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I've read a few threads here and identify with some of the feelings if not the actual situations, rather than add irrelevantly to an existing thread I started writing my own feelings down as a way to try to understand them and this is what came out. I'm still searching for how to resolve my issues, I think I needed to come across these methods of counseling 20 years ago.

Me: M 68 Somewhat introverted, painfully shy underneath, professionally successful, retired.
She: F 69 Somewhat extroverted, sociable, positive, kept changing occupations - none highly accomplished, retired.
No children.

I've stumbled across the MarriageBuilders site while searching for understanding of my own situation. The content of Love Busters and the subsequent pages makes much sense to me and I feel it helps put words to the feelings I've been struggling with.

I've been married for 41 years, for the most part happily, but there has always been an undercurrent of sexual frustration and something else I wasn't understanding.

Our relationship developed gradually 43 years ago as my previous long term one ended. In all honesty it was meeting my current wife that finally killed off the prior almost marriage. Because of circumstances, our relationship developed over a protracted time and much of it done long distance. This in turn had the effect of establishing pretty good communication early on in our relationship with sexuality not front and foremost.

I would rate our love as unconditional since it all just sort of felt right from the start. Although being of different personality types there is obviously a bit of appreciated interdependence because of it rolled into the mix as well.

The bad news is there has always been the problem of mismatched sex drive. From what I'm reading that's not at all unusual. In the early days this only caused mild frustration as a certain level of compromise was worked out, but post menopause sexual release became a singular activity. I continued to compromise for the next 20 years in this area since I entered into the relationship fully aware there was a great difference in that area compared to with my first partner.

When filling out the Love Busters questionnaire I became aware sex is not mentioned as one of the love busters! This perplexed me for a while until I realised Sex problems are maybe just manifestations of Dishonesty and Independent Behaviour. It occurs to me when we have discussed sexual problems and I thought possibilities for change had apparently been acknowledged or agreed upon, when no change eventuated it in fact felt like I had just been deceived by a lie in order to end a difficult conversation. When sex problems arose her Independent Behaviour reasoning was that I should just accept her disinterest and deal with it without any regard to what that did to my feelings.

In another regard I have always worked hard (probably too hard) to establish our living standards and financial well being as a primary goal. Once this was established she had no real incentive to work and dropped out of the workforce, against my wishes, which was another manifestation of Independent Behaviour at a significant life turning point. Around that time we did have a brief effort at Marriage Guidance counseling and came to an agreement over what to do next which included moving to a new town. In many ways things worked out pretty well in the new place but I feel I put a lot more effort into making it work than she did and the sex issues never got any better they only became more estranged.

I have felt for a while that although she has been thankful everyday for our lifestyle and shows that in many small ways, because my Sexual Fulfillment needs haven't been addressed I have not felt thanked at a deep emotional level. I guess thankfulness to me would have been a considerate accommodation of my need for sexual fulfillment. Because of her sexual aversion it feels more like she can't rather than she won't, if that makes sense. I don't think I have asked for a great deal but I have been frank I wanted the original joy of sex of our early relationship to persist and I wanted to continue to experiment as we aged. I wanted her to be emotionally present and a participant when those feelings began to fall away. It could have been something as simple as dressing sexy with stockings for a date night or as much as helping with a handjob since she has suffered from vaginismus post menopause. However the only thing that has been on offer is just a cuddle, which I have pointed out (and confirmed here in the Emotional Needs discussion) is not sex. More than ever I now feel any request from me of a sexual nature is perceived by her as sexual harassment. I have instead been left to take care of myself with lonely wanks. Frustration eventually led me to try some things like erotic massages but while those provided some immediate release they lacked the essentialness of closeness.

I think it is the feeling of lack of thanks for the big things that has hurt me the most. At 69 with 40 years of accumulated resentments I'm having flashes of anger over this now and I'm not sure where to go from here. The reality is there is not going to be any sudden flash of sexual revival and cathartic make up sex.

I have shown her this website and suggested we fill in the questionnaires but she says it would be counter productive since writing things down might put into words something she thinks might be taken badly and couldn't be retracted. I can possibly see the logic of this for something that might be shared in the radical truth suggested for the Personal History sharing, but I think knowing each other's Love Busters is pretty important.

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Welcome to MB.

Do you know your wife’s top emotional needs? Do you get any UA (undivided attention)? Do you go out on dates?


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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We have no problems being available for, providing and engaging in undivided attention. We start each and every day for example with a long walk before breakfast. Recreational companionship and conversation are not missing.

How do you characterize a date? Yes we go out together to restaurants, picnics and other outings; but there hasn't been a sexual overture to any outing for a long time. To me a Date implies some degree of sexualization.

I have read The Question of the Ages piece. We certainly tally up way more than 15 hours of engagement a week, the problem for me is that none of that time can be perceived as sexual fulfillment. If you asked me what my wife feels is missing from that time I am at a loss to be able to give an answer. I know my Giver and Taker have been fighting each other for a while over that. My Taker has been oscillating between conflict and withdrawal recently.

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Originally Posted by Mature
How do you characterize a date? Yes we go out together to restaurants, picnics and other outings; but there hasn't been a sexual overture to any outing for a long time. To me a Date implies some degree of sexualization..

