Category Archives: Sex

Sexual Abuse in Marriage–and Who’s Fault is That?

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For years, I showed all the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. Pull up the list, check them off twice. Over time, I came to believe I must have been abused as a child and just couldn’t remember. It never, ever occurred to me that a man could sexually abuse his wife.  In fact, I would’ve said it wasn’t possible. After all– two adults, man and woman, way beyond the age of consent.

This morning,  a new comment came in over on the post, Sex in an Abusive Marriage, Part 1. Not surprising, that series gets plenty of traffic. The nice lady who left a comment used the one key word that set the wheels to grinding. Below is a portion of her comment and my response:

Comment

“Oh my word! I’m reading my life, at least part of it. To know I’m not the only one is immense! This needs to be discussed in the church.”

Response

I’ve got a few thoughts on the subject–Abuse occurs when there’s an imbalance of power. For instance, an adult cannot have sex with an underage child because the child cannot really say no. The adult holds all the authority and power. Professor and student. Preacher and church member. Boss and employee. The one in the subservient position feels coerced. Its why we have laws on the books and the reason people are fired even when the victim is an adult.

In marriage, people say you cannot be sexually abused. Why? Because you have two adults who can both say no, right?

Wrong.

The *church* is saying that the wife cannot refuse and invoking the authority of scripture and using God’s name to back them up. The church is causing the imbalance of power by teaching a false doctrine of submission. The church creates an atmosphere where sexual abuse can occur and thrive where none should exist in the first place. All that to say, I doubt they’ll be discussing this in churches anytime soon. Instead, they simply deny the reality that women are being sexually abused by their husbands.

The Floor is Open

Goes without saying that this does not apply to every church on the planet. It does, however, apply to many if not most conservative, fundamentalist, and  patriarchal variations thereof. Many of us here swallowed these teachings and  doctrines whole and suffered accordingly.

So let’s discuss.

Kids, Sex and Goodwill for All

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Besides painting,  something  quite fascinating overran my calendar. I’m reading about sex.

Let’s all take a moment to grasp the enormity of this revelation.

Why in heaven’s name would Ida Mae be reading  a book on physical intimacy when she is no longer physically intimate? When she intends to stay celibate thanks much? When she believes Paul had the right idea and singleness is preferable to matrimony?

Because my children keep asking questions I cannot answer, drat their hides.

Annoying Complications of Life and Stuff

Unplanned sex books were not on the agenda for this week but one of the kiddies had the nerve to ask a question on the male physical response. I turned fourteen shades of purple, slapped a hand over my mouth before blurting out something cynical and jaded (although I must admit, rather humorous) then did the only sensible thing. I stalled.

Off we go for this week’s regularly scheduled angry walk.

Why, Oh Lord do I have to talk to these kiddies about sex?  I know nothing healthy. Nothing at all. Did I mention I know nothing? Why me?

Why oh Why oh Why?

How the blue blazes am I suppose to answer when all I have is a nice fat pile of rotting manure? Nothing to draw on, no understanding of loving intimacy— which reminds me, by the way,  You promised to be a father to the fatherless. How about You talk to them?  

Now that is a fine idea. These pups are worse than fatherless. They are  offspring of an anti-dad  who spoon-fed the whole lot poison. Poison!

Why-oh-why-oh-why—

Squirrel!

Just to clarify, many angry walks end in squirrel sightings. I have a sneaking suspicion He sends them around on purpose for just this reason.

Several days later, another dear child of my heart comes along with a question which shall forever remain unwritten. Not that I’m keeping score, but this one was a doozy.  And then another. It becomes quite apparent that the kids are trying to kill me.

What is this madness?  Spring fever? Synchronized hormones? Much prayer and many angry walks later, I chose the only reasonable course of action–let them learn on the street like the rest of us.

The kidlets are on their own.

