Updates: “Mr. Invisble” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Mr. Invisble” whose wife was neglecting their relationship and focusing solely on raising their children. Despite doing most of the household chores, as well as making lots of romantic gestures, the LW wrote: “Basically, I feel like the 5th or 6th item on her daily list and most days, she doesn’t get to me.” After the jump, find out if his wife is making him a bigger priority.

Thank you for posting my letter. The comments were somewhat helpful, though mostly ranged from suggestions of things that I already do or have tried, to getting counseling. I do not dismiss counseling, but don’t think it’s a good option for us. The point I was trying to convey, which I think most readers missed, was that my wife and I both share in all aspects of our home life. We both work, we both care for the children, we both do housework (though I believe I do substantially more). I am not complaining about that. I feel that I make a regular, focused effort to make my wife feel special, to alleviate her stress and to be a source of positive attention. Hence, the flowers for no reason, the foot rubs, giving her quiet time or freedom to go out alone fairly regularly — all that is part of my goal of bringing her back from the 24/7 mommy mindset.My gripe and the reason for which I find myself seething more and more, is that I don’t feel like she makes any kind of effort to reciprocate towards my own satisfaction to get out of the 24/7 Daddy mindset. Where’s my foot rub? My spontaneous gifts or little love notes? How about a little focus on me for a change? Is it just my fate that I’m supposed to forget ever feeling needed and wanted for anything besides mopping or changing a diaper? Do I not also suffer from the stresses of parenthood? Most of the commenters suggested I give her more, more freedom, more alone time, more relaxation. But what about my happiness?

I get the sense that she looks at me more like a partner or even an employee for her to assign tasks. And when those tasks are done, we go our separate ways for the night. I guess I’m just losing my desire to keep making this effort when it gets less and less of a response over time. I even stopped sending her flowers at work because she thought it was too expensive and said I should just go to Walmart instead of having them delivered for $50 because they are only $10 there. (Though we are financially quite secure.) I mean, what a killjoy right? Why do I bother? — Mr Invisible

If you feel like you’ve already tried everything, I guess I don’t understand why you’re so opposed to going to couples therapy together. Obviously, you have a communication issue. So, get some professional help. If you’re “quite financially secure,” what’s the problem? Take your flower money and put it toward a good counselor. Or … maybe you’d rather continue being a martyr?


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.


  1. silver_dragon_girl says:

    You’re dismissing counseling because you know you’d have to actually sit down with your wife and discuss this problem. I don’t see any mention in this letter that you have ever expressed these concerns to her. If you have, I’m sure they were quickly dismissed. Hence why a therapist is a good idea- They can mediate between you, making it impossible for anyone to shut the other person out.

    Or, you know, just give up and stew.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think your problem is very real, and I sympathize with you. But you have NOT exhausted all of your options or tried “everything” until you’ve gone to couples’ therapy. So don’t even try to claim that you have.

    1. Britannia says:

      It’s possible that the wife is the one who would be unresponsive to counselling. He never said that it was HE who had the problem with counselling, and since he’s already doing so much, I can’t imagine that it is he who would most likely not want to go to counselling.

      1. silver_dragon_girl says:

        I do not dismiss counseling, but don’t think it’s a good option for us.

        Why, LW? WHY is it not a good option for you?

        I don’t know. I guess she could be the unresponsive one, but I still don’t even see a mention of how he’s even *tried* talking to her about this.

      2. He tried talking to her and she gave him a quickie to get him off her back…awesome…

      3. bittergaymark says:

        I agree. The wife probably already said no to it. It’s not on her to do list — which admittedly is probably already all filled up with one million and one ways to be a relentless, selfish bitch.

      4. silver_dragon_girl says:

        Possible, I suppose. In which case I’d advise the LW to get some therapy of his own. That should help him decide what he really wants- a divorce, a separation, or to continue to suffer in silence.

      5. Silver-dragon-girl Great suggestion!
        I read some article somewhere that said if you want things to change in your marriage don’t keep looking for the other person to change, YOU change. Often when you change the other person does/can too. If the wife doesn’t want to go to couseling, fine. But that doesn’t mean the LW can’t! And I am sure a professional can give you some real soild advice. No offense to this site, I love it. I just mean from someone who went to school for these kinds of things as opposed to us who are accountants, salespersons, teachers etc.

    2. cookiesandcream says:

      I’m definitely with you on this. I thought it was a little strange how the LW didn’t make any mention of having an actual conversation with his wife, and he didn’t mention which comments were helpful and whether he tried using some of the suggestions. In all honesty, I’m starting to get the sense that he has a little bit of a martyr syndrome complex. If he actively starts to make steps towards voicing his needs, he’ll have to give up being the martyr in the relationship.

      I mean, if he’s dead set against counseling or therapy, he could always try using some of their methods outside of counseling. A few of them are the husband and wife switch places for the day to see what things are really like for the other, or they could video tape themselves fighting to see how they come across.

  2. I definitely agree. If you have not sat down and talked about the issues with your wife then you need to. That’s probably the first thing you SHOULD do. She may not take it well, she might get mad. But hopefully she’ll also realize that you have needs too. A lot of people don’t realize that they’re being selfish or that their spouse has needs too, especially when we are are busy we can overlook our loved ones and feel like they are there and they do what they do out of obligation – not out of choice.

    If sitting down and talking it through doesn’t work, then you really ought to give counseling a shot. It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, it just means that you need some help in breaking down barriers and professionals are trained to do just that.

    I wish you luck!

  3. Skyblossom says:

    Have you expressed you needs to your wife? Have you ever asked her if she’d like to trade a foot rub for a foot rub to let her know that you’d like one too? If she comments that she could use some alone time tell her you could use some too and ask if she’d like to go first, which insinuates that you will get a turn too. Think of ways to put your needs out there so that your wife is aware of them.

    I think most women see flowers, jewelery and chocolate as things a man does for a woman while wearing longerie and perfume and time doing hair and makeup are things women do for a man. She may, or may not, think that she is doing something special for you.

  4. I didn’t respond to your first letter but knew exactly what I wanted to say, and since my opinion hasn’t changed with this update I guess I’ll come out with it. You say that you’ve tried everything to make things easier for her, to help her and to make her feel good, but she’s not reciprocating. But you know what you don’t say that you’ve done? Gotten mad! I would be incredibly pissed off if I lived with someone, loved them and expended even half as much energy as you have on this person without even a tiny bit of consideration in return. A 15-minute quicky just to get you off her back? That’s horribly insulting! Your youngest child is one years old. I’m not a mother, but it seems like that’s enough time for things to get back to some semblance of normalcy (even though the new normal includes a lot of time spent on raising your kids) but only if she were to put forth the effort.

    She’s made it incredibly clear that she thinks you’re the last priority in her life. After the kids, after the house, after work, and in response you’ve made things EASIER for her! Why don’t you let her know that your relationship, the way it stands now, isn’t sustainable? Maybe she doesn’t realize that there’s actually anything at stake until you tell her so? What would happen if you got pissed off, tell her that you deserve better, and that if she can’t figure out how to make at least a little time for you (in a real way, not just the bare minimum before she moves on to other things) that you’ll LEAVE HER? Do you really want to stay with this woman forever if she treats you like this? It will be 17 more years until your youngest goes off the college!

    Realistically, she could respond in a couple of ways. If the relationship does matter you might scare her into actually showing it for once. But the truth is, she might be acting this way because, for whatever reason, she just isn’t invested in the relationship anymore. If you threaten to leave, she might just take you up on it. It’s scary and not what you want, but wouldn’t you rather know now than to continue in a non-functional marriage that doesn’t have any hope of getting better?

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Everything you said minus the threat to leave. I have to think that so many women who’ve had husbands leave them for “the other woman” or for any of the reasons he’s complaining of, in some way, wish they’d gotten a chance to go back and change some of their behavior prior to it boiling over for the husband and him leaving. Not trying to blame any of the women in such a position.

      1. Hind sight is 20-20….I truly believe that in most of these situations the person at fault would not change their behavior. It is really convenient to look back and say “oh if he had only said something things would have been different!!”

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        IDK. Maybe its the midget-sized optimist in me, but I know I’ve even been there in relationships before, where I wish I had realized x y or z and how bad it was affecting my partner and changed my behavior while I still had the chance. I’m a pretty stubborn person too, so I think it’d certainly be worth getting mad and telling the wife exactly how he feels before just bailing.

      3. silver_dragon_girl says:

        I agree with you. I’ve had too many relationships end suddenly over something that the other person had been thinking about for weeks or even months, but hadn’t told me. I hate that. First of all, I feel like it verges on stringing someone along under false pretenses. If you’re thinking about ending it, the other person deserves to know so they won’t be blindsided in the future. Also, a lot of us out there aren’t mind readers, and if something’s wrong we would like to just be told.

      4. I think it’s pretty obvious when your husband is the last thing on your “to do” list…no pun intended…that eventually he would tire of it. I don’t know your specific situation, but this is a pretty obvious situation…the only thing I can think of that may make her think “everything is fine” could be the gift-buying.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        It should be, yes, but, you’d be surprised. When you’re that busy, the things she perceives and things that don’t NEED to be done are forgotten. I say need in the literal term like food, water, bathing. Not saying its right, but it is what it is. You bring up a good point of why she may think everythings fine. It kinda is. She’s got a great husband, that may be how she sees it. Time for her to wake up and realize how he feels.

      6. silver_dragon_girl says:

        How do we know, though? We are getting the husband’s POV, and it’s entirely possible that in the wife’s POV, she IS doing everything she can to support her husband. I bet she wouldn’t say, “I’m being a selfish bitch because I can, I don’t care about him, and I don’t think he’ll actually ever leave.” There HAS to be something else going on here.

      7. Read Jess’s post below.

    2. caitie_didn't says:

      Seriously. Instead of complaining and stewing, it’s time to start making changes.

  5. Plan A) Move out. File for divorce. Get joint custody. Find girl friend to bang and give you foot rubs…problem solved.

    Plan B) Stray – not advisable if you’d like a good shot at a preferable custody situation.

    Plan C) Bottle it up and get more and more seethingly upset with your wife until you hate her anyways…sounds like you have some bitterness in your tone already.

    If what you are saying is true, then your wife sounds pretty self-focused. If counseling isn’t the answer / not a possibility because of one or both parties then maybe it’s time to move on…regardless of kids it would be torture to be the giver in a “taking” relationship.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I wish he had said in the update that he addressed ANY of his issues with the wife. Not really giving her a chance to change, just hoping she’s a mindreader.

      1. It is my understanding that he wrote in after talking about her making him a priority…which then resulted in her b.s. excuses so he started trying to be proactive in making her less stressed by taking care of more joint responsibilities and doing nice / thoughtful things. When that didn’t work he wrote in.

        Our comments and suggestions were apparently things he had already done / tried…so I listed some of the options he has left. The whole situation makes me think that she is either completely selfish or not being truthful with the real reason she is putting him on the back burner.

      2. i agree that she may be somewhat selfish, but i think i don’t understand why he’s so against therapy. even a mediator of some sort might help their conversations. and we are only getting this from his side, i think that he may need to hear her issues as well. maybe since having kids she feels terrible about her body, is depressed, etc. i just think if he really wants to fix this (if BOTH of them want to fix it) a counselor may be their best bet. they need to learn to communicate again. which it seems like they’re doing a terrible job of right now.

      3. 6napkinburger says:

        When I gained weight, i never wanted to be intimate, even though my BF made it clear how sexy he found me and how much he wanted me. And I didn’t even have a baby. If I caught a view of myself in the mirror when we were getting undressed, I was instantly out of the mood. Maybe I was selfish, and sometimes I pushed through it anyways just to be “fair” to him, but maybe its really that, and maybe she feels uncomfortable saying it (though she should get over that.)

        If she’s going through depression about herself, she may not shower your with affection because she’s so disgusted/down on herself she can’t believe you want her, and can’t believe you’d want her to show you affection. Maybe it really is about her and her insecurities, which isn’t fair to you, but doesn’t make her a fatally selfish person, worthy of divorcing. And if it is that, you can talk to her, telling her that even if she doesn’t feel sexy, she can still show she appreciates you through foot rubs, putting on music and dancing in the hallway, tleling you she’ll change the diaper while you watch the game (make sure you realize those count too in the scorecard you’re keeping in your head). but maybe she doesn’t know what to send you at work? If she felt good, she’d send you dirty pictures, or something like that. But she’s not going to feel like that is a “present” if she hates her body, and I know it would never dawn on me to send a guy flowers or chocolates. (Maybe i’m sexist, but i think of those as girl-presents and she might even think it would emasculate you, I certainly would have thought that.) Tell her something that doesn’t rely on her physical sexuality that she can send you that will make you feel good. Its not fair, of course you want her to do it on her own, but I have no idea what she could send you, so maybe she doesn’t either.

        As women, so much of how we show guys that we appreciate them is through our sexuality. (I don’t think this is always bad and when in the proper mood in a loving stable respectful relationship, it is very fun). But that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of other things. You can show it to her through sensuality (foot rubs), public physical expressions of your love (flowers, candy) and time (relieving her load at home.)

        But how can she show it to you without anything sexual? Footrubs are possible, though SOMETIMES (I did NOT say always and I am NOT accusing LW of this) men can perceive sensual gestures as invitations to sexual gestures that weren’t intended (not in a rape-y way, in a she-massaged your back so you try to make-out with your wife and are rebuffed because she feels repulsive and everyone feels bad- kind of way), so maybe she avoids that. If she does more stuff around the house to show it, maybe you don’t see it as her typical responsibilities, and in fact, see it as her valuing those responsibilites above you, when she’s trying to give you a break in return for your kindness. Do you like to take bubble baths? Do you like to get your nails done? Men have so many fewer obvious outlets of relaxation and is much harder to “give” them that, without involving sexuality. This is not your fault LW, not at all. But just consider that your wife might not KNOW HOW to show you she values you. which is why talking is SO important. I had no idea how to tell my BF that. You have to clue her in, which involves talking.

        I know you say you don’t think counseling will work. Well, think instead about “mediation.” Maybe you think that counselors are only for crazy people or people who don’t love each other anymore or something, so you don’t need them. But it does sound like you need a mediator, someone who can facilitate the discussion so you can be heard, and so she can’t waylay your discussion with a quickie. Most fortune 500 companies regularly handle disputes through non-binding mediation. The mediators are successful, high level business people with an understanding of the industry so they know how to direct the conversation. These companies aren’t nambsy pambsy for using a mediator nor are they defective; they are saving shit-tons of money by avoiding arbitration or litigation (in your case, separation and divorce) and they are streamlining their effectiency. Your household is a corporation and it could use some facilitated discourse to increase productivity and morale. You know that.

      4. YES! I cannot like this enough. Especially what you say about depression. I was wondering that myself. Both depression and anxiety can be masked with this feeling of being “overworked” and too busy. A lot of times it takes a major hit on your sex drive as well.

