My husband and I have been married ten years this November 2005, and we have only last year succeeded in consummating our marriage. We have a unique relationship where sex wasn't the ultimate experience in the foundations of our marriage. Of course, we both wanted it, however we were both inexperienced when we were courting
My background stems from very old fashioned and traditional family values, whereby it was inconceivable to partake in any form of sex before marriage. My husband is Australian and I come from Polynesian extract. In my family, I was the eldest of 3 girls all relatively close in age. My parents were quite strict on myself and my siblings, perhaps because we were girls. They had high expectations for us in particular myself since I was the eldest.
We grew up in the 1970's, and I remember we were typical "latchkey" children who went unsupervised a part of the time while both parents were out working. It was a common occurrence during that time. My Father ruled us by fear, where we were disciplined if our rooms were unkempt. I remember no boy would visit us at home as Dad had a intimidating reputation with some boys. I guess, it was his fear if any one of us had to bear something such as a unplanned pregnancy, after all he was a young buck once.
My parents did not teach us anything about the "birds and the bees". In fact, it is quite hilarious when I think about it. For example, if anything on television was remotely sexual, such as a kissing scene, they would make it so obvious by switching channels. I would have been 14 or 15 years old, and typical soap operas such as "Days of our Lives" or "The Young and the Restless" were completely out of bounds.
Once my Father had these novelty plastic breast moulds given to him by a friend. They were hidden amongst other paraphernalia tucked away in the garage. My sisters and I found them once and decided to fill them up with jelly. When Dad saw them he was completely enraged and we got a hiding, I copped the most being the eldest.
Once I was helping my Mother make their bed, and beneath the bed I noticed these "playboy" magazines. She noticed that I had seen them and immediately told me that under no circumstances was I allowed to look at them as they were not books for young children. I must have been 8 years old at the time. Well, the next day when they were out, being the curious kid that I was, I took a peak at them and remembered how naughty I felt in the process. Once in a medical journal I noticed anatomical diagrams of male and females. My thoughts, "What ugly looking things". My husband once commented, "ugly but functional".
My Mother was submissive to my Dad. She never really talked about sex. Mostly she taught me how to keep and clean house. I would often hear her saying, "one day you will marry and you should know how to cook and clean". Sex was something that a man and woman did when they loved each other. Perhaps my Mother's mom was the same with her. I feel that I am a perfectionist today partly for the way in how I was reared. I am a perfectionist and want to be in control. If I am not in control I feel agitated and threatened.
I was never comfortable with my body. I recall the time when I first starting menstruation. I really thought that, that was the end of my world. I hated having to deal with such a grown-up thing. It was hard enough being a shy kid and having to endure bullies because of my ethnic differences. I think menstruation should be dealt with in a positive way, instead of a negative process in life. I would have liked it to be positive and natural. Perhaps a Mother can celebrate a pivotal change in her daughters life by having some sort of small party where significant people in that girl's life are invited along for a tea party and giving gifts. Almost like a "initiation process", into womanhood. I hated going to school with my period. Why? I was mortified if seen by anyone using the incinerator. This is how distorted I felt. In those days, they hadn't introduced private cubicle sanitisers, where it was all discreetly disposed of. Once I was sitting under a Wattle tree with my friends and I knew I had to change, but I found myself procrastinating. Well, it was time to return to class and I stood up and one of my friends commented on the red streak I had on the back of my light green pinafore. I was completely flabbergasted with fear. The toilets were on the other side of the school. I remember this good looking head prefect boy walking behind me, and I stood out like a sore thumb screwing my dress to conceal the red mark. I just wanted the ground to open up!
It was ironic that my parents strict upbringing prevented me from attending the same school as my friends who all went along to a `girls' school. Instead Dad said that I should be encouraged to attend a mixed school. I received mixed messages, on the one hand we were not encouraged to foster friendships with boys, and on the other hand, they wanted us to attend a mixed school.
Once my Dad sat me down and had a pep talk. He said that I had gained too much weight and no man would ever find me attractive. Again I was motivated by fear, and so I took myself out running and lost 3 stone in the process. I found my Father too stifling and restrictive. In a minute glimpse I did remember him telling us that he loved us, but there were just many unhappy times to warrant that feeling.. It was very contradictory when I think about it. Even today my relationship with my Father is rocky and unsettled. We clash, I think I disappoint him being the eldest girl. He has high expectations. I often resent my Father as he often plays favourites although he claims not to. I think it is imperative in a Father to harness a good strong relationship with his daughters, otherwise one may end up with insecurities later on in life. In our marriage our parents are of two extremes. My parents are interfering and my husbands' have very little comment.
My Dad used to always tell us to do things a certain way, but he has learned not to interfere as much now, as we end up not visiting.
