Anger

My husband used to come up behind me and pinch my butt. Yes, really. Like some sleazy would-be-Lothario in a Milan elevator. He’d pinch it hard, too, really give it a clamp, and it hurt. It was like he was sticking a needle in my ass. To make things worse, he always did it when I was completely oblivious to him, thinking of something else, doing some routine chore like the dishes, so it would shock me, too, practically stop my heart every time. I didn’t know why he did this infuriating thing, but I had some vague idea that he thought it was cute or funny or something.

Then one night he pinched me when I was standing at the kitchen counter cutting cherry tomatoes in half with a paring knife and there was a split second there when — in addition to grinding my teeth in rage as I always did — I almost turned around and stuck that knife into his stomach. Whoa! Death in the Afternoon! Could you see the headlines? “Tomato Slicing Mom Snaps, Opens Husband’s Small Intestine…”

Aaaaanyway, contrary to what you might be thinking, this is not a story about how I righteously suffered my clueless husband’s casual sadism. This is a story about how I was such a dimbo bimbo that I never told him how much I hated being pinched!

Do humans get any stupider? Seriously. What kind of terminal twit wouldn’t tell the guy the FIRST time he did it that a) it hurt like blazes and b) it better not happen again? Why was I was such a pansy-ass?

The easy, surface answer is that I was brought up in the “ladylike” tradition, which demanded that I swallow a significant ration of shit in my everyday life. Now, there’s nothing wrong with teaching kids that they can’t always have their own way, that they can’t make non-stop demands on others, and that they can’t squall and scream about every little annoyance. There is certainly a dynamic in many relationships which could benefit from a big ol’ bolus of Calm the Hell Down.

That was not my problem, however. As I grew up I somehow absorbed the thought that when there was conflict in a relationship it was My Job to sop up and dispose of as much of the negative energy as possible, so that the conflict wouldn’t manifest itself in Unpleasantness. At least not before unpleasantness became Absolutely Necessary. I told myself that I was “picking my battles,” that when I did blow a gasket it was more effective for being so rare (and to a certain extent this was true).

I also told myself that I was steadier, calmer and more capable than most human beings, so it was up to me to be the most “mature” person in every relationship, the peacemaker, the one that kept everything running on an even keel. I was A Good Wife, see, the Heroine, and — (I’m so ashamed) — the Martyr. In other words, there was more than a little pride in my failure to tell my husband that he was reeeally pissing me off with that “minor” pinching thing.

As I mentioned earlier, imagining that you are the marriage’s MVP (More Virtuous Person), the long-suffering partner who is holding everything together, the one who puts up with more disappointment, more work, more emotional engineering than your partner, is very seductive. It is its own kind of power, isn’t it? It means YOU are In Control, and that’s what we all want.

But trying to be more-perfect-than-thou was playing hell with my love life.

My husband brought two school age children with him when we got married. We hadn’t planned on having them, but their mother, my husband’s ex, decided to join the army and my husband was too guilty about their divorce to refuse her request to take the kids in the meanwhile. (I later learned that she thought being saddled with the kids might break us up — and she was almost right.)

So I had an unexpected ready-made family. I liked his kids, they were good kids (and on their best behavior in the beginning), but I hadn’t counted on them and their needs being dropped in my lap as a newlywed, and needless to say it was rough. What made it even rougher was that my husband, brought up in the 50s and 60s by a stay-at-home mom and married the first time to a stay-at-home mom, was effectively oblivious to household equity issues. It’s not that he didn’t want to be fair, it’s that he couldn’t really see how much it took to run a 4-person household. From his point of view, things sort of Got Done, and although he was vaguely aware of the fact that Someone Else was doing them, he didn’t really register the time or effort involved. So he could imagine that his summer afternoons of grass-cutting and his twice-a-month work on the family bills equalled my daily round of cooking, dishes, organizing the kids’ calendars, laundry, bathroom cleaning, living room pickup, grocery shopping, bed-changing, vacuuming, kitchen cleaning…well, you get the idea.

Most things he did around the house were distinct, one-time tasks which had a beginning, middle and end, like repairs, which gave him a sense of accomplishment and of being “finished.” Or he did things that were visible to the outside world, like yard work and car waxing, which even if they were difficult or tiring were also a source of public pride, like his nice lawn. He had no ordinary, repetitive daily duties, so he essentially worked only on the weekends. To top it all off, we were both working full time — more than full time, actually, since we were Air Force officers and were often called on to work extra hours during alerts and exercises.

Again, this is not a story about how my husband was an inconsiderate beast. He was thoughtless, yes, but that was because he’d been brought up to ignore all that. I didn’t really have anyone to blame but myself, because I was Suuuuuperwoman! I was capable of anything, I was going to Make This Work If It Killed Me. I was going to be the “Charlie” perfume wife (yes, it was that era), “bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan.” So, all the while imagining that I was being the ultimate in human femininity, I sank myself into a situation I should have fixed. I simmered about it. I stewed. I walked around in a perpetual haze of resentment, practically ticking his sins off on my fingers. Other annoyances that had absolutely no relation to domestic chores took on more importance and seemed more awful because I was too weak to confront him about the household stuff. And — most important for our purposes here — the last thing I wanted to do was have sex with him.

Combining anger and sex is often problematic for a woman because the physiology of the most usual acts requires that she allow her body to be penetrated. A certain, shall we say, receptivity is essential. I’m avoiding the word “surrender” here, because it has a lot of connotations that are not necessarily operative, but many women do (if only unconsciously) see the sex act as something of a submission scenario — which can be very much enjoyed when she is happy with a man, but which can also be a major turn-off if she’s furious with him. Even leaving the physical aspects of the act aside, it’s psychologically difficult to “give in” to a request for a special goodie from someone you’re pissed at. It’s like he’s asking for candy bar when you’d really like to give him a whack in the chops.

So what can you do if your wife has gotten herself into Superwoman syndrome? Don’t over-estimate how much you’re doing around the house, and especially look out for whether or not you are only doing those “pride” and “accomplishment” tasks that don’t have to be done every day while “counting” them against the daily drudgery. Write down a list of all the things you do, and let her write down a list of everything she does, and if it looks like things are uneven, talk about how they could be shared more equitably.

And if you think that because you “make the money” you shouldn’t have to contribute anything to the household routine, we gotta talk.

There used to be a pledge in traditional marriage ceremonies that went something like, “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” and the usual legal understanding of marriage is that the partners pool the economic assets and financial resources they acquire during the marriage. Economic partnership, in fact, was often the main or only incentive for marriage back in the Not-So-Good Old Days.

The rise of wage-paying work has somewhat distorted the economic understanding of marriage from the era when a woman’s work in the farmhouse was as essential to the running of the agricultural enterprise as her husband’s work in the fields. Now there is a tendency to discount the housekeeping contribution to family well-being because it doesn’t bring in actual CASH.

Oh, people certainly pay lip service to the idea that traditional stay-at-home “women’s work” is valuable both to the marriage unit and the larger society, but these days few people really value it for what it’s worth.

Money is power in this culture, period. The identification is very direct and constantly reinforced. We may be very pious and emotional about money not buying happiness and all that rot, but most of us would still like just a little more. People who make more money are simply able to do more, get more, and control more than people who don’t.

The fact that money buys power, both directly and indirectly, is what makes money such a fantastically emotional matter for many couples. Like sex, it is an area where the partners’ sense that they have lost the other’s Love drives them to seek Power instead. Any major struggle over money signals to the players that individual power has become more important than the loving partnership.