      5. There is no substitute for having sex with your man.

        If you are not doing that, you are a failure as a partner.


        –Signed, a man

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh. Well then maybe instead of nicely talking to her about it, get pissed and let her know what she’s risking losing by being selfish.

      7. i agree. some people won’t get it until you do this. he needs to just tell her that he can’t stay if something doesn’t change. but, i think it’s unfair to leave without saying these things. if the other person doesn’t know (even if it’s obvious to us, many people are clueless to the issue when they’re in the relationship) there is a problem how are they supposed to fix it. and some people need to see what they might lose to make them wake up enough to do something.

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        I wonder how many marriages end because one spouse wasn’t a mindreader.

      9. I’m going to be terribly surprised if they haven’t talked about this issue before…hopefully we get an update because I’m curious.

      10. he doesn’t mention it once in either letter (or her response to asking for those things), that’s the only reason. i am not blaming the LW for feeling the way he is, but rather saying he needs to tell her if he hasn’t. or explain to her what she might lose if things don’t change. it just seems like he hasn’t done that. and if he did, why not mention it in either letter?

      11. While we get a huge amount of letters from people with relationship problems this is the first time (in my recollection) we’ve had a guy writing in about something like this. Yes, in most circumstances on this site communication is a huge issue in the LW’s various situations – however, if communication isn’t an issue for you you may not think to mention it. Even more true, imo, is a guy would have to be at his freaking wit’s end to write into one of these columns – nothing against writing into these sites at all, but seriously…how many male LW’s do we have?

        Additionally, how would he know to do all of those gestures if they hadn’t discussed why she was so unattentive to their relationship as a married couple?

      12. yes, but a large portion of the comments on the last letter were about communication if it wasn’t an issue why not just say, we communicate fine but this is still happening? and i get the sense he wants those things so he’s giving them to her. which is great, but doesn’t always end with the result of getting those things. it just seems to me like she needs a wake up call. and if they don’t have communication issues then why is there a problem? couldn’t he have said we have talked about this and while she agrees there is a problem she hasn’t done anything. i just get the sense they don’t talk about it. hey i could be wrong they could talk about it all the time.

      13. no, he wants sexy time back…and thinks doing those things (to reduce her stress…something she TOLD him was the issue) is how to get it…I could give two f@#$ about a foot rub…and I’m pretty sure at least 90% of the male population would agree with me.

      14. i get that but then say i want sexy time back have a conversation about it, don’t give her flowers and a foot rub and expect to get a blow job. which is why i think he’s writing in, having a conversation about sex (or the lack thereof) is not always easy for all couples. i think they need help, she needs to wake up and see that foot rub = i want sex, not foot rub = my feet feel better, now we can clean the living room. which maybe she needs to hear from someone other than him.

      15. I re-read the first letter and terms like “mommy managerial mindset” are not something a dude would concoct…I know that’s very subjective…but…I really think that is a term he took from his wife…which would mean they talked about it…I recognize this isn’t a strong argument.

        I do agree with you that he should talk to her if they haven’t…my initial post and current opinion on the matter are under the impression that they have already discussed this issue.

      16. the other place it could have come from may be google, no mom i know uses terms like mommy managerial mindset. some of them have used terms like pregnancy brain, mommy brain, etc, but that’s a pretty specific term…..

      17. bittergaymark says:

        Yeah, I’m with Budj here. If you all really think that this hasn’t been openly discussed than you are all more than a little naive. It’s always been my view that people only send in these letters long after the usual attempts at reason and discussion failed to produce any results. Meaning that they have talked about it in spades–and circles–and have gotten no where. That’s precisely why they look to others for advice.

      18. i disagree, i think it’s very easy not to talk about things like this. and i still wonder why he didn’t mention her responses, just what he has done and what she hasn’t done. and i’m not saying that he is in the wrong for feeling this way, just curious as to why this is not mentioned. and why he has shot down couples therapy, if he asked her and she said she didn’t want to go, why not say that. is he just making the decision for both of them that it won’t work? i guess those things are what lead me to believe he hasn’t said anything.

      19. Skyblossom says:

        I don’t have any sense of them having talked about this. Everything he mentions that he has done is a chore or a gift. I think he tries to express himself through actions but his wife doesn’t seem to pick up with that means. How is she supposed to know if the flowers mean I want sex or I need some alone time. He has indicated that it could mean either of these. Well, maybe she isn’t picking the correct one or maybe it means multiple things at the same time.

  6. OK LW, it’s time to leave your self-pity party and go home and confront your wife. You need to be clear to her what your problems are with your marriage currently and how you propose to solve those problems together. Perhaps this will be her wake up call to take action in making your marriage a higher priority, or maybe she has lost interest in continuing your relatiosnhip, but you won’t know until you confront her.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Seriously! What’s the worst that could happen? You realize she is just a selfish bitch who is not willing to change? Best case-it is a wake up call (granted, she may need a couple days to calm down after hearing hubs thinks she sucks) and she changes her attitude.

  7. elisabeth says:

    Here’s the thing. I totally get resenting the fact that you feel you do more, and you’re putting her needs first, and this and that – it suuuuucks to feel that efforts like that aren’t reciprocated. It hurts and it sucks.

    BUT – it’s not fair to your wife if you haven’t told her, “I want these things, too.” Of course it *should* be common sense, she *should* just know, you shouldn’t *have* to tell her – sure. But, you do. And you haven’t. So, by doing these things and resenting each time it’s not reciprocated *without communicating that to her,* you’re setting her up to fail and basically engineering your platform for anger. If it’s taking too much out of you to do all those things for her, ease off. If you want her to reciprocate, let her know. And understandable as it is to feel angry that she’s not giving back to you in the way you’d like, it’s not fair to her to expect her to just change her mommy mindset without even telling her how you’re feeling.

  8. i think when this is happening to a female in a relationship (feeling unappreciated and taken for granted) the first thing people say is, talk to him. so, have you talked to her? you didn’t once say if you actually spoke to her about wanting that appreciation. because, just like some guys can be clueless about that some women are too. maybe she needs you to ask her to go to counseling so she can see how serious her actions are and how much they are affecting you. if you want to save the marriage i think you need outside help, perhaps your wife more than you. maybe she needs help getting out of the mommy mindset or maybe she needs someone to talk to about the changes she’s felt since becoming a mother. if you don’t clue her in to how much this is affecting you she may never know. it’s not fair for you or her to keep things like they are if you’re not happy. you both deserve happiness in your relationship. and as much as you are against counseling i don’t see how things will get better if you don’t have someone else helping you both become better communicators.

  9. LW-this is a little bold and since you won’t try couples therapy I’m not sure that you will try this but…show her this letter. I think this letter is more clear than your previous one and it lays out your grievances plain and simple. A confrontation is necessary in your marriage right now or you are only going to get more fed up and communication will stop. And you know where that leads? Cheating or divorce, which I’m sure you don’t want because you clearly do love your wife or you wouldn’t put forth all the effort to make her feel special.

    1. Good call. When I read the first letter, I felt like I wasn’t quite sure what the LW wanted. Maybe his wife feels that way too.

  10. You talk about all the things you do in order to please your wife and establish a connection with her… except the part where you TELL her what you are doing and why. If she is so caught up with your kids then you need to TELL her not only what you require but the consequences if your needs aren’t met also. People are recommending therapy because therapy facilitates communication where there has been a breakdown – it is clear that you cannot communicate effectively with your wife. So go to counselling – or if you refuse, then write your wife a letter telling her exactly what is going on with you. You seem to be trying very hard to fix your marriage but you are going about it the wrong way. If you continue on your path, then you will fail and your kids will ultimately lose. .. which I’m sure neither you or your wife want.

  11. napoleon1066 says:

    The LW is making an art form out of avoiding confrontation. I’m looking for the part in either note from him where he discussed how he’s not feeling appreciated with his wife. Couldn’t find it.

    Listen dude. Man up, and talk to your wife. If it doesn’t work, go to counseling. Marriage is hard work. You both got lots of stuff going on, and are expending tons of energy, too. Do you expect her to be a mind reader as well? Just because you are married doesn’t mean she automatically senses every experience and feeling you have.

    Seriously, I speak as a married man when I say that your expectations for her to just notice are unreasonable. She locked into what she’s doing. Unless you come down off your cross and say, “you know… our relationship is suffering,” things will never change. Grow a pair and do it.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Love the last paragraph. Selfish or not, she IS locked into what she’s doing. Give her the wake up call your marriage needs!

  12. Natasia Rose says:

    Dear LW,

    No husband in the history of husbands has worked as hard as you do at your marriage and none ever will again. I hope this comment was more than “somewhat helpful”


    1. bittergaymark says:

      Just once I would love to see somebody on here be so bitchy to a female LW. But no. No matter how trivial, how petty, how childish a “sister’s” dilemma is — hardly any of you ever call them on it. But here, you have a guy with a genuine problem and commenters like you just go all see you next tuesday on him. Nice.

      1. We have you for that.

      2. parton_doll says:

        I agree with you BGM. I don’t want you to feel like you’re an island out there. I share most of your opinions and I think you’ve again it the mark on this observation.

      3. I see bitchy replies to pretty much every LW.

      4. I agree Bittergaymark! Just because your fella doesn’t contribute as much as you doesn’t mean all men are like that! I am a female BTW and I feel for you LW. I really don’t have any advice (sorry) hence why I didn’t write any advice for your letter, but I just want to say a lot of the comments bothered me. It seemed like a lot of the commenters thought you were lying or didn’t take your problem seriously. And I agree with bittergaymark commenters talked to you in a way that if they spoke to a female that way would have caught a lot of flack. So I am sorry. Your problem is very serious. This is your life/marriage and nobody likes coming in last place, esp not from someone you love enough to want spend the rest of your life with.
        BTW Some men are in fact very helpful around the house, my husband does most the houshold chores (we both work full time) I am in charge of food & dusting and thats about it, he does the rest (and no we don’t have a housekeeper and our house is very neat and clean) BUT I also apprecaite him very much and we make each other a priority (hence why I can’t help you) So men doing stuff around the house can be true.
        While I agree counseling is great, it is not for everyone. Trying to make someone do something they don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable with only makes it worse!
        I guess the only advice I can give you (see I do have some advice after all!) is to talk to your wife. My Husband and I make a point to talk every single day, about our day, our feelings, or heck whats on TV……whatever but we make that time everyday! Our time is from 9pm to when we fall asleep (usually 11pm) and those times are always a great time to have sex after our “hanging out”.
        Good luck and I hope you and your wife work things out!

      5. I think the problem might be that even though the husband does more of the housework, the wife might be taking more responsibility for the baby. And by that, I don’t mean that she’s DOING more, but what I mean is that she feels more like it’s her responsibility, and so she’s more stressed about it and is more focused on it. And that can be draining. I know it’s not comparable, but when my hubby and I got a little baby kitten, I was very stressed over worrying about her all the time, and making sure she was happy and comfortable. He spent time with her, but didn’t seem to stress over her too much. As a result, I was getting barely any sleep and was exhausted, whereas nothing really changed for him. I think women tend to do that more than men, and it makes it tough on us. Counselling might actually be helpful to teach her how to deal with the stress and let go a bit, which would give her space to focus on you again.

      6. Exactly 🙂 My husband can sleep through anything, I wake up when the baby farts… That’s just how it is. But the end result is that I am usually more tired then he is.

      7. Agreed BGM.

        I think the only way to keep a happy relationship is for both parties to constantly show how much they appreciate their partner. I am a female- I love to be showered by compliments, flowers, sweet little text messages, what have you. But, I think my boyfriend absolutely deserves the same.

        If we are getting the complete story (which we have no way of knowing)… then the LW has every right to feel beyond frustrated. He doesn’t deserve any bitchiness from this crew. I hope his wife will realize that she has something good and work to hold onto that…

      8. When your “update” is basically, “I see your advice but my wife is a bitch!” then you lose my sympathy. The letter writer just wants somewhere to whine about how much of a martyr he is. Counselling isn’t an option? He says right there he’s reasonably well-off, so. Yeah. Sorry? What does he want from us? Sounds like a big ol’ backpat.

        Also, I can give you five links right now to women’s letters who have gotten “whoa dial it back, crazy” responses on the whole. There’s always a few people supporting any nutty letter writer, but I don’t think the comments here are pro-ovary regardless of the issues.

      9. Clearly BGM is right. This guy is getting ridiculed for the same problems that many female LW’s get sympathy for, but he is not asking for advice. He is here looking for sympathy and validation. That won’t fix his marriage. It is a clear sign of co-dependentcy.

        I believe that intelligent, self actualized people are capable of a progressive, 50/50 marriage, but most heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex. Dude is acting like a woman and wonders why his wife isn’t responding sexually. Heterosexual women tend to be attracted to men. Try acting like a man.

        You can’t kiss a woman’s ass into liking you. It’s sad that so many women complain about the opposite kind of guy, who is cold and un-responsive. These women would do anything to earn that man’s appreciation. When you have already given her everything, she has no incentive to earn more. Everyone is selfish. The human capacity to take things for granted is limitless.

        If you have an allergic reaction to couples therapy, then my advice is to start withholding what she takes for granted. Do 50% of the chores, and not 1% more. Get a hobby. Get a guys night. Do your own thing. If she wants a compliment make her fish for it. Let her earn your approval. She will probably start finding you more attractive.

        Stories written for women are all about the struggle to earn love. Living happily after is the sentence at the end when the story is over. Romantic movies are the only ones that don’t have sequels.

        Some women are above that kind of thing, but most people are vulnerable and insecure. People tend to follow very predictable scripts in our behavior. The script for male-felame attraction is really pretty obvious. You obviously aren’t following it. You are a nice guy but it takes more than that to get a woman’s attention.

        Confrontation without a counselor present will only put her on the defensive. Most people don’t have the will to create action in our lives. Most people react. You need to change your self as a man if you wanna create a reaction in her as a woman. Feeling sorry for your self has never solved a man’s problems.

  13. 6napkinburger says:

    Its worth noting that EVERYONE thinks they do more than 50% of a shared load. I’m not saying that you don’t LW, but that your wife might feel that she does too. Everyone foucses on the stuff that they do and the stuff that the other doesn’t do, but not on the stuff that the other person does and that they don’t. Thats why 86.3% of roommate relationships end in seething anger over dishes and toilet paper. “I ALWAYS change the roll”, “No, I ALWAYS change the roll!”. They can’t both be right, but you bet your ass both think they always change the roll, even when no one is lying. Its all about perception.

    SO: while you think you are doing 70% of the housework, kid-rearing, etc, there’s a very good chance that your wife thinks that she is carrying the lion share. And if it made you happy to keep this little secret from here, that you were lightening her load without her realizing it, then you should keep it a secret. but it doesn’t make you feel good, it makes you pissed as hell; you want recognition for it. But she can’t recognize something she doesn’t see and doesn’t know is occurring. If you change the roll, but she never realized it was empty in the first place,and she changes it the next time, she thinks she’s changed it 1 out of 1 times, not 1 out of 2 times. (And vice versa). And clearly this extrapolates to everything… the diapers that she didn’t know were dirty, the baby food she didn’t know ran out that you replenished, the dog pooing on the rug that you cleaned up so well she never even knew it happened… you want recognition so you have to clue her in.

