Out of Sync

I’m not sure what to write by way of an update. In some ways, it seems like there is progress. In other ways, it is the same old thing.

Since the Shower Scene, there has not been a repeat of that. However, I have spent time in the bathroom while she showers and I shave and we can generally talk. Generally. But her gut reaction to me being there remains; get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. Over time, that reaction has become more and more pronounced. I’ve asked her more than once if she minded and she said she didn’t but…

The idea of this, from my POV is just to be around each other in an “adult” way without the kids hanging all over us. Being comfortable with each other’s and our own nakedness is a big developmental task. However, I’m seeing her shift back into the old pattern. It isn’t just her being naked around me, it’s her comfort with my nakedness. Now I admit that bleeds over into my own thinking sometimes and it is difficult being naked around her for that reason. I sense her anxiety and unease about it and it gets my own anxiety going. But I get on with it. These times still have this over hanging tension to them, though. I was hoping some familiarity might help alleviate things. Like any other stage of development, when a body first tries it is awkward and uncomfortable but eventually you get the hang of it and master it. Tying your shoes isn’t a big deal anymore once you’ve mastered it. Neither is swimming or running. Getting over the fear of the water involves having some good times in the water over a period of time.

But there is a deeper more pervasive pattern that I am trying to overcome, here. It’s the pattern of avoidance. Yep. I am sick and tired of being an avoider. I am also sick and tired of living with an avoider. Outside of moving out of the house (still an option) I can only realistically control how much of an avoider I am. Arwyn is going to be whatever she is going to be as long as she decides to be that way. I can enrich the environment and put out the salt block, but she isn’t going for it until she decides. And one reality I’m dealing with is the unpleasant realization that she is every bit of a selfish prick as I am. I’ve been in denial about that since forever.

Instead of stayiing up until 1 a.m., I’ve been going to bed earlier in hopes that her and I might be able to share some sort of meaningful time together. That has not happened as she rolls over to sleep as soon as she hits the pillow. Or she stays up after midnight. So I’ve tried the other end of it in the morning, and that involves the bathroom time mentioned above. Typically, I used to stay in bed while she showered and then I would get up while she was getting the boys ready for school. Now I get up when she does, and then I’m synced up with her and the boys. But there have been no gains in the intimacy department there. She gets dressed and out of the bathroom as quickly as possible. This morning as she was darting out I said, “I’m tired of being an avoider.”

“I need to make breakfast!” was her only reply. She was running 10 minutes ahead of her own schedule because she doesn’t work today and doesn’t shower until after we are all gone. She’s got the day to her self.

The avoider theme has been a constant one and it is one that I’m keen to change. I don’t know if I can live like that anymore.

And then there is the ongoing theme of sexlessness. We’re just a month or so shy of another sexless 12 months. There’s a whole lot of other people bitching and moaning about their pathetic sex lives who have sex a lot more often than that! I would rather have no sex than lousy sex, except here’s the thing; how do you know how lousy it is, unless you actually have it once in a while? It would be nice to have a refresher course in Lousy Sex more often than updating my CPR certificate, you know? And there have been no moves in that direction at all, except from my right palm. And once a week is plenty for that. I find myself reaching for that sort of comfort more when I’m feeling in a pissy mood which is quite a lot over the past few days.

I’m rereading the Schnarch book to pick up what I left out or missed. But I know I’ll end up at the same place: the two-choice dilemma. If I stay married to Arwyn it is likely that my sex life will stay the same. That is, there will be no sex. No bad sex, no good sex, no mediocre sex. There will be no sex. Marriage = no sex. I can hold off and see if there is another equation and I can hope for a different outcome and I can pray for a different outcome. But as long as there is no different outcome, there is no different outcome. There’s the way it ought to be and then there’s the way it is. The way it is, is that there’s no sex within the confines of this marriage. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, but it isn’t moving any time soon.

I’m frustrated and much of that is a rebound from a couple weeks ago. I guess I hadn’t let go of the hope that I cling to as much as I thought. When I see Arwyn NOT trying, that really makes it difficult for me to even give a shit, you know? It’s like the crack addict who is homeless and is always begging money; do you keep giving them a hand out despite the fact that they show no interest in breaking their addiction or getting a job? It’s like she continues to attend 12-step meetings and knows all the lingo but it seems to translate into zero work on her actual marriage relationship.

Basically we’re back to normal which is out of sync, as usual. We spend a lot more time out than in, it seems.

BTW, my weight went down to 187.6 yesterday. That’s a new low of a more positive sort. My ultimate goal was around 185, even though I haven’t been pushing it very hard. I haven’t been working out as much but I’m still eating a lot better.

