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Hi Everyone,

Warning: I talk about both open relationships and abortion in this post, so if either topic is too much for you, I'd suggest a good video of kittens/puppies instead.

My husband and I have recently been dealing with being separated, and I've been doing a lot of research on what kinds of marriage troubles lead to separation. We've been separated off and on, and mostly I've been initiating it. After reading about separation, it really hit home how many people who felt blindsided by the separation in their relationship (like my DH did) didn't realize that the separator had contemplated it a long time. Well, one of the reasons I began pushing my DH farther and farther away from me more and more often was due to my growing discomfort with sex. Neither of us have a low sex drive, and we both want to have sex with each other, but we have a lot of hurdles in our way.

I was hoping maybe I could get some advice here?

Changing Body
I've always been chubby, but I've gained a lot of weight over the last 2-3 years, and weigh about 220lbs. My weight change doesn't seem to have affected how attractive DH thinks I am - I still rate as "very sexy" or "f-ing gorgeous" - but it has definitely affected how attractive I think I am. I kind of think I fall somewhere between "unpleasant to look at" and "too gross to touch." As such, have a harder time engaging sexually with other people, and my husband's body complements go entirely unheard/unbelieved. It also keeps me from communicating what I want out of sex; I guess I think I'm supposed to be grateful anyone wants me at all? It's really not fair to the people I'm intimate with. I have been struggling with body image and weight all my life, and while I'm still working to find a nutritionist and psychiatrist to work with on this, I also have been trying to work on hearing and accepting other's praise. How do I deal with body changes?

Dyspareunia (Pain with Intercourse)
I started experiencing this around the time I started wanting less sex with DH because of body issues. For a long time, I thought the pain/burning I had from sex was from yeast infections or other problems. I was really embarrassed and didn't know what to do about it, and I still wanted PIV intercourse, so I just continued to have sex through the pain. I also thought it could be from use of birth control, and experimented with various kinds of birth control, ultimately with no luck. Late last year I had a pap smear done, and everything else came back healthy/normal, so my PCP referred me to a physical therapist for lower spine and pelvic work. The PT helped me understand that my pain/burning was from too much tightness during penetration, and gave me a lot of gentle exercises to do which have helped tremendously. However, I've also learned that to avoid pain during sex we have to start slow and I need full control over penetration. DH sees this as "teasing him" and will eventually charge on ahead without me; again, I have a moderate to high sex drive, and want the sex, so if this is the case I would usually opt for painful sex over no sex. Once again, though, this has driven a wedge between us, as no matter how many times I ask for foreplay, different sex acts or new positions, I still end up with 5 minutes of painful cowgirl. How can I get my DH to re-engage with my body from step one, and not fall into the same painful ruts?

Fetishes and Boredom
DH has a pretty hardcore pregnancy fetish, and often 5 minutes of painful cowgirl is set to a repetitive/boring back and forth about getting me pregnant. I've come to appreciate DH's fetish and for a while didn't mind playing into it, but... After about a year, I found that it's literally every single time with the pregnancy fetish. I don't know how to engage with DH sexually outside of the context of getting him engaged with dirty talk about his fetish. In the meantime, my fetishes lie in BDSM-type activities or emotional power exchange, but DH has always been scared of this stuff or just doesn't understand. Sometimes we'll talk about having more balance and come to an agreement - I should get some fetish dirty talk too, right? Right - but when it comes time to perform, nada. It's just right back to how fat I'll be when I'm preggo. I dropped trying to get any of my fetishes fulfilled a long time ago, but I find DH's fetish obsession damaging to how I think he sees me, and how I see myself, physically and sexually... Basically, I feel really objectified, and feel this gets in the way of DH's ability to enjoy me and my body like it is now.

Abortion
About 2 years ago, DH and I were having almost no sex at all, and I was feeling really frustrated by this. DH didn't want to talk with me about it (or just didn't know how?), so I ended up thinking that there's something wrong with me that's causing him to be disinterested. I ended up going off of my birth control and telling DH about it in hopes that the idea of not being able to penetrate me without protection would drive him wild. Unfortunately, it didn't, and also we continued to have unprotected sex in the meantime. I ended up getting pregnant, and after mutual discussion about our financial status and the maturity of our relationship, we decided to get an abortion. I feel the most guilty for this whole series of events, because it was ultimately the result of my unhealthy attempt to get what I wanted/needed from my sex life, and ended up doing a lot of emotional damage to DH... Has anyone else had to heal their relationship after abortion, or even miscarriage?

Open Relationship
So, having an open relationship has provided more of a mirror for our sex life than anything else. For most of our open relationship, we've mostly shared just one partner. At times, I would get really frustrated with DH because he was showing our partner the kind of sexual attention - sexting, foreplay, different positions - that I was constantly asking for in our sex life. DH never had a good answer as to why he wanted that novelty in the context of someone else, but not with me. Interacting with our partner one on one also helped me understand how much my body image issues affected how I have sex, though, and how uncomfortable I feel being touched by anyone. To be clear, there was not any infidelity or infighting about our open relationship, and we've both handled our individual jealousies pretty well. More than anything, it's been enlightening and helped me understand the dynamic between DH and I better.


So, that's a lot of information. I'd really like to hear from others, women in particular, on how to overcome body image issues, how to communicate on sex, and I'd love to hear some perspectives from couples on overcoming abortion/miscarriage. Help?

