Only days earlier, I had found Marriage Heat online. And now it was time to open up to my husband about my anxieties about the current state of
our sex life.
I didn’t have a problem with my sex drive as a teenager and young adult, but I always struggled with it after we got married. My theory is that during our long distance relationship for 4 of the 5 years we were dating, our physical sex life and my day-to-day life were not intertwined; I could completely put one away when I needed to concentrate on the other, instead of having these two aspects of life work interdependently. When Kelly was gone, anywhere from weeks to months, we talked on the phone whenever we could, and we worked hard to keep the lines of communication open, to make sure we were telling each other about the little things in each day so that we wouldn’t feel so far apart. But generally speaking, I went about my daily life and he went about his, even though we were always in one another’s heart and mind.
Even as I think and write about this, it’s hard to make sense of it. But I guess knowing that we couldn’t have sex took the pressure off for me, so I wasn’t afraid to be sexual with him in other non-physical ways. And maybe the distance made us hyper aware of the absence of sex, so writing naughty letters and sending him sexy care packages felt natural to me. And when he came home from his stations or deployments, I would put everything else in my life on hold. I went out of my way to make sure we would have some sweet and sexy memories to call upon when it would be time for him to leave again.
Our wedding day is one of the days of my life that is etched most deeply into my heart. But after years of a very non-conventional courtship, finally being married meant living a day-to-day life together. Moving to a new city, working a job I hated, managing a household, and pursuing a singing career slowly morphed sex into a looming pressure for me.
It wasn’t Kelly. Sure, there are always things to improve upon in a marriage, but I truly love him with all of my heart, that being a cliché understatement that doesn’t even begin to describe my love for him. And whenever we did have sex, he rocked my world. It felt so good and I was always incredibly glad that I’d taken the time to be with him. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have sex with him; I just usually didn’t feel like having sex. It was so difficult for me to get in the mood. I’m an over thinker. Life always seems to cloud my mind, often times to the point that the fog is so heavy I can’t find my way out. How can I have sex when my psyche can’t let go of all the clutter and obligations in my life that are always waiting for me, demanding my attention and energy?
Kelly, on the other hand, is pretty much always open and ready, so it was difficult for him to understand my plight. We would talk it out occasionally, but I never really dug down to the core of my struggles, as even I had trouble understanding what I felt. And whenever life got bumpy, sex would take a serious detour, because it was just all too much for me to handle.
Then, after being together for 12 years, we finally welcomed our first child into our lives. Although we completely adore her, having a baby daughter with a particularly challenging temperament certainly didn’t help our sex life. Sex after baby was painful for me at first, not an uncommon problem, I’m sure, but it affected my lack of sex drive even further. And trying to take care of a baby, let alone myself, while enduring a broken tailbone (from labor and delivery), brain-racking sleep deprivation, and stressful breastfeeding issues… well, it was all something I did not cope well with. The exhaustion was physically painful, and because our baby girl was not a good sleeper (and still isn’t), I was in constant survival mode. My motivation for sex was few and far between.
Our daughter is now 13 months old. It’s been a long year of incredible highs and harrowing lows for me. Kelly knows this, and he’s been incredibly supportive. But I know he misses me. We were barely having sex once a month. A few months back, after a blissful bonding without interruption from a crying baby, I was wrapped up in his arms, both of us in the afterglow, and he quietly told me, “I don’t want to lose this with you.” It made my heart sting with guilt. I missed him too. I told him we would never lose it. But here we were, months later, and the number of times we’d connected didn’t even add up to five fingers on one of my hands. I knew I needed help figuring out how to turn around this negativity of sharing my sexuality with my husband, but I didn’t know where to start.
After a 5 week sex hiatus, last week I was trying to find motivation to get sexual, because I could sense that Kelly was feeling distant from me, even though he tries not to let that influence how he treats me or interacts with me. He doesn’t really initiate sex anymore, because I think he got tired of feeling like he was pressuring me to, and I couldn’t blame him when I so often needed convincing to have sex. But then the pressure of initiating sex fell to me, making me feel even more burdened. I wanted to reconnect with him, but the thought of initiating sex had me feeling insecure and embarrassed, and I couldn’t understand my feelings. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t have a desire for something that I knew would bring us so much pleasure and togetherness. But for some reason, this time was different. I don’t know if it was because I’d started doing a morning and evening prayer meditation a couple of weeks earlier, but I felt like God was trying to tell me something. I didn’t want to just have sex so that I could check it off my to-do list and file it away again. I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I wanted to initiate a permanent change in this life that I share with my husband.
