Marriage Of One

May 26, 2009

A Chance to Change

Filed under: relationships,sex — marriageofone @ 9:07 am
Tags: , ,

It’s been a week since Susan’s appointment with a counsellor.  Well as you know, I agreed to accompany her to the venue as she wasn’t sure how to get there.  The plan was (as I understood it) to sit in the car park until she came out again.

The reality was that she asked me to help her find the office after parking.  So I went with her.  Then I thought I would sit in the waiting room until she finished.  When the counsellor came to get her (we’ll call her Marcia) she asked if I would like to come in too.  I said I didn’t think I was allowed to.  Marcia said it was up to me.  I asked Susan if she wanted me there.  She said it was up to me.  So we stood awkwardly looking at each other for a few moments, with me getting the impression I had been set up.
So a few minutes later, Susan and I were sitting in Marcia’s room.  But whether or not I actually was set up (and I don’t think I was), I’m glad I did go in.
Marcia started by asking when the problem started.  Susan said it had always been a problem.  Which was good.  Marcia started to go down the route of how having children can put pressure on one’s sex life.  But Susan and I managed to stop that.  Certainly things have gotten worse since we had kids but that has been a red herring – we were in trouble long before the kids were born.
I think she was a bit surprised by this so asked if we were fine getting pregnant.  Susan nodded.  I shook my head.  Marcia turned to me.  I tried to be tactful and said “Well if I can be blunt, because of Susan’s attitude it took us 18 months to get pregnant the first time, as she only wanted to have sex when she was ovulating – once a month.  For the second child she was much better and we got pregnant in 2 months of trying.  But then she didn’t want to have anything to do with me for the next 15 months.”  Marcia said “Yes, 18 months does seem to be a long time” and noted something in her book.
Marcia went on to explain her strategy and I felt my heart sink as I heard it.  Although she didn’t name it or go into the details, I think she is heading for the sensate<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensate_focusing&gt; program  which I have read about over the years when trying to find a solution to our problem.
The first step is a complete ban on sex.  I’m sorry to say I laughed and said “That should be easy”.  Marcia looked at me disapprovingly and said in her best ‘therapist voice’, “Yes, but I want to turn this into something positive so it takes the pressure off Susan so we can move forward.”  “Yes, of course” I said.
Marcia’s strategy is to have a session every fortnight in which Susan (and I, if I accompany her – which I may not due to work commitments) and Marcia will review the exercises and progress (or lack of) in the intervening fortnight.
Susan’s exercise for this fortnight has been to look at her naked body and to get to know her vagina. I don’t know if she is doing this or not.
Marcia also noticed that talking about sex between us seems to be taboo.  Which at the moment it is, I told her.  She didn’t pursue the topic and I hope she didn’t think it has always been like that – because I enjoy talking about sex. It’s just that I stopped making the effort after a few years of marriage since it was clearly pointless.
And so that was it for our first appointment.  I think Marcia will learn more about us over the next few visits and alot more about Susan.  I guess the one thing that is slightly different this time is that Susan’s negativity to outside help is greatly diminished and she may take on board the advice she hears instead of rejecting it outright.  On the other hand I know how sexually ‘lazy’ she is and she is still unlikely to do the exercises.  I don’t know what Marcia’s plan is to ensure the exercises are done.
So do I think this is going to work?  In my head I think no.  In my heart I really really want it to be yes.  I guess it’s my turn now to try not to be negative.

The reality was that she asked me to help her find the office after parking.  So I went with her.  Then I thought I would sit in the waiting room until she finished.  When the counsellor came to get her (we’ll call her Marcia) she asked if I would like to come in too.  I said I didn’t think I was allowed to.  Marcia said it was up to me.  I asked Susan if she wanted me there.  She said it was up to me.  So we stood awkwardly looking at each other for a few moments, with me getting the impression I had been set up.

So a few minutes later, Susan and I were sitting in Marcia’s room.  But whether or not I actually was set up (and I don’t think I was), I’m glad I did go in.

Marcia started by asking when the problem started.  Susan said it had always been a problem.  Which was good.  Marcia started to go down the route of how having children can put pressure on one’s sex life.  But Susan and I managed to stop that.  Certainly things have gotten worse since we had kids but that has been a red herring – we were in trouble long before the kids were born.

I think she was a bit surprised by this so asked if we were fine getting pregnant.  Susan nodded.  I shook my head.  Marcia turned to me.  I tried to be tactful and said “Well if I can be blunt, because of Susan’s attitude it took us 18 months to get pregnant the first time, as she only wanted to have sex when she was ovulating – once a month.  For the second child she was much better and we got pregnant in 2 months of trying.  But then she didn’t want to have anything to do with me for the next 15 months.”  Marcia said “Yes, 18 months does seem to be a long time” and noted something in her book.

Marcia went on to explain her strategy and I felt my heart sink as I heard it.  Although she didn’t name it or go into the details, I think she is heading for the sensate program  which I have read about over the years when trying to find a solution to our problem.

The reason I don’t think much of the sensate plan (for us) is that it depends so much on the couple both being keen to work for improvement.  Secondly it is a classic libido booster program.  I know Marcia has come into the picture because Susan has framed the problem as one of libido – which it WAS – once.  But I think the issue now is one of attitude, fairness, communication and willingness to compromise and understand.  But maybe (if it works) opening her libido will open the other things too.  Perhaps as Marcia gets to know Susan she will realise that this is not a simple ‘woman lost her libido’ issue.

