A challenge for HL's....

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
A challenge for HL's....
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 3:00am
Am currently reading "passionate marriage" and having a lot of insights about myself... too many to post them, in fact... but one thing that particularly struck me yesterday was the author's comment that "I never assume the LL partner "ought" to want more sex. I take the view that if someone doesn't want much sex, they probably have a good reason."

I don't know what it was that struck me about the way he put that - I mean we all spend half our day wondering what the REASON is, so its not like we don't think about this, but maybe there was something about the way he legitimated it: "...they probably have a GOOD reason."

I think with my DH I've always wondered what the REASON was, but I've never given him credit for having a GOOD reason - the reasons I've always come up with were always BAD reasons like:

"He doesn't find me attractive" - BAD reason because I AM attractive and anyway, he married me !

"He is repressed or afraid of something or inhibited or doesn't want to give up control" All BAD reasons - he OUGHT to do something about these defects, if he has them

"He thinks sex is wrong or sinful" BAD reason because it isn't either of these things.

"He doesn't WANT TO WANT.." BAD reason also....

The author also said something like :"For someone to want sex,there has to be something good there to want."

This really made me question myself, because I often complain that our sex is boring and mechanical, but if that's true its also true for him so is it any wonder he doesn't want it? And although I blame HIM for the mechanicalness, and not being THERE during sex, I have to say that even if I'm not responsable for the mechanicalness in terms of the repetitive nature of the PHYSICAL aspects of our sex life, I AM partly responsible for the lack of emotional input, which at the end of the day is really what makes sex feel mechanical.

Now comes the self justification part but its all part of the process... I think in the beginning, I was THERE during sex, and I put myself on the line, but when I didn't get the response I wanted or expected I felt really hurt and rejected and pulled back. This, I suppose, is because I was seeking "other-validated intimacy" as Scharnach would say. I was prepared to disclose myself, but only if he did the same. The lack of what I considered a suitable response made me withdraw. So then I went through a long phase of "you go first" - I was always wanting HIM to demonstrate desire or take a risk emotionally. I might initiate sex, but I was always seeking evidence of his desire and reluctant to reveal myself. if I DID, again, I'd get hurt if he didn't respond the way I hoped for and pull back to lick my wounds.

So now, if he was to be THERE during sex, he might well not find me THERE to be with. And its true he has sort of mentioned this - he has sometimes said: "I'm not really so into sex because for me, it does nothing for me as far as being close to you is concerned. I feel close when we hug, that's when I feel connected to you, but not during sex... so sex is just.....sex."

Again, I always made this into a reflection on him: "You're disconnected from your sexuality! You don't know how to communicate through sex!"... another BAD reason to not want sex.

So now I'm thinking all this is a GOOD reason, and that I have to ensure that I am THERE during sex myself. If he wants to join me, he can. If he doesn't, I should still be THERE when we have sex and not get upset.

So this was my challenge to the HL's - "Does your SO perhaps have a GOOD reason for not wanting more sex?"

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2002
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 8:27am
This sounds so familiar! Especially because that's what I feel my reason is for not wanting sex more--unless he's really invested in making it a great experience, nothing I can do is going to make it more than just fulfilling an obligation and it becomes one more household chore.

I think somebody is on to something! I'm interested to see how others respond...


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:15am
On the other hand Judie...YOU could invest in making it a great experience, rather than a household chore...it doesn't have to be HIM who grows up first. YOU could grow up first.

That's what I take away from the Dr Schanrnach stuff - we are each responsible for our own development and marital "boredom" or dissatisfaction is the "critical event" that challenges us - we can each remain locked in dependency and resentment, looking to our partners to move forward and make things better, or we can USE the challenge that the stalemate presents us with to move forward ourselves. Moving forward, as I undesrstand it, is not so much about focusing on "making sex better" but its about growing emotionally and choosing, for the sake of our own integrity, to offer ourselves intimately to our partner because WE CHOOSE to do so as a a form of personal growth, INDEPENDENT of his/her anticipated response. If our partner doesn't respond to this the way we would like, well, we've lost nothing by trying and gained everything, because we have been true to ourselves. And if our partner doesn't reciprocate by obligingly growing up too, then the way to deal with that is...grow up some more ourselves!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-07-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 11:24am
I think you are definitly onto something there Strawberry. I also always assumed bad reasons and not good reasons. I mean, who wouldn't want to have sex? lol. After our discussion the other night, I realized he did have a good reason. The infertility crap had made sex mechanical for him, and unenjoyable on his part. He was feeling he was no good at the job, or at least getting the job done. I think this is a pretty good reason to want to give up. I think now that we have talked about it and realized how silly we both were being, things will go better. Fingers crossed at least.

