Wife Totally Refuses Sex
Q: My wife and I haven't had sex for over five years and before that it was maybe once a year. It all started when our daughter was born 8 1/2 years ago. I truly love my wife with every fiber of my being, but... I need a little something now and then. I get turned down every time I try something. I have cleaned house, cooked meals, bought flowers and candy, done just about everything I can think of except beg. I don't want to cheat on her but enough is enough!! What can I do????
Dr. Susan: Are you telling me that you haven't done anything about this outrageous situation until now? I can't conceive of a halfway healthy marriage between those of childbearing age where one of the parties says no to sex for five years, without a darn good reason, such as the requisite parts are missing or utterly nonfunctional. Even then, there are alternative ways of sharing sensual affection. So what's really going on here? You say you truly love your wife but she stopped responding to you, no matter how helpful and angelic you are toward her. There's a piece missing here. What reasons does she give you? Surely you haven't accepted the "I'm tired" rationale for so many years.
Seriously, she needs a complete physical check-up, for starters. She may have something fixable. She may be deeply depressed. She may be extremely angry at you for something. She may be avoiding you because when you used to make love, it wasn't pleasant for her for some reason. She may not realize how important this is to you. She may just not want to be bothered, and thinks she's "getting away with it." Or maybe she's having an affair!
Don't run off and find someone else quite yet. Beg her to discuss this with you when your daughter is away for the evening and you're both relaxed. Promise her you won't be pressing her for sex right now but you really really love her and want to save your marriage and you MUST know, after all these years, what's making her withhold to this extent. If you can't talk about it without one or both of you getting too wound up, then I'd suggest seeking out a third person -- a therapist -- to talk it over with. While situations like yours aren't unheard of, usually a marriage is clearly dying when the couple haven't gotten cozy for this long. Talk it over. It's time she explained herself.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.