"I Can't Stand Sex -- And It's Killing Our Marriage"
"My problem is really ruining our marriage," said Kiera, 38, a freelance website designer who has been married for 10 years. "I've had endometriosis since I was 14. Every month, for the week or two before I get my period, I'm throwing up, then I start bleeding heavily and I double over with pain. And sex really hurts, even on my good days.
"Several boyfriends broke up with me because of the disease. My husband, Ryan, was different. Maybe he was more sensitive since he helped take care of four younger sisters. And when we met he was raising his son, Jon, by himself. That tells you a lot about a person. But over the last few years he has bailed on me and it seems like he's bailing on Jon, too."
"Ryan's been coming home late from work and he always seems to be in a weird, dark mood. I think he might be having an affair. And if he was, I almost wouldn't blame him. Who wants to live in a sexless marriage? But the only thing that's ever made intercourse comfortable for me was when I had surgery to remove the scar tissue that the endometriosis creates. I've had two operations already -- one in college and another when I was 26 -- and I'm going to have another soon. But it's only a temporary solution, in my case, because the scar tissue grows back and the pain returns. This disease doesn't just screw up our sex life -- it may mean that Ryan and I can never have kids.
"When we got married I was having a lot of PMS pain, but sex didn't hurt as much as it does now. And I was able to do a lot more, in general. We went mountain biking on our honeymoon, but lately I'm in so much pain I can't even bike around the neighborhood. As my pain has gotten worse, Ryan and I have started doing things separately. During the week, since he's often at work, I'm doing the cooking and cleaning and being the disciplinarian with Jon. Then Ryan gets to swoop in and be the fun parent on the weekend, doing the active stuff I'm no longer able to do. It's not fair.
"Parenting is a huge issue for us. We've never been on the same page and now that Jon's older -- he's 12 -- we argue a lot. Recently, he's been blowing off homework and his grades have dropped. And if he's not online, he's on his cell phone. I've told Ryan that I need him to be around more for Jon and for me, and he says he will but he never follows through. Last week he actually refused to come to a parent-teacher conference. And it's his child!
"But last month something happened that I just can't forgive. Ryan and I went out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. It was a perfect evening and I started to think that maybe we could find a way to be close again. Then in the middle of the night, I went downstairs for a glass of water and saw his laptop on the kitchen counter. He'd left it open -- to a porn site.
"That was it for me. I'm done. I want him out of the house and out of my life. Being by myself can't be any harder than living like this."