Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two Days in Therapy

I'm in a better space after my private therapy session from yesterday afternoon.

I'll go into a little more detail on the joint session. Because I led off the last session, this session was my wife's to start.

After saying that she really didn't know what to say, she said there was a part of her that wanted to stay in this marriage and that there was a part of her that didn't. To her, it seemed like we had spent more time in therapy during this marriage than we hadn't.

She said that she thought I didn't give serious consideration to her offer of taking the local job for more money and then going out on dates from a few weeks back.

She said that she had noticed that I was masturbating a lot more, and that she was concerned about it. She thought I was falling back into addiction.

Regarding her claims that I needed to take medication, she said that I always seemed "mopey" or "woe is me" about everything, and that I had made several remarks about wishing I wasn't alive or taking my own life.

I didn't recall anything of the sort, but the next day, I realized what she had been saying. At one point during a conversation about why I didn't want to take the job with the local startup, I talked about my unhappiness, and then said I felt adrift, as if "I was living, but not really alive." She either misremembered this remark or turned it around to her advantage.

She said that I constantly needed my ego stroked, and that I had low self esteem. The only reason that I was so interested in the job offer with the Online Payment Subsidiary was that they had stroked my ego the most.

She said that it didn't make sense to turn down the offer with the local startup because of a longer commute because my commute would have been just as long if not worse in the desert southwest.

She said I never wanted to talk with her, and that all we did talk about was mundane things. She said I was on the computer a lot on the evenings, so she wondered if I was addicted to the internet. She noted that we hadn't talked much about our last therapy session.

Her therapist used that to go back to the text book "better communication" techniques. We spent most of the session dissecting a phone conversation my wife and I had last week, where she called me at work and told me that she needed me home 20 minutes earlier than what we had discussed, and it was for no real reason.

The thing is, both my wife and I have been through the communication exercises before. We're dealing with a bigger problem than communication. We have situations where neither side has been willing to accept the message the other is sending.

During the session, I had wanted to make my disclosure about my dwindling energy. But since this session had been more about my wife's reactions to last week, I figured to do so without first letting her have her say would have been an attempt to hi-jack the discussion.

As time began to run out, the therapists asked if we had anything left to say. One of them noted that I looked like I had something on my mind, so I let it out. Big mistake. My wife's therapist was peeved, saying, "You don't drop a bombshell like that with only a few minutes left in the session. That leaves your wife in a bad space. This is about fighting fair."

Her therapist had to go to another appointment, so my therapist kindly went over. I added that I had not given up completely. My wife would need to meet some conditions for me to give this more time. I spelled out three at the session and one later on in the evening. Here they are:

  1. Stop blaming my unhappiness on depression and telling me that I need medication. She needs to confront herself to understand how her actions might be throwing down barriers.

  2. Whatever the causes for her aversion to touch and sexual activity, start working seriously to get past it. I could not live in a marriage where there was so little touch and such a dead sex life.

  3. Start putting this marriage first, ahead of friends, relatives, and volunteer activities. I viewed her refusal to relocate because she would lose her "support network" of friends as a clear indication that she values her friendships over her marriage to me, my career, and our financial security.

  4. (added later in the evening) My body, and especially my genitals, are mine. I would not allow her to forbid me from pleasuring myself sexually or using guilt to make me refrain from it.

We talked about these points later that evening, and it didn't sound like she was taking them seriously.

She said regarding the touch and sex issue, I just wanted her to cuddle next to me naked all the time, and that I just wanted her to give me sex five days out of the week, which wasn't realistic. I told her this wasn't strictly about frequency, this was about mutuality and involvement.

I told her that her attitude toward sexuality made me feel like she could just live without sex for the rest of her life and not feel like there was anything missing, and that made me sad. She said she did have sexual feelings. In fact, she said, she had them Sunday night, but didn't feeling being sexual with me because she didn't feel emotionally close to me at the time.

We got on the subject of my masturbation. She said she had counted five times in the last week. I said that seemed a little high, but I didn't keep a day-by-day count in my mind.

She then confronted me on whether I was masturbating in the shower when I locked the bathroom door on mid-day Sunday. I said that I had done that because I wanted privacy and didn't want the kids walking in while I was doing that.

It had also been over a month since we last had sex, so I had been feeling a bit frustrated lately.

I asked her why she was so concerned about the count. She said that she was worried it was "going to lead to something worse." I asked her for examples. She said, maybe something like phone sex. I told her that I didn't have any credit cards and 900 number access was blocked on the phone lines. There was no practical way for me to do that even if I wanted to.

I then countered that if she had been so worried about me "acting out", why was she so slow to return the second batch of her late brother's porn VHS tapes that were still sitting in the minivan and garage. My only interactions with that stash was loading them into the van and moving them into the garage. I had not so much as pried open the box, nor was there any temptation to do so.

She also said that she didn't think my claim about her misplaced priorities/loyalties was valid.

The bottom line: she's not even willing to acknowledge the validity of most of my conditions, let alone agree to work on them.

I'm giving her a few more days and her private session with her therapist, who probably views me as The Bad Guy now, to process this. If she doesn't make any movement on this by the next session, it is over.

Monday left me feeling icky, and I wasn't looking forward to talking with my therapist, either. But afterwards, I was glad I did.

We went over the previous day's joint session and the discussion later that evening, and I talked about how I felt that it wasn't very productive at all. I didn't see my wife addressing the merits of my concerns. She seemed to be more interested in painting me as a damaged person.

My therapist took away from the session several things...

  • My wife has a very negative view of sexuality, period. Her lack of engagement and desire to limit my own activity wasn't healthy.

  • My wife attempts to control through shame and guilt.

  • In arguments, my wife latches onto minutiae, and then blows them out of proportion to put the opposition on defense. A good example of this is the "You just want a whore in bed" line.

  • My wife's arguing tactics were "juvenile".

  • My wife was very adept in shutting me down in arguments.

  • My wife's remark about "being more in therapy than not" grated on my therapist's nerves and she almost called her on it during the session because my wife had quietly stopped going to therapy last fall and didn't do so until confronted with it by my therapist in early April.

  • I really needed to work on assertiveness with her to keep her from flipping the conversation.

  • She noted my wife's statement of ambivalence in the early part of the session and echoed Law Girl's comments about how she might really want out, but can't or won't bring herself to say it.

In the interest of helping me work on assertiveness, my therapist loaned me a book titled How to be an Adult by David Richo. I started reading that last night.
blog comments powered by Disqus