Thank God My Children Won’t Read This

CNF71 CVRIf I had children, they would be mortified. An essay I wrote about sex with my late husband is included in the new issue of Creative Nonfiction Magazine. It’s pretty graphic. I talk about his problems maintaining an erection after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and about my problems with menopausal dryness and the need for lubrication. I even talk about offering him a blow job. OMG. Thank God my parents will never read this. I hope my stepchildren never see it.

Not that the general public reads Creative Nonfiction. Most people can’t even define creative nonfiction: true stories told using the techniques of fiction, such as characters, dialogue, setting, plot, etc. Making it into Creative Nonfiction has been a life goal since I earned my master of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction 16 years ago. So career-wise, this is great, but oh my God, do I really want people to know this much about me?

But then you readers here at Childless by Marriage already know so much. If you’ve read my Childless by Marriage book, you already know things I would not want my family to know, things I have never told anyone else.

Editor Lee Gutkind points to my story as an example of things they couldn’t have published even 10 years ago. He’s right. Not in a public journal like CNF. But here at the blog, we’ve always been pretty honest. It’s part of the story.

We are childless by marriage. How does one create a child? Sex. So if we’re not getting pregnant, something involved with sex is preventing it, whether it’s birth control, impotence, infertility, or abortion. In my Creative Nonfiction piece, I talk about stopping coitus to find some lube. When I was younger and with other men, it was about running to the bathroom to insert my diaphragm or grabbing a condom. If we had just kept going, I might be a mother now, but we didn’t. Somebody always stopped the proceedings, said, “We’d better . . .” and we did. Or we switched to an activity that did not include placing penis in vagina.

Now my church, Catholic, says sex is only for making babies. But most Catholics I know use birth control. It’s one of those things we don’t talk about–and probably should.

When you decide to sleep with someone, you immediately need to figure out what you’re doing about birth control, not just to prevent pregnancy but to prevent STDs. If you’re on the pill, you can choose whether or not to mention it, but if you’re using another method, you’ll have to discuss it. You will know whether, at least at that moment, your partner is interested in creating a baby. Which may lead to more long-term choices.

Sex is such a vital part of life, but until recently we didn’t talk about it much, and we certainly didn’t write about it. I’m both embarrassed and proud of my essay. When I wrote it, I thought it was funny. I still think people will get some laughs out of it. But it also shows the realities of middle-aged sex and dementia. Why keep it a secret? Everybody deals with this stuff.

I haven’t read the other pieces in the magazine yet.  is a print publication, not online, and copies haven’t arrived yet. The link will show where you can order a copy.

Some of you have confided that your partners refused to have sex with you. So hurtful! I wonder how many dare to mention their desire for babies while they’re making love. What are those conversations like, when you’re lying together naked and happy? Or are you afraid to mention it for fear of ruining the mood?

I don’t want to turn this into a porn site, and I sure hope I don’t get a lot of filthy responses, but we can be honest here. I’m honestly glad I don’t have children and grandchildren reading about Grandma and Grandpa having sex. Ew, gross.

One of the advantages of being childless, I guess.

I just realized the magazine never asked and I never mentioned whether or not I had children. Interesting.

Thanks for being here.

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5 thoughts on “Thank God My Children Won’t Read This

  1. Congratulations on the published piece. Once I understood that my husband did not want to be a parent, it dramatically affected our intimacy. I really lost any desire to be with him intimately. It’s not as if I view sex as exclusively for reproduction. It’s more that I felt so disconnected from him and our marriage. I guess I can’t untangle the emotional from the physical. We are separated now and it’s hard for me to imagine being intimate with anyone again. I suppose time will help.

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  2. Congratulations!!! That is awesome that you achieved a goal you’ve had for a long time! Thank you for writing about something that is so private, yet will be so relatable for many, many people. ❤

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  3. I am still hurt that my ex husband would not have sex with me without a condom. I wanted children very much. Condoms are also mood killers and also aren’t as good as far as natural lubrication goes. I was raised Catholic as well and never thought I’d be married to a guy who wouldn’t “go all the way” with me while married. He even told me very seriously that if I did get pregnant we’d be adopting out the baby. That’s not very Christian by my standards.

    My current husband and I have one beautiful son two years old. But again it’s the same story different day. He has said he does not want another child at all. I do very much. Again, no one cares what I want, which is strange as I’m the one who has to be pregnant, be restricted on my job duties, which affects things like raises and promotions, and also I make significantly more money than him so if anything went wrong he could take me to court for child support. I’m getting closer and closer to 40. I want what I want, nothing will ever change that. And no one cares.

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