Episode 76: Q&A: Is There a Way Back After Losing Desire?

by | Last updated: May 29, 2024 | Podcast

Heather has been married to her husband for eight years, but they’re rarely intimate. Following a hidden ED diagnosis and an affair, her husband is finally initiating sex… but she’s no longer interested.

Now Heather wants to know, “Is there a way back to each other… after I’ve lost desire?”

In this episode, we’ll get into some sensitive topics, including – what to do when sex feels like an obligation, how to face the reality of your relationship’s problems, and what it means that you BOTH have a say in the future of your marriage (plus the fact that there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decisions here).

Listen in as I answer Heather’s question, and see what you might apply to your own situation.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

0:31 – She’s been married for 8 years, but intimacy has always been limited
4:16 – Can you start by giving yourself grace?
5:06 – The question of having a child… or getting divorced
7:35 – You need to tell yourself the truth
10:04 – He gets to choose for his life… and you get to choose for yours
13:17 – Is there a way back to each other… after all this?
16:57 – Is he on ‘good behavior’ right now?
19:10 – There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision here. But the decision is yours

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Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.

Welcome to the Loving Truth Podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope. Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is the Loving Truth. Today we've taken a call from Heather and I wanna share this call with you. And then she has several big questions that we're gonna spend some time on.

Let's hear from Heather. Hi Sharon. I'm Heather. My husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for eight. We have had a great marriage for the most part, but intimacy was never, has never really existed. I can honestly say that we have had sex less than 20 times. In the course of our relationship, foreplay and even kissing more than just effect does not happen.

That is not for the lack of me trying either. He has Edie, and for the first several years of our marriage, he kept it from me. I really thought he just wasn't attracted to me. And after trying all that, I knew to do. Nothing ever worked out, and I initially just gave up. He finally opened up to me,

and I eventually convinced him to go to the doctor where he was able to get some medication. Several months after this, I began to notice nothing was changing and started counting his medicine. I was livid when I realized he stopped taking it. That was the first real conversation we had about how unhappy I was and how I really was considering divorce because of this.

Fast forward a few years later, we try to have sex at least once a month. Now when I'm ovulating with me, always trying to preplan and initiate sex, we don't have any children and have been trying no luck. I now feel like sex has become an obligation or even a drop to him. It is never about getting me into the mood.

When he is ready to go from his, from his pills, I jumped to the occasion because anything is better than nothing. At this point. I've always enjoyed sex and have never been the one to turn it down. I'm ashamed to say that I let our situation get the best of me and has ended up having an affair for the past few years that he has not been made aware of.

Although there is no excuse for my behavior, I have been extremely unhappy and needed and out to get what I was truly lacking in our marriage. But of course, that has led me to even to be more confused over my situation, after very least on conversation again of what I actually needed for him. He finally has been trying to initiate sex, even trying to lead with four for kissing.

I'm finally getting what I wanted after all those these years. But after the last two times, we were intimate, I almost felt repulsed by him even touching me. The desire to have sex with him is now one. I feel like it's a little too late at this point. Is there any way to overcome any of this? Thank you, Sharon.

Okay, so just to recap, because I think it'll be important for Heather to hear me repeat this back to her. You've had sex with your husband less than 20 times over the course of 10 years together. The affection you have today is an occasional peck between the two of you. He has erectile dysfunction. He hid that from you. That's not surprising.

It's not shocking. I'm not saying that it's helpful because it's not, but it's very, very common because there's a lot of shame associated with it. He got on medication, but then he stopped taking the medication. Now you're considering divorce and trying to have a child now because you're trying to have a child. Sex has become an obligation, or it starts to feel like a job,

a task that you have to do as opposed to something that you want to do to connect with your partner. You've had an affair or affairs, he's now trying, but you're feeling repulsed by that, and you're wondering, is there a way back for you? Okay, so you thought you had one question, Heather, which was, is there a way back for the two of you?

And I'm gonna answer that question, but there are also many, many questions before that that I also want to answer. And I'm gonna start with the easiest into the most difficult. You wouldn't think that I, that the easiest would be the affair, but in this scenario, it really is. So I just want you to give yourself some grace that you had an affair.

It doesn't mean that you are a horrible person. It means that you had a longing for something, a deep longing for something that you are not getting inside your relationship. So while I'm not co-signing and saying, yeah, go you, I'm just saying like give yourself a little grace there, because while it can cause a lot of pain and certainly a lot of confusion on your part,

it's understandable. So that's the first thing. The second thing, having a child, okay, you know this intellectually, but I'm gonna take it a little bit deeper. What you know is that a child doesn't make a marriage better. You know that. But a child, so a child is created usually from two people having sex, but a child will destroy even the best of sex lives.

