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Thanks for rooting for me. Everything you said is true - I don’t deny it. I have tried and tried (and tried) to rebuild that trust with my DW. I know we have a weak emotional connection. I worked on myself for 5 years. We are having our “reset“ conversation Monday night. We have had a few of these that I can recall YE18, mid 19, Now. This conversation will be different - with me being more upfront, candid, truly transparent, more confrontational. There are several levels to this conversation — not just about our ****ty sex life.
That's great that you'll be having a conversation with her. I'd like to make a few recommendations:

1. Keep your expectations realistic - the issues you and your wife have won't be solved with one, two or even a handful of talks. Look at this first conversation as a starting point.

2. Sex isn't even your biggest issue - the missing intimacy and connection between you is where I would focus the conversation, and I wouldn't even make this first conversation about sex. You may be surprised to find that improving your emotional intimacy with your wife also improves your physical intimacy, but even if it doesn't, you'll at least have a foundation for talking about sex with wife in a more honest, vulnerable and productive way.

3. Be direct and honest in sharing your feelings with her - don't beat around the bush, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be confrontational. You need to clearly express YOUR needs, but the more you're able to do it from the standpoint of WE and US (as in how you want the best for you as a couple), the better. And I don't think it's a bad thing to make yourself vulnerable in sharing your feelings. If you want her to open up to you, you may have to lead by example.

4. If you feel like you have contributed to the lack of emotional intimacy between you, own up unequivocally to your side of it and apologize for it. Talk about what you intend to do on your side to effect changes.

5. Ask questions of your wife to find out how she feels about your marriage and your intimacy. Don't let her skate with pat answers about the kids, the house, your day-to-day life, etc. That's surface stuff. She may need time to think about it, but make sure you get answers either later in the conversation or in a later conversation. The best thing you can do is to get her talking, and when she does, really listen and watch her expressions and body language as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #462
That's great that you'll be having a conversation with her. I'd like to make a few recommendations:

1. Keep your expectations realistic - the issues you and your wife have won't be solved with one, two or even a handful of talks. Look at this first conversation as a starting point.

2. Sex isn't even your biggest issue - the missing intimacy and connection between you is where I would focus the conversation, and I wouldn't even make this first conversation about sex. You may be surprised to find that improving your emotional intimacy with your wife also improves your physical intimacy, but even if it doesn't, you'll at least have a foundation for talking about sex with wife in a more honest, vulnerable and productive way.

3. Be direct and honest in sharing your feelings with her - don't beat around the bush, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be confrontational. You need to clearly express YOUR needs, but the more you're able to do it from the standpoint of WE and US (as in how you want the best for you as a couple), the better. And I don't think it's a bad thing to make yourself vulnerable in sharing your feelings. If you want her to open up to you, you may have to lead by example.

4. If you feel like you have contributed to the lack of emotional intimacy between you, own up unequivocally to your side of it and apologize for it. Talk about what you intend to do on your side to effect changes.

5. Ask questions of your wife to find out how she feels about your marriage and your intimacy. Don't let her skate with pat answers about the kids, the house, your day-to-day life, etc. That's surface stuff. She may need time to think about it, but make sure you get answers either later in the conversation or in a later conversation. The best thing you can do is to get her talking, and when she does, really listen and watch her expressions and body language as well.
I can figure out the cool way to cut and paste my response to this...so I will just reply to each bullet:

1. Very much the plan. I will use this to establish Monday PMs as our night to catch up, use a baby sitter, talk, checkin, etc...

2. I agree. It won’t be about sex but if it comes up I am not backing off. And I know I have room for improvement in this area with her — but I have never really ASKED the important questions regarding her past.

3. Yes. I know my role in this and I will lay all my cards in the table, even the ones I’d rather not.

4. I know where I have fallen short and why she is feeling so isolated. Again, me being transparently honest despite the consequences. If that makes sense.

5. This BY FAR is the area I have never really been able to get her to the next level. Lots of excuses but nothing really I can act on per say.
 