    Plus, you know, talk to her about feeling like crap. She’s your wife. That’s what she’s there for.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      how many times can we thumb up?

    2. Maybe they need to assign duties….so they are doing separate tasks and the “count” is therefore irrelevant as long as they both stay up on their mutual obligations.

  14. bittergaymark says:

    It’s sad and quite telling how so many of you are all blaming the LW here. Something I guarantee NONE of you would do if the sexes were reversed. If some husband put his wife/LW dead last on his to do list, you’d all be foaming at the mouth…

    No wonder there are so many divorces out there. Seriously. No wonder so many people write in here with relationships that don’t work.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Hmm, seemed like everyone was just telling him to talk to the wife, even get mad at her, but voice his feelings. I don’t think thats blaming. Seriously, seems like everyone is on his side, in the update at least.

    2. 6napkinburger says:

      I would have said exactly the same thing. I think its about perception. He perceives that she puts him 6th and that he does most of the work and that she doesn’t do anything to show she values him. We can’t know if thats true, hell, HE can’t know if that’s true without talking to his wife. I don’t blame him at all, but I dont’ think he’s going to get a rseult he wants unless he talks to her about how he feels and about accuracy of his perceived reality. Maybe he is right about everything, but chances are his wife doesn’t realize that — HER perception is off. And nothings going to change unless they both re-calibrate closer to reality.

    3. Yeah, you’re right, we would never tell the LW to communicate with their partner if the LW was a woman. We never say that to the women who write in. Ever.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Actually, so many rarely do that. Instead it’s almost always MOA in these type of situations. Seriously. If a women were writing in with this problem its would all be MOA. Very, very few would suggest counseling.

      2. Are you kidding? Its a running joke around here how quick we all are to recommend counseling (cause it works!). I would love for you to point me out the person who would recommend that a MARRIED woman with KIDS leave a marriage without seeking counseling or any kind of healthy communication first. Would love it.

        In the mean time, please stop making this into some kind of battle of the sexes when that’s really just your own projection. This is about an LW who used an update to reject everyone’s advice and then used the forum to vent out more frustration. And you don’t know why that would seem unhelpful to some people?

      3. WatersEdge says:

        Seriously! Thanks Sarah! All whiny LW’s who write in saying that they didn’t take any of our advice and yet oddly enough their issue remains unchanged take heat from us.

    4. I don’t think everyone is blaming the LW. He sounds like a good husband and he’s clearly putting in a lot of effort to improve his marriage.

      But it takes two to fix a relationship. He needs to talk to his wife so she can get on board and BOTH of them can work towards a happier marriage.

      1. And yeah, I think he deserves to get mad at her. It might be a wake up call for her to realize how frustrated he is.

    5. silver_dragon_girl says:

      Um, my advice would be exactly the same if the sexes were reversed.

  15. Ok, the first time this was posted I was supportive of the LW, and now he’s just pissing me off. Let me go ahead and translate this update.

    “Hey Guys, so here’s the thing, I didn’t want you to give me advice that could actually help me, I was just looking for appreciation and pity. So, I’m actually just gonna pretend like you guys didn’t understand my problem and go ahead and reject the only sensible solution people gave me, which is to go to couples counseling, and instead I’m going not communicate with my wife even more about my needs, start passive aggressively punishing her by pulling back on gifts and attention so I don’t have to communicate with her even more, and just get some more appreciation and pity here. kthxbye.”

    I think you might have missed the point of giving gifts and being good to someone. Its so you can make them feel better because you love them, not because you want the same thing back. If your expectations for reciprocity are a thick at home as you’re laying it on here, then how can you expect your wife to want to do things back of her own accord? To be honest, if I was in her place and I sensed so much tenseness and expectation with each gift I got, I would feel like I was being pigeonholed into being the bad guy. Its like that episode of Seinfeld with Bania gave him a suit and then spent the whole episode implying Jerry should take him out to more and more dinners.

    Find a way to communicate with your wife (with a counselor why don’t you, god forbid you get professional advice) about your needs and stop trying to look to make her out to be a bad partner when you haven’t even made it clear to her what you need.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      Nowhere does he say that he gives gifts for any of the reasons you are projecting. Instead he is simply saying that it would nice if just once in a while she would do something nice that shows that she, too, thinks of him. That isn’t him being an asshole. That is him being human and feeling tired of being a doormat.

      1. “My gripe and the reason for which I find myself seething more and more, is that I don’t feel like she makes any kind of effort to reciprocate towards my own satisfaction to get out of the 24/7 Daddy mindset. Where’s my foot rub? My spontaneous gifts or little love notes? How about a little focus on me for a change? ”

        He even lists out gift for gift what he wants back. That isn’t expecting something back in return? I’m not saying he shouldn’t get those things, but not expressing this to his wife every time it bothers him and just “seething” so his expectations are passive aggressively clear and not proactively is not the healthy decision and he knows it.

      2. plasticepoxy says:

        I think he wants attention in the spirit that he’s been giving her attention, not that he’s looking specifically for a foot rub, etc.
        I read his statement as, “I do these things for her to show her I love her, I want her to be relaxed and happy, and I would like if she also wanted to show me she loved me and wanted me relaxed and happy.”
        He sounds aggravated, it sounds like he’s spoken with her about what he wants/needs from the relationship, she told him why he isn’t getting it, he made changes to encourage her and he still feels stuck where he was before, only now he’s putting more effort in.
        I agree, he needs to try something different, if he wants different results. I think that he needs stronger communication, and while he’s kind of dismissed counseling, I really think that might be the “wake up call” their relationship needs. I also think that he might benefit from some one-on-one counseling, so he can have a way to unload the stresses of parenting/working/etc in a neutral space. I’ll admit I’m projecting here, but I know I have a hard time talking with my boyfriend about stresses/issues if I know they are things he feels responsible for (such as money troubles; I see us as a pair, if we have money/budgeting issues, I want to talk about it, he hears me saying “you aren’t making enough money” even though I don’t say that). I don’t want to add stress to his plate, so I don’t talk about it, instead I stew on it. I think having someone that can help him pinpoint what he’s stressed about, and ways he can manage himself to deal with those stresses (especially if wife/relationship is a stress source) would be the most productive.

    2. “I think you might have missed the point of giving gifts and being good to someone. Its so you can make them feel better because you love them, not because you want the same thing back.”

      Totally. That’s exactly what I was thinking as I read: “Where’s my foot rub? My spontaneous gifts or little love notes?” A relationship should feel balanced and reciprocal, but it shouldn’t be about keeping score like this! You should give what you feel comfortable giving, and not make yourself into a passive aggressive martyr by expecting tit for tat all the time.

      And this from the LW was the turning point into being annoyed for me: “Is it just my fate that I’m supposed to forget ever feeling needed and wanted for anything besides mopping or changing a diaper?”

      Melodramatic much? Your fate is what you make it LW, so stop the pity party and start being proactive about this. You are obviously unhappy with the way the relationship is going now, so you’ve either got to A) try and change it, or B) end it. You say you’re still attracted to your wife and you have two kids and you seem to want it to work, so, option A it is!

      To quote myself in a comment I left a while back on this site, having needs is not the same thing as being needy! LW, if your needs aren’t being met, it’s on you to speak up! A relationship needs more than just love to function healthily… you need communication, and a shared understanding of how you are meeting eachother’s basic emotional, physical, and other needs. Tell her what you’re feeling. If you’ve already done that clearly, and things aren’t getting better, and you both refuse counseling, and you’re still miserable? Start looking into option B.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        Also, if you skip the communication and just walk out the door when you reach the boiling point then it means you haven’t learned how to communicate and you will just repeat the same scenario in your next relationship and wonder why you can’t find a good woman who will just show you she loves you. So, if you don’t want this to be a pattern that repeat you have to learn to deal with it. Adding kids to a marriage stresses it like nothing except maybe long term disabling illness. If you can learn to handle this situation you will know that you can handle just about anything life throws at your marriage and that will be a great feeling.

  16. CottonTheCuteDog says:

    You: “Honey, I love you and I love our life but I’m feeling very neglected. Sometime I would like a good rub or some flowers or anything to know you appreciate me”

    Wife: “oh honey. I love you too. and I do appreciate you more than you know. What can I do to make you see that?”

    You: “you could……”

    Wife: “Okay, I’ll make more of an effort to do that.”

    Problem solved.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      Hold on! Stop the presses! Each and every relationship on the planet could be solved by simply following this brilliant advice! Because each and every relationship on the planet consists of two people who are always calm, always rational, and always take criticism well… Too bad Oprah is off the air! If you would only write a book now, you’d make millions upon millions AND save marriages everywhere!

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        huh? What’s your suggestion then? Tell every LW to divorce? Seriously, I thought it was a great, easy attempt at resolving the issue. Should we give up on even giving people a chance to be calm or rational? I hope that’s not what the world comes to.

      2. bittergaymark says:

        No, no. But the fact that so many of you actually think that such a conversation will magically solve any and all problems is really hilarious. It’s just childishly naive. Imagine if the problem wasn’t being invisible, but say, beaten…

        Partner 1: “Honey, I love you and I love our life but I’m feeling very abused every time you beat me.”

        Partner 2: “Oh honey. I thought you knew I loved you, too. How can I make you understand that?”

        Partner 1: “You could stop beating me.”

        Partner 2: “Okay, I’ll make more of an effort to do that.”

        Problem solved.

        See? Sounds a bit silly, eh?

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Well I highly doubt the same advice would be given in such a scenario. But I do think calmly stating the issue and hoping that your spouse is reasonable enough/caring enough to take that in and try to change is a highly rational thing to do, intially at least. If you don’t express what the issue is and give someone the chance to change, then relationships should never exist.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Sorry to double-reply but here goes, hopefully not to repetitive of others’ comments. If you are not willing to give someone a CHANCE to change, you have nothing. Lets use a more reasonable example than asking someone to not beat you. Lets say this woman is in her little nest of mommying and focusing on that only, give her the benefit of the doubt (which you should when you love someone) and assume she is blind to how selfish she is. This guy should, after calmly talking and getting no response, tell her if things don’t change, then he’s leaving. Spell out exactly what he’s mad about. If nothing else, he can then leave with a somewhat guilt-free conscience having done everything he can to be a good husband and having given her a chance to be a good wife, which she isn’t right now.

      5. SpaceySteph says:

        “If you are not willing to give someone a CHANCE to change, you have nothing.”
        I agree alot with this. When my ex suddenly broke up with me he said that he’d been feeling unhappy for a long time. I had NO CLUE. Now maybe this says a little something about me being oblivious or selfish, but it also says that he had given up. If only he would have talked to me when he first started feeling unhappy, maybe we could have worked it out or maybe we would have broken up anyways, but the way things happened we never had a shot.
        The first thing should always be “talk to each other.” Until you do that, with or without a counselor, you have nothing.

      6. theattack says:

        Abuse is an issue that reaches deep into the psyches of both the abuser and the victim. It’s impossible to work through it like that, and I’m saying this as someone who does counseling for domestic violence. These two situations are not at all similar, and you know that.

        The LW is having a real relationship problem, yes, but it’s no different than the problems every other couple has. It can be talked out if both people value the relationship and the other individual. Many times one person is closed off to hearing this sort of thing, yes, but you have to make this attempt before you can expect anything else to work.

      7. CottonTheCuteDog says:

        Maybe you have never been in a relationship with open communication. My boyfriend and I have an open door policy and talk just like this.

      8. Sometimes people don’t know HOW to bring up issues they’re having in a way that doesn’t make their partner get defensive. I thought it was a good suggestion to get the LW started if he had never tried to talk to her THAT way. Sometimes HOW you bring up something to your partner can make a difference.

        Not saying ALL the time, but it doesn’t hurt to try it if he hadn’t already.

    2. i think the problem comes in when the, “Okay, I’ll make more of an effort to do that.” leads to no action. but, if that is the case and you still want to be in the relationship you need to sit back down and say it hasn’t changed if it doesn’t i can’t stay. which maybe is where the LW is, but i feel like he hasn’t even had the first conversation with her.

  17. evanscr05 says:

    Have you sat your wife down, had her look you straight in the eye, and told her the things you have written to Wendy? That you feel neglected, that you do so much to make her feel special and get no reciprocation, etc. You should never do those things expecting it to be done back, but in a marriage, there SHOULD be an expectation that your partner will do things for you “just because”. Not all the time, or just at holidays and special occasions, but on random occasions so that you know they are thinking about you and that you are still a major and important part of their life. If you are doing for you wife, but not telling her in no uncertain terms how you actually feel, then, sure, counseling may not be necessary. Just have the talk. But if you have had the talk and she has made efforts to change for you in the short term, and then falls back into the same old patterns of taking you for granted, then counseling may be NECESSARY. If your needs are not being met by the woman who pledged to spend her life with you, and you are not communicating that to her, you are equally to blame. Don’t push off counseling. Sometimes a person needs an objective third-party to see the issues before you see it yourself. Perhaps she legitimatelly has no idea you are feeling this way. Marriage is work and you have to make sure you’re letting your spouse know when you feel the balance is off or you’re feeling under-appreciated. You owe it to your marriage, to your wife, and to yourself to have a candid conversation with her about this.

  18. I think it’s really important in life to only give what you want to give with pure intentions. It is unhealthy to give when in reality all you want is something in return. That’s called an exchange, and if you want her to partake in the exchange you’ll have to clue her in first.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Yup. Its the whole anonymous donation thing. You give a bazillion to a cause only to tell everyone you did…

    2. Calliopedork says:

      Exactly, it’s helpful in the work place to seek recognition but it ruins relationships to do it at home. Either you feel underappreciated and resentful because you do so much, or your partner feels pushed and annoyed at you for constantly seeking praise. Only give.what you would be.happy giving even with nothing in return. Then when you are efforts are matched you can be genuinely grateful wich is how it should be.

      1. Calliopedork says:

        Which, sorry

  19. I would recommend reading the book “babyproofing your marriage” and having your wife read it as well. It has some parts that may be biased or may not be relevant, but I’ve found it has a lot of fairly good discussions on his and her perspectives of how things work after a child. One major theme is that after the birth of a child, many women are hard-wired to make the kid a #1 priority and can’t shut that off (even with time away from the kids, dates, flowers, etc…) and how the husband often falls down on the priority list. This makes sense when you think about the amount of effort a woman’s body goes through in making the kid (pregnancy, childbirth, etc…) – they are really invested in taking care of the kids. It gives some fairly reasonable advice for both men and women on how they can have a functional relationship after kids. How the woman can make more of an effort to adjust to making time for the husband as well as the kids and also how husbands can bring up the issue and help her re-focus as well. You are already doing a fair amount of what it suggests, but there are other things you could be trying as well. And, it gives a lot of his and her perspectives to help you both better understand where the other one is coming from. If you both look over the book, you can hopefully have a good discussion about some of the points you want to bring up with her and both better understand the others side outside of an argument (it can be hard to express things properly in the moment).

