Mormon Therapist on Sexless Marriage

September 22, 2010
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My wife never touches me… I am quite frustrated in my marriage and it stems from issues of sex and intimacy. I have been married for 15 years, and we have four children, the youngest just started Kindergarten. My marriage has devolved into almost a roommate situation. My wife has no interest in sex, and she never shows me any affection whatsoever.

This became an issue for me early in our marriage, and we used to argue/fight over this subject. At that time, I felt very angry. Today the anger is giving way to feelings of self-pity and hopelessness. Throughout my marriage I have been plagued by the fear that I made a mistake asking my wife to marry me. I feel some regret, as though I made the wrong choice to marry this person. My wife never touches me. No hand holding, no hugs, no pat on the back – nothing. She has absolutely no interest in sex. She never initiates it, and when I do it is not uncommon for her to protest that she is tired. When she does go along with it, she just lies there and does nothing. She does not touch me, kiss me, talk to me or anything else. She literally will just lie there and do nothing, waiting for it to be over. It has all become somewhat mechanical and monotonous. She absolutely refuses to consider oral sex, saying that it is gross; and she does not want to use her hand to pleasure me, either. I do not want to get divorced because the children are young, and I feel strongly that children need a father in the home everyday. I feel stuck. I feel like my wife misled me when we were dating. I feel that people who do not want to be affectionate and sexual HAVE NO BUSINESS GETTING MARRIED. It seems like my only option is to “endure to the end,” however, the thought of spending forever with this person is somewhat depressing.

You are describing a difficult and sad situation and I can see how you would feel stuck. It is sad for me to see so many men (and women) writing to me on this similar subject. One of the responsibilities as a spouse is to be aware of and take into account the needs of the other. This goes for both men and women and includes physical, emotional, spiritual and temporal needs. To ignore, belittle or judge another’s legitimate needs is dangerous for any marriage. Showing affection is a necessary part of a healthy marriage. It is not appropriate for one to withhold affection, love and/or sex from the other. If there are psychological or traumatic issues from one’s upbringing or past that hinder spousal abilities then we should be open to getting appropriate help. Even most medical issues do not need to be the end of a physically intimate relationship – it may just need to be redefined.

I highly doubt that your wife consciously misled you through your courtship. Unfortunately when we get married we don’t have much of an idea of what lies ahead and how we will react to sex, arguments, stress, children, etc. – especially if it’s the first marriage. Things from our past and our upbringing affect us more than we usually realize. Figuring out our sexuality is very much a part of marriage, especially in cultures where it is customary to wait to have sex until after marriage (such as our Mormon culture). Even people who have been sexual before marriage, often find that their sexuality differs dramatically after entering the marital state (both in positive and negative ways). I don’t know what has led your wife to take her current position, but I’m sure the girl you dated would not have thought this is what “marital bliss” looked like either – especially since I’m sure this issue has greatly affected your relationship outside of the bedroom as well.

You are right that your children need you and I respect your desire to want to be a part of their everyday life. It shows your capacity for great love. However, your children also need a good relationship model so they can go forward and have a better statistical chance of having a healthy marriage themselves. Part of being a good mother and a good father is being a good wife and husband. It is easy to forget this important parental responsibility. I realize that you have little to no control over your wife but I would encourage you both to start marital counseling – even if it is only for the sake of the kids at first. It sounds like you are both stuck in a pattern of anger and resentment which leads to exactly what you describe: depression, hopelessness, regret, more anger, more resentment, etc… And none of these things do anything for your emotional intimacy, for your sex life, or for your level of communication.

Some questions I would want to know if I were working with you:* Was the sex ever good between the two of you, or did you face problems from the get-go? * Is there a history of sexual trauma for your wife? What about other sexual baggage? * What were the “sexual messages” you both received from your parents? Did you both have the opportunity to see affection, romance, and playfulness role modeled or not? * What did the deterioration of your relationship look like? What were the main issues that came up? Was it only sex or were there other factors involved? * Has your communication about this issue mainly come from a place of anger? Or have you been able to discuss this in a more calm atmosphere? * Do you think your wife feels the same way about your relationship? What would she add to this story? * Have you told your wife the things you have told me? * Have the two of you discussed the possibility of divorce? In other words, does your wife realize how badly this issue is affecting you? * Would you be willing to get professional help with or without her?

I have written a lot on “sexless marriage” and encourage you to go through and read some of those posts on my blog. There are no easy or magical solutions for these cases. The road to a healthy sexual and emotionally intimate relationship will take a lot of work and time. It is possible to achieve, but it will take the willing efforts of two people. I hope you and your wife can begin some difficult yet frank and respectful discussions regarding the future of your relationship.

MM Readers:

What are your thoughts about spouses who withdraw sexually from a marriage?  Is this ever appropriate?  Under what circumstances might it be appropriate?  For how long?

With sexual stigma within religious culture, I often come across many who believe sex is carnal in nature, only beneficial when used for procreation, and see husbands or wives who want sex as somehow “below” the optimal standard (not having their priorities in order).  What do you have to say about this?

Sexless marriage is defined loosely as having sex less than 10 times a year.  Do any of you have personal experiences that you would be comfortable sharing?  What was helpful in resolving issues like these if you were successful in doing so?

Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.

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160 Responses to Mormon Therapist on Sexless Marriage

  1. September 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    This could have been written by me 10 years ago. Of course there are other complicating matters that later led to a divorce, but lets just say that as a closeted gay man trying to live the gospel, I was FAR more interested in sex with my wife than she ever was with me.

    I can honestly say that my 11 years of marriage were the loneliest years of my life. There was no cuddling and she like it exactly the same every time, same place, same time. The feeling was always that she was doing me a favor. And even then it was certainly last on her priorities.

    As we were seeing a counselor in the last months of our marriage I describe in a personal session what sex was like. She was aghast and declared that not even a straight man would be happy with it. Her 2nd marriage lasted less than a year and I can only suspect that that had something to do with it. How sad for her. I know for certain that her own mother feels the same about sex. I worry for my daughters that they are picking up the same sorts of obsessions over their bodies from their Mom. She is obsessed with a type of modesty that I can only describe as fanatic and crazy. There has to be some correlation.

    Of course I don’t want my daughters to dress like street-walkers but I do want them to have a confidence and acceptance of their bodies. As such their Mom’s motivation seems to be sparked by fear and suspicion and it certainly doesn’t lead to a lasting happiness and pleasure in an intimate relationship.

  2. Natasha parker
    September 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    How did your wife respond to the counselor being “aghast”?

  3. September 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Natasha – She wasn’t there. The therapist was certain that in our next joint session she’d be able to talk some sense into my wife and save our marriage…My wife filed for divorce before that ever happened. The therapist was wrong that she’d have been able to erase a lifetime of disgust regarding sex in one hour.

  4. September 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    dadsprimalscream — that sounds so terribly painful.

  5. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Natahsa,

    The natural man would have said at the outset “put out, or get out”; the spiritual man would have approached the situation with ‘gentleness, kindness, meekness, persuasion and long suffering’ until some type of resolution – a resolution that does not exclude divorce. On a cursory glance, this appears to be the approach of your client. A real man, who is not mutually exclusive of the spiritual man, wouldn’t tolerate this any longer.

    This would be my approach taking into three universal truths I have learned over the years 1) People always want what they can’t have. 2) The one who cares the least in a relationship generally has the most control 3) The more desperate you look, the more desperate you will become. Along these lines, the more you press the issue, the more problematic it will become – You are viewed as a pathetic beggar which is an extreme turn-off.

  6. SNeilsen
    September 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    If I am to engage in sex with my spouse, then I will make sure they have some measure of pleasure. They are not there for me to use. I will make sure they at least somewhat desire sex.
    If my spouse insists on sex when I do not have some measure of desire, I can guarantee that not only will there be no affection, there will also be a police report followed by a divorce.

    The question I have is the oral sex for the husband or for the wife? Many woman to achieve organism need oral stimulation. Often woman do not know of this option or other methods.

    If my spouse is not interested(or myself), masturbation is an option. I would also do what I could to relieve any stress they may be feeling and seek for them to have pleasure in a non-threatening way. Perhaps later, if they desire, we could engage in mutual love making.

  7. Steve
    September 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    A great number of LDS marriages are sexless (or nearly so).

    I think part of the problem is that the message — up to marriage — is no sex. After marriage, it is hard to turn “no, no, no” to “yes, yes, yes”.

  8. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    SNeilsen,

    In other words, what you are saying is: if you don’t want to have sex with your husband, he can satisfy himself. Is that what you are saying? If so, the problem I have is that your husband may resort to pornography, or worse an affair with another woman. In either case, his thoughts are probably not with you, but against you.

  9. September 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    SNeilson. I can only speak for my situation and oral sex of any kind was considered completely off limits, for her or for me. There was a time when the First Presidency spoke against it and then retracted the statement saying that the specifics of what happens in the bedroom is between each couple and God. But the damage had been done and there are folks who clung to the first message. As masturbation is so heavily frowned upon in LDS culture, it would have been considered a betrayal as well. I don’t agree with Will that masturbation leads to thought outside the marriage…and later pornography and adultery. It’s when it is shrouded in shame and secrecy that the thoughts turn outward.

  10. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Dad,

    Don’t put words in my fingers, I did use the term “may”.

  11. Natasha parker
    September 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    3: one hour, probably not. But when the spirit is willing a lot can be accomplished in 12-20.

    There is a difference I believe between being pressured to have sex by an insensitive spouse and believing that sex shouldn’t be important within marriage. Healthy couples will take sexual drive differences into consideration and be willing to both serve and partake within the sexual sphere. For some, a joint agreement that masturbation will be part of the equation in helping needs get met can be helpful. Oral sex is another option many couples decide to either mutually enjoy or set aside as uncomfortable territory. These compromises and explorations are up to each couple. It’s only when resentment, anger, mistrust, dishonesty and the inability to communicate in a safe environment enter the
    bedroom that problems start becoming
    overwhelming.

  12. hawkgrrrl
    September 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    One observation about male vs female sexual response. Men are readier to go generally, and as a result probably prefer variety of experience. For women, sex is largely mental (getting in the right frame of mind), and the need for relaxation may run counter to variety of experience. Because women’s sexual response is more mental, I would think that the “no, no, no” messages are particularly damaging to women’s sexual response after marriage. Most of the YW materials seem geared toward male sex drives (covering up so boys won’t be tempted). There is a lack of female perspective in how chastity is taught. I think that’s a problem. I wonder what Natasha’s views are about that.

  13. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Hawkgrrl,

    “There is a lack of female perspective in how chastity is taught”

    What do you mean by this comment?

  14. SNeilsen
    September 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Will
    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying sex should be pleasurable for both partners.
    If the choice is between masturbation or using someone as a sex object, I vote for masturbation.
    Intensity of desire can fluctuate with life’s circumstances. I favor communication and exploration.

    I recognize there are many people who are asexual. And in a sexually repressed environment, what passes for virtue is just plain old lack of desire and passion. And it’s not until after the I do’s are said you find there may be a problem. I know of people with a low sex drive, but they are also affectionate. I don’t think I could survive in a marriage where I was treated as the enemy.

    But if I was making love to my spouse and my spouse just lay there and did nothing but waited for it to be over, and I continued in using my spouse for sexual jollies, then I deserve to be treated as the enemy

  15. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    SNeilsen,

    “I don’t think I could survive in a marriage where I was treated as the enemy.”

    Agreed. I think most men would fell like the enemy if they were in a sexless marriage. The OP is not about fluctuations in desire, which are normal, it is about sexless marriage. I can’t speak for all men, but masturbation would just not be enough to meet my needs. As a long term alternative solution, masturbation has the stigma of a pathetic loser dreaming about some girl he can never have. It is no substitute for the real thing in my book.

  16. anon
    September 22, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    When we were first married, I was greatly looking forward to sex and enjoyed physical touch. My husband wanted sex but pretty much was just in and out. Our lovemaking sessions lasted about 15 minutes. I would get totally into it, but then he was done and I was left frustrated. I got a book and tried to get him to try things out, read together and he always said he was too tired. I finally gave up and had to just shut down sexually and let him do his thing because it was too frustrating to be left hanging. He is a good man and would apologize, saying he didn’t know what to do but didn’t try to learn anything. Now about 20 years, I resent sex becuase everything we do it, it makes me angry that the sexual enjoyment was taken from me. I lay there and let him have sex with me, but I am resentful and don’t know if anything can be done at this point. I have no desire anymore.

  17. Steve
    September 22, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    My spouse just announced one day she didn’t want to do it anymore. Flat out.

    We know have separate bedrooms and haven’t even tried in over a decade.

    I know 4-5 couples in our ward in the same circumstances. I think it is far more common than most people think.

  18. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    16 & 17,

    Stop. I wanna cry. Both examples are just sad.

  19. April
    September 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Will,
    most of the YW material teach girls not to have sax because of sex drive or just because they want it. They teach modesty to help keep boys from wanting sex. What they don’t teach is that Sex for girls is not usually because of a crazy insane sex drive… it’s usually because the girl feel a severe need for affection or to feel wanted and needed. The YW manuals do not touch on this much, if at all.

  20. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    April,

    Thanks for the info. I would ask them then, what did God create the cli***** (trying not be vulgar) for then? My goodness, are we in some backwards middle-eastern country?

  21. SNeilsen
    September 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    anon
    Would your husband go with you to a therapist?
    I’ve heard masturbation can be used to rekindle desire. I also heard that many couples try to see that through foreplay and such that the woman has an orgasm before he has his.
    You are more than a blow up doll to let some one have their way with you.

  22. Anna
    September 22, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    @April I don’t think that is true. Young girl do have a strong sex drive. I know I did when I was a teen and so did many of my friends. I think that is a myth that females aren’t horny like their male counter parts. I know it’s hard to talk about these things in generalities, because everyone is different and there are going to be kids and people all across the board. My point is if you think those Mia Maids, Laurals and even Beehives aren’t horny and want sex you are mistaken.

    I think it’s really sad when people marry someone whose sex drive doesn’t match up. It’s hard becuase in the culture it’s not really appropriate to have that discussion with the person you are courting esp. if the person has never had sex before. How can you negotiate something you’ve never had before and are not supposed to talk about with your future partner? Unfortunately, some people get really unlucky.

    I really don’t have any advice on this one. My heart goes out to you guys. I can definitely see where someone would feel really trapped and unhappy. I can’t understand how a spouse can not empathize with that.

  23. Will
    September 22, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Anna,

    I think you missed some of the conversation and thus missed understood April’s comment.

  24. anon
    September 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I think husbands often don’t realize that they are creating a sexless marriage (anon #16 is probably a classic case). I never fell into the “just let him do it and get it over with” and instead I made it so time consuming that he couldn’t initiate as much and I was guarenteed enjoy parts of it (even if it was just the talking and spending time together and feeling emotionally close) which meant I was more and more likely to say yes, rather than less and less likely. Sexual response is learned so the more you just do it and get it over with the more the wife is going to hate it and not respond.
    My husband has a friend in this situation and the guy is so frustrated and considering divorce. My husband is horrified that the wife won’t ever have sex with him. I tell him that we only know one side of the story. I wouldn’t sleep with my husband if I didn’t trust him…..and sure enough my husband knows that this guy lies to his wife all the time and he complains that she has “trust issues” I wonder why. I don’t know if you can undue so many bad habits.
    I wish the OP luck, but I have to say that this is probably less about sex and affection and more about how she feels about him. Does she feel loved and respected? Is he a jerk in other parts of their life and then is surprised that she doesn’t show him affection? Does he push for sex every time she gives him a hug so then she avoids hugs? To be honest if I thought every hug meant sex I’d avoid them too. I enjoy sex but it sounds like a foreign idea until I’ve warmed up to it. We’re compared to crockpots for a reason.
    And I completely agree with April’s comment about why girls have sex (for the most part). It doesn’t mean they don’t have a sex drive at all. It just means that their motivation to go that far is usually emotional not physical.

  25. hawkgrrrl
    September 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Will: Here’s a pretty good article about the problem with the current approach to teaching YW – chastity: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Standards-Night-Is-Substandard-Teaching-Sexuality-to-the-Young-Women?

    Anna: April doesn’t misunderstand female sexuality; she is pointing out that the church teaches it in a way that isn’t geared toward a female perspective (as does the article).

    I remember as a YW often thinking that the modesty/chastity focus didn’t have much to do with my own feelings. It became apparent to me as a YW that the lessons were generally written from a perspective of what men get from women: sex (we have to protect boys from our tempting bodies, until marriage when suddenly we’re supposed to – do what? lie back and think of England?), babies (the most important thing we can do is bear children) and free housework (we were trained on domestic skills and told that an industrious woman has a price far above rubies). But on the sex part, we were also being blamed (essentially) for being temptresses if we dressed a certain way. Female modesty is simply not about female chastity, in my experience. It’s to “protect” men, which is a fallacy anyway because men have to be responsible for their own choices. But often it’s the women who get villified for being seductive, even when wearing a Burkha.

    I’m just trying to answer the question, not go off on a feminist rant. But those are the impressions I had as a YW. I’m sure my teachers really enjoyed my views.

  26. carlos
    September 23, 2010 at 7:25 am

    “There is a lack of female perspective in how chastity is taught”

    That’s a new idea to me.

    “do what? lie back and think of England?),” that would make for very cold sex…..maybe lay back and think of Spain or Italy would be a better option!

  27. September 23, 2010 at 7:30 am

    HG, I think you summarize some great issues with the YW lessons. And I especially agree that teaching young women that they are temptresses of young men is the wrong message.

  28. carlos
    September 23, 2010 at 7:35 am

    I remember a talk Elder Oaks gave on divorce some years ago. One thing I recall was that Oaks said that the brethren know that many members are the innocent victims of spouses who refuse to meet their marital obligations. I thought he meant finances or similar but after reading this letter here surely this wife is also guilty of neglecting her marital obligations. It isn’t a one off thing or post natal depression but it seems that she never was a true wife. Maybe she was gay from the get go and should never have married. So after reading the letter here I really don’t think there would be a problem if this man decided to divorce her and move on. Divorce after seeking marriage counseling and going through any due processes before he looks for another spouse, sure, but surely he would be justified in divorcing rather than living like this for the rest of his life.

    They should go through counseling first though because maybe her problem is related to previous abuse or a rape or something as serious, I don’t know off course, but the way they are living today would be unbearable to me , that’s for sure.

  29. September 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

    For me, if sex in marriage is an expectation, it loses its power to bond.

  30. September 23, 2010 at 7:44 am

    #28, Carlos: while the evidence in this letter would draw one to the conclusion that the wife is not meeting her “marital obligation” one thing I’ve learned is that there is always another side of the story.

  31. carlos
    September 23, 2010 at 8:02 am

    #30,

    Sure, that’s why I wrote that they should do counseling first before considering divorce because maybe there are reasons for her behaviour, which could then be changed. But if she doesn’t and she is like this only because she wants to be that way then surely he should divorce her and move on imho

  32. jmb275
    September 23, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I have a question for Natasha-
    This is my number one issue with the church’s approach to sex. How are individuals supposed to find an appropriate spouse if we cannot even discuss, let alone try sex before marriage? I know you mentioned in the op that even some who do have problems, but surely it is less than those who don’t? Sex is arguably one of the most important parts of a marriage (at least as important as religion) yet we have absolutely NO mechanism for determining if we are sexually compatible with someone before marriage? I don’t expect you to advocate fornication (you are the Mormon Therapist after all), but perhaps you could touch on this issue.

    We are taught, and make lists for, the qualities we want in a spouse (I think every Mormon youth does this). Not once have I seen sex on that list. And even if it was, what should we do about it?

    I guess I’m arguing that given today’s numerous birth control options, along with careful sex education to avoid STDs, would it not be wise to have sex with a potential mate (perhaps after having dated for some length of time)? I wouldn’t advocate sex with every person with whome you have a 2 week relationship, but with a truly potential mate doesn’t it make sense to find out about sexual compatibility? What is the downside (outside of “the church says it’s not okay”)?

  33. Will
    September 23, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I think at the heart of this discussion is the fundamental differences between men and women. Women are much more complicated creatures. Not just sexually, but in general terms. A lot of things need to be considered in meeting the needs of a wife – romance, emotional connection, a good understanding of the female anatomy, financial stability, etc.. Meeting the needs of men is quite simple: show up naked or bring food. I realize these are generalizations and stereotypes, but they do hold some truth.

    I appreciate the comments of anon (16) and hawkgrll and I think they support some of the items mentioned above. With this said, I would add to my comment above, if a wife can’t get her husband to see some of the needs she has she shouldn’t take it anymore either. A good healthy sexual relationship can be coveted as much as financial stability. Clearly, it is something a husband and wife need to discuss openly and bluntly.

    JMB275

    I don’t think sex before marriage should be considered. The Lord is pretty clear on this one and I agree with his reasons. A relationship needs to be developed on non-sexual aspects so that when couples have the fluctuations in desire mentioned above their relationship will survive. Also, the Lord indented to make if difficult (see what he said to Adam and Eve in the Garden) so the couples would grow closer together in resolving these issues.

