Hi, I need help with something. I am a 23 year old Christian man, I have been married for two years and the last year has been sexless. My wife and I got married two years ago and initially I could tell that she was nervous about sexual intimacy (we didn’t have sex on our wedding night), but I never pushed anything, I just waited until she felt comfortable. The first few months of our marriage we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, but the rest of the first year the sex got less and less frequent, and this last year I don’t think we’ve had sex at all. A large reason for this is that my wife had gained some weight within the last year, mainly due to the birth control she was on that we have now stopped. Her weight gain never stopped me from wanting to be intimate with her, but I think she has lost confidence in her body and so is avoiding having sex. In fact, she also avoids even long kisses with me in case it turns into the expectation of sex. I will never be unfaithful to my wife, and I will be patient with her. But if I’m honest, I feel empty inside. I feel unwanted and I have started to lose confidence in my own body and wonder if she is no longer attracted to me. The scariest part of all of this is that, purely due to not being intimate with each other, I think I have begun to lose my attraction towards her. It’s starting to feel like we are just friends, not husband and wife. Her weight loss and her lack of self esteem as a result of it has impacted so much of who she is, or was. With each day she seems angrier, more upset, more pessimistic. However, she doesn’t seek positive change. I have implied in certain ways that it would be good for her to speak to someone about what she is experiencing. I have also talked about us starting to exercise together. Both of these ideas have been met with sadness, which hurts me, as I don’t want to hurt her. I really have no clue what to do. I want to be patient with her, I don’t want to leave her, I could never dream of it. But if I could see into the future and see that our marriage would be the same for the next 20 years, then that is not what I want for my life. I just feel so lost as to what to do. Please help.
Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert, said: "You are right to seek help because there is no doubt that your marriage is in crisis just two years after you wed.
"For a marriage to become sexless just a year after the ceremony, and remain sexless for the following year, indicates to me that there are serious problems in your relationship.
"There is no doubt that falling body confidence can have a profound effect on declining libido in both sexes. You are right to highlight this as a reason for your wife's declining interest in sex. It's good that she has come off the pill because it can definitely prompt hormonal changes which result in weight gain.
''A good sex life is one of the key fundamentals in maintaining a happy marriage. I am always alarmed when couples come to me and say that the passion is no longer there. Sex is one of the glues that keeps marriages together. It is important to maintain sexual relations even if you are not feeling at your most desirable.
''What worries me here is that you BOTH seem to have lost attraction for each other and your wife is unresponsive to your efforts to tackle the problem together. You were right to suggest that you exercise together. This is a great way to tackle not only weight loss but depression, too.
"It seems clear to me that your wife's low self-esteem could also be linked to depression. She needs to talk to her doctor about ways to combat this problem.
"One in four people will suffer mental health problems at some point in their lives. Her GP will be able to offer positive solutions.
"I think it is important for you to look at your own behaviour and whether you have given your wife all the support she needs. You say 'I never pushed anything' and 'I will be patient with her' and that 'I don't want to leave her' but at the same time you question whether your marriage has a future if it continues along the same lines. I do think you have to ask yourself whether you have made her cripplingly low self-esteem worse.
"But on a brighter note I do feel that that you have got to the crux of the issue which is the need for her to 'speak to someone about what she is experiencing'. In truth, you both need to speak to someone. I think you would benefit from marriage counselling with an organisation such as Relate where you can both air your grievances and come up with a solution with suits you both.
"Hopefully this will allow your wife to address the issues of low self-esteem which have dogged the first two years of your marriage.
''It is not too late to find a solution. Remember that less than two years ago, you 'couldn't keep your hands off each other.' There is no reason why you cannot both return to that happier place if you both work hard at your relationship.''
Jessica Leoni is a relationship expert with the dating site IllicitEncounters.com
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