Amiable but…

June 24, 2013

Less than fulfilling.  At least that is how this article from CNN put it.

The comments on this article are closed as apparently so many commenters reacted with hostility toward the ideas presented there.  Which isn’t TOO surprising considering the sort of feedback I’ve gotten over the years by people stumbling on to my page.  Those few souls who are regulars ( and you know who you are) already know the stuff I’ve tried over the years.  My blog has survived the test of time.  But like my marriage, it has seen its better days.

Of course *I* liked the article because it is a good and accurate description of my reality.  We’re in this trying to do right by our kids.  The research is very definitive on the fact that kids do better when living with both parents.  And mine are no exception.  They do not live in a house of exceptional violence or really even conflict.  We are basically amiable but not fulfilled.  It’s not the happiest of circumstances but it is what is and we’re trying to make the best of it.  We haven’t had a couples counseling session since the last blog update but not sure what the counselor could do for us except perhaps negotiate forward somehow.  The road ahead won’t be easy but it isn’t easy for anyone.  Suffering and hardship are just part of life and no one escapes. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not going to complain …much.

We are now in our new house.  As devastating as the fire was, it really was the only real way we were ever going to be able to do some of the things needing to get done.  There was no other way we were ever going to get a new house with new appliances.  Or a new car for Arwyn whose 16 year-old car died 2 weeks after the fire.  Through insurance, we rebuilt and provided quite a few jobs for people. We also enabled quite a few people to get rid of their own gently used stuff and feel pretty good about it.  I quit soking, moving on to vaping which is at least safer and healthier for those around me, if not myself.

Like one suggestion in that article, is my having my own room, which doubles as my office.  I do enjoy having my own space and my own bed.  I actually got a loft bed, and now my youngest wants one too.  It’s his perch of choice when he comes into my room.  There is a little concern that as I get older it might get harder and harder to climb the ladder into the thing or that I might fall down while getting out.  I just have to be careful about it and make sure I have the coordination slightly greater than a drunken college student while getting in and out. But got shelves, a little light and a small fan up there making it a nice cozy little space.  I got a bucket hung to slip in my laptop and another one at the foot to use as a sort of chamber pot so I don’t have to bother climbing down during the night.  Underneath I got closet rails to hang my clothes up.  A little pricey but well worth it, I think to create more space.

My main laptop just died so am currently looking at new ones, using my work one to write this post.  The CNN article was just too good to pass on or save as it has so much relevance to the theme of this blog.    At least this part:

If it’s possible, consider separate bedrooms. You’d be surprised how the creation of privacy and nonmarital spaces in a marriage might help. Already one in four Americans sleep in separate bedrooms or beds from their spouses. The National Association of Homebuilders predicts that by 2015, 60% of new homes will be designed with “dual master bedrooms.”

I’m not going to say Arwyn and I will never divorce, but right now this situation seems to be the most amiable one for us and our kids.


Taking A Step

May 11, 2013

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
J.R.R. Tolkien


All journeys begin with a first step of one sort or another.  And tonight, we took one, Arwyn and I.  At least this is how the therapist put it; taking a significant step.

We had not met with our therapist for several weeks, not since the session right before the movie.  You DO remember “Date Night” right?

I had honestly been thinking about our little homework assignment since that time, but we have both been so busy, it would have been such a contrived thing.  But I went back and forth on it.  Arwyn is who she is, which means she is not really a sexual creature, at least with me.  I honestly could not see how I could do anything meaningful to change anything.  The 3 weeks passed and in that amount of time, Arwyn and I did have a few battles about money as we are in full-blown house reconstruction mode.  And there are ooodles and oodles of decisions to be made and all of them involve money.  My opinion of Arwyn’s handling of money is not very high at all.  In my mind, giving her a large pile of cash is like giving a teenager a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the car.

