August/September Update

September 7, 2009

Where the heck did August go?

I’m glad I set myself up last post, as there were blog-worthy things that happened. I actually did rough one out, but never posted it. Maybe I’ll post it on one of my other blogs, just to hold those places open.

Let’s start with the counseling. I’ve been on the fence about continuing that for quite awhile and was seriously considering ditching it altogether. However, I was willing to go as long as Arwyn was willing, even though we weren’t able to go at the same time very often due to childcare issues. As it turns out, I didn’t have to quit at all. The therapist did! He is actually taking a job somewhere in Alabama, and Lord knows those people need the help over there. So we signed a release that allows him to talk to one of two replacements if we should decide to continue later on. But Arwyn and I agreed on taking a break. Once school started, things got hectic and busy in a hurry and counseling was just one more stressor. I think we did make some good headway, and I think we still might have things to work through but it was time to let this guy go and so it worked out just right.

Arwyn’s birthday was a bit of an event that inspired a blog post . But there was a little drama involved in that she annually chooses to shoot for the moon as far as gifts. She usually asks for something that seems outlandishly expensive. Sometimes I can work on a bit of a compromise, but this time it was just a no go all around. I had already gotten her something that she really needed (but didn’t know she wanted it until she got it) before she put in her request. It just seems a bit tacky to make a birthday into some sort of gambit to get more stuff. Maybe I should employ the same ethic only employ it toward more sexual adventures for my birthday! Otherwise, it went over pretty well, I think. It’s always hard because I feel like I’m not measuring up to expectations. And that’s why I don’t use the pressure tactic because I know what it feels like.

The wedding anniversary was a very low-key thing as it also coincided with the first day of school and there was a ton of business around that. Somewhere during that time, Arwyn also gave a testimony at her church for the 12-step type of recovery service they have there. I went in order to be supportive, even though her church is not my usual gig. And I got quite an earful. Of course a lot of it was stuff we had talked about in counseling but this was all her presenting it from her perspective.

Basically, she said that she did not marry me because she had any deep abiding love for me. Rather she believed that this was something God wanted her to do. So while it’s nice to know that she is willing to follow the Lord and all, I’m the equivalent of being sent to Ninevah, Ethipopia or Calcutta. I have no idea what she expected, but as time went on she became more and more angry and bitter. She also shared that she had lustful feelings toward others. I have no idea who that might be, but that was new and novel knowledge. So it was not surprising that while I was kicking around the idea of divorce or escape, so was she. However, she knew she was in no financial position to leave, so she hunkered down. She credits being part of teh church and the recovery group as being key in her turning herself around.

While she has made some great strides, I wouldn’t call it a regeneration by any stretch. But maybe it’s something that can happen more gradually. We’re all works in progress!

And the sex: well, we did have sex once since I last posted. It had been quite a while and it was late on a Friday night and we began getting amorous. Then she said, “Do you think we could have some time tomorrow night?”

“Sure, if you want to.”

She took some exception to that statement, “Well I would ask if I didn’t!”

But of course whatever is said on Friday with the best of intentions can be very, very easily undone by anything happening on Saturday. For instance when she wakes up and begins complaining about a sore back. Or something else happens and can kill the mood. But to her credit she did come around, albeit after quite a long wait on my part. But I was prepared to have it happen or not happen. Whatever. Anticipation can be wonderful but it can also be awful when expectations are dashed so often. It’s a lot easier to NOT get hopes up and be willing to let it happen or not happen. And once it did happen, it was really great.

But let’s be honest: this is not a sex life. These are nice sexual events. I enjoy them when they happen. I’ve found other things to occupy my time and thoughts. Sex just isn’t such a huge deal anymore. That’s not to say it will never be, but at the moment I’m not begging.

