mont pen but say their marriage couldn’t be more loving
Paula McFadyens bedtime routine is governed by her husband Ians aversion to intimacy. She will lie on her side of the bed, he on his.
There will be no touching, no cuddles, no sex. Ian will wrap himself in the covers, as if in a self protective cocoon. If Paulas hand strays to stroke him, he will flinch, as if from a blow. Often Paula will cry silent, frustrated tears.
Ian has warned me, too, that if I touch him when hes asleep, hell lash out and hit me, she says. If I hug him I actually feel him wince and bounce away from me. Its as if hes surrounded by a rubber wall.
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Paula and Ian McFdayen, a devoted couple troubled by the memory of the abuse that he suffered as a child
For the first six years of our marriage he wouldnt even sleep next to me in bed, because beds had such horrific associations. Hed be on the sofa instead. And he cant say, I love you either. He uses other words adore, worship but never love.
Weve been together ten years and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times weve had sex. Its usually been when Ians drunk. But hes always distant, detached. Its never been satisfying for either of us.
Ive noticed recently that hes started being affectionate at supermarket check outs. I get a little squeeze; sometimes even a kiss. I often wonder, Whats all that about? then it dawns on me: he feels safe in public. He can say how much he adores me because then well get in the car and it all stops. He wont have to take it further.
Sometimes, she adds ruefully, I think we ought to put a supermarket check out in the bedroom.
Paula looks at her husband with genuine fondness. Despite their absence of physical closeness, its obvious that she loves him. During the decade theyve been together, their lives have become so enmeshed theyve barely left each others side. Ian is an exemplary father to Kris, 23, who is Paulas son from a previous relationship. The McFadyens are, in every way but one, two halves of a perfect whole.
Ian and Paula on their wedding day
People look at our relationship and theyre envious, says Paula. Ian is intensely special to me. Even though we dont have sex, Id never leave him. Hes resourceful, generous, confident, determined, and we have a lot of fun and laughs.
Hes like no man Ive known: he goes shopping with me; picks out clothes and waits for hours while I try them on. He makes me feel protected and valued. He boosts my confidence.
I often think, Apart from the sex,
I have the perfect marriage. It doesnt cross my mind to have an affair because I love Ian too much. And I realise its not his fault hes as he is, although sometimes I do feel cheated. I think, I didnt sign up for this.
Paula, 49, is sharing the problems that beset her physical relationship with Ian in an extraordinarily frank interview, because she believes it will help othe couples who suffer as they do but in silence.
Ian is a victim of a hidden social malaise: he was brutally sexually abused as a boy. His psychological problems his abhorrence of closeness, his skewed perception of love are a result of this abuse.
During his formative years, between the ages of six and 14, he was routinely raped and forced to endure and perform sex acts by four teachers at his boarding school.
Ian, 47, attended Caldicott School, Berkshire, one of the countrys elite independent preparatory schools a feeder school for nearby Eton at the same time as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
HIDDEN VICTIMS There are as many as 72,000 male victims of sexual offences every year, according to official estimates
During his years there in the Seventies, a ring of paedophiles, led by the then headmaster Roland Peter Wright, preyed on boys. Wright was sentenced in February to eight years in jail for abuse although Ian did not play a part in his trial.
George Hill, the then deputy head, who has since committed suicide, was Ians prime tormentor.
He built a relationship with me, says Ian. He groomed me very expertly, so for years I felt complicit. He was like an uncle. He was the first person I said I loved, which is why I have such difficulty using the word now.
Yet behind closed doors he was brutal. Every form of sexual act took place. I was repeatedly raped and the only way I could survive it was by detaching mentally from it.
The collateral damage has reverberated through Ians life. It is the reason why sex is repugnant to him; why he views it as an act of violence, not love.
Ian finds sex repugnant because it reminds him of the violence he suffered as a schoolboy rather than affection
What hurts me most is that I cant be intimate with my wife because of the abuse, he says.
Ive always equated physical closeness with abuse. And I cant have sex with Paula because I cherish her. My wife is only asking me to hold, to hug her, and I struggle, and that hurts me as much as it does her.
Paula, a sculptor, sometimes feels hopeless. Currently she is on anti depressants. I first took them three years ago. My doctor prescribed them for chronic fatigue. They killed my sex drive stone dead and that gave me peace, she explains. So Ive carried on taking them.
Their tragedy is, however, redeemed by the extraordinary quality of their love. Paula is a woman who only sees good in people,
says Ian. It took me 38 years to find her and the rest of my life is insignificant now. I feel truly blessed.