What To Do

Originally Blogged: November 21, 2003

What To Do

Back about a thousand years ago when I was preparing for my long and brilliant career in acting (cough), I had to choose between two different ways of approaching the craft. The first was the legendary Method school of acting, in which actors attempt to almost mystically turn themselves into their characters and Really Feel their emotions. It’s a very difficult and draining process if you do it right, and to me (admittedly lazy about the “backstory” research and annoyed by the silly improv exercises my instructors were requiring) Method seemed to be favored by people who were not so much serious about their Ahhhrrt as serious about dramatizing themselves as Ahhhrtists.

I preferred what was known as “technical” acting, which concentrated solely on creating a believable outward appearance of emotion rather than generating the emotion and then expressing it for the audience to see. The fascinating thing about technical acting, though, was that just pretending to feel something would often cause some inklings of that emotion to emerge within you.

It was my first experience with the phenomenon of “acting as if,” which in the psychological world has gained currency as a way of helping people resolve longstanding interpersonal impasses. It works like this: No matter how you actually feel, act as if you feel differently. The other person will then react to you differently than they have before, and you will be able to react differently to them, and as a result there is a good chance that you will actually be able to break new ground in the relationship.

With that idea in mind, here are a couple of “techniques” you can try to get your relationship with your wife back on track.

Look into her eyes. It is astonishing how little we actually meet each others’ eyes when we are bored or angry or taking each other for granted.

Touch her hand and point out something interesting or funny to her. Smile.

Brush her hair away from her face or fix the collar of her coat. Don’t be upset if she ducks away from this the first time or two. She may not understand or trust it. Just look at her kindly (into her eyes), don’t reproach or get angry. Say something like, “I’m sorry I scared you.”

Open a door for her. Guide her gently through it with a hand at the small of her back.

Share a piece of food with her. Break a cookie apart and smile at her (looking at her eyes) while you offer the other half.

Listen to her. Most women babblebabblebabble at their husbands because their husbands DON’T listen. They’re trying to get something through, get some kind of acknowledgement that they are being heard, that they matter, that they even exist in their husbands’ world. Listening means finding something to respond to. But response doesn’t mean just briskly saying, “This is what you do to fix yourself or that situation.” It means saying something like, “Gee, that’s interesting, because something similar happened to me once (share it!),” or “Wow, that must have hurt you,” or “Is there anything I can do to help you with that?”

Pat the couch next to you, inviting her to sit down with you. This is especially nice at a party or other event. If at a party, lean close and tell her (or whisper) that her perfume smells nice or her hair looks pretty.

Tell her something about your inner life during your day. Some small incident, no matter how trivial. Let her sympathize with you about a little miff, or understand your tiny triumph over an office rival, or learn about an annoyance you experienced that has nothing to do with her. As time goes on, this will be easier, and eventually you may be able to move on to sharing bigger feelings with her.

Buy her something extremely cheap, totally stupid and/or funny, just because.

When she’s carrying on about something other people have done to her, ASK if she is seeking advice before you give it: “Do you want advice, sweetheart, or do you just need me to listen?”

Pay attention. Try to figure out what’s going through her mind. Try to anticipate what she needs.

Say, “I’m sorry I….[made fun of you, didn't take the trash out, spent that money, said that about your mother....]” (Oh, so hard, but oh so necessary!)

Smile. Look into her eyes.

Pay attention.

Bring her a cup of tea. Cover her feet with the afghan.

Say, “I love you. I may not act like it sometimes, but I really do.”

Smile.

Did I mention looking into her eyes?

Comments in response to this post:
Oh, Julia. Sigh. This is the specific advice for “clearing the splatter from the windshield” of our relationships? Acting “as if”? As if, indeed. This is the standard advice chapter in almost every book on relationship-repair I’ve ever read (e.g., When One of You Wants to Bring the Two Of You Together; The Sex-Starved Marriage, etc.) Please tell me that your specific advice encompasses more than this.

