My husband of fifteen years has never had a real high sex drive, which stinks for me because mine is always racing. But within the past two years we have had sex probably ten times. He’s just not interested. To make matters worse I have gained a lot of weight through our marriage. It’s driving me insane. When I try to initiate sex, he rejects me, which thoroughly tears me apart. So needless to say I no longer make advances. He doesn’t make advances, so, in short we never have sex anymore, and it is killing me. I have thought of seeking it other places but, as I said, I have gained a lot of weight so my self-esteem is terrible and the rejection only adds to it. And besides, I really can’t picture myself being intimate with another man.
The Lovers’ Guide replies:
This has obviously become a long-entrenched problem by now. You should certainly expect your husband to desire you a lot more than this. His rejecting you must hurt – and this may well relate to your weight issues. It sounds as if your marriage has been suffocating you, really, and it’s obviously time for change.
The first thing you should do is ask him whether he is prepared to go with you to Relate and discuss with a counsellor your conflicting sexual needs and what other issues may be lurking behind them.
One major thing you can do without his agreement is to give yourself back your self esteem. Why not make it a personal goal to decide to give yourself the figure you want and make yourself attractive in your own eyes? This really can be the straight-forward part – a change of diet, a little exercise – as soon as you’ve decided you want that. This in itself should do much for your sense of self. It can be part of the process by which you claim more independence, which perhaps you’ve let go through your years of marriage; establish and re-claim interests outside of your marriage – and more of a sense of relying on yourself rather than on an unsatisfactory marriage.
If your husband doesn’t like your greater sense of independence and the sudden absence of processed foods, fried foods, sugary foods and carbohydrate-heavy foods, well, that’s tough on him and he knows where the kitchen is.
If we, then, wind the clock forward a month or so, we should find you’re feeling a lot better about yourself already. The idea of sex might seem a little less fraught than perhaps it is at the moment. (You can have been keeping yourself sexually satisfied in part through masturbation as well.)
And you might at this point, if you haven’t already, decide that it’s time to ask yourself and to ask your husband if he is ever going to be prepared to satisfy you sexually. You’ll also want to have a pretty good sense of what you will do if the answer is no.
Perhaps, for example, the new, better-feeling you will at this point quite like the idea of sex with a guy you’ve had a coffee with a few times after the gym. (Tip: choose a health club with a swimming pool, so you’re not buying sight-unseen, and with a trial membership period so you can check out the clientele.) Perhaps you might want to say to your husband: ‘Okay, so you don’t want sex with me? In that case, I suppose you won’t mind if I see other people?’ It’s not an ultimatum; it’s just being honest.
If you do go down this route, you might find your marriage unravels because your feelings change. If it does, then that might be the best thing for you – after all, you’re the one who’ll be going where your feelings take you.
There are other possible outcomes, of course. It might be, for example, that your husband catches on and gives his lifestyle a makeover. His lack of sex drive could be the result of his own long-established patterns of ill-health behaviour – through career-stress, for example, or through his own fat-food diet and sheer indolence. By the by, it’s rare for the man to be the one holding back from sex; overall men have higher sex drives. He might by then, at least, want to try Relate
However you play it, you seem ready to make the decision that this isn’t good enough, that you are going to change and that, in one way or other, sex is to be given the place it deserves in your life.