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RalphEllison

I'm a 63 year old male (sexual) in a LTR (over 20 years) with a woman who may be somewhere on the asexual spectrum. She's never identified as such and I'm pretty sure she'd resist the label, and in fact she thinks of herself as a sexual person. Makes discussing the subject quite fraught, and really despite that we've talked a good deal already and I don't know what else there is to say. We both know and respect the other's views.

 

We've reached a compromise of sorts, but it doesn't work well for either of us. Her desire is responsive, and she usually responds, but until she's responding we're kind of awkward with each other. And not the  awkward we can laugh about like when one of us gets a cramp or farts. Or gets a cramp and farts. The awkwardness feels artificial or contrived.  That can lessen the already fragile mood for both of us. We may both still get off, but that's not and never really has been the point. 

 

There's another C with Communicate and Compromise? Oh yeah, Choice. She chooses to try to give me as much as she's able to give, even though it's a challenge for her. I love her for trying, and I hate myself a little for letting her try. And I do love her, as much as I ever have, or this wouldn't be so fucking hard. I choose to live with a little less sex than I'd like but also with much less of a sexual connection than we once had. I miss that so. Maybe if our sex life would just die we could both mourn it properly.

 

So for other sexual people, how do you do this. I feel I can't stay where I am emotionally, but I can't move and I don't know where to move to if I could. Any tips or virtual head nods of understanding are appreciated.

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Traveler40

Welcome, and I’m sorry you’re hurting. it’s a tough spot to be in, and there are no easy or painless ways to handle it. 
 

Frankly, I’d written about three paragraphs on what you should consider until I realized none of it was applicable. Reading through your lines, you’re with the person you want to be with. Period.
 

This is where I defer to other members in this area:

 

@Mountain House has some good input on bridging with his wife through touch, communication and understanding. I have felt a tenderness shift between them through his words, so he may be someone you can learn from, relate to and ask questions of.

 

@anisotrophic has great input and insights. Sometimes, it’s a simple shift in perceptions and expectations to find resolution in your relationship. 
 

Keep reading, thinking and breaking it down for yourself and your wife. You’re much farther ahead of the mixed relationship pack than you realize. Try to give yourself a break and start with what you already have - which is a lot.

 

(Not to minimize your pain, but to start with what you have and work up from there.)

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Why is it awkward until her desire responds, if she is responsive eventually? Is it stress? Maybe slowing things down and less "finish line" mentality would help (like tantric practices aim for what feels good, not exactly sexual pleasure, but orgasm often results ... but the entire focus is on relaxing and just enjoying touch, even non-sexual touch, until it gets to that point where responsiveness just happens)? 

 

I'm 100% responsive and will rarely feel "in the mood" until it triggers but since I know it will, it isnt stressful.  However, it sounds like maybe there's pressure on both your ends due to the mismatch that could be making it a stressful event and that can make it even harder to trigger responsive desire. :(

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RalphEllison

I haven't talked about this much. I used to frequent another site and I'd reference the issue there but I was always a little surreptitious. It's not like I spilled a ton of details here, but more than I have in the past. And I'm someone who writes to understand as much as to be understood, so writing more openly means seeing more clearly, like I've shone a light on things that I'm always aware of but that I keep in shadows. Fear. Shame. Anger. Resentment. Escape plans. Guilt. And most of all a bone weary sadness. I don't like the view and I want to curse that light.

 

Thanks for responding, Traveler40, I guess I do understand the facts. But like the premises in a well constructed argument, they pull me toward a conclusion I don't want to face. There isn't a good choice for me in this. I feel trapped facing the prospect of gnawing my leg off to free myself. Well now I'm being dramatic. I am curious about what you cut from your comment though.

 

Serran, I think we both struggle to adjust to the way sex unfolds for us now. Our circumstances meant we seldom had entirely spontaneous sex, but if it was set for Thursday everything about her said that there was no place she'd rather be than with me when that time came. It was scheduled, but it didn't feel like an obligation to either of us. Now it does and for me too. And now there are so many things that can happen before or that she wants time to attend to after that make it feel like sex is penciled in on her day planner as 9 PM sex?  I mean we used to eat during sex, but now we need to wait 90 minutes after a meal and it has to be dark but not too cold or hot and......sorry, just ventingSo getting started is more the issue than finishing and that puts our different motivations in high relief. Once we move past the conditions and the 1-2 false starts to talk about one more thing, she's present and we both enjoy ourselves until her desire kicks in, but if the finish line is that time when her desire kicks in I do feel some pressure to get there. She may too. But with something important to attend to after sex, if only getting a good night's sleep, a slow and easy sensual build up doesn't fit in the schedule.

 

I know this isn't pretty to read. I'm obviously frustrated with the way things play out and reading what I wrote, I wonder again whether she really wants to have sex at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Traveler40
3 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

I guess I do understand the facts. But like the premises in a well constructed argument, they pull me toward a conclusion I don't want to face. There isn't a good choice for me in this. I feel trapped facing the prospect of gnawing my leg off to free myself. Well now I'm being dramatic. I am curious about what you cut from your comment though.