Thanks also to anyone that reads!
Kayla
 

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Wow! It's not often an opening post so efficiently describes the issues about which advice is being sought, so bravo on that writing challenge!

Body Image:
When my oldest was in high school she put on a lot of weight. She hated herself and constantly talked about how unhappy she was, how she was too fat for this or that... she felt unlovable and therefore unloved. During one car trip it was just the two of us and she began again on how she was too fat to xyz. I pulled the car over and turned to her so she could see MY tears. I told her I could no longer tolerate listening to anyone talk so horribly about someone I loved so deeply, someone I thought was beautiful, someone I admired and respected. She was stunned into silence.

I then said you have two choices and only two.

Lose too much weight to fit in with the heroine chic. Stop eating after a few bites and work out for 3 hours every day and commit to living that way for the rest of your life. Highly problematic and unrealistic life goal. Not a good choice.

Learn to love and accept yourself and demand others do the same. This means never indulging in self demolition and self directed hatefulness. This means learning to see yourself as the gift you are, your uniqueness, and rest your beautiful generous curves. Learning the ignore unrealistic expectations of sameness. This is as much work as the first choice but this work gets easier and the rewards are far greater.

There is no Magic way to learn to love yourself and see your body for the beauty it is. It's hard word and takes dedication but it is entirely possible. Women were never meant to be stick figures. We were built with curves in mind to bring in and nurture the next generation. We were built to be soft and cushiony, built to store fat in several places and those fat reserves are vital to our health. Only very recently in human history was a thin woman considered attractive. What is considered attractive today would have been considered unhealthy before the turn of the 20th century. Long perspective on women's healthy body tells us curves and soft cushiony body is how we were meant to be. Who are we to argue with evolutions perfect design?

Painful intercourse
Along with your feelings of inadequacy due to your generous curves, you allow your husband to treat you in a callous way. My advice is to learn to say "NO, get the **** off me until you can show you care about me." And get a good vibrator... ;)

Fetish
Same as above. If your partner can't indulge you and insist his fetish rule the day, you are once again showing how your feelings of inadequacy allow others to treat you in a way you do not deserve to be treated. Learn to say NO, we are not going to ignore my needs to have my fetish indulged at least half the time.

Abortion
Never had one but you are blaming yourself 100% when you only get half the blame. How does blaming his selfishness alter your guilt?

Open relationship
No experience here either but your husband is giving to someone else what you desire and what he refuses to give you. That doesn't sound like an open relationship. It sounds like you are being taken advantage of and neglected.

Love yourself enough to demand that others also love you enough to care about your needs too.
 
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A bunch of things:

He is still attracted to you, so you are still attractive. OTOH, you may want to get in better shape for the sake of your own health.

He needs to understand that sex can be painful for you. If he is really unable to control himself once you start having intercourse, could he maybe start with other things - oral, toys etc to get you aroused and relaxed enough for sex to be comfortable?

Kinks are fine, and playing to your partner's kink is great - But - not all the time. He needs to be willing to do the things and the sort of moods / atmosphere that YOU enjoy too. It can't be about his kinks every time. I don't know why he doesn't understand that sex should be fun for both people -its fine to play to one person's fetish one time, but then its the other person's turn.

Abortion can be a huge issue for some people. This may be something you both need counseling about - its probably beyond an internet discussion.


Open relationships can be a source of all sorts of problems - and the case where you partner is showing more attention to a third person than to you is one of those. I have no moral objections to open marriages, but I think in practice they rarely work out for the people involved. Most people are just not wired that way - even if they believe that they are.


Your husband seems very selfish in bed, and that is a huge problem. I'd also recommend "closing" your relationship at least until these other issues are solved.
 

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Anon Pink - Thanks for your encouraging response! I really appreciate your body-positive feedback.. But, I guess I should clarify that I don't see myself as "fat and ugly" as much as "unhealthy and out of control." Binge eating is a big problem for me, especially on ice cream. I can eat well most of the time, but when I'm stressed out, I reach for sleep-inducing sugar dumps. Failure to enforce my own boundaries with myself is unsexy!

Painful intercourse and fetish play - Negotiations pending.

Abortion - I suppose, but I certainly still feel like I manipulated the situation and caused the consequences. :x It's a complicated issue.

Open Relationship - Just to be clear, I'm bi-sexual, and most of our interactions with our partner were together. There is equal possibility that DH saw how I interacted with our partner and had some or all of the same feelings I do. Especially since he knows just how gay I am on the Kinsey scale! I don't think I would go so far as to say I was taken advantage of. Still trying to get DH to form words/sentences on this topic.


Uhtred - Fitness has never been off my radar. Exercise always has a place in my life, even if it's the light exercise that a PT prescribes. In fact, in the course of treating my dyspareunia, I came to realize these symptoms started about a year after I got a job that involved sitting in one place 8.5 hours of the day. I've recently switched back to a much more physically demanding job with my physical health in mind. DH could absolutely start with other things, but doesn't exhibit good patience or follow through. His mind is usually somewhere else, which means that no matter how many dildos there are or how much breast play there is, I'm turned off in an emotionally empty space. After further research and consideration, I'm realizing this behavior is probably not anything to do with attraction or love, but might be symptomatic of adult ADHD. Psychologist testing pending.

DH and I both still respect each other, and our relationship closes itself when the relationship itself is threatened. In other words, we are not seeing other people right now, and didn't need a conversation about it, because like. We're adults.


Thank you for your thoughtful responses!
Kayla
 
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