Frustrated - in a sexless marriage (and a woman)

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.

Wow, This is too deep for amateur advise.

I would suggest both physical and psychological counselling… Something is not right.

I would suggest a Christian Psychologist, as secular psychologist tend to suggest things that are anti-catholic. Also a Christian urologist.

I agree. I read this earlier, before this reply and I could not find words to help you. I am a woman and my desire is greater than my husband’s but it is a recent development. I’ve been married 20 years and for most of our marriage we had a good match with our desires. My husband also has some health problems that contribute to a low libido.

Please get professional help. Forum rules prohibit members from giving medical advice so you are not likely to find your answer here.

Being a man, I just can’t wrap my head around another man not wanting sex, if I may be so crude. Even if a man is not in the mood at all, we still do it, anyway, because, well, we’re guys. I mean, I am not married, so I am speaking hypothetically, of course, and not from experience. But yeah, something is definitely wrong with your husband, but I do not know why.

In my opinion, it is really sad how sex has to decide if a marriage is good or bad.:mad: No matter how good the relationship is outside of sex, if sex is not good, then marriage is bad and you need a divorce.:mad:

Is this really how sex is??:mad: Is this really how much sex matters, that if its not good , so then a divorce should be make??

This is why I doubt I’ll married. No matter how much I would give and sacrifice to my wife outside of sex, it wouldn’t matter to her because we either don’t have sex, don’t have sex enough, or I cant satisfy her in sex.:mad:

I think I rather stay single and satisfy God only, and don’t focus on satisfying a human.

He has some kind of problem(s). It could be any number of things - I won’t bother to speculate. Most men I think tend to be the other way - “over the top” as far as the physical side of “the act” is involved; but admittedly often lacking in depth beyond the mere physical act. There may be something else going on here - therapy might help uncover it. It could be anything from feelings of inadequacy, anxieties, confused sexuality or an unhealthy drift toward “asexuality” or even a condition of porn addiction or something that you don’t know he is into.

It won’t help you much for me to say this but… the overwhelming majority of men I think tend to be absolutely “flattered” for our spouses to initiate an approach to us for “conjugal responsibilities” and accommodate – even if not “in the mood”. It’s normally just too natural and easy to be a sport about it and support the spouses needs physically. The emotional side though could be lacking - and of course you want both and are entitled to both. There’s also a spiritual aspect to it too of course.

I’d recommend you just talk to him directly and tell him that you need him and suffer more than he realizes without his attention and affection. Explain to him that even if he is not in the mood that he should at least let you come together to be close and share physical intimacy at least a level of touch and sharing of warmth. Nature should take its course here.

Now I would draw your attention to the bold part I quoted from your OP to comment further.

I do not recommend that you try to “punish him” with tacit threats to live according to the Josephite discipline/consecration. That is a special devotion and should only be entered into from a state of mutual desire to advance spiritually - not to hold it out as an instrument of compelling your spouse to do it on your terms. It will likely come across as a self-righteous threat and not help either of you and it may backfire on you if he says “yes” to that.

Hate to say it, but statistically I think he has something else going on “upstairs” and you need to check into it and find out what it is. 10 years IS a long time.

Best of luck here.

Concur. I was extremely happily married (widowed now very early) and we were both equally yoked to the “robust” side in this department. It was very satisfying and extremely flattering to be approached by my spouse and told frankly “I need conjugal duties right NOW” and chuckle about it. Unless theres an physical or emotional problem (or just too tired/stressed) that makes it physically impossible its just way too easy for the man to accommodate his partner’s intimate needs. If nothing else you can just lay side by side and touch and snuggle and be warm together.

Good sex is not subject of this thread, it is a feeling of rejection and lonliness and emptiness because she feels her husband is not attracted enough to her to want sex.

If you are willing to please your wife then your sex life will be awesome. Of course, if you bring contraception into the discussion then it is a whole different thing. If you enter marriage wanting to give of yourself to your wife and you also expect to make babies, you will be just fine. Don’t be so angry.

We can’t give medical advise as stated. I do think some mental and physical checks are in order.

I have a feeling you need to find out what the actual problem is.

You say he denies you sex. Does that mean, He is fully functional and he says no? Because in theory, if the wind blows right, he should have a hard time saying no. As just about every guy here knows.

What I wonder is… is he denying you sex because he’s got ED? In that no matter what is done, there is inadequate physical response? And he basically CAN’T have sex? Which is either mental AND/or physical. Has his testosterone level ever been brought up into an appropriate range? Any chance he’s taking other meds that might effect performance? Anything that might control his blood pressure? Any foods that might effect performance? For example, did you know that pineapple lowers bloodpressure? Which is why you should NEVER eat it with blood pressure meds. As it says on the box! What about beer, or wine. It really sounds like he can’t have ANY interferance. What about HIS weight. If he’s carrying any fat, that not only interferres with blood flow, but also increases ESTROGEN in his system. which is not ideal for a guy either… Those are just things for you to do some reasearch on. Maybe such research can tip you off on something that his Dr. can address.

