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GeorgeSand

Incompatibility isn't the whole problem

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GeorgeSand

Okay, so after spending WAY too many hours immersed in the forums here these past few days, and reading others' stories, I am beginning to realize that the problem with my marriage (I'm sexual with an asexual or grey-sexual husband) is not that our sex drives are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Others deal with communication and compromise. And THAT is what my husband and I are lacking; not sexual compatibility. I wonder if anyone else can relate to these, or have some insights to share?

There are layers to this issue:

1)The Immediate Issues:

My husband doesn't acknowledge he is asexual or grey sexual, probably because he is uninterested in exploring what it means to be such. He also either clams up and says "I don't know" to any questions I put forth about why he rejects me for sex or what we can do to satisfy both of us, OR, he immediately becomes angry and claims we should just get a divorce. So I'm afraid to bring it up, which makes negotiation nearly impossible. This has been true for years. He also refuses to go to a therapist.

I am willing to limit sex, but I am certain I can't remain celibate. He is not totally asexual; we have had brief spurts of intensely passionate sex, initiated by him, but they are few and far between. I have tried bringing up the possibility of negotiating a once-a-month situation; he wouldn't discuss it. Like, literally, wouldn't even answer. I have tried negotiating a non-penetration style. Again, dead end.

What this makes me feel like is that 1) He doesn't care how lonely, hurt, rejected, and frustrated I am. I've tried explaining it, gently, non-accusingly. He's silent. (Sometimes, after I pleasure myself - during which I'm immersed in a fantasy about being held, spooned, touched, kissed, in a loving and adoring way - I burst into tears at climax, because I know I will never get to feel that way in real life. It wrecks me.) 2) He has all the power in this situation. I am powerless. I have absolutely no negotiating power, other than to walk out the door, which I don't want to do.

In addition, it seems that my husband thinks of people who want sex as low minded. We had a long, honest, conversation about everything last fall (so refreshing!) in which he cited Buddhism and Epicurean and how he feels aligned to the idea that we should rise above our sexual urges; life is better when we do. Sex complicates things and leads to eventual suffering.

2) Underlying issues:

The past...Oh, the past. I can't seem to escape the things I said in our first years together. Neither of us understood the situation. I, like so many other sexuals, didn't understand that asexuality was an actual state of being, not a choice. I thought that my husband was a terrible, cold hearted man, cruel. Or I thought that there was something terribly, terribly wrong with me, and I was unlovable. I wished for death. We had so many fights; so many things said that were said out of lack of understanding and selfishness.

These days are behind us, though other mistakes have been made. About five years ago, I thought long and hard about all this, and determined that he did love me, possibly, and that keeping sex from me was not a punishment or indication that he hated me, but that he was just not that interested in sex. I changed my tone. We have had many happy days since I was able to change my mindset and thus my tone. By the way, I had to figure this out on my own, since he does not discuss these things. In the wonderful anonymity of Internet, I can say I feel proud to have done that, compared to where we started. (But of course I couldn't say that out loud. :) )

In any case, I believe that's part of why he's unable to discuss things now, even years later. I feel like, well, I can do my part in making sure I don't attack him or show anger about him rejecting my sexual advances, and let him know I love and value him. But he has to do his part, too, and crack that door open and let me in. At least, if he wants to stay married, that's what he "has" to do.

I'm a forgiving person, and am good at seeing things from many angles. He, on the other hand, tends towards black-and-white views. I think this makes it difficult to forgive and forget our early years.

Still, I have some amount of resentment that while I feel I'm working on the emotional damage he's said and done to me, and our situation has incurred upon me over the years... it doesn't seem like he is doing the same. It seems to me that if we want to move forward as a married couple, it's absolutely imperative that he work on the forgive-and-forget part of things in order to understand that I don't want to have a conversation in which I blame him for everything; I want to have a conversation that leads to compromise from both of us, and a way to allow us both to be content with the situation. I KNOW I've changed dramatically over the past five years; it's time to acknowledge this, and all the work I've done, and the person I've become.

Is that fair of me? In my mind, it's all me working on the relationship and doing the compromise. But maybe not, maybe I'm missing something.

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Tarfeather

Is that fair of me? In my mind, it's all me working on the relationship and doing the compromise. But maybe not, maybe I'm missing something.

You're missing that it doesn't matter what's fair. You can not expect your partner to do anything. At best you can help him with what he already wants to do.

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GeorgeSand

Is that fair of me? In my mind, it's all me working on the relationship and doing the compromise. But maybe not, maybe I'm missing something.

You're missing that it doesn't matter what's fair. You can not expect your partner to do anything. At best you can help him with what he already wants to do.

But in a marriage, is it not fair to expect your spouse to at least be able to discuss situations? It wouldn't be fair for me to force him to have sex with me, no. What I'm talking about is expecting some level of compromise, communication, and acknowledgement of MY feelings and needs. And emotional growth on his side. Which I don't feel I'm receiving. Forget the sex. I want an open discussion that doesn't lead to accusations by either of us...