You are not wrong and if there is no sexual spark, that would suggest either that you are not making her feel desirable or that she is avoiding you. I suspect it may be the latter as you refer to sexual aversion in your initial posting. Take a look at Overcoming Sexual Aversion.

Sexual aversion can be caused by an unwilling partner feeling under an obligation. Overcoming it will take patience on your part and a willingness to try on her part. Remember that SF needs to be enjoyable for you both. Be sure to explain that to her.


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I think I was in the process of applying the advice in https://www.marriagebuilders.com/how-to-complain-in-marriage.htm and https://www.marriagebuilders.com/how-to-negotiate-when-no-one-wants-to-raise-the-issue.htm by writing a letter, as much to put my own feelings in words as anything else. I have great difficultly finding the right words to express myself in person off the top of my head, it just often comes out wrong and probably sounds too much like criticism. It took me some time to find the words to write and just before I was about to hit the send email button my wife came in and asked what I was doing. It was emotional as she has said before she didn't want to see these things written down so I read it to her instead and it was accepted with good grace and I feel it is leading us in the right direction now.

I hope she will write me her list of Love Busters eventually. I have found His Needs, Her Needs in the catalogue of our local library and will borrow that next up to see if we can maybe read it together.

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Welcome to MB.

Are you saying you and your wife are now starting marriage builders?

Have you read Love Busters? If not, I highly recommend it. It would be good to see what Love Busters you are committing and work in eliminating them.

Do you know your wife’s top emotional needs?


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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BrainHurts I think I covered that in my original post. We have always been each other's best friends, ever since we mated and that won't change. For the most part we have met each others emotional needs for 40+ years. There has just been the occasional resentment arise, mainly around big issues and changes in our lives that have accumulated small withdrawals from the love bank over those 40 years without replenishing them. To say I wasn't fully aware of the differences of our sexualities at the start would be untrue, it would be unfair to say the opposite that she was also fully aware of those differences. That would be my fault but I don't think I had the maturity in my 20's to fully understand it or know how to deal with it.

It would have been useful to have these insights in our twenties, but I was reading things like Robert Ardrey and The Territorial Imperative then, not His Needs Her Needs. I also know I'm lucky I did find the person I did when I did. Timing is everything, I think we both feel if we had met 5 years earlier nothing might have eventuated.

I don't use the term mated lightly. It's more than just love or sex,

I'm chatting here because I don't really have anybody other than my wife close enough to bounce these types of thoughts off and I need to write them down to get a handle on them. Thanks be to the anonymity of the internet that places like this exist.

BTW, what does FWW/BW WH mean?

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I've just finished reading "His Needs Her Needs" and I see my life in between the pages.

Perhaps one of the most painful passages was this:

One of the tragic ironies of my job appears when I counsel couples in their seventies for sexual incompatibility. Almost always they resolve their problem within a few weeks and many experience sexual fulfillment for the first time after forty or fifty years of marriage.

Really?

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Have you thought about writing Dr. Harley?


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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Email your questions to Joyce Harley at mbradio@marriagebuilders.com. When your email question is chosen to be answered on the radio show, you will be notified by email directing you to listen to the broadcast. If you would like to consider being a caller, include your telephone number. You will receive a call to explain the procedure.


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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OK so after reading "His Needs Her Needs" I found my library also carries the audio book version of "He Wins, She Wins". I have started listening to that today. This treatise makes a lot of sense to me as well. I'm unsure what order the books are intended to be read. I guess I am going to have to search out Dr Harley's other books now to find out what seems to fit where for me.

Notwithstanding what I am reading, I also tried searching google for other concepts that might match my predicament, trying to see how alone I am in my thoughts. This was of interest to me because of some things Dr Harley says in He Wins She Wins about meeting Emotional Needs when they are apparently appalling to your mate. (I note now Dr Harley also uses the term mate for ones wife, not just a partner!)

Following on from this I came across the concept of "Toxic Positivity", a term I had never heard before. I think it describes part of my predicament and also how it is destructive to a relationship. I am sure I would have used the term defensively in conversation before, if I had know it, trying to navigate and discuss our issues while being denied empathy and being labelled depressive in response. Although I now want to use it, I'm chastened by Dr Harley's distinction between complaints and criticism. I recognize that by being angry enough to want to hurt by hurling the accusation at my wife would hurt me as well. My wife tells me she is always happy no matter what the situation is and that my apparent depression about our problems is something that is my problem and is not normal. Not normal? Joint Agreement? Undivided Attention? Not Normal! Toxic Positivity seems to me to explain exactly why she doesn't want to read His Needs Her Needs or fill in the Love Buster and Emotional Needs questionnaires. It would be too challenging to her "Positive Attitude" view of life that would require her to acknowledge empathy with my feelings.

This is a dilemma. Her positivity is part of her attractiveness to me. Although I have objectively been successful in life, my character still has an underlying shyness and insecurity that her positivity counterbalances.

Oy Vey!

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I think Dr. Harley could help you if you reach out to him. He says in one of his radio shows that one of Joyce's attributes he was attracted to when they were dating was her cheerfulness. He tends to be quieter, less cheerful, a little more negative, he says. But he insists she brings out the best in him.

It can be tough for a cheerful person to be married to one less cheerful. The more cheerful person will sometimes find the other to be not much fun to be around. Conversations can be impacted as well. Dr. Harley also talks about a "negative feedback loop" that is hard to break out of. The more negativity that exists in the marriage, the more it snowballs.

