I looked at this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt (Suitcases) and thought and thought about what kind of post I might do. Much like last week, I’ve sort of found myself at a creative loss. I don’t know if that is because I’ve been sick, grieving, depressed, or just plain uninspired. Most likely, it’s a combination of all…and then some.
I did receive a few emails from a reader, however, that have guided me to a related topic. Suitcases are a type of baggage, right? And we all have that…some of us a little more than others. This reader asked a few questions, made a few connections, and has inspired me to provide a bit more historical background on my marital situation, for those who need it or are interested.
Could someone PLEASE make me these socks…
and a matching sweater?
Hang on…let me grab a drink and some fuzzy socks – this might take awhile.
Alright, so I’m digging through several journals, files, and old blog entries to find a few bits and pieces to assemble this post. Bare with me, as this might feel a bit scattered.
I found a journal entry from February 2017 that lays out the “problems” of our marriage, as I saw them at the time (and still do, really):
Problem #1: Mr. D feels he is lacking something from me. My intermittent, yet long-problematic waning desire/low libido makes him feel unwanted, which, in turn, greatly affects his sense of self-worth. I understand that, after lots of counseling, I cannot MAKE him feel any particular way…he does that to himself. But I DO understand that when your spouse used to want you all the time and now does not want you all the time, it is likely to do a number on your self-esteem. Mr. D likens it to a roller coaster that he has been on for years. At first, the ups and downs were intense and close together. Now, the ups and downs are less intense, but the downs drag on much longer than they used to. Part of this in in direct correlation with our bouts of depression and my “highs.” My bipolar highs worked in his favor early in our relationship (sexual promiscuity and high sex drive), but after childbirth, my libido dropped and my highs and lows evened out more over time. My decreased desire had more to do with my own chemistry than with anything he was or wasn’t doing.
And could someone please send me these, as well?
I’m missing the one that I handed over to the other side last week.
Problem #2: Mr. D feels he is lacking something he can’t get from me…he says he needs to feel wanted in more ways than can be accomplished by just me. He gets restless and bored and craves the “newness” of the unknown and the unattainable. He feels he needs the interaction of other women…women who are married, grounded, and very much in love with their own mates…and are therefore not a threat to our own marriage. His need has developed into an interest in polyamory. I do not want or need the same thing, so this causes a lot of contention in our marriage. It’s probably important to note that his parents were/are polyamorous, and I come from a very traditional background. Both of our parents are still married, and have been for over 40 years. It’s hard when there is nothing wrong with what either of us wants…we just want different things. It’d be easy if we didn’t want each other, but neither of us wants to give up our marriage, we both really want to figure out a way to make our marriage work, which means completely redefining it for ourselves in a way that works for us, not anyone else. We just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.
Problem #3: Mr. D feels sorry for wanting what he does. I don’t think he should feel sorry or that he should want to or feel that he needs to change to accommodate me. Nor do I feel I should feel sorry for not wanting what he does, nor should I have to change who I am to accommodate him. However, marriage is a great compromise that relies on two people making changes to assure the comfort and happiness of the other. So there’s that. Not to mention that I don’t want him to resent me for not letting him be sexually adventurous…and he doesn’t want me to resent him for encouraging me to explore in ways I don’t want to go; however, it’s not at all my intention to ask him to deny his desires…which I feel are completely natural. Therein lies the main conundrum.
And, not to be needy, but could someone also make me this?
Problem #4: Mr. D feels I’ve changed (and that he has not)…that I’m not the woman he fell in love with in a few regards. I can agree with that to some degree…but it doesn’t keep me from feeling a bit defensive – as my chemistry has naturally changed – in response to having a child, aging, and having had a partial hysterectomy…and my foci have changed. Sex has just lost some of its importance for me…while it hasn’t at all for Mr. D (until just recently when his libido took a nose-dive). I think this is a common problem for men and women…but I’m not using it as an excuse, be assured.
Here’s a journal entry from 2015:
So last night, he listed all of the things I have done to cause him hurt. And I have to say, by the time he was done, I felt like I’d been dragged through the fire. It’s not like anything he said wasn’t true, but hearing it all in one litany of complaints was a bit overwhelming. And then, of course, I was left speechless. What was I going to say but “I’m sorry”? So not only was I left feeling like I was a shitty wife…shitty person in general, really…but I was left feeling like there was nothing I could do about it.