Is that not an expected part of the marriage contract?

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Tarfeather

2) He has all the power in this situation. I am powerless. I have absolutely no negotiating power, other than to walk out the door, which I don't want to do.

You said it yourself. As for a marriage contract, I wouldn't know. It depends on how your partner feels about it.

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Prairie

Power and relating with people are mutually contradictory. The exercise of power shuts off people's desire to relate.

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Sally

There is NOTHING which you can expect in a marriage/partnership situation, except what both partners wish to contribute.

You are not powerless. You have the power to decide whether you want to continue trying to force your partner to become "fair", or you don't continue to do that. Decision-making about what YOU do is the only power that you can expect in any relationship. Concentrate on that, instead of inveighing about what he won't do.

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Serran

There are people who believe sexual urges should be controlled, rather than accepted. Gandhi was one such person. So, if that is your husbands philosophy in life... that's gonna be harder than just if he was asexual. I mean, there is some compromise if you just don't experience attraction/desire. But, if you actively feel indulging in attractions/desires would harm your personal growth (which is what the philosophies believe) then ... you're probably not going to be willing to even go down that road, at all. So, if he truly does abide by those philosophies and has stated it as such, then that's probably at least part of why he doesn't want to discuss it further. Many people believe indulging in "base" emotions such as sexual desires, jealousy, wants, selfishness, etc keeps us from experiencing spiritual awakening and true peace. Dissuading a person from those beliefs is about as easy as converting a devout Catholic to Satanism, if they truly believe in it. And personally, I wouldn't even try, personal beliefs like that are rather personal. So, I would be trying to figure out how deeply he believes that, as that would be a complete road block in any attempt to achieve any sort of sexual relationship with him.

Also, resentment and fighting over years can build up lots of communication issues. On top of that, admitting to not desiring sex, is often seen as admitting you're not a "real man" .. so some men have issues with that. And sex can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially if there has been fighting over it in the past. It's a shame he won't go to therapy, as after a lot of issues it can help open communication back up. But, if he won't, then he won't.

You can really only get what he is willing to give out of the relationship. He can only get what you are willing to give. Yes, communication is vital to a relationship in most cases. But, you also can't force someone to open up. You can request, you can gently try to coax, but if they still stay shut down... well, that's about it. As for power, you have no power to force him to talk, no. He has no power to force you to stop trying to talk. No one ever really has power over another person's actions, so you're both rather "powerless" in getting what you want.

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Tarfeather

Many people believe indulging in "base" emotions such as sexual desires, jealousy, wants, selfishness, etc keeps us from experiencing spiritual awakening and true peace. Dissuading a person from those beliefs is about as easy as converting a devout Catholic to Satanism, if they truly believe in it. And personally, I wouldn't even try, personal beliefs like that are rather personal.

Yeah, and my girlfriend also believes that eating when she's hungry means she's losing control, and that she should starve herself to death. Am I going to not try to dissuade her from that because it's a belief of her? Hell no.

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Serran

Many people believe indulging in "base" emotions such as sexual desires, jealousy, wants, selfishness, etc keeps us from experiencing spiritual awakening and true peace. Dissuading a person from those beliefs is about as easy as converting a devout Catholic to Satanism, if they truly believe in it. And personally, I wouldn't even try, personal beliefs like that are rather personal.

Yeah, and my girlfriend also believes that eating when she's hungry means she's losing control, and that she should starve herself to death. Am I going to not try to dissuade her from that because it's a belief of her? Hell no.

How precisely is self-harm and an eating disorder similar to an Eastern philosophy attempt to achieve spiritual awakening? One will not die if one finds spiritual peace in foregoing sex. It's more like me trying to convince my grandmother her religion is wrong, because it doesn't let her experience some things I enjoy and would like to share with her. There is zero protection there and it's merely trying to change someones outlook on life and spirituality to suit my desires. Of course, the OP's husband may not believe strongly in the philosophy. But, if he does, that's a larger incompatibility than asexual/sexual.

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Tarfeather

How precisely is self-harm and an eating disorder similar to an Eastern philosophy attempt to achieve spiritual awakening?

Not necessarily similar, but it's linked. There are people who genuinely believe and follow such a philosophy; And there are people who are insecure in themselves and need to hide behind philosophies like this in order not to feel bad about themselves. Considering her husband is married, I'm kinda leaning toward the latter in his case.

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GeorgeSand

Okay, so a couple things:

First of all, thank you, Serran, I've been thinking about what you said all day.