It is pretty normal for sex drives to be somewhat mismatched in marriage. Men have lots of testosterone while women have less and it's testosterone that creates the physical sex drive. Women do enjoy sex, of course, but they can be happy with a bit less sex than a man would, in most cases. If you were to eliminate all love busters and meet her need for great conversation, affection, or whatever she would say are her most important ENs, chances are pretty good that if there were a prospect of enjoyment for her, she would be happy to meet your need for SF.


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To be honest I can't at the moment think of what would be helpful to ask of Dr Harley. My other half has now read "His Needs Her Needs" and (with some difficulty) answered the Emotional Needs questionnaire, but even so is still holding out on answering the Love Busters one. It would appear I am meeting all of her needs under the status quo, maybe not all to 5 stars but more than enough to be good, so she has no real incentive to change anything much and is therefore reticent about exploring more of the Marriage Builders suggestions. She sees it as me pursuing my own personal therapy and not something that will necessarily be of joint benefit.

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Originally Posted by Mature
To be honest I can't at the moment think of what would be helpful to ask of Dr Harley. My other half has now read "His Needs Her Needs" and (with some difficulty) answered the Emotional Needs questionnaire, but even so is still holding out on answering the Love Busters one. It would appear I am meeting all of her needs under the status quo, maybe not all to 5 stars but more than enough to be good, so she has no real incentive to change anything much and is therefore reticent about exploring more of the Marriage Builders suggestions. She sees it as me pursuing my own personal therapy and not something that will necessarily be of joint benefit.

That would suggest that your wife is not head over heels in love with you. If she was, your needs would come ahead of hers. Are you flirting with her, are you romancing her, do you tell her she is beautiful, irresistible and magical every morning as you wake up? Try going from 'more than enough to be good' to amazing and see if that helps.

By the way, you never answered my question on a possible sex aversion. That would require an entirely different approach.


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FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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Originally Posted by living_well
[quote=Mature]
By the way, you never answered my question on a possible sex aversion. That would require an entirely different approach.

Sorry if you think I was avoiding answering your question, but I do think I stated this fairly clearly in my original post. For a black and white answer, Yes I think Sexual Aversion is a problem.

It is however difficult to see how to engage in the suggested steps of overcoming sexual aversion for a 69 year old who hasn't really bought into Dr Harley's ideas. Reading His Needs Her Needs has helped bring these painful feelings to the surface, but my mate is still resisting reading He Wins She Wins, which I feel is the best chance I see of her reading the chapters on Sexual Aversion. We don't seem to be able to discuss this constructively, although we are making some progress, but I fear it is seen as a sacrifice on her side not a joyful joint agreement.

I could be wrong but I don't believe the major cause of the sexual aversion is love busters in this marriage, it seems to me a preexisting condition that I can also recognize in her siblings. This is not just an issue of PIV sex, we are both now too old and physically challenged for that. I find it difficult to explain what is missing, as elementary and shallow as this will sound, she doesn't seem to be able to comprehend what power a black bra under a white shirt has over me.

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I believe you will get some great help if you were to email Dr. Harley. He is very insightful and has helped thousands of couples.. If you let him know that you have posted here and link your post, he could see the background of your marital challenges. He can speak with you live on his radio program which is very helpful. Your wife could join the call if she wants. If she doesn't want to, they will be happy to speak with just you. The Harleys make it very easy as they are both very engaging. Dr. Harley will speak with you off air first for a while to better understand your situation. After the call, you can continue to email him.

He helped us immensely in our marriage. At the time we reached out to him, we had been married for 30 years; now we are almost at 42 years and still learn a lot from his radio show.


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Originally Posted by Mature
I could be wrong but I don't believe the major cause of the sexual aversion is love busters in this marriage

That is correct and why I said sexual aversion needs a different approach. Sexual aversion is going to prevent her from wanting to get too close to you so meeting her emotional needs will put more pressure on her and increase the aversion. I agree with LWFH that Dr Harley is the place you need to go.

Imagine if you had a spider phobia and your wife told you to read something that would cure your aversion? Your initial reaction would probably be to run for your life. Advice from a third party like Dr Harley will be far easier for her to handle and he is very soothing.


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Originally Posted by Mature
[quote=living_well][quote=Mature]
It is however difficult to see how to engage in the suggested steps of overcoming sexual aversion for a 69 year old who hasn't really bought into Dr Harley's ideas.


One age-old suggestion here is to not just spring this kind of stuff on your spouse.

A bit of this can explain her hesitance.

You have to work on "selling" the program to her by doing your best to model what it may look like.

It is entirely possible that while you are certainly very interdependent after a lifetime together, that she simply isn't in a fully bloomed romantic love with you.

So, do your best with what you have; meet the needs she has identified as best you can. Ask for feedback. Set up some mutually enjoyable dates - be adventurous if you can! The more fun and exciting your shared experiences are, the more in love you will be with each other. Since you like to look stuff up, the phenomenon behind this is called misattribution of arousal.

You want to make as many deposits as you can.

If she has an aversion, and she isn't in romantic love with you, it is possible she is seeing this as a manipulation - and by nudging her too much towards taking this all in, it will appear like you are trying to educate here, this is a disrespectful judgement.

You can do this. Buckle down and work on your own expertise on your wife, and really crank that balance up!


