Working on Sex

Let’s see if we can put a dent in an issue or two, using the cognitive tools I have at hand.  This is not easy, and whether any progress is made is up to me.  Totally. 


Before diving in, I need to say a couple of things.  One is an ongoing debate about whether or not blogging helps or hurts.  In my case, I think it has done both in fairly equal measures.  On one hand I’ve gotten many new stories to adopt or get attached to.  This is not altogether good.  But I have gotten many insightful, supportive or even critical comments that have gotten me to change my mind a time or two.  And sometimes that is good.


Make no mistake, there is a degree of accountability here, although perhaps not as much as one might find in a local support group.  But at the same time I’ve been able to share and vent here like I could no where else. 


Many folks have gone on ad nauseum about how they write for themselves and don’t care about who reads or comments.  And yet they still check their stats daily and check comments several times a day.  These people are delusional.  They need and adore the crowded mob.  I absolutely enjoy the adulation of my fans albeit in limited measure.  Too big of a crowd would frighten me away.  Seriously.  We can work on that later, but we need to work on SEX!


First let me set myself up.  The first step in The Work is to write a statement or passage that is as absolutely as judgmental and petty as possible.  There’s a female version of just this very thing on Katie’s blog.  So here goes…


Arwyn should want to have sex with me.  When I am ignored and rejected, I feel worthless and not valued as a person.  I wish she desired me more.  If she really wanted me, she would not put up so many obstacles in our sexual relationship.  She should not be so uptight, frigid and prudish.  She seems to not care about the suffering she is inflicting upon me.  I am angry that she uses the children as a shield and excuse to avoid my touch.  I hate and loathe the fact that she recoils in response to my touch.  Our marriage is withering on the vine and she is doing nothing about it.


I’m wondering…is this it? 


This is ample to start off.  I can add more later and more stuff can come up as I go through this.  And it could take awhile.  This the part where I write more for me than you.  But perhaps some of you can play along at home.  Write down what it is that is bugging you about your partner.  There is a form you can download just for this on  Be judgmental, petty and above all, honest.  Anyone blogging along, we can help each other if we want.  It is crucial to write it down.  The mind is a treacherous thing and will betray you by hiding and slipping away.  Don’t play that! 


Now we can look at this bit by painful bit.  I could see some things coming even while writing.  So statement #1:

    Arwyn should want to have sex with me.


Is it true?


Heck yes!  I’m her husband for pete’s sake!  She absolutely should be wanting me!


Do I know with absolute certainty this is true?


Maybe not absolute certainty.  But this is not easily given up.  Who the hell gets married in order to be involuntarily celibate?


What’s the reality?  Suffering comes when our beliefs are at odds with reality.  Is she, is fact, wanting sex with me?


Um.  No.  Fact is, she is not indicating any desire whatsoever. 


How does thinking she should want sex with me make me feel?


My second statement above spells it out.  I feel resentful, worthless and not valued as a person.  Certainly not valued as a sexual person.


What if I could not think this thought?  Is there a constructive reason to hold on to the thought that Arwyn should want to have sex with me?


If I could not think this, if I gave up this belief, I sure would have a more difficult time being a victim.  And in fact, it is really not a true reflection of reality.  Still, it such a basic part of my story, it is most difficult to give it up. 


The next step in the process is turning the statement around.  Generally, making the statement say the opposite and turning it towards me are two ways of altering this statement to arrive at some alternate truths.


Arwyn should NOT want to have sex with me.


Is this statement as true as the opposite?


It certainly is closer to the reality that actually exists.  But it doesn’t make me feel any better.  Why? Hmmm…


Ah ha! Because there is an underlying belief driving this one that is worthy in examination that I did not see earlier.  Obvious to others maybe, but not to me.  If Arwyn does not want sex with me, she does not want ME.




Okay, that is a better statement to look at.  Originally, I would turn my original statement on myself to something like:


I should want sex with me. or I should want sex with Arwyn.


And I’m sure there is depth and virtue in examining the truth of those.  But I want that underlying belief:


If Arwyn does not want sex with me, she does not want me.


Or to put it another way, sexual rejection is equal to personal rejection.  And it’s hard getting more personal than “Having sex with you makes my skin crawl!”



So is it true?  No, at least not totally because the reality is that she accepts many other parts of me.  My money, my cooking ability, my time, my ability as a parent or my ability to do all things in the yard.  So whatever rejection that there is is not total by any means.  It is just this one thing.  It is a big thing to me, but seemingly not to her.  Or maybe iit is just too big for her.


Moving on…


What if I could let go of that thought: rejecting me sexually = rejecting me totally?


Well, that would free me up from some worry and the weight of total rejection.  As you can see, my false belief is predicated on a total lie.  Arwyn does not reject me totally, and it is unlikely that she ever would. 


Let’s turn and twist this statement around.  Brace yourself…


If Arwyn does not want sex with me, she wants ME.


Hmmm.  I have no concrete evidence of this, but perhaps if she thinks sex is a dirty, shallow activity, it might follow that she wants something that transcends the physical.  But I make no assumptions.  This statement has potential and maybe I need to work more on it.  Here’s another turn-around…


If Arwyn does not want sex with me, I don’t want HER.