I met my husband on a blind date. I had dated other men beforehand but it never lasted because some were interested in going to bed and I just was not ready to commit in that way. I remember a negative experience where I was quite intimate with this bloke, and afterwards I felt quite dirty and disgusted with myself. It just didn't feel right, then along came my husband. By the time I met him I had had enough of some of the men I had previously gone out with. I had learned that physical attraction diminishes quite rapidly if they are self-centred and vain.
My husband was a refreshing change to some of the ones I've come across. I fell in love with his intellect and understanding nature. Here was a beautiful man who was non-judgemental and had vision with the future in mind, and best of all he makes me laugh and he is my soul mate. My sisters often talk negatively about their hubbies, but there was never a time I did that with mine, as he just meant that much to me. It just did not occur to me to do that to him.
I had not lived away from home prior to marrying. In the beginning it was a huge adjustment in itself. After all those years living under Mom and Dad's umbrella, I was suddenly free to make my own decisions. I always craved my parents approval, but that was just a waste of time and energy.
My husband and I were both `inexperienced virgins'. Our wedding night was spent in a beautiful olde-worlde cottage in the majestic Dandenong Ranges. The view of the city skyline was absolutely breathtaking. A four poster bed with an inviting wood fire, soft music and aromatic candles, are all preparations for a night of passion.
However, we did not consummate the marriage as I felt really nervous and kept thinking that penetration would be too painful as it was. I think I was overwhelmed by the new life ahead of me.
I stopped taking the pill because we did not have intercourse and what was the point. We learned to satisfy ourselves in other ways such as oral sex and masturbation. We did most things BUT penetration.
Back in 1996, 1 paid a visit to this gynaecologist who trivialised my condition. I did not like him at all. He was not understanding and so I put that down as a negative experience. The next time was in 1998 where I visited another physician, but I felt like we were going down memory lane again.
The 3rd time round I was very pessimistic. I was dreading the consultation with Dr. Janet Hall. However, her hypnosis and motivation gave me a renewed hope of my dismal situation. I ascertained, that I HAD TO WANT TO CHANGE. I made this constant decision that some way I was going to beat this debilitating fear. It really is a mind block.
I had received many negative messages when I was growing up which is responsible for my construed image. Sometimes, it was very difficult. I would often wander whether I would ever amount to solving this. What I have learned is that, with PERSISTENCE, and COMMITMENT and PRACTICE, it is all very achievable. You have to want it, like anything in life.
There is very little exposure written up about vaginismus and I would have liked to read about how other sufferers overcame it. I used to think that only a minority of women suffered from this condition, however , during our counseling sessions with Dr. Janet Hall, we learned that there are others out there in society who are battling their own predicaments. We had not heard of Dr. Janet Hall and we had some conflicting opinions from others who were concerned about credibility, after all who do you trust out there? Fortunately for us, she was very understanding and professional and her ideas and methods were key factors in the process of beating vaginismus.
Vaginismus is not something that I like to talk about. My family and friends have no idea, and I have become a pro at disguising it. Trust is very important to me and sometimes we only have each other to have feedback.
Both my sisters suffered from the same thing. My middle sister sought help from a gynaecologist who was very clinical. His method required usage of differing test tube sizes. Beginning from the smallest along to the largest. As I had mentioned earlier, he had trivialised my condition. His method worked for my sister, although one day I found her cats playing with the implements to my dismay. My sister is the perfect candidate to have feedback, but unfortunately she has the mouth the size of the South Island of New Zealand. Besides I feared my condition would appear on the grapevine in New Zealand. My family reason that we have not got children yet, is because of my husband. They would not dare think the problem is with their daughter. Once I was in floral classes with a friend and she jokingly remarked, `can't you make a baby'. Of course, I just laughed it off. If she only knew how true her words were. There was even a time I happened to be in conversation with another friend and she was telling me about this disabled couple part mentally impartial, who happened to conceive. I thought they could do it, why couldn't I?
Part of my problem is that I had not familiarised myself with my own genitalia. I have not examined down there with a mirror let alone stick my fingers inside. I always seem to associate "down there" with pain for some reason. We had only just moved into our brand new home with more space, so of all places I decided to use the mirror technique in the privacy of my walk in wardrobe. Why? Because we had too many builders working on houses next door, that I feared one of them might just see through the window. I would be completely mortified if anyone saw me, so that is the reason the wardrobe was a safe and private place to do it.
Earlier on, prior to our appointment with Dr. Janet Hall, my husband bought me a fake dildo , presumably the size of his penis when erect. It was an ugly looking thing in white. I hated it. Eventually it ended up in the garbage bin. But beforehand I made sure that we just did not chuck it on top, it was carefully concealed. It was very important that whatever implement I was to use had to be non-threatening.
