What changed? I got married. And it took me over a decade (along with months of counseling) to return to the place where I loved my body, shared it freely, and enjoyed sex once again.
Some of you know what I’m talking about. As single women, sex was often a game that we liked to play, and some of us were very skilled at it. I’ve got it. You want it. But the price of admission into my private playground is a big dose of attention and affection. Make me feel really good about myself, and I’ll make you feel really good in exchange. But now that we’re sleeping next to the same man night after night, month after month, year after year, the challenge has worn off. The payoff is no longer clear. Hubby isn’t wooing and pursuing us like he used to, so our motivation wanes. Sex feels more like an obligation than a mutual thrill.
And maybe that mental list of previous sexual partners has begun to haunt you. You calculate all of the sexual favors you paid out in hopes of earning emotional interest, but now you feel sexually bankrupt. How could I have just given my body away like that? And how could my husband possibly love me and want to be with me after all I’ve done? you may wonder.
Or perhaps you weren’t skilled at all when you came into marriage. You assumed your husband was going to teach you everything you needed to know about sex, or that you’d figure it out together. Now that he’s so masterfully taught you that the round peg goes in the round hole for approximately 2.8 minutes, you’re left wondering, “Is this all there is?” Disappointed and disillusioned, you’ve come to see sex as something you’re expected to just dish out like a scoop of ice cream whenever he gets hungry, which makes you want to close the ice cream shop altogether most days.
Or maybe your sexual confidence has been robbed by the fact that you’ve been dishing it out, but he’s been salivating over other flavors. You notice him glance up and down another woman’s body as she walks by. You know where he keeps his pornography stash. You’ve gone to his most recent websites to see what he’s been looking at on his laptop. You catch him masturbating alone, most likely fantasizing of any woman except you.
Perhaps you, like millions of other ladies, have lost your sexual confidence as a result of past sexual abuse. Rather than associating sex with passion and pleasure, you’ve associated it with pain and degradation. You know in your head that it’s not your husband’s fault that you were abused, but you’ve insulated yourself from further pain with walls of anger, resentment, and fear of intimacy. You can’t imagine how you’ll ever get over what’s been done to you in the past.
Maybe you simply do not feel beautiful, especially when you compare your post-partum body (complete with stretch-marked hips, flabby tummy and saggy boobs) to the airbrushed magazine models. Excess food becomes your drug of choice to medicate your emotional pain. Your husband asks why you’re eating turtle cheesecake if you already feel fat. You inhale a second piece just to spite him, and think, No sex for you again tonight, Pal!
Or perhaps children clinging to your ankles all day prevent you from mustering enough energy to enjoy sex much any more. Your idea of a blissfully indulgent evening is ordering take-out, throwing the paper plates away after dinner, and heading straight for bed at 8 p.m. without having to tuck anyone in or take care of anyone else’s needs.
Oh, the many issues that we let rob us of our sexual confidence! No wonder more and more married people are claiming to be sexually frustrated. No wonder there are so many sexless marriages today.
*Excerpted from The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind * Body * Heart * Spirit by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.