Disclaimer: This addresses some sensitive issues regarding sexuality. I recommend reading it if you’re thinking about getting married, or perhaps are already married. It’s not something we speak about enough, especially since it’s a bit embarrassing to admit our faults. However, if our experiences cause even ONE person to not feel so ashamed and alone, I count it worth the uncomfortable risk.
I had an obsession with Audrey Hepburn growing up. In fact, all classic films were an obsession for me. There was this quote by Audrey that I thought explained my thoughts on marriage precisely.
She said, “If I get married, I want to be very married!”
And, honestly, she’s not wrong. Choosing to marry someone is not the same as choosing a pair of shoes to wear. Obviously, it’s not, but I use that simple comparison because some people treat it that way. I knew if I ever was to marry, I would stick to it no matter what.
My parents always told my brothers and I growing up that they would never get a divorce. They promised us that. There was such security in that promise as a child, growing up in a home where you had hope in the fact that no matter the fight, mom and dad were never divorcing. I told myself I would do the same for my children when that time finally came. And then, everything changed.
The first year of Ben and I’s marriage was so hard. I mean, our wedding was magical, and elegant and expensive and everyone we loved was there. It was right out of a movie. Our honeymoon to Point Reyes National Seashore was breathtaking and unforgettable. We had champagne and wedding cake for breakfast every day, we went and shucked oysters and ate them raw while we looked out onto the bay. I drank my very first IPA in Point Reyes Station and have never looked back. We went into San Francisco and went thrift store shopping, ate a $700 dinner at a swanky French restaurant where we totally didn’t belong (when you get married, you get lots of cash!) and sat around in our Secret Garden rental cottage reading books and watching Sean Connery James Bond movies on VHS.
One thing we did not do was have a lot of sex. My poor husband, who had been a young Christian man dreaming of his wedding night, even though we had already slept together, was jilted completely from his life-long fantasy. We should have gone to counseling right then and there. It continued on our honeymoon, where I was suddenly uninterested and uncomfortable with doing anything even remotely sexually intimate, despite Ben’s best efforts to convince me otherwise.
At the time, he thought it was all his fault and I thought it was all my own fault. We couldn’t really even have a discussion about it without me getting defensive and his pride getting hurt. It was a disaster. We didn’t seek help when we got back from our honeymoon, either. In fact, we continued on like this for quite some time, having sex on occasion, but I was still turned off to the entire idea of it.
What happened? Yeah, what happened? Something inside of me shut down when we got married. Two things to point out here:
- I had been indoctrinated my entire life to view sex as wrong and dirty and hush hush and now, suddenly, when it was no longer supposed to be considered that way, when I finally had permission to do it, I couldn’t shift my thinking to accept it as beautiful and good and RIGHT and enjoyable.
- I still held within me those fears of being forced into sexual situations that I did not want to be in. I was still spooked and having a man in bed next to me, every night, every morning, who could roll over and have me whenever he pleased, felt so incredibly unsafe that my libido just disappeared.
To be clear: Ben never did anything to make me feel unsafe. Ben never touched me or grabbed me or forced me in a way that was cruel or abusive in any way shape or form. The only thing Ben did wrong was start to pull away when I began to push him away. I don’t blame him for this. I would have done the same. Another thing to mention here is that Ben had his own issues in regards to sex. He may not have had sex before he met me, but not unlike most men his age, he had been exposed to it at a very young age.
Science has not even begun to scratch the surface on the long term affects that pornography has on a young mind. It is killing intimacy. I don’t want to tell his story, because I can’t understand the mind of a man, but I only say this to illuminate the point that our exposure to unhealthy intimacy very young in our lives were to blame for the downward spiral of intimacy within our marriage.