That definitely cuts deep because there is such a resonating truth there.  It has been so difficult to move past this level and type of deprivation, that I do not always treat Arwyn very well.  Why?




Well there’s the payoff for my false belief!


If Arwyn does not want me or love me as demonstrated by zero sexual interest, I am entirely justified in my poor behavior.  Who would blame me for going to porn, checking out other women or having an affair?  I feel entirely justified in my anger, sadness and sorrow.  But the truth is that it is all entirely of my own making. 


Okay.  I have some deeper issues here.  Before moving on, I’m going to point out something that should be obvious, but let’s come out and say it.  I’m using my own steam, sort of, in noodling this out.  I working The Work and sorting my own mess, here.  When Byron Katie goes through the work with someone, she uses this basic framework of inquirery.  She is not doing anything but asking those 4 questions and working the turn-around statements.  She came through this on her own steam and has helped others over many years.


I made reference to Albert Ellis and REBT earlier.  I need to also reference Joyce Meyer and Battle Field of the Mind as something that is also congruent with these same ideas but from a scriptural/Christian perspective.  I have her book and workbook but just haven’t gotten around to going through the whole thing, yet.


Okay, there is more work to do, but I have a nagging feeling that this is not very exciting for a reader.  I’ll keep working but decide whether to keep posting this stuff later.  It’s just me rattling around inside my head, and I’m uncertain as to why anyone would be interested in it.  I do have a couple other issues and things worth blogging about, but this is what I had promised so I’ll deliver this much. 



7 Responses to Working on Sex

  1. Emily says:

    Hey there – well, I for one am finding it interesting, and wish you would keep posting on it!

    I find that there are two main ways to deal with the sex issue – (1) find ways to get more sex, or (2) accept what you have and try to lower your distress about it.

    Given that Arwyn is a pretty unpromising “supplier” in many respects and you have chosen not to go elsewhere, you are mostly left with (2). And this is quite an innovative way of doing (2), and certainly not something I would ever have thought of. Its making me think.

    And I am wondering – What would happen if you tried something a little different and altered the thought about how she should want to have sex with you because you are her husband? People don’t automatically desire their husbands. Desire is created by all sorts of thing – mystery, curiosity, attraction, hormones, etc. It isn’t created by its being “legal” or “okay” to feel that way about a particular person.

    And I am wondering if this attachment to the label of “husband” would arise if you were more confident of your own attractiveness. You have hinted or outright said many times that you don’t think you are attractive, but I doubt that someone like Arwyn would have married you if that were the case.

    What would happen with your thinking if you made that thought “Arwyn should want to have sex with me because I am an attractive and available man”?

  2. Emily says:

    Another thought – I notice that among the things Arwyn does want from you, your company seems to be missing. Companionship. Does Arwyn seem to enjoy your company?

    I just can’t help noticing that everything on your list is stuff that you DO. What about the stuff that you just ARE? If you made a list of the things that Arwyn likes about you, what would be on it?

    Anyway, I will stop here, because you are working with a particular model and it is obviously helpful – my thoughts may be just a distraction!

  3. cah1470 says:

    Like Emily I am also interested and hope you continue to post this. Emily’s statement “Arwyn should want to have sex with me because I am an attractive and available man”? Now that is really interesting…

  4. Tom Allen says:

    This is very similar to the Rational Emotive Therapy pioneered by ALbert Ellis back in the (IIRC) 1960s. Good stuff.

    I think it’s a path worth following – up to a point. Yes, you can’t change Arwyn, you can only change your own attitudes toward her and all that; but at some point you need to decide whether or not you want to change your standards for, say, sex, intimacy, or other relationship aspects.

    Not to say that this should make you give up; just don’t follow this too far as an excuse to not actually do anything about it.

    The Edge of Vanilla

  5. Satan says:

    Digger, this is just too fascinating, you should never worry about boring us.

    I read the “I Hate My Husband” link, and I do understand now what Katie means when she says ‘it only takes one person to have a good marriage’.
    She’s found a great way to use our solipsistic tendencies, and to tweak perception to reveal reality. Shows you how fluid the ‘truth’ is.

  6. fadetonumb says:

    I, also, am curious what your answers would be to Emily’s second comment. What does Arwyn like about you apart from the things that you DO (cooking, providing income, etc)?

    Because us readers often wonder if this is a purely sexual issue, or if Arwyn has much more deep issues of resentment or bitterness in your marriage.

  7. Have you considered that this problem is not about you or the marriage? It may be about her feelings towards herself. Intimicy is complex…often, when one’s self-confidence or esteem have diminished, confusion sets in and being intimate only makes one feel inadequate. Criticizing the way she is acting will only aggravate your problem, as she will only feel worse about herself. Positivity works better than negativity in every situation. Maybe you’ve also forgotten (as she has)what her assets are. Stand back for a minute and remember why you loved her in the beginning and focus on those qualities. The more you remember why she is the perfect woman for you…the more she will remember too…and only then will intimacy and passion come back.

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