[Two Pronged] How to deal with a sexless marriage

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. baer,

I have been in a relationship, then marriage, with my wife for 4 years. I fell in love with her smarts, her personality, and demeanor. Unfortunately, I have never been sexually attracted to her much and, until now, lived in a kind of platonic relationship with her.

Sex has been less and less frequent and, when it would happen, it was brief and unsatisfactory. She has been putting all the blame on me, since she is not the one rejecting me – it’s me. We recently got to the point where lack of sex was giving me physical pain and lowered my stress tolerance to rock-bottom levels.

I recently proposed to her that I’d found a “fubu” to keep myself satisfied, but she considers this cheating and won’t compromise.

Is it time I woke up, smelled the coffee, and annulled her?

Thanks for your kind consideration.



Dear Don,

Thank you for your email.

It is not clear from your email quite why you decided to marry a woman to whom you were not sexually attracted. Perhaps her many other sterling qualities were such that you felt the sexual side of the relationship was unimportant or perhaps you thought you might change your mind with the passage of time. Whatever the reason(s), you went into marriage with your eyes wide open.

Unfortunately, feeling no attraction for your wife has turned out to be a real problem, causing you physical pain and stress. Again, why this should have happened is not clear, since after all, you have not revealed any significant changes in your relationship in the last four years. This leads us to surmise that you just drastically miscalculated the downside of feeling no sexual attraction and are now paying the price.

Your email is mostly silent about how your wife feels about your marriage in general and your bedroom inactivity in particular, except of course when it comes to apportioning blame and, of course, your proposed “solution.” Has she been happy with your virtually sexless union? Possibly she is relieved at your lack of interest since men who are not attracted to their mates seldom make good lovers? You simply do not say.

And this leads inexorably to your solution. This is all about you and ignores your wife’s existence entirely. You now want sex, despite deliberately entering into a virtually sexless marriage, and since your wife doesn’t attract you you want it elsewhere. You are unilaterally changing the terms of your marriage, and faced with your wife’s opposition, you are contemplating annulment.

Although I have to confess that my sympathies lie with your wife, annulment is probably as good a solution for her as it is for you. Why she should want to stay married, if indeed she does, to a man with as little attraction to her as you have demonstrated (or more accurately, based on your mail, failed to demonstrate) totally eludes me. However, we are considering your issue here, and so, returning to your question, yes, annulment sounds like the way to go.

all the best,
JAF Baer

Dear Don:

Thank you very much for your letter. We would not dissuade you from getting an annulment and Mr. Baer definitely wants you to do so. All I want is for you to see how you set this whole thing up so that it would not seem your fault at all, and yet…and yet…well, a lot of your problem seems to be of your making, doesn’t it ?

Case in point: marrying her despite not being sexually attracted to her. This does not make you seem deeper than most men who are swayed to marry simply because of good looks and the promise – if not the actual enjoyment – ​​of sex.

At best, it makes you naïve, believing something as basic as lust wouldn’t matter. At worse, it makes you fraudulent – marrying her under false pretenses, UNLESS you told her the truth beforehand. If you did, then it makes perfect sense that you would feel her unreasonable for 1) not agreeing to your having a fubu; and 2) blaming you for your lackluster sex lives.

I hope you see your actions and your decision in this wider perspective, realizing that the situation you are in is not just because of her. This will, perhaps, make you kinder and gentler when you tell her you want an annulment — not because you don’t want to hurt her (which smacks of patronizing), but because this is the way people are when they care for someone and would do almost anything (except perhaps to continue in a sexless marriage) not to.

So, yes, suggest an annulment and be truthful about the reason you feel this is the best course of action. For the both of you.

Part of me hopes you will do this because you have a kind and generous spirit. But if not, the whole of me hopes you have a pragmatic, logical mind, realizing that an annulment works more quickly and less heartrendingly if both of you want it.

good luck,
MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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