Problem Solved, Life is Good

The day after number three takes awkwardness to Olympic levels, I am busy minding my own business. My heart is at peace, nary a stray thought of physical intimacy within a two block radius. Being as the weather is fine, I head off to God’s Store to peruse the latest selection in mismatched dishes (that’s Goodwill to you heathen).  I browse through ugly lamps without lampshades, saucers without cups, tables without chairs and there, on the book rack between Harry Potter and  Rug Making for Dummies sits Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, M. D.

I may be dense, but I can take a hint. As I walk out the door, book in hand, I hear the Lord snickering, no lie.

Remembering Who Loves Me

When He promised to take care of those who put Him first, He meant it. When we ask, it delights Him to provide. Sometimes I forget. But not this week. Standing there in the middle of a store I’ve visited a bajillion times, holding exactly the right book at exactly the right moment—at thirty percent off, no less—I  know Who stocked the shelves.

Sometimes the challenge of just getting by takes me under. Simple stuff like finding a job or renting an apartment consumes massive amounts of energy needed for better things. How will I ever handle the important  stuff? Like parenting these beautiful, annoying, lively children who just want a chance to be happy?  How can a Mom ever guide her offspring, providing the wisdom of both parents, when she’s so damaged herself? Some days, it’s too much to bear.

And then God surprises me at the thrift store. Glad He didn’t send a squirrel to hold the door, that might have been a bit much.

Thanks Dad~

Sex in an Abusive Marriage, Part 3

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Around the ten year mark, I knew—really knew—I could never please that man in bed or anywhere else. I decided to focus my attention on pleasing God instead. In seeking the Lord with all my heart, fully believing that in Him is fullness of life, I would be a better wife, a better mother and whatever problems I had in bed would eventually be addressed as I grew in grace and truth.

The problem with that? My husband was not growing in grace and truth. He was headed the other direction entirely. He was drinking again and his use of pornography continued. He was busy raising his hands and singing in church every Sunday and terrorizing us the other six and a half days a week. I suppose I thought my gentle and quiet witness would eventually win him over.

It did not.

 Second Decade

Things ebbed and flowed. Some years were better than others. I did my best to perform on autopilot. Most is a blur.

I remember horrible things vaguely, routine things not at all. Gradually over the years frequency diminished. With newborns, colicky babies and toddlers scared of the dark it’s not surprising but it always, always made the beast angry. He thought I should leave a hungry infant crying and hop in bed. That was not going to happen. He believed I should leave three children under the age of seven unsupervised, their little paws banging on the bedroom door while we locked ourselves inside and got busy. Not in a million years.

Looking  back, I set boundaries and imposed limits but I did not feel one bit good about the process. By this point I knew I’d feel bad no matter which decision I made and the beast would be unhappy either way. If a man’s going to be angry no matter what, what’s the point?

Always the focus was on him. His needs, his demands. At some point, I told him to quit talking about my appearance and get use to it. I was getting older  and I wasn’t going to morph into Cindy Crawford. If he didn’t like me at a hundred pounds, he wasn’t going to like me after three kids and a hundred and fifty.

Rather than concede that I’d insisted he shut the crap up, he reframed this as some sort of major concession on his part, another proof of his great restraint and self-sacrifice as he refrained from speaking of my deteriorating physical appearance. He did however, decide to become overly concerned with my health and came up with all sorts of creative suggestions on ways to help me tone up and lose those extra pounds and inches. I stopped listening. One time I counted. He told me to work out on average five times a day. He also had plenty of pet names, each highlighting some feature he found repulsive. If I asked him to stop he said I was too sensitive, he was just joking.

Decade Three

Around year twenty,  I had major abdominal surgery that went terribly wrong. After surgery, I went septic. I came within inches of dying and to this day, I believe the only reason I stayed this side of the veil was sheer determination. I wasn’t leaving my babies, not with him.

A year later, I could barely stand long enough to cook dinner. Damage to my internal organs caused chronic pain that never let go. I came dangerously close to an addiction to narcotic pain killers, tempting for more reasons than one.

I was home less than two weeks before the beast began asking for his marital rights, said I couldn’t possibly be in that much pain. We resumed sexual relations after three months and I thought I would die. Nothing—and I mean nothing—was ever okay after that. My internal organs were broken. My lady parts damaged. But worse was the emotional backlash—I  almost died and I could not understand such callous disregard for something that kept me bedridden for months from someone who said he loved me every single day.

