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You're not a failure, but it might be unrealistic to hope that he could leave a sex-starved marriage completely for four months and yet it would somehow get solved in his absence. You didn't have the other half of the problem with you working to solve it, so you weren't going to solve it. Doesn't mean you can't solve it now, but at some point you would need him working with you.
That's part of the reason you're encouraged to work on yourself, doing 180s and working on what makes your life better for you (especially if he's going to be gone for a long time again.) That isn't necessarily intended to solve an SSM by itself (although it can make a big difference if you commit to it) but it has the advantage of doing a lot of good regardless of whether the SSM ever improves or not.
I do "hugging till calm" from Schnarch without ever having actually explained it to my wife. I just started doing it, and one day she relaxed into it. Ever since, she responds to it with relief, but she's never asked about it and I've never felt the need to give her the clinical explanation of the theory behind it (I do learn.) When it works, it's like taking a power nap . . . it's restful, refreshing.
Did you talk to your husband before he left about what YOU expected to work on while he was gone? If not, that's OK, I'm not beating you up, but if he expected you to do some kind of sex-acceptance exercises for four months (man, that's a long time!) are you perhaps more nervous about dealing with his expectations? Are you afraid he's going to come home expecting his wife to have flipped the Sexual/Asexual switch in his absence? On the one hand, that's not giving him much credit; he should realize that he can't solve a problem in his marriage by leaving and hoping someone else will solve it for him. At some point, if your goal is to save this marriage, you're going to be forced to have a serious talk with this man and explain what you want and need from him. That doesn't have to be the first thing you do, before the work you do for yourself, for instance, but you can't save the marriage by yourself. Don't fall into the trap of accepting that expectation; to the extent that you're working by yourself, you're working on yourself and things for yourself.
I might sound like I'm beating up on him, but I'm really not doing that either. It's just that what he's trying to do is dooming him as much as you. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Did you talk to your husband before he left about what YOU expected to work on while he was gone?
I did not talk with my husband about what I expected to work on while he was gone, I felt so broken that I first just needed to work on finding myself under the frustration and depression.
Originally Posted By: SillyOldBear
Are you afraid he's going to come home expecting his wife to have flipped the Sexual/Asexual switch in his absence?
Yes. Basically he says that I had 4 months to deal with it and I should be healed. He came home with the intention of trying to be patient and work with me, but ultimately he seems to have no understanding or compassion for my side of the issue - and certainly he does not believe that he is part of the problem in any way.
Originally Posted By: SillyOldBear
At some point, if your goal is to save this marriage, you're going to be forced to have a serious talk with this man and explain what you want and need from him.
I agree. We do try to talk about it and we have discussions often, but they feel like battles to me. For my part, I have a hard time knowing anymore what I want of him. I know I would like to stop feeling defensive all the time because it seems like he is constantly badgering me to get it figured out; and I know that I would like to feel some sort of sexual desire before I engage in sexual activity with him, but I don't know what to ask of him to help me find that desire. I wish that he could understand me when I try to explain why I have feelings of hurt and anger and fear and that I don't know how to let them go. I wish we could talk in a constructive way instead of arguing and interrupting each other in our own defense. I've been trying to be a better listener and to stay calm, but I am not always successful.
On the positive side, I did have time and space to work on myself while he was gone. I tried to focus on being more relaxed instead of being worried and anxious about life; I practiced finding joy and appreciation of the little things in life; I tried to practice being calm during provacative phone conversations and not engage in the usual arguments in the usual way; I took the initiative to have the deck replaced after acknowledging that it is important to me but not to him and not likely to get done if left to him; and I agreed to chaperone my son's track team trip to the state meet even though it means leaving town for three days right after H just got home, but I am not doing it to get away from him or hurt his feelings, I am doing it because it is something I really wanted to do; I've made time for reading, both for pleasure and self help (particularly the ssm). I would like to live a balanced life, and it is much harder to maintain when he is physically present wanting me to focus on him, but I think it is an important aspect of being a healthy person in a healthy relationship.
OK, all of that is important. Whether he understands it or not, whether he approves or not, those are all things you needed to do. Good on you for doing them!
In your place, if I couldn't talk to my wife without offending her and I found her expectations totally unrealistic and one-sided, I'd want to bring in people who could help us communicate better without being emotionally involved. I would consider sitting him down and telling him that you're afraid you're headed for marital trouble, maybe divorce, and you want to see a marriage counselor with him.
If he agrees, follow through--don't wait on him, find someone and get started.
If he refuses (and from your description of his communication with you, I doubt you expect him to agree) then it's probably time for you to see an individual counselor (or a marriage counselor if you prefer) by yourself. Keep the door open for him to join you in marriage counseling at any time, but just as you did with your reading and volunteer work and all the rest, spend some time and energy on what you need. I think you seem like you need someone who won't stonewall you and can be your sounding board.
My wife absolutely refused to go to a marriage counselor, but as we worked through things, decided that she wanted to see an individual therapist. That went really well and she has grown to love going to her IC. I didn't feel we had the time to devote to sending me to an IC while she was going to another one, but kept the idea in my mind, and was getting ready to tell her that I was going to start with an IC of my own this summer when she surprised me with the news that she had asked her IC for recommendations of good marriage counselors in the area. That was a shock to me; I thought she was terrified of marriage counseling! Obviously you and your husband aren't in exactly the same spot, but the point is that you don't want to get too bogged down in what he says today he will or won't do. He's capable of changing his mind just like you are. You're doing good things, so keep doing them, and look for chances to apply the principles behind them in other ways.
Wow, I've been away from this forum for nearly a year. Reading back through my thread I can see that I've changed. Things aren't all better, but not horrible either. Many of the issues that I was frustrated with still exist but I think that we have found some middle ground from which to work; I have read some books and tried to take them to heart - working on MWD's GAL and 180's, try to keep in mind the 5LLs; tried to digest Schnarch's differentiation and was inspired (and a little unnerved) by his "Resurrecting Sex". I think H has also been trying to change his ways and I have been trying to be patient and forgiving and appreciate his efforts. We are both very aware that I am lacking the desire for sexual interactions and that I am not yet ready to open up (to being kissed, touched, engaged, etc)and that we have a long way to go in acheiving a healthy sexual relationship, but I have to say that it is very personally rewarding to look back and know that I have undergone some changes.