D.

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12 Responses to Out of Sync

  1. womantowomancbe says:

    I’ve never read your blog before, but happened upon it today, and it intrigued me, so I read a few posts. Four things struck me–one earlier post about your wife being ashamed of your premarital sexual relationship; her shame of her own body; her using avoidance because you were “Mr. *Always* Right”; and that you seem to be religious and talk about God and church, even starting a home church has crossed your mind. You’ve said that your wife’s shame seems to stem from your premarital sexual relationship, and I can well believe it. (Check out the blog “What Women Never Hear” wwnh.wordpress.com for more on how a woman frequently changes sexually from before to after marriage.) Have you tried apologizing to her for your part in that, and both of you going before God asking for forgiveness? That is the only antidote to shame and guilt that I know of. You can’t take back your past actions, so you can only ask for forgiveness for the present and future. As she heals from her guilt, her view of her body may change on its own; but you may be able to help it along by saying that you don’t compare her with other women–that she’s the only woman you’re looking at and thinking about, and that you love her for who she is, and that you think she’s hot just the way she is. (She probably won’t believe it at first, but if you keep at it, she might.) Probably the best thing you can do for your relationship is to change *you*. Women don’t view sex the way a man does, which is why when your wife has sex with you and the feelings aren’t there, she feels like a prostitute. You have to work on making the feelings there–and that doesn’t start in the bedroom or the shower! Try this and see what happens: Take some time today (as much time as it takes, maybe even a few hours), and sit down and really *ponder* how you need to change as a husband. Make a list of your sins and shortcomings. (I’m sure she’s tried to tell you through the years, but you probably wouldn’t listen, which is why she has just shut down. Think back to those conversations and what she was saying, and add those to the list.) Your next-to-last paragraph says that you and your wife are “back to normal which is out of sync as usual.” What can *you* do to get more in sync with your wife? I’m sure the bedroom is the first thing on your mind; but believe me, it’s the last thing on your wife’s mind. She has to be emotionally “there” before she can be physically there. How can you change to be more in sync with her? (You may protest that it’s a 50-50 relationship, and you both need to change; but you’re the one complaining about it, so you get to go first.) 🙂 When you have a list of all the ways you can think of that you’ve not been the husband you should have been, confess them to her, and ask her to forgive you. Since she’s probably dwelling on your shortcomings too, you will at least be on common ground–in sync. 🙂 Tell her that you’re committed to making a change, so that she can be happy and feel loved, honored, protected, and cherished. She probably feels naked, vulnerable, fragile and used–but you can change that, by changing how you treat her. Don’t be too proud to ask for pointers on how you can help mend the broken/damaged relationship. And if she responds in anger, respond in love. She may be so emotionally damaged that she flares up at you to protect herself; but if you consistently demonstrate that you have changed, she will be able to change back into your loving wife. But she has to feel safe in order to do that. You must make her feel safe. And it may take time, but what’s the alternative?

    I leave you with this word picture: your wife is a flower, but she has been stunted by the harsh winds of life. You can build up a wall around her to keep out the wind, so that she can live and grow to her full potential. Or, you can just stand looking at her struggling to make it on her own, and tell her that she needs to get stronger and stand up to the wind herself. Building that wall will take time and effort, but she can’t stand up to the winds by herself–that’s what she’s been doing and you see the effects of it. Once you’ve built that wall, you will need to give her time to get strong and tall like you want her to. She’s fragile, stunted and vulnerable right now, and it will take a little time to overcome that. But it will be worth it.

    Kathy
    katsyfga.wordpress.com

  2. Rosie says:

    The commentor above makes similar points to some I made two post ago. But you’ve responded to that idea. Though I don’t see anything wrong with pre-marital sex, and think Arwyn may have other issues — hey, what could it hurt to try the idea of asking for forgiveness? It might at least lead to some talking. There are several other ideas above that might not hurt to try. You’ve tried some of them in some form, but … go again?

    AND you brought up the avoidance with A.; she skittered off, BUT are you going to/have you brought it up AGAIN?? Which is worst – the avoidance and never receiving a final answer OR finally pushing things to hearing the final answer from her?? OR just go on for another year? (Your writing is interesting though. Thank you for sharing.)

  3. Desmond Jones says:

    Did you really expect that it would be that simple, Digger? You and Arwyn have a long, long history of avoidance and assorted other dysfunctions. Did you really think that you’d read a book, and have one good, constructive, promising conversation, and all would be wondrously transformed?