Here’s just one more thought rustling through my mind at the moment:

It has been abundantly clear that Arwyn has not had anywhere near the sexual attraction toward me that I have had for her in the past. I still think she is stunningly attractive. But me? Not so much. Part of my lack of sex drive is the fact that it’s pretty certain no one else is thinking of me in a sexual way. We can all imagine we’re God’s gift to womanhood, but once you get into middle aged that becomes even more of a delusion that can only be sustained with a considerable amount of cash and flash. And so, I’m thinking that I’m pretty lucky that Arwyn wants to have sex with me at all. But I’m not convinced that she really ever wants to, really. I think she can enjoy it once she’s in the moment, but it isn’t something she has ever looked forward to or anticipated. Not with me, anyway. So I look forward to gardening, reading, Farmtown or watching reruns on Hulu. It’s not very exciting blogging material, but that’s where i am right now.


Mixed

April 19, 2009

She shut the door to the bedroom and locks it.  I peer out from behind my laptop.

“Do you want some time?”

Wow.  Okay, this is kind of unexpected.  “Do you want to?” I inquire.

“Don’t ask me that.  What if I don’t?  But it’s 9:45 so the time is kind of short.  We need to get on with it it if we’re going to.”

I have a couple of ways to respond to this, but her and I both know there is really only one response that is going to work unless I want to go another couple of months with nothing. It’s a clear case of her having the goodies, and me being in a state of starvation.  It was actually less than an hour after posting my previous post, in fact.

There was some good holding and kissing and nakedness that took place.  I do like it when it happens, which is why I resent it being such a rare occurrence.  As every behaviorist knows, a lean and variable schedule of reinforcement is the most effective way of maintaining a certain behavior.

“Was it worth getting off the computer for?” she askes.

“Ummmm, yeah it was.” I answer in the dark. “Was it worth missing some sleep for?”

“Yes!”  Her own enthusiasm and lack of hesitation sort of surprises me.

We both missed more sleep as we talked longer about more stuff.  Nothing at all heavy, just logistical stuff involved with raising kids.  This was the  middle of the week, so that made it more surprising.  But she had just gotten back from a therapy session, so maybe that had something to do with it.

So it isn’t all cut and dried so easily.  Sex does happen sometimes, and I like it when it does even if I have to sort of not dwell on her particular approach to initiating.  I’d like there to be more intimacy within sex play that was not so goal intensive, but that is mega difficult when I am under such a lean schedule.  I would like to be able to engage in sex play when I wasn’t starving so much and could enjoy it more for the fun of it instead of out of some sort of need. I would like there to be more play, but for Arwyn that is asking an awful lot.


So What?

March 8, 2009

It has been a little while since I updated as there has not been a lot to talk about. While it has been relatively drama free it has also been relatively thrill-free, if you catch my meaning. We’ve been doing the counseling bit about every other week and the “accountability” factor of that has faded away. Arwyn went on a 4 week “Daniel Fast” and I guess sex was on the list of forbidden things. And now we’re into lent, so I’m pretty sure she’s going off sex for that, too.

There was one interlude/incident in there. It was around Valentine’s Day, of all times. V-Day itself wasn’t much to talk about. I did get Arwyn a card and a new computer moniter, which she should have gotten around Christmas but someone from UPS stole it. She did nothing for the day…not even a card. But I wasn’t expecting much at all and so the day passed in typical fashion for us, which s to say not much romance in the air. But early the next morning, I woke up to her rummaging around…locking the door and basically getting naked. Then she climbed into bed and actually got under the covers with me and snuggled right up on me wrapping her arms and legs around me.. It was a really nice way to wake up! I can not remember the last time she woke me up that way, but I was sure to express my appreciation and again during the next counseling session.

Our counseling sessions typically begin with him asking us to name anything the that we noticed that one spouse did to strengthen the relationship. So Arwyn typically names something that I did and I name something she did. Sometimes I have a really, really hard time coming up with anything even when we haven’t met for 2 weeks. I know he is going to ask this question so I am constantly looking for stuff. And I find I am having to dig really really deep to come up with anything. Last session, I was reduced to praising her for doing all the laundry. It was the only thing I could find! If she had made even one meal for me, I would have had something better. It sounded lame, no matter how good of a spin I tried to put on it. “Well, it just helps me to have the week started off right by having all of my clothes clean and not having to worry about it.” It was hard even sounding half way enthusiastic. That’s not necessarily all about it being her fault for not doing anything as it is me not seeing and appreciating it so much. After we exchanged ideas of how the other one strengthened our relationship, we moved on to how we might have done something harmful or when we screwed up. This was a lot easier for me and seemed more difficult for Arwyn.

