Disclaimer: the following post is written by a KMB team member about her personal experience with sex, sex and marriage, how sex changes after kids, and other topics as they relate to sex. The views and opinions in this post are purely and entirely the author’s and neither KMB nor the author claim to be an expert on the subject matter.
I’d like to be able to say that prior to kids rolling onto the scene, the sex life that my husband and I shared completed us. I’d like to be able to say that we connected most times we were intimate, that we had found our rhythm of give and take, that sex to us was a highlight in our marriage rather than a point of near constant contention.
I’d like to be able to say that, sure, but then I’d be lying to you.
No, for us sex has been the primary challenge of our romantic relationship to the near unbearable disappointment of my husband and to my, well, embarrassment.
You see it wasn’t always like this. When we were dating our sex life evolved quickly and explosively, connecting us in such a sincere way that a proposal and marriage quickly followed.
Yeah, it was that good.
Then a funny thing happened. I, a woman who has never been brought up alongside the ideals of abstinence before marriage, decided maybe there was some weight to it after all. If I’m honest, I spent my late teens and early twenties landing myself in unsatisfying and shaming sexual experiences, not because they were strange (truly the world – and Cosmo – would likely congratulate me for a supposed sense of ‘sexual empowerment’), but because they were never rooted in love. In forever. In what matters.
I spent years following the advice and ideals of popular culture, instead of the looming sense of loss I actually very secretly harbored each time I scratched a new notch into a very unstable bedpost. And I was so deeply miserable because of it.
Looking back now, what I needed was to subscribe to my own personal understanding of worth and value, no more no less, but being so young I never really knew where to start. So on I ambled, a little more heartbroken each time I was used or I used someone else, going nowhere very, very quickly.
The sex life my husband and I experienced before we went cold turkey for five months (prior to our wedding) was great in the physical sense yes, but emotionally I was still suffering from the familiar scars of shame and fractured self esteem. I knew that whatever sexual connection he and I had could in fact grow ten fold if only we fed the emotional side of making love.
Oh, and by loving myself too. Yeah, that turned out to be just as important.
So we held out and waited until our wedding night, and a funny thing happened.
It wasn’t all fireworks and movie moments. Actually it was a little more awkward and a little more clumsy than it had been in the past. But it was real in a way I’d never known sex could be before. It was with my mate for life and finally the fear passed over me, because I knew I didn’t have to pretend any more, when inside I felt broken. No, this was the man who would see all of me and who would guide me into the romantic connection I’d always craved.
To this day we’re working on it. I imagine we will until we’re simply too old and too creaky to get at it any more.
Sometimes it’s phenomenal and overflowing with meaning and sometimes it’s a mess, leaving us both feeling discounted and more than a little cheated by the fact that it’s ‘not supposed to be’ this difficult.
I still battle with shame, the main symptom of which is me closing off emotionally and clamming up physically. I judge myself far too much, shuddering at memories I wish I hadn’t accumulated and praying I can become the wife and sexual partner my husband so craves – and deserves – before his compassion wears thin.
My husband is patient and he is kind; characteristics I’ve frankly not known in a partner before my marriage to him.
That’s something I need to learn to accept and learn to thrive because of. I need to let go of the past and understand that journeys come in all shapes and sizes.
The main thing is that I get to stride along this journey with the man who was made for me.
Nothing is more intimate than that.
Previous posts in the KMB After Dark series: