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little to no sex in years


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My wife and I have had a so-so sex life for the last 30 some odd years, which came to a crashing halt when she had a bout with breast cancer 4 years ago. Her chemo forced her through menopause, and the medications she is on are causing no libido, and vaginal dryness. We have recently tried to revive our sex life, and even with lubricants, I feel as though I am hurting her during intercourse and I cannot achieve orgasm. She is not reaching orgasm at all anymore.


I still love her her madly, and desire her even though she has had a mastectomy, reduction and reconstruction surgeries, and is heavily scarred. She has also gained a good deal of weight, thanks to the arimidex. I am, however, very sexually unfulfilled. Even when we had a sex life, she was always the "passive' role....she hardly even touched me, and left it to me to do ALL foreplay--except for a few brief weeks about 10 years ago (I suspect she had an affair at the time, and was feeling guilty, but no matter---if she did, I wish she would again as the sex was great for the few weeks!).


What can I do? I am no spring chicken anymore, and do not desire to leave her and ruin 30 years of friendship and marriage, yet I feel "cheated" out of a sex life. Any time the subject comes up, it tends to lead to an argument.

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Welcome to enotalone. Have the 2 of you ever had professional counseling to address this? I'd imagine there are a bunch of things going on:


*She feels unattractive

*She feels like sex is a "chore"

*She was never the type to feel like it was "ok to ejoy sex/explore sexuality- might have hang-ups about female sexuality in general which can arise from so many sources (family values, religion, her own mother's behavior)


Does she show you ANY intimacy outside of sex? (cuddling, hugging, etc.)


Usually these issues are not so much physical as they are mental. Sure... menopause changes a woman's sex drive, as can medication, or cancer. BUT.....a person's most important sexual organ is their brain. In her mind she is not turned on, has no desire, & might be resentful about something. That is probably why she has shut off everything sexual to do with her body. If you don't get into her mind it may never be resolved. That is why professional counseling might be a good idea.


Any time the subject comes up, it tends to lead to an argument.



It sounds like an objective 3rd party might be able to help your modes of communication.

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Even when we had a sex life, she was always the "passive' role....she hardly even touched me, and left it to me to do ALL foreplay--except for a few brief weeks about 10 years ago (I suspect she had an affair at the time, and was feeling guilty, but no matter---if she did, I wish she would again as the sex was great for the few weeks!).


There maybe issues from the past (as early as childhood) that caused her to be more passive and did not take role when it came to intimacy.


I agree with Bella that professional counseling maybe the best route to not only get those chemistry back but also understand what you two as a couple need to regain intimacy.

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Your wife needed a sexual education, and likely grew up with some prudishness, or bad attitude towards sexual enjoyment. That is hard to undo with all the other issues, but I would say to go to a sex therapist. First, you have to get her to agree. Don't make her do anything she does not want to do, married or not it's illegal, but tell her you want and need a sex life back and see what she is willing to do? Can you teach her to give you a killer hand job?



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I still love her her madly, and desire her even though she has had a mastectomy, reduction and reconstruction surgeries, and is heavily scarred. She has also gained a good deal of weight, thanks to the arimidex.


It's nice to hear that you still love her so much in spite of everything. Really nice

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I do not think she would agree to see a therapist, but I do think that is what we need. I suspected that would be the first advice I would get. I think it is going to take a great deal to get her to counseling, as she just does not seem to care.


She says she would "make herself available to me". That is a direct quote, (romantic, isn't it?) yet she avoids sex like a plaque.


and I would LOVE it if she would give me a hand job....but as I said, she barely touches me.


She is not even open to trying a few different positions...it's either missionary or doggy style...she will not even go on top. She no longer allows me to take her orally--hasn't in many years.


Her mom passed away when she was very young. Her sister seems to be sexually 'normal' (not from my experience, but one of my friends).

Her dad was a bit of a strange one....I think he was a closet queen, as he had many homosexual tendencies.


I never force her to do anything she is not willing to try....but she just is not willing to try!


As far as other affection, she likes me to hug her and kiss her, but rarely in public. I am not a bad looking guy, (I am told) and I keep myself up pretty well. Over the years, I have had a number of girls tell me I am good looking. I have been a faithful husband, and I am still her caregiver, as cancer never seems to end. I am not rich, but I have provided well for the family, though money is tighter now than it's ever been. My major fault, is that I have grown resentful over the years. I was on anti-depressants for the last 4 years, mostly due to her cancer, but I do not take them any more..... I drink beer, but so does she. I do not think it is directly due to me.


I think the only way to get her to go to therapy with me is if we have a full blown fight over it, and we have had them before....it is no fun, and achieves the exact opposite of what I would like to happen........

