Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let's talk about Sex

(Warning: this post contains some mature material but is not graphic. Proceed with caution.)

I remember when Scott came out to me wondering if we would ever have sex again. Life suddenly seemed so different somehow.

In fact, I told him that I supposed there was no reason for me to need sexy lingerie. He agreed and said probably not, but if lingerie made me feel better about myself, made me feel prettier or more sexy, that regardless of the fact that it does nothing for him, it still might be worthwhile overall. I’m not sure that was the answer I wanted at the time.

A day or two later, Scott started to come onto me after we had tucked ourselves in bed for the night. I was so uncomfortable. I thought he was just doing it for me. I kind of started to freak out (like a panic attack of sorts). He kept reassuring me, calmly and lovingly telling me to relax, that everything was okay. I told him he didn’t need to do this just for me. He replied that he wasn’t, that he *did* enjoy intimacy with me. I calmed down a bit, but it definitely wasn’t the best experience ever.

We had to talk. I had to know exactly what all of this meant to our sex life.

Since being gay was kind of a new idea to him as well, he couldn't answer all of my questions regarding our courtship, honeymoon and marriage so far. He claimed to be attracted to me, but not in the way he is attracted to guys. I guess the dating/courtship feelings had to do with love and romance being new to him, so he assumed that it was the way it was supposed to be. When we married, he was looking forward to sex and the new experiences and feelings that come with it (we were both only 21, after all!), so he was not repulsed by me at all, but rather attracted to the idea of being attracted to me. And since he has never had romantic experiences with anyone but me, he has had nothing to compare it to that would make it seem any less than it is.

Here is an approximation of how our conversation went, since I can’t really remember exactly.

Me: Are you attracted to me?
Him: (stammering a bit) yes… (but?)
Me: How can you be attracted to me and not to any other woman?
Him: Well, I am more attracted to who you are, to your personality. And I think I have learned to react to you physically because you are the only one I have ever been with, but I can never imagine that with any other woman.
Me: But you can imagine it with a man?
Him: (pause) yes
Me: Do you ever think about being with a man while you have sex with me?
Him: (timidly) Sometimes (sad face). I don’t want to make you feel bad.
Me: (sadly) Thanks for being honest with me.

One of the problems he said that he had with our sex life is that I would climax first and then seem to be uncomfortable waiting for him to finish (I tried to hide my discomfort, but I am not very good at faking anything). He was always in fear of hurting me because he wasn’t as quick as I was, which is basically why our sex life had spiraled down to nearly non-existent. (As a side note: condoms made his problem worse, but birth control pills have always made my anxiety worse, so I had given up on them, leaving condoms as the best alternative. We have recently fixed our birth control issues with surgery. Yay! I never have to be pregnant again!)

We decided that I would be honest with him from now on about how I was feeling during sex, and we would stop at any time if it became uncomfortable. Just adding that honesty factor took the pressure off of him emotionally and actually made it easier for him to relax and enjoy himself, which means he’s actually more likely to climax sooner, which often means there isn’t a problem to begin with.

Also, I don’t remember if we discussed this or if it was just something that occurred to me, but if Scott’s main concern was that I was not feeling good, and that could be avoided by him fantasizing about a guy once in a while to help him along, and I benefit from it too, then what is the harm in that? As a result, realizing where his thoughts might be when we are having sex does not bother me anymore, because I know that it is just making the experience better for both of us, and that ultimately, Scott loves me and wants me to be happy, and is happy being with me. I used to ask him what he was thinking and feeling during sex, but I no longer need to know. I know he loves me, and that is enough.

I already mentioned in a previous post that our anniversary in August was nearly like a second honeymoon for us, although it has slowed down since then. And while I assume that we are not as sexually active as many heterosexual couples, I am comfortable with what we have and how it works for us.

I wanted to mention something about how all of this affects my self-image and self-esteem. I have always lacked confidence in the way I look. I could make a long list of all of the things I hate about myself: acne (that has never gone away), grey hair (first one at age 16, way too many to count now!), dark hair on my arms, bony and pokey wrist bones, numerous moles that resemble freckles on my arms, awkward clumsiness, now extra fat on my belly and thighs, etc., etc.

It is likely that in the back of my mind I used to think that one reason our intimate life might have been lacking was that I was not pretty enough. I don’t think that anymore. I still frequently struggle with my appearance, but I do not think it is connected at all with my sex life (or lack thereof). I know that Scott would be attracted to me if he could be, and that it is neither his fault nor mine that he is not necessarily as attracted to me as I would have liked him to be.

