Marriage Of One

August 16, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

Filed under: love,marriage,sex — marriageofone @ 11:08 pm
Tags: , , ,

In one of my recent posts I pointed out that the one thing I have remaining is to “take care of myself”.  This is not as selfish or narcissistic as it might appear: I have children I want to watch grow and I have to remain fit and mentally and emotionally ‘useful’ to them.  Finally, if I can find hapiness within my own life outside of my marriage – perhaps, just perhaps – as a byproduct of that – my wife might find a renewed interest in me and what I have to offer her.  At the very least it will bolster the friendship angle of our relationship as that is pretty much all we have left.

So here goes and I’ll try to make this entry brief even though it actually needs to cover a fair bit.

The first and most important part is to take care of those roles and responsibilities that make me who I am and what I want to be.  So for me that means I have to take care of being a father and being a friend, primarily to Susan.  The biggest challenge I find now with fatherhood is maintaining my calm and control to my children and providing the illusion at least that their parents are happy and their home and lives are safe and secure.  The challenge really is that I find my frustration with Susan makes me irritable in other relationships – my parents and sadly even my children sometimes bear the brunt of this.  And I have to learn to manage and control this.  If I’m irritated with Susan then the outburst must be to Susan right?

My plan therefore is to join a few clubs and societies that will hopefully take me away from Susan (and other family) for short periods on a regular basis.  I need to exercise more, releasing physical stress.  Make an effort to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.  Easier said than done on the last.  For a start at least I’m going to try to let my children keep me grounded.

As far as being a friend to Susan is concerned, I know Susan is not happy when I treat her just as a friend.  So the ‘trick’ I have to play is to see her as a friend – but somehow let her see me as her ideal husband.  So she needs to see some romance, some flirting and intimacy – perhaps even occasional sex.  So this requires a balancing act for me.  If I want to be happy, I have to ensure Susan is happy.  I don’t feel comfortable initiating sex with her, so my tack is to give her cuddles, hugs, the occasional kiss and a playful slap of the bottom every now and then.  This seems to keep her happy.  I don’t get the impression that she misses sex anyway.  I think this is what she wants marriage to be.  If she wants more she is keeping it very quiet.

But the ‘foreplay’ with Susan is important in another respect too and this is the main reason I keep it up.  I’ll never forget when I was a kid, my parents would often cuddle or kiss in front of me and my siblings.  In spite of their sometimes frightful arguments it made me feel better and I think  I modelled my attitudes on how my mother behaved with my father and he to her.  If I can give something like that to my kids I will consider all this to be well worth it.  I want my kids to see the friendship, the intimacy and trust and the love that can exist in a truly loving relationship – even if I have to fake a part of it.

The friendship with Susan must also be maintained as part of “taking care of myself” out of simple selfish necessity.   The friendship is now virtually 100% of the substance of the marriage.  If I lose that, the day to day life I have will become intolerable.  That will be far harder to cope with and no amount of pretending and anger management will help shield it from the children.

I know Susan would like to take dance lessons.  She has wanted to do this since we married and we just never got round to it.  So as part of maintaining the friendship I really ought to do something about this.

Finally, we have got to maintain the practice of going on ‘dates’ which seems to have stopped recently.  We just need to find things to talk about – excluding of course ‘the elephant in the room’ – our marriage and especially our non-existent sex-life.

Finally I need to take care of my own sex-life.  How? Well apart from masturbation my options are non-existent.  I’m not being puritanical.  I honestly believe that having an illicit sexual encounter or relationship is not morally wrong in my circumstances – it terms of ‘faithfullness’ to the marriage I think Susan has been more loyal to the letter rather than the spirit.  But for me, I still think that would betray the principle of ‘Marriage Without Compromise’.  Maybe that will change in the future.  I would be a hypocrite to rule it out completely – if I didn’t feel lust for other women I wouldn’t be able to masturbate.

For now I feel having sex outside of marriage would require me to build a web of deception (e.g. “Daddy is working late”).  The harm to the friendship would be huge, even irreversible – even if Susan goes along with it (if I told her) – which she will only do resentfully.  And most importantly if the children found out (if only in years to come) it could taint everything I am trying to achieve by sticking with this life.  I don’t want my girls to grow up thinking all men are sleazy sex monsters on one hand or that their mum was an unloving frigid cow on the other.  If they ever find out (I don’t know how that might happen) what happened between us I would just like them to know that we were different, perhaps incompatible, and we couldn’t make that part of our life work.  And yet we stuck together because we were friends and because we loved them.

As a parting note, I have another aspect to reveal which is going to throw a new dimension into all our lives.  That will come in my next post.



  1. As long as you are working on your own self and your part in your marriage, might I point something out to you that needs your attention?

    “I know Susan would like to take dance lessons. She has wanted to do this since we married and we just never got round to it. So as part of maintaining the friendship I really ought to do something about this.”

    WRONG! You need to float the idea to her that you are interested in doing so, then let her make all the moves toward realizing that dream. One of the things I notice in our posts is that you are usually the one taking the action. When does she? She may well be a passive person, but in today’s world, the passive person ends up under the bus. If you are sincere about wanting to be her friend even if the lover portion is drying up, then you have to give her the room to take action on her own volition. She has to learn how sometime, and your doing everything for her (besides not being appreciated) keeps her from ever growing up enough to take care of herself. I’m sure you don’t want your daughters to grow up thinking that is how an adult woman acts!

    Oh, another thing. Don’t think you are going to fool your kids that everything is peaches and cream with you and Susan. They know better than you think that things are not right between their parents. It is much better to be honest with them if they ask questions (they don’t need a lot of detail!) and that you remain respectful toward their mother in spite of the troubles. I speak from experience on this one.

