I posted some of my background in another forum in another person’s thread, and thought I’d push this out here to see if any of you might be able to give some helpful words (or prayers).
When my husband and I were dating, I was a lapsed Mormon, and he was not religious at all. (He was baptized as a Catholic as a baby but had no Catholic upbringing). We dated for about nine months, engaged for six and then married. We were sexually active when we were dating. About six months into our dating life, his sex drive just fell off a cliff. First he was stressed because he was out of work, then he was stressed from a new job, then he was stressed from the wedding. And it pretty much went downhill from there.
My husband and I had discussed being childfree when we were dating, and on our one year anniversary, my husband and I together decided that a vasectomy was the right thing for us. There were a lot of factors that weighed in, but the largest was the suffering I saw my parents go through after my brother committed suicide (about 6 months after our wedding). I never wanted to go through the pains of being a parent and the terrible loss that my parents faced, so I was very supportive in my husband’s vasectomy. I also secretly hoped that my husband’s fear of having children was one of the reasons why our sex life was so infrequent and that the vasectomy would improve things. Around year 3, we found out he had very low testosterone. Regular levels should be between 250-750. My husband tested at 160. He started testosterone therapy.
Around year 5, I had a conversion moment during a Catholic wedding, and felt compelled to start taking RCIA classes and moving towards baptism. I did end up getting baptized, but had a totally different view of our sex life afterward. I believed that what my husband had done was immoral and against what God had planned for a married couple, but what was done was done. I did my best to live a chaste life within the confines of marriage, but without the release of self-pleasuring, the glaring omission of sexual relations in my marriage became even more painful.
A year ago, I told him, we have one more year to fix this, because I can’t stand this much longer. I was crying myself to sleep night after night with no relief. I lost weight and started an exercise program, we went to counseling, we moved into a bigger apartment so we could have a bit more “me” space (I was able to build a nook for Sacred Space, he got a place to store his bikes). I got a job making more money so that our finances were no longer stressed, he got on a different testosterone treatment to hopefully boost the levels, I got on ADHD medicine so that I could better focus on housework and maintaining the home. And yet a year later, we’re back to the frustration we were at before.
He says I’m beautiful and sexy, he says that he loves me and wants me to be happy, and yet he constantly withholds the martial intimacy that I so crave. We have always been loving, always been close. He tells me he loves me multiple times a day, and hugs me and holds my hand. He does chores around the house all the time and takes care of me. He opens doors for me, and makes late night CVS Pamprin and chocolate runs for me. He is my best friend and I am his. Intimacy is not the issue. I tell him it’s like being at a huge buffet and not being able to eat anything. For him, he says it’s like being at the same buffet and not being hungry.
During this Lenten season, I’ve been focusing on Marian devotions and have begun wearing a Miraculous Medal and praying the rosary daily. I’ve been successful in staying free of that particular sin, but as my attempts to engage my husband continue to be fruitless, my sadness grows deeper by the day.
I’ve considered divorce (we were convalidated after the vasectomy, so I’m sure I could get an annulment on the grounds that he never wanted kids), I’ve considered making a personal vow of “Josephite” marriage, I’ve begged for these urges to be taken away. But the urges stay, and I am tortured by wanting something I cannot have, with no recourse except to pray that this burden be taken from me and “offer it up”.
On other threads about this topic, the angle tends to be from the man’s side, with a woman who does not want to “renew the marriage covenant”. The responses, from women, tend to all have the same response - “Maybe your wife is sick of being used for sex, and you need to approach it differently.” I don’t think my husband feels the same way. I confessed to the frustration and anger I’ve been feeling during reconciliation this weekend, as well as my struggle with chastity (and occasionally succumbing to masturbation). The priest was shocked that a husband would refuse a wife like that.
We’re going on 10 years of refusal, off and on, with the act happening maybe 8-10 times a year the past 2 years. If that. We’ll tend to go 2-3 months with no act, me throwing a fit, then having a month with multiple acts, then back to the drought. I told my husband last night that either we are officially living “Josephite” or he’s got to make more of an effort because I feel tortured and very alone.
Does anyone have any ideas that could help me deal with this pain and struggle? Prayer to Mary is helping, but the feeling of failure in my marriage is pulling me into a very deep depression.