When is it Time to Call Time?

Hi everyone, you might have seen me skulking around on MH; I comment here and there but have never posted before!
I’m a married, UK based female and discovered MH a few months back. I’m not Christian, but was brought up Christian and belong to a similarly minded spiritual community, so hope that it is still OK to be posting and be part of your network!

I have enjoyed reading many of the stories here and been moved by the love people expressed, but I was especially drawn to the posts about surviving abuse, and how couples move beyond it together!  I suffered sexual abuse from two educators, from age 11 to nearly 18. It took me many years to understand the full impact of this on my sexual life. I went through many years of chaotic, damaging relationships, both emotionally and sexually. I met my husband in 2008. At that time, I was at rock bottom, and later realised I’d been suffering from PTSD!

He seemed a kind, stable sort of man. I don’t think he even asked me to marry him; it was kind of a given. He seemed interested, and I was shocked that he was interested! But I clung to him with a deep desperation as though he’d be the one to save me—which he was, in a manner of speaking. He helped me keep my feet on the ground, was a reason for me to get up, cook food, clean the house, shower; all things I’d found challenging before we got together.

We married in 2010, but over time, I realised I wasn’t coping. I got help, spent a few years in therapy, and found other support mechanisms. Over about five years, I started to blossom and become someone I’d never been since the abuse!

My husband never asked me questions; he paid for the therapy sessions and would occasionally ask me how they were going, in the way you might ask a colleague how the workday had been for them!

I did, on occasion, ask him to attend sessions with me to try and help him understand how things were going. But he never seemed interested, and I didn’t want to push him. I felt it was my problem and therefore, arguably, mine to fix; and I did!

Only, when I fixed it—as in, got better, recovered, started to regain my confidence—my husband became more and more distant!

Our sex life had not been great during therapy, and I was keen to try and make it better! I suggested we seek therapy for that together, but he was just not interested!

Spirituality has always mattered to me and been a big part of my life; in fact, faith was one of the things that drew us together! Yet he seemed to have lost that too! He had no interest in praying together or attending religious activities with me, things we’d once enjoyed together! I tried to talk to him about things, but he’d close up or just tell me they were OK and I was making an issue where there wasn’t one!

I tried playing down my faith, distancing myself from things that seemed to make him unhappy, but it did me no good. If anything, it added to my isolation and deep sadness! My husband was never a massive conversationalist, but over the past couple of years, communication has dried up even more.

And now, it has been over a year since we had sex! I’ve tried talking to him about it, but he just says its fine, we’re busy, and if I want sex, I should ask for it! I’m not sure what that means or how to do that, or that a marriage should ever become so transactional.

I understand that the many Covid lockdowns in the UK and beyond are impacting on married couples, so I’m reluctant to do anything till some sense of normalcy returns. I’m interested, though, in other perspectives! Is it time to call time? Is our marriage over? Or am I missing something? Is there more I should be doing? I feel powerless to change things alone, especially if he will not talk!

I feel guilty too. I know that abuse and sexual issues hurt partners. Maybe I’m the cause of us falling apart. I’ve never cheated on my husband; my faith wouldn’t let me! But I’ve thought about it, fantasised about it, and I know that is the beginning of the end, in ways! I want to do the right thing, but if I felt that this was all my life would ever mean—no sex, no love, no sensuality, no soul connection with a life partner—I’d feel sad and not sure I’d have the strength to go on! I lose myself in work, in other activities, but even those are starting to add to my anxiety because my heart is hurting.

So tell me: have any of you experienced this? How did you get through it? And do you think I can work it out? Or is it time to be the one to call time and set us both free?

Thank you for reading; and for sharing your thoughts!

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5 replies
  1. Rabbit says:

    This is probably not the answer you want to hear, but it is the answer I give.
    Who were you before and who are you now, and how did this change who you were to your husband, or how you interacted… And you won't be able to answer this honestly, because it is the minute details that people overlook which are what people read.

