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Story in Bella Magazine - 2001
TO MY STORY
Making love is a couple's ultimate expression of their feelings for each other But Sarah-Jayne Bass (formerly Caroline Hensby) drove her husband Simon to despair when she completely lost her sex drive.
I didn't care if I never had sex again' - says Caroline, 38
I was just 19 when Simon and I married, and we couldn't keep our hands off each other. We made love five times a week and we were blissfully happy. But for the past 14 years, we've been virtually celibate because I went off sex. I love Simon so much, and I couldn't function without him, but until 10 months ago I would have been quite happy if we'd never had sex again.
As a teenager I was quite promiscuous and lost my virginity at 14. I used sex as a way to get men to notice me and then hold on to them. But underneath the attention seeking, I was shy I just wanted them to like me.
I was 16 when I met Simon at our local cinema where he was an usher. I made a cheeky comment and the next moment I was perched on his lap! A few days later he got my phone number and asked me out.
0ur characters complemented each other, Simon was logical and calm whereas I was hyper one minute and depressed the next I fell for him fast but we only began making love after we'd been together several months.
I had thought sex was the only thing men wanted. But Simon was different he loved me for who I was.
We got engaged on my 17th birthday. I was thrilled, but I don't know how he put up with me I had an explosive temper and I'd scream and throw my ring at him over the slightest thing. Making up afterwards was always pretty passionate, though!
We got married the day after my 19th birthday at our local church. Making love on our wedding night was more special than ever.
My parents had given me security and unconditional love. Simon took over from them. He looked after me and did the washing, ironing, cleaning and most of the cooking.
Ten months after our wedding, I had our son Michael, now 18. After he was born, I'd be up most of the night with him and the last thing I felt like was sex. We had our second son Richard two years later The combination of a sleepless toddler and a new baby ruined our love life.
When I was pregnant with our third son Alan, Richard, then two, started having behavioural problems. He'd
been a perfectly normal baby up until then but he became over active, banging his head and being aggressive towards other children.
I got very tired and very run down. I had such bad postnatal depression after Alan that my doctor advised against any more children, and Simon had a vasectomy. Two years later, aged 27, I had a hysterectomy because of hormonal problems.
Our sex life became almost non-existent By 9pm, I'd be crashed out in bed, but Simon was working at a community centre and had to lock up after evening functions he'd often be out until lam. We slept in single beds so he wouldn't disturb me. Sex was just too much effort.
But it wasn't just being tired that put me off making love. After Simon had the snip and I knew we couldn't have any more babies, sex seemed pointless. I did all I could to avoid it.
Richard's behaviour was getting worse and when he was four, Simon started sleeping on the settee downstairs to stop him starting a fire or playing with knives in the kitchen. The doctor had just put it down to immaturity and said that Richard might have a heating problem.
By the time we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary, I could count on my fingers how many times we'd made love since having the kids. But I didn't feel less close to Simon or less of a woman.
Once in a blue moon I'd give into Simon's advances; but I only did it for his sake and got absolutely no enjoyment
from it myself I just lay there.
The only reason I had sex was that I was scared he'd leave me if didn't I couldn't survive without him.
As he grew up, Richard continued to have huge tantrums when he'd drop to the floor and rip his clothes apart. Once he got the car keys, started up the car and put it into gear. There were repeated trips to see doctors and child psychiatrists. Simon was much better at dealing with him because Richard and I always clashed. I'd fly off the handle, lock myself in the bedroom and cry my eyes out.
We always knew he wasn't just a naughty boy and finally, at 12, he was diagnosed as suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD) It's a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes children overactive, lacking in concentration, disorganised and volatile.
We learned all about ADD from the Internet and set up a support group and website. One day, Simon and I were going through the symptoms of adult ADD poor concentration, mood swings, impatience and low self esteem when Simon looked at me and said, "That's you to a 'T'!"
Everything fell into place, especially my lack of concentration which helped to explain why I wasn't able to enjoy sex. I was hyperactive outside the house on the school PTA, running a charity shop and involved in the local church yet at our home, in Kent, I'd sleep all day, leaving Simon to do everything.
No wonder Icouldn't cope with Richard we were both too self centred. But I wasn't just selfish and I was sure I had ADD, too.
I had to battle to get a referral, but finally saw two psychologists and a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, London in April last year. They diagnosed ADD and prescribed Ritalin I'm now on medication called Equasym I feel like a different person. I've got more energy and concentration and I'm much calmer and more tolerant of Richard. Best of all, I've got my sex drive back. I was very nervous at first and felt like a born again virgin! We started making love once or twice a month and now it's once a week. I even make the first move sometimes. Being lovers again has made our relationship stronger and I feel more relaxed with Simon.
Being diagnosed with ADD saved our marriage. Looking back, I can't believe how selfish I was I simply didn't care that Simon was sexually frustrated But it was part of the ADD and I was so wrapped up in myself I didn't think I was being cold. I regret those lost years but nothing can bring them back, so now I'm determined to make up for lost time with Simon.
'Being rejected made me feel less of a man' - Says Simon 41
Being turned down every time I wanted to make love to Caroline made me feel rejected and was a terrible blow to my pride. It got to the stage where I gave up being affectionate because I feared rejection. I didn't feet comfortable holding hands, kissing or cuddling. it was just too frustrating. I never stopped loving her, but there was a wall between us that I couldn't break down.
When we were passionate newlyweds, I never dreamt I'd end up in a sexless marriage. I got so frustrated because I never stopped fancying Caroline. I suppose I bottled it up or channelled the energy into work. But I never got angry with Caroline because she suffered very bad postnatal depression after having the boys, so I thought her low sex drive was due to a hormonal problem.
I did my best to be supportive, I still wanted to have sex and feltguilty. When we hardly made Iove for 14 years, I felt a failure as a husband, inadequate and less of a man. Most of all, though, I felt very lonely.
When I began to cuddle Caroline she'd freeze. It made me feel less close to her. On the rare occasion we did make love, I didn't find it fulfilling as I knew she was just go through the motions.
I'd never suspected Caroline had ADD, I just thought she was feisty! After all, it was her dynamism I was attracted to. And, to me, her qualities far outshone her mood swings.
My pride was dented again, when I had to give up my job as an insurance manager to look after Richard because I could cope with him better than Caroline. For a time, our marriage was under great strain and I felt very depressed.
But I loved her so I was never tempted to have an affair.
Then, when Caroline started her medication and got her libido ba she wanted to make love again. Sex has made my feelings for her much deeper. I think we've got a far more complete relationship now.
For the previous few years we just been friends. I've always thought marriage should be more than that but I couldn't tell Caroline because she would have taken it as a critisim.
Now Caroline often instigates love making because I've got into a over the years. I made the advances early on, but there's only so ma knock backs you can take.
Making love again has made me feel like holding hands when we're out together, keeping that closeness. The boys pretend to be disgust at this and laugh, "Oh no, they're kissing and cuddling again! Yuk!"
I'm 41 and I've been married for 19 years, yet having a love life is new me. We're like young lovers again a I feel as if I'm having a birthday every week'
As told to Janet Hawkins
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