I had to fight off feelings of indignation, initially. Here I am, again, being told that I just have to accept. The thought occurs to me that no, you don't always have to accept certain things, even in a spouse. Abuse of any sort, for instance, which is obviously not the case here. What if I was talking about housework - about a person who did nothing but watch TV or play video games while I did every single last bit of the housework - despite us both having full time jobs? Would it be fair to ask him to contribute then, even if he really didn't like cleaning? Would it be fair to ask him to pitch in, because working full time and possibly taking care of a kid and doing the housework was nearly killing me? Wouldn't there still be room for compromise (if he's absolutely repulsed by toilet cleaning, heck, I'll do it, and he can fold the laundry, etc.)? Doesn't a well managed household require both parties helping out? Especially if it's not possible for one person to do it all herself. That doesn't seem unreasonable, and neither does asking for communication.

He's not sex-repulsed, and any sex we've had has been initiated by him, for most of our marriage. He also has said that he's not anti-sex. He just doesn't get why it's so important. But it's important to me. And if I'm important to him, why won't he make an effort to compromise, or even TALK about a compromise?

Obviously, I can't force him to do a single thing. I don't want to have to force him to do anything. All I'm saying is, is it unfair of me to be hurt that he won't make the effort? Because I am hurt. By so much. Like so many other sexuals.

Yes, I could leave. I just am unwilling, at this point, to accept that there isn't a compromise, and until he tells me there is no way to do so, that he would be way out of his comfort zone having sex once a month or once every three months or even just holding me while I'm naked...I don't see what is holding him back from compromising.

But, you're right: it's not fair of me to be upset with him for not being in the same state of being that I am in. If he's not there yet, he's not there... If he's still too hurt by past actions, I can't hurry him through it. All I can do is be responsible for my own words and actions and how they affect him, which I've been trying so, so, hard to do. I'm not upset with him for being asexual. I'm merely frustrated that here is a situation that I can do absolutely nothing about that I haven't already tried. My whole life is looking for problems, and then fixing them. Until he decides he's ready to have a conversation about this, I can't fix this.

I'm just really worried that he is happy to continue as is because he isn't the one sacrificing anything.

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Sally

My whole life is looking for problems, and then fixing them. Until he decides he's ready to have a conversation about this, I can't fix this.

You may not be able to fix it even if he gets ready to have a conversation about it. You cannot fix another person -- you cannot make them be what you need them to be. That's an uncomfortable reality, but it is reality.

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GeorgeSand

Yeah, but with more information, I may be able to figure out what to DO. Even if that means leaving. I'm just in limbo, now, waiting for him to tell me he has it in him to do some compromising, or he doesn't.

I wish I was the type of person who could deal with celibacy. But I'm not. I am filled with loneliness and despair when contemplating a sexless life. I won't be able to handle it.

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Serran

How precisely is self-harm and an eating disorder similar to an Eastern philosophy attempt to achieve spiritual awakening?

Not necessarily similar, but it's linked. There are people who genuinely believe and follow such a philosophy; And there are people who are insecure in themselves and need to hide behind philosophies like this in order not to feel bad about themselves. Considering her husband is married, I'm kinda leaning toward the latter in his case.

Gandhi was married. Many people who follow tantric teachings are married, even though some believe sex leeches their energy as much as leeching blood would. Marriage proves nothing in beliefs, nor does it go against most of the teachings of such philosophies. I did say to explore how deeply this belief is held, so I know some people do not believe it. But, some do. Figuring out which side he's on will be crucial in any sort of discussion, if he's using it as a reason. If it's a belief he feels strongly about, then as I said, it's a bigger issue than asexual/sexual. Just not attracted or doesn't desire you can possibly compromise with. Actively feels sex would harm one in any way, spiritually/emotionally/mentally/physically then it becomes much, much harder for the person to compromise about it and may be impossible.

OP: No, you don't have to just accept it. You of course can talk to him about it. But, it's up to you to decide how long to wait for him to discuss things with you. He may not ever open up. Or, if he does, nothing may change anyway. It's fine to feel hurt, or unhappy. It's fine to keep trying to communicate. I'm just saying... whether through personal belief or orientation, he seems to be saying he can't do frequent sex. And hoping for that to change, when he seems to be saying it's not going to, probably isn't very healthy. I think the two answers you need to come up with is what outcome would you need to be happy with him? And how long will you wait for communication to open? Working to bridge a gap in a marriage is admirable, but it seems kind of like you're hoping he'll be able to be sexual much more frequently than he has said he's comfortable with. And exactly why he can't, well, he might not ever be able to answer. Why don't I like dried fruit? I dunno, I just don't. If someone tried to get me to explain that more, they'd probably just get a shrug.

Personally, I am not repulsed, I am rather neutral on sex. But, I still have a frequency I can handle before I start to get annoyed, because I don't WANT it ... it's totally for my partner. And while I can do something for him sometimes, it's just anger inducing and depressing to do it more than I am comfortable with. If I asked him to watch the same movie every week, he'd probably start getting annoyed at me too though. Especially if it was one he didn't really like to begin with. Your husband has said once a month would be too much, has he said what would not be too much for him?

