Unbearable sadness in my marriage


There have been many trials in our marriage. My husband responded to stress by abusing alcohol, which made him angry and violent. My teenage son has mental and behavioral problems (running away, drugs, violence) and is currently in a treatment center. I have literally become sick from the stress, resulting in Celiac disease and adrenal and hormonal problems. Loss of my husband’s job created financial stress. Throughout our marriage our sex life and intimacy have decreased and dwindled to nothing. About a year and half ago, my husband had an epiphany and realized that his behavior was a major reason for our difficulties. He promised to change. He is on medication and now does not drink. He is working, but only through a temporary staffing agency. I do not work. There are five children, ranging in age from 5 to 18. One young child has Type 1 diabetes. He is better, but still does not put me on the top of his list.

I miss feeling loved and cherished. I feel so alone. I vacillate from feeling hurt, depressed and angry at my husband for all he has done to feeling guilty for wanting my own happiness. It is very hard to forgive and forget. We have moments of “niceness”, but for the most part we are more like room-mates than spouses.

I don’t understand how he can go for weeks or months without thinking of having sex. It is difficult to discuss with him, because he gets defensive. I tend to “blame” him, because it was his behavior that led to my feelings. There are many nights that I cry myself to sleep and he does nothing to comfort me.

I do pray, almost a constant outpouring of prayer from my heart and also formal prayer daily. In fact, the fruits of these sufferings has been an increase in prayer. I am trusting in Jesus, but also I am reminded that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

What can I do? We don’t have money or insurance coverage for professional counseling. We already have immense medical expenses due to our child’s chronic illness.

Am I unworthy of happiness? My husband believes that if we are happy we will have more sex. I believe that if we have more sex, we will be happier. Meanwhile, sex never happens. It actually isn’t the sex–it’s the loving bond that comes from a sexual relationship with your spouse that I long for.

Any ideas? Any books or other materials that offer help for marriages in trouble?


I’m sorry you’re feeling so unloved in your marriage and I pray that God continue to give you comfort and strength throughout your trials.

That being said, I believe that you are not unworthy of love. As one of God’s creatures, He created you for Love. But as human beings who are not perfect like God, we often times do not know how to express love. This could be the case for your husband. I believe he has shown his love for you and his family by changing his life around.

Being in a marriage myself, I know how daily worries and suffering can get in the way of being close to your spouse. But I know that if I want some understanding, some closeness to him, I reach out. It can be a simple as a silent hand-hold, or a hug. Every morning when we leave each other for work, we give each other a kiss. We take time out at the end of each day to talk to each other, even if we talk about nothing. I know my husband has his own sufferings too, and he knows mine well. I trust in my husband’s love, and it’s through the grace of God that we continue as a family. We may not have sex all the time, but the love is there.

Support your husband in what he’s doing. Tell him everyday that you love him and you know that he’s doing his best. You have to give love to get love, so to speak. I believe that once you put aside some of those things that bother you and begin to reach out in love to him that the closeness you yearn will return.

God Bless.


Your Diocese office of Catholic Charities will have counseling resources on a sliding scale. If you do not have medical insurance, they may also have some clinics available - please, find out if you are suffering from depression.

Prayers. Look to Jesus as the source of your strength.

Remember, Jesus never promised us happiness in this life, he did promise us suffering. He also promised we can have peace in the midst of that suffering.


Perhaps a study of the Theology of the Body could help re-invigorate your sexual experience. Just as the Eucharist is a physical renewal of the New Covenant in Jesus whereby we (the Bride) encounter Christ (the groom) in the flesh, in a life giving and intimate experience, your wedding vows are renewed in a physical way in the flesh with your spouse. Your bodies speak the language of agape love and renew the vows you expressed at your wedding wherby you crucifed yourselves in sacrificial love for each other. With all your struggles, the sacrificial love is manifested in your daily lives. Perhaps a new understanging of conjugal love will manifest itself in better conjugal relations and an improved marriage.

