Re-Tooling the 20 List

You guys are pretty awesome. Seriously, there have been times when I was contemplating something and floated it up here and you guys were able to steer me in a better direction with your feedback. And if it only happens a once per year, it still makes this whole blogging lark worth it.

I thought deeply about about this list-making exercising and about what the counselor was driving at the other day. The first half of the session we talked about our vacation. The fact that we visited with our families provided him some rich fodder for getting into all the family dynamic things he’s so into. I really dislike this particular therapeutic orientation. I can spend hours and days discussing my relationship with my dad and his relationship to my mother, but in the end I need to live my own life and he has to live his. Dad can not fix me any more than I can fix him. Yeah, yeah, yeah, insight and all that. I get it, but it is a backwards approach. Instead of front loading my relationship with my parents and interpreting my relationship with my wife through that filter, I’d rather look at my relationship with my wife and then see what issues from my past that uncovers or resolves. Working on the past in the present instead of working on the present from the past.

Back to the list, the idea is to consider things that she either does or has done in the past that I really liked. As an alternative, the article that came with it said a guy could look at what he got from an affair in order to list things that were done that had value. That’s where the second (and more complete at the time) list came from. The problem with all of those lists was that they were very dry as lists are prone to be. There needed to be more meaning attached to this exercise.

The therapist did spend some time drilling me about what it was that I appreciated about Arwyn. He basically seemed to be driving at what Cat was commenting on. Why the heck am I so hung up on getting physical with her? I needed to re-frame my list in a more positive way that would infuse it with a lot more meaning. I’ve also been thinking about making her birthday card more meaningful by being more positive.

So here is the new list:

20 things that she does for me and how it makes me feel when she does (or did) them.

1. I liked when she used to make love to me when she couldn’t sleep…I would wake up as she was pulling my underwear off.- It made me feel like I was irresistible, desired, wanted and craved like pistachio mint ice cream on a hot summer day.

2. I came home and she greeted me at the door wearing nothing but a T-shirt and and a smile – it made me feel welcomed and desired

3. Every time she wore silky, lacy sexy lingerie – it made me feel like I was worthy of being won over and seduced.

4. Every time she ever let me perform oral sex on her – it made me feel like she trusted me and welcomed me into her most precious and intimate area.

5. Every time she ever performed oral sex on me – it made me feel like she accepted me physically for exactly who I am and was eager to have me in the most intimate of ways.

6. Every time she ever let me touch, stroke, knead and kiss her breasts – it made me feel like she was allowing me to fulfill the command in Proverbs 5:18-19 and I was able to delight in the wife of my youth

7. Every time she ever made me my favorite food – it made me feel like like she enjoyed and delighted in my happiness

8. Every time she smiles and laighs at my jokes – she makes me feel like I can make her happy

9. Every time she ever opens her mouth for a long, slow, deep kiss – it makes me feel like I am someone worthy of her passion and hunger. It also affirms my efforts to quit smoking in the most powerful way possible while sometimes making me feel somewhat guilty and convicted when I do smoke.

10. Everytime she has reached down between my legs and stroked me it makes me feel like she values my manhood, enjoyment and passion intimately. My desire is accepted and appreciated.

11. Whenever we make love I feel like I am accepted and desired and welcomed inside of her as the man in her life as husband and wife.

12. When we embrace in bed and I hear her breathing in my ear it comforts and relaxes me while turning me on.

13. Whenever we have taken a shower together and we wash each other’s most intimate areas, it makes me feel like she wants to play with me in an adult and intimate way.

14. Whenever she has let me touch her in a way that turns her on sexually it makes me feel like she is comfortable with letting me share in her own intimate enjoyment and arousal.

15. Whenever she lets me see her naked, even if she’s just changing clothes it reassures me that she is comfortable with me and unashamed of me.

16.Whenever she engaged with me in chastity cage play I felt like she valued my manhood in a way that she wanted to cherish and keep me all to herself. That my manhood was valued and precious to her and that she also valued my arousal and appreciated having my full and complete attention fixed on her whether I am with her or away.

17. Whenever she thanks me with a kiss, it makes me feel proud and appreciated

18. Whenever she reads a sexually-themed book that I’ve read, or am reading, it affirms to me her interest in investing in that aspect of our lives and that she’s interested in learning more about me and herself in that way

19. Whenever we’ve ever engaged in mutual oral pleasure at the sametime (69) I’ve felt the deepest and most intimate of spiritual, physical and emotional connections ever. It is an affirmation of the ultimate comfort that we can have with each other’s most intimate body parts.

20. Whenever she curls up besides me and spoons me or we curl up and she lets me spoon her while just watching TV or talking, it affirms her comfort with me physically and comforts, warms and relaxes me.

