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How to Manage Relationship Without Sex?


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My wife and I have been together 13 years and married for 8, and we have an 8 month old baby. We are writing this together and will both be reading the comments.

For the first few years sex was fantastic. But then her drive slowly dropped away to almost nothing. There were triggers but at this point they don't really matter. Mine, sadly, has not.

We've tried many things over the years since then. Most didn't help, some made it worse. In the end I called a full stop as sex we weren't both into was not doing either of us any good.

She is now looking into medical advice. It might work. It might not. Couple's therapy is very expensive where we are and not covered by state healthcare. We intend to stay together. So we're looking for advice and ideas on how to manage the relationship from here without sex.

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Germanlearner said:

 we have an 8 month old baby. . But then her drive slowly dropped away to almost nothing. 

We've tried many things over the years since then. Most didn't help, some made it worse. 

She is now looking into medical advice. 

First of all using a jury as free marriage counseling isn't a good idea. It's making it a who's right who's wrong situation. Besides, this is only your account of things.

Do you both work? When did the sex drop off? Are there financial problems? Do you both help around the house and with the childcare?

What, exactly have you tried? What made it worse? The biggest mistake couples make is to try to "spice up" things with porn, toys, open relationships etc.

It seems like there's chronic unresolved conflicts you're both not talking about. How is your health!

Why don't you see a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Get some tests done.

When is the last time you were romantic? Went away for a weekend or out on dates?

Have you let yourself go health grooming or fitness wise?

You're trying to fix and change her, but you need to start with yourself. Ask her why she's turned off by you.

Edited by Wiseman2
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I agree with @Wiseman2

Usually what happens in the bedroom is a reflection of the overall relationship dynamic.

Do you have some unresolved conflicts? Do you go on dates weekly? Do you take enough time off to recharge individually and as a couple?

When do you feel it all started?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Germanlearner said:

But then her drive slowly dropped away to almost nothing. There were triggers but at this point they don't really matter

What are the triggers you guys are talking about? Can you elaborate?

Edit: the triggers do matter.

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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Thanks to Wiseman2 and DarkCh0c0 for the comments. However we are not trying to bring sex back, but figure out how to the relationship should look without it, and how to keep feelings of closeness and prevent its lack pushing us apart.

To answer some questions. The triggers mentioned involved her parents going through a messy breakup and a period of depression. She sought treatment and is a lot better now, but that sort of thing never truly leaves you, you know. That's our best guess as to the reason, but as said we don't think that really matters any more.

We both work, don't have financial problems and both do equal house work and child care. Dates are more like once or twice a month now with the time the baby takes, but this this was going on for many years before that.

Has anyone had experience with successful relationships without sex?

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Germanlearner said:

Has anyone had experience with successful relationships without sex?

 

I think it's usually a, "must."  

Otherwise the couples usually have affair partners to meet that need... like an open relationship marriage, which usually doesn't work out longterm for most people.  You should read some first-hand accounts of what those marriages are like, it is eye-opening and often very dramatic.  Unstable for kids, in my opinion, and you do have kids to consider who will reap the consequences of what you as adults decide.

It's probably best to either try to bring sex back in (regularly) OR divorce and move on so you're not creating an open marriage/unstable environment for kids to be raised in.

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Go to the subreddit r/deadbedrooms and tell me this if this is what you really want.

I also agree with @maritalbliss86. This will have some bad consequences for the kids as they grow up. They'll think you guys are asexual, and might not understand why you don't do it.

I could tell you to cuddle, hug, kiss... But you already know this. There's an elephant in the room that you are trying to push under a rug by pretending "It is cool. We both want this... But we dont know how". If you did want this, you'd know how to make it work.

I would definitely in your case then suggest a couple's therapist...  Or a book.

I Hope you are not staying with each other out of familiarity, fears or convenience for the baby. That'll do you all more damage than good.

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2 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

Has anyone had experience with successful relationships without sex?

Define "successful."

You can live like best friends, sure, because that's essentially what you have here. But will that fulfill your needs in the long run? Probably not. As humans, we tend to want intimate connections with our partners. The absence of sex will more than likely take a toll in the end. 

 

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2 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

Has anyone had experience with successful relationships without sex?

I would think there are all kinds of arrangements a couple could have. It only matters between the two of you and whether you're in agreement and it's a private agreement within your relationship. No sex, more sex, extramarital sex, any kind of sex or lack thereof would be a topic between a committed couple such as yourselves and no one else's decision or judgment of what is better or worse. 

I'm guessing you're here as you're trying to look for support to see if there are couples like the two of you but it's rare as many couples will lean towards active sex lives, where sex is part of intimacy in a relationship and an opportunity to bond. It's not to say you aren't able to find depth of intimacy in other ways in the way you treat one another, respect one another or trust and work well together. I'm assuming you both are also intimate with kissing and cuddling and in your first post only referring to PIV sex? There are plenty of ways to be emotionally intimate with one another but whether it brings either of you or both of you happiness in the long run is something that is exclusively and privately between the two of you. 

