I am sad, angry and disappointed. This is more common than you may imagine: Last week, we looked at how you can get the spark back, with an article by Joan McFadden in which she offered advice to couples on how to cope with a lack of sex. At the beginning of a relationship, sex can be so easy, natural and exciting that it can feel a little sad that you might have to work at it, but the results can be well worth it.
Here six people talk about what happens when passion leaves a relationship. Paul, 36, London When I got together with my now wife, the sex was fantastic. We were entirely compatible and had similar tastes. After a couple of years, that changed.
However, by the time we got married everything changed: After we got married, sex was routine and infrequent. Oral sex was almost non-existent and resentment began to set in. When I tried to address the problem I came up against a brick wall. I tried everything I could to find a solution, researching advice online, helping more around the house and trying not to be demanding while making it clear sex was important to me.
The addition of children and the pressure that introduced was another nail in the coffin of our sex life. Sex was reduced to a one-off thing at Christmas or birthdays. Years of neglect with seemingly no resolution in sight made me despondent. I began to feel resentment towards my wife and her unwillingness to engage with sex. I withdrew and the romance dried up. We went from being best friends to people who cohabit — the bitterness was palpable on both sides.
This year a colleague and I had a short-lived affair. While it lasted it was wonderful and fulfilling to be valued and desired again. The affair ended when my wife found out, and we decided to give our marriage another try. If we can get past this hurdle we will then begin to work on finding a solution to our very different sexual ideals.
The intimacy and connection it brings helps me to feel loved and in love. Our love life tapered off a while before that, with him rejecting me a number of times, until we both just stopped even trying.
We get on well and enjoy our time together but there is no intimacy. I talk about having children and he says it will happen one day — but when I ask how, he changes the subject. Sometimes I want to get a divorce or can we have our marriage annulled? If we ignore the sex thing, our relationship is solid. I had sex with an old friend a few months ago. It was my first time in eight years. Maybe sex is just something we could or should enjoy with other people. I imagine that in practice that would be very hard to cope with, though.
Matt, 25, Canada I have sex with my wife 10 times a year or less. We were in our mids when we met, and we are an attractive couple, but she believes that sex should just be for reproductive purposes. Not only that, but she has a low sex drive. I have sex with my wife 10 times a year or less. I just hope no one has to go through what I am going through Matt, 25 It has affected my marriage greatly, to an extent that we go to bed with our backs turned.
I came out with my issues one night. I know that sex is one of, if not the most important factors in a marriage. You need to find new ways to please your partner. I just hope no one has to go through what I am going through. Try to be patient, but this only gets you so far. We continue to live together, but we have separate rooms and have had a sexless marriage for over two years.
We have tried marriage counselling. At times it feels like we are making progress, but two or three years ago there was a sense of resignation perhaps from both of us and it has been no sex, no counselling, no real effort to rejuvenate the relationship — just a focus on making the household work and co-parenting our much-loved boys. There is now no intimacy. Perhaps I could have made a more consistent effort to be affectionate and caring and open, but we were stuck in a cycle; she would be critical of so much of what I did and the criticisms would make me withdrawn.
Counselling was some small help for a while, but I think all those efforts are exhausted. Neither of us are suggesting that we go back. The effort now is to have a workable non-sexual, non-intimate, functioning relationship where the boys can grow up loved and secure.
Anonymous, 36, Australia My partner and I have been together for eight years. We last had sex four and a half years ago. My early efforts to initiate sex were unsuccessful; if anything, they made things worse, as I invariably felt rejected.
If I voice my unhappiness she becomes upset and feels guilty, so I try not to mention it. I have suggested relationship counselling, but my partner does not believe it will help — she insists the problem is with her self-esteem and body image, not our relationship.
She has a number of long-standing medical issues and is reluctant to seek advice regarding her lack of interest in sex. We love each other and want to be together, but from time to time I feel lonely and undesirable, despite her assurances that she still finds me attractive. I suspect my frustration sometimes manifests as irritation or impatience in response to unrelated, relatively minor matters. It depends on the individuals involved.
Anonymous, 31, South Africa Last year we had sex six times. This year it was once. So yes, I am in a sexless marriage. Even in the three years before we got married 15 years ago, I realised that we had different sex drives. I practically had to beg my husband to make love to me on our wedding night. Yet I married him because I love him and so I take responsibility for my decision. Over the years I have begged, cajoled, threatened, shouted, cried and done everything to make him aware of how I feel.
He has done nothing to meet my demands. I am a very sexual person. I need sex like I need food and sleep. He does not — or will not — understand this. He loves me very much. We get on very well. I love him very much. I have never cheated on him. I am sad and angry and disappointed. And I am grateful because some husbands verbally and physically abuse their wives or neglect them and their children.
My husband has done none of these, although refraining from sex is abuse in a way. I will never forgive him for it. I am very aware of sex and sexual people. I have seen men and women look at me in a sexual way. I have never responded. One day if the right person comes along, my children have left home, I might. But then I will probably lose my husband.
I depend on him for a lot, not just financially but emotionally, too. He makes me feel like a million dollars. Just not in a sexual way. I still think he is the cleverest, kindest person I know. It would be difficult to say no if someone I find attractive offered sex. Over the years I went through hell. In the beginning I thought he was having affairs, then I thought he was homosexual. I have spent hours agonising about him.
And about my own attractiveness. Lately I have come to the conclusion that he is just a non-sexual person. One of his male friends told me that he has never met someone so asexual.