I Live in a Sexless Marriage
That’s the name of the support group I joined sometime back in 2017. I had just found it online after searching for some kind of solution to my situation. My marriage had been nearly celibate since day one but I was young and gullible and really believed that if I was patient and did more and tried harder, eventually my wife would snap out of her aversion to sex and finally express some kind of passion or desire for me. She turned me down on our wedding night because she wasn’t in the mood. That was a really big deal to me because I was raised in a conservative religious family and I waited for marriage. Not only that, but before we got married, I stood by her and took care of her through some very serious health issues that lasted almost a year and I waited until she was in full remission before I proposed. I proved my devotion to her and in return she says “maybe some other time” on our wedding night. Our honeymoon was mostly uneventful too. It was 5 days into our 10 day long Hawaiian getaway before she allowed anything to happen and not because she wanted to either. She didn’t feel any kind of passion or desire for me, but felt guilty for depriving me and felt sorry for me. Those were actually the words she used, to me, on our honeymoon. Things did not improve in the years to come.
She told me often that she was too tired so I took on almost all of the housework (I was already doing half because we agreed to split chores equally) so maybe she would have more energy left for me. She filled that free time with Facebook. I didn’t have Facebook back then so I joined as a way to connect with her in some way but it made no difference in her interest level. Nothing I did changed her mind or mood towards me. I’m a very slow learner apparently because it took me almost a decade to realize that was never going to happen. At my lowest point I was so depressed that I thought I must be so ugly that nobody would ever desire me and I should just be grateful she allowed me to live under the same roof. I thought maybe I was a terrible person and deserved to be lonely for the rest of my life. I thought God was punishing me for some unknown wrong and my marriage was my justly earned sentence. I even considered suicide at the bottom of my despair going so far as to gaze fondly every day at the stairwell railing at work that I had selected to hang myself from. Then something in me snapped and I had this sudden feeling that this was all wrong and I didn’t deserve this. I had finally decided that I couldn’t take the loneliness anymore and started to gently push for change.
I tried honest discussions about how lonely I felt but they always ended up in arguments. I wrote her letters so I could get my feelings out on paper without her cutting me off in the middle. She would always say she would try harder but her “effort” was minimal and temporary. I left articles from marriage blogs open on the computer for her but she never read any of them. I bought marriage books for us to read together but she got offended at the implication that I thought our marriage was in trouble (in her mind sex and love are completely separate and sex wasn’t a requirement for a successful marriage). I suggested marriage counseling but she refused to even consider talking about our private problems with a stranger. I began searching the internet for that magical secret trick that would unlock her sexuality and end the drought that had taken place for so long. I slowly came to realize that there was no secret trick and sometimes people just aren’t compatible. It was then that I stopped initiating entirely. There was no point in expressing my needs if the answer was always no. I couldn’t take any more rejection.
I then started searching for ways to inhibit my own sex drive so I could stop wanting what I wasn’t going to get. I tried herbal supplements but they only worked temporarily and that, I suspect, was more of a placebo effect than an actual one. I stopped taking care of my health because men who are in good shape produce more testosterone. I thought if I killed my testosterone then my drive would go away. Did that also risk shortening my life span too? Yes, but I didn’t really care because if I was going to spend my entire life feeling lonely and unloved, then why would I want it to be a long life? It was in this time of searching for ways to cope with involuntary celibacy that I stumbled upon the website iliasm.org and had my eyes opened to the harsh truth of my situation.
Hundreds of people all around the world were dealing with the same issue I was. It was a community where I could share my feelings openly without judgment, ridicule, or shame. Everyone there knew what I was going through because they were living it themselves. My biggest shock was that it wasn’t mostly a group of men, but an equal mix of men and women. The old stereotype is that it’s always the wife rejecting the husband, but there are actually just as many women out there whose husbands refuse to have sex with them. Society doesn’t talk about these things though and people in these situations often feel too ashamed to tell anyone because the refuser is often defended and the refused is blamed for bringing the situation on themselves by “not trying hard enough” or some other such victim-blaming nonsense.
If you’re one of those people stuck in a marriage where the one person who promised to love you forever is denying you the physical connection you need to feel loved, please know that you’re not alone. Our group has members in all stages of life and someone there will help you figure out the right way for you to move forward whether that ends up being reconciliation, divorce, or something else. Every situation is unique and you have to find the way that works for you, but we’re here to support you along the way.