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Women need emotional connection to have feelings for intimacy. Work on getting that emotional connection back. Things like being too busy, dealing with issues, taking care of responsibilities gets in the way of this. A therapist would probably tell you two to start with spending a set amount of time everyday where you shut out the world to just talk..not about issues or life but just talk about things that interest you....intellectual stimulation. Then later move onto intimate touching, like hugs throughout the day, holding hands, soft strokes on the arm, moving onto massage, and hopefully sex etc. Work on one on one quality time, date nights, do things that can bring laughter, give compliments to one another. Do a DIY project together like setting up your outdoor space for summer, something you both can feel accomplishment. All these things combined is to feel good, be feeling good, feeling appreciated, feeling desired. As for your wife it's not only emotional struggle, but most likely a hormonal issue, especially after having a baby. Some women experience some form of depression, plus taking care of baby is exhausting! So seeking some medical advice is a good start for sure, maybe she can find a mommies group for support. Can't change over night but if you stick with a plan, put in effort, things should get better.

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All credit to you for approaching this forum and the issue as a couple. I think this kind of relationship would only work if you had both lost your sex drive. It would be very difficult for a partner who has a high sex drive to give it up forever. I have to agree with others that if you truly want to stay together i think you need to explore the reasons behind your partners lack of sex drive and other issues you may have within your relationship. The other posters have given some excellent advise and avenues to explore for why this is happening and i don't think i could add any further advice on that.

What i would like to say is that as a single female dabbling in dating apps i come across many men who  are looking for casual hookups because they are not getting any at home (i will never sleep with a married man) thought i would add that before people jump to conclusions. i will never be a marriage wrecker. But whether you take that as an inclination that you are not alone in this situation or the fact that many couples find it impossible to commit to a sexless relationship when one person still wants sex (im just highlighting a bit of reality). I also have many men approach me for sex stating that their wives know they are looking for hookups because their wife is not able to give them what they want. (I also dont agree to them either). im just after a normal single guy to date a normal single girl believe it or not. (the dating world is harsh they days haha).

But my point being that rarely does it work and both partners are happy. Its a massive ask to expect someone to go without the love and intimacy that sex brings to a relationship not to mention the pleasure. 

Have you a plan on how you are going to show your partner love and desire?

Also have you a plan on how your partner is going to be able to fulfil his sexual needs?

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11 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

 . . . we are not trying to bring sex back, but figure out how to the relationship should look without it,

 

 

This will not work.  Because of this:

13 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

 . . . her drive slowly dropped away to almost nothing . . . mine, sadly, has not.

 

Frankly it is beyond selfish for one partner in a marriage to unilaterally decide that since THEY don't want sex, the other person's sex life is over too.  

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For you this is a difficult situation because you still have sexual desires. I think if this situation continues, it might make you hate your wife. I’m sorry to say this, but you are trying to go against nature.

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5 hours ago, waffle said:

This will not work.  Because of this:

Frankly it is beyond selfish for one partner in a marriage to unilaterally decide that since THEY don't want sex, the other person's sex life is over too.  

She didn't unilaterally decide, and been willing to keep having sex she wasn't really into.

It was me who decided to stop that (with talking to her of course) because it wasn't working. Mutual enjoyment is important to me, and with that usually missing, it started felling worse than nothing.

Also she is not happy about this and would prefer her drive came back. The reason we're here is we've exhausted nearly every option to do so, and so are now looking into how to make things work without it.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Germanlearner said:

Also she is not happy about this and would prefer her drive came back. The reason we're here is we've exhausted nearly every option to do so, and so are now looking into how to make things work without it.

She should speak with her doctor for better answers and insist on a second or third opinion if she isn’t satisfied or still has questions. Stress, age-related issues (ie menopause, perimenopause, hormones), trauma. Maybe she needs a referral or an appointment with a psychologist. 

Continue building emotional intimacy and from your approach and both of you writing together it already suggests you’re both far more united in mind and spirit than many couples with an active sex life so there’s some irony for you. 

I hope she finds any medical answers she needs and that the both of you continue to grow together. 

Edited by Rose Mosse
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9 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

She didn't unilaterally decide, and been willing to keep having sex she wasn't really into.

It was me who decided to stop that (with talking to her of course) because it wasn't working. Mutual enjoyment is important to me, and with that usually missing, it started felling worse than nothing.

Yes, that's called, "Starfish sex," where the wife just lays there and, "endures," it lol....   

NO normal man would enjoy that.  And women know this.  

So she killed it herself by allowing herself to be a starfish with you.

...

Later on... you may want to grieve this, because it is a death of a kind.  She killed y'all's relationship, and she's not sorry about it.

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9 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

Also she is not happy about this and would prefer her drive came back. The reason we're here is we've exhausted nearly every option to do so, and so are now looking into how to make things work without it.

She needs to go to sex counseling.  