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GeorgeSand

He's not saying anything, that's the point.

He hasn't said that once a month is too much. He won't talk about it, very rarely has, other than to say "I don't know" or that sex is just not that important. He did say it wasn't a bad experience for him. And last fall, we had about two months during which we had sex several times a week, again, initiated by him. Which then abruptly ended at Thanksgiving, which is fine, well, I can accept it at least.

This leads me to believe that it wouldn't be totally out of the question for me to ask for sex every one or two months, or to discuss other ways that we can have intimacy... because it's not just the sex that I miss. If we discussed it, and he honestly expressed that he didn't think he could handle that, then I would at least know where he stands, what his limits are, and so would he. I'm not going to push him beyond his spoken limits on sex.

I can't say for sure, but I sense the philosophies he quoted is not a personal philosophy, just one he resonates with, and also (having been in the conversation and knowing from whence it came) a little bit of a way to escape the label of "asexual". If he can make it about something high minded like philosophy, that somehow saves him from being "at fault". I don't look at it as "fault", but I probably have made him to think he is at fault in the past, that he needs fixing, so it's not surprising he's averse to the notion of being asexual.

I don't think I push the subject an unreasonable amount. I bring up sex every four or five months at this point. I went three years without anything.

It occurred to me last night that he may not want to discuss it because he's so afraid I'm going to leave. Of course this seems unreasonable to me - I stuck through ten years of rare sex, heck, I stuck through three years of NO sex, and early on, fights, and all this with no real information from him. And if he doesn't know what a stubborn person I am by now, he's not been paying attention - I don't give up easily! But, of course, it's not up to me to decide what is reasonable for him. I think it's unreasonable to believe in a god, but that doesn't stop some from swearing it's real.

It's a conundrum. He needs to trust in me and the relationship so we can figure this all out, but the more he distances himself from me and the more desperate I become about intimacy, the more unhappy I am, and the more I'm in that mindset, the less likely he is to trust me. So I'm trying really, really, hard to stay optimistic and give no indication that this is agony for me... but I don't know how long I can keep this up. My goal is until February 2017, my 35th birthday. That's an awfully long time, but I know nothing in marriage happens overnight, so...

Oh, me. I can't ever stop at three sentences!

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Serran

Fear of you leaving is possible, or perhaps fear of you cheating again (even if you tried to make him see you see it as a mistake, it's hard to get over the doubts). For now, you see it as a problem to be worked on. If he out and said "I don't want to have sex anymore", it would no longer be something to work on. So, entirely possible there is fear of giving you exactly how he feels.

But, he could also just not have any further answer than "I don't know", really. He could enjoy sex and just not have any drive to have it, as he could enjoy other things more. I mean, I can say I don't want to cause I find it boring... but if it was enjoyable it probably would be "I dunno, I just don't" cause what else can you say? "Yeah, I like it when it happens. But, I'd rather just cuddle. Why? Erm. I just would?" There isn't always a huge why as to why you don't want to do something. And sex, when you don't want it, can be emotionally/mentally exhausting.

So, 2017... that's a very long time to be unhappy and unable to communicate. Nothing happens in marriage overnight, but almost two years seems like such a long time, especially if nothing at all changes (his ability to communicate, for example) with you so unhappy with how things are. :( Hm. If he won't see a therapist, would he maybe be willing to read some personal stories from asexuals/grey-as/demis and see if anything sounds kinda like how he feels? Perhaps it'd be easier for him to pick out a story and go "That kinda sounds right" than talk about it himself? Or, maybe he finds writing things out easier than talking, so you could suggest keeping a journal for both of you over how you feel about things within the relationship (including sex), then switch and let each other read after a month or so?

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GeorgeSand

Yeah, actually, that makes sense. I know he really may not know "Why". I think it's more, I don't even understand what is within his boundaries, and I'd like to. Or IF he's able to compromise, or just simply unwilling to compromise. Is it his asexuality holding him back from compromise, or something else? ... I don't know. Because of how well I know him, I sense it's not just the asexual nature; that's probably why I'm unable to just let it go. He approaches most of life with the mindset of, "This is how I think it is, so that's how it is. Why should I change for anyone else's sake?" He has literally stated this, about multiple subjects. Which I both love, and detest. :) Religion, politics, finances, housework, etc. Always, his way is the only way it's going to be. It's taken years to get small compromises on ANYTHING out of him. I married a glacier. He moves... just not much. Which is fine; I can adjust for those other things. However, sexual intimacy, though I've tried, is not something I can give up entirely.

