Dear WholeFamily Counselor,
I will be celebrating my 23rd anniversary next month. For the first 10 years we had an exquisite sexual relationship. We connected and it was always great. Then my husband injured his foot and developed severe complications, which lead to many operations and continued problems. He eventually went to a rehab center and they did wonders for him. He came home and sex was again great for a year or so. Then nothing.
Three years ago he fell on the ice and broke his hip. So because of all this, he takes medication for the pain and we have not had sexual relations for about ten years. We occasionally kiss each other and always say we love each other but that's it. I feel like he has given up on this part of our relationship. He is 43 and I'm 41 and I know there must be something more for us.
Dear "There Must Be Something More,"
I agree with you that there must be something more for you, or at least something different. The only problem that you mention regarding your relationship is the lack of sex, which was very good in the first 10 years.
First of all, did you ever talk openly with your husband about this problem? It seems to me that you have accumulated a lot of frustration and anger over the last years.
Several questions come to mind that you may want to ask yourself
- How do you communicate with your husband?
- How open are you towards each other in sharing your thoughts, feelings and problems?
- How do you know that he has given up on your sexual relationship?
- And what about you? How come you have accepted living without sex for the past ten years? Did you try to change this situation? How?
- Are there any objective physical and/or medical limitations to his sexual functioning?
- Do you have answers to any of those questions?
It seems to me that lack of sex for so many years may be a symptom of a deeper problem in your marriage. It may have to do with the whole relationship between you and your husband, especially in the areas of communication and intimacy.
My suggestions to you are:
1. Start talking to your husband about your feelings and listen to what he has to say about his feelings. Both of you need courage and sincerity in order to look back and figure out when the problem started, and why you stopped having sex. To what extent did each of you contribute to this situation? This inquiry should take you beyond the issue of medical problems and physical limitations.
2. Both of you need to decide that it is enough, that you are ready for and want to make a change. You can make a change by identifying your problems as a couple and by understanding what is behind your lack of sex.
I believe that the best way to go through this process is to be helped by a marital therapist. I wish you good luck.
Arlette Simon, MSW