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Ask Dr. Sherry: ‘Should I End My Sexless Marriage After 15 Years?’

Dr. Sherry helps a wife who has realized that she’s only pretending to be happy in her sexless marriage. What do you think she should do?

You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Dr. Sherry,

I have been married to a wonderful man for 15 years. We have two children and all appearances would suggest that our marriage is wonderful. However, behind closed doors, our union feels more like a perfect co-parenting-situation. Although we appear to be living the “American dream,” long ago I discovered that our personalities are incompatible. He does not meet my emotional needs, and therefore, I struggle with meeting his physical needs. We are enduring a sexless marriage that is impacted by our poor intimacy and very different love languages. Although I love him and he clearly loves me, part of the pressure to stay together is based on fear – fear of what others will think, fear of losing a mate that meets our “on-paper” criteria, and fear of being alone and starting over. How should we handle this?


Imperfectly Matched

Dear Sis,

You are not alone in your dilemma. What does love have to do with it?  Absolutely nothing! You and your spouse may love each other dearly but discover that you are incompatible and the spark is gone. It is likely that you may have never been fully compatible but were so busy striving to acquire the “American Dream” that you didn’t notice. After 15 years, you are realizing just how important your emotional needs really are. When your emotional needs are not being met, it is hard to become fully engaged physically. As quiet as it is kept, there is an increasing number of “sexless marriages”. Without the emotional or the physical needs being met, the marriage is reduced to co-parenting as roommates. You have the husband, children, and all the material trappings that make you look as if you are indeed living the “American Dream”. What you are actually living is a lie that is becoming increasingly difficult to hide. The lie of pretending that you are happy is like carrying a heavy weight on your back. You know it is there but you can’t or do not know how to take it off. While you may not be happy with your marriage, the fear of exposing the truth is overwhelmingly scary. The fear is the fear of the unknown. While you are harboring multiple fears, it is highly likely that your husband harbors similar fears. Forget what others may say and be honest with yourself – you must face your fears and decide if you want your marriage. I recommend that you seek marital therapy to honestly process your feelings. You must live your life for yourself not for others. – Dr. Sherry

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