"An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." - Niels Bohr

"Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons." - Michael Shermer

"Fair speech may hide a foul heart." - Samwise Gamgee LOTR
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Originally Posted by Mature
When filling out the Love Busters questionnaire I became aware sex is not mentioned as one of the love busters! This perplexed me for a while until I realised Sex problems are maybe just manifestations of Dishonesty and Independent Behaviour.

A Love Buster has to be something you do. Choosing to not do something isn't a Love Buster. Failure to meet an Emotional Need is not a Love Buster.

It's crucially important that your wife only meet your EN for sexual fulfillment in a way she is enthusiastic about, so it's crucially important that she be allowed to choose not to do so if the circumstances aren't right for her. Even if she can't put into words why that is. And without her choice being labeled a Love Buster or anything negative. Her choice is providing valuable information for you: that circumstances aren't right for her to be able to enthusiastically, sustainably, meet and continue to meet this need for you long term.

According to Dr. Harley, women typically need two main things to be able to enthusiastically meet their husband's need for sexual fulfillment:
1) they have to feel emotionally bonded to their husband
2) they have to feel that there is a prospect of enjoyment for them in the sexual experience

Marriage Builders addresses both of these - you address 1 by making sure that your account in her love bank is past the romantic love threshold: you meet her emotional needs with improving skill and learn to eliminate love busters on your part, so that your balance is continually growing. Once that is achieved, then you can communicate about how to achieve 2.


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 19 years. Father of 8.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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Originally Posted by markos
Originally Posted by Mature
When filling out the Love Busters questionnaire I became aware sex is not mentioned as one of the love busters! This perplexed me for a while until I realised Sex problems are maybe just manifestations of Dishonesty and Independent Behaviour.

A Love Buster has to be something you do. Choosing to not do something isn't a Love Buster. Failure to meet an Emotional Need is not a Love Buster.

.

There must be some overlap between a failure to meet an emotional need and an action. Certainly I feel sad because my emotional need is not met, The way I express that sadness will probably be a love buster, in my case most likely as Disrespectful Judgments. Only in the last 12 months have I tipped over into the odd Angry Outburst. However when I look back as to how it has manifested over a much longer timeframe I'm wondering what category my begging for sex has been; is that a Selfish Demand or an Annoying Behaviour?

Likewise when my mate knows I have an emotional need that she chooses not to meet it is being expressed in some form of love buster otherwise it would not be hurting me. In my case I experience her unilateral withdrawal from sex as Independent Behaviour. I also experience failure to negotiate on it (POJA) as Dishonesty.

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Originally Posted by Mature
There must be some overlap between a failure to meet an emotional need and an action.

The way to deal with Love Busters is completely different from the way to deal with getting your emotional needs met.

Quote
Certainly I feel sad because my emotional need is not met, The way I express that sadness will probably be a love buster, in my case most likely as Disrespectful Judgments.

Wait a minute, in order for this program to work, you need to eliminate love busters. If you probably become demanding, disrespectful, or angry in response to an unmet emotional need, that's a serious issue that needs to be addressed before the two of you can move forward to meet each other's emotional needs.

That was exactly my same problem, for years!

Your wife will likely start to feel much more enthusiastic about meeting your emotional needs some time after love busters are eliminated.

Quote
Only in the last 12 months have I tipped over into the odd Angry Outburst.

So I'm a formerly abusive husband with a very important question for you: can you guarantee that you will never have an angry outburst at your wife again? If not, that's the first thing you've got to do, and the help to learn how to do it is here. This is what I had to do. There's no other way for this to work.

Quote
I'm wondering what category my begging for sex has been; is that a Selfish Demand or an Annoying Behaviour?

The way the Marriage Builders program handles this is:
step 1: eliminate all of your love busters
step 2: learn to use Thoughtful Requests to get your emotional needs met in a way your wife is enthusiastic about. Dr. Harley's got a thoughtful requests article up somewhere, and there's more information about it in Love Busters and His Needs, Her Needs.

Quote
Likewise when my mate knows I have an emotional need that she chooses not to meet it is being expressed in some form of love buster otherwise it would not be hurting me.

No, it's not a Love Buster to choose to do nothing. Maybe you need to read what Dr. Harley said to me about this:

Originally Posted by Dr. Harley
markos:

When you make a request, and your wife declines, the next step is to negotiate with her, not to tell her that your feelings have been hurt. Under what conditions would she be willing? If you can't think of any right away, withdraw the request.

By telling your wife that your feelings were hurt, although it's an accurate description of your reaction, it's also a way to make her feel guilty for declining your request. Besides, it should be recognized that if a request is declined, and you feel hurt, you must be under the illusion that if she really cared about you, she would do whatever you request. That's an illusion, not a fact. A caring wife has the right to decline requests. A caring husband accepts it because he realizes that he would have been gaining at her expense if she had agreed.

Again, the step to take after declining your request is to negotiate or withdraw it.

Best wishes,
Willard F. Harley, Jr.

This was a post Dr. Harley made to me in 2012!

Quote
In my case I experience her unilateral withdrawal from sex as Independent Behaviour. I also experience failure to negotiate on it (POJA) as Dishonesty.

