My husband and I have just met a huge milestone in our relationship. We have been married for 10 years now. Quite an accomplishment especially in a world riddled with divorce. When you think of a successful 10 year wedding anniversary, you think of celebration. Many couples go on a cruise, or maybe a stay-cation. Some do fancy dinners and updated wedding rings or other fine jewelry. Maybe a party, a renewal of vows but one thing’s for certain, those successful couples celebrates privately in their own “romantic” way.
My husband and I love each other very much. We have been through tremendous amounts of ups and downs and more struggles than I think most couples face in the first 10 years. It hasn’t been fair to either of us but we have pushed forward and aren’t giving up. Our marriage is still surviving the battle, but the truth is there are always casualties of war. Our fallen soldier has been intimacy, specifically sexual intimacy. It is such an important component of marriage and yet I see it laying there by the wayside bleeding out and dying of starvation.
You know what we did for our 10 year anniversary? Nothing. We had plans to maybe go away but it didn’t happen. My husband was gone all day from 8 am to about 10 pm preparing for his film shoot while I had pretty much one of the worst days ever. I had all three kids, had to go to 3 stores to get food for the film shoot and buy school supplies. It was a humid 118-degree day, I had to borrow my mother’s car since our breaks are out and then I backed into a car in the Walmart parking lot around 1 pm (pretty much the hottest part of the day). I also had 3 hours of rehearsal where I was teaching a dance to people who don’t usually dance and I really showed my mental stability by crying in front of all of them. As I left rehearsal I was in the car driving home sobbing, I saw that my husband had made me a video for our anniversary. It was short and sweet and filled with random people he saw throughout the day wishing me a Happy Anniversary. It was sweet and kind but I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved. I couldn’t give my husband the gratitude he deserved. He tried his best to make something out of our anniversary and I couldn’t give anything back. And that is a perfect summary of our relationship. Especially our sexual relationship.
For years my husband has given so much, He has tried so hard and I can’t reciprocate. So he gives less because honestly he can’t give anymore and I don’t blame him. This is the same issue with intimacy. He doesn’t even try anymore because I know in his mind it’s pointless and sadly he’s right.
I have never had much of a sex drive. My own personal relationship with sexual desire was twisted from a young age due to molestation and when intimacy arose in my first relationship at the age of 18 I was constantly filled with unnecessary shame and guilt. These issues made their way into our relationship from the beginning and we had to fight against them. It was not easy but we continued to work at it. Then depression and added anxiety entered our relationship. The first thing that was affected was sex. What little desire I had was gone. All the issues we had worked on came barreling back. My self-hatred and body dysmorphia made me shudder at the thought of being touched. Still, I fought those feelings and tried so hard to give him the intimacy he deserved and needed. But it wasn’t nearly enough. Truth is, we are now on year 8 of consistent and never ending depression and anxiety and our sex life is worse than ever.
Since the medication that led to me gaining 150 lbs, I have become so incredibly uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable in my skin. To be touched in a romantic (and even unromantic) ways makes me feel almost disgusted. I feel queasy and uneasy. I can barely even cuddle feeling the way I do. This is only intensified by the guilt and anger I feel. I want so badly to be the wife my husband deserves and it kills me that I can’t. Instead of being in an intimate moment I get caught up in my own self-hatred. My husband will try to look lovingly in my eyes to tell me he loves me or that I’m beautiful and attractive and it’s a struggle not to pull away. I can’t maintain eye contact with him. It physically hurts. It’s awkward to hold hands with him, to kiss him, to have his arms around me. It feels so foreign and all I can think about is how much I let him down, how much I hurt him by being what I am and how unattractive and gross I feel. Then the real guilt filled thoughts come, the thought that if I let him touch me then he will think we may do something intimate I just don’t have it in me, I can’t follow through. It becomes another reason to avoid touch or eyes or anything remotely loving because I don’t want to lead him on. For him to think he might “get something” that I just can’t follow through with. It truly kills me to know that I can’t give him a healthy intimate relationship.
Why this post? Why now? He and I have talked about this subject before, we’ve known this has been a problem for some time now, but tonight my husband said the words that I have pushed aside in my brain too many times to count. He said, ” I don’t know if we can come back from this. I don’t know if we can ever truly be intimate again.” He wasn’t talking just about sex. He was talking about that connection, that trust, that love that comes from real “love making”. I know he’s right. I just don’t know what to do about it. I feel helpless, trapped, angry, guilty and scared.
He is a man who needs sex. Not just sex but real intimacy and connection and I can’t give it to him. I want to but I can’t… among the millions upon millions of other things I am failing at this one is the hardest to fix.
There is no solution. I am so focused on surviving the day, on making sure my kids aren’t neglected, or even stomaching loving touches from my kids who have to hug my disgusting body, that the last thing I would ever want to do is be in a romantic situation. Then there is my poor husband who can’t express that he needs physical attention because he knows the guilt I already feel, how much I beat myself up daily in my mind. The guilt he then feels for expressing his own need makes him feel awful. It’s not fair. I want to blame the depression and anxiety but they are so much a part of me I can’t separate them from myself. This causes more self-loathing that just perpetuates the situation.
In the battle with depression and anxiety, sexual intimacy is attacked and suffers the most in relationships but it is never really talked about. Not really. Looking for help concerning the matter has the most generic of answers. It’s nothing I haven’t tried before which makes me feel even more defeated. How can I overcome this? How can I really get over these crippling feelings and thoughts? If the depression and anxiety magically disappear would I still feel like my husband is a stranger in the bedroom? Will I still crave touch but shudder at the manifestation of that needed affection? Will he still want me when this is all over? Or will we continue to be invested, roommate? Cause that is what we feel like right now, “roommates” and I HATE it. I Hate all of this…