Envy

 As you can see, the post below was written over a month ago.  But I figured it was time to start releasing a few of these things (old unpublished posts) otherwise they might never see the light of day.  And this may yet be an important bit of backstory for anything that happens down the line.  But don’t hold your breath.  This process has been glacial, at best.

11/19/2007

 

Envy

 

Yesterday, we went to our perspective churches.  While I was rocking the boat with the Reveal video, Arwyn was listening to a sermon on envy.  When we got home, she was keen to talk about envy.  It was a pleasant discussion, namely because I don’t have typical envy issues.  I’ve never wanted the big houses cars and possessions others might have.  Arwyn, OTOH, has struggled with these exact issues.  My weight loss and financial plans have been driven by a desire to live better but not in comparison to anyone else.

 

However, I do have one very deep envy issue.  It didn’t come up right then, but it did later.

 

This morning, I had the boys set up with a video and I brushed my teeth while Arwyn was in the shower.  She, in typical fashion, got defensive by cutting her shower short and grabbed her towel as fast as she could.  I undressed and got in while she was toweling off and we did embrace and kiss for a bit.  But her body betrayed her physical defensiveness.  My erection was at half mast as we hugged, her being carefull not to get close to it or touch it.  And then I brought up the envy discussion and disclosed my deepest envy.

 

I envy the physical intimacy other couples seem to have.  I don’t fault other couples for having it, but I want it in my own marriage.  She listened for a bit and then offered some of the same things I hear every time I try to discuss where we are.  She brings up all the past hurt, and that she has a lot of healing to do.  I tried to convey to her that she was engaged in hurting me now and I’d like to move on from the past.  Yeah, we’ve each done our share of hurting each other.

 

While this discussion is taking place, she is in the process of getting dressed while I’m standing there buck naked.  That earlier erection was long gone.  I finally put my underwear back on.  She asked, “Aren’t you going to take a shower?”

 

“We need to talk about this.” was my reply.  So talk we did.  Or we tried to.  The boys began banging on our bedroom door and that put an end to it.

 

So I’ll see if I can hit the main points…

 

-She complained that I didn’t seem to want to do things with her and the boys.  I told her that it was difficult to spend time with someone who found me so physically repulsive.  This is borrowed from 2Amsomewhere.  I thought it was very poignant when I read it and still do.  She had no real reply to this.  Fact is, I’m not turning her on.

– She wants me to go to her church meeting/recovery group to begin working on myself.  I told her we would be better served going to see a counselor.  Her church does, in fact, have two they have hired one of whom is a Christian sex therapist.  BUT, I told her we need to get off the idea of curing one another.  Fact is, I have made dramatic changes in my life that have positively impacted my life and hers.  However when it comes to marital intimacy, I haven’t been able to make a dent.  Her recovery group thing has made zero impact on us as a married couple.  She has yet to show up.  I’m not keen to join her little cult group.  Maybe if I saw some results.

 

– After some time, she was throwing everything into the conversation.  An inability to hold an erection (the result of being psychologically neutered) the fact she had some history of painful sex, the fact that she would never, ever, ever want to have oral sex of any kind, and how she felt like she had been somehow sexually abused by me.

 

Yeah, there’s a buttload of issues there.

 

Not very detailed is it?  But this is what happens when we have a direct confrontationIt quickly devolves into blaming one another and comparing who hurt who the most.  I would like to move on, but Arwyn is stuck, stuck, stuck.  Subsequent entries after this confrontation illustrate that I have been trying to get unstuck.  Without much success, though.  Holiday/year-end madness has reigned.  The problem with therapy is that it seems to be process driven, meaning that it has to be done regularly and over a period of time.  Like weight training, diet and exercise.  However, unlike those other things, it involves regular interactions with a professional making it more like seeing a doctor or lawyer.  Or chiropractor.  That means an appointment and finding a convenient time.  Egad, I can’t even fit in or find time for a 15 minute phone conversation with a therapist!  It’s been frustrating, but I’ve been coping.  Having Schnarch’s book to read has been helpful but I’ve struggled to find time for that, as well.  That thing takes a degree of mental effort which isn’t conducive to late night reading marathons.  It’s not like a story that reads itself.

