For most of my 30+ year marriage I've felt like I haven't gotten as much sex as I wanted. Now, I want to solve this problem. I welcome anyone who has a similar situation to join this discussion, and would especially like to hear from people who have solved the problem in their own marriages.
My story... A few weeks after we got married, my wife's interest in sex started to wane, and for most of our marriage we've had sex about once a week, even in the early years when we didn't have kids and she didn't work. I think my ideal frequency would be every two or three days, so I've felt somewhat sex-starved for most of my marriage.
For most of our marriage my wife has been critical toward me and yelled at me a lot. Things got worse as time went on. For a few years she didn't sleep with me or have sex with me at all. I stayed in the marriage mostly because I didn't want our kids to come from a broken home. When the youngest kid got to be about 18, I started preparing to divorce. Suddenly my wife decided she wanted to keep me. She started sleeping with me and having sex with me again.
I had learned about karezza from this website. When we got together again, I started practicing karezza, and I've been practicing for the last five years. I believe it has been a huge help, by reducing feelings of irritation toward my wife, thereby avoiding many arguments and fights. We've gone from an oppressive, hostile atmosphere with my wife frequently screaming at me, and no sex or sleeping together for several years, to a quite pleasant and peaceful atmosphere. Now we sleep together, practice karezza, and have less than one quarrel per year. Quite an amazing turnabout!
But, karezza isn't a cure-all. In the last five years, we've still had sex about once a week. Sometimes a bit more, and sometimes we might go several weeks without sex. I feel like usually she agrees to have sex out of a feeling of obligation ("duty sex"). The look on her face when we're about to have sex is not one of eager anticipation, it's one of enduring something that's not pleasant.
...Most of the time. Occasionally, a few times a year, she'll surprise me by inviting me to have sex, sometimes even twice in one day! It makes me wonder who is this strange woman who got into my house? And I have no idea what causes that to happen. But it's certainly nice when it happens, and it gives me some hope that somehow I could do something to make it happen more often. I've been thinking and reading and trying to figure this out. What follows is a diary of sorts, of the last two weeks.
When I asked Emerson what he did to solve the not-enough-sex problem in his marriage, and what he would suggest to others, he said "Schedule it. Don't assume you both have to feel the same way." (http://www.reuniting.info/comment/95075#comment-95075) Well, "Don't assume you both have to feel the same way" is an interesting thought. If my wife simply had a low or zero sex drive, I could live with that, if I got enough sex anyway. But I think my wife actually dislikes sex (most of the time). I don't like feeling like I'm forcing her to do something unpleasant. It makes me feel like "Am I such a lousy lover?" I'd rather be with someone who would enjoy being with me.
"Schedule it." Well, I have a hard enough time just scheduling single sex-dates. If I try to make a date for the middle of the week, she might or might not agree. But when the time comes, often she will postpone it to the next day, then the next day, then we're into the weekend, and sometimes she keeps postponing it into the next week. If I can't schedule a single date, I don't have much hope of setting a regular, recurring schedule.
Sunday: I send this email to my wife. I sent email because having verbal discussions with her is very difficult. At the slightest hint of criticism, she starts counter-attacking and derails the conversation, leaving me angry and frustrated. In this email, I tried to emphasize the positive aspects of our relationship as much as I could, while still asking for what I want as clearly as I could.
Please watch these videos now, while you are at your computer. The first one is 5 minutes, the second one is 17 minutes:
What if you don’t enjoy making love? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On_Q8GIkL1E
The sex-starved marriage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep2MAx95m20
_____, I’m very happy that our marriage is so peaceful. We hardly ever fight any more.
I love it when you go to bed early and snuggle up with me, such as Thursday night. And I love it when you invite me to a sex-date, without me having to ask you. After we make love, for two or three days, I feel happy, I feel good physically, I’m productive at work, I feel loving, and I feel satisfied with our marriage.
But, I’m still not happy about two things:
1. We don’t make love often enough. Once a week is not enough for me. Could we make love three or four times a week, for example on Tuesday and Thursday (maybe 5 or 10 minutes if you are tired or need to go to work) and once or twice on weekends? I’m pretty sure I would be happy with that much, and would not ask for more. Here’s another short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtC26dOFQVM
2. I feel like we are not very close. We are more like friends or roommates, not lovers. I really wish we were closer and more loving. When you let me hug you, or snuggle up with you in bed, I feel happy and in love with you. When you snuggle up with me, I feel like you love me. Unfortunately, you don’t like me to touch you, and it seems like you don’t like to sleep with me. For about the last four years, you have watched TV or watched videos on your computer, until 2AM or even later. Could we please go to bed at about the same time, every night? Could you snuggle with me for 10 minutes every night (I don’t mind if you get up again after I go to sleep), and let me snuggle with you for 5 or 10 minutes before you get up? I think I would be very happy with that.
_____, this is important to me. I don’t want the rest of our marriage to be like the last 30+ years – not enough sex and cuddling. I hope we can be closer and more loving.