  34. Dan
    September 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

    and people wonder why marriages don’t last, or why men and women find sexual satisfaction outside of marriage. There’s not an easy answer to sexless marriage. Speaking as a man, theoretically, even if I loved my wife, if I could not find sexual pleasure from her because she closed up, I would eventually find sexual pleasure somewhere else. Whether from my own hands or from the chance encounter with another woman in regular life that happens to stoke my sexual desire. If I had no children, this wouldn’t be as big of a problem, because the couple could fairly simply break up and move on. Having children complicates the matter. I know I would never want to break up with my wife if we had such a problem until our child were grown up and had a good understanding of life. My parents had divorced when I was twelve years old, and I would never want to put my child through that. Would I advocate that a man seek sexual satisfaction outside of the marriage with another woman? No. But I wouldn’t hesitate much to advise him to pleasure himself. It ends up better for him, his wife, and his children not to have gone to another woman.

  35. Doug
    September 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Some of this (sexless) couple’s issue might be how they approach their motives for having (not) sex….e.g., to a degree, selfishness.

    Now, like Richard “Milhous” Nixon, LET ME MAKE MYSELF PERFECTLY CLEAR….I have great sympathy for the brother stuck with a wife that won’t “put out” and not necessarily a lot of sympathy for her. Could be many reasons, and that’s what competent therapists are for, which this couple is DESEPARTELY in need of! The welfare of four young innocent souls is at stake, if nothing else.

    I mention selfishness because I haven’t seen the term “love-making”. Ergo, sexual relations are what one GIVES their spouses. So, could the glacially-thick ice be somehow broken, if not at least cracked, were this attitudinal change to be made for both husband and wife? It’d be a start.

    Be assured that the Church PH would likely be useless for this issue, save it be a clearance to use LDS Family Services, and that if the counselor(s) are decent. Most bishops haven’t the training or temperament to deal with the situation, and typically their pontificating rants do far more harm than good. IMO, this situation brings out the “Peter Principle” (pun only somewhat intended) and this is where the more loony bishops’ views become manifest. Most would probably regard the brother as a whiney loser that can’t properly woo his wife and would in effect say, “you’ve made your (lonely) bed, now lie in it”.

    HG, figures YOU’d cite the expression “Lie back and think of England…”. Shows the extensive literary experience of someone well-educated. But I pity any sister that actually have to live accordingly, and there are some brethren, like the fictional Al Bundy, that take a similar approach. Though the MWC sitcom is (thankfully) ficitonal, it does illustrate that a man’s sexuality is driven by far more than mere appearance…else, Al would overlook his wife’s extreme selfishness and laziness, since Katey Sagal was (and still is) a considerable hottie. Or, as the fictional “Wolf” portrayed by Harvey Keitel in “Pulp Fiction” said, “Just because you ARE a character doesn’t mean you HAVE character!”

    Anecdoteally, this problem IS widespread in the Church and in American society in general. No wonder the porn-purveyors are having a field day (or century).

  36. Anonymous Wife
    September 23, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that a couple years ago, this could have been my husband writing the letter. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore, but I thought maybe drawing upon our experiences might help the writer of this letter.

    One issue we had was depression on my part. When I had severe PPD, I kind of withdrew into myself. I wasn’t capable of showing affection or reaching out much beyond my own misery. Now, I was treated for it, but while I was no longer debilitated by depression, I had to overcome the behavioral patterns I had fallen into while I was depressed. I didn’t even realize that I was being totally unaffectionate until my husband flat out told me what I was and wasn’t doing and asked if it was because I didn’t love him anymore. Talk about a wake up call. :(

    Another issue we had working against us was just plain hormones. When I am nursing, my libido drops to zero, and it improves after I stop nursing. Now, I know the OP’s youngest is in kindergarten, so it’s not that precise situation, but maybe there are birth control hormones or an underactive thyroid or something that is contributing. Also, other medications can have similar effects. I was taking an antidepressant thanks to my PPD, and it totally zapped my libido. I talked to my doctor about it, and she switched me to something that didn’t affect me in that way.

    Along the physiological lines (my apologies for being graphic and TMI, but how else can you discuss sex?), another problem we had was that sex just plain hurt. While nursing, I was dryer than the Sahara desert, and that made sex difficult even with gel. Without ovulation, I wasn’t getting the same amount of blood flow, and my cervix was low and hard, so it was uncomfortable. And because we had sex so infrequently, I was constantly tight. All this made sex a really uncomfortable experience, and really, who can get excited about doing something that’s painful?

    It also helped that my husband changed the way that he went about sex. I felt like all the affection my husband showed me was just a precursor to sex, and that if we made out but didn’t make love, he’d be all butthurt and we’d fight. Alternatively, if I kissed him, it would be interpreted as an overture to sex, when I was just being affectionate. It seemed much easier to avoid his affections and avoid showing any affection than to face another fight about sex. It took a long time to fix this – a lot of nights of just cuddling or kissing without any expectation of going further, to help build my trust that he was being affectionate because he loved me, and not just because he wanted sexual stimulation. It’s funny – by knowing that affection doesn’t HAVE to lead to sex, I’ve been more comfortable being affectionate and more willing to have sex.

    A note about masturbation – yes, my husband did this (though he swears it wasn’t about me), and he said that it led to a heightened desire and expectation for sexual stimulation. This led to him having unrealistic expectations for me and, in turn, more frustration when I couldn’t meet those expectations. After he stopped masturbating, and he became used to lesser amounts of sexual stimulation, he found it a lot easier to meet me where I was at, Less frustration = less fighting = less me shying away from sex.

    Anyway, those are my experiences. I hope that some part of them will be helpful.

  37. September 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

    SilverRain

    “For me, if sex in marriage is an expectation, it loses its power to bond.”

    That’s like saying, “For me, if work in my career is an expectation, it loses it’s power to fulfill me.”

    Sorry, but if there’s no sex you don’t really have a marriage. I agree that it takes two. I don’t get the sense that this fellow is really harping on the lack of sex so much as the lack of intimacy. That’s how I would have felt…how I did feel.

    I think you easily get to a Chicken/Egg conundrum… Wife doesn’t want sex unless husband does XYZ. Husband has no desire to do XYZ unless he’s getting some. And down it spirals. I find both perspectives coming from the type of people who keep score in a marriage. Score keeping is a recipe for disaster…whether it’s the man or woman doing it

  38. September 23, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Score keeping is a recipe for disaster

    Very true. One thing that helps is to have specific non-sexual activities. For example, from time to time I rub my wife’s feet to help her go to sleep. She pretty much knows that if I’m rubbing her feet I’m not expecting anything out of her (except that she will enjoye it and be able to relax and get to sleep easier). People need things they can do, that are physical and acts of kindness, that have no transition (i.e. that don’t lead anywhere).

    But when my wife comes off a 24 hour shift in the OR and is trying to unwind to finally sleep, it makes us both feel better if I rub her feet. I feel like I’m doing something, taking care of someone I love, she feels relaxed and knows there are no expectations being created. But if we were keeping score, it would be terrible. She would be at her most tired, most wanting to avoid any duty or feeling of any pressure and her feet being rubbed would not be a relaxing event.

  39. Justin Tungate
    September 23, 2010 at 10:26 am

    It’s really hard to really see what’s going on without the other spouse talking, but I have a couple of initial reactions.

    1. This sounds an awful lot like a psychological disorder. This can encompass some of sort of sexual trauma from earlier in life
    2. She’s gay.
    3. Some other aspect of the marital relationship is bothering her.

    It would be my assumption that most people would still enjoy sex even if they felt guilty about it later (even Ghandi tried to give up sex and failed miserably until late in life). Although, if she’s not willing to explore her sexuality then she may have never found sex enjoyable.

    In any case, she’s struggling with something deeply disturbing (for her and her husband), and really needs to seek counseling.

    Making someone feel pressured into having sex by calling it a marital responsibility is akin to rape in my mind. Sex should only be given freely.

  40. Clark
    September 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Chapman’s “love languanges” Maybe the way husband expresses love isn’t interpreted as such by the wife. Maybe the wife doesn’t recognize physical touch as an important way to show love. In any case, I hope the man in the OP, and the individuals in #16 and 17 can find a positive resolution to their difficulties.

  41. September 23, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Anonymous Wife—You are my heroine. You said what I wanted to say and didn’t know how.

    #37 dadsprimalscream—You share that attitude (I believe) with most males. Which is why I’ve come to a point where I’d rather be single. If sex=marriage, then what’s in it for me? Sex can be nice, but it’s not worth all the extra work and stress men create. Who wants to be locked into a relationship as a sex slave with maid and moneymaker benefits?

    That was the kind of marriage I had.

    Justin—I was willing to explore, believe you me. Exploration in this case made it worse for me. Maybe that does it for the guy, but it addresses little to nothing of the issues for women.

    “Making someone feel pressured into having sex by calling it a marital responsibility is akin to rape in my mind. Sex should only be given freely.”

    Men like you give me hope that there might still be some out there in my age range and available. ;)

  42. Steve
    September 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    In my case, she indicated she didn’t like sex. Didn’t think it was important. And, if I wanted it, it was my problem, not hers.

    Has absolutely refused to discuss it further or get counseling. That has gone on for almost 11 years.

    She has told me that some of her friends have done the same to their husband and that they all, as a group, are happier not having sex anymore.

  43. Doug
    September 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    #39 – To liken “pressuring” into sex (an in-the-eye-of-the-beholder situation) is to overly dramatize and to trivialize the horrific crime of rape (which CAN occur even in a marital context). Rather, in a D&C 121 context, we ought to counsel men that whining, wheedling, manipulating, threatening, etc, are all “unrighteous dominion” and should be strictly refrained from. However, legitimate wooing, romancing, and indication of interest is quite right. The problem for the unfortunate brother in the OP is that he does seems to be waiting for his wife to “give”, and she won’t, and if allowed to continue, I could hardly blame him for either straying or divorcing her (of course, I’d always counsel for him to choose the right and not use her considerable bedroom failing as an excuse to sin).
    #41 – It’s that stereotyping of a man’s sex drive that would make me glad that you’re single and not inflicting that jaudiced attitude on some poor fellow. If a man, by mere happenstance of his legitimate sexual interest in his wife, “creates EXTRA WORK and STRESS”, then perhaps the ol’ ‘hunka-chunka’ (ref: Demolition Man, 1993) is NOT a “labor of love” that you ought to embark upon! Especially if you felt that you were ‘enslaved’, with your husband getting maid ‘privleges’ (never the mind the ‘maid’ fantasies, LOL!) and extra dough coming in! OTOH, if your desire to please was, and still is, legitiamte, and your ex-husband was an insentive, brutal clod, then you have my sympathies. Please don’t stereotype ALL, or even most, men, based on the failings of your one or few…though your indication that perhaps there’s hope is, indeed, a sign of hope for yourself, please do get some counseling to get over your anger and resentments.
    #42 – Amazing how these sisters feeling free to discuss their (lack of) sex life and wear it as some badge of honor. They compound their willing abandonment of normal maritial intimacy with disloyalty by venting to their friends. Any decent LDS person would keep their private life private and only discuss it with designed and otherwise qualified counselors. These same shrews would then wonder WHY either (1) their ‘friend’ ends up sleeping with her husband, or (2) she finds herself at age forty, crying to her bishop that her husband ‘left’ her for that twenty-six y.o. “bimbo” receptionist…

    And now, for some humor on an otherwise unfunny subject, thanks to the thespian talents of Mr. Stallone and Ms. Bullock…

  44. bbell
    September 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    My life experience is that when couples have problems in the bedroom their marriage is in trouble. I have frequently heard comments from women that they are not that interested in having sex. Many of these women are either divorced or have strained marriages with lack of sex being a major contributor to the marriage.

    Men cause lots of problems in relationships of course but this desire not to have sex is something that seems the afflict mostly women. Women are playing with fire and being really unwise in their marital relationship if they think that they can live happily wed to a physically healthy man without regular happy lovemaking. Mostly they cannot and in fact are improperly role modeling a marital relationship to their kids.

  45. Justin Tungate
    September 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    SilveRain, exploration doesn’t necessarily mean trying things that are “kinky”. Exploration can entail lots of different things including what “gets you in the mood”, which can be as simple as talking or snuggling. Women are sexual creatures, just like men, and if there isn’t a desire to have sex then something is wrong. Women’s needs aren’t radically different than mens, we just express those needs differently, in large part because of societal conditioning.

    Anonymous Wife also brought up a good point. Desire for sexual activity depends heavily on hormonal interactions in the body. People who are depressed generally have a decreased apetite for sex (this is, in part, due to the interactions of neurochemicals in the brain), and nursing mothers normally have a decreased desire for sex and often find it difficult to self lubricate (the proportion of women who initiate sexual activity during the period of time that they are nursing plummets to near zero). Desire for sex even has a tendency to follow a woman’s monthly cycle (even men have an increased desire for sex with women who are ovulating).

    To follow up on something that I wrote, there is such a thing as marital rape. Courts have ruled that being married does not give someone the right to sex. Marriage does not equal consent.

  46. Hawkgrrrl
    September 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I agree that there are deeper issues in a sexless marriage that are causing that to occur.

    I’d also like to second the callout to Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. Usually spouses apply their own Love Language to their spouse rather than understanding what their spouse’s preferred Love Language is. And most men have Physical Touch as their primary or secondary Love Language. Not as many women do. So, for women to shrink at the touch of their spouse because they feel it’s going to result in a demand on them is probably an indication that their own preferred “Love Language” is not being provided to them on a regular basis. They view Physical Touch as their spouse demanding something that the spouse hasn’t provided to them: affection that they actually recognize as affection.

    Having said that, a spouse can’t just opt out of the relationship as this wife is doing. That’s not fair either. She needs to find a way to understand and express her own needs. I can think of lots of reasons (in addition to the Love Languages one above) why a wife may not be ponying up in the sex dept:
    1 – the man does not satisfy her sexual needs, either doesn’t try, lacks the skill or knowledge, or has given up and doesn’t understand women’s needs.
    2 – testosterone is what fuels libido, and men have 7x as much of it.
    3 – women have to get in the right frame of mind. This takes time. Being tired, depressed, mentally preoccupied, interrupted by small children, encountering unpleasant odors, clutter, etc. can make it very difficult for a woman to get in the right frame of mind. A woman has to “feel” sexy. Telling her she is isn’t always enough.

    As to jmb’s suggestion in 32 that couples have premarital sex, I think this is unlikely to improve the situation for a few reasons: studies illustrate that sex lives change after marriage even when couples had premarital sex or cohabitate, sex is about adapting & adjusting to your partner, exploration is something that happens over time together, compatibility is not a matter of what happens on one occasion or a few times – our bodies, minds & lives change over the course of our marriages. However, I think frank discussions before marriage about sexual attitudes do help either with or without pre-marital counseling.

  47. SNeilsen
    September 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Doug
    I totally agree with Justin Tungate, when he wrote, “Making someone feel pressured into having sex by calling it a marital responsibility is akin to rape in my mind. Sex should only be given freely.” and also, “Marriage does not equal consent.”

    I am reminded of that old statement(not applicable in many cases)–there are no frigid women only clumsy men. Where there are asexual people( I know of instances where it is the husband that doesn’t want sex), I think in many instances, if the husbands primary concern was pleasuring his wife instead of servicing himself, then he would find the quantity and quality of his sexual relationship would improve.

  48. September 23, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Doug, thanks for your advice, but I prefer feeding my children to getting counseling.

    And it’s far more than “legitimate sexual interest” which he exhibited, unless you include insisting on doing things that your wife finds excruciatingly painful to help “control your aggression” legitimate. And the extra work and stress had nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with always doing things he wanted to do or putting up with the constant complaining, picking up piles of garbage he left on the floor, doing the laundry exactly the way he insisted, giving up premarital friends because he was uncomfortable with how it affected our relationship, mowing the 1/3 acre lawn at seven months pregnant . . . and then again at 8 months, because it hadn’t been done in the meantime, being okay with ex-girlfriends hanging around and talking about how hot he is or being labeled jealous . . . etc, etc, etc.

    It. Is. Not. Worth. It.

    And unless I can find a guy who is prepared to be a man—mind you, not perfect, but at least reasonably adult—I’m better off alone.

    IF there’s a whole group of women who are swearing off sex, it surprises me that the men aren’t realizing that maybe . . . just maybe . . . it’s because they’re so busy telling women what they want that they’re not bothering to listen.

    Justin—as far as your first sentence goes, I think you’re absolutely right. But many men would probably read that and go “huh?”

    And back to Doug—For what it’s worth, I NEVER “checked out” of the marriage, especially that aspect of it, until the last time he told me he was leaving me but still wanted sex until he actually left. For the first time, I finally said no. So don’t think I’m arguing the way I am because I think that shutting a husband out is the right thing to do.

    If he once . . . just once touched me without immediate expectation of sex, maybe I wouldn’t have such a “jaundiced attitude.”

    And if you can’t hear me spitting, imagine it in your head.

  49. Anonymous
    September 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    As a guy who’s been married for just about ever and having sat through about 900+ (or so it seems) lectures on pornography I’ve got to say the guy who wrote “Anecdoteally, this problem IS widespread in the Church and in American society in general. No wonder the porn-purveyors are having a field day (or century)” nailed it!

    That’s not to say viewing porn or being involved with it in any way is good, I know it only creates the bonds of iniquity but porn’s appeal is the natural outcome of these (sexless or maybe worse, parallel marriages) marriage problems. Rather than just going on and on about how evil porn is or how every guy (because every guy does some amount of porn…) should be in a 12 step program for addiction, learning to create better marriages is the way the problem should be addressed.

  50. Heather
    September 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I’m kind of bothered by the advice that men should take up masturbation if their wives cut them off sexually.

    To me this reinforces the erroneous belief that men just want to “get off” — that their only interest is in the orgasm itself.

    That simply isn’t the case. If it were, sexless marriages wouldn’t be an issue. Men would just pleasure themselves and get on with life.

    The real issue is that love, affection, and connection are human NEEDS. This man’s real problem is that he is rejected and mistreated by his wife. The sex is just one symptom of the problem. To treat someone with such coldness… such scorn… is abuse. What this wife is saying to her husband is, “The only reason I let you stay here is that you give me what I want. Nothing you need or want matters.” She’s turned her life partner into a whipped dog, cowering in the corner, begging for scraps.

    Could there be issues here that are causing this wife’s behavior? Of course. But when does “having issues” release someone from their obligations and responsibilities toward others? Would we be OK if this woman were starving her children because she “has issues”?

    As much as I feel bad for the kids in this scenario, I don’t think the husband should be obligated to a lifetime of emotional abuse / neglect from his “wife”. And furthermore, why do we always just assume that it’s better for kids to grow up in this kind of cold environment than to have their parents separate and to watch their parents lead more healthy lives apart? Or at the very least, watch their father lead a more healthy life with a loving partner — in the event that their mother is simply incapable of being in a healthy / happy relationship?

  51. Doug
    September 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    As was sort of my intention, I stirred up the pot! But not necessarily to trample on delicate feelings….

    #49 – This is only to say that I understand why men in the Church (and out of it) indulge in porn, not giving an excuse to do so. A failing marriage is a bad enough situation to deal with, but we are expected to overcome these situations. A man can’t blame his lack of self-control on his wife’s marital failings. If she’s that bad, rather than indulge in sin, if patient counseling is to no avail, then a divorce is in order so the man can find himself a wife who he will be happy with. He’s still expected to “straighten up and fly right” in the wake of said divorce, however.
    #47 – I couldn’t disagree more about likening the pressure to rape. Rape is precisely that, the most heinous overpowering and robbing a woman of her virtue (and I wholeheartedly agree that marriage is no exemption). Are there NO frigid women? Well, probably less than is thought, but again, resorting to male-bashing achieves nothing. Unfortunately, it seems that often frigid women get paired up with clumsy men. Still, if both have love in their hearts to please each other, then through competent counseling and sex therapy a couple should be able to come to a solution.

    #48 (Saved the best for last). The virtriol in your post would seem to be proof enough that you badly need counseling. If it really boils down to whether you get it or feed your children, then that’s what the bishop is for! The Ward will make up whatever you can’t afford, but you can’t and wouldn’t be turned away from LDS Family Services simply because you’re poor! My impression is that your marriage was a NIGHTMARE and you definitely have my sympathy for having endured it and I’m glad you’re out of it. Being verbally, emotionally, and physically abused is NOT part and parcel of marriage! It’s not that you had good reason to cut off the sex, you had good reason to get the hell out of there with your life and dignity intact! Unless the OP isn’t disclosing something that would clarify the situation, your experiences and his aren’t the same. So, if I seemed unsympathetic or that I was somehow blaming you in my previous post, I apologize. But again, you’re going to have to get help at some point if you want to attract and hold onto a man that is worthy of your affections. I’m sure that plenty are out there but without resolving the anger and hurt that are quite understandable as an outcome of a highly dysfunctional marriage you won’t be able to move on.