These money squabbles were discussed some and it was amazing how she claimed to have discussions that we didn’t have.  Arwyn has demonstrated before that she is willing to engage in deception, if not outright lying, but sometimes my brain CAN get addled.  But not about money.

We moved from the money and got into a discussion about our sleeping arrangements in the new house.  Here in our temp house, I have been in my room/office and she has been upstairs in the master bedroom.  This is similar to what it was before the fire.  So for quite some time, we have kept our own spaces.  Even before that, you might recall that she slept in the inverted sleeping position for years and years.  Here’s an old post from the old blog in order give you a little idea as to what those days were like.  I look at a few of the comments from back then, and see the truth I could not see then.

I stated that I really could not see Arwyn and I sharing space, much less a bed together.

At this point, I think our therapist went back to parsing out what was happening.   This was not something that was just a year or two or three in the making.  She started asking when and how long this business of seperating and the lousy/sparse sex had been going on.  Let’s see…our youngest is 11…so a good long while.  So she asked Arwyn how long she has been sexually disengaged.  Arwyn went back to about 1999.  When the therapist asked her if she could envision sharing a bed or having a real sexual relationwhip with me again, Arwyn stated she could not.

So how did I feel about that?  This happened to be the therapists question and I had to think a bit.  Honestly, I felt slightly relieved.  It was a truth I had been feeling for a very long time.  It was actually some relief to have it right out there.  And that answered the question about sleeping arrangements.  We were each keen to have our own space and this new house would enable that as we had closed off an area to make an office about the size of the master bedroom.  That would be my space.

“You do realize this is the first step to you no longer being a couple, right?”  Our therapist was making sure we understood.

I pointed out this had been a matter of fact and truth for a very long time.  At least now we were being explicit about it.  It was now an honest move, and perhaps one of the first real and genuine ones Arwyn and I have made in years and one that we both agreed on.

Many of you saw it coming a long time ago.  Some did back in 2005, but I felt like I had to give it my best.  And I really think I did.  But Arwyn had already checked out years earlier.  Whatever I did was too little or too late and nothing I did could dent that wall.  This does not mean there is no caring between us.  Or even a love of a sort.  But we are definitely not in IN love.  Not as what I would construe as husband and wife.

Our therapist seemed to resign at this point.  Neither of us were fighting or contending for this marriage.  I suppose as long as one of us was willing to try there was always some hope.  But I’m spent and have not the energy for a campaign or long siege.

I readily admit that the first few years of our marriage I fucked up.  I was pretty horrid and useless and Arwyn suffered for it.  But I did spend time trying to atone for those early sins.  And I did suffering of my own, long and mightily.  At some point, the suffering ceases to be instructive and is simply pointless.  That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to suffer.  But at least it will be in my own space.  And maybe…perhaps…it will lessen slightly.  We can finally be honest without the pretense and the charade.  I just don’t have the energy or time for that.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!





Date Night

April 21, 2013

You can read my review of the movie itself on my other blog.

But this is a review of the date itself.  I’m suddenly having flashbacks of Chuck Woolery.

Basically the date was sort of set up by Arwyn with help from her church which was offering childcare for couple from 6-10 p.m. which is prime time for a date night.  And it was set up for this particular movie so as many as possible could go as wanted.  The church was a good distance from the theater so after dropping the kids off, we went straight there.  We had already gotten our tickets through Fandango as she had heard that some shows were selling out.  This would not be one of those sold out showings though.

I had bought some candy for us ahead of time, which I thought was a good move.  And got some caramel/chocolate candies which is a combination she generally likes.  We waited a bit in the lobby before finding and entering our theater.  Once seated, I went and bought us each drinks.

We had good seats where we could actually stretch or put our feet up.  The theater never completely filled up but there were a lot of people there.  Almost all of them from Arwyn’s church.  This made the entire movie experience different as a parade of people came up and introduced themselves or just walked up to say ‘hi’ or just to talk.  In other words, there was a lot more chatter and talking than one would typically experience at the movies as everyone seemed to know one another.  I was a bit put off by this, as it felt like being in church rather than a movie.  Except without the need for earplugs, which is a requirement for me in her church.