This was played out in my own marriage when, after I became a stay-at home mother, my husband once attempted to end a disagreement over how we would spend some money by saying, “It’s MY money, so I get to decide.” He felt that since he earned the actual cash by doing a job outside the home, it was HIS and not OURS, and therefore he had the Right to spend it as he pleased, Julia be damned.

In his mind, apparently, I was merely the equivalent of his employee. I was being “supported,” see, so the way he saw it (when his power was threatened), I wasn’t really an equal and eternal Partner in the business of life, I wasn’t his Beloved, I was — not to put too fine a point on it — The Help.

Well.

Although it might make perfect sense to a coldly rational person that I was his economic “dependent” and therefore should shut my mouth and do as I was told, emotionally it was scorched earth devastation. I was led to question the entire concept of marriage and family, given that such a good and fair guy as MY HUSBAND could have been thinking of me and my role in such stark and awful terms all along.

And of course I was mad as hell. I had two tiny children (ages 1 and 3) and was struggling with my health at the time. I kept going, I worked all day, I cleaned, I washed dishes and changed diapers and fed them and cleaned up after their messy meals and gave them baths and … well, yadda yadda is probably apropos here. I felt as though I was working at least as hard as he was at his relatively cushy 8-5 staff job.

And since we had decided that it was best for the kids if I stayed home while they were little, I didn’t really resent the fact that he came home and put his feet up while I soldiered on in the evenings. We were partners, and I loved him, so I wanted to be generous to him and the kids, give them my time and work and love. Besides, it was my job in the marriage, my part of being a good partner in life. If I sometimes felt I was a little overtasked in relation to him, I also figured that kind of inequity has a way of working out in the long run, so there might come a time when I would be the one putting my feet up while he did a little more.

And then I found out that he considered our income HIS money, and my contribution to maintaining our life and raising our children was worth nothing to him when it came to deciding how that money would be spent. And when I realized that, I realized that he probably thought that sex was part of my “employment” contract, too.

This is not a good way to think about sex. It kills the essential trust and interpersonal enthusiasm that fuels desire. It ruins confidence in Love as the basis for the relationship, and makes everything that happens seem like a mere transaction, with Money Man sitting in the cashier’s chair. The sense of hurt and relative powerlessness such thoughts awaken can make a woman perpetually angry and reluctant to — as she sees it — “knuckle under” to requests that she justify her continued “employment” with sex.

So watch out for the idea that you should always get your way because you’re bringing in more money, and if you find yourself thinking your wife is an “ungrateful bitch” because she won’t “pay up” with poontang when you’re bringing home lots of green, you’re indulging in Power thinking, not Love thinking, and effectively cutting your own sexual throat.

COMMENTS from the original blog on the “Anger” Post
Before you can get to “why your wife won’t have sex with you” you have to find said wife, and before you can do that there’s courtship rituals and mating dances and meeting in-laws and writing pre-nups, and before you can get to that, there’s dating and talking to women and meeting girls, and long before any of that happens or is even possible there is this extreme physical need, every day immediately upon waking and lasting until I finally get to sleep, to sink my aroused phallus up inside some female flesh; it’s usually always on, roaring and ready to go, and easily reinvigorated just by looking at pretty faces and breasts poking out from under cloth. I am man and this is what it’s like. So while you’re crying, cry for me too.    

Apologist • 4/5/03; 8:05:00 PM

http://www.angelfire.com/ak5/womensuck/SupplyDemand.htm    

extreme, yes.

Apologist • 4/5/03; 8:19:34 PM

Very interesting. I haven’t read all of it yet, so this might be covered, but does it make any note of the evolutionary reasons for women’s control of sex? It’s generally the same in the lower animal kingdom: males seek, females choose.    

The basic reason is because the potential costs for each sex act are far greater for the female of the species.

Will try to read more during the next few days.

Julia Grey • 4/5/03; 8:38:06 PM

P.S. I ain’t cryin’.    

Julia Grey • 4/5/03; 8:41:07 PM

Over my nearly 50 years on the planet I have seen numerous examples of what you have described here from both sides of the equation. The two things that have surprised me the most are: the number of women who put up with the situation and the number of men who have been led to expect such a division of labor by their mothers.    

A bizarre combination of these that I have seen over and over is the wife and mother who is running a constant battle with her husband over the household chores while requiring her son to do next to nothing, thereby perpetuating the problem. Another generation of young men are produced who see cleaning a toilet bowl as woman’s work.

Steve • 4/7/03; 4:56:55 PM

What’s almost worse is the woman who resents having to do all the daily crap, but in her secret heart doesn’t WANT him to do anything because then she won’t have the moral advantage.    

Again, having the moral advantage only becomes that important to a woman when she thinks the love is going or gone.

Julia Grey • 4/7/03; 5:18:44 PM

Interesting series so far. As a single male, it behooves me to pay attention to these sorts of things before they’re an issue. A useful look at what the years to come may bring. On the flip side, it makes me want to go hug my computer and sign up for *those* channels on cable, then never leave the house again.    

Thank you for sharing your perspective and thoughts on these matters, Julia.

Groovy Dave • 4/7/03; 9:28:21 PM

Regarding the husband’s impression that things “just got done”: Men and women have different messiness tolerances. For example, cleaning bathrooms doesn’t strike most men as a necessary “daily task”. Once a week or even once every couple of weeks would be fine. So there’s probably a big gap between the amount of work the wife actually does and the amount of work the husband sees as being /necessary/. If a man chose on his own initiative to wash the car and trim the lawn for an hour EVERY SINGLE DAY and then went around complaining about how hard he has to work at home, people would think he was being a nut. They’d ask, why don’t you cut back a little? So I have to take issue with the claim that the “daily drudgery” is all work that MUST be done and the only solution is to share the fixed amount of work “more equitably”. A little expectation adjustment is probably in order as well.    

My best suggestion is to hire a housekeeping service to come in and give the house a thorough cleaning once or twice a month.

Whether it needs it or not. :-)

Glen • 4/9/03; 12:33:52 PM

Wow, I really find you incredibly insightful. I am not married, but I will be in 33 more days. Fortunately my fiance reads this blog. I just hope he is taking notes and not just being entertained!    

April • 4/8/03; 10:52:27 AM

Interesting. I haven’t read the other parts of this thread but I fear you are generalizing from your particular situation. We have a 5 year old son. My wife took the first year off with my blessing, as she felt strongly that she needed to. I committed to supporting the family financially. After the first year she went back to paid employment half-time, two days a week. Again, this was her decision. I changed jobs, giving up seniority for a more family friendly workplace (telecommuting options, flexible hours, etc). In the four years since she returned to paid employment I have supplemented her income with three infusions of cash, paid the entire mortgage, all insurance, 75% of utility/ telecom bills which are in my name, and paid for 80% of the groceries. I won’t even go into the inequities of gifts except to say I’d estimate the ratio at 50:1 cost-wise. I also pay for daycare on the two days per week I work from home. I cover the annual vacation costs and one-time expenses like new computers, appliances, and furniture.    

Lest you think I’m a cash-only-kinda guy, I cook three-quarters of the meals, clean the house between maid service visits. It’s also my job to give our child his bath, and always has been. I take care of him when my wife is out of town, at least once a week for a whole day, and once every three months overnight or longer. I haven’t been out of town solo in five years . . .

Not only does my wife not even ~offer~ to help with the mortgage or childcare costs, I recently got the word that “we” needed to save more for our son’s education.

Sooo . . . while I can understand your reaction to your husband’s fiat, I must tell you that in some situations it *IS* “my money”.

P.S. As for why my wife won’t have sex with me I suspect it’s because she only wants sex for one reason – to have another kid. No thanks, I’m tying a knot in it.

