Marriage Of One

About Me

This is one of a trilogy of articles that ‘set the stage’ as it were for Marriage Of One.  It doesn’t matter what order you read these in, but their purpose is to give you a background to the personalities and circumstances involved.  I apologise if they seem a bit long, but these articles are therapeutic to me and who knows you may see something of yourself, your partner or a close friend in here.
The other articles are About Her and About Us.

I guess before we go into all the details of my marriage it makes sense (at least to me) to say something about, well me.

I am 35 years old.  I am an introverted but not exceptionally shy.  When I got married 8 years ago I was not as confident as I am now – a transformation that my wife must take some credit for.  She is very supportive and is a great friend and partner.  That should tell you something about why I haven’t left her.

I am easy going but tend to suffer from stress at times.  In my life up to the early years of marriage this was almost always work related.  My marital life stress increased over the years.  The stress manifests itself in occasional irritability, tiredness, but more significantly in psychosomatic conditions such as skin rashes and even digestive problems.  The skin conditions persist continuously now, and I believe that the fact that I have this marital problem (and the politics it has introduced in our relationship) has aggravated it.

By and large though, I am healthy, if not as fit as I would like to be.  Gym and exercise time disappeared some years ago.  I try to stay mentally and physically conditioned however by eating well and doing daily stretch exercises for a few minutes.  I do not drink to excess or smoke.

I have no religious scruples and am pretty much an agnostic.  My morality is mostly based on mutual respect and non-interference.  It means that I can and generally do get on with most people.  From the way other people relate to me, I think I am respected and trusted.  I feel valued by the people I interact with and I am generally kind and courteous to people.  I don’t feel any different around my wife Susan.

Why am I still here?  One answer is the friendship and partnership that we genuinely share.   We are better together than apart.  The sum is bigger than the parts.  But I also am seriously cognisant (I have thought about it and still sometimes do) of the effect on my children if I left – not just the effect of a divorce, but also on their own future relationships.  If I left (and I did not get custody which is quite likely as Susan is a good mother), then they will get their information on sex and men from her.  It’s bad enough that my life has been tainted by Susan’s issues; I would not want this to pass to my children.  More so because two of them are girls.  Whilst I am with them I feel that over the next 5 to 10 years I can hopefully help them into puberty with an openness and honesty that Susan would struggle to express.  I can shield them from any negativity that Susan may have when they ask questions about sex and hopefully I can get them to have a healthy and enthusiastic attitude to life, love and sex.

Out of introversion

I said I was introverted.  My childhood years were spent in a rather complex environment the net result of which was that I got myself an inferiority complex.  I was never good enough.  It ruined my chances of making friends.  It ruined my early socialising and was a disaster for my sex life as a teenager and young adult.  But one thing I was very good at was self-reflection and internal dialogue.  Usually destructive, sometimes constructive it ensured that I always knew which way my emotional compass was pointing and trying to figure out why.  But I was well into my 20s by the time I realised that something was wrong with me.  That I was missing out on life.  Until then I knew I was shy.  I knew I was a shrinking violet.  But I assumed that given enough time, things would work out.  I’d fall into company, or bump into the girl of my dreams.  When I was about 23 I found out I was wrong.

I set about trying to ‘fix’ myself with some self-help books.  And it took years but I eventually started to make a difference.  The path to change was marred by the same set of circumstances that made me such a deep introvert in the first place.  But I gradually took control of my life.

Sadly, it is not easy to change the effects of 20+ years of the experiences of your formative years as a child then as an adult.  And through my 20s although small improvements were made I kept sliding backwards.  As a result, I made few friends and no girlfriends.  My opportunities definately increased, but I discovered then that I faced another handicap:  I had no experience to draw on to make relationships – either platonic or otherwise – work.  I was in my mid-to-late 20s and I did not know how to retain friends or how to behave around women.  I watched colleagues and associates and it all came so naturally to them – with their benefit of a normal growth of life-skills.

That all changed when I was about 26.  I felt I was at a cross-roads.  I met a girl and I badgered her until she agreed to go out with me.  Luckily the whole badgering took place over the phone, so I really only had to modulate my voice to sound confident and cheery.  She was not keen on me at all.  I guess she could see a loser from a mile off the one time she had met me before.  Eventually we went out.  I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I felt I could at least chalk up a date to ‘experience’.  More to her surprise than mine (I already knew that once people got to know me they usually liked me), we had a nice time.

