Today we have another post from a fiercely independent APW reader who waited to have sex till marriage. If you haven’t read the past two APW pieces on this subject, you should catch up now. It’s been fascinating for me, watching the conversation unfold on APW in a way that is rarely part of the cultural dialogue. Today’s piece is about battling through a year of bad sex, and I think it’s relevant to all of us, no matter what our struggles are. Marriage is complicated, and sooner or later we’ll find ourselves facing a problem so complicated and intrenched that we have to find a way to save ourselves and each other. And that’s what today’s post is about, at its core.
We were virgins when we married at 25 and 27. We looked forward to our wedding night, talking about the magic, and reading (yes,of course, reading—because that’s how we approach most of our lives) in preparation. I had a bit of penal fear, a bit of religious confusion, and some raging hormones. I talked through it with a counselor and was told not to expect a Hollywood moment. I asked exactly how much semen would squirt out and what exactly happened to it afterwards. You know, the essentials. I went into the bridal chamber expecting that it would be short, painful, and yet special. And it was.
What I wasn’t expecting was that it would continue to be short, unfulfilling and all together frustrating. I asked my counselor what I was doing wrong. Her answer was “expecting too much too soon.” I asked friends and got answers ranging from “Couples reach the height of sexual satisfaction six months into their sexual relationship” to “See, I told you that you should have figured out if you were sexually compatible first!” There was no rushing it if it was the former and there was seemingly no solution for the latter. Because it was short and unfulfilling to me, my husband retreated. Our first month of marriage boasted a half dozen sexual encounters. I felt like a failure as a wife and a woman.
What I didn’t know was that my husband was struggling with premature ejaculation. A month into our marriage, he paid a visit to a doctor, picked up a prescription, and the length of our encounters dramatically increased. It was still awkward though, and we found ourselves on a once-a-week schedule in plain old missionary. I was bored and I didn’t know what to do.
Then my mother-in-law suffered a severe medical emergency and was in the ICU for weeks on end. I hoped to heaven that our first year would indeed prove to be the hardest. Needless to say, a depressed, apprehensive husband was not in the mood for over a month. Again, I felt like a failure.
I thought that if I was just a normal woman whose birth control zeroed her desire, then I wouldn’t feel so alone, neglected, or frustrated. I was embarrassed that my drive was high and that birth control did nothing to curb it. I began to look forward to my husband’s short business trips so that I could finally get some relief on my own. It also made him feel even worse as he began to accuse me of favoring my vibrator.
Around our one year anniversary, we had several fights about sex. I understand why men complain about this. Couldn’t he just tickle a clit every once in a while? Home girl needed some maintenance or else we needed to buy stock in battery companies. It was a vicious cycle. I complained, he felt less inclined to indulge me.
In a particularly bad conflict, I looked at him and calmly said that I thought about getting into my car and driving to my parents. That I felt unfulfilled in our marriage. That I was sexually unsatisfied. Up until this point, I had not communicated these things in such direct terms. Through some other conflict, I had realized that we have miscommunications frequently. I came to the understanding that I needed to be explicit, that hints weren’t cutting it. I believe that this direct approach hurt him at the time, however, I also believe this was the turning point of our sexual relationship.
A few days after the conflict, we had to put our cat down. From that point on, our sex life looked unexpectedly up. The loss drew us emotionally closer. He took my words to heart and began initiating sex. Holy moly, I even pulled out a sex deck and we’ve tried a few new positions.
They say that couples all fight about at least one of the following: money, sex, and children. I thought it was a generalization. We don’t fight about money or kids (we have enough of one and none of the other). It never occurred to me that after saving ourselves for our five year long distance dating relationship that our sex life would be the problem. Perhaps there are some couples who don’t fall into the money/sex/kids trap, but for me it was a long year of learning to accept that we did. We’re working on communicating our needs clearly and before the situation spins out of control. Our love life isn’t perfect, but we’re closer to finding a balance that satisfies both of our needs.