This is the weirdest story I have read in a very long time....
I was a virgin at 51 (despite being married twice): Attractive. In
love. So why did this utterly normal middle-class woman have to spend
decades desperate for intimacy?
- Maria-Louise was married to John from the age of 18 to her mid-twenties
- They never consummated their marriage
- He was a Catholic who thought sex was only for procreating
- She then met Carol (named after a Romanian king) who left his wife and daughters for her
- But he kept making excuses to avoid intimacy, even after they married
- She stuck with him after he had heart surgery
- They separated in 2008
- She then finally lost her virginity after finding love again at the age of 51
By MARIA-LOUISE WARNE
22:06 GMT, 21 May 2014
22:21 GMT, 21 May 2014
Frustration: Maria-Louise had two sexless marriages
Our hotel overlooked Salcombe
Bay on the English Riviera and a rosy sunset dappled the sky as we drank
champagne on the terrace.
had booked the bridal suite for our weekend away, not because we were
newlyweds but because I hoped it would inject some romance into our
That night, after a candlelit dinner, I dressed seductively in new lace underwear, nestled into my husband and kissed him.
usual, Carol (named by his romantic-minded parents after a Romanian
king) responded with a perfunctory peck on the cheek and rolled over in
Determined not to be
rejected again, I persisted. Then he snapped at me to stop. All the
longing I'd felt evaporated, replaced by feelings of shame and
That night as
Carol snored, I lay sleepless, tears silently rolling down my cheeks. I
cried because the man I loved - the man who had vowed to love and
cherish me - seemed repulsed by me.
was not simply that our relationship had become stale. The truth was
more shocking: we had never consummated our marriage; never once had
sex. And throughout the 26 years we spent together, we never did.
sounds almost unbelievable that an attractive, intelligent woman with
healthy sexual urges should ever have agreed to stay in such a union.
It is all the more extraordinary to know that I had two such marriages to men who refused to make love to me.
My first lasted from the age of
18 until I was in my mid-20s. My relationship with Carol began when I
was 25, we wed when I was 38 and remained married for 13 years.
yes, I was still a virgin at the grand old age of 51 - the prime years
of my life spent without ever knowing the intimacy and wonder of
becoming one with a man.
how did this come to be? I met my first husband John, a compositor, in
my home town of Tiverton, Devon, in the mid-Seventies. He was a customer
at the newsagent shop my mother ran and asked me out one day when I was
John, who was 12 years
my senior, was dependable and bookish. He looked strikingly similar to
the young Billy Connolly and, although lacking charisma, was rock-solid
and kind. I found his physical reticence appealing: it reassured me that
he wasn't just after me for sex.
when I look back now, I wonder if my mother's dysfunctional attitude to
intimacy skewed my understanding of relationships.
High hopes: A bride at 18 with her father who would give her away to her first husband, John. However, the marriage didn't last
As an adolescent she
told me sex was to be endured, not enjoyed. At night I'd overhear my
parents arguing in their bedroom. My father Phillip craved affection,
but my mother Irene would threaten: 'If you don't leave me alone, I'll
go to the spare room.'
It left me believing sex was a chore, rather than an act of love.
I was around 16, I had a couple of innocent relationships, but in Devon
in the early Seventies pre-marital sex was still a matter for shame. I
wanted to save myself.
Then along came John.
He and I both concluded we should not have sex before we were married.
when he proposed during an admittedly unromantic casual conversation on
a date, I said 'yes', imagining the passion that was yet to be unlocked
in my fiance.
married in 1977. He was 32, I was just 20, and we spent our honeymoon
night at a Devon inn. It was incredibly romantic. A river meandered past
our window and I felt like a fairy-tale princess in our chintzy room.
...It caused me surprisingly little sadness: because I'd never known passion, I didn't have a clue what I was missing
But it was my time of the month. John recoiled when I told him and, as a result, we did not make love during our honeymoon.
I was not unduly worried. I thought we had a lifetime together to explore the physical side of our relationship.
home, I strove to be the perfect wife. I always had a gin and tonic
waiting when John returned from work and cooked meals from scratch.
John, in turn, was kind. After supper we'd sit on the sofa holding
hands, occasionally kissing. He was sweet, but we always stopped short
John, who was a
Catholic, eventually told me he believed sex was for procreation only.
Because I wasn't ready to have children, I agreed we shouldn't sleep
together until I was.
naive young woman with no previous sexual experience, I thought this
must be normal for some couples. We would kiss and cuddle, but he'd stop
before things went too far.
about a year into our marriage, I got impatient and suggested we go
together to the family planning clinic to talk about contraception.
