Stay-at-home mum Angie*, 38, has not had sex with her husband for three years - and she can't figure out why he doesn't want to. She shares her story with JESSICA CHU.
*Names have been changed
My close friends were surprised when I told them that my husband, Lawrence*, and I have not been intimate with each other in about three years. On the outside, Lawrence and I look like the perfect couple but behind closed doors, we are like strangers.
"Lawrence is a wonderful father to our two sons, aged nine and six. He spends a lot of time with them when he's not working and does everything to make sure they have a comfortable life.
Our blissful years
"Lawrence and I met about 11 years ago. A close friend introduced us and we hit it off right away. Back then, I wasn't thinking about marriage or even a long-term relationship. Lawrence seemed like a nice guy and I was happy to hang out with him as a friend.
"He says that he fell in love with me the minute he laid eyes on me, and knew within weeks that he wanted to marry me. He was already in his mid-30s and was eager to start a family. It took me a while to agree to marry him, but when I did - about a year after our first meeting - I believed that I'd made the right decision. I'd fallen in love with Lawrence and, like him, I was also keen to have children.
"The first few years of our marriage were wonderful. I got pregnant within a year and had my second son three years later. Those early years were spent taking care of the kids, working part-time as a private tutor and holidaying overseas whenever we could. Lawrence and I enjoyed a healthy, loving marriage - he was generous, romantic and attentive, and I took care of him the way I thought a good wife should. Everything was fine in the bedroom, and we made love about twice a week.
Stuck in a sex rut
"About three years ago, I noticed that Lawrence and I were not as intimate as we used to be. At first, I brushed it off . After all, I was busy with our boys and Lawrence was tired from working a lot. But even when our sons had sleepovers at their friends' houses or I accompanied Lawrence on a work trip - where we would leave the boys behind so we could enjoy quality time together - we did not have sex.
"I'd lie in bed waiting for Lawrence to make a move, but he would just spoon me or turn to his side and go straight to sleep. I was hurt and confused at first - was he not attracted to me anymore? But I figured that it was something all married couples went through. "After two months of not having sex, I knew something was wrong. Still, I didn't confront Lawrence about it. One of my friends told me that perhaps Lawrence wanted me to take the initiative, so I did. I bought some lingerie to wear to bed, but Lawrence laughed when he saw me in it, told me I looked silly and said to take it off . I was definitely not expecting that response! I went to sleep that night, upset and embarrassed.
"In the months that followed, I tried everything to get Lawrence to have sex with me - short of talking to him about it. I fondled and caressed him, planted sexy kisses on his lips and offered to massage him to get the ball rolling. Nothing worked. He would gently push my hands away, smile and tell me that he was tired.
Strangers in the bedroom
"After trying in vain for a few months, I finally asked Lawrence why he didn't want to have sex with me anymore. His response? 'Just because we're married, it doesn't mean we have to have sex'. I was floored. This was the man who could not get enough of me when we first met. When I suggested couples counselling, he laughed and told me we didn't have a problem. When I told him that sex is important to a marriage, he waved his hand at me and told me that I watched too many Hollywood movies.
"I started to resent my husband, but can you blame me? Needless to say, my frustration with him in the bedroom extended outside the bedroom. I stopped telling him about my day and sharing my feelings with him. Our conversations were reduced to matters concerning the children, our respective families, our helper, and the house.
"I know that Lawrence is still physically attracted to me because he wolf-whistles at me when I doll up for a night on the town with my girlfriends. He also tells me that I'm a beautiful woman and that he loves me. So what gives with the lack of sex? I can't figure it out.
"He refuses to talk to me about it, and the more I push him for answers, the more I feel like a loser. I'm not the confrontational sort and I don't want to be one of those desperate wives who has to beg her husband to be intimate with her. "I used to cry over the lack of sex, but I've grown accustomed to the rejection. If Lawrence wants to be this way, fine. As long as he's a good father and provider, and as long as he doesn't have an extramarital aff air, I will continue to stay with him.
"I always thought men had higher sex drives than women. So I'm not sure how to explain this situation with my husband. I'm pretty sure he isn't cheating on me - so how does he handle his urges?
Hoping against hope
"I don't know how long this dry spell will last or whether it is permanent. As far as I know, I've done my part to address the problem. If Lawrence doesn't even want to admit that we have a problem, what else can I do? "Not having been intimate with my husband for so long has made me feel distant from him, like I don't know him anymore. I miss that connection you get when you have sex with someone you love. I miss his strong arms around me and the pleasure that comes from feeling his body on top of mine.
"My sister joked that maybe I should have a lover on the side to fulfil my sexual needs, but I'm committed to Lawrence. Besides, I don't want to do anything that would make my sons hate me. "It's hard to say what kind of marriage Lawrence and I have now. It feels like we're only connected to each other as parents. Without the sex, he feels more like a brother or a buddy to me now.
"I can only hope and pray that things turn around for us. I pray that one day, Lawrence will reach for me in bed, take me in his arms and make mad, passionate love to me, the way we used to. I pray that we'll go back to having sex once or twice a week. Until then, I guess I will have to live with being in a sexless marriage."