“If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second” – Edward Bellamy

I was turning 33 the year that I could not get pregnant. My previous pregnancies were not first timers but having unprotected sex whenever we wanted made the trying more fun. But this time, by the 8th or 9th cycle we had tried everything that had worked before – herbal teas, lying in bed with my legs up the wall, recording my temperature every morning… nothing seemed to make a difference. Ironically, having already had children made my inability to conceive even more unnerving.  What had I lost?  And how?  As the months turned into years, I became obsessed with what this lacking fertility and reproductive health. I felt betrayed by my body and as bad as it was for my self-esteem, it was even worse for my sex life which lead to marriage intimacy problems.

By this time, there was nothing left of the sexy in our sex life. I had totally forgotten how to enjoy sex, about the way that pleasure alone soothed, about how it had made me let go. The longer that sex became a means to an end, the less my husband wanted to play along. In place of foreplay we got caught in the same old arguments. In retrospect, I can’t blame him for our marriage intimacy problems. My rigid scheduled demands and all the no’s before and after.  The strain in our sex life and my reproductive health multiplied the stress everywhere else.

After the first anniversary of trying I sought medical help and took an oral fertility drug. The immediate success was short lived as my pregnancy evolved without a fetus….I had never heard the term blighted ovum before, but swimming in the grief of the failed attempt offered a silver lining, it made me finally let go of the trying. I had two kids, life was telling me loud and clear, stop the trying, be grateful. Letting go felt like taking a deep breath for the first time. I wasn’t waiting anymore and it brought me back not only to appreciating the kids I had, but even more so, my husband’s patience with me. In the process, I remembered how much I used to love sex.

Turning our sex life back toward recreational pursuits was a healing balm for the marriage and so much fun. Giving up the pursuit of an orgasmic finish released all of the pent up performance anxiety. Our marriage intimacy problems dissipated and foreplay became the center-piece instead of rote actions to hurry through.  No longer driven by fertility timing, any time the kids were finally asleep was a good time which all combined slowly but steadily made sex fun again.

Low and behold a visit to my amazing acupuncturist and an herbal tonic and I found myself pregnant. My son who was born when I was 34 just turned 21. So grateful that I was able to give up wanting him so I could have him. And grateful beyond words to my husband who stayed with me through it all. Moral of the story: recreating begets procreating.

Stay tuned for more stories about marriage intimacy problems, here at Good Clean Love.