Keep in mind, there was some homework that was supposed to be done.  But Arwyn sat in such a way that her hands were neatly folded in her lap.  I would have to be bold indeed to go for a hand hold.  And I was simply not feeling that bold.  I diid at various times lean against her, hoping she might lean back, but she never did.  I had MY hands readily accessible on the arm rests, but she never made any advances.  So there was no hand holding or leg rubbing during this movie.   And I wish there would have been, because the movie felt a but overly long to me.  However I can’t help but also think that the religious nature of the movie as well as being surrounded by her fellow congregants  might have worked to suppress things.  In my mind, while I was not going to rebuff or work against Arwyn, neither was I going to throw myself in front of the proverbial bus.

After the movie, on the way out, Arwyn did finally grab my hand, which was nice.  But whereas I might have wanted to dawdle and linger a bit to en joy it, she was walking very briskly.  I made the mistake of asking what time it was, thinking that maby she was worried about being late for something.  But she had no idea and the hand hold was broke as she went to fish for her phone.  And that was the end of that.  There was no more hand holding or anything at all.  It was done.  We did talk a bit about the movie on the way to get the boys but that was kind of the extent of the conversation.

The date ended when we got to the church and she picked up the boys and we drove home.  I went to my room, and the boys went to theirs and she went to hers.  No kiss good night, no sparks.

This would be the part where we see who the audience picked and I decide if I want who they pick or stick with this one.  Hmm…I wonder who the audience WOULD pick?  I might be tempted to go with their choice, simply because I am a cheapskate and the idea of letting them pick up the tab would have some appeal.

Why couldn’t I ever have any connections like this one?

Counselling 2: Homework

April 20, 2013

As I think about our latest counselling session I feel some combination of anxiety and hopefulness.  But when I think about the latter for any length of time, I wonder: what exactly I am hoping for?

There is a part of me that SO wishes things would change and work themselves out.  But the pragmatic me looks at the very long history, much of it documented over the past 400+ posts, and I can just shake my head.  I must be dreaming!

I keep getting distracted by my own past posts.  SO much history and things I would have otherwise forgotten.

This therapist is definitely and has a way of moving things along and keeping them on point.  I like her a lot more than the last one.  It was a bit awkward this session because she had an intern with her who was listening in.  But one we got into it, we just kinda ignored the extra body in the corner.  I need to give her a name.  I’ll call her Wanda, just cause that popped into my head.

She always starts out asking how things are going and Arwyn always turns and looks at me.  Sometimes I wait and see what she has to say or sometimes I will say it is okay.  And things have been okay the past week.  Arwyn liked that we were able to sit and have nice conversations, mostly about the new house.  Lots of decisions about paint and flooring and siding and cabinetry and appliances.  I don’t have a lot of preferences on such things, and certainly nothing I would construe as STRONG feelings.  So we were generally able to be relaxed.

I did mention something about how sad I had felt about all the things I had tried before and how they had flopped and failed.  The therapist asked me to tell her some of the things I had tried before that were not specifically sex oriented.  I have no idea why, but had a feeling long before this therapy session.  I actually pulled out a hand written list (because my printer died in the fire) of this post.  I didn’t say all things on there, but the nonsexual stuff, like praying together, no media night, trying to hug for 2 minutes.  Wanda was very impressed that I happened to have this list on me, and pointed out that I HAD been thinking about our relationship.

