I never believed a day would come when I would be disinterested in sex. I mean sure, I figured when I was gray-haired and eighty, frail and in poor health, it might become a treasured memory…something I still thought of wistfully, but that my husband was probably not capable of doing anymore anyway. I never thought—I NEVER thought—that I’d be living my regular ol’ life, still working full-time, still with a kid at home, still with a physically able husband…feeling so nonplussed about sex that I’d just as soon read a book. But here I am.
For some quick background: sex was always one of the best things between Brad and me. In fact, my chief complaint over twenty years of marriage was that he didn’t give me enough of it. Brad is a once-per-weekend kind of guy, and to tell the truth, even when the weekend came around, if the perfect opportunity didn’t present itself (i.e. it wasn’t too late, he wasn’t too tired, there weren’t any kids awake, etc.) it didn’t particularly bother him to skip a week. Or two. Meanwhile, I was in the mood more like three times a week, so by the weekend I was, shall we say, keenly interested. If two weeks went by, I was not a happy wife.
That being the case, I was never too choosy about exactly how these sessions proceeded. When you’re starving and somebody finally gives you something to eat, you don’t care that much whether it’s steak or hamburger, right? It’s nourishment that puts an end to that gnawing feeling in your stomach and you’re relieved and thankful to get it. So that’s how it was for most of our years of marriage. But just in the last six months or so, things have changed.
I’m not saying there always has to be candlelight and bubble baths and rose petals on the sheets, but like most women, I suppose, I want sex to have an emotional component. I want my husband to look at me like I’m something special to him. I want him to touch me in ways that say, “I love you.” I want that brief, fleeting moment when my heart catches inside my chest…just the merest flutter of excitement, and maybe then, then, I start to feel 100% “into it.”
My body used to betray me. It used to say, “Yeah, yeah, all that lovey stuff would be nice, but it’s been two weeks, so shut up and let’s enjoy what we can about this.” But now it’s different. Now my heart is speaking louder than my body, and my heart is saying, if there’s no emotion involved, no affection, no sweetness, then I don’t really particularly need this. I don’t complain anymore if two weeks go by. What the heck, let’s go for three.
Because you know what happens when Brad finally makes time for sex? Okay. First of all, he mentions it in advance—over breakfast, say, or via a text sent to me while I’m at work on Friday—and gets my consent so he can put it on his mental “to do” list with the rest of the weekend chores. He’s always been that way, but this decision-making approach of his feels very different than it must feel to have a husband who, while kissing you goodnight, simply realizes that it feels very nice to be close to you, and that he wants more of it.
So putting sex on the schedule is one detractor. The other one is, Brad he likes me to wear certain items that he finds erotic. Nothing too crazy or weird…he likes sexy shoes and certain other wardrobe items. And I wouldn’t mind, I wouldn’t find it offensive at all if this were just an occasional spicer-upper. But it’s presented as something I’m expected to do every time, so I feel resentful. What I bring to sex, after all, is my self…but apparently that is not enough. It feels as though I am not enough.
Brad, I’m sure, would disagree. He would say, “That’s not it at all!” He’d say, “Men are visually stimulated,” and, “Why not do anything you can to make sex (with the same person for more than twenty years) more exciting?”
It doesn’t sound unreasonable. But all I know is, my needs have changed. As it turns out, it isn’t that my sex drive has died as I have gotten older. It’s just that my need for love, affection, acceptance and acknowledgement has grown so much that given the choice between (A) a randy half-hour in bed and (B) a few sweet words, a loving look, and a tender kiss on the cheek, I would choose the latter.