  52. Heidi
    September 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I certainly agree with the perspective that sexual needs are one of the many needs that spouses need to take into consideration and try to make sure are fulfilled. I can even accept that it’s a marital obligation. But I’m not sure that we’ve established exactly WHAT that marital obligation consists of. It sounds like the man who wrote the letter, as well as many other male commenters, actually ARE or WERE having sex; it’s just that their wives aren’t into it. So what, exactly, is her obligation here, if having sex with him is not fulfilling it? Is she obligated to enjoy it? (Is that a realistic thing to consider an obligation?) Is she obligated to pretend to enjoy it? Is she obligated to try to make it fun for him even though she doesn’t enjoy it, much as she’s obligated to enthusiastically read her children stories that bore her?

    I don’t have any specific advise for the letter-writer, but I can almost certainly promise him that his wife did NOT deliberately mislead him about her sexuality, particularly if she had adhered to the sexual standards of the LDS church her whole life. She likely had no clue what her sexuality was like and could not possibly have lied about it or, on the flip side, told the truth about it. I’d also lay any odds that the lack of any touch has nothing to do with her sex drives and everything to do with the fact that in her experience, touch leads to expectation and fights about sex and she doesn’t even want to “go there.” She’d probably love a hug or a hand-hold, were she not afraid of the can of worms it would open.

  53. Justin Tungate
    September 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    50 Heather, I think that you’re right to bring the discussion back around to the original question. The asker isn’t concerned so much about sex as he is about emotional connection. I still think that anyone has a right to not give sex in a marriage, but to withhold touch altogether…that’s cold. Abuse is probably about the truth of his situation.

    51 Doug, SNeilsen wasn’t man-bashing. It’s a funny sentiment. I laughed when I read it, and my wife laughed when I told her that.

    You should also back off SilverRain. She seems to have legitimate concerns about her previous marriage. Also, it’s a bit insensitive to suggest that someone you don’t know should be going through counseling, don’t you think (especially coming from an individual who isn’t trained in such a practice)? In reality, I thought that her response to you was a little on the nicer end of things. I would have been much more rude.

  54. Doug
    September 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    #53 (J.T.) – SilverRain’s concerns and hurts from her previous marriage are VERY legitimate. But it’s one thing where a woman appears to feel justified to cut her husband off sexually w/o apparent provocation, and then in a subsequent post comes the revelation that indeed the poor dear was very much provoked! To compare her unfortunate situation with the apparent ‘cold fish’ that the poor man in the OP was dealing with is wrong. Both are abusive situations, but SilverRain’s solution was far more straight forward – she had to get the hell out of that marriage and it appears that she’s done that. Good. I’m doing her no favor NOT to suggest counseling so she can deal with her understandable hurt and anger – else she continues to proverbially stew about it so the abuse continues on. She found freedom from his oppressive presence, now she needs freedom from his oppressive memory. That’s where the professionals come in.
    I agree wholeheartedly that the unfortunate man in the OP is being emotionally abused. Unfortunately, our Church culture as much as his apparent inability to find his ‘cajones’ causes him to suffer her neglect. How much patience and long-suffering MUST he endure? Unless his wife is the epitome of cluelessness she can’t be ignorant that she is neglecting him, but; unless he sticks up for himself, why would she change? And if the neglected husband doesn’t “act out” by either seeking a divorce or an extramarital affair, his emotional suffering will turn inward with deliterious effects to his health, if it hasn’t already. Again, this is a couple that desperately needs help, if for nothing more than the welfare of their four children. I agree with #50 that if the situation can’t be sastifactorily resolved then a divorce is probably best for all. Children deserve two HAPPY parents. If it takes getting one or two step-parents as well, so be it.

  55. Thomas
    September 23, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Doug, just fyi, I think it’s cojones, with an “o.” Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think “cAjones” are a sugary dessert, flavored with papayas and tamarind. Either that, or a small hairless mammal native to the Guatemalan highlands.

  56. Anonymous
    September 23, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It sure is nice to see some heat put on a real issue relating to life as a “trying to live the gospel” person. I’ve tried to get some life in my marriage for a while and have found that the issues we have are pretty much common to people of the Christian faith everywhere. Other Churches have ministers and priests which seem to be councilors of some level and our Bishop’s aren’t in a comparable situation. The ironic thing we have however is that we believe that celestial marriage is the entry point to great things in the hereafter. I love what Natasha is doing but it seems like her’s is a kind of lonely voice.

    Also, I think of porn and an awful solution to an awful problem. That’s not (in my experience) an uncommon reaction to a situation people can’t deal with. I’ve known people who smoke to lose weight. Drink to deal with problems they can’t handle. This is not our way of handling problems, our bad way (I think) is reflected in the use of porn. Also if its a covenant breaker… there’s an awful lot of covenant breakers out there! I would see its spread as an indicator of how badly marriage, affection and intimacy are being taught and handled rather than the fact that its a sin.

  57. anonymous
    September 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I think masturbation (without porn & with the spouse present) can help intimacy in marriage. In our marriage we both work. My wife and I are equal partners and both work full time, co-parent, etc. Gender roles and marital responsibilities are not as clear cut as they used to be. My wife is able to enjoy sex but it is her desire is not as great as mine. We read Laura Brotherson’s book and there is no physical dysfunction or deep emotional wound, but a difference in desire. Reading the articles and books on marriage and sex within the LDS culture yielded lots of cute and clever ideas, but did not help with us. After over 10 years we found ourselves at an impasse. We came to an arrangement that we would make it a priority to have nice, mutually fulfilling sex more often (before that happened almost never) and that she would initiate much of the time. We agreed that when I am frisky and she is not in the mood (or vice versa), masturbation is fair play. I used to feel very hurt and rejected and physically uncomfortable a lot. She used to feel hounded a lot. When we did have sex it was a compromise—more frequent than she’d like and less enthusiastic than I’d like. So we haven’t replaced our marital sex life with masturbation but rather supplemented it. It has taken the anxiety and pressure of sex out of the way and allowed the sex we have to become pretty great. I don’t feel pitied or neglected and she doesn’t feel pressured. I think some of the traditions and stereotypical roles of husband and wives are comforting and seem easier to navigate than circumstances often demand today. That fascinating womanhood image of the wife as full time help mate & nurturer longing for me while I am away at work providing for temporally for the family sounds nice. That’s not how it works for us. The dynamics of work and family management change and we adjust there more naturally than sexually. This has been a middle way. After more than 10 years of being frustratingly out of step in this regard things are really nice. It took a long time to get here. I felt like a pervert for wanting sex twice a week. She felt like a shrew for not being in the mood most of the time. Neither one was wrong or cruel. This was the one reoccurring struggle in our marriage now it’s much better. I know our ecclesiastical leaders need to give us space and are not sex thereapists, but after all the years of standards nights, “For the Strength of Youth,” Priesthood & Young Women’s lessons, I wish they could some how reassure us. It’s tough for men & women in the Church.

  58. Rigel Hawthorne
    September 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    ‘My wife never touches me. No hand holding, no hugs, no pat on the back – nothing.’

    I don’t have the self-esteem to survive a relationship without that. I would equate that as “I don’t like you anymore”. A sexless marriage is one thing, and it is indeed a crisis level problem. But to never have a pat on the back…I would assume (in my mind) that she has decided she doesn’t like me and, even if we are sealed for time and all eternity, she wouldn’t choose to be with me then either. Of course, I would be analyzing everything I ever did that may have contributed to that reaction, but ultimately I would have to communicate to a wife how I personally translate this message and lay everything out on the table. I wouldn’t want my kids to be raised in a home where there is zero physical expression between a husband and wife. I remember from my childhood that end of the workday hug that my parents shared at the doorway when Dad got home. When that seemed to be slipping away in my marriage due to the issues of multiple children needing mom, I asked for that daily ritual to be restored as the one thing I wanted for my birthday present. Now my children, having seen this, often try to race their mom to get to me for the first hug.

    ‘When she does go along with it, she just lies there and does nothing’

    Well, that would not do my self-esteem any good either, but there was a journey by the writer of the question to get to that point. Natasha’s questions are the one’s I would be asking to understand that journey more completely. One other question would be whether or not the wife of the writer has physical pain from the act of sex. Unless the question is asked, some women will not report it. I thought Heather’s comments #50 were excellent. I’ve known of men who find themselves cut off from sex with their wife, then interrogated by the same wife as to whether or not they masturbated that day. So then they become a whipped dog AND a lying one too.

  59. Thomas
    September 23, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Some older religions than Mormonism have a bit more straightforward approach to this subject. From an interview on Egyptian TV with a guy who (as far as I can tell) is a fairly mainstream cleric:

    Interviewer: Wife beating is a serious accusation [leveled against Islam]. Let us examine this matter bit by bit.

    Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.

    Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?

    Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.

    In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.

    She is in need of discipline. How should the husband discipline her? Through admonishment. If she is not deterred, he should refuse to share the bed with her. If she is not repentant, he should beat her, but there are rules to the beating. It is forbidden to beat her in the face or make her ugly. When you beat her, you must not curse her. Islam forbids this.

    Interviewer: With what should be beat her? With his bare hand? With a rod?

    Sa’d Arafat: If he beats her, the beatings should not be hard, so that they do not leave a mark. He can beat her with a short rod. He must avoid beating her in the face or in places in the head where it hurts. The beatings should be on the body and should not come one right after the other. These are all choices made during the process, but beatings are allowed only as a last resort. [...]

    The honoring of the wife in Islam is also evident in the fact that the punishment of beating is permissible in one case only: when she refuses to sleep with him.

    Interviewer: When she refuses to sleep with him?

    Sa’d Arafat: Yes, because where else could the husband go? He wants her, but she refuses….

  60. dmac
    September 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    #52 – I think you raise a very valid point. Exactly how do we define the marital obligation? Like many women, I’ve expereinced times of low sex drive that have annoyed my other-half no end. But I had no control over that fact as it was hormonal. I offered to participate any way but was told in no uncertain terms that agreeing to make love without the desire to share the experience fully would not be acceptable. And I agree wholeheartedly.

    So the only recourse for this couple would be counseling and some sort of intervention to determine exactly what the issue is. Because I for one would never expect a husband or wife to remain in a marriage or relationship where physical intimacy was not present. Its a basic human need.

    Without wanting to threadjack, I’m also kind of puzzled about the inference some people are making that they could understand a man straying if sex is not forthcoming in marriage, even for a period of time. Its interesting that sin is ‘understandable’ when it hits so close to home. Try being gay in the church and knowing you will NEVER have that intimacy. EVER. Puts it into perspective a little. How understanding are we then when they then stray.

  61. Heather
    September 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    #60: GOOD POINT! People are quick to excuse this man’s sins…. but would not extend the same courtesy to gay people. OUCH!

  62. Heather
    September 23, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I thought about this more on the way home from work and I have another side to add to my opinion.

    This guy says he’s been married 15 years and has 4 kids, the youngest being kindergarten age. He then goes on to say that sex has been an issue since very early on in their marriage. That means he continued to bring children into a relationship that he KNEW was unhealthy. I would think the responsible thing to do, if one finds themselves in a marriage like this, would be to CEASE having children with the person and bide your time until the ones you did have were up and out. Leaving at that point would be much more palatable to him, I think.

    So, to some extent, he has responsibility for perpetuating this relationship. He very likely realized his marriage was troubled and unhealthy before the first kid came along. Let alone kid number 2. Or 3. Or 4. But he kept creating them… further saddling himself with a wife that he likely knows has no interest in changing or fixing the problems in their relationship.

  63. carlos
    September 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    #55 Thomas

    cojones “a small hairless mammal native to the Guatemalan highlands.”

    si senior , spot on! :)

  64. hawkgrrrl
    September 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Cajones = drawers. Not the underwear kind.

  65. Heather
    September 23, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    One of my good friends is volunteering for the Peace Corps in Peru. She told me there “cojones” means “boxes” and that she giggles all day long — thinking of the use of that word in Mexico — as they talk about moving them from one place to another for shipping from the businesses she works with.

  66. anon
    September 23, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    1. Just because a woman doesn’t want sex doesn’t mean there is something wrong with her. She might legitimately get her intimacy needs fulfilled from cuddling. (Not the case of the OP’s wife, though.) I have been pregnant, post-partum, and I’ve also been the “peak” thirty. My sexual desire changes with my menstrual cycle. Having a high sex drive is not everyone’s normal. Normal to me is what I am currently at.

    2. I think many men fail to understand how invasive (physically and also mentally) and uncomfortable sex can be. Sometimes it is like expecting all these women to go out and run a marathon. What if they don’t feel like it? It’s raining outside. They have to change clothes. It is uncomfortable. They would rather read a book or play a game.
    I have a good sex life only because I finally convinced my husband (early on in our marriage) that if he kissed me and asked if I wanted to have sex it was always going to be no. However, if he kissed me and asked if I wanted to kiss it would be yes. If he hugged me and asked if I wanted to lie down and cuddle it would be yes. If he gave me a backrub I’d enjoy it and I might start thinking I wanted my shirt off. If he caressed my skin I might start thinking that I wanted to take off more clothes and suddenly heavy petting starting sounding like a good idea…..and so forth. However, if he gave any indication that sex was expected at the beginning of that then I had no choice but to answer honestly that I did not want sex and I would resent him and feel pressured. In order to desire sex I needed to enjoy the foreplay with no strings attached.
    I am so proud of my husband for being willing to learn this. I am proud of us for learning together how to have a successful sex life.
    3. I think it is true for my marriage that the man needs sex to feel emotionally close and the woman needs to feel emotionally close in order to have sex. A couple years ago foreplay for me meant an hour of talking to my husband and telling him everything I needed to say and he listened and gave me backscratches or something and sure enough sex happened fairly naturally after a while. However, until I shared my heart, what was on my mind, I was in no emotional state to open myself (emotionally and physically) to him. Sex is about intimacy and how could I possibly give myself to someone who I didn’t feel close to? Just because he’s my husband?
    Again, this sex in marriage has been work and I am SO GLAD my mom taught me that sex would be important to my marriage and to make sure we had a good sex life. She taught me that it would be a mistake to think that I could stay happily married to a man if I wasn’t willing to have an active sex life…..that was enough for me to take charge of my sex life. If I was going to do it and do it happily with my husband for 60 years, I was determined that we were going to do it well and we would both enjoy it.

    So, I am not gay. I am not abnormal. I could have been like all those wives who don’t have sex but I proactively chose something else instead. It could have happened to me though if my husband was a jerk and I was less aware of the consequences of poor choices on both sides.

  67. hawkgrrrl
    September 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    cojones = testicles; cajones = boxes or drawers (same word)

  68. MoHoHawaii
    September 23, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    As a gay man, I read the comments on this post with interest. It fascinates me to see in the comments real concern for the emotional and sexual needs of each partner. The views are expressed with empathy and real recognition of the importance of a physical and emotional connection to the well-being of the individual and of the couple as a whole. Interestingly, these remarks are by commenters who in other posts seem to feel no reservation about telling gay people, “Sorry, love and fulfillment are not for you. It’s really no big deal– sex is just the carnal desire of the natural man, who is an enemy to God. Pray enough and you’ll be fine.” It makes me smile to see how the story changes when the deprivation of sex hits slightly closer to home. :- )

    As for the OP, from where I sit complete withdrawal of marital affection is a deal breaker. If the issue can’t be resolved somehow, it’s grounds for divorce. Creative solutions are possible. Non-penetrative sex is an often-overlooked option that works for a lot of people.

  69. trying kind
    September 24, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Wow.What a world of pain.So here’s mine,and my joy also.

    Thirty years of orgasm free sex.Eventually,I lost hope and no longer had much enthusiasm for the act,but throw in hormonal and health fluctuations and we were on a bad road.I tried to talk about it many times,but DH didn’t seem interested in anything changing and I came to the conclusion that this was what we had to accept as our lot in life.I know now that he just didn’t know how to change,what that might look like and the nuts and bolts of how to do that.

    DH is loving but clumsy,an engineer without a great deal of imagination.Neither of us come from happy,emotionally spontaneous backgrounds,and I think DH always feared being aggressive in the relationship.He never got what assertiveness might look like.

    He lost interest too,I got angry at being ignored,it festered,and so it went on down the years until I got very sick.Three years of illness meant that any sex was out of the question,and we knew we were looking at the end of our intimacy.We started to have the conversation as to wether we wanted it all to end in such defeat.

    I now understand that our dysfunction was cruel to both of us and that we failed each other.We should have been brave,strong and loving enough to work compassionately at change,but I don’t think we understood how important sex is to a loving relationship,that it is the expression not so much of passion but of commitment to give to the other the greatest comfort that is available to human beings during a tough life.We owed each other a safe place to fall.

    Thank God I’ve lived long enough to discover this and understand that we owe our kids better,I want them to have greater joy in their mortal bodies than this.

    All the sex therapists I could find were women and I knew that wasn’t going to work for DH.We found a guy who’s work is online,you can access him on youtube.This seemed a whole lot less threatening to him,and I was able to get him onside.His name is Alex Alman ,if I’m allowed to say that,and I have no financial interest whatsoever.I’d love for all of us to be having great sex all the time though.

    All the work is addressed within the context of the relationship and this,with some education about my body and some dedication to training and commitment to work on it together as a shared project has given us hope.

    We started off with an exercise that he suggests – staring into your partners eyes for 5 minutes.

    I told DH that he would have to go elsewhere if he wanted someone to do kinky stuff like that for him.

    My reaction really made me realise how raw all this stuff is for me,how scary and vulnerable ,and how sex becomes a metaphor for all of our need to be intimate,to be held safely,and to be connected.

    No great change for me in the magic O compartment,but I just need to focus on enjoying the journey,and I can be more or less good at that.There’s a lot of history to forgive,and it can be hard to turn the page,but there really is only one way forward.

    No porn is ever going to substitute a loving relationship,in fact I imagine that it could heighten frustration.Training and earnest study are sometimes needed to enable a man to have a sense of mastery,building his self esteem and enabling him to man up to the task of wooing his woman into being a willing partner.Hurt feelings and withdrawal on both sides lead to the impasse so well described in the original post.

    This stuff does not necessarily come naturally to all of us,but that does not mean that we can’t change,although I will say that this has been the scariest and most vulnerable experience of my life,but an incredible thrill to feel that we can change.

    Dancing has become a good metaphor for our sexual relationship.It takes dedication and often frustration to give each other the experience on the dance floor that we enjoy,and the willingness to be led on my part.But I need to know that I’m in a safe and competent pair of hands in order to be led,and that takes a commitment to training on his part,and that’s tough,but it’s so great to be in the hands of a man who can.

    We need to find compassion for one another in our marriages,and then we have to take the risk of communicating that.I think we owe that to ourselves and our families.

    Maybe that might sound like this.’Baby I love you and I want better for us.I’m sure this must be as hard for you as it is for me.There’s a way forward,and I don’t want to to end like this.I want to give you more pleasure and greater joy.The best is yet to come.’

  70. Dexter
    September 24, 2010 at 3:10 am

    JMB and all:

    First, you can tell more than you might think about your sexual compatibility without having sex. From making out and other acceptable mormon activities I have correctly predicted who I would be compatible with and who I would not be compatible with. So, based on making out and talking about sex, I have always been right when we did eventually have sex.

    Second, JMB, while I agree with you that having sex before marriage is a good idea, how can you be an active member who pays tithing and everything (you’ve told us before your level of involvement), when you disagree with the church on everything, including premarital sex. I still just don’t understand how you can disagree with so much of the church and still support it so faithfully (in every sense of the word except faith, since you don’t seem to believe any of it is divine).

    And to my other friends from when I used to frequent this site, Hawkgrrl and others, how do you guys keep going around and around on these issues? I had to stop because I felt that every discussion eventually led to the inevitable conclusion of the believers saying, well, that’s where faith comes in, and the non-believers saying, well, you should trust reason over faith. So I got tired of it. But props to those of you who don’t!

  71. Dexter
    September 24, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Anon,

    Your position seems to be that your husband had to play by your rules to get sex. You seem to think this is the way everyone should do it.

    But if the roles were reversed, and a man said his wife to bend to his rules, you would probably consider him to be an awful husband. But how is it any different from your view? It should be a compromise, neither spouse should simply comply with the other’s wishes about sex. I find it extremely selfish that you would NEVER have sex with him if he asked do you want to have sex? Sheesh.

  72. trying kind
    September 24, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Fine Dexter,but how much are you getting?

    ‘Can I have sex with you tonight?’ is sexy and flattering when you’re sixteen,but a little immature at thirty-or even twenty five.Live and learn is good.

    What matters is getting more and better sex- no?

    Comes a point when we have to stop acting like bickering children and man and woman up to the task of loving each other,and that means doing whatever it takes,within safety and kindness.

    Hope you have fun.