    1. Also, I forgot to mention that after kids, often both spouses (assuming both are really putting in effort) feel like they are doing more of the work. It has a whole section on score-keeping and how it’s detrimental to the relationship and things you can do to avoid it. I think that’s another section that you and your wife would benefit from reading over and discussing. That can help you both set up expectations of who does what and how you will both handle your share of the work while feeling that you are a team and both appreciated. This section also had pretty good his/hers perspectives that may help you both understand where the other one is coming from.

    2. Skyblossom says:

      I like this! You don’t have to both read the entire book to get a discussion going either. You can read one or two sentences to her from the book and ask her if she feels that way then read another one or two sentences that describe how you feel and just read them and say this is how I feel.

  20. Painted_lady says:

    I had a million thoughts reading both the letters. One, perhaps LW’s wife is sensing the expectations coming out of his actions – ie, if I do this, then she’ll sleep with me! – and resents the strings attached to his gestures. I had an ex who would send me flowers constantly and then assumed that gave him carte blanche to try kinky stuff with me, undiscussed previously, and if I protested (“Uh, you never asked if you could put that there!”) then I would get called ungrateful, or worse. It got to the point where I dreaded getting gifts of any kind from him because they were just too loaded with expectations. Or maybe she’s got undiagnosed post-partum depression, which can last for far longer than a baby is technically a baby. Or maybe she’s not attracted to you anymore. Maybe she’s a lesbian. I can’t tell you that. I’m not your wife. But you know who is your wife? YOUR WIFE. And you know how you don’t know what to do because she isn’t talking to you? Ditto, dude. She doesn’t know either. So you know how you’ve tried everything EXCEPT FOR talking to her and counseling? THAT ISN’T EVERYTHING. So if you really value your marriage, try those things. If your wife won’t cooperate, you’re no worse off than before. But it’s funny – when things are bad enough in a relationship that one person is thinking of leaving, the other person is often suddenly more willing to try things than they were before. But that only happens if they know. Maybe you’re done with your marriage. Maybe you want to leave while you can still say, “Poor me, I tried so hard” because secretly you know you’re not willing to work *that* hard. Or maybe you’re angry enough at your wife you want her to figure this out on her own, and not talking feels like a way of punishing her. But if you really are willing to do anything, we’re giving you gold here. Either get on it or get going, but quit playing martyr. You’re sick of it, and I bet your wife is too.

    1. Wife: “honey, I don’t feel as appreciated as I used to and have a hard time feeling like the sexy me before kids and just can’t get out of the mommy mindset and all the chores we have to do.”

      Husband: “ok, go out with your girl friends / let me change that diaper / here are some flowers to romance you”

      Wife: “you scum bag…you are just trying to get in my pants”

      The wife is a nut job if that’s the situation.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh come on Budj. I don;t think thats exactly how she meant it. I hear ya, but

      2. that wasn’t meant to be a dick post – just saying the initial theory of the LW’s situation in relation to painted lady’s situation was a little different.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        yea, i see that.

      4. summerkitten26 says:

        not that I’m disagreeing that this IS the situation, but at least the way he came across in both the first letter and this one is “I give her flowers to make her happy because that’s what makes women happy, but she won’t be intimate with me even after I went through the effort of giving her flowers!” not “I gave her flowers because she likes them and I thought it was nice, but I don’t get any ‘here honey this is for you just because’ in return.”

        one partner occasionally taking on more than 50% in order to help the other destress is how it’s supposed to be (nice, but also a responsibility they signed on for), but in my opinion, LW comes across as doing his responsibilities with the expectation of favors. He might want foot rubs, but the way to get them isn’t to sit there and say “hey honey, you owe me a foot rub because I gave you one.”

        I do agree with your other comments, though. There is a lot of harshness directed at this LW, but I’d venture to say that a lot of us are turned off by the attitude to really address the very legit issues in detail. We have, however, flamed many a lady LW.

      5. Painted_lady says:

        Oh definitely – if that’s the problem, she’s crazy. But it sounds like they’ve never so much as discussed the issues, so unsolicited gifts that may or may not be helping to alleviate her seeming distaste for him are never going to make this mystery problem go away. My example with the ex was just that; he gave me all these little gifts in order to replace conversations we needed to have about our sex life. If I voiced an opinion about what we were doing, he would admonish me with a recitation of all the gifts he regularly brought me. So basically I just felt likes whore. Maybe that’s not the issue, but again, he’s never going to know what the issue is till he opens his mouth.

      6. If they haven’t discussed it I can see where you are coming from with that….I just don’t see how you can be married for 7 years and all of a sudden have communication issues when kids are in the picture.

      7. i think kids change a lot of things about marriage and it can be a negative change in some case. i think some people go in to it not realizing just how much can and will change and are blindsided by it. perhaps she dealt with post partum depression which she never got treated, which has led to them having mismatched libidos. maybe they no longer talk because the distance is so great. maybe she knows it’s an issue but doesn’t know what to do so she responds by not doing anything and hoping it goes away. none of that is healthy, but i think it happens. and when it gets but so far i think you need outside help to get your marriage back on track. or just someone to help you learn to talk again. or maybe a wake up call, i.e. him telling her he can’t stay if something doesn’t change.

      8. Painted_lady says:

        I think problems that were there anyway get magnified by like a million once you have kids because there’s SO MUCH less time to focus on just the two of you. So maybe the wife reaches a certain place of stress and sexually shuts down, and neither one of them had any idea because she had never been that stressed before. Or maybe some flowers did help with whatever body image issues she had pre-kids, but she feels so gross now that no amount of lilies will make that go away. Or maybe the LW got – rightly so – spoiled to the attention that she gave and never questioned that it could or would go anywhere. Who knows? And maybe all of this has spontaneously and suddenly cropped up for no reason at all other than she just pretended to love him so she had a sperm donor. Doubtful, but still physically possible. But if she won’t own up to it on her own, oh my god they need counseling.

      9. Skyblossom says:

        Many couples slide by, not hardly speaking but getting along well enough. Then when they have a baby and everything needs to be renegotiated and there is far more work to do with far less free time and less extra money to go around they have no communication skills to hit a new balance in life.

  21. bittergaymark says:

    NEWSFLASH! Women should stop being annoyed that their husbands STILL want to sleep with them enough to resort to bribery out of sheer desperation — and instead start worrying much more about what will happen when their husbands eventually simply give up stop wanting to be intimate with them. At least, that’s my not-so-humble opinion.

    1. 6napkinburger says:

      I agree. Women should not be annoyed by the fact that want them enough to resort to bribery.

      But, “men” should understand that “women” don’t particularly like engaging in tit-for-tat exchanges if they weren’t in the mood for the sex in the first place. If you don’t want to bone because you’re : 1) feeling so digusted with yourself that you can’t get turned on; 2) so tired that you can’t get turned on; 3) pissed at your husband so you can’t get turned on– receiving a gift that now makes you obligated to do something you didn’t want to do in the first place doesn’t really fix the problem. (though at least you have pretty flowers, I guess.) Because you didn’t need a reason not to want to have sex before, with the “gift”, now you feel you need a reason and because chances are he knew your reason, clearly he didn’t think it was a good enough reason to leave off (or else he wouldn’t be trying to bribe you to get over it). Which makes you annoyed that he didn’t respect your reason, and makes you even less turned on(see point (3)).

      So while some women will be pissed at the *aghast* thought that their husband thinks they can be bribed, I would venture that many are just annoyed that now they have to either have sex when they didn’t want to, or blatantly reject their husbands again and feel bad about it, because their husbands clearly want to and even tried to do something nice, but that didn’t change the reasons the wives didn’t want to.

      Of course we’re worried about them giving up and moving on. Which leads to a lot of sex when we really are not in the mood. But it isn’t surprising that receiving the gift leads to annoyance, given everything that comes along with it.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Oh, please. It seems women often go out of their way courting such behavior by deliberately withholding sex. I can’t tell you how many of my male married friends feel their wives would rather watch The Real Housewhores of XYZ rather than get it on. Meanwhile, said wives then later confide in me that they worry their men are increasingly becoming distant.

        Ah, yes. It’s often amusing to be the confidant of both I must say.

        Now you will all chime in here saying (quite logically, I must admit) that I really ought speak up and say something. Ah, yes. I once thought that as well. Trust me. It is often a very bad idea to speak the truth to those most in the need of hearing it.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I think a lot of those women you speak of are women who get married to have a life partner as opposed to a sex partner. Not good. There’s a reason you can get a divorce for not putting out for a year. However, theres also somehting to be said about being a supportive husband. Some women just don’t like sex though, hence the whole ‘we used to get it on like bunnies before we got married.’ If women are using it as a tool to lock in a husband, they need to realize that there’s no “lock in” thanks to divorce. Another good example of Be Who You Are, Not Who They Want You To Be…especially pre-marriage. Hey, maybes there are dudes out there who don’t need to get it on too much.

      3. 6napkinburger says:

        Boo to the term “withholding sex.” The example you just gave shows that its a totally leotarded phrase that conveys no meaning as it is so often misused.
        A woman who would rather watch an episode of dumb tv than have sex with her husband is NOT “withholding sex.” She is a woman who would rather watch an episode of dumb tv than have sex with her husband. A woman who wants her husband to take out the trash without her having to ask and who will not have sex with him until he does so is “withholding sex.” The first example is just a woman who is “not having sex” on any given night.

        And your word was dead on – “deliberatly withholding sex.” The first woman is not “deliberately” withholding sex; she is incidentally withholding sex. She doesn’t want it, so he doesn’t get it — its incidental to her decision. I know this; I’ve been her. The second woman is deliberately withholding sex.

        Of course the woman is worried that he’s getting distant. She doesn’t want to do something, it incidentally and negatively affects her husband and she wonders how to balance what she wants versus what he wants, in an attempt to make everyone satisfied.

        The second woman, the one who does “deliberatly withhold sex” is not “worried that her husband is becoming increasingly distant” — she’s worried that her plan is backfiring. The first woman has no plan other than try to make herself happy without sacricing his happiness. BIG DIFFERENCE.

      4. I don’t see a difference in “deliberatly” and “incidentally” withholding sex if you aren’t telling your boy friend the reason you aren’t in the mood is because he didn’t take out the trash…there should be no withholding sex at all. Period.

        The only reason someone should be perceiving sex as being withheld is because the people in the relationship have different libido’s. In that case, let’s_be_honest’s post about “locking someone in with sex” is spot on.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        I confused. Do you disagree about the locking in theory? I understood her point, and there is a difference between not wanting it versus wanting it but refusing bc husband did x y z.

      6. I’m saying people should recognize that matching libido’s should be something people try and recognize in a partner…so I agree.

      7. 6napkinburger says:

        I wasn’t suggesting that the woman who was withholding sex so he would take out the trash was getting an A in being a woman this week. I think that sucks/is deplorable/whatever. I just think that it is deliberately “withholding sex.”

        I actually have no idea what you’re talking about with mismatched libidos being the only time to use the description “withholding.” Which is why i think its a terrible phrase, as it means so many different things to different people and in different usages.

        The way I understand the term, no one is ever “withholding” sex unless they are doing it consciously as a way to effect a change in their partner or partners’ actions. Otherwise, they are just “not having sex.”

        If you are using it to mean that a woman “withholds sex” whenever her husband wants to have sex but she does not oblige, we are using it very differently, and we have thoroughly established how much the term sucks at conveying a consistent meaning.

      8. I’m saying that if a woman is turning her husband down for sex OFTEN without any other reason than simply not being in the mood then they aren’t a good sexual match.

      9. Because regardless of the motivations that would build resentment…the wife shouldn’t have to feel bad for not being in the mood and the guy certainly shouldn’t have to feel bad for wanting to have sex.

    2. Painted_lady says:

      Sex is part of a relationship, and an important one. I don’t think anyone’s saying otherwise. I’m certainly not. And the wife may just be self-centered – I absolutely admit that’s a possibility. But if this guy is seeking advice, concurring with that and leaving it there isn’t productive. If he’s looking for a way out, fine – he may be doing just that. But if he’s actually looking for a way to fix his marriage, he needs a little more to go on.

    3. Hold on hold on hold on. Did you just say that women should stop being annoyed with their husbands if their husbands feel the need to bribe them for sex…..and then in the comments posted way above call the LW’s wife a selfish bitch and agree with a commenter who said that the wife just gave the LW a quickie to get him “off her back”??

      So husband bribes wife for sex: get used to it ladies, its better than nothing.

      Wife uses sex to address husband’s concerns: Selfish bitch.

      Ok, I get it now.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Actually, no. No, it would be nice if more wives actually just genuinely wanted to sleep with their husbands, but since apparently so few of you do, I don’t see how any you can be annoyed at the poor guy for trying his damnedest to get some.

        Look, if you don’t want to sleep with a guy regularly, ladies —- here’s a newsflash. Don’t. Get. Married. Seriously. Just stay single.

      2. Who the hell is saying we don’t want to sleep with our husbands??? Guess what, LW’s wife is not “every woman” no matter how hard you try to make her so.Yes, men and women sometimes have different ways in which they get motivated to have sex. To have more sex men and women should know what things turn on their spouse in a specific way. You know how they do that? COMMUNICATION.

        For someone who claims to be the confidant of so many women, you sure don’t know too much about us.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Gotta agree with Sarah here. Enough with the assumptions about every female being exactly like the few you have issues with. To use your favorite condescending term: NEWSFLASH: Not all women are the same! Its childishly naive to think so.

      4. bittergaymark says:

        Your whole tone and take on this LW implies it quite clearly. Your posts here are all about how annoying the LW is for trying to bribe his wife into sex. (He isn’t really doing that, no, it’s all just a projection in your head, but REALLY! He’s an annoying card for feeling ignored. Worse, than that, he is scum for actually wanting some simple reciprocity.

        Meanwhile, a good many of the other posters on here seem to have the same attitude. One even stopped sleeping with her husband because she felt fat… Nevermind, that he never even said so much of a word about her weight. His feelings didn’t matter. Nope, why should they? It’s all about sisterhood on here, isn’t it. So it’s simply great she just shut down — and from what it sounds like did precious little to lose any of the weight that was an issue only she cared even about.

        Look, I’m sorry, but so many of you seem to view sex as a weapon or a burden, it genuinely makes me sad. Trying to control your spouse via sex is the fastest way to divorce court. Ask ANY advice columnist. Go on, I dare you.

      5. 6napkinburger says:

        On the contrary, I think its you who see it as a weapon or a burden. I saw it as an activity.

        I mentioned I felt unsexy. It had nothing to do with my partner, I personally did not want to engage in sex. Not as a weapon, not as a burden, but as an action that most adults derive pleasure out of and usually need to be in a particular mood to want to begin engaging in. I didn’t want to; I was not in that mood. If I was single that would have been the end of the conversation. I don’t want sex, I don’t have sex, everyone is happy. (or you know, not.)

