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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My wife and I have been together since Dec 1999, married in

Customer Question

Hello. My name is***** wife and I have been together since Dec 1999, married in 2003. Our daughter was born in 2007. We have, in my opinion and I believe in hers as well, a very happy, loving and successful marriage. But we have no sex life. At all.
We started dating in our hometown, when we were around 25 years old. For a little under a year, we had the most satisfying sex life I've ever had. Then, in Sep 2000, I moved cross country to go to school. She followed me in Jun 2001. While we were separated, I was completely faithful, and have total confidence she was as well. But from the day I moved, our sex life stopped. When she moved, it did not start again. She claimed that it hurt, and I figured things would get better after she settled in. It never did.
We lived there for two years together, during which time we had sex less than ten times. I asked her to marry me out there, because I was in love with her, not her vagina. When I asked, we had not been intimate for over two months.
We moved back to our home state, and were married after a 14 month engagement. We finally consummated our marriage a month after our second anniversary, after nearly three and a half years of celibacy. We had a brief period during which we had sex about 20 times in the next eight months, at the end of which our daughter was conceived. We did not have sex again for almost a two year period, another short burst of intimacy (8 occasions or so over a couple months), then shut down again. There have been three or four instances since then- we are currently on a nearly two and a half year stretch of celibacy. I can very conservatively say that I have not made love to my wife of 12 years forty times. Probably less than thirty.
To clarify, I am not just talking of penetrative sex. We have NO sex life. No fondling, no intimate touching, no oral or mutual masturbation- nothing. She claims sex hurts her, and I honestly believe her. But she has been to doctors who dismiss her (one told her she wasn't cleaning herself properly- asinine). She refuses to be physically checked any more. Last year I convinced her to go to a sex therapist with me. She attended one session, then refused to go anymore because the therapist was "stupid" and it was too expensive. I no longer know how to proceed- I'm afraid this is where we will be forever.
Two points that must be added. Her religious father was ill when she moved to be with me, and I assumed at the time she was worried about "living in sin" and that was affecting things. He passed away 18 months after our wedding, but nothing has changed.
Secondly, and this is a big point, my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Oct 2012, and had been breaking down for two years prior to that. She underwent major spinal surgery, which necessitated learning to walk again. She is currently cancer free. I am well aware that this diagnosis affects the situation. However, the problem existed for over a decade before the diagnosis, and she has been cleared by her physician, oncologist and surgeon for sexual activity. We had sex once since her surgery, surprisingly successfully (no pain, she said). Nothing since.
I don't know what advice I hope to get here. I'm just out of ideas. I love my wife intensely, but I don't think I can just go on like this forever. I believe there is a physical component to this, but if she refuses to see a doctor about it, there's nothing I can do. I believe there is a psychological component to this, but if she refuses to go to counseling, there's nothing I can do. I personally think that the entire problem stems from not having sex- it started after a year long hiatus, and we have never had an extended period of sexual activity since. But I can't do anything about that either. She doesn't want to ease into things through extended foreplay or any other activity- I've suggested putting a moratorium of whatever length she would like on penetrative sex if we could start having some kind of intimacy again, but she says that it's too frustrating to start and not continue.
I've tried to be understanding and patient- I doubt there are many men who would have gone through with the wedding under those circumstances, much less stayed for this long without things changing. But I'm literally at the end of my rope, and if we can't effect some change soon, or at least make an attempt, I'm afraid something will happen. We need to come up with a viable solution. Despite the fact that I'm still madly in love with my wife, this is affecting our marriage, obviously, and is damaging me as a man and as a person. I don't want to make a mistake. I want to fix this.
I'm sorry for the length of this note. Even typing this out is therapeutic. Thank you for reading this, and I will welcome any advice you can give. I have, I hope you will understand, low expectations. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. I am very sorry that your wife is having this difficulty regarding sexual intimacy. There are many different issues at play here and unfortunately in order to narrow them down she would need to be fully examined and to go through a full course of treatment. One aspect of this is when she says that sexual intercourse hurts and this can be caused by Dyspareunia, which can be attributed to either physical, psychological, or a combination of both. In order to rule out true physical causes for this, she would need to undergo an examination by an OB/GYN that is understanding of Dyspareunia and its consequences. Obviously I cannot tell you if there is a physical component to this or not and I would not trust the previous doctor that completely dismissed her concerns. Another aspect of this could be a hormonal issue that can cause low libido and she would need to undergo a complete hormonal blood test to see where her levels are at. This is a minor procedure that just includes a blood test, so she may be okay with this since it is not nearly as invasive as a pelvic exam. Also there is a possibility that her neurotransmitter levels are unbalanced and this can cause low libido and possibly Dyspareunia as well because this is a psychological/neurobiological issue. Unfortunately this is not something that can be tested, but it can be treated with Dopamine Agonist medications like Wellbutrin, psychostimulants, or Requip....but the use of Dopamine Agonist medications for this would be completely off-label.

Now sex therapy can help if this is only purely psychological, but she is the one that must decide to undergo sex therapy. I know you want to fix this, but you cannot fix something within her, only she can fix it and make the effort to resolve the issue if she chooses. Just like you are the only one responsible for your actions and behaviors, she is the only one responsible for her actions and that means only she can make the effort to try to treat this and overcome this if that is what she wants. You have been very supportive thus far, no one can deny that, but it is going to be up to her to try to put in the effort to try to treat this. I can point you in the right direction, but I cannot make anyone take the steps necessary to try to address and resolve this matter.

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.

*Please do not forget to leave a positive rating at the top of the page so that I can get credit for helping you. Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate it.