I was married for 16 years to a man whose sole goal regarding intimacy was to impregnate me. As soon as I was pregnant he would not touch me. In all the years we were together this man never once kissed me as anything other than a brother would, and that, almost never. We both wanted a large family and I didn’t conceive easily so for many years I could convince myself that I could live with this. I am petite, slender (5’2" 105 lbs) and considered attractive by others- this is not about looks.
To make a long story short, after 8 pregnancies and six living children (I lost two) I felt like the loneliest and least desireable woman on earth. This was not (and never had been) a sacramental marriage. I did everything I could to make my marriage work. To be honest, even through all that, I loved him. Among other things, I consulted two different priests, one I knew to be liberal and the other an ultra-conservative, both devout. And they both said the same thing. I was too healthy to be in such a dysfunctional marriage, and that sex was a biological urge and a married man who isn’t at all interested has significant problems.
Of course, sex problems don’t stay in the bedoom and will eventually manifest outside the bedroom in many ways. In my case, my husband became hateful and cruel. He seemed to go out of his way to show me he disliked me. I felt cheated of any semblance of a real marriage.His mean-spiritedness did not stop at me, and started to extend to the children-- this was just another way to get to me. One day he was mean to our oldest child and, in that moment, it felt like the blinders on my heart fell off, the last bit of love I had left for him died and I stopped loving him-- he had finally used up every last bit of my love. Prior to that I continually tried to be kind and loving to, at least, care for his needs as a wife would, which wasn’t easy in the face of relentless rejection. From that point it took only six weeks for the marriage to unravel. He walked out on me and our six young children on Jan. 2, 1995. The youngest was only an infant, 14 months old.
For nearly ten years after that I refused to even consider dating, I was so damaged by this marriage. To make a long story short, eventually I did date, and am now married to an incredible man. It is truly a sacramental marriage, we pray the rosary as often as we can, up to 3 times daily together, share all our various interests and every week go for a long walks at a local shrine, do the stations, attend mass as one, etc. --and I feel desired and beautiful beyond measure, my husband loves me tenderly and lustily.
Yet even now, there are times when that old nemesis arises, the idea that I am undesireable. For all those years I was treated (by my first husband) like an object of contempt and it has taken a toll; periodically I just feel like my husband must not really want me. I know it is my problem, but I feel bad, but my loving husband does help me through it. He says that when he sees me begin to go through that–it is his signal to love me better, to love me even more. Under his tender care I have really become better and better, these episodes have nearly dissappeared completely. Best of all, the opportunity to live out our Catholic faith as a married couple is a gift beyond measure. I have married a prince among men.
One of the reasons I have told you all this is that so many people have feared being alone… I wanted so much to be able to love fully and be fully loved. When God created people, God did not want man to be alone. Marriage can be a true joining of souls for a journey homewards, heavenwards, and we can be helpmates for one another on the road towards heaven. I was more alone when I was married to my first husband than I have ever been in my whole life. Even when I was single, I was never so lonely as when my first husband and I “shared” a bed–that bed was a cold and empty, lonely place and there was nothing redeeming in it, except perhaps my ability to offer my sufferings for others.
I don’t know if my story can help you. If your situation is as extreme as mine was, perhaps you can see that this may not be what God is asking of you. When I was trying to fix my marriage, nothing at all helped, and I began to feel like I was fighting God Himself! It began to dawn on me that I could possibly be fighting His will for me! The priests I consulted confirmed hat. I was so pro-marriage that it never occurred to me that there are situations that are so unhealthy that God might will the marriage be recognised as null.