I think you're on to something with the journal. I don't think he'd keep a journal, but maybe if I try writing to him, it will be an easier way for us to communicate. Now that I think about it, some of the times he's been the most open and honest with me have been when he's written a long letter to me. And we met online, so our whole relationship started with months of doing nothing but writing to each other. Plus, you can revise a letter to try and make sure it doesn't sound accusatory or critical. :)

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Serran

I think you're on to something with the journal. I don't think he'd keep a journal, but maybe if I try writing to him, it will be an easier way for us to communicate. Now that I think about it, some of the times he's been the most open and honest with me have been when he's written a long letter to me. And we met online, so our whole relationship started with months of doing nothing but writing to each other. Plus, you can revise a letter to try and make sure it doesn't sound accusatory or critical. :)

*nods* I find text easier, for exactly the reasons you stated in the final sentence. Say it in words, it might come out wrong, then you're in a huge fight when you didn't mean it harshly at all. :s

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teagansk

Reading your story is heartbreaking. I relate to a lot of what you are feeling as I have experienced a lot of it. The one thing I am currently struggling with that you describe is finding empathy and understanding from my wife. I have trouble sharing my love when I feel like my wife doesn't understand I have pain there. My desire would be for us to think of the mixed relationship as a burden we share together equally. I have tried to use analogies to describe what it is like to have this love that I feel and experience physically and how challenging it is not to have that love as a shared experience. Not feeling desire is depressing to say the least. I could tell stories but she does not get it and never will.

I believe that that to be a perfect married partner means being 100% unselfish. We are all flawed people and not perfect so that can't be achieved but it something good to keep in the back of your mind. Every marriage involves two very different people coming together. On this forum our differences are sexual desire. That is a tough area to be unselfish. Impossible? I think trying to aim to be authentically unselfish expecting nothing in return has a benefit that when a partner is the recipient of unselfish love, they tend to become a little more in tune to their partners needs and demonstrate some unselfishness themselves. (However, I'll admit to feeling incredibly frustrated when I feel like I am doing my part and my wife is not).

I believe you absolutely should and must help your husband understand how you feel. The best way to do that is to start with how he feels and focus on that. His feelings and vulnerability will usually give you an opening to share where you are at.

Journaling privately is an excellent idea. Using written communication to talk can be productive but also very dangerous. There is so much that can't be conveyed in writing and it is very easy to be misunderstood. There is no replacement for 1:1 communication. If that works for him, it might offer a great way to initiate conversation but don't hit send if there is a small voice in your head that wonders how what you said my be interpreted or if there is a lot of emotion in the words. You seem very intelligent and thoughtful but some of my biggest regrets for things I said were in email.

Your situation, while extremely challenging, does seem to have a lot of hope. It is clear in your language that you have been on the journey of understanding a mixed marriage for a long time and are quite mature in your perspective. (ie. "gently, non-accusingly") You are thoughtful and understanding which is excellent. Your husband has the capability to find enjoyment in sex. Those are all really great signs of hope.

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GeorgeSand

Thank you all. I know we're all frustrated and some of that frustration probably seems unfair to those on "the other side", too. But, I guess like Tarfeather said, it doesn't matter whether it's fair or not.

If you haven't figured this out yet... I can't help but to let every little feeling out. :) I'm a poet, a musician, an artist... I'm constantly thinking about emotions and expressing myself in all kinds of ways. So, if my husband hasn't figured out how painful this is to me after the numerous conversations, the poems, the occasional days when I cannot sleep in the bed because I am overwhelmed by tears and sadness... well. He's not paying attention.

I think he knows. I often get hung up on "Well if he cares about me, why won't he do something?" I'm starting to figure this out. Even before my escapade into extra marital sex, his distrust and pessimism held him back from doing anything. Whereas I see a challenge and want to exhaust every single solution before giving up, he sees a challenge and thinks it's wiser to just give up earlier, rather than later. This is true of life in general with him. However, he is also of the firm belief that marriage is a non-negotiable contract; you stick by the person you married no matter how terrible it gets. (Personally, I find this ridiculous - I mean, obviously, I don't believe you should give up at the first hint of problems but if it's destructive to one or both, you shouldn't stay in it!) So. He's still here. I'm still here.

I think I just really need to kindle a sense of hope in him before he will begin to open up... if I can. You're all right; I can't force him to open up. I can prepare a safe place for him and THEN invite him to the conversation. He's still convinced we're surrounded by wolves. Why would he come to a meeting place believing that?

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Keels

Huh. This is a great conversation.

I really like the point about how there isn't always a huge WHY in answer to every question. It's sort of the very nature of the disconnect that "why don't you like sex?" is an absolutely burning question for sexuals, but can be an obtuse question for asexuals, right?