The first step is a complete ban on sex.  I’m sorry to say I laughed and said “That should be easy”.  Marcia looked at me disapprovingly and said in her best ‘therapist voice’, “Yes, but I want to turn this into something positive so it takes the pressure off Susan so we can move forward.”  “Yes, of course” I said.

Marcia’s strategy is to have a session every fortnight in which Susan (and I, if I accompany her – which I may not due to work commitments) and Marcia will review the exercises and progress (or lack of) in the intervening fortnight.

Susan’s exercise for this fortnight has been to look at her naked body and to get to know her vagina. I don’t know if she is doing this or not.

Marcia also noticed that talking about sex between us seems to be taboo.  Which at the moment it is, I told her.  She didn’t pursue the topic and I hope she didn’t think it has always been like that – because I enjoy talking about sex. It’s just that I stopped making the effort after a few years of marriage since it was clearly pointless.

And so that was it for our first appointment.  I think Marcia will learn more about us over the next few visits and alot more about Susan.  I guess the one thing that is slightly different this time is that Susan’s negativity to outside help is greatly diminished and she may take on board the advice she hears instead of rejecting it outright.  On the other hand I know how sexually ‘lazy’ she is and she is still unlikely to do the exercises.  I don’t know what Marcia’s plan is to ensure the exercises are done.

So do I think this is going to work?  In my head I think no.  In my heart I really really want it to be yes.  I guess it’s my turn now to try not to be negative.

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4 Comments »

  1. I don’t know why the thought has never before crossed my mind, but I am curious. I assume that Susan does not know about this blog. How do you think she would react to reading what you have written?

    Now to respond to the blog – I think that this is a really great step for the two of you (getting into counselling). I wish you all the best.

    Comment by Rachel Copland — May 27, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

  2. Rachel, that question has crossed my mind several times. In fact I held off starting this site because I was unsure what it would achieve and whether it might make things worse.

    For example, assuming that Susan never finds out. There are 3 things broadly speaking that could happen.
    1. nothing – in that case no harm done.
    2. I get to talk about myself and my life in these circumstances, and get some constructive help from empathic readers (such as yourself). This does me much good, and perhaps any helpful criticism or advice would help my marriage.
    3. I get to hear from negative people, which could do me and my marriage some harm. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think there are probably a few people out there who would say that I should just walk away while I’m still young and have a chance to make a ‘better’ life.

    Ok, so then I looked at what would happen if Susan DID find out.
    4. she could be indifferent – which would be bad, because it would imply she didn’t care. I felt this to be unlikely.
    5. she could be livid with rage that I had put our personal lives up on the web. That would be bad. What would be worse though would be if she rejected it out of hand without reading the site or understanding what it meant to me and why I wrote it.
    6. she reads the site and feels that the site is harsh or overly critical of her and our relationship – that in itself would be a way to kick start the long overdue conversation of where our marriage is and why. That would be a positive result.
    7. she reads the site and agrees with everything I wrote and thinks the site is great. Unlikely! But even if she only generally agrees with the things she reads that, like point 6) could be the start of a conversation.
    8. she reads the site, shrugs her shoulders and tells me to do what I want and withdraws into herself – basically insinuating that she agrees with everything I’ve written but that I shouldn’t have written it and should delete the site. This will be bad, but not so different to how things are now where we’ve both pretty much withdrawn from each other on this issue. Basically then, not much harm done. However, I will feel guilty enough to consider deleting the site.

    After considering all these, on balance I felt that there were more positives then negatives to writing the site (but also that things would be simpler if she didn’t find out, at least for the time being). Knowing Susan as I do, I strongly suspect that her opinion of the site will be pretty close to point 8.

    Comment by marriageofone — May 27, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

  3. I think that you’re courageous for putting this out there. I have written in a journal since I was probably 9 or 10 years old so I know about the dual healing and discovery power that writing down your thoughts brings about. Getting your thoughts/concerns/worries etc out on paper allows you to get distance from the thoughts and very often gain perspective. Also, in my experience, I have discovered many things about myself and others just from what I have written about myself, or them.

    Do you think there is any chance that if she ever read the site, she would be seeing how you really feel about everything/ how she comes across etc and (surely, once she gets over the initial anger that is likely to occur) and it might be the thing that finally gets through to her and makes her realize that she has to change?

    Comment by Rachel Copland — May 28, 2009 @ 2:20 am

  4. There is certainly a chance that reading this site will make a deep impression on her. But until I see any different I think the overwhelming reaction is likely to be one of guilt. If you have read the longer articles you’ll have seen that guilt is one of Susan’s prime motivators and greatest dislike.

    I think her immediate reaction to this will be a short-term strategy to alleviate her guilt. One of these may be an offer of slightly more frequent token sex. This will of course peter out as her guilt diminishes until we are right back where we started.

    So I think I need to run with the counselling until I can see a deeper, long-term sign of commitment to change which will allow her to read this and look back at just what she has done to me and our marriage without feeling guilty. She should be able to read this and feel that the changes she has (or hopefully will have) committed to are necessary and welcome, and the information she gets from this bolsters her courage to continue with the program.

    Comment by marriageofone — May 31, 2009 @ 11:33 pm


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