Peace, love and prayers


I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. :frowning: You are in my prayers.

Here’s a few book recommendations. I feel sort of sheepish simply suggesting books when you have these very real problems, but I know that sometimes books can be a great help, so I offer them anyway. :o

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book shows a very interesting approach to the dynamics of married relationships. In a nutshell, Chapan (a marriage counselor) posits 5 basic “love languages”: (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Quality Time, (3) Receiving Gifts, (4) Acts of Service, and (5) Physical Touch. Each of us usually responds best to one of these five as our primary love language. Oftentimes, marital difficulties ensue when spouses are unaware of the other’s language and, thus, we often “speak past each other” and get frustrated when we don’t receive the reaction we expect.

For example, the husband’s language may be “physical touch”, while the wife’s is “receiving gifts.” The husband is wondering why his wife doubts his love when he’s always trying to give her hugs and hold her hand, while the wife is waiting for him to make gestures such as getting her flowers or her favorite giant cookie at the mall. Meanwhile, the wife is hurt because her husband never seems to notice or appreciate the little gifts she gives to him and is always trying to “get physical” with her anyway. Once couples become more aware of the other’s “language”, they can make the concerted effort to speak that love language to the other.

I believe Chapman is a Christian, but not a Catholic.

I woul also recommend any book by Gregory Popcak, especially For Better…Forever! and Life Shouldn’t Look Like This. Popcak is also a Counselor, and he’s Catholic.


If he’s getting weird about the subject of sex or lack of there is probably one of two explanations. The first would be impotency, it’s easy to understand why a man would have issues talking about this and it would also explain lack of sex. The second would be that he is focusing his sexual energy on other things. Have you checked his internet history?


What kind of medications is your husband on? That could have a huge effect on his libido, particularly if he is on anti-depressants. Many medications have the side effect of eliminating the sex drive.

Sorry you are in this situation. Have you considered Retrouvaille since he seems to be unwilling to discuss this?


Yes, the medications could be having some side effects. He is taking Wellbutrin and Lamictal. He has tried about a dozen different medications in the past 3 years. The current combination seems to help with his depression and anger. So, I am reluctant to suggest that he stop the meds. I am worried that I would be dealing with the irritable, unpredictable person that he was before. He tried to go off all meds in 2007. He had wild mood swings and would go from tears to rage in seconds. He has been the most stable since trying the current meds.

Also, he is a recent convert to Catholicism, while I am a cradle Catholic. After our last child was born, he had a vasectomy. I told him I did not want that, but he did it anyway.

Do you think that this also has had an effect? I think even psychologically it has.

I have confessed to a priest about it, and I am pretty sure that he has, too, since his conversion.


Very well said.

Trapped-, never, ever forget that we’re all praying for you as well.

As for the vasectomy…I don’t know if that could be effecting him, but I have heard that some men get depressed after having one.


Have your husband checked for low testosterone. I suffered from this for decades. I ignored the problem, until I finally decided to do something about it. I finally went to the doctor, and had my T levels checked. I scored a 212, which is the level of a septagenerian. (Normal levels are generally between 400 and 1200.)

Low testosterone in middle-age males can be very bad. Beyond the effects on sex drive, it has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, and even osteoporosis. So even if your husband never intends on having sex again, he should have this checked out.

So I now receive hormone replacement therapy, and my levels are back to the acceptable range.

p.s., low testosterone is often mis-diagnosed as clinical depression, or other such issues. But if your husband has absolutely no libido, this really should be checked. Millions of men are suffering from this condition, and it is easily treatable.


Some of the replies suggested some possible solutions to your problem. It should be easy to find out if the medications are the problem. You could as the doctor or even go online and look up the side effects. If low testosterone is the problem that is easy to check also. There also might be some other medical reason for losing interest in sex. Consulting a physician might be very helpful. God bless you in your marriage.