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I can figure out the cool way to cut and paste my response to this...so I will just reply to each bullet:

1. Very much the plan. I will use this to establish Monday PMs as our night to catch up, use a baby sitter, talk, checkin, etc...
Sounds like a good plan. Don't be discouraged if you get some pushback from your wife in the beginning or don't see the progress you'd like initially. Keep in mind that this probably will feel very new and strange to her. You don't just overcome 20+ years of patterns in a few weeks. That's where you need to be strong and persistent. Let her know this is for real and hopefully once she starts to see some changes, she'll buy in. In my case, it took a couple of months before I started seeing progress.

And don't think of this as just a weekly thing. Practice mindfulness in your daily interactions with her. Really listen to her and observe her body language and facial expressions and ask her deeper questions when the situation calls for it. Check in with how she's feeling on more than just a surface level. Bring back some playfulness whenever you can. This all would have sounded so touchy-feely and over-the-top to me a few years ago, but the first step to a deeper connection with your wife is to really listen to her and be in tune with her and not allow all the day-to-day distractions of life get in the way.

2. I agree. It won’t be about sex but if it comes up I am not backing off. And I know I have room for improvement in this area with her — but I have never really ASKED the important questions regarding her past.
Agreed that you should be honest and direct in your answers. Just keep in mind that you may not have a whole lot of credit built up with her yet in the emotional trust bank. That means you'll need to be very careful in whether and how you approach certain subjects for a little while.

5. This BY FAR is the area I have never really been able to get her to the next level. Lots of excuses but nothing really I can act on per say.
My wife and I both were (are) extremely emotionally stunted thanks to trauma in our pasts and our default coping mechanisms. Counseling (MC and IC) was very helpful, and I think it also was a big deal for my wife to see me take the first steps in being emotional vulnerable, opening up, and making myself someone who could be emotionally trustworthy. I didn't demand that she do the same. I simply shared my journey with her and kept asking her questions along the way. Again, it won't just happen overnight, and if you're anything like me, you'll be terrible at it at first (this is where a good sense of humor is really helpful). In my case, we had low EQ and significant communication issues reinforced by decades of bad habits. But if your wife and marriage are as important to you as mine are to me, the work and pain will be worth it in the long run.
 

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The only thing I have to offer at this point is... how can you tell when you're actually getting somewhere, vs spinning your wheels? How does one measure progress?

So often this journey becomes a combination of a wild roller coaster ride and the movie Groundhog Day. Expectations aren't met... or are they? Judgment becomes cloudy.

I think... and this is REALLY hard for people to do... I think we need to lay out, on paper, what the expectations are and what progress should look like, when we're having these conversations. And post that paper on the wall somewhere. Maybe the bathroom door. Some place where it's not possible to avoid it. And be accountable to what's written down

every

single

day.

My wife simply will not do this, and we simply have to get there. Not doing so is a way of removing accountability from the situation, and her own accountability is the missing ingredient for success. Therapists are not big on accountability because they want to avoid judgment.
 

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Discussion Starter #465
The only thing I have to offer at this point is... how can you tell when you're actually getting somewhere, vs spinning your wheels? How does one measure progress?

So often this journey becomes a combination of a wild roller coaster ride and the movie Groundhog Day. Expectations aren't met... or are they? Judgment becomes cloudy.

I think... and this is REALLY hard for people to do... I think we need to lay out, on paper, what the expectations are and what progress should look like, when we're having these conversations. And post that paper on the wall somewhere. Maybe the bathroom door. Some place where it's not possible to avoid it. And be accountable to what's written down

every

single

day.

My wife simply will not do this, and we simply have to get there. Not doing so is a way of removing accountability from the situation, and her own accountability is the missing ingredient for success. Therapists are not big on accountability because they want to avoid judgment.
I like where you are going with this....
 

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You might really benefit from this TED Talk, something to watch with your wife. It "gets" my feeling so well. And it speaks to the LD partner in a way that you might not be able to. Could be the best 17 minutes the two of you have spent in some time.
Wow. I watched it. That is sooo 💯💯.
 

