Wife Doesn’t Seem Interested in Sex… with Me

As for the jealousy, what is she afraid of losing? She's already let go of wanting to have sex with you. Does she have a comfortable lifestyle with you that she doesn't want to give up? Or is she afraid of losing face in front of friends and family? Are you best friends now but couldn't still be friends in separation?

Or is there a sunk cost fallacy going on after 12 years?
All of that, honestly. I'm certainly the bread winner for our family. I'm also a rock for her in a lot of ways when she needs help in life. I don't want to imply she couldn't be self-sufficient. I actually think she's a lot stronger and smarter than she sometimes gives herself credit for. We have 100% built the last 12 years of our life together though. Most of our couples friends are my friends, all of her friends at this point are work friends that are often a lot younger than her.

Should it actually come to divorce, she'd have a much tougher hill to climb than I would.

As for the sunk cost fallacy thing? That's 100% something I'm guilty of, lol. Not just in this area but in plenty other areas of my life. I find it very hard to give up things I feel invested in, even when they've gone south sometimes. I've had that problem with jobs in the past, among other less important things like hobbies and such.

I think I'm definitely going to sit down and have a conversation with her where I bring up the questions kdt26417 is recommending. I imagine that conversation will end with me expressing how serious I am about this and asking her to go to couple's counseling with me. I'm very curious how she'll respond to it. Both of us have been through some therapy before. Mine was very shortlived and it really just helped me deal with the stress of dealing with going back to work in a mid-COVID world (I work in tourism hospitality) while at the same time dealing with some jealousy issues that cropped up early in our arrangement. She was in therapy a good bit longer but used all of her time working out feelings of childhood trauma and parental issues. To my understanding, she never brought up relationship stuff with her therapist at all.

I know she believes in therapy but I get the feeling she'll be defensive about it when it comes to talking relationship stuff and now that I think about it, I'm pretty curious why that is. That being said, none of this will get taken care of without actually talking to her so I will be giving her a chance to respond to all this and I will be getting her input along the way, but I definitely imagine this being the kind of thing we'll need help with.
 
Also, what actions on HER part would help get her in the mood?
This is a great point as well. I've asked before about how I could get her in the mood. The few times I've tried to seriously "woo her" her defensives have gone up pretty quick and she shot my advances down. I pointed this out to her the next time she said "Well, try to get me in the mood" as a defense and she seemed kinda surprised that she had done that but it hasn't changed anything.

I think putting some of the onus back on her will be good.
 
Also, I just want to say thank you to all of you for so strongly emphasizing the importance of sex in a relationship and the fact that I should still have a right to it. I know it sounds silly to say but after struggling with this for this long, I think I really have started to build up some sort of guilt around my sex drive. It's refreshing to be validated.
 
Hey Luke,
I'm glad we have been of help so far. I think you're on the right track.

Now it's true that Laura wasn't out looking for a partner when she found Linda. But it's also true that at no point during this process has Laura ever been starving for sex. So comparing Laura's way of finding a partner, to how you'd try to find a partner, is like comparing apples and oranges. It does not compute.

Just a point I wanted to add,
Kevin T.
 
The only thing I can offer that could be a quick and easy jump start the the necessary conversations is to give Laura the link to this thread. Maybe give Linda the link too just to understand scope and blast radius. Their bubble will be affected.
 
Also, I just want to say thank you to all of you for so strongly emphasizing the importance of sex in a relationship and the fact that I should still have a right to it. I know it sounds silly to say but after struggling with this for this long, I think I really have started to build up some sort of guilt around my sex drive. It's refreshing to be validated.
I'm sorry for coming in late. YES, sex is important in adult romantic relationships! I could see sex slowing down in committed relationships in case of illness, or having a bunch of kids in quick succession, who are very needy, or perhaps one of the kids has a mental or physical issue that takes all the energy the parents have, or perhaps in old age. But in most cases, fairly regular sex is the norm. Most adults have a sex drive. It's basic biology.

She's having sex with her female partner and lying about it to you. Her sex drive is not "lower" that yours. Your previous hot sex life shows this to be a lie. She's not ill or suffering from a debilitating injury. She just prefers sex with her OSO.

I have an ex, a former FWB, with whom I text a couple times a month. We broke up years ago, he got married, they had a kid. The kid is 6 yrs old. They have had sex about 3 times since she was born. His wife gives him the same line: things will improve. She says as the kid gets older her sex drive will improve. LOL. How old does the kid need to get? Unfortunately, my friend loves her, and most things about their life together are great. Shared friends and interests, a house, the kid, etc. Just-- no sex. And I know how strong his sex drive is. I used to satisfy it. He is just extremely afraid of confrontation. He's asked for marriage counseling. She refused. He caved. Back to masturbating! Ugh. I don't know why he settles for this. He might be ashamed... He's one of those guys who has trouble respecting his own emotional and physical needs, I guess.

