Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Work in Progress

This week, I have worked on honoring my commitment to reconnect with my wife.

Since she returned from her scrapbook party trip, I have made an effort to go to bed at the same time she does. With the exception of Tuesday night (more on that in the next post), we have cuddled before going to sleep. I've made efforts to express gentle, spontaneous affection during the day. When she asks me to do favors for her, I've responded with more ethusiasm. I've complimented her the things she does.

Not surprisingly, the bedtime cuddling has taken some effort for her to get used to. Although I explicitly stated that I had no ulterior motives with cuddling on Friday afternoon, I made no such disclaimers on subesquent evenings. During that time we talk, but I also touch her in affectionate ways, rubbing the back, holding her hand, maybe caressing her face. Because of the issue with breath, I have brushed my teeth and mouthwashed thorougly before coming to bed.

I think she started to develop some suspicion toward the gestures. On Sunday night, I asked her if she liked the touching, and she said she found it relaxing. Her physical cues suggested to me that she didn't find the touch welcome, and she admitted that she felt like if she didn't lie in my arms until I said I was done, that I would feel rejected. That was discouraging because I felt like not only was she doing obigatory sex, she was now doing obligatory cuddling.

I've asked her whether she's had any more ideas about us, and she says she doesn't. She said she felt like she was on trial when I wanted to talk about heavy stuff. That makes me think that she's got a hunch about what is bothering her, but she's not ready to talk about it.

I've learned that she doesn't feel comfortable talking about relationship stuff right at the beginning. We have to ease into it, usually just talking about mundane things like what the kids may have done or what's going on with the preschool.

I've found that I enjoy the closeness of cuddling, and I think I have started to condition myself so that I can do it without me wanting something sexual. This is important, I think, because she admitted on Monday that she reads the touching as an expectation of something more.

On Monday, I told her that my offers to cuddle were not with the expectation of sex. I was trying to connect with her on a loving, but non-sexual, level. I told her that if there was a better means to reach her, I was open to exploring that.

She told me that she would rather have me just ask for sex up front rather than trying to use touching and kissing. She also said that she didn't want to me to pout afterwards if she said, "no." I haven't done that for a long time because I have seldom attempted to initiate sex in the past five years, but she still sees it as a sore spot. If I do get miffed with her, it is usually during the act, like when she resists foreplay.

I've told her that I am grateful that she's seeking help, and even if it does reveal something deeply negative in our relationship, it will help clear the air between us. I also told her that I would not attempt to initiate sex during the time she was working on counseling so that she didn't feel any pressure.

I've also made some positive steps toward spending time with her.

On Monday night, I got her to take a walk with me around the neighborhood. I pulled the kids in in a wagon. It was close to sunset, so the temperature was tolerable. The distance of the walk was just shy of a half mile.

While I enjoyed the walk, it helped me realize just how out of shape she is. She was winded by the time we reached the end. I brought up her exhaustion later that evening during the cuddle and suggested that we make the walks a habit. In the back of my mind, I wondered sex was so undesirable to her partly because she didn't have the endurance for it.

She's going out of town on Friday to visit an old friend of hers, and she will be there for two days. So that I wouldn't have to take time off for the kids, she asked my dad and stepmom whether they could take the kids for a couple of nights. They enthusiastically agreed, saying that they would pick them up after the kids' dance class on Thursday evening.

Since that left my wife and me alone for the evening, I suggested that we go out. So we are planning on seeing a late movie on Thursday. It will be the first time in over a year that we've gone to a cinema together, I think.

Still no word from the counseling service on an appointment, according to my wife. I thought it was strange that they would make her wait several days before scheduling an appointment, but I'm going to take her word on it for now.
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