Well, this shifts the kaleidoscope. I hadn’t sensed you searching for the rip chord in your initial post. I checked your profile after I’d responded to locate your other posts and saw a bit more in those. 

 

While there is a sense of sadness, I don’t see a resolve to walk, but a sincere desire to fix it. I also see you’re feeling alone in this, but appear to have done a fair bit of reading towards deeper understanding. I found myself thinking, “He needs to talk with her” quite a few times as I read you. That may be the biggest hurdle and challenge given her identity being wrapped up in sexuality for whatever reason.

 

My advice at this point is to write down a clear set of needs. Write all you’ve written here and be as clear and descriptive as possible without the drama. Then, give her the letter. The letter should include your full perspective, experience, hopes and base desires. It also needs to clearly show her you want to make it better, but you need her to meet you in it. 
 

That would be a start. It may never get to where you used to be, but only through working together can it perhaps improve. 
 

My lingering thought: You’ve been together for 20 years and this only started 6-7 years ago. That means the relationship functioned well for the majority of the time which doesn’t denote asexuality at first blush. Couple that with her self image, and it seems she’d tackle these topics. Ah, that’s how life can be complicated. It never is linear, is it? 
 

Writing- it’s where it should begin for you, for you both. It’s a soft opener and allows her to contemplate your clear and expressed self. You can’t assume her side, and it gives her time and less pressure to respond. 
 

Edit: I meant to add that she may feel guilty, but that’s not conducive. Acknowledge those potential feelings in your letter along with the need to work past them. If there’s a sense of working together to get to the root problem, age/medical/otherwise, that can go a long way imho.

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Mountain House
8 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

Any tips or virtual head nods of understanding are appreciated.

<nod>

 

9 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

We've reached a compromise of sorts, but it doesn't work well for either of us.

Yeah, that's why I've mentioned that I'm not really a fan of compromise.

 

And you are right that labels don't matter.  My wife will give a head bob towards the ace spectrum (she relates to some/many attributes) and also 

 

Okay, see that hanging sentence right there.  This reply has sat there for going on 3 hours now.  I came back and you've responded so I am thinking a little more direct.

 

36 minutes ago, RalphEllison said:

I feel trapped ...  I wonder again whether she really wants to have sex at all.

I know exactly how you feel.  Exactly.  I'm a grown-ass man and when I learned about asexuality it totally killed all hope for the sexual future I held. My wife got to endure me enduring that type of crying one does when someone close dies because something close did die.  I had to mourn the death of what I thought my marriage was.

 

You say you know and respect each other's views.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't but I will wager that there is understanding left to discover.  That awkward space you mention is my clue.  In fact, it may be that you don't understand yourselves.

 

So what did my wife and I do?  Well, we first focused on what we figured we didn't know.  We knew she didn't want sex all the time but does she ever?  We knew I frequently want sex but do I know why and do I know to what degree?  (want/need)  Do we know that we are really advocating for our own needs autonomously?

 

The experiment went like this:

I was forbidden to initiate sex in any way and we were to be aware of aggressive or passive aggressive behavior that could be construed as initiating.  If so, it is an immediate no.  (Yes, it happened and yes I called myself on it)

She had to initiate when she had an inkling of wanting sex and it had to be her want, not some perception of hers that I wanted or needed sex or that it is the thing a proper wife must do.  (Yep, that last one caused some problems for a while.)

 

That's the gist.

 

So, back to compromise - we weren't trying to find  compromise with this; we were looking for what we are accepting that sex is 

 

<Uh, another couple hours pass and @Traveler40posts.  I'm going to catch up!>


... what we are accepting that sex is now something that may never happen again and that means figuring out where she really is with this.  It honestly took her a couple months to get to the no duty sex forever place.  We had to learn all those places that my brain thinks are leads and undo that, like cuddling and kissing.  Now, if I get uncomfortable because whatever we are doing is turning me on I just tell her and we stop.  She's okay with it and I'm okay with it and this has opened us up to intimate touch without her feeling like it has to end in sex.  We cuddle a lot more than we did before.

 

So where are we now?  Well, we are on three paths:

. divorce - this isn't even remotely likely but we agreed right up front that this option never goes away so we talk about it.

. She chooses closed relationship - I'm okay with that and we have discussions of how that is going to have to work for me.  This one isn't easy for me but given the years we muddled with the wrong information it is probable we can muddle more with this new understanding - which still could lead us to one of the other options.  Heck, it's been over a year now and I haven't died.  (honestly, for us, things have improved immensely.)

. She chooses open relationship - This is my ask and again this can lead to one of the other options.  I don't want to get my hopes up too high but this is starting to look like her choice.  Just the other day she told me that I need to decide what I want because our relationship is pretty much perfect and easy for her.  She feels happy and fulfilled.

 

Okay some last bits.  Have you read Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski?  You mention things in your posts (yeah, I too found your other posts) that speak of context and this is a good book wrapped around that idea.

 

Also, my wife and I do RADAR from https://www.multiamory.com/.  It gives us a good format for communication.