No, that's not how Dr. Harley defines those terms


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 19 years. Father of 8.
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In order for this program to work buy-in is needed from both partners. That buy-in probably never happens at the same time, one party secures the other party's buy-in by working on their known love busters. However if you are not informed of what they are you are just guessing. I was somewhat surprised at my mate's ranking of her emotional needs, but I am aware I meet most if not all of them. I am less clear on what her Lover Buster list is.

Neither of us has ever been abusive and by my count I have had maybe had three angry outburst over the last 12 months that amount to a total of about 10 words. If you have a 40 year history of no angry exchanges a simple angrily delivered 2 words can be devastating to both giver and receiver.

It is my opinion a request can never be withdrawn, only a demand can be withdrawn. A demand is disrespectful, a request is the start of a negotiation. Once a request is verbalized it exists for as long as it is remembered. It might be satisfied by mutual negotiation (POJA) or the requestor's need might change and that request becomes no longer relevant or has a need to be addressed. Accepting a decline to meet a request is a change in the requestor's need at that time. If the original request was an attempt to get an unmet emotional need addressed I cannot see how that request will ever go away and will be rerequested later on. If the requestor stops making the request with the need still unmet it becomes a sacrifice.

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Mature, I spent years trying to get buy-in from my wife, listened to Dr. Harley for hundreds of hours on his radio show, and I succeeded! I got quite good at it! I've been at this a very long time.

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I'd like to help you get buy-in from your wife, too, but I'm not sure you're hearing everything I'm saying. We certainly have enough information here from what you've posted to talk about the Love Busters you are engaging in - it's not a mystery. I did the same stuff, and you're talking about it, here.


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Neither of us has ever been abusive and by my count I have had maybe had three angry outburst over the last 12 months that amount to a total of about 10 words.

If you have had three angry outbursts in the last 12 months, then you have been abusive.

If you have made disrespectful judgements of your wife, then you have been abusive.

If either of these are happening, even just a few times in the last year, then it is likely your wife will not feel sexual towards you at all.

You're going to have to clean up your side of the street before she is likely to show interest.


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Originally Posted by Prisca
If either of these are happening, even just a few times in the last year, then it is likely your wife will not feel sexual towards you at all.

My wife hasn't acted sexual towards me for 20 years. Things do eventually bubble to the surface.....

https://www.marriagebuilders.com/what-is-sacrifice-and-should-it-be-used-in-marriage.htm

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Mature, my wife Prisca was in the same situation as your wife ... maybe instead of trying to educate her, you should listen. She's also an expert in Dr. Harley's program.

Have you considered writing to Dr. Harley himself for help?


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

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Originally Posted by Mature
Originally Posted by Prisca
If either of these are happening, even just a few times in the last year, then it is likely your wife will not feel sexual towards you at all.

My wife hasn't acted sexual towards me for 20 years. Things do eventually bubble to the surface.....

https://www.marriagebuilders.com/what-is-sacrifice-and-should-it-be-used-in-marriage.htm

Would you like to change that?


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Hi, Mature! How's it going today?


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

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Originally Posted by markos
Hi, Mature! How's it going today?

How is it going? I feel sad for myself because I have missed the sexual fulfillment I have craved for the past 20 years of my midlife and know in my heart that irrespective of whatever happens next, my old age is not going to be able to recoup that.

And no I do not want to retract what I have already put into words. I thought it, I said it, I take responsibility for it. My wife however remains my best friend for all the other needs we fulfill in each other. I can't see that ever changing. Perhaps that is the power of unconditional love, not just a love without precondition?

I think this thread has come to its useful end.

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Originally Posted by Mature
How is it going? I feel sad for myself because I have missed the sexual fulfillment I have craved for the past 20 years of my midlife and know in my heart that irrespective of whatever happens next, my old age is not going to be able to recoup that.

I'm so sorry, Mature. I know that is pretty awful.

Quote
And no I do not want to retract what I have already put into words.

I don't understand - who has asked you to retract anything?

Quote
I think this thread has come to its useful end.

We'd love to help you build a better future than you are expecting.

Also, have you considered writing Dr. Harley for help?


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I get feeling sad about things that happened or did not happen in the past. I feel that too, sometimes, when I think of the "lost years," as we have come to refer to them. So many lost opportunities for happiness in our early marriage, and when our kids were young.

BUT ... the solution to happiness is not in the past. It's done. It's over. There's no changing it. The solution is in the present -- what you do now to change the now so that you can find happiness today and in the future.

The marriage you can build now will more than compensate for the neglect and disappointments in the past.


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So it's been over 2 years since I started this thread and I note it has had a high number of views.From looking at that number I would guess the continuing increment is coming from search engine hits rather than just local traffic. I think there are a lot of people out there with similar problems also searching for answers.

I haven't found an answer. Just knowing about the program hasn't worked for me. You can't work this one through as a one sided operation or you end up in withdrawal like me. This is perhaps preferable to not understanding what is affecting you and ending in angry outbursts. I am now more depressed than frustrated as I understand what has been the root cause of my frustration. Having read Dr Harley's books and having tried to apply the concepts I find myself having a sort of out of body experience with some third person part of me observing what is going on and knowing what is happening to my relationship but having no ability to alter the course as I observe a train wreck in progress.

I have introduced my wife to the concepts but she is not persuaded by the books and does not want to engage in the program. She did read both His Needs Her Needs and He WIns She Wins but is skeptical of the content. She has listen to a couple of the radio programs I have suggested that discuss some of our problems but is dismissive of the content. I believe she believes that following the dating concept is artificial and that everything should just work out naturally and that we should just accept each other as we are and shouldn't have to make artificial adjustments to make the relationship better. She has in fact flatly refused to read the How To Date The One You Married articles.

