Am I Sexually Immature?

Reader’s Question

I have been with my husband for about 10 years. We have no children. He’s a great husband, supports me in everything I do, and is very loving. I have no complaints, except…I am not in love with him and doubt that I ever was. I had a horrible childhood and I tried to choose a husband who wouldn’t put me through all that hell. I’ve aced that goal, but now it seems that I’m to become the home wrecker because I’m considering a separation/divorce. Well, the real problem is that while I think he’s very handsome, I have zero sexual desire for him. To compound the problem, recently I kissed a stranger while at a hen party, and all my sexual feelings came back in a rush. I am extremely depressed and anxious about my actions, and about the prospect of breaking up with my husband to pursue sexual pleasure. I wonder if it’s because I am sexually immature. Please help.

Psychologist’s Reply

The combination of horrible childhood and thoughts that you probably never were in love with him suggest some soul searching here. It’s not uncommon to select a partner who fits several themes — attractiveness, sexuality, security (financial, personal, etc.) and freedom from abuse. In your situation, we might imagine that you thought he was handsome and you would be safe from abuse. Achieving both goals in a partner, your relationship with him may have stopped at that level and not progressed romantically.

Your sexuality may have recently awakened which is both a good sign and uncomfortable. After a horrible childhood, you now know your sexuality is alive and well. If you have not felt this passion in your marriage, it may be related to your horrible childhood and the time required to recover from such an upbringing. This awakening of your sexuality is now uncomfortable and the situation is going to be difficult for you. Some general thoughts:

  • The way your sexuality was awakened is artificial. An arousing kiss is a sexual experience, but it’s not a relationship. Your personality and emotional state can now accept sexual arousal, but that doesn’t mean it makes good decisions. If you think about your experience, it’s probably about 95% fantasy and 5% experience. Basing a decision to leave your marriage on this situation may be generally immature more than sexually immature.
  • The most common time for people to get in trouble with sexuallity is during times of high stress. Most extramarital affairs occur during times of high stress or depression for example. The emotional numbness and lack of emotional/sexual response you describe in your marriage may be related to a high stress level or depression. Review your current life situation…are you under a lot of stress? Could you be depressed? We lose a lot of marriages and jobs to depression.
  • Wide-awake sexuality can be redirected. Once you realize you can drive an automobile, you can drive anywhere with it. For this reason, you may want to consider trying to use your awakened sexuality in your marriage — just to see if it can happen. You’ll need to reconsider your view and your opinion of your husband. In reality, you’ll need to form a new relationship with him — not based on the old criteria of only being free of abuse. Many spouses place their marriage on probation and provide a period of months to attempt this change.
  • I’d recommend talking to your husband about the marital situation. Being “safe” doesn’t have anything to do with being romantic. Before making a life-changing move, you may want to see if the relationship is workable. Consider a plan to activate romance in your relationship. Marital counseling might also be helpful. You don’t need to discuss the incident that awakened your sexuality — just discuss the fact that you want more romance, sexual pleasure, and excitement.

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This is a risky time for you. We can have experiences that challenge our current lifestyle — pulling us like gravity toward newly-awakened sensory experiences. This is how people have trouble with sexuality, drugs, gambling, and even vacations. A great out-of-town vacation makes people think about moving to the beach, to Las Vegas, etc. It’s a nice fantasy but difficult to realize. Most people who live in Las Vegas don’t gamble for example…they work for a living like everyone else. Be careful.

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