        However, I was not single. So if i did not engage in sex, it affected both me and my partner. Again, me not wanting to engage was neither a weapon or a burden — it was an entirely personal sentiment. But, as you put it, me not having sex because I didn’t want to was ignoring my partner’s feelings; me not putting out was acting as if “his feelings did not matter.” If I was to respect his feelings, his desire to have sex, I would have done it anyway, regardless of my feelings towards the action. And your post implies I should have. I’m not sure how else to define a burden other than doing things to make other people happy that you don’t want to do. You are the one who is phrasing it as a burden by saying that if i didn’t consider his feelings and decide to have sex anyway, I was somehow selfish/revelling in the sisterhood (?). It is your description that paints the picture that regardless of a woman’s desire to participate in an action, she should do it anyway out of care for her partner’s feelings. That is called a burden.

        I would understand that my partner was upset, felt neglected, felt confused because he was still attracted to me and did everything to make me feel sexy and nothing seemed to work. Of course he’d be upset. Of course it isn’t “fair” for him. Its not what he signed up for. But I don’t get how he’d have thought I was using sex as a weapon or a burden for that matter.

        I’m not going to get into the merits of mental health issues here with you. To say I “struggle(d)” with the weight issue is an understatment; to say I “tried” is meaningless as I’m sure you (and usually rightfully) would focus only on results, which I have not achieved.

        Though you will probably be quite happy to hear that I released the poor fool from his misery.

      6. bittergaymark says:

        Yeah, but by not having sex with your husband, you inadvertently did make it both a weapon you wielded against him and a burden that he had to carry because it became a rejection. Hey, I’m sorry your marriage fell apart, but after all that you’ve said here about it I am really not all that surprised.

      7. bittergaymark says:

        Okay, that sounded bitchier than I mean, too. What I was trying to say is that your own experience here, kind of proves my point. And I genuinely hope that both you and others here can learn from your mistake.

      8. 6napkinburger says:

        What mistake? Suffering from depression and letting myself go? I mean, if your point is that I should have worked out more and watched what I ate to avoid this, then I guess you’re not totally wrong. But that wasn’t really the topic at hand, so I doubt that was your point. Was it that I should have had more sex with him regardless of how I felt about it? I’m not sure that’s my take-away lesson here; we didn’t break up due to lack of sex (Hell, there wasn’t a lack of sex. There was just LESS and less inititated by me.)

        Sad that the lesson is lost on me.

      9. bittergaymark says:

        No. The mistake would be just giving up on sex because of your feelings and not working on keeping it alive in your relationship. That’s the mistake.

        Once the sex life dies, the relationship quickly follows suit.

        My point was that if you freeze somebody out as far as sex goes — regardless of the reasoning, be it you are depressed and feel unattractive, or feel too busy with the kids, or simply just aren’t that into it anymore, than the relationship probably not last very long. That is lesson, I am talking about here. And that is how it applies to both situations.

      10. 6napkinburger says:

        See, I agree with your last post, but I think your whole view is a little warped.

        You seem to think that women should never not want to have sex with their husbands (I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and add “on any continuous basis” and not assume you mean “ever”.) Which is fine, most people will agree with you on that, except it ignores hormones, mental illnesses, medications, and real life. Most people accept that and triage what to do once that crap gets in the way, but you seem to FAULT women for ALLOWING their sexual desire to wane, which I find flawed. While berating women for having allowed this to occur, you then seem to espouse the “fake it til you make it” attitude (taking his feelings into account), which would be fine, except that you seem to mind if they acknowledge that this is what they’re doing (considering it a burden when discussing it in an online forum). And you mind if they find indications that their efforts aren’t good enough annoying (bribery flowers) or insufficient (doing housework/childraising that daddy should be doing anyway).

        But of course it is a burden — it is the burden of keeping the marriage alive. Every woman knows that she’ll have to have sex when she doesn’t especially want to, just as every man knows he won’t get to have sex every time he especially does want to. And sometimes, vice versa. And I agree with you whole heartedly that you can’t just stop having sex in a marriage; the relationship will go next. But sometimes it IS a burden — its a burden for both partners when they’re mismatched. And of course, two people with seriously mismatching libidos should not wed. But libidos also fluctuate with time and they aren’t always going to be perfectly matched and dealing with the mismatch is a huge part of a successful marriage. But faulting one party for fluctuating isn’t productive and it isn’t fair, which you seem to be doing. Acknowleging the reality and dealing with it is the solution. If a wife feels sex has become a burden, it is the couples’ job to make it less of a burden, not just hers. If the husband feels his lack of sex is a burden, its the couples’ job to figure out what to do — whether it means more sex, spicier sex, figuring out if it is intimacy that is missing, etc. That’s why we all told him to TALK TO HER, not just accept it and suck it up.

        But insisting that a ‘good’ wife would never get tired or feel unsexy or busy or stressed or feel pressured and thus, turned off to sex for periods of time, and that those who do are pathetic and should never have gotten married, is warped. Its how it works. Anticipate it and triage as you go. Don’t let it fester and ruin your marriage, but acknowledge that it happens, you aren’t the first, you aren’t the last, and there are solutions. (babysitters, cleaning ladies, grandparents, sex swings, Curves, Gold’s gym, last minute get-aways, COUNSELING, lube, vodka, to name a few.)

      11. Very good response! I wish I could like infinite times!

      12. 6napkinburger says:

        It was a boyfriend, not a husband. And sex was never a weapon… I still don’t get that. I wasn’t weilding anything, other than my sad feelings about my body. If so, then depression is a weapon simply by one person suffering from it. I did not use it against him, I did not attack. I understand when women use sex as a weapon, I would understand if I wasn’t interested in sex because of something that I blamed him for; but it was all on me. I just don’t understand your metaphor, but I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

      13. 6napkinburger says:

        (For the record, we still were having sex on average 2-3 times a week. Not exactly breaking the headboard, but I didn’t make the poor man become celibate because I felt decidely unsexy. And I enjoyed it once we started (and was, you know… active, not at all a cold fish); I just rarely was interested in initiating and was just as happy on the nights we just went to sleep. These details always get lost in the telling.)

      14. bittergaymark says:

        Oh. See…the way you worded it originally made it seem like you just up and stopped it altogether…

      15. 6napkinburger says:

        I almost entirely stopped letting him do certain… things that he liked doing because I felt disgusting about myself. Which made him sad, and which I had to explain to him had nothing to do with him, which involved a lot of communcation regarding how I felt about myself and how we could make each other feel appreciated and which he would have thought had to do with my attraction to him and appreciation of him without talking about it. I just didn’t put that in other post because it wasn’t relevant and is kind of an overshare.

      16. 6napkinburger says:

        Because my point to the LW was that his wife may feel the way that I did and NOT sexy and it isn’t about him, but it affects her sexuality. He wants signs of appreciation, but she may not know any other than sexual ones and if she doesn’t feel sexy, she can’t use those, so she may have no arsenal of “appreciation signals” (here i guess is the weapon metaphor). So he should fill her in on how to show him she appreciates him, through other things than initiating sex or sending dirty pics.

        (My frequency of lovemaking did not seem incredibly pertinent in this context).

      17. When. Did. I. Say. That I thought the LW was bribing his wife for sex?? I’m sure know YOU said that, and then went on your own tangent about that even if he did bribe her its because all women don’t put out enough in the first place. I actually don’t think he’s doing that, I think he’s using gifts as some sort of communication in lieu of actually asking for what he wants from his wife.

        I want you to count how many times you feel hurt when someone judges you against stereotypes and uses them as a weapon to define you according to their personal issues. Now I want you to count how many times you have been the one judging on this site that every woman here for stereotypes that are so old and outdated that you must have got all your information on women from sitcoms in the 50’s, all because you heard from someone that someone else didn’t give her husband sex once. Do you seriously not see how ignorant and hurtful your statements on this site are? You have a serious problem with women.

      18. Thank you.

      19. bittergaymark says:

        Here is where I thought you implied that…

        “So husband bribes wife for sex: get used to it ladies, its better than nothing.”

        Maybe we are both putting words in my mouth. Because you implied that I was agreeing to things I never agreed to.

      20. I was summarizing YOUR hypocrisy in the statement you gave,

        “Women should stop being annoyed that their husbands STILL want to sleep with them enough to resort to bribery out of sheer desperation — and instead start worrying much more about what will happen when their husbands eventually simply give up stop wanting to be intimate with them. At least, that’s my not-so-humble opinion. ”

        I found it unimaginable that you would be so quick to defend a man who you believed was bribing a woman for sex yet eternally damn a woman who used sex to make a man temporarily feel better. I was hoping, god forbid, to give you a bit of sense of the unfairness and condemnation you were putting on women.

      21. A-greed.

      22. Maybe I shouldn’t be responding to this since I have no kids. So, I can’t completely be in many of your shoes.

        But, I have to agree with some of what Mark is saying. I am sure he could say it with a little more sugar coating… but I feel at the core of his statements is some real truth. (I don’t, however, agree with some of his generalizing about all of us)

        The LW wants regular sex, yes. But, I think he also just wants to feel special and loved. Can we really fault him for that? I don’t take him giving his wife flowers as “bribery for sex”. He is trying to say “Hey! I’m here! I care about you and am trying anything to make you realize that! But, please don’t forget to care about me too!” I don’t know why we are suddenly seeing this as “bribery”. What is the poor guy supposed to do?

        I also think that feeling fat is a sad reason to stop having sex with your significant other. Suck it up. Your man is saying he still wants you- he still finds you attractive. Think about how your man feels about himself every time you refuse him or fail to initiate. Men have feelings too. They should get to feel wanted. Buy some new lingerie that covers some of the areas that you feel bad about. Jump back on that horse! Get those endorphins going. You’ll probably be happier for it. I think sex is way too important for anyone to just ignore in a marriage… and then wonder what went wrong.

        While Mark is wrong that we are all in some man-hating sisterhood of ladies that hate to have sex with our significant others… I do think there seems to be way too much negative attitude towards our LW here. He is TRYING to make his wife happy. True- he wants it to lead to his own happiness and satisfaction. But, AGAIN, how can we fault him for that?!

        I think if this letter were reversed (a wife not getting any attention), a lot of posters would say “MOA girl!”

      23. bittergaymark says:

        I’m not saying you are all in some man-hating sisterhood…however, the amount of blatantly sheer hostility thrown the way of this LW could really be taken by many to imply that some of you are though…

      24. 6napkinburger says:

        Its more about frequency, distractions, circumstances and timing. When its a woman who is content to sleep with her husband once a month forever — I’m on your side, why get married without conveying that?

        But when you have two kids under 2 crying, you have 5 TPS reports due tomorrow, your mother-in-law has overstayed her 3 day trip by 2 weeks and your husband sent flowers to the office with a card that says “You can figure out a way to thank me… tonight.” — I think we’re talking about something else.

        Plus, and almost entirely on a different topic- BGM I can only imagine how much you are going to flay me for this- there is something to be said for getting to pursue. Of course it shouldn’t be that way and its not fair that it is and it is SO inconvenient that it is, but having someone pawing you all the time is just … not all that sexy. Of course he’s been driven to this point, and its so mean to refuse just because he has the nerve to act like he wants you as much as he actually wants you, but. It exists. He gets to act on his horniness… we like doing that too, only we need enough time to GET horny.

        In one of the most underrated shows on TV, Cougartown (if you haven’t watched it past the first 4 episodes, and not just last years season finale, you are not familiar with the show enough to judge accurately), the woman from Drew Carey/Scrubs (“Ellie) is married to short, bald “Andy” who wants her all the time. (Her character is witty turbo bitch, he’s cute and endearing, but their relationship works and you know how much they love each other). In one episode, he keeps trying to get her to have sex and she keeps saying that she needs him to act like he doesn’t want her so much, so she can initiate; his eagerness is ruining it for her. The episode is funny (it involves him trying to imagine her with a bucket-head of fish entails to avoid wanting her which strangely turns him on) but its also kind of true. Giving us the space to “miss” him, to get to pursue, to get to wait until WE want to have sex and then to fulfill that want as our decision, is incredibly satisfying. Of course its not a way to live, but occassionally, its nice. and it works. And the lack of EVER getting that can lead to a woman saying “no” far more than she would if she ever got to build up enough desire to “want” to initiate sex.

      25. lets_be_honest says:

        I couldn’t concentrate on your comment after the TPS report mention. Ha! Greatest movie of all time.

      26. Painted_lady says:

        Hahaha! Actually, you might be onto something. I love painted_dude. We have no kids. We have a LOT of sex. I am not complaining AT ALL, but every once in awhile, we have a morning that goes something like this:

        Me: *yawn, stretch, go back to sleep*
        PD: Oh good, you’re awake! *pounce*
        Me: Arrrghhh! I was sleeping!
        PD: Oh. Sorry. Should I let you sleep?
        Me: At 7 am on a Saturday? YES.
        PD: Oh. Okay. *waits approximately 5.3 seconds*…Are you awake…?…hello?…are you awake?…How about now?…Babe?…*shakes me* Oh good! *pounce*

        Now, being good to go 95% of the time and easily persuaded another 4% of the time, not getting to initiate is a very minor complaint. But if you’re not me and every single kind gesture is seen as an invitation to get naked, that might be reason to shut down on the kindnesses a bit.

      27. A thousand thumbs up! My husband and I have been working through our own sex issues (part mismatched libido, part depression, part lack of communication) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get this idea through to him. He wants me to initiate but doesn’t even give me a CHANCE to initiate, because the moment we have an opportunity to get frisky, he’s all over me. Pawing, groping, “bumping” up against me when I’m in the kitchen, unhooking my bra…for a while there it was more or less sexual harassment. To me, it felt a two-pronged attack: it made me feel completely objectified, as if he was only interested in sex and not ME, and it put me on the defensive in a big way. Nothing kills libido faster than feeling pressured to have sex, especially when that libido is low to begin with (in comparison to the partner’s). It got to the point that it was a reflexive reaction to shut him down. I didn’t even think anymore about if I wanted it or not, we just repeated the pattern of relentless pursuit/reflexive denial. And we dealt with this for YEARS (somehow) before we were able to finally get on the same wavelength and do something about it.

        BGM… Your attitude that women should just be grateful that their husbands want to sleep with them so badly that they’ll resort to bribery if that’s what it takes, is condescending and misguided. If the so-called “sisterhood” of this site bothers you so much (and I would seriously contest that it even exists, we disagree with each other and with female LW’s all the time and even ridicule them if they’ve got it coming), why don’t you butt out, brother?

        Sometimes I wish DW was like Facebook in that we could Hide comments from certain commenters. No purple thumbs, no interaction, just Hide the snarky, aggressive, unhelpful comments and read the ones that actually contribute something meaningful to the discussion.