During my discussion with the female doctor, John passed out.
said it was because he was overwhelmed by the smell of disinfectant.
Now I realise he probably had a deep‑seated physical revulsion to the
idea of sex. So even though I came home equipped with a contraceptive
cap, he still failed to take any interest.
I got used to the idea that we'd never have sex. It seems extraordinary
to me now that I accepted the situation so meekly, but given what I'd
learned from my mother, I concluded I was having a lucky escape.
It caused me surprisingly little sadness: because I'd never known passion, I didn't have a clue what I was missing.
Take two: Maria-Louise then married Carol
I didn't dare return to
my doctor - what could I possibly say? It wasn't the kind of thing I
felt comfortable discussing with my friends, either.
after two or three years, I began to get frustrated. I'd entered into
the marriage with such high hopes, but without sex, there was no glue to
hold it together.
feelings were more acute when, in 1982, Carol came into my life after I
started working at the sports shop he owned in Tiverton. He was 47 - 22
years my senior - married and the father of two daughters.
seemed to me the epitome of sophistication. He knew that champagne went
with caviar; Chablis with oysters. He had travelled widely, while I
hadn't even been to London. He had a good physique and a twinkle in his
eye. I was smitten.
family lived in Cornwall, and for several years he spent his weekdays in
Devon, only returning home at weekends. Because my relationship with
John was waning, I felt no guilt about going for the occasional meal
...Once or twice I'd don sexy underwear and try to seduce him. But he'd tell me it wasn't appropriate
When I was 25, we shared our
first kiss. Carol was sitting on the desk in his office. I threw my arms
round his neck and kissed him on the lips. For the first time in my
life I felt butterflies in my tummy. 'I love you,' I told him.
'That's quite a responsibility,' he said gravely. I was pleased he took me so seriously.
1987 John and I had separated amicably, and Carol's trips home to
Cornwall were less frequent. We began spending illicit weekends in smart
hotels together. But Carol, stricken by adulterer's guilt, refused
absolutely to have sex with me. While I was desperate to make love, I
understood his reluctance. After all, he was still married, and I did
not want our love-making tainted by adultery. His refusal just added to
the frisson between us.
thought I just had to be patient. And, in other ways, we were so happy.
Life with Carol was a whirl of spontaneous weekend breaks abroad and
candlelit dinners. It seemed churlish to nag him about sex when
everything else was so fantastic.
the end of 1987, Carol left his wife and I imagined everything would
change. But, to my intense disappointment, he merely exchanged one
excuse for a battalion of others.
given up so much for you: my wife, my family, my home. Isn't that
enough?' he'd plead every time I brought up our lack of physical
For a while we did share a form of intimacy, but it never resulted in full intercourse.
You MAY kiss the bride: Although they were happy together, they were never intimate, to her frustration
You may question why I
stayed with him, but in so many other ways we had a wonderful life. And I
felt indebted to Carol for the sacrifices he'd made to be with me.
so, there were times when I cried with frustration and sadness. In
1990, we went to Amsterdam for the New Year and I watched couples
embracing in the frosty lamplight at midnight. But there were few
cuddles from Carol, and we returned to our hotel and our single beds. I
felt unutterably lonely, but clung to the hope that the obstacles
between us could be overcome.
then I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. Carol
had obviously had sex with his wife, so why not with me?
or twice I'd don sexy underwear and try to seduce him. But he'd tell me
it wasn't appropriate. My feelings of shame and embarrassment began to
Carol was capable of great charm and romance. He always held my hand
when we walked down the street. There were sweet gifts on Valentine's
Day, chocolate hearts iced with frivolous messages - 'Keep safe my
darling' or 'Come back soon' if I went away. I took these as proof that
he did truly love me.
when Carol was 52, his sports shop business went bust and I became the
breadwinner. I was a very successful sales rep and my job took me all
over the country.
...'I'd like to have sex,' I said. 'Are we going to, or what?'
'Or what,' was his surly reply
This made it even less possible
for us to be physically intimate, because I was away almost all week
travelling and exhausted at the weekends. Forget nights of passion, I
just wanted to flop into bed.
I was earning enough to fund a very comfortable lifestyle. We had an expensive car and enjoyed several holidays every year.
this time - I was in my early 30s - it did cross my mind that the
chance to have children was passing me by. I babysat for our neighbours'
little girl, Abigail, and started to feel broody.
