36 years and I’m undone
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October 11, 2022 at 11:14 am #56317
My wife and I have now been married for 36 years. All of which have been without penetrative sex. In the months before we were married we were very passionate with each other and being conservative we held out for marriage before having sex. I’m a big man and weighed over 280 lbs. when we were first married. We were both virgins at marriage and Our wedding night was a disaster with a lot of tears on her part and excuses to go along with it. Yet being a large person, I always said I would never force myself onto any woman. Not too long after the wedding nite she shared with me that an uncle had once sexually touched her when she was a toddler and had done so a few times. When she told her Mom, her mother simply said to never tell my father in law, he would possibly harm the man over it. After this it was never discussed again in her family or with her Mom. Nor was there ever any sexual instruction or discussions by her mother concerning her sex life.
Over time after we were first married she was diagnosed by her doctor as having vaginismus. I remember when she came home from the doctor, I asked what was her diagnosis. My wife simply handed me a piece of paper with the lone word “vaginismus” written on it. When I asked what can be done she said “the doctor said it was all in my mind.” Of course, I immediately researched what I could to learn what could be done including the use of therapy, dlators, etc… and when I told my wife she sternly said “I’m not doing that!” Anytime intimacy was initiated I was the one to do it. On some occasions, she tried to but the end result was the same. For the most part I performed oral on her while she lay there allowing me to do so while I self masturbated into a condom. And so this has continued for the last three plus decades. We once discussed children but she quickly said no. At one point after becoming frustrated and trying to discuss this she told me “if I didn’t like it, I knew where the door was.”
I am a Christian man and the thought of going outside my marriage is unthinkable. Yet I am a man and have looked at things I shouldn’t be looking at. I’ve tried counseling with people of faith that are dear Christian people yet many pastors and other counselors aren’t equipped to deal with something like vaginismus. But I have a heart that tells me that I won’t go back on the marriage promises I made and that because she is unwilling to try counseling, I must keep trying to speak with her. I’ve come to the conclusion that my desires for that type of intimacy may never come in my lifetime. Needless to say, this has led to a lot of depression on my part and a feeling of being devalued as a man and a mate.
In December of 2021 I had a ten level spinal fusion and have become limited in my mobility. Recovery has been slow. I and my wife are now 61 years old and my natural desires are fading quickly. And along with my spinal issues it has made things worse as far as I cannot feel as though I have any chances of rectifying this. I’m just to a point that I needed to put this out there and see what others had to recommend or even say concerning this.October 11, 2022 at 11:45 am #56330mazemelissaModerator
Thank you so much for sharing your story, I am sure it was difficult to put this out there.
Vaginismus does impact both people in a relationship, and it can be very frustrating to the partner. It sounds like you supported your wife through the years, and she is very lucky to have someone by her side with compassion and understanding.
Some women are just not able to face their fears and tackle the overwhelming panic that comes with treating vaginismus.
I believe that it is never to late to try and treat vaginismus, but it is a committment that she would need to make.October 11, 2022 at 2:17 pm #56348
I’ve always desired to have the kind of intimate relationship that comes with a marriage. To me, a sexual relationship is the ultimate acceptance by someone of who and what you are. And after being a rather large person all my life, it was my ultimate hope that after I was married I would have that acceptance. Yet, that was not to be. I find myself at that point where I am envious of my friends who have children and grandchildren. Plus I’ve reached a point where I’m seeing some of my friends passing on now and I’m looking back on life and wondering what could I have done differently. Of course holidays are always difficult because I have no children or grandchildren to share that with. My post was not so much about being angry and hurt because of the lack of intimacy with my wife. It’s as much of loving someone so much that I’ve had to learn to have patience and forgiveness while not having the same understanding returned when I’ve expressed concern about it. But like you said she has to desire the change. Thanks so much for your reply!October 23, 2022 at 1:04 pm #56609recessivegenequeenParticipant
Hi Ammon_2 – thank you so much for your brave and vulnerable perspective. I feel for you deeply – I am a woman who dealt with vaginismus for 10 years and it took my partner at the time telling me about his needs not being met for me to finally feel motivated to do something about it. Having been through treatment successfully, I finally have the distance and perspective to recognize how hard it is on male partners – they deal with a lot of the same consequences as the women dealing with the condition (thwarted desires, feelings of inadequacy) but aren’t in the position to be able to do something about it because the desire and motivation have to come from the woman dealing with the vaginismus. It is a very lonely and helpless place to be and you have done an amazing job of working to keep the relationship moving forward and provide all kinds of support.