That all said. There is no reason he can’t satisfy you in other manners. And if he happens to be able to do the deed, then he can do it.

As a wife, I can also say this is a true statement, wind, breeze, song on the radio, sexy woman in a commercial for motor oil, brush up against him when rolling over in bed, the list goes on.

If the plumbing works, then the rest is mental.


Okay, on another thread you are claiming you are trying to solve your premature ejaculation problem 1) by masturbating and 2) for your future wife.

Here you say you doubt you will be married. Please. What is your purpose on the forum? And what does it have to do with Moral Theology?

As far as medical issues, he can perform the act, and when his testosterone treatment is working well, he’s very “perky” in the morning (which is a sign that it isn’t ED). He is on low blood pressure meds, but that shouldn’t affect drive.

As far as personal issues, he has admitted to abusing porn, but also said that he’s stopped. He’s always been honest with me and he’s a lousy liar, so if he says he’s not abusing it any more, I take him at his word. But he’s not a practicing Catholic, so he doesn’t consider either activity a sin.

I was really hoping that someone could recommend ways to offer it up, saints to read about, prayers that have been helpful (devotions past the Rosary and the basics).

And it’s a hard thing to discuss to therapists or even in a group setting. Frankly, it’s humiliating. I know marriage isn’t all about sex. But it makes me feel unwanted.

Also to the person who said that I shouldn’t threaten to cut my husband off in a “Josephine” marriage, I wasn’t saying I was going to do that at all. I truly mean I’ve been considering giving up my marital relations and living a chaste live in reparation for my sins of youth and to grow closer to God. I feel that the anger that builds in me towards my husband is not helping me spiritually, and the continual hope for change is draining and depressing. Having the certainty of the chaste outcome could help me not have as much anger, and would allow me to focus more of my spiritual energy towards drawing closer to God instead of trying to draw closer to my husband. If that makes sense.

‘Blood pressure lowering (antihypertensive) medicines are also implicated, although the mechanism by which they cause sexual problems will vary from medicine to medicine’

From this article…
Which also offers a list of drugs with side effects.

Honestly, before you go and offer it up for your sins, I’d make sure there isn’t something that could be done about this. Meaning, I think there are still stones to be turned…

I think it’s odd that he doesn’t want to have a satisfying sex life with his wife. Or at least, doesn’t feel like he’s leaving you out in the cold…

But yes, pray… you can never go wrong with prayer!

If he has had a recent porn issue then its very obvious that he finds the sensation of arousal desirable and pleasurable. And you have confirmed that it is not ED. So, I am sorry to say that all the facts of the matter (heard thus far) would then suggest a fundamental “desire issue” within the confines of the marital relationship. I know that must hurt.

Men tend to be very visual - that sounds shallow but its the predominant factor that gets a man “going” so to speak and initially attracted to his would-be spouse in the first place. As idealistic as we would like to make things no one can really fight nature here. There needs to be “chemistry” – “a spark” in order for the male to sustain an authentic interest and to spontaneously initiate regular physical intimacy. You have indicated that you have gone to the gym to get in better shape etc. This is very good since most people get “frumpy” as we age and let our bodies atrophy. Working out and using good nutrition have tremendous physiological and hormonal re-balancing and moderating effects. There is a weight-lifters “high” - a good natural high of endorphins that give a feeling of well-being and confidence. You need to get HIM into the gym too. I am a hobby body-builder myself and work out a lot. I can attest to you first hand that this has profoundly positive physiological (and mental) effects for the male in particular. Everything just “works better” and more intensely. The proverbial male “morning effects” that you mentioned previously are for men very real and are often very powerful in the morning. When things are working right for men - this can be an excellent time to get close and let nature takes its natural course. So, get him into the gym with you and get on very clean healthy and nutritious food. Snuggle a lot.

Something else to consider - you have indicated that he got into porn for a while. The huge problem with porn is that it can cause long lingering negative downstream effects. It’s not fair to you but he may have really hurt himself. It’s not just a matter of “stopping” it and then immediately going back to “normal” again - that’s pretty rare I think. On a spiritual plane this is similar analog to concupiscence - there’s a lingering appetite or memory for the sin once innocence is lost. Like any drug (which one’s own hormones really are) it always takes progressively more “stimulus” to effect the same sense of well-being or pleasure. So in the case of porn, depending on how habitual it was and for how long he may be “bored” with the conventional norms and is just giving up on it out of dissatisfaction and frustration. But even if this is so, most men as a matter of mental make up (ego) will at least accommodate their partner and go through the motions if approached. You need to both get into professional therapy together and work through it. Sure its initially embarrassing but your marriage is on the line here as well as your own self-esteem and marital happiness and harmony.

