Keeping Score

11/11/2005

Friday

A few of you were a bit put off by my diligent record keeping over the past few years. Truth be known, I have records going back several more years than that. People who don't raise an eyebrow at my wearing a cage on my cock get all bent out of shape that I might actually collect some data on my sex life. So let's talk about it.

Anyone who has read deep enough into my other blog, Unsolicited Advice would know that I'm solidly in the behaviorist camp when it comes to psychology. I cringe a bit at the term "psychology" because this implies we can study people's thoughts. We really can't. We can study what they tell us they are thinking or make assumptions based on their actions, but the mind is largely a black box. We understand only what people choose to tell us. Actions, however, do speak louder than words. Behaviors can be deliberate or reflexive but either way, they are readily observed. And in the science of analyzing human behavior, we keep data. That's what I do. I define it, track it and try to determine the function of it. It's how behavioral problems are solved. Look at the data, manipulate some environmental variables and then see what happens to the data path. Thoughts certainly do play a part in what happens, but thoughts are not amenable to direct observation or manipulation.

So tracking my sex life is a natural extension of my scientific orientation. I didn't always track it, though. But tracking it was the first manifestation of me realizing a problem existed. Almost as soon as we were married, there was a gradual decline, but I was generally okay with our frequency. But as soon as Thomas was born, that changed everything. Suddenly we became a warehouse for chores and all things baby. And I became familiar with the demon that is post partum depression. My formerly laid back, easy going wife turned into a terroristic drill sergeant. Nothing I did was good enough. I did the most rational, logical thing I could think of in a dry south Georgia county…I worked later and later hours. In those days, it was a lot easier surfing for porn at work and that's what I did. "Working" being a loose term for being at the office. 8 months after Thomas was born, he had a series of seizures. Just when the blues were starting to lift, Arwyn was again driven to depression.

When Thomas was about 13 months old, Arwyn was in a friend's wedding and we stayed in a fancy hotel in Atlanta spending more than we could afford. But I figured that even though we had Thomas was with us, why not take advantage while he was asleep? Arwyn was absolutely horrified at the very idea that we might have sex with a baby in the room. I was horrified to discover that my wife had turned into a prude. It was about then that I began tracking our sexual progress. Since we were down to less than 2x per month, it wasn't that hard. I wanted to be sure that I wasn't going crazy. Maybe I was making too big of a deal out of it. Maybe I our frequency was more than I thought. Marital therapists frequently report that HL people tend to underestimate sexual frequency, while LL people overestimate it. So I began tracking it.

I tracked when I initiated and when I was turned down using smiley or sad faces. There were many, many more sad faces, most of them crying. Some of them angry. But a few smiles.

Intercourse was the sole sexual behavior in our repertoire. Arwyn would abide nothing else. In April of 2001, Thomas was taken to a place that did respite for a few hours. We went home and made love…for the last time in 2000. It was at that moment, the first moment we had the house to ourselves since Thomas's birth (who was 2) that we conceived our second son, Elmo. And Arwyn was on bed rest for pretty much the entire pregnancy. If Arwyn was bitchy during postpartum depression, she was absolutely pathological while on bed rest. Thomas and I bonded really well, and I was doing everything. No. EVERYTHING. Including chores that Arwyn hadn't done in years, suddenly she needed them done NOW. She lay in bed, thinking of new things for me to do. She was purposely trying to make me feel the pain of whatever she thought she had to endure as a mother. Fact is, I could not rise to her level of neurotic obsessions and compulsions. And I refused to try. I did what I could and not always on her timetable. This enraged her, and I was callous, uncaring, uncompassionate, and generally a bastard. She was a demanding bitch. In either case, there was serious damage done during that time that she has never recovered from. I didn't expect sex during this time, after all she was bedridden. I just expected her to be patient with me and let me run things until she was able to do her bit. But she had ways of doing things and insisted on me doing them like she did. Her ways were stupid, illogical, inefficient and generally sucked. No wonder it took her all day to do laundry!

My approach to doing chores has always been to get them done. No, washing dishes is not a productive activity. It is something that needs to be done, and done as efficiently and quickly as possible in order to move on to more productive or enjoyable things. Even on the farm, I was like a guided missile with chores. Do them and get out as quick as possible. Feed the cattle, milk them and move on. Lingering around and studying the process holds no interest for me. Especially the daily stuff.

