"I Forgot What It's Like to Want Sex"

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Her Turn, continued

"But he doesn't understand that sometimes I need my space. My job is stressful. I'm program director for my city's community centers. The hours are long and we're short-staffed. Jim is an economics professor, but for the last six months he's been on sabbatical researching a book, which means that he's always hanging around the house. Besides his work, and his two boys, 17 and 19, who live nearby with their mother, there's not a whole lot in his life. He rarely sees his old university friends, dropped his lifelong hobby of woodworking, and stopped playing basketball. His whole world centers on me -- and it's suffocating. 

"Jim has also convinced himself that I don't like his sons and accuses me of not trying hard enough to be a 'family.' I've always been reluctant to push myself on them. But Jim expects us to be this instant close-knit family. Now that they can drive, his sons drop by at all hours. I feel that coming over without calling is an intrusion on our privacy. Inevitably, we slide into an argument and soon, neither of us can stand to be in the same room. 

"Until I met Jim and his family, I didn't know what it meant to be nurtured and loved. I grew up the oldest of three. My mother is incredibly self-centered, and my father, who has since passed away, didn't take interest in my life, either. Mother moved nearby 10 years ago when Dad died, but I rarely see her. My brother and sister both live out of town. 

"I met Jim at a friend's party. I'd been a single mom for a long time and Jim was the first man I was seriously interested in. We shared a love of books, politics, gardening, and the outdoors. Jim courted me with flowers, home-cooked meals, and tickets to jazz concerts. I never felt so much love -- or passion -- and I miss the way we were. I want to be my old self again, so when Jim suggested counseling, I said I'd go. Still, I'm not convinced that I can change; it's as if, sexually, a switch has been flipped. And while my husband has the patience of Job, I know that he's not going to stay in a sexless marriage forever. I can't blame him; who wants a wife who has absolutely no desire?"

Continued on page 3:  His Turn


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