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Annulment – An Awful Word

When we first discovered that penetrative sex wasn’t working (the penis just couldn’t go in) I was really distressed.

I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.

It didn’t help that our living circumstances at the time were very difficult; we were living with parents and didn’t have our own space. To make it worse, our parents’ house was burgled while we were on honeymoon, so it was a real mess we came home to. We were sleeping on the open plan living room sofa bed for a few weeks—yup, forget about intimacy and privacy!

This was simply not an option!

We really struggled to talk properly about our issue and looking back I think stress played such a huge role for us – there were other stress factors in our lives from work and so on. I couldn’t understand why sex wasn’t working – I had expected that as newlyweds, we’d be all over each other in the early months and years!!

I wanted this problem solved and I wanted it solved NOW.

I wanted to see a GP as I thought maybe because I was a virgin maybe my hymen was intact which made sex so difficult. The GP wasn’t helpful (we’ll save that for another post) and I felt so confused and alone. I just didn’t know what was wrong. I wasn’t diagnosed with vaginismus until later.

I was open about it and talked to older ladies in the church who I trusted – and the advice I got was varied (we’ll talk about THAT in another post as well) and none of them had ever heard of my problem and looked at me with this incredulous look that just didn’t help.

The best they could do was pray for me which I guess WAS the best they could do.

Eventually about 11 months married…, I called up the wife of the pastor who married us, to talk. I was crying on the phone, out of frustration, out of despair.

I wanted someone to talk sense to my husband – that it wasn’t normal we hadn’t consummated our marriage yet and it had been nearly a year!

I wanted him to feel as desperate as me and for him to lead us to reach a solution. I wanted him to say we should see a professional, or do something!

The pastor and his wife agreed to see us, but one of the things they suggested alongside urging us to seek couples counselling, was to think whether we wanted to get an annulment, since non-consummation was a legitimate reason.

Hearing this totally broke my heart.

Less than a year ago this pastor had married us in joy, and now, less than a year on, he was suggesting that we consider dissolving our marriage, as if our love and vows meant nothing.

We were having sexual difficulty, it didn’t mean we didn’t want to be together.

To this date, it still makes me feel incredibly sad to think of his mention of annulment in that conversation – it was very hurtful that he didn’t believe in our marriage or that we had potential to make it work. It was a no-confidence vote.

Little did I know, but this seed of annulment that he (and my Christian personal therapist) had sowed in my mind made our commitments so much weaker, that when we have future arguments, the thought of annulment became a destructive thought.

To the point, where sometimes I wondered whether penetrative sex hadn’t worked yet because unconsciously annulment was a way out of commitment and once we’ve consummated our marriage then there’s no way out.

I questioned myself whether I really wanted to be married to my husband and whether I had made a mistake.

Did the pastor and counsellor see something that I couldn’t? Maybe they were secretly glad that we couldn’t consummate our marriage – this unsuitable couple can finally uncouple..?

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that these thoughts are not conducive to a life-long commitment.

It grieves me so much to think that at our hour of need, instead of pointing us to a psychosexual therapist or urge us to see another doctor, one of the first things that is suggested by pastors and counsellors is annulment.

Where does it say in the Bible that a marriage was only a marriage in God’s eyes if a penis had been inside a vagina?

Where in the vows does it say ‘I take thee only if we consummate our marriage’? Now having been married four years, we are so glad we didn’t give thought to the annulment suggestion.

So much of my heartache would have been spared if vaginismus was more understood by our pastor and counsellor and we were encouraged to proactively overcome this condition rather than to run away from it.

Please – if you are considering an annulment because of vaginismus – know that there is hope. Please don’t throw away a marriage because of this.

You wouldn’t (at least I hope not!) leave a marriage if a man had E.D, right?

So please stick at it and give your marriage a chance. I am so glad we did!

– C.G. (33 years old, London)

P.S. I invite you to read more about my journey on my blog More Than Vaginismus!