Can we change my name to something else? • 4/9/03; 8:19:15 AM 159.142.149.114

Canwechange:    

I’m struck by the very precise “accounting” you’re doing, and how resentful you sound.

Have you outlined this whole credit-and-debit ledger to your wife? Does she have any idea that you (apparently) see the money and labor situation as unfair? What did you say when she said “we” have to put more money aside? Would you be ABLE to put more money aside if she wasn’t working?

What is she spending “her” money on? Is it stuff that you would not be able to afford if she wasn’t working?

I sense a lot of anger. I suspect you no longer love your wife and that your marriage has become nothing more than a transaction for you, a market where you feel you’re being cheated on a daily basis. That’s really too bad. It’s very sad when that happens. I feel sorry for you both, because I’ll bet she knows something is wrong but can’t figure out what it is.

But, just as I’d advise any woman who felt that way to face the troubling situation squarely and give her husband the details of why she feels so resentful and ill-used, I’d advise you to do the same. Show your wife the intimate accounting you’ve just given us and let her react to it honestly. Maybe she’s not really thinking about how you are totting up the equity, just as my husband was not really thinking about money in terms of life partnership.

Let her know how you really feel. Sure, it might cause some trouble in the short run, but If the relationship really has become nothing more than a mercantile and labor exchange to you, what do you have to lose?

Julia

Hello, Interesting Site. I always thought that the original purpose of marriage was to ensure one could correctly determine their offspring and thus be worry free knowing that their fortune was going to the “right” person. I don’t understand what’s wrong with the all the detailed accounting. That makes a lot of sense to me. If and when it comes to complaining, wouldn’t a detailed account make sense? Furthermore, it also gives a rough idea as how much you are getting screwed, if at all.    

Sanjay • 4/9/03; 3:52:49 PM

Julia wrote:    

I’m struck by the very precise “accounting” you’re doing, and how resentful you sound

Well, what imediately follows is my experience of people, which was fairly wide if not totally promiscuous.

1. Precision is characteristic of people who pay attention to and care about details, regardless of their political or emotional bent.

2. Attributing emotional loading to people who you haven’t met based solely on their written expressions is fatuous. Projection,to use psychiatric terms.

I’m sorry, there isn’t an easy way around that. As for resentful, perhaps my shoulders aren’t as wide as they once were, but no, I do not resent my wife, any more than you wanted to *really* stick that paring knife into your husband.

To set the record straight, I love my wife, I am in *awe* of her accomplishments, and appreciate her contributions. Perhaps more than she appreciates mine . . . or not. Time will tell.

Have you outlined this whole credit-and-debit ledger to your wife?

No, she makes lists for me. I haven’t sufficient time to make lists. ;)

Actually I have, although not in ledger fashion. She sees the monthly bills, or could if she chose to. But it is easy to infer, or aggregate.

Does she have any idea that you (apparently) see the money and labor situation as unfair?

Yes, but I don’t think she regards it as a critical factor.

What did you say when she said “we” have to put more money aside?

I pointed out that 60% of my income went to maintaining the freehold (fixed costs), and another 15% went to household-related, seasonably-adjusted expenditures.

Would you be ABLE to put more money aside if she wasn’t working?

The importance to my wife of her work, especially emotionally, outweighs what financial and time constraints there on me the value of foreclosing on her paid employment (as if . . .)

And yes, I could probably save about $200 per month . . .if I quit having a social hour at the pub and provoking the local libs/neocons/loons. It’s my idea of sport . . .

What is she spending “her” money on?

Beats the holy crap out of me, I don’t ask, because it’s “her” money.

I sense a lot of anger. I suspect you no longer love your wife and that your marriage has become nothing more than a transaction for you

I’ve enjoyed the series you’ve written, even prior to being named CSoTD, and mostly agreed. I suppose I was just trying to show you the opposite side of the coin. Perhaps your response to my comments illustrates the obverse of male/female interaction?

If this were USENET, I’d respond to your “I sense a lot of anger” with

“Thank you Counselor Troi. I love my wife. In no particular order she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s beautiful. Now if only I could convince her of that.”

a market where you feel you’re being cheated on a daily basis.

Weekly, or perhaps fortnightly. Daily’s about the immediate. :)

That’s really too bad. It’s very sad when that happens. I feel sorry for you both, because I’ll bet she knows something is wrong but can’t figure out what it is.

Correct, but not for lack of my trying to explain. If I go factual it’s worth my life. If I talk about feeling I’m trumped.

I’d advise you to do the same. Show your wife the intimate accounting you’ve just given us and let her react to it honestly. Maybe she’s>not really thinking about how you are totting up the equity,

Prolly not. Daddy’s girl and whatnot. Daddy hung the moon, therefore anyone who functions as Daddy can/will/must hang the moon.

just as my husband was not really thinking about money in terms of life partnership.

See, where I’m coming from I ~am~ thinking about everything as part of a life partnership. Given the circumstances, can you understand my frustration?

Let her know how you really feel.

Other than small specifics, not on. email me privately if you’ve any interest, if only for more columnar fodder.

Sure, it might cause some trouble in the short run, but If the relationship really has become nothing more than a mercantile and labor exchange to you, what do you have to lose?

The [arguably problematic]love of my wife, access to my son, and [truly] lastly, a physical habitat into which I’ve put a lot of valuta, and which all three of us enjoy.

Best wishes,

Canwechangemynametosomethingelse? • 4/10/03; 9:29:16 AM

 

Canwechange: Thanks for your responses. I guess in your first message you were just…venting?…about something you feel helpless to change (or don’t really want to change). I’m confused, and you’re right, I shouldn’t make assumptions. But it did sound at least like you were COMPLAINING, hence my feeling that you were expressing resentment. I didn’t realize that the situation you described was okay with you. I made a classic “Ms. Fixit” mistake when I offered advice in response to what I took to be expressions of unhappiness or anger. I thought you might welcome an effort to help, and I apologize.    

Julia

Julia writes:    

I made a classic “Ms. Fixit” mistake when I offered advice in response to what I took to be expressions of unhappiness or anger.

 Heh. Took me five years to understand the difference between listening and “fix this”. Got beaten about the head and shoulders before I understood.

I thought you might welcome an effort to help, and I apologize. Never apologize for a dialogue. I learned some stuff and I’m sorry if that didn’t come through.

My ethos is if my child and my partner are healthy and well taken care of, all other things will work themselves out in time. One way or the other.

I’m 50 years old (yeah, I’m temporally retarded), but I learn things every day. The rest of your articles either caused me to chortle (i.e., “How could he think that”) or cast my eyes up and think “there but for the grace of Glub”.

We’ll do OK. Money’s money, and I’ll earn a lot more before I die. I’m more interested in what happens in between than my bank balance.

Best,

Canwechangemynametosomethingelse? • 4/10/03; 10:39:35 AM

THIS is why

Here’s another letter from one of my “fans.”

What a sad article you wrote.

And yes, I am bitter and angry, but more importantly I’m ready to tell it like it is to anyone willing to listen.

No, I’m not a beer swilling, football watching, fat lazy lay-around-the-house-and-pass-gas kind of guy. Quite the opposite. Not trying to brag through the anonymity of email, but I’m a good looking, college educated enterpreneur that is able to pretty much do whatever I want and when I want to, at least for the last few years. That goes for my wife as well.

By that, I mean she benefits enormously from my success. She doesn’t have to work, she refuses to work in the yard, she does minimal housework/cooking, leaving her only real responsibility in life to care for our 6 yr old daughter, who incidentally, is in pre-school the better part of the week. What a life she has. If only I could have achieved our level of comfort by doing what little she has had to do.