      28. bittergaymark says:

        Whatever. You may think I have issues with women, but you REALLY have some issues with men. Which is probably a much bigger problem as you actually date men… And please get off the cross about this all women bullshit. Obviously, I am talking about ALL the women that do the actions I am talking about… not ALL women. Sheesh.

        And yes — if a woman is such a cold fish that she more or less completely rejects her husband each and every time for sex, then she should in no way be bitter about him getting desperate him and trying to bribe her a bit. Instead she’d best worry more about that fact that a call to his divorce attorney will be next…

        Look, if you honestly can’t see how failing to sleep with your partner isn’t some huge, HUGE failing —- then I sincerely wish you the very best of luck in your many, many future relationships because, trust me, there WILL be many and they will all be very, very shortlived.

        PS — I still don’t get where you think I’ve eternally damned a woman who used sex to make her man feel better. I never said that. Anywhere… Maybe you think I was agreeing with Budj, but my post only followed his as we were both agreeing with Britanna’s post about the wife being the one not wanting counseling…

      29. bittergaymark says:

        Okay, the post above this one posted in a strange place. It was supposed to follow Sarah’s last post to me….

      30. It’s a good thing you’re gay Mark, because you’ve obviously never made any attempt to understand women’s sexuality at all. Reading your comments, it seems like you’re attacking us for tending to have lower libidos than men. It’s not really something we control, unfortunately. It’s just reality. And for the many, many women who are on birth control, the libido can be even lower. And depression, which is twice as likely to hit women than men, also lowers libido.

        On top of that, the biggest problem that I’ve seen in my own relationships, is that men and women get turned on in different ways, and for women to get turned on tends to take quite a bit longer. Not all men know this (not their fault, their SO’s should be telling them). But if a woman’s with a man who forges ahead on his “turn-on schedule”, and the woman is just starting to rev up when he’s already full-speed ahead, it’s not very fun for the woman. It generally doesn’t give the woman time to orgasm, and it doesn’t even let her get super-excited during the action. And if it’s like that over and over, you can’t really blame the woman for not being crazy into sex. You CAN blame the woman for not telling him this and asking him to slow down. Although I did have a boyfriend at one point who no matter how much I explained it, he just didn’t get it. I was even showing him charts from The Joy of Sex which showed how different men and women are in their arousal patterns, and he didn’t get it. So it’s something that couples really need to talk about and understand how the other one works.

        Anyway, my point is that sexuality between a man and a woman is much more complex than between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, because of these differences. You clearly don’t understand that, and then you proceed to attack every single woman on this site, on the basis of your inability to understand that. It’s not helpful, and all it does is make us think that there’s no point reading your posts anyway, so you may as well stop with the constant attacks.

      31. To be fair to BGM, and as an avid reader of advice columns, lots of times it would appear that people get married, even though they already know their libidos don´t match their SOs.
        And generalizing doesn´t help “women are less sexual than men”. I know several couples where that is not the case… people should only be with other people that have similar libido/sexual needs. Of course thigs can pop up, but to start off woth differing libidos is just setting a r/ship up for failure.
        And unfortunately, through so many advice columns, it would appear that there are way too many women that do fake their way through dating up until getting married and having kids, then magically their libido drops.
        I know BGM is another Savage Love fan, and Dan Savage gets a lot of letters from these cases.

      32. bittergaymark says:

        Yes, and a great many of people on here even who seem to be downright bitter that their mates actually want to have sex with them… Frankly, I remain rather shocked that my thinking that this probably isn’t very good for their marriages is seen as even remotely controversial much less women hating…

        Whatever. I give up on this issue. Look, if you honestly want to believe that rejecting your partner for sex and over and again isn’t going to damage your marriages — have at it! Go and prove me wrong… Oh, and please do call me from divorce court.

      33. JK, I guess my point is that if you average all the women, and then average all the men, the average libido for women will be lower than men. In no way does that mean that all women have lower libidos than all men. However, it does mean that it’s impossible for every couple to have matching libidos. That’s a fact of life. I agree if you have an extremely low one you shouldn’t marry someone with even an average one, and if you’re average you shouldn’t marry someone with very high, etc. But it’s going to happen that someone who’s a little above average marries someone who’s average, or someone who’s low marries someone who’s even lower. It can also happen that you’re the same at first, and then something happens in your life that changes it. For example my husband switched to a more stressful job, and I’ve noticed a difference in his libido. The couple with matching libidos, which stay matching their whole lives, is very rare. So the important thing is to communicate and to ensure that everyone’s as happy as possible.

      34. 6napkinburger says:


        Its not fake! I’m sure out there there are some women who are faking how interested they are in sex, but for the most part, its genuine. It waxes and it wanes. It depends on hormones, and stress and endorphins. It depends on free time, and sex toys and beer guts. It depends on rugrats and inlaws and bosses. It depends on life!

        Women’s libidos fluctuate. (I don’t know if men’s libido’s fluctate the same amount.) That doesn’t make them lies. You think all those women have all that carefree sex when they’re 25 only to be ok with once a week at 35 with 3 kids because they were faking it to ensnare the man? Or is it possible that it is such a trope because something does “magically” make their libido’s drop and it takes work to bring things back to a palatable level for both parties?

        I read Dan Savage too. And if the world really is in the same proportion of those LWers, then way more people like to pee on each other than I ever imagined and way more are in open marriages. And maybe its true.

        But Dan’s whole “monogomish” thing is based on the waxing and waning of libidos. Its how to deal with it, and how to spice it up and how to fulfill fantasies that keep needing to be heightened because they’ve become mundane. And he sees the solution to try wild new things and sometimes go beyond the marriage bond. Some are cool with that, some are not. But he does not point fingers at these women, 10 years into a marriage and say “liar!” He points his finger at the couple as a whole and says “lazy!”

      35. Riefer, I wish I could give you a hundred thumbs up.

  22. summerkitten26 says:

    wow. that was just…rude! okay, if you took the advice and put it into action and it didn’t work and you’d actually SPOKEN TO YOUR WIFE maybe not once or twice but repeatedly until the message got through her probably very thick mommy-mindset skull, then yeah, I’d think you’d have every reason to take a trial separation or even proceed towards divorce. It can’t be healthy for anyone in that house to deal with what has to be the constant tension and bitterness that comes across in your letter and probably much more in person. Passive aggression reads loud and clear.

    I do think that there’d be less bashing (unfortunately) if the LW was female, but then to my knowledge, we’ve never had a LW write back with an update and flame everyone with such an “I’m perfect and you’re not LISTENING to how perfect I’m telling you I AM!” attitude. LW, you may have very valid points, attitude aside, I actually think that you and your wife have a legitimate disconnect and I understand how it feels to be taken for granted in a relationship. But, and especially in a marriage, she didn’t get to this point on her own, and even if she is responsible for the majority of the blame, it is on you in addition to her to get yourselves back from the brink. Why is counseling not an option? Have you sat her down and said that if you don’t both bring in a mediator you can’t stay anymore? Have you said to her what you’ve said to us and gotten her perspective? Have you sent the kids to their grandparents/neighbors/family friend for the weekend so you and your wife have full rein to both relax, discuss, argue it out and reset? Have you written out all of your grievances and had her write out hers and actually read each others’ and discussed? If you really think that you don’t have the energy left to even talk things out with her, MOA. It’s not worth the seething and toxic partnership that your children are no doubt being exposed to.

    Personally, I can understand why she wouldn’t want the $50 flowers; it’s easy to appreciate the gesture but fully understand that it’s not because you are loved but something else is expected from you that you might not have the physical/emotional capacity to give. A foot rub given because then my feet will hurt less and then I’d be expected to be better able to reciprocate with sexual favors or intimacy doesn’t make me feel better; it makes me feel like a wh**e and I don’t want you touching me anymore. And throwing out comments such as “If you loved me, then you’d do ___” or “I need you to do x, y and z for me to feel like you love me” smacks very much of emotional bribery to me as well if there’s been no prior communication to specific reasons for discontent. Nobody is a mind reader, not your wife of your mind or she of yours. But instead of the woe-is-me bitching, either do something and make her participate, or get out before a quiet separation passes the point of messy divorce.

  23. BGM,

    Thanks for defending the sane position. I appreciate it. Just wanted to make sure that you know that someone agrees with you on this one.


    1. bittergaymark says:

      FINALLY!! Thank you. Seriously. Thank. You.

  24. LW, you sound arrogant and self-righteous. You don’t want advice, you just want to have your position validated. Clearly you took no one’s suggestions, since the Updates are usually about actions taken and results achieved, but you just took the opportunity to restate your position as Poor Little Me. Count your blessings and stop looking for ways to blame someone else for your feelings or do something about it.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      How can he take people’s suggestions if he’s already done them? Seriously. Are you all this unbelievably dense so as to believe that he has NEVER bothered to even so much as discuss this with his wife? Seriously? Have any of you ever even actually been in a relationship? This is a married man here, not some young and inexperienced second grader.

      I do love — that almost nobody here is accepting the possibility that this man might be in a real jam. No! Instead it’s all just telling him to get over it and that in the end it’s all his fault because he hasn’t simply talked to wife about it.

      Again, I am beyond flabbergasted that such a disproportionate number of you would be so unified on this front. Because, frankly, it shows a lack of logic that I would not have previously thought possible. Instead of examining yourselves or your own lives and accepting the reality that this can be a very real and very ugly side to motherhood — you’ve all just resorted to petty name calling. It’s almost hilarious… I mean, clearly this topic hits a little too close to home for many of you.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Are you done insulting justabout everyone who participates in this forum? I honestly feel sadness in my heart for 6napkin rigt now after reading the things you said to her and I dont even know her! It’s beyond comprehension why you feel the need to make people on here feel terrible like they are all beneath you as though you are the end all be all of answers. You have offered zero advice but are more than happy to tear people down on here. I don’t know that I’ll be back after this. I’m sure you’re more than happy about that but I hope you know the intelligent people on here realize what a sad angry life you lead to act the way you do on here.

  25. Eagle Eye says:

    Can I just say that between the post with Jackson this morning and then this update…my desire to one-day have children is beginning to get whiplash?

    On the one had, Jackson is adorable and Wendy looks so happy…

    On the other…this letter…ugh

  26. sadly, i think the LW will be able to relate to this HUB. I think some women just get married so they can become mothers, and aren’t that interested in being a wife.

    I’d read the comments from other men on this article, many of them have your exact same complaint. The major theme seems to be the wife changes after the kids are born and is not the same person anymore. Here is a reply to someone elses comment that looks like it could be a reply to yours:


    I’m going through the same exact situation, in fact, my situation is so similiar to yours, it’s scary. I’ve been reading this posts for months looking for answers. I’ve sat down with my wife and completely layed out how I felt, she’s felt the same but didn’t think it was that bad. Like you, I don’t want to live my life miserable just for the kids. I’ve been married for 10 years and have been miserable for the last 7. I keep hoping things get better but I’m digging my self deeper into a hole (ie. new house, another baby).

    Like you, I growing tired of the “maintence” sex, meaning “I’ll do it but it’s realy not that important to me”. [b]She’s changed so much since we had kids. I love my kids but I miss my wife. I told her all this, she says she gets it and changes for a week, but keeps going back to the same patterns. I talk to all my married friends and their in the same position. [/b]Of course, I thought about an affair but I don’t think that would get me anywhere.

    At this point, I’m starting to mentally check out of my marriage. I’m starting to look at the finances and what child support and alimony are going to cost (I have a freaking spreadsheet). I am just concerned about the kids at this point and trying to figure out the smoothiest way to move on with the smallest impact on her and them. I will absolutely support them and I will continue to be the best dad I can. I think it’s just a matter of time but I’m not sure when that is going to be and if I can make it. My kids are fairly young so, I think the sooner the better. [/i]

    1. Jess…that article was really good….and you now have to apologize to every woman I meet that wants a commitment out of me because I’m tying my tubes at 25 and never getting married.

      Anyways…the advice in there is exactly what this guy should do.

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        I agree, except meet quickly with the best divorce lawyer in town first before the talk. That way, if she doesn’t want to talk and make it work and just wants to separate and thus calls a divorce lawyer, you’ve already got the best (and they’re conflicted out of repping her). Just saying.

      2. HAHA. Planning ahead…I like that.

      3. I actually agree with this.

        Note though, I’m a female and not necessarily looking for commitment because I feel like it means all the fun stuff feels mandatory. From what I’ve seen, it seems like the married couples that get into that slump is because woo-ing and sex both seem to be more of a requirement rather than something enticing for both parties.

    2. i think one of the main differences between Steve here and the LW is Steve says he talked to his wife and gives her responses. If you’ve talked and the person has promised to change and hasn’t it’s absolutely the right time to give an ultimatum. and if things are really beyond repair leave, it’s not good for the kids to grow up in a house where mom and dad don’t get along.

      1. Actually be careful with that last statement. This idea of “divorce is better than parents fighting” is starting to be questioned. The last study I read showed that if the parents can keep from actually fighting in front of the children, even if they have separate bedrooms and barely interact, it’s better for the kids if they stay together.

        I tend to agree, and I know this is only based on my own experience, but my parents did not have a good marriage. My mom and dad slept separately. They had major issues with money, and with the fact that my mom hated her job but couldn’t switch because my dad couldn’t settle into a job. But, the majority of the time, they didn’t fight in front of us. I remember one or two major blowouts, but that’s it. Now, there were a ton of sarcastic/snarky comments, but as we got older and saw how the situation was, we were able to understand that it was a result of their bad relationship. But we ourselves always felt loved, by both of them, and we grew up altogether and had a happy childhood even with that.

        My husband, on the other hand, had his parents divorce when he was 11. He spent his weekdays at his mom’s, and his weekends at his dad’s. The result for him was that he could never hang out with his school friends on the weekends, and in fact had no friends at his dad’s because his dad lived in the country and there happened to be no boys around his age out there. Also, the divorce was very hard on his older brother, which resulted in his brother beating him up a lot. My husband is still very resentful to both of his parents, and he was very scared of even the idea of getting married. Luckily we were able to work past that, but I can see that he’s very affected by that divorce. So is his brother. His sister seems ok though, so obviously some kids can deal with it ok. But not all of them can.

      2. i added the last line from personal experiences. my parents fought terribly. i was relieved at 10 when they divorced because our house was no longer a stressful, angry place to be. maybe they could have been happy in separate bedrooms but i doubt it, they couldn’t decide on anything without a fight. it’s unfair to both the kids and parents to expect the parents to stay in the same house until the kids are 18 if they no longer are in love and no longer want to be married, does that really teach children a good thing about marriage? are mom/dad allowed to date or are they forced to be celibate until the children turn 18? i just think it’s unrealistic to ask this of people. i for one know that i would have had a miserable childhood if my parents had done this. i would have felt pity for both of them if when i turned 18 and i found out that they stayed married just for my sister and i. in my opinion that’s living a lie and definitely unhealthy.

