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Once We Were Sexless But Now We Are Sexy As

I have already mentioned that I love my husband dearly and that we are happily married and have recently celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary.  In a nutshell, we have survived.  And I have also already mentioned that things weren't always as rosy as they are now and we have had to climb some pretty big mountains along the way, not the least of which is mental illness. 

So I am going to jump in the deep end and say something about that time in our marriage when things were not going well and then talk about how things came right.

Some of you might be able to relate to what I am saying and probably many of you won't.  After all, everyone is different and you can't generalize.  But at least it is a springboard for discussion.  As you know, I believe there is always hope.  It is never too late.  And I am speaking from experience.

My husband was part of God's plan for me.  Of that, I was totally convinced and I never doubted it.  Before we got married we had a wonderful time and got on like a house on fire.

Then we got married and all of a sudden I took over from Mum. His Mum.  We were too broke now to have much of a good time. We were warned about it not being such a good idea to get married in poverty but we were far too idealistic to take the slightest bit of notice.  We were undergraduates when we married.  And my husband was focussed very much on his degree and his career.

Suddenly it felt like all the romance was gone.  It seemed like I was on the periphery of my husband's life rather than at the centre.  He was outstanding in his teaching career and I was struggling in mine.  I felt that he was competing with me and inconveniencing me.

So the seeds of resentment started to grow.

Then down the line came our first baby.  The delivery was  problematic and excruciating.   The second stage of labour was extremely prolonged.  Our baby was traumatized by the birth and had OCD from day 1.  As for me, I had nightmares about it for months.  My milk didn't come in till day 5 and I was never forwarned about this possibility in any of the classes I attended.  My baby had big problems.  He was feeding every hour right through the night.  I was totally exhausted from lack of sleep and nervous tension and I did not feel supported by my husband who was still focussing on his job.

I didn't think I would ever be able to face going through another pregnancy, but I did.  And from day 1 of the pregnancy it was like a gigantic attack of gastro.  Morning sickness like you wouldn't believe.  I suffer from low blood pressure and I had major problems just trying to stay conscious enough to look after my young son.  And again I felt like there was very little support. 

Back then, I didn't know the first thing about mental illness.  I didn't recognize it for what it was.  I had never heard of personality disorders.  I didn't have a clue.

So when I was heavily in labour with my daughter and told my husband I would have to be taken to hospital he said well, I needn't think he was going to take me, and I was wounded and confused to the core by his apparent lack of empathy and consideration.  My parents took me in the end and I only just made it.

My husband was at home looking after our son and it was abundantly obvious that he was struggling with it.  So the next day I went home with all 17 stitches from the perineal tear and a caution not to move or lift anything.  My husband promptly moved the bed in such a way that I would have to pull it out from the wall to make it.  And he kept doing this.

Now, it is clear as the sun in the sky that the guy had problems but I was fiercely loyal and I never said a word about it.  But the time came from the depths of my despair and misery and exhaustion when I started talking to my parents about it.  And guess what?  They could already tell that things weren't right.  It was my father who suggested that my husband really had a psychiatric problem.  And that struck terror in me.  Fear of something I knew nothing about.  Fear of facing a future of more of the same. Fear of just never being able to make it all work out.

I tried to communicate my feelings and concerns to my husband but I felt he wasn't hearing me.  He certainly wasn't changing any of his behaviours.  I can remember a period of my life back then when I was so upset, so sick and so miserable that I just wanted to die and I begged God over and over to just take me away from this life.

There was no sex happening.  That is because of refusal on my part.  I felt too resentful and hopeless about the relationship.  I wanted there to be a breakthrough but everything I tried (and that included a marriage guidance cousellor) had failed.

The days turned into weeks and months.  Eight months passed.  Then my husband finally asked me, "Do you still have feelings for me?"

I truthfully answered, "Yes."

 "Then why aren't we having a physical relationship anymore?"

Now, when he asked this, a little surge of joy passed through me.  He cared.  He was feeling it.  He was asking the right questions.

"Because I don't feel secure enough in the relationship.  I am feeling resentful."  The marriage guidance counsellor had advised me to always take ownership of what I was feeling and avoid blaming.  So even though I wanted to say, "You make me feel unimportant and used" I didn't.

Now, I was frightened about how my husband would react to this but I also figured that things couldn't get much worse.  He didn't say anything but he started taking the trouble to spend more time with me.  We started going on drives and picnics on the beach etc.  I could see that he cared.