And there are many women in her situation, or at least in part. They have a man who provides a life of luxury (or at least extreme comfort) for them. Yet they refuse to have sex with their husband. Or at least they complain, or find an excuse, any excuse, not to satisfy their husband sexually. We’ve all heard the stories you alluded to in your articles, the jokes about how your sex life goes down hill after marriage etc. It is all true to be certain.

And the fact of the matter… women owe it to us. They owe us sexual satisfaction. Especially the women I described above.

Yes, call me a pig, an insensitive bastard, a chauvanist… I am. Never in my life did I imagine I would share the same attitudes of my beer swilling brothers, but they are right. Polite society tells us to be sensitive to our womans “sexual sensitivities” (or lack thereof), but I’ve had it.

Look what little a woman in the situation I described above really is required to do, and how little her husband asks of her. Seriously. A little laundry, some cooking, and raising some children. All under the comfortable umbrella of a husband who asks little or nothing of his wife (sexually) because he has been conditioned, cajoled, or otherwise brainwashed into thinking he is a pig for “expecting” sex from his wife. He is called a bastard for objectifying his wife in such a way.

Well, guess what, our sexual desire is natural and healthy and part of life.

And women (our wives) owe that tiny bit of satisfaction to us when we want it, whether or not they’re “really in the mood” for it or not.

I was a little testy this morning, so I answered:

You call my articles sad, but I think the same of your note.If you think you’re “owed” sex because you “paid” for it, you are thinking of your wife as a whore, an appliance, a mere household convenience. I guarantee she knows it, too. She knows she isn’t loved and that you think you own her body. You certainly don’t want to MAKE LOVE to her, that’s clear enough. Just as you find it maddening to be refused when you think you’ve bought and paid for it, she finds it maddening to be treated as nothing more than a handy vagina you’ve bought and paid for.

No wonder she can’t stand the thought of touching you.

Your marriage is dead. Since you are not willing to make any additional efforts or try anything more emotionally challenging, and you obviously don’t love your wife, I suggest you get divorced and negotiate the price of individual sex acts with professionals for the rest of your life. You’ll both be happier.

Thanks for writing.

Julia

What do YOU think?

Comments in response to this post:
I agree with you, julia. The writer makes it sound as if there’s some sort of quid pro quo agreement, when, I think, anyone who’s been in/is in a longterm relationship understands that it ain’t like that.My wife and I have had problems, but things only get worse when one of us takes the attitude that one person owes the other. That’s even discounting the fact that sex with someone who’s not interested, and doing it merely for the benefit of the other is no fun at all. I’ve been there, and it just ends in more pain and frustration. I can’t imagine that your letter-writer really wants that. Or, maybe I’m just overestimating him, since he obviously doesn’t understand that sex is a consensual act.    

michael• 5/26/03; 10:10:25 AM
Two medium sexual acts with two toppings(select from our list)–$999/week    

Steve • 5/26/03; 11:02:30 AM
Hard to imagine a better example of the situation you’ve been trying to illustrate for all us hard-of-learning guys. Once either partner falls into that “I paid, now what do I get?” mentality, finding intimacy becomes like chasing smoke, and the situation quickly becomes a downward spiral. I’d urge Mr. Can-Do Entrepreneur to be a little bit entrepreneurial about his relationship if he doesn’t want to be visiting his daughter three weekends a month for the next 12 years.    

Rob Salkowitz • 5/26/03; 12:08:04 PM
I love reading this column Julia. It makes me keenly aware of how lucky I am and my going-on thirty relationship. No, it’s not always peaches and cream but the fights (Oh the fights – Lowell George) always seem to turn out well. Because, simply, in the end, we love each other. There are better looking women out there as well the reverse, but there aren’t any more beautiful than my wife. Don’t think we’ll be divorcing anytime soon.regards – rich.    

rich pure&simple • 5/26/03; 5:01:06 PM
I kind of lost interest in your “male fan” when he stated that his “6 yr old daughter…is in pre-school the better part of the week.” Six is a little old for pre-school, unless she was a guest speaker.    

MJS • 5/26/03; 8:22:01 PM
Initially, I really wanted to be sympathetic towards the man. That was, after all, the situation I was in during my first marriage. I worked, she didn’t. I paid her way through college, although she wasn’t taking a particularly difficult load and wasn’t pushing that hard to finish. I didn’t mind. She was my wife.She was home most of the day. She didn’t cook, didn’t clean, didn’t do much at all. I figured that, since she was in school often enough, that it counted as being employed. So we should split chores equally.    

It didn’t work out that way, and I did most of the chores.

Our sex life was nonexistant. It had been from about the moment we moved in together. I didn’t press her, and we had sex on her schedule. I would, occasionally, try to talk about it. Or suggest various possiblities (ranging from vacations to couples therapy). She wasn’t interested, as she enjoyed her life. She had sex when she wanted it, went to college on my dime, and didn’t do a lot other than that.

Did I come to resent her? Sure I did. A little for the sex, since it seemed I was the one who was doing all the compromising. Mostly, however, for the fact that I did all the work. All the housework, all the cooking, all the money-making, all the relationship work.

I’m not so sure you’re fan is really angry about the sex. It’s possible he’s angry for the same reason I was. He doesn’t feel that the division of responsibility in the relationship is terribly fair, and is trying to “readjust it” in a fairly bad way by making sex a “Responsibility”.

He’d be better off seeking therapy for the two of them and finding a more fair division of responsibilities.

As for me, I divorced her. It became increasingly clear that we’d gotten married for all the wrong reasons, and that far from helping her (my intention) I was making things worse. I saw her through college, ensured she had health care until she graduated and got a good job, and then we parted ways. I understand she’s been far happier the last several years than she was the entire time I knew her.

I got remarried to a wonderful woman, whom I married for the correct reasons, and thankfully “My Wife Won’t Have Sex With Me” isn’t an issue. There’s a lot to be said for openness about problems and good communication.

Morat • 5/27/03; 9:11:22 AM
The issue of who does what work in and around the house is completely separate from that of quantity/quality of sex, and trying to link the two will poison the entire relationship, especially the sex.The only way I could agree with this man would be if his wife had explicitly promised to exchange sex for a comfy lifestyle, and failed to keep the promise. Even then, that’s a lousy deal for both parties (for one thing, it’s unenforceable), and he should not have taken the bait.    

What does he have to offer his wife sexually? Have they discussed this among themselves? Does he try to please his wife when they’re going at it? Does he care about her desires and feelings?

The man’s attitude is his own fault; but that’s not the whole story here. We’re not getting the full picture.

Raging Bee • 5/27/03; 9:58:56 AM
Did I come to resent her? Sure I did. A little for the sex, since it seemed I was the one who was doing all the compromising. Mostly, however, for the fact that I did all the work. All the housework, all the cooking, all the money-making, all the relationship work. Hey, it happens. There are plenty of clueless, lazy and selfish women in the world. It’s just that in my experience, for many men giving up on their wives is much, much easier than trying as hard as you did. Others tend to overestimate their efforts by “counting” tasks or emotional approaches that their wives never even see. That’s why a searching and honest mutual appraisal of your relationship and workloads can be so valuable.    

The only way anyone can know for sure that their marriage belongs in the Dispose-All IS by making the effort to communicate and change their situation. If — being absolutely honest with yourself — you feel you’ve made make a visible and sustained effort to communicate or improve your relationship and your spouse still doesn’t respond and is even unwilling to talk about it, then you can leave in good conscience.

Think of it as something you do for YOURSELF, for your own future peace of mind.

