Am I Asking For Too Much From My Wife?

Am I Asking For Too Much From My Wife?


Hi Doc,

Like many of your writers, I am experiencing relationship issues and seeking advice. My wife and I have been together for fifteen years and married for eleven. We have had our ups and downs, but recently there have been many downs. We have had minor sex issues in the past, but nothing as drastic as lately. She or I have taken turns in the past when one of us was depressed or had personal things we were working on, and sex wasn’t a priority for a week, or at most a month. Mostly it was fairly regular from everything I have read on the topic. Since the conception of our daughter who is now just over two years old I had sex maybe seven or eight times.

We were having sex like crazy to have a child, but the day she got the positive test all sex activity stopped. While she was pregnant, I also had my own small health issue but after a month or two I was ready for fun again. She however was not. I shrugged it off as something that she would get over once the baby was here. I was way wrong about that. It got worse after the baby was here. From the day of the test, I went about sixteen to eighteen months without sex.

I thought I was going to lose my mind. I know sex isn’t everything but I have always had a pretty active sex life no matter, my partners. It started with simple excuses, “I am tired from the baby”. Then it turned to “We don’t have the time.” I did a lot of reading and I know it can be common for women to have a decrease in libido but this was extreme. I felt constantly rejected.

Once maternity leave was over and I let her get back into a groove with work, then stress became the new excuse. So I did everything I could to remove stress. I did all the cooking, all the housework, and all the diaper changes I could find. You name it and I probably did it. In return, we had sex once or twice over like six months. Those few times were horrible. It had been so long that I felt like a virgin trying to get my grove back. Afterward, I joked we needed more practice and was met with coldness.

We talked about the lack of sex issue and she told me she thought it was postpartum which made sense. In turn, I did everything I could to help. I waited on her and the kid like a servant. She would say she didn’t feel pretty or was depressed so I would buy flowers or try to do something to make her feel special. Nope, still almost no sex. I thought if we focused on our weight, I am a little overweight and so is she, that might make her feel better. That lasted a few months but still almost no sex if not none at all. The more weight I lost the more I seemed to want sex. She pretty much stayed the same.

Besides the sex issues, our relationship is just okay. She has become much less touchy-feely with me since having the baby. One of the reasons she said she fell in love with me was that I love public displays of affection. It was something she didn’t get much of as a kid. Over the course of our fifteen years together I have rarely kept my hands off her. I don’t mean I grope her all the time, mostly hugs or kisses or things like that. When I have a good opportunity butt squeeze or boob grab presents itself what man doesn’t do that to tell his partner he still finds them desirable. My parents were very affectionate people that saw displaying that in front of me as promoting healthy relationship behavior. In just the past few weeks, I was now told that I need to stop that because it bothers her now. I thought she meant in front of the kid but she meant in general. On top of that, she now talks about being thirty-five like she has become a sixty-year-old. I am only forty and don’t view myself as old at all. I am no spring chicken but I am not old.

Over the past six months, the fights have become more frequent. She offered to help me out with my sex problem as long as it wasn’t sex. When I asked for help once a week it became another fight. She thought that would be like every three or four weeks. It was implied like my wanting more sex was like crazy talk to her.

She used to be the most over-sharing person I know. I used to know her every thought, even the ones I wish she didn’t tell me. Now she shares next to nothing with me. I have to ask a million questions to see what this stranger I now live with wants. Her hormones seem very out of control from one minute to the next. I have suggested that she might need therapy and I can’t even explain to you in words what her answer to that was. I have tried suggesting a change of her meds or talking to her doctor. She claims she talked to her doctor and the doctor said this was normal and likely postpartum. It feels like a whole lot more than postpartum to me. Pushing more than that usually ends in a fight.

