Marriage Of One

About Us

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 Me.

Well if you’ve read About Me and About Her, the next logical step is About Us.  What are we like together, how did we get together and what makes us tick as a couple.  And just as importantly, what drives us apart?

Just good friends

We are really good friends.  I really trust Susan and she trusts me.  Despite all that has happened and continues to happen (or not happen), there has never been cause for suspicion.

We are great partners.  Almost in a literal and ‘official’ sense of the word.  We plan and dispense our domestic and social obligations and our parenting roles with an equitable distribution of work and chores and we rarely argue about such things.  Not because of conflict avoidance – but because there is little scope for conflict:  the partnership is almost perfect, almost business-like.

We have no financial issues.  We are both healthy, our children are all good, well-behaved and healthy.  We have a roof over our heads. In amongst all the stresses and strains of the partnership running this household, dealing with extended family and the children we occasionally snatch a tender moment or a laugh between ourselves.  Life is therefore largely good.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we are entirely happy.  I would say we have opted for ‘content’.    Because we know things are not right between us.  Even Susan knows this, but just can’t or won’t do anything about it.

A rushed marriage

How did we get here? I met Susan at the home of a mutual friend and we met a few times.  We spoke about our lives, our dreams and about sex – a little.  She was outspoken, but friendly and I instantly liked her.

With hindsight I now realise that there were already warning signs about her future behaviour early on.  A few weeks after we met I tried to kiss her.  She resisted.  Fair enough – perhaps it was too soon.  But a few weeks after that she still was resisting.  On actual sex we spoke about previous relationships.  She was a virgin and had never had a relationship.  She was where I had been a year earlier.  The disparity between our sexual experiences was therefore, on the face of it, not huge.

If she was willing (and it seemed she was) to work on our sex lives with the same dedication as we expected to work on our friendship and partnership and other commitments,  I saw no reason not to go ahead with marrying her.

A sign of things to come and the 3-week period

The ‘no kissing’ issue continued into the honeymoon.  But I was not too concerned, although I’ll admit I was slightly disappointed.  Good things come to those who wait, I thought.  So I waited….

We move in together, renting our first place.  I thought the fun and novelty of moving in with her husband would break the ice.  No.  We settled in to a masturbatory session about once a fortnight on average.

I also started to see the first signs of how she rejected sex without actually saying it: turning over, changing the topic to start talking about her mum or sister or someone, ducking her head when I tried to kiss her lips.  Another one I noticed was how she was too tired to have sex after about 9pm, but could still manage to talk to her sister for an hour or more on the phone until 10pm or later.

The Optional Extra

After a few months it was becoming clear to me that to Susan sex was not part of marriage – it was an optional extra that would be bolted on or off when it suited her.  That assessment has been confirmed over the life of our marriage.

What are my options?  Well since June when I gave up my last ditch attempt to get Susan to work with me, I have effectively said ‘I have no sex life’.  I say this to myself.

In reality of course, we are having sex very occasionally – around once every 6 – 8 weeks.  These are initiated entirely by Susan usually around about when she is about to begin or has had her period.  They are usually quickies just before we fall asleep and more often than not are just mutual masturbation sessions.  It is the wrong time to be having sex, because it is usually quite late by then when we are both quite tired.  So the quality of the sex whilst never having been great, is quite poor.

Frequency – the quantity – is another issue.  I knew that life would get in the way over the years and it would drop over time.When we first got married she didn’t even want to talk about it.  I thought 2 or 3 times a week would be a decent average.  She said we should take it as it comes without planning or anticipation.   I had read articles that this approach is not recommended because it opens the door for your sex life to be superceded by other things in life which seem to be higher priority or more important.  But even advice of experts was not sufficient to changing Susan’s mind.

In reality in the first year of our marriage our frequency was rarely higher than once a fortnight, and frequently less.  Over the last few years it was around 1 every two months or so.  Our record (at the moment) is 15 months without any sexual contact.  Granted, that was around a pregnancy.  But everyone knows that sex during pregnancy is not impossible.  And a few weeks after delivery?  Right now it seems perfectly normal for us to have absolutely no sexual contact for 2-3 months at a time.  These ‘droughts’ are punctuated by 1 quickie or mutual masterbation, and then the cycle starts again.

