Counseling: The Repulsive Factor

I had my 2nd individual counseling session the other day, and were finally able to get into some issues.  I’m not sure there are many solutions in the making, but we’ll see.  We didn’t hit every little thing, but one can only do so much in an hour.

The counselor was keen to delve into my ENQ a bit, specifically a portion where I said that I feel Arwyn is repulsed by me.  I’m not sure if he was challenging me on that or just looking for more information, but more information he got, which is extensively documented here in this blog.  Whenever I touch her in a sexual way, she visibly stiffens and if she is not batting my hands away outright, she is backing away and avoiding my touch.  The other part to this is that she is not actively seeking my touch.  On example of this that I brought up was last weekend we went to eat out at a restaurant as a family.  This is one of those with the great big huge buffet and a big huge line to match.  As we winded our way through the line, and just wanted to have my hands on her back or shoulder or just generally be affectionate.  Sexual?  It’s not we’re going to drop our pants right there in the line while placing our order! (I’d like the blow job special, please).  No, this was just generally being affectionate.  But each time I reached out to touch her, she was moving off.  Of course, when we talked about this later she was unconscious of it and was moving along with the line, which is what I figured she would say.  But this illustrates how different things turn after dating is over and why affection generally takes a nose dive after marriage.  When we were dating, in an instance like this, she would lean into me and we would move through the line together maintaining close contact.  That notion does not even enter her mind nowadays.

Sexual touch…well we’ve been over that over and over again.  Porcupines and spiny sea urchins have an easier time with physical intimacy.  If there were sharp objects in the bedroom, I’m be lucky to have all my limbs, Lorena Bobbit notwithstanding. 

We (the counselor and I) also talked about this business of Arwyn insisting that sex be narrowly defined by penis-vagina intercourse and that touching is pretty limited and absolutely no oral is allowed.  This causes a sort of cascading effect on my erection.  I’m hesitant going into a sexual encounter, trying not to step on any boundaries, she climbs on top and about all I can do is just lay there.  Then she wonders why I’m not holding an erection which leads to her not having an orgasm or her being less than satisfied which in turn increases my own anxiety and we are in a downward spiral.  Then there are complaints where she feels sore afterwards, which doesn’t exactly help with desire.  This dude is going to be tested in his skills on a lot of fronts.

He ended up giving me some handouts and talking about the active listening communication.   The mechanical, scripted nature of that exercise would seem to be a step backwards for Arwyn and I since we have made some meaningful strides in communicating and talking.  He suggested that if I had trouble verbalizing my thoughts, writing them beforehand might be useful and then I could just read them.  That sounded very do-able.  He also gave me a list of emotion words in order to help me better express how I’m feeling.

Do you all think I need help expressing my emotions and my feelings?  Is my vocabulary limited in this area?  I dunno.  You all have been reading me long enough and have seen enough to be able to kjnow whether I need some vocabulary lessons in expressing myself.  I think the emotional baggage is what has kept me from adequately following through with Arwyn in the past rather than a lack of descriptive vocabulary.  He seems to like pointing out the stereotypes of how men seem less able to express themselves with words and how women generally have an easier time with that.  I agree with that, generally.  But I don’t know if providing a word list is the answer here.  It’s more a matter of being emotionally free enough to indulge in a more graphic emotional discussion.  I didn’t get into it in the session, but previous forays into the descriptive emotional jungle have often been met with adverse reactions and results.

He also suggested that we buy a book and both read it.  The Celebration of Sex by Doug Rosenau.  So perhaps Arwyn will finally read one of these books, since it is the therapist’s idea and not mine.  I don’t think she’s completely finished her ENQ so we’ll see where she’s at on following through.  I order the thing and went for the speedy shipping.  I also ordered C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain.  I figured I might need something else to read after finishing the other book and waiting for Arwyn to either read it or skim over it.  That sounds snarky, but I’m still very cautious about her follow-through. 