 

I hope I got this all out and didn't leave some thought train stranded.

Anyway, feel free to ask away.

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Mountain House

Just did a once over of my post there and thought I would add something for those interested.

 

22 minutes ago, Mountain House said:

She feels happy and fulfilled.

This is not even close to as easy as it sounds.  You would think that reducing a relationship to the least common denominator would do this but it doesn't.  She couldn't be happy if I was living in torture.  It took a lot of deprogramming of the cultural/societal narrative of what proper couples are supposed to be and a decent amount of tearing apart co-dependent thinking of what we are supposed to be for each other.

 

A really good dollop of learning to say the scary stuff, learning to hear what you don't want to hear with grace, and learning to deal with your own shit.  No mind-readering.

 

So, she advocates for her needs and gets them - she is happy.  If you were to ask her today about my happiness she would say, "His happiness is his shit to deal with."

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5 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

I haven't talked about this much. I used to frequent another site and I'd reference the issue there but I was always a little surreptitious. It's not like I spilled a ton of details here, but more than I have in the past. And I'm someone who writes to understand as much as to be understood, so writing more openly means seeing more clearly, like I've shone a light on things that I'm always aware of but that I keep in shadows. Fear. Shame. Anger. Resentment. Escape plans. Guilt. And most of all a bone weary sadness. I don't like the view and I want to curse that light.

 

Thanks for responding, Traveler40, I guess I do understand the facts. But like the premises in a well constructed argument, they pull me toward a conclusion I don't want to face. There isn't a good choice for me in this. I feel trapped facing the prospect of gnawing my leg off to free myself. Well now I'm being dramatic. I am curious about what you cut from your comment though.

 

Serran, I think we both struggle to adjust to the way sex unfolds for us now. Our circumstances meant we seldom had entirely spontaneous sex, but if it was set for Thursday everything about her said that there was no place she'd rather be than with me when that time came. It was scheduled, but it didn't feel like an obligation to either of us. Now it does and for me too. And now there are so many things that can happen before or that she wants time to attend to after that make it feel like sex is penciled in on her day planner as 9 PM sex?  I mean we used to eat during sex, but now we need to wait 90 minutes after a meal and it has to be dark but not too cold or hot and......sorry, just ventingSo getting started is more the issue than finishing and that puts our different motivations in high relief. Once we move past the conditions and the 1-2 false starts to talk about one more thing, she's present and we both enjoy ourselves until her desire kicks in, but if the finish line is that time when her desire kicks in I do feel some pressure to get there. She may too. But with something important to attend to after sex, if only getting a good night's sleep, a slow and easy sensual build up doesn't fit in the schedule.

 

I know this isn't pretty to read. I'm obviously frustrated with the way things play out and reading what I wrote, I wonder again whether she really wants to have sex at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmm. 

 

Is there ever a day that is less packed as a schedule where you can just pencil in something like a date night, sex happens or doesn't and you just spend a few hours enjoying each other's company in a romantic capacity ? Sounds like a general disconnect is happening where you are no longer her priority, because she has so many other things going on? If she hasn't always felt this way about sex, something had to change.

 

Is she just bored? Complacent and taking things for granted? Or maybe life got stressful ? Maybe her health is making getting everything done more tiring? 

 

Or has she just tolerated sex until now and her tolerance level is gone ?

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anisotrophic

@RalphEllison it’s hard to know if any additional thoughts will be helpful, or miss the mark, as individual experiences differ so radically — but that’s partly a learning, that people are all different and sexuality can vary so radically.

 

My husband seems to be an extreme of responsive — he almost always needs a certain emotional state plus physical touch to experience any arousal. Ideas of sex never spark a response, not porn or erotica, flirting makes him uncomfortable...

 

As a result of this: the topic of sex with him is a hypothetically positive experience which seems to elicit responses that come off as “minor chore” or “nervous virgin” ... despite the fact he’s done it countless times and (as far as I can tell & he reports) enjoyed it.

 

Which is to say, this resonated:

17 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

Her desire is responsive, and she usually responds, but until she's responding we're kind of awkward with each other. And not the  awkward we can laugh about like when one of us gets a cramp or farts. Or gets a cramp and farts. The awkwardness feels artificial or contrived.

I guess it’s taken me a couple years to wrap my head around it, accept it, and adapt to finding it a happy place for me. I honestly went for well over a decade thinking he was just shy.

 

On my better days I try to view it as a challenge — I’m the initiator & planner, and it’s hard to talk to him about said plans — but he wants me to be happy and has very few preferences beyond finding it stressful to need to have preferences. 😂 (including gender, which works well for me...) I work out what approach is best. (eg for him, middle-of-night waking works well as he’s forgotten anything that might distract or stress him.) I’m in charge of improving stuff, I think about positive feedback so we’re both happy with what we’re doing.

 

And being in charge can be exciting, even if it’s not a leadership role one sought...