Over the next few months we saw each other every couple of weeks as friends.  Then astonishingly SHE made the move to the next step.  By then I was infatuated not just with her, but the difference it had made to my life and my self-image.  Suddenly I could hold my own in a conversation and proudly start sentences with “My girlfriend and I…”!  There was a spring in my step.  I was happier at work.  I started working for extra qualifications – something I had been demoralised to work on until then.  I started to pay attention to my appearance because I was going out more.

It was my first love.  At 26.  Pitiable.  But for me, it was a beginning.  Of course, it was all naive.  A dream that I had to wake from.  I was not so immature that I didn’t know that some relationships work, and some don’t.  This one when through the stages, passion, sex, doubt, then parting.

I was depressed for a while after this.  But I also knew that if I had done it once I could do it again.  The world was suddenly my oyster.  My outlook changed from “here’s another girl who thinks I’m a loser” to “here’s a girl who might actually like me”.

My next relationship however was my marriage.  It doesn’t matter how this happened, suffice it to say it did, and it happened very quickly – to give away anything more would undermine the anonymity of this site.  Under the circumstances I think I have done well out of it.  After all some men really are married to women who would struggle to be brides of Satan.  Susan is a saint.  But what this meant is that all those skills I had developed and was hoping to refine were now focused on making a marriage work.  That meant relationships with in-laws as well as of course Susan.

Love, romance, sex and intimacy

I know women need to feel loved to have sex and men need to have sex to feel loved.  Cliche, perhaps.  But for my part, I do want romance too.  I used to send sexy and non-sexy text messages to my wife in the early years of our marriage.  Usually they were ignored.  Or just simply acknowledged.  Never reciprocated.  I gave up.  I’ve done the wining and dining thing too.  I’ve done the weekend’s away.  It has never helped.  Spending time together?  Done that too.  I still am a romantic at heart, although Susan never sees that side of me now and probably thinks it doesn’t exist.  Externally it has all but been crushed. My romantic life is now confined to the obligatory gift on Valentine’s Day (never sexual) and maybe an arm around her whilst watching TV or a movie together.

Physically, I want a varied and exciting sex-life.  I want to experiment, try new things, laugh and play with my wife.  I like ‘straight’ and oral sex.  Never tried anal – and probably never will – but you can’t miss what you never had.  I think I get turned on by sexy lingerie (can’t be sure – my wife has never bothered to try it on me) or sexy dancing (been to lap/pole-dancing a couple of times and would love my wife to try it – even just as a joke).  I enjoy kissing, feeling my wife’s breath on my face or neck as my arms caress her back and hair.  I’d also like to try light bondage (but I am definately not into S&M), but have never had the opportunity.

I want sex for fun, for relaxation, for intimacy, for expression.

New Problems

In 8 years life and the world does not sit still, and as you would expect people change.  Susan has changed in many ways and so have I.  My changes have been compensatory.  I have had to find ways to cope with the lifestyle that has been thrust upon me.

The most dangerous thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’ve lost the will to engage fully with life.  That is, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for life, friendship, love, romance and sex.  I rarely if ever feel excited or passionate about anything.

I find comfort in my work now.  Whereas before it was ‘just a job’ and I ‘worked to live’, now I find myself ‘living to work’.  I’m by no means a workaholic, but I find it easier to retreat into the study at home that to stay with Susan either on the sofa or in bed.  My aim is to work till late and drop into bed at the end of each day so tired that I am asleep in minutes.  And my plan works in that respect.  Before I started this habit I would frequently lie in bed for an hour or more running old thoughts and conversations with or about Susan again and again through my mind, getting agitated or depressed or angry.

But there’s more.  Particularly over the last 3 years, as the depths of Susan’s problems became clearer I found escape in pornography.  The motive was two-fold.  One it was a true escape to some kind of sexual fantasy.  Secondly I wanted to kill any sexual desire in ‘real’ life.  If I was sexually sated by masterbation a couple of times a week, then I wouldn’t be thinking of sex the rest of the time.  And the plan worked.  By and large I just let Susan be.  And by and large that’s how I’m living now.

About a year ago though it became clear that masterbation as a substitute for sex had affected me.  First of all it was completely unsatisfying.  Deep down I still wanted the emotional aspects of sex and the all-body physical sensations that can only be satisfied with having a willing and understanding partner.  Secondly I found that I had become a premature ejaculator.  I now find that I am unable to have sex normally.  I rarely last more than a minute after penetration.

