Reader’s dilemma: “I feel hopeless and stuck in a sexless marriage”
I can’t stand my husband. We have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for five years and haven’t had sex for two. I’ve been financially independent for most of my life, but I am not working at the moment due to health issues and I feel trapped. After an argument, he told me that he dislikes me and only loves me sometimes. He doesn’t want a divorce. I am struggling to cope with my feelings of misery. Please help me.
Mary’s advice: First things first: it’s probably a good idea to check with your doctor whether some of your feelings could be linked to your health issues. Hold off on any long-term decisions until you feel slightly better. Psychosexual therapist Cate Mackenzie says it’s normal to have negative feelings, even strong ones, in a marriage: ‘Relationships contain a lot. In any one day, our mood might go up, down or sideways. When we feel better about ourselves, we can accept that some aspects are not likable.’
It sounds as if you feel quite isolated, and these feelings might have crept up on you for some time. For example, I wonder whether you felt uncomfortable about the decision to have separate rooms, and don’t want other people to know. On the other hand, Cate feels that two years is not so long that you can’t reclaim a sex life, if both of you are willing. Is it possible to see it as good news that your husband has made it clear that he’s not going anywhere? It means you have time to explore what would make you happy, which may or may not involve him. It may be helpful to find a counsellor or therapist to support you in that decision.
The priority is to soothe and nurture yourself back to strength. This may include tiny things such as a bath with scented oils, a walk in nature, reading a book that makes you smile or listening to a comforting visualisation. As your energy returns, so will your confidence that you have been independent before and could be again, if necessary.
Mary Fenwick is a writer, speaker and executive coach; she’s also a mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.
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