You can be having great consistent sex for many, many years, have a child, and then the next two years, your sex life is gonna have some bumps in the road. It might struggle in a really big way, it might just have some bumps, but it is going to impact your sex life in a negative way. You just don't have the energy,

you don't have the freedoms, you don't have the emotional and mental and physical bandwidth to be present for your sexual experiences to the same degree post kids that you will have, that you have had before kids. So why am I telling you that? Because you are not having sex now with your partner, there's no chance it's going to get better after you have children,

which means because you want to be in a sexual relationship and your husband clearly doesn't, that the relationship itself is going to be in trouble even more so once you have children. So I just, I really want you to question having children with this particular man, look, it doesn't mean you can't have children. There are many ways to have children, especially nowadays,

right? Women, we have a lot of freedom to be able to have children with a man without a man. We have, it's not, this isn't your only opportunity, but I want you to really give that some consideration because it's not gonna get better having a kid. Now, when you are struggling to this degree in your relationship, there might be some people that would say,

don't bring your child into that. That's not fair. Work this out first, then figure out the child thing, right? So just really, really give that some thought and consideration, Heather, please. The third thing is I really want you to tell yourself the truth about who your husband is and what's valuable to him and what's important to him and what he wants inside of a relationship.

And I'm not suggesting that it's wrong, but I'm suggesting it's very, very different than what you want. And you know if, if two people come together and sex just isn't a big part of their lives, but they're happy, that's one thing, right? So I'm not suggesting that everyone should be having sex 14 times a week in order for it to be healthy.

That's not what I'm saying. But when one person wants like essentially no sex, and the other person wants sex, and pretty consistently, well now we're at opposite ends of the spectrum and we want very different things. And you keep hoping that he's gonna come more towards your side of things. And he's clearly not. You've given him lots of time, you've had some important conversations,

it sounds like. And this either is just too shameful for him to deal with the erectile dysfunction, which by the way, there are ways to overcome that. And I'm not gonna pretend to know like specifically what the root cause is of his erectile dysfunction, but there are plenty of options available that can make that better if he wanted to make that better.

And it doesn't mean you can't have a healthy sex life, even when he has erectile dysfunction. So there's ways around that, but he's not really interested in that, right? He went to the doctor, he got the the medication, and he is not taking that medication, whatever that is. So what does that tell you? It tells you that this is not important to him.

Or maybe it goes beyond not being important. It's that this is too painful of an experience for him, that he's making it mean that because he can't get an erection, that it means something about him as a man or him as a human being, or him and his lovability. And so just even approaching any of that is just too painful and he just can't go there.

And that could be a trauma response, right? And here's the reality. He gets to choose for his life. But Heather, my darling, you also get to choose for your life. Neither of you is wrong, neither of you is right? It's just that you are coming at it from very, very different places. And sex is one of those things that requires two people to want to have it.

And so if he shut down to it, that means that you now don't get that need met ever, right? And so that's not fair. That's not fair to you. And I would say that to anybody, right? Like in this scenario, it's your husband that's shut down to that. But I've, you know, worked with plenty of women where they have shut down to the idea of sex and they've just expected their spouse to deal with it.

And that's not fair. I would say you can't make that decision for both of you. You have to be able to talk about it. You have to be able to say like, look, darling, this is something that is, that I'm never gonna be able to do again for whatever reason, right? Or I love you in many ways, and maybe we can find other ways of staying connected as a couple,

even physically connected as a couple, but it can't involve this or I'm not interested in it involving that. And I may never be interested again. I might be, but I might not be. We need to be able as adults to have those types of conversations with our partner. But instead, a lot of times what we do is we just keep pushing it off and saying,

no, no, no, not, not today, not interested, not now. And then what happens is we're in a situation like Heather is where 10 years later, we're still not having sex because we're not having those open, honest conversations. Because your partner gets a choice in that you don't get to choose for you and your partner. So if you are on either side of this scenario where your spouse doesn't want to have sex or isn't interested in sex with you,

then we've gotta be able to talk about that. And if you are the one that has made that decision for both of you, then it's time to open up that conversation because they get a choice too. They may say, that doesn't work for me. Thank you for being honest with me about what you want and where you're at. But I'm not really down for that for the rest of my life.

I don't wanna go to my grave without ever having sex again. And so this is telling me that maybe it's time that we go our separate ways, and I wish you well, and I will always love and care about you, but we want very different things, right? So sex is one of those things that you need two people to be able to say,

yep, we both are in this. And yes, we both want this because the minute one of you says, I no longer want this, and this is no longer any kind of a priority for me, you're now making that decision for you and your partner without them even having a say, without giving them the opportunity to say how they feel about that.

