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.

Just some New Year’s Thoughts…

January 1, 2009

I saw a question on the christian Nympos blog that really perked my ears up where a guy asked how he can tell whether or not his future wife will be a Christian nympho:

Since I’m not supposed to have premarital sex, how can I tell if a woman will be responsive on a regular basis after marriage?

How does one find out if a girl is sexually healthy, active and willing to experiment with out sleeping with her?

Of course I did comment and you can read the edited version of it on their website. It was edited, because I included a link to my own site weighing in on the topic with considerably more detail.

I feel kind of bad about that link being stripped out, but I also sort of know why they did it, since many of those things can not be known until after one actually has sex, and having sex outside of marriage is wrong. But with just a bit more investigation, it is apparent that while their site may be a great help to many, they really are not too interested in being an open community. No trackbacks or even links to commentors own blogs. And that makes me feel a bit bad for the guys who are asking questions over there, because those women are mostly there to help and support other women. Oh well. Keeping folks like that on the RSS is just an act of frustration. Good resource but women like my wife have absolutely no interest in a site like that.

I’m rereading the Schnarch book, as the insights gained there were so key to the progress Arwyn and I made last year. It enabled me to not be so defensive and handle the rejection better which eventually began to help her move in a more positive direction. While the therapy sort of jumpstarted things and brought some accountability to bear, we have not managed to get to any real depth in almost a year.

This past year, I did manage to meet some important goals:
1. We did break the 2 year sex drought and intimacy went forward before it slid back.
2. I got my weight down to a low of 187 before gaining back to 207 Still working on it.
3. The weight gain was largely caused by quitting smoking. Smoke free since July.
4. Other than the house, we are Debt Free!
5. I’m playing solidly in the standard level in Stepmania
6. Still on Supaeasy on FoF (which will work with any PC compatible guitar controller)

So, much progress has been made over the last 12 months, it will still take a lot of work to maintain these things. I could light a cigarette today and still enjoy it. And the weight creep and debt creep are constant threats. But the intimacy battle is the big one.
2009? Who knows? I like the idea of continuing to reinvent myself in new ways and become a better me. None of these things would have happened without God providing the means, the strength and the grace to follow through. Only God knows the plans He has for me and it is going to be an adventure no matter what.

Hoping the best for all of you in 2009!

That video I promised?

August 24, 2008

It’s up.


July 31, 2008

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Yep, that’s what the scale read last weekend when I stepped on it. I knew that my weight had crept up over the summer and could feel tightness in the waist and my knees were starting to protest. It is high time to get back on the program.

There are several reasons for the weight gain. One is the gain associated with travel and eating junk on the road and then relatives being alarmed at my new skinniness and determined to fatten me up. After we got back, the bad habits sort of continued on as the quality of my foods declined while the quanity increased. Arwyn’s home made carrot cake actually has a decent amount of fiber in it but the cup of sugar and cup of fat kind of negate most of that. And the ice cream we put on top of it definitely didn’t help my cause.

Ah, Arwyn’s birthday! I’ll 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 handwriting. I also got her a $25 gift card for iTunes so she could get songs for her mp3 player. Unfortunately I had no idea Apple’s DRM would make getting the songs from her computer to her non-over-priced iPod player more difficult. I found a way to do it after much frustration. APPLE, YOU SUCK! I used to be a Mac person and didn’t have a lot against Apple until this crap. If I hadn’t found a way around it, it would have rendered the iTunes card worthless! Next time we get online music, it will be through Amazon, ThankYouVeryMuch!

We also went out to her favorite restaurant for lunch where she could get her favorite streak.

After all this (Cake, cards, gift card, defeating the evil DRM) and making it as restful of a day as possiblr for Arwyn, she was angling for some more stuff. There were a couple of CD’s she wanted, but I was trying to make sure we had enough money to get through payday. I was a bit put off by her angling for more. Yeah, I know what she really wanted was a new digital camera, but I couldn’t afford to buy one without going into more debt. We just finished a 3,000 mile 3 week vacation! That plus the car insurance was due…we did real good staying totally afloat this month. So I was not keen to buy more stuff. While she sort of seemed to understand she also seemed a bit pouty. Sorry.