He thought I was slacking, that I could get up and do my job if I wanted. His anger during that year permeated our home, taking what had always been bad to ever higher levels. He resented everything. He took to finding fault with the children while they tried to cook or clean, punishing them as a way to get me out of bed, an over-exertion I paid for days afterward.

By year twenty five, other body parts are starting to scream in protest. Joints, neck, back. I lived with chronic sciatic nerve pain and ongoing issues from the botched surgery. Migraines came without warning and stayed for days. I had all sorts of symptoms of auto-immune disease but I knew the truth. My body was turning out the lights and I knew it.

God Knows My Heart and I Am Screwed

By this point, I’m numb. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if I please God, I don’t care if the earth opens up and swallows the beast, I don’t care if it swallows me. Sex is no longer an issue because I hate it with everything in me. I take off my clothes, do what I have to, say no to anything I don’t want to do anymore and flip him off as I walk out of the bedroom.

I am angry. It takes me days to recover afterward. Sometimes I curse him in my head the entire time he’s inside me, then repent until I fall into a stupor. I decide that if God is going to send me to hell for this, it doesn’t matter because I’m already *in* hell and it can’t get much worse.

Occasionally I try to talk to this person I’m beginning to suspect might not be human.  He refuses to address anything going back more than a few weeks saying I’m being unforgiving, he said he was sorry and bringing something up for years back is proof I’m at fault. Nothing’s changed. I shut up.

The last year, for reasons that have everything to do with the mercy of God Almighty and nothing to do with anything in me, the Lord mounted a rescue operation. Hopefully I can tell that story someday.  The point is this: When the Lord arrived to deliver me from my oppression, I still shouldered all  the blame. I saw myself as a whore, as an unclean, unlovable woman. I was ugly, defective. No one would ever love me, no one ever *could* have loved me, so what was I complaining about?  Something was desperately wrong with me. Why else would this have happened?

But when God shows up, His goodness comes along. Healing began, starting with  those tears I’d bottled up for close to two decades. The love inherent in the Lord’s sweet presence awakened all those emotions I’d stuffed for years.

Emotions are Pesky Things

Now that my coping mechanisms were starting to fail, I couldn’t function sexually, even in the limited damaged capacity of years before. Frequency dropped. When I couldn’t figure out one more reason to say no, I’d sit on the toilet afterwards leaning my head against the tile trying to will his semen into the sewer where it belonged. I scrubbed myself raw in the tub an hour at a time, then head to an upstairs bedroom and cry myself hoarse screaming silent into the pillow. Still, I was too afraid to stop having sex with him entirely.

I prayed and prayed beforehand. I begged for divine help. I prayed that God would deliver me somehow, someway, whatever it took. Somehow, it never occurred to me that God had already given me a way of escape–something called, free will. I had the power all the time. I had the right to say no more.

I did not know I had a right over my own body. That I could refuse and if that jerk didn’t change, I could continue refusing until he left. In the emotional, mental state I was in, I had no business trying to service a man who I suspected was servicing half the town anyway.

But I was afraid. I knew deep in my heart that if I ever stood my ground, there would be hell to pay. I knew he was dangerous and I sure knew he would never put up with me cutting him off. I knew that whenever I refused his demands, the kids paid. I was weak and afraid.

God provided a beautiful little home, a sweet place to stay. He prepared the heart of someone to take us in. All I had to do was the hardest thing in my life. I had to walk out.

As I pulled out of the driveway, one of the first thoughts I had– I’ll never have to have sex with that jackass again.

Summing Up

If you read part two, you’ll note I got stuck somewhere between Wife Gives Up and Husband Blames Her Forever. I spent the last two decades in a quagmire that wrecked havoc on my soul and didn’t fix anything. Its an ugly place to live.  I allowed someone who despised me to abuse my body, to assault my inner being over and over. Physical intimacy should never be forced. Thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach.

