One of the challenges that I had to face, when Jack and I decided to really give our marriage a chance, had to do with sexual intimacy. After menopause, I really didn’t care if I ever had sex again. The physical urges were all but gone and that was fine with me…it even seemed like the natural course of things. It was a relief.
I’d never had a healthy body image, even when I was young, firm, and fit…and sex…what a loaded issue. Growing up Catholic, sex was at best, a necessary evil if you were married. Otherwise it was considered dirty, disgusting, and a sign of moral depravity and weakness.
Even though I left the church when I was in my 20s, at some level I still carried these beliefs about sex, and by extension about myself. I thought I’d finally banished these beliefs when I no longer felt like a sexual being, and I wasn’t being “challenged” at home; Jack had felt rejected so many times that he gave up asking. What I didn’t recognize or should I say, what I didn’t want to see was how Jack felt about sex; how it meant acceptance and love to him.
So when we “reconciled” a year and a half ago, I knew that I’d have to face a part of myself that was painful; namely an aging, sagging, bagging, body that didn’t look or feel at all enticing/sexy, and these old beliefs that sex was somehow wrong.
I didn’t jump back into sex with full abandon: inhibitions suddenly gone, free and open at last, but I did, to the best of my ability (sometimes with inner trembling) open myself up to be present in this way for Jack. What I came to see was that my apparent rejection of Jack’s advances was in fact a rejection of myself; I really never believed that I could make peace with sex or myself as a sexual being.
Does sex sometimes feel “obligatory” to me? Yes. Could I turn away from it and never give it another thought? Maybe…but maybe not. I’ve been surprised by how wonderful it is to not be fit and firm, buff and sexy, but to feel deeply appreciated…to talk about our insecurities and apprehensions about sex and to see them met with such tender understanding.
A part of me that I had relegated to the past, is now opening, growing, and pushing me to live more fully in the present, and these old beliefs are falling away. My softer body is mirroring my softer inner self who is willing to be more vulnerable, less in control; more open…and I welcome her with a soft, wrinkled smile.
Several days ago, a friend sent me a wonderful article from the New York Times entitled, “What sleeping with married men taught me about infidelity”, the link is below. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/style/modern-love-sleeping-with-married-men-infidelity.html