 

On my worse days, I wonder what it’s like to feel “desired”, but ... I think it’s become much easier on testosterone (1.5+ years now). And I have permission to date others (he should too, not that he expresses interest in it!)... but, hey, dating is hard work (we’ve got young kids) and I’m attracted to the guy I love. It’s not an either/or (I could date & still be sexual with him), and having that on the table reassures me that he doesn’t feel obligated. (Sex/dating scene is filled with trans novelty seekers for me now, though. 🙃)

 

Each story is idiosyncratic! Masculinizing hormonal transition probably helped me feel happy with it, it feels like wanting to be “desired” is much reduced. And since he’s cis male, arousal & climax are more obvious so that’s almost certainly made it easier for me.

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RalphEllison
1 hour ago, Mountain House said:

<nod>

 

Yeah, that's why I've mentioned that I'm not really a fan of compromise.

 

And you are right that labels don't matter.  My wife will give a head bob towards the ace spectrum (she relates to some/many attributes) and also 

 

Okay, see that hanging sentence right there.  This reply has sat there for going on 3 hours now.  I came back and you've responded so I am thinking a little more direct.

 

I know exactly how you feel.  Exactly.  I'm a grown-ass man and when I learned about asexuality it totally killed all hope for the sexual future I held. My wife got to endure me enduring that type of crying one does when someone close dies because something close did die.  I had to mourn the death of what I thought my marriage was.

 

You say you know and respect each other's views.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't but I will wager that there is understanding left to discover.  That awkward space you mention is my clue.  In fact, it may be that you don't understand yourselves.

 

So what did my wife and I do?  Well, we first focused on what we figured we didn't know.  We knew she didn't want sex all the time but does she ever?  We knew I frequently want sex but do I know why and do I know to what degree?  (want/need)  Do we know that we are really advocating for our own needs autonomously?

 

The experiment went like this:

I was forbidden to initiate sex in any way and we were to be aware of aggressive or passive aggressive behavior that could be construed as initiating.  If so, it is an immediate no.  (Yes, it happened and yes I called myself on it)

She had to initiate when she had an inkling of wanting sex and it had to be her want, not some perception of hers that I wanted or needed sex or that it is the thing a proper wife must do.  (Yep, that last one caused some problems for a while.)

 

That's the gist.

 

So, back to compromise - we weren't trying to find  compromise with this; we were looking for what we are accepting that sex is 

 

<Uh, another couple hours pass and @Traveler40posts.  I'm going to catch up!>


... what we are accepting that sex is now something that may never happen again and that means figuring out where she really is with this.  It honestly took her a couple months to get to the no duty sex forever place.  We had to learn all those places that my brain thinks are leads and undo that, like cuddling and kissing.  Now, if I get uncomfortable because whatever we are doing is turning me on I just tell her and we stop.  She's okay with it and I'm okay with it and this has opened us up to intimate touch without her feeling like it has to end in sex.  We cuddle a lot more than we did before.

 

So where are we now?  Well, we are on three paths:

. divorce - this isn't even remotely likely but we agreed right up front that this option never goes away so we talk about it.

. She chooses closed relationship - I'm okay with that and we have discussions of how that is going to have to work for me.  This one isn't easy for me but given the years we muddled with the wrong information it is probable we can muddle more with this new understanding - which still could lead us to one of the other options.  Heck, it's been over a year now and I haven't died.  (honestly, for us, things have improved immensely.)

. She chooses open relationship - This is my ask and again this can lead to one of the other options.  I don't want to get my hopes up too high but this is starting to look like her choice.  Just the other day she told me that I need to decide what I want because our relationship is pretty much perfect and easy for her.  She feels happy and fulfilled.

 

Okay some last bits.  Have you read Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski?  You mention things in your posts (yeah, I too found your other posts) that speak of context and this is a good book wrapped around that idea.

 

Also, my wife and I do RADAR from https://www.multiamory.com/.  It gives us a good format for communication.

 

I hope I got this all out and didn't leave some thought train stranded.

Anyway, feel free to ask away.

 

 

Thanks for being so persistent, Mountain House. I listened to the RADAR podcast and it sounds like a good framework to talk about difficult topics or easy ones, for that matter. And we do need to talk more regularly.

 

We haven't really gotten beyond expressing what we need or prefer. By beyond I mean beyond the compromise we've reached and onto the part about what happens if one or both of us can't live with it. The options, which are the options, scare me and will probably freak her out, especially ending or opening the relationship. I'm sure she's worried at times that I'd move on in some fashion, though. I'll admit that at my age I'm not sure what I'd be moving on to. I'm not super confident there's a major market for men my age looking for a relationship (if we split) and pretty sure finding a second partner while still in a relationship would be quite the trick to pull off. And I'm not exactly handling one relationship all that well now 🙂 Not that my decision is based solely or primarily on my prospects, but talking about these options seems like a bell I could never un-ring, and we both here some of those pealing already.

 

I need to ponder this a bit. Get my mind right.

 

 

44 minutes ago, Serran said:

Hmm. 

 

Is there ever a day that is less packed as a schedule where you can just pencil in something like a date night, sex happens or doesn't and you just spend a few hours enjoying each other's company in a romantic capacity ? Sounds like a general disconnect is happening where you are no longer her priority, because she has so many other things going on? If she hasn't always felt this way about sex, something had to change.