The sad truth? I’ve heard stories much worse than mine.

Don’t tell me a man can’t rape his wife. Don’t tell me a man can’t sexually abuse the woman he married. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve lived through the fire. I’m a mild mannered woman but I will shut you down if you’re ignorant enough to try to argue with someone who lived through the hell and knows firsthand. Honestly,  I really don’t care anymore, but I’ll go to the wire on this one for every other wife who’s whispered her story in the dark.

For those who’re reading, all I can tell you is this. You cannot fix what you did not break. I tried to please my husband. My husband did not try to please his wife.  All his focus centered on his wants, his needs, his desires. Never once do I remember any consideration for my needs or desires. He was a horrible lover. Why did that never cross my mind? I don’t know, but it didn’t. I thought it was my job to take care of him when in truth, it’s husbands who are repeatedly instructed to love their wives.

The problems were not mine. A woman cannot respond when there’s nothing to respond to—no love, no tenderness. I did not ask for much. I didn’t ask him to keep his hair or have a killer six-pack. I never asked him to buy me flowers or take me on dates. I asked for kindness. That’s all. . . just a little consideration but apparently that was way too much for him to give.

Did I do everything I could have those last two decades? I don’t know. I did everything I was capable of doing. I wasn’t mentally, emotionally or spiritually able to do more. I’m not trying to justify my decisions and it sure isn’t fun to tell this story. Believe me, I could be graphic but I still have to look myself in the mirror.

If these men are this miserable, why don’t they just leave? I came to the conclusion my husband did not want to be happy. More to the point, he did not want *me* to be happy. He fed on my misery.

Shame on him.

I’m tired. Very tired of carrying this. I don’t enjoy bringing up the subject but ignoring the gorilla in the pantry doesn’t save the groceries. I write this story to say you are not alone. If you see yourself somewhere in my story and understand  it’s not all your fault then it’s enough reason to stand naked in the kitchen and brave the monkey.

That’s it! Thank you for your prayers. At some point, I may revise this but for now, let’s call if finished.

Sex in an Abusive Marriage, Part 2

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This isn’t an easy series. I don’t like talking about sex because, in my experience, sex was never okay.  If you arrived with your knickers all a-twist, this post will set them twirling. You might want to skip on over to here.

Interesting thing happened once I came out as an unloved wife. Other women started talking, looking over their shoulder from time to time as if the spirit of their own private beast might be listening, then slipping quietly back inside the likeness of an Ozzie and Harriet life. Some spoke openly if only for a moment, usually of times long past, then back they went  to make goo-goo eyes at the new husband, more than happy to leave the dead burying their own.

Who can blame them?

Listening as I was with ears still bleeding, I kept hearing the same theme—sex as a power play. Specifically, sex used as a tool to gain power over the victim. And oh! what an effective tool it is—

Many Branches, Same Roots

In some cases, the husband refused to have sex with his wife claiming she’d let herself go, gained weight or otherwise made herself repulsive to his delicate sensibilities.  Two women told almost identical stories of husbands who kept them on the hamster wheel for years.  One man told his wife how many pounds she had to lose, then once she hit her target weight, told her it didn’t matter because he didn’t really like a woman with large breasts. Another treated her body as radioactive, refusing to touch her as she aged and taking up with a girl just out of her teens the minute she left.

Other stories mirrored my own experience of a demanding man always wanting more. The stories all went something like this (with a few kinks here and there just to keep things off-balance):

Man complains about quantity (not having sex often enough), wife ups frequency, man complains about quality of experience.

Wife reads a few books, works at bringing spice to bed, husband gripes about her lack of enthusiasm.

Wife takes a few acting classes, fools husband into thinking he is sexy beast, husband complains about her appearance.

Wife joins Weight Watchers, goes to gym, gets new haircut, collapses from exhaustion from running all over the place, husband complains about frequency.

Wife quits trying. I mean really, if he’s going to be unhappy anyway.

Husband blames her forever.