I guess I need to find a way to improve my self-image that does not rely on attraction or sex. I know, I need to learn to see myself as God sees me and not worry about how I look. But maybe someday I will find just the right makeup or skin-care regimen that will help. Or maybe some new jewelry...

...or, maybe I should use my birthday money to buy myself a new lacy nightgown, just for me!

11 comments:

Scott said...

I already told Sarah this in person, but since we're discussing the intimate details of our intimate details...

It's been at least two or three months since my mind has been on anything other than the love that Sarah and I are able to share when we have sex. It used to be that I felt some pressure to hurry things along (as she mentioned) and fantasy was a means to that end, but now that the pressure is no longer there, I haven't felt it necessary.

Beck said...

What a gem you are to be willing to share and discuss and show this vulnerable side of your relationship - at least partially to give encouragement and resolve for others. Though everyone has different experiences, just to read this and grasp a small portion of what other couples in mixed oriented marriages are going through is helpful.

My wife and I have had similar conversation facing these issues - some conversations have been more productive than others - but this encourages me to continue the discussion instead of rolling over and turning off the light... Thanks.

CurtisandMindy said...

I realize that this is totally not what you were shooting for in the post but I"ve told myself I would pass this along too anyone who was looking for it.
Ask your doctor about "spironolactone-100mg". It is a generic drug ($10) a month if you have insurance. It has completely cleared up my adult acne. The doctor explained to me that alot of women, after they have a couple kids start having this weird hormone change where the skin in their face actually starts to STORE testosterone...giving them the skin of a 15 yr old boy. Yippeee. we all love that. right. It takes about 8 weeks to start working but its wonderful and it's boosted my self-esteem a ton.

Sarah said...

BECK: Thanks for commenting. I am still kind of embarrassed about posting it, but realize that it might be beneficial to some readers, so thank you for confirming that.

The fact is, I get the impression that the first thing on people's minds when they find out about Scott is usually wondering about our intimacy. Some people actually say things to me like, "You have kids? Are you sure he is gay? Are you sure he is not bi?" I, of course, realize exactly what they are thinking. It makes me laugh.

MINDY: Thanks for the info. I just might look into it.

Kengo Biddles said...

Well, you know, Sarah...the saying goes, "Bi now, Gay Later..." Most people that we tell are just surprised...they don't bring up the whole kids thing for some reason.

I guess my Frasier-ness predisposes them to thinking of me as slightly gay.

Silver said...

Sarah,

Thanks for this glimpse into intimacy from the viewpoint of a woman. I've learned through this experience, something I should have known all along, at least in my own judgement.

For a woman, intimacy is vrey much an emotional and mental experience.

For a man, intimacy is very much visual and physical sensation. Not that we are mere animals and don't have an emotional component. We certainly are emotional as well and my mental state has a great deal to do with my availability to her and my ability to enjoy the experience.

For those of us in Mixed Orientation Mormon Marriages (MOMM?:) It's not that we don't enjoy intimacy with our wives. It's not that we don't love or respond to our wives and in my case at least; it isn't that I'm not attracted to her. There is just, because of this dual orientation of mine the temtation to switch gears in order to enhance the experience and for staying power.

After I started attending Sexaholics Anonymous and learning more about lust, I was able to stop fantasizing about males and to just be in the moment with my wife and enjoy and appreciate her and only us. I'm now not troubled by thoughts of men, I'm more genuine with her. I think the fears of each of us were driven more by our insecurities about the other's reactions and fears than the reality of it all.

For me, it is like train tracks. There are two rails or orientations. They may affect each other and they each add stability to my load, but they really do not touch each other or ever cross. They have some influence on each other, but they are distinct and individual.

That hardest part of this all for me is her doubt. No matter how much I love her, no matter how many times I tell her or show her; there are still doubts and the mere fact that she now knows that there are competing forces within me makes her insecure about her position in all of that and may even generate fear of my intentions. I can be completely in love with her and completely faithful and engaged in the moment with her, but how can she really know for sure?