Recently she admitted to me that it isn’t me but she knows it is her with the issue. She doesn’t even find the crushes she had on actors on tv could turn her on. She was however feeling me turning her on. I was excited and thought that was an invitation to push a little for sex. Nope, that turned her off and we fought. Our most recent discussion on the topic was that I need to stop asking for sex, it is too much pressure on her. Mind you, I try not to ask more than two or three times a month. I also told that I need to stop pointing out how patient I have been over the past almost three years, which only happens because she usually implies I am like a sex-crazed maniac for wanting it more than every few months. I told her that if that is how she feels then I will comply with her request and wait for her to ask me for sex. That was almost a month ago and I can feel my anger building because I thought that if I held back she wouldn’t keep me waiting again. I know the old phrase is that if you keep doing the same thing and expecting something different you might be crazy. I am beginning to wonder if I am crazy.

Please give me some kind of advice and please don’t suggest scheduling sex into our life. That is what every book or article has suggested. I tried that and it failed big time. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I have even considered finding a woman who might be in the same boat as me and offering to be FWB but I don’t know if I could do that and live with myself.

Alright $NAME, there’re a few things to consider here.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I get annoyed by a lot of the standard advice that gets handed out when one partner – typically the man in a heterosexual relationship – has a higher libido than their partner. I think there’s a lot of “look, sex isn’t THAT big of a deal, you shouldn’t get upset about not having as much” advice out there that’s rooted in both sex negativity and that most of the usual answers aren’t really helpful.

But sometimes the answer really comes down to “dude, you ARE asking for too much,” for a number of different reasons.

Let’s talk about what’s been going on leading up to when the sex suddenly dried up, and what’s been going on since.

First things first: you and your wife have been trying to have a kid, and it sounds like you’ve been trying for a while. As many parents who’ve struggled to conceive can tell you, the sex you have when you’re trying to have a child quits being sexy and fun pretty quickly. At first, it’s kind of intense and exciting. But as it progresses, the connection, intimacy and joy gets leeched out as it becomes pretty mechanical – based around ovulation, ideal temperatures the like, instead of something passionate or joyful. So, once you two got confirmation of conception… well, it’s not hard to imagine why she might want to take a break. It’s hard not to feel like the whole thing’s become impersonal and un-fun, especially for her.

There’s also the fact that loss of libido is incredibly common and normal during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, folks experience hormonal changes that’ll tank their libido on a chemical level, while fatigue, muscle pain, swelling and morning sickness make folks feel less than sexy under the best of circumstances. When your ankles seem to have disappeared and you’re hit with waves of nausea daily, it’s not terribly surprising that folks might not be down to clown. After pregnancy, people may be cleared to be physically able to resume sexual activity at six weeks, the desire is still likely to have be low. Again, this isn’t that surprising; a lack of sleep, breast-feeding, physical recovery and further hormonal changes all will make sex the last thing on many new parents’ minds.

Plus there’s the whole “just shoved a watermelon through an orifice that’s usually the size of a lemon” aspect of things; even when one’s body has recovered, the memory of the experience can leave folks not wanting anything going near their vaginas for a bit.

From the timeline you shared, you didn’t have sex at all (presumably you mean PIV intercourse, not just other forms of sexual activity such as oral sex or assisted masturbation) for the duration of the pregnancy and at least nine months post-birth. This, while frustrating, is entirely normal for the various reasons I mentioned. In fact, it’s pretty common for a lot of couples that sex gets very sporadic for the first year or two after having a child. The combination of child care, physical and emotional recovery and just the sheer amount of disruption to your schedules and lives and even perception of your own bodies means that the sweet spot where desire, opportunity and availability coincide tends to get rare on the ground, and on those occasions, the sex new parents are having tends to be furtive and quick. You simply don’t have the time for anything more.

Here’s the thing: having children is signing up for having your life disrupted for a long, long time. Your life is going to, by necessity, become all about your child and everything else is going to get sacrificed to that change. This includes sex. It’s part and parcel of the whole child-rearing thing. While there’re couples who can go back to burning up the sheets immediately after they get the all clear from their physician, sex becoming much more occasional-if-at-all is part of what to expect.

