I got married in 2001. Our sex life was mostly fine, but it was always a little weird because I’m the only woman he’d ever been with — not only sexually, but in a relationship at all. I was 23, he was 30. We bought a house, had a couple of kids, etc., and our sex life settled into a great groove for a couple of years after the second kid was born. But in 2017 it hit the skids. He started having ED problems, but when I’d try to talk about it, he’d get angry and defensive. I tried to rewrite the sexual script, but that never worked. Finally in the fall of 2021, I made an appointment for marriage counseling. We were making progress at first, but then I realized that all he wanted to do was bitch about his job and his in-laws. He never came to me to initiate sex or conversations about sex, I had to do all the emotional labor around the issue, and it was like trying to clap with one hand.

I felt like I was watching a slow-motion train wreck with echoes of your column in the back of my mind. All the things: increasing emotional distance, my own lack of desire because I feel like I’d just get shot down again, my deteriorating sense of self-worth. In the end the thing that was the most painful wasn’t the lack of sex, it was our total inability to talk about the lack of sex. He refused to discuss it. Or he’d say he wanted sex but then do nothing about it or, even worse, sabotage my efforts. In one of our last sessions, our marriage counselor pushed him on the medications for ED. He said he would make an appointment but never did.

The lack of sex was like a cancer that metastasized and rotted out the core of my marriage. On the outside everything was great, we got along, we worked well together, and we were excellent co-parents. But inside I was dying. I couldn’t cheat, I’m too introverted for that. So, the rejections and hits to my self-esteem kept coming. My mental health deteriorated, but I couldn’t talk to him about that either.

Anyway, I ended it in February of this year. I now live with my mom about two miles down the road. And now we get along like good friends. We continue to co-parent well, we work together, all that. Once I removed “marriage expectations” from the relationship, turns out he’s great! A really good and helpful friend! I now suspect he wanted out but couldn’t do the “end it” bit, so I had to be the bad guy. I’m spending a lot of time in therapy but it’s still hard. I mean, it’s way better now because I don’t want to “un-alive” myself anymore (as the kids say these days), but I still have a lot of grief. 

I’ve been reading your column since I was a teenager. I wanted to let you know that all the stuff you’ve said about a situation where in a monogamous marriage one partner stops wanting to have sex is 100% true. It was so strange to know in the back of my head exactly what was happening to me and my marriage but also not to feel like I could do anything about it. I suspect you hear this type of thing on the regular. 

Tried Everything And Regret Staying

This is going to sound random, TEARS, but bear with me...

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