Friday, July 06, 2007

Addressing Reader Curiosities

In a comment, a reader identifying herself as "Michelle" writes:
1) How do you feel about Kristy's comment about her experience with Schnarch and her marriage? Does it resonate with you in anyway? 2) Would you consider separating from your wife instead of divorcing...or does that just drag out the inevitable?

Kristy's story was reassuring to me. I've read the couples' stories in Passionate Marriage and seen the sessions that were featured on Dateline NBC about a year ago, but up until Kristy posted her comment, I had not heard a first person testimonial of someone who had gone through the process. I am grateful that she took the time to share her story.

The story resonates with me in several places. Take this passage from her story:
I am severely depressed and my husband increasing distant. One night we have a big blow out where he asks me questions that I answer in a way that convince me I am unlovable and he continues that thread by telling me he doesn't love me. The next day I realized I was wrong. I am a great person. I told him this and why. Something happened. I *snapped* out of my depression.

This is the point where differentiation of self really kicked in in her story.

For me, the process has been much slower. I went through many years feeling like I was somehow broken because my wife didn't desire me. When I tried to assert myself in the relationship, my wife's responses reinforced this idea that I, too, was unlovable.

She threw every excuse in the book at me... she was too tired, I was too needy, she got her validation from other areas of life so it wasn't as important to her, I was too heavy, my body grossed her out, people stopped kissing passionately when they got older, she didn't feel "emotionally close to me", I was just an addict looking for a sexual fix, I wanted a whore in bed. She had a whole funhouse of mirrors to play with my reflected sense of self. My emotional fusion with my wife led me to take these negative depictions as reality.

If Kristy's remarks resonate with me well, then this remark from an Anonymous reader harmonizes beautifully.
You have a right to intimacy, period. Your wife doesn't get to dictate if you're worthy of affection - it's disrespectful of her to think she does.

If you look at the interactions with my wife in this blog, that appears to be a recurring theme. She treats the expression of affection as an imposition, almost a violation of her integrity. She refuses to acknowledge that both the relationship and I suffer when this happens.

Kristy was fortunate that they hit critical mass at a much lower anxiety point. Her husband seemed to be willing to "show up" and work through his crucible as well.

Thus far, my wife has not shown the same desire to do so in our therapy sessions. Either she doesn't want this relationship to survive, or she is in deep denial that it's still business as usual, and I will sell myself out as I have done in the past.

I think we're more like Peter and Audrey in Chapter 11 or Joe and Faye in Chapter 13 in Passionate Marriage, where the fusion level is so great that the high desire partner has to "test the waters of divorce" in order to bring the other side to his or her senses, not through empty ultimatums, but through quiet resolve.

I don't think a separation, either in the informal or legal sense, does any good. Taking the job on the West Coast pretty much slams the door on reconciliation, unless she undergoes some massive conversion and opens up to the idea of relocation.

Given my experiences with her at the reins of our household finances, I don't trust her to behave responsibly under an informal separation. That just opens wide the possibility that the will overspend or take on large amounts of debt out of spite or emotional distress.

Under my state's laws, legal separations are only good for one year. Once the duration comes to an end, the couple must either reconcile or file for divorce. When I talked to a divorce attorney a month ago, she recommended against it.
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