The Experiment: An Update

The truth is that as I’m catching up with my context for this blog, time keeps passing. The “Experiment” was actually initiated over two weeks ago now – it was what prompted me, finally, to start writing here – but it feels like I’ve barely participated in it.

To update thus far on what did happen:

Communication lines were open. 

We had a long chat about everything, where we were coming from, the circumstances under which we get uncomfortable, how to deal with those situations, and agreed that we did still want to be together and get back to being intimate.

More importantly, we’ve managed to check in with each other a few times after things have come up in social situations (even something as simple as talking about sex), and that has been a weight off my shoulders.

We got touchy.

When he got gropey, I didn’t push him away or make faces. He didn’t take it any further and even though there were moments where it felt unnatural and I wanted to resist out of habit, going along with it turned out to be not so bad and made him almost disproportionally happy.

We got giggly.

Being really open with one another and allowing ourselves to enjoy being touchy made us a lot more relaxed, close, and just fun. We giggled a lot, felt lovely dovey like teenagers. When you’re not also going through puberty when you feel that way, it’s pretty much awesome.

However.

Passively, the ‘Experiment’ has been alright, but I knew from the beginning that it would likely need to be a conscious, active experiment to actually work. Letting things continue as they were with only the agreement that we weren’t going to have sex had a bit of a honeymoon effect, and without a consistent check-in, our conversations on the topic became a bit halted, I started resisting his touchiness, and our lovely dovey-ness went away (partially anyway).

So this week, I’m going to research some intimacy builders and start again participating actively. I don’t love the idea of forcing ourselves to give each other massages or bubble baths so I will have to post an update on what I find!

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I don’t have sex with my husband (pt.2)

[Continued from I don’t have sex with my husband (pt.1)]

After a few years of being with my husband, our sex life had become effectively nonexistent and our relationship, while strong in every other way, had a massive crack silently running through it.

We talked about “the issue” once. It was uncomfortable; we were both just trying to explain ourselves, we used inclusive, loving words, and yet we both felt attacked, defensive, hurt. I felt he just didn’t understand; he probably felt the same. He wanted me to get it checked out, to get help, for me to feel better. I felt so vulnerable that any suggestion just made me feel pressured.

It seemed like we made a silent pact not to talk about it, not to think about it, not to go there.

Every few months I’d get brave enough to update him on my progress. “I’ve been doing mantras about it for a couple weeks, and was already feeling more comfortable,” I’d tell him, or, “I made an appointment to get it checked out.”

The mantras couldn’t reach the depth of the problem unfortunately.

As for the appointment – sure, I should’ve done this years ago. I meant to – but the awkwardness and shame I felt meant I didn’t want to think about it much less bring it up for someone to test. The one time I did, the doctor said she couldn’t see anything specific that would cause the discomfort, but if I have sex and it continues to hurt, then she’ll check it out.

But, I’m not going to have sex! I wanted to yell. It was like a phone company telling you to call their help number when your phone didn’t work. I couldn’t even bring myself to try to have sex much less to test whether it would hurt.

So we kept ignoring the issue as we tumbled towards our wedding date.

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I don’t have sex with my husband (pt.1)

There, I said it: I don’t have sex with my husband.

In the past three years, the number of times we’ve had sex could probably be counted on two hands…maybe even one.

My therapist says it probably came from a trauma, and while I have no great trauma to speak of, I can pinpoint it to a specific time when I was in a crisis of sorts – emotionally, physically, mentally.

I had just come back from a long trip overseas. I felt lost, wasn’t ready to be back, and I definitely wasn’t ready to move in with my husband (then-boyfriend). Sex was awkward; it was like we didn’t remember how to be together (it had been six months at that point). I was struggling creatively, stressed out and putting a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in a difficult career; I dropped that, too. And all around the same time, I had to go to the hospital with a weird thumb injury and (TMI) got a very uncomfortable yeast infection.

[A word on *too much information*: this blog will be filled with it. You’ve been warned.]

It didn’t happen all at once but eventually sex became uncomfortable. It wasn’t exactly painful, but the friction caused such a discomfort that it may as well have been. I felt awful. I really wanted to have sex with him but it hurt. It was only a matter of time before I wasn’t into it at all. Oral still happened a few times but eventually that, too, was nonexistent.

I started dreading bedtime. I avoided talking about sex, avoided closeness. I felt like a fraud: sex was so good and ample in the beginning, I felt like I had lured him in and then turned off the tap.

I gave him multiple outs – if he wanted to break up, sleep with other women, we could do that. (He didn’t). I hated that I couldn’t show him love in all the ways I wanted. I hated that he felt unloved because of it.

I tried to convince myself it was all in my head. I wanted to believe it was just a habit I had gotten out of, and if I just did it, I’d get ‘used to it’ again. But I could never quite talk myself into it. The times I did, I cried, it was so uncomfortable.

But the truth was, I didn’t even want sex anymore. And I blamed him: his hair, his hobbies, his weight. But I knew those were all excuses: they were never a problem before.

We didn’t fight about it constantly – actually, we rarely talked about it at all – but it was always the elephant in the room, silently underpinning most other issues, until we finally almost broke up. (We didn’t).

We agreed to a fresh start, and got engaged a few months later; nonetheless, the issue remained. I once more gave him an out – we could still call things off – but everything else was perfect…except…this.

It was confusing. He said didn’t need the sex, he just wanted the closeness. But I knew the closeness would inevitably lead to the topic of sex and everything that came with it, so I avoided it all.

He felt rejected, embarrassed. I felt guilty and ashamed. I didn’t want to be in a sexless marriage, and yet here I was, the architect of it.

I turned off that part of myself. I didn’t need sex. I didn’t care for it. The times I did get aroused, I willingly took care of it myself. I didn’t want him to touch me – it had been so long that any touch of his was foreign, uncomfortable.

And I hated that I felt that way. I wanted to want him. I wanted so badly to want to have sex with my husband. I would’ve done anything to just take a pill and make the discomfort STOP. I was sure that if the pain just went away, I could then at least reasonably consider  going through the motions.

Going through the motions would’ve been a welcome improvement. That’s what my sex life had become.

[Continued in next post…]

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