We have been lucky that we have been quite compatible from the start and for the most part our relationship has worked naturally without much effort. Unfortunately in retrospect this seems to have been at my expense. I have been continually making the small sacrifices along the way that have not been appreciated and the complaints about it have not been heeded and my out of body self is now watching as I careen out of control into stage 3 resentment.

I now question how good our relationship has in fact been and wonder whether the whole thing has been an illusion, that we have in fact been living a life of a freeloader relationship that has required little effort because most of our wants and needs have been being met naturally because of our common desires and life has been generally conflict free.

I did write to Dr Harley early on with our answers to some of the questionnaires and he responded that he thought that my wife probably just had a low sex drive and that it would be frustrating for me. He did suggest that perhaps there was a sexual aversion and posed a couple of questions for her, but my wife is not interested in talking to any relationship counselor and apparently particularly not to him.

I subsequently wrote a couple more emails to Dr Harley that have not been acknowledged. I wonder if there has been something wrong in my writing or perhaps I have made offensive comments in threads here that have caused a problem.

Most recently I have also been suffering the effects of a testosterone modifying drug that I started taking 9 months ago to control the effects of Benign Prostrate Enlargement. The side effects of that drug have been to severely alter my libido and any sexual performance ability, notwithstanding that it was already compromised. I have now lost the ability to enjoy something that has always been part of my needs. The needs however still exist but I can't even work through them with self gratification.

As part of my withdrawal I have now found myself unable to enjoy the touch side of signs of affection. I do not want to hold hands wife my wife anymore and my wife's touch now feels needy rather than something pleasant that I can reciprocate. She is aware of things breaking down but can't approach doing anything sexual in response. We do however still exchange other signs of affection. Although Dr Harley says these touch signs of affection for a female are non sexual, because touch is also a sexual thing for me I can't reciprocate. I guess you could say that because there has been no empathy for my sexual needs for so many years that I have now developed my own sexual aversion to touch.

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Just a thought Mature. When we get into patterns in relationships and life generally, it is usually because we aren't taking massive action to turn things around. When dating, SF and meeting one's ENs is effortless. When we get comfortable, we fall back into our normal childhood conditioning. We learn how to have relationships from experiencing and observing our parents interact romantically. This includes how they communicate, intimacy, or in many cases, the lack thereof, and then we seek to recreate the familiar in our relationships as adults. In my experience, if you don't understand the dynamics of your parents, then it is nearly impossible to understand how you both interact as a couple. For MB principles to thrive and create meaningful change in our lives, we must realize that the subconscious part of our conditioning has much more to do with our relationship success and failure than our conscious mind does. In other words, your conscious mind and what you want are like a flea on the back of an elephant. The elephant is the subconscious mind and is going to call the shots.
How we create lasting change is to understand and then influence the elephant in our life, which is that subconscious programming received as a child. It has been a couple of years, but what do you recall about mom and dad and how they behaved as a couple? Did you see affection? Kissing? Hugging? How about the experience of your spouse? What did she experience as a child? Once you figure out this dynamic, it becomes much easier to understand your tendencies and triggers as you navigate this life together as a couple. MB is the key to getting your needs met, but it becomes much more challenging to navigate when there is an incredible amount of "elephant" tendencies in the background. It is like having a virus on your computer. If SF is your greatest need, but your spouse has severe trauma as a child, then it becomes much more difficult for her to fulfill this need even if she really, really, really wants to.


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A reply was made to one of my comments in another thread that I think is best followed up in this thread so I'm copying those comments and giving my reply here.

Originally Posted by Mature (05/02/22)
None of the commentary seems to address the mental health of the partner trying to fix a relationship while fielding enormous resistance particularly if only one of our needs isn't being met.

I read the rewrite of "How can a husband get the sex he needs in marriage" and what struck me most was that the description of the third reason given for wives avoiding sex seemed to best describe how I feel when trying to reignite intimacy. The lack of empathy and action from my wife for my expressed complaints regarding lack of sexual fulfillment feed the feelings of resentment and increase my mental conflict while continuing to try to both 'woo' her and fight the growing resentment.

While she acknowledges there are problems with sex and sometimes tries to engage, the unsatisfactory outcome of poorly executed engagement eventually send me off into a withholding phase. It takes time to build up to getting my feelings back under control and that interferes with concentrating on her needs. Because I think we are avoidant by nature, it causes us to not have fights but just periods of withdrawal that I find progressively more difficult to get over. I eventual can do it by force of will and an eventual painful discussion ensues after the withdrawal actually causes my wife to engage in a discussion. It's causing me a lot of mental anguish.

Interestingly the MB Radio broadcast from Apr 29, 2022 seemed to encapsulate descriptions of a lot what I am dealing with, even if Dr Harley doesn't seem to believe the resentment thing is such a big deal for us males. I asked my wife to listen to it and I believe it has had an impact on her perspective, but only time will tell.

I suggest anybody reading this and having similar issues in the next few hours try and listen to broadcast before it gets replaced by something new.