21. Everytime she ever initiates any inimate physical contact, it helps me feel more bonded to her physically and emotionally.

22. When we can discuss our sexual issues without arguing and fighting, it makes me feel safe enough to be more emotionally available.

23. When she sacrifices to save money, it makes me feel like she is invested in our future together and our family’s security.

As you can see, the list is complete, and then some. I wanted flexibility to add a couple more to make 25 or take off a couple that don’t work. The idea, in any case is to express more of my feelings behind the things she does, she did or that I want her to do beyond “it just feels good.” Many of these things she has only done once or twice. Some things she does more often. And there might be an item or two she might not ever have done, but I’m trying to convey how meaningful things are to me.

So am I on the right track? How would you feel if you got something like this in a birthday card?


18 Responses to Re-Tooling the 20 List

  1. So Gone says:

    I think this list is infinitely better than the last. Not only are you telling her what you love about things she does for you – you are telling her WHY, which is a big thing.

    The only reason I would not include this in the birthday card is that because many of the items on this list are not happening now – she may take it as a sort of criticism, like FTN cited in his comment in the last post. When it’s in the comfort of ‘the therapist said we need to do this’, it’s a little different – knowing the sexual aspect of your relationship is a problem, and many of the items on the list are sexual in nature, she may not get all good feelings from this on her birthday.

    I’m thinking maybe writing her something about how you appreciate that you guys are taking steps together to improve the marriage makes you feel… whatever, might be better.

  2. diggerjones says:

    Good point about any items listed that are not currently taking place; those are better suited to the therapists office. But so much of it is pretty sincere and heartfelt…it’s the sort of thing *I* would like to see, but I’m not her.

    We have an anniversary coming up also. Maybe I can test-fly some of it now and then if it goes over well, use the rest later.

    Relationships can be such a bother sometimes!

    That’s the problem with us: we can’t just say what we feel because it might hurt the other person’s feelings!

  3. So Gone says:

    It does seem sincere and heartfelt, and you do know her better than us – so go with your gut. But I think that she might appreciate the whole “you get up with the boys, teach them about the Bible” type of list for her birthday – it doesn’t focus as much on what’s not happening right now. I think anything you write that is heartfelt and complimentary to HER (which probably doesn’t include the sexually based stuff, sorry to say), will make her feel good on her birthday.

    Best wishes!

  4. Desmond Jones says:

    Hmmmmmm. . . Well, see, the previous list was a more ‘comprehensive’ list, albeit a tad ‘functionally oriented’. This one, with maybe a couple exceptions, is all sexual stuff. There’s more to your marriage, and there’s more to her (specifically, there’s more to ‘what she does for you’) than sex, right?

    I mean, being a good and conscientious mother to your children is a good and worthy thing, right?

    Or am I missing the point?

  5. Cat says:

    Wow well 1st of all after reading the new list I didn’t have to wonder why you want Arwyn 🙂 But Desmond does make a point that there should be a healthy mix of things not just sexual ones.

    The funny thing is when I read the post I immediately saw how much I withheld from my ex. How I took my intimacy back whether consciously or unconsciously. All the things you missed are things I took back too. And thinking on it now I have to admit it was deliberate. He wasn’t there for me with Corey and I felt like I was on my own…So I figured fine! He was on his own too. And I do wonder if there is some of that truth in all of this for Arwyn. And if she will see that she has stopped doing the things you missed for a reason. It’s not just fatigue, or disinterest, or fear of having bad sex and deciding not to have sex at all. It’s more and it’s deliberate on her part. Look at me like I know anything about making marriage work! Hopefully you will figure it all out though, you are certainly putting in the work.

  6. Colleen says:

    This is a well thought out list — very positive, sensual and very COUPLE-centered. I’m wondering if this is more appropriate for a shared holiday (anniversary) or special occasion that is more about both of you. (Or just over a shared glass of wine after the kids went to bed.) I wonder if Arwyn would appreciate knowing what you like about her as a person, not just for what she does specifically for you? (Does she try and make holidays special for your family — creating lasting memories? Is she the person people flock to when they need someone to listen? Does she call your parents just to chat and find out how they are doing?)

    I don’t know Arwyn and I won’t pretend to. However, I’ve been reading you for a couple of years (I don’t think I’ve commented before) and I believe she may view this list as being quite YOU centered on HER birthday. (Ever see the movie with Bette Midler when she says, “Enough about me. What about you? What do you think of me?” LOL) There must be things that you love about your wife that don’t center specifically on how it affects you personally.

