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As a newlywed, I had the usual wonderful expectations*

Painful Love (written by a loving husband)

As a newlywed, I had the usual wonderful expectations for our wedding night – a night we were expecting to be filled with pleasure and passion. A night for us to express, physically, the wonderful emotional bonds of friendship and love that had formed between us, and which ultimately led us to marry each other.

We did everything right and nothing wrong: we had a special room, a little champagne, some special gifts for each other, candlelight, soft aromatic scents, lingerie, fine sheets, sensuous music, good communication, lots of lubrication, no unrealistic expectations, and a happily unhurried and selfless desire to please each other to the very best of our ability. What more could you ask for? Anyway, after several unhurried hours of intimate activity, things fell apart at the end of our special evening when we tried to have vaginal intercourse.

My wife guided me into position, we kissed for a while, and I eventually gave a quick little lunge when I thought she was least expecting it … my wife gasped with pain, and I failed to fully penetrate. She encouraged me to try again, harder – I failed again. My wife’s breathing was no longer gasping from our passion … it was ragged with pain and growing distress, and there were tears in her eyes. I felt overwhelmed with concern for her, and it hurt me terribly to see (and feel) that the ultimate physical expression of my love for her was causing her such terrible discomfort – like a dagger being driven into the most sensitive and vulnerable part of her body.

My wife wasn’t the only one who cried that night. Something was very wrong, and we both knew it. My wife, however, insisted on blaming herself exclusively. She said that gynecological exams had always been painful for her, and that she’d never been able to use a tampon. Our wedding night difficulties simply seemed to confirm her secret worst fears – that she was somehow deformed or “too small down there”, and that she’d never be able to have pain-free intercourse … or children.

Over the months that followed, that worry (which later proved to be groundless) ate mercilessly at her self-esteem and no amount of love and reassurance on my part could help her fully shake free of it. Even though our sex life continued to flourish (there are plenty of ways to please each other that don’t require intercourse) we eventually decided to seek professional assistance. After a lot of searching and referrals we were finally able to rule out all other possibilities and pinpoint the exact condition responsible for our difficulties: vaginismus (involuntary vaginal constriction). Once we’d found a name for it, it wasn’t long before we also found Ross and Ditza, who helped us to resolve it through a combination of counseling, urogynecologic physical therapy and sex therapy. As a result, we’re now able to have normal intercourse without discomfort, and solving it together has drawn us closer, as a couple.

Looking back, I have some personal advice to share with my fellow newlywed husbands: if you’re faced with this condition, be supportive. Try to imagine how you’d feel if you were unable to achieve an erection – and how much worse you’d feel if your partner was unsympathetic and reacted with impatience and/or indifference. Vaginismus is fully treatable, but it requires perseverance, patience, good communication, and positive emotional support. Anything less is counterproductive. Be there for her, and be willing to accompany her to joint counseling sessions if she asks you to. Above all, LOVE her – and be proud of yourselves for being willing to obtain professional assistance – asking for outside help is never easy, especially for men (who’ve been raised from birth to be totally self-reliant), but in this case it’s essential. Once you make that first critical leap and undertake a therapy plan, treat your sessions together as valuable opportunity to improve your emotional and physical communication. When it comes right down to it, partnership and good communication are what marriage is all about anyway, so you’re only cheating yourselves and each other if you don’t give it your all. In the end, your joint efforts will be rewarded many times over*.

* Results may vary from person to person

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