After we got married and had kids, my feelings about sex were so negative, I’d get annoyed every time he touched me.
He shouldn’t ask that of me. I could go the rest of my life without sex. Our marriage can survive without it. Can’t it?
The answer for me, for us, was no.
I know these feelings can be completely normal from time to time, because as women, our sex drive changes from day to day. But I can tell that what was going on with me wasn’t quite normal.
I tear up as I type this because I’ve never come out and said it: I wasn’t attracted to my ex-husband, and the guilt I felt (and still feel) is excruciating. I loved him though. Deeply. I still do.
But that love was more maternal, and it couldn’t sustain us.
He tried — we tried — but nothing I did could light the fire I used to burn for my husband.
It wasn’t the hormones I blamed it on.
It wasn’t because he did something horrible.
It wasn’t because something happened in my past I couldn’t get through so we could connect.
It wasn’t because I was too tired or didn’t feel good or was having my period.
Those are all very valid reason to not want to have sex, of course, but I was depending on them as an excuse.
I strongly believe you shouldn’t have sex with someone if you don’t want to.
But I also believe if you are in a monogamous relationship with someone, and having sex is something they need, you should want to have sex with them most of the time.
Because when you don’t want to have sex with them, and you try, they know.
When you are closing your eyes so tightly and just want it to be over, they feel it.
And the hurt that it caused my ex-husband was something I couldn’t take away, no matter how many times I tried to overcompensate for it; no matter how many times I lied to him, telling him I did want to have sex with him; no matter how many articles or books I read on the subject.
I heard something on a talk show long ago that resonated with me: If you are having sex, it’s not a huge part of your relationship. But you aren’t, it becomes the focus.
I had no idea how true that was until I was in the depths of it myself. I thought I could put myself on autopilot and we could glide our way through life. I thought my desire to have a sex life had shriveled up and I could do without. I also thought, if I could go without it, why couldn’t he?
We went over six months without having sex. He’d given up and never brought it up. He didn’t try. But each night lying next to him, even though I was relieved, it was the elephant in the room and caused me so much anxiety and self-hate.
He had an affair and confessed it to me. He said it felt wonderful that a woman actually wanted to have sex with him and found him desirable.
It affected me deeply, and it destroyed us.
But looking back, I realize that my ex was trying to save us. He thought if I didn’t want to have sex with him, maybe if he had sex with other people he wouldn’t feel so lonely and horrible. (Of course, I went off the rails when he said that.)
Since then I’ve heard women talk about how their husband doesn’t seem interested in them sexually. I’ve watched them cry. I’ve watched them fall into a deep depression. I’ve watched them have affairs just to feel alive again. I’ve watched them work themselves to the bone to lose weight or change their style to accommodate their spouse.
I will never be in a sexless relationship again. I will never endure that, or let my partner endure that. I’m not saying I’m going to have sex whenever my partner wants me to; I believe in bodily autonomy and talking things out because a lot of couples want to have different amounts of sex.
What I am saying is if I am with someone and my desire for them is so gone that I can’t bring myself to let them touch me, it will be time to let them go. Whether I love them or not.
And honestly, if I were in the situation my ex-husband was in, I would be crushed. There’s no way I’d be able to stay as long as he did.
We all go through dry spells — every one of us. But you know when you’ve lost attraction for your partner. You know when it goes beyond the ebb and flow of a normal sex drive.
I’m with a man now, and we have what we both feel is a healthy sex life. I think this is what it’s supposed to be like. This is what it’s supposed to feel like. I can never go back to living the way I was before. And you know something? My ex has found someone who is able to give him things I couldn’t, and that makes me happy.
We should have let go a long time ago, but we hung on too long. Now that I know, I’ll never make that mistake again.
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