Another version involved men who maintain a simmering grudge over the wife’s former relationships—maybe she wasn’t a virgin before they married or, in one ironic case, an outwardly pious man angry because his wife allowed *him* to take liberties before their wedding. That one just slays me. The wife in question was not laughing however.

A variation on this is The Affair. Husband mistreats wife, wife has a fling, husband pursues wife like crazy wanting to reconcile and graciously takes her back, then proceeds to  verbally/emotionally beat the crud out of her forever and ever. In these cases, the husbands said they couldn’t trust their wives and  constantly demanded the offending wife prove their fidelity. She made a mistake, they both know it. Only nothing she does will ever be enough to heal his aching soul.

One man I know calls his wife, “that slut”—not to her face mind you. He saves this lovely phrase for his male pals. I’m actually related to that slut and a more faithful woman could not be found under God’s heaven. He’s referring to the well known fact that before she accepted Christ, she lived with a man in a common law marriage. I have yet to understand why someone hasn’t punched this creep right in the chops for talking about his wife this way.

Rock and a Hard Place

In every case, I’m going to say one thing. I don’t think any of these men want the problem fixed. I don’t think they desire healing and restoration. In their twisted world, it’s in their best interest to keep the pain fresh and their wives hurting at all times for a very simple reason.  Ammunition—a way to claim the moral high ground, justifying their abusive ways. This never-ending merry-go-round provides both power and control over the wife. Shame, guilt, blame—all powerful tools to keep the balance of power firmly under the husband’s control.

In my case, I believe my husband did not want to be faithful. Monogamy wasn’t his thing. Having a frigid wife gave him justification for extra-marital affairs and an ongoing affair between his right hand and a computer screen . Sex with me became just one more form of masturbation, one he was more than willing to indulge and another way to vent his anger. Making love would’ve required effort. Keeping me constantly off-guard and hurting gave him a tool to control because I could not deny his unhappiness. Nor could I ever fix things. Only he could say when and if he was finally happy with me in the bedroom and that was never going to happen.

Please note that I’m not trying to negate the sins and mistakes of the victim. I am, however, trying to point out the parallel between the abuser’s treatment of his wife’s weaknesses and/or failings and the very real condemnation the devil himself unleashes against repentant sinners to keep them defeated through ongoing, paralyzing guilt. The husband in these cases becomes the accuser of the brethren. In Christ, there is forgiveness, hope and restoration. A husband that refuses to attend counseling, refuses to accept his wife’s efforts to change, refuses to admit that his own actions may play a role has no desire for a happy ending. There’s a big, big difference between a man who’s working through issues in a marriage and one using those issues as leverage in an ongoing war.

While editing Part One,  I realized that somewhere along the line, I dropped the phrase, The Beast, and called that oaf of a man ‘my husband.’ My counselor would have a field day with that little slip, wouldn’t he? I did not edit those references out because I think it shows something important. In this area, I’m not  free of the pain of being so despised by a man I gave myself to over and over for decades.  I still see myself as that woman crouching in the dark, trying to keep her husband from seeing the naked body he loathed.

Part 3 to come if I don’t change my mind and write about something more pleasant like root canals or weasel wrestling. Also note that in the few stories I found online with male victims, this pattern of sex-as-weapon seemed to hold true. The stories related here are firsthand accounts. If interested check out here and here.

Sex in an Abusive Marriage , Part 1

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I do not want to talk about this. In fact,  this topic can sprout wings and leave for Mars for all I care. Unfortunately, I can’t escape the repercussions.

Looking in the mirror each night, I see an ugly woman. I see chopped off hair, bad posture, ugly glasses. I see ugly white skin covered in scars, legs crisscrossed with spiderveins. One day I realized what I’m really seeing.

I see an unloved woman. I see myself through my husband’s eyes.

Even with a little time and distance, I struggle with guilt and shame. I do blame myself—my head says the man was a first class jerk, the little guys with the hammers inside my heart  keep saying something else entirely.

Heffalumps and Woozles

Sex is the elephant in the room. The biggie no one wants to discuss, the thing the beast considered my biggest failing as a wife.