Originally Posted by namescreen4 (09/27/23)
This sounds like a situation where a separation might work, even if you'd never follow through with a divorce. It sounds like you are (were? - this is an old thread) going through a horrible time - meeting her emotional needs while none of yours are met. An indefinite separation may get her attention in a way none of the counselors have been able to. If you have brought her so much happiness, losing it may make her start to care about your happiness, too.

Unfortunately it still is horrible time, but being 70 and 71 now and having been married 43 years, separation is really out of the question.

As much as I tried I have not been able to alter the course things headed. The topics have been raised time and time again and I have, in forlorn hope, introduced various MB and other material, books, articles and the occasional radio program to consider, but all without any real progress.

We would probably be best described now as good lifestyle partners without any sexual intimacy. The marriage has been sexless for 20 years. More than just roommates but ultimately frustrating for both. Our days are interactive, safe and supportive and we spend much more than the suggested 15 hours a week of undivided attention together in what seems to be supporting most of the important emotional needs suggested by Dr Harley, however I am definitely in withdrawal over lack of sexuality and the appreciation that would express. I am frustrated beyond endurance in that regard.

Expressing my hurt has caused untold damage to our relationship however my wife still seems determined to hide behind toxic positivity rather than address the problem.

An emotional separation (rather than physical) has developed along with my touch aversion. In her own time, perhaps in moments of lucidity, this is causing my wife a great deal of anxiety that I acknowledge has added more serious headwind. Unfortunately losing that happiness hasn't been enough to breakthrough on the problems.

What to do when your spouse really cannot fulfill your emotional need, rather than just not wanting to? What if every honest attempt to meet it just falls apart and fails due to inhibitions and lack of imagination? Dr Harley suggests a solution in such situations may be to introduce a third party advocate, but what if you cannot find an advocate?

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On the other thread, Dr Harley suggested that posters write directly to him for help. Will you do so?


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As noted above in reply #3016800 I have written to Dr Harley several times over a period of time.

I have not received any replies subsequent to the initial early interaction.

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Originally Posted by Mature
As noted above in reply #3016800 I have written to Dr Harley several times over a period of time.

I have not received any replies subsequent to the initial early interaction.
Are you saying you haven’t heard back from Dr. Harley at all? Have you tried emailing the MODS to ask them for help?


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Originally Posted by BrainHurts
Are you saying you haven’t heard back from Dr. Harley at all? Have you tried emailing the MODS to ask them for help?

I originally wrote to Dr Harley in Dec '21 and he generously responded with his evaluation of our Love Buster and Emotional Needs questionnaires. He offered to correspond with my wife at that time to clarify things if she was willing to participate but unfortunately she was not willing at that time. Obviously he only had my one sided opinions to work with which probably is the impediment to offering further assistance.

I wrote again 6 months later (In some state of some distress) with further information, opinions and questions after Dr Harley rewrote How Can A Husband Receive The Sex He Needs In Marriage, but received no reply.

I wrote again in Nov '22 including a copy of a complaint email I had sent my wife, appealing for the Dr's often offered appraisal of my language but never received an acknowledgment to that either.

In March this year I wrote yet again with comments after listening to a MBRadio program talking about The Walkaway Wife Syndrome, but again no reply.

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I had a nightmare last night. When I awoke I started writing this letter, I think with the intention of loading it onto the very active DeadBedrooms sub reddit for perhaps some degree of vindication of my feelings, but now I look at it again in the light of day and think it probably makes more sense to just add it to the end of my already wallowing in self pity thread here.

I dreamt I needed an offline mapping app on my phone and searched around eventually finding one suitable to install. When I tried to run the app I found it wasn't a mapping program at all, it was a massive malware that took over my phone with some complex games arcade thing that I couldn't play and I couldn't get out of. I tried to kill the app but I couldn't and the devices wouldn't even restart to let me out of it. I kept on going round and round in circles until I became so frustrated I woke up in a sweat. As my head cleared I thought that it was perhaps an allegory for my life right now. I'm 70 and I've been married going on 44 years.

Its been a dead bedroom here for a long time and it was a dull bedroom for many years before that. In fact shortly after we married it became clear there was only one position and one location that was workable for my wife. There was no variation and any attempt to introduce some novelty was generally unsuccessful and mostly rejected. However in the end I adapted, frequency at least until perimenopause making up for lack of novelty and passion. Some years into the DB (about 6 years ago) I started looking around for ways to break out of the DB. Trying to discuss the problem at home had lead nowhere and I started looking for other external ways to satisfy my need for sexual fulfillment. I began to write erotic fiction. I did this by looking for erotic penpals in various places and had some fun flirting with a small cross section of females looking in the same places. That didn't cause any obvious harm until one day I eventually ended up corresponding with a girl half my age who was also having DB marital problems. That connection quickly developed into some sort of emotional affair, but after a while I think we both recognized that due to the number of degrees and dimensions of separation between us it was just making matters worse for both of us in real life and we somewhat erratically ended the connection.

That was about 3 years ago. I gave up on writing erotic fiction thereafter and started reading things related to marriage counseling instead. I trawled web sites and library books looking for marriage counseling advice and sex manuals trying to understand what had happened and trying to work out how I could reboot my marriage and romance. I had had 'the talk' several times with my wife but never got anywhere. Eventually one day I was met with a response that I was a sorry porn addict and that I needed to go to counseling to be treated for it. That came as a knife to the heart at the time since the marriage had been involuntarily celibate for some years already and I had just invested the prior two years and a lot of effort getting a new home suitable for our old age together designed and built. How else did she think I was supposed to satisfy a normal male need and bodily function? Nonetheless at the time I remember immediately saying yes on the condition that she also attend counseling to assess her part in the problem. This suggestion was rejected out of hand and the discussion proceeded no further.