This is a conflict that gets played out everywhere amongst couples everywhere. But it usually works out.

The day before Elmo was born, Arwyn's mother took Thomas to her house in Florida. At this point, Arwyn was up and about. In fact, she was scrubbing floors all day on her hands and knees the day before, heavy into the nesting business. The next morning, I jumped in the shower with her. I don't think we had ever taken a shower together before. Anyway, we were rubbing, soaping and kissing. Arwyn was avoiding my cock. I finally took her hand and directed her to where I wanted it. And I orgasmed within minutes. First handjob, and my first (and last) orgasm in the shower with her. She said it was kind of fun, but future forays into the shower were unwelcome as she complained our shower was too small.

Anyway, the payoff of the above lengthy screed was that the handjob became more and more of a staple. When counting them as sex, it looked like things were really looking up. But we were still in a deep sexual slide. Until April-May of 2003. For 6 weeks, I got a handjob every 4 days, almost. What happened then? The Chastity Cage happened. We had a contract, and she did stick to it like clockwork. But I lost interest in wearing the cage as Arwyn was not active in the various other provisions and she eventually gave up on holding the keys altogether.

So I had several different data points that I was tracking. Intercourse, or full-on-sex, handjobs and then days that I was caged. I was the one that made the decision as to when I was going to wear it, and Arwyn decided when to take it off. At least for awhile. I went longer and longer periods without wearing until I looked at my data points. I discovered that I actually did get more sex during months when I was wearing the cage. And it was better sex. Even the handjobs were much better. And I was generally happier.

Still with me?

Even handjobs diminished as she suffered from carpel tunnel. She also suffered from endometriosis so there went most of the sex in 2004. A little over a year ago, she got surgery on her worst hand and then got a hysterectomy a few weeks later. Which brings us to early this year. With the fear of pregnancy gone as well as the pain from the endo gone, she got her groove back. We had full-on intercourse once a week, every week for 3 solid months. I declared the war over and the battle won. Prematurely, as it turns out.

Sex became more and more rare and by May, we were back to once a month and it deteriorated from there. I decided maybe it was time to cage up again which brings everyone up to date. Blogging also became a part of the data collection process, as I could track my own moods qualitatively.

Without my handy calendars, this story wouldn't even be possible. I can look back and see when things got better or worse. The cage always made a qualitative difference and sometimes made a quantitative one. In an effort to improve things, I quit smoking. The data showed me that was a loser, sex wise. We tried praying together. That was another loser. Doing more chores? LOSER. Talking more: loser. We'd talk into the night and then it was too late to do anything sexual. Christian relationship books? A body has to actually read them Loser, again. Communicating more via our little on-computer blog: Loser. We tried date nights. That was the biggest, most dramatic loser of all. Getting stood up is embarrassing and resulted in even more hostility from me. Random gifts: loser. I joined the flower-of-the-month club and still buy her favorite candy sometimes, all without flourish or fanfare. Cooking her favorite foods: Loser AGAIN. She likes to go out to eat as a family. Hey that worked…NOT! She complains about us not doing enough as a family. So season passes to a local attraction and regular visits as a family. This worked well…as well as all the other things which is to say they had no effect. She complained about me putting too much pressure on her. Like the anonymous commenter said, I'm putting too much emphasis on it. During the last 4 months I haven't asked her for sex even one time. I haven't mentioned it at all, but continue to cook and buy her little gifts. Guess how well this has worked?

Let's see…oh yes…nonsexual affection and touching. When caged, that's all the time since there is no sex possible. But I have also tried to reach out and hug her or give her backrubs over the past 6 months. Read the blog and tell me how well THAT works.

Pretty Peanut writes that Not So Normal claims to have already tried everything. What say you, NSN? Have you really tried everything? I will give you this: you tried an affair, which I have yet to do and that got Peanut's attention. But too little too late, eh? I'm still curious as to what was tried in that relationship. I could always use more ideas, plus I'd like to know how I measure up.