Monday night: She hasn't acknowledged that she's read my email, but I think she has. No dramatic change in her behavior, but Tuesday night (after 3 weeks of no sex) she said we could have sex Thursday morning. I was grateful that she had thought of me and was being considerate toward me, and was cautiously looking forward to the event. Cautiously, because so often, things come up and the date gets postponed. Sure enough, Wednesday night she tells me that she got a call reminding her of a dental appointment Thursday morning. So when can we have sex? Saturday morning, she says. I'm thinking, why not tonight, or tomorrow night, or Friday morning? But I said nothing. Asking such questions never gets anywhere.
Friday morning, I wake up early while my wife is still sleeping. I snuggle up with her. If she had woken up, she would likely have pushed me away or gotten out of bed. But she didn't wake up, and I enjoyed an hour of cuddling before I had to get up. That night I told her I had enjoyed snuggling with her that morning. She had no idea about it. Apparently she was fast asleep the whole time. But anyway she didn't seem to mind. (That just gave me an idea: I can set my cell phone to vibrate alarm to wake me up early without waking up my wife. Then maybe I can get some snuggling every morning.) But she also told me that someone had asked her to work Saturday morning. So, when can we have sex...? Sunday night.
Friday night she snuggled up with me, and it was nice, except that I was somewhat sexually aroused and wanting sex so I had a hard time getting to sleep. Maybe this is a case of "Be careful what you wish for..." regarding the snuggling!
Saturday afternoon she comes home, does some gardening, then comes in, turns on the TV, and goes to sleep on the couch. At one point when I see she's awake, I ask her if we could take a nap together, then make love. (Early in our marriage, we would often do that on Sunday afternoons.) She says she's already said we'll make love tomorrow night. Can't we do it today, I ask. She just gives me a cold stare. Around 8PM she's still watching TV. Can we go to bed early I ask? No, she has to practice her violin for her lesson tomorrow morning. 11PM she was still watching TV and hadn't practiced the violin. So once again I feel like she would rather watch TV than spend time with me.
Sunday morning I ask if we can make love in the afternoon, not wait until night when we'll probably both be tired. She says she's got two new classes in the afternoon. I groan inwardly. In the evening she buys a new computer and has me set it up. I get a glimpse of her email and see that she's read my email and hasn't deleted it. I still don't know if she watched the videos. It's about 12 when we get to bed. Shall I set the alarm for 7AM, she asks. (Translation: no sex tonight, reschedule for tomorrow morning.) We snuggle. She moves around and finds a position that's comfortable for her (and is OK for me). I mention that because it's pretty rare for her to do anything other than "endure" my snuggling. To me, it seems like a sign that she plans to do a lot more snuggling in the future, so of course she wants it to be comfortable for her.
Monday morning, FINALLY we do some karezza for about 20 minutes. I'm still a little bit annoyed that we didn't do it on the weekend when we could have spent an hour or more. Still don't know if she is prepared to have sex more often than once a week.
Monday night I help my wife with some stuff and don't get to bed until 2AM. My wife comes to bed even later. Next morning my vibrator alarm goes off and I don't even have the energy to cuddle. We've got to do something about our sleep schedule. Part of the problem has been that my wife says she can't get to sleep if she goes to bed "early" (like midnight). I think it's just a matter of habit. If you're used to going to sleep at 3AM, it's hard to get to sleep earlier.
Tuesday night: Can we make love tomorrow morning? No, she has to get up at 7:30 to go to work. Well, I'm not too bothered, because I'm still feeling pretty good from yesterday. But it shows that she hasn't agreed to the multiple times per week thing.
Wednesday morning: I wake up before 7AM, willing to just cuddle. Wife is sleeping face up. Usually she objects if I put an arm anywhere across the front of her body. So I just wait. After 10 minutes she rolls away from me onto her side. I wait a couple more minutes to see if she'll fall asleep again but she doesn't, so I move in. She leans back against me, which is a bit uncomfortable because I have to spend some effort to avoid falling over backward, but I hold the position until she gets up.
Wednesday afternoon, I'm starting to feel a bit sexually hungry. In the evening, I'm working late, so I call my wife to tell her not to wait up for me. I end the call with "When's the next time we can make love?" Friday morning, she says. Not bad!
Thursday morning, it turns out she doesn't have to work this morning. Why couldn't she have made the date for this morning? Whatever...
Friday morning, she wakes up at 7 and goes to the bathroom. I wake up at the same time, freshen up, and come back to bed, definitely ready for action! But she says she wants to sleep until 8:30. She's lying on her back and I think she would not like me to snuggle up with her, so I get up and do other stuff until 8:30. Then, we made love for 20 minutes. She was relaxed, and it was a better than average experience. One thing I like to do, when I'm on top, is ask her to wrap her legs around mine, so her calves are on top of my calves. Today she opened her legs wider and put her calves behind my knees. It was very comfortable. So what do you know? After all these years, we've found a new variation on one of our standard positions.