So if we're gonna be in adult relationships, folks, we've gotta be able to have adult conversations. And that's a tough one, but it's an important one. Now, Heather, I wanna get to your question. Is there a way back after all of this, generally speaking, I speak to people I every day. I literally can think of maybe five,

let five, one handful of people over the course of more than 10 years of doing this work where they were struggling in their marriage, but they were still having great sex. It doesn't happen very often. So usually when you're struggling in your marriage, you're not having sex or you're not having the kind of sex that you want to be having, it doesn't feel good for you.

It doesn't feel like connected sex. It doesn't bring the two of you closer. Sometimes it even brings the two of you further apart because it feels like such an empty experience. So is there a path back from a place of disconnection to a place of where you really desire your partner again? Yes, absolutely. But it's not one step. There are many steps in between there to get you to where you want to go.

So I literally have a a course on my website called From Disconnection to Desire because many, many people find themselves in that place, right? It might be you might have become disconnected because of kids, you might have become disconnected because of work. You might have become disconnected because of an affair, whatever. There was some thing or things along the way that got the two of you disconnected.

And if you're wondering, is there a way back after you've been disconnected? Absolutely. But it's not one step. It's not like, Hey, here's the three quick and easy things to do to get your desire back with your disconnected spouse. Like there's, there's a path forward, but there's many steps in between there. And in that course is where I teach you those steps.

That's generally speaking. But now I wanna speak specifically to you, Heather. I feel like forgiveness about him hiding his ed, him lying to you about taking the medication and then him not taking that medication and really the what probably feels like betrayal, where you've been asking and asking and trying for something. And he's in a myriad of ways, said some version of,

no, I'm not interested in doing that. And now he's wanting to try all the things. So I feel like that betrayal, that needs to be forgiven, whether you choose to remain together or not, because I don't want you carrying the weight of that. And I certainly don't want you to fall back into some of that narrative that you had early on.

Like, oh, maybe it's just me. Maybe if I was different, he would be more attracted to me. His lack of sex drive has a hundred percent of to do with what's going on inside of him. And it's probably way more emotional than it is physical, but it's probably a combination of the two. So it has nothing really to do with you.

You could be anyone inside that relationship and it wouldn't matter because he's still the same person inside that relationship. So I think the forgiveness of the betrayal and the lies in all of this is necessary just so that you don't carry the weight of that in your life. I want you to be able to see the wound or the trauma, or even if you don't know exactly what it is that's causing him to be so afraid of what's happening here,

that you can have some compassion for him and his experience. I want that to happen regardless. But do I actually think there's a way back for the two of you, my friend? I do not because I think he's on good behavior right now because he knows that you're considering ending the marriage and he doesn't want that outcome. So he is willing to fake it until something happens.

And likely we have a child and now we're tied together at least for another five, 10, maybe 20 years. So now I don't have to think about this whole divorce thing again. I think that after a child is born, I think eventually, whatever this timeframe is, he's gonna go back to who he really is. He's gonna go back to being the person who at his core,

this is not a priority for him. And whatever the, the unhealed stuff is there that makes this too scary to deal with and to be able to talk and speak openly about that hasn't magically gone away. He hasn't just woken up as an entirely different human being with new communication skills and healed emotions and healed traumas and healed ways of thinking about sex and manhood and marriage and sexuality and passion and all of those things like that hasn't just magically changed overnight.

He's just doing what he knows to try to keep you. So I think he's showing you who he is, and that's why I said I really want you to tell yourself the truth about that. It doesn't mean he is a bad person. It doesn't mean you have to hate him. You don't. You can hold two ideas at once that I can have love for this man,

and I can choose to not be in my most intimate relationship with him. You can say we can still care about one another, but we want very different things. So in that way, we're not compatible. So that's probably not the answer that you wanted to hear, but I know in my heart it's the answer that you needed to hear. And I hope that that's helpful for you.

And so for everyone else who has found your way in a, or found yourself in a place of feeling disconnected from your partner or where you don't desire to have sex with them, is there a way back for you? Maybe. Maybe is your situation as stark or as difficult as what Heather has presented us with? Maybe, maybe not, but there's probably something here for you to find your way through and say,

yeah, these are the nuggets that I can take from this and I'm willing to try or I'm not willing to try, right? And that's all okay too, right? No one's right or wrong here. You get to choose and so does your partner. We don't get to choose and make choices for our partner. All right? I hope that is helpful to you,

Heather, and to everybody else. Until next time, please take really good care. If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage.

Go to clarity for my marriage.com to fill out an application now that's clarity for my marriage.com.


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