    Comment by ToppHogg — August 19, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  2. Hmm. I see your point. But for arguments sake, suppose she doesn’t do anything? Our children are still very young and take up lots of her time as a home-maker. And when she does find time, she tends to use it to switch off. Okay, I’m making excuses for her. But anyway, if I leave things to her, we end up going nowhere. That’s how our marriage has come to this! She was the one who said she would ‘work on it’, ‘needed time’ etc. etc.

    I really believe that just as I had to take the sexual initiative (and failed) I have to take this one too. I think she will appreciate it and once we have registered (and provided that she enjoys it) she will take an active role in continuing. You could argue that I did this with our weekly ‘dates’ too. And those have been pretty sparse recently because if I don’t say “let’s go out tonight” she will rarely suggest it. Nevertheless, for something like the dance classes, because it is a fixed point in the calendar she will probably move other things aside for it.

    The other thing is, I’ve got nothing to lose from trying. It’s not going to be anything like as difficult or emotional as the sex plan I tried last year.

    Comment by marriageofone — August 21, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  3. What happened to you were going to do what was best for you? Are you addicted to bashing your skull against a rock wall?

    “But for arguments sake, suppose she doesn’t do anything?”

    What harm is there in this? How are YOU hurt if she does nothing?

    “if I leave things to her, we end up going nowhere.”

    And how far have you gotten with you doing everything?

    “I really believe that just as I had to take the sexual initiative (and failed) I have to take this one too.”

    Why? Do you LIKE failure? Is it what defines you? Are you some modern-day Sisyphus and Susan is your boulder to roll uphill only to watch her roll back down before you can get to the top to end the curse? Where is there any fairness for either of you in that scenario?

    “I think she will appreciate it and once we have registered (and provided that she enjoys it) she will take an active role in continuing.”

    Sure – and you were the one complaining about taking the sexual initiative and having her not respond as you wished. That is what this blog is about, right? If she truly wants to dance, she will take the necessary steps to do so.

    “I’ve got nothing to lose from trying.”

    What about your self-respect? Can you handle another failure? Will you forgive her for not measuring up to your standards? Can you forgive yourself?

    I know from experience that looking objectively and honestly at one’s own shortcomings hurts like hell, but you aren’t going to end your obsession with “fixing” Susan if you don’t exorcise your own demons. Could it be that she thinks you don’t believe that she’s good enough for you? Why isn’t she?

    Sure, you two are not sexually compatible, but you did marry her. That act alone conveys a great deal to women in that they think that a man making that commitment to them means they are his ideal. What a shock to discover that he was sure she wasn’t completed yet and needed finishing so he married her to make her complete!

    I know something about this from Susan’s side, because my wife has that very opinion about me even today. I happen to hate that impression and do everything I can to counter the pressure to change as she sees fit lest I lose my own identity. It is a two-way road, and it runs both ways.

    Life is too short to remain miserable, and you have kids. You are going to have to man up and take those steps all by yourself or they won’t get taken. The life you save IS your own. Can you do it? Will you? I hope so.

    Comment by ToppHogg — August 22, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  4. The thing is ToppHogg, I believe it is best for me. How? Well what does it do for my life if I come home at the end of a hard day at work to a home which is glum and miserable? That does not do anything for me, and makes my life even more intolerable. At the very least I want to be able to chat, laugh and empathise with Susan as a friend. This is what makes the daily grind tolerable. It is what makes our joint project of raising happy children possible. The relationship needs tending. I think we both (that is, you and I) agree that she needs to take an equivalent responsibility for that relationship as much as she does for the sexual one. Susan does make a better job on this anyway. Whereas for sex the responsibility is 95%-5%, for the friendship it is perhaps 65%-35%. And let’s not forget that there is the ‘house-keeping’ (minding the kids, washing, cleaning, cooking, etc) relationship which is evenly divided – this division is only possible because we have some semblance of a friendship to compromise and work within.

    So at the moment there still are good reasons (apart from the kids) to continue together. But letting things slip when I can see the danger of letting it slip would be harmful TO ME. This is why it is part of ‘taking care of myself’. I’m not in any sense trying to fix her; I am doing this because it IS best for me. I’m trying to keep my hand on the tiller that’s all. If I did what you suggest, I think we would literally become just two people living in the same house. Any friction would potentially be disastrous – I’m thinking divorce.

    I am actually following your train of thought on the sexual relationship however – there is nothing more that I can do and I think it is pretty clear to Susan too that I am not going to stand for her attitude.

    Comment by marriageofone — August 23, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  5. Boy you both really confuse me! She likes you to tease and flirt with her but she doesn’t want full sexual relations? Now I have to really wonder WHY?? I do not know a woman who would be happy with the relationship you say you have.
    Perhaps you are overly sensitive or have great feelings of inadequecy and mentally shrivel up before you get where you want to go.
    So what really gives here???

    Comment by Author — January 28, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  6. Isabella: yes Susan does like to be teased and occasionally even teases me. And yes she does want ‘full’ sexual relations. The devil is in the detail of what she considers ‘full’ and what I (or perhaps you) would consider ‘full’. In my experience ‘full’ to Susan means fully consensual in when it happens and what happens – and as she is (in my opinion) asexual that consensus is extremely rare in ‘when’ and very restricted in ‘what’. In other words she only considers sex as consensual if she wants it and is in the mood. She does not subscribe to the belief that you can reach a consensus through compromise, or that you can ‘get’ into the mood during sex.

    And actually Susan is not really ‘happy’ with the relationship. She knows something is wrong – she has even got to admitting it is inherently her fault. She just hasn’t or won’t make the attitudinal adjustment that sex can have an aspect of compromise and still be consensual. Her latest bugbear is that I MAKE her feel bad about herself, and that is why she can’t bring herself to compromise. Now what gives!!??

    Comment by marriageofone — January 29, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

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