My ex-husband and I had an abysmally unfulfilling sex life together. When I look back at the myriad reasons for our divorce, that one ugly fact about our marriage shoots to the top of my list, every single time.
Why did my marriage fail to provide the sexual satisfaction I craved, even amidst the sleep deprivation and overtouching of early motherhood?
For starters, after my ex-husband and I tied the knot, he proceeded to gain weight quickly. I didn’t see this turn of events coming. Before we got married, he talked about his love for running, bodybuilding, bicycling, hiking, and a host of other physical activities. After we got married, even if he went for a run, he followed it up with a jumbo-sized bag of cheese puffs. He consumed a 12-pack of soda daily. In the final tally, he gained a total of 80 pounds during our marriage. To put that in perspective, the average age of an 80-pound child in the 50th percentile is 11. He gained the equivalent of an 11-year-old child during our marriage.
Let me guess. You are thinking, “Fat people have sex all the time. What’s the problem?” Lest you think I’m biased against overweight people, please know that I still wanted to have sex with my ex-husband and get my physical needs met. I still found him attractive.
Unfortunately, his vanity combined with his weight often prevented our coupling and led to a wildly unfulfilling sex life for me.
Nine times out of ten I attempted to initiate sex, and eight times out of nine he turned me down… citing his embarrassment over his body and other excuses for not meeting my needs. Additionally, due to his obesity, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition, he got sick all the time – colds, strep throat, acid reflux, gastrointestinal issues, you name it. The man turned into a walking germ factory, sneezing, coughing, puking, and suffering bouts of diarrhea on a regular basis. I was married to the polar opposite of People’s Sexiest Man Alive.
Our unfulfilling sex life remained pretty barren.
We maybe had sex once every six months – maybe. Even when we did manage to make it happen, it consisted of a couple of half-hearted, partially erect thrusts on his part and a back spasm (due to his slipped discs) followed by his pleasure and my continued lack thereof. He preferred Internet pornography over my body, and I repeatedly turned to second best, masturbation, in the absence of a consistent and satisfying sexual partner. I’m still shocked we managed to conceive children under these conditions. It’s a testament to my sheer force of will and intense desire to enjoy motherhood, if not wifehood, that propelled me to make the impossible possible and reproduce with this man.
Towards the end of our marriage, out of sheer sexual frustration, I gave him a choice: either put the cupcake down, lose the weight, and start meeting my physical needs, or I wanted an open marriage.
He declined both options. I filed for divorce six months later. I know several women who are content to languish in a sexless marriage. I am not one of them. During my separation and after my divorce, in the few quiet, dark spaces between the legalities and logistics of moving the divorce forward and parenting my children without much help, I dreamed about finally finding a fulfilling sex life.
As soon as I separated from my husband, I got advice from a divorced friend: finalize the divorce before you start dating. I hated this advice. Despised it. How dare he tell me, a wife trapped in a sexual desert of a marriage for so many years, to delay my physical gratification any longer? As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. I went on a couple of casual dates with a guy at the start of my separation, and my ex-husband FLIPPED OUT. Seriously, this man who preferred computer gaming to sex with me any day of the week suddenly appeared consumed with rage over the notion that I might engage in sexual activities with another man.
When my ex-husband came over to let the dog out or mow the lawn during our separation, he started spying on me and going through my things.
He “accidentally” found sample packs of birth control pills, which I kept wrapped in a brown paper bag in a hidden drawer of my medicine cabinet, while he was “looking for Advil for his bad back.” (I acquired them prematurely and aspirationally, hoping so desperately for a brighter sexual future.) The second time he used the same excuse that he found some evidence of my interest in another man while, “looking for Advil,” I put a stop to his spying expeditions by giving away the dog (to a good home), learning to mow my own lawn, and changing the locks. On top of that insanity, he suddenly started accusing me of cheating on him during the entirety of our marriage.
Here’s the frustrating part: I never had sex with that guy I dated a couple of times, or any other guy, during my separation.
(I ended up investing in a sex toy. I highly recommend it if you decide to put yourself in a sexual holding pattern, waiting for your divorce to become final.) Additionally, in spite of his lack of sexual interest in me during our marriage and my resulting unfulfilling sex life, I never once considered cheating on my ex-husband during our marriage. His false accusations and invasions of my privacy just added insult to injury and, to make matters profoundly worse, he spread these venomous lies to all of our mutual friends and then targeted my friends from before we got married. I started getting justifiably concerned that my kids might hear false rumors about their own mother’s imaginary sexual escapades during school pickup.
After what seemed like the longest months of my life, our divorce became final.
I breathed a profound sigh of relief, put away my vibrator, and started dating the man who ultimately became my second husband a few years later. I am pleased to report that we enjoy the best sex of our lives together on a regular basis, but that’s a story for another day.
Are you currently trapped in a marriage with an unfulfilling sex life? If so, do you think your unfulfilling sex life might lead to divorce?