A Wife’s ‘No Sex’ Ultimatum

By Amy Dickinson | March 1st, 2024

The rejected husband ponders his next move

A husband and wife on the sofa with backs to each other, angry. By Prostockstudio. Article on a wife who has issues a 'no sex' ultimatum.

After his wife issues a ‘no sex’ ultimatum, a man suspects she’s corralling him to initiate a divorce – for which she will blame him. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson suggests.

Dear Amy:

My wife of 27 years recently told me that she has no interest in intimacy or sex any longer.
We have had a poor record in this regard, especially while raising our four kids (three adults, and one teenage girl).

My wife told me that I could not initiate or suggest having sex with her, and that the only way it would happen would be if she decided to initiate. She has not done this in over a decade, so I have no hope.

I, of course, told her that it was unfair to dictate terms that in essence would last for maybe the next 20 to 30 years of my life.

She said that any form of cheating would be grounds for a divorce, so, I think she is trying to force me to divorce her, making me the bad guy with the children and extended family (she figures I would not make this public to them).

So, what do I do now?

– Rejected

Dear Rejected:

After years of dysfunction, your marriage has now reached a terminus. Your sex life might be the primary issue dividing the two of you, but I assume that your wife’s lack of compassion and her current non-negotiable is representative of other problems in the marriage. She sounds angry, you are (understandably) very hurt.

“No-fault” divorce means that couples don’t need to present specific reasons to split. If your relationship has broken down to the point of no return, “irreconcilable differences” is an accurate description. You should educate yourself about the legal pathways to divorce in your state.

If you are at the point where you believe you two are trying to out-maneuver one another regarding breaking up, counseling might offer you a pathway to negotiate a more peaceful and honest split. If she won’t see a therapist with you, you should go on your own.

You are not invited to initiate sex. You should initiate counseling.

If you two separate, my sense of this is that you might be made out to be the “bad guy,” no matter the actual circumstances.

You should consider whether you are willing to be held hostage by your wife’s anger.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a wife’s ‘no sex’ ultimatum to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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