I’m going to recreate the list, best as I can remember, here…so I can “think about it,” as he said…
1. he’s still angry that I made such a big deal about his going to AA and that I said the only thing we have in common is alcohol
2. he feels I try to take all his time, so he can’t work out or do anything to better himself
3. he feels I don’t want to do anything social, but I don’t want him to do anything with anyone else either
4. he wants someone to want him, whether it’s me or someone else, and he can’t figure out why I’m so against him having someone on the side
5. he remembers things I have said during fights that have hurt him
6. he feels I’m not who I was when he married me…that he married someone who was social and liked sex and now he has a wife who is super introverted and has no sex drive
7. he says he feels like he’s at the mercy of my sexual desires and that mine are always met while his are not
8. he doesn’t trust me because I say I’ll do things and then I don’t follow through…which has happened several times
9. he says I treat him like I want to be treated rather than how he needs to be treated
Basically, I got that he’s severely depressed with our marriage because he feels trapped. And I get that. He’s right. And I told him so. But, I still felt at a loss because the way he states it is he doesn’t trust me, and that it all lies on my shoulders. He even said he’s given me so many opportunities to fix it that if he does it again, it’ll only be once. No pressure, right?
So, I guess we’re at the end of the rope. And the only choice I have is to address all of his upsets. But, I have no idea how to go about it. When he’s mad at me, how am I supposed to begin? I don’t even know where to start. And he seems to think I should have a plan.
And then tuck me in with a cup of tea and a good book?
I wish it were that easy.
The other hard part of the conversation was that he wants me to want sex in the way he wants it, but even if I don’t, simply trying to meet his needs isn’t enough. He feels like that is capitulating. And he doesn’t want that. So we’re back to… “just want me.” I wish I could…on a regular basis and in the way he needs. I wish I were more creative and less jealous and just a better wife all around. Because right now, I feel like a shit wife. And I feel like our whole marriage has just been a joke, even though we’ve had lots of good times (in my opinion). In his, though, without the sex life being healthy, none of it has been really all that good…because that overshadows everything. It’s the way he connects to me, so without it, he’s not felt connected to me – for years.
And I don’t know how to fix it. So what IS my plan? And how do I sustain it? Cause honestly, I don’t have a lot of faith in myself to sustain. I get his mistrust. How do I do it? What do I do?
He wanted me to write down his resentments and get a new counselor. So, I guess I’ll start there.
And then I’ve got to find a way to meet his needs and put them first on a regular basis:
1. be more consistent with sex
2. be more creative and open with sex
3. encourage his social life
4. go with him and be social and find a way to like it
5. provide him a way to work out and help with dinner so he has time
6. help him keep the alcohol out of the house and support him if he wants to quit
7. allow him to lead our sex life and his own
8. accept that I am introverted and not feel like I have to be a part of everything he does and that he should be free to go out with anyone he wants, whenever he wants, for however long (which I don’t really agree with, because I wouldn’t do that to him, but he seems to think that should be okay – although, I don’t think he’d like it if I did it – just up and said, “I’m going out and I don’t know when I’ll be back, see ya!”)
Basically, I apparently need to have my own life and he needs to have his and we need to merge them socially, sexually, and as parents and homeowners on a regular enough basis to stay connected.
It seems like a daunting task and I’m not sure how to approach it. But he says it’s my obligation now.
It’s depressing, really. Because I don’t feel like I’m the only reason we’re here now, and the sex stuff isn’t necessarily within my control. And when I say I’m willing to try, it seems like trying isn’t enough. If I don’t actually feel the desire, whatever I try is going to be less than what he wants. Because he wants me to want it, too.
I don’t know if I can do this.
A bit more background for those who want it:
My husband and I met on the internet through a small town “personals” group much like match.com. We were the only two people under the age of 40 without kids, so I think it just sort of “happened.” I will admit, however, that when I saw him, it was pretty much lust at first site.
He was your atypical bad boy. He was a mechanic who built hot rods and wore sideburns, a beat up cowboy hat, tattoos, white t-shirts and faded jeans. He rode a motorcycle and had a rottweiler and a scorpion for pets. He lived in a double-wide trailer. He was blue collar with a brilliant vocabulary, a good work ethic, and a soft heart.