Once I recognised the problem I tried to take control.  I started to limit the frequency and type of masterbation and learnt techniques to delay myself.  But guess what?  It take practice.  And where – or rather on whom – do I practice?  Susan?  Practice once every 4-6 weeks?

I feel this could be the beginning (if we are not already in it) of a new vicious cycle.  That is, Susan avoids sex because she is not satisfied by my performance, and therefore works less on her behavioural improvements, and has sex less.  This in turn reduces my opportunities to practice and prove otherwise to her and so on.

And a final thought:  my own detachment from Susan sexually could itself be harming any chance of her improving.  Because I am no longer cajoling her or treating her like I find her attractive, she could be withdrawing into herself even further.

6 Comments »

  1. Many years ago, I guy I knew was having serious control issues with his wife. He told me something which I didn’t truly understand at the time: Don’t marry the first girl you sleep with.

    What I didn’t understand was that just having sex with a woman isn’t what he meant. What he meant was having the daily relationship that comes with having an involved (note I don’t say committed!) relationship. I had to learn the hard way what another older friend related to me one day, that a man lives with 28 different women a month. Until a man goes through that cycle, he doesn’t have a clue what kind of a woman he’s with. Too often, considering the mores of our times, that means AFTER he’s said I Do. (And ladies, I’m well aware that similar revelations happen with the men in your lives, so don’t feel I’m picking on you.)

    We men also tend not to really see the women we connect with, and that isn’t just due to naivety. On our part, we project what we want our woman to be, and on her part she’s putting up the best possible front she thinks we seek to keep us interested. Too often the reality is that Projection marries the Image, and then two people get to make lemonade. It’s a good thing kids like lemonade, even if they don’t thrive under the drama which produces it. Being a good parent becomes very important in this situation.

    Your post-marriage progression isn’t as unusual as you might think. There are few opportunities for people to do other than you have, and the necessities of life make it easy to put work ahead of family when family is so dissatisfying. Porn also isn’t out of the question, for if our real-life partner isn’t meeting our needs, someone or something must. We cannot mentally and emotionally survive in a healthy without it, no matter what the moralists would have you believe. If you need and example, look at that loser who just shot up the aerobics dance class because he couldn’t connect with a woman!

    You don’t mention whether Susan complains about your home activities (not just your sexual practices). My wife tends to think that my schedule should match hers whether I’m ready to or not. It took years of shift work before she could “allow” me to be who I am and function as I need to. Despite this, the comments about what I do and when remain a common experience.

    I am amazed if Susan isn’t attempting to control your activities as well. If she isn’t, then like you she is only staying in the relationship for the kids. I’m sure she’s no happier than you are, and her way of dealing with that isn’t that different from yours (she also withdraws, but her means of doing so differ).

    You are right to let things lie in your relationship. Until you can get to know yourself and become comfortable with your inner self, you will only make things worse in trying to bully on ahead bravely. I wouldn’t worry too much about your physical sexual issues. Should things become get as you want them to, you will adapt and improve your abilities. You are far too emotional and upset now to expect that to happen. You might look for the book “For Yourself” and read the sections relating to learning to relax when engaged in sex. Just because the book is written for women doesn’t mean that a man can’t learn something from it!

    Comment by ToppHogg — August 11, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  2. ToppHogg, good comments as usual. Just a note though. Whilst my post-marriage evolution has not been altogether unusual you have to look at where we started from. The majority of couples (I’m generalising here) would start with a sexually fulfilling life prior to and immediately after marriage. As real life takes its toll this tapers off until we would expect people to be roughly where Susan and I are now after 9 years.

    So after 9 years having occasional sex is not so bad perhaps. If that sex life has not been tainted with years and years of friction. We started with a really bad sex life which was already infrequent and unbalanced on day ONE. We therefore don’t have the ‘memory’ of great sex to inspire us and encourage us.

    Finally on a personal note: Susan knows ‘something’ is missing, she just doesn’t appreciate what because she doesn’t ‘feel’ the desire for sex or what comes with it. She can’t miss what she has never had or thought about. I on the other hand do know what I’m missing. And I have to live with this.