 

Is she just bored? Complacent and taking things for granted? Or maybe life got stressful ? Maybe her health is making getting everything done more tiring? 

 

Or has she just tolerated sex until now and her tolerance level is gone ?

I can't speak for her Serran, but the things that seem to clutter our schedule aren't all that pressing and I suspect, now that I think about it, that there is a performance aspect to sex on her part. She and I both know that even though she usually gets aroused, it's not guaranteed to happen, and so that time when I'm already aroused probably feels like we're both waiting on her to catch up, which can't help and maybe is the awkwardness I feel and I sense from her. If that's the case then I kind of get why sex might mean pressure, not to have sex but to respond a certain way, so her behavior before sex might be anxious procrastination. That's actually something to work with. Thanks. 

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Mountain House
1 hour ago, Serran said:

Hmm

I get where you are going here and your questions are reasonable.  But I relate to what @RalphEllisonis describing.  My wife is a penny perfect accountant in her work life.  It fits her personality perfectly.  She plans and makes lists.  She's the type that can't start vacation until on the plane/boat/cabin/etc.  I'm on vacation before leaving the house.  It's one of our giggles.

 

At one time in our relationship sex was happening because it was on her internal list of things that need to get done*.  It was duty sex overlapped with her actual libido and the duty sex was blah.  I often felt like everything else came before me and when sex finally happened it was so lackluster most of the time it made me feel like she didn't see me or desire me or I wasn't good enough - all of those things @RalphEllisondescribes.

 

* - a combination of this is what wives are supposed to do and our being told to "fake it until you make it".

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Mountain House
11 minutes ago, RalphEllison said:

 

I need to ponder this a bit. Get my mind right.

Well, your intuition is good - scared/freak out/can't un-ring.  This is the Jedi level communication I was talking about - saying the scary/hearing the unwanted.

 

If you want to know how that went for us just ask. (here or new thread or PM)

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RalphEllison
37 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

@RalphEllison it’s hard to know if any additional thoughts will be helpful, or miss the mark, as individual experiences differ so radically — but that’s partly a learning, that people are all different and sexuality can vary so radically.

 

My husband seems to be an extreme of responsive — he almost always needs a certain emotional state plus physical touch to experience any arousal. Ideas of sex never spark a response, not porn or erotica, flirting makes him uncomfortable...

 

As a result of this: the topic of sex with him is a hypothetically positive experience which seems to elicit responses that come off as “minor chore” or “nervous virgin” ... despite the fact he’s done it countless times and (as far as I can tell & he reports) enjoyed it.

 

Which is to say, this resonated:

I guess it’s taken me a couple years to wrap my head around it, accept it, and adapt to finding it a happy place for me. I honestly went for well over a decade thinking he was just shy.

 

On my better days I try to view it as a challenge — I’m the initiator & planner, and it’s hard to talk to him about said plans — but he wants me to be happy and has very few preferences beyond finding it stressful to need to have preferences. 😂 (including gender, which works well for me...) I work out what approach is best. (eg for him, middle-of-night waking works well as he’s forgotten anything that might distract or stress him.) I’m in charge of improving stuff, I think about positive feedback so we’re both happy with what we’re doing.

 

And being in charge can be exciting, even if it’s not a leadership role one sought...

 

On my worse days, I wonder what it’s like to feel “desired”, but ... I think it’s become much easier on testosterone (1.5+ years now). And I have permission to date others (he should too, not that he expresses interest in it!)... but, hey, dating is hard work (we’ve got young kids) and I’m attracted to the guy I love. It’s not an either/or (I could date & still be sexual with him), and having that on the table reassures me that he doesn’t feel obligated. (Sex/dating scene is filled with trans novelty seekers for me now, though. 🙃)

 

Each story is idiosyncratic! Masculinizing hormonal transition probably helped me feel happy with it, it feels like wanting to be “desired” is much reduced. And since he’s cis male, arousal & climax are more obvious so that’s almost certainly made it easier for me.

I'm glad you're finding solutions, anisotrophic  and your additional thoughts are most welcome. You're right that every relationship is different and even the same relationship is different over time, as I'm discovering. What you said about looking a your role, which is like mine, as initiating and planning rings true for me but I think I need to be more flexible with my plan. I'm getting to the point where I'm prepared for there being no way to improve the experience, but if there is it could be that I'm losing my enthusiasm as she does her pre-sex list of tasks. As I said above, maybe that's anxiety and maybe I'm feeding off of that when I could accept it and not get tense. Or maybe I could let the little delays build a good kind of tension.

 

Turns out my head can spin in a complete circle. Who knew?

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3 hours ago, Mountain House said:

I get where you are going here and your questions are reasonable.  But I relate to what @RalphEllisonis describing.  My wife is a penny perfect accountant in her work life.  It fits her personality perfectly.  She plans and makes lists.  She's the type that can't start vacation until on the plane/boat/cabin/etc.  I'm on vacation before leaving the house.  It's one of our giggles.

