Monday, August 21, 2006

Thoughts Before Counseling Session V

Last week's counseling session hit hard because it was mostly an open opportunity for my wife to take fire at things she didn't like about me.

I'm not sure if that's how the therapist plans to play it out for the remaining three insurance authorized sessions, but it doesn't seem very even handed. I have a trio theories for why the therapist is proceeding this way, one cynical and the other two a bit less so:

  1. She's biased against me, perhaps against men in general.

  2. She's decided that because I want change, I'm the one who's going to have to show the greater flexibility.

  3. She's sensed that my wife's resistance toward working on the exercises means that she can't expect much to come from giving her things to work on.

Looking over my notes from last week, I noted the following defects that my wife says are barriers to intimacy:

  1. direspectful of comfort zone (skin-to-skin contact)

  2. unnecessarily elusive (mystery IM conversation)

  3. insufficiently empathetic, perhaps narcissistic (resenting lack of attention during crises)

  4. persistently unhappy

I can own the second and the fourth issues, because they tie into a larger problem which was addressed in the book I read over the weekend. I plan to bring this book up with the therapist and tell her my plan of action to work on these things.

I am skeptical that my wife is truly a skin crawler, but I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt because I have read accounts of women having a similar problem after having given birth to children.

I believe that my wife assumes a caretaker role for things that could be handled by others, assuming that I can pick up the slack of handling the family while she is away. This was true after her father had a stroke. It was also true for her best friend during her difficult pregnancy.

It's almost as if she thinks there is a rider attached to the vows to take leave from the marriage whenever she thought she needed to care for someone. When I express frustration, she responds negatively, saying I'm selfish.

I plan to bring up the catch 22 that is my sexuality. In retrospect, I believe that in working on compulsive sexual behavior, I ceded too much control over my sexuality to my wife. I believe that this was done out of a deep sense of guilt and a desire to show that I wanted to make amends with her.

Instead of it leading to a renewed, healthier, livelier sex life between us, it has created an emotionally abusive situation for which I have developed a deep pocket of resentment.

I have given her veto power over all my sexual activity, and she has chosen to be minimally sexual with me. When she does offer sex it is frequenly so devoid of attachment, it flies in the face of the things I learned in recovery and therapy. If she showed some empathy toward me for once, she might realize just how hurtful her indifference to our sex life has been.

If this marriage is to survive, it will require more than just permission to initiate sex with her. It's going to require a commitment from her to be a full participant in the sexual dimension of our union. If there are things that are hindering her emotionally, she needs to admit their existence as she did last week, not throw "I don't know" at me continuously until I go away. That itself is a form of dishonesty, and it's blatantly passive aggressive behavior. It is no longer acceptable to me.

Moreover, I am going to assert that I be given greater latitude over my own sexuality. I do not wish to return to compulsive masturbation and secret sexual activity, but I should at least be able to pleasure myself without having to get consent from her. In short, I want my body back.

I am grateful that she has begun doing some reading of both The Five Love Languages and The Sex Starved Marriage. I understand that she finds self-help books to be dry and tiresome, but I believe that she needs to put a greater sense of urgency into her efforts.

She seems to be able to find time to work puzzles, spend time with friends, and watch TV, but it seems like she's just trying to skate with enough effort to say, "See, I'm doing something. You need to be patient."

We need to make some sort of more concrete agreement on how much energy we're going to put into this and how we'll know whether things are getting better.
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