She doesn't *have* to just lay there and impose, "starfish sex," on you.  She's doing it deliberately.  

Even prostitutes or porn actresses understand they can get into it and, "play," and she could do something similar because she'd know you'd enjoy that.  

This is a choice she's making psychologically - to deliberately not let herself enjoy it anymore.

It would take a good sex psychologist to help her find out *why* she's doing this to you though.  So she'd have to be willing to go.  If she isn't willing, then you have your answer right there that at some level, she's punishing you with this.

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9 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

She should speak with her doctor for better answers and insist on a second or third opinion if she isn’t satisfied or still has questions. Stress, age-related issues (ie menopause, perimenopause, hormones), trauma. Maybe she needs a referral or an appointment with a psychologist. 

Continue building emotional intimacy and from your approach and both of you writing together it already suggests you’re both far more united in mind and spirit than many couples with an active sex life so there’s some irony for you. 

I hope she finds any medical answers she needs and that the both of you continue to grow together. 

Yelling at doctors like J Jonah Jameson asking for pictures of Spiderman isn't going to take away our external stressors, much though I might wish it could. Should I be talking to a mental health professional? Sure. I've been looking, getting one who speaks our native language and takes my medical insurance isn't quick.

What we're after for right now is something to at least reduce the amount I'm hurting my husband.

43 minutes ago, maritalbliss86 said:

She needs to go to sex counseling.  

She doesn't *have* to just lay there and impose, "starfish sex," on you.  She's doing it deliberately.  

Even prostitutes or porn actresses understand they can get into it and, "play," and she could do something similar because she'd know you'd enjoy that.  

This is a choice she's making psychologically - to deliberately not let herself enjoy it anymore.

It would take a good sex psychologist to help her find out *why* she's doing this to you though.  So she'd have to be willing to go.  If she isn't willing, then you have your answer right there that at some level, she's punishing you with this.

While I'm happy to have sex "from a place of love", that's not the same thing as sex "from a place of lust", my husband can tell regardless of whether I'm "performing" and it makes him feel unwanted.

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2 minutes ago, Germanlearner said:

our external stressors. I've been looking, getting one who speaks our native language and takes my medical insurance isn't quick.

What we're after for right now is something to at least reduce the amount I'm hurting my husband.

While I'm happy to have sex "from a place of love", that's not the same thing as sex "from a place of lust"

What exactly are these external stressors? Work? Finances? Household and childcare duties?

Your story is quite different than your husband's . You claim you don't like "lustful" sex and that true intimacy and love are missing. You two have relationship problems that you're not addressing and it's manifesting as a sexual problem. 

Your husband claims the sex used to be great but then dropped off. Do you know why? It doesn't sound like you have medical problems, do you?  Or is it resentment about unspoken issues?

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5 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

What exactly are these external stressors? Work? Finances? Household and childcare duties?

Not to post identifying information online, "work", "the house keeps developing major problems including (but not limited to) something that was supposed to be a six-week job starting in mid-January and is still ongoing", "there's a global pandemic".

Quote

Your story is quite different than your husband's . You claim you don't like "lustful" sex and that true intimacy and love are missing. You two have relationship problems that you're not addressing and it's manifesting as a sexual problem. 

I think I'm not expressing myself clearly - I absolutely would not say that true intimacy or love are missing, or that I don't like lustful sex. What I'm trying to say is that, for me, there are two kinds of sex: "lustful" sex and "loving" sex. The former is fickle and comes only when it wants to. The latter is all about love and emotional intimacy and cuddling afterwards (for me) but I'm only doing it because somebody asked me to.

I think a fair analogy is "eating quiche". I used to be really into quiche but then life happened and now I'm not in the mood for it so often. My husband still really likes quiche and would like to be eating it 2-3 times a week. I'm content enough to eat it that often, and I enjoy it well enough when it's in front of me, but I wouldn't have chosen to eat it and my husband can tell.

Quote

Your husband claims the sex used to be great but then dropped off. Do you know why? It doesn't sound like you have medical problems, do you?  Or is it resentment about unspoken issues?

Again, identifying information, but the short answer is "my family imploded spectacularly a year and a half into my undergrad degree". The sex actually got better in a "per occasion" sense after that, but the frequency never recovered from the ongoing stress of depression/sudden financial issues/trying not to fail my degree/then-undiagnosed learning difficulty, and it slowly tapered off. There were some "rallies" when things got better for a while, but they didn't stick, not least because by then we were very much in the dynamic of "I want it less often than it's happening".

There are absolutely things, at this point, that need to be talked through with a shrink. That's why we're not asking y'all "how do we solve our sex life"! We're asking "how do we replace it without nuking our emotional life".

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3 hours ago, Germanlearner said:

That's why we're not asking y'all "how do we solve our sex life"! We're asking "how do we replace it without nuking our emotional life".

I'm not following.  You said "replace" . . . so you're looking for people here to suggest hobbies for you to do instead of sex?  Like when Husband starts feeling frisky you go play 18 holes of golf?

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