Marriage Of One

The Later Years

Yet again I have tried to produce a concise article by rolling up the last 4-5 years of my marriage.
The next article after this is The Last Step.
The previous article to this is The Early Years.

We went into marriage always expecting to raise a family at some point. My belief was (and still is) that a couple should go into marriage and learn as much as they can about each other and their upbringing and attitude to parenthood as possible before having any children. Of course there are times when this isn’t possible – but ‘luckily’ for us it was.

After returning from our long holiday we talked about starting a family. We had been married now for 3 years. I think I was ambivalent about the idea that we should have children when we clearly had issues that needed resolving. But after talking about it (and my experiences during the holiday – see The Early Years), it was clear that Susan could not see the problem as I did. She simply felt the solution was ‘more time’ and ‘more privacy (from my co-habiting parents)’ – the usual list of things that she felt would automatically fix things. I could see that delaying having children would not achieve anything. I rationalised: perhaps trying to get pregnant would give us a common goal, perhaps being forced to have sex to get pregnant would show Susan what we had missed out on and would awaken her libido, perhaps dealing with pregnancy would be a common focus for us, perhaps having a child would awaken maternal and more ‘wifely’ instincts in her. I guess when you are desperate you’ll fool yourself into believing anything.

Susan took control of the pregnancy plan with military precision – elbowing me pretty much out of the way in the first few weeks. She printed calendars, marked the days of her period, calculated ovulation dates and decided when we would have sex. She decided that we should have sex when she was ovulating. She was not even remotely interested in my opinion that this was not an exact science and she needed to perhaps have sex on either side of that date too. I tried once or twice to point out that relaxing and letting nature take its course was more likely to bear results. I didn’t see any value in trying to ask for sex just for pleasure – that was just out of the question.

After 9 months and then again after about 14 months she got frustrated that she wasn’t pregnant yet. On both those occasions I tried to tell her that she might be making it harder that it needed to be. But it was like whistling into the wind: she started to suspect that there was something biologically wrong, first with herself then with me.

Sixteen months after this (so we had sex 16 times, plus maybe once or twice on ‘special’ days e.g. anniversary or birthday) I was starting to feel really bad about myself. I felt like nothing more than a faceless sperm donor. And that was when I decided that friends or not, the relationship was starting to hurt me. I had to get out.

Perhaps I should have left immediately. But I decided to give it 6 more weeks (to the end of that year). If by January Susan was not pregnant, I would file for divorce. To this day I don’t know why I made this choice, but everytime I look into the eyes of my children and sometimes when I hold Susan I know I made the right decision.

And somehow – through no change or effort from her – Susan was pregnant by the next month – 18 months after starting to ‘try’. Divorce was now from my point of view impossible. Once again, I would have to find a way to live with the circumstances.

Living with pregnancy

Once we found out about the pregnancy everything changed. Susan had morning sickness and that put sex firmly on the back burner for a month or two (if it could ever have been said to be on the ‘front burner’). I started to look at my role as a father-to-be and husband in a less sexual light and decided that for her sake and the growing baby in her, the path of least resistance and greatest happiness for her was the best one.

So I regularly gave her massages as her legs started to swell, rubbed her back, helped her do the pre-natal exercises. We grew closer during that time than we had for a long time. I still would have liked sex and we did have sex about 3 times during her pregnancy. It was hard because I felt I was just pouring out the love and attention and she was just absorbing it with precious little coming back. But I felt my child growing and moving in her belly and I was just looking to the future.


Our daughter was born and although delivery had not been straightforward, Susan’s recovery was quite quick and she had no complications. Our joy over our baby should not be underestimated and even now I sometimes look at her – nearly 4 years on and my eyes can still well up with tears as I recall when I first saw her.

But with Susan things took a dramatic turn that even I didn’t expect. Pregnancy had been tough enough sexually, and although I had no fixed expectations I thought that (based upon the articles and books I had read) 3 or 4 months after delivery she would be ready to start having sex again.

Instead Susan held of for 6, then 12 then 15 months. Our child was nearly one and half years old before we restarted. And there was no physical or emotional reason for this. We were getting along really well with raising our daughter, there was no tension, no cooercion on my part. I didn’t even ask her for sex, I just waited. And waited. It was my first clue that for Susan sex really was an optional extra in marriage – and she had no intrinsic value for it and certainly no desire for it.