Arwyn did buy the DVD of Fireproof over a month ago. She watched it as soon as she bought it and then I watched it later. I believe the movie might have been panned by some other neighborhood critics and there is some justification for that, especially if you are looking for a Hollywood movie. However, this thing was shot and made in Albany, Georgia with a cast of total amateurs. Kirk Cameron was the sole Hollywood actor, and I’m probably not the only one who thought the rest of the cast probably out-acted him. His leading lady, who also doubled as a make-up artist, did a fine job as well as the rest of his co-stars. But one spin-off from the movie is the book The Love Dare which Arwyn also bought at the same time as she bought the movie. This did get a mention (by me) in a counseling session as a positive move, but that was it. She either hasn’t read the book or read it and hasn’t decided to do anything in it. I haven’t read it, but then I’m also not the one who spent money on it. I suppose I could read it and do all the stuff in there, which is what I’m sure Arwyn would very much like. I’ve ran into a lot of people (mostly women) who have bought the book hoping that their spouses would read it! IMHO, that totally defeats the purpose and the spirit of the exercise. If you don’t want to do it, fine. But don’t waste money buying a program for someone else that you aren’t willing to do. And this is pretty consistent with Arwyn’s M.O., where she knows what she wants ME to do while not necessarily investing a lot in our relationship or at least as far as I can see.

Sounds pretty negative, doesn’t it? Thing is, the counseling has taken us to a certain point and now we’re just sort of hanging out there and not moving forward. We’re pretty close to not doing it any more as we’re stalled and childcare is about to be an issue again.

What else?

I’m still smoke free and haven’t thought about it much for a few months. But I could pick one up today and totally enjoy it.

The weight is a big battle, still. I’m at 207, give or take a pound so those skinny pants I bought last year are pretty snug. I’m not sure how I’m going to get back on track with that.

Money-wise, we are in great shape or in the best shape we’ve ever been in. Job is decent, the kids seem healthy so things are okay. I’m not complaining, which is probably why I’m not posting so much!


More Marital Progress

October 16, 2008

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.

D.


How to Kill Sexual Desire Pretty Fast

September 14, 2008

The lag has been from other competing projects more than anything else. As the major themes in my life sort of stabilize or show signs of resolution, I have less angst and conflict to write about.

One thing that has changed is that I’m not keeping score like I used to, as far as when we have sex or how often we have sex. It’s probably about every 10 days or so, which isn’t that bad really. It certainly beats every 10 months or so or every 10 years or so! Progress is progress, and I’m grateful for it all.

A couple weeks ago, we did have a bit of a falling out around sexual issues which in hindsight turned out to be kind of funny. But at the time it was a bit maddening.

Arwyn and I are both pretty temperamental lovers. You knew she was, by all my past writing in that any little thing can get in the way and often does. Consequently it takes her a lot of work and effort to actually get into the moment.

On my side of it, if my mind and focus are off, I’m not going to perform very well. If I feel like she’s not all there or if something is off, my erection gets less rigid or departs entirely. The sheer anxiety surrounding sex sometimes compounds the performance issues, and so penetration becomes more challenging. It’s the difference between penetration by something firm and fairly pointy compared to penetration by something fairly dull and squishy. Add to that Arwyn’s own issues and her antihistimine intake. A good lubrication and some good foreplay would go along way in getting past these issues, but that’s just my opinion and not Arwyn’s.

I can not remember what brought it on, but her and I got into a heated discussion of our sexual issues. At one point I said what was probably the single dumbest thing any guy could possibly say. I made a reference to a particular face she made that looked like a grimace at the point of penetration and sometimes beyond. I was never sure what the face meant but it looked like intense pain or intense concentration. For the purposes of this discussion, I thought it was pain. She denied the pain but was a bit horrified that I was looking at and studying her face while we were having sex.

And this is one of my deals; I like to actually look at and see the person I’m having sex with. I suppose if I were with someone who was ugly I might want it totally dark but one aspect of sex I like it the total richness and presence of the experience. I want the total sensory package complete with visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and taste sensations all at once. I like that intensity. Arwyn does not. In fact, she seems to want to minimize every sensory aspect of it as much as possible. I think a lot of women, especially, seem to have issues with the intensity of all those senses. The messiness of sex seems overwhelming to them, but that it probably more a low libido characteristic than a gender one.