I also appreciate (and experience personally) the point about how even if you have enjoyed it and do enjoy it, it may not ever be something you feel a motivation to do at this point in your life. I thought of something similar in my life: I LOVE going to concerts. Absolutely some of my favorite memories are from clubs and concert halls. Live music gets me on a really deep, profound level. I used to go out all the time when I was younger, single, carefree, living in the city, walking distance or a bus ride to venues. I miss it. And yet... man, it's such a production, such a hassle any more. Expensive, time consuming, high-overhead, kind of draining in terms of the overall experience. I now almost always have other priorities for time, money, energy. So I get to a gig maybe once or twice a year. Not because I wouldn't enjoy it, but because there's some way in which it doesn't make sense.

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Tarfeather

Expensive, time consuming, high-overhead, kind of draining in terms of the overall experience. I now almost always have other priorities for time, money, energy. So I get to a gig maybe once or twice a year. Not because I wouldn't enjoy it, but because there's some way in which it doesn't make sense.

This is so true. And annoying. Me and my partner have found a point where we can share physical intimacy and both enjoy it. But it's still not happening because for her uni and studying is so important she can't make time even one day in the month. This would never be an issue with a sexual (or even romantic) who actually has a psychological need for this kind of intimacy.

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Skullery Maid

Hey... so I just covered a lot of this topic in my "sexual compromise" post so I'm not going to copy and paste here, but to shorthand...

Yeah, my partner was more communicative by a million than your husband, but still, would never really talk about it, her only suggestion was "fine, i'll try harder" to which I always said "OMG that's not what I'm saying, can't you just talk to me!" and the response was always "no". She also has never accepted the gray/ asexual/ whatever label. The subject of our sex life causes her such incredible guilt, anger, and frustration that she can't even think about it without a panic attack.

A couple nights ago I finally just pushed through the panic attack and kept talking to her, and it was really cool... she admitted for the first time that she's obviously some variation of asexual-ish and that even thinking of it makes her feel horrible. She said she feels broken and can't make the feeling go away, and even though she knows it's not true, she can't stop the feeling. She also said that she's really embarrassed that she never noticed before that she's "different" and is having some issues with that because she's having a hard time understanding why I seem to have a better grasp on how she feels than she does (I told her... its because of AVEN).

So, some of the above, plus the manhood issue, plus the fear of losing you. That, incidentally, was the first hurdle we had to cross. I'd say it took a good 2 years before she truly understood that I'm not going to leave her because of sex. Until she understood that, there was no talking about it, no compromising, no openness at all. So, just from my own experience, I'd say your husband sounds like he's very scared and very confused. But again, I don't know him so it's all just speculation.

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GeorgeSand

I think what you say makes sense, SkulleryMaid. And there's the whole issue of his past, having lost past relationships for the same reason (lack of sex, etc.) and then my infidelity for him to deal with. When asking myself "How long do I give this before I just give up?", all of that is important. How long does it take someone to heal and trust again? Specifically, how long does it take someone who naturally believes in the worst in people to heal and trust?

A few nights ago, we were walking, and he seemed stressed. I asked what was stressing him out, and he said, "Everything. Work, marriage, human nature, the dogs, life." I asked what about human nature, and he said, "Just that I'm not sure it's at all good." :( How do I stand up to this sentiment and remain positive and hopeful, myself? We have a huge house on a huge piece of land; he has so much job flexibility; we get along quite well, I think, especially compared to others I know; our dogs are never any trouble other than that they sleep wherever you need to walk, as is their wont; we have an amazing life!

This is why it means so much to me when I see him so excited about something, and that any little outward expression of happiness is something to be cherished. And it's also why I get frustrated and discouraged. It often seems like MY hope and emotional stamina is what's keeping us afloat. I say "seems" because I know that the "waters run deep" in my husband; that is, there's a lot going on there that never comes to the surface. Or hasn't yet, anyway.

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Skullery Maid

A few nights ago, we were walking, and he seemed stressed. I asked what was stressing him out, and he said, "Everything. Work, marriage, human nature, the dogs, life." I asked what about human nature, and he said, "Just that I'm not sure it's at all good." :( How do I stand up to this sentiment and remain positive and hopeful, myself? We have a huge house on a huge piece of land; he has so much job flexibility; we get along quite well, I think, especially compared to others I know; our dogs are never any trouble other than that they sleep wherever you need to walk, as is their wont; we have an amazing life!

Huh. That's... tough. Sounds like he is neck-deep in depression and could use some help, but of course I really don't know. Still, there's SOMETHING going on with him.

Coming at this from a completely different angle... you do have the right to live the type of life you want to live. Divorce is hell, but it's a temporary hell. Short term big pain is better, IMO, than long term permanent, but less intense, pain. If you want to be happy and positive and enjoy life, and he's not able to do that, you may want to consider your options. Personally, I suffer from terrible depression and anxiety and I, as my partner says, "go into myself" sometimes. My brain is not the most pleasant place to be, so I really prefer to limit my negativity from other sources. I already give myself enough negativity. My partner is very happy, easy-going, friendly, up-for-anything... if it weren't for that, I don't know what I'd do.

