Dear Wendy: “My New Husband Refuses To Sleep With Me”

I am a young woman in my mid-20s. I started dating my husband when I was 18. We were in a long-distance relationship, but decided to get married this year, and I left the U.S. to be with him. Before we were married, we had a great sex life. Now that I am here, he says he isn’t sexually attracted to me anymore. This may be understandable if I’d gained a lot of weight or my appearance had changed dramatically, but it hasn’t. (I actually LOST nearly 100 lbs. a few years ago). At first, he thought that that he didn’t love me anymore, but we’ve talked extensively about it and he says he does love me, but not sexually … he loves me like a family member, etc. He claims not to be attracted to any other women. For the record, he has extensive anxiety issues, as well as being overweight, etc. We’ve talked to his doctor, who suggests both counseling and testing to see if he has physical problems. He refuses both of these. I love him more than anything and I gave up everything to be with him, but I’ve become extremely depressed and discouraged, being so far from friends or family, with a husband who doesn’t seem to want to be a husband. I try to hide this from everyone, since my husband has already suggested that I would be happier elsewhere and I don’t want my family and friends to worry about something they have no control over. Help me save our marriage! — Sexless Bride

This is very serious, SB, and I’m not sure your marriage can — or should — be saved. This goes beyond typical marital problems and is something you should be extremely concerned and careful about because you are in your husband’s country, you don’t know many (if any) people outside the social circle you share with him, your support system is so far away, and your husband’s attitude changed so incredibly quickly that it’s hard not to imagine this scenario wasn’t premeditated, he isn’t a lil’ bit crazy, or he realized too late that he made a mistake in marrying you and isn’t sure how to let you know. There’s also a good chance he’s lying about not being attracted to other women and he’s having an affair. Maybe he’s even gotten an STD he doesn’t want to pass along to you. I don’t know.

If he refuses to communicate with you about what’s going on and he won’t go to therapy or get medical tests, I’m not sure what choice you have but to leave him. If he’s telling the truth that he isn’t in love with you, what are you supposed to do about that? You can’t make someone fall back in love with you. If he isn’t feeling it, he’s already suggested you’d “be happier elsewhere” and he’s refusing counseling, your best bet is to get a divorce, move back home, and try to move on with your life. If you’re still newlyweds and things are this bad, I’m sorry to say your situation doesn’t sound hopeful.

If you’re close with his family members, you might consider enlisting one or two of them as allies. If you’ve only ever been long-distance before getting married, they probably know him better than you do and might be privy to information that would explain his behavior. But, if he’s ever shown any signs whatsoever of being controlling, that might not be the safest bet. He could blow up at you if he knows you went behind his back and discussed your private life. You should definitely be sharing all this with your own family, though. They actually do have some control in that they can lend you support — emotionally and financially. If you’re financially dependent on your husband, your family may be able to buy you a plane ticket home and help with the legalities of divorce. The only thing that seems certain about your situation is that it cannot continue. You may not have any control over your husband and his behavior, but you do have control over yours. Reach out to the people who care about you and get help — before you lose too much more of yourself in this relationship.

I moved to a new town with my family last year, two years before graduating from high school. I have, until this day, made no friends aside from my boyfriend of one year. It’s not that people actually dislike me; there’s just no one I talk to at school other than my boyfriend and I don’t get invited anywhere. If I’m out somewhere, my boyfriend probably dragged me along. This, obviously, bothers me a lot. Also, for me, there was never a question whether or not to move out to go to college. My older sisters did it, and to me it just feels natural. I really want to get away from this place and there are some cities I would love to move to, but the problem is my boyfriend doesn’t really want to come along. He says he can’t imagine moving out already in less than a year, but at the same time admits that he never really tries to make up his mind about it. My single self would probably be really mad at me right now for considering making this decision depending on my “high school sweetheart,” but on the other hand, I’m afraid of not finding new friends again, so I would like to have some kind of safety. Also, I really, really care for my boyfriend, and apart from this issue. He is the most wonderful guy I could have met. What’s your advice? — Friendless in High School

I, too, moved to a new school two years before I graduated from high school. And, like you, I had a somewhat hard time making friends. But, unlike you, I didn’t have a boyfriend for “safety.” Still, I made a lot of excuses to not be more assertive in seeking friends: my family lived really far from the rest of my classmates and I didn’t drive until my senior year, making it hard to see people after school; I felt like I didn’t have much in common with other students; I didn’t see the point in making friends when I knew I’d be moving away for college anyway. And, yet, despite those excuses, I did “put myself out there.” I was involved in numerous extra-curricular activities and I occasionally invited people to come over to my place. I did manage to make a few friends, though no one I really stayed in touch with past graduation (although Facebook has made it easy to see where everyone ended up all these years later).

My point is, you don’t have to make lifelong friends in your remaining year and half or so of high school, but it would benefit you to at least try to make a few connections beyond your boyfriend. Join an after-school club or organization. There are probably so many to choose from! Take the initiative and invite people to hang out with you. Expanding your social network will make you less dependent on your boyfriend and give you practice building friendships for when you go to college. And, please, do go to college if it’s something that feels right for you. If your boyfriend doesn’t want to come along, oh well. There will be other boyfriends. Or, you can keep in touch with him and see him during breaks. He can come visit. But, whatever you do, don’t blow an opportunity to expand your world because you’re scared to leave the safety net of your relationship. You’ll never grow that way, except in your resentment of your boyfriend and your regret that you missed out on something wonderful.

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