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Wow. I watched it. That is sooo 💯💯.
The "just do it" approach can also backfire. The notion of it sounds great as if one partner enjoys sex once it happens, but perhaps struggles to let down their guard to allow it to happen. Over time if you have a sense of entitlement come time to "just do it" if can begin to play mind games on your partner. She may question her value in the relationship as a human being and start to feel something more like a sex worker that is required to provide you with sex in the marriage.

I am to a point that I can bend that mind game on its head. The first step if this happens it to ironically validate your partner's fear that she actually is a sex worker in the marriage and compliment her on her ability to please you. Then sarcastically claim as if you are not interested in sex at that moment and make a note of all the other things in the marriage that makes it tolerable to stay together. Ask your wife if she stays with you because she expects great sex from you, and do so with a sense of unreasonable overconfidence. Ask your wife if you changed careers to become a professional sex worker how much she thinks you would make, and before she answers claim that you would likely be one of those people that would get depressed because you would have too much money, then elude to the fact that you are OK with giving up unlimited wealth to be with her because she makes you happy. Be sure and cite this reason for being happy... (make a pause) ...and say, "after all these years I really enjoy being a sex worker with you as my only client, because you don't overwork me and I get to be lazy!" Then ask her if she wants to know a secret... Tell her that your best performances in the bedroom that please her the most are almost too easy. All you have to do is lay there, let her get on top and do all the work!

Then just lay there naked next to her in bed and sarcastically pretend to be totally uninterested. If she asks about your erection, just claim you are trying to be professional as a curtesy so that whenever she needs you that you are ready.

The whole point to this is that your wife will enjoy you being over confident. She may try to criticize you, but when you don't let her, she will have to have it. And you can enjoy role playing the world's laziest sex worker!

Cheers,
Badsanta
 

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The "just do it" approach can also backfire. The notion of it sounds great as if one partner enjoys sex once it happens, but perhaps struggles to let down their guard to allow it to happen. Over time if you have a sense of entitlement come time to "just do it" if can begin to play mind games on your partner. She may question her value in the relationship as a human being and start to feel something more like a sex worker that is required to provide you with sex in the marriage.

I am to a point that I can bend that mind game on its head. The first step if this happens it to ironically validate your partner's fear that she actually is a sex worker in the marriage and compliment her on her ability to please you. Then sarcastically claim as if you are not interested in sex at that moment and make a note of all the other things in the marriage that makes it tolerable to stay together. Ask your wife if she stays with you because she expects great sex from you, and do so with a sense of unreasonable overconfidence. Ask your wife if you changed careers to become a professional sex worker how much she thinks you would make, and before she answers claim that you would likely be one of those people that would get depressed because you would have too much money, then elude to the fact that you are OK with giving up unlimited wealth to be with her because she makes you happy. Be sure and cite this reason for being happy... (make a pause) ...and say, "after all these years I really enjoy being a sex worker with you as my only client, because you don't overwork me and I get to be lazy!" Then ask her if she wants to know a secret... Tell her that your best performances in the bedroom that please her the most are almost too easy. All you have to do is lay there, let her get on top and do all the work!

Then just lay there naked next to her in bed and sarcastically pretend to be totally uninterested. If she asks about your erection, just claim you are trying to be professional as a curtesy so that whenever she needs you that you are ready.

The whole point to this is that your wife will enjoy you being over confident. She may try to criticize you, but when you don't let her, she will have to have it. And you can enjoy role playing the world's laziest sex worker!

Cheers,
Badsanta
 

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The "just do it" approach can also backfire. The notion of it sounds great as if one partner enjoys sex once it happens, but perhaps struggles to let down their guard to allow it to happen. Over time if you have a sense of entitlement come time to "just do it" if can begin to play mind games on your partner. She may question her value in the relationship as a human being and start to feel something more like a sex worker that is required to provide you with sex in the marriage.

