Monday, August 21, 2006

She Said, He Said

Well, we had a talk last night about our sex life. Actually, I don't really know how I feel about it, so I'll just tell you about the conversation.

I told him how much I loved him. I told him how deprived I was feeling. He told me how guilty and inadequate he felt about the whole thing.

I said that I still didn't understand why this was so difficult - why he could summon the energy to go for a walk, or to go bowling, things which also required a lot of energy, and yet couldn't seem to summon up the energy for this. He said it was because those things didn't involve his self esteem. He didn't feel bad about not going for a walk or not going bowling because it wasn't affecting anyone else, so it was easier to go.

I said maybe he thought about things too much. I suggested that to keep putting things off so that they build up in your mind as a huge issue was potentially a mistake, and that it might be easier to "just do it" sometimes, so he could forget about it. That I didn't want him worrying himself to death about this stuff. He said that, in fact, he thought about sex all the time, but not in a good way. He thought about how he was depriving me and how guilty he felt.

And he told me how much he worried about sex. That, each time, he worried about whether he could enjoy it. That he knew he would feel nauseous from the movement and be in pain, and he worried about being able to hide that from me, because it wasn't fair to spoil it for me by showing that.

We talked for a while about whether there was any point in talking about our sex issue, whether it was possible for anything new or constructive could be said. He said that he really didn't have an answer to that one, because talking about it made him feel worse, but that not talking about it wasn't necessarily the best option for me.

I thought it was time to focus the discussion on practical options. I told him about a (mythical) couple I knew of where the woman was sick and gave her husband permission to have sex with other people, just sex. He got very upset about this and said that would destroy his life.

Then, I said, there were really only two options to go for: either we had to find a way of increasing our frequency, or I had to find a way to live without sex without minding too much. I offered again to just give up the prospect of a sex life with him. I said that we seemed to have a lot of angst around something that really, in the grand scheme of things, we only seemed to do a few times a year, and that it hardly seemed worth all the angst. He said that that wasn't really an option.

We agreed that we were kind of stuck. Our relationship in every other respect was very good, in fact the best it has ever been. We have a lot of reasons to stay together, and there was just this one thing. It was just a pity that it was a pretty important thing.

I said that all I could think of was how to make things as easy for him as possible. Then I mentioned OldBear's suggestion about him holding me while I used a vibrator. That maybe, given all his angst about whether he would enjoy himself or be able to hide how sick he felt, it would be better if he could forget about all that, and we accepted that the majority of the time, it was just for me. That it might be easier for him if he wasn't expected to do anything elaborate or pretend that he didn't feel the way he did feel, but we just found low-key ways to "help me out". He said that was a positive suggestion, and he thought it could work. If he felt that he could just "service me", without expectations of more most of the time, then he could probably do that once a week.

So, I don't know, I guess you could say that the discussion ended on a positive note, with a fair amount of honesty and mutual understanding and some kind of plan in place.

But, to use FTN's excellent analogy in a slightly different way, can a person who is dreaming of a huge, juicy steak, served sizzling hot from the char-griller, learn to accept cold broccoli instead?


Blogger trueself said...

Okay well this post hits way too close to home for comfort. With a few exceptions I have had this same conversation with W although he never admits to feeling guilty or inadequate. I hope that allowing him to go more "low key" works for you. We tried that, and it didn't work for us, but then it also sounds like you have more respect and caring in your relationship than we have left in ours so you've got a better shot at it.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Just as cooking the steak will in no way substitute for the eating, so too talking with your partner about the *ways and means* on how best to accommodate both of you in different ways will not resolve things except the actual *doing*. They say that practice makes perfect. You guys can't expect to necessary hit a homer the first time you try, just try some ideas out and get it such that you are both more comfortable in getting to 1st base together. Small baby steps.

11:39 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

I think cold broccoli is better than eating nothing, and cold broccoli can easily, over time, transition into a more fulfilling meal.

After awhile, you put some cheese on it, then you add some wine, some potatoes, and perhaps one day, you might even get a few bites of steak.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hi there

Trueself - Thanks for the feedback. I have a little bit of optimism about this, but I certainly see the limitations!

Rob - I agree. that's why we thought it was best to start the following night.

FTN - Until I read your comment, I had not actually thought that the new arrangement had scope for transitioning. Maybe.

2:23 PM  

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