I no longer initiate sex. This may be huge mistake on my part.  But even if I am feeling amorous or horny or just feel like talking, I just no longer feel comfortable with expressing my sexuality or emotions when it is apparent that Susan has no respect or appreciation for them.  I feel like I’m asking for a favour to be ‘allowed’ to have sex with her.  And I have to tread on eggshells with what I do and how I do it and of course when I can do it.  And of course I have to deal with how she responds.  Indifference? Boredom?  Resistance? ‘Hurry up and get it over with’?  I’ve seen them all.

It is a sacrifice.  An unfair one, and I think most marriage councillors would say an unsustainable one.  At some point my resignation and contentment will give way to recrimination, animosity and tension.  But my options are very limited.

Talking the talk

I’m not entirely sure what goes through Susan’s mind and that in itself says a bit: in 8 years I still don’t know what turns my wife on, what she is thinking or what she wants in sex.  But I believe these quicky sessions are mostly hormonal, partly ‘tick-box’ (or ‘token’) sex and just slightly ‘desired’ sex.

I’ll explain.  Normal 30-something people who are in good health and in a stable loving relationship don’t go months without sex.  So the hormonal drive must be significant – especially with the fact that she is around her period.

The tick-box

Next is something that has been her signature tune for years, although she feels less need to play it now.  The ‘token’ sex.  It is sex just to say ‘it’s done now’.  Both for her internal dialogue and for me to understand.  A mental checkbox is ticked.  Job done.  No need to worry about it again for a couple of months.  In the old days when I used to talk to her the ‘token’ sex would come round about once every 3-6 weeks.  Usually also, they were quickies, often just masturbation sessions.

Finally ‘desired’ sex is what most people (I guess) do.  That is making love or having sex for fun or for self expression or for the pleasure of you partner or because you want to show your love or desire or lust for our partner.  Even Susan feels this in extremely small doses on extremely rare occasions.  I know when she is having ‘desired’ sex because she become much less restrained and will do things that break her own ‘rules’.  So she will kiss more aggressively, for longer, use her tongue or suck or kiss other parts of my body – once or twice even my penis.  But I am not exaggerating when I say that I can count these sessions on less than the fingers on one hand.  In eight years.

Splitting up

We went on a long holiday in the fifth year of our marriage and even on holiday she found excuses to keep me largely at arms length.  I decided to give it one last chance when we returned.  We decided to have a child.  Bad plan you think, and I would agree in most situations.  But I felt that awakening her maternal instinct on one hand and giving her a ‘reason’ to have sex on another would benefit her.  Plus I genuinely wanted a baby.

Sadly it was a long and traumatic journey.  She insisted on only having sex whilst she was ovulating – that is sex precisely once a month by her calendar.  After a year (12 sessions of intercourse) she even started questioning her fertility.  After about 16 months of ‘trying’ I finally made a decision – if she was not pregnant by the end of the year – two months away – I would raise the prospect of divorce.  She was using me as a sperm source – nothing more, and I felt disgusted and humiliated.

Two months later she was pregnant.  I was elated by the prospect of becoming a dad.  She no doubt felt vindicated that her method had worked.  18 sessions of sex in 18 months.

I still think about that time and even now what it would be like to just leave and start with a woman who truly wants me.  But having children has altered my world-view in ways only fathers will understand.  And I’ve already stated why I am staying.

So Susan never found out that I was going to leave.  Until one day about a year and a half ago.  It was probably the last full conversation I had with her about US, our marriage and our sex-life.  It was not much of a conversation because she listened, agreed and said very little.  I spoke about what she had done to me.  And I told her how close it had been for us.  Without our first child there would be no marriage.  If that conversation had any effect on her, I have yet to see it, and it is quite probable that she has forgotten it.

