'After 14 practically sexless years, I bought a vibrator and left my husband.'


I was just a small-town country girl when I got married. He was eight years old than me, and I was a little bit starry-eyed.

In the first six months of my marriage, I remember wanting to lie on the couch with my husband and cuddle while we watched TV. He said to me, “There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s the bedroom.” I was gobsmacked. There was no hugging, no hand holding, certainly no foot rubs and definitely no kissing.

Being very young and naive, and also pregnant, I just went with the flow and didn’t question anything.

The unravelling of the string that tied us together started about two years after we got married. Fishing and boating were all we had in common, really. He wasn’t a deep thinker. He wasn’t a hands-on father.

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It’s really hard to want to have sex with someone when you don’t even enjoy being in their company. I was being intimate, as a dutiful wife, but it was very infrequent, once every couple of months. If he wanted sex, he’d tap me on the shoulder as I was watching television and ask, “Shall I get a towel?” It was his way of asking me, “Are you in the mood?”


Eventually, I withdrew completely. I was basically there for the sake of my daughter and the fact that we had a joint mortgage.

I knew I wanted to have sex. I used to fantasise incredibly. I always had a crush on someone. But I’m not the sort of person to have an affair, because of family values.

My weight ballooned up to 165 kilos. I didn’t dress nicely. I would see couples who were warm with each other, or another woman, even a large woman, who was dressed nicely, with hair and makeup done, and I would have this inner reflection: “I just wish I could be like her.”

I was heading towards depression.

It was 2002, I was 35, I had been married for 11 years, and I was so incredibly lonely and unhappy.

One evening I was talking with a friend about my marriage and bemoaning the lack of a decent sex life when she asked me, “Have you ever used a vibrator?”

No, I had not!

Her response was a shocked: “What?! Come on!”

So we jumped in the car and, like a pair of silly, giggling girls, went into an adult store. I was gobsmacked at what I saw. I felt like so naïve. There were plastic butts, plastic vulvas, masturbation sleeves, lubes, anal plugs, you name it. The store felt pretty tacky and sleazy.

In the end, I settled for a jelly-like dildo that looked like a penis except it was pink and had glitter through it. I went home and took that pink glittery thing for a twirl on the orgasm dance floor.



Those orgasms saved me. I had nothing to look forward to in my life, so coming home and spending the night on my own in a room and choosing to take that vibrator for a spin just woke me up.


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Allowing myself to use it, to be one of those women that I’d read about in magazines or had seen in porn actually using a vibrator, made me feel incredible. I felt a degree of sexiness that I hadn’t felt before.


I was indulging in self-care. Just putting yourself into that mindset and feeling valued and taking time to relax, all those feel-good chemicals are so good for your body and so good for your mental health.

I started to revamp the way I looked. I started to exercise and walk and swim. I started to take care of my hair and my makeup, and change the clothing I was wearing. I was getting a lot of comments from people about the change in me. It was the beginning of finding my internal happiness.

For the last three years of the marriage, my husband and I were in separate rooms. I was going to stay in the marriage till my daughter finished high school, but then he had a heart attack, at home, and I saved his life and rang the ambulance. Within two weeks of him coming out of hospital after the heart attack, I caught him smoking. Every bit of regard that I had for that man died that day, because I thought, “You don’t give a s–t about us.”

We separated. A year after the marriage ended I met someone. I’ll never forget the day I walked into the courthouse for my divorce hearing and I bumped into a friend who worked there and she said, “Wow, you look incredible! I can’t get over how different you look in your face!” and I said, “Well, it’s actually all the sex I’m having.”

Susan Jarvis now runs The Spicy Boudoir, an online space aimed at helping everyone – especially people over 50 – embrace their sexuality.