Now, I want to be clear: wanting to be intimate with your wife and being frustrated that you aren’t having as much sex as you’d prefer is understandable. I’m not going to ding you on that. Your feeling frustrated is legitimate, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting more sex than you’ve been getting. The problem is in how you’re handling that frustration and your lack of patience. Nine months out from the birth and you’re asking for PIV sex? Yeah, I’m not surprised she’s not been into it. And if you’ve been regularly asking for sex since then and getting upset at the lack of it… that’s going to be a pretty significant turn-off. The way that you describe the situation and your behavior makes it sound like this has been a fairly constant bone of contention, which is gonna wear on a person, especially if it keeps coming down to arguments about it. That’s a good way to make someone feel unattractive or, worse, like a literal object, even if you’re trying to be sweet and romantic about it.

All of this means it’s understandable that even casual contact’s ceased. If she’s worried that any sort of intimate physical contact like snuggling on the couch is going to lead to a metaphorical (or literal) boner poking her in the thigh with the expectation to do something about it, then the fact that she’s pulled back makes complete sense. She’s trying to avoid being put in the position of having to reject you again and deal with frustration and arguments about it. Same with her wanting you to stop casually grabbing her. You may mean it as a sign of affection or an indication you still find her sexy – in and of itself, not a bad thing at all – but she’s likely feeling it as just one more way of your letting her know that you’re waiting to get it on again.

All of the shutting down you mentioned – including not even having stirrings of crushes on attractive actors? All of that sounds like a combination of post-pregnancy issues and the relationship stress of your pushing and pushing and pushing and getting angrier and angrier about it.

So, while having established that I hate relationship advice that just falls back on “ugh, why can’t you just deal with not having more sex”… well, I hate to say it but you need to deal better with not having more sex. The problem at hand (as it were) isn’t the fact that you want more sex, it’s the fact that you’re not willing to recognize that the sexual side of your relationship is gonna have to be on hold for a while. It certainly means that it needs to adjust to the circumstances. The best advice I can give you about this requires climbing into a time machine, going back to when you had that first positive pregnancy test and change your behavior then.

To start with, you’d want to recognize and acknowledge with your wife, that sex was going to be less of a thing after having the child, especially the sort of sex you used to have. Planning to grit your teeth and white-knuckle it through the couple of years when you’d both be lucky to have the time and desire or a quickie once in a blue moon, agreeing on ways you would both find to cope and express intimacy… that would help immensely and likely have sped up the approach of the day when you could get back to something close to the sort of sex you were used to having. De-prioritizing PIV and expanding your definition of sex to include other forms of play that don’t include penetration would be a big one; you’d likely have had more “yes’” if you weren’t looking for vaginal intercourse and were cooler with an occasional masturbatory assist, even if it wasn’t happening on the frequency you’d prefer.

But you didn’t. And it hasn’t helped that you’ve basically thrown the ways your wife has tried to accommodate you back in her face. You’re making your frustration her problem, without apparently acknowledging that this is a time when she’s feeling her least sexy or interested. So instead of sex being something mutual and intimate, it’s “servicing my husband so he stops being so upset,” which isn’t really a turn on if that’s not someone’s specific kink. The fact that she asked you to stop pointing out how patient you’ve been is a pretty good sign that you’ve been pushing a LOT and blaming her without much apparent empathy for how she’s feeling. And the fact that you’re angry because she didn’t hold up her end of a bargain that she didn’t actually agree to – the “wait a month and she’ll come around” aspect – is only making it worse and disincentivizing sex. How’s she supposed to want to have something mutual and fulfilling and reaffirming your affection for one another when it feels like it’s “I didn’t get enough orgasms this month and you need to work overtime until I make quota”?

And while I’m Captain Monogamy-Isn’t-For-Everybody, this is not the time when opening up the relationship – ethically or not – is going to help. All that’s likely to do right now is make things worse and just speed you both straight to divorce court.