So I asked for some adult attention early in the or the day before (not unlike FTN and Autumn’s arrangement) and she said okay. It had been 10 or more so I was feeling antsy anyway. The time comes and we get naked and begin with the kissing and hugging and then Arwyn proceeds to jump straight up and over to the bathroom to shut off the light.

The light was not shining on us, but was just enough to lend some soft dim light in the room. But Arwyn had remembered our earlier discussion and her solution was to make it totally dark so I wouldn’t be able to see her. The minute she flicked that switch, I remembered the discussion and that shut it down for awhile. We kept at it, but I never did get full penetration so Arwyn just got frustrated. I did sort of half get off when she was grinding into me as my orgasm sort of crept up on me and caught me by surprise and she stopped right then. But this was not a high point for us.

A few days later, after a counseling session, we did end up talking about it. I’m not sure we got it resolved, but she did approach me and ask for some adult time for early this next week. So at least she’s keen to give it a go where in the old days she would have avoided indefinitely. And this is a key for us: avoiding the avoiding. While I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the counseling or our counselor, it has at least kept us somewhat accountable in how we behave with each other. That alone makes it worthwhile.


I have no idea what Olympic event this would be…

August 12, 2008

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Standing broad jump?

I’m way past due for an update, and some things have been moving along in my story. Mostly good things, but also enough angsty stuff to hold your interest, especially those prone to giving advice.

First off, as soon as I threw the last post up and shut the computer down, I proceeded to a sort of make-out session with my wife. While doing so, we contemplated when it was that we might be able to get together to get it on. After sort of agreeing on a time, kept making out and it escalated into probably the best sex we’ve had in years. At one point, Arwyn made it known that she was satisfied and that it was okay for me to proceed to finishing my steak. That’s one of the difficulties with her, in that she’s not terribly vocal. I can tell when she’s getting into it, but there’s no apparent big finish. And that is okay, seeing as we’re not auditioning for any movie deals except it doesn’t happen enough for me to get a good fix on her reactions. Truly, I’d like to know my wife better in the Biblical and carnal sense. But it really was enjoyable. As for the date that we made…that just came and went. And this illustrates on of the difficulties of a person who seems to devalue sex and sexuality; even if they do have a marvelous time it doesn’t necessarily translate into wanting to do it again. As a behaviorist, I find this quite maddening because the increased likelihood of repeating a behavior is what defines reinforcement. So if there’s not an increased likelihood of a repeat performance, just how reinforcing could it have been in the first place? Arwyn and her sexually minimized peers will often claim how much they like it, but it’s pretty hard for someone like me, who really likes it and responds in behaviorally significant and predictable ways, to understand how they can say that and behave so indifferently. They are either lying or repressing their desires or something else.

These thoughts are occurring in hindsight, because for a good week I was a happy camper and didn’t think twice about Arwyn’s motives or the truthfulness of her statement in saying she was satisfied. Satisfied…now it comes to me that this is not a particularly strong endorsement. How much of a tip does a satisfied customer give a waitress versus one who is delighted and overjoyed? This would be a good conversation to have with a waitress at my neighborhood Hooters restaurant.

So I was fine with everything. And it was in that sort of mindset that we went to our first joint therapy in over a month. And that is when we went over our 20 things list. Actually we didn’t get all the way through it, and each of us only did ten. We’ll do the next ten the next time. This session went pretty well, I thought. At one point, Arwyn said that she thought our marriage was better than it had ever been, and I’m inclined to agree with her on that. Because let’s face it, those of you who have been reading these past many years know that our marriage has been pretty crappy most of the time. There have been epic episodes of crap and supercrap that we have subjected each other to. So much of that is being cleared away, and we are getting along a lot better. We’ve been on the brink of separation and divorce for years. So we are at a much better place. Yay! Wahoo!

Celebration’s over, it’s time to get back to work! As we went through the stuff on our lists, the therapists assisted us in classifying them according to which love language they belonged to.