Over the ensuing years as I thought I found enlightening marriage related posts and books that described our problems and possible solutions I would try to introduce them to her by sharing them and attempting to have 'the talk' again every so often, but all I got in return was obstinance to reading the material and repudiation of the content. I did persuade her to read several of Dr Harley's books and listen to some of the radio shows, all to no avail. I've been accused of caring only about myself, while I see my entire married life as being about only caring for her.

I think I've been 'all in' since the day of my proposal and probably some time before that. I feel like I've been pretty much mostly following the MB principals all that time, even before I knew about the program; but I feel I have been the only one trying to manage our mismatched libidos as well as dealing with episodes of her independent behaviour over time.
Having read the MB material I now see her as having a freeloader approach to a number of things in life. Most of the responses to our talks have shown no empathy for my predicament and have included classic freeloader responses of 'you should just accept me the way I am'. While our lifestyle matches on many levels and we spend a goodly amount of recreational time together (more than the suggested 15hrs) although pretty boring we also share interests and work collaboratively regularly. On her side she appears to have never wanted to be much more than a housekeeper and sees our mutually enjoyable recreational companionship and the provision of domestic care as full and sufficient proof of her undying love. In retrospect now, with knowledge of Dr Harley's writings, I perceive her attitude to some other things in her life as having been of a freeloading nature as well, never establishing and following through on any real career and 'retiring' early to be a stay at home wife and to play cards and tennis with her friends while I continued to work hard to cement our financial situation and living conditions and keep things together.

I recognize I have been in deepening withdrawal for the last 12 months. This time last year I had some major dental issues causing a lot of physical pain. My wife would try and make me feel better by saying she wished she could take the pain away from me and have it herself so I wouldn't feel it anymore and was adamant that showed how much she loved me and how I was wrong for thinking we needed romance to show how much we loved each other. This seemed  juvenile to me. Nobody can proxy your pain for you however well intentioned the idea is. You can have empathy and provide welcome moral support but that doesn't take the pain away. I suggested that if she really wanted to take my pain away she could work on becoming a romantic partner again to fix the things that truly hurt me more than the physical pain I was experiencing,

My withdrawal has deepened more recently finding I'm not wanting to even try to initiate anything any more. I have been efficiently trained by repeated rejection not to want her romantically anymore and that has lead to a touch aversion on my behalf. I don't want to hold hands anymore. She recognizes that and misses receiving the gestures of appreciation and admiration that matter to her, but still without wanting to discuss the situation or trying to make the gestures of appreciation and admiration that matter to me in return. Why expect to be treated as a romantic partner if you're not going to be a romantic partner? For me sex was and is a non expungeable part of the fabric of romance even at the age of 70 and with medical/physical issues on both sides to complicate things. There's no chance of reaching a mutually enjoyable agreement in this area if you won't even discuss the topic.

My wife likes photos of the two of us around the house in happy couple poses and won't accept that while I was looking happy like that I was also having deep and serious unhappy feelings at the same time. There haven't been many happy couples photos recently.

When I trawl through our photo albums, I see many more photos of my wife than myself and I can still feel the attraction to that person in the pictures up to a point sometime after the dead bedroom began and the love bank started seriously leaking.

What has all this got to do with a nightmare about a mapping app? Well I feel like Marriage Builders has imprinted a rogue app in my brain that although it seemed to make sense to me at the start I haven't been able to play the games and the outcomes haven't been as promised. It's not working for me in practise and I can't uninstall it and get back to a more benign ignorant state that held a healthier love bank balance when I could at least ignore some of the problems without feeling both guilty and resentful.

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Originally Posted by Mature
...Well I feel like Marriage Builders has imprinted a rogue app in my brain that although it seemed to make sense to me at the start I haven't been able to play the games and the outcomes haven't been as promised. It's not working for me in practise and I can't uninstall it and get back to a more benign ignorant state that held a healthier love bank balance when I could at least ignore some of the problems without feeling both guilty and resentful.
Without reading all the materials again, which I don't have time to do just now, I can only say that I believe the MB programme promises success only if both parties use it as advised. If they work to meet each other's emotional needs, eliminate love busters, negotiate in good faith, and spend enjoyable recreational time together - out of the house, and not being boring - love bank deposits will be made, and they will fall in love.

As far as I can remember, there is no promise that if only one side works the programme, there will be success. Dr Harley does encourage husbands to work the programme alone, while enticing the wife to come on board, but if the wife does what yours does and learns something about the programme but refuses to participate in it, there is little or no hope of a happy outcome.

I think this is terribly disappointing for you. I have think you genuinely have tried to show your wife how MB could create a romantic marriage. I don't think the failure is yours at all, but only you can decide what to do about it.


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Thank you SugarCane. I guess I began tolerating a "good enough" marriage way too long ago to make a difference, but at some stage one makes a judgment of how life has turned out. Finding Marriage Builders gave me a hope that perhaps it could be turned back into a great marriage, but there seems to be just too much water under the bridge now.

Sad but true.

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