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Dilemmas: My husband's lack of interest in sex is making me so sad we may split up

Virginia Ironside answers your personal questions

After a shotgun marriage, which resulted in my youngest son (I have two others), it turned out my partner wasn't interested in sex, which makes me so sad. He says he loves us all, but he won't see a doctor. We were going to Relate, but he wriggled out of it. I've now given up. The boys have a good, supportive family, but I don't want them to suffer another split. When I suggested separating, my partner said: "If that's what you want." Why do I go for people who are so unavailable? Virginia says

Your husband is feigning a don't-care attitude because deep down he's petrified of losing you. That's why he won't come to Relate with you -- because he fears that the outcome won't be a better marriage but, instead, a revelation that you don't love him and don't want him. Likewise, going to the doctor. Isn't it safer for him to hang on in there like a frozen statue, clinging to a status quo that might not be perfect but at least exists in some form or other?

You talk of your husband as being "unavailable". Perhaps he is, but have you thought why? It's not because he's a cruel fiend who loves to keep you feeling excluded, but because he simply daren't be available.

You imagine that it's all to do with sex, but you should think again. I bet if you had sex it wouldn't make one bit of difference. He'd still seem unavailable. And are you sure "available" is what you want, anyway? It appears you're always choosing men like this. Why? Is it because you also fear closeness, and it feels safer for you to be with a man who doesn't display it, even though, deep down, he may feel it. Why don't you go to Relate on your own -- or see a counsellor yourself, not only to discover more about you but also perhaps to understand where your husband might be coming from? Or put him in a position where he has to come just once, by saying that you're just asking for this one favour to show he loves you.

Unless you're incredibly highly sexed, it's quite possible to live without it and have a fulfilling, loving and happy life. It's not the be all and end all of a relationship. If you could be a little bit more compassionate towards your husband and see him for the suffering and lonely man I think he is, he might unbend a little bit, and that might, in the end, be enough.

Readers say Sex isn't everything

Your husband is available. There is so much more to a relationship than sex. Your husband says he loves you all. He seems to have provided a safe, stable home for you and your children and taken on two that are not his. That in itself is honourable.

Be mindful that sex is not a foundation for a good relationship. Love, friendship, trust and stability are much more important. How would you feel if it was you who had a low sex drive and your husband was considering leaving? I'm sure you would want him to accept you the way you are.

Siobhan, by email

It may be you, not him

Your husband was available, or he wouldn't have married you. Maybe he was a terrific lover and you interpreted his feelings as a long-term commitment to you at every level. But perhaps having three little boys around has dampened his ardour.

Why did you choose to enter into a shotgun marriage? A strong desire to create one big, happy family for your two other boys? You would benefit from exploring these issues with a Relate counsellor, regardless of him.

Joanne, by email