  27. Have you ever read the 5 languages of love? Is it possible that she thinks she is showing love and appreciation for you but you speak different love languages? She might not know that the gifts you are giving her are because you love her and want her to feel appreciated. She also might be trying to speak with you in her love language but you don’t understand it. It seems like you guys are going through a really tough time and it can’t hurt to try something different. I would give it a read. I wish you both the best.

  28. LW, I think it is time to throw money at this problem. My husband and I started having resentment with housework and we fixed it by outsourcing. We have a cleaning lady every other week for $85 or $160/month. Do you know how cheap it is to send out laundry? what about mowing? what about a healthy meal service? it is cheaper than you think. If you are both working hard and raising kids, start looking at what you can do to make your lives easier.

    I think you are saying that you won’t go to a therapist because you think you are beyond help. I think you are so resentful that you don’t think she will change. Look, kids are a handful when they are little and need alot. But this will pass.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Great suggestion. I wouldn’t be surprised if others disagreed, but I personally think its a potentially very easy solution. He won’t resent her for all his work, she’ll have less to do=more time for each other.

      1. Shadowflash1522 says:

        Especially if he takes the money from the (apparently ineffective) flowers and puts it towards something like this…

  29. katiebird says:

    LW it makes me sad that you are so against therapy because I really think you and your wife would benefit greatly from it. If you really love your wife and family you owe it to yourself and them to give every last ounce of fight left in you to solving this problem, and that means TRYING (at least go once) therapy even if you really don’t want to.

  30. Shadowflash1522 says:

    I originally felt unqualified to comment on this response or the original post, being that I am not married and do not have kids. However, I babysat full-time for a couple of summers–a precocious 3-year-old boy and his 8-month-old brother–so I decided to throw my 2 cents in anyway.

    I think wooing works differently when the person (male or female) has little kids. Of course she doesn’t appreciate expensive flowers–they become just another hazard that the kids might eat, knock over, or destroy, as well as being another thing to clean up after and maintain. Take that money and invest in a competent mother’s helper or babysitter–the Red Cross has an excellent babysitter certification program for teenagers that covers basic first aid and child care. Find a certified teen in your area, and for a few bucks an hour he/she will do everything the LW does and not resent it. In fact, that was my first job. Moral of the story: If she wants an employee that bad, get her one. It doesn’t have to be you.

    As a babysitter, I found that all I wanted after work was some adult conversation. Unfortunately, real moms don’t have the luxury of going home at the end of the day to a cold beer and a NOVA documentary on string theory. Stay-at-home dad’s have the same problem. The working half of the pair, male or female, has an undeniable advantage: adult contact. Not sex, but conversation and interaction. Not to write off the other partner’s needs, but this isn’t the chores-for-sex exchange.

    As far as the LW goes, the reverse of your sentiments is also true. Do you really think your wife is happy right now? What about her happiness? Because if the mothers on this board are any indication, she’s pretty freaking miserable and flowers and a foot rub aren’t gonna make it all better. Chances are that neither of you is happy with the current situation. Plus, she’s not a mind reader. Is it such a crime for her to assume that your little gifts of time and love are just that–gifts? Given freely, without expectation of returns? I agree, if that’s not the case then stop sending the frickin flowers. Or get the cheap ones, because the gesture means the same to her one way or another.

    1. Your last paragraph is perfect. LW never mentions if his wife is happy. If he talks to her he might actually find out.

  31. I’m not sure what the point of this update was. He apparently has not done anything since the letter, which makes it unsurprising that nothing has changed. I think he needs to sit down and talk to his wife. They’re the only two who can solve this.

  32. There’s a bunch of bickering on this post, but LW, I’m going to try to give you some rational advice. Take it if you will.

    You disagree with the way your wife is treating you. You are unhappy. She obviously doesn’t see that. Tell her. Sit her down and tell her in a heart-to-heart that you are not feeling valued. She probably knows the feeling and will understand where you are coming from. She will NOT know this if you don’t tell her. She is not a mind reader. Maybe there are other underlying issues that she has or that you have, and sane, rational conversations are great for that. Trust me, I’ve gone through many many issues with my boyfriend recently and we are both very stubborn about most things. If we sit down and tell ourselves that we need that rational conversation with compromises and the whole works, we talk about things, find that compromise, and our relationship becomes that much stronger. If we can put aside differences in opinions and agree on things you can too. Talk to her. Don’t beat around the bush. She’s your wife; she’ll be able to take it.

  33. oppositeofzen says:

    Are you or your wife religious? Instead of therapy, maybe your minster, pastor, rabbbi, etc could help mediate.

  34. Painted_lady says:

    Look, LW, I don’t mean to string you up here. Though others might think otherwise, I’m not blaming you for what’s happening. I don’t know what you have or haven’t tried, and I seriously doubt you’re to blame for your wife’s waning interest in you. But you rejected the advice of so, so many people out-of-hand (that’s what we call dismissing it, actually) and then want to know if we have any suggestions.

    DUDE. YES.

    Are you looking for an excuse to leave your wife? If so, although it’s a crappy time, we have all extolled the virtues of “It’s Wednesday and I don’t love you anymore -” forgive me, I’m paraphrasing – being a perfectly valid excuse to leave someone. If that’s what you need, well, for fuck’s sake, GO. Is it crappy to leave your wife right now? Yes. Is it crappy to stay in a marriage with a woman you no longer love and who doesn’t love you? Yes. Is there a worse one? Depends on whose story you’re hearing.

    You seem to be genuinely committed to making it work, though. Good job. Seriously. So since you’ve already tried the stuff you’ve tried, how’sabout trying the stuff you haven’t tried? If your wife won’t talk and won’t go to counseling, well, you have two basic choices: stay, and manage your misery however you can (open marriage, affairs, lots of masturbating), or you leave. There’s no magic formula that will unlock her legs or make her feel your pain, and that sucks. If she were the one writing and seeking help, then perhaps those people who have told you she’s being unfair (which she may be, and I’m willing to allow that) could unleash on her and actually be of some use. But other than commiserating – which can be helpful but generally not that prevalent on an advice site – none of us can do much as far as she’s concerned. Neither can you, really; you’re the only one you get to control. So either get to talking and/or get your asses in counseling, or get to figuring out what the next step is.

    Look, LW, if you want permission to leave your wife, you don’t need it.

  35. LW, i just hope you dont give up. i understand that your mad and angry, but you honestly haven’t exhausted all your options- there is more fight left. if you really care, if you honestly, really care, keep going. keep exploring. find a way to fix it. there is a way out there, there just has to be.

    if you are this unhappy, your wife has to be unhappy too. find a way to get the happiness back.

    and, if your only option left is divorce, then just do it. dont drag it on, just do it. the quicker the better, coming from a kid of a divorced household.

  36. Let me just go on the record and say I believe your problems and feelings are valid and i feel bad for you bc feeling ignored, unappreciated and rejected by your spouse sucks. Just my personal experience but my marriage went down the tubes after we had our daughter and marriage counseling seriously saved us. We both went in pointing fingers at the other, and it took a few months but dang if I didn’t realize I was being a total resentful bitch and he realized he was being a douchebag. And now we are both so happy we could puke (seriously..like fairytale happiness). Sooo you might be a skeptic of therapy but it could really help her realize what she’s doing to you and could teach you both better ways to communicate.

  37. LW, are you sure your wife even LIKES everything you do for her? I mean, yeah, it all sounds like great, classic romantic stuff, but not everyone likes that stuff. This might not be the case at all, but maybe she doesn’t see all of the things you do for her as something you’re doing FOR HER. I’m not a big fan of flowers at all, but if my bf gets me some, of course I have to thank him and say how sweet he is, since I appreciate the thought. But if he got them for me more than once a year, I’d have to let him know that he needs to stop wasting his money, although I imagine it would be hard for me to have that conversation with him if I see him getting joy out of giving me flowers. It could be that your wife thinks that she IS showing that she appreciates you by thanking you for all of the things you do. And it might not even occur to her to do nice things back, if she doesn’t perceive the things you’re doing as something nice for her. You can seem like the best husband in the world on paper, but if those things that you’re doing are not things that your wife appreciates, then you’re only doing it for the satisfaction of seeming like the-best-husband-ever, not for her. Of course, this could be completely inaccurate for your situation, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case.

  38. wendyblueeyes says:

    I feel the letter writer is dismissing counseling because he is afraid of telling someone else his problems; after all, he can’t even express them to his WIFE. Hubby and I were in the same position; I would tell him we had to talk, that I would hire a babysitter and we would go somewhere and have a heart-to-heart, just tell me when. And he would punish me by “working late” every single night, and be busy all weekend. This went on for 4 years. Finally, I told him point blank that it was over, I was done and out of there. The shock of it shook him to his core, and we went to counseling, and within 8 visits, all was well and things are like they were when we were first married. So counseling will definitely help to save your marriage and/or sanity. You just need to learn how to communicate.

  39. Firstly, please, if you are reading this, tell us straight out, have you talked to your wife? Is she happy with the way things are? How were things between you when you only had one kid? Were you just as miserable then?

    Secondly, your problem is definitely real and valid and you have every right to feel the way you do.

    And I was one of those people that suggested you give your wife (and your marriage) a bit more time before deciding that all is lost (and was purple-thumbed left and right for that suggestion :)). I still stand by that. More time doesn’t have to mean the rest of your life. Talk to your wife, set a time limit for yourself (a month, a year, three years, etc.) and tell her that if things don’t improve by then, you will have to consider more drastic options. In the mean time, do the things you haven’t tried yet. Go to couples therapy, talk to your minister or rabbi or any other impartial authority figure . If your wife doesn’t want to, go alone (all that assuming you haven’t given up and want to do everything to save your relationship). And I would also throw PPD possibility, for both you and your wife. PPD, like any other depression, has different effect on everyone. Some women become literally blind to the rest of the world. And as I said before, it is vastly under-diagnosed, in both, men and women.

    Someone suggested getting paid help. Personally, I think that is a great idea, especially when you say that money is not the problem. That might at least help with the score-keeping you and your wife seem to have going on. That way, you can get a baby-sitter, go have your “alone” time, hopefully miss each other and then meet in bed.

    Also as a wife and a mother, I guess it is really hard for me to believe that your wife, all of a sudden, turned into this selfish, oblivious mother-robot, but it is possible. My own mother is a great example of a woman meant to be a mother, but not a wife.

    Finally, if you really are as miserable as you come across in this letter, you should (and I can’t believe I am actually saying this) move on. There are ways for you to be a great father to your kids without being married to their mother. But please make this option your absolutely last resort. Nobody deserve to be miserable in their relationship, but at this point I don’t think you can say that you have exhausted all other possibilities.

    P. S. I would love to talk to BGM in a couple of years, once he’s married and has kids, and has this perfect relationship with a woman that is always in the mood….

    1. part of you p.s. is probably impossible since he is gay, so maybe you could switch that to a relationship with a man. and while bgm can be snarky it’s kind of rude to call out any one commenter. if no one had a different opinion dear wendy would get kind of boring. and the LWs might not be forced to think as much about their situation.

      1. I actually agree with him most of the time, but just not on this thread. Although yes, I can see that that was wrong and couldn’t modify that, and I apologize to him, but I have a feeling he can take some criticism.

        P. S. I would love to talk to some commenters who dismiss the wife as a horrible selfish bitch, in a couple of years, once they are married and have kids, and have this perfect relationship with a SF that is always in the mood….

      2. bittergaymark says:

        Oh, for fucks sake! I’m not saying you ALWAYS need to be in the mood, but for the love of God, it wouldn’t kill you to try to get there a little more often once in a while. Wanna hear a scary fact. Pretty much none, and I mean NONE of my straight married friends have sex as often as they would like. It’s not nearly at crisis point with most of them, but many of them have bitched to me about how they have pretty much tried EVERYTHING.

        PS — The point of the letter wasn’t that the wife isn’t always in the mood. The whole point of this letter is that she is seemingly NEVER in the mood and moreover, puts constantly her husband dead last on her list of priorities. Ladies, if you honestly can’t handle being both a mother AND a wife, then seriously, tell your guy up front because he can then go find somebody else, because I’m sure there are women out there who can (and do) both much, much better…

      3. Look, I get that you have a different opinion. What I don’t get is the animosity in your replies, but then again, I do know it is not personal..

        As for the letter, it has been mentioned that there is such thing as perception. Assuming that he is doing all those things, he doesn’t mention once what his wife thinks about their relationship. For all we know, she believes that she’s doing a bigger share of chores and child-care. When he says that he feels more like a partner, what does he want to feel? Not like a partner? He has been with this woman for a while (7 years if I remember correctly). What were they before, if not partners in their relationship?

        And I am in no way dismissing his problems, but it does sound a little bit martyr-ish. After all, never mind the kids, if you are in a relationship, and you are doing all these things for the other person and he or she NEVER reciprocates, why are you staying with her/him? And I think another very valid point is, if I do stuff for someone else, it is because I want to do it and it gives me pleasure to see that person happy, not because I expect the same thing in return.

        And P. S. to your P. S.: the thing is, you cannot know what kind of a wife/husband or parent you will be until you are in that situation. So I think your statement is unfair. Once you become a parent, there’s no going back. All you can do is your best and deal with it as well as you can and hope you have your partner’s support.

      4. bittergaymark says:

        It’s just funny how on here people only seem to bring up “perception issues” when it’s a man writing in. I mean, if a women wrote in saying that she does an even steven 50/50 split on the housework…would anybody on here ever say, “Do you really? No, you probably just think you do! I bet he’s doing at least 70 percent to your 30, so we aren’t going to take you seriously. Moreover, since you failed to state the obvious — that you’ve spoken to him about the issue — we’re all going to assume you haven’t and thusly blame you as an incommunicative clod…

      5. I just think it would have been relevant to mention, especially in the update, “I have talked to my wife many times about this, but she doesn’t see the problem”.
        Also there are a lot of letters here asking for advice before actually talking to the person, from men and women.

      6. bittergaymark says:

        Hey, now that know I can so easily get married to a women, have kids, and then NOT have to sleep with her since there is such an overwhelming chance she won’t want to anyway, I now have a solid new back up plan! Heck, I can even be the stay at home dad I’ve always wanted to be… 😉 Then I will have a GREAT excuse for refusing to be intimate even if she wants it…

      7. Well, to have kids you have to have sex, and chances are more than once. And most people, as far as I understood, are having sex, maybe not as much as before kids, but I didn’t see a single reply saying that there’s no sex at all, including the LW.

      8. Shadowflash1522 says:

        I’m actually with you on the gender gap here–the primary stereotype is that the woman *does* do more of the housework/child rearing (unless a stay-at-home dad is explicitly identified) so yes, we tend to take her word for it. Problem is, studies show that with 2 working parents the woman really is more likely to carry the majority of the child rearing burden. I don’t know the exact numbers off the top of my head, but I think that’s where the stereotype comes from. Sort of like the idea that women are better communicators, therefore it’s more likely that she has talked to him (but the reverse is less likely to be true).