Back to the weight treadmill…

A year ago, I was determined to lose a bunch of weight and I did it. But there was a bit of cheating going on in that I was smoking regularly the whole entire time. So while I was eating healthy and exercising and shedding pounds, I was also feeding my addiction. Part of my big weight was from trying to quit the year before. I was successful for quite a while (about 10 months or so) but gained on top of being already overweight until I was obese! So this time, I went down to my pre-nonsmoking weight of 220, and then kept on going. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to make another run at getting rid of the addiction. I was sick and tired of behaving like an addict, hiding my habit from my wife and kids. Arwyn knew and made it known that she didn’t like it one bit. But she didn’t nag me terribly about it, she might just make coughing noises from across the house when she heard me come in from the garage or make a production of turning on all the fans when I came in from outside after a smoke.

So, the vacation was prime time to quit smoking. I made great strides until we got to my parents’ house and then was at it for a few days, but lighter. But once we got back, I’ve been smoke free. I have this $50 gum that I chew after meals when I’m really jonesing, but otherwise it has been cold turkey. It has not been easy at all. I miss those bloody things, believe it or not. Going back would be easier than gravity. But I’m making a real go of it. And I’m going to try to keep my weight from blowing up while I’m at it. So I’m back to the step mat, and some controlled eating (although not quite as radical as before) and this time without the smokes. And without substantial support from Arwyn. It was that way with the weight loss, too, even though she has expressed some appreciation of being able to wrap her legs all the way around me when we’re in the missionary position. I quite like that, too! But it has not happened since the night we got back from vacation. It’s not all on her, as I’ve been busy and not made it easy to initiate with me. And our joint therapy appointment was cancelled this week because we couldn’t get the childcare thing arranged.

But I wouldn’t say we’re doing badly as much as we are in a holding pattern while life starts to take over. We really could use a date night away from the house and kids.

Would my 20 things list be better suited to an anniversary card? That’s coming up pretty soon.


Realized while working out…

February 7, 2008

Differentiation is hard! Not being an avoider (when it is part of your nature) is hard! Not getting all tangled up in someone else’s issues is hard!

Okay, you’re all saying “DUH!”

But it came to me that all of this is physically as taxing as it is mental. Since finishing the Schnarch book and maybe even while finishing it, I had slacked off on working out. I had work issues that had to be dealt with and it was hard finding the time or inclination to work out. So while my weight has continued to melt off, I haven’t been able to keep up stamina-wise. While finishing up a session of a marathon Stepmania song, it occurred to me that I really needed to stay in good physical condition. Not to mention the other endorphine-related benefits of a good hard, wet workout. I’m in a better place when I’m in better physical shape as far as my mind and emotions and working out helps take a lot of the urgency and edge off of the frustration.

And there’s plenty of that going on. This morning the skittering away while trying to talk in the bathroom was almost funny if it wasn’t so sad. She’ll kiss and hug for very brief amounts of time, but that’s it. She’s in full-blown avoider mode. 12-step groups are good for learning disclosure but since no cross-talk is allowed, it doesn’t build up much endurance when it comes to a real reciprocal interaction. This illustrates why the “delicate flower” analogy leads to some unintended consequences. “Learned helplessness” is a big one, and we see it all the time in education when kids are used to having things spoon fed to them all the time. That’s not to say that providing support, guidance and instruction is a bad thing. Having some sheltered shadowing can be a good and helpful thing. But if the person you’re trying to help becomes overly dependent, it’s not a help at all.

I was back up on the elliptical this morning before leaving for work and got a good workout and might work again this afternoon. It’s good therapy. Hmm. Had something else I was going to do today but forgot what it was….



January 24, 2008

I haven’t updated my weight in awhile, so I think I’ll do that for a minute. My weight loss efforts actually do figure into things. This morning I was at 189.8 which is about 3 pounds off from my eventual target. Over the holidays, I maxed out at about 196 but fluctuated between there and 192, which my body seems to like. I work on the elliptical and the step mat but not every day or even every other day. Maybe I get 2-3 times a week if I’m lucky simply because demands at work have been quite heavy the past couple of weeks. I did manage to download Stepmania 4.0 CSV which is a very nice looking release and I like many of the new display features. But it has slowed me down and I’ve had to adjust to it.

