It was a sexless 7 years.
I'd been married to my husband, Cody, for about five years when I felt THE CHANGE. In theory, five years of consistent sex with the same guy should mean you both pretty much know the necessary steps to get each other off. Five years in, our sex life wasn't the best. We had a toddler and my husband was in law school — and if you've ever been in a relationship with someone in graduate school, you know it's about as sexy as a fat man in jorts on a hot summer day.
One night in particular, everything was, ahem, going according to plan when I started to feel, well, nothing. I knew at this point I usually felt a LOT more than what I was feeling, and yet my orgasm was just out of reach. It was like desperately needing to sneeze but being unable to make it happen (sneezes, much like orgasms, can't be forced — but when you need one, you just need one. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.)
Frustrated, I looked at Cody and said "I've got nothing." Suddenly I realized it was my new medication that was giving me trouble. Simply put: I couldn't finish — and my heavens, it was frustrating, like having an itch you can't quite scratch, a tickle in your throat you can't quite cough away or a thirst that can never be quenched. I mean, yes, it's just an orgasm, but if you've had one, then you know it wasn't something I was ready to live life without at 24 years old. But because my depression was threatening to destroy my marriage, I needed healthy brain chemistry more than I needed the occasional O-face. So I lived with it.
I lived with it for 7 years — it, meaning no sexual desire and orgasms that were as rare as unicorns. The lack of passion for my husband and inability to climax easily had become my reality. Pre-meds, I was young and horny with an insatiable lust for another human body, but post-meds, I honestly couldn't tell you what raging hormones even felt like or remember the ecstacy of a good ol' romp in the sack. I went from being instant ramen to paella in a matter of weeks; no longer could you just add hot water and GO, there was now long and arduous 14-step process in order to consider me properly finished, if you know what I mean.
Cody and I worked through it as best we could, knowing that easy-orgasm sex wasn't something that was just going to happen at any given moment. We tried a few new things: creams that promised pleasant warming sensations, toys that helped speed things along and even a hormone injection that promised a libido boost. But what helped the most was patience and understanding that we weren't in a Hollywood movie and that "making love" (hate that expression) isn't always as steamy as Noah and Allie make it seem. To this day, movie scenes of couples orgasming in unison is enough to make my eyes roll out of my head.
Now that I've been married for over a decade, birthed two children and rounded the corner into my 30s, perhaps my sexual difficulties have nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. But with a recent switch to a new antidepressant, I've noticed a hopeful change. While things are still slow going — I'm an oven, not a microwave — and when I do climax, my orgasms are far more intense and toe-curling. Perhaps it's the switch in medication, perhaps it's my age, perhaps it’s the fact that after 13 years, sex is the hottest it has ever been in our marriage because after all this hard work — we finally figured out how to talk about the things we want sexually in a way that isn't awkward and leaves us both satisfied. Whatever the reason, I wish I could go back to that sexually frustrated 24-year-old and say, "This too shall pass."
But even if I could have seen into the future at that age to know that sex would get so much better, nothing would have quelled the overwhelming feeling of disappointment I felt at the time. Being tangled up in the sheets with my husband was (and still is) the very best way to feel connected to him. I can do just about anything else in this world with someone else, but an orgasm is something I share with only him. To have those sacred physicalities taken away for a time was painful, but working in unison to keep things happy and humming in the bedroom has taught me I married a good man with the patience and determination of an orgasm-bearing saint. And for that, I am thankful.