And the fact that she had waited so long had other consequences I believe although I have never sought to confirm this. During childbirth she had to have a cut to deliver our baby. This was stitched and healed nicely. But the scar tissue became very inelastic and fibrous. After 15 months sex was very painful. I think that if she had started earlier she would likely have had less of a problem.

It’s true that she may have been completely absorbed in her new motherhood and I concede that point. But think about it – 15 months? Not even a word to me about it or even asking how I felt about it?

So now with her discomfort during intercourse, Susan held off from having sex ‘unnecessarily’. She did speak to her GP eventually who said that surgery might be necessary – or the problem could resolve itself when she next went through childbirth. Susan opted for the latter.

New plans for a new life

When my daughter was nearly two we decided that we should move house. And just as critically we decided that we should try for a second child.

Once again I was ambivalent about this. I had however now come to terms with the very likely fact that I was destined to live my adult life primarily as a father rather than husband – if I could ever consider myself to have been one – which I didn’t. We were also both of the opinion that we didn’t want our daughter to grow an only child, and that she should have a brother/sister of nearly similar age to play with.

At about this time I discovered Julia Gray. I wrote about this in my diary and noted that whilst it gave some insight into the possible mental status of a woman who had ‘become’ frigid, it did not really apply to Susan who apparently just ‘was’ frigid. But it did show me that remaining silent was not necessarily a good strategy.

I decided that I should say something. So we went out for a coffee and I took some notes because I felt I had alot to cover and didn’t want to miss anything off what I had to say. I wasn’t expecting a conversation because I knew that what Susan said and what she did were rarely the same thing. All I wanted to convey is what I had felt over the last few years. She could agree with it, dispute it or ignore it. Her choice, but I had to get it off my chest.

So I told her about how much I still loved her and our daughter and that I would never leave. And I told her how close we had come to splitting up. And why. I told her what I expected when we were trying for our next child. And what I expected from our new life in the new house.

Crucially the relocation plan was going to get our parents out from under our roof, living with a close relative very nearby. It was going to remove one of the ‘reasons’ Susan had for our stunted sex life.

Pregnant again

My point about how Susan would get pregnant was important. I told her how miserable I felt when she put me through 18 months of ‘sperm donor’ mode the first time round. I wanted her to do it differently. So in spite of the pain she felt during intercourse, we had sex around once or twice a fortnight (which is several hundred percent above her average). And guess what? She was pregnant in around 2 months!

What does that say about the awful time wasted the first time around? I know you can’t prove this kind of thing but our eldest might have been born a full year or more before she actually was.

In my mind I imagined the second pregnancy would be much like the first. In fact it was quite different. For a start of course we had a child to take care of this time. Then we were in the middle of planning our house move. So there was alot more to do then just lie around with my ear on Susan’s growing tummy.

But between Susan and I something happened which I just did not expect. I don’t know if I pushed her too far with the sex before she got pregnant – I honestly don’t recall that I did, but her behaviour was quite shocking. She completely shut me out of the pregnancy. No massages, only a little touching and definitely no sex. For the whole pregnancy.

And so for 9 months we had only the smallest amount of physical contact. Susan was as healthy as she had been the first time round – she had morning sickness for the first 6-8 weeks, but that was it. Although we only had sex a few times the first time round at least we had contact and intimacy. This time there was nothing. I asked her about it once and she said she felt as though I had pushed HER away. Was it a misunderstanding? No I don’t think so – she just didn’t want me in that capacity.


Two months after our second daughter was born we moved house. This was, I told Susan, a new beginning – if we wanted it to be. And I did. We should draw a line under all the hurt and pain and events of the past. We needed to both change our behaviour and work differently to reengage with each other. If not for ourselves then for our children. She agreed. That was the easy part. Since she got pregnant we had not had sex – around 11 months now.

We moved house and it took awhile for us to get the new house in order, particularly as we had downsized. My parents moved out from under our roof and made daily visits to see the children and help us babysit. On the face of it life was hectic but it was for once just our life. Our young family under one roof with no parents or intrusion.

In theory it was the ideal setting. It was a new beginning and we had the time – at least in the evenings, the privacy and space to live our dream and fantasies. And even better, Susan’s problem with pain during intercourse appeared to have resolved itself by having a natural vaginal delivery.

We had changed our home, town, family living, pretty much everything – even our car!  We just had to change ourselves – for Susan it was a step too far.


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