Around that time I read a book about the life of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi.  When interviewed about his wife's sanctity, her husband Domenico said, "She always gave me my rights and never demanded her own."  This impressed me hugely, educated me very mightily and challenged me to the core.  To make it even more interesting, Blessed Anna Maria had had a perineal tear filled in with molten lead.  Go figure!

So I talked to the good Lord about it and I recalled our marriage vows.  For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.  Forsaking all others and cleaving to that one alone.  I knew that I had made a serious obligation and sex was part of the bargain and my feelings were not the be all and end all of the matter.  So I made a commitment to God to straighten out my act.  And I asked Blessed Anna Maria to pray for me.  And from that moment on I never refused my husband.

At first, things got worse about our relationship and how I felt in it.  Both my husband and my son had quite pronounced and obvious mental health problems and we had some very hairy and interesting situations ideed.  I had to hide the knives.  I had to watch my son become too ill to attend school.  I had to home school him while nursing my husband in a severely psychotic state and looking after new baby no. 3.  Oh, and just to add spice to the situation, my husband could not tolerate the sound of the baby crying. 

Other really sad things happened too.  I have already mentioned some in my story about my daughter and in my story about my son.  Due to problems in the pregnancy I gained a huge amount of weight and had no chance of losing it.  I have mentioned that already in my story about photos from then and now.  In that story I mentioned that sometimes life deals us blows.  If you want to see how I looked at that time, go read that story. 

But things changed.  They didn't change because I suddenly gained knowledge and insight.  It is more a case of looking back and seeing from the clarity of hindsight what it was that made all the difference.

First, I had said in Q&A that I think the secret to a longlasting relationship is the grace of God because no matter how hard one person tries, it can all become undone by the other person.  And that is first and foremost what has turned the situation around. 

My husband learned, through his illness, that he has a loving and devoted wife.  Where other people refused to tolerate, refused to understand and refused to help I understood, tolerated and helped and got him through, thanks be to God.  He started referring to me as "his rock".  God sent us the help of a truly gifted and insightful social worker who helped me understand mental illness and co-dependency better and who encouraged me to have faith in the "God of breakthrough".  The God of Breakthrough is what David called God after he defeated the Philistines. 

I learned what a difference it makes just to use the right words.  I would think about what word would best describe what my husband was experiencing and I would speak the opposite.  For example, if I thought he was feeling rejected, I would try to use words of acceptance.  If I thought he was feeling unloved I would use as many words of love as I could.

When we moved to New Zealand where my husband had a new teaching appointment we were still in the motel when the Principal came around and asked me to teach too.  What about the new baby?  He said not to worry about it.  He would find a good carer.

Now I am just going to pause to say something about this.  My dream of marriage was to be a full time mother with a large family and a beautiful home.  I did not want to be a working mother.  And that is why I was prepared to put up with financial hardship.  .. But standing here changing my plans was my parish priest.  And my husband was in complete agreement with him.  And that is when I realized how much my husband wanted me to work.

He didn't just want more money.  And I don't want that to sound like greed.  We really needed it.  He wanted me to help him, to support him, to share his life with him, to be able to experience the day together.  So I said yes.

Let me tell you, it wasn't the end of the world, having to have a carer.  I worked part time until baby no.4 was toddling and he was asleep while I was at work.  But it did make the world of difference to my husband's happiness.

And in spite of the never ending trials, our love was growing.  But things were tough.  Bullying, being foreigners in a new country and mental health issues were really taking their toll and my husband was desperately homesick.  Plus his father was dying.  He had another breakdown, more psychotic episodes.  I was coping by doing his workload as well as my own.  And was taught by the social worker not to do that, not to prop up the illness.

One night while marking a little voice whispered to me that I should apply for a job in Australia just as my husband had done.  Full time.  I wrote to the same employer he did and explained the situation honestly from the heart.  I asked him to phone me and tell me what he thought about it (he was a priest too.)  Six days later he phoned and asked me when we could both start.

And we haven't looked back.

So here's what it is like for us nowadays.  We share our day.  Our day begins with me totally checking him out.  Every morning I tell him he is the sexiest dude that God created or words to that effect.  I make sure I get my hands on him in the morning and not on the bits he is self conscious about.  He gets up early and dusts, vacuums and makes the lunches because he is grateful to me for working.  We listen to the news on the way and talk about it.  We pray together.  We teach next door to each other.  We check on each other throughout the day.  We notice each other.  We work hard and we play hard.  We make sure we have got exciting things to do to look forward to.  We look forward to our weekends and holidays.  We have great times.  No matter what I do, he now is there by my side and he now realizes that love is too precious a thing to take it for granted or expect it to take a back seat to other things.  And the sex is great.