I bring up the opposite case to give credence to my suggestion that he may be suffering from lingering porn effects. The exact opposite problem is seen in sex-addicts. These must have progressively more intense encounters and conquests (often leading to promiscuity) to get the same abnormally elevated “pleasure high”. Due to factors such as sensory and chemical/nerve stimuli-adaptation these often feel compelled to get into progressively more deviant experiences to try “something new” to gain higher levels of pleasure ( a true addiction). Once someone has “gone there” “normalcy” can be ruined due to lingering memory (experience).

The temptation for some couples suffering the same frustrations is to get into these sort of other lifestyles to bridge the gap of dissatisfaction. It’s more frequent in society than you can imagine. Of course don’t fall into this since it always leads to degradation and loss of self respect to one or both partners. I know of couples who have gone here and most ended up divorced and more miserable than ever or are barely hanging on to their marriages.

Thanks for clarifying your intentions with the Josephine devotion. I would like to point out that its not a one-sided thing though. He has to agree to it and then not change his mind down the road if he ever does get past whatever it is that’s making him disinterested or unable to perform his conjugal duties and man-up.

I am sorry you are faced with this difficult thing in your marriage and can’t imagine how much this hurts your own self-esteem. It seems that outside of a miracle (prayer can never hurt) most here agree that therapy and council are your only real options. I have added one other - get him into the gym with you and feeling good about himself and improving his physiology.

Good luck.

I so empathize with this issue. I’ve been married for 34 years and I love my husband, but we’ve not shared any form of sexual intimacy for the past 15yrs. He was diagnosed with a condition called hypogonadism, which means that he has virtually 0 testosterone levels , is sterile, has no libido or ability to have or maintain an erection. Those devastating conditions have basically created a complete cessation of any sexual intimacy in our marriage for years now.
He tried some testosterone replacement therapy but it did not work and further, he was concerned about the fact that has it raises the incidence of prostate cancer in men.

As a practicing Catholic, I struggle with the fact that any form of self-pleasuring or manual pleasuring by one’s spouse is considered an ‘unnatural sex act’ and as such, is a ?mortal sin in the eyes of God. Ashamedly, I’ve committed the sin of self-pleasuring occasionally, for which I feel great guilt. I’m even ashamed to confess that sin to my priest.

I guess, beyond my sadness about the lack of sexual expression in my marriage, I also suffer by guilt and fear of mortal sin through any infrequent acts of self pleasuring. I’d like to hear from a priest on the question of whether, given the context, my sin is one of a mortal nature and must be confessed to my priest?

I completely feel you on this topic. I myself am with a husband who just doesn’t want any. After we were first married, we had relations, but then for almost 4 months… nothing. It is sad and I understand the lonliness. My husband doesn’t say he loves me unless I say it first, he doesn’t tell me I am beautiful or anything, but I know he loves me because of the small acts he does like cleaning the house and whatnot. But I know that lonliness as well. I thought with us getting our marriage convalidated and him joining RCIA (his own choice) would change things, but no. It feels like we are living like room-mates.

Stavros, I am really sorry to hear what’s going with your marriage, and I’m also really sad for you and your husband. I will give you my opinion and believes.

I have a question for you and your husband:

Do you two know the purpose of marriage?

I believe God didn’t intended marriage to happen. God is love, and he created a Adam alone, so he can love and worship God only. He saw that Adam wasn’t not satisfy with the love of God alone, so God love him so much that he created Eve as a partner for Adam. God said that men and women will become one flesh(Gen. 2:21-24), and that is marriage.

When we become one flesh, our emotions(soul), spirit, body, and in every other way, are connected. We become one.

You, Stavros, are frustrated because you have a sexless marriage.Here another question for you and your husband:

Do you know the truth purpose of sex?

I believe, in my opnion, that sex is when we become one flesh:one person. Sex is the truth marriage. Marriage has an agreement: We should seek in becoming closer, and let no one(not even yourselves) be divide. God doesn’t want divorce and this what says:

"3And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and(I) the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9

So if you want to divorce, it better be because someone commited a sexual immorality, and not because of your own sexual selfish acts.

Children are a blessing that God gave us that our physically union produces.
Is not a commend to have kids, but its a blessing(Gen. 1:28) If having kids was a commendment, then all christians should marry and have children. Not all couples can have children, do to physical problems. Some couples want to space their pregnancies, because they might have economical problems so they don’t the money to raise many kids. If you don’t want to have kids, it better be for a good reason and not selfish acts. You said you don’t want kids because of what happened to your parents. That is not an excuse. If you can get pregnant, seek children and trust God. If anything happens to your children, don’t get angry with God and trust him. God lets things happen for a reason.

