Sex is an integral part of marriage. Many experts agree that when one partner is no longer interested in sex then there’s either a medical issue or something seriously wrong with the relationship. But what if the sex was never there?
Today I’d like to introduce my next guest, Suzy. She and her husband were married for thirteen years and separated four years ago when Suzy was in her early forties. They have two children who were eight and five when the marriage ended. That they managed to have children at all is amazing. Here’s Suzy:
We basically had a marriage with no emotional or physical intimacy at all. He couldn’t do emotional connection at all, which I don’t think is all that unusual. But the hard part was he couldn’t do physical either.
We were very religious at the time, so we didn’t have sex before we got married. We didn’t even kiss before we got married. Very extreme, right? I was super naïve. I hadn’t dated a lot. I was 30 years old, but I was really inexperienced and so I just didn’t know. We didn’t know. I went into it very naïve and I think he did too. I really think he didn’t know that this was going to be a really big problem. Then we were on our honeymoon and I thought, “Wow, I think we have a problem.”
It’s not that he couldn’t get an erection. It’s that he didn’t enjoy it. I think he prefers men and I think he couldn’t face it, because we were so religious and he’s such a “be normal” kind of guy. He just wants to be normal and yet he’s not. He’s actually eccentric. I think he’s a very alternative lifestyle person, but he just can’t swing it. He also works for the government, which is a really scary place to come out of the closet. I knew it right away, but me, I couldn’t face it. I thought, “How could you get married and yet prefer men? How could you do that?” I couldn’t connect that in my head about how that’s possible.”
Then I went, “Holy cow, now what do I do?” So, I started covering up for him. Like typical enabler behavior.
I think it was unfathomable for everybody that this could happen. I don’t blame anybody. I just think, “Who knew?”
Even with my husband, I think he didn’t even know. Really there’s no blame with him. I think he walked into it thinking, “This is going to be fine,” and I think he realized that he had to start covering up. It was like, “What’s he supposed to do?” We’re both in this impossible situation and he can’t do emotional connection, so it’s not like he could sit down with me and say, “Look, I’ve got this problem.”
We had our two children. Within the two minutes of sex every six months, we managed two children out of that. I’m the one who initiated it every time. He never initiated it. He just literally didn’t like it. Imagine being with somebody who doesn’t want to be with you, what that would do to your brain and your soul?
The Divorce Coach Says
Suzy is not the first person I’ve interviewed who experienced a sexless marriage.
IronSpineSally said she was also naïve and didn’t discover her husband’s sexual problems until after they were married and had unprotected sex of the first time.
Lisa Wynn struggled with a sexless marriage for over twenty years before deciding to end the marriage and then found her husband had been in a relationship with a man for fifteen years before their relationship.
While not a sexless marriage, Carol Grever’s thirty year marriage ended when her husband came out. Since then she has used her own experience to reach out to other straight spouses and has created an amazing resource – The Straight Spouse Connection.
I can understand how this happens. I’ve written before that I hope it’s a phenomena of our generation, that with the growing acceptance of gay marriage that our children will at be liberty to stay true to their authentic sexual selves.
I can also understand how marriages like this can go on for ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty years. In that respect, this conversation is the same as any other conversation where you have to confront a difficult realty – it’s hard.
One of my hopes in sharing these stories is to show you how to have these hard conversations so you don’t look back and wonder where your life went. I hope you’ll follow Suzy’s journey.