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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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I suspect my husband is gay, but he denies it. I am in my earlyforties,

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I suspect my husband is gay, but he denies it. I am in my earlyforties, we have been married for 18 years and have 2 children, but we have only had sex on a handful of occasions during that time. I am apparently always the one to blame: I wasn't attractive when I was pregnant, I disturbed him getting up for the children when they were small so he moved to the guest room, I needed to sort out a more permanent form of contraception (which I did). When I raise it, he says that he definitely isn't gay, because he finds lots of other women attractive. He claims that he does love me and does find me attractive, but it seems to be only aesthetic appreciation. We are seeing a couples counsellor, who says I need to accept what he says - about him not being gay. We have, though, been seeing her for four months and nothing has changed. I find it humiliating to beg my own husband for sex and be repeatedly rejected. I see a therapist too on my own - because I have developed body image concerns as a result.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating, confusing, and most of all heartbreaking this situation must be for you. You are clearly a normal woman with a normal libido and to be rejected sexually like this is shaming as well as hurtful.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. There is an important point in my statement above I would like us to focus on. It is the recognition that you are a normal person with a normal libido. And normal people assume their husbands are normal and so if there is a problem, we tend to look for normal reasons and causes for that problem. And the most normal reason we have today for why a man might choose to withhold himself from having sex with an attractive available woman is that he is gay.

In my experience, though, this normal reason and cause is not the most common reason for a husband to avoid sex with his wife when she is interested and makes efforts to attract him. In fact, it is at most the third most prominent reason.

The most common reasons are the man's psychological attitude toward sex with another human being. This can result from a myriad of reasons, starting with childhood/teen sexual encounters/abuse that make loving sex emotionally difficult. It can include all the way on the other side being emotionally uncomfortable with sex with a real human being and the give and take of human sexuality; preferring instead to masturbate alone, with or without pornography. And there are emotional/psychological factors in between as well.

The second most common reason is a low libido in a man because of medications he is taking and/or a physical condition. This requires him being willing to be totally honest with his physician(s) and undergoing testing.

That a man is secretly gay is not that common any longer as it was in the 1960s till the mid 1980s. Really it would be most useful for him to be working on this in therapy so it is ironic that you are in individual therapy. This, however, is also common: you as the spouse internalizes the problem as being in you when the problem is in him. I would very much like you to take up this point in your therapy, okay?

As for your current couples therapy, it is not addressing the relevant issues and you are correct for reconsidering if this is the right therapist for the two of you. You need someone who is experienced in emotional closeness and intimacy as well as sexual intimacy, so that the two of you can begin to feel united enough to recognize this as a problem that you both are feeling bad about--you openly and he under the surface.

There is a type of therapy I want to recommend strongly for you two to consider.

It is called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Why? Because it focuses on how there have been created emotional barriers and how to get through those barriers. Please consider it before you take other action. I know that there are therapists practicing this therapy in the UK and I very much hope there is one close enough for the two of you.

Here is the web address for their therapist finder:

http://iceeft.com/findtherapist.php

You might also consider perhaps seeking a psychologist or psychotherapist who is certified as a sex therapist as well. Here is the UK organization's therapist directory:

http://www.cosrt.org.uk/find_therapist.asp

It is unclear that the issue is sex per se as much as his inability to be emotionally close to enjoy sex with another human being who he is emotionally intimate with. So, focus on that.

Okay, I wish you the very best!



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