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You have been so good to her, and supportive ( and she has been to you i'm sure- altho' the mention of an affair must mean she was seeking something else at one stage) - it would be fair if she agreed to see a sex therapist or other.


A question to ask yourself is: if she admitted sex is a chore, she doesnt like sex and would be happy never to have it again. Could you accept this and still want to be together?


Having worked with 1000's of women in the age group 30-60 for over 24 years, I have learned most of those who are married for a long time find sex a chore. Not all but definitely a high percent. It could be the nature of my profession.....lots of thngs - but I do believe it is a common problem even tho' the women love their partners. If you spoke to other men married for a similar length of time I feel they would have the same dilemma.

Not an easy resolved problem.

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I am not sure if she did have an affair, and if it was physical, or emotional....the one time I questioned her about it, she just said she didn't want to talk about it.


Although she never has said that sex is a chore for her, she gives every indication it is. I honestly believe if we never had sex again, she would care less. I HAVE had to accept this, and still want to be with her, but I still desire a love-life.


I get the feeling that sex has been a chore for her as long as we have been together....this is not something that came with time. Often I feel we should have never married, but we have been good friends through thick and thin, and still enjoy each other's company.


She has actually said I should find a girlfriend, but I know where that would end...in divorce court. She gives me the evil eye when I as much as look at another woman.

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She says she would "make herself available to me". That is a direct quote, (romantic, isn't it?) yet she avoids sex like a plaque.



Maybe use this as a reason to go to therapy.


"When you say things like that, it really hurts me. You're my wife and I don't want to have to feel like you are just forcing yourself to be avaliable. It's not just the act of sex I am seeking. I want to feel close to you as a person, not just like you are "available". Clearly something between us has gone wrong. Will you meet me half way and work with me to see if we can change things on both our ends?"


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I get that this is your wife and you love her, you're devoted and you've been married for a very long time. But I also think the situation is a ridiculous. In a way, the cancer is a red herring because the situation existed before (altho it might be worse now).

Sex is important and you shouldn't have to do without. A little incompatibility is one thing but this is a huge gulf. I think you're right that your wife would be happy not to have sex with you again. All of her actions - direct/indirect tell you she doesn't want to have sex - either at all or with you. She knows she's expected to - hence agreeing to make herself available (which is still meant to discourage you with the lack of enthusiasm) and suggesting you get a girlfriend (whether she means it or not, again she's saying I don't want to have sex with you).

Personally, I dont think therapy will work because I'm not convinced your wife wants a solution. I think she should be fair and tell you (1) what she likes and doesn't like - not just what she'll put up with and (2) how often she'd like to have it.

But at the end of the day, I think you have a decision you need to make. I think you want advice on how to stay with you wife and get the sex life from her that you want. This is impossible. It's like trying to get blood from a stone. I think you need to take your wife up on the offer of a girlfriend OR leave her. If your wife was less intractable and this problem was recent, I would suggest you see your wife's side and compromise - eg find out if she'd give you hand jobs or bjs but you're way past that point and even if your wife agreed it would only last a short time until she couldn't stand it. Why put yourself through more sex with someone who doesn't want to have it with you - what a demoralizing blow to your ego. In the end, not wanting sex is your wife's problem. You did create it, stop trying to fix it.[\b] She's the one who should fix it or explain it (eg abuse) but she's not unhappy with the consequences. What you need to figure out is how to get some. Get a girlfriend, like your wife suggested or leave. But I think you should see a therapist on your own to discuss why you're putting up with this.

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I've not been married as long, but have similar issues.


My wife and I have had a bit of a tough marriage and separated at one point. When we did, she pretty much stopped being any sort of sexual person. We did get back together 5-6 months after and we had a short time of activity but we've gone back to nothing. She's even setting me up with friends of her as potential sex partners.


I know that pain.

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My mom always hated sex and did it just because she felt obligated. Then on her twenty-fifth anniversary with my dad, they went away and they made things real romantic ( I think I am scarred for life for hearing her tell me this, but it's a good example to help you). She put temporary tattoos on and let him try to find them all (eeewww, shudder) and did things like that to make it more fun for her and after that she actually enjoys and wants it. Maybe you have to find something that turns her on, something that will help her feel in the mood as well.


Also is her pain being managed well? I have fibromyalgia and although I have an incredibly high sex drive, if I am overdue for the chiropractor and in a lot of pain, I can't seem to get in the mood for much sex either. If she is still having a lot of health issues, that could be why she isn't interested as well, although it sounds like she never had a real high sex drive.


