“The more Jim pressures me to have sex, the more turned off I get,” said Melissa, 31, who’s been married for 7 years and is the mother of Heather, 3, and Zoe, 5 months. “To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed sex all that much, but things went from bad to worse after Zoe was born. We tried to make love once, about two months ago, but it hurt too much. That freaked me out. Plus, I got the baby blues really badly this time and to make matters worse, Zoe is colicky. Everyone told me she’d calm down after three months, but she’s still crying night and day unless I’m holding her. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m totally ignoring Heather because I’m spending every minute trying to calm the baby. And on top of everything else, I’m exhausted trying to fulfill orders for my jewelry business. I make metal bracelets, earrings, and necklaces and sell them through consignment shops here in the Minneapolis area. I’ve built my business from the ground up and I’m terrified I’ll lose everything if I don’t keep up the pace.
“I’ve tried to explain to Jim how overwhelmed I feel, but he doesn’t get it. About a month ago, I told him point-blank that I’m just not interested in sex while I’m under all this pressure. He said, ‘You can’t be serious,’ and gave me a leering grin. This was right after dinner; the kids weren’t in bed yet and the dishes weren’t done!”
Fighting About Everything
“Not that Jim would notice, since he never lifts a finger around the house. He’s a high-school guidance counselor, so he gets home around 3:30 p.m. You’d think that having hours like that would mean he’d pitch in with the chores. But instead, he tosses his stuff on a chair, changes clothes, and goes for a run. After dinner (which I’ve cooked, naturally), when Heather still needs a bath and a bedtime story and Zoe is shrieking her lungs out, he decides that’s the perfect time to start complaining about how we never have sex anymore. We end up in a fight, which almost always escalates to the point where we’re screaming at each other about anything and everything.
“Sometimes the issues aren’t all that huge, but we manage to jump down each other’s throat anyway. A couple of weeks ago we had an argument about how Jim never picks up after himself, and it lasted three days. Eventually we got so mad we started throwing lamps and dishes, and finally Jim kicked the wall and broke his toe. Later I found Heather upstairs huddled in her bedroom closet crying.
“The next day I called my sister, Gail, and told her everything. She invited me and the kids to get away for a ‘girls’ weekend’ at the lake cabin she and her husband own. Her daughter is about Heather’s age and the two cousins love each other. Gail said she’d watch the kids while I relaxed. It sounded like heaven! But when I told Jim, he said he wanted to come, thinking that the change of scene and the chance to relax might make me feel sexier. I tried to explain that I need him to back off.
“Sex was never something I looked forward to, but I could always put up with it before. I’d just let Jim do his thing and kind of float above it. Evidently he was satisfied because he keeps talking about the ‘good years’ when our sex life was so great. All I can think is that it wasn’t great for me. I do love my husband — he’s a great guy and a good father and until this sex issue became so huge, we got along. But I really want him to stop pressuring me.”