  73. September 24, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Doug—Counseling is not a be-all-end-all answer. I’ve been to counseling, plenty of it. Counseling is what taught me I was in an abusive relationship. What is counseling supposed to accomplish or tell me that I don’t already know? I know that I’m angry, I know who deserves that anger, I know my trust in men is broken (and, by the way, it is not just my ex who did that, it’s almost every experience with men and how they relate to women I’ve ever had. I know good men personally, but they are few and far between, and mostly married and/or older and wiser.) I know all the things I need to know to heal.

    But this isn’t about knowledge. It’s about feeling. And the only thing that helps feeling is time and experience. I’m not about to waste the Lord’s money on pointless counseling. I’m ready to get to know good men if I find them. But I’m still going to figuratively spit upon the male attitudes like the ones you’ve brought up about sex in marriage. Sex does not equal marriage. I don’t HAVE to give my body to anyone. And if I have a future husband again, it will be because he is worthy of my trust and my body, and he will be made a very happy man.

    I really wonder if the tables were turned, how this would play out. Would it be “understandable” for a woman to leave or cheat her husband because he developed ED?

    FWIW, I agree with Heather that what the OP talks about is a very common way that women abuse their husbands. That is not what I’m arguing against. I’m arguing against these notions that 1) wives owe their husband sex as often as the husbands want it, no matter what is going on with them and whether or not they want it/feel it; and 2) that marriage without sex is not marriage.

    And Heidi has a great point. Are women supposed to fake it? Yet men complain about that, too? If you’re willing to make sex a duty and obligation, just another chore to get done on a woman’s long list, than you’re going to have to suck up the fact that they are going to treat it like an obligation and chore. If you want great sex, be willing to give up sex EVERY SINGLE TIME you want it. “in her experience, touch leads to expectation and fights about sex and she doesn’t even want to “go there.” She’d probably love a hug or a hand-hold, were she not afraid of the can of worms it would open.” Ditto with underscores.

    And thanks for the support, Justin. To be honest, responding with such force is not usually my way, but that attitude touched a sore point for me.

    And Doug, let me take a deep breath here. The reason your comments provoked such a strong reaction from me is because according to my husband, there was no provocation. I was just a cold, frigid woman who cheated on him with multiple partners (how’s that for ironic?) and sat around eating bon-bons and surfing the internet while he did all the work of taking care of me and my daughter. My ex, also, claimed I was emotionally abusing him by refusing sex (even though I did not.) Despite a minimum of once/week, he claimed we had a sexless marriage. To this he testified in court. So any time a man complains of not getting enough, I suspect the truth of what he is saying. Really the key is to talk to the woman. In her attitudes lie the difference between abuse and being pushed to the limit. (The same thing applies to alleged abuse of any kind, actually. The attitudes of the abuser towards the opposite gender combined with the presence of fear in the “victim” holds the key to discerning true abuse.)

    And there are MUCH better ways for him to “act out” and speak up for himself than by turning immediately to divorce, cheating or masturbation.

    Anon #66—*applauds* You are so blessed to have had the wisdom at the beginning of your marriage to understand your sexuality and communicate that in clear terms to your spouse.

    “Sex is easy” is a destructive myth. If a man wants positive, emotional, connecting sex, shouldn’t he be willing to do what it takes to get it?

  74. jmb275
    September 24, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Re Dexter
    Nice to see you around. Haven’t seen you in a while.

    First, you can tell more than you might think about your sexual compatibility without having sex. From making out and other acceptable mormon activities I have correctly predicted who I would be compatible with and who I would not be compatible with. So, based on making out and talking about sex, I have always been right when we did eventually have sex.

    I sincerely applaud your ability to do that and I can see that some might be able to do that. Here’s a few reasons why I think many traditional Mormons can’t:
    1. We are not raised to evaluate the sexuality of our potential mates. Rather we are taught to shut down those feelings and preserve them for marriage.
    2. Depending on who you talk to, “making out” may not be an acceptable Mormon activity. Having been raised in SLC, I have plenty of friends for whom it was not acceptable.
    3. If you are living the traditional Mormon youth, not you, nor your potential mate has had sex yet. That means your view of sex is likely limited to making out, rumors, and perhaps some porn. I think there are some significant differences between that, and having sex. I know that for me and my wife (both virgins when getting married) sex was quite the shocker. I don’t see any way, even with all the making out we did, we could have been prepared to understand this fundamental aspect of marriage.

    But alas, perhaps you are right.

    Second, JMB, while I agree with you that having sex before marriage is a good idea, how can you be an active member who pays tithing and everything (you’ve told us before your level of involvement), when you disagree with the church on everything, including premarital sex. I still just don’t understand how you can disagree with so much of the church and still support it so faithfully (in every sense of the word except faith, since you don’t seem to believe any of it is divine).

    I think this is a perspective issue. I can explain it to you, intellectually, all I want and you still will not understand. To be clear, I would not advocate my chosen route as the best. Perhaps it’s not even the best for me. I know that I sometimes come home from church quite upset. But I also feel like I’m at “home” at church (probably just because it’s familiar). Also, there is much with which I agree. I should probably talk more about those things. I love the example set by Jesus, and I think following his example is one of the best ways to live a life. I agree that teaching teenagers sexual restraint is a good idea. I agree that we ought to sacrifice, engage in self-mastery, pray/meditate, etc. I agree with both the core doctrines in the church as well as many peripheral ones. I’m sure you do too! Also, I like to differentiate my support of the church from those doctrines. I’m NOT a fan of organized religion in general as I believe it has done more harm in this world than good. I think of it (for me) as my vehicle for spirituality. And to the extent I have to be a good citizen of the system in order to maintain that benefit, I will. If the costs become too great, I will have to reconsider.

    how do you guys keep going around and around on these issues? I had to stop because I felt that every discussion eventually led to the inevitable conclusion of the believers saying, well, that’s where faith comes in, and the non-believers saying, well, you should trust reason over faith. So I got tired of it.

    I completely agree with you. Right now (as you’ll notice by my lack of posts) I have pulled back for exactly this reason (well, and I have to pass my quals). I don’t know about everyone, to me there has to be a proper level of divestment in the discussion. Frankly, it’s just that critical to me if people agree with me, if some insist on the literalness of the BoM, etc. I’m sufficiently divested that I don’t get too worked up. I still like to talk about it, but I have learned when I should pull back.

    Wish you came around more often. I miss your POV!

  75. hawkgrrrl
    September 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Dexter: “And to my other friends from when I used to frequent this site, Hawkgrrl and others, how do you guys keep going around and around on these issues?” I do take breaks occasionally, too, and I pretty much only participate when I’m bored. Every topic can be a cyclical debate: politics, current, events, science, grammar, literature, art, parenting. But I do find that my views sometimes evolve or my understanding increases from input from commenters on the site, many of whom have different experiences or expertise from me.

  76. Jeff Spector
    September 24, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Hawk said…. “I do take breaks occasionally, too, and I pretty much only participate when I’m bored.”

    Well, I guess the other posters now know where we stand…..

  77. hawkgrrrl
    September 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

    But I’m bored a lot. And I also got to use my Spanish in #67!

  78. Nick Literski
    September 24, 2010 at 11:02 am

    #60
    Without wanting to threadjack, I’m also kind of puzzled about the inference some people are making that they could understand a man straying if sex is not forthcoming in marriage, even for a period of time. Its interesting that sin is ‘understandable’ when it hits so close to home. Try being gay in the church and knowing you will NEVER have that intimacy. EVER. Puts it into perspective a little. How understanding are we then when they then stray.

    THANK YOU for writing this! I wanted to write something similar, especially after seeing some truly insightful, compassionate comments here from a person who also makes the most ignorant, condemnatory comments in regard to homosexuality. I didn’t write this, however, because I worried I’d get accused of threadjacking. BRAVO!!

  79. Jeff Spector
    September 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    “I didn’t write this, however, because I worried I’d get accused of threadjacking. BRAVO!!”

    Now, Nick, you didn’t write it because you’ve never really been “without,” have you? ;)

    “Try being gay in the church and knowing you will NEVER have that intimacy. EVER. Puts it into perspective a little.”

    The same exact thing can be said by a so-called straight single person who is not married and will never be married even though the expectation is there.

    “cojones” = CO-Jones + also a Jones.

  80. September 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    “Try being gay in the church and knowing you will NEVER have that intimacy. EVER. Puts it into perspective a little.”

    The same exact thing can be said by a so-called straight single person who is not married and will never be married even though the expectation is there.

    Not true Jeff. At least the straight single person has hope for getting together with an object of their affection in the afterlife. The gay person in the church is only promised that they’ll be fixed somehow and THEN get with an opposite sex partner in the afterlife…something that doesn’t sound appealing or heaven;y by any stretch of the imagination.

  81. Rigel Hawthorne
    September 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    It fascinates me to see in the comments real concern for the emotional and sexual needs of each partner.

    MoHoHawaii, you just reminded me of an experience I had. Of course, same-sex couples are not immune to issues of unequal libido or sexual dysfunction. I had (she has since moved) a lesbian patient that just loved me as a doctor. She brought her partner and step-daughter with her and introduced them to me. She was pretty cool–a butchy appearance, but easy going personality. I often wondered if she new that I was Mormon, whether that would affect her opinion of me.

    She shared with me one time that even though she loved her partner with all her heart, she was lacking in drive to be intimate with her. This had been strong at one time, but something had changed. I thought to myself, well here is another life situation I never expected to find myself in. A heterosexual Mormon male giving sex therapy advice to a lesbian female. The basic evaluation, however, really involved universal issues…controlling chronic pain, fatigue, lack of regular exercise, weight management, vitamin support, open communication, having an open mind to different methods of pleasure…including as MoHo mentioned, non-penetrative.

  82. Nick Literski
    September 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    #79:
    Now, Nick, you didn’t write it because you’ve never really been “without,” have you?

    I’m not following you, Jeff. What are you suggesting I’ve never been without?

    The same exact thing can be said by a so-called straight single person who is not married and will never be married even though the expectation is there.

    I think you’re missing the point, Jeff. Several commenters showed a high degree of tolerance (or at least understanding) for heterosexual men who resort to extramarital sex, where these men are being denied physical/emotional intimacy by their wives. They still considered it “sin,” but they were moved to considerable compassion under the specific circumstances. Some of these same commenters (Will, for example) have refused to extend the same sort of compassion toward gays and lesbians who engage in sexual activity with same-sex partners, even to the point of virulent condemnation. Both kinds of “sinners” are trying to meet the same basic human need for physical and emotional intimacy, yet these commenters distinguish strongly between them.

    If I were to speculate about motives and thought processes, I would theorize that these commenters simply don’t grasp that homosexual relations have any function beyond orgasm. They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that gay or lesbian couples actually love each other, in the same way that heterosexual couples love each other. If all you can see is orgasm, it’s easy to demonize gays and lesbians. When you understand that homosexuality is just as much a matter of love and emotional intimacy as heterosexuality, it becomes harder to see gays and lesbians as outsiders/enemies.

  83. hawkgrrrl
    September 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Nick – that’s a fascinating double standard. I’m glad you clarified. I think your point is well made – people who see adultery as more justifiable than homosexuality are just endorsing the familiar.

  84. Doug
    September 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Back to my obsolete Richard “Milhous” Nixon impersonation (Rich Little needn’t worry about his career)….LET ME MAKE MYSELF PERFECTLY CLEAR….

    Though I feel that sexual relations are a huge part of what makes marriage unique versus all other human relationships (by definition), it’s not the all-to-end-all. Indeed, even the “friskest” of couples, in order to have a satisfying marriage, must also be friends and confidantes. There is, frankly, a whole lot of WORK (forgive my use of such vile four-letter words, gang!) which at times can be dry and boring. Lastly, each spouse, if he/she takes an attitude of service (not servily or servitude), then how much sweeter things are in the home! To put a pastry analogy (poor since I’m no baker), one does not typically enjoy the cake w/o the frosting, but just straight ‘frosting’ is overpoweringly sweet and hardly nutritious!
    There a huge difference between clinical frigidity (comparable to male ED) and what’s described as cold indifference on the wife’s part in the OP. It’s not just lack of “bunga-bunga”, it’s lack of intimacy, period. Yes, a man needs intimacy no less than a woman!
    Anyway, situations that are physiological in nature need the appropriate care from a doctor. The situation described in the OP seems to be mental and emotional rather than physical, and both have serious issues.

  85. Jeff Spector
    September 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    #80, dadsprimalscream

    “At least the straight single person has hope for getting together with an object of their affection in the afterlife. The gay person in the church is only promised that they’ll be fixed somehow and THEN get with an opposite sex partner in the afterlife…something that doesn’t sound appealing or heavenly by any stretch of the imagination.’

    Really, how do you know that? We are told we will be perfected, whatever that means. Anything else is pure speculation. If you truly believe that you have been created by God the way you are, then why not assume He will make an allowance for that in your perfection? Why would you assume the worst?

    Besides, not having a partner in this life is the struggle to be overcome now. It doesn’t make anyone really feel any better with some unclear future promise.

  86. Jeff Spector
    September 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    “I’m not following you, Jeff. What are you suggesting I’ve never been without?’

    Nick, Nick, Nick, ““Try being gay in the church and knowing you will NEVER have that intimacy. EVER” From what I know, this statement, wouldn’t apply to you….. That is why you wouldn’t have writen it…..

  87. Doug
    September 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I can also add only a bit of dry humor…even the best of marriages can go through staleness, boredom, and ebbs and flows. We shouldn’t go to pieces over these little “variations” in life.

    From “Mr. Baseball” (1992)

    Jack Elliot: (Explaining his approach to dealing with a slump) Hitting is like the tide…there’s high tide, and there’s low tide…and there’s high tide again!

    Yoji(his interpreter): Been low tide for several weeks…harbor’s starting to stink.

  88. Nick Literski
    September 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    #88:
    Jeff, rather than trying to pick nits, why not try to get my point, as I’ve further explained it to you already?

  89. Henry
    September 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Nick:
    Addiction to gay sex is like any other addiction and should be treated as such.

  90. Anonymous 101
    September 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I hope my experience can be illuminative as many before have been. I was half-way through medical school when I married my wife and figured I had a sound physiologic understanding of how to make sex enjoyable for my wife, but I was wrong! I am going to be very candid and make some use of clinical terminology to remove all ambiguity here, because I have the opinion that much suffering could be avoided by not being vague or making sweeping generalizations. Fortunately I can do this safely as an anonymous poster.
    My wife and I had both lived the law of chastity and had no sexual experiences or expectations when we were married nor had we ever discussed it prior to marriage. (I don’t think not discussing it was important for us, but I think it it may be for others prior to marriage.) She was initially anorgasmic for a period of weeks to months and we both became extremely frustrated. While she had been more anxious about sex than I had been, she was neither a prude nor in any way averse to a sexual relationship. We struggled, prayed, and ultimately carefully sought the advice of a family member about it. What we found is that it is apparently a minority of women who ever have orgasm from intercourse alone. With further experimentation with manual stimulation of the clitoris, eventually she was having them consistently. I use the word ‘experimentation’ very deliberately as it implies trial and error, intense and explicit communication, and dedication to a common goal of solving the problem. It doesn’t sound romantic, but having a fulfilling sex life where each of us initiate sex with equivalent frequency sure is!
    This was not the end of our sexual struggles. After our first baby was born, we had another challenge, and this time sought the advice of a medical professional. (Remember I am a medical professional myself.) In a short consultation we were able to address the problem and our sex life became even richer than before.
    I disagree with anyone who thinks that church doctrine in sexually repressive. While I admit that there are many psychological factors that lead to dysfunctional sexual relationships, I do not believe church doctrine perpetuates them. While my own medical specialty does not intersect much with sexual health, it is my suspicion that my experience is not uncommon both in and outside of the church. Perhaps many marriages would be improved if husbands would put forth the whatever effort necessary to make sex fulfilling for their wife.
    I realize this comment is more in response to many of the others and not to the original post, the subject of whom may well have faced issues out of his control.

  91. Jeff Spector
    September 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Nick,

    “Jeff, rather than trying to pick nits, why not try to get my point, as I’ve further explained it to you already?’

    I understood your point. I agree with it.

  92. MoHoHawaii
    September 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Re #81 I thought to myself, well here is another life situation I never expected to find myself in. A heterosexual Mormon male giving sex therapy advice to a lesbian female.

    Rigel,

    Isn’t it odd that despite the demonizing rhetoric we’re more alike than we are different? We all seem to need love, commitment, intimacy, trust and sexual expression just as we all need food, sleep, exercise and a meaningful life’s work.

    I hope your patient and the one she loved were able to make things better, just as I hope this for the couples mentoned in the OP and subsequent comments.

    [As an aside, and I don't mean to derail the topic, I can understand your concern about what your patient might think of you if she knew you were LDS. Mormons have an absolutely frightful reputation among gay people. If you took a poll of gay people I know, Mormons would rank somewere between Darth Vader and Senator McCarthy. Many gay people know gay Mormons who have been unbelievably ill-treated by their Mormon families, and the Prop 8 thing was cataclysmic. It's too bad because only a minority of Mormons really deserve the bogeyman status that all Mormons get-- mainstream and liberal Mormons, especially outside of Utah, can be quite kind about gay issues, and the Church's actual policies on social issues like homosexuality and abortion are more moderate than those of most other conservative Christian churches.]

  93. MoHoHawaii
    September 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Re #90,

    Basic sexual education, including Sex 101 topics like the common need for manual stimulation during intercourse, is not part of any LDS marriage preparation curriculum that I know of. (I’d be interested to hear from BYU grads how sex ed is handled in marriage prep classes there.) Letting newly married couples figure things out on their own causes needless hardship! The information exists and can circumvent a tremendous amount of suffering.

    I disagree with anyone who thinks that church doctrine in sexually repressive.

    This is an interesting point. I agree that the Church is very supportive of male sexuality. Women’s sexuality is never really acknowledged (modesty lectures admit only male sexuality).

  94. Rigel Hawthorne
    September 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I purchased “How to Give Her Absolute Pleasure”, by Lou Paget, just before I got married and did my homework. The ‘need to know’ may not have been part of LDS marriage preparation course, but being part of a singles ward family that had contact with graduated married members provided some social networking on the topic. I heard a number of young married individuals offering advice to singles late in the evening of activites…’just remember one thing,’ was usually how it started. Of course, this was California singles wards with activities on the beach. :)

  95. anon
    September 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Dexter, you misunderstood. I meant that I wasn’t in the mood to have sex, not that I always turn him down. It wasn’t really fair to either of us to have his feelings hurt that I wasn’t immediately in the mood and me pressured to have my body perform.
    The idea that a woman can or should have sex without her body preparing with natural lubrication and genital engorgement in order to facilitate penetration without discomfort SHOULD be as ridiculous as a man being expected to penetrate without an erection.

  96. anon
    September 24, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    continued…..
    “if he asked if I wanted to have sex it was always going to be no. However, if he kissed me and asked if I wanted to kiss it would be yes.”
    I meant that the answer to if I wanted to have sex was no, not the answer to would I have sex.
    The next point I’d like to make is that in LDS marriages, the premarital stuff is very enjoyable and can often change after marriage. The husband seems to be fairly happy in skipping all that hugging and kissing that went “nowhere.” However, the wife married the guy because she enjoyed all that hugging and kissing that stopped there.
    I think it is far too common that the husband quits doing what he did before marriage, and like Anonymous 101 it is very common for it to take a long, time with a lot of loving, patient, understanding practice for a woman to orgasm because her sexual response is more complicated….and over a marriage of decades there needs to continue to be understanding as you face various changes in your bodies or your body’s physical or sexual capabilities.
    Anyway, my point was about being pro-active about not getting into the sexless marriage pattern. I was faced with the fact that my husband really wanted sex but I didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as he did. So, I tried to figure out what would make me enjoy it more. I figured that I had enjoyed making out with him with no pressure and my body responded then, so maybe that was key. My other ideas that seemed to work was me picking more convenient times than he seemed to pick (like when I was busy) so I started initiating sex when I wasn’t busy. Another thing that helped was I initiated a lot of sex during the time of the month when I knew I would enjoy it more.
    If you asked my husband if he “had to play by his wife’s rules to get sex” he’d laugh. He would say that he is very happy to get laid 3 times a week and have great sex with a hot wife who he knows he can please in bed. He gets as much sex as he wants (well, close enough I suppose, life is pretty busy) because he takes the time to make me happy in and out of bed and I want to return the favor. Not bad for a marriage of almost two decades.
    What you think of as laying down the rules, I think of as communication. Perhaps I had left out the part where he communicated that he really wanted sex and also he wanted ME to want sex with him.
    Now, I know I’m patting myself on the back a little about this stuff, but I can’t tell you how relieved I am that we are not the couple in the original post. And I say that because I really think it is common and it could have been me.
    I also know that we have a few decades left and if the past couple decades taught me anything is that you have to keep communication open because life happen.
    I appreciate thinking about this subject and discussing it.

  97. Nick Literski
    September 25, 2010 at 9:03 am

    #89:
    Addiction to gay sex is like any other addiction and should be treated as such.

