The following is a guest post by Laura for the Carnival of Aces. She is 44 and identifies as a heterosexual female, and her husband Tom is 48 and identifies as a hetero-asexual male. I think their story is an important one, which I have only seen being told previously on AVEN, where it tends to get lost in the shuffle. I’m glad to have her perspective posted here—judging by some of the searches that lead to this blog, people are interested in hearing it!
The post has been edited for typos, and I helped her to organize her thoughts and format the post. She and her husband chose the title together.
Our story starts in college, not unlike a lot of young couples. We met in a night class and hit it off right away… it felt like we were just drawn to one another. I was 18 and Tom was 21. The year was 1986 and we were both starting our second semester. We didn’t finish. After three or four weeks of spending most of our time “hanging out” in my car, we decided to drop out, and on February 7th drove four states away to stay with Tom’s brother and make a go of it. Working for a temporary employment agency kept us busy for three months, at which time Tom said he thought we should get married, and even though this wasn’t the marriage proposal I had dreamed of, I agreed. We drove to my parents where we proceeded to make arrangements for a wedding in the backyard. Six days later on Mother’s Day May 11th, 1986 we were married.
Flash ahead almost 25 years later… it’s now April 11th 2011. I’m having a really bad day, and our anniversary is only a month away. The years have been filled with a fair amount of conflict, all of it seeming to center around one thing. I always felt Tom was uneasy with all things sexual, although I was not savvy enough to read the signs during our “whirlwind romance,” and would I have wanted to know? I can’t really say. Tom announced early on that there would be no children, but I thought I would change his mind. I eventually changed mine and that was fine… but where was the physical affection??? And the sex… why was I practically begging for it? And why did I always suspect that he preferred to be alone? I don’t know why I only typed in the one word, but I did… asexual. I had never heard it in reference to an orientation, but I really felt he was different and there had to be other people like him. I came to AVEN and found that there indeed were other people like him. I cried…
So much was going through my mind as I read the definition of asexuality. I felt in my heart that it explained the 25 years of wondering why he loved me but didn’t really want to have sex. In all those years I cheated, I left him, I fought with him, I acted out in many ways. I cried because in a way, the deepest need in my life had been met, the need to know why. I had no chance at understanding him without that piece of vital information. I had no chance at overcoming my anger at the prospect of going on endlessly wondering why we couldn’t connect through the act of sex like I thought we should and by no means as frequently as I thought we should.
The AVEN FAQ’s had advice for having a “talk” which I followed to the letter. I went to work that day feeling scared and wondering how Tom would react when I tried to have this “talk” with him. Following the advice was the best thing I ever did; the approach made him feel loved and even though he resisted listening at first, the truth of what I was saying made sense to him and he was willing to look at the front page of AVEN a little. Years of strain washed away from his face as he realized his own very real sexual orientation at age 48.
That night, we sort of saw each other differently. I saw him for who he really is, and he could feel me seeing that, and somehow we knew we could try to accommodate each other in a more loving way.
A really great thing that has happened is that now, on occasion mind you, we can talk about it and how we’re going to make a compromise work. For example, Tom really didn’t want to ever cuddle much because he was afraid I would take it as a precursor to sex. I can honestly tell him that I don’t take it that way because I know he is going to initiate and will tell me. Our compromise consists basically of this:
- sex twice a month. we started with once, and just recently changed it to twice
- Tom does the initiating and chooses when
- making out only on occasion
Sometimes talking about all of this goes well, sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part, we realize that we don’t want to be in conflict so we continue to try and work on ourselves and the relationship.
A really big part of being sensitive to how an asexual feels about compromising seems to be realizing they’ve always felt pressured. So I try to be calm when we do talk about it and realize that everything I want from him I’m not going to get, but I’m going to get what I need, and in order for me to get that I can’t apply pressure… I have to relax. And on Tom’s part he realizes that he would prefer to never do this but since he’s capable, he will. I might add that when I let him lead, and I allow myself to be passive as opposed to aggressive during our encounters he seems less bored or uneasy even. Basically what it seems to come to, whether it involves talking about sex or having sex, is that I can’t be demanding or insistent, I sort of have to squash my sexual urges to be passionate and intense so to say, and he has to put himself out there when he would just as soon not. It’s the pressure and expectations that the sexual partner has that cripple their relationship with an asexual.
He’s my best friend and he has been for 25 years. I enjoy being with him more than anybody else. He tells me he loves me several times a day and hugs me most every morning. We both try to grow intellectually and spiritually together, and we share a lot of interests… this helps us love each other in many ways.
We both feel strongly about monogamy, I think we both prefer and want that from our partner. We tend to feel that someone would end up hurt if we had an open relationship.
We still have work to do (25 years of bad habits don’t break easy), but we’re doing it. Sometimes, love is work… but I guarantee you won’t ever find a better boss in the whole world.