    I’m sorry if I’m confusing. I’ll give you some examples of what I mean. One of things I love about my husband is that he cares so deeply about his parents. He calls them all the time, he visits as often as possible and he spends hours thinking about the gifts he wants to send them — things he thinks they will love or will be really useful for them. I admire that my husband can walk into just about any room and is at ease and can put others at ease. He seems to know intuitively what to say to get others talking and laughing.

    I’m not saying to scrap your list or not share some of things that Arwyn does for you that makes you feel special and love. But Arwyn might feel special and loved also if you acknowledge some of her other qualities that extend beyond yourself.

    I love that you guys are both working so hard to make things better and that you are really thinking about your relationship together.

    I find it difficult to set tone in email and perhaps that is why I don’t comment much. I fear that this comment sounds very critical, it isn’t meant to be. I apologize if it comes off that way. I really just thought your letter, while wonderful and important, might not be received as well in the setting you have chosen to give it.

  7. C-Marie says:

    That’s a steamy list there but I’ll have to agree with the others… you should possibly add some things that have less of a sexual tone or theme to it otherwise, she may feel a bit cornered or pressured. Maybe those things can be based more along the lines of #7, 17 and 20? C’mon D – you can do it!

  8. Glad to stumble across you Digger. I’m struggling with an on-again, off-again separation from my wife for more that 2 years and we have some similar issues. I’ll be reading you again Brother.

  9. MP says:

    Honestly, if I received that list in a birthday card, I would feel like the sender valued me for sex and not much else. If the relationship was currently troubled sexually, I would wonder if I was currently valued much at all, since most of the items on that list aren’t currently applicable. That list probably has a place in therapy, but definitely NOT in a birthday card.

    If you can’t come up with a list of 20 things you love and appreciate ABOUT HER, then WHY did you marry her? WAS it just for sex, as it looks? It’s obvious (from most of your list) that you base YOUR own worth on sex. Is that how you judge hers, too?

    HER birthday should be about HER, NOT YOU. Use it to CELEBRATE HER as a PERSON – rather than as a vagina and nursemaid (how she had sex with you, or how she cleans for you, or how she cooks for you, or how she takes care of your children). Adding a list to the card is a nice touch, but make it 20 (or just 10, if there aren’t enough) things you love about HER – maybe it will help her feel good enough about HERSELF to want to share herself with you.

  10. FTN says:

    Or, just make the list “20 Physically and Emotionally Intimate things that she does for me and how it makes me feel when she does (or did) them.”

    Then take the few non-sexual items OFF the list. Maybe make that into a separate list that DOESN’T include anything sexual.

    And yeah, I love the list, it seems very sweet to me, but it’s not birthday card material for Arwyn. Maybe it’s for therapy or just “for discussion.”

  11. John says:

    Its a great list, even if it is sexually focused. But I vote against putting it in a card; it will make a great therapist session. And I think you should also at least try to come up with a list of non-sexual things she does (or did) that you value.

  12. Cat says:

    Well I think it was obvious in the 1st list that you appreciate non sexual things too. So maybe you should pick the top 10 from both lists. I agree it might send the wrong message to include the list in the birthday card. But I do think the list has value in therapy.

  13. Great list, but not for a card. Since you admit these are things she rarely does, then it would probably come off sounding “The only things there are for me to appreciate about you, you don’t do.” Obviously not what you are saying, but I think how it would come across.

    For a birthday card, you might have more success with a list of things about her that you appreciate, not things she does. I.E., a good sense of humor, devoutness to her faith, tenderness with the boys, or whatever. Things about who she is, not what she does.

    But that list would be great for discussion and/or therapy, because it is very thoughtful and really explores the WHY behind each point. I would LOVE to receive a list like this.

  14. This list I was referring to at the end was the one in this post, in case that wasn’t clear.

  15. diggerjones says:

    Remember how awesome I said you all were in the post? Okay, now you’re all just being annoying!;-)

    My fault for trying to mix a therapy assignment with a birthday. I’m clearly not getting into the spirit of this birthday business. Thank God for Hallmark.

    Staying totally clear of the sex thing is probably the best possible birthday present Arwyn could wish for. When was the last time we had sex on her birthday? How about NEVER! I think the last holiday/special occasion sex was Christmas ’05. So her day is about her and what she wants, not about me.

    Special thanks to new commenters and readers. I wish I could respond to everyone, but I have a cake to bake!

    Her favorite is carrot cake, totally from scratch.


  16. Well, a homemade cake is a sweet gesture all by itself. 😉

  17. […] take a pit stop on the weight treadmill and get into that for a minute. I did not give her my 20 list, and opted for a sentimental card and handwrote some sentimental thoughts in my own screechy-scrawly […]

  18. […] appreciated and valued as she said she had no idea. I should have just given her (another) copy of my top 20 list.  And perhaps I still […]

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