How hard can it be to have sex? It’s one of the most basic life functions, right up there with eating and sleeping. What’s so hard about taking off your clothes and wiggling around until the husband is happy and satisfied?

I don’t know. He never was and nothing I did ever fixed things.

He said we didn’t have sex often enough. I wasn’t enthusiastic enough. I wasn’t sexy enough. He called me frigid and said I had issues. When I asked to go to counseling together, he refused saying he didn’t have a problem, I did. If I wanted to go fine, but he wasn’t paying for it. That left free counseling at the church where my father was a pastor, probably not the best option.

When I left, he made the rounds of our friends, speaking in private to the husbands. Later I would hear back from a couple of  wives who wanted to give me a chance to explain myself. The beast said I left his bed a year before I moved out. No idea what else he said, but this seemed to be enough ‘proof’ of what a rotten wife I’d been and of his saint-like patience all those years.  I didn’t bother trying to explain.

I do know what he told my own mother. Along with saying I’d cut him off, he cried and said  I couldn’t stand him touching me, that I had sexual issues relating to my childhood and he’d been extraordinarily long suffering over the years considering. That a man can only take so much. So what if he was angry? What would anyone expect? He was frustrated. He’d done more than any reasonable man could be expected to do. After all, he’d been completely faithful for thirty years.

Saying I left his bed is a blatant lie. I did not leave his bed. I was way too scared to say no. But the rest is difficult to sort out. Because of that one falsehood, I cling to the notion that much of what he says isn’t true either. But I will admit, some days it’s a stretch.  Because it *is* true that by the time I left, I couldn’t stand for him to touch me any longer.

Men Will Be Men

During those last ten days, my husband assured me that nobody would believe me and  any man who heard his complaints would take his side. Honest to goodness, I think he may have a point. I want to believe that some man, somewhere would understand what I’m about to write without sympathizing with my husband. I don’t like thinking that all men think in lockstep when it comes to physical intimacy.

This is not nice and it certainly isn’t one bit fair.  It’s prejudice. But all I can tell is the truth and the truth is this. I don’t like men much right now.

I’m going to put myself out there  and talk about the Great Unmentionable. In the South we have a term I’ll employ here—delicacy. I’m going to try to be delicate so as not to offend anyone, but right up front I’m telling you plain and simple, I’m talking about sex and I’m going to use appropriate terminology. My husband told his side of the story using code words and let others draw their own conclusion. I’ll explain  a few of those as we go.

Some of my thinking may be very off so fair warning–you can’t take what’s said here and turn it into gospel. These are simply my experiences, my observations, my story. Since I  intend to practice celibacy for the rest of my days here upon earth, I have no idea what healing might look like. But here’s my mantra right off so you don’t miss it.

I don’t believe people have a right to engage in sexual relations. My husband believed this with every fiber of his being. For years, I agreed but I just could not make it work. Now, I believe physical intimacy is a gift from God above and the beautiful culmination of a love lived well together.

Problems in the relationship are often found in the bedroom. Lack of trust, fear, anger. If something is desperately wrong, forcing one party or the other to go at it anyway can be devastating.

Sex also provides a looking glass to examine the relationship. I believe that’s a good thing. In a normal, healthy couple, something goes off, you examine, you work things out, you make up.

This is not that story.

The only thing I know to do is tell my side. It’s a little raw and not for kiddies. I’d rate it about a PG13. There’s just some things I can’t tell without being descriptive.

In The Beginning

As soon as we got back from that awful honeymoon, the anti-husband told me there would be no more cuddling. I could not rest my hand on his leg, snuggle up next to him on the couch, rub my hands across his shoulders. As we did plenty of cuddling before the wedding, this came as a shock.

His reason? He said it wasn’t fair. He said if I wanted affection I had to pay up. All physical touching had to end in orgasm, preferably his.

