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'AITA for turning my husband down in the bedroom after he told me it makes him insecure?' UPDATED

'AITA for turning my husband down in the bedroom after he told me it makes him insecure?' UPDATED

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Physical intimacy is a crucial ingredient in a healthy relationship, but you have to be truly synced up with your partner for it to be healthy.

In a popular post on the AITAH subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for turning down her husband even though it hurt his feelings. She wrote"

"AITAH for turning down s*x with my husband?"

I (28f) have been married to my husband (38m) for six years. We have five boys aged 3-14 (our 3 oldest are from his first marriage) and each of us own our own business. Our lives are busy, needless to say. Recently my husband has expressed he does not feel loved or desired by me as I do not initiate s*x.

Although we have s*x 3-5 times a week, he says he is the one who initiates so therefore he does not feel I desire him in any way. Once he expressed this to me I told him I would do what I could to figure out why my libido was lacking. I ordered several supplements to begin taking and even made an appointment with my doctor to discuss a treatment.

She sent me a medicine to the pharmacy but my insurance would not cover it and a 8 dosage fill (monthly) was going to cost $2200. So I was really hoping the supplements would do the trick! We had this initial discussion on a Tuesday and then come Friday we left with our children for a family vacation.

Thankfully my supplements had arrived Friday so I began taking them and packed them for our trip. Friday evening we stopped for the night at a nice resort and once the kids were all settled I initiated intimacy within our private suite. I thought all was well until we woke the next morning to get back on the road and my husband was obviously frustrated and had short patience with me and the children.

The remainder of our drive I held his hand/arm and kissed him occasionally until we arrived at our extended family’s home. Our accommodations there was a fifth wheel RV with only electricity hook up — no water, shower, toilet etc. This was not new to us so we weren’t bothered by it. We spent the remainder of the day (Saturday) and Sunday with our family.

Monday we had an outing in the snow and once we got back to the house we all took turns showering. That evening after everyone fell asleep my husband was restless. He tossed and turned, sighed and took deep breaths over and over. When I asked him what was bothering him he said I wasn’t doing what I promised — I wasn’t initiating intimacy or showing him in any way that I loved and desired him.

I gently reminded him where we had been the last few days and also pointed out the RV didn’t allow for privacy from our children, never mind our youngest sharing our bed with us. I also reminded him I had only been taking my supplements now for 3 days. We argued to the point of tears and I took myself to our vehicle outside the RV for a break.

He joined me within 10 minutes and told me he was just anxious about the other leg of our trip which was visiting his extended family he hadn’t seen in 20 years. He apologized for the way he handled himself and said he understood why intimacy had been lacking in recent days. The next day we spent more time with our family. That night I gave him oral and we went to sleep.

We then left the following morning (Wednesday) for our visit with his extended family. After arriving mid afternoon at his family’s house, he left to go see his brother and fix something on our car while me and the kids stayed at the house. That evening once everyone was asleep we have phenomenal sex. The best in a while. All was good.

The next day we spent the day with our family, same thing Friday and then Saturday we had a big family event to attend. Saturday morning we woke up earlier than everyone else and showered together where we were able to have quick s*x. After everyone woke up we went shopping and then arrived back at the house to begin getting ready for the event.

I think he expected some intimacy during the downtime but there wasn’t enough time or privacy for that. Our family of 7 plus our extended family of 3 were all in the same house and sharing two bathrooms. We didn’t have ample time for anything other than to get ready for the event.

The event went smoothly and once we got back to the house we began packing to leave that night and make the 14 hour drive back to our home. We took shifts driving — he drove the first hour, I drove 4, he drove 4 and then I drove the remainder of the trip. We got home around noon (Sunday), got the kids settled, took a shower and then crashed in our own bed for the first time in over a week.

I was exhausted. I woke up at around 5:30 that evening to check on the kids and then get us dinner from town. After dinner we all settled in for the night and didn’t wake up until the next morning at 10. When we woke up my husband hinted at wanting s*x but I had just started my period before we went to bed for the night and so I told him that. He stopped his hints and got up for the day.

As the day went on I could tell he was frustrated and when I asked him what was bothering him he told me I rejected him and that he didn’t feel desired by me and it was taking a toll on him. At this point I was so beyond frustrated and just couldn’t believe what he was saying. He told me he wished we had had s*x in the shower after we got home from our long drive.

To which I responded with how exhausted I was once we got home but that didn’t mean much to him. It’s Tuesday now, we haven’t spoken much to each other much less had any kind of intimacy. I just don’t understand how he could logically expect anything more from me given the circumstances of our trip.

I’m at a loss of what else to do. And the supplements I ordered have made a difference, I can already tell, but it just feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. Am I the AH?

The internet kept it fully real with OP.

