Living With Painful Intercourse: Friendship

It may not be ideal, but this condition has done wonders for my marriage.

There’s just so much you don’t know about a person before you’ve been married for a few years. The day you walk down the aisle, you think you know all the important parts. I was lucky enough to have had a friend in my husband long before we were dating. Even so, the past four years have revealed surprise upon surprise upon surprise. But when you don’t have the distraction of sex, the luxury of using it as a tool to smooth over disagreements, the comfort of soothing disappointments and hurts, you get some relationship shit really done. And suddenly, those surprises become learning experiences and, even if you’re shouting until you’re hoarse at four in the morning, things get worked out. Shit gets done.

And when you can’t end that fight on the high note you’d like, as it were, you talk, instead. All that talking creates a deep level of emotional intimacy and friendship (although, I do think I can hear my husband shrieking from the other room as I write this sentence).

I think my husband and I would have been fine if I hadn’t had this condition, of course. But I do think we’ve gained something from having to struggle without sex. It’s not what I expected; I never expected any marriage to last without sex, especially not between two young virgins who’d put so much energy into thinking about this time of their lives and all the wild sex they’d be having. Nonetheless, here we are.

Oh, and we do get major side-eye. People are always looking for signs of the strain: will he up and leave her? are they ragged at the edges? is the relationship on the rocks?

Fortunately, for us, the answer is a resounding no. Maybe it’s that we had good attitudes, but I suspect we’re just lucky. Lucky that this struggle made us stronger as a unit rather than weaker. It’s easier to see this thing as less of a burden when I remember all those post-shouting-match conversations, when we’ve lain in each other’s arms and talked through everything, start the finish, the way we should have in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to have sex, and I want to have sex without pain. But just because this is a struggle, just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that there haven’t been upsides, too. Small bits of light in a seemingly dark room, well – they may be an unlooked for blessing, but they’re a blessing nonetheless.

By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

3 replies on “Living With Painful Intercourse: Friendship”

On the occasion that I do find some stories being told about women who have unexplained pain with intercourse, they are usually horror stories culminating in broken hearts and failed marriages. Lovely, thank you – but of course the saddest and most salacious stories are the ones getting told. The real truth, even though you never hear it, is that there are lots of couples who don’t have sex, or don’t have vaginal sex, or don’t have as much sex as is “normal” for many, many reasons. And they’re okay. And you’re okay. And I’m okay. And we’re going to be okay, even though it didn’t feel that way at first, and even though our culture tells us we ought be viewing our life as a catastrophe because of this one thing.

That’s why I’ve told almost NO ONE about my condition. I don’t want that “side-eye.” I don’t want the “how do they do it?” and the “I couldn’t live that way” and the “men have NEEDS, so if he’s not getting enough from her, where is he getting it?” It’s all a bunch of bs. Real couples love each other and learn how to deal. But if nobody tells the truth, then we all just have to feel alone. Which is why, again, I’m grateful that you’re telling your story, and I’m grateful that I can chime in and say “yep, me too!”

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