    Comment by marriageofone — August 11, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

  3. If you are living in a community property state (as I do), it is assumed that both parents will maintain “shared custody” (well, the legal equivalent) as the default scenario in most divorces. Thus, you would continue to have every bit as much of an influence on your children as Susan would, in the event of a divorce. YMMV.

    That said, what kind of an example *are* you setting for you kids, anyway, with things going on the way they are? I mean it. Think long and hard about this. As you continue to disengage from life, you are not only showing by example not only that marriage is to be endured (rather than enjoyed), but that life itself is a chore?

    For the longest time, I feared the notion of divorce. But the more I have looked into it; the more I have consulted with friends and strangers who have divorced and made better lives for themselves and their children, the less I fear it.

    Embrace life. It could be the greatest gift you give to yourself AND to Susan AND to your children.

    Just something to think about.

    Comment by itneverrainsinseattle — December 13, 2009 @ 9:47 am

  4. Thank you ItNeverRainsInSeattle. The comment you make is something that rears itself in my head very frequently and comes up many many times in various fora in the Experience Project’s ILIASM community. It takes various forms: the kids will cope, kids adjust, setting example for the kids, living a lie, enjoying life to the full, creating a new chance for self and partner etc etc.

    To be honest, I don’t pretend I know the answer to this. What you are saying is correct. However everybody’s circumstances and personal attitude makes for a unique situation. No matter what I decide to do now or in the future I can be sure of just one thing: hindsight is going to reveal things completely differently to the way I see them now.

    Comment by marriageofone — December 13, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  5. Dear Sir,
    I just wrote you a response and it disappeared into cyberspace so I will try again!
    First of all I want you to know that I am responding the way I am with care and not because I want to hurt another human being. But you are lying to yourself. You are not living a life without compromise. You are compromising EVERYTHING! You are allowing another person to have total power over you by allowing your wife to affect you in such a way. if she is really that selfish, refuses to respond to all the efforts you say you made, then move on. Your children are not fooled by your efforts to look happy. They can FEEL your happiness and your sadness and you are actually teaching them that THIS is what marriage is like and you will pass that down to them. They will not know what to look out for and avoid when they marry.They will grow up, move out and then you will be left more lonely than you are now.
    Also by the “The most dangerous thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’ve lost the will to engage fully with life. That is, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for life, friendship, love, romance and sex. I rarely if ever feel excited or passionate about anything.” this shows you are depressed. When you are depressed you do not think things through as logically or clearly as you should which may be affecting your decision of how to deal with your life.
    You have two choices, as I see it:
    1. try one more time by wooing her. I mean get rid of the martyr attitude, the “you did this to me” attitude which may leave her feeling more guilty than you can imagine and decide to engage in full throttle romance. I can help you with that!
    If she does not respond there are only two reasons: she is involved with someone else or she can’t stand you. If she is not one of those, I don’t know a woman who can resist being wooed.
    2. Move on and find happiness somewhere else. Her actions are not normal.
    Sex is so important to the marriage that without it, a couple grows so far apart. I can tell when couples have not been intimate by their grumpiness, depression and constant bickering.
    If you do not solve this issue soon, there will be no changing it ever. The flame will be dead…to never light again.
    Best of luck,
    Isabella
    http://www.dateyourhusband.wordpress.com

    Comment by Author — January 28, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

  6. Thanks Isabella, I appreciate your candour. What you’re saying is not anything that I haven’t heard before. You may be right about the depression thing – but I don’t think so: I used to be depressed many years ago (before I got married) and remember being suicidal over days at a time. The last few years however I can put my hand on heart and say I’ve never felt like that. I put it down to my children. Yes, they whine, cry, throw tantrums etc – but they have removed the darkness from my mind. In a way they need me and yet I need them.

    But the point of the phrase you quote is that by the same token I don’t have the ‘highs’ any more either. Eight years or more ago I would be depressed then be exhilarated or excited by something or other and then ‘normal’. I’d feel the ebb and flow of ‘life’. Now I don’t. I’m not depressed or feeling blue even. But I don’t get excited either. It’s all just a flat line to me. I know it’s not normal hence why I say it is dangerous. Deep down I have a real joie de vivre and enthusiasm and passion for life and all it has to offer. It’s just that I have had to consciously temper those feelings and now I don’t get them any more.

    Finally you say that a woman cannot resist being wooed. Would you stick to that in regards to asexual women?

    Comment by marriageofone — January 29, 2010 @ 10:47 pm


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