    I’m guessing you didn’t. . .

    Getting where you want to go is gonna take a long-haul mental approach. You’ve got to take the lessons you’re learning (note – ‘learning’; it’s doubtful that you’ve instantly mastered them), and put them to work over the long haul. All those lessons about differentiation that you were so geeked-up about a couple weeks ago – you’ve got to patiently, persistently work those into your psyche, to the point that you’re really not thinking about them anymore, and then let the chips fall where they may. You’ve got plenty of reasons to be hopeful – that conversation that the two of you had a couple weeks back is still nothing short of amazing – but real, lasting change is only gonna come over time, and with patience.

    But then, I suspect you knew that. . .

  4. Digger Jones says:

    Nice thoughts Kathy, and thanks for dropping by! there are a couple of thoughts running through my head, reading your response. One is that when you tell me that *I* need to reform, you are correct. It’s all about repentance. I got that in my head. Getting it to my heart and the rest of my body is going to be a chore and a process! On the other hand, I can not repent for my wife. She has to do that for herself and whatever shelter I build for her only delays the process she has to take on her own. I can protect her from me, but not from herself. To use you analogy, any plant so sheltered eventually whithers at the first cold or hot wind. And the winds are what promote strong roots. Yeah, she feels like a prostitute and I feel like a rapist. But I’m hoping that I can make progress there but neither of us are getting anywhere with that right now. Stalemate.

    And you’re right, Rosie. I’m getting better about getting it out and letting the chips fall where they may. But I still have miles to go. So many, many miles.

    Yeah, Desmond, I knew I would take a hit here for a seeming reversal on what I’ve been talking about the past few weeks. I’ll take the hit as it’s a fair cop, and it is a beating I probably need to get. I just really needed to vent my spleen and I felt more settled after throwing it up even knowing I was going to get flak from regular readers. It’s part of the process and I concede that I am SO far from mastery of this. I want to run away, avoid and stick my head in the sand and wait for it all to blow over or blow away. I find myself almost longing for the comfort of gridlock!

    I need to write more so I can better process this crap out of my system.

    D.

  5. Desmond Jones says:

    I honestly didn’t mean what I said as a ‘hit’, Digger; I meant it as encouragement. You have a pretty good idea of what you need to do, you just need to resolve yourself that you’re gonna do what you need to do, for the long term. You know it ain’t gonna be a ‘miracle cure’, it’s gonna take work. So don’t lose heart at the first small setback. There will be others, and they may well be bigger than this. But it took time to get yourselves into gridlock, and it’ll take time to get yourselves out. So, hunker down, settle in, and realize that this may take a while. . .

    That’s all I meant. . .

  6. aphron says:

    Well, I am sorry for your disappointment. I was pulling for you. However, good ol’ Desmond is there to point out the obvious: people do not change over night. It’s going to be a process, yet I feel your frustration. Arwyn does not seem to be working at it as hard as you. Everything is status quo. So I do think a 180 degree turn around is a little unrealistic, Arwyn trying a little harder to meet in the middle is not.

    On the topic of sex, I’m here to tell you that bad sex is not worse than no sex. Trust me when I say that. Your strength on that issue is truly an inspiration. Unfortunately, sex will be the last thing fixed. No sex is a symptom of the problem. You’ll have to have everything else fixed first. Have fun cleaning those stables, Hercules.

  7. Cat says:

    I agree with Desmond…and of course being the onlooker I probably have the least perspective on the whole story. But from what I do see you are taking the right steps and you are on the right path. And that is better than a year ago. So maybe you aren’t quite as bad off? You should give yourself a break. If for no other reason than the weight loss. Congrats on that btw.

  8. womantowomancbe says:

    Digger,

    I understand what you mean about sheltering a plant, and I wasn’t suggesting smothering it 🙂 just giving her a break from the other things that are attacking her in her life right now. Sheltering her, so that she can grow and be able to withstand the harsh winds of life; because too much harsh wind can kill a frail plant, while it serves to strengthen an already-strong one. No, you cannot protect her from herself, but perhaps if you protect her from the other things, she can better deal with her own problems. I guess it comes down to this question–do you want roses or just more thorns? From your posts, I can tell you’re sick of the thorns, so I encourage you to do what it takes to help her grow roses.