Arwyn was a bit flabbergasted that I actually had a list, but still took it in stride.  Of course when Wanda asked her what SHE had tried, she really had nothing to offer up except the latest thing which is the movie we are going to see tonight.  Arwyn expressed that she was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I accepted her invitation without any real concern or hesitation.  And this also animated Wanda a great deal, with her even comparing it to to Arwyn answering the door in nothing but a coat and a smile.  I laughed as it really was not like that at all for me.  Yes, Arwyn was making an overture, but this was a movie she was going to go see with or without me simply because someone in her church was in it.  And I also stated what I did in my last post, was that there might be elements of manipulation in it, but I’m not going to do what she did to me for so long.  I’m not going to put her down when she is making an effort, even if it comes with strings.  I can deal with the strings.  I also stated that I was also not going to take over the initiating.

This date is going to be awkward enough but Wanda made it even more so by some of her suggestions and her homework assignment.  There was some talk about what Arwyn might do if I reached out and held her hand.  Wanda suggested she might respond by stroking my hand and then even moving her hand to my leg to the inside of my thigh.  Wanda looked at me and asked what I would think of that and I blinked.  “I would think the sea just parted or pigs were flying.”   We all had a good laugh.

Now that I think of it, it’s too bad Wanda isn’t available as she definitely has a a good imagination!

Wanda helped frame my own behaviorist orientation in terms that Arwyn could understand.  And basically our homework was this: initiate something and make a mental note of what the response is.

I kinda made a face at this.  I am really not keen to initiate anything!  And why should I?  To what end?  Arwyn mentioned that she would like us to be friends and possibly have the deep intimate relationship she has always wanted but her definition of intimacy looks more to me like something she would have with a girlfriend or family member.  It would involve gobs and gobs of talking.  And little else.

We got some busy days and weeks coming up, so it will be a couple of weeks before we meet with Wanda again.  But I’ll try to keep track here of what happens…if anything.

Funny how I feel kinda awkward and pressured.  Arwyn must be beside herself with anxiety.  That gives me an idea as to MY initiating a conversation on the way there, maybe.


E-Cigs: An initial Review

April 17, 2013

Danielle asked about the electronic cigarrettes and when I started a reply I quickly realized this probably needed to be a post of its own.

I did not start smoking until the ripe old age of 25, and it was a way to self-medicate depression.  Then it became a a habit and an addiction.  The topography of a smoking addiction is complex because it is behavioral, physiological and emotional.  The nicotine goes straight to the pleasure center of your brain causing the nerves to light up and gives that feeling of euphoria and relaxation.  Unfortunately it is a short-lived feeling and over time that feeling lasts less and less long causing a light smoker to become a heavier one.

Over the past decade, smoking has become one of the most shameful and heavily taxed habits ever.  It is now outlawed in almost all public places, both indoors and outdoors.  The designated smoking areas are few and far between, always outside and always far away.  While people hate smoking for a lot of reasons, they seem to like smokers who tend to have more animated personalities in general.  I’ve noticed this often during breaks between classes or breaks during a job, the smokers would congregate in the designated area and lo and behold non smokers would also hang around there.  And often complain.

For my part, I have quit before, more than once.  The first time, my weight ballooned until I was morbidly obese.  So I started again, but also got serious about weight loss.  After I got down to my goal, I quit again.  I did regain a lot of weight, but not nearly as much and it was manageable for about 3 years.  And then I was unemployed and started again about a year ago.  Which continued right up until I burned my house down.

Soon after, I saw a Facebook post from a friend who used to smoke over a carton per week and was trying electronic cigarettes.  So I started to do some research and they seemed like they might be just the thing.  No fire, no ash, no smoke, no smell.  So I decided to give them a try.

The first obstacle at the moment is where to buy them.  While you can order them online that was not an option for me since… house burned down!

Fortunately we have a relatively new Walgreens where they sell a couple different brands.  I just went with the Finity for no particular reason and got the disposable at first.  And then once I decided they were going to work, I went and got the kit, that includes refills, 2 battery units and a recharger pack.