I searched the internet for ways to keep the spark alive. Lots to sift through, of course, but I came across some good things, including Marriage Heat. As I browsed through the romantic and lusty encounters of other married couples, I thought to myself, “I want this with Kelly.” We’re so good together in every way; he’s my partner, my best friend and soul mate, but I was desperate to start finding my way out of the fog so that I could see us as lovers in everyday life, too. I started to really think more deeply about the physical expression of love, and realized how it’s a very sacred gift from our Heavenly Father. He wouldn’t have created such a profound connection to my dearest loved one if He didn’t want me to act on it. Kelly and I were always so close in mind, body, and spirit after making love. He’s the only man who has ever made love to me; my virginity belongs to him and his to me. This glorious act of sex blessed us with the beautiful child we’d waited for so long to bring into the world. When it’s between two people who have committed their lives and souls to each other, God must have created sex to transform our physical beings into a fully uniting, spiritual bond that you can share and experience only with the love of your life. At least I want to think that’s what He intended it to be.
And it turned me on.
So I decided it was time to open up to my husband. He works the night shift, but it was his night off, so I knew we could take our time discussing things and then act on it. We played with our daughter after dinner and then worked together to get her down in bed. I was nervous, not knowing how to broach the subject and feeling like I was going to be talking with a stranger. As we cuddled on the couch, I hesitated for the right moment to speak the words I was trying to form in my head. I finally took a deep breath. Now or never.
“Baby, I feel like we need to talk about our sex life,” I said quietly.
He shifted so that he could see my face. “Sure, baby, what’s up?”
I was struggling to find the right words. “I… I don’t know. I want to fix this. I don’t know why I feel embarrassed, but I do, I have for a long time. I want to figure out how to look forward to it, to make it a priority.”
He had a sweet, sympathetic smile on his face, but I couldn’t look him in the eye. He knew this was hard for me, and I felt his hand gently stroke my ponytail of blonde hair.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, you know, whatever we gotta do, babe. You know I’ll do whatever you need.” His response was so calm and soothing, his touch was so kind and loving.
“So Monday nights, since it’s your night off, can we just make that sex night, no matter what?” I was trying to be very matter of fact with my solutions, concrete things we could do to make an impact. “I know that things will come up every now and then, but if I just know to expect it, then I can try to get myself in the mindset.”
He nodded his head. “That would be great. Yeah, that’d be awesome.”
“How many times a week is your wish? You know, realistically?” I asked.
He smiled again. “Well, once a week is way better than once a month.”
That drew a little smile to my lips. I knew he was enjoying the conversation, despite my emotional anxiety. “Yeah, I know, I’m just asking, you know, what you’d want if you could have it.”
“Uh, twice a week. But I wouldn’t expect it from you, you know.” He was quick to try to mitigate any pressure, although I felt bad he even felt the need to say that. He’d been burned by me so many times that he didn’t even realize the pressure I felt wasn’t because of him. He wasn’t willing to risk it, anyway. But I appreciated him being so sensitive to my insecurity.
I tried to return the favor with a sweet explanation. “Honey, I put more pressure on myself than you do. You’re really sweet about not pushing me too hard for it. But I know how much you want it, and why. I want to feel that way too.” I said this all kind of timidly. I wasn’t confident yet.
He pulled me closer to him. “Okay, how can I help?”
“Well, you know… I feel better having sex when I feel clean and fresh. Can you watch the baby when I get home from work on Mondays so that I can shower up?” It felt strange talking to him like this, but I was starting to feel more at ease. It felt good to be honest with him.
“Of course. Anything,” he responded enthusiastically.
“Or if we can clean up our bedroom and the bathroom a little bit, make it a really nice space, you know, help with the mood. Then we could shower together after she goes down.”
“Hmm, that’d be good.” I could tell by the tone in his voice that he liked my suggestion.
“But all her sleep issues have made me really paranoid that we’re gonna wake her up,” I said, slightly discouraged by all the obstacles I felt just to have sex.
“Do you want to do it downstairs? We could clear off the bed and try to get things picked up down there,” he replied optimistically.
“Yeah, but that’s too much work, no time to do it right now. It’s such a mess. And it’s so cold down there.” I shivered at the thought of the cold guest bed in the basement.
He laughed quietly. “Yeah, you do better when it’s nice and warm.” He rubbed my back. I felt how warm his hand was through my shirt. It was so comforting.
We continued to talk for a long time. By the end of the discussion, I was feeling so much better. I didn’t know why I’d been so apprehensive. And all the talk about sex had me starting to heat up. The flesh between my legs was feeling warm and relaxed. I knew it was a good time.
“Well, I think we’ve talked enough for now, and it’s been too long. Are you coming upstairs with me?” I asked calmly.
“Yeah.” He gave me a sweet kiss on the lips.
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