    I agree with what Aphron said–the sexual relationship is a symptom of a bigger problem. Don’t get me wrong–she’s totally wrong to withold sex from you, and if I were talking to her, I’d tell her so, and tell her that she needs to take what steps she can to fix your relationship. Because whenever two people are involved in anything, there is always plenty of room for both of them to change. But I’m talking to you, not her. You’ve done it your way for quite some time and it hasn’t helped. I’ve got a challenge for you–try it my way for a month. Give and give and give for a month. Confess your faults and try to change, even if she doesn’t. (But I rather suspect she will.) Maybe if you try it my way, by the end of the month your relationship will have healed to the point where she will be willing (perhaps even *want*) to have sex. What do you have to lose?

  9. Dave says:

    Nothing much to add, as you’re already aware and it’s been pointed out repeatedly, it’s a process, and sometimes painful.

    Still sending the positive vibes though!

  10. Digger Jones says:

    As you probably know, Desmond, we don’t have to be told so much as be reminded sometimes. The hunkering down suggestion is well-taken.

    Aphron, I do think Arwyn has grown by increments in several areas. Waiting for some predetermined “fix” to take place before developing in other areas is something that doesn’t register well with me. we don’t develop in just one area at a time. In fact, a failure to develop in one area can hold up everything else. So sexual development is one area that has seen ZERO development in the marriage and I think it is at an embarrassing point where it is totally gumming up the works. That doesn’t mean we hold still until it does. I’m going to grow no matter what, and that’s what I’m holding on to.

    Yeah Cat, the weight loss thing has been a major victory for me and is a source of some enjoyment. I like the slimmer me! And overcoming one big obstacle can help overcome others, just by virtue of tackling the seeming impossible. 55 pounds in a year isn’t too shabby!

    Kathy, you sound like a real Dr. Phil fan! You are correct in that getting my own crap squared away is job #1. I have devoted a whole lot of effort and time trying to square her away and it hasn’t worked. we’ve tried praying together, reading books, I’ve tried protecting her and doting on her and taking the load off of her as far as responsibilities and giving her the keys, literally and figuratively. I’ve done the whole “Relationship Rescue” program. NOT pressuring her the past 2+ years has resulted in exactly one sexual encounter. One. In over 2 years. I’ve allowed her to avoid that issue and avoid me, while attempting to fulfill my responsibilities as a husband and father. You might could read the archives, but I understand they are quite deep so can’t blame you for not taking that on! But you do inspire me, and there’s value in that.

    Thanks for the positive vibes, Dave! Being positive is always helpful.

    D.

  11. womantowomancbe says:

    Yeah, I did have a sort of “how’s it workin’ for you” idea going through my mind a time or two. 🙂

    Actually, I’ve never read any of Dr. Phil’s books, and mostly based my comments on my own observations of the world, along with a lot of help and guidance from several books written by Christians (or at least with Christian themes): “Competent to Counsel” by Jay Adams; “The Language of Love” by Gary Smalley; “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian–written for women, but this is the book that really hammered home “don’t try to get him to change–change yourself, and pray for him, and leave it to God to actually work on him”–I just changed the sexes; and “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Meg Meeker, a pediatrician who wrote this book based on her experience with thousands of girls and young ladies, and what worked and what didn’t. I’d recommend this to you as a sort of “manual” for what your wife may be missing. Though it is geared towards fathers’ interactions with their daughters, some of them can be modified so that it can be used between husbands and wives–as a wife, I can say that I wished my husband would read it and apply these things this way. It’s possible that one of the things that is missing in her life is the security she ought to have had from her father, and now you’re paying the price. (Was her father a jerk, abusive, distant or absent, perchance?) Maybe these books can help you, too. Check out some of the reviews of these books and see if they may have a different approach that will help you break through to your wife.

    I don’t think your marriage is hopeless, until you both lose hope. You still have hope at least, and I think you can change your behavior enough so that she will have hope too. Each of the first 3 books has a powerful story in which a relationship was totally changed and transformed–all of them had a marriage on the brink of divorce (one man left for another woman, one marriage had disintegrated until the people barely spoke to each other and they only stayed married because they didn’t have a “biblical” reason for a divorce, and one wife was pressing her husband for a divorce)–and while the process was different in each of them, and sometimes it took a little longer, they all recovered and had wonderful marriages. “Competent to Counsel” was the book that had the last couple mentioned; and the counselors suggested to the man that he think about his sins and go and confess them to his wife. Though he was dubious, he did just that and she ran into his arms, nearly knocking him down. I don’t guarantee that result, but sudden change is possible. Years of bitterness can melt away. It may take more than that because everybody is different, but at the least you can say that you’ve tried it. You’ve got nothing to lose and your wife to gain.

  12. C-Marie says:

    Love your self, D…
    Then you’ll be able to better love her.

    Don’t give up the ship just yet.
    xxoo

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