Julia Grey • 5/27/03; 10:04:39 AM
As I said, we went for therapy. I even went for therapy on my own. I was bound and determined to make sure that I had, in fact, tried everything. That I wasn’t making excuses to get out.One of the silver lining’s is that I learned what I needed in a relationship, and what I could offer. Honestly offer. And I found a woman who provided what I need, and wanted what I offered. Makes life a lot happier, when you act like yourself.    

Morat • 5/27/03; 1:11:38 PM
I have a hard time believing that any parent who lived with their child past the first few years doesn’t know that six year olds are past preschool. If this writer is making up the kid, he’s probably making up the whole over-the-top story to get a reaction. Which he got. See the definition of “troll” at http://jargon.net/jargonfile/t/troll.html    

Ananda-mouse reader • 5/27/03; 4:40:02 PM
That had crossed my mind, s.But I think he’d show up here to continue the fun if that was the case.    

I prefer to think he just had a brain fart (which is not not inconsistent with the level of anger the note was expressing).

I got a lot of similarly resentful feedback in the beginning of this blog. It tells me there’s a lot of fury and pain out there, and sometimes intellectual details/writing skills slip away from us when we’re that upset (or intoxicated).

Julia Grey • 5/27/03; 6:25:15 PM
Hiya, jumping back in after an extended absence.I’m the anal-retentive “accountant”.    

I agree that your new correspondent is nuts if he expects to knock boots on *his* schedule simply because he’s carrying the family financially. But.

He’s definitely owed *something* he’s not getting out of the relationship, and that is respect. Taking his accounting at face value he’s getting SFA for his dime/time. Trust me, I know what minimal cooking and housework means.

Unlike his wife, mine wife is the uncompensated President of a non-profit organization, had a book published last year, and tended our son when I’m working. While she contributes comparatively little to the household, she is “working”, at least.

Your new correspondent’s wife doesn’t seem to be doing *anything* (or perhaps she’s “doing” the poolboy while the kid’s in school) and I can see the justification for his frustration.

There are two ways to devalue someone’s contributions to an organization, by disparaging them or by taking them as one’s due. His wife takes the latter course. Mine takes the former course by pointing out my failures . . . but only when she’s already angry about something.

BTW, us older folk often confuse kindergarten and pre-school – it’s a recent trend to send kids to “school” before kindergarten – and use the words interchangeably. So the kid could be 6 chron but unable, due to a post-September birthdate, to go to first grade.

Or the kid could be “special needs”

Canwechangemynametosomethingelse? • 5/30/03; 8:37:34 AM
There is a problem with the post. However, the problem has nothing to do with the man’s need for sex. The suprising part is that he feels he needs to justify his need for sex in some way.No, his right to having a sex life does not extend from his earning capacity or his role in the household. That’s just his right as a red-blooded man. And if he doesn’t feel happy with it, he should just try to work it out, or get a divorce.    

Plain and simple.

Let’s face it, monetary considerations aside, few people, including the owner of this site, would have been angry had the original poster had been female, rather than male. “He doesn’t hold me anymore.” “He doesn’t show any PASSION anymore in his lovemaking.” “He doesn’t take his time.”

Bleh. Meanwhile, said woman is sitting on her ass waiting for him to read her mind. More likely, she thinks the best way to make him feel good about sex is to buy herself some new underwear for HIS birthday.

Uh. Whatever.

To each his or her own.

So my only message to the guy, is that you’ve got a right to be angry. But really, there should be no need to justify it based on the number of dollars you make. That might be pervceived as rude, and probably won’t get you very far anyways.

Just say what you want: sex. That’s all that need be said, really. Most of us sane folk are pretty sound with that.

moses • 5/30/03; 3:58:30 PM
Regardless of the poster’s attitude re expecting sex in exchange for the financial and other things he has provided to his wife, a sexless marriage is generally doomed (unles you’re over 60 or something). You can condemn his reasoning all you like, but the fact is, they are finished if she won’t have sex with him anymore. And, as well they should be. No one should be expected to live in a sexless marriage.    

Matt Campbell • 5/30/03; 6:24:40 PM
Allow me to suggest a solution to this man’s problem: a new definition of masculinityOn more than one occasion, we’ve heard the feminist criticism that men have yet to “re-invent themselves”. Women have been re-inventing themselves over the past thirty years, these critics insist. As usual, according to feminists, the problem lies solely and exclusively with men.    

Men are said to be confused about their roles, because feminism has redefined women’s place in society, but hasn’t addressed the question of what men’s role is; moreover, it’s up to men to catch up. Attempts to obtain clarification on which areas or what re-inventing one’s self actually means are generally responded to with, “men just don’t get it.” One would hope for a more sophisticated and informative response, but it isn’t forthcoming.

Since the answer to this admittedly ill-posed question isn’t going to appear out of nowhere, I propose my own answer, my own presumptuous attempt to redefine men and masculinity.

It’s all about work.

A central tenet of feminism is that women’s oppression transcends time, geography, history and culture. Whatever the transcendent notion of oppression is, it is clear that the subjugation of intelligent labor is involved, and not the labor of beasts. This connection with the subjugation of labor is perhaps one reason for the common affiliation of feminism and Marxism.

In response to the recurrent theme of the subjugation of labor, and in accordance with the popular pejorative notion that men are extremely simple, my proposed re-invention of masculinity is also simple: it centers on the notion of work.

Buddy, can you par-a-digm?

As in the “older” definition of masculine identity, work is still essential to the identity of men. As the great Zen master said, “men shut up and shovel the gravel.” There is a crucial difference, however. In the older definition, a man is someone who works to provide for others. I propose a radical shift: in the new masculine paradigm, a man is defined by his work, which must be pursued as an end in itself. Providing for others is absolutely not expected–this immediately follows from the principle that a man’s work is to be pursued for its own sake. It must not be taken advantage of or used for anyone else’s gain or benefit, in any way.

An even more radical ideal position would be to insist that providing for others is absolutely not permitted; however, I would consider this the ethos of the man’s man, according to the new paradigm.

Your independence is no one else’s business.

So much has been made about the new independence of women, that men must re-invent themselves in the way I have suggested for this independence to reach its ultimate conclusion, and for men to at last catch up to women, after thirty years of wallowing in outmoded notions of masculinity.

For contrast, here’s what Australian men’s rights advocate Richard Millicer wrote in 1997:

“That’s also why I believe that it is now Women’s turn to change, to develop insight into their sexism, to revise their supremacist self-image. We, Men have been doing that for 30 years as we slowly and reluctantly recognised our contribution to traditional cultural inequalities for Women. Contrary to popular rhetoric and repeated even within the Men’s Movement, it is actually Women who are 30 years behind Men. That is because Women do not even recognise, let alone acknowledge their crucial part in the cultural inequalities for both men and women, but increasingly men. Women still do not recognise or acknowledge the profound impact that their traditional feminine self-absorption and self-righteousness is having on interpersonal, social, economic and political events.”

Millicer’s view is less revolutionary than mine. I don’t bother to criticize women for being self-absorbed or self-righteous–they can be whatever they are. Indeed, I take the position that women’s independence is no one else’s business–virtually by definition. I simply advocate a position which, in its extreme form, would prohibit men from providing for others altogether; its moderate forms would make this a decision which is optional and which may be revoked at any time. In any case, providing for others has been removed entirely from the definition of masculinity.

This does have the consequence that no man could claim to be better than any other man on account of his ability to provide for others. This is because work must be pursued for its own sake. A demand that work should be pursued for the sake of others is to impose a kind of servitude on others–and that may be un-American.