So if you want to start having sex with your wife again? You’re going to need to make some serious changes, starting with backing the hell off. Lay off the sex talk entirely. Not in a “silent treatment” way, not in a freeze-out or “making it clear that this is grudging acceptance and you’re mad about it” way but in the “I’m going to leave sex out of the equation entirely.” Your wife knows your horny, trust me. She knows where your dick is; if you want her to come find it, you’re going to have to give her a LOT more space and a LOT less pressure to do something with it.

If you want that casual physical intimacy you had before? Then it’s time for you to start giving that casual contact without expectations of sex or sexual activity. Physical touch via cuddling, massaging her neck, shoulders and feet, hugs, gentle (but platonic) touches… that, at least, will allow for expression of affection. Grabbing her boobs or butt? Not so much. Certainly not now.

I know, I can already hear you reminding me about how you tried to remove as much stress as you could and do so much for her. The problem is, if this was all coming with the reminder of “hey, don’t forget, this is so you’ll blow me later,” then it’s going to just keep making her stressed out, especially if her lack of libido or not feeling in tune with her body is already causing her agita. If she’s feeling disconnected from herself and she’s got the constant refrain about how she’s neglecting you, then yeah, that’s just going to keep things shut down because that’s going to make things worse.

You know that whole bit about “It’s not about your doing the dishes, it’s that I want you to want to do the dishes that’s a relationship conflict cliche? That’s precisely what’s going on here. You aren’t doing the household chores or taking care of the baby to make things easier on your wife, to share the load and also to give her time to relax, eat or even just have 30 minutes to herself, you’re doing it with the expectation that it’ll be rewarded with orgasms. That’s not what she needs, it’s not what she wants and it’s not helping her or you. It just reaffirms that feeling of your impatience and not seeing her quite so much as a person who just shoved a baby out of her.

The more time you can give her where she feels like your wife whom you love and care for, and not a dick-milking machine that’s fallen down on the job, then the more likely it is that sex will resume sooner, rather than later.

But what about your needs? Well, if you hadn’t fucked up getting the occasional handy, you’d be in a better place to have a little more intimate play with her that didn’t involve tab-a-into-slot-b action. But since you did, that means that getting off is gonna be on you, my dude. Hie thyself to a local independently owned sex shop and look into some masturbation toys. Tenga and Fleshlight are the two big names in the masturbation sleeve space; get yourself a couple different models for variety, some lube, subscribe to some OnlyFans or Fansly accounts and go to town on yourself. A Fleshlight or a Tenga Flip or what-have-you isn’t going to be the same as intimacy with your wife, but it’ll feel better than just your hand when you need to rub one out.

(I would not suggest looking to sex workers for help, considering the circumstances. This is far less about needing to get release and more about adjusting your expectations regarding sex and your wife.)

The thing to realize is that if it really is a matter of post-partum depression or hormones being in flux or just needing to feel connected to her body again? Then taking away the pressure to perform for you gives her room to actually deal with those issues whenever she’s got the bandwidth. If you remove that feeling that you’re just waiting for her to provide orgasms for you, reinforce the emotional connection (with that non-sexual physical intimacy I mentioned before) and start taking on more of the household responsibilities so she has more time that’s not spent at work, on the baby or on household stuff? She’ll have more energy and opportunity to do things like talk to her doctor about her emotional state or find ways of feeling like a sexual being again instead of a brood mare.

But that’s going to take time and loving, patient support from you. So if you want sex? You’re gonna need to be having it with yourself for a bit while she gets back to where she needs to be and be willing to expand what you and she consider sexual intimacy without complaint. Yeah, a handy every three weeks isn’t what you’d prefer, but that’s still better than NO sex, which is what you’re getting now.

In an ideal world, you would’ve been on this path back after you conceived. Now you’re going to have to make up for lost time. It may suck, but your choices are learn to adapt, or learn to go without for good. Because honestly? This is the sort of behavior that ends up killing relationships. And nobody wants that.

This post was previously published on and is republished on Medium.



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