Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I am a (woman? Nonbinary person?… Still figuring that out…) in my 30s. My husband and I have been together for almost ten years now, and in that time we have been through some majorly difficult situations. A few years ago I was in a car accident that left me bedridden for a few months and while I have mostly recovered, I will have pain and some mobility issues for the rest of my life. When I lost my job because my mobility issues had a bigger impact on my ability to work than we thought they would, we were briefly homeless. Relying on my social connections (he wasn’t close enough to anyone to feel that he could reach out), we were able to pull ourselves out of that. I have been able to find a job more suited to my capabilities, and although it does not pay well, we are ok financially because we have adjusted to live within the means of his job (mostly by moving 3 hours away to less rent intensive city – we weren’t spending frivolously before).
Through all of our difficulties, hubby has repeatedly shown himself to be a caring guy and a loving partner. We are socially, values-wise, and spiritually compatible, and we really compliment each other’s skill sets in a lot of areas and help each other grow. I feel like we are a dream team in all areas but sex.
I have been saying for years that I wish our sex life were more… Interactive, I guess? I feel like it’s always either his turn or my turn, and my turn only comes when I break down and beg for it. This is not a problem that I’ve had with previous partners. His experience before me was fairly limited, so I guess I always figured we were just in a learning curve. He has gotten a little better about this over the years, but ultimately I feel like our sex life doesn’t really include me at all. I have stopped asking for anything really because having to beg for an orgasm means that I am not able to enjoy the stimulation enough to get there. Sometimes after sex I find myself fantasizing about leaving him. Sometimes I even get stuck in suicidal ideation.
Recently he told me that he saw Terry Crews talking about porn addiction, and thought that he had it and that was causing our sexual difficulties. Before this neither of us really saw how his porn habit was a contributing factor. He said that he had gotten so stuck in the pattern of a solo habit that being turned on was like switching a flip in his brain that made him feel like he was alone. He started seeing a therapist (this is all very recent) and told me that he wants to start working on having a real sexual connection with me. I want more than anything to have that connection with him, but frankly the idea of being present in sex at this point sends me into a total meltdown.
I do have a therapy appointment scheduled, but as an Autistic woman who is very very good at masking, I feel like therapists really don’t understand what I’m saying a lot of the time. (I was diagnosed as a child, taught to act neurotypical, and then just sort of tossed back into the general population with no acknowledgment that I might have some less obvious problems… And I did pretty well at pretending that I did not.) While I’m often very good at understanding other people (I have had to make a very intensive study of this just to keep up), I am not good at all at making myself understood. Therapists, I have found, often tend to get fixated on helping me through issues that are common but not at all what I’m struggling with, and when I try to correct them they assume that I’m in denial. While this has taught me a lot about how to understand and help my friends, it leaves me to figure out my stuff on my own, and frankly I’m flummoxed here. How do I cope with being present in sex when alarm bells are going off in my head the whole time? The logical part of my brain says that now that the problem has been identified, we have a real path to victory here, but the emotional part of my brain does not see the path at all. Please help!
Waiting For My Turn