    When you were going to therapy, you relied on your husband for support. Although you point out that you would ask him to go to sessions and he didn't show much interest, yet still he supported you from a distance, and you relied on him.

    Now, you have your confidence and do not need that same support, ergo are no longer leaning on him, showing him through small unnoticed details how you rely on him. Without that, a male mind may feel a lack of respect, and the "crazy cycle" responds without love.

    I can't give an answer of what to do, again, disclaimer, not the answer you want to hear. But, think about what you are doing to respect your husband now, and do it even more, and ask him about it… which is a self defeating issue, if my wife ever asked me if I feel she is respecting me and what she needs to do to respect me more, I would be a deer in the headlights.

    With what you wrote, he gave you purpose to go on, end of your second paragraph, well now it is your turn to return that favor. He gave you love when you needed it, and you overcame your hurdles… Funny thing about helping others, it can be an excuse to overlook our own issues. Was he maybe also suffering quietly elsewise, but could look past it with the notion of you first?

    To answer your question though. This isn't, and never is, the excuse to throw in the towel. I am of the mindset that there is no such moment in a marriage, regardless. I even struggle, though scriptural sound, with infidelity being a legit cause… On the other hand, the files used to justify murder are aplenty, but never acted on.

  2. CrazyHappyLoved says:

    Why give up? You've both invested so much already.

    Marriage is a two-way commitment until death (if you took the same vows we did), and that means accepting each other as you are each day, knowing that you will grow and change. It is a moment-by-moment choice to love—to put the good of the other before your own. (That doesn't mean ignoring your own needs, just finding the way to make them mesh.)

    Men need to be respected, but a less confident man may get a bit of a savior complex. He may see your "blooming" as a sign you don't need him anymore and distance himself to make the blow feel less painful when the ax falls. That doesn't mean he won't try to make things better, but he might not know how.

    Try feeding his confidence in you. Make him a nice dinner, sit close to him and hold hands, tell him you love him, and thank him for being man enough to love you in sickness and health. Do this over and over; find little ways to show affection and respect for him, and see how he responds. In effect, woo him. Make him feel that your health makes you better able to love him and that love is why you stay, not need.

    I believe the Bible speaks cleary on giving our spouses their sexual due, but no one wants to hear it that way. Instead, we want to feel desired, pursued even. Maybe you can start the ball rolling in the right direction by being the pusuer at first. If he says he wants you to "ask for it," do so! It doesn't have to be transactional; flirt with him, kiss him, go down on him… seduce him. And later (much later) mention you'd like him to aggressively pursue you, too!

    God loves you, starlight. He loved you by bringing this man into your life when you needed him just to go on. But now what that man needs from you may be the key to you both getting what you want from your marriage. Be willing to meet him where he is and walk hand in hand toward a better future.

    Praying for you.

  3. vipoffer says:

    Hi Starlight, your post reminds me of what I went through with my Nex (narcissist ex). I encourage you to look at Dr. Ramani's videos on Youtube. See if he checks any of the boxes. You know him better than I do so only you can decide if this is the case for you. Praying for you, hun.

  4. catlover says:

    There many things to consider here. First let me say I am not qualified to assess your problem, but, let me ask some leading questions.
    1. What was your husband like before you were were married?
    Was he attentive?
    Was he hot for you?
    You said it seemed that it was assumed you were going to marry, did that mean that he wasn't a pursuer?
    2. Was he also molested as a child?
    3. Is his father an affectionate man to his mother?
    4. Is his mother affectionate to you, her son, his father?
    5. Does his father show any affection to his son.
    All of the above have an influence on how we men learn to be affectionate.
    When you married him, how receptive to his affection were you?
    Even before counseling how was you sex life? You mentioned that it waned while u were in sessions.

    There is something that happens to many of us men when we do not feel wanted physically. We can shut down. We can resort to self release because to not feel desired by our wives hurts terribly. Then there is resentment that comes and it is hard to recover from. It comes in different ways. We can want our spouse to feel how we have felt for years. We can be afraid that his/her change is only temporary and we don't want to get our hopes up. Since it has been such a dry spell between sexual sessions, we can feel inadequate to last long enough to please our wives. So we avoid affection and contact.