    Actually, Henry, sexual addiction, whether gay or “straight,” is different from many other addictions. I agree, however, that sexual addiction, whether gay or “straight,” should be treated.

  98. justme
    September 26, 2010 at 6:51 am

    It’s not okay to “fix” homosexuals, but it is okay to “fix” women with low sex drive??? Whose to say who needs fixing? (This is separate from intimacy and affection and communication and compromise.)

  99. Heidi
    September 26, 2010 at 10:22 am

    @JustMe: An excellent point, and one I’ve often had. The politically correct claim is that sex frequency only matters as long as both members are content with it, yet I have NEVER heard of a therapist trying to address a sexual incompatibility by reducing the more desiring spouse’s sex drive. The paradigm is ALWAYS that the less desiring spouse’s sex drive needs to be increased. To me, this is evidence of our culture’s tendency to glorify sex, particularly since it’s actually MUCH easier to use medicine to reduce a person’s sex drive than to increase it.

  100. September 26, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Heidi, you are right that chemical castration is seen as easier, but it is also seen as more problematic and often more likely to generate long term complications. Interesting point though, people seem not to embrace it anywhere near as much in the Americas as they do in Europe.

  101. Doug
    September 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    [ Mormons have an absolutely frightful reputation among gay people. If you took a poll of gay people I know, Mormons would rank somewere between Darth Vader and Senator McCarthy]

    #92 – Thanks for the Darth Vader analogy of how gays often view LDS. And I thought you didn’t LIKE mormons. Being a SW fanatic and writer, I’m kinda partial to the Dark Lord of the Sith (shame I can’t wear the costume at a Church Halloween party, I can still go as Anakin before he got barbecued or a reasonable analogue). And though I’d have had reservations about the insobrietry and fiestiness of “Tail-Gunner Joe”, he was a dammed fine Senator who had the courage to speak his mind as well as the truth (at least as he saw it).

    [ Many gay people know gay Mormons who have been unbelievably ill-treated by their Mormon families] And some well-treated. It’s one thing not to approve of the lifestyle of a child that goes “gay”, and another to turn your back on him or revile same. I have relatives who are gay. I’m well acquainted with a lady who is bisexual. It ain’t contagious.

    [and the Prop 8 thing was cataclysmic] How so? In that the Church got cooperation on that issue with many evangelical Christians who otherwise were quite hostile to them? Or that Prop 8 prevailed at the polls? Just because there were protests and unruliness that election night in front of the LA temple and some LDS chapels were vandalized (most of it minor) doesn’t mean it was bad for the Church. An emotionally charged subject like Prop 8 is gonna bring out the crazies. Or as another of my fave Sci-Fi characters, “Q”, said to Capt. Piccard…”it’s a wonderful galaxy, but it’s not for the timid. Go back to Earth and curl up under your bed if you can’t stand to get your nose bloodied.” I’d say if there was any “cataclysm”, it was for the ambitions of the radical homosexuals (who don’t necessary represent the gay community at large) who realized that the California public wasn’t buying their agenda.

    [ It's too bad because only a minority of Mormons really deserve the bogeyman status that all Mormons get] Probably few, if any at all. Please specifiy WHO, if you can, and cite example(s) of WHY, in your estimation.

    [ mainstream and liberal Mormons, especially outside of Utah, can be quite kind about gay issues] I dunno that LDS conversatism is LIMITED to UT. Most AZ LDS that I know would think that Barry Goldwater and Mitt Romney were “commies”.

    [ the Church's actual policies on social issues like homosexuality and abortion are more moderate than those of most other conservative Christian churches] Thanks for at least acknowledging that. We get grief from some hardcore evangelicals and the more hard-line in the “Pro-Life” movement over that. Ya can’t please every one (so Ya got ta please yourself, pun intended and thank you, the late Ricky Nelson).

  102. JaneNotMyName
    September 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I wish I’d known then what I know now about sex. As someone who entered a female sexual prime in my late thirties, I feel like the tables have been turned! When my husband and I married we were both in our early twenties. True to the stereotype, after that first year or so when we were both pretty sexual, we settled into a pattern where he had a way stronger desire for sex and I became the wife who was much less interested and frequently turned him down. Sometimes he would wait me out to see how long I would go before I’d initiate sex. Three weeks might pass before I’d decide that it was time. That hurt his feelings. Not only was I not very interested, but I wasn’t very adventurous either. It seems strange because I’m someone who can pretty much always orgasm at least once. I just didn’t seem to need to have sex very often, even if it was good for me. Go figure. It made for a lot of pretty frustrating and boring years for our sex life. Years that we can never get back. We were never living in a sexless marriage but it sure could have been a lot better.

    Then my late 30′s hit and my sex drive hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s probably mostly a hormonal shift but I’m also just really at a content place in my life and I’m in love with my husband. Making love everyday would be really nice. Thank goodness my husband is really understanding and isn’t holding any grudges. He’s in his early forties now so his sex drive is slowing down a bit but he’s so grateful that we have this physical closeness. It’s good to know that we need each other on a basic physical level. We communicate so much more about sex now. I feel a tremendous amount of regret knowing what I put him through in the early years of our marriage. Our sex life wasn’t nonexistent but it sure wasn’t great either. Life is short. There are a lot of problems that may be out of our control. Sex usually isn’t one of them. I realize that there may be a time when sex is gone. We’ll get too old or maybe one of us will develop a physical problem. That will be really sad. I’m so grateful that I finally figured out how precious it is.

    I know the poster has more going on in the marriage than sexual incompatibility. It sounds like there’s a lack of affection or regard, or an emotional closing off. I’d say professional counseling is mandatory here. You can’t afford not to. If you can get your wife on board, I’d start with a complete physical so see if her hormones, and thyroid are all functional. You’ve got to start the lines of communication going to get to the bottom of this. I couldn’t stay in a marriage where there’s no affection. Sometimes where painful sex is an issue, there are therapies including biofeedback that can be very effective. My neighbor went through it and it was covered by her health insurance.

  103. Holden Caulfield
    September 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

    “the Church’s actual policies on social issues like homosexuality and abortion are more moderate than those of most other conservative Christian churches] Thanks for at least acknowledging that.”

    I don’t think the cook should feel it a compliment when told that dog feces tastes better than horse feces.

  104. Jon
    October 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks for all the comments. This has been most enlightening for me. Maybe this will help with my wife and I. I’m not a big fan of getting professional help but if we try your suggestions and nothing works maybe that’s what we’ll seek out. Seems to be a fairly common issue that arouses (pun intended) in marriages. Sex is definitely a lot more complicated then I ever imagined it when I was single.

    As for the off topic conversations. I think the scriptures are pretty clear.
    Alma 39:3-5
    3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
    4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
    5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

    Matt. 5: 27-28, 32
    27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
    28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
    • • •
    32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

    A man (used in the neutered term) that is married and commits adultery, vs the man that has sex before getting married, is far worse in my opinion since they have made covenants to be with their spouse and to support them and to be faithful. It is incumbent on them to strive to keep the love in their marriage and work through all their problems, especially if they have kids. If he has kids and commits adultery it is better they he gets thrown to the bottom of the sea. I know this is sounding much harsher than my actual views on the subject but all this talking on cheating on your wife is disgusting. I hope and pray I’ll never do such a thing and I don’t think we should encourage others to do the same either.

  105. A Mormon Boy
    October 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    SEX & HEAVEN by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain)

    Of all the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse. He will go any length for it-risk fortune, character, reputation, life itself. and what do you think he has done? He has left it out of his heaven! Prayer takes its place.
    - Notebook, 1906
    ‘- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
    …the human being, like the immortals, natually places sexual intercourse far and away above all other joys–yet he has left it out of his heaven! The very thought of it excites him; opportunity sets him wild; in this state he will risk life, reputation, everything–even his queer heaven itself–to make good that opportunity and ride it to the overwhelming climax. From youth to middle age all men and all women prize copulation above all other pleasures combined, yet it actually as I have said: it is not in their heaven; prayer takes its place.
    - Letters from the Earth

  106. Doug
    October 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

    #105 – Thanks for bringing up Mr. Clemens. I wish that I could find the work where supposedly he complimented the then polygamous LDS, citing the supposed unattractiveness of the plural wives, but thus far have been unsuccessful. An in-the-eye-of-the-beholder thing, to be sure.

    #104 – Your committment to living the Gospel in the face of marital difficulties is most commendable. It’s a terrible challenge but an unfortunate reality for many. I wish you the best in a satisfactory resolution for your particular situation. I wish that I could say that my version of “been there, done that” had COMPLETELY been IAW Alma the Younger’s counsel to his wayward son. You, and he, are dead to rights. We don’t have excuses to screw around. A dear sister is now a member of the Church, she thinks, in part due to my influence, but AFAIC, some of my “influence” was definitely NOT Gospel-centered, and I did her enormous disservice, let alone bring further trouble into an already troubled marriage. Wickedness truly isn’t happiness, the trouble is; at the unguarded moment in the throes of idiocy, it seems like a thrill (but then all you’ve done is heap further problems on top of the existing ones). So be smarter than I and learn from OTHER’s mistakes, don’t devise your own!

  107. Anon
    October 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Every 6 months we get at least 4 good reminders of the great moral dangers of pornography. We (the men of the church) can expect at least one Gen. Authority to give us the very thorough tongue lashing necessary to remove all doubt as to where God stands on the issue. I believe that is as it should be.

    But when was the last time you heard anything over the pulpit about the cold hearted spouse who neglects the sexual intimacy of their marriage? Does the church leadership even wonder if there is a correlation between the pornography problem that they say is plaguing the men of the church and the generations of frigid young wives (Yes, frigid women exist, just as clumsy men exist.) that have grown up in the Young Women’s program of the church? Why does the church condemn with such vigor the sin of infidelity (viewing pornography), while ignoring or winking at the sin of marital neglect (sexless marriage)?

    I’m on the verge of ending a fifteen year marriage to a frigid woman. She believes with absolute sincerity that my sexual frustration is a mark of my sinful nature, and her frigidity is a mark of her unreproachable virtue. God placed in man a strong sexual drive to convince him to leave his solitary ways and take upon himself the weight and responsiblities of family life (I’m guessing the same can be said for women). If that sexual drive is derided, demonized, and dismissed, then what keeps me slogging into a job I dislike, dealing with people who give me a headache, and then spending all the money on a house, food, clothing, minivan, and other items I barely use? All this while watching the single guys jet around on motorcycles and in sportscars, going out with the world’s harlots, and generally having what looks like a ball? A sense of honor? maybe. Not wanting to lose the promised reward in the hereafter? yeah, probably that too. But in all honesty, after a lifetime of being the last on her list, if we make it to the hereafter and are beckoned into a mansion above, I may just decline.

  108. equally concerned
    October 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Re #107 Anon
    I appreciate your comment. I really empathize with your situation as mine is very similar (though my wife’s not frigid, just not interested). I have no idea how much more I can take!

  109. October 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Anon 107 and equally concerned 108 – have you sought any professional help on this?

    Check out these two posts of mine from a while back if you’re interested…

    http://mormonmatters.org/2010/07/23/date-night-when-your-arguments-are-always-the-same%E2%80%A6/

    http://mormonmatters.org/2010/07/30/marriage-counseling-waste-of-your-time-money-or-the-balm-of-gilead/

  110. Anon
    October 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    @ equally conderned,

    I guess I’m using “frigid” and “not interested” interchangably. My wife is able to reach sexual climax, sometimes even through intercourse alone. It’s not that she is physically dysfunctional, it is just that in her mind sex is still a sin, and sexual desire is evidence that I’m not living righteously. She is “not interested” and has ZERO sexual desire. I don’t know if that qualifies clinically as “frigid” but it certainly feels cold to me. Our marriage doesn’t qualify as sexless either, but it’s pretty darn close.

    And before we get to the “it’s all your fault you stupid man” rhetoric I’d like to point out that I’m really not sure. I’ve never been with another woman. Perhaps I’d disappoint every woman; but its not for lack of trying. What is there to try when the gist of your love life is “Put it in already. If we have to do this, lets get it over with.”

  111. JaneNotMyName
    October 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

    #110 I never thought I’d say this but maybe foreplay in this situation is reading those scriptures about being one flesh.

    Check out this bit from Elder Faust in the August 2004 Ensign. “…I urge the sisters of this Church to be patient, loving, and understanding with their husbands. Those who enter into marriage should be fully prepared to establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives. It is destructive to the feeling essential for a happy marriage for either party to say to the other marriage partner, “I don’t need you.” This is particularly so because the counsel of the Savior was and is to become one flesh: “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

    For me, this pattern was happening before we had kids but got worse after. I got into the mothering role so much that I totally neglected the wife role. I remember thinking about how my kids were always wanting something from me and I lumped my husband into that category too. Kids pestering me for a sandwich, husband pestering me to put out. In my mind it was about him being being horny. Taking. If that’s the way she views sex, then in her mind you aren’t really expressing love, you’re just using her to masturbate. I think it’s a twisted but common thought process.

  112. Anon
    October 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @ Jane,

    Thanks for the Elder Faust reference (He holds a special place in my heart). I’ve heard and read that before, and I believe I “get” what he is saying. However, when my wife reads that she reads “patient, loving and understanding” as there very nice sounding generalities, and the part about “they twain shall be one flesh” absolutely does not register as “they shall embrace each other fully as friends and lovers”. It registers as something more like “they shall be really good friends and share a house and bed, but remember girls modesty is a virtue”.

    And yes, it does feel like I’m just using her to masturbate when she is lying back and thinking of England. It has twisted our sexual relationship into a mockery of the highest and holiest relationship given to the children of God on this earth. A mockery that I’d just as soon be rid of, but when she does initiate (rarely and out of some sense of duty) she gets all hurt if I turn her down. She is upset that I don’t find her attractive, but that’s not it. I’m still attracted to her (though it is diminishing) I just find my attraction to be more frustration and heartache than it is worth.

  113. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 12:32 am

    #112 Frustrating and twisted indeed. Speaking for myself, I’ve never had an honest discussion with another woman about how to have a great sex life. I believe that is a huge problem and one I hope to rectify with my own daughter. My mom gave me the “dangers of premarital sex” type talks with all kinds of awkward, introverted modesty layered on top. That’s it. I suspect this has been pretty standard for a lot of us. My dad didn’t go anywhere near this topic with me.

    The sister-in-laws occasionally break out into some half-joking discussion about how the men “can’t get enough” and how they “can’t figure out what the fuss is all about”. This discussion is usually some variation on how sex is a chore or a hassle, and how they wish their husband weren’t so into it because they are just too tired. This one is maybe the kicker – an older female relative talking about how her husband lost his prostate to cancer and so he could no longer get it up. She thought this was fantastic because she no longer had to put out. Yipee! – you don’t have to have sex again EVER.

    I know these are the stereotypes, but it’s been true of the women in my family anyway. I wish my mom or some married friend had given me at least some positive examples about how much they enjoyed sex, how it helped create an emotional bond with their spouse, how you don’t need to feel awkward or embarrassed about your sexual response, how it’s important to nurture that part of your relationship, how it could be really good.

    I think some of this is shifting in our culture. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I hope you are able to open up some communication with your wife. I’d say if she makes an effort, don’t turn her down…ever.

    I have lots of friends, both men and women. Intimacy is the one thing that sets my spouse apart from the friends. He’s the only other person who I can share that part of myself with, and I am that for him too. It’s a huge privilege to be entrusted with that. Going forward, I want us to have a really great life. Not settle for some mediocre life where there’s a lot of frustration or neglect. I think women who maintain these attitudes are guilty of neglect and the sad thing is that they are loosing out too. I came across this rather fun list. Maybe it will help somebody to get lucky tonight.

    http://www.more.com/2024/25010-reasons-to-have-sex#1

  114. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I mentioned talking to other women to illustrate that I believe I was socialized to be the disinterested good girl. To think that this is normal. Pair that with a lower libido when I was younger and a very limited knowledge of sex and you get disaster. I wish I’d had at least a few women say, “I can’t wait to get home tonight because I’m going to seduce my husband.” Even just to talk more positively about sex in terms of how it can glue a couple together, be a huge source of comfort for each other. It would have been really healthy for me to hear that sort of conversation.

    As a mom, I think I’ll sit down with my daughter, maybe close to the time she is going to get married, and advise her to get familiar with her own sexual response. Is that a radical idea from an LDS mom? Take responsibility for knowing your body enough so you can teach it to someone else. Most men know how to give themselves the big O. I think many women are less clued in. Then there’s the modesty thing. I didn’t actually take a hand mirror and look at myself down there until after I was pregnant. I could have been a whole lot better at communicating with my husband about what I needed if I’d been more comfortable showing him. I’d guess most men are more than willing to make a study of it. Feeling clumsy in bed isn’t on most people’s list of turn-ons. I’ll get off my sex-soap-box now.

  115. Heidi
    October 13, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion of the thing that science seems to recognize but that no one seems to want to acknowledge, perhaps because it seems so unsolvablee: lots of women JUST DON’T WANT SEX THAT MUCH. That’s it. It’s not that their husbands are clumsy or unromantic or aren’t helping out around the house; it’s that it quite simply doesn’t sound fun. It’s not about being repressed or raised as a prude or blah blah blah. It’s about biology. That’s another thing that no one seems to want to acknowledge: the role of biology. The biological function of sex is to make babies, so women’s bodies are designed to want sex when it’s time to make a baby. Time of month, age, and whether or not the woman is currently raising another baby will all play into this. Now that’s not to say that psychological conditions don’t affect the sex drive, but biology plays a huge role.

    So then you take a lack of interest that may be biologically based and add in a man whose biological function is to baby-make whenever, just in case it takes, and add the two together, and you’ve got a woman who starts out as not being in the mood, but then gets pressured, guilted, raged at for saying no or manipulated into just taking it, and suddenly “wasn’t in the mood,” becomes “subconsciously pissed as hell and hating the whole idea.”

    I think more people need to acknowledge the role of biology and stop saying that women are abnormal for only wanting to have sex once or twice a month. Sex-crazed society aside, biology’s actually on her side.

  116. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Heidi – While the biology argument may be true, I find it limiting and depressing. The scriptures teach us that we need to overcome the natural man. Men can’t mate with every fertile female within a 50 mile radius, despite the biological urge to do so. Perhaps we women also need to overcome the natural woman. Get beyond our biology and reach for something higher. The results in marital closeness will be well worth the effort. I admit that I came to this epiphany only after having my own hormones shift into high gear in my mid 30′s. Maybe I’m just a product of my own biology but I don’t think it’s that simple. Sex has become something much more profound for me, and we’re done with the making babies years. This is not me acting out my biological imperative to reproduce. Looking at men as only biology reduces them to animals. That’s a pretty depressing way to think about your husband’s desire to be with you. The requirement of fidelity and unity in marriage applies to both men and women. How can we expect men to rein in their sex drive to include only us, and then feel good about being asexual or close to it?

  117. Heidi
    October 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Jane–I agree that we absolutely need to overcome all of our natural tendencies in order to pursue everything that’s good and divine. I just think that people often call it something a “huge problem” when it’s really just a biological disconnect. As a result of all the drama, THEN something that would have actually been pretty easy to overcome actually does become a “huge problem.” If my husband hadn’t kept his calm, stayed mellow, and had his head about him when I wasn’t interested as often as he was DESPITE the fact that he met every criterion everyone says a man needs to meet if he wants to seduce his wife, we coulda ended up as a sexless couple with me resenting and hating him and him begging all the time.

    It doesn’t help the couples who are struggling now, but couples who are just entering marriage should be told that she may not be in the mood as much as she is and that it’s not a huge deal and nobody’s wrong or twisted or a pervert or a sex addict or frigid or distant; it’s just biology and here are some ways to get past it.

  118. Doug
    October 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Anon – the problem in your situation is that unless you’ve either got some uncommonly awesome financial resources that will allow you to at least rent a recent condo; drive a nice late model car and have a jet ski or motorcycle to play with, you’re screwed. As are most men that feel trapped in a love-challenged, dysfuctional, unsatisfying relationship. The problems are manifold but boil down to these few paradigms:

    1) You’re probably struggling to make it as most families do, else you’d already have some toys and perhaps a “man-cave” and to a great extent live the life of a “married bachelor”. At least re: “The only difference between men and boys…”, you’d be proverbially fat, dumb, and happy.
    2) Your wife is at least getting the basics of what she wants: you provide a roof over her head, clothes on her back, food in her belly and the kids’ as well, and reasonable assistance in the rearing of said children. And you let her shrug off her lack of desire to please you as one would expect of his wife. WHY THE HELL SHOULD SHE CHANGE? It’s a decent deal for her, and you’re just going along!
    3) You say you want to end it but you likely won’t, at least until your children are grown and gone, for several reasons:
    a) You simply can’t afford it. She can’t afford to live off the alimony and child support that you can’t afford to pay.
    b) Neither want the children in a “broken” home, even if the one that “ain’t broke” isn’t too happy either
    c) You’ve both been raised to think that if the marriage is failing that makes you both failures. Endless pontification from the GAs coupled with the lack of practical advice (but sometimes LDS Family Services does a bang-up job in that regard) doesn’t help your self-worth or give you hope either.
    d) you don’t know that even if you divorce that you’ll do better the next time around. You won’t necessarily learn from your mistakes.