I am to a point that I can bend that mind game on its head. The first step if this happens it to ironically validate your partner's fear that she actually is a sex worker in the marriage and compliment her on her ability to please you. Then sarcastically claim as if you are not interested in sex at that moment and make a note of all the other things in the marriage that makes it tolerable to stay together. Ask your wife if she stays with you because she expects great sex from you, and do so with a sense of unreasonable overconfidence. Ask your wife if you changed careers to become a professional sex worker how much she thinks you would make, and before she answers claim that you would likely be one of those people that would get depressed because you would have too much money, then elude to the fact that you are OK with giving up unlimited wealth to be with her because she makes you happy. Be sure and cite this reason for being happy... (make a pause) ...and say, "after all these years I really enjoy being a sex worker with you as my only client, because you don't overwork me and I get to be lazy!" Then ask her if she wants to know a secret... Tell her that your best performances in the bedroom that please her the most are almost too easy. All you have to do is lay there, let her get on top and do all the work!

Then just lay there naked next to her in bed and sarcastically pretend to be totally uninterested. If she asks about your erection, just claim you are trying to be professional as a curtesy so that whenever she needs you that you are ready.

The whole point to this is that your wife will enjoy you being over confident. She may try to criticize you, but when you don't let her, she will have to have it. And you can enjoy role playing the world's laziest sex worker!

Cheers,
Badsanta
You might be over-thinking things, and, coming from me, that's saying something.

I do agree that the "just do it" approach is a bit strong; I think what she was getting at was taking responsibility for responsive desire. But my wife actually asked that we watch it again because there was a bit of a light-bulb moment when this woman in a video validated what I'd been saying all along. She (my wife) had always thought my claims of feeling lonely and hopeless were just a ploy. Her expression went dark and sad when the woman in the video talked about how a guy feels when rejected. I think it also helped that it wasn't a young woman in the video.
 

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Wow. I watched it. That is sooo 💯💯.
Watch it with your wife. She might get that "Oh my God, I had no idea" moment. For my wife, it was 3rd party validation (of what I've been feeling/talking about) that hit her hard enough she asked to watch it again in a couple of days. My wife wondered why the "3 things" waited until the very end; I explained how important it was the she first got the viewer to really put themselves in the place of the HD partner.

It was also eye-opening, to my wife, to hear someone talk about how much power the LD partner has in the marriage, compared to the HD. Her therapist has hinted about that for a while, but it never quite seemed to hit home. This video brought it home loud and clear.

Think this video might deserve its own thread?
 

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I agree the “just do it” approach could backfire.

I’d go even further: asking one’s lower desire spouse to listen to the advice at the end of the video could backfire. For some, it’s too much information and would drown out the supremely important opportunity the earlier part of the video offers for creating empathy for the rejected spouse.

The risk has to do with where a particular couple is in the unraveling MWD describes in the talk — unraveling that begins with rejected bids for affection and ends up with sexual anorexia (or maybe sexual aversion).

MIA, I would cautiously consider where your wife might be on the spectrum — lack of awareness of responsive desire and innocent ignorance of what rejection means to you on the one side, and sexual anorexia and sexual aversion way way on the other side. IIRC your earlier posts, maybe she is on the safer side of that spectrum at the moment, and would truly be moved even with hearing the advice to just do it.

I once thought it would be a good idea for my wife to read this article about sexual aversion: How to Overcome Sexual Aversion : Marriage Builders, Inc.. It struck me as, if anything, putting the blame on the rejected partner for creating an aversion to sex in the low desire partner. I was dumbfounded by my wife’s angry claim that the article advised her to just do it, essentially.

If I were to show her this video, I would insist we stop before the “just do it” advice, and tell her if she thought there was a problem worth solving, she could listen to the rest on her own. I’d emphasize that I truly wanted her to hear the part that gave us a chance of having empathy for what’s happened and to understand the unraveling process that has unfolded, because without such empathy and insight we are doomed.

Ymmv. Timing, and framing, matters.
Good luck.
 