I think it's wonderful that you are still attracted to her with her breasts gone now. It's so wonderful that you have stuck with her through all the difficulties and still love her. I am sorry that she isn't returning that love in a sexual way. Does she at least return it in other ways?


I know she won't see a sex therapist, but what if you took her to a regular counselor to help you get through all the issues of dealing with the cancer and such. Maybe it would help her to get down to the issues that are causing her to feel like she doesn't want sex (perhaps a resentment or not feeling attractive or whatever) or maybe sex will even come up and the regular therapist can help you sort things out.

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The Arimidex is the cause of most of her pain, fatigue, neuropathy, vaginal dryness, hair loss, and dulling the libido. She also takes Cymbalta to help relieve some of the pain, but that too, kills libido. She practices Yoga to help soothe her mind, and lift her spiritually----I joke with her that she is finding inner peace but displaying outer hostility....she has a short fuse, especially in traffic!


She does like to be hugged and kissed, but it's not like we sit and make out...


We both have recently taken up fly fishing, but because of our schedules, have not been able to go out together yet.


As far as a romantic getaway, money is very tight now, and again, our schedules interfere...I work weekends and she works during the week...I do not get paid for time off, and she has limited time available to her....Summer months are better for both if us, as our hours are relaxed a bit then.


I have lived with this situation for many years, well before her cancer, and I am always hopeful that things will work out. I do not want to sacrifice our marriage and relationship just to get my "rocks off". Self-gratification and internet XXX are always there, but not very fulfilling.


For now, I guess things will go on as they were. I am hopeful things will improve when she is taken off of the Arimidex, but that could be 1 to 3 years from now, and we are not getting younger!

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I know this sounds strange, but is she ok with you getting your needs met elsewhere? I have a friend in similar situation. His wife has a lot of medical issues that cause sex to actually be painful for her. She lets him have friends with benefits because she knows that he needs sex. He takes very good care of her. He had devoted his life to caring for her, so she allows him to have this release to thank him for that. Although I know that most women wouldn't be okay with that. I don't even think I could be.

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If my wife was fine with it, and actually introduced her friends to me.....and I was attracted to them, I think I could take the step, but I also think I would want her there, to see what was really going on. Sounds a bit wild, but I think I would need her to see it to actually approve of it. If she could be there and not be torn apart by it, then I would be OK with it. I could not do it without knowing she is good with it...Knowing my wife though, she would introduce me to women she knows I would not be attracted to, and then say she gave me the chance...but this is all hypothetical............


In the meantime, I am grateful she is still alive, and with me, in spite of my frustrations. 4 years ago, I thought I was going to lose her to cancer, as she was Stage 3. I would be lost without her in my life as we are child-hood sweethearts, and I guess I can continue with my frustrations.


I am glad to have found this site to help vent.....I feel a bit better just having somewhere to talk about it. I have very few friends these days, having moved from my home state, leaving all my old buddies behind, the closest of which is now deceased. You never make friends like the old ones.......

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Hey Frustrated,


As hard as it seems, after reading through this thread I'm going to have to suggest finding a different outlet for your sexual needs. I am very glad to see how much you care about your wife, and how much you wish it was her that could take care of you sexually, but as she is demonstrating a strong can't/won't response you have a few choices: abstain and go mad, probably eventually getting so angry and depressed that you leave her in anger, or accept what she has offered (that you find a girlfriend) and go to it. In my particular world, the fact that she is open to it means that it's okay to do, and it sounds like you need it to stay mentally healthy (most people would in your situation).


If you absolutely must, have one more conversation with her in which you tell her that you want her and would prefer to be with her, but since you cannot find a way to do that for each other you're going to accept her offer and find a girlfriend. Reassure her that you're not looking for another wife or anyone to displace her, and that you love her dearly - but that you need this outlet to stay sane, and it will enable you to stay with her. Ask her how much she wants to know about it, and stick to that until and unless one of you feels that you need to renegotiate how much communication there is about it. If she wants to be there, try to figure out whether that will work for you - but if she doesn't, then leave it be. Go find someone you're attracted to and who is attracted to you, be honest about what you're after with them (this is important), and go to it.


Be open and clear, be compassionate to yourself, to your wife, and to your Friend With Benefits, and keep your love alive. I wish you well and hope that the situation works out however is best for you all.


Light and laughter,


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Michele Weiner -Davis wrote a book called "the Sex Starved Marriage"


I would take advantage of her offer to "make herself available to you" as often as possible.


She probably said you should find a girlfriend because she feels bad for you.


This is tough and I wish you luck.


Show her your love in as many ways as you can. Read Gary Chapman's book on the 5 love languages.

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