 

Okay, enough of my commentary.  Let Fly.

 

D.

 

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11 Responses to Envy

  1. Square1 says:

    Oh… she’s going to have to figure out this “somehow” that she feels she’s been sexually abused by you. Until she acknowledges, confronts, and assesses why she feels that way, she will not be able to put it into a realistic perspective and either discard it as a false perception, or to tell you exactly what you’ve done that she felt was abusive so that she can forgive you and move on, she will continue to be closed off. The history has also got to stop. it’s one of the rules of fighting fair as prescribed by Dr. James Dobson. Re-hashing history only communicates to your partner unforgiveness, and the sense that nothing will ever change, so why even bother trying? That one is a hard habit to break. Honestly a marriage counselor would be able to call both you and her out on this behavior.

  2. Mu Ling says:

    My husband and I also harbor notions of curing and fixing one another. I don’t know why so many of us seem to bring this idea to our marriages. When I stop to think about it, and ask myself, “Can I really change my husband? Can I really cure him?” I have to answer: No. I can only change myself, and that is quite difficult enough, thank you.

  3. diggerjones says:

    you’re right, Square, but believe it or not we are in a spot where we might yet be our most productive. It sounds nuts, but it’s kind of comforting thinking that way. I’m getting to a much more productive spot, myself, where I think a counselor will be able to do me a lot more good when the time comes.

    You’re right, Mu Ling, and that’s really where you and I are at, at the moment. We’re tired of fighting, of compromising, faking and accommodating. Now we gotta look ourselves in the face and decide who we really are. And that’s kind of exciting from a certain point of view. Basically, marriage is about the only way we’ll ever truly get to that point. It’s not a lousy marriage as much as it is a natural step in growing up. Until we know ourselves intimately we really aren’t all that fit for genuine intimacy with anyone else! An emotional trainwreck of a marriage like what we have forces that kind of introspection.

    wish I wasn’t so stubborn and could learn the easy way just once!

    D.

  4. 2amsomewhere says:

    After some time, she was throwing everything into the conversation. An inability to hold an erection (the result of being psychologically neutered) the fact she had some history of painful sex, the fact that she would never, ever, ever want to have oral sex of any kind, and how she felt like she had been somehow sexually abused by me.

    Yeah, there’s a buttload of issues there.

    This reminded me of a story that ran in a Denver, CO, alternative newspaper, where the staff threw hypothetical sexual conflict at Schnarch to see how he would deal with it. In the situation, the wife refuses to perform oral sex because of past abusive experience.

    While that is the advice McReynolds says she probably would have given Carlos before she began training with Schnarch three years ago, her take on Helga would have been substantially different. “Before Schnarch, I would have encouraged the man to encourage and understand his partner and listen to her inner child,” she says ruefully. “But now I say no: Inner child doesn’t work, because children don’t have very good sex. And in that let-me-understand-your-feelings-and-it’s-so-scary model, the woman can tyrannize the situation, and that may be comfortable in a perverse way, but what happens is, emotionally, nobody’s home.

    In the brave new Schnarchian world, Helga must ask herself some tough questions. “For instance,” McReynolds says, “she gives lip service to loving this man, but does she maybe love holding on to her unresolved issues from the past more than she loves this man? The strange thing is that when I use this approach, whether she ends up going down on him or not, she’ll be more erotic than she was before, and he’ll notice.

  5. sixdegrees says:

    Thank you for putting this out there. This is a very difficult topic and one that I, too, have a constant struggle with.

    And the feelings/emotions on this topic are quite complicated. It is not just being envious of another’s relationship the way one might be envious of fancy home in a nice neighborhood. There is also the sense of not being loved and then asking “what is wrong with me”. Major self-esteem and self-worth issues get brought in. The shortcut to the Slough of Despair is just up ahead on the right.

    Arwyn is stuck. And you can not get her unstuck – you can only continue to get yourself unstuck. The question, to which we do not know the answer, is if she is permanently stuck. I suspect so.