During one of our sessions with Dr. Janet Hall, she told us to visit a particular shop in Richmond. I was bashful about it as usual. Perhaps my perceptions of such shops depicted the distasteful ones I would sometimes see on the side of the road, especially down industrial estates. The shop that she recommended was hidden amongst shops along busy al fresco cafes where people enjoyed lattes. We eventually found it, and it was very different to what I had imagined. Inside the interior mainly consisted of rich luxurious drapes with love potions, sex books, candles etc. All of this was situated in the front section of the shop. Behind the velvet curtains contained the more explicit toys such as vibrators, bondage equipment and a whole host of things I would never had imagined. Some of the vibrators were completely gross. The sales assistant was pointing out all the features from the larger ones, and I think after all that I chose the smallest floral vibrator. Non-threatening, and I knew I could work with this to start off with. It came in a black silk pouch, nice and discreet.
The day I beat Vaginismus
It was the beginning of my husband's holiday and we were supposed to go for a usual morning cycle, however we had awoke too late. He initiated our intimacy time so we had a little play in bed. Having read Dr. Janet Hall's books and listened vigilantly to her hypnosis recordings, I decided to try out what I had been practicing.
I had graduated from a small vibrator to one the size of his erection. I told him that it was very important to gradually work on foreplay instead of zeroing in on the erogenous areas such as breasts and genitals. Sometimes he would resort to that and it would all feel mechanical. So that was out. He began with oral sex and in the process I ended up with a orgasm.
Next I felt confident enough to try out what I had been practicing on with all these months. I was curious to see whether I can conquer penetration. I always knew that the most successful position for sufferers of vaginismus, is the `woman on top' position. We tried it on the bed, however I got tired of kneeling and I couldn't position myself properly. We must have tried for a good 20 minutes to no success. Then I thought about the kitchen dinning chair. That way he was sitting up straight and I could stand up and carefully heave myself lower onto him. I was determined this time round, as in the past I would have easily given up. Somehow we were still struggling, then my husband felt underneath and guided himself in. I concentrated on my breathing and focused. Before we knew it, his penis was not sliding out, it was successfully inside. It was a little uncomfortable, but hey we did it!
How did I feel? We were both in awe, not sure how to react. It was surreal really. It had taken me a long time to overcome my sexual inhibitions. Now, I have conquered my fear and I feel like a COMPLETE WOMAN.
Later on I felt really quite emotional because I had never imagined that I would get over this hurdle, and beat this dysfunction. It just proves that if one sets their minds to achieving a goal, it is very achievable. A lot of this progress comes down to my motivation of wanting to conceive a child. I have just turned 36 and nearing the end of my fertility days. Hopefully I haven't missed out on such an important event of being a Mother.
Another determining factor for me was privacy. Prior to moving into this house, we had resided in a small flat where the walls were quite thin. I used to hear the occupants down stairs, and so I was reluctant to even do anything and so it became a distraction. Dr Janet Hall's hypnosis sessions in combination with inserting different size implements is what made mine a success. That mind block thing is a killer. It is important not to develop a mind block otherwise it just makes it more difficult to internalise and feel safe about it all.
How is our sex life today?
We have a very close and intimate relationship, emotionally and sexually. Nowadays I feel complete, instead of feeling as though I am only halfway there. My husband is a very caring and loving as a partner and we enjoy our intimacy times together. We still struggle a little, however we know that with patience it does happen. Foreplay is very important in starting things off.
Things that worked
- Motivation – get really sure about the positives of why do I want to have intercourse?
- Talk to people that you trust (it was impossible to talk to my family as I thought everyone would laugh at me).
- Privacy - if you are a private person, such as myself, then privacy is a key to overcoming this problem. The environment in which you are trying to solve the problem is very important
- Find someone who has an understanding of the condition - make sure it is not someone who treats it as a purely physical problem (eg: a doctor).
- Read about other people's success, rather than theories about why it is happening.
- Practice techniques every second day.
- Choose vibrators that do not appear threatening (I chose a floral one, then a larger pink one). The realistic "look-a-like' dildos really turned me off.
- Have a look at your own genitals (I didn't at first as I was too squeamish).
- Read books about understanding your body as a woman.
1. Pinky finger
2. Index finger
3. Index finger and middle finger
4. Small vibrator
5. Larger vibrator (life-size)
6. Try intercourse with woman on top – do not use too much lubricant as the man will keep slipping out. Man guides penis in using index finger to guide and support it.
When using fingers and vibrators attempt entering half way, then full length when comfortable. Make sure to cut fingernails and wash hands beforehand!
Things that didn't work
Gynaecologists - I visited both a man and a woman. Beyond confirming that 'everything was there', they were not helpful, as they started to discuss medical procedures (eg: pap smears) or trivialised my condition – "There is nothing wrong with you - even kids out on the street can have sex!".
Motivation – I had to overcome my fear that if we had sex and I got pregnant, how would we cope?
Medical books – tended to treat vaginismus as a medical condition with vague references to it being a "rare, psychosomatic illness that is difficult to treat" Even when success stories were described, they centred around the fact that the couple never really got to solve the problem entirely.
Any discussions involving medical equipment such as test tubes, wires (biofeedback), pap smear brushes (it all sounded like it would be too painful, like a visit to the dentist).
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