Few-Mine7009 wrote:

NTA - He obviously has some insecurities & is affecting how he treats you. Also, it sounds like you're doing all you can. It seems like you can't do enough though, he always wants more. 5 boys is alot, especially with a toddler 😳 I say keep trying, but he needs to be patient.

OP responded:

That’s how I feel! Like I’m doing all I can but it’s still not enough and I know resentment is building. This isn’t new though, this has always been a struggle in our marriage but since becoming business owners (ie more stress) it has amplified.

Top-Cut-369 wrote:

So a 32-year old married you at 22. He went searching for a young person barely out of her teens to look after his children and see to his s*xual needs. How concerned is he about your needs??? You are looking after his children while working inside and outside of the home? How balanced is this relationship? Who does more work cleaning, cooking and carrying the mental load?

Has he expressed any gratitude for all you have taken on and accomplished at such a young age? I am afraid you married an egocentric AH. There is a reason they go fishing in the younger age ponds for a mate. It's because they want the upper hand in control. Stand up for yourself. Your needs. Learn to say no. Tell him what you need from him. You are a partner not an employee.

OP responded:

We met at work, he had never dated anyone as young as me before that. He wasn’t searching me out and I guess I should have stated that. We share cooking and cleaning. I carry majority of the household mental load although he carries majority of our financial mental load — so I feel like that balances out. We’re both very active with our kids and their extracurricular activities, he coaches a lot of their teams.

He’s not necessarily a romantic, but he makes grand gestures when he can. During our trip he bought me new jewelry on two different occasions as a surprise. I have a hard time with boundaries, I know that about myself but he’s not disrespectful to me or my boundaries when I set them. I think we’re just not on the same wavelength at this phase of life.

Few-Mine7009 wrote:

Have you considered couples therapy? Seems he needs a reality check. I'm sorry you're going through this 😔

OP responded:

We participated in couples therapy for almost a whole year, our marriage was on the brink of ending. It helped a lot especially with our communication but it seems we need a touch up.

OP jumped on with an update the next day.

We had a chat. I asked him to speak first, I thought he would apologize for everything but this was not the case. He said we’ve not done a good job communicating with each other, he doesn’t feel I desire him or care for him because I don’t plan dates for us (true), if we go on a date he has to plan it. He also said I don’t do little things for him like ask him about his day or his work in detail.

I do ask him how his day was on a regular basis but I don’t often ask for detail. He mentioned a recent week where I forgot to pickup his dry cleaning (he wears starched jeans every day) and how that made him feel forgotten. I didn’t purposely forget, I would remember at random moments in the day and then forget once I was driving to work/home.

He also mentioned how he does his share of the cooking and cleaning. All this boiled down to when he feels I’m not meeting the little things that are listed above and he’s sharing the household stuff with me, that s*x is his only channel to receive love and affection. But if I do remember the little things and carry the household load then s*x isn’t as heavy with everything else balancing it out.

My response: I told him he could have s*x as often as we are or he could have s*x that I initiate each time but it couldn’t be both. I also told him that using s*x as an outlet to release stress and anxiety isn’t how marital intimacy should be. We should both be enjoying it. He agreed to that and admitted it wasn’t fair how s*x has been for us to this point.

I told him I didn’t want to have s*x any longer that we didn’t both desire. From now on we both need to be on board with it. When he named everything I do or don’t do that fulfills his love bank I asked him what are the things he does for me. To which he replied “you’re easy to love” and then referenced jewelry he’s bought me. I told him how wonderful it must be to have a wife you can just buy!

After that I asked him a series of questions like when’s the last time you swept and mopped our floors? When’s the last time you washed your own clothes? When’s the last time you checked the kids’ homework? He didn’t have an answer for any of them. I told him those are the things I do for him and our family and all he does is discount those things, they don’t count on my list the same they do his.

So then I asked him if the things I listed above are just my duties or do they count as love and care for him? And before he could answer I pointed out that he lists household or family duties as things he does to show me love and care so if they count for his list why do they not count for mine? He had no response. Now to address some questions from my original post:

3-5 times a week but I’m not into it each time so the lack of quality is what’s killing it for him. He says he hasn’t cheated and has no desire to. He says he’ll start going to the gym and make self care a priority. He mentioned his friends have s*x just as much as we do. One of those friends has already cheated on his wife and the other treats his wife like she’s lucky to have him.

I told him I wouldn’t dare be paid to be married to either of them and he needed new friends. He doesn’t know I made this post and would likely be hurt that I did so idk that you’ll get his reaction. I don’t think he watches p*rn or is addicted — we once went over 30 days as recommended by our therapist without intimacy and slept in separate rooms.

Our therapist isn’t available until the beginning of April so we’re trying to figure this out amongst ourselves until then. His job is very stressful — high stakes and he’s the breadwinner. We could not survive on my income alone. I understand this is a heavy burden for him and I think that is why I give in to his wants so often.

The internet was quick to respond to the update.

