Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2am Discloses to His Wife

Last night, my wife initiated sex. During foreplay, as has happened the last couple of times prior, I requested that she pleasure me with her hands. She resisted. It was at this point that I stopped things in their tracks and I asked her whether the request stirred up anxiety in her. She answered, "sometimes it does." She then went into deflection mode saying with an accusing voice, "I just wanted to be with you, and you didn't seem to be initiating sex lately."

I realized that I was dealing with a mercy fuck in the sense of Schnarch's book. Quoting from Chapter 11:
Mercy fucking withholds the sweetness of sex, breaks your partner's heart (if he or she catches on), and leaves little recourse... The goal isn't doing your partner -- it's getting done with it so you don't have to do it tomorrow.
Well-differentiated people can have sex when they aren't really in the mood, but it's not mercy fucking. It's another form of mutuality, and it doesn't have the withholding, sadistic quality of a mercy fuck because there is no sense of loss of self in responding to the partner's preference.

So I read to her the listing of thoughts that I posted on Monday. It was an exercise in confronting my own anxiety because I was revealing a lot of thoughts that she had no idea of and I had no idea of how she would respond. My voice wavered at times from the emotion.

After I finished reading the listing, she said it didn't make sense to her. On one hand, I was respecting her right to not have sex with me at all, but on the other I was retaining a right to have sex and not accept her refusal to work on her sexual limitations. She said it sounded as if I wanted to go have sex with a hooker, which wouldn't be the emotionally engaged sex that I said I was seeking.

I told her that the collections of thoughts owned up to my mistakes and mapped out the two-choice dilemma that I was facing. Both options induced anxiety in me, but I needed to break through the indecisiveness. She said she just wanted me to be happy, whatever I decided. I told her that I was working on learning more about myself to be a happier person, but I also needed to respect her as a separate human being.

I told her that I had not initiated sex because the Schnarch talks about how high the desire partner needs to demobilize to cool things down and mobilize in other areas where he or she is the low desire partner. I had been doing this for a month or so. I offered her my copy of Passionate Marriage and said that if she wanted to become familiar what I had been working on, she could read Chapters 11 and 12. She said she would. She then asked about whether I had posted things in my blog. I told her that there were four or five postings there already. She said she would take a look at that, too.

Why did stop the sex act like that? I needed to refuse the mercy fuck as an act of integrity. Quoting further from Chapter 11:
People who accept mercy fucks rationalize that it's better than no sex at all, but is it really? If you accept mercy fucks "until the good stuff comes along," it never does and never will. Your partner knows you will settle for lousy sex, so there's no reason to deal with the problems blocking better sex.
But watch what happens when mercy fucks are refused! The marriage becomes unstable: if there is to be no sex with out real connection, there may be no sex at all -- at which point anything can happen. It also means partners have to want each other for sex to take place. The partner offering mercy fucks gets furious! (mercy fuckers may want to avoid sex, but they want to avoid wanting their partner even more.)
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