I’ll let others continue the argument. We are not going to settle the reformation here. I reread my comment on RS and saw it read a lot snarkier than I meant, so I knew it’s time to move on to other matters that are more immediate.
I’ve discovered that this blog is a lot less important to me, as far as processing and hashing things out than it was a year ago. Now that Arwyn and I are communicating a bit better, plus we have a therapist, the blog therapy is a lot less critical. In fact, it is sometimes just a bother. To be sure, there are still things I like about it and I do enjoy the folks who I swap linky love with. Even those who vex me.
Arwyn and I had another joint therapy day, and we spent a lot of time discussing how far we have come. The topic of initiation was the major theme, as that was an assignment given about a month ago (around the same time we did the 20 things post) which I did and she didn’t. But as he explained the assignment and how historically there is a sort of pursuit-avoidance dynamic between men and women it became apparent that we had traveled through this and over it and past it.
Basically, I used to pursue Arwyn all the time. I kept accurate records of how many initiations I made and how many times I was turned down and how many times I was rejected. I was playing the odds. Arwyn always felt pressured and she always felt that no matter what she did, it wasn’t enough. And she was turned off.
The therapist brought up another dynamic and theme, which was her perfectionistic attitude paired with the both of us needing and wanting approval. We are both the oldest of 2 other siblings, and so both felt the pressure of responsibility. We both felt judged by our parents and we both suffered from near constant insecurities. In my case, this translated into only feeling secure and loved in direct proportion to the amount of sex and affection I was getting from my wife. This wasn’t exactly unconditional love.
The therapist ended the session by asking a rather surprising (but timely) question. He asked us what our views of God were. Afterall, he is a Christian sex therapist, so this isn’t all that far out of line. He said the reason why he asked is because often our view of God is influenced by our own fathers, and the expectations they put on us. Arwyn had serious issues with hers (including sexual abuse that she’s never talked to me about) and I had some issues with mine. For both of us, there was a lot of expectations based on us being the oldest. There were also mistakes our parents made as they were learning to be parents. Basically, we both felt like we were judged on what we did. For Arwyn, this translated into a bent toward perfection. For me, there was actually a sort of rebellion against perfectionist expectations. But for both of us, there have been some real control issues.
The break through for both of us has been letting go of the performance/control issues. We are trying to stop judging the other for what they are or not doing for us. I learned how to take responsibility for my own emotional issues instead of blaming Arwyn for everything. I could guilt her into having sex with me, but the quality of the sex was so poor, it wasn’t even worth the trouble.
It isn’t her job to make me happy. Once I learned and accepted that, life became infinitely easier. It’s not my job to make her happy, either. But it is my responsibility to care for and cherish her. I do things for her because I really enjoy her pleasure. I enjoy her happiness. And we are starting to relearn how to have fun together, to laugh and to joke around. A year ago, that rarely happened.
So my answer to the therapist pretty much echoed my earlier posts on the subject. It is not about expectations and the guilt brought on by a failure to perform a certain way. The religion = guilt cliche exists for a very good reason, and one does not have to hang out with religious people for very long before it shows up. Someone will try to use it to shackle you to their own agenda whether or not it has anything to do with God. And that’s what I would do to Arwyn. I made her feel like a Bad Wife for not living up to her duties and for not submitting to her husband. Guilt is not a particularly big turn-on. Anything she did for me because of that was not authentic and not very pleasurable for her. And the fact that I could derive any pleasure at all from that tactic says more about my own depravity than her percieved shortcomings.
Last night, we had put the kids to bed and then we retired to our bedroom and talked a bit. And joked a bit. And wrestled a bit. And made out a bit. And then Arwyn said that she was really tired but said she wanted us to have some time the next night. I was rock hard wanted to have our time now! But I also wanted to see the PBS Frontline special on the presidential candidates. So I was content to give her a final kiss and pad off to the living room to watch PBS and do a bit of blogging.
Sex is great, but if it is not mutually enjoyable it isn’t worth the trouble. I have other things I can do.
One last thing relating to “mutually enjoyable.” Arwyn has been able to have orgasms on a more regular basis lately. And I learned a couple new things about my own orgasmic physiology along the way.
You might recall some hardness/lasting issues that I had. One common suggestion is to get off before the sexual encounter in order to last longer. I tried that, and it didn’t seem to help much. Somewhere along the line, I stumbled into exactly the opposite strategy.
Basically what has happened the last few times is that it looks like I’m getting off before I even get inside her. In fact it is true, and was like an “Oh no!” moment. However, with some conscious restraint and with Arwyn’s continued attention and enthusiasm, it is more like a mini-orgasm and I have almost a zero refractory period. I get hard again and this time I can last as long as I want. The trick is to go into the encounter with a full head of steam, so to speak. Psychology plays into it as much as physiology so anything can be derailed at anytime, of course. But I would never have thought of this on my own as it goes against conventional wisdom. And frankly, Arwyn used to be of the mind to get it over with as quickly as possible, so her newer attitude is just as crucial here. She could’ve gotten discouraged, disgusted, angry or whatever, but instead she stayed for the ride and is glad she did. So am I.