MajorYou9692 wrote:

Well one thing stuck out to me above the others and that's the fact that you've been f#$king when you weren't interested in it, I'm glad you addressed that with him because it takes two to have a healthy s*xual relationship.

yellogalactichuman wrote:

I just saw a video the other day talking about "visible" tasks vs "invisible" tasks. In that video it also said that tasks that are typically associated with women (female duties in the household) are for the most part "invisible".

Whereas traditionally male household duties tend to be the more "visible" kind. Invisible duties are ones that are basically a necessity for living and are continuously ongoing (there's never an "end" to them), so they tend to go more unnoticed.

These also include "mental load" tasks. These are things like mentally planning out grocery lists and schedules (how much brain power does it take to organize a shopping list for a big family or keep track of 5 kids after school schedules).

Also, keeping track of deadlines & making to-do lists, arranging childcare & transportation to necessary every day events like going to school & waking the kids up on time, keeping track of household supplies, remembering birthdays & anniversaries, providing emotional support for family members, doing laundry or the dishes (it never ends & there's always more to do- its "just a part of life").

Even vacuuming the house can be an invisible load-- unless the house is very dirty, its not typically super obvious when people vacuum & many women report that they purposefully leave the vacuum OUT just so their husband will notice they actually vacuumed. This "invisible load" often wears heavy, but goes unnoticed.

Visible duties are ones that are very obvious that they have been done & usually more one-off in nature- even could be rather performative depending on how someone does them.

These are things like mowing the lawn, planning special dates that happen occasionally, cooking dinners, picking up dry cleaning, taking out the trash, making household repairs, leaving the home to go to work, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail, performing sexual favors for your partner, etc.

This "visible load" is one that while it may require physical demands or labor, it is taking up much less mental space. It is also very obvious when the task is "done" & therefore obvious to claim a reward for..."well honey look!

I spent 4 hours mowing the lawn, I'm rightfully tired!" It's much less obvious that you spent 4 hours that day mentally planning out the week ahead which may make you just as if not more tired. That's where the "performative" nature can come in...people do something "visible" & expect rewards for it while not rewarding or even acknowledging the "invisible" tasks their partner did.

It seems like in this situation, your husband is looking solely at the Visible tasks it takes to run your household and defining the value you give your relationship by how much you visibly do. His markers for being shown love are solely physical & he's deriving his own value by that too, while minimizing the invisible labor you do.

He finds he's adding value to the relationship by cooking and cleaning and leaving the house for work-- these are ALL visible tasks. He says YOU are detracting value because you forgot to pick up his laundry, not planning dates, not asking explicitly in detail about his day (rather performatively), and not having s*x/initating intimacy.

These are ALL VISIBLE TASKS. He is however not valuing the invisible labor you put in-- ie helping kids with homework & planning kids schedules, sweeping/mopping floors (the least visible of cleaning tasks), worrying about your mental & physical well being (you ordering & taking supplements to up your libido is a more invisible task.

How much brain power have you spent worrying about this?), worrying about his mental & physical well being, etc. This "visible vs invisible" labor/load thing is a BIG thing in relationships.

An EVEN BIGGER THING when it comes to female s*xuality! Women s*xually work from a mental place...being turned on for women 99% of the time starts in the mind then moves to the body. Men are the opposite way. It is VERY likely that your lack of libido could be largely due to the fact you are MENTALLY DRAINED by performing invisible tasks all day long.

Then he comes home from work, sees your lack of visible tasks being performed (including sex) and in his mind, that translates to you putting in no effort at all because MOST of the effort HE puts in manifests thru visible tasks. Maybe having a conversation about the Visible vs Invisible load of your household might help even the scales.

It sounds like that's what yall started to do, but knowing that there is actual language for it & studies behind it to show this is an extremely common occurrence in relationships might help yall feel less alone. It's not a problem with yall specifically, it's an overall problem with relationship dynamics & how we as a society attribute household duties to men vs women.

But it can definitely be remedied thru clear communication, glad yall have started to do that! All of this to say, you are definitely NTA. I'm not sure your husband would necessarily be one either for the simple fact that he just seems ignorant of the mental load of running a household vs being actively malicious in his intent. But you are DEFINITELY NTA here.

OP responded:

Thank you for this perspective, it certainly hits home and now I have the language to express how I feel! Thank you!!

IAmNotAPersonSorry wrote:

This is why I think the Fair Play card system is great—there is a visible, tangible representation of the division of household duties, and then a way to more fairly distribute the responsibilities of running a household. Maybe you should take a look at the website for it, if you think that would be a useful tool for you and your husband.

OP responded:

I’m going to look into that! Thank you for the suggestion.

Ambitious_Owl_2004 wrote:

I hate to say it, but have you spoken to the ex wife about why they divorced? I'd be willing to bet her story is quite similar.

Hopefully, OP gets what she needs - with her husband or without.

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