Mars • 6/1/03; 1:20:47 AM
After several visits, I have managed to work my way through this whole thread. And, “work” is certainly the operative term here. Compared to contemporary marriage, even the most onerous job begins to seem like a cakewalk.On the one hand, it does seem to me like you are out to do an essentially “good thing”. (with a nod to Martha). If men are out to find ways to entice their wives to have sex with them, then it makes perfect sense for them to have to pander to women in the ways which you subtly suggest.    

However, for those who don’t fall neatly into the stereotypes of men wanting and women witholding, it seems that the fundamental nature of the marriage relationship is being perverted. Wendy Dennis wrote a book a few years back called “Hot and bothered: love and sex in the 90s”. She devoted an entire chapter to the long haul, and made the incredibly perceptive statement that in marriages that last, the partners understand the need and value of “this one’s for you.”

You seem to take great offense when a man expresses the sentiment of having “bought and paid for” sex. In one of your essays, you mention the section of the old marriage vows to the effect of “with all my worldly goods endow.” What this translates to is putting everything one has into the marriage for the sake of the marriage. Holding back and keeping too close books is extremely poisonous to a close relationship.

Under that structure of marriage, providing for her husband’s physical and emotional needs was just as much a part of the woman’s role as providing for her physical and comfort needs was part of his role. In the partnership version of marriage, a woman saying “I’m not going to have sex with you because I’m not in the mood” is the exact equivalent of a man saying “I’m not going to go to work today to make the money to provide for your needs, because I am not in the mood.”

The mysticism which surrounds sex makes it possible to treat it entirely differntly than any other form of human activity. On any given day a man may absolutely hate and dread the thought of going to work, may hate his job so much that it gives him ulcers and other stress induced diseases, but continues to do it because it is the means of living up to his understanding of a commitment he made. The more obnoxious he finds his job, the more of a statement it is of how much he is trying to do for her by persevering at it – shutting up and shoveling some gravel as the poster just above describes it.

This afternoon I passed a magazine rack and had a look at the current issue of Glamour magazine. One of the cover stories was “getting the kind of sex you want.” Each of the several segments of the article was titled “You want more ________ ” And that certainly fits with my perception of women over the past 3 decades or so – no matter what they HAVE, they always seem to want more.

I had the thought of adding a very evil tag line to the name of your blog – “Why your wife won’t have sex with you, but is harassing the shit out of me to have sex with HER.” Call me Al Bundy – my years since middle age have been spent fending off predatory wives looking to trade up when it comes to husbands, and using sex as the bait. My cynical side comes out when I feel like suggesting to men that if his wife won’t sleep with him, then just sleep with some other man’s wife who has soured on her husband and have him sleep with yours.

All in all, reading your blog has made me want to take some advice my doctor offered me several years ago. When he asked me if I was married, and I said no, I wasn’t, he said “ever morning and every night get down on your knees and thank god.” He was just going through his second very ugly divorce, at age 69, and was just coming to grips with the fact that no matter how much he wanted to make the concept of marriage work, that it just didn’t seem to any more.

But, reading your blog has made me truly thankful that I stubbornly resisted being shamed into marriage by all the man-bashing about “men can’t make committments.”

zed • 6/1/03; 5:31:28 PM
Funny how “owing” sounds an awful like “owning.”Any etymologist around here by the way?    

julien • 6/1/03; 5:49:01 PM
Uhm, Julia?Grow up.    

For a majority of people alive today, marriage is prostitution. For an overhwelming majority of all the people that have ever lived, marriage has always been prostitution.

Not too many people live in the First World where people are wealthy enough to pretend it isn’t. For everybody else, marriage is legal, socially acceptable, long term prostitution. Both partners offer sex in exchange for goods and/or services.

The deal works out something like this. Women get food, shelter, a (relatively) stable and secure place to raise their children AND sex in exchange for maid service, child rearing, AND sex. Men get maid service, child rearing AND sex in exchange for providing food, shelter, a (relatively) stable and secure place to raise their children AND sex.

That makes both partners prostitutes. Women want sex, need sex, crave sex, and require sex as stongly if not more strongly than men. Your anonymous responder’s problem may be that he’s lousy in bed. If that’s the csee he’d better learn how to be a better lover. If that’s not the case, then she’s ripping him off.

The question isn’t whether this poor guy married a prostitute, he did, and he’s one as well for that matter. The question is: did he marry an honest prostitute?

If it’s the case that he’s an adequate or better lover, then the answer is no. She’s ripping him off and he has every right to be angry about it.

On the other hand if he’s awful in bed, then he’s the one that’s in breach of contract and his anger is totally misplaced. There isn’t enough information presented to make that determination.

Your chastising him for being angry over the situation simply demonstrates what a chauvinist pig you are.

Waldo • 6/1/03; 10:43:57 PM
Wow. See, had you asked me to define my marriage, I would say “Well, it’s two people who enjoy each other’s company living together and raising a family”.Sex life fits under “enjoying each other’s company” (one of many ways). Chores, bills, and jobs fit under “raising a family”. She didn’t marry me for the money, and I didn’t marry her for easy sex. We married each other because we were far happier together than we were apart.    

Morat • 6/2/03; 1:26:05 PM
I think I’ve said this before, Morat, but you are a very wise fellow.smile    

Julia Grey • 6/2/03; 2:44:54 PM
and a LUCKY one.    

zed • 6/2/03; 4:56:47 PM
If a marriage is not sexless, but the frequency is minimal, and she insists she loves her husbands and has sexual desire for him, what then. Is twice a month a natural frequency?

foolio • 12/12/05; 11:17:53 PM

I believe I am in the same situation as you. When my fiance and I first got together it was great and we talked about everything, we were in our “Honeymoon” stage. Well, that part is long gone now and we have lived together for 7 months. He has a past of a lot of injuries, depression, and anger. He uses the “I’m Irish, we’re like that” excuse alot of the time. He goes in and out of employment trying to find the right job, which I fully understand. Anyways, if he isn’t sick, he’s injured, and if he’s not those he’s angry. There always has to be a problem, if there isn’t he finds something to pick at me about, finds it funny, and if I don’t find it funny it’s my fault and I’m not being fun and then he’ll get angry with me, and tell me I’m getting him down. I do all that “housework” stuff, because he can’t for some reason or another. I want to talk to him about it, but I fear he will just get angry again, and tell me that I’m picking at him like his past girlfriends, or like his mother. I don’t know what I should do. The gist of this post is: I make a comment, it angers him somehow, I don’t make a comment, he can tell and wants me to tell him so I do, then gets angry with me. I suppose I am taking on a part of life, right? I am 20 years old and back on my depression meds so I can better hide my emotions, I used to cry every night I was so confused on what to do. Any suggestions, positive or negative, I am very open to them.

What should I do? • 9/22/06; 12:37:36 PM

Postscript

After I posted “THIS is Why,” a now-defunct men’s group had a discussion of my May 26th posting of the email in which a man whines that he isn’t getting what he paid for because his wife won’t provide wet vagina on demand.

The cold-blooded macho swaggering there was very entertaining (in its own sick and useless way). My answer to Resentment Man was characterized as “FemiNazi crap,” even though they went on to almost unanimously agree with my contention: if all a man really wants from marriage is a quid pro quo that guarantees him sex when and where he wants it in return for room and board, he really should spare himself the hassle of finding or staying in a relationship. He’d be happier if he simply bought his satisfaction from pros and didn’t trouble himself — or amateur women — with any of this love, trust, intimacy or life-partnership nonsense.

Since they agree with me, I guess they’re FemiNazis, too. Weird.