    As far as you initiating, there are lots of stories from wives here that can help you. You could wake him up with a morning blowjob before he even knows what you are up too. Catch him while he is still asleep and let him wake up with his dick in your mouth. That being said, I hope he is not against oral sex. If you two have never tried it, perhaps now is the time. Tell him you just needed to love on his wonderful cock. Another option is to wait until he is in the shower and then slip in with him. Soap up his member and then suck it, telling him you just needed the taste of his cum. But, don't be discouraged if his change doesn't happen overnight. He might even reject your advances, so don't ask. Just do! And by all means, swallow! Swallow even if you have never done it before, even if you hate it. Learn to love it. Your man can tell when you are not enjoying doing it for him and, at the same time, into it yourself. I don't know how any man alive can reject such a gift. I am telling you what I wish my wife would do for me after 25 years. But, remember how long it has taken you to arrive. You too may suffer rejection many times before you see the change you are praying for.

    Another possible problem is that we men sometimes have a hard time going to therapy. We just have a hard time talking about our feelings and or problems with anyone, especially to strangers. It's just not manly. Besides, too often in marriage counseling, the man is put on the spot right away as the problem. If you, through prayer, manage to get him into a session, tell your person not to do that to him even before the first session. If he/she does that to your husband, that will probably be the first and last session he will attend.

    Note: you have been in therapy for your ptsd. Unless you were in therapy with a Christian counselor, don't use the same person for marriage therapy. Many marriage councilors are really too often just divorce counselors. They mean well, but…

    Let me ask you if I may: why did he marry you in the first place? Besides an escape route, why did you marry him? Has he changed, or is it you that have changed, and he is still the same. If that is the case, only God can change him and only then if hubby wants to change.

    As far as temptation goes; that devil will always find someone to make things look better on the other side of the fence. Usually, we only end up with worse than we had before. It's more often not advantageous to leave a marriage before God has said we can leave. Because we are not 'happy' is not a godly reason for divorce. Happiness is a fleeting thing that does not last without the help of the third party ' the Holy Spirit' .

    There are legitimate reasons to leave a marriage. Infidelity, verbal and or physical abuse, his leaving you because of your faith.

    Let me ask you: except for his perceived coldness, is he a good and faithful man.

    Do you give him reason to want to come home from work? I loved my first wife who passed from cancer dearly, however, I hated to come home from work. Are you warm and loving? I suggest you get a video camera, home security type, to record how the two of you talk and relate to each other. It could be that simply the tone of either of your voices triggers the other into negativity without knowing that is what has happened. Example: My mother-in-law lives with us, and she has memory loss as well as hearing loss. So, when my wife has to speak loudly to her, one or both of them get a negative attitude because of tone of voice.

    Lastly, be patient, be prayerful, find the joy in the new mind that you have—that new mind that can forgive your husband's shortcomings without having a destructive pity party. That new mind that gives you reason and hope for tomorrow and for your husband's growth. Remember you cannot nag him or push him to change. The change has to come from seeing the joy in you over time. The change has to come through the relationship with our heavenly Father. You might want to find a good Bible-teaching church with an excellent couples ministry. Go, even if initially you have to go alone. Through your love and faith, he may be saved. It may take time… But if he chooses to leave at that point you are free without guilt or regret to find the one HE has for you. Eventhen, if that comes to pass, remember there is no perfect man or woman. We are all flawed, saved by grace.
    Prayers and hope for you both.

    I thought I was done. Find the book and workbook 'His Needs, Her Needs'. I think that can give you some needed insight into the workings of relationships and why they fail. He even explains why so many Christian counselors fail to save marriages and why so many devout Christian men and women go astray. He addresses what has to be done when one or the other has strayed to save the marriage. That is if the couple both WANT TO SAVE IT.

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