Friday night, I move in to cuddle, but she just wants to sleep. So I roll over facing away from her. After 5 minutes she says she can't sleep and snuggles up with me. I drift off to sleep, happy.
Saturday morning, as she's getting up to go to work, I ask when the next time we can make love is. She makes a snarky comment about how since my whole life revolves around having sex, I should be a porn actor. Maybe I asked at a bad time. I'll try asking at different times. She also complains that I haven't cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed and other stuff. I'm not good at thinking up quick retorts, so I keep my mouth shut. After she leaves I think I should have said, "Fine, you go find a man that likes to do those things, and I'll find a women who likes sex, OK?" Maybe a better thing to say would be "If you don't like sex, you should be a nun." Less confrontational, more answering in-kind. I'll try to remember that for next time.
Right now I'm feeling sort of neutral. On one hand, I'm happy about the sex on Monday and Friday, and I think maybe I'll get enough cuddling in the future. But on the other hand, I'm annoyed and hurt by the rejection this morning. There's been way too much of that in this marriage. If we are sliding back into the old pattern, we might not have sex again until next weekend. And we've had sex twice in the two weeks since I wrote the email. Two weeks isn't a very statistically significant sampling period, but so far it doesn't look like our frequency has increased.
For now I think I'll continue this strategy:
Be friendly and positive; don't react to negative events. (The Shamu training technique: http://www.reuniting.info/science/what_shamu_taught_me_about_happy_marriage)
Be persistent, without being a pest. Get a definite date and time for next sex.
Be clear about what I want, whether it's frequency of sex, or just asking her to snuggle up with me.
Saturday afternoon, I clean the bathroom. (No, I didn't vacuum.) When she gets home, she asks what what the smell is in the house. I say it's the stuff I used to clean the bathroom. She says I need to mow the lawn. I do it without a fuss. She camps out on the couch and watches TV from 4PM to midnight, then switches to her computer. While she was still watching TV, I asked if she wanted my help with music practice, which she usually does every night. She says "later." 1:30AM I ask again. She laughs and says "I've been waiting all this time for you. It's too late now." She has a strange smile on face that I don't understand at that moment. I go to bed. I don't know when she came to bed because I was asleep by then.
Sunday morning: GRRR... I feel frustrated and a bit angry. Not a good way to feel when I just want to snuggle up and have a nice time with my lawfully wedded wife.
This morning, as she was getting ready to go to her violin lesson, I thought about whether I should ask (one way or another) whether we could make love today. I really hate to be rejected, but on the other hand I feel like if I don't ask, she'll think it's not important to me and not make time for it. So I asked when she would get back. She said she had another activity late afternoon. That didn't answer my question because she might get home in a couple hours and have most of the afternoon free. I asked when she would get home from the violin lesson. She didn't answer that, but said "Don't worry, I'll make time for you." I said "I want to go to work today for a few hours, so I'd like to know when I should 'make some time'." (I'd rather not wait until late at night when we'll both be tired, and then she'd probably postpone it to Monday morning when we wouldn't have much time.) She said "Just go to work." Then she said (this is what made me angry) "I didn't make time for you yesterday because you were pushing me so much."
First of all, I didn't "push" her at all yesterday, after the very brief exchange yesterday morning.
Second, I feel like she was punishing me yesterday, without even telling me why. (Maybe that explains the strange smile last night.)
And a third thing, I feel like cleaning the bathroom was a waste of time. It felt a bit like I was paying for sex (and without the sex forthcoming!). I feel like, if she really enjoyed hanging out with me and having sex with me, the bathroom wouldn't have been an issue.
So that's where I'm at, stuck in a marriage with a wife who has a much lower sex drive than I do, and who doesn't seem motivated to accommodate my desire for more sex. I don't blame her for that - any more than I accept criticism from her that I want sex "too much." But it sure is a frustrating situation.
Ha! Just as I finished writing that last sentence, my wife came home. She said "This is what I meant about 'making some time' for us." Meaning, she was ready to make love this afternoon. She also said we could make love next Thursday morning, when she doesn't have to work. She also explained that she doesn't like to be pushed, and said if people push her too hard at work, she doesn't cooperate. (Ironically, in the past she has criticized me for being that way toward her!)
Anyway, we made love for half an hour (she was in a hurry to prepare for another class). She seemed to be in a reasonably good mood. I had a good time. My body is feeling great. But I still feel a need to communicate my thoughts about "pushing" and needing to have some idea about when our next sex-date will be. I feel another email coming on...
From last week's and today's experience, it now looks like she is adjusting to the idea of sex twice a week, when it's convenient for her (for example when she has a day off work). Twice a week is of course a lot better than once a week, but I'm not sure if I will feel satisfied with that amount. (Literally, I don't know. It's been ages since I had sex twice a week, consistently.) How to communicate that, without being "pushy"?
Maybe just continue with the Shamu training technique?