Dear Dr. Archer,
I met my husband in 1999; he lived in Sussex and I lived in Coventry. Before we met he told me he had Spina Bifida, although he was not wheelchair bound.
He lived with his widowed mother, and used to come up to see me on a regular basis. We lived for those visits, and soon it was obvious this couldn't go on. He decided to come live with me.
We were so happy and so in love, the fact that he was home all day with no job while I worked didn't worry me. I'd come home to a happy home, bath run and dinner ready.
Eventually he did get a job, and after four years, renewed happiness. We had accrued a fair amount of debt and tried various ways of paying it off, which we did, somewhat.
Then something happened. One night I was tired and he told me to go to bed and he'd join me later. At 2:00 a.m. he still wasn't beside me so I went downstairs and was horrified to find him watching porn. I asked him cooly if he was coming to bed, which he did.
This happened several times after that, and despite assurances that this in no way changed his love for me, he made no attempts to have sex with me and made excuses when I initiated it.
This continued for two years and I got so desperate to talk and find a solution I gave him an ultimatum. If we didn't do something I would leave. We went to therapy and entered a program to help solve our problems, and after a few weeks he said he couldn't carry on. He appeared phobic and we stopped the sessions.
I was distraught, got fed up with talking about it and just pleasured myself and got on with my life. I found online a syndrome called Maiden/Whore, but cannot find anyone in my area of the UK who knows enough about it to help him.
This became the pattern for our lives. I went to work alone, came home, cooked, housework and then bed alone. We had no social life, although he never stopped me from going out and would even give me money.
It's like he wanted a live in care-giver, which is what I became. We had talks about a solution, but never got one, so words became pointless.
In 2010 I could no longer work, as I was clinically depressed. I told my husband I'd be moving out as soon as I found a place, and with a heavy heart I moved out.
I was content, and started thinking of myself -- something I hadn't done in years. Eventually my husband began to ask if he could visit and we attempted to talk.
We got along fine as long as the subject of sex didn't come up, which often ended up with us shouting at each other and him storming out. He couldn't understand why I couldn't accept him the way he was.
He had some physical problems and said he was impotent. He made me feel guilty because he kept saying I should look for someone else, but I knew if I did it would break his heart, so I haven't to this day.
I love him dearly and never want to hurt him. I can't bring myself to divorce him or find anyone else, because in every other way, apart from the sex, we could be happy. But I won't live with him unless he gets treatment for his problems. I don't know what to do.
You've laid down your terms and conditions, so I'm not sure what you want me to say. If you will not live with him unless he receives counseling or treatment, and he says he is not willing to have therapy, then you're at an impasse.
I must say, Shirley, I have never heard of Maiden/Whore, and nothing came up in my online search, so I have no idea what that is. From what you've provided in your letter, I assume the sex was good before that fateful night.
I can tell you that I doubt the pornography is the problem, since I assume he was looking at it well before you "caught” him.
For your part, you can discuss treatments for erectile dysfunction with him, which include oral medication, self injection, testosterone replacement, a pump or even psychological counseling. It will then be up to him if he's willing to try to get to the root of the problem.
In the end, Shirley, if he doesn't want help he's not going to seek it. He has already told you to look for someone else so you need to decide what you want.
You seem to be depressed if you're without him, so ask yourself what's more palatable: an amazing relationship with no sex or maybe not being connected with someone so intensely but with great sex.
Every person has their own answer to this. You need to think about it and then discuss it with him and then make a decision. Good luck.