  • Quality time

  • Receiving gifts/tasks

  • Nonsexual Physical touch

  • Sexual touch/erotic pleasure

  • Words of affirmation

Guess which one mine were pretty much all in? But the therapist did bring out the fact that many of those erotic/sexual things also were interlaced with deeper things, like quality time, acts of service/tasks and even some positive affirmations. It wasn’t just getting off physically it involved deeper emotional things.

Arwyn struggled a bit more in classifying her list, and she seemed pretty evenly scattered among them all except the sexual/erotic bit has yet to make an appearance. No surprise there. The thing is, is that I am presently doing most of the things that were on her top 10 list. Part of the reason is that early in our marriage I wasn’t doing much of anything, which one could argue that I am paying for dearly today. I am doing tons more now than I ever did before and pouring myself more into our marriage and relationship. I know her “love language” is more diverse and I try to hit multiple spots multiple times. I do need to make more of an effort, tho, in being more consistent. It’s been a lot of work.

I was pretty nervous reading that list out loud, as it really is pretty racy and lopsided. I voiced some concern about that, and the therapist said just go along with it. He was able to expand on it and make it so it wasn’t so purely one-dimensional. The earlier 1:1 session he and I did plus some feedback from you guys helped me find that deeper dimension beyond just feeling good and getting off. It really is about intimacy, and I was able to better describe what intimacy looks like to me. I know it doesn’t look like that for most of you, and definitely not for Arwyn, but that doesn’t make it any less.

It was a bit of an intense therapy but Arwyn and I didn’t really have a chance to debrief and decompress from that and that may be part of the problem. We needed to follow up that session by talking about it but never did. I think that would catch up to us a few days later.

Last weekend, we were busy doing various things and I was hoping we would find time to connect in a way that I might like. We spent family time in several ways that Arwyn likes, and I was feeling a bit left behind as it had been a couple of weeks. So I came on to her late in the evening, and she was not into it at all. She was more keen on watching the Olympics. I like the Olympics, too. Afterall, I was the one who had turned them on in the first place. But I had my own version of the breast stroke in mind that did not involve going to an exotic country or competing for a medal. However, Arwyn was glued to the tube. Later, she blamed me for turning the TV on, for not coming to her earlier in the evening, for not being more explicit in my intentions. We had a bit of a spat about it and I was not happy that she seemed to be okay with staying up so late watching TV more than being with me. It’s as if that last therapy session just never happened or she completely forgot everything I said. I suggested us going over the rest of our lists together later, but she didn’t seem too keen on that.

Oh well. It does give me extra energy to hit the stepmat, which I need to do. I’m working on some video of that, actually so stay tuned for that!

D.


20 Things

July 23, 2008

While we didn’t have sex during our 2 1/2 week vacation, we did have a decent session the night we got home. After the kids were in bed, she started a load of laundry and was lingering around the kitchen. I thought she was coming to bed but she made no such move. So I went in and asked her if she was coming to bed.

“No, I want to get this load of laundry done, so I’m waiting for it to finish washing so I can put it in the dryer.”

“What are you doing while you wait for the clothes to wash?”

“Oh, I thought I’d do my pictures.”

“How about doing your husband?”

She picked up on my subtle hint immediately and we went for it. I was tired, but we both made the best of it.

During our last counseling session before leaving on vacation, the counselor gave us an assignment plus gave us some handouts. I can’t find the handouts and only vaguely remember the assignment. The reading gave some background and asked us to list 20 things. I can’t remember if we were to list 20 things our partner did for us or 20 things they didn’t do for us that we wish they did. So I’ve been working on both, as well as a list of things she does that I wish she didn’t do. The eventual objective of this is to classify those 20 things according to Chapman’s love languages.

lovelanguages

lovelanguages

More pop psychology.