Me? I was a college-educated, middle class, military brat with big plans and traditional expectations. At 27, I wanted to stop fucking around, get married, have 2.5 kids, buy a nice house with a two-car garage, a yard, and a dog, and vacation in the tropics every other year.
Neither of us made our dreams a secret. We thought we had enough in common (the pursuit of knowledge, commitment), along with an intense sexual attraction, to make things work.
But, our sexual wants and needs HAVE changed since we first met. I miscarried our first child. And, while our second was born healthy, it was not without complication. I had a placenta accreta, which is not common in pregnancies where a c-section has not already been performed in the past. I ended up being treated with anti-cancer medication, hoping the placenta would “let go.” But it didn’t, and I was forced to accept an emergency hysterectomy. I was pretty much devastated. And it took me months to heal and actually feel sexual pleasure of any sort.
The baby was born in September, but by January, my sex-starved husband was offering up his own solutions. He suggested “swinging” to bring adventure back into the bedroom and to possibly help with my self-esteem issues over my new mom body. I did some research, at his behest, and we decided to try it.
I’m not saying it was all bad, because it wasn’t. I can admit that I have bisexual tendencies. And I had a few really good experiences. But, overall, swinging worked much more favorably for him, and left me feeling mainly disappointed. See my upcoming Throwback Thursday post for more on that subject.
But, once a fruit has been tasted, it is hard not to remember its appeal. For Mr. D, it was bitter indeed to give up that sweet freedom and adventure. At the time, I thought it might be my jealousy that was the problem, but I was never jealous seeing him fuck other women. I was simply upset over my own situation, which was usually a bunch of rather disappointing men who cared more about what their wives were doing that whether or not I was having a good time. Call me selfish, but it got in the way of my enjoyment of the whole thing.
So, I began to close off from it. And Mr. D became frustrated with my lack of interest. We tried going at it from a different angle…letting him play while I stayed out of it. But that didn’t work, either…partially because I was jealous and partially because he just wanted me involved.
I’ve also had a substantial amount of trouble both with my bipolar disorder and my low libido. I’ve gone to counselors, nurses, doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopaths…and I’ve read several books and done lots of research of my own. What I’ve learned is that a loss of libido over time, for women especially, is natural and unavoidable for many. Regardless of exercise, mental health, diet, sleep, etc., I may likely never find the sex drive I had when I was 27. And I can’t feel guilty for that. I shouldn’t. But I DO owe him the attempt at being at least somewhat sexual. I owe MYSELF that attempt, too. So there’s that. And he owes me the attempt at being content in a monogamous relationship…because that is what I signed up for. It’s probably also important to note that I do my fair share of the housework and child-raising and that I also have a job that involves a heavy dose of fulfilling the needs and wants of others all day. It doesn’t excuse my putting him second to my work, but it does explain my exhaustion when I get home and my preference for a blanket and a book over social endeavors. I’ve always been an introvert who performs the role of an extrovert well. And he’s an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s body.
As you can see, we have hit a wall or two in our search for a compromise that works for us both. By definition, a compromise means that both parties are giving up something to avoid conflict and to gain something in the process, and up to this point, neither of us has been able to give up just the right thing to feel that sufficient mutual gain has been attained. Hence…no compromise.
I’d love to be “enough” for my husband, but I understand the social construct of monogamy is just that…a social construct. However, it’s a social construct that I want and one that he has grown weary of. So how do we make both of us happy? Maybe we can’t.
In the long run, I don’t know for sure if we will make it. I hope that we do, because I love him. But, I also realize that when two people are involved, there are variables that one person does not have control over. I cannot MAKE him happy or unhappy. I cannot improve his self-esteem, as he cannot improve mine. But I CAN and SHOULD make him a priority. That’s what I’m working on right now, even though illness and absence have made this month difficult for both of us.
It’s a process. Marriage is a journey.
And for tonight, that is where I am going to leave it…muddied and chaotic, like a pile of dirty clothes dumped on the floor from a suitcase that has gone on a rather mundane trip through a modern-day marriage.
P.S. My reader also asked if I had ever had an affair. No…I have not and would not. My husband admitted to trying, but also admitted that he could’t bring himself to do it. Not only did he love me too much, but he felt a moral obligation to his promise of fidelity. We are not cheaters. We are simply two people trying desperately to find a middle ground as we fight our own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health demons.