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GeorgeSand

Right. I've kind of decided that if I don't see some significant signs that he's able to come to the table with me by 2017, that's it. I don't think I can handle a life without sex, or without knowing when or even if I'll have sex again, and beyond that... I do deserve happiness, and a partner able and willing to work on himself at least as much as I am working on my own issues. Which sounds resentful, when put to written word, but I don't mean it as such (though I certainly have weeks when I am angry that he can't seem to pull it together. I'm only human.) Most of the time, I think I understand that he may not be able to "do the work". And besides, I've hurt him plenty.

So, two years sounds like a long time, I think, and all of my dear ones have said their own patience wouldn't have lasted even THIS long. That's twelve years together, total, if I make it that far. But two years isn't really that long at all, I think, when it comes to healing a chasm this large, and one so elusive. Months doesn't seem fair, and even a year doesn't really seem fair given the fact that we're dealing with my infidelity. Two years seems fair. Am I crazy?

BTW.... despite his words, some of his actions show he's working on it. For instance, when I met him, he KNEW I loved camping and outdoors life, and he indicated he did, too. But until this year, we did not ONCE go camping together, despite me begging him every summer, and him saying that yes, we would. Or even take any vacations together, though we had the time and money. Now he wants to go hiking or camping every other weekend, we've got plans to go to Thailand and all sorts of places, we've already been on a one week day-hiking trip this Spring. And instead of locking himself in his room playing video games for literally hours on end, he's doing projects and spending free time with me. I feel like, "Hey! This looks more like the man I fell in love with!"

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Serran

Video games and such are great escapes from the real world, if you see pain in the real world. It does sound like he's got some serious emotional turmoil he needs to work out to enjoy the things he actually enjoys. Hopefully the hiking and getting out is a sign that he's starting to work through it. :)

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Matthew89

You're missing that it doesn't matter what's fair. You can not expect your partner to do anything. At best you can help him with what he already wants to do.

The point of relationships is EXPECTANCY of certain things from a partner. If you don't expect anything from your partner that means you consider him worthless in every way, or maybe he really is.

Some things partners don't want to do. Like to go to work. Do the dishes. Clean the room. Take care of the kids. And so on. But in a normal good relationship you EXPECT that your partner will do these things even if he doesn't want to.

And that's the difference between a good relationship and quasi-relationship where two selfish people are making their lives miserable.

You're not going to do well at work doing only things you want, you're not going to do well in school doing only things you want, you're not going to be a good parent by letting your kid do only things it wants, and why would it be any different in a romantic relationship. It's just an excuse to be selfish. But relationships where one side does not care for the needs of the other is not a healthy relationship and probably won't work out.

How precisely is self-harm and an eating disorder similar to an Eastern philosophy attempt to achieve spiritual awakening? One will not die if one finds spiritual peace in foregoing sex.

Except that in the East when you decide to forgo sex you also decide to forgo companionship with women. In Hinduism, when you decide on a marital life, it is your duty to sexually satisfy a spouse. Sleeping in the same bed as your wife, avoiding sex and pretending you're some kind of eastern mystic is abuse. That's what it is. And I don't care if that person puts on a robe and calls himself a philosopher.

(Of course, if you're honest and say that you're asexual and other side agrees then it's not really abuse but I wasn't talking about that.)

I am beginning to realize that the problem with my marriage (I'm sexual with an asexual or grey-sexual husband) is not that our sex drives are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Others deal with communication and compromise.

The next realization you will have is that asexuality isn't one characteristic separate of the others, and that there are going to be many other incompatibilities between a sexual and asexual person.

Others deal with communication and compromise. And THAT is what my husband and I are lacking; not sexual compatibility. I wonder if anyone else can relate to these, or have some insights to share?

I'd say this is typical. While there are some asexuals here who compromise, it's usually those who are mildly asexual. For example, they find sexual things boring. But those who find sex repulsive, who are terrified of it.. yeah, you're not going to find much compromise there or empathy. So it's not black or white, more like based on the level of asexuality.

My husband doesn't acknowledge he is asexual

Again, doesn't surprise me. I had the same case. GF didn't accept that she's asexual. There are many gay people who can't accept their sexuality. Why would it be any different with asexuality. It should also be noted that asexuality is a mental state. And people are not willing to admit they have a mental state that they consider inappropriate or bad.

OR, he immediately becomes angry

Anger sounds faimiliar for my case too.

I am willing to limit sex, but I am certain I can't remain celibate. I have tried negotiating a non-penetration style. Again, dead end.

I'd say this is also typical. You can only negotiate if you have an advantage. Like, if the other side if afraid of losing you. Once you don't, it's done. And I think a marriage gives a safe haven because the person knows divorce is your only gambling chip, and it's unlikely you're going to lose it.

http://therationalmale.com/2011/08/19/the-cardinal-rule-of-relationships/

I've tried explaining it, gently, non-accusingly. He's silent.

