Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians.
The subject of this week’s Sex Life is a heterosexual Nigerian woman in her early 40s. She talks about barely caring about sex when she got married in her 20s and how this is changing now that her children are grown up and away from home.
When did you have sex for the first time?
When I was a teenager, I was raped in school by senior boys. They told me that if I told anyone, they would kill me.
I’m so sorry. Were you able to talk to anyone about it?
Not immediately it happened. I knew my parents would blame me because I had heard them blame other women who got raped in our vicinity back then.
That’s messed up. When was your first consensual experience?
A few years later, when I was about 17, I liked a boy, he liked me back and we often made out. We didn’t date, but we once tried to have sex. I felt very weird when we started — even though I was quite horny and eager to do it at first. I was sweating profusely, gasping and it was painful. I was having a panic attack. I told him to stop and we never tried it again. I didn’t try to have sex again until I got married.
Do you think being raped had anything to do with the panic attack?
At the time, I didn’t think about it as much. But eventually, I realised that the two incidents were probably related. I must have been afraid and was projecting the pain and fear I experienced when I was raped.
Back then, I thought that sex wasn’t for everybody. Being raped really framed my thoughts and feelings towards sex. Nobody had talked to me about sex, so I didn’t know much about it until it was time to get married.
Who told you about sex?
I was lucky to have a marriage counsellor that was very liberal. Back then, I thought she was crude. The kinds of things she said about sex were not things you’d expect to hear from a 60-year-old Christian mother.
She talked about sex positions, looking at sex as pleasurable and not just for having kids, pleasing your husband and more. It was hilarious the moment I became comfortable with her.
I was in my 20s at the time. She was the first person I told about being raped. She helped me get through it emotionally and for the first time, I broke down and unleashed all the pent up emotions I had.
I’m so sorry.
Thank you. My perspective about sex didn’t change a lot, though. But I felt I was ready to have sex, and I began having it once I got married.
You didn’t have sex before marriage?
No, we didn’t. We were both saving ourselves for marriage, due to our religious beliefs. I’m a Christian and he was a Muslim.
Did you enjoy the sex?
Not really, but I did it. In my mind, it was still only the means to an end — children. In the beginning, we were having sex two times a week. I told myself I was going to cope with it, but eventually, I couldn’t even stand sex once a week.
I didn’t know what to do. I loved my husband. I wasn’t sure how to tell him without causing a fight. Yet, I didn’t want any resentment to build up.
Why couldn’t you stand sex anymore?
So my first year in marriage was great. The sex was okay enough. I didn’t feel the ecstasy and pleasure that I was told I would feel, but it was manageable. It made my husband happy. Then I got pregnant and my body changed.
Within a year, I got pregnant again and was so frustrated by it. When I had my first two children, I wasn’t ready for them. I didn’t even want them. That affected the way I treated and related to them. But with my last two children, it was different. I really wanted them.
Having my first two kids, working, and taking care of them and the home was hard. Add sex to that kind of frustration, and all I wanted to do was disappear. Some people see sex as an outlet. I didn’t. It was an itch to me.
How did you solve that?
I didn’t. Our sex life disappeared shortly after my second child was born. I would typically tell him I was too tired to have sex or give all sorts of excuse. I think he got the idea. He tried to talk to me about it twice, but I would always divert the topic. We would have sex once or twice a month and that would be it. I guess I was also punishing him somehow, because he wasn’t really helping me at home.
When I turned 30, I became an entirely different person. I felt like I had missed out on my 20s. I wasn’t the best mother or wife or person or even colleague. But I felt I had been given a new slate. And the first thing I wanted to do with that new slate, was to have a child again.
I wanted a do-over on everything. My friends thought I was crazy. How could I want to live my best life at 30 by starting with kids? They wanted to know if the two I had weren’t enough. No one really understands. Even I don’t understand it completely. I can’t really explain how I felt. Then I had twins, lol. I wasn’t expecting that. There are no twins in my family and none that we know of in my husband’s family.
After the twins came, maybe because I was interested in fixing my marriage, or maybe it was just hormones, but I couldn’t keep my hands off my husband.
We started having sex a bit more often. I wasn’t as frustrated as I was when I had my first two kids. Maybe because I wasn’t working full-time. That went well for a while. I was enjoying the act of sex, but wasn’t having any orgasms.
Wow. Then what happened?
I guess time happened. Sex slowed down again for a few years. We were not deliberate about it and just had sex based on how we felt. I realised that you can’t leave sex to emotions, at least for us. He might be in the mood today and I might not. It took me a while to learn, but we’re there sha.
How did you get there?
A lot of things. So I started speaking up for myself and fighting him when he wasn’t helping out. Which was a lot of fights. LMAO. I also had to be patient because we were both unlearning. We both grew up in a time when we believed the husband shouldn’t be doing domestic chores.
Then two more things happened: my husband became a Chrisitan, even more serious than I was. He wanted us to fix things between us. He confessed he had been tempted to cheat many times but hadn’t. I was mad at this because it seemed like he was blaming me for almost cheating. I calmed down from that anger and explained that, it wasn’t my fault I didn’t want sex. I told him for the first time about being raped and all of that.
The second thing was that our two older kids went to university and then we went to drop the twins in boarding school. The summary is that we became free.
LMAO. What has changed now?
A lot. Like I said, one of the things we realised was that you have to plan these things. Give room for spontaneity, yes. But still plan it. Also prioritise each other’s pleasure. I would not say I ever prioritised his pleasure, even though when we first married, I was happy to see him nut from sex and felt good about it, but I wasn’t just doing anything extra. So we are both discovering sex now.
We have sex regularly, maybe four times a month, but it’s mostly always good. We act like we’re dating and sneak around to have sex, even though we don’t need to. It’s just fun, being able to lose your guard and be vulnerable with each other. I learned a lot about my husband and he’s learning a lot about me. And my body.
What about the orgasms?
They’re coming strong. I can’t remember when last I had sex and didn’t orgasm. I remember one time, I went out and my friend saw me and said I was glowing. I told her it was sex o. I have that same glow since then.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that, when we started discovering sex again, we didn’t use any form of birth control. I got pregnant. I had to go and abort the baby. I travelled to get this done. I didn’t even care about anything anyone was going to say to me. I didn’t tell him at first, because I was scared he’d want me to keep it. When I did tell him, he was so angry at me. But mostly because he wasn’t there for me. A few months later, he got a vasectomy.
Yes it is. The thing is, I had resigned myself to a miserable life in my 20s, and I feel like I’ve learned too many things. That’s why I was eager to share my story. One thing is that people do change, but it’s a frustrating and long process. I have changed and I am still changing.
Do you feel you wasted time?
No, I didn’t waste time. I don’t do regrets.
So how would you rate your sex life?
8/10. I’m a bit scared the sex life will still tank. But I’m a bit optimistic. My husband rates it a 10 sha.