 

At one time in our relationship sex was happening because it was on her internal list of things that need to get done*.  It was duty sex overlapped with her actual libido and the duty sex was blah.  I often felt like everything else came before me and when sex finally happened it was so lackluster most of the time it made me feel like she didn't see me or desire me or I wasn't good enough - all of those things @RalphEllisondescribes.

 

* - a combination of this is what wives are supposed to do and our being told to "fake it until you make it".

If it was life long, I'd agree... but given the OP is saying sex used to not feel like obligation and was good - if scheduled- it just seems like there is a missing piece somewhere. I know several women who are around late 50s, early 60s who have been married 20+ years and lost that spark in their marriages - my uncle jokes he and his wife only have oral sex (they talk about it and never do it, though they were all over each other when they were younger) and my coworkers have separate sleeping areas that they rarely ever come together from (and admit they only give up sex if they want their husbands to do something for them like clean out the garage). There are a myriad of reasons why sex dries up in a long term marriage. And if she indeed enjoyed the sex life as RalphEllison is saying, then past her and present her something has changed, either in her or in the marriage. That, or, she may enjoy the sex but never desired it in the past and just kinda goes with it just for him and is reaching her limit on being able to do that (which happens when you don't desire sex for yourself). An idea of *why* the sex is drying up will give a clearer idea of what options are available. 

 

Of course, if communication around it is difficult then can only work with the situation and not the cause of it. But, if she would reject the asexual label and used to enjoy a weekly sex life... I would be looking at other culprits than asexuality. Of course, it could still be she has lost desire for sex and Ralph will have to figure out what they are gonna need to be happy with that situation, regardless. There are just a lot of reasons for a loss of a sex life in a 20 year marriage besides loss of love and asexuality. 

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TurnedTurtle

Oh @RalphEllison, I can relate so much, but unfortunately I don't think I really have any advice to offer. Sorry, man.

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RalphEllison

@TurnedTurtle, almost as much as I wish things were different for me, I also wish no one else was so stuck. But with that, we are stuck and no amount of wishing will change that. So somewhat guiltily I appreciate that others understand. Thanks for commiserating.

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  • 2 weeks later...
RalphEllison
Posted (edited)

This is an update of sorts. I say of sorts because there's been no developments, except perhaps in my thinking. 

 

I came here two weeks ago feeling a bit discouraged, and if I'm honest I have to say I'm more discouraged now having participated here a bit and read quite a lot of the content. Discouraged because the experience breaks things down to a real and limited # of options, and all of the options seem like crap to me. 

 

1. No sex-Worst thing in the world? No. No worse than the 4th worst thing in the world

2. Compromise sex-What we have now that has me here looking for something else

3. Open the relationship-I could do this (the practicality of an ordinary 63 yr old man finding a partner aside) but it would be a distraction and not a solution

4. Split-Probably the 3rd worst thing in the world, only failing to be the worst thing because I think we might both move on in some fashion, at least in my imagination

 

Having this discussion calmly and almost clinically seems like the second worst thing in the world, mainly because we'd pay with pain for an end that's not worth pursuing. And I'm sad and frustrated about that. Sad because it seems like the death of something, even if we continue as a couple. Frustrated because I'm choosing the least bad option, and that gets so damned old. And I'm not just frustrated, I'm angry. I'm not sure it's not fair to express that anger to her, but it would hurt her, and I'd rather not do that. So I'm still and always stuck, because fuck me but hurting her is still the first worst thing in the world. 

 

Edited by RalphEllison
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TurnedTurtle

I came across an interesting piece on Vox this morning, written by a "parenthood clarity mentor," a therapist who helps individuals and couples resolve their questions about whether or not to have kids.  But I saw much of what was written as applicable to many other questions, in particular the issues that many of us here, at AVEN-SPFA, face.

 

Some excerpts (modifications to make them more generic put in square brackets):

 

Quote

... chance is not the path to a fulfilled life. Making a conscious decision only after knowing what you want and why you want it is what real freedom is all about. ....

 ... the main reason they feel stuck, no matter their circumstance, is because they’re trying to figure out what they want (their heart’s desire) and what they’re going to do about it (make a decision) at the same time. The result is gridlock in your mind, and you cannot think your way out.....
 
 It’s important to know that a person’s desire and decision are not always the same, nor is the goal for them to be the same. The goal is to know your truth about each of them. You may want [something] and decide not to [go for it] for a variety of reasons ....

https://www.vox.com/first-person/22370250/should-i-have-kids-a-baby-decide-start-family-parenthood-kids-childfree

 

As sexual people (for those of us that are), what most of us seem to want is a mutually-desired, mutally-enjoyed, mutually-fulfilling sexual relationship, which is (to us) inextricably connected to being able to express love for, and  feel loved by, our partner. I wonder, though, if it is just the latter part, loving and being loved, that is the ultimate desire; the former part, good sex, merely being a means to that end? 

