I loved him dearly. He was crazy about me. We’d been married for more than five years, and sex just kept getting better. The better we knew each other, the more experiences we shared, and the life and family we had formed together all brought us closer together—and that emotional closeness meant that our sex life became even more orgasmic. We noticed that lovemaking was always the most intense after we’d just had a great conversation, or made an important decision together, or had experienced something profound, like the news that we were pregnant.
We felt so close in those moments, and sex was a wonderful way to express that closeness. It was even a way to renew our wedding vows—to show each other our commitment and live out the promise we had made to give ourselves wholly to one another.
But there were also times when something got in the way of that closeness, times when sex became lonely and isolating. There were times when instead of binding me closer to him, sex actually made me feel more distant from my husband.
When I reflected on what made those times different from the others, I realized that sex was lonely when I was not being present with my husband. Instead, I was thinking of sexual fantasies that involved other people or porn scenes I had watched online. While I was bodily present with my husband, inside I retreated into my own fantasyland. I was using his body to feel good, but my mind and heart were elsewhere.
In the moment there was pleasure, but when we were done, I’d feel sick to my stomach. There was no afterglow and it was difficult to make eye contact with him and say loving words like we usually did, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just used him like a sex toy. The act had not brought us closer together, because I hadn’t really been with him. I wasn’t really seeing him or loving him. I’d been acting alone, even while we were in each other’s arms.
I eventually came to realize something important: It is possible to use someone, even if you love them. And treating someone as an object, even when you don’t mean to, puts distance between you.
Thankfully, I was able to be honest and vulnerable with my husband about my tendency to retreat into my own fantasies instead of allowing sex to be a mutual sharing between the two of us. He was understanding and forgiving and helped me to figure out how to avoid getting trapped by my own thoughts. He learned to be even more responsive to me in and out of the bedroom, and his loving actions help to keep me grounded in our love. I’ve learned to ask myself the questions, “Am I loving him as a person right now? Am I present with him? Or am I only using his body as an object to make me feel good?”
I still love him dearly, and he is still crazy about me—and together we continue to learn how to better love all of each other, body and soul.