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I Took Sex off the Table in My Marriage

by Melissa Steussy about a month ago in marriage · updated about a month ago

And here's what happened

I Took Sex off the Table in My Marriage
Photo by Anda Deea on Unsplash

I was having some kind of mental break down and for good reason. I had a book that I had been working on for a decade head to publication. I had gone back to work for the year and felt like I was drowning. My husband was working out of town consistently and I was on sole parenting duties.

I was and am still reeling from Covid and honestly not taking great care of myself. I was drinking Kombucha daily like it was my lifeline even though I know from my past that caffeine and sugar make me cranky.

I felt the pressure of the seasons changing from summer to fall and the fast approaching dark days of winter were suffocating me under my soon-to-be-worn parka.

I have had a shoulder injury for the better part of this year and it was starting to get to me. I was missing out on going to yoga and even putting my hair up and getting out of bed felt impossible.

I hadn't been back to Church since Covid and was losing touch with society.

By Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

Anyway, so all of this came to a head and I quit Kombucha (God, one sounds good right now) I tried to breathe and pray, and remember that I can not control the outcome of my book or my parenting or the crappy frozen vegan pizzas I was making for dinner. I could only worry about myself and try to manage my own strong emotions. I needed to calm the F down and get centered damn it!

I felt low, lower than low and everything was a trigger.

I realize now that I was trying to sabotage a good thing happening to me. In my mind if something good happens then something bad or horrific is likely to follow. I felt a real fear that because my book was being published my whole world was going to fall apart and crumble.

In my mind it was real.

Since something good is happening I’m probably going to drink and throw away my 23 years of sober time and people will realize what a farce I am, or my family will be in an accident or even worse I will get a divorce or commit suicide. These were real thoughts I was having. I was having a trauma response to a scary unknown in my life and since I like to control everything to feel safe and I couldn’t control the outcome of my book, my mind wanted to take me to something I could control. Wrecking my life.

Trust me, I know all about this. I’ve done it once before.

It’s the I’ll hurt you before you hurt me game.

When I was about 5 years sober and a new mother and wife a flip switched in me and I had an affair. I justifiably (in my mind) had an affair so I could feel seen and valued instead of using my words and standing up for myself. I immaturely caused havoc for the people in my life because I was too scared to face my reality and do something about it.

I am a grown-ass woman now and have learned from my younger days and ways. I luckily do not want to inflict pain on anyone and don’t want to wreck my life.

My family is good. I am good. I have worked hard to be where I am now and if I can learn to breathe and remain calm I don’t need to F**k up a good thing. I can be present and experience the highs and lows of this thing called life.

I don’t like it when I go straight for, “it could be so much worse or be grateful for what you have” because I do know of that thing called toxic positivity and I am not all about that shit.

I do know enough to acknowledge my shitty feelings and the very real fear I am experiencing. Of course when I feel this way the last thing I want to do is talk to another human or take a walk in nature, but those are the exact things that get me to where I need to be-sanity.

So I asked my dear husband for some space over text while he was out of town. I said that I was really struggling mentally and felt like I was drowning and also like an impending volcano. I knew I would implode or explode soon and needed to just take care of myself. I couldn’t think of others’ needs for a minute and just need to get to this next place in my life and step back to take care of my mental and emotional health.

He was very understanding and when I asked for space I didn’t clearly say, “don’t try to have sex with me," but it was implied as space is space.

Since that day I have felt more present. I have felt less pressure to perform, so to speak. I have felt more connected to my spouse and we can talk and have discussions without me thinking he’s thinking about my breasts or ass.

Trust me, it is flattering and l love having a husband that is into me-I do not take that for granted at all. But in the same breath how nice is it just to have a conversation sometime where that physical intimacy is not an expectation? I might be alone here, but I didn’t realize how when you live a life with kids sneaking in the nasty is pivotal and having that off the table gives me permission to be. To go inside. To feel less worried about what I am wearing to bed or if I’ve showered this week (I kid.)

I know some women who want it more than their men do and this can go both ways I assume. I needed to know that I was seen for me and that I was heard and valued when sex isn’t involved. I needed to know my man wasn’t going to leave me if I asked for space and he has been awesome. He has taken so much weight off of my shoulders and has really stepped up in so many ways because I asked for it instead of running away and causing a huge shit storm like in my last marriage.

Live and learn, right?

I am so grateful for this time to just be. My body feels like mine. Yes, there is a time and place when we desire to share our bodies, but for me right now I just want it to myself. I just needed some time to be present with myself. I don’t know exactly what is going on with me, but vulnerability is important. We can say how we feel and hope that those around us will understand. We can be our own advocates and say, “Hey, wait, this doesn’t feel right.”

I’m an only child and a loner at heart. I needed this space and I am thankful to not have a partner that suffocates me with closeness as he needs his own space too. I think that sometimes changing things up can make things more spicy and intimate when they do resume. We will remember what we’re missing and know that we have choices. We can let go of building resentments and be present with one another.

And maybe taking sex off the table will make things feel less overwhelming for the time being.

Have you ever thought about having a time of abstinence with your spouse to create more intimacy outside of the sack?

I would love to hear how folks go about "doing it" in the real world. xoxo

marriage

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

https://www.theblackhatpress.com/bookshop/p/let-your-privates-breathe

https://www.instagram.com/melsteussy/

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