A while back a woman who referred to herself as Sexless in Seattle wrote to me and asked me a question about sex.
Or more specifically, the absence of it in her marriage.
She is a mom, has a young kid, has been dealing with depressions and taking antidepressants for a while now, and over the last few years has completely lost her six drive.
She feels like it’s mostly her fault and thinks her husband has completely given up on even suggesting sex at this point.
While she feels other areas of her marriage are pretty healthy, the absence of sex has her feeling like a failure and also unwanted and undesired.
She explained that she and her husband have sex 2 or 3 times a year, and that she spoke with her gynecologist about her lack of desire in the bedroom.
Her doctor told her that was “normal for any woman with kids.”
Sexless thinks the doctor may be wrong, and she wondered if I had any thoughts on this issue.
I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, but I definitely do have some thoughts.
I think intimacy is very important in a marriage.
I think physical contact, holding hands, hugging, kissing, snuggling, and yes, fucking, are all necessary components for a really healthy marriage.
Because I don’t think you can have true intimacy without physical contact.
I also know very well what happens for women who have children.
From 2005 through 2011 I was either pregnant or breastfeeding.
For over six straight years I either had a child growing inside of me or latched onto the outside of me.
And now, five years later, while I’m not knocked up or nursing, there are still kids touching some part of me almost every moment they are home.
For the last eleven years, I have had a kid in me or on me.
That makes wanting my husband in me or on me a little bit challenging at times. Often times, actually.
That being said, I have not even remotely lost all desire to have sex.
Especially not with him.
I love married sex. It’s not old or boring. He knows what I like and I know what he likes. We are a couple that has been dancing together for years, and when that happens, you move fluidly and effortlessly together.
That’s my experience anyway. Even with our relationship that has been full of ups and downs (way more downs than ups), my husband and I don’t need so much work in the between-the-sheets department.
The communication department is a different story, though.
So we may not have to work so hard on the sex thing, but there are other areas we need to try much, much harder.
Other people don’t have the communication issues we have, but the sex thing is more of a problem.
Still, whatever issues couples face, even if you still possess any sort of sex drive, getting your partner on the dance floor is definitely a challenge a lot of the time.
When you have young kids, it’s going to be more difficult, especially for most moms.
Because they are always touching you. They are watching you pee and poop and shower and get dressed and do everything. They are pointing at your boobs and asking you why are those so big? or even better, in my case, saying Ew, Mom! Your boobs are disgusting!
That doesn’t exactly nudge you in the direction of wanting to get naked in front of anyone. Because of this, sometimes you just don’t want anyone even looking at you. You just want a little personal space. Or a lot of it. And you don’t want anyone invading it.
So having kids, especially young ones, presents a challenge. And I think you need to cut yourself some slack for the first couple of years.
You can tell your husband this. You can tell him that you are struggling with anyone even touching you.
You can tell him you still love him and you find him attractive, but that you’ve lost your mojo a little bit.
(We all lose our mojo to varying degrees. It’s just a bigger degree for some of us than it is for others).
And then you can tell him that you really want to change the status or your sex life. You can tell him you want it to happen more often. You can tell him you need help. You can tell him it would really make a big difference if he romanced you. You could tell him that you feel unwanted and unattractive, and that it would really help if maybe he could try to woo you the way he did when you were first dating.
And hopefully your husband understands and gets it.
If he doesn’t, you can let him read this.
All that being said, then there is work to be done on your end, too.
Just like any other area of a marriage that needs work, both people on both ends have to be willing to work to change it.
I have to work really, really hard on the communication end if I want to improve the health of my marriage and my happiness in it.
Working on communication fucking sucks.
It’s hard and it’s boring and it’s monotonous and it’s really tiring and I’d rather just sit on the couch and not try hard and mindlessly stare at the television for a couple hours.
But that wouldn’t be healthy for my marriage, and that will not get me to that truly happy and harmonious place I ultimately want to get to in my marriage.
So what are my thoughts on what you can do?
First, hug your husband every day.
And not like a two second hug. A long, lingering one.
Did you know hugging your spouse for 30 seconds literally causes your body to produce feel good chemicals?
So start with smaller, regular bits of physical contact.
That can help to get the ball rolling.
Second, if you aren’t already, start exercising.
Ugh. I know. If this isn’t something you are already doing, it’s not fun.
But beside the obvious that your body needs exercise and it’s just something we should all be doing regularly anyway, exercising does two other things.
One, it’s the best natural antidepressant in existence. It causes your brain to produce chemicals that make you feel better, and it might get you to a place where you don’t need to rely on that Zoloft (more on that in a minute). And two, when you are exercising, you feel better about your body. You feel stronger and healthier. And when you feel stronger and healthier, you feel better about taking off your clothes and hitting the sheets with your husband.
Back to that Zoloft.
I’m not anti-medication.
I’ve taken an assload of it. I’ve taken Zoloft and Lexapro and Celexa and Xanax and when depression led to insomnia they gave me Ambien but by that point I was so far gone it didn’t work so then they went to straight to Seroquel which is some pretty strong shit that they give to schizophrenics.
Obviously if it’s the choice between fucking your husband and, um, living, well… stay on the drugs.
But it has been over three years since I’ve taken any medication.
And that’s because I started exercising and I changed my eating habits.
Well, I also had a shit ton of therapy.
But the point is that exercise (just a moderate amount — 30 minutes a day) improves the quality of your life in so many areas!
Until you get to that point, consider talking to your doctor about switching medications.
I stopped taking Zoloft not because it destroyed my sex drive, but because it made me unable to orgasm.
And that destroyed my sex drive.
I switched to Lexapro after that which worked much better for me.
And eventually, I stopped taking anything at all.
Finally, start taking care of yourself.
Get enough sleep. Make time to take a shower. Put on some make up. Or even just lip gloss. Lip gloss makes everything better. If you can afford it and you’re into that kind of thing, get a mani/pedi on a regular basis.
Get your hair done. Get out of the yoga pants and put some cute clothes on.
You’ve gained weight and you don’t want to buy anything new in that size ?
Tough shit! Buy yourself one cute outfit that you really like in a size that fits you. Trust me. When you get the exercising going, you’ll tighten that body up, and then you can buy yourself another cute thing in a smaller size in a couple months.
(By the way, your husband is not even remotely as critical of your body as you are, and he definitely still wants to have sex with you, regardless of the number on the tag in your pants).
You are much more likely to want to bang the crap out of your husband when you are rested and when you invest in yourself. And it’s okay. Even if you don’t plan on having sex with your husband, YOU TOTALLY DESERVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
So there are my thoughts.
I think sex is important to a healthy and happy marriage, and I think it’s very often work.
But I also think it’s worth it.
Hang in there, Sexless!
Talk to your husband, hold his hand, give him a hug, talk to your doctor, go for a walk, get out of the yoga pants, take a shower, put on some mascara, and then tell your husband you are ready, willing and able.
Then, do that again. And again. And again.
Even if you aren’t feeling it, keep doing it.
Fake it til you make it.
Eventually, there’s a very good chance your hard work will pay off.
And then you can appreciate his hard work 😉 .