 

I guess I am trying to get at (for myself, as much as for Ralph or anyone else reading this) what the quoted author is suggesting, figuring out what it is that you really want (and why you want it) first, and only then figuring out what (if anything) you are going to do about it, in your present circumstances....

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RalphEllison
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TurnedTurtle said:

I came across an interesting piece on Vox this morning, written by a "parenthood clarity mentor," a therapist who helps individuals and couples resolve their questions about whether or not to have kids.  But I saw much of what was written as applicable to many other questions, in particular the issues that many of us here, at AVEN-SPFA, face.

 

Some excerpts (modifications to make them more generic put in square brackets):

 

https://www.vox.com/first-person/22370250/should-i-have-kids-a-baby-decide-start-family-parenthood-kids-childfree

 

As sexual people (for those of us that are), what most of us seem to want is a mutually-desired, mutally-enjoyed, mutually-fulfilling sexual relationship, which is (to us) inextricably connected to being able to express love for, and  feel loved by, our partner. I wonder, though, if it is just the latter part, loving and being loved, that is the ultimate desire; the former part, good sex, merely being a means to that end? 

 

I guess I am trying to get at (for myself, as much as for Ralph or anyone else reading this) what the quoted author is suggesting, figuring out what it is that you really want (and why you want it) first, and only then figuring out what (if anything) you are going to do about it, in your present circumstances....

Loving and being loved. I bolded that phrase from your comment and wrote it 10 minutes ago and I've been staring at those words, repeating them in my mind, in my voice, a low serious tone not really a question but implying one.

 

Loving and being loved. That's part of what I get from sex with her, loving her and feeling loved by her. We express our love in other ways, but for me at least none so palpable, so believable. Sex is so entangled with how I express and experience love that they seem like the same thing. Untangling them feels almost impossible. And like many other couples here my partner and I touch less and exchange fewer loving words because those things too are entangled with sex, and so we keep a sort of distance. 

 

If I could have what I get from sex, without sex, would that be enough? Sex serves other purposes. It feels good in a way masturbation just can't match. It's validating in a simple, I'll say wholesome sort of way. It also feeds my ego, which I'll say is less wholesome but not without value. It's also sometimes almost spiritual. Sharing an erotic experience can be sublime. And more.

 

What I have to figure out is whether we can love each other in a way I recognize as love, without sex. We may still have sex or some kind of sensual experience together, but I think I need to set a baseline considering that we may not. Can I love and be loved without sex? Do I need that validation? Even if I just want it, can I live without that want being satisfied? The sublime connection we feel, or felt through sex is love. Sex is the path to that connection, so I've circled back to the original question implied in this comment. 

 

I want to express my love for her and to feel loved by her. Can I love her and feel loved by her without sex? If I can, is that enough? Is that what I want?    

 

 

 

 

Edited by RalphEllison
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TurnedTurtle

Right there with you! (No answers yet, but even if I had them they would only be my answers)

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Mountain House

Same same.

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Traveler40

It’s heartbreaking and none of the proffered answers is palatable. At its base, nothing you do will scratch the itch.

 

To your point on open OP: It’s not a distraction. Something trite may be just that, but I see the deeper connections more like a fracture: It breaks and heals concurrently, but also shifts what you have with your partner like a kaleidoscope. It’s neither good nor bad, simply different. Being ready to accept change is critical in opting to open.

 

I’m not advocating for opening, simply offering what I’ve learned having taken that path.  At the end of the day, it will never bring the bond you deeply wish for which is full sexual connection with your wife.  You could only entertain it understanding it’s a separate endeavor for yourself. It doesn’t heal that which you lack with her, but it reconciles parts of yourself towards a peace with her you don’t have now. In a way, it’s a lasting transformation towards acceptance.

 

Your choice is to live as is and maintain how you feel now, work towards more compromise, move on, or morph what you know via opening. It’s all unappetizing, that’s understood.
 

I never envisioned my life would turn out like this. I’d have deemed opening a relationship “out there” and judged it beneath me a mere 5 years ago. Yet, I wouldn’t change it no matter how complicated it is. It can be exhausting, I’m spread thin time-wise, but I’ve never felt so full...even if fractured. 
 

It was never a solution or a distraction for me, but a conscious choice to life a fuller and deeper life.

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Traveler40

@RalphEllison and @TurnedTurtle - Thank you both for putting to words that which is so difficult to explain. I connect keenly to what you say and feel your pain. I’m sorry and understand.

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RalphEllison
1 hour ago, Traveler40 said:

It’s heartbreaking and none of the proffered answers is palatable. At its base, nothing you do will scratch the itch.

 

To your point on open OP: It’s not a distraction. Something trite may be just that, but I see the deeper connections more like a fracture: It breaks and heals concurrently, but also shifts what you have with your partner like a kaleidoscope. It’s neither good nor bad, simply different. Being ready to accept change is critical in opting to open.

 

I’m not advocating for opening, simply offering what I’ve learned having taken that path.  At the end of the day, it will never bring the bond you deeply wish for which is a fully sexual connection with your wife.  You could only entertain it understanding it’s a separate endeavor for yourself. It doesn’t heal that which you lack with her, but it reconciles parts of yourself towards a peace with her you don’t have now. In a way, it’s a lasting transformation towards acceptance.