When I first began losing weight and posting about it, it was largely driven by my need for better health and a changing self-image. I needed to get rid of the pounds because my knees were driving me nuts. Anyone else who struggles know of what I speak. So I did some research, found an exercise that I adore, some foods that I also adore and went for it. The little “Biggest Loser” competition didn’t hurt either. But somewhere towards the end, I mused on these pages; how much weight do I have to lose to get my wife to want me? It’s at that point that Rod Smith chimed in with a comment that I really needed to get Passionate Marriage. I had been following 2amsomewhere’s posts on the subject and was somewhat familiar with Schnarch and his writings from lurking alt.support.marriage. This name would come up on other relationship blogs on occasion also.

In November Rod and I did make efforts to contact each other by telephone. One time I woke him up after he was asleep! He was very nice about it, and told me to call back earlier the day the next day, which I did try but got an answering machine. He left voice messages on my phone as well as by email. I’m okay with all of this because just knowing he was there was sufficient. Plus I got the book and figured after reading it I might have more to talk about afterwards. The point being that I was too busy (and careless) to even make a phone therapy connection but as it turned out his advice was spot-on. He gave me a small shove in the right direction.

The last time I had a major discussion with Arwyn, it was almost like an assault or a guerrilla attack. It was short and a skirmish that left more questions than answers and certainly didn’t do anything to make me feel better about our marriage. It was bad timing all around.

This time, it was not planned at all. I went to the store after work and she and the boys had gone to church. We got home about the same time and she put the boys to be while I got ready for the next day. I was tired and was ready to go to bed. This is highly unusual as she normally goes to bed early and I stay up late, mostly after midnight. She was in already bed when I came in the bedroom. I sat for a minute contemplating whether to turn in or go back to the living room and turn on the computer. I laid down and attempted to snuggle up to her in the inverted position. To my surprise, all I found at the foot of the bed was her legs. Her hands reached down in the dark and moved over my legs and bum and wondered what i was doing. I switched positions, feeling a bit embarrassed but was able to snuggle without her moving off. And then we began to talk.

At first it was about her church, where the senior pastor is taking a leave of absence “to recharge” and another pastor there just left the ministry with no known explanation. More casualties of “church.” I shared with her my evolving views of church. She’s known that my views were under construction, as it were. She thought I was fancying starting my own church as part of a “house church” movement. I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, but I’ve come to realize that conflict is just part of the growing process. Leaving and starting a church would be a futile attempt to escape and avoid that growth; there really is no escape anyway because conflict is inherent in me. And to carry this where I’m going, leaving my marriage for someone else wouldn’t solve my conflicts because the conflicts that I have with Arwyn are conflicts I have with me.

In that sense, it is about me and my own deficiencies. Confronting my own mess has been a major part of this process. Meanwhile, Arwyn has been working on step 4 in her 12-step program for the second time. This step closely mirrors the process that I was going through as I was learning to confront my own issues. We were going through identical steps at identical times. We did discuss this process. Arwyn went through all 12 steps last year, and I knew she was doing it. I waited for step 8 and step 9 to come around. It never did, at least for me. So when she told me she was doing the 12 steps again, I was skeptical that it was doing her any good at all as she was obviously in some deep, deep denial about what she was doing to me.

She admitted that she had “forgotten” to deal with me in those steps, and I corrected her and told her she had most likely simply chosen to avoid it altogether. She admitted to that and we went into a discussion about our avoidance issues and the fact that we were both first class avoiders. One of the major problems is that neither of us was interested in listening to what the other had to say and so we simply avoided the major issues. We agreed that this was likely something we both acquired from our respective backgrounds and that we would need to work in order to overcome that. Much of arwyn’s avoidance stems directly from issues I brought up in that long thread “XH and Me” where most people forgot all about the “me” part and wanted to talk about XH. Fact is, I have many of the same exact issues as I related there. My brain allows me to intellectually out-flank a whole lot of people and I have my own sense of moral rightness that makes others feel small, stupid and wrong. I can effectively use this to keep people from getting too close and intimidate them while beaming with pride when others tell me how great a Sunday school teacher I am or how great and smart I am in general. Smartness is a long way from wisdom, as evidenced by me stupidly asserting my moral and intellectual superiority over my wife.

Nothing says “I love you” like making a person feel small, stupid and wrong.

