I married a man I had no sexual chemistry with, and it didn’t last.
Why would I do such a thing?
I was in denial of my need for fulfillment and happiness.
Becoming a parent brought me out of denial and into the reality of the need to live my fullest life.
I met him at the end of a self-imposed period of abstinence—refraining from sex and romantic relationships. I was in the early stages of recovering from a life-threatening addiction. My history of dramatic, emotionally turbulent relationships led me to fear that a relationship or sex would interfere with my ability to stay clean and learn how to live. I was laser-focused on spiritual freedom through the 12 Steps and determined to discover my real likes, dislikes, goals, and values. I was intent on setting a foundation for the person I wanted to be.
This self-imposed blackout lasted about 18 months (felt like about five years, and even now it’s hard for me to believe I went without sex for that long). I dipped back into dating and sex to find old familiar patterns of insecurity and impulsive, compulsive sex-seeking. I found that I had to be in a relationship to learn how to be in one. I wasn’t going to learn how to be healthier from reading or writing. I couldn’t think my way into a new way of being. I needed to act my way into a new way of being—a messy process.
I was 33 years old and wanted to be an adult, yet I was still very much an adolescent in a grown woman’s body. I longed for love and partnership, yet had no experience or modeling of either. Fueled by the hope of a new way of life and encouragement of the recovery community, I cautiously kept moving toward learning how to be in a romantic relationship.
I met the man who would be my husband at a recovery event. I was not physically attracted to him and thought that was a good thing. I was interested in getting to know someone before I slept with them, and, since I had no impulse control, it made sense to start with someone I wasn’t compelled to sleep with.
We had common goals, similar interests, and had a lot of fun together. I was as desperate for fun as I was for love, safety, and partnership. I found that without the distraction of sexual attraction, it was easier for me to be myself. I wasn’t trying to be what I thought he wanted me to be so that he would give me what I wanted: love and attention.
A few months into our friendship, he asked me if I was attracted to him. I wanted to lie and say yes, because I was afraid that if I told him the truth he wouldn’t be my friend. I still had a belief system in place that equated my value with sex. I gathered every bit of courage I had stored from my little time in recovery and told him the truth.
I wasn’t attracted to him. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t. He was overweight, and we both assumed that this was the barrier to my attraction to him. It wasn’t. There was never going to be an attraction, even after he lost all the weight.
I wondered if I could be attracted to him and move this relationship to romance and sex. I prayed that night to see him as my spirit saw him, believing that it was my superficial ego that was preventing me from being attracted to him.
The next time I saw him, I felt an attraction to him that could be turned into sex, seeing him with my heart more than my eyes.
From that day forward, our relationship moved toward romanticism. This new perspective opened the door to a relationship built on love and respect.
The sex was nothing to write anywhere about. It was just sex. I like sex, and he was the person I was doing it with; there was no chemistry, no passion, no desire. I had no idea these were essential ingredients for a lasting relationship.
I maintained my own personal sex life outside of my relationship with this man through my own thoughts, fantasies, and masturbation. I thought this was completely normal; I am an introvert and always had a vast internal world that no one else entered.
We stayed together this way for a few years, then had a brief separation where we both dove deeper into healing old wounds and he lost a lot of weight. We got back together and enjoyed many years of a healthy, honest relationship with regular sex.
I was committed to moving into uncharted emotional territory, but felt I had addressed enough of my sexuality and was fine with the way that I functioned.
Eventually, some of my unresolved trauma around being raped did come up. I was able to heal the last bit of resistance with the support and love of my partner and the support of my recovery community.
But I still had no sexual chemistry or passion for this man. I was so conditioned to accept good enough that I barely noticed anything was missing.
His marriage proposal was perfection—romantic and a total surprise. A scene out of a movie. We were married on the auspicious date of 10/10/10.
There were many parts of our simple wedding that were perfect, but the ceremony itself was a devastating disappointment. We had written our vows and had designed a ritual that included our loved ones. But he refused to rehearse or plan with the officiator we had chosen. The result was sloppy and incomplete. I blamed him for my disappointment.
Our relationship began to crumble that very day, with my resentment toward his lackadaisical attitudes. There was a place inside of me that knew I had married the wrong man. We look blissfully happy in our wedding photos, love and joy shining through my eyes. I was faking it, desperately hoping that if I pretended hard enough it would be true.
We had our son about a year later. Motherhood has been the joy of my life, forcing me to confront and heal many childhood wounds so that I can be a better parent than either of mine were.
I was about six months pregnant when that inner knowing from our wedding day came back, a little louder now; “Sh*t. I married the wrong man, and now we are having a baby.” I tried to blame the hormones, but my heart knew that I would leave this man when my son was old enough to leave home. I only made it three more years.
My husband and I rarely fought, we communicated well, and had mutual respect and positive regard for each other. Occasionally, I would ask him to do more housework and he would complain that we didn’t have sex enough.
The sex was a little like a job for me. I would have to work myself up to it. Not because I didn’t have sexual feelings, energy, or thoughts (I still had a rich internal life and masturbated regularly), I just was not physically attracted to my husband. I couldn’t “just do it” because of how triggering that was for my resolved trauma. My solution was to work myself emotionally into a place where my spiritual attraction was strong enough to create a desire to be physically intimate with this man whom I did love and respect.
My desire to model transparency, abundance, and full inhabitation of life for my child began to conflict with the parts of my life where I was being dishonest—settling for good enough and hiding from unfulfilled parts of my soul.
This internal conflict between my desire to live and model truth opposed with my denial of my unhappiness dragged on for a few years until I reconnected with an old love (thanks, Facebook).
Talking to this old flame ignited my memory of what it was like to be in love in such a way that made me want to be the best person I could be. I remembered what it was like to be with a person who I had so much desire for that it cancelled everything else out. I began to feel that I was going to die spiritually if I stayed in this lackluster marriage for another 15 years.
I wrestled with the consequences of divorce on our son, terrified that he would be taken from me if I asked for a divorce. Worried that he would be psychologically and emotionally damaged beyond repair. I knew for certain that if I stayed, he would not get the best mom I could be. He would get the good enough mother as I continued to wither and withdraw from him and life.
I believed my husband was a good husband, and I knew he was a good father. I wanted a good reason to leave him. My happiness and sexual satisfaction did not seem like a good reason to me. I wanted him to hit me or have an affair, gamble, anything that I could use an excuse. There was nothing; in the end, my commitment to myself had to be reason enough.
I once again gathered up my courage and took a leap with the faith that it was possible for me to seek personal happiness and fulfillment and still be a good mother.
Now, over four years later, after a dramatic reunion and break up with that old love, I am back on a sex and love detox.
I am certain that I fully inhabit my life. I am honest with myself to the best of my ability. I am committed to transparency, love, and authenticity. I know my son has the very best mom I can be.