I agree with many of the suggestions given in the other posts. I especially agree about the meds being responsible for your husband’s decreased libido. My husband is clinically depressed and is on meds. It took TWO years for the psychiatrist to find a med that did not have the side effect of diminishing his sex drive. Ask your husband to talk to his doctor about the side effect of decreased libido–there are other meds that he can try. (Unfortunately, they might not be on your insurance formulary, but perhaps the doctor can speak to the insurance company and make a plea for covering the new med.)

In addition, I think you should try to find a group of women, or perhaps just one woman, to be pals with. Not your business associates–they’re not “friends,” they’re co-workers. Look for women with no strings attached, no conflicts of interest.

You are trying to find fulfilment and happiness through your husband alone, and this places a lot of pressure on him, and he WILL fail you, and then it just makes you unhappier.

Dr. James Dobson says that no man can be a “girlfriend” to his wife, and that wise women will seek female friends. Women need a lot more chatter and talk and “words” than men do, and for centuries in almost all cultures, women have banded together in groups to be friends.

Don’t isolate yourself with your husband and children (and computer!)

There are lots of women who would love to include you in their circle of friends.

These female friends will not substitute for sex, obviously, but they will give you companionship, comraderie, a sense of belonging, FUN (which it sounds like you desperately need), practical help in times of disaster, and PRAYER (you should seek Christian friends, not just girls looking for good times!).

It doesn’t have to cost money to be friends with people. If your pals want to go out for coffee or lunch and you don’t have money, one of them will probably pick up your tab just because you’re friends. I take a friend out to dinner once a week–she doesn’t have any money because she lives in a group home, but that’s OK by me. We just go to fast food places and order cheap food, and it’s fun for both of us.

Not sure if childcare is an issue, but if it is, that’s OK, too. Back when I had small children, I would get together with other women with small children, and we would just bring them along to the local swimming pool or McDonalds or park, and they would play while we would talk.

How to find these women? Start at your church. Are there other women at Mass that you always say “hi” to? Ask them to come over for a cup of coffee or a Coke or a tall glass of ice water, and some playtime with the kids. Or ask if they want to meet during the week at the church playground.

Good luck to you.


how is it that you’re more hurt now that he’s somewhat improved than when he was erratic and abusive? you’re prayers are being answered, but slowly-- and perhaps never exactly to the level you hoped for.

you have so much trial. i thank God your teen is in rehab. take care of yourself-- the suggestion of women friends is an excellent one. get personal counseling through the church. keep praying. take care of your kids. ask Jesus to send His Holy Spirit-- a Fruit of the Spirit is Joy. ask HIM for joy in your trials. ask HIM for peace,

there was offered lots of good ideas to pursue in action, trapped.

two additional thoughts: husband may be rejecting simple physical companionship and warmth because he fears all roads should lead to sex. perhaps, while investigating possible chemical causes to his zero sex desires, you can assure him, “i just want to be with you. this doesn’t have to end in sex.”

and second this:

I am reminded that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

no, trapped. the Lord helps those who trust in Him.

better than that miscommunicated and crooked old saw, try this:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

or better yet, this:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6


I promise to pray for you, your husband and your family. It may seem like the situation may be a mountain too high…God has not left you ~ he can strengthen your marriage from this time of trial.

A few thoughts for you.

It is much easier to act your way into “loving” again than it is to love your way back into acting in love again. This means if you begin to act the way you wish to be ~ slowly but surely the “loving” part will return. If you wait for the “loving” part before you “act” you will be waiting for a very very long time.

This is the crux of the movie “Fireproof” that was a quiet hit this year…I would recommend that the two of you rent it and watch it together…alone. The message is a powerful one for all marriages ~ ones that need healing and ones that need strengthening and ones that merely need a boost. The road back to marital health need not be as long as it seems. One needs to look at it from another angle.

Prayers and hope for you.


Sorry for your troubles. Please make an appointment with a priest who will listen to you and be able to advise you and lead you where you need to be. He will be able to let you know what resources are out there to help. Your family will be in my prayers.


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