Even in the sexual aspect of their relationship, a husband and wife are not to consider their bodies as their own but as belonging to their partner (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Nor are they to focus on their own pleasure but rather the giving of pleasure to their spouse.

So when you have sex, dont seek your own pleasure, seek your husbands. When someone seeks his/her own pleasure, they commit lust, which is bad. Sexual pleasure is not bad, but its bad we seek it for ourselves. Sexual pleasure helps us unite more and procreate.

Make sure you have self-control, Stavros. God wants us to have self-control and not let our pleasures of our bodies control us.

So, Stavros, ask yourself this question: Why do you really want to have sex?
Is it for the right puporses or for your own selfish acts.

Ask you husband to tell you the truth why he doesn’t want to have sex. Make sure that he doesn’t want to have sex for good reason and not for selfish reasons. If the problems are physical or mental (as long as they not sexual selfish) talk to him more help him. If you can’t do it by yourself, seek outside help from christians. Remember, don’t do anything that goes againts God’s Law.

To be honest, God is the only one who knows the truth purpose about sex. Some people say that you NEED sex to be happy, but if that is truth, then why are some couples able to live a sexless marriage and be so happy and have so much intimacy. Think about this carefully.

In addition, remember the two most important great commendments of God:

"37You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment.

39And a second is like it:You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

Also remember this, which Jesus also said:

You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life. 27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me. Luke 14:26-27

As nice as it may be for two people to live together meeting each other’s needs, God has a higher calling for the marriage. Even as they were to be serving Christ with their lives before marriage (Romans 12:1-2), now they are to serve Christ together as a unit and raise their children to serve God (1 Corinthians 7:29-34; Malachi 2:15; Ephesians 6:4). Priscilla and Aquila, in Acts 18, would be good examples of this. As a couple pursues serving Christ together, the joy which the Spirit gives will fill their marriage (Galatians 5:22-23). In the Garden of Eden, there were three present (Adam, Eve, and God), and there was joy. So, if God is central in a marriage today, there also will be joy. Without God, a true and full oneness is not possible.

I hope everything goes well for you and your husband. May God bless you all.

I’m revisiting this topic in hopes that I can get some more advice. Since I started this thread a couple of months ago, things have not improved. While my husband made a promise to me that he would try to at least meet me half way with my desire for more physical intimacy, that has completely fallen by the wayside. I asked him last night if he had resumed looking at pornography, and he said that he had.

I was in confession yesterday and told Father about something that happened on Friday night. I kissed my husband, and I could feel the passion igniting, so I tried to kiss and touch with the hopes of igniting some fires of his own. He promptly stopped kissing me and started watching television. I went into the bedroom and said a few Hail Marys and prayed. I asked Father, if I kiss in the hopes of further sexual contact, but know that it probably won’t happen, is it sinful to try anyway? He said in essense, no, but when I realized it wasn’t going to happen that I did the right thing in walking away and praying for those fires to be quenched, lest I fall into mortal sin by masturbation or inappropriate thoughts.

Yesterday when we got into bed, I told my husband, okay, we’re changing things. In three weeks, at our next big paycheck, we’re getting rid of our queen bed and buying two twin beds. In three weeks, we are going to be living a Josephite marriage. I explained that what I meant by Josephite was that I felt very unhappy with trying to initiate contact and constantly being turned down. I said that knowing that the contact was completely off the table would help me stop feeling the constant resentment and frustration. If I could focus on spending time with him, and spending time with God, that I would be happier. But touch, especially the touch at night when my desire is normally at its highest, made me sad and frustrated and I simply can no longer tolerate it and continue on this journey towards God.

I don’t know if putting this physical space between us in our marriage is sinful, but I simply don’t know what else to do except live as chaste as I can and not stir up those physical desires that bring nothing but frustration, sadness, disappointment, and put distance between me and God. Since we cannot have children, I do not feel that this is not being open to children seeing as how that is completely off the table.

Does anyone have any thoughts, or better suggestions?

:signofcross::console: I will pray you find some peace of mind. Just had an interesting talk with my chaplain. pm me if you feel the need. Peace and prayers. :slight_smile:

Don’t accept this. He is comitting adultery and its unacceptable. No woman should live with a man who so degrades her and is unrepentant about it. The question is not what will you do, but what will he do to clean up his act. if the answer is nothing, and you actually might get an annulment, then go find a man who will love and honour you like you deserve. Its not worthy to live with a man who prefers perversion over the embrace of his wife.

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