Anyone reading the past month or so knows my relationship has seemingly stalled and begun taking a nose dive. Just when things were starting to look up, too! But this is the way it goes, sometimes. Well, pretty much ALL the time, because that’s sort of the way marriage works. A few steps forwards, and seemingly a few steps back into gridlock. But gridlock is where we are, because that’s where we have to be.
Last weekend, I went ahead and downloaded the mp3 version of Schnarch’s most recent book,Secrets of a Passionate Marriage. For me, it was a totally worthwhile download. Here, I could listen to Schnarch’s words delivered as he meant them to sound. And he manages to go through the whole thing in less than 2 hours. While I had begun rereading certain parts of Passionate Marrige, I was having a hard time getting into it. With the mp3, I could listen to it as many times as I wanted, in any order. Schnarch delivers his prose in a conversational style, sometimes in front of a “live” audience, as you can sometimes hear people laugh in the background as he delivers a humorous line.
And after the 3rd or so time through, some of this started to really sink back in. The therapist has been SO dead wrong in his approach. Pretty much all marriage therapists and sex therapists get it wrong, even though this stuff has been out around 20 years! The reason why it might not be so popular is because there is a definite spiritual focus on this approach to discovering intimacy. Schnarch makes no bones about how elegantly the sexual relationship acts as a catalyst for growth, change and intimacy. Or the fact that human sexuality is a product of deliberate and complex design. However, I do need to throw in a caveat that Schnarch is NOT an evangelical and is totally fine with referring and treating gay couples with his approach. But this should not detract from the truth that he reveals.
And that truth is, is that I’ve been dead wrong. I think I was saying that a year ago, too. For some reason, once we got into therapy, I sort of laid what I had learned then down. That was mistake. Just the act of calling a therapist and making an appointment and following through…these were all acts of trying to break the emotional gridlock. How odd that firing the therapist might be the next step in breaking this episode of emotional gridlock!LOL!
But we have been chasing our tails around the issues, here. There has been a bit of progress in that we have had more sex. Considering the score was a big fat ZERO for the previous year, it wouldn’t take much. On the intimacy front, I can say there was SOME progress, but much less pronounced.
The therapist is treating this as a communication issue, and it is definitely not a communication issue. The message could not be more clear: I want more sex. She does not. There is no way that the message could be more clear than nailing it to our foreheads! We get it! It’s right there! She wants a dog. I do not. In the case of dog ownership, I am the low desire partner. There is no communication issue, here! No matter how many times I speak her love language, she is not going to budge from her position. No matter how many times she speaks mine, I’m not getting a dog.
The problem is not one of speaking and listening. It is a problem of anxiety. Today, while listening to Schnarch, the light bulb went on. I’m getting it. Again.
Basically, Arwyn has a whole lot of anxiety about intimacy, especially as far as it is expressed sexually. But it also translates into her being a general avoider, too. And so it is, that I happen to share a lot of the same sorts of anxiety but it expresses itself a bit differently. We’re both kind of distant folk. Not unfriendly, but we have big boundaries around us and we keep a big distance. But at the same time we want a type of closeness. That’s the big rub, here. We both want to be close but we both want distance. It just so happens that I’m capable of having sex while maintaining quite a bit of distance. In other words, my emotional involvement doesn’t have to be terribly deep for me to have an orgasm. Arwyn is actually a lot alike me in that respect except she actually requires quite a lot of distance to orgasm. That’s why she prefers the lights off and the eyes tightly shut and she does not want me looking at her face while she is in the throes of passion. In other words, her emotional involvement is pretty well evenly matched with mine. It’s low. But there is a part of her that wants more.
What’s getting in the way is anxiety and fear. Sex is simply one way to have closeness while managing the anxiety, but Arwyn has simply not mastered much in the way of managing her fears. And so, like every other couple on the planet, we have to deal with the sexual leftovers.
Sexual leftovers is what every couple has when it comes to sex. Each person makes a list of what is too disgusting and perverted and then the other person makes their list and then you agree on the leftovers. That’s what you call compromise, right? But that leads to sexual boredom which leads to tension and eventual gridlock. At some point, the anxiety comes to a head and then has to be dealt with.
I feel like I’m drifting, here.
A few months back, we had probably the greatest breakthrough EVER as far as sexual intimacy. It was at a time when we were good all around. One night we approached each other and we ended up in the lotus position. Yeah, I figured out what it was. But I might have underestimated the amount of courage that went into this for her. And we may have done it a time or two since then. But some how we were able to manage that face-to-face intimacy.
Okay, I’m getting tired and need to turn in, but at least I have a better idea of what is going on and I’m not nearly as snarky on Arwyn as I was earlier. I’ll have to expound more on the differentiation aspect of this later, as we are still having to work through that.