    Is she the one person that you want to share your life with once your kids are grown and on their own? To my mind, this is the big question that you (and all of us in similar situations) have to answer, and in the answer to this question we find the smaller answers to our daily struggles.

  6. Desmond Jones says:

    Well, Digger, maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but it seems to me that there’s more down-and-dirty, guts-on-the-table communication happening here than I’ve ever seen on your blog. Even if it’s only to bring clarity to the exact nature of how and why the two of you are stuck the way you are, that’s more than I’ve ever seen before. And, as you seem to understand, that can at least help point the way forward.

    Lots of guts and hard work ahead, if you’re up for it; and the others are right, too – if Arwyn isn’t up for her share of the work, it’s a lot harder, if not impossible.

    Wishing you well, Digger, and I’ll pray for you both. . .

  7. Digger Jones says:

    2am, I don’t think that hypothetical answer to the hypothetical question would work on my wife. Her feelings towards me are ambiguous, at best. And if she agreed that her love for me wasn’t that big then we’d have a starting point for something. What, I have no idea. I’m not frustrated enough to make a move like you but neither is Arwyn as assaultive as your STBX wife.

    You’re right, sixdegrees, and thanks for stopping by. It’s a tough question and complex. But your last question: “Is this the person I want to spend my life with after the kids are gone?” I can safely say that this will not be the person. I can safely say that because we all do change so even if I stay, Arwyn and I will both change for good or ill. I’m hoping for good and I guess I need to ask how long I keep hoping before I give up or give in. And that’s a tougher question, IMO.

    Thanks for the prayers, Desmond! Yeah, this was gritty, dirty and not pretty. And no happy ending in any sense of the word except that it could have been worse. We’ve had other little snippets before but they are few and far between.

    D.

  8. C-Marie says:

    Wow… the whole “somehow being sexually abuse” by you froze me in my tracks. That’s not something that can be taken very lightly at all and I’m sure you already know that but geez…. the very weight of that comment should provide some sort of acknowledgment that counseling is in need, if not for the both of you, most definitely for her.
    Constant re-hashing the past hurts is another clue to bringing it all to some sort of closure and to move forward from the very experience of it. Not to be used as a weapon or justification for our behavoirs towards one another.
    I keep you in my thoughts and I do hope that some day soon, it can be brought to some small resolution.
    xxoo

  9. Emily says:

    Yes,the sexual abuse issue kind of froze me in my tracks, too.

    Unfortunately, if that is the case (even if you wouldn’t agree that there was sexual abuse), it doesn’t help much to announce that you just want to “move on”. It’s kind of like saying “Just cheer up” to someone who is depressed. They can’t do it just because they want to. The issues need to be worked through and some acknowledgement needs to be made about the harm done – even if that harm was never intended or even brought to attention before.

    It may be that both you and Arwyn are actually going about things in quite a productive way, pursuing some kind of separate healing by yourselves before you can move forward together. I still think you will need some kind of external support though – whether counsellor, pastor, or other – to help bring you together to resolve what happens next.

    Truly, best of luck, Digger!

  10. Cat says:

    “She complained that I didn’t seem to want to do things with her and the boys. I told her that it was difficult to spend time with someone who found me so physically repulsive”
    I can tell you it is also difficult to have intimacy with someone who doesn’t seem to want to do things with you. Especially as a mom. At least it was for me. There was no bigger turn off for me than feeling like my ex wasn’t interested in me beyond the bedroom. If I was talking about the boys, what happened at work, what was on television…those were all avoidance tactics in his eyes to keep from having sex with him. When in truth I just wanted him to show some interest in anything about me aside from my vagina so I could actually want to have sex with him. Want to without feeling it was a chore or worse that I was an object instead of a person.

    I am curious about something mostly because it was something my ex was always pushing for…If Arwyn finally just came out and admitted it…she was too young or too abused or not in touch with what she wanted out of marriage or whatever the case might be…and although she is committed to your marriage and to you and raising your sons together. But she isn’t in love with you. What then? Do you need her to say it? Admit it?

  11. […] last time I had a major discussion with Arwyn, it was almost like an assault or a guerrilla attack. It was short and a skirmish that left more […]

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