I have what I am beginning to fear is a common problem among married men. My wife of 14 years has lost virtually all interest in sex. We have sex two or three times a month with no variety whatsoever. We have two "approved" positions, no oral for either of us and no real interest from her in achieving climax. She does not enjoy foreplay and usually asks me if I'm "done yet" after about five minutes.
I understand that she's tired after taking care of the house and two kids all day. I try to help out as much as I can, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. I'd do whatever she asked of me to help make this better. The problem is that she doesn't see a problem. In fact, when I've attempted to talk to her about it, she says it's normal and that I should be happy she's willing to do it at all. This has been going on for so long that I'm at a loss for what to do. I've considered divorce, but the thought of losing my family is devastating. At the same time, I feel like I'm being asked to turn off a part of who I am and I don't know how much longer I can do it. I need a lover and a soul mate, not a roommate.
— Hurting Husband
Have you ever heard of Zeno's Paradox involving the tortoise challenging Achilles to a race? The tortoise used logic so convincing that Achilles declined to race at all. Here's the premise: Achilles agreed to give the tortoise a 100-yard lead. Because Achilles can run 10 times as fast, by the time he covers the lead, the turtle would have gained only 10 yards. Achilles runs the next 10 yards and the turtle is now one yard ahead. Achilles runs the one yard and the turtle is still a tenth of a yard ahead. And so on, ad infinitum. By this logic, Achilles can never catch the tortoise.
My point, and I do have one, is that you're living out a form of Zeno's Paradox: Your wife promises sex as long as you give her a 100-yard lead. But you can't catch her no matter how fast you go or how much you give.
For the record, I think she is being unusually cruel to you. Not only is she unwilling to have sex, she's unwilling to discuss it, and hell, unwilling to even acknowledge your suffering. Or hers. Because you know she's suffering, too, right? I mean, all parties in a sexless marriage suffer.
I think you're right to say divorce is off the table. If sex is the only true trouble spot in your marriage there's no reason to split, given the consequences for everyone. I have personally come to believe that stability is more important than monogamy.
You're at a choice point: Keep your vows and go insane, or break them and feel like shit. Which, of course, reminds of another paradox.
A crocodile takes a child. His mother begs to have him back.
The crocodile says, "If you guess correctly what I will do with him, I will return him. However, if you don't predict his fate correctly, I'll eat him."
Like all paradoxes, you can't figure them out; you can only live them out. Your new paradox is having sex outside of a committed marriage. Luckily, there's a big fat road map for you. It's called France.
Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike Alvear is the author of a line of How To Meet Guys On Facebook and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie.