I spent a long time with virtually no libido. I tried the “fake it till you make it” approach and it worked sometimes, but it was a lot of effort. I tried being selfless and doing it for TN’s sake, but it often just left me feeling used and not in a good/kinky way. I tried avoiding it at all costs and used health problems to say I couldn’t, instead of I wouldn’t. I rejected his advances and I got pissed about the joking innuendos. All in all, I was miserable and made him miserable too. Eventually he pretty much stopped trying. For awhile, I was relieved.
I didn’t have pretend I was asleep when he came to bed.
I could cuddle with him and not worry that hands would wander and he’d want more.
I could kiss him without seeing the look of disappointment when we stopped at that.
And then one day, my libido woke up. The story of exactly what triggered it is for another day, but it was almost a literal flip of the switch. Much to his surprise, I was initiating sex. I was horny all the time and pushing boundaries. TN didn’t know how to react. On one hand, he was thrilled that I was more like my old self. On the other, he was afraid that it wouldn’t last. On the third hand, he was a guy in his 40s and didn’t have the stamina he once had. And on the other, other hand, I was worried that if I didn’t feed my desire for sex, I would lose it again.
At one point we actually had an argument where he said he felt like I was expecting him to perform on demand. It was the exact argument we’d had dozens of times in reverse roles. I felt bitch-slapped by karma because now that I was suddenly horny all the time, he wasn’t interested and/or could not he perform like I wanted/remembered.
It took some time and a lot of talking but we settled into a good compromise. We made it a rule that we slept naked so that even without orgasms, the skin on skin contact gave me the intimacy and oxytocin release that I needed and craved even if we weren’t fucking like rabbits all the time. He didn’t feel pressured to perform. Our sex life became more than I ever expected.
Over 18 months later, our marriage is better than ever. We don’t fight any more and we rarely even have an argument. We’re exploring and trying new things and having amazing sex. So what on earth is my problem? To borrow a line from my current
obsession favorite musical, Hamilton, I feel like “I’ll never be satisfied.”
Most days I accept that TN and I have different libidos. I understand that we have different needs and I take care of things myself. To put a horribly clichéd corporate spin on it, I manage my expectations.
I strive to be understanding that the demands and stress of his work are not conducive to long play sessions every night. I manage my expectations.
I write about sex often even though I only post sporadically. I manage my expectations.
I accept (mostly) that the biological effects of mid-life are not always kind to his physical ability to get freaky every night. I manage my expectations.
I flirt on Twitter to release some of my pent up energy so I’m not constantly on him for sex. I manage my expectations.
I seek the intimacy that I need through kissing and touching and naked cuddling during bedtime TV. I manage my expectations.
I try to remember that my low libido and rejection of him was much longer and much harder on him and I should stop wasting mental energy on this. I manage my expectations.
In other words, I manage my expectations in a way that works for me, doesn’t annoy him and no one gets hurt.
But goddammit, some days I don’t want to manage my expectations. Some days I want to be able to have sex when I want it. I want him to want it as much and as often as I do. I want him to follow through on the innuendos and promises he makes. Just once I want to get dirty text back from him after I send one. I want to be like the young lovers we once were…morning, noon and night.
But the very worst part of this expectation management are the days that I fight like hell to stop believing that I deserve this. That I deserve to be never satisfied because I was the cause of our problems for so very long.
Rationally, I know it wasn’t just me. Yes, my lack of libido was a huge factor, but there were other issues in our relationship too. We got along for the most part, but we stopped talking and laughing and liking each other. We were dealing with a child with mental illness and developmental challenges. He worked long hours in the office. I worked long hours taking our child to doctors and therapies and appointments while trying to keep some normalcy in our lives for the other kids.
I can type all that out and know with all of my soul that I wasn’t the only the problem. But when my confidence waivers, when another another broken promise or disappointment happens, I forget about managing my expectations and I believe the bullshit voice in my head telling me that it’s my fault, that I wasted too much time. That I’m middle-aged and should be thankful I’m having any sex at all.
And after I write it all out, I do what I always do. I put on my big girl panties. I flirt on Twitter. I workout. I try to silence the voice in my head and instead listen to the love in my heart.
I manage my expectations.