I would highly recommend the e-cigs for a lot of reasons.    First, of course, no fire, ash or smell to contend with, which makes them more socially acceptable.  You can smoke anywhere. Second is that they don’t seem to impact health as much.  I breathe better and do not have the persistent cough I had when smoking the regular ones.  As far as cost, it is about the same though there are claims they save money.  I think they cost slightly more, but the benefits make up for any extra cost.

I happened to stumble upon Dr. Vapor who nicely explains the basics of e-cigs:

Where there is no smoke

April 17, 2013

SO nice to see some of my old bloggy friends chiming in and reading and commenting!  I have missed the old gang, such as we were.

My mind is all a-jumble about so many things.  A couple of weeks ago, my marriage was barely a blip on my radar and Arwyn was a hinderance and an obstacle.  But at the last counselling session as we were walking out the door, the counsellor kind of planted an egg: “You two really don’t fully understand how connected you both are, beyond even the kids.”

On Saturday we were moving things from our rent storage to one be bought on our property and were talking about some furniture she does not want any more.  “But you might want it or need it in the future.”  And so it was that reality has started to sink in.  And my youngest asked if I was going to sleep in my new office or with mom in the master bedroom.  So it is much on my mind.  And I think on Arwyn’s mind.

Last night she mentioned that her church was hosting childcare on Sat. Night and wondered if I would want to go to a movie.  This was unexpected.  And then she went on a bit about the move Home Run and after seeing previews, I could see why she might want to see it.  And want me to see it.  She has long talked about my computer addiction, so I’m sure there are anterior motives here.  Sort of like when she bought the video Fire Proof and then bought a copy of The Love Dare.…for me to do on her.

I am not going to buy any more relationship books.  About a month before the fire, I actually took the entire collection that I had and boxed them up to somehow get rid of.  The fire kind of took care of that chore for me.  But I’ve been there and done that.  The one exception might be Schnarch’s but as far as buying books for her to read, I’m done.

Oddly enough there is a sort of tension around the house that might be described as almost sexual if not for Arwyn being who she is.  Her and I have separate rooms, with her having the master bedroom upstairs and me having a downstairs one while oir house is being rebuilt.  And she has been hanging about more and more in mine to talk to me.  And admittedly, I’ve been more tolerant of her and her presence in my space.  Sure, I would like to hug on her and be affectionate.  But I’m done being batted away and rejected.

In any case, we DO have a date of sorts Saturday night.  Of course her entire church is going to be there because one of the pastors make some sort of cameo appearance.   So it is a sort of date, sort of her trying to manipulate or game and part her not wanting be the only one at the movie without a date.  But there might also be a part of her making some effort.

I’m not against her making an effort.  In fact I would welcome it.  I’m not going to do to her what she did to me, which is ignore or push away.  But I’m not going to take over, either.  I need to to see genuine, honest and enthusiastic effort and passion.

Arwyn and I have not kissed in prolly 2 years.  After our first counselling session she did reach out to hug me and I did hug her back, albeit a bit awkwardly having not done it for a long, long time.  But I am keen to kiss her just to test out the Finiti cigs that I have been puffing on for a couple of weeks.  It would be a sort of taste test.  A weak taste test, since Arwyn has never been one for open mouth kissing.  Her excuse was my smoking, initially, but I learned once I quit a few years ago that this was just an excuse.  But I would like to see if she and her uber-sensitive nose could detect anything.  At present, it has been pretty successful cause I can puff away in my room and would have definitely heard something if she had smelled anything.  I’m not complaining about her sensitive nose, since SHE was the one awakened by the fire, even though I was already awake.

Hehe…the Finiti slogan is kinda appropriate and is more meaningful for me:

“Where there is no smoke, there is no fire to put out”

Counseling: Round 2

April 16, 2013

As I said in the last post where my house burned down and I was rushed to the burn unit, things like that have a way of turning a life upside-down.