The story today

Despite all the signs and her continuous rejection of me and any help, for those first 5 years I had always maintained hope.  First of all, I believed that women want sex almost if not as much as men.  I didn’t think Susan was any different, and if she was, that she could change by therapy and practice, and identification of the things that put her off sex, or repressed memories etc.

Secondly I was convinced that even if she felt sexually unmotivated, her love for me would make her choose to have sex and do things for me, or at the very least she would choose to accept my help and support and offer the same to me, and we could then mutually agree a reasonable balance on our sex lives.

After those 5 years and the 18 months of horror in conceiving our first child I am not so sure.

So my options are:
1) forget sex and accept the scraps she throws my way
2) try to create sex life within the parameters she decides upon

I’ve opted for 1) because I find option 2 too restrictive and unfulfilling.  I just feel like it would be a betrayal of my own personality and sexuality to engage with Susan on those terms.  I’ve actually done something like this in the past and it doesn’t improve things. On the contrary it makes her feel like she has managed to salvage things and tell herself everything is perfect. And she rarely if ever reciprocates any effort I make.

Option 1 seems more demeaning because I am merely reacting to her with no rights, privilages or wishes of my own.  But actually I think within the circumstances it is the only thing to do whilst retaining the higher moral ground.

Finally I’ve now realised that hope is for suckers.  I don’t think she can change.  The best that I can ‘hope’ for is a temporary effect of therapy should she ever go, which will disappear once she stops the therapy.   And then of course are the host of damaging changes that have developed on me emotionally and physically that now make it difficult for me to have sex with her.

To conclude

From my point of view to continue the struggle to get a ‘just’ settlement to win marriage, WITH compromise would mean more and sustained friction and aggrievement.  I believe that trying to get a sex-life with Susan would destroy my personal sanity, our friendship and the partnership we have developed to manage our family and home.

But for now, for myself, for my own peace of mind and self-esteem I’ve chosen this path.  In another 2 years we’ll be ‘celebrating’ 10 years of marriage.  I would like to have at least these two years without struggle.  Otherwise all I’ll remember of our relationship is how her selfishness has ground my life and joy for living to dust.

My intention is that without this struggle, I can redirect and reapply myself to work, hobbies, pastimes and just being myself.

I’m not preaching or trying to be a martyr (which she has scornfully said I am trying to be), but I told Susan 2 things when we got married all those years ago:

a) “I do not want a sterile marriage.”  Well I got one, and
b) “Unless I am unable to have sex, I won’t refuse to have sex with you when you want it”.

My reason was not entirely altruistic – I expected the same sentiment to be reciprocated at least in spirit.  It wasn’t but I wasn’t too fussed by this initially. I did not know then just how selfish and sexually repressed she was.  Nevertheless the sentiment is a bit deeper than it initially might appear.  I explained to her that we were married and in love.  If she did not feel comfortable asking and receiving sex from me, who then could she ask.?  It was the one privilage in the world that only she and I could legitimately share.  I would do whatever I could for her pleasure and happiness.  It was special and I really meant it.

This is why even when after months of no activity she suddenly initiates, I make love to her.  She rarely asks, or talks about it beforehand or even after. She just starts with some caressing and moves rapidly on to heavy petting.  Once she has her orgasm, she’ll make an attempt to do the same for me if I haven’t already come.  But it is all just mechanical.

So I don’t know what is going to happen if or when that day comes when the contentment and resignation give way to anger again. I told her in June when I ‘surrendered’ that I couldn’t “do it any longer”.  I said “You’ve won”.  She countered by saying that it was not a competition and there were no winners.  It was a typical statement of fairness in words, but unfairness in action.  I know she has won. She has got the marriage, my loyalty, my presence as a father and breadwinner.  And in the years of negotiation, argument, coersion and encouragement her will and direction on the marriage and sex has persevered.  So despite her claims it certainly looks and feels to me like I’ve lost.


1 Comment »

  1. Ever read “Of Human Bondage”? You are living it. It may not be an easy read, but I bet you will find much to ponder in it.

    Comment by ToppHogg — July 14, 2009 @ 10:25 am

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