EARLY on in a relationship, the sex is new and exciting and awesome. And you want it all. The. Time. There’s that new love euphoria that clouds your rationality that maybe there’s more to life than being physically intimate with this person, because zomg the touching just feels so good, and he seems to love your body, and your body loves his body, and crazy awesome hormones are pumping through your veins, and it really is like being in an altered state of reality.
When you’re in a new relationship with someone you really like, and they really like you too, you basically both become sex addicts. You want it when you want it, and damn the consequences. So what if you’re a little late to work — that quickie before you got out of bed that morning was totally worth it.
Eventually though, those feelings settle down, and you either break up or you move to a new level of the relationship; one that maybe isn’t quite as exciting, but definitely much more comfortable. You get to know each other’s bodies really well, but you also get to know each other better, and pick up on each other’s cues, and respect them and take care of them, and know that it’s OK if they’re occasionally not feeling the groove.
Unless you’re with a sex addict.
I didn’t realise I’d married a sex addict until years after our wedding day. We only dated for a few months before we got married, so basically I was still in sex-addict mode myself when I promised to love him until I died.
Eventually, I’d start wishing I were dead.
My ex-husband truly believed he owned my body and that I was in the wrong if I ever denied him access. When I wouldn’t give in to his advances because I was friggin’ tired from taking care of little kids, or not feeling well, or just because I didn’t feel like it right then, he would coldly turn his back on me and heave deep sighs of put-upon-ness, and I would cry myself to sleep because I just wanted to feel loved without having to have sex.
He told me that he was being respectful by only wanting it daily, because he thought three times a day or more would be a good amount, but even he realised that was a bit much to ask of a wife. See? He was being really respectful of me! Why didn’t I appreciate him more?
When you’re with someone that wants it all the time, there’s never a chance for you to want it. You know he’s constantly thinking about it. It’s the only way he feels like he’s living, and it drains the life out of you.
He turned to porn. I wished he would turn to other women, but as the long-suffering husband, I don’t think his psyche would allow for it. The porn further warped his sexual expectations, and his bitterness at my continued reluctance to be physically intimate with him more than three or four times a week grew.
He started ignoring me outside of the bedroom too, and I don’t think we had one real conversation the last two years of our marriage. I tried to talk to him about it, but he said there was no problem and it was all in my head, and he looooooved me so much. It was my problem, not his.
Eventually I started declining more and more, and when he touched me, I would inwardly cringe. All touch leads to sex. One of the red flags I had ignored early on in our relationship was his comment that there was no point in touching if it wasn’t going to lead to sex.
When he started just climbing on top of me, I didn’t call it rape because I didn’t stop him, even though I had told him I didn’t want to do it. I lay there, hating myself and hating him and wishing he would cheat on me so I could have an excuse to leave. He hated that I didn’t seem into anymore.
We went to couples therapy and the therapist wanted to put me on antidepressants. I didn’t have the fortitude at that point to try another therapist. Meanwhile, I had started individual counselling and was slowly re-establishing my own self-worth.
One night when I really did push him away, he punched the pillow next to my head, and for the first time, I was really scared. He turned his back on me and in minutes was snoring. I lay awake all night wondering what to do.
I started saving money. I gave up trying to talk to him. We were like two ice cubes living together. The kids were anxious a lot. A few months after the pillow-hitting incident, I hired an attorney and filed for divorce. I moved out with the kids with nothing but the photo albums, some clothes, and my car.
Then all hell broke loose, because all of a sudden I was the heartless bitch that left her devoted, loyal husband without just cause. I’ve been called a whore to my face. I’ve lost friends, and acquaintances look at me with pity reserved for those that are making major mistakes. I’ve been told I’m ruining my kids’ lives, but the truth is that they’re doing better than ever.
I’m doing better too. My body is mine again, and I will never again let someone convince me that I don’t have total ownership over it.
This post originally appeared on The Stir .