Keep in mind, this intellectual power was what fueled her initial attraction to me. She came to the young adult Sunday school class I was teaching and really liked my teaching skillz. She was hungry for knowledge and saw me as being a person who had a lot to offer her.

But later, she always felt judged and controlled by me, and gave up arguing with me a long time ago. To wit: I was always “right” and she was always “wrong.” My “rightness” pretty much put us on a collision course with disaster. God was using my marriage to wring that self-righteous pride out of me. I’ve still got plenty of it so there will be more wringing, I’m sure. But avoidance was about her only choice, as she saw it. She felt she was always walking on egg shells around me. Yeah, I see it, now. I really was judging her and found her wanting most of the time. The more she withdrew from me, the more I judged her as being inadequate which pretty much guaranteed that we would overheat and become disconnected. There was no such thing as a “discussion” because differing views automatically made us adversaries and if I become an adversary with anyone, I play to win. This is not a winning strategy for making friends and influencing people.

For her part, Arwyn had her own way of winning a fighting which was almost a form of emotional jujutso. To wit:

Jujutsu evolved among the samurai of feudal Japan as a method for dispatching an armed and armored opponent in situations where the use of weapons was impractical or forbidden.

My emotional fusion made me an easy target for this sort of thing. While I was using my intellect, she was using my own heart against me.

We talked about the whole business of marital sadism. I have a sadistic streak so wide, it’s pretty pointless denying it. Arwyn heartily agreed with that. But the real revelation to her was when I talked about my struggle in dealing with her sadistic side. And that opened the big can of worms that you have all been waiting for.

I told her that based on Passionate Marriage I had figured out that early part of our relationship that was so vexing to me. Namely that we were having sex all the time and then after we were married, sex had dwindled to pretty much nothing. The reason for that early sex wasn’t desire, but it was insecurity. Arwyn and I share very rich, deep wells of the fear of abandonment. Her sexual behavior was her attempt to avoid that whole abandonment scenario, and so it was all fueled by her insecurities. She would have sex even though many times she didn’t want to because insecurity reigned. However, she was also feeling guilt and shame over our premarital sexual behavior. By the time we actually got married, the shame and guilt had grown to a point where it overcame her insecurity about our relationship. Once the commitment of marriage was finalized, that insecurity disappeared but the guilt did not.

On top of this, we can add a generous dose of resentment. I was pretty much in total reptilian mode in the early years of our marriage. I really liked sex, and my self worth was totally tied to it. If we had enough sex, I felt loved. When I didn’t, I felt rejected and unloved. Arwyn’s self-worth was also tied to sex. But the more sex we had that she didn’t want, the more she felt used. She felt that in my view, sex was the answer to all our problems. She was pretty much right. She resented me for my controlling ways and then wanting sex on top of that. At the same time, her guilt increased because now I’m really making her feel like the bad wife.

And then we tried to fix each other. A classic example of this is the 3rd year of our marriage, Arwyn bought Relationship Rescue. She went through about 4 chapters and then didn’t read anymore but did leave the book lying around thinking I really needed to read it. I did glance over it back then and thought it wasn’t too bad of a book for her. Two years later, I picked it up off a dusty shelf and then went through every single exercise. When I came to her at the appropriate time and attempted to follow Dr. Phil’s advice, she really wanted nothing to do with it. A few months later, I bought her the workbook for her birthday. That workbook has never been opened. To say she regretted buying that book is an understatement! She bought it with the idea of changing me, but when I did do it, she resisted it! Because it was another case of me controlling her, she wanted none of it.

A major part of this discussion involved our differing ways of getting to this point. Arwyn does better as part of a group-type structured process where I am able to get stuff from a book and learn independently. I went through Dr. Phil’s book alone. I was able to exercise and diet and lose weight without weekly meetings. I was able to discover and apply vital things from Passionate Marriage without a therapist or a support group — apart from my blogger friends, of course! I play with computers with very little in the way of classwork. I even play around a bit in Linux just getting things off the internet. But this is not at all typical, which is what makes me exceptional as a teacher. It’s what makes XH able to do much of what he does. But it also results in some problems relating to others who are not on the same page. I get exasperated at others for being too slow. Arwyn seemed to always be too slow and she didn’t appreciate me reminding her of it. Her going and finding her own group of friends in a different church through a 12 step group seems to be just what was needed for her to work on herself. And she has been doing it with the help of the group and her sponsor. It was helpful having my own background in 12 step groups because much of what Schnarch talks about translates fairly easily into 12-step-ese. I was able to share what I had learned from reading this book pretty much what I shared here. Writing has been another vital part of processing what I’ve learned and I’m getting better at harnessing that in order to internalize and retain it.