Measuring up. Measuring. Keeping track. Tracking and monitoring. Sexual frequency isn't the only sign of a good or bad relationship but it is one of the vital signs. Akin to taking the temperature or taking a pulse or measuring blood pressure, it says something about how things are going inside. Studies have shown the marital satisfaction and sexual frequency are positively correlated, for whatever reason. A healthy marriage has a regular diet of sex as a part of it. While a body can go weeks without eating, that doesn't mean a body is happy about doing it.

D.

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17 Responses to Keeping Score

  1. aphron says:

    I’d say you’ve done all you can do. Arwyn seems to avoid you, so you won’t the wrong “vibe” about her wanting to have sex? I’ll agree that sex is a good barometer of the marriage. When something is wrong, it is the first to go. Unfortunately, Arwyn won’t communicate what is wrong. As most men want to fix the problem and move on, this is VERY frustrating.

    If it weren’t for your kids, I’d say it’s time to do something drastic. Unfortunately, you may have to wait or live with it? No answers here only sympathy.

  2. mz says:

    i don’t know what more you could possibly do either, digger.. the ball is in her court and has been for awhile…

    hugs, mz

  3. BroccoliEater says:

    Looking at this from the outside, I have to say that Arwen has had a lot of physical and emotional health issues happen in a very short time. PPD is hormonal — endometriosis is hormonal, and it can also be excruciating and horribly, awfully, physically debilitating. Then a hysterectomy — did they take her ovaries at the same time? They often do, and that prompts its own hormonal shitstorm known as premature menopause. Did she ever get any treatment for the PPD?

    I agree with the other commenters that as a matter of action, the ball is in her court. Seeking treatment and ways to bring her libido back online is something that only she can do. And there’s a lot of separate issues there, each of them could be working on its own or in combination with others.

    One of the things that came betweeen me and my DH at one point was that after a physically and emotionally draining miscarriage, he felt I should be “over it” within days. I found emails of his to a friend that used many of the words you use here — bitchy, irrational, impatient. He felt like he understood what it was like to go through what I’d just gone through, and he wanted me to heal on HIS timetable. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until he heard his oldest friend talking about her very similar experience that he realized my reaction was not unusual, and that he couldn’t measure my response by what he thought he would have done in my place. He realized his “measuring” of me wasn’t accurate, and it did take comparing us to others to realize what was going on.

    His lack of empathy during that time did some major damage to my willingness to open up to him. But his realization and acknowledgment of that went a long way to healing.

  4. C-Marie says:

    I wouldn’t go as far as thinking that journaling or tracking the issues you have is wrong…
    I think it’s a perfectly healthy way to keep things in perspective and writing thoughts and emotions down is a key way to go.

    I don’t know what else you can do though – she seriously needs to take a step in some direction. Whatever direction that might be, only she knows.

    Hang in there D!

  5. Digger Jones says:

    You’re all mostly right as far as waiting it out. That’s more or less what I’m doing. Some days are better than others.

    I have confessed to her my past sins and asked for forgiveness. She’s made from similar material as your wife, Aphron. Forgiveness and letting go are not her strong suit.

    Good to see you, MZ. I’d been following your blog and was dying to comment, link and otherwise pull you back into the love fest of the blogging circle. But knew your husband would follow me, if anybody, since I was one of the few who commented on his blog.

    Broccolieater, I sense that you have a story to tell and it is gradually coming out. It needs to come out. Start a blog and we’ll be companion bloggers. You bring up some good points which warrant further exploration, but I can hardly refer readers to just a comment! Use your space to comment on my (or other people’s stuff) and we’ll trade barbs and hugs. Consider it.

    So Marie…how far back does *your* calendar go?LOL! I know of a few other bloggers who do just the same thing as me, as far as tracking and scoring. It’s just a bit more scientific than what the rest of the folks do. I need hard data, not just some vague notion that it has been “a long time” since I’ve been touched!

    D.

  6. Sie says:

    It’s sad that keeping a marriage together has to be so hard. I still say you need to lay it out for her. A sexless marriage cannot last before one person opts out (whether it be emotionally or physically, or both).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow. I don’t know if I could do it Digger. I have been reading awhile and when I said I didn’t understand the whole sex diary (and probably still don’t – but I don’t have a terribly scientific mind) I didn’t mean to imply it was “wrong.” In my mind it simply “was” – and it just seemed that the more something so negative was focused on, the more it would feed itself in resentment, annoyance and downright depression.