Don't be that guy.
 
Thanks again for all the encouragement and support. I really do appreciate it.

I’m really aiming at trying to make this relationship work. This is the person I planned on spending the rest of my life with and there’s so much about our life together that I really do love.

That being said, I will make a point to have my needs met and I will be open and honest with myself and her when that’s not happening. If I feel like it’s not getting any better, I’ll be honest about what options I need to take then too.

Since I’m definitely going to be trying counseling before this is all over, do y’all have any resources or recommendations on getting poly-focused marital help?
 
Hi Luke,
Here are a few links I know of for finding poly-friendly counselors:
If you can't find a poly-familiar therapist, but can find an open-minded therapist, ask them to read, "What Psychology Professionals Should Know about Polyamory," a 36-page booklet by Geri Weitzman, Ph.D., Joy Davidson, Ph.D., and Robert A. Phillips, Jr., Ph.D.

Hopefully that helps.
Kevin T.
 
How about just a simpler "Everyone has had a hand in creating this situation. And now we are HERE. And this situation is becoming unsustainable. So something else has to be figured out."

Rather than worrying about who is good or bad?

You've received quite a bit of advice in this thread, and I doubt I have much to add, but I do want to jump in on this comment from GG.

Communication is great, as long as it's constructive communication. You've mentioned that you've had numerous conversations with her about this, you've gotten essentially the same answer every time, and you are gearing up to get more (including getting into counseling). All of that "hashing things out" is good, just so long as we remember that:
  • We are not entitled to anyone taking an action, just because it's what we want them to do
  • We are being counter productive if we are putting blame on someone (including ourselves)
The goal should be to discover everyone's expectations and boundaries. Once you have that information, see where there is natural overlap, and build your new relationship only within that space.
 
Well, we had our first conversation about this last night! I think it went alright. I asked a lot of the questions Kevin and GG mentioned. It went sort of how I expected but I felt like I made a better point to not just accept brushed off answers. She said the was willing to go to counseling to work through whatever is going on.

She did mention something new. When I brought up why she thought we weren’t having sex she told me that PIV (or simulated P in the encounters she’s been having) intercourse has been painful for her. She relayed an example of how, just yesterday morning actually, her and Linda were trying to use some toys and everything was causing her pain regardless of size. She said this ongoing issue has lowered her desire to try PIV intercourse and has made her less engaged with having sex with me.

I empathized with her and encouraged her to see her doctor about that. I let her know though that that didn’t fully explain everything that was going on though. My complaints aren’t that we’re aren’t having a particular type of sex, it’s that out sex life has completely died, in all forms.

She seemed to understand and agreed to try and work with me more. She didn’t have a good answer on how she could do more to revive our sex life but she did suggest I try being more assertive myself and not just rely on her to lead the engagement.

She fell back on the excuse that our sex drives are just different and that sex just wasn’t important to her in a relationship. I politely challenged that and pointed out how important it used to be to us and how it seems to still be important to her and Linda. She did not deny or try to argue that they still seem to have a relatively engaged sex life, whereas ours has withered.

I tried to drive home that it wasn’t so much the act of sex that I was missing as much as it was the intimacy that it brought. I mentioned how without that aspect of our relationship I’ve felt disconnected from her over the last 18 months.

She insisted that we bond and connect in other ways, like watching movies together or playing video games together a month other ways that we sometimes spend quality time together. I pointed out that this wasn’t really the same. First, most of that stuff doesn’t consistently happen, we spend a lot of time just existing in the same vicinity. Secondly, everything she described sounded like a pair of friends, not a pair of lovers.

I let her know that this status of our relationship was unsatisfactory for me and that I wanted us to get back to how things were before, or even better. She insisted that while she is happy with our relationship currently, she understands and accepts that I’m not and she’ll do anything she can to improve that.

I let her know I want to seek counseling together, because this isn’t the first time we’ve come to almost all these same conclusions, and she was very open to doing so.

I don’t really know what this all means for us overall. Maybe some of these issues are irreconcilable but it seems like, at least for now, we’re both open to working on them. So that’s something…
 
You've received quite a bit of advice in this thread, and I doubt I have much to add, but I do want to jump in on this comment from GG.

Communication is great, as long as it's constructive communication. You've mentioned that you've had numerous conversations with her about this, you've gotten essentially the same answer every time, and you are gearing up to get more (including getting into counseling). All of that "hashing things out" is good, just so long as we remember that:
  • We are not entitled to anyone taking an action, just because it's what we want them to do
  • We are being counter productive if we are putting blame on someone (including ourselves)
The goal should be to discover everyone's expectations and boundaries. Once you have that information, see where there is natural overlap, and build your new relationship only within that space.
I was also very insistent on this point, that I wasn’t pointing fingers or blaming. I just wanted to explore what would work for both of us.
 