 

Your choice is to live as is and maintain how you feel now, work towards more compromise, move on, or morph what you know via opening. It’s all unappetizing, that’s understood.
 

I never envisioned my life would turn out like this. I’d have deemed opening a relationship “out there” and judged it beneath me a mere 5 years ago. Yet, I wouldn’t change it no matter how complicated it is. It can be exhausting, I’m spread thin time-wise, but I’ve never felt so full...even if fractured. 
 

It was never a solution or a distraction for me, but a conscious choice to life a fuller and deeper life.

When I say "distraction", I meant and should have specified that in my case it seems that way. I doubt that someone else would really replace what I think I want most, which is what I had with my partner. An age adjusted version of that anyway. I think you reached a point where you were convinced, rationally and emotionally that it just wasn't going to happen with you and your husband. I'm edging toward that rationally but emotionally I'm not and I don't know when or if I'll get there.

 

If I did get there and if by some miracle our relationship survives the discussion of an open relationship, then the distraction would be looking for a woman to date at my age with an existing long term relationship in tow. 20 years ago, maybe, but now that looks like an exercise in futility at best, and something that might do more harm to my already bruised self image. 

 

So even though I feel stuck and somewhat unhappy, staying stuck as I am may be my best option.

 

 

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Traveler40

That makes sense. I was almost 20 years younger than you are now when choosing to embark on the open option. I was also miserable and desperate. There had been ample time to come to terms with false hope across the decade and a half I grappled with our situation. It wasn’t until a year or two into our opening that I even realized my husband was likely aro as well. I really had no clue, and ignorance isn’t always bliss.

 

In your case, you had “it” and lost it which is wholly different. However, the current result is the same.  I think you two need to figure out what the issue is and push past her “guilt” (which may be a way to control the direction of the conversation). Who knows? Only she can choose to participate in that.
 

The open discussion, at least in your situation, doesn’t make sense at this juncture. You don’t know enough from what you’ve shared here. Perhaps marriage counseling is a better place to start. You two need to talk frankiy, fully and fairly. The “4 options” as outlined are for mixed couples who have exhausted all other possibilities. As I understand it, that may not even apply to you two. That’s promising.

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TurnedTurtle

I think it was @Sinking_In who described a spectrum ranging from Naturally Monogamous to Naturally Polyamorous, with Poly-flexible being a category somewhere in the middle (He hasn't been around for awhile, I hope he's doing well).  For myself, I think I am closer to the naturally mono end, thus opening up would likely just be a precursor to the end -- all my attention and energy would be directed toward the "other" woman, to the detriment of my relationship with my wife. At least that is what I am afraid of (and I think she is too).

 

And, at only 4 or 5 years behind @RalphEllison in age, I imagine it would be a lot harder to find another woman amenable to becoming involved in an ethical open relationship with a married man, than it would be just to find an interested woman if I were an available single man (which I think would be hard enough!).

 

In my case, I've never had "it." The woman who is now my wife was/is my first and only. I was such a shy and insecure young man, I just never even stepped up to bat (until she caught my interest)! In hindsight, reflecting on the totality of our 34+ year relationship, knowing what I know now, the signs of her asexuality were always there. So I don't really know what I am missing, other than that I am missing something, and that that something feels valuable and important....and natural.

 

So maybe it is easier for me to think about trying to separate loving and being loved from sex, and to try unsticking myself and carry on with the bird in hand....(?)

 

 

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Traveler40

It’s funny you mention @Sinking_In given I looked up his thread earlier to see how long it had been since he’d dropped in. His last comments were almost 6 months ago. Hopefully all’s well in his corner of the world. I miss his updates. 
 

As for the mono/poly-spectrum idea, that’s out of my knowledge base. I can say that I always have thought of myself as monogamous.  So, that causes confusion when I say it, but remember our situation was born from an impossible and unusual problem.
 

We got creative and pushed through preconceptions and mental inhibitions. It hasn’t been natural, comfortable or simple, but with will, we found a way. I don’t know how abnormal we are, but I do feel we are a minority of a minority of a minority of a.....

 

1 hour ago, TurnedTurtle said:

So maybe it is easier for me to think about trying to separate loving and being loved from sex, and to try unsticking myself and carry on with the bird in hand....(?)

I think this is a good idea all told. If you can share touch, other forms of physical intimacy, compromise in part and combine that with the fundamental connection you already have, you have the majority. 

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Mountain House
3 hours ago, RalphEllison said:

looking for a woman to date at my age with an existing long term relationship in tow.

You aren't to this point yet, and you may never be, but just be aware that here you are throwing up road blocks.  It's a doable proposition.  Since you aren't looking you don't see it.

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TurnedTurtle

"But I'm picky, and there are all kinds of other constraints...."  Some of us are real good at coming up with reasons for why something can't work or isn't possible; others are more creative, have different priorities (or lack of constraints), etc...   Yes, be wary of setting up roadblocks unnecessarily (me too).

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