    So, you have essentially these options:
    1) Go on with it, grit and bear it, and avoid moral pitfalls of porn and/or extramartial affairs, while keeping a straight face and finding SOMETHING to give your life meaning, and try to cope with stress and depression produced therein from leading a life of quiet desperation (is the English way…).
    2) Divorce her fat ass (pardon the hyperbole), and endure the financial, legal, and social consequences. Get used to being a weekend “Disneyland Dad”. Forget forever being a bishop or SP, and expect to be marginalized as the modern LDS “menace to society”.
    3) Buy a wireless laptop secretly and download scads of porn and masturbate to it, if you can live with yourself doing such a self-degnerating thing.
    4) Go get a girlfriend. Just don’t get her pregnant. Of course, you’ll go to hell, but sounds like you’ve already had a foretaste.
    5) OR…get some counseling and implore the Lord to help you. Keep in mind that since it also depends on your wife, you simply can’t control her, so accept that in spite of whatever good faith effort you make, it may not work out. So back to options 1 through 4…

  119. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Heidi – I like this a lot. “It doesn’t help the couples who are struggling now, but couples who are just entering marriage should be told that she may not be in the mood as much as he is and that it’s not a huge deal and nobody’s wrong or twisted or a pervert or a sex addict or frigid or distant; it’s just biology and here are some ways to get past it.” – as long as it doesn’t become an excuse for not connecting. The devil made me do it, my biology is to blame, and so forth.

  120. Anon
    October 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Heidi,

    It’s not a “huge deal” when you are willing to tolerate sex 10 to 12 times a year in exchange for all the goodies of marriage, AND sex happens 10 to 12 times a year.

    The “deal” gets a mite larger when you enjoy love making and would like to experience it 2 to 3 times a week… BUT it only happens 0.2 times per week.

    This is the disconnect that those with a higher drive and those with a lower drive just cannot meet on. In non-rapist marriages, the spouse with the lower drive sets the frequency of love making; often not even thinking of it as “love making” but rather a chore akin to doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. I despise the character “George” from the TV show Seinfeld. He is the man I want to be most unlike, and yet I can commiserate with him when he exclaims the poker players lament “I’ve got no hand Jerry! I’ve got no hand!”. In marriage the lower drive spouse holds all the high cards and the higher drive spouse will be lucky to hold even the requisite 5 cards.

  121. Anon
    October 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Doug,

    You are right, I’m not in the best financial situation, but were I single, the money I make could afford me a very comfortable lifestyle with many of the toys you just mentioned. It’s not that hard to do it when you are only supporting yourself, not an entire family. On a brighter note, much of my hard work ought to pay some dividends in the near future as I have completed graduate school and expect to embark on a fairly lucrative career in the next year. At that point divorce, while still being an expensive proposition, will not be unattainable; and yet I’m still hesitant. Sense of duty and honor is only part of the answer. My wife and I are quite happy with each other in several aspects of our marriage. I do not begrudge my children their support, rather I hope in the future to provide much more for them. I do feel there is an emptiness in my heart that my wife will never fill. A spot reserved for her, but which she altogether rejects. That emptiness colors and tinges with melancholy, despair and resentment the rest of my life. I think at the end of my life I’ll wish only to be free of her, not bound to her for eternity.

  122. Anon
    October 13, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Also, speaking of the biology being on “her side” ignores what is clearly evident in the fauna all around us. Males mate with several females. Are you suggesting we also adopt that model? The church tried it early on, then set it aside. Perhaps we’re ready for it now?

    …Didn’t think so

  123. Heidi
    October 13, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    @Anon: I can tell you’re obviously in a lot of pain, and I in no way want to minimize your suffering. It’s clearly a huge deal to you and many others. I’m just wondering if the reason sexual incompatibility BECOMES a huge deal is because couples aren’t adequately aware of and prepared for this common marital “hiccup,” so then they respond in stressful ways (over-react, maybe?) and that starts a vicious cycle and THEN it becomes a big deal. This is possibly not thr case at all with your wife, but I think it might apply to a lot of marriages.

    Also, I can see that I was imprecise with my words when I said “biology is on her side.” I was just trying to communicate that it makes sense for a healthy woman to only want sex a couple of times a month since that’s about how often is has a chance of serving its BIOLOGICAL (though clearly not its emotional) function. I’m not saying that she should use that as a reason to refuse to have sex more frequently, just that her lack of desire doesn’t make her frigid or selfish or controlling, any more than a man’s desire makes him a pervert.

  124. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    #118 and #121 – The financial fallout from divorce is an even bigger loss for the woman in most cases. Case in point – I’ve been home raising kids for several years now. My husband’s earning potential far exceeds mine. He’s been developing a career while I’ve been a SAHM. And in the event of a divorce, I’d likely be the primary parent. Not a lot of eligible 40-something men looking for a single 40-something woman with kids in tow. I really try to take care of myself but, lets face it, the body has had a few kids.

    I’ve heard that there are single men my age who are still involved in the church and aren’t weird but I’ve never actually seen one. I know some single guys who are gay but unfortunately, I finally figured out that I really like heterosexual sex. That’s too bad because the gay husband would always do something memorable for my birthday and we could throw some great dinner parties. Oh, and the single men that do exist are looking at women in their 20′s and 30′s. Why wouldn’t they?

    Then there’s my husband. He’s a great looking guy who takes care of himself, and he has a job that can support us without any financial stress. That alone makes him a catch. The existence of our beautiful kids might even be a plus for a woman in her 30′s or 40′s who hasn’t been married or had any kids of her own. Women are much more likely to see the kids as a positive in my opinion.

    About this – “I do feel there is an emptiness in my heart that my wife will never fill. A spot reserved for her, but which she altogether rejects. That emptiness colors and tinges with melancholy, despair and resentment the rest of my life.” That’s poetic. And it makes me feel melancholy thinking about it. Wow. I think that you have to tell her this. I wouldn’t want anybody to feel that way…especially my spouse. Maybe she’d at least consent to reading some books about relationships and start talking about fixing this. If she doesn’t then she’s either selfish, or foolish, or blind, or all of the above. She should probably consider my previous paragraphs and she can picture the ad in the paper – SWF with a bunch of kids looking for SWM who doesn’t expect to have sex. Good luck with that.

    Back on my sex-soap-box. I think that every couple could probably benefit up front from deciding that we are going to schedule some time for intimacy twice a week, whether we feel like it or not. Why? Because if you don’t feel like it, you should do it anyway for all the reasons that are mentioned in that link I gave up in #113. Also, sex therapist Laura Berman says “…the number-one predictor for emotional connectedness in a relationship is the level of sexual satisfaction of the couple. You acquire a sense of closeness with your partner by having sex. It creates and intimate , romantic world for just the two of you.”

  125. JaneNotMyName
    October 13, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Before people reject the schedule idea as not romantic or spontaneous, I have to say it doesn’t matter. We schedule stuff all the time. Examples – We will go to church every Sunday, whether we feel like it or not. We will mow the lawn every Saturday, whether we feel like it or not. We will read scriptures everyday, whether we feel like it or not. We will go to the gym three times a week, whether we feel like it or not. We will have sex twice a week, whether we feel like it or not so that we maintain a close physical bond as a couple. If you feel like doing it more, that’s great. I doubt if it would do any harm and I’d be interested to see the results after 6 months.

  126. Anon-but a different one..
    October 14, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Jane, My take on the sexless aspect that you’ve missed out on is that there’s a kind of self-righteousness that it creates in the non-sex involved partner. I grew up in a area with a lot of Catholic’s and we all admired the Priest’s and Nun’s. We admired them really only because they gave up marriage and sex (at least they made a vow to, reality is apparently different). Also, and this is a connection in my mind, something like 75% of divorces are initiated by women. That’s a lot of suffering that you are bringing onto yourself and others, and why is it so one sided? I think the answer is the feeling of superiority, because “I don’t need sex” thing. Dr. Laura says, if a man (who’s married) doesn’t have sex in his marriage he’ll; masturbate to porn, have and affair or get divorced. Pretty clear, not always that obvious, the pain involved for everyone is great, totally avoidable, probably not easy to connect the cause to the effect, but that’s what is going to happen.

    Also I find these kind of discussions interesting because without the internet they would never happen. The closest that I ever saw was Ann Lander’s or Dear Abby, which were so terse that you had to have a Urim and Thummim to see what the real issues were they were talking about.

    Also #2, I love your quote from Laura Berman, because I think I can see the couples who are close and not. There is just a one-ness about them and it doesn’t matter if they are church members or not. Oneness is the goal of marriage, when it happens it shows.

  127. Heidi
    October 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

    @Jane: Scheduling sex may be a good idea, but comparing it to lawn mowing and going to church is a false analogy. It’s true that we schedule important things like church and lawn mowing, but no one really has strong feelings about those things either way. You’ve never heard someone say, “I was just SO disappointed by how the lawn mowing turned out. I keep trying and trying, but I just didn’t enjoy it. *Sigh* I guess the lawn enjoyed it, though.” And you’ve never heard someone say, “I felt so used at church. I was so exhausted, but I had to do it and I just came away feeling a little used and even more exhausted than I was before.” Now, one can argue that a person should just get through it just like they do other important things that they schedule, but the lawn never then gets online and complains about how the person mowing the lawn was thinking about England the whole time.

    No one CARES about those things, so doing them in a perfunctory, just get-er-done sort of way is fine. It seems like doing that with sex would risk backfiring. And besides, isn’t the complaint of all many of the posters here that their wives treat it as just another chore? Seems like all the scheduling does is make it so that chore has to happen more often and on a schedule. Would they really like that any better?

  128. Heidi
    October 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

    @Anon2: That sounds like it’s peculiar to your wife. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool UT/ID Mormon, which is about as conservatively Mormon as it gets, and I’ve never encountered the idea that sexlessness after marriage is more holy. If that idea is being perpetuated then it should be addressed through members’ attitudes and more frank discussions.

  129. Doug
    October 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    #124 – Then you’d wonder WHY in the overwhelming majority of cases the wife initiates at least the separation (“I need time for myself, blah, blah, blah…) if not the divorce. The attorney that handled my divorce had a simple but fairly accurate measuring stick for his male clients to see if they REALLY wanted to go through with it (it’s part of the family law ethics, even in CA, that the attorney advise and suggest marriage counseling as an alternative, or failing that, recommend an artibitrator). He would fire up the computer and run the “Disso-Master” program, which is a fair predictor of how the judge will assign child support and/or alimony and quote the figure to the man. If the erstwhile husband blanches and loses his breath, then upon regaining it sez “I gotta pay THAT much?”, then the attorney would suggest that he look into ways to preserve the marriage. However, if upon quoting the same figure the clinet would relax, exhale, and say “I can keep that much?”, then they’d proceed to drawing up the papers.
    It’s been my experience that child support, however onerous it may seem, is actually revenue-neutral. It’s a matter of trading time for dollars. The best interests of the child(ren) are what matter, especially in their living and custody arrangements. Frankly, paying (in 1995) $1,875/month in alimony & child support (on a gross income then of $4,200/month) I actually had money to burn, since I schlepped pizza on the side and made (pocketing my tips, of course!) almost enough to cover it (income from a “second job” is typically not counted). I still had time to see and do things with my kids and date…a LOT (the pizza place kept an ample supply of 18 to 24 yr old young ladies which for a 36-YO divorced guy was the provebial “happy hunting ground”). I had to get used to going from a four-bedroom house to living in a two-bedroom halfplex with a one-car garage (which housed my hot rod). When I got custody of my kids three years after the divorce, I was no longer the “pizza guy”. I had to kick out my roomie that helped with the house payments. Since I made more than twice what my ex did, I still paid alimony (but not very much), and got a dollar a month (symbolic) for child support. It was harder, but my kids were in their teens by then and needed their active LDS Dad to ride herd on them far more than their flaky mother.
    It’s my experience that the ‘family law’ system, regardless of the state, rewards those who behave in the most lawless, underhanded, and devious fashion. I’m also amazed how many women who are active in the Church will stoop to extremely un-Christlike behavior in the wake of a divorce and get away with it. Whereas, for example, when I got custody of my kids about twelve years ago, I caught flak from my bishop for ‘taking’ them from their mother.
    So, Anon, there IS hope either way…of course, I’d say find a way to make it work, including don’t accept your wife’s indifference to your legitimate physical needs. If it comes up to the “shape up or ship out” routine, so be it.

  130. JaneNotMyName
    October 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Heidi – If you schedule sex two or three times a week, it doesn’t get neglected. It makes it a priority. It gets people out of the avoidance/begging cycle. Even if neither of you want to have sex, too bad – You’re going to take one for the team tonight because it’s good for your marriage and you don’t want to end up in a sexless marriage. I’m guessing that most people would report an increase in marital satisfaction and connectedness over time. I see it as sort of a chicken and egg thing. We don’t feel emotionally close so we don’t have sex. We don’t have sex so we don’t feel emotionally close. Which came first? The point is, it doesn’t matter. I guess I’m thinking that some of these women who are disinterested in sex might awaken something if they engaged in it with more frequency. Maybe they’d feel more comfortable, more beautiful, more accepted. The increased intimacy and love might show up in other parts of their marriage. It’s a whole lot cheaper than therapy if it will work. At least they’d reap some of the positive side effects.

    #126 made some good points. I think you can tell when people have that closeness in their marriage too. My husband and I had to be apart for several weeks last year. It was really hard. I missed him. It was hard to fall asleep without him curled up to me. I missed having sex with him. We Mormons can’t have a glass of wine to take the edge off at the end of a hard day. Sex is that glass of wine for me I guess. He called one night and I told him…in more straightforward language…just how much I’d been missing him. He wasn’t appalled. He didn’t accuse me of being a perverted nymphomaniac. He was flattered, as in “Aw Sweetheart, I miss you too.”

  131. Heidi
    October 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Jane–I get how scheduling it makes it a priority, but I wonder if it becomes the kind of priority that cleaning the toilet is. Like you said, folks end up “taking one for the team,” but it seems like–though no one has said it–a partner who’s really not interested could get sick of “taking it” and several posters here have said that they hate feeling like their partner is doing it because they “have to.” I’m not sure how making it obligatory and scheduled fixes that.

  132. JaneNotMyName
    October 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Heidi – I’m pretty sure that where the sexual relationship has completely broken down, a therapist would probably suggest pulling back and trying to establish intimacy on a more basic level. I still like my schedule idea but maybe substitute sitting on the couch kissing for a half hour like you did when you were dating. Maybe do that twice a week for a month. Or if that works, maybe getting in bed together nude but just holding each other and talking with no sexual pressure and no criticism. That’s going to take some patience and restraint, OK maybe only a saint could do that, but it might help establish trust and intimacy again. Maybe take a warm bath together a couple of times a week. As for the potential for “backfire”, well at least you know that you’ve tried some stuff. Worse case scenario is you’re still stuck with a non-responsive spouse but you at least have a little more information. And you’ve started letting your wife know that you are serious.

    Yeah, it makes me wonder if some women have heard that they should be “sexually available” and that means that you are willing to lay flat on your back. As in “you can use my body but I’m not really here.” It seems passive-aggressive. Knowing that your husband doesn’t just want your body, he wants your mind, and your heart, and all of you should be pretty motivating to start making some eye contact and sharing yourself on a deeper level…no pun intended.

  133. JaneNotMyName
    October 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Oh, and about what I said in #130 about confessing to my husband about missing sex was meant to illustrate a point. There was a time when I also saw sex as more of a hassle. If my husband had called me up while he was out of town and told me that he missed my body…insert some more graphic language here….I’d have probably been offended. As in, “Geez, all you think about is sex.” It shows an evolution of how different it is when someone thinks sex is a gift and a privilege. I wouldn’t have said it to him if I thought he’d throw it back in my face or use it against me. He wasn’t disappointed. He didn’t see it as perverted or unhealthy. He was flattered.

  134. October 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I just wanted to quickly comment that having couples “schedule” their sex nights is a common tool used within marriage therapy. For some couples this can be really helpful. Some scoff that it takes away from the spontaneity – but it can actually help many prepare for the mood accordingly. It can also help couples see that this is something important enough to our overall health that a therapist thinks we should schedule it in – such as exercise. I’m assuming it probably can be more helpful coming from a third party than one of the spouses themselves in avoiding feelings of being used, having an agenda, etc. Of course every couple is different and has varying needs, but I just thought I’d support this idea as being a valid one.

  135. Bryan
    March 12, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Wow – glad I’m not the only one. My wife struggles with serious depression which I am sure contributes to the problem. She was quite a bit worse before she found a good combination of medications but she is a really acute case and still suffers to a lesser degree. The suicide thoughts have ended and she can do a lot more around the house – but she still has no interest in sex which is quite common for people that suffer from depression. I would suggest you might explore the possibility that your wife is suffering in some way. So many people have a problem with seeing a psychiatrist because of some perceived stigma. That is so sad since the right medication might make a HUGE difference in her attitude towards life in general and MIGHT help with the whole not being interested in sex thing.

    The issue I struggle with is: what is expected of a Mormon husband in our situation? I must admit I have gone the “rub one off” route more than once knowing full well the church’s stand on it. But they never seem to address exactly what is expected. Men pretty much want to have sex till the day they die – so not having it sucks. Not having it for a long long time sucks even worse. But like you I am feeling kinda stuck. I sincerely believe that kids who have to watch their parents split up get damaged permanently by it. I also believe in the importance of having mom and dad at home. I understand that having them see a loveless marriage is bad, but for my wife and I that is not the case – I love her and she loves me very much. She just suffers from an illness that causes some real issues. I guess I just want to feel like I’m okay taking care of myself. I gotta think it’s better than hookers or more intimate affairs, and to me it is a far better choice than divorce. Or, is it expected that since I am in this situation that I just never enjoy the whole climax thing again. Kinda tough lol.

    • wifeof1motherof2
      May 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      I feel for you and all spouses out there in this situation. When we married I was very sexual but had a hard time fighting off the feeling that what I was doing was icky and that combined with many negative sexual experiences (emotions and frustrations bringing me to tears before I could even “finish the job”) and having two children within the first two years of our marriage while in school (undergraduate and now my husband is in medical school) brought this fast moving train essentially to a hault after the first year and a half of marriage.

      When I thought masturbation was a sin, there were many days when my husband was crabby, I understood why he was crabby but that made me want to have sex with him even less. Four years into our marriage, I started having thoughts come to me such as, maybe masturbation would actually help our marriage. It would surely take the pressure off of me. It would also allow me to revel in relaxation after orgasm instead of feeling like I had to get back up and top him off if I reached that point first.

      But the other part of it that caused me to urge my husband to consider masturbating was his self-loathing. He came down on himself so hard for not controlling his sexual desires well enough to keep it from bothering him. But his desire was natural and his level was natural and would have not been a source of self-loathing if mine had happened to match his. It makes me said to think of all those days he spent despising himself because of his own natural inclinations.

      I came across an article written by an LDS physician and when we individually read it we both had a feeling of peace. I have also been told that the church has not necessarily always held the same position on masturbation. We have both decided that masturbation is acceptable and a great source of frustration in our marriage has disappeared. Now we are in a position to take care of our own needs as the case may be instead of unfairly putting pressure on the other person to take care of the other person’s needs. Besides, I do not think it is psychologically responsible to expect any one to take care of their various needs.

      Anyway, I think this article is powerful:

      • wifeof1motherof2
        May 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm

        “I
        feel it is essential to youth for us to speak out truthfully
        about masturbation. I am grateful for the internet and
        this website so I can speak truthfully as a latter-day
        saint on a subject that I would otherwise receive social
        sanctioning for speaking out on. Perhaps in this forum
        members can truly “bear testimony” without
        fear or feeling a need for social conformity. The following
        is a sincere and truthful account of my masturbation experience
        in the church.

        I
        am an LDS member who faithfully followed church teachings
        all during my youth. My parents were very loving and I
        had an excellent home. I always wanted to “do what
        was right” and had a hard time understanding why
        some other kids didn’t. In my teens, when my buddies
        from church experimented with alcohol etc. I just wasn’t
        interested. I had fun being the designated driver and
        felt I was doing my part protecting them from harm.

        I
        wasn’t self righteous or judgemental, or stuffy
        about it. I just genuinely liked being a caring and healthy
        person and my friends knew I was there for them no matter
        which path they chose. I got good grades, didn’t
        smoke, drink, or swear, and was not unpopular. I was fairly
        popular at school and exemplified church standards. I
        went through the scouting program, served a mission, finished
        college and was married in the temple to a lovely LDS
        girl and now have a beautiful family and a new grandson.
        In short, I could have been a poster child for the church,
        inside and out. No, I wasn’t perfect, but by both
        American and church standards my life genuinely reflected
        successful living of healthy social ideals.