I shared with her my revelation about her own sadism in watching me suffer all of these years in virtual sexlessness, knowing perfectly well that I was suffering. She stood by and watched and participated in it while doing nothing or even rejecting my efforts to resolve it. I treaded carefully here, because I knew this was extremely sensitive territory we were in. Almost every previous discussion of sex has resulted in her and I both getting defensive and her totally melting down. But she did not meltdown at all. She took the hit and held it together. That was truly an amazing thing to witness.

Then we got to some nitty gritty. Basically, for pretty much our whole marriage, the sex has been awful. I did point out that she might have been ahead of me in that department for not wanting bad sex, while I was willing to ask for a double portion of it. She pretty much agreed with my assessment: it’s not that she did not like sex. She did not want it from me. It took me all this time to really figure it out to a point where I could deal with it and handle that without falling apart.

This is what emotional gridlock and critical mass does for a marriage. It makes emotional fusion such a totally untenable position that we are forced to move away from it and grow like a hermit crab that outgrows its shell and has to shed it to go find a new one. We were both ready to listen because the alternative was too much to take.

We discovered that we were on the same page in a lot of areas. We both wanted good sex and not bad sex. We each affirmed the right of the other to avoid bad sex and go for good sex. What entails “good sex” was not discussed, however. Just getting to this point was nothing short of monumental. I told her that I wanted to pursue that with her. I think the act of choosing her was an important one, at least for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever truly done that, before. Honestly, it comes to me that I’ve accepted her, settled for her, preferred her, cared for her, tried to win her, and done other things. But I don’t know if I’ve ever truly chosen her. She asked me out the first time we went out. Schnarch did write extensively about this, and I’m going to have to look it up again as it didn’t register first time through and i didn’t write about it because it didn’t hit me.

Moving on to better sex might be a daunting challenge, but I think she might be up for at least approaching the challenge of it. She seemed to be very open to it last night at least. No we did not have sex. By the time we concluded, it was already 1:30 a.m. and we both had to get up early and I was tired before we started the conversation. But we were snuggled together and touching and holding hands and it really was probably more intimacy than we had shared at any other time. Hence the proposed title “This is the most significant conversation we’ve ever had” which is a statement Arwyn made.

We concluded by deciding that we would avoid more positively. Namely that we were going to avoid avoiding these sorts of conversations in the future!



November 27, 2007

Okay so we went up a bit over the holidays, but this is not a big huge concern.  I figure I’m allowed to fluctuate around 5 pounds or so, which I’ve always done.  I just need to remain focused on the diet and exercise.  In fact, as I shift my training a bit, I expect some modest weight gain as I develop some muscle mass.  And that’s really where I’m going next.

While my smallish gut still wants to hang around, I notice that it only protrudes the way it does mostly because I have no chest!  And that’s where I really need to focus some effort.  The problem is the same with every other exercise that I’ve done, which is finding something I like.  So I’m trying out a variation on my Stepmania program, which involves doing it with my hands instead of my feet.  Basically, I’m doing a modified push-up until I get enough endurance up to do it regular push-up style.  I notice that I do get a decent upper body workout over a period of several songs at the lower level by virtue of having to change the position of my hands all over the mat.  The biggest pain is that having a computer monitor that suits me for using my feet on the mat doesn’t suit me as well when I’m on the floor.  I like that I have to hold my head up, but my neck gets a bit extended in that position.  I might end up using a laptop when working the upper body.

Progress on the other storyline remains glacial, at best.  After our talk, Arwyn does make an effort to sleep with her head at the head of the bed (still under her own blanket) but will often switch back during the night.  She’s having some sinus problems which results in her snoring loudly but for some reason this doesn’t bother me nearly as much as my snoring bothers her. 

Other updates are in the works, but I figure I’d at least give you a taste.