To sum up I would say this.  Love comes from God and must be blessed by God in order to survive difficult trials.  Otherwise, it is just a disordered affection.  So you do have to turn to a higher power.

God changed my plans for our marriage and gave me more happiness than I ever could have believed was possible.

You are not being disloyal to your spouse if you seek help.  If there are problems it is important to talk about it.  Problems do not just go away.

In my youth I failed to appreciate just how much stress certain things created for my husband.  It is important to alleviate these stresses, be it financial, difficult in-laws, health problems or whatever.  Get help.

And don't refuse your spouse.  That is a big no no.  Acts of love increase love.  They really do.  God will look after the rest and make it come right if you uphold your end of the bargain.

Make time to be together and make your spouse feel prioritized.

And communicate without blaming.

I could say a lot more, but I think that is enough for now.  I hope it helped.

perseverer perseverer 51-55, F 61 Responses Mar 8, 2011

Your Response


Thank You Very Much For Your Heart to Heart Experiences, I Truly Appreciate Life's Experiences for Me it's Very Rare but Grateful to You and GOD !!!
You Truly Are an Angel and Thankful For Sharing Your Heart and GOD !!!
The world needs more people like You !!!

Very inspirational, love your work . While you attribute much to " great faith", being constant , steady, understanding, caring and a great contributor , also comes from the requirement of a powerful intellect. You are a wonderful person !

Thank you for your kind and loving comment. I very much appreciate your encouragement, especially considering your own wonderful attributes; coming from someone like yourself makes it even more meaningful.

Wow.beautiful story. I'm 25 and my husband refuses me often, and we've talked about it but he hasn't changed. It's our biggest problem and it's affected me deeply. Your love between each-other sounds wonderful.

I am so sorry that you are experiencing this trouble so early in your married life. Please feel free to message me on this subject as I do a lot of counselling for couples experiencing this issue. Perhaps I can help. Thank you for your comment; we are still going ok.

Very uplifting story, its obvious where you took your EP name from. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck on your continuing journey together!

Thank you for reading and commenting.

I read your comments today on another one of your pages. The above sounds like it was a good, high point in your marriage/life, and things have fallen into the valley since. You write a lot on this EP website. Sounds like your husband slipped back into self-absorption (from your perspective) since this blog entry.

Correct. When the relationship is at a high point, it seems like it has been that way for ever. And when it has slipped back a bit, it also seems like it has been that way for ever. One of the biggest problems is my husband's mental health issues which put a lot of pressure on me, as he sometimes needs to take long periods off work. In my naive optimism I kept thinking, "He is better now; this is the last time". It will never be the last time.

Nevertheless, we are still together and probably always will be. In spite of the problems he is great fun and I cannot imagine life without him.

Wow...this is and was so inspiring! I'm not married yet but your story has really and truly inspired me to be the kind of wife you are...someone who perseveres.

Thank you for your kind comment. I am sure your future marriage will be truly blessed.

Inspirational and hopeful story.

Your story is an amazing view of your faith. No one ever said life was easy and your writing here proves that. As you may know I have a strong dislike of the institution of marriage. I blame it for being outdated and meaningless after the babies are grown and gone. I see no point in furthering the misery. But that is just me and my way.

Thank you for the wonderful insight, it is a story I will think on a lot. You are a brave and strong woman.

My dear friend, I wonder if your views on marriage would be so negative if things had turned out differently in your own relationship? I can only hope and pray that changes might still happen in your own life; most of all, I hope you find true happiness.

I also just looked up Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. I am not Catholic, but I have been blessed in the past by reading some other female Catholic mystics. I will have to read some writings of hers. Thank you for mentioning her.

Wow! I am blessed by your story in more ways than I can count. This statement "The God of Breakthrough"'m going to have to read that part of Scripture and meditate on that and David's situation. And this statement "... the secret to a longlasting relationship is the grace of God because no matter how hard one person tries, it can all become undone by the other person... " That makes so much sense to me.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I feel strengthened. He is made perfect in our weakness.

Thank you for reading this and sharing your affirmations. God bless your holy desires.

BTW perineial cutting is VERY OUTDATED.

So who said anything about perineal cutting? Perineal tears are common in childbirth and repaired these days with stitches rather than lead!

Please don't have any more sex and make more babies that have to live in your sick world.

Thank you for your authenticity, support and respect.