        It
        is important for me to state the above, because I want
        readers to know I am a dedicated, highly self-disciplined,
        and spiritually dedicated person who will follow authority
        in faith. Leaders have my faith and trust until they obviously
        and repeatedly abuse it unrightiously. I am now in my
        50’s and I have learned that the church teaches
        many helpful things, but I have also learned by experience
        that in some areas it has adopted American cultural values
        and unfortunately some leaders speak as men who promote
        their own personal ideals as truths that are frankly damaging
        to members. I believe when this happens it is unintentional.

        Christ
        taught “by their fruits ye shall know them”.
        This is a simple test. It teaches us to follow the words
        of the church leaders in faith and see where they lead.
        Many times their words have steered me right, but sometimes
        their doctrine has hurt me and my loved ones. A wise church
        member will not ask “if the church is true”
        but rather “when are the leaders teachings true”.
        The concept of inner voice or conscience is our way to
        confirm when church leaders are human and fallible. As
        a missionary, I showed the film “Man’s Search
        for Happiness” hundreds of times. It states, “Prove
        all things, hold fast to that which is good. Only if you
        are unafraid of the truth can you find it”. I take
        that as wise counsel.

        I
        have tested the words of church leaders about masturbation
        by following their advice to the letter by being abstinent
        and “worthy”. I have the capacity to be highly
        self disciplined and have lived for periods in my life
        sexually abstinent as taught by the general authorities
        of the church. After using the spiritual tests taught
        by Christ and comparing the spiritual fruits of masturbation
        abstinence to my experience masturbating, my personal
        experience bears testimony that the well meaning advice
        of LDS prophets on masturbation is false and damaging
        to physical, mental, and spiritual health.

        I
        do not state this casually, but with serious and sobering
        experience. I have followed the words of Christ to see
        the fruits of church teachings on masturbation. Masturbation
        abstinence as taught by church leaders only has brought
        me suffering, and feelings of shame.

        When
        I was a little boy I was innocent and had not heard the
        word masturbation. I discovered the joy of having a body.
        I delighted in running, playing, eating yummy food, and
        feeling the warmth of the summer sun on my skin. I loved
        all the wonderful feelings of my body including the beautiful
        ones in my penis. My penis magically got hard all by itself.
        I had no choice but to feel wonderful. Of course I felt
        joyful washing, discovering and touching it.

        As
        I grew and I was attracted to girls, I noticed my penis
        would feel good in response. I naturally associated my
        delicious genital feelings with being in love. I remember
        at age five falling in love with a movie star on TV lamenting
        that I was just a little boy. I wanted to be grown up
        so I could marry her. I had no idea about sexual intercourse,
        but the pleasure of my sexual feelings in my genitals
        instinctively were associated to marriage and love.

        I
        went through all the normal developmental stages of being
        a boy. I had crushes on girls, experimented with shy kissing
        games, and dreamed of becoming a man like my dad. I occasionally
        touched my beautiful penis all through my childhood. I
        had no reason to feel any shame. I loved the wonderful
        feelings I felt. Although I learned to be modest, I associated
        them with being in love and everything good. At
        eight I would dream of girls I liked as I caressed my
        penis in bed at night and drifted off to sleep. I had
        heavenly dreams of love and marriage. When I neared puberty,
        I learned about intercourse, and dreamed of marrying a
        beautiful girl in the temple one day.

        Being
        in love, kissing, intercourse, temple marriage, loving
        kindness were all daydreams I had while lovingly celebrating
        my sexual feelings touching my penis in bed at night.
        I was experiencing a healthy integration of my sexual
        awareness with my spiritual and family values as I masturbated.
        Medicine and psychiatry recognize this as a healthy developmental
        stage toward maturity that young men experience in order
        to prepare for healthy bonding with their wife and future
        family. It is rightly called by some professionals “marriage
        preparation” or “marriage rehearsal play”.
        The term masturbation is popular but is an old one that
        predates developmental psychology.

        Today,
        as a physician, I know the history of masturbation. It
        is no wonder that it has suffered such a bad reputation
        in the past. Prior to 1900, Western medicine believed
        that loss of semen damaged the nervous system and caused
        insanity. Many diseases such as tuberculosis and STD’s
        were falsely attributed to masturbation. By the 1940’s
        we had scientific data that proved all these ideas false.
        This data showed that almost 100% of males report masturbation
        during puberty. This demonstrates that it does not lead
        to a change of sexual orientation, or disease, or anything
        negative, but that it is developmentally appropriate and
        leads primarily to a healthy marriage bond in the majority
        of cases.

        Jesus
        Christ never said anything about masturbation. It was
        not an issue. It is significant that church leaders have
        not claimed or stated they received any “thus saith
        the Lord” revelations on masturbation from God.
        This is obvious since Joseph Smith and scriptures have
        said nothing about it. Church leaders only began talking
        about it in the very late 1800’s when they told
        youth the same false medical information that was popular
        at the time – that it caused insanity.

        A
        few decades later, when that was obviously not the case
        anymore, and everyone knew that the masturbation insanity
        and disease story was false, church leaders adopted the
        new popular socially conservative American moral view
        (the “worldly” view). The church has a continual
        history of mimicking popular conservative public opinion
        when it comes to masturbation.

        This
        behavior should make it pretty obvious that the Lord has
        not revealed the truth of the matter through the church
        leaders otherwise they would have not fallen for any of
        the false tales of “the world” and would have
        revealed the truth. Not only have LDS youth not received
        the truth about masturbation, they have suffered from
        extremely damaged self-worth. They are taught to fight
        against the Lord’s healthy developmental process
        that is only designed to drive them toward healthy marital
        bonding and family life.

        I
        will never forget when a young inexperienced bishop’s
        counselor took it upon himself to come into our Deacons
        Quorum and “warn” us against the horrors of
        masturbation. This lesson was not in the manual. To this
        day, I have no idea why he felt compelled or authorized
        to give us such a lesson.

        I
        was an innocent boy of 12 and president of the quorum.
        I had not fully reached puberty yet and had never ejaculated.
        I did not know what the word “masturbation”
        meant. I soon found out. I sat frozen as he graphically
        described what masturbation was and how it made boys “evil”.
        He told us that sexual sins ranked right next to murder.
        I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Of course I
        knew that it was not alright to be sexual with someone
        besides your wife, but what he was telling me about my
        penis was just the opposite of my own beautiful experiences.
        To me, my penis and the pleasure I derived from stroking
        it while daydreaming of girls I loved and temple marriage
        was holy and special.

        In
        fact it was so holy that the bishop’s counselor’s
        words seemed sacrilegious and completely inappropriate.
        To me masturbation had no negative associations. It was
        a prayer of celebration for love and marriage. My own
        spiritual experiences with masturbation told me that he
        was lying. I knew inside my inner self could not lie to
        my heart and spirit.

        The
        problem was that I was just a 12 year old boy. I was a
        deacon. What did I know compared to the bishopric? He
        was in the bishopric. He was Jesus’ mouthpiece.
        I was Jesus’ servant who held his holy priesthood.
        I loved Jesus and loved to obey him. My own tender testimony
        of love for my masculinity and my desire to marry and
        share love with my wife and family were totally crushed
        beneath the weight of authority. I was now an “evil”
        boy, who had been committing a sin next to murder in seriousness
        all though my innocent childhood. It was horrifying to
        realize I was so evil.

        Today
        I recognize this action by my priesthood leader as spiritual
        and sexual abuse of an innocent child. His authoritarian
        position invalidated my authentic inner spiritual voice.
        In that moment my priesthood leader created clinical neurosis
        in me that I struggled to heal far into my adult life.
        It was unquestionably abusive and damaging.

        The
        tragic irony of this whole situation is that the top leaders
        of the LDS church sincerely want to help the youth be
        sexually healthy and have good marriages. Their failure
        to meet their responsibility to become medically educated
        about masturbation has resulted in one of the great social
        tragedies of Mormonism – unintentional and covert
        sexual and spiritual abuse of the youth.

        Masturbation
        was a hot topic for all us neurotic unintentionally abused
        Mormon boys. We talked amongst ourselves about our struggles
        with abstinence; our successes and ultimate failures.
        We repented over and over in an effort to feel worthy
        through high school, missions, college and into marriage.
        Our self-worth was seriously damaged.

        One
        serious boy I knew told me he “knew he was naturally
        evil” because he tried and tried repenting many
        times over but could not remain totally abstinent. He
        begged God to take away his sexual desire or bless him
        with “wet dreams” like other boys (Even after
        months of abstinence he never had a nocturnal emission
        – his spiritual leaders were ignorant of the medical
        fact that a sizable percentage of males are completely
        incapable of having nocturnal emissions). Since he was
        “naturally evil” he accepted that drinking
        was no worse than masturbation and sadly found some solace
        for his internalized shame in alcohol.

        • wifeof1motherof2
          May 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

          Another
          close friend once in a moment of purging his guilt before
          leaving on his mission confided to me his own unique strategy.
          We lived in a farm community and he decided that since
          he had never heard that sex with animals was sinful he
          was safer to place a stool behind a cow to stand on and
          have sex with it than he was to masturbate. His dad, by
          the way, was our stake president and his uncle was a notable
          apostle. We had never heard of bestiality. He too was
          trying to cope. Today he is a respectable judge, family
          man and priesthood leader in his community.

          As
          church leaders ignore the medical data of science about
          the psychological damage that masturbation abstinence
          causes, they ignorantly perpetuate some of the very things
          they seek to prevent. Youth turn to damaging psychological
          coping strategies to cope with the unbearable internalized
          shame that Mormon leaders create by labeling the healthy
          developmental process of masturbation as “evil”
          and associating it to the concept that “sexual sin
          is next to murder” (Such generalization without
          qualification is irresponsible by church leaders. There
          is an obvious difference in the social impact of various
          sexual behaviors, for example the extreme difference between
          masturbation and rape).

          A
          tragic wake up call to the General Authorities of the
          church came in 1982 when an Idaho priest Kip Eliason committed
          suicide after deciding he was “unworthy” to
          live because he could be 100% abstinent all the time.
          His Bishop promised him he could. In his suicide note
          to his dad he said he hated himself for not being able
          to conquer this “sin” and could not stand
          to live any longer. Kip was a 4.0 student, Eagle Scout
          candidate, school track star and held up by his teachers
          at church and school as an ideal youth.

          He
          was the consummate Mormon boy who was dedicated to Christ
          far beyond the commitment of most boys. His innocent blood
          cries out as a testimony against the false Mormon teachings
          about masturbation. Unbelievably, even as one of Mormondom’s
          finest priesthood youth lay dead before their own eyes,
          church leaders have not ended the abusive masturbation
          “worthiness” interviews that were unquestionably
          the direct cause of this innocent 16 year old priest’s
          death. I suggest you read the case report, examine the
          evidence yourself, and then put the question to Christ’s
          test:”By their fruits ye shall know them”.
          You can find the article published online on several websites
          by searching under Kip Eliason’s name.

          After
          serving many years in the church in various callings,
          today I have healed from most of the spiritual abuse caused
          by my priesthood leaders being influenced by false masturbation
          ideas of “the world”. It took a lot of personal
          spiritual growth, prayer and study to separate out what
          were healthy true principles that are mixed with the false
          social concepts in the church. My medical schooling has
          shown me empirical proof that masturbation is not an “evil”
          behavior.

          There
          is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that masturbation
          results in any physical, psychological, spiritual damage
          or unhealthiness. Some Mormons leaders falsely equate
          feelings of guilt with “loss of the spirit”.
          These feelings actually are psychological responses that
          result from leaders “promising” individuals
          they will feel guilty. This is not the “loss of
          spirit” it merely is a psychological self-fulfilling
          prophecy caused by internalized shame. I have treated
          numerous individuals suffering from church caused masturbation
          shame. Their spiritual feelings return when their neurotic
          shame is healed. These patents report they masturbate
          and feel more psychologically and spiritually healthy
          than they did before.

          I
          want to tell anyone struggling with this issue to remember
          your joyful innocent God given feelings that you knew
          while masturbating as a child, before you were told it
          was “bad”. Why would God give you the natural
          desire to masturbate if it were not good for your development
          and serve to prepare you for marriage? It is part of his
          plan to prepare you for bonding with the one you love.
          As a missionary I had many investigators, members, and
          priesthood leaders tell me they felt the spirit of God
          in me on days I had masturbated. I struggled like most
          Elders to be abstinent, and was most of the time, but
          my priesthood leaders acknowledged God’s spirit
          the same on “masturbation days” as “abstinent
          days.” The same held true in all my church callings.
          Since my priesthood leaders acknowledged that the spirit
          was with me, this was a further witness to me that masturbation
          did not cause spiritual damage.

          Today
          we also know that masturbation is vital to health. New
          medical studies verify the importance of masturbation
          to health. Masturbation prevents prostate cancer, and
          keeps the reproductive system strong and healthy. There
          is an overwhelming body of data that demonstrates that
          individuals who are abstinent from masturbation are at
          greater risk for cancer, youth suicide, depression, psychological
          dysfunction, and marital problems.

          A
          final word, I suggest to you that masturbation can be
          a spiritual celebration, and that God absolutely approves
          of masturbation. I testify that I have experienced some
          of my most spiritual moments while masturbating as a child
          and also as a man. I have felt God’s presence and
          spirit with me as I have thanked him for the great gift
          of sexuality while masturbating, and while daydreaming
          of how much I love and am attracted to my beautiful wife.

          Masturbation
          helped my wife learn how her body can experience orgasm.
          Women do not have an automatic orgasmic response like
          men do. Many women who have marital problems solve them
          through masturbation as a therapeutic exercise. My wife’s
          ability to orgasm has increased our bond and capacity
          to love one another. In this way masturbation contributes
          to LDS family values by enriching marriage (LDS leaders
          have acknowledged repeatedly that a large percentage of
          LDS divorces are based on sexual unhappiness).

          I
          have felt God’s spirit with me more, while masturbating
          with love, than in any church or temple. I was experiencing
          God dwelling in my temple, and approving of my sexuality.
          Masturbating with loving intention is a prayer of gratitude
          and celebration of life.

          • wifeof1motherof2
            May 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

            Sorry for the crappy pasting.

          • Bs
            May 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

            Hmmm, I may agree with him in some areas, but really?? I don’t believe this, lol:

            “When I neared puberty,

            I learned about intercourse, and dreamed of marrying a

            beautiful girl in the temple one day.”

            Ya RIGHT he was dreaming of being married in the temple at these times! Unless it was just the beginning of the dream which led to the wedding NIGHT.

  136. Bryan
    March 12, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Wow – glad I’m not the only one. My wife struggles with serious depression which I am sure contributes to the problem. She was quite a bit worse before she found a good combination of medications but she is a really acute case and still suffers to a lesser degree. The suicide thoughts have ended and she can do a lot more around the house – but she still has no interest in sex which is quite common for people that suffer from depression. I would suggest you might explore the possibility that your wife is suffering in some way. So many people have a problem with seeing a psychiatrist because of some perceived stigma. That is so sad since the right medication might make a HUGE difference in her attitude towards life in general and MIGHT help with the whole not being interested in sex thing.

    The issue I struggle with is: what is expected of a Mormon husband in our situation? I must admit I have gone the “rub one off” route more than once knowing full well the church’s stand on it. But they never seem to address exactly what is expected. Men pretty much want to have sex till the day they die – so not having it sucks. Not having it for a long long time sucks even worse. But like you I am feeling kinda stuck. I sincerely believe that kids who have to watch their parents split up get damaged permanently by it. I also believe in the importance of having mom and dad at home. I understand that having them see a loveless marriage is bad, but for my wife and I that is not the case – I love her and she loves me very much. She just suffers from an illness that causes some real issues. I guess I just want to feel like I’m okay taking care of myself. I gotta think it’s better than hookers or more intimate affairs, and to me it is a far better choice than divorce. Or, is it expected that since I am in this situation that I just never enjoy the whole climax thing again. Kinda tough lol.

  137. Jimmycaljr
    April 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Relating in AZ. I am amazed at some of the articles I’ve read on this topic of the lack of sex in marriages. One wife complained that her husband was using pornography and used the excuse that he did not get enough sex, her question was, “What can I do?” Unbelievable!!!!!! I have spoken to my wife about my problems with the lack of sex, especially that initiated by her, and the impact it has had on our marriage and on myself. She admits she has not been taking care of me and apologized yet I am still in the same fix, things have not improved. I went to her, at the urging of my Bishop, and told her about my masturbation and use of pornography. I had great hopes that these admissions of sin and infidelity would spur her on to help me in this marriage, no such luck.

    I am very troubled that I cannot take my wife to the Temple regularly now, and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. I think the position that an individual can marry and expect fidelity (in all ways) from a spouse who is neglected sexually (especially if that spouse is a man) is quite ridiculous and I am glad that you have acknowledged that in your response to this man’s problem.

    • J.T.
      May 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

      So….. women have to sleep with their husbands, want to or not, regularly because men “have needs?” What about women’s needs? Is it possible your wives have sexual desires too, never explored? Are they really getting what they need out of sex? Are you being sympathetic to them? If they honestly don’t like sex, then why would you want to force them to have it with you? That’s abusive and can lead to emotional damage. They shouldn’t be having sex just to please their husbands. Sex is an emotional thing and to do it just to please someone else is going to cause emotional trauma and is not going to make them like sex any more. Instead, I think it’s ok to address your own sexual needs with some pornography and masturbation while you work on improving your sex life with your wife. Try therapy, for one thing, to get to the root of why she doesn’t want this. Don’t make it all about pleasing you. Many mormon women have been taught sex is bad for so long it’s hard for them to open up to enjoying that even after marriage, because their sexual growth has been damaged. Women need to learn it is ok to feel sexual and have sexual thoughts. It might be good for wives to explore masturbation so that she can start learning how to feel and think sexually without the pressure of doing it for you. Once she can accept her own sexual feelings she’ll be more likely to want to express them with you, especially if you take some time to focus on her pleasure, and not just your own. But don’t go there until after therapy and extensive discussion. That is my advice.

      • Jimmycaljr
        January 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

        If a wife does not want to have sex with her husband she needs to find a way to, and vice versa.  The abuse is in marrying someone and not being there for them.  Certainly the needs of both husband and wife should be met, in my case its the husband, okee doekee…
        Compassion for either my wife or myself is appropriate, her in her lack of desire, me in my unmet need for touching and sex.  I should not be misread to conclude that I’m not interested in pleasing my wife, I’m all about that.  The problem is she isn’t trying, yes, blame, on her.
        Therapy holds promise for those who desire to invest energy and time, it takes two though.

    • Bs
      May 8, 2011 at 1:45 am

      Um, she never ONCE even insinuated that expecting fidelity in a sexless marraige is unreasonable. Divorce? Sure. But cheating? Um, no. Nice try.

      • JarJar
        December 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Here are people just trying to share their feelings, their pain and rather than being there for them, rather than espousing the natures of the person you claim to follow, you choose to judge and chastise them.
        Do you even get that it is these kinds of attitudes that are causing your marriges and other relationships to fail (divorce not being the only type of failure)?

  138. Blevenfn
    May 9, 2011 at 7:20 am

    My husband and I enjoyed a healthy and imaginative sex life. After a few years and children later, he began to withdraw from me. Because I knew his sex drive was stronger than once a month, I began to suspect masturbation. I figured he was viewing porn along with masturbation and I was right. I found evidence on his computer of porn and dating sites. After a few months of this behavior I told him if I found traces of pornography on our computer, I would divorce him. Although he continued to deny masturbating and viewing porn, he agreed pornography should not be in our home. I have never found traces of it again on our computers, and I check. I also have a computer repair company check once or twice a year.

    Finally, years into our marriage, during yet another one of our arguments about sex, he admitted to all of it. He admitted he masturbated several times a week. So, here I was, faced with him finally being honest. At last I had validation to all of my suspicions. I cried, not due to shock or anger, but because I was totally relieved. I knew it all along and he lied about it.

    During this conversation we admitted our frustration with our lack of a sex life. He tried to be open about what led him to masturbation and he admitted it was easier to do that than come to me when there was so much distance between us. He asked me if I had ever masturbated. I admitted I had done it, but that it wasn’t a habit and I didn’t enjoy emotionless and singular sex. I did not grow up in the church, so I didn’t have the religious hang ups regarding masturbation. I just knew it kept us from being close. I knew we couldn’t maintain a full and complete relationship without some form of intimate touching.

    For us, in our marriage, masturbation does not work. It almost destroyed us. I want to emphasize I am not against masturbation in some circumstances, such as having a mentally ill spouse; a physically incapable spouse; and an absent spouse. I believe masturbation in these circumstances is justifiable and preferable. In a case like mine where both spouses wanted and needed it, but one withheld it for whatever reasons, I consider this abuse.

