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I have been married 30 years and sexual fulfillment has been non-existent. We have gone to counseling and it was better only during the time in session because there was some accountability. She has told me to give up. I have tried to meet her needs and I have gotten nothing from her. 3 hours of undivided attention...she won't put down that stupid phone. If you ask her we are best friends (she used those words in sessions). The response was 'this should be easy then' from the counselor. This is just more of the same. It won't change...she has refused to change. I hate this. Kick me off the forum if you want to because this probably is against the rules but I don't care.

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Originally Posted by Unknown12
I have been married 30 years and sexual fulfillment has been non-existent. We have gone to counseling and it was better only during the time in session because there was some accountability. She has told me to give up. I have tried to meet her needs and I have gotten nothing from her. 3 hours of undivided attention...she won't put down that stupid phone. If you ask her we are best friends (she used those words in sessions). The response was 'this should be easy then' from the counselor. This is just more of the same. It won't change...she has refused to change. I hate this. Kick me off the forum if you want to because this probably is against the rules but I don't care.
Welcome to MB. Do you have a question for us?


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No...no question. Just a statement that this whole thing is a fraud. If it worked there wouldn't be people like me that have tried for decades with no success. He says in the book that people in their 70s come to him and their issues are resolved in a couple of weeks...right...and 3 months later that couple is right back where they were. It is chalked up as a success when it was just as much a failure as every other. I'm sick of it.

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I'm sorry about what sounds like an awful situation.

Originally Posted by Unknown12
Just a statement that this whole thing is a fraud. If it worked there wouldn't be people like me that have tried for decades with no success. He says in the book that people in their 70s come to him and their issues are resolved in a couple of weeks...right...and 3 months later that couple is right back where they were. It is chalked up as a success when it was just as much a failure as every other. I'm sick of it.
You seem to be blaming Marriage Builders for something. Why don't you slow down and tell us what? Did you consult with Dr Harley, or with his son Steve? Why don't you tell us what happened?


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Unknown12 I'm pretty sure I know what you are feeling. I'm in the same boat, married 40+ years. I had no expectation her sex drive would start dropping for either physical or hormonal reasons after 10 years and disappear completely after 20 and obviously no plan to deal with it. Everything otherwise works OK except sexual fulfillment, but try as you may the mismatch of sex drive just never recovers, even though you are doing the right sort of things according to the MB program. The reason for the drop in sex drive is obviously not because you are not providing for the emotional needs of your spouse. You end up in what Dr Harley has recently termed a utility relationship where you are best friends but there is no spark and romantic love any more.

Another book I read on why marriages fail postulates there are basically three stable marriage styles that survive long term - Validating, Volatile or Avoidant. Marriage Builders is very much the Validating scenario, but it takes both partners to be on board for it to work. I think the Volatile style is similar but without the safe and gentle style to intimate conversation but the volatiles still come to a joint agreement. The Avoidants just ignore the problems (until it is too late?)

I believe years and years of avoiding resolving the sexual fulfillment side of things means that one partner has been sacrificing for so long that the built up resentment has calcified the loving side of the relationship where you feel more and more resentment over the sacrifice of sex you have been making and you are being told by the MB program that you are the one that needs to work harder at the relationship to make your partner want to love you again, when the other party has been the avoidant partner for so long.

I don't think this program is a fraud, it just requires the two partners to be onboard. If you have an Avoidant partner that never came on board while you are young enough to recover, then you only have years of frustration to reflect on. I've been in an Avoidant marriage style over sexual mismatch for so long there I don't think there is any actual way to recover the pain of those lost years. You can't go back in a time machine and resolve the problems back when they should have been addressed.

Lack of sexual fulfillment feels like the other partner is having an affair and you are sacrificing to keep things pleasant. Because we are avoidant we have not made the situation unpleasant enough for the other to try and buy in and fix things. They are really having an affair with themselves and it is much harder to resolve than an affair with someone else. There is no How To Recover strategy, there is no exposure, repair and just compensation for the sacrificing partner. The advice here is just that you are married to someone with a low sex drive and it is going to be frustrating for you just have to live with it.

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Lot of things you wrote hear ring true to me. The amount of resentment on my side is off the charts and she does not care. I know Ephesians 5 tells me to love her like Christ loved the church but I'm not Christ and at this point I feel I already have given my life for her and she has rejected me fully. I have nothing left. Maybe they aren't a fraud...maybe it does work sometimes but it never has here. Part of the problem too is the 'other' stuff doesn't work either. If you list off the 'his needs' on a list about the only thing that is sometimes met is recreational companionship...and even there it's on her terms...I took up her hobby she has stopped participating in mine. Who keeps the house? me. When was the last time she cared about any accomplishment I've had or helped me toward it? Don't remember. She is pretty but she is pretty for her, not for me. She just bought a new ring last night. It is very nice and I like it...be nice if she wore the one we picked out together instead. I just am done. I've lived completely alone for 30 years and my current plan is to live completely alone for the next 30. I have absolutely nothing left in my love bank...I've borrowed against it and the debt is due.

