I Grew Up In A Sexless MarriageI was tempted to join this group, not because I live in a sexless marriage but because I grew up in one. I first posted this story in the "I Believe In the Sanctity of Marriage Group" and was urged by friends and others to repost it here. I didn't post it here at first because I would have felt like an interloper. But my friends have made me feel like an invited guest, so I have the courage to say what I'm going to say here on this group knowing it might be challenging and confronting but will nevertheless be received kindly.
I came on EP to write a weight loss blog and found that one of the largest if not the largest group here is for people living in sexless marriages. I wish I had the answer. But as you all know, it just aint that simple. I do however have some reflections to share from what I have personally lived through and the more we share and talk about these things the more light comes to our understanding. So, for what it is worth, I am going to share something of what it was like from a child's point of view.
I wanted to talk about my parents' "marriage". I put marriage in inverted commas because I question whether it was ever a valid marriage. My mother and father were both baptised Christians when they married for the second time in a registry office, their previous spouses still alive. My brother and sister and I were born out of wedlock. Please understand that I am looking at this from the Christian perspective. When I talk about "validity" and "invalidity" I am meaning it in a specific context, i.e. whether in the sight of God the Sacrament of Matrimony takes place. In my parents' case, given that it was a case of remarriage for each of them, and outside the Church, I would dare to say it probably didn't.
Are you feeling outraged, dear viewer? That I am scrutinizing my own parents' marriage and passing judgement on it? Well, I dare to, because whether or not the marriage is valid goes to the heart of whether or not it can or should be saved when it goes horribly wrong.
My father passed away in July last year, and left his books to my mother. They had separated about twelve years previously, if my memory serves me correctly. And we, their children, jumped for joy when they did because it was a dreadful situation when they were together.
More about that in a minute. Why did I mention the books? Well, in the early days of their relationship, their big thing was to go to the library, borrow 20 books each, read them, then swap them over and read the other person's. Doesn't that sound neat? I would just LOVE it if someone in my life would do that with me. That would, I imagine, give a couple a lot to talk about. Even after Dad died, Mum lovingly sorted through his books and categorized them and arranged them on her own shelves and has since been reading them. But there were other things that cemented their togetherness too, besides the four children. They were involved in the community Progress Association and had meetings in our home. They got things done in the community, like the kindergarten they set up and all the tree planting they did.
And then, one day about the time I was 9 years old, they stopped having sex. I know, because my mother told me. Why? I don't know. But I do know that they were no longer borrowing books from the library, reading them and swapping them. I do know that my mother was now working night shift and they were hardly together at the same time any more. And I do know that it was also around that time that my father started having extra marital affairs.
And I want to say something about what it was like growing up in this situation. My mother was lonely and she started confiding all her thoughts, fears and problems in her children. My younger sister was barely school age when she started having to take on the burden of adult responsibilities. And this has affected her deeply. When the cracks in the marriage finally came to the surface and disintregation was inevitable, my father started confiding in me, and I told him in no uncertain terms that I am not a marriage guidance counsellor and as a parent he should not be discussing such things with his child. But the fact is, we already had many long years of experience dealing with the marital problems via my mother, and that was in the years when we were too young to know how to draw the line.
My parents were never talking at any close level, and like the absence of sex, absence of communication is another symptom of a relationship that lacks intimacy. An they were never talking at a close level with us about our own fears, hopes and joys. Instead, they were too wrapped up in their own world of devastation. So communication was all superficial. My mother became expert at pretending that everything is alright. She never addressed the issues with my father.
And there were some pretty big issues. Like, children. My Mum adored kids and wanted a large family. My father put the brakes on after he was criticized for having four already by his sister. My mother resented her sister-in-law's interference and patronizing judgment. My older brother was treated abusively by my father and there was never any serious intervention from my mother. Although it was never discussed, we as children worked it out that his parentage was different.
No, it all got swept under the carpet. My father coped by having affairs, and us kids lived with the fallout from this on my devastated mother. To see Mum hurt like that hurt us to the core. It made us feel insecure, like our whole world was collapsing. But as long as my miserable mother continued to cook and clean for him, they both tolerated the situation. You know how that felt for us kids? Just dreadful. We felt insecure. We felt powerless. We didn't like the atmosphere at home.
It had become a massively dysfunctional family, with both parents being emotionally unavailable. There was abuse going on and everybody hiding it. My older brother was my father's whipping post. I could say a lot more. We were all affected in different ways. My brother would get flogged to within an inch of his life. I remember my brother marking off the days days on the calendar till he would be old enough to leave home. 14 years and 7 months. I did try phoning the police once when I was about 9 but I knew the embarassment would kill my mother so I hung up. I was already trying to protect my mother's feelings. In the end, my brother committed suicide. And no-one's feelings were protected then.
A marriage with no sex is a sick place to be, unless of course there are health reasons. It should be telling you that you need to talk to your spouse and I would say, ba
By the time my parents finally separated a whole heap of upset had happened involving their grandchildren. Mediators were contacted and refused to become involved because, as they said, the situation is too far gone. The situation was, we could not visit my parents with my father there and my father was keeping my mother a prisoner in the home.
Sick marriages have repurcussions for children and grandchildren. They destroy everybody's happiness. They are like a millstone tied around your neck, robbing you of the flowering and develpment that happens in a close and loving environment. That is all I wanted to say. Hopefully for some it will shed light on the situation.