Rosenau has some association with my therapist’s training and education so maybe this will help us arrive at some common and productive ground.  The reviews seem generally good so I’m looking forward to it.

Arwyn and I did have a post-counseling discussion which I touched on briefly above.  She wasn’t aware of what I was seeing as her aversive reactions and did ask if I still felt like she wasn’t being very affectionate.  I told her that I thought she was really trying, but wondered how much of it was her just trying and how much of it is her truly desiring.  Funny thing about desire and affection; if it isn’t given freely, it isn’t all it could be.

There was no sex as she had a headache and had a wash clothe on her head as we talked.  So the once-a-week thing that she talked about last week; not so much.  Last night we both went to bed at the same time around 9:30, but she stated it was her intention to go to sleep.  We kissed and cuddled for a couple of minutes before she rolled over and fell to sleep while I watched the public access channel on the TV.  I’m thinking we are going to need to try to schedule a Sex Night, even as disastrous as that was a few years ago. I might get deeper into that discussion later, but you got the main gist here so that if I decide to move on you won’t be left behind or catching up won’t be such an arduous exercise.


4 Responses to Counseling: The Repulsive Factor

  1. FTN says:

    I’ve got that Rosenau book stuck away in a closet somewhere. Autumn and I were reading it together 5 or 6 years ago, although I don’t remember if we ever finished it. Being that you are such a fan of Schnarch, I’m slightly skeptical that you’ll enjoy the Rosenau one very much, although it’s been awhile so I don’t remember it a great deal. It seemed like a pretty basic book.

    I guess “basic” might be good for Arwyn, at least.

    I’m sure your counselor is suggesting some things to you based on his individual sessions with Arwyn. I imagine she’s saying some things that are quite different than what you are saying!

    It sounds like a tough cycle to break — Arwyn isn’t going to enjoy sex until you can really “give it your all,” but you can’t really give it your all until she gets more into sex and starts enjoying it. That’s gonna be a mental battle for each of you.

  2. Cat says:

    I swear Arwyn seems so wrapped in resentment and disappointment. I don’t see how she can ever be affectionate with you until she admits that. I can remember feeling the “hate” for lack of a better word. The feeling like my ex had left me to deal with our son all on my own. The feeling that he didn’t get me at all but wanted me to be intimate with him anyway. The feeling of isolation and disappointment is very strong and hard to break. And for me there was always the “aha”..

    I always felt like my ex just wanted me to admit I didn’t want him to touch me anymore. Admit that he had disappointed me so much I wasn’t sure if I could ever feel the way I did in the beginning. But not so he could work on anything but so he could say “aha” see you never wanted to get married, you never really loved me, you only married me to validate having sex with me before we were married. And then he could leave with a clear conscience. I am not sure where I am going with this except I get that feeling sometimes when reading your posts. Which is strange given the work you have put in and of course the forced celibacy that I could never live with. But I still get the feeling sometimes that you just want Arwyn to say she really is repulsed by you to give you an out.

  3. diggerjones says:

    I hadn’t though about his suggestions based on Arwyn’s input, FTN, but that’s a good point. Still, I get the general impression that he relies an awful lot on stereotypes. Sometimes those fit and sometimes they don’t, as I’m sure you know. I think he has some loose affiliation with Rosenau so this might give me some insight as to where he’s coming from.

    Cat, I think I want Arwyn to just be honest and come out with it, if that’s how she’s feeling. The avoidance and denial has not been working well for us, so I want the truth so I can make my decisions based on that. If she’s repulsed by me, i need to be able to get on with the grieving process and stop holding on to a false hope that there is something I can do to change that. she denies wanting to be celibate, but she is also a lot more willing and happy to live that way than I am.


  4. Cat says:

    Well I can certainly understand that, though I must admit I honestly hope she isn’t repulsed at all. She seems to have settled for celibacy and maybe she is comfortable or resigned. But I can’t imagine anyone being “happy” with it. I genuinely hope she makes the decision soon to do the work necessary to get past this.

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