Depression and Intimacy... What can I do?

by Anastasia
(Very small town, Alaska)

Long story short… I met a man and we dated for a month. Had sex five times. Everything seamed good (except for the lack of sex). He broke it off because he wanted to get his life in order. Found out I was pregnant one week later. He wanted to get back together and we both moved in together and started planning life for us and the baby. During this time there was a TON of stress i.e. huge financial problems, unemployment, his pet of 25 years died, his parents were pressuring him to get his life together, he had to meet my family (he is shy so this was hard), our home that we invested in flopped, and the list goes on…

We have been together now for 7 months, we have had sex 7 times… He said that he isn’t sexually attracted to me. I can do stuff that makes him noticeably aroused (erection), but he just rolls over. I have discovered some history…

-He started looking at porn mags with his dad at age 5 (is this strange); his mother seemed to think this was normal?
-He grew up isolated away from all people but mom, dad and brother.
-He went to a public high school for a few years. He said that he can’t remember ever going to school…repressed memories? But he can remember and tell stories about his swim team.
-His parents encouraged him to go to strip clubs and they are okay with the brother’s history of going to prostitutes.
-In his teens his life goal/dream was to merry and have children.
-In his late teens he married a girl, when he left to join the military, she cheated on him (got knocked up) by his pastor (he was raised agnostic).
-He got kicked out of the military for anger issues.
-Got married again to a woman that was much older than him that already had children, when he was away from home, she cheated on him with his brother.
-Got divorced again, dated a stripper for several years. He told me that they didn’t have sex much and this bothered her.
- He broke up with the stripper this year; he dated a girl for three months that was an alcoholic and hardcore drug user, she lied and said she was pregnant (she told me that he didn’t have sex with her much)… He started dating me a few months later. He said that he felt dirty after his last relationship and didn’t like being touched.
-He said that when he was younger he would cut himself to help with pain.
-He also used to drink excessively to blackout. He still drinks some.
-His family (including mom) is extremely homophobic… He is too.
-He is a little weird about looking at pregnant women nursing etc. in my books.
-He acts totally repulsed when he sees a man’s backside (butt) in a movie.
-He was supper affectionate; a woman’s dream come true (but just no sex).
-About a month ago we moved to where he grew up (rural with no other people for miles). He gets upset when we have to go to town to get the mail. He hates people.
-Two weeks ago he stopped talking to me and became supper strange about the house (it was never clean enough). I asked him what was going on….he cried and said he was unhappy.
-He asked me to leave a few days ago… I moved back home to be with my family.
-What do I do…? His mom has convinced him that councilors are trained to “turn” people gay.

All of this has slowly surfaced… The list of his good qualities out-ways the above weirdness. However it does hurt that he doesn’t seam interested in sexual intimacy, and because of this, I act strange around him sexually. I don’t think I am unattractive. I just get nervous around him because he has told me he is not attracted to me. It’s hard to strip (or spice things up) for someone (especially six months pregnant); if you know he isn’t interested… rejection sucks.

He also says that he doesn’t have feeling of love for me, although he is supper protective of me. He is always worried about me getting hurt. He is always doing small thoughtful things for me. He is affectionate and attentive. He sometimes talks about having more children with me…. But then he asks me to go home to my parents to be safe and warm (I was very happy and content there; Im 30 years old, going home to the folks is depressing, especially after just moving all of your things to a new town to start a family)…. He said he needed time to think. He won’t tell me if I am on my own or not.

What do you think is going on? Have you heard about people like this before? What can I do? I was going to move on with my life, but I think he has been betrayed by every person that “loved” him (including his parents). He is my baby’s father and he is 100 percent committed to being a dad… but he doesn’t seem healthy to me.

He said he is scared of the responsibility of the baby, and he he cant stop thinking about what to do (for a home and a job) he said he is "broken." He only sleeps a few hours every night.

Therapist's Answer:

Anastasia, all of what you have shared about your partner paints a pretty clear picture of a guy with significant abuse throughout his childhood. We don't need to guess at the possible details that he has repressed. His current issues speak volumes. Just the lack of boundaries in his family, and the early exposure to pornography alone alone could account for much of his current intimacy problem. It's likely that in that very dysfunctional environment, other types of abuse or violations occurred. He may have some PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) - causing his insomnia, his anger problems, his social isolation, fear and aversion to being around people, drinking, and his past issue of cutting on himself to cope.

It sounds like underneath it all, he's a very good man, with good intentions. Don't take his lack of sexual interest personally. In fact, his lack of sexual interest in you is most likely because he does love and care for you deeply. His feelings of love are incompatible with sexual arousal because sex has always been associated with things that are taboo and "dirty" for him.

Bottom line: He needs therapy. These are not small issues. They are not going to just go away. Time does not heal these wounds. A good therapist could help him greatly. You have every right to expect this of him - if not for his own sake, or yours - then for the mental health of his child.

I wish you the best,
Ben Schwarcz
Marriage & Family Therapist

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Apr 07, 2013
Married for 16 and hardly any intamacy
by: Anonymous

I was in my mid-twenties, a young mother of a 4 year old. I met my husband through my brother and mother 15 yrs ago. My brother had insisted I take out his friend on a date to see the city. He wanted me to turn it up a notch since he knew his friend was attracted to me. I felt more obligated to see him even after my mom pleaded I give him a chance, since she felt that he was the ideal candidate for me. At that time I had no intentions of meeting anyone for a relationship, because I was dating someone else who I was totally in-love with for 5 years. Unfortunately, right before my husband to be came back from deployment the relationship ended with my ex. I felt I didn’t want to waste any more time with someone who did not want to marry or have children; at all.

So, I guess you can say my husband at the time was a rebound and a good fit to my requirements at that time.

After feeling pressured by both my brother and mom I went out on 1 friendly date with my husband to be, before he was deployed to the Navy for almost a yr. (By the way the date was weird. He showed no interest and was way too quiet). We kept in touch. After endless mail I realized he too wanted the same things I wanted in life; a family, more children and marriage. By the time he came back I had broken off my relationship with my ex (who by the way I was totally in love with) and started dating. We didn’t become intimate until two months later... Our first was so weird… I felt little affection and a quick poke (lol) and it was all over in 15 mins. 3 months of the relationship before he proposed we had sex (I say maybe 3 X’s). I wanted to end things, but I felt too pressured by my mom, brother and my little girl... Then, he proposed and now I felt double the pressure. I asked myself how someone could ask to marry when there is hardly intimacy.

Now, 16 years later I feel obligated to stay for many reasons: many of his best qualities outweigh the bad; 1 imperfection (sex)...and now our children, our home, and pets, but I dream daily to feel like the woman in the bedroom. Please Help! I have done almost everything from counseling, cheating, crying, praying, exercising... What else can I do? I feel like I can combust any day from lack of intimacy… and my clock is ticking…I am getting older.

Ben's Reply:

As I see it, you have at least a few options:

1. Completely accept things as they are, and accept him for who he is, and don't look to him to make you happy.

2. Leave the marriage and find someone you have real chemistry with.

3. Go with him to an Emotionally Focused Therapy expert (the "other E.F.T."). Get his total commitment to work on your intimacy together, and hold back nothing. If you both do this in earnest you will either create real intimacy between you, or at least it will be completely obvious to you both that the relationship is not meeting anyone's needs, and maybe then you will choose to part ways in peace.

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