Two nights ago, I finally turned to him and told him that I find him really sexy and I love being with him, but I have made it a point to not initiate sex with him for the last six months because it feels so bad when I get rejected.

“I’m sorry,” he responded.

“That’s it?” I said.

“Well, yeah, I don’t like when you feel bad,” he answered. This actually made me really angry.

“So I think we should stop having sex for awhile. I am getting really tired and annoyed by only having sex when you “feel” like it, and I think this will give us both a chance to see what role sex plays in our relationship,” I answered with a lot of annoyance and a tinge of disgust.

I am not sure where this was coming from, but I was so upset. I am not sure what answer I wanted him to give, but I knew quite certainly from my reaction it was not what he said.

“I’ll do whatever you want,” he said. His voice was tired and defeated. The words were both crushing and strangely solidifying. I had nothing to say back, so I rolled over on my side, a classic signal that the conversation was over.

Now we are a day in two of this, and I am not sure what I am doing. I am not sure how to fix this, but I know that I love him. I know this is about control. I know I can stop this and perhaps we can have a healthy dialogue about our situation, but I am tired of talking about it.

I am starting to fear that there is no real “solution” and I am going to just end up like my friend’s husband in a sexless marriage filled with silent despair and neglect.

Love and Light.

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