AA: Desire and Spontaneity

CN: talk of sex within marriage & sexual desire

Anonymous wrote in:

Hello. I’m married for a year and a couple of months. I’m 10 years younger than my husband (I’m in my 20s and he is in his 30s). We had a long distance relationship before getting married and during that time we didn’t talk about sex that much, when we use to visit each other we use to have sex often, I think. However, ever sence I moved with him he seemed to be less interested in having sex. He is very kind and loving, he tells me I’m beautiful and he tries to pleasure me and makes me feel sexy. But when it comes to actually having sex, there is always something in the way… Whenever we do have it, there is always a discussion first to decide if we should have it or not. Or we always plan it for a specific day and time. I hate it because I would like it to be spontaneous. It always feels like he only does it to make me feel better. And I’m almost always the one to ask for it. I don’t want to force him to do anything he doesn’t want to, on the other end i think it is bringing problems into our relationship because I end up feelining unworthy or undesirable… I know he loves me and its impossible for him to be cheating, if he is not working, he is with me all the time. He tells me his work is stressful and he is tired during the week, but then the weekend comes and he is also tired or falls asleep early on the sofa or something like that. He alsotakes medication for high cholesterol, another reason he gives me for not feeling like it. Compared to some people that think their partners are asexual, we have sex more often, maybe 2 to 3 times a month… But it still is not enough in my understanding… Maybe it’s my problem not his. But its our first year of marriage! We are young and definitely In love! I would really appreciate your advice and opinions.
Thank you.

Hi there.  I’ve got a few thoughts on your situation here.

  1. You mentioned feeling unworthy because the relationship you share is so (relative to your expectations) nonsexual.  I actually wrote a post about this recently, sort of.  It was written for a different audience, but I know someone in a similar situation to yours who found it useful, so you may want to give it a read.  Regardless, what I want you to know is: how your husband behaves about sex is not a reflection on you.  It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.  It doesn’t mean anything about you.  It’s okay.  Really.  You are good enough as you are, and your husband’s sexuality doesn’t have any bearing on that.
  2. What I’m hearing from you is that you’ve got mixed feelings here.  If you haven’t already read this post, or even if you have, refer (again) to suggestions #3 and #5.  It sounds like you really need to do some soul-searching and introspection to decide what you need in a romantic relationship (that is, whether the two of you are incompatible).  Right now, you should assume that he’s not going to change.  It’s okay if you decide you can’t remain married to him, or if you need sexual outlets other than him, or any other conclusion that would lead to a shift in your relationship.  The only thing that wouldn’t be okay would be secretly hoping he’d change.  Not only would that not be fair to him, that wouldn’t be fair to yourself!
  3. When you say he “only does it to make you feel better” — you didn’t detail why you think that, so I’ll talk about multiple possibilities here.  Do you just mean an absence of desire?  There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, if so — on his part or on your part.  If he’s willing to do it anyway, it’s not wrong to have sex with him despite the two of you not having perfectly matching motivations.  Or do you think it’s the presence of obligation?  You might want to think about the ways social cost could play a role in his decisions.  He may need the reassurance that sex isn’t something he owes you (because it’s not).
  4. If (if!) you decide to adjust your expectations to keep the relationship and if (if) he continues to consent to a sexual relationship (I don’t take either of these things for granted, but I want to talk about the different possibilities here; ignore this part if these don’t apply), then I have a few more thoughts for you.  When you say you would like for sex to be spontaneous, what does that mean to you?  Do you want more up-to-the-minute uncertainty as to when exactly you might have sex?  One way you might meet in the middle with him would be, instead of scheduling Sex Times (ex. Wednesday at 3:00! Sex!), to try and schedule something more like Maybe-Sex Times during blocks of time during the week (ex. Wednesday 2:00-5:00… maaaybe sex, maybe not, who knows!), where you agree in advance to spend time together alone, while also agreeing that sex is on the table as an option during these times, but don’t make any more specific commitments about what to do than that.  Or do you feel like it would be more fun if the discussions you have beforehand followed a different script?  He probably needs to communicate a lot with you before sex (this is pretty common even among non-ace/non-ace couples, actually!) and if you want to mix it up, you could have a separate conversation about creating certain code phrases or funny euphemisms you could use to make the discussion feel less cold and boring.
  5. That said, please take into account that he might need that lead-up time and heavy degree of communication.  There’s a possibility that, once you talk to him about it and reassure him he doesn’t owe you anything, the two of you might end up having less sex than before.  If that possibility greatly upsets you, then you should at least seriously consider that an exclusive long-term sexual relationship with this man may not work.  It’s very possible for two people to love each other while being sexually incompatible.  Bear in mind, also, that deciding to alter the shape of your relationship doesn’t have to mean separating, if that’s not what you want.  It doesn’t have to mean terminating the romantic side of your relationship with him, if that’s not what you want.  You may want to look into polyamory, you might not.  But it is important to figure out what exactly you do want given the parameters you have to work within — and what he wants as well.  Generally, I think communicating “does not want sex” as a valid possibility unto itself may encourage him to talk more openly with you about what ways that description may or may not fit him.
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