So I think I will assume from now on that he has a good reason, if he says no, and go on from there. I bet it makes all the difference in the world. What is the name of this book and author. I think maybe I have some reading to do.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 1:14pm
My thoughts are that my LL spouse doesn't HAVE to have a reason to NOT want sex. He is who is he is and that's how it is. Besides, I'd despise needing a reason in order to have sex! LOL~

We've come to a point where we can accept our differences and work together to bridge the gap in between. By no means does he have to JUSTIFY to me why he isn't like me! I no longer apply what I want and who I am to him...I use to stupidly think that because I wanted it he should to...wrong, he isn't me. That's just my opinion though...but of course I'm sure each time in the past where he's said, "no not tonight" that he's had his reasons here and there and because I respect him I have the ability to respect his reasons regardless of how insignificant they may SEEM or what have you. What may be insignificant to ME may be quite important to him and I respect that.

These days we just try to work together so that we can BOTH be happy since we're BOTH in the marriage. I think the hardest thing for some of us is accepting that the other party isn't necessarily the complete "wrong" one--that we're BOTH contributors no matter how we may choose to try to avoid accountability.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 2:30pm
Strawberry, I knew you'd find this very 'eye opening' reading. I'm glad you're gaining insight from it. By the time I was finished with the book I felt so hopeful about my ability to move through 'critical mass' and become less emotinally fused with my DH. Sometimes I am so hopeful and other times I think of what a very difficult task it really is - to grow up! It is sooooo easy to revert to our old ways - I almost have to re-read some of the book every couple of days to give myself a 'shot in the arm' so that I can keep myself on track.

I wish I could go to one of the Dr.'s seminars - he has a wonderful weeklong retreat coming up that is in Denver, but that's too far away from me and the cost is WAY over my budget. I've had fantasies of where I could get the money from and who would take care of my children so that my DH and I could go. I just know in my heart that if someone of Dr. S's caliber and expertise could work with us we'd get thru this. Maybe I'll win the lottery!!! :>

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2003
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 6:18pm
I'm also reading this book but I'm not enjoying it the way you seem to be. Granted my DH avoids sex because the outcome is not worth the effort for him. For me sex is relaxing, provides an emotional connection, and gives us an opportunity to play. He has told me that there are other things more relaxing to him than sex. Specifically he finds massages and watching TV more relaxing. He feels an emotional connection with me through hugging, kissing and talking. And he isn't a playful kind of man. In his words, sex is enjoyable but a little goes a long way. He has told me that he is happy and content in our marriage and doesn't feel anything is missing. So now I'm working on dealing with the lack of sex instead of trying to increase his sex drive. What all this discussion and self-reflection has done for me is to help me see that I'm not going to change a happy man, so I need to work on finding a solution that works for me.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 5:53am
I don't think its so much that a person HAS to have a reason why they don't want sex, I think its just that by definition there IS always a reason, even if that reason is simply "I can't be bothered" or "I'd rather go on doing whatever I'm doing at the moment."

I think the DR Scharnach stuff about their being a good reason somehow relates to the particular situation where a person doesn't want sex and their partner does, and the whole thing is causing problems in the relationship. Most of us "don't want sex" for minor reasons from time to time (want to see end of this film, feel too sleepy, or whatever) but for most people these "minor" reasons wouldn't be enough to make them say NO if this was a problem for their partner to the extent that it was threatening their relationship. Once your relationship is threatened, you naturally overcome minor impediments to doing all sorts of things.... hence the conclusion that there must be a GOOD reason why these folks resist sex to the point of provoking a crisis. Nobody does that just because they want to see the end of a tv film. All relationships have CL situations-in that its very unlikely both partners want sex always the same way at the same times - but not all relationships have CL ISSUES - these arise when the natural "happy medium" mechanisms are not working becuase the normal flexibility is blocked by that "GOOD REASON" that one partner has for resisting compromise more than the average person would. The other partner percieves an excessive rigidity in the situation and a disproportionate determination on the part of their spouse to NOT budge an inch...