    Although I believe he had intimacy issues, possibly due to his childhood, I told him it was his choice to masturbate. I told him not to blame his habit on his past. It is not fair for somebody to develop a terrible habit and have some excuse that justifies his behavior. We all have the freedom of choice and being honest about the choices we make is part of maturation

    Since this conversation, we have tried to have sex at least 2-3 times a week. Which is similar to what we had prior his habit of masturbation forming. I realize I don’t have as strong of a sex drive as he does at times, and that is where I believe creativity and compassion come to play. I would rather find alternative ways to help him when I am not interested in sex than to ever go back to the days where he would masturbate and pull away from me emotionally, mentally, and physically.

    We have a long road ahead of us regarding getting our relationship on track, but I believe honesty and openness are the only way we will make it.

    One last thing. I have a wonderful mentor in the church who always emphasized our sex lives are private, totally private from the church. I don’t have to tell anybody in the church anything about my intimate sex life. I don’t think any bishop or stake president has any right to ask. I am not sure what they ask pre-missionaries prior to their missions, but I don’t think they should be allowed to ask about masturbation at all. I honestly couldn’t imagine a young man making it into his twenties without masturbating. My hope for theses young people is they can put all the energy of fantasy and masturbation they experienced as youth into being loving, sensual, and well rounded partners to their spouses.

    By the way, we are both physically healthy. The masturbation issues never came about due to either one of us being ashamed, embarrassed or insecure about our bodies.

    • Anonymous
      May 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

      Wonderful post. Thanks so much for sharing, Blevenfn.

      Truly

    • SadDad
      January 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Wow! While I agree with everything you said, your experiences are not in touch with the general problems being discussed above. You and your husband have the blessing of sexual intimacy. His porn and masturbation addiction could be helped and you do not have a sexless marriage. You have “sex 2-3 times a week…” and you believe in creativity and compassion. Most people on this site sound like me. My wife would just assume never have sex again. It is not that I have not been sensitive to her needs, she simply does not have any sexual needs. She feels guilt because she knows that I am going without and I feel guilt for asking because she has made it clear that there is no interest whatsoever. I feel like I have two choices. Celibacy, which makes me angry and crabby and ultimately affects both of our moods OR masturbation which makes me feel guilty but allows us to be pleasant with each other. I really don’t think you understand the predicament of many on this site. My wife has offered to have sex twice in the last year, only out of guilt, and then only lays there. I am aware of all of the popular advice on the subject. “some women just want to snuggle and kiss without the expectation of sex, etc….” But my wife would actually rather lay there while I “:masturbate” on her rather than kiss me. She has not given me a passionate kiss in over 16 years. When I have “had sex on her” she turns her face so I cannot kiss her and constantly pushes my hands away from her body parts. My wife also shows no intimacy with our children whom she refuses to hug, kiss, tickle or touch. You have no idea what a sexless marriage feels like!. Divorce is not an option. My sexless marriage affects my self worth, my motivation to get up in the morning, my mood, my health, my job, etc. Most people see me as a very happy person, and I am! I have a a wonderful family and am very blessed with four kids and a spouse who works hard to keep a clean house, etc. I also do not believe that it is any business of my church leaders and if I did get them involved, it will most likely make my wife more distant. So, in conclusion. The best LDS cure – Don’t have any physical intimacy and DO NOT ask or mention it. If I do this, my wife is happier, which means that we are happier, and all is bliss in Zion…I guess.

  139. valkirisong
    May 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

     My husband and I enjoy a good sexual relationship, but he has had to approach me several times over the last few years especially to be honest about his wants and needs.  I believe that for him, it’s not just sexual, but that he needs physical touch to feel loved.  As a result, I have made it a personal project to learn about sexuality.

    What a world of knowledge is out there!  What a universe I found, and new depths of companionship.  As a woman in a very penis-oriented culture, in a church where “having sex” is defined as “penetration”, I had no idea about my capacities, structures, and functions until trying masterbation.  I think it is important especially for women who are convex and don’t view or interact with their sex organs every time they pee, not to let the penis define their sexual experience. Women themselves should own it, and masterbation is the only way to really understand yourself not in reference to another’s sexuality.

    • blevenfn
      May 23, 2011 at 6:26 am

      First, I think you mean women are concave or you mean women are not convex.  Just for clarification. 

      I am wondering if you are saying you never had an orgasm during intercourse prior to masturbation  If so, it sounds like you may not have explored your sexuality with your spouse. 

      I was pretty young and totally inexperienced when I got married.  We had and still do have an enormous amount of fun exploring each others bodies in bed (or out of bed).  I have masturbated, he has masturbated, we have done this together, but it isn’t as fulfilling as being with my partner and allowing the intimacy of touch to wash over us as we trust and explore each other. 

      Masturbation may be a way to get to know the things you like, regarding reaching an orgasm, but it can’t replace all of the wonderful things that happen before, during, and after the main event.  There is so much more to sexuality than the final result.  You say masturbation is the only way to really understand yourself regarding your personal individual sexuality.  Maybe so, if your focus is on the end result.  I believe any male or female who is married and would rather masturbate than go to their partner is missing out on growth, love, trust, intimacy, fun, and a full and complete sexual life. 

      My husband and I have changed over the years and so have our sexual needs and desires.  It is something we talk about.  Not daily or weekly, but enough to keep in tune with each other.  Talking this way, sharing these intimate details, takes and builds trust and confidence.  It wasn’t easy at first to say what I wanted from him sexually, but as we grew together, I had to realize he couldn’t read my mind.  He had a much easier time telling me what he liked.

      We went down the masturbation road.  It eventually led to isolation and anger.  I sincerely believe exploring those mind blowing moments with your spouse will benefit your marriage much more than masturbation will. 

      Good luck to you. 

  140. thegirlwithamask
    September 20, 2011 at 3:29 am

    That’s very sad,  I’m a mormon who doesn’t have the ideal life or the perfect morman family. My parents were unhappily married for 26 years and are polar opposites of each other. My mom is a member of the church and my dad is baptist and never goes to church and he doesn’t have a job.

     I had struggles with my faith being mormon when I was a teenager and with other kids teasing me about my beliefs. My mother hardly went to church so eventually I became inactive and tried other churches, it wasn’t  the same. I read the scriptures daily and prayed often, I felt sad that my life was far from perfect and I felt incomplete.

    After an incident of being taken advantage of when I was 15 or 16 by a family member and being blamed for it I wanted to die all the time and forget about whatever happened to me. I felt unclean and broken and I thought what was the use of trying anymore to be good?

     I felt I was living a lie of trying to be perfect and I ended up choosing the wrong paths. I found a boyfriend in college who was a horrible influence and he delt drugs. I thought I was in love and I thought I can change him.

    I also made the mistake of moving out and having sex with him because I thought we were meant to be. He got me to try pot and it was stupid, I never liked it and I broke up with him after a year and a half because he was abusive and would threaten me and I knew I made a horrible decision.

    I lost out on a year of my education and moved back in my parents house. I am active in the church and I want to learn more about the gossiple and make the right choices.

    I know I’m not perfect and far from it, physical love will never amount to true love and love with in the church and from Heavenly Father.  I felt used when I had sex and luckily I don’t have a disease!!! I want to cry all the time because I feel like an object and I been ruined since I was 16 and now I’m more ruined since I made a mistake. 

    I don’t know what I will say to my life time partner when he wants to marry me or if I could find a mormon who will accept me because my family and my life. I’m only 21 and I will be moving to Utah next spring for school.

    As far as this article goes, I’m against masturbation and I think love is more than sex and pleasure causes pain and can lead to sin. I believe when people are married, they should have sex and enjoy each other and also use it to produce children.

    Women might have problems like pain, feel used  when men get to into it or battle with other issues that make sex uncomfortable. Women want to be feeled loved at all times and are emotional beings so its hard. 

    I can never be the same or will be the same because I’m emotionally scarred. I truly wish the best for all of you readers and also guy with the original post. I would reccommend more time talking to each other and seeing a counsellor also doing fun activities and going on dates :) It’s hard to say, but do hope things will work out.

  141. 53inarizona
    February 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I made the mistake of having sex with my wife before we were went through the temple. She approached me as being concerned that I would not forgive her for having had sex several times before we started courting. I let down my guard and had sex with her to show her I cared and would not walk away. The result was an STD from her previous partner. We got that cleared up, and got married in the temple without proper confessions. My honeymoon was a fiasco, with little sex and much anguish. Sex in the marriage ebbed and flowed, not happening very often, and always only happening after much discussion and something happening as a milestone in the marriage that suddenly made my wife happy (moving from our first apartment, buying a home, etc.). This burst would last a short while and then sex would come to a halt again.

    After having a good and kind doctor declare that pregnancy would probably not occur, we discussed adoption through LDS Family Services. We got certified to adopt, got an idea of the time table (about a year wait at that time), and attended several meetings with our case worker. The day came and we got the call…a stellar event in my life, in spite of the sexless/loveless marriage. But it turns out that my wife was having a lengthy affair with her boss at the time our daughter came, a man twice her age. This did not come out until five years later, during yet another discussion about sex and the lack of it. We had been blessed with another child, a son. It was interesting, our bishop had come to our home the night before both calls came, to check on our well being and to check on a short lapse in activity by my wife. I am sure he knew something was wrong, but either was very inspired or just let things ride. If he had known of my wife’s infidelity I am sure there would have been no adoptions happening.

    I believed that children would soften her heart and make at least some intimacy happen, but I once again was wrong. I thought prayer and serving in callings and working extra jobs and…that everything would make her at least approachable. But it has not happened. I purchased a vibrator to help with orgasm. She used it to masturbate with regularly and excluded me from that. I convinced her to let me perform oral sex on her, and that lasted a while (up until the time she had the affair). I made a decision that I would abide by the promise that I made in the temple about our sealing, and I have stood by that commitment. My 31st anniversary is coming up and my kids are 20 and 24. They have grown up with little affection from my wife and zero affection between their parents. During this time I have enjoyed being a father, but I feel very sorry for not being able to show a normal marital relationship to them. I laugh somewhat at the thought of a celestial marriage. I do not even know if you would call it telestial. I will stay with my wife and will be her partner, her friend, her husband. She is advancing through the stages of MS and menopause. I wait on her hand and foot because I love her. She is the mother of our children. But, she has never been my lover, and the thought of eternity with that in the mix…it seems tedious at best. 

  142. March 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

    My husband and I only had sex once, that was on our wedding night 45 years ago. My entire life has been loveless, no communication or togetherness. Right from the beginning my husband hated sex, he said it was a waste of energy,time, a horrible experience with no excitement and it was digusting and messy. I asked why we got married, and got an answer I didn’t expect, he wanted to try it out and he didn’t like it. We live in the same house I have the upstairs and he the basement. We said the i do’s and for better or worse, so I’ve been stuck, he doesn’t care for me or what I do.Were retired now and he has a decent pension and good medical care, so I stay here for the benefits. But I can’t wait some day it will be all over.  

  143. Hankerin'
    May 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    My wife and I long enjoyed a good and wonderful intimate relationship. A few years ago, though, as my wife started entering menopause, all that changed. In the last year or two, she has told me more than once that she now could live without sex for the rest of her life and not mind it at all.

    I told her that my case is just the opposite. Without physical intimacy in a marriage, there is hardly a marriage worth having. I am in my late 50′s, she in her early 50′s. For some time, she would simply lay there as I lovingly did with her as I have for years. (Yes, we have ‘mixed it up’ at times to make it more exciting and different. So I know it isn’t necessarily a matter of ‘same old thing’). But, as one person posting above put it in regards to his sexless marriage, she would just lay there, waiting for it to be over. And, that is not true ‘sex’. That is using a spouse to masturbate in!

    I told her as much. I told her that I needed her to enjoy the experience too, or it was still a largely sexless act, in which one party tries to satisfy themself, but the other is acting like a big sex toy. Since then, she has acted more interested. We only have it about twice a week (if that). Because she told me a year or two ago, she didn’t want to do it as often anymore. No more often than every 3rd day. (Two has long been standard, and better, for me).

    I have a health condition which is making it harder for me to ‘perform’. But she now (again) ‘helps’. She had surgery that has prevented her being in a position preferred by me for most of the past year. So, it is harder for me to reach climax. But without that, intimacy can become extremely frustrating.

    My wife is very patient with me. I thank her for that, knowing she would rather go to sleep (otherwise) at night, or get up and get dressed and get going on the day (if it is morning). And, I’m not sure if she has changed as much due to what I have said, or due to her setting her frustrations toward me aside, and just enjoying the journey.

    I know that she must enjoy it, since I always bring up up (manually) and bring her to orgasm once, sometimes two and three times before I enter. But I’ve done this for years.

    She pulls my leg and caresses me again while we are doing it. This is a delightful change for the better. We have had problems with declining income for years. And I think that much is tied in with that. If I made a million  a year, she’d be all over me (much more).

    I’m sure my wife would never see herself as a money grubber. But, I can say that while “money can(not) buy you anything”, the lack of it can ‘buy’ one difficulty, and less spousal arousal!

    I have worked as hard in recent years as I ever did. We have a lot of children (close to 10). Only a few are still at home. Their lives have, to this point, all worked out well overall. All are temple married. They each have their struggles, but all seem to being doing reasonably well.

    And the few left at home are also doing reasonably well. No major problems we are aware of among any of them.

    But the fact that my wife returns my desire for intimacy by showing a seemingly genuine interest in it, while we are engaged in it, and not a “rushed” “let’s get this over with” attitude, it has improved greatly in just the past few months!

    The scriptures say, “God loveth a cheerful giver”. And, I would add, so does a spouse! Is it not the give and take in sexual intimacy between a husband and wife that truly makes it so wonderful and exciting? When both are active agents, and one is not merely allowing him or herself, as it were, to be “acted upon”, like a lump of disinterested matter, then we are closer to being and becoming truly “equal partners”.

    When I am inside my wife, and she helps by pulling my one leg up, so I can penetrate inside her deeper and easier, it is very much appreciated.

    Even when she would tell me before she could go (for years and years) without sex and be non-negatived, I didn’t fully believe her. You know the sound both people and animals make when they swallow a little more saliva, as they anticipate receiving something they want (a natural ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ response?). My wife would almost always do that as I began to pleasure her. 

    I never expected a date to “put out” because I bought a meal for her or any such thing. I do not forcibly think so should be necessarily so, in marriage. However, some consideration for one’s demonstrated love as shown in acts of support, including ongoing efforts to provide for the family, should be acknowledged often enough from one spouse to another in a general quasi quid pro quo, demonstrated usually in the bedroom in private.

    If men in Captain Moroni’s day were stirred to service “for (their) wives”, putting their lives on the line, and enduring difficulties in a self-sacrificial way, don’t you think wives would/should return the favor showing ‘favors’ for favors rendered to them? Would these men do it, if they “got none”, as one former female neighbor of mine put it once?

    Men work, in my experience, seldom with a word of thanks from a spouse (though actions and words to her are profusely thankful in the other direction). Are husbands only to do this to their wives? Is this mostly a one way street? In my experience, it has been (though I’ve both hinted and even frankly brought it up a few times in several decades of marriage)!?! I have said, thousands of times, “I love you SO MUCH!” NEVER, has my wife ever said anything more than “I love you”. She often says that to me after I’ve said the other to her. I honestly sense the unspoken part of that (“I love you” (BUT NOT ‘so much’)!?! Words, like other actions, matter! And yet, I am seeking a genuine statement of feeling, and am afraid that that is what I am getting (in the absence of the words she never says).

    But, again, I am grateful that (FINALLY!) she is (doing unto others as you would have them do to you) in the return of affection I now get and feel when we are ‘making love’!

  144. SM
    October 10, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I am a man and I have a ‘strong’ sex drive so I do understand what a lot of you are going through but masturbation is considered a sin:
    https://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=e6737befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=198bf4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD
    Masturbation is considered by many in the world to be the harmless expression of
    an instinctive sex drive. Teach your children that the prophets have condemned
    it as a sin throughout the ages and that they can choose not to do it.
    Throughout childhood, boys and girls have touched their own genitals frequently
    to wash and to dress. This is a behavior that usually has the same meaning as
    keeping one’s feet warm in the winter, enjoying a swim on a hot day, or
    scratching an itch. We ought to be friendly to our bodies and appreciate the
    body’s marvelous range of senses. This innocent touching is not the kind of
    behavior warned against by prophets through the ages. The sin of masturbation
    occurs when a person stimulates his or her own sex organs for the purpose of
    sexual arousal. It is a perversion of the body’s passions. When we pervert these
    passions and intentionally use them for selfish, immoral purposes, we become
    carnal.

    Masturbation is not physically necessary. There is already a way by which the
    male system relieves excessive spermatic fluid quite regularly through the
    nocturnal emission or wet dream. Monthly menstrual flow expels the female’s egg
    and cleanses the womb. For both sexes, physical or emotional tensions can be
    released by vigorous activity. Thus, in a biological sense, masturbation for
    either gender is not necessary. In a gospel sense, it is a sin: “Masturbation, a
    rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord nor of His Church
    regardless of what may have been said by others whose ‘norms’ are lower.
    Latter-day Saints are urged to avoid this practice”

    • Chrissy
      May 16, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Hello, in support of what you are saying, I just wanted to paste a link to an article I read recently about how masturbation affects marriage. It is written by a Roman Catholic who explains how masturbation affects sexuality between partners and explains why it is a sin. I http://couragerc.net/Masturbation.htmlrealize it is not from an LDS author but there are some superb truths to this article that are definitely worth reading…

      http://couragerc.net/Masturbation.html

  145. Jeff
    December 5, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Well, I’m a. High Priest, joined when I was 18, I’m almost 48 and the last time I had sex with my wife was June 24, 2009. Even then she laid there. Well I moved in and out til I was done. It was like making love to a dead fish. What happen? Well we had an active and very good sex life of 1-3 times a week until our family Dr put my wife on Topamax for migraines killing her sex drive. No intercourse and no nothing sense. Instead I get I need to adjust and be sensitive. Then her L4/L5 and L5/S1 acted up very bad. I won’t go to a Church counselor as I’ve been told to fast and pray more. Our two kis are 19 (girl) and 18 (boy) and our boy just got his call to Rome and reports in March 2weeks before he is 19.

    So I could just pick up and go. I won’t do that to my son at this point. To be truthful my wife is my best friend, my companion, and I am more in love with her today then ever. However, she is not, and cannot claim to be my lover anymore. I think my wife fails to comprehend the impact to me and thus to us. Regular and consistent periods of making love binds me to my wife. To see the passion, the wanting you(me) look in her eyes and us orgasming and receiving pleasure from each other lifts the relationship from “friends” to the status of husband and wife. It makes me want to enrich our lives together. To be honest, my drive is a little stronger than hers until the Topamax and the back.

    Now what? I’ve tried to get her into marriage counseling with a professional, she won’t go. I’ve gone and come to realize I can’t live like this anymore. I need to give and be given French kisses. I need to touch, kiss, and lick and suck my lovers female parts. I need intercourse period. As much as I love my wife, I have intimacy needs that yes, are a deal breaker for me. I even found a very nice and appropriate book on sexual positions for bad backs and nope, not interested because she is too private.

    What is next? Get my son on his mission, finish my PhD and get a higher paying job in my field, separate from my wife if there are no meaningful changes on her part ( I’ve offered hand jobs and BJ which we’ve done and nothing) then I will divorce on the hope of finding someone more compatible, knowing the grass isn’t always greener but it’s better than nothing. This isn’t the goal. The goal would be to find real working solutions but hope is fading on my part. Bottom line, I have a 68 year old coworker who is like my Mom to me and is LDS. She was once like my wife and realized she would lose her marriage if she kept with holding intimacy and sex. She said even if I hurt I need to because I love my husband. To this day they still do it twice a week to keep him happy, which she realizes makes her and them happy. Don’t hold back allow the bonding to happen, the love and connection to flow. Have Imasturbated? A few times yes when I couldn’t stand it. That led to a conviction that sex in marriage should never be eliminated but I strive for other releases. I personally don’t think it is a heinous sin, just one to control because it can be addictive and if that happens, there is the problem as one fantasizes about a coworker or a friend etc. That is the first step toward adultery. Better to end the relationship and then date and find a more suitable companion if yours isn’t trying to find solutions, together with you. For me that is the key, are we finding real, workable solutions together, or does sex become our own Berlin Wall to separate us from each other and Satan winning?

  146. LadyVonZetien
    June 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm
  147. Lonely Wife
    January 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    My husband and I have been married for nearly 9 months and have yet to have sex. Our marriage is very strained and at this point I feel like we are just roommates. Before we got married we couldn’t keep our hands off each other– we would hug and kiss and hold hands. Now there is nothing. On our wedding night, and many nights after, my husband could not and still cannot get an erection. We tried everything we could think of. He even went to the doctor to get pills like Viagra to help. They didn’t. I don’t know what to do. I love him, but I know his self-esteem has plummeted. I desperately want to have a sexual relationship with my husband. I want us to be able to have a family. But at this point he is so depressed he doesn’t want to try anymore. I refuse to be in a celibate marriage, but I can’t face the idea of getting a divorce.

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