Hello RPW, I could really use some perspective and guidance from this community.
We’ve been together for 13 years, since we were 21 and 22 years old and we have 4 children.
Here is my problem- I do not find my husband attractive, nor am I able to be sexually responsive or aroused by him when sober.
I used to drink 1-2 glasses of wine, or a strong cocktail nearly every night since the beginning of our relationship. Was I an alcoholic? By definition, yes. I had no problems quitting however, and I never drank to avoid my problems. It didn’t feel like something I needed, more like something we looked forward to doing together as a nightly ritual, followed by sex.
Obviously I abstained from alcohol during pregnancy and nursing. The lack of attraction during those times was never an issue because he wasn’t interested either. Pregnancy and nursing just wasn’t a sexy time for him, and I was focused on taking care of my infants. Once the babies were weaned we resumed our routine of regularly having a drink or two and then sex-which I enjoyed. I felt like we had a healthy relationship with plenty of good sex. I’d hear of other couples divorcing and think of how lucky we were to still be happy together. Other women would talk about their sexless marriages and I thought we were special and somehow figured out how to keep it spicy when others couldn’t.
It’s been about three years since I stopped drinking on a regular basis. Even though I wasn’t drinking to get drunk I didn’t like the way I felt the next morning and I didn’t want my kids to grow up learning that having alcohol on a regular basis is just what grownups do. I didn’t quit completely though, I would drink once a month on date nights. My husband drinks less now too, although he still has a drink after work about twice a week. No judgment on my part, he is entitled to his ritual and to relax, it’s just not right for me anymore.
He is not a bad guy. He is good to me and the kids, he is responsible with a well paying job, full head of great hair, and we have a very comfortable lifestyle. He is thoughtful and generous and very much in love with me. I have been doing the work to work on myself like exercise, diet, and mindfulness. I practice gratitude and appreciation since he is the sole provider for our family. I only speak positively about him. Even when other women complain about their husbands, I chime in and only have good things to say about mine. They would sarcastically remark that we have four kids because my husband is awesome (unlike theirs)
I do love him, I just can’t seem to cultivate sexual desire for him while sober. I feel tremendously guilty when I reject his advances. I feel like I am not behaving the way a wife should. When I accept his advances I earnestly try to let go and enjoy it, but I’m sure he can see right through my feigned enthusiasm. He has said that he wishes I would initiate and be more expressive and sexual in general. I’ve tried to fake-it-till-you-make-it and hoped that with enough time I would become aroused. I just feel empty and disgusted when it’s over. If I’m being perfectly honest, I feel like a prostitute. I feel like I should put out because he pays for everything and he has the right to have sex with his wife. I am so ashamed.
It took some time for me to come to this realization about the alcohol. I thought that I was just stressed from the kids, or my hormones were off, or my body was broken and unable to perform. I read books on sexuality, we got toys, tried different lubes. I even offered to let him have an open marriage because I felt guilty not being able to perform. He refused that idea, saying that he wants to have great sex with me, not anyone else and that we could figure it out together. I don’t have the heart to tell him that I don’t find him attractive. I realized it was the alcohol when I noticed he started frequently offering it to me after I cut back. When I would indulge I was eager for sex. A few times I’d playfully ask, “Are you trying to get me drunk?” And he would smile, wink, and say “Always”. That was when I put two and two together....I’ve only been receptive, desirous even, when under the influence.
I don’t want a divorce. It would break his heart and our family and he hasn’t done anything wrong. As Laura Doyle says, “If he isn’t one of the bad ones, he’s a good guy.” I’m just not attracted to him. I feel like I’m being unfair to change the rules after more than a decade. I’m the one who has changed, not him. Even non-sexual touch fills me with anxiety and fear because I’m afraid he will escalate. When he gives me a hug or a kiss I can feel my body tense up in a panicked state. I’ve noticed that I try to avoid him so I’m not in a position to either reject him or pretend to want him. I’ll find reasons to keep busy or go to sleep well before him to avoid the elephant in the room, but that’s no way to live either. It seems ludicrous and exhausting to spend the rest of our lives being afraid of physical intimacy with my husband.
Honestly, I feel like a terrible person. I know I did this to myself for being so reckless with alcohol. I’m in this situation because I wasn’t careful enough when I was younger to get to know him when sober, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten married to begin with. I hope this serves as a warning for the younger unmarried ladies in here. But here we are, and I want to make this work. I don’t want to punish him or our children for my poor choices. I know the best gift we can give our kids is a happy and healthy marriage and sex is part of that.
Has anyone else been in a similar situation, and what did you do? Are there any women here in an arranged marriage who have had to learn to love their husbands? How do you cultivate desire or attraction for someone? How can I WANT HIM and be receptive to his touch?