There are women on this forum who have sought treatment later in life and embraced desire in their fifties or beyond. Vaginismus can feel like a prison, but the amazing thing about treatment is that no matter how long you’ve done it one way, you can always change your mind and confront the situation head on. You can also decide at any time to work on changing your relationship to desire – it sounds like your wife has applied her anxieties around penetration to other parts of your sex life and that it feels perfunctory and distant. There are couples who have a great sex life together that doesn’t include penetration, but it’s once again a commitment from both parties to exploring what’s possible together and what works well for them. It’s something a counselor or sex therapist could work with you on (though I know this isn’t something your wife has been open to in the past).
The power that you as a male partner in this situation DO have is to share your feelings in a way that is both compassionate and honest. You have carried this burden for a long time, but for things to change you will likely have to lay it down in front of your partner and explore it honestly. There are paths you have taken and others you still have the option to take. Your experiences are valid and your desires are valid too, and it’s likely that they won’t be met unless you share honestly your feelings because otherwise your wife likely will feel that she has no need to address these problems.
I hope that you will not see the situation as past saving – we almost always have the power to change the course we are traveling on. You are clearly a thoughtful and kind man who has been powerfully guided by your faith this far – I hope the strength of your partnership can bear the pursuit of a new way of being. You deserve to take a shot at it.October 26, 2022 at 7:19 pm #65827
Recessivegenequeen, I want to thank you for your reply and your encouragement. And you’re right, it’s never too late. It just seems to have been put secondary for so long that it never is discussed any longer and the older I get now it just drops so much further behind. I know her desire has all but faded and the way she was raised was to never speak about it and after finding out her uncle was a molester makes it understandable. I’ve made up my mind to speak with her about it again and to seek help on my part so that I’m prepared to help if possible. My spine surgery has surely not helped things.
I had hoped as I got older that it would be less important but I was clearly wrong. It’s hard sometimes not to notice an attractive young woman. I even find myself looking at young families with young children and thinking, “well at least they got it right.” Or saying to myself, “why did this happen to me? But the one thing I feel in my heart and hear myself saying more than anything is “that young woman accepted her husband and loved him enough to give everything of herself, fully accepting him and why will mine not do that?” And so, here we come into the holidays with Thanksgiving and Christmas and I watch kids and moms and dads enjoying those days and I cannot and it grieves me that it’s something that I will miss again this year. Giving them gifts, enjoying the lights at Christmas like I did with my family as a kid, and watching the look of surprise and wonder on their faces. All of this I learned my wife never had as a kid with her family. I can only HOPE that one day it will all change. As a Christian, I have this one promise that He will give me peace and let me know why one day. Again, thank you for your response.November 8, 2022 at 1:01 pm #65887recessivegenequeenParticipant
I am glad my response helped you, Ammon_2. You’re in a hard position and I understand why the holidays are so tough for you around the holidays because you’re seeing what you haven’t gotten to see flourish in your own life around you.
I hope that opening up to your wife will be helpful to you, and also that the future brings you opportunities to build a version of this life you seek, even if it doesn’t look like what you might have imagined. A lot of people in life have to confront the reality that they can’t have children (whether it’s due to infertility, vaginismus, or a range of other issues) or just can’t have the picture they thought their life would be like, and they can go on to build wonderful lives that aren’t quite what they envisioned but which bring them fulfillment anyway. Maybe your path will look like this – you could adopt children or be a foster parent or devote your time and energies to charities that help to fill part of what feels missing in your life. We can’t know what life will bring to us, but I know that things are never over until we let them be.
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