SEX FILES

The Star (St. Lucia) - Life Begins 2 Nite - - CONTENTS - by Sarah Cottrell

Af­ter many years of courtship and mar­riage, my hus­band and I de­vel­oped a sex­ual short­hand that, when the kids were lit­tle and we had no time and even less op­por­tu­nity, came in handy. Fore­play that was once steamy and drawn out was dis­tilled down to a sim­ple, “Hey, the kids fi­nally fell asleep! Quick, meet me on the couch!” fol­lowed by eight or nine sweaty min­utes of po­litely tak­ing turns get­ting our jol­lies.

As time paced for­ward in the fa­mil­iar, un­even clip of par­ent­hood, we found our­selves ex­pe­ri­enc­ing less and less of our in­ti­mate short­hand. Then one day, while look­ing at the cal­en­dar, I re­al­ized that it had been more than a month since we had had any sex at all.

As I stood there star­ing at the cal­en­dar, I re­al­ized that it was time to have a sex talk with my hus­band. Clearly, this was slightly more than just a dry spell; it was mar­i­tal lazi­ness. We needed to fix this. But I wasn’t quite sure where to be­gin or what to say.

My mind be­gan to lay the out­lines of what I wanted to talk to my hus­band about—things like the im­por­tance of in­ti­macy and phys­i­cal af­fec­tion. I wanted to plead a case for be­ing more self­ish with our pre­cious lit­tle free time, but as I be­gan to think out the right words to say, my in­se­cu­ri­ties floated closer to the sur­face of my form­ing words.

Was the rea­son we didn’t have sex any­more be­cause I had gained weight? Middle age was com­ing, and moth­er­hood had been rough on my ex­te­rior. While my hus­band was grow­ing more dis­tin­guished with age, I was be­com­ing more frumpy and soft. My ass was no longer high and tight, but more like squishy and wide. Gray hairs had be­gun to poke out in un­grace­ful ways around my face, on which laugh lines and crow’s feet were form­ing. Was I still at­trac­tive?

A nag­ging in­se­cu­rity can quickly spin into imag­ined be­tray­als that sim­ply are not there, and an ir­ra­tional twist of logic im­me­di­ately turned to wor­ries that my hus­band was hav­ing an af­fair. Was that pos­si­ble? For the bet­ter part of the day, I went back to this place of fear and cal­cu­lated his work hours, com­mute time, money spent and the fluc­tu­a­tion in our sav­ings ac­count, but each time I came up short on any proof of po­ten­tial in­fi­delity.

Was the rea­son we didn’t have sex any­more be­cause that is just what hap­pens in a mar­riage af­ter a decade? Was this the Seven-Year Itch? I had heard of this phe­nom­e­non that de­clares a mar­riage es­sen­tially dead af­ter a pro­longed pe­riod to­gether. A di­vorced friend once told me that af­ter nearly a decade, it would be a mir­a­cle if my mar­riage was still alive, no one was cheat­ing, and the words “take a break,” “sep­a­ra­tion” or “di­vorce” were not men­tioned. But it had been that long. Should I buy porn and see-through out­fits? Was it fi­nally time to re­tire my frumpy mom at­tire and trade in the pony­tail for lay­ers and high­lights? How much of this dry spell was even my fault?

The low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in this funky mar­riage prob­lem was that while it may be true that my hus­band and I were swamped with the de­tails of our fam­ily life, we still loved each other. And when we re­mem­bered to, we even de­sired each other. We still had small mo­ments of sex­ual in­nu­endo dur­ing the most bor­ing of con­ver­sa­tions. Dur­ing the morn­ing rush to get out the door, my hus­band still on oc­ca­sion slapped me on the ass while giv­ing me a peck on the cheek.

While I thought through all the things I wanted to say to my hus­band about how much I missed our in­ti­macy, how much I craved just to be held and looked at and touched by him, I could not help but feel just a lit­tle bit ridicu­lous and needy. Wasn’t this chap­ter of our lives sup­posed to be busy and dif­fi­cult? I fi­nally de­cided that, fool­ish or not, si­lence would be the same as ly­ing by omis­sion. Our pri­vate life shouldn’t take a backseat to the busi­ness of par­ent­ing. I didn’t care if this was the Seven-Year Itch. I didn’t care what my di­vorced friend said about mar­i­tal suc­cesses and fail­ures. I didn’t care if I sounded weak. But I did care that my mar­riage climbed back up to the top of the list of pri­or­i­ties.

So, af­ter think­ing all of th­ese things and feel­ing the full­ness of ur­gency and awk­ward­ness, I sat my hus­band down and took a deep breath.

“Honey, we need to talk.”

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