One time I said to Carol: 'Wouldn't it be lovely to have a daughter.'
His reply? 'We can't because you have to work.'
was at this point that I did contemplate leaving him, but not long
afterwards Carol became gravely ill. In 1995 - when I was 38 and he was
60 - Carol had a triple heart bypass. Afterwards, he developed a hole in
the heart and MRSA.
lay in a hospital bed, wired to a ventilator and unable to talk, I was
struck by his vulnerability and overcome by love. He could not speak,
but scrawled on a piece of paper: 'Will you marry me?'
last, I thought, he was showing his tender side. He needed me; I would
look after him. I kissed him on the forehead and told him: 'Yes.'
And once we were married, I reasoned - when he had recovered - there would be no reason not to make love.
wedding took place on December 28, 1995, at Bridgewater Register Office
in Somerset. Carol was still very sick, and on my honeymoon night my
husband was in bed by 5pm. But even when Carol rallied, nothing changed
Found passion at last: She lost her virginity at the age of 51
To begin with I made
allowances: I didn't want any exertion to bring on a heart attack and
didn't force the issue. Then one day, about a year after our wedding, I
confronted his health visitor in front of him.
there any reason why we shouldn't make love?' I asked, and she assured
me that, if Carol didn't exert himself too vigorously, there was
But, again, nothing changed.
employed an array of tactics to avoid sex: night-time bathroom rituals;
reading in the lavatory; catching the last half-hour of a film he'd
swerved between frustration and anger. Once again I thought about
leaving Carol, but the fragility of his health swayed me. In 2002 I lost
my job, and because it had always been my dream to move to rural
France, Carol suggested this was the ideal opportunity. I thought a new
start might bring us closer.
bought a glorious house in Charente near Bordeaux and, for a while, we
were happy. To our new friends, Carol was visibly proud of me, his much
younger wife. I, meanwhile, was excited by our fresh venture and
retrained as an English teacher.
Sex had ceased to play a prominent role in my thoughts: I was immersed in decorating our lovely new home.
...Tim and I would make love for six hours at a stretch: after half a century of famine, suddenly there was a feast
For a few months, we were as happy as honeymooners - without, of course, the sex.
about a year later, a group of Carol's mates visited from England and I
overheard them. 'Bet you're banging away like a barn door with that
young wife of yours,' said one.
'Oh, yes. We're at it like rabbits,' he replied.
I was incensed that Carol had the temerity to brag about our non-existent sex life.
That night I dressed in alluring underwear. 'I'd like to have sex,' I said. 'Are we going to, or what?'
'Or what,' was Carol's surly reply.
that day on, our relationship descended into rows and recriminations.
Then, in 2005, Carol suffered a stroke and it signalled a turning point.
Tim, his French doctor,
came into our lives. Separated from his wife and three years my junior,
Tim was gorgeous: 47, tall and dark with a deep, silky voice like liquid
chocolate. From the instant I saw him I was smitten.
marriage by now was in terminal decline. In the end it was Carol who
left me. In 2008 he went, unannounced, to live near his daughters in
I invited Tim to
dinner and when he kissed me goodbye I felt as if cartoon stars were
circling round my head. I was 51 but giddy as a teenager.
was two months before Tim invited me to his house for dinner - by which
time his estranged wife had left - and I knew my life was about to
He kissed me that
night with a passion I'd never experienced. I guessed it was a prelude
to making love. I knew, too, I had to be honest.
Now making up for lost time: Maria-Louise has spent decades being ignored in the bedroom (posed by models)
'There's something you ought to know,' I said. I took a deep breath before adding: 'I've never had sex.'
Tim’s jaw practically hit the floor. 'But you've been married!' he said - and the whole story spilled out.
night, for the first time in my life, I enjoyed passionate, satisfying
sex. I was 51 years old and, finally, no longer a virgin.
the following five years I made up for lost time. Tim and I would make
love for six hours at a stretch: after half a century of famine,
suddenly there was a feast.
made love on the stairs, on the floor, on the sofa. For the first time I
enjoyed true intimacy. It was fun, an expression of love.
The contrast with my previous, sexless life could not have been more marked.
But then, somewhat unexpectedly, in November 2012, Tim left me for another woman.
adored him and hoped we would share our lives for ever. A part of me
blamed myself and my lack of sexual experience for casting a long shadow
over our relationship.
this spring something rather magical has happened and we're back
together again. We are now building a life based on emotional as well as
relationship has taught me that sex is as much about sharing pleasure as
giving it. Most importantly, he made me feel like a real woman.