        With that in mind, all trends carry exceptions. There are women who are primary breadwinners and hate talking about feelings, and men who do more than their fair share of vacuuming and diaper changing and are emotionally sensitive. I agree that we should challenge those stereotypes a lot more often, but I think you might get flamed a bit less if you didn’t careen to the opposite generalization quite so fast…

        Kudos for pointing out the bias though 🙂

  40. Oh, look, a woman loses interest in sex and her husband, and the gals all suggest he (1) do more housework, and (2) consider her feeeeewings.

    Because her flagging libido is his problem to bring up, resolve and fix.

    LW, once a woman decouples from you sexually, there is little chance her engine will refire, absent a shock to the system. You need to shock her system. Essentially tell her that she either gets her act together, and makes sex and you a priority, or she moves out.

    Yeah, SHE moves out. You tell her that you intend to stay in the home, with the kids, and that she can go find an apartment and see her kid on the weekends, twice a month. Say it with a totally straight face, and mean it.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      I agree. But get ready to take some heat for this… But boy, do I ever agree.

    2. You know what, I actually agree with your last paragraph. If he is such an angel and she is such a bitch, then yes, she should be the one to move out.

      As for libido, there are a lot of reasons why it could change, both for a man and a woman.

    3. 6napkinburger says:

      I don’t understand all these “summaries” of the comments. Almost no one told him to do more housework and simply consider her feelings.

      Almost everyone told him to talk to her about the fact that he feels that he’s doing more than his share, isn’t being appreciated for it and could use some recognition for what he’s doing. A lot of people suggested counseling as a vehicle for HIM to be able to talk to HER, because it doesn’t seem like its working on his own.

      Very few people suggested that her lagging libido is his fault. But if you don’t think that its his problem, you’re kidding yourself. Of course its his problem, the same way that the client is coming into town on Monday has now become “your problem” when your boss makes you work the whole weekend. Did you cause it? Nah. Did you want it? Nah. Did you try desperately to do all your work so you’d have the weekend off? Yup. Does that change the fact that you are still working this weekend? Nope. It’s your problem because your boss made it your problem. Your wife’s “flagging libido” is your problem if you want her to remain your wife. If not, get a divorce – no one’s stopping you. But assuming you LOVE her, and you miss the sexy woman she was, that you fell in love with, that you love bending over the couch and pounding, like it or not, its your problem.

      So yes, we suggested that he bring it up with her, and figure out resolutions, many of which involve him letting her know how she can show him that she appreciates him and how they can work together to have more sex and feel sexier in general, and reconnect as a couple. We suggested doing it in a controlled environment so that the discussion can stay on track and be productive.

      You are wrong about there being “little chance her engine will refire” without an ultimatum that you are going to evict her and take the children if she doesn’t have more sex. Do that if you want her to immediately the divorce attorney. Do that if you want someone stressed out and already feeling emotionally detached to feel attacked and her children threatened, and seemingly faced with only one option.

      Telling her that you’re not sure can go on the way things are, that the situation has become untenable and that you need to feel she is working with you, instead of you working alone, to keep the marriage alive, is not the same thing. Appealling to her feelings for you, her love for you and your life together, her desire to feel young and sexy and wanted and rekindle what you two had — thats how you’ll light her fire – adding kindling and giving it room to breathe. The fire in her already, its just really small right now. You make that threat and you just poured a gallon of water on it; you’ll never light another fire there again.

      So while you might hate women whose sex drives wane, as much as BGM seems to (which I find so strange given that he isn’t reliant on them for sex and if his friends annoy him so much, tell them to stop complaining and boink already or stop hanging out with them!), I don’t think that the LW HATES his wife yet. I think he loves her. I think he wants to keep her, he just wants a hint of what used to be, and appreciation for his love and devotion. None of us said this was unfair, we all said he deserved that. We just suggested that his wife cannot appreciate what she does not know and he has to talk to her about how he feels, without distractions or subtlety.

    4. Shadowflash1522 says:

      Incidentally, *he* brought up her flagging libido in his letter and *he* made a choice to take it personally.

      His initial letter seemed self-absorbed and a tad whiny, and it continued in the update: “Where’s my flowers? Where’s my foot rub? Where’re my love notes?” Nobody said he should do more housework. If anything, they commended him on the housework he’s already done. Consider her “feeeeewings”? Why the hell not? Are his the only feelings that matter here? They’re in this together, and they *both* matter here. LW is and was keeping score like this is some kind of heartless quid-pro-quo in which he *feels* like he is losing. He needs to grow up, get some perspective, and get his needs taken care of. Yes, that means TALKING TO HIS WIFE and it might even mean therapy. Or, you know, it might mean taking your advice. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but hey, I can keep an open mind.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        The hilarious thing is how many of you all call him whiney — but really, he sounds exactly like 99 percent of the other letters on here. Only those other letters are sent in by females and everybody gushes with sympathy at their oh so terrible plight. But when a guy writes in with the exact same complaints, he’s just whiney and worthy of derision and outright disdain.

  41. You don’t say why you think counseling isn’t a good idea for you and your wife. My 2nd husband is like that. He dismisses things that he is against, with no real good reason. Or, a half-assed reason from his childhood that has been convoluted into something that it isn’t.
    Example: ADHD medication. His brother was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid. His mother put him on medication and the kid gained weight. Ignoring the fact that every person in his family is at least 50lbs overweight, he automatically deemed it the medications’ fault that his brother got to 300lbs. Irregardless of the fact that the guy never goes outside, never exercises, drinks a 12-pack of Mt. Dew a day and the healthiest he eats is a bag of potato chips and plays video games all the time. It is the medications’ fault that his brother has the comprehension of a 15 year old, not the fact that nobody kept trying to get the right diagnosis and helped him through school.

    So, when our boys started getting diagnosed as ADHD, he put his foot down – no medications. Our otherwise smart kids could not sit through lessons and were failing their grade levels. Our 3rd son would get so frustrated that he would throw temper tantrums and throw furniture at students and the teacher. But no, he refused to allow me to put them on medication all because it “ruined” his brother.
    My former MIL and I talked and she admitted that it wasn’t the medication that did it. Yes, her son gained weight, but so did everyone else in the family except for my ex-husband (which he gained while I was pregnant with #3). She didn’t know how to navigate the mental health system in the early 90s and gave up. It was her fault if anyone’s.

    I put the kids on medication against my ex’s wishes. No more temper tantrums. No more attacks when frustrated. They can sit still and do their lessons again. They aren’t gaining weight because I don’t allow them to play video games all day (never did in the first place), and I don’t allow junk foods. He bitches, but he also sees the results and can’t fight them.

    Advances in behavioral health and our understanding of the human psyche CAN benefit your relationship with your wife. Something tells me you just like being the victim in this relationship. You WANT the drama of being able to say “I do all of this, but I’m not getting anything in return – pity me”. You are doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. The very definition of insanity, no? Yes. Do something different. Verbalize your problems and go see a counselor by yourself. Find out why you have a persecution complex and want to make your wife seem like your jailor. Then take your wife to counseling so you two can reconnect. Stop wallowing so happily in your misery and dig yourself out of it.

  42. AndreaMarie says:

    BGM….I agree with the core of your argument 10000%. So many people are pointing out how women see sex and appreciation and love etc etc differently and are going to great lengths to describe how women “perceive” these things but no one is addressing men.

    Men want to feel loved and attractive and wanetd and needed too. You don’t think men feel fat? And when their wives constantly turn down sex you don’t think it makes them feel insecure? So many seem to be up in arms feeling “annoyed” by their man constantly trying to be intimate with them, every wonder how you denying him makes him feel about himself?

    And yes, men and women have different levels of libido but it’s not like all men are just out there trying to hump on anything with a pulse. Did you ever think that your SO wants to have sex with you because he’s attracted to you? That he loves you and wants to touch you and be touched by you? Maybe its not all just about bustin a nut?

    And back to the different sexes’ diferent perceptions…..yes, like a previous poster said, women feel appreciate with flowers, men usually get that same feeling from something sexual. Honestly, nothing says “baby i love you. you’re a great husband/boyfriend to me. you make me so happy. you’re the most handsome/smartest/amazing man in the world. You’re the best” like a blow job?

  43. I’m late to the game here, but I’m going to add my 2 cents anyway.

    I never responded to the original letter because I thought that it was out of my scope. I’m childless, never married. And to be honest, I’m not sure I ever WANT to be married with kids (married probably, but kids I’m 97% sure NEVER) – and one of the main reasons is because of what the LW described.

    I think the reason some of the commenters on THIS thread sound negative is because the LW wrote in for an “update” and basically said, “Thanks for nothing, DW commenters, you didn’t give me anything useful, I’ve tried everything, yet I still refuse counseling.” It came off as a little bit rude, and a touch whiny.

    I went back and re-read the original letter as well as most of the comments, and aside from the general bickering that goes on among commenters, I thought there some useful nuggets of advice. Without having the LW actually here to answer questions or make clarifications, it’s hard to give good advice, but I think some of the suggestions were worth trying.

    So I’m curious to know exactly what LW has tried (he says “everything”). I hope that talking to the wife was the first step. I mean, like, SERIOUS communication. If he hasn’t already, he needs to sit her down and present his side while remaining non-confrontational and avoiding criticism. He needs to say, THIS is how I feel, and THIS is what you can do to make me feel better, and I’m happy to hear your suggestions about what I can do for you. Listen to her response, and then work with her. Give her CONCRETE examples of things she can do to show you that she appreciates you, and when she does something you like, point it out to her and let her know that it made you feel good.

    Feeling under- or unappreciated happens to all of us from time to time in relationships. What, specifically, LW, would you like to see happen? Is it that you’d like more sex? More alone time as a couple? Do you just want to see your wife less stressed? All of the above? I think readers/commenters pointed out some decent solutions to these particular problems: namely, a housekeeper so there is less on the wife’s “to-do” list, a regularly-scheduled date night sans kids, a mini-vacay, and even putting sex on the “to-do” list. Did you REALLY have a talk with her about your feelings and then propose these solutions? And then follow through? IF SO, and none of it worked, then I really think it’s time for counseling. What’s the harm in trying? If you’ve tried everything else, and all the readers/commenters here haven’t added anything worth trying, then it’s time to bring in a professional.

    There was just SO MUCH going on in your letter, so many issues to touch on, and they’re all very real, very VALID problems. I can’t even BEGIN to imagine how much stress 2 babies would put on a marriage. It’s funny how some of life’s happiest transitions are also the HARDEST. You and your wife are still in a transition phase, LW, and you really need to work TOGETHER – and have patience – if you want to make it past this.

    As far as the sex goes, LW – I think your wife’s libido is suffering, and as other commenters have suggested, it likely has nothing to do with you. BGM is right that lack of sex can and will hurt a relationship, especially when one partner is repeatedly being rejected. You said in your original letter that on the afternoon off, you did have sex, but it was kind of a quickie and you weren’t sure how into it she was. I would take that as a plus and work with it because whether or not she was 100% present in the act, she at least participated and tried to make YOU happy. Let her know how happy you are when you’re intimate with her, how good it feels to you, and how it makes you feel closer to her. Don’t put too much pressure on her to have orgasms (but do keep trying to make it happen). Also, give it some time. Maybe she is also feeling disconnected from you – I can’t imagine it is totally one-sided – and (many) women really need to feel a strong emotional connection in order to want the sex.

    Just don’t give up, LW.

    And remember that most of the readers/commenters here are women, so while we aren’t trying to take sides, it’s probably easier for most of us to relate to the wife in this situation. I don’t think that the comments are saying that you need to do MORE for your wife, but you need to try something different if what you’re doing isn’t working. Maybe your wife does need some alone time – maybe that’s how she unwinds. I don’t know. I don’t know your wife. But listen to the women here! If some/many see gifts/footrubs as bribes for sex, then there’s a chance that your wife sees it that way too (even though that’s not how you intended it). I’m saying, don’t see it as an attack on you, don’t take it as TRUTH, but take it into consideration. And MANY of us here can identify with a temporarily waning libido. I’ve been through it myself, and it made me feel like shit every time I rejected my boyfriend, but the desire just wasn’t there, so I would try to avoid situations that may lead to sex. I don’t know if that’s what your wife is doing or not.

    Also, housework is still seen MAINLY as a woman’s responsibility. I’m not saying that’s how YOU see it (I mean more “society” in general) – and I think it’s great that you contribute in equal amounts. But has a woman ever written in and said, “I do HALF of the housework, sometimes more, give me a gold star!!” No. It’s entirely *expected* that a female contribute to at least half of the household chores, if not more. And I think that’s why SOME of the commenters may have hinted that they doubt you do as much as you say you do. So even though you ARE doing your part, I can see how your wife doesn’t always show her appreciation for THAT – because she’s doing just as much, and she’s doing it because she HAS to. It’s something you both HAVE to do, so I don’t think you deserve any special credit for that, OR for being involved in the childcare. I think, DUH, that’s what you signed up for. (Although of course you both should appreciate each others’ efforts, and maybe say thank you sometimes. Do you thank her for what she does around the house?)

    Keep in mind also that women (generally speaking) are under far more pressure than men to be the “perfect” parent, and they are WAY more likely to let parenthood consume them. I see women have babies, and then mommyhood takes over their entire identity. And it’s also drilled into women’s heads that their children MUST be their NUMBER ONE PRIORITY ALWAYS. I don’t particularly agree with that; I think there’s way too much pressure on parents these days, and I think that parents need to put themselves first, and put just as much of a priority on maintaining their relationship as they put on raising their kids. I think your wife just needs a reminder of that. And if you’ve REALLY tried everything and you haven’t seen results, then yes I do think counseling is the best way to go.

  44. So, I don’t remember ALL the comments.. I do agree that some (many? idk) of them said how maybe you were not really doing as much as you thought you were and what not.

    Personally, I think your wife is being selfish, which is what I think I said in the original letter. Selfish because she doesn’t make time for you, while you do make a lot of time for her despite the fact that you also work and you also help around the house and with the kids. Some commenters got mad at me for calling her selfish, that shes a mommy and being a mommy makes you tired and that is really hard to get off the mommy mindset….But if you can get off daddy mindset to make time for her, then she should be able to do so to.

    So what should you do? I have no idea, maybe you SHOULD try couples counseling? You said you’ve tired everything the commenters suggested, so I’m going to guess you have already talked to her about this? If not, then you should. And if you REALLY see no way to fix this and don’t see how you could ever be happy with your wife again, then I guess you should just divorce.

    As someone who’s parents have divorced, I can tell you that it is better for parents to be divorced than constantly mad angry and frustrated at each other.

  45. LW as others have asked, have you TOLD your wife how you feel and that you are at the end of your rope? It sounds like you are definitely doing your “share” of the work. Have you explicitly asked for one date night a week as a way for you two to connect? If you have been blunt and she has turned down the date night idea, then your only next option is therapy. For you if she will not go with you. In my opinion, if she won’t do therapy then you have your answer. Just see two or three top lawyers in your area then get a divorce.

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