Hi Ammon_2 – thank you so much for your brave and vulnerable perspective. I feel for you deeply – I am a woman who dealt with vaginismus for 10 years and it took my partner at the time telling me about his needs not being met for me to finally feel motivated to do something about it. Having been through treatment successfully, I finally have the distance and perspective to recognize how hard it is on male partners – they deal with a lot of the same consequences as the women dealing with the condition (thwarted desires, feelings of inadequacy) but aren’t in the position to be able to do something about it because the desire and motivation have to come from the woman dealing with the vaginismus. It is a very lonely and helpless place to be and you have done an amazing job of working to keep the relationship moving forward and provide all kinds of support.
There are women on this forum who have sought treatment later in life and embraced desire in their fifties or beyond. Vaginismus can feel like a prison, but the amazing thing about treatment is that no matter how long you’ve done it one way, you can always change your mind and confront the situation head on. You can also decide at any time to work on changing your relationship to desire – it sounds like your wife has applied her anxieties around penetration to other parts of your sex life and that it feels perfunctory and distant. There are couples who have a great sex life together that doesn’t include penetration, but it’s once again a commitment from both parties to exploring what’s possible together and what works well for them. It’s something a counselor or sex therapist could work with you on (though I know this isn’t something your wife has been open to in the past).
The power that you as a male partner in this situation DO have is to share your feelings in a way that is both compassionate and honest. You have carried this burden for a long time, but for things to change you will likely have to lay it down in front of your partner and explore it honestly. There are paths you have taken and others you still have the option to take. Your experiences are valid and your desires are valid too, and it’s likely that they won’t be met unless you share honestly your feelings because otherwise your wife likely will feel that she has no need to address these problems.
I hope that you will not see the situation as past saving – we almost always have the power to change the course we are traveling on. You are clearly a thoughtful and kind man who has been powerfully guided by your faith this far – I hope the strength of your partnership can bear the pursuit of a new way of being. You deserve to take a shot at it.