Not sure where I'm going with all this... I suppose just to say that whilst i don't think there is necessarily a BIG reason behind every refusal to have sex, I think there IS a big reason behind it if the person refusing sex is prepared to cause themselves relationship difficulties for the sake of maintaining their "no sex!" stance.

The only other possibility is that the person is extremely well balanced, has no issues, but is just very clear and calm about the fact that he DOESN'T WANT MORE SEX even if it means losing his partner. However this is not the case for the majority here because most of our LL partners insist they DO want to stay in the relationship and get agitated when you discuss splitting up. They are not "at one" with their "no more sex" decision and its probable consequences.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 6:32am
Hi Noteworthy - I don't think your DH sounds very different from mine - mine says the same sort of thing. However I don't think one should confuse the reality of someones experience with the reality of...well, REALITY.

In your husbands experience, sex is nice but "he finds massages and watching TV more relaxing. He feels an emotional connection with me through hugging, kissing and talking." It is true that for him, this is the way it is - these things are "better" than sex, in his experience for achieving relaxation and emotional connection. However this doesn't change the fact that the depths of relaxation and emotional connection that CAN be achieved through intimate sex go WAY beyond those experienced from watching TV or hugging. Basically, your husband is saying: "the amount of connection that I get from talking and hugging with you is enough for me. I'm not really interested in going to the trouble of pursuing MORE depth of connection." My DH is the same. So yes, he is a "happy man" but he is "happy" within his comfort zone.

Me, I want to achieve a deeper connection with my partner. It may be that YOU do too. Because I have always known that that deeper connection was to be found through sex, this is why I have pursued sex with my DH - the only thing that has changes since reading the book is that I have become aware that I may have been going about things in slightly the wrong way. One odd thing I notice reading this book is how (if the author is too be relied on)I seem to be very "sorted out" about SOME things but extremely off beam in others. I seem to have a healthy part of me that knows deep down what I need and is right on target in trying to move in that direction, and a less healthy, more needy part that also seeks adoration, reassurance and relief from anxiety through sex.

Regarding this part of your post: "So now I'm working on dealing with the lack of sex instead of trying to increase his sex drive. What all this discussion and self-reflection has done for me is to help me see that I'm not going to change a happy man, so I need to work on finding a solution that works for me." what can I say? I suppose what I'd take away from the book is that its neither a question of "trying to increase his sex drive" NOR of "dealing with the lack of sex", as it were... its more about BEING YOU and being brave enough to see where that leads you. If you decide to really BE YOU, and you find that YOU is a person who wants to voluntarily renounce a certain amount of sexual contact in order to remain close and loving with this man, then I suppose it would actually stop being a struggle or a source of anxiety because behaving in this way would be your TRUE NATURE, and you would feel good about yourself, at one with yourself.You wouldn't worry you were missing out or feel tortured and deprived and distant from him. If, on the other hand, YOU is a person who needs that deep sexual connection on a regular basis in order to be true to yourself, and you are distanced from your spouse by his lack of interest in pursuing that connection, then you also have to be brave enough to lay this on the line. You spouse then has to decide if he wants to go that road with you or if that would involve not being true to HIMself... in which case you cannot remain together whilst both holding onto your personal integrity. That's where I'm at with all this, I suppose. What is the true ME,once I get rid of all the rubbish about wanting his desire as a sign of approval and an ego boost, and needing sex for all sorts of dubious reasons... I don't really know what's going to come out of all this but I do think its going to set me on the path to healthier sexual relationships and a healthier ME in the future, whatever happens, so yes, difficult though it is I am enjoying this book.

I'm sorry my post is so rambling, I seem to have become very rambly the last few days - I keep writing posts and then deleting them cos I find them too mixed up. Anyway I'll post this one - just some thoughts from someone in a similar position.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 10:28pm
I have laid this on the line for my DH. I told him that I wanted a deeper connection and felt this could only occur through a deeper sexual relationship. In order to do this he has to act against his true nature. This is why I'm not working on dealing with the lack of sex. I'm searching for my true self within this option. I can't force my DH to seek a deeper sexual relationship. I'm not looking for any kind of validation as a person from our sexual relationship. I'm just looking for increased intimacy. I have the depth of intimacy with my DH as he is willing to seek. The book didn't help me realize any of this. I had already disclosed this to my husband before I read the book. The book hasn't provided any new strategies toward increasing intimacy in my marriage.