Here’s a general reply to the equally furious public comments on the “THIS is why” post, above:

As I said earlier, there’s obviously a lot of pain out there being translated into red-hot anger and hostility. I’m sorry about that, guys, but I have to keep speaking the truth as *I* see it, too. And the truth I’m seeing is that these expressions of cynicism, this rage, and that everlasting kicking with your poor bruised bare feet at the brick walls of interpersonal erotic reality will get you exactly nowhere. It won’t get you sex, it won’t get you love, it won’t get you respect. It will get you precisely N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Notice that these guys insist that women are asking too much these days because they are now openly telling men what they need in sex and relationships. Yet at the same time these mopes are insisting that women should be, believe and behave the way they want them to. If wishes were horses….

Again, the question they should be asking themselves is whether they can step up to the challenge of being the kind of man women want to have long-term, satisfying sexual relationships with. If they can’t measure up to those standards of attitude and behavior by which many of their fellow men happily sustain their marriages to all us “impossible-to-please” females, that’s a shame — and I am sorry that these poor angry men are going live their lives hugging nothing but the cold comfort of being In The Right — but frankly that’s not my problem.

I really wonder who needs to “grow up” here.

###

9 Responses to “Anger”

  1. Chris Says:

    My observation is that women get sexually bored of the man they married as soon as the children arrive. It’s obvious, that biologically, women are wired to procreate and have diverse genetic material (different men) to ensure the widest genetic diversity for species survival. That said, men are wired to procreate at the drop of a hat. Religious and cultural engineering, via laws Church and State, has influence group social dynamics to the point of distorting our true natures, in fact cutting us off from knowing who we really are on a sexual level. Many will say, “but we are civilized!”. Look again in the mirror, last time I saw we still occupy the Body Human. It has its genetically programed commands, in order for our species to survive. Yes, humankind has made headway with modern technologies, but the underlying genome has been around for some time. The Pavlovian conditioning that is passed down from generation to generation and institution to institution has laid down an iron curtain, a mental barrier that prevents us from looking deep into our drives and getting a healthy perspective. It’s not a pretty picture that I paint, but I would say it’s closer to observed truth than the “effects” that are being discussed on this blog.” To err is human” and I would throw this one in the mix, “To be married, is to be disfunctional ( at some level and at some degree)”. Married couples live in quiet desperation. Deep needs not being fulfilled, and expectations not being experienced. It goes back to the conditioning and the fact that the conditioning represses our true nature. Many reading this will scoff at this perspective. The conditioning is so strong, that denial will trump seeing the obvious. Sorry folks, its not poetic because it’s not wrapped up in a novel or a good movie. The thing is, if we could ever truly connect with our true natures, now that would be poetic. It would also be a life of contrast to the one we are living. It would be real. Yes, I handed you an empty bag. Sort of. It’s up to you to fill it. Those answers we seek, they are locked up tight inside of us. Find yourselves, and husbands won’t need to obsess on having sex with there wife. Wife’s won’t have to deny their husband sex. Because the husband will be off having sex elsewhere, either imaginary via self gratification or the real thing. Beware husband, and always remember, a wife is a woman. If you run off and marry again, the story plays out the same. No matter how good a lover you are, no matter how much money you make. It’s the same end game. Be warned wife, you are a woman, you will want more, your needs will not be met, it’s an impossibility. For the wife’s that find another man’s company as gratifying and plan to trade up or just do the naughty. It’s only naughty because if feels great living your true nature. Beware, when a man becomes a husband, he will bore you. Not because he is boring, but because you want more. More genetic material. It’s that simple, it’s that real, and in the end, the battle of the sexes with all it’s finger pointing, is just another way of avoiding taking responsibility for looking at our own selfs and discovering who we really are. Most married couples are lost in their roles like actors who lost themselves in the script, so it’s no wonder it ends in misery. Drop the script, look into yourself, find the answers, take another look into your partners eyes, and perhaps something real will happen. When something real happens, happy or sad,
    at least it real! It’s a way better way than pretending, because that’s what most couples do!

  2. Aaron Says:

    Sorry got to rant about one little thing. Where you went on about how your husband doesn’t appreciate how much work you do taking care of the house and cooking and you don’t get why he doesn’t want do chores when he gets home. You talk about how he doesn’t notice how much you do when he is gone but you seem to completely ignore how much work he does when he is at work. Most people working full time pull 40, 50 hour weeks. Even if you are a total neat freak there is no way you are working nearly that much during the week and then to demand that he pick up the slack when he gets home is really very selfish. Chances are your husband is working twice as much as you are but according to you the only thing he does is pay the bills twice a month and mow the grass now and then. What do you think he does all day, hang out at the mall?

  3. Don Says:

    Not too much to say here… I will say that the pinching and grabbing was quite welcome and encouraged at the start of our relationship, when it elicited giggles and squeals and excited bouts of counter-pinching. Then one day the giggles and playful swatting was replaced with thin-lipped annoyance. And I don’t mean this stuff wore out its welcome. I mean in the space of about two weeks after we started living together, that was that without so much as a ‘thanks for the memories’.

    Okay, I kinda get this. If she tells me that the groping and pinching is no longer welcome, she’ll feel like the Frigid Ice Queen that’s spoiling all of the fun. She may also have to answer a lot of awkward and probing questions, i.e. what’s the matter? Am I doing something wrong? Have you always felt this way? Why didn’t you tell me before? I think these are questions most women tend to avoid, especially when attraction to their husbands is in a state of flux.

    Okay, I get that too. Men are notoriously insecure if their wives tell them any of this openly. Men will either get hostile, defensive or both. But, women need to be honest AND they need to be direct with their men, because what would happen when a pinch was met with the thin-lipped annoyance was I’d be saying to myself what did I do? Is she angry with me? I’m not really sure why. The logical step would be to ask her – and she’d assure me up and down that Everything Is Fine, so obviously there are no problems – that is until bedtime, AND THEN there would be problems.

    It’s my experience that people, that is men and women both, overestimate what they do in an average day and underestimate what their partners do. This is a fairly natural thing to do and I’m not going to dump on anyone for it, but I will say that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, as I was a stay-at-home dad of a two year old for a period of eight months and I can say from my own experiences that it was neither harder or easier or more or less rewarding than doing paid work outside the home. Other people will see it differently, I’m sure, but I’ve been in my wife’s shoes and it really galled her that I did what she viewed as endless drudgery while hardly breaking a sweat. Maybe I have a better aptitude for housework than my wife does, and I don’t judge (nor does society judge) my domestic prowess as critically as my wife does hers. Women tend to be simultaneously impressed that I have housekeeping skills and jealous that I don’t seem to find it as awful as they do. Those are all factors I think, but the whole ‘I do more than you’ is in many instances, a crap argument, and a poor reason to be angry. Yes, there are a significant number of relationships where one partner doesn’t pull their weight, but I think overall the division of labour works out to be reasonably equal.

    I will say as far as the money thing goes that like canwechange wrote on 4/9/03, there are times IT IS my money, and sometimes I will decide what to spend it on. I’m grossly generalizing here, but many women in marriages tend to set themselves up as the money managers, not because they’re necessarily better at handling money or even because they do the shopping, but because they view it as some kind of marital right and when it’s all said and done, they have the final say. If I weren’t more aggressive in declaring some kind of financial sovereignty, we’d be in serious trouble, nor would I ever get to ‘pay myself’ as I believe everyone should do. It’s not my money, it’s our money – but I am entitled to a certain piece of it all my own. But there have been periods in our marriage where my wife thought of me and my role in it as little more than a walking ATM and my earning of that money was trivialized into insignificance, and therefore legitimate financial needs were ignored in favour of what she wanted. If I was looking upon her as little more than hot, wet vagina on demand, then she saw me as little more than an inexhaustible trust fund. Neither is good, both are equally destructive.