Hmmm, pain with penetration... Could be early onset of perimenopause, vaginal atrophy, vaginismus, dryness, or some kind of lower GI thing, just off the top of my head. That definitely needs a good looking at.

It sounds like a combination of emotional and physical things are going on. You don't have kids? Are there other stresses in her life or between you two? I hope things become clearer! She's still sounding like she's not really facing the music. Putting the ball in your court! YOU need to be more assertive to get her motor running? It appears from what you've written that you've been assertive (without being a jerk about it) and been rejected over and over again.

People's sex drives can of course, wax and wane. Also, when you're bi or pansexual, your preference for this or that gender at any given time can vary. Start writing a list of your questions and concerns for your therapist interviews. (Your own relationship questions, and questions to ascertain if they are experienced in helping queer/poly folk.) Good luck!
 
I went through similar narrative with my partner Bird. I knew she was bisexual when we met in 2009 however she had never acted on those desires. A Decade later our sex life was fizzling out, Bird spoke of feeling pain and having different sex drives ect.. During that period it was difficult for us to have an honest conversation because I was so distraught about the sexless situation.

Bird fantasized about having sex with another woman however she is very introverted and shy and couldn’t make it happen, so I created an opportunity for that. After Bird was intimate with another woman our sex life crashed and burned. So I probably had some self-hatred in response to that..

I began a relationship with Daisy whose sex drive is like my own. That took the pressure off conversations with Bird and our communication began improving, not immediately but over time. I still mourned the loss of sex with Bird even though my basic desires for sex were fulfilled.

Bird confessed things I found disturbing, like that sex with me had always felt like an obligation. At the time I took that personally. I was angry and insulted. I felt lied to. However, Bird was lying to herself, so it was impossible to be honest with me. And through that realization I think I stopped obsessing about what I lost and replaced those feelings with empathy for what Bird had discovered.

Around that time, I decided to end the marriage contract with Bird because I wanted to do that while we were still on good terms, and I felt change was on the horizon.

It took me years to finally let go, it was not until 2022 that I approached Bird and told her that I want sex to be 100% off the table for us. Maybe it was an overreaction because it had derailed a thousand conversations in the five years prior. I am fulfilled with my sex life with Daisy, and even if that ends I know I can develop new connections. I think the other thing I realized is that Bird and I are never going back in time, we have discovered so much that it is impossible.

Ever since we indefinitely terminated our conversations about sex the sharp tension that burdened our conversations melted away and we could have more genuine communication about our compatibility and what we wanted our relationship to look like… And yeah, Bird isn’t really into dicks anymore, unless she is wearing one... Apparently...

Anyway, I don’t know anything… But I read what Laura is going through and naturally it reminds me of Bird, and the long and painful process of discovery. Anything you can do to encourage that process is what I recommend. Don’t fight it. And I am not saying discovery will look the same for you, but it is important regardless. This is just my opinion, and I am not trying to inflame emotion; but I do not see life returning to the way it was for you.

Change is not worth the fear we attribute to it. Don’t forget to prioritize your needs, but realize they are your burden to fulfill and not anyone else’s. I need love. I also need lots of sexy time... I cohabitate with Bird and Daisy; so now I have plenty of both.
 
Hi Luke,

It sounds like your conversation with Laura is going well so far. I am glad that she is willing to do counseling with you.

If PIV has been causing Laura pain, then what about the idea of trying "less consummate" sex? like oral favors, and manual favors. Just a thought. Would she be willing to consider that? Did she think that you wanted PIV exclusively?

She seems to be saying it might help if you took more of the initiative. That seems fine, as long as she doesn't shoot your advances down!

Regards,
Kevin T.
 
She fell back on the excuse that our sex drives are just different and that sex just wasn’t important to her in a relationship. I politely challenged that and pointed out how important it used to be to us and how it seems to still be important to her and Linda. She did not deny or try to argue that they still seem to have a relatively engaged sex life, whereas ours has withered.

Are you sure she feels safe enough with you to be honest?

In my world, one of the best relationship super powers a person can have is to receive bad news gracefully, and to embrace the reality that people should feel safe to express themselves honestly. When I approach people in this way, they are much more likely to be honest about their boundaries and expectations; they know that if they tell me something I wasn't hoping to hear, that I am going to thank them for being brave and honest.

Do you trust that what she is saying is the truth?

As long as I am being a good receiver, the rest is up to them and I have to take people at their word. If she says she has PIV pain, and her sex drive with you has dunked... well... that's reality. Now the only thing left on the table is to plan out what the new association will look like (if anything).
 
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