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 even women) writing in on this similar subject.

We have the responsibility as a spouse to be aware of and take into account the needs of the other. This goes for both men and women. And this 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 any healthy marriage. It is not appropriate from 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 responsibilities 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 affects 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 guys are 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 done a lot of posts on “sexless marriage” and encourage you to go through and read some of those. 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.

  • Steve

    I kind of wonder if the OP's spouse is asexual. I don't know either of these people and asexuality is rare, but if the descriptions of his wife's behavior and attitude are accurate, it sounds like the stories of a few other people I know whose spouses were asexual. A good therapist should be able to identify this.Even then, however, most asexual people still desire love and companionship. Very few asexuals want to be truly left alone, and it isn't fair to sentence those who do want and need these things to a life of loneliness.My prayers are with the OP and his spouse. I hope they can work something out that is beneficial to both.

  • Bonez

    Human touch is vital to our thriving and living well. It sounds like you are going the extra mile, but your wife needs to learn to get into the game too.

  • Walter

    Without knowing more detail about the problem, it's difficult to assess it. However, I will say this. Too many men attempt to consume a steak before first thawing it out. Lovemaking requires a slow hand. My wife really enjoys a full body massage, starting with her toes and ending with her neck. I take as long as she instructs me to. She also likes a vigorous brushing with a large natural bristle brush. Helping her with the housework really turns her on also. True love is not wham bam thank you maam. True love is a willingness to devote whatever amount of time and attention to your wife that is necessary to win her heart each and every day. The book by John Gray, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" is an excellent place to start. My wife and I have been lovers for 43 years.

  • Phillip

    My friend we live in different continents and have different wives but our problems are somewhat similar. I think that this might be like your case but 10 years earlier…I'm 28, so is my wife, we are married for 5 years and after our first born came ,2 years ago, our sex life has become a little bit of what you described. Our relationship isn't as distant, but the way things are going I fear that in the future I will be living in the same circunstance. She gradually stoped most of her intimacies, touches, kisses or anything that could arise any sexual desire because of fear that I would try to have sex with her, and she wont allow me to give her a massage, play with her hair or anything that most women whant their husbands to do. I try very hard to be loving and to show empathy to what she feels but often we argue and fight about sex. 2 years ago we stoped having oral sex (she sais that she never liked it, and if it's up to her we will never do it again), then I noticed that she stoped having orgasms or showing any pleasure with our intimate relationship, and things evolved to her always getting irritated after sex and complain about something. Lately we cannot talk about sex. About 1 year ago I noticed that she would "let me have sex for my own pleasure" once a month or so… Along with that I stated to become very anxious and thinking that I not very good in bed and that's why she doesn't like it, and started to get premature ejaculation and a bad masturbation habit (and I feel awful about the last one) Now we are both avoiding anything to do with sex. My greates fear is that this will get worse with time and our situation may either lead us to divorce or an eternaly unhappy family. I'm always thinking about it, just like described in the posts above! I get pretty annoying about it too!I love her very much, we were or are best friends and I want to think that I love her more than just sex (she sais that…) I want our lives to be normal, I want to grow old and still have a sex life! Most of all I want us to have pleasure with sex like we used to… Please help if your situation changes, let me know and give some light.