    “Again, the question they should be asking themselves is whether they can step up to the challenge of being the kind of man women want to have long-term, satisfying sexual relationships with. If they can’t measure up to those standards of attitude and behavior by which many of their fellow men happily sustain their marriages to all us “impossible-to-please” females, that’s a shame — and I am sorry that these poor angry men are going live their lives hugging nothing but the cold comfort of being In The Right — but frankly that’s not my problem.
    I really wonder who needs to “grow up” here.”

    Hmm. I’m not sure who specifically this is addressed to, but I think Julia sails into some very dangerous waters here because I believe the vast majority of men who are in sexless marriages are decent men and not the petulant boy-men she makes them out to be here. These notions of “the kind of man” whose “standards of behaviour” don’t “measure up” are merely going to create an army of neurotic micromanaging men who aren’t going to get any more sex and are going to be MORE miserable and LESS desirable until they explode. This doesn’t make them deficient people; it makes them human. Besides, these standards and measures she speaks of are a two-way street. Sooner or later, you’ll be looking at your own spouse in the same way and judging whether or not she ‘measures up’ as well, an idea that most women would find offensive.
    The antidote to this and is the same in all comments I’ve written is that before you work on your marriage, you HAVE TO WORK ON YOURSELF. Bring yourself into a natural state of self-confidence and you’ll find the sex problems in your marriage infinitely easier to deal with.

  4. Thomas Says:

    I think anger lies under the surface and causes a lot of pain. I’m angry at my wife for years.. She snuggles me and if I dare touch her in a sexual way, I’m nasty, a dirty old man and I’m in trouble. If I walked up behind her and gently ran my hands up her sides and cup her breasts, I’m a bad man.
    When we met she had been having sex since she was 14 with her first boy friend and bragged about giving blow-jobs. She got with me and she gave them and then they went away along with the rest of our sex life. She had sex with a couple a guys but it was teenage sex. I’d had sex quite a bit by the time we met and had quite a lot of different experiences beyond anything she’s ever had.
    That said, that was 19 years ago and I can still say the same thing.
    I’m angry now and it shows. I try to be the man she wants me to be, but it doesn’t seem to matter to her, she doesn’t want to have sex at all as far as I can tell. She won’t ever initiate it. If I do, she will sometimes, but its always a burden to her and I really feel like I’m making her do something she doesn’t want to do.
    That inevitably leads to me losing my erection and early withdrawal and nothing coming of it.

    The thing is, she seems OK with it that way. She won’t talk about our sex life. She won’t talk about anything of an intimate nature, unless of course its criticizing me for a nearly endless string of things she doesn’t like about me.
    Not that I haven’t done that to her too.
    I might be able to deal with it OK, if it weren’t for two events. I left her three years ago and divorced her. Before I left, she attacked me and we had the best sex we’d ever had. She preformed oral sex and was aggressive and made me feel like I want to feel. I was so confused, but I left anyway. I moved away and four months later I came back. I missed too much and wanted to be in her presence. When I came back, she did the same thing. Attacked me and again it was about the best sex I’ve ever had. Then that was it. Since then maybe we’ve had sex 25 times and never good sex, just average fat people sex and she’s never really engaged it in though.
    It could be me, maybe I’m a bad lover. But I don’t think so, I have previous experiences that tell me, I’m more than adequate. I don’t want to cheat on her, but I’m getting to a point that its creeping into my mind more and more often. The angrier I get, the less I want to touch her, even when I’m really horny. I can work on myself all I want, but if she won’t deal with intimacy, what do I do?
    I don’t want to leave again just so I can have good sex and I don’t want to cheat. How do I get the motivation out of her that my leaving and returning generated? Anger is bad.

  5. Nuf Says:

    Well said again Don,

    I have a lot of similar stuff going on as in Julia’s top post. My wife seems to think she got a raw deal out of the relationship. I don’t fully understand it, she always tells me I am wrong when i paraphrase, then we never get to the truth. It’s like she doesn’t want to admit what is bugging her, so she does then kind of backtracks, feeling guilty about not being happy, but the resentment is there. There is more going on than the simple division of labor, and as the breadwinner and the one that does all of the traditional man jobs I feel OK about letting her do most of the inside work. I think a certain amount of the resentment is that she had not seen herself as a domestic goddess before she got married. I think she feels I imposed that on her. In fact I would have preferred she stay home with the kids when they were younger then get back to her career when they were a little older. But it kind of worked the other way around because she wanted to get back to work as soon as possible when the kids were young but ended up giving up on it after a few years because one employer closed and finding a job with working hours around school is not easy. The truth is I did not offer enough support to her liking. I though the kids would be better off with mommy at home for a while. Now I am paying for not supporting her getting back to work years ago. And in later years we continued to procrastinate in getting her back to work for various practical reasons. And she feels bad about it, like she has given up more of herself than is fair. And I pay with her simmering resentment. I did certainly enable it, we don’t need the money, and she knows it. And we knew my job was going to bring in most of the money and therefore a higher priority. My recent bout of negativity has me expecting that when she does get a job and we do discuss a re-division of duties in the end she will still be too tired for sex and intimacy, and still feel she is getting ripped off somehow. She may feel better about herself, but about me? Change is on the way, I hope it is good for the whole family.

  6. Lisa Lynne Says:

    What do I think? (In response to your question, re: the misogynistic sociopath who thinks women “owe” men sexual satisfaction.)

    He says, “Yes, call me a pig, an insensitive bastard, a chauvinist….”

    That would be going too easy on him. The easy read, if you will.

    This is a person who is likely mutilating hookers and burying their body parts in a national park somewhere. Beer swilling? Would that he would indulge in something so harmless. I think he might be a serial killer, or at least one in the making.

    Women owe you sexual satisfaction, when YOU want it, whether or not they’re in the mood? That’s called rape.

    “He is called a bastard for objectifying his wife in such a way.” Rightfully so, and I’ll bet its his wife who called him one.

    My guess? This is a stick it in, wet or dry, ready or not, here-I-come one-minute wonder, who’s long-suffering wife’s contributions to the family are unnoticed, unappreciated, regularly devalued and belittled at the EXACT same time he is demanding access to her parts. And no mistake about it, all she is, is parts.

    “Polite society tells us to be sensitive to our womans “sexual sensitivities” (or lack thereof), but I’ve had it.” It doesn’t look like you ever TRIED this. It looks like you have been a self-absorbed, entitled, woman-hating shell of a human being from the get-go.

    You get whatever you want, whenever you want it…. except of course from this person who has a heart, a mind, some dreams, some expectations, some hopes and some wishes of her own, that are not all about you. Bugs the crap out of you, obviously…. that she isn’t just a piece of hardware, or a simpering fool who worships you despite your many flaws.

    They sell pocket pussys at the adult toy store. Ready whenever you are, with no complaints, no excuses, no resistance, no expectations. You should rush right out and get you some.

  7. josh Says:

    you guys didnt help later

  8. jb Says:

    And if you think that because you “make the money” you shouldn’t have to contribute anything to the household routine, we gotta talk.

    LOL, my wife makes the money, but I do have my own………and I STILL contribute WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more…….

  9. http://tinyurl.com/kegoson53734 Says:

    I think about the reasons why you labeled this post, “Anger Why Your Wife Won’t Have Sex With You”. Regardless I admired the blog!Thank you,Merissa


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