Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Outing of Self and Clashing Libidoism

In this post, we'll cover some comments made by Tom Allen.

In reply to "Eros Shrugged", Tom writes:
2am, did you ever hear the expression "When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."?

And again, I'm not trying to insult you. In fact, the more of your backstory I read, the more similarities I see with my own marriage and approach to handling things. We had a similar issue with finances. We've had similar issues with clashing libidos. We've had similar issues with her seeming to be more concerned with her family or friends than with me.

And like you, I went to a dozen different web boards to complain... I mean, look for ideas. And I would take an analytical approach in order to justify my getting upset over things. For example, I didn't do the spending graph, but I did do a large spreadsheet for her. And we spent way too much time nitpicking the little details. Etc.

I don't know how much actual good it all did, but at least I had some emotional support.

Counseling did little for me, partly because I had a difficult time with the one we saw - he seemed pretty clueless about sexuality. Or rather, about non-vanilla sexuality. Disappointment with his approach led me to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and pursue my own course. That was when I decided to just start "outing" myself.

Yes, I have heard the old saying about the hammer and the nail. :-)

I don't take your postings as insulting, but I think I'm having trouble fully understanding what you're saying above. The questions I pose now are for clarification, not dissent. Correct me if I'm wrong.

You note similarities in our paths (analyzing the situation, seeking support from online forums, spousal dialogues, and counseling). Am I right in saying that you found all of these things, not just the counseling, to be of limited help to you?

Then at some point you decided that you would bite the bullet and just make full disclosure to your wife with the belief that she would not walk away from the relationship because there was such a large time and energy commitment to it.

Turning now to my situation. What would be the analog of outing myself to her? Would it be the ambivalence that I am having with regards to the marriage itself?

Likewise, if you're looking to "push" your wife oward her own growth cycle, then ask yourself if that's not violating her integrity as well.

This is a good question. The use of the word "push" might be a misstatement on my part because it sounds like an attempt to control her.

Schnarch talks about interlocking growth cycles. If one spouse goes into his growth cycle, the other goes into hers. It's kind of like Newton's third law of motion (every action has an equal opposite reaction), but it's not guaranteed. He leaves open the possibility that the other spouse might choose to terminate the relationship instead.

Given what I've observed over the past several months, I am beginning to believe that she will not enter the growth cycle. She will say things to give the indication she might be self confronting, but she doesn't follow through. My therapist is expressing skepticism that my wife is willing to take those steps.

If that is the case, then you defintely have a point. In other words, the growth cycle may well be a violation of her integrity.

Turning toward Tom's comment from "Same as it Ever Was":
2am, do you have any insight as to why you overlooked some of the warning signs of clashing libido-ism?

I have some insights.

The idea that two people could have terminally mismatched libidos is a new one to me, having really sunk in only within the past year or so.

Prior to that, I have operated under a mixture of rationalizations of varying degrees of delusion.

  1. I always thought of libido as something that is dynamic, that could evolve over time.

  2. If I only did enough good things for my wife to make her happy, she would find me sexually desirable or at least try to make me happy. This would be an example of a covert contract in the Nice Guy Syndrome school of thought.

  3. Sexual desire could be rekindled through good communication and a romantic touch. This would be another covert contract that is typically endorsed through conventional therapy.

  4. At various emotionally difficult times in our relationship, I gave my wife a pass for having low desire. Examples include when she was going through the shock of learning about my phone sex calls, when she was angry at me for not wanting to have children, when she was impatient with me as I worked on my parental anxiety in counseling, when we were having trouble conceiving, the close succession of several deaths in the family, and the stresses of taking care of newborns.

  5. I held out the belief that her libido might begin take off as she moved into her 30s (the so-called female sexual prime).

The idea that low libido might be a terminal situation first occurred to me when I posted to a divorce support bulletin board over a year ago. One of the moderators raked me over the coals saying that it was my fault for having married someone whom I should have known was sexually incompatible with me.
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