“I’m sorry, honey. I wanted to, but then it got so late and I wasn’t sure if you were still interested and ….”
My husband’s voice rose and fell in my ears. I let his voice flow over me, not really even trying to make sense of his words. I had heard them so often before. He wanted sex, but was too tired from work, he was sore from working out, he wasn’t sure if I was interested, he was waiting for the kids to go to bed, blah blah blah. Same story, different day.
I was seized with the desire to escape. Escape from this bed, this man, this room, this house. I pictured just getting up and leaving. I walked through the steps in my mind. Get out of bed, get dressed, grab my purse and jump in the car. But how to do that without the inevitable questions from my husband and the protests and the arguments and the angry words. It made me tired just to think about. Too much work.
No, I would wait until morning. I thought about waiting until he left the house, and then driving to the airport. In my mind, I pictured myself standing in front of all the little monitors with all those lovely destinations. Where would I go? Somewhere away from this wet, dreary weather. The American southwest had a certain appeal. Dry, hot desert and all those interesting ravines and canyons.
Or maybe a lovely island. Somewhere warm and tropical. Lots of sand and water. I pictured the lovely shades of turquoise and remembered meeting my husband for the first time on the Gulf Coast. We had spent most of our courtship and early dating days in and around the beach. I remembered walking together, searching for shells, wading through the water wearing next to nothing. The freedom had been exhilarating.
We had rushed through our days at work, meeting each other for lunch, and leaving as early as possible to be together again after work. Neither of us cooked, and we ate out for most meals, either alone together or with groups of friends from work.
We burned the candle at both ends, staying up late dancing in bars, or listening to music. I remembered one particular hotel on the beach that had a bar on the top floor, with panoramic views of the beach and great bands, everyone crowded in together, hot and sweaty, dancing until late at night. The salty taste of margaritas became synonymous with the beach and with this guy I was quickly falling for.
We had no responsibilities and every weekend was a new adventure, travelling to see other cities, staying in hotels and being together every minute. Sex was constant, hot and exciting.
It was hard to understand how we had come to the place where we were now. Sometimes it seemed like the Star Trek episode where they had experienced a Quantum Flux and moved back and forth between different parallel realities. I kept thinking that if we looked hard enough, we could leave our current lives and get back to that reality where we were crazy in love again.
I thought about the reality of leaving. Really leaving. What we would tell the kids. We had always promised them that we would never divorce. As more and more of their friends’ parents split up, we would reassure them each time, “No, guys. Dad and I will always be together. We may kill each other, but we’ll never divorce each other.” That always got them to laugh.
I thought about the reality of living without my husband. In some ways, it would be easier without the constant tension of fighting about sex. And the thought of actually being free to find someone else, someone who would actually want to have sex with me …. sometimes I let my mind go there and picture what that might feel like to have a man who really wanted me. Not because he felt obligated, not because he was afraid I would leave him, but to really know for sure that he wanted sex with me as much as I did with him.
I had always believed that divorce was not an option for me; that when I took my marriage vows, it was forever. At the time, I couldn’t have pictured the twists and turns our marriage was going to take. I sometimes wondered if a husband who didn’t want sex with you was a valid reason for splitting up my marriage. Was there a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for a low sex marriage?
Oh my gosh, the same thoughts spinning round and round in my head. With no clear answers. Sometimes I thought I would go crazy from it. What did I owe my husband and my children, and how much sacrifice was ‘enough’. To never again experience that sense of sexual connection we had shared so well in the beginning. To go the rest of my life in this manner. Could I even do it or would I crack eventually? All questions to which there were no answers that I could find.
“What are you thinking?”
“Hmmm? What?” I asked.
“I said …. what are you thinking?” my husband’s voice had an edge to it, and I realized he must have asked this a couple times.
“Thinking?” I said. “Oh, nothing, I guess. Nothing, really.”