Pssst… my close aSL friends, I have a secret to tell you. Promise not to tell? Okay, good. Here goes: If I never have sex again, I’d be perfectly content.
I’ve been very happily married for over 20 years and find my husband attractive. But, like most men, he would like to have sex all day, every day. Me, not so much.
Would I like to snuggle with him all day, every day? Yes, very much. I’d love to snuggle with no “this-is going-to-lead-to-sex” strings attached. Do I literally feel that hugging gives him a boner? Yes, and that’s great, but just because he has one doesn’t mean we/I have to do anything about it.
From hares to tortoises
My husband and I went at it like rabbits when we were dating and first married; my libido matched his. But then… kids, hormones, and depression entered the chat.
When our kids were born, 27 months apart, I nursed both of them for a year each. I think some of my libido got sucked out through their umbilical cords, and whatever was left, through my milk ducts. When the nursings were over, they were still so needy of my mind and body. I think my husband’s needing sex felt like another chore or another need I had to fulfill for someone else.
While it felt a bit isolating to have these feelings, it turns out I wasn’t alone with wanting to be left alone.
“Your body feels like it doesn’t belong to you anymore; you’re stressed and anxious about keeping your baby alive and doing everything ‘right’; you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and seriously lacking sleep; and you’re adjusting to what it’s like to see yourself as a ‘mom’ and how that fits in with your previously held identity,” says Vanessa Marin, a psychotherapist and writer specializing in sex therapy, in an interview with Vogue. “How could your sex drive not change?”
Because hindsight is 20/20, I now can see that a low-grade depression has had a hold on me for about 20 years. Not the I-can’t-get-out-bed-depression kind, but the I-really-don’t-feel-like-doing-that (even though I used to) kind of depression. My husband is the love of my life, but I simply just don’t feel like doing it with him.
As it turns out, depression and low libido are often go hand in hand.
Jennifer Payne, M.D., director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins, writes “Change in sex drive is a key symptom we look at when deciding if someone fits the diagnosis for major depressive episodes. A primary symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy things you normally enjoy, like sex.”
The odd thing is, I like being needed by my family. It makes me feel valued and essential, two things that were seriously missing from my childhood. Want me to fold your laundry or make you a snack? I’m your girl. But needed by my man for sex, ugh.
I’m not the same woman he married in the sexual desire department, and I feel terrible about that. He got ripped off. Turns out I baited and switched (not on purpose!). Unfortunately, I think it’s too late to return me.
Our (sorta unromantic, Type A) compromise
To my husband, sex is about as important as oxygen. He requires it to live. We’ve had serious discussions in the past because he wasn’t getting enough, and I felt like what we were doing was an average amount compared to others of our marital status. So we ended up making a schedule for “doing it” twice a week on basically the same days. He is such a great husband and father. I really want to be a good wife and think that I am. Although I’m sure if he could change something about me, he would increase my libido from level 0 to an 11.
If he travels for work and misses our scheduled sex day, we always make up for it. So I have to prepare for sex on a different day mentally.
I do initiate sometimes, but only when I have an ulterior motive to get it over with.
If I have my period on one of our designated days, he gets a BJ or HJ instead of sex. I will sometimes (okay, always) leave my tampons out even after my period is over, so he knows it’s still a no-go.
My husband is not a sex monster; he does sometimes put his needs on the backburner. I get a hall pass when I’m sick or recovering from a surgery or procedure of some sort. I don’t have to make up those days, although I know he resents that he loses out on one of his favorite events.
When we have sex, I usually enjoy it; I’m present. And while it does feel good, I’d like to be done with it at the same time. I know what noises to make or things to do to get him to the finish, and I employ them if it’s taking too long. But, truthfully, I’d prefer to jump right to the cuddling after. I’m content to let him get the release he needs because he is the love of my life, and I don’t want to deprive him of something so important to him.
And oh, he seriously wants to do anal. Don’t even get me started on that…