That was very cruel, to say something like that.

Your husband is a spoiled child and you are an abused woman.

My husband is a highly respected professional and I am wiser now and happier than I originally thought I could be.

Thank you boobabloo56; it is a work in progress. Some days are better than others. But looking back, I am glad that I did not give up. I have learned a few things along the way and happy to share what I know.

Thank you, VoteForPedro, for reading this and for your encouraging comment. I had the grace to understand what was needed and act on it. So, thanks be to God.<br />
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kehahn, thank you again for reading my story. You are so kind!

Wonderful story and I think just about anyone can take away something positive from it. Thank you for sharing such personal stories, but it helps knowing we are not alone and there is hope for others in similar situations . You are an extraordinary woman and you deserve much happiness!

Thank you for your positive encouragement. In my experience of talking with people in unhappy marriage situations I find that the vast majority do in fact want to save their marriages.

Amen, sister!

I'm glad you didn't give up on your marriage.....and that I know that feeling of wanting to die. I don't regret it at all that my marriage ended and I hope that I God will lead me to a great man.

Thank you so very much for your constructive support and appreciation.

Congratulations! A wonderful story of marriage, responsibility, courage, love and many more. Thank you:)

And thank you for troubling to read the story and being so kind as to comment.

Thank you for your thoughtful reflection and positive affirmation.

Your story is an eye opener; I certainly find it inspirational and it has made me examine my own life, past, recent and present, as well as how I have perceived people and judged them. A wonderful life story and well told.

RickFX, thank you for reading this and asking such a pertinent question. Marriage has, of course, been around since time immemorial and throughout the ages has faced different trials at different times.<br />
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Jesus Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament, an outward sign that gives grace. For Christians, there is an added dimension of sacramental grace and all the power necessary to cope with life's trials<br />
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But that does not mean that the rest of mankind is left high and dry. We do have, within ourselves, inbuilt mechanisms that continually keep our bodies renewing, and that bring peace and growth to our wounded spirits. <br />
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In my opinion, there is a cycle of abuse inherent in sexless marriages, tied with anger. The key to breaking through it is to understand and intercept the anger cycle.<br />
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I hope that helps.

Thank you pat85.<br />
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kinberley1971, thank you for your kind and generous response. 23 years is a stunning achievement and I hope the 10th is a most enjoyable celebration for you both.

Thank you........

What an inspirational story. I, too, have been married to a wonderful man for 23 years on the 10th of Dec,( <---3 days til anniversary). Your story was so refreshing after reading about so many marriages being torn apart. What you have is what I call "unconditional love". I think that this kind of love, is a once in a lifetime love.......Thank you for sharing.........

Your an insperation to anybody.

GrietKata, I hear the pain and heartbreak behind your generous affirmation and I am truly sorry for your own unhappiness. That things have turned around in my situation perhaps hides the pertinent fact that it happened slowly over many years. I think in difficult marriages there is a big imbalance of power. Having a social worker visit us every week for many years redressed that imbalance, as did me reentering the paid workforce. <br />
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In my parents' situation, the imbalance of power was too great and the situation was beyond hope. We were all very happy when my mother finally left my father. Not every situation is meant to be tolerated.<br />
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But thanks be to God, my husband and I have found grace, happiness and abounding love that goes from strength to strength. That does not mean it is ideal; but it sure is much happier than it once was. <br />
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I hope for you too, that you find happiness, one way or another.

I learned so much from your story. I admire you greatly for being willing to work with a mentally ill spouse. And the things you said about communication are so appropriate for me now. I am Schizophrenic and my spouse has Autism. We have been together for two years and it has been quite an adventure learning to communicate with eachother. there were months of pure hell on earth, but I love him and would not leave. He is an amazing man, so loving and giving, and was willing to help me through a long depression in which I was mostly catotonic. He knows when my psychosis is up and how to deal with it. I know to verbalize my feelings and wants because he can't read my facial ex<x>pressions or body language. I have learned that although it seems he is trying to hurt me, he just has different ways of communicating. He never means to hurt my feelings. He doesn't grasp social mores and norms the way most people do. He doesn't realize that certain words will hurt. I like what you said about not blaming or accusing. From now on I will try to make " I am feeling..." statements instead of "You make me feel..." I am truly blessed to be with a man who is willing to deal with my illness. It is a miracle and I thank God for it. I agree with you that it is God that holds a relationship together. And I'm in it for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. I'm so glad things worked out for the two of you and your family.Thanks for sharing your story.:)