In practicality, this meant I never had the opportunity to warm up to the idea. If I’d had a bad day, worked a double shift, experiencing all day morning sickness, I couldn’t hug him unless I already knew I wanted to finish the job. It also meant, I couldn’t allow him to hug *me* because he made it very clear that hugs must proceed to completion. Writing this out, it sounds crazy but I’m not even slightly exaggerating. In all the years, this policy of his didn’t change. In fact, it became the first codeword. He’d ask for affection instead of sex. Then he could complain that I refused to hug him. It was one of his favorite jabs to take in public.

Combined with this was his anger if I refused his advances. And by advances, I mean using his physical size to pin me down and get started without any preamble. He’d simply walk in, throw me on the bed (or floor, or table) and start taking off my clothes or groping private areas. The only way to say no was to push him off and the man was twice my size. He called this ‘rejection.’ So now I was not only refusing affection, I rejected him which hurt his feelings.

Refusal was met with badgering. He kept me awake for hours after I said no. Now you might think from this description we weren’t intimate but nothing could be further from the truth. We had sex daily, sometimes multiple times. A typical example–we’d already had sex, I had six hours  to sleep before a major exam the next morning, get up to pee trying like crazy-nuts to be oh-so quiet so as not to wake the beast, go back to bed and… gotcha. I said I wasn’t in the mood. I was exhausted. I had to get up the next day. He got angry and whined and moaned and begged and tried every manipulative tactic until I gave in just to get some rest.

I Can’t Get No. . .

Afterwards, he was never satisfied. Either I wasn’t enthusiastic enough or I wouldn’t go along with some of his favorite ideas. Bondage seemed to be his thing (shocking, I know.) That man always wanted to tie me up naked somewhere. He told me I wasn’t attractive, especially without make-up.  I needed too much of his attention to reach orgasm which was essential to his fantasy. I suppose just looking at him should bring me to a glorious climax but for some odd reason, this never happened.

Combined with his raging fits, life was becoming a waking nightmare. Then, after some teaching at our church on the scripture about a woman’s body belonging to her husband, he expected access to my body sexually even when I was asleep. He thought it was his right as my husband to be able to climb atop and get busy whenever the urge hit. So there goes the nighttime.

I will not say we made love because we didn’t. Not once, not ever. My husband was my only teacher in this area and he taught me to perform ‘jobs’ and then told me what he wanted. (I’m not typing those words out, dadgumit. Think of an explicit term that ends in ‘job’ and use your imagination a little.) Eventually, I felt like a whore doing ‘jobs’ for my room and board. I’ve never told anyone that before so count yourself special.

You’re Lying

Then sexual intercourse started hurting. He saw this as a sign of weakness and refused to take it into consideration. He said I was lying to get out of sleeping with him. Because my pre-marriage enthusiasm had evaporated, I wondered if he was right. My body said it hurt but from what I read, from what I was told, it *shouldn’t* hurt. I began to doubt my own reality.

I found that if I complained, he got more “robust and vigorous” (please read between the lines here) which made the pain worse and which I assume was because of his anger which he took out during intimacy.  For certain, he’d be mad when he finished because I’d ruined it for him. For obvious reasons, I stopped complaining but the pain did not go away. At least a year later, the doctor diagnosed me with Chlamydia which if you aren’t aware, is a sexually transmitted disease that causes physical intimacy to be painful. The doctor said something along the lines of, once this is cleared up, you’ll be able to have sex again.

Oh really.

When confronted, the beast  denied giving me an STD. He got angry. (Big surprise).  He said I probably got it on a toilet seat (because I always rub my bare genitals on naked toilet seats) and I was faking the pain anyway because it ‘couldn’t possibly hurt that bad’. Then he gave me his favorite line, “If you don’t trust me, I might as well have an affair.” By this time, I was ready to make the introductions.

He said I was frigid. I was a disappointment. This wasn’t what he expected from his own wife. I tried telling him how I felt, talked about my need for affection without demands, asked him to go to counseling with me (he refused saying I was the one with a problem), read every book I could find on the subject. I began hoping he’d have an affair just so I could get some rest.

The raging fits continued. At this point, he blew up about once a month although his simmering temper, pouting, silent treatment, door slamming built for weeks toward each eruption. During this time I was expected to do my wifely duties.

