She may not have done without sex for a year.
Yeah, that is a common consideration, which crossed my mind often. However, since the pandemic, we really have never been away from each other. We went to couples counseling and I brought it up, even got mad with the thought that she could be masturbating on the side while I am right in the house, but it did not fit her "person". If that makes sense. When we argued about this in front of our counselor, my wife's defense mechanism is to attack immediately and she started listing off random people (including her ex-husband) but when that argument subsided what I discovered about my wife, is that after she had our baby in May of 2021, she lost her sex drive almost altogether. She had no desire for sexual interactions because she was, and still is, dealing with post-partum depression which has destroyed most of her libido and sexual appetite.
That was probably something that I neglected too, because I just did not understand what she was going through. She rarely talks to me about depression or stressors (communication issues which we are still working on), but she became a sexless human being trying to get back into shape (as she thought she should be), dealing with the stress of my new career, the stress of me being a new father and not knowing how to contribute or help and too focused on my work and education, and then keeping her high end corporate job viable too. From my own perspective with the now ability to look back, she just had no energy or time to spend on sex with anyone, let alone me or just solo satisfaction for herself. She built up her own boundaries, a silo for managing our home and relationship, without reaching out to me for any real help. She allowed all of this frustration to build up, which became more often as time grew and I did not realize I was kind of absent, until she just let her anger rage on me. That took me by surprise, and my natural tendency was to defend myself... try to be right. That was our cycle for more than a year.
Again, this is a work in progress and all I can control is me, my perspective, my reactions, my hurt, my words, etc. So I started to build a tool box of resources as I got more educated for my work and realized that it applied to my relationship with my wife, my kids, my family, and others, and I started to trust that. My studies and my work are absolutely the only place where I have the absolute confidence in myself. I am a health care administrator for an organization that uses intensive individualistic therapeutic therapies to rehabilitate our patients back into the community by helping them understand their new reality that includes their injury/disabilities.
I was new to this field of health care patients, so I decided to learn the direct care therapy being used by our staff before I even glimpsed at any onboarding for my leadership role. The very basic description of our organization's philosophy is "to do with, not for" which means we need to get on their level (jump into the hole they're stuck in and collaborate ways for them to get themselves out of that hole, while still standing with them through the process). I discovered that this philosophy is not all that difficult to work with, when you consider our patients as real people, rather than representatives of their injuries. That realization changed my life and perspective on how I treat others. There is an actual term for the natural negativity we all project on others, pessimistic is the easy way to state it but there is a psychological diagnosis that is escaping me at the moment. But a simple example of this premise is getting cut off in traffic. Someone is merging, and cuts into your lane. Our natural and immediate response is to honk our horn, flip them off, get mad and in our minds in that moment that person is the evilest SOB that has ever lived. However, what if you did not go into those immediate responses of anger? If this ever happens to you after reading this, instead of reacting in the moment, stop yourself and look around at the environment. Did the car that just cut you off, get forced over because another car cut them off first? Was there road construction or weather conditions that limited their ability to see you? Those are externalities that we do not consider in the moment because we naturally assume the worst (negativity), but if we all gave everyone the benefit of doubt and trust that most people have the best intentions, then maybe we would take a moment to look at the other factors that caused this car to cut you off. On the flipside, which I have been there too, when I have to cut someone off because of traffic, weather, whatever, then I am quick to point out all of those externalities that the driver I just cut off is not thinking about and is honking at me, flipping me off, and thinking that I am a monster.
Pulling this back to your statement about my wife possibly not being faithful during that time she withheld sex, I made a decision (when I decided to improve our relationship) to give her that benefit of doubt. I have never had any reason to believe that her intentions in our life together have been anything but loving towards me, so I will continue to give her that respect until the day that she actually does something to take that away. And quite honestly, had she had other lovers in that time frame we do not live in Chicago, New York City, or other big cities, we live in a small community that has a ton of ties/connections to each of us from between families and friends. I have lived in the big cities, I have lived in rural areas throughout Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, and our home here in Iowa. There are cultural gaps that some may not understand or appreciate, but my wife and I live in a very small world that is completely tied together. Her finding someone else on the side is not easy to do. Not impossible but statistically reviewing the reality of our world, it is easy for me to trust her.
However, with that said and for those of you wanting to really talk to me about things my wife and I can explore when we start to expand our sexual intimacy, it will not be easy for us to find our own way for sexual satisfaction because of the small, tight knit, communities we live in. Even going to a sex store to buy toys places a flash light on me, because it is out in the open. I have no difficulty doing that, and recently did so spending a couple of hours having the employees there educate me on the functions of the many toys, how to use them to please my wife, etc. My brother actually spotted me leaving his work when I pulled into that parking lot. I have reached out to sexperts for education meetings for my wife and I, I have researched local groups that discuss sex in marriage, and local swinger/bdsm sites that offer advice and I do so hesitantly without completely knowing where my wife and I are headed.