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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than 20 years of expertise in counseling, relationship resolution and family therapy.
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my wife and i have been married for 11 years.she grew up in

Customer Question

my wife and i have been married for 11 years.she grew up in an abusive home[sexual,physical,emotional].she thinks of sex as something casual,and has no feeling of closeness or connection w me when we are intimate[which is very in sparse,maybe every 6weeks.she says that the only reason she does have sex with me is because its expected.after saying all of this she has,several times in the past,been attracted to others.she also masturbates,and claims that sex is just to get off.i fear that our relationship is in danger.she feels that because other aspects of our life together[good job,healthy smart children etc.]are good,that there is no problem.i want physical touch and acceptance.she says that it wouldnt bother her if i found someone else to "get off" with.i want this with her.she also claims that she is in love with me.scared and afraid to even innitiate sex at this point.she is a stay at home mom[1 child 5yrs]she views sex w me is a chore.she enjoys watching programs like tough love,and real sex.she also has told me that she thinks sex is dirty.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

Your wife is the victim of a serious trauma and is showing many of the signs of sexually oriented post traumatic stress. This reaction, often seen in abuse victims, is a way for them to distance themselves from the feelings and impact of genuine sexual intimacy.


For your wife, right now, the only way she can handle sex is to make it immaterial, distant and cold. Masturbation reduces sex to an activity, a thing to do to release an urge. Telling you that she does not mind if you go out on your own and satisfy your sexual needs with another is a defense mechanism. In no way does she, at a real level, mean this; this is the trauma and fear talking. If you actually did, the odds that she would leave you in the future are very good. This is only a lie that she is perpetuating to help her deal with the real problem, a fear that the closeness of real sex would bring.


She is afraid, most likely petrified, of abandonment and what that would mean if she got close to you, as would happen with "real" sex. Keeping you at arms length sexually is her way of coping with that fear. It works to an extent, Yet, it is a terrible way to deal with the pain she has experienced, and it resolves nothing.


A typical couples counselor usually is not enough in these cases. She has emotional trauma, and a trauma trained therapist is needed. Techniques such as EMDR, (a non medically oriented verbally based therapy for trauma victims) and other skill sets are used to assist those affected. The person does not need to have high motivation to do so, just a willingness to try. Your family doctor should be able to help you with a referral to a counselor who uses these techniques.


For you, I would highly suggest reading Overcoming Childhood Sexual Trauma: A Guide to Breaking Through the Wall of Fear for Practitioners and Survivors by
Sheri Oz and Sarah-Jane Ogiers. This resource will help you work through things with your wife and to understand deeply what she is doing, why, and how you can support her through the therapy process.


This can be resolved, but the first step is to see a trauma trained therapist. This reaction is able to be stopped, and she is showing the classic signs of the problem, but with the right help she can be whole again. Steven


Steven Olsen and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
one other issue is that she says that she is fine with the way she is,and doesnt need to feel a connection w me through sexual intimacy.she can experience intimacy through doing yardwork w me,watching a movie,playing w our kids.i do love her and would never cheat[has crssed my mind though]and want to remain marrried.but with her views on this i feel as if i am being forced to sacrifice my desires.
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

She is right, in an intellectual, completely emotionally removed way. You can feel close to someone via these activities, but sexuality brings these beginning feelings of closeness to the highest level, an intimate level. And, there is no activity that bonds a married couple like sex.


Yet, she is expecting too much from you. She is asking you to become dysfunctional, either to avoid sex with her or to bring another into the relationship, neither appropriate. She is speaking in fear. I guarantee she would like to be close, but she has resigned herself to never feeling this way because she cannot imagine feeling close via sex. Sex is simply a fear event for her, and no one normal runs to fear or terror. So, she avoids.


This pattern is both in her mind and in her body, through neural pathways that were established long ago. But, even if she is not very motivated, the techniques described can have an impact. Do not give up hope. She can get better. She does need to see this differently however, and a trauma oriented therapist can help. Steven