I was a virgin when we married. I had no idea what might or might not be normal. Teaching from our church wasn’t helping. We had several middle aged men teaching the young married couples. We were taught in a mixed group. For some reason, the teacher’s wives never spoke. I well remember the series on sex.

“It may be morally wrong to have an affair but there’s always two sides to every story. If you haven’t given yourself openly, enthusiastically to your husband, can you really blame him for seeking comfort in another woman’s arms? Yes, your husband may sin, but you share the blame. In God’s eyes, who’s fault is it really? Remember this verse—For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. (1 Corinthians 7:4) ”

“There’s nothing dirty or unclean about sex. The marriage bed is undefiled. Whatever, whenever. Christians should be having the best sex—the more the better!”

“Christian women are horrible prudes. Lighten up! You want to keep your husband happy? You want a happy homelife? Meet his needs. Go past your comfort zone, then go further!”

I felt like I was in hell. I learned to go through the motions without feelings of any kind. Sex is a physical act. I could act out physically and shelve those feelings somewhere for the time it took to get done. Parts of my body stopped responding to any sort of touch. I pretended they did. I deserved an Oscar.

But there were limits to my ability to disconnect and finally I told the beast, once a day and you leave me alone between times. I have to work, I have to finish my school assignments, I have to rest.

He was furious. So what else is new?

But over time, it took longer and longer to stuff those feelings inside. I could not stand by the sink getting yelled at about the dishes and strip my clothes off ten minutes later while he had angry sex to make himself feel better. After being told how unattractive my body was, how I needed to work out, to get a tan, to stop growing hair so fast on my legs, etc. I could barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. My husband was not attracted to me. He could have done better,  his friends said so. I was such a disappointment.

I wanted to hurt myself. I stopped eating. My weight hit the hundred pound mark. He said I needed to tone up.

At about the three year mark, I told him, every other day. I can’t do this anymore and I refuse to do anything you’re coming up with from those dirty books you use to read. (At this point, I thought his use of pornography was past tense).  I wouldn’t budge. At this point, if he left  for another woman, good riddance. I’d enter a nunnery and take the blame for everything. I just didn’t care anymore.

The whining and begging grew less boisterous but he found other ways to punish. He picked at everything I did, criticizing everything from the music I liked to the shape of my thighs. I was starting to feel like every sexual act was an assault.

I tried. I really did. Nothing pleased him. If I tried something recommended in one of the self-help books, dressed in some wild outfit I’d found at a store I could barely make myself walk through, he’d always just say something along the lines of, you can do better next time or it’s a start we’ll see if this improvement continues. I do not remember one word of kindness. Not one.

Because the men in our church were the ones  teaching on marriage (usually the topic of female submission) I decided to ask a few women. Yes, I told them what was going on. Some of the advice I received during this time:

From my mother: “That’s just how men are. Never refuse your husband. Men are physical creatures who experience love through sex. If you have relations with him every time he asks, he will love you. He won’t be able to help himself.”

From the woman’s Bible Study leader: “Honey? You’ve got a young, virile husband there. He is a good looking man. Take a look around—if  you don’t take care of him, someone else will.”

From the associate pastor’s wife: “You come from an uptight family. You’ve got to loosen up some. Here’s some books to help you out.” Here she points to a boxed set of books on her shelf. Flipping through, I found  pages and pages of naked couples,  groups of three  or more. I must have looked pretty shocked because she laughed at my reaction. She said the human body was a beautiful thing and there was nothing wrong with looking at God’s creation.

(As a sidenote, by this time I was pretty desperate. I did go buy these books and kept them under my bed. I would look at the pictures, think of being somewhere else, with someone else and then shove them back under the bed before my husband got there. This seemed to work for awhile until a funny thing happened. My conscience smote the crap out of me. Didn’t matter who gave me those damn books, I was getting in trouble with my Savior. I repented and burned them. I also vowed never to go asking for help again.

This is definitely a two-parter. Please be praying for me as I try to complete this.

Thank you–