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We will watch it. Together.
Curious how that went? Generally speaking in relationships where things are out of balance, so are the solutions. Meaning that one person puts in a lot of effort to try to better understand problems and solutions. As you try a variety of things perhaps there is improvement here and there, but eventually it becomes a cycle of wash, rinse, and repeat with only one person putting in the effort.

So if it were solely up to your wife to solve imbalances in the marriage and suggest ideas to try and fix things, what would those suggestions be? Or would she suggest that there is not much of a problem that needs to be solved?

Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter #475
Curious how that went? Generally speaking in relationships where things are out of balance, so are the solutions. Meaning that one person puts in a lot of effort to try to better understand problems and solutions. As you try a variety of things perhaps there is improvement here and there, but eventually it becomes a cycle of wash, rinse, and repeat with only one person putting in the effort.

So if it were solely up to your wife to solve imbalances in the marriage and suggest ideas to try and fix things, what would those suggestions be? Or would she suggest that there is not much of a problem that needs to be solved?

Badsanta
You know...you raise good points. She knows there is a problem. For a variety a reasons (timing, general exhaustion) I have had to turn down sex this morning and last night. I was not being passive aggressive. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to it and because its been soooo long since the last time - I am truly treating this like a restart opportunity, not a RESET. That is very important to note. I even mentioned it to her when I told her why today was a NO - that would should really talk before we start “that” again. It kinda rattled her but that’s Ok. I have waited since March. Another a few days is going to be ok.

We have our talk scheduled for Thursday PM. We have a sitter scheduled. I plan to find a semi private location and bring camping chairs or a blanket and answer her question “Do you still want to be married?” (I am paraphrasing). I have the general points in my head.

She knows there is a problem but she doesn’t seem to know how big the problem is or that its not just communication. She kinda mentioned that this morning - that communication is key. It is not that simple in our case.

We haven’t watched the video - yet.
 

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You know...you raise good points. She knows there is a problem. For a variety a reasons (timing, general exhaustion) I have had to turn down sex this morning and last night. I was not being passive aggressive. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to it and because its been soooo long since the last time - I am truly treating this like a restart opportunity, not a RESET. That is very important to note. I even mentioned it to her when I told her why today was a NO - that would should really talk before we start “that” again. It kinda rattled her but that’s Ok. I have waited since March. Another a few days is going to be ok.

We have our talk scheduled for Thursday PM. We have a sitter scheduled. I plan to find a semi private location and bring camping chairs or a blanket and answer her question “Do you still want to be married?” (I am paraphrasing). I have the general points in my head.

She knows there is a problem but she doesn’t seem to know how big the problem is or that its not just communication. She kinda mentioned that this morning - that communication is key. It is not that simple in our case.

We haven’t watched the video - yet.
I would preface watching the video with a simple question. "Please watch this with me, and ask yourself, is this us?"

Don't overcomplicate things. Don't suggest that the video has solutions. Focus only on whether there are things in it that the two of you can relate to. Afterwards, let her talk. See if she identifies with "Mary." You can let her know that "John" (I think it was John?) hit you... hard. The whole thing about rejection being something that literally equals pain.
 

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I would preface watching the video with a simple question. "Please watch this with me, and ask yourself, is this us?"

Don't overcomplicate things. Don't suggest that the video has solutions. Focus only on whether there are things in it that the two of you can relate to. Afterwards, let her talk. See if she identifies with "Mary." You can let her know that "John" (I think it was John?) hit you... hard. The whole thing about rejection being something that literally equals pain.
Yes. 💯 💯 💯
 

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You know...you raise good points. She knows there is a problem.
As you solve problems it is very important to acknowledge that you or your wife are not the problems, but that life is messy. Working together you each have the ability to "help" each other solve life's problems, but you each have to ask for help from one another. That sounds awkwardly stupid and obvious, but in reality it is not.