Fire is the sort of force where it can be deadly and destructive when it is cut loose.  It destroys things and it can really hurt!  But in the wildest of places it also gets rid of old trash and clears things out for new life.  In our house, there was a LOT of trash.  In fact if one goes back far enough, you might even see pictures of the trash heap our house had become as Arwyn hoarded and neglected things.  It was getting hard to even walk through the place.  It’s a miracle we all got out without broken bones from tripping on the clutter.

That clutter is now gone and the builders are busy rebuilding to create a better and even slightly bigger house.  There is a chance to start over.  One way or another.  Within a few days of the fire, Arwyn got what I think might be a shock that was just as big in her life as the fire that destroyed everything.

I spent the night of the fire in the burn unit at the hospital while Arwyn spent it with the boys at a neighbor’s house.  None of us got any sleep.  The next day, friends and neighbours descended upon our burnt house to help salvage and offer help.  It was kind of amazing and I wish I was less sleepy, hurt and grumpy that day.  They helped move salvageable things into storage which they paid for the first month.  The boys went to stay with friends and then our church put Arwyn and I up in a hotel.   Our first hotel together without the boys since having them and we slept in separate beds.  Of course, 10 percent of my body was burnt and I looked like a zombie.  That was according to my 11 tear-old and he was right.  My right arm was bandaged but half my head was open and bleeding or weeping while my right eye was swelled shut.  Not that there was any possibility of anything happening anyway.  Arwyn and have been done sexually since late 2009.

We got a hotel suite with the boys and the insurance company put us up there for 2 weeks.  She was out when I was finally able to get in touch with my SL elf GF and let her know what had happened.  At first she was very sympathetic but this changed within a week or so.  While my priorities were realigning,  still felt like I loved the girl and began an email with the subject heading “Thirsty Thursday” to her something to the effect of:

Thirsty for YOU!

Man..I am chomping at the bit to just get at you.  I must be feeling better cause you might be getting more than a small twitch…more like a larger twitch!

Arwyn came in the door of the hotel and I didn’t make a huge deal of switching windows, but opened the browser.  However not before she stared at the screen for a few seconds, clearly soaking in what it said.  However she didn’t say anything.  Neither did I.  From my perspective, I am not sure what she should expect.  How could she be jealous?  She has not acted like she wanted me in so long.  At least not that way.

It was later that day, we had an argument about something and she suggested that we needed counselling.  And it so happened that her church was willing to pay for 3 counselling sessions for us.  I had no objections to this.  The morning after we had our first night in the hotel room we had even discussed going our separate ways.  Counselling might help us find our way out.

This new counsellor is a woman who does not mince words and does not hesitate to lay things out very succinctly and directly.  Oddly enough, I feel like if we had her in our forst counselling go-round, things MIGHT have been different.  And so we are talking about how to let go, while at the same time she does leave the possibility open for things to be different.  She pointed out that we do have things in common besides the kids.  And we CAN live like room mates under the same roof with the kids, but she pointed out that this only works until one or the other of us meets someone else.  Then things rapidly fall apart.

We have had 2 sessions and after that last session it looked like we had decided to work to part ways.  And maybe it is time.  I have suffered for a long time.  So has she.  We have a chance to do something different and new.  To start over.

But I’ve been thinking.  Arwyn is an attractive person.  Not just as a woman but as a person.  Even though she treats ME as unattractive.  If there was a way.  If only there was a way.

The other day she was trying on some clothes someone had given her and it was a a skirt/blouse outfit.  She came into my room to show me, and she DID look attractive in that outfit.  I felt awash in sadness.  It felt really odd that she was even showing me this and asking if it looked good on her when we had been talking about living in separate houses just a day or two before.

There is still a lot of caring and love there.  But I’m not sure it is enough.  I just don’t have the energy or patience for the bullshit any more.  We did sign on for more counselling on a sort of week-by-week basis. So we shall see.

I have no idea, really.  It would be nice if this could turn around but I’ve been burned SO many times before by this woman. Can people really change that much?