Still, any sort of introspection isn’t a total loss even if it is a tool for a lame theory. I’ll go along with it it, even if I don’t agree totally with the premise. First off, the list that was easiest was the one of things she didn’t do for me that I wish she did. As you can see, only one list has more than 20 things:

20 things she does for me

1. Watches the boys

2. let’s me sleep in

3. keeps the house clean

4. kisses me sometimes

5. has sex with me sometimes

6. keeps track of health insurance info

7. Helps the boys with their homework

8. Teaches the boys about the Bible

9. Talks about the Bible and Biblical things

10. Participates in counseling

11. Does the laundry

12. Feeds the fish

13. Has good Christian values; reads the Bible and is charitable towards others -preschool

14. Is quiet; doesn’t yell or get too loud

15. Converse on religious/political/social issues and has similar or compatible views

I’m a bit short here.

20 Things she don’t do that I wish she would

1. let me touch and caress her sexually (breasts, vulva)

2. Kiss me deeply open mouthed with tongue play – long, slow, desirous and lingering

3. Oral sex – both ways

4. wear sexy lingerie sometimes

5. Talk about sex without it seeming dirty or shameful or embarrassing

6. initiate sex with me

7. Touch me sexually

8. Invest time in learning about my sexuality

9. Read the Rosenau book and discuss it with me

10. Be more of a home economist: find more ways to save and stretch our money

11. Cook and eat more nutritious food

12. Use the elliptical trainer I bought her for Christmas.

13. Have less stuff and more easily part with stuff she has.

14. Have a sense of fairness that involves sharing pain and pleasure equitably.

15. Snuggle with me when it is cold (apart from sex)

16. Sleep with me in bed “normally”

17. Experiment more sexually…variety, passion and fun

18. More pro actively support my efforts to quit smoking; verbal praise, more affection.

19. Come out and say what you want instead of expecting me to read your mind or pick up little hints.

20. Show genuine attraction to me by flirting, touching or generally being interested in me.

21. Share with me: she’s been in a sexual abuse recovery group for 2 years and has never shared with me her story.

22. Button the top button on my shirts when she hangs them up.

23. Take a bath with me sometimes

24. Shower together 1x a week

25.

20 things she does that I wish she didn’t

1.Throws too much food away

2. Spend thrift

3. criticize me as a father

4. Go ballistic over ants

5. Pokes or kicks me when I snore

6. sleeps with her head at the other end of tbe bed on top of the covers.

7. Tries to get me into her church

8. “Feel better?”

9. Bat my hands away or cringe when she is caressed

10. Treat sex as a huge mess and bother

11. Better manage space, stuff and clutter

Sexual issues make up a huge part of my lists. There are other things less sexually oriented in the list, but let’s face it: sexual dysfunction (on either or both our parts) was the primary reason I sought counseling in the first place. Other issues mostly deal with intimacy of one sort or another.

It’s a safe bet…no, a foregone conclusion… that my love language rests in the realm of physical affection. It’s not quite to the exclusion of the other 4, but pretty close. One of the things I remember being mentioned in the handout, is concerning someone who had an affair. They were to list the 20 things that they got out of the affair that they didn’t get from the marriage. Based on that, much of what I listed were inspired by things that would possibly lure me into an affair. Certainly a sexy, flirty attitude wins over a repressed, prudish one. Someone who treats me like I’m irresistible and attractive wins over someone who treats me like a walking wallet. One good French kiss would probably do it as it’s been so long since anyone has done that for me.

I’m suddenly thinking of Monica Lewinski’s appeal. Whatever you might think about anything either she or Bill did, it’s not hard to imagine how this type of relationship could happen at least from Bill’s POV. No matter how much affirmation a body gets from his job, there is no substitute for sincere personal interest and attraction.

My intent here is not to fantasize so much as get those issues out in the open in order to better affair-proof my marriage. Knowing where the weak spots are will help deal with them, hopefully.

So any ideas of how to complete the lists? Basically, I used my infamous Top Ten list to complete most of the second list, which made it all too easy. I used all the lists to compliment one another and help brainstorm. Often something she wasn’t doing helped highlight something she was doing that I either liked or disliked. I feel kind of bad that the first list is so much shorter than the second list. I feel like I had to really stretch and reach in order to find things Arwyn does for me. She does tons for the kids, but not a lot for me. Or a least that’s what I’m feeling here.

Arwyn will probably have just as much trouble coming up with a comparable list of 20 things I do for her. To be sure, I think I need to work on doing more for her than I currently do

D.