We are so quick to point out each other's faults and try to insist that one needs help. A common example is a spouse sending their partner to go get their hormones checked once marital sex becomes difficult as if one of the two is somehow broken. The reality is that one person may be experiencing difficulty becoming aroused and not know what to do about it. Or one person may become aroused by stress as a way to self sooth while the other experiences the opposite. No one is broken, but there is an opportunity to learn more about each other. Once that happens you can start asking to help each other overcome life's problems that make marital relations very challenging.

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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You know...you raise good points. She knows there is a problem. For a variety a reasons (timing, general exhaustion) I have had to turn down sex this morning and last night. I was not being passive aggressive. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to it and because its been soooo long since the last time - I am truly treating this like a restart opportunity, not a RESET. That is very important to note. I even mentioned it to her when I told her why today was a NO - that would should really talk before we start “that” again. It kinda rattled her but that’s Ok. I have waited since March. Another a few days is going to be ok.

We have our talk scheduled for Thursday PM. We have a sitter scheduled. I plan to find a semi private location and bring camping chairs or a blanket and answer her question “Do you still want to be married?” (I am paraphrasing). I have the general points in my head.

She knows there is a problem but she doesn’t seem to know how big the problem is or that its not just communication. She kinda mentioned that this morning - that communication is key. It is not that simple in our case.

We haven’t watched the video - yet.
It sounds like a lot has happened, either explicitly or implicitly, since your previous update. You were going to have a conversation Monday night, but now moved to Thursday night. What prompted that rescheduling? And in what context did N ask if you still want to be married? That seems like a significant recognition on her part that things are not okay.

Don't overcomplicate things. Don't suggest that the video has solutions. Focus only on whether there are things in it that the two of you can relate to. Afterwards, let her talk. See if she identifies with "Mary." You can let her know that "John" (I think it was John?) hit you... hard. The whole thing about rejection being something that literally equals pain.
As you solve problems it is very important to acknowledge that you or your wife are not the problems, but that life is messy. Working together you each have the ability to "help" each other solve life's problems, but you each have to ask for help from one another. That sounds awkwardly stupid and obvious, but in reality it is not.

We are so quick to point out each other's faults and try to insist that one needs help. A common example is a spouse sending their partner to go get their hormones checked once marital sex becomes difficult as if one of the two is somehow broken. The reality is that one person may be experiencing difficulty becoming aroused and not know what to do about it. Or one person may become aroused by stress as a way to self sooth while the other experiences the opposite. No one is broken, but there is an opportunity to learn more about each other. Once that happens you can start asking to help each other overcome life's problems that make marital relations very challenging.
Great posts. I strongly agree that this conversation shouldn't be an attempt to find solutions. I would consider the conversation a resounding success if you and she can both begin to share, without finger pointing or attributing fault, how you're feeling in the relationship and if you and she can begin to understand and acknowledge how the other feels (even if not why they feel that way).
 

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It sounds like a lot has happened, either explicitly or implicitly, since your previous update. You were going to have a conversation Monday night, but now moved to Thursday night. What prompted that rescheduling? And in what context did N ask if you still want to be married? That seems like a significant recognition on her part that things are not okay.




Great posts. I strongly agree that this conversation shouldn't be an attempt to find solutions. I would consider the conversation a resounding success if you and she can both begin to share, without finger pointing or attributing fault, how you're feeling in the relationship and if you and she can begin to understand and acknowledge how the other feels (even if not why they feel that way).
That is the basic plan. I answer the “Do you still want to be married?” And from there we have an open honest candid conversation about the state of our marriage w/o the blame game. And realistically I plan to lay out how we got here - mistakes I made, not being true to myself, spending 20 years trying keep her happy because I thought it would lead to hot, intense, kinky sex. It did not. The last 5 years have been filled with conflict etc because I have been clawing back to my normal self. My narrative goes on for a little while after that - that is the jist. I am going to keep it simple and to the point. My only significant ASK will be - please plan to share with me you entire sexual history — starting from HS. I will volunteer to fill in a missing blanks in my own history - but they are very minor.

We moved from Monday to Thursday and now back to Wednesday due to various conflicts, life, etc....nothing sinister or passive aggressive by either one of us.
 
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