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
I know it has been a while since you have posted this, and I hope that you get my comment. I really appreciate your openness with your relationship in regards to you and your husbands intimacy. My husband recently told me of his Same-Sex Attractions. We have been married for almost 3 three years and have a little boy and a daughter on the way in 4 weeks :)
I had no idea of his feelings for other men up until 3 months ago. It has been very difficult to take in and accept. I love my husband and I know that he loves me; I desperately want to have a "normal" sex life. He recently told me that we may never do "it" again. This makes me very sad. He says it gives him too much anxiety and has no desire. I on the other hand am a very sexually driven person. Up until he told me of his feelings we were intimate 2-4 times per week (sorry for so many details :) and since he has told me it has gone from 1 time per week to once every 2.5 weeks and just recently has said that we won't be able to do it again. I have such a strong attraction to him. It breaks my heart that he doesn't feel the same way for me. He chooses not to be intimate because he feels he is not able, and I want to and can't. (I'm sorry to spill all of this out to you... I haven't talked to any one about this and I have read many of your posts and felt comfortable to tell you) Anyway, I am wondering if you might have any suggestions. This is a very hard thing to deal with but then to eliminate something that I want and need with my husband, it feels almost unbearable. I don't know how other woman cope with this. I would love any suggestions from you or anyone else :) Thank you for your time in reading this and also for having this blog :)
sincerely,
KT

Sarah said...

KT,

I would be happy to think about and respond to you, but will you send me an email so that I have your email address and can write back to you that way? It is in my profile.

Thanks! Hang in there!

Sarah said...

KT--Since I haven't heard from you, I guess I have a couple of thoughts to share.

First-communicate about everything! It can be hard sometimes, so write him an email or a note to let him know how you are feeling (This blog has come in handy for me for that purpose, sometimes). Also, be open and willing to listen to his feelings. Try to make a compromise that you can both live with. Maybe he could compromise more intimate time with you in return for "guy" time or bromances for him. It helps Scott just to have friendship and occasional and appropriate physical contact with guys. The best part is that after he gets his hugs from our friends, so do I, and we both benefit, as do our friends. :)

Second, (and I know from past experience that this can be hard) but try not to have such high expectations. You really can survive without sex (I think it must get easier as one gets older, though), so instead of regretting not getting it as often as you want, be grateful for the times you do get it. Or be grateful for simple physical expressions from him, like a kiss or a touch or cuddling. Don't be afraid to instigate the touch. And most of all, don't forget that his attraction to men has nothing to do with you. It does not mean that you are not attractive, it does not mean he doesn't love you, he is just who he is. As you let him fully accept who he is without regret or shame, your relationship has the potential to be so much more.

We found that as our communication and open respect for each other's feelings and needs increased, it was no longer as difficult for him to want to be intimate with me. As we connected better with every day stuff, we connected better with the intimate stuff as well. Does that make sense?

Please email me if you have any other concerns or want to discuss this further.

Over the Rainbow said...

Sarah-

You and Scott are the best and such an amazing example and blessing to so many people! Thanks for your openness.

Last night at the concert Hidden had his arms around my waste and I was leaning against him- he instigated it. When he asked if it was bad for me I think I misunderstood him. I thought he was asking if I was uncomfortable and I told him it was good for me- I can barely handle having a super causal hug from a straight guy and I used to be freaked out if his gay arm was around my shoulder when we were sitting. I need to get use to male physical contact and Hidden makes it safe.

But I think he may have meant was he causing me to have feelings. I was too ashamed and embarrassed to ever answer that question. I'm still trying to accept that I can have feelings and not be the Devil himself (which is funny because I don't ever think other people with sexual feelings are evil). I like cuddling with Hidden and being close to him because I love him, and I like it the many times I don't feel anything sexual because then I think it is ok and I'm not using him.

I feel so safe in his arms and I love him so much. He loves to cuddle, but I never really try to cuddle with him because I think I will repulse him so much he will puke or want to kill himself. I was so confused last night when he was being so physical. I know he's not attracted to me (even though he has been to other girls), but I just kept hoping maybe he was enjoying being close to me.

I want to give him physical (not really sexual) comfort and I love when I can be close to him and not feel anything because then it's not like I'm using him. But if he ever did fall in love with me I wonder if I could stimulate him (in marriage) or if it would be like me thinking of kissing a girl (gross). He used to like to make-out with girls, but he's never wanted to with me, which is probably very good for me at this point. The last thing we need is more complications or for me to be more attached to him!

I guess I should take your communication advise and get over the embarrassment and talk to him.

Lol- maybe G-d ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman so that His daughters could still have a chance to marry the best of His sons, the gay ones! :P

Sorry to dump so much on you, I just read this and felt I could talk to you. Sex in general is something super confusing to me, mix that with homosexuality, and past sexual abuse and I'm a nut case!

Sarah said...

Lol- maybe G-d ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman so that His daughters could still have a chance to marry the best of His sons, the gay ones! :P

I love it! I think you might be right on this one. Thanks for the thought!

At the party last week, a wife I was visiting with said that her daughter has a lot of guy friends that are gay. She commented that it seems such a waste, that the best young men out there (when considering potential husbands for her daughter) seem to be the gay ones.

(sigh)