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No, I have not talked to either of them. I've only read and applied the book and many other respected author's books. We've gone to counseling too. What possible use would talking to them do? For them to get my hopes up again?

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Originally Posted by Unknown12
I just am done. I've lived completely alone for 30 years and my current plan is to live completely alone for the next 30.
So you are going to separate?

Why have you stayed this long?


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No, I'm not going to separate. I stay because I made a vow. I've stayed because I've made a vow.

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Originally Posted by Unknown12
No, I'm not going to separate. I stay because I made a vow. I've stayed because I've made a vow.
Sounds like my parents and I cannot recommend living with so much resentment for 30 years. My dad (95) doesn't understand what it takes, nor what he does wrong and my mother is in deep withdrawl and punishes him for his wrongdoings.
Don't know what was exactly in your vows, but i doubt it only said 'I vow to stay with this person for the rest of my life'.

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Originally Posted by Unknown12
No, I'm not going to separate. I stay because I made a vow. I've stayed because I've made a vow.

Can you see how that has created your problem? Your wife has no incentive to work on her issues because she knows she can treat you like rubbish.

We like to use the carrot and stick approach together around here.

The stick need to be firm and very direct. Start with the phone. Tell her you are no longer going to be in competition with that thing for her attention. Give her an ultimatum. Tell her you will be moving out at the end of the month unless she agrees to get rid of it. Nobody should ever have to compete with a phone.

The carrot will be more subtle. Tell her you love the idea of being able to give her your undivided attention. That you find her beautiful. That listening to her (which we women love most of all) is what you want to be able to do. Once the phone has gone, your stealth plan is to make her fall passionately back in love with you. Once that happens she will be jumping into your bed so fast you will be begging for sleep time.


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Originally Posted by living_well
[quote=Unknown12] ..... Once that happens she will be jumping into your bed so fast you will be begging for sleep time.

Is this a joke? How empathic is your reply to the OP who is clearly suffering and has apparently been attempting to apply the MB program for some time and failed to attain the success you seem to want to guarantee? No wonder his assessment is the program is a fraud. He needs support not admonition. Did you read the original post?

Unlike wrgflyfish's situation where more than just his sexual fulfillment emotional needs obviously aren't being met, I at least am still in love with my wife because a lot of our other mutual needs are being met. In my case your comment is still offensive as I have tried very hard over a number of decades essentially applying the MB concepts, before I even knew what they were, and the outcome regarding sexual fulfillment hasn't been as you suggest. How do you explain that?

I must admit however in his situation Plan B would seem to be the logical next step to me, but that is apparently against his cultural beliefs. Roadblock. How is Plan B (or any application of a stick approach for that matter) not actually considered a Disrespectful Judgment or Controlling Behaviour anyway?

Tell us how this is all supposed to work where the other party will no actually buy in to the niceties of the program?

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Originally Posted by Mature
Tell us how this is all supposed to work where the other party will no actually buy in to the niceties of the program?

I'm sorry for your pain. We can help you better if you start your own thread. Would you be willing to do that?

In answer to your question quoted above. the answers you will get here are always those of Dr Harley who has a lifetime of experience in saving marriages. When one party is not willing to buy into the programme, the other will need to make it clear that he/she is no longer willing to tolerate the current situation. Drawing a line in the sand is the stick. The carrot is enticing her back into at the way she felt when you were first married because you have to be careful not to create an aversion. Take a look here How can a husband get the sex he needs


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Do you all listen to the MB radio show? Dr. H said today he’s working on an article after reading these kinds of stories here, where one partner’s needs are being met but they do not have a sex drive.

Have you checked it out with the doctor that it’s not a medical issue? Maybe something like estrogen cream would be recommended?

In my first marriage we had other issues too that led to our divorce but his lack of interest in SF abated immediately after a vasectomy. If only we were able to resolve that issue years before with such an effective solution. He had been afraid of a surprise baby when we already had two.


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The issues raised in this thread encouraged me to rewrite my article,"how can a husband get the sex he needs in marriage," mentioned above by living-well. I encourage you to read it again if you have read it before. For some, the problem of finding sexual fulfillment in marriage is quite bewildering, and I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that the solution is always quite simple. An accurate diagnosis of the problem is extremely important before a treatment plan should be implemented. I encourage Unknown12 and others to contact me at mbradio.com with questions on this topic. I will be happy to help determine the unique causes and the remedy for a particular couple of this common problem.

Dr. Harley

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Agree with Mature. Plan isn’t a fraud - just requires enthusiastic acceptance and participation by both parties.

Which simply cannot be guaranteed.

I held on for twenty-five years before determining it was in my best mental health interest to let go. I’m still in love with my wife and keep a pic of the page where she filled out her top needs from the workbook in my phone.

I try to work on the list every day.

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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.


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