    I just don’t know how long I could put up with the things you’ve put up with. You are a better person than me, and definitely a better person than my ex (who left me for someone else – not because of LL because I never once said no to any request of his other than the 3some – but left me because he wanted to see what other women were like – I was his first and only). I am living proof that children CAN flurish in a divorced situation – have you ever crossed the ulimatum line? ~K~

  8. Leela Lamore says:

    Digger it looks to me that things are about to come to a head. No one can live in a sexless / affectionless marriage. Your analogy of food starvation is so very correct, that is how I see you an emancipated skeleton of a man.

    Phoenix’s answer to this would be to discuss with Arwen an alternative. Prostitution is not the oldest business in the world for no reason. I am sorry but even in the Bible there are many discussions of prostitutes and concubines in a good way, there is a reason for this.

    But a question to you IS sex the only problem? If you were getting sex say from Arwen on a weekly basis would it solve your relationship issues? Is it just sex that you need or is it everything else that comes with a loving healthy relationship?

    I know how important your children are but if your wife were starving you from food would you still stick around for the children or get take out behind her back (easy solution) but the issue that she starves you is still there. There is a solution you just need to find it.

  9. whoami929 says:

    Hi Digger. You are spoken of so highly on others’ blogs that I wanted to come see for myself. My husband and I went through something similar. I won’t rehash it here but my blog is open for your analysis. I’ll add you to my blogroll so I don’t forget to come back.

  10. Tajalude says:

    I keep records. I even got Hubs to help out in keeping track so it would be more “real” for him as to how lax we really are in our sexual relationship. While it hasn’t turned things around, at least he has the truth staring him in the face when he looks at the calendar, and he agrees with me.
    I don’t think keeping records is a bad thing at all, but that’s just me, and I am not a good barometer of the way things ought to go. : )

  11. Aroused Girl says:

    I keep track in my mind, and it does (somewhat) get my husband’s attention when I tell him how long it’s been.

    Completely understand about being starved. Sometimes it’s an ache.

    I’m with aphron…no answers, obviously, just sympathy.

  12. JeN says:

    On a completely different note, I always laugh at how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Cock & Ball Torture are both known as “CBT”.
    More so now because I am taking a therapy class and we are discussing Behavioural Therpy right now and my prof says “CBT” allt he time and all I can think of is the torture bit.

    Am I mature? Oh yes… ; p

  13. So Gone says:

    I keep track in my Palm Pilot. I’ve never underestimated, but he always overestimates.

  14. Rob says:

    I’ve kept track in my mind, since it’s very easy to keep track in my situation. My tally: 2 solid years of no sex, excluding 1 “dirty weekend” at a hotel a few months ago. And no, I’m not going to start my own blog about it. Such is my married life (sigh)

    So Digger, when your kids are finally grown up and out on their own, if Arwyn still deprives you of BOTH sex and proper affection, then what will you do? Have you looked that far ahead?

  15. Square1 says:

    I’m back Digger, and it seems you are in much the same place that I left you. Still have you in my thoughts and prayers, as trite as that may sound.

  16. Shay says:

    I used to keep track of how often I’d had sex (when I first started getting it) – though it sounds like my calendar had more smiley faces than yours.
    Has it always been like this with Arwyn?
    My parents went through what it sounds like you are/have been, with my mom’s sex drive getting lower and lower. (My dad must have been at least as frustrated as you, because he actually talked to my brother and I about how frustrating things were).
    I don’t know what he did to fix things, but he hasn’t complained to me in few years and when I was home over the summer, I noticed a little bottle on their night stand that I recognised as a bottle of KY…
    I thought my mom was a hopeless case but it turns out she wasn’t; maybe there is something that could work with Arwyn – have you tried going for therapy with her (or just sending her on her own?)

  17. FTN says:

    I like looking at things scientifically too. However, in many cases the quantity doesn’t necessarily reflect a completely healthy sexual relationship. But I can’t argue that the lack of any quantity at all is a serious problem!

    Have you tried laying out all of your feelings on the table for your wife? Letting her know that your marriage is in trouble because of your lack of any intimacy? That you both need to have some serious discussions with each other or a counselor if she wants this marriage to work in the long term? I’m not saying that you should give her an ultimatum, but perhaps she doesn’t understand that this problem is affecting the whole marriage.

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