I haven't noticed any effect in rational approach. No amount of explaining or convincing works. No amount of being nice. You will not get it as a reward for being nice. But you might get it if you're not nice, so that you become nice again. Sad but that's how it seems to work. Only when everything breaks down then you may have some negotiating power, but as long as things are good the other side feels there's no need to negotiate and compromise. Because there really isn't if you're selfish and uncaring.

In addition, it seems that my husband thinks of people who want sex as low minded. We had a long, honest, conversation about everything last fall (so refreshing!) in which he cited Buddhism and Epicurean and how he feels aligned to the idea that we should rise above our sexual urges; life is better when we do. Sex complicates things and leads to eventual suffering.

Except that your husband isn't above it, he's BELOW it. For example, my ex-gf was shy, and afraid and uncomfortable with sexual stuff. That's not above it, it's below it. It means sex controls you, instead of you controlling sexual urges. Your husband just picks and chooses philosophy that he can use to justify his own behavior. Is he a Buddhist? Or just citing Buddhism? If he's a Buddhist, what else does he do besides avoiding sex?

There is nothing wrong with a Buddhist who is married and has sex. Sex is not forbidden in Buddhism. A Buddhist monk should refrain from sex, yes, but your husband isn't a Buddhist monk - he is married.

I hope your husband is not a Christian. Because he could just quit work if he's working, lay in bed all day and when you complain the bills need to be payed he can just quote the scripture which says "tomorrow will take care of itself".

I, like so many other sexuals, didn't understand that asexuality was an actual state of being, not a choice.

Ultimately it's both. For example, if someone is alcoholic, what's that? Yeah, he's drunk, it's a state of being. But it's also a choice. With the difference being that it's easier to stop drinking that to stop being asexual. And I'm not even sure you can stop being asexual directly, I think that would come only after changing some other aspects of personality.

In my mind, it's all me working on the relationship and doing the compromise. But maybe not, maybe I'm missing something.

It's all you. And it will always be all you. If you're in a position of power the other side will do the minimum needed so you don't leave. At least that's from my experience.

I see that you're still hopeful. I guess you have no choice. But I don't think it's going to get much better.

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Serran

How precisely is self-harm and an eating disorder similar to an Eastern philosophy attempt to achieve spiritual awakening? One will not die if one finds spiritual peace in foregoing sex.

Except that in the East when you decide to forgo sex you also decide to forgo companionship with women. In Hinduism, when you decide on a marital life, it is your duty to sexually satisfy a spouse. Sleeping in the same bed as your wife, avoiding sex and pretending you're some kind of eastern mystic is abuse. That's what it is. And I don't care if that person puts on a robe and calls himself a philosopher.

(Of course, if you're honest and say that you're asexual and other side agrees then it's not really abuse but I wasn't talking about that.)

... what the, no, no, no. Saying you do not want sex, for WHATEVER REASON, is NOT abuse. And if you say you're asexual the other side doesn't need to agree, either. I don't need my spouse's permission to my asexuality. You can deny consent to sex for any reason, at all, ever. Gandhi's followers were not spouse abusers because they decided to give up sex to follow his beliefs (though, by your statement, Gandhi himself was a spouse abuser cause his wife didn't want to give up sex and his beliefs caused him to do so). Neither are the people who decide to do it to conserve chi. Neither are people who just decide to give up sex cause they feel like it. Giving up sex for your own reasons is never abuse. The spouse is under no obligation to stay with them if they dislike it, but you are fully within your rights to say you don't want to have sex until the sky turns green if you want. Your body belongs to no one but yourself. I don't care if you're married (and yeah, Western religions try to say your body belongs to your spouse too... which is one reason spousal rape couldn't possibly exist a few decades ago according to the law), single or recently were involved in an orgy. If you decide you do not want sex, you can say you don't want sex. No one has to say you need a "valid" reason to say no to sex, not your spouse, not your parents, not your religion.

Now, if you turned it around and started belittling/insulting/manipulating your spouse over sex... yes that is a form of abuse. But, just saying "I don't want to have sex for X reason" is NEVER abuse, I don't care if you dislike the reason.

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Skullery Maid

I am beginning to realize that the problem with my marriage (I'm sexual with an asexual or grey-sexual husband) is not that our sex drives are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Others deal with communication and compromise.

The next realization you will have is that asexuality isn't one characteristic separate of the others, and that there are going to be many other incompatibilities between a sexual and asexual person.

What's that word for "exact opposite of true"? Oh, right. FALSE.

Good god man, where do you get your information? You sound like a conspiracy theorist, as if you've discovered some deep dark truth the rest of us are too dim (liberal/ clouded/ atheistic) to grasp.

But, obviously this isn't true. I can't even conceptualize what your argument could be in support of this contention.

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