I don’t know about the other guys here, but I’ve tried this. Sure, it gives you an initial feeling of warmth and contentedness, but so does urinating in your pants. And this technique may work for some low-libido wives out there, but my wife, who is very intelligent, never seems to get past the suspicion stage–”what are you up to?” And I’m not sure exactly how acting “as if” is any different from burying my resentment down deep and presenting a happy face, a practice I was criticized for during some earlier discussions that went on here.

I want to clarify: I am almost always loving and kind towards my wife. I cook for her. I share my cookies. I touch her warmly without any sexual demand in mind. I even look deeply into her eyes, which are still so very beautiful to me. I listen to her, am careful not to give unsolicited advice, and have learned to walk the tightrope between chivalry (helping on with a coat…) and chauvinism (…but only if I grab her coat first inadvertenly). I act “as if” I love her, because, even after months and years of physical rejection, I still do. My love for her, and the display of it, is obvious and generous. Her love for me is obvious, she tells me. Her display of it? Fleeting: a hug which is noteworthy for its rarity. A soft kiss faintly remembered in the many weeks of grandmotherly tight-lipped ones.

Julia: Tell me there’s more. (Or, at least, act “as if” there’s more.) I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. I really do enjoy this blog, as my most recent comment clearly indicates. But, if this is it…if this is the key…if this is your answer to all of us who have waited patiently through all the subjects in the right-hand column for THE ANSWER, I’m going to go home, sit in a closet, and cry, because my last glimmer of hope just faded to black.

Harry • 11/21/03; 12:22:40 PM
Here’s my guess, based on my inner life during my first marriage (which ended after 12 years): she had a fantasy about what married life would be like, and somehow real life has fallen short (it always will). She hasn’t thought about it; there’s just something missing, she’s not as happy as she thought she’d be, and she doesn’t know why. Maybe she blames you for that.She doesn’t remember or value the ongoing good stuff: it’s *supposed* to be there, that’s not a bonus–it’s justice, so it doesn’t count extra. The bad stuff, on the other hand, was not part of the picture she made up, and it’s not fair!

If she feels she’s getting a raw deal and doesn’t know why, she may be blaming you, or thinking that the relationship was wrong in the first place. She may not feel generous with her affection–she’s not getting what she wants, and may either be withholding as punishment or may simply not have the resources to be able to give when she’s not feeling good about her life.

IMHO it’s an immature attitude. Intelligence is not causally related to (nor even well correlated with) emotional maturity. Learning to appreciate and honor the minor and major good stuff in life is not automatic, and takes intentionality of purpose; choosing to focus on that, and let the small stuff be small stuff (and most bad stuff is small stuff, as well as temporary, compared to the good stuff, which is usually permanent) is the act of an adult.

Kris Hasson-Jones • 11/21/03; 12:44:16 PM
Gentlemen,I have been trying to tell all of you this all along.

THIS IS ALL THERE IS……

Whatever her reasons for not having sex, making love, whatever you want to call it, they are hers. Noone elses. If she choses to tell you anything about it, then that is her choice.

This again is something that I have said before and I will say again:

You have three basics choices.

Leave, and be done with it.

Stay and take a lover…

Stay and don’t take a lover. Be miserable, be unhappy, and be quiet about it.

There is no magical cure. Years of therapy might do the trick and they might not. But it is up to YOU to do what makes you happy. Not anyone else. She can’t do it, the councilor can’t do it, you have to decide what you want out of life and then

DO SOMETHING TO GET IT.

I have a male friend. His greatest sexual joy in life is oral sex. The day they walked out of the church, she looked at him and flat told him, “That’s the last blowjob that I will ever do”. She meant it. Two years ago I was in their home at Christmas time, she asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He said a blowjob, she walked over to her purse and took out a 20 dollar bill, wadded it up and threw it at him. She then told him that there was his christmas present. He finally got the message. He now has a woman that he sees once a week. Does his wife know, probably, but he keeps her in the style that she married him to be kept in. She doesn’t have sex with him, they haven’t in years. They don’t even share a bed. He has his room and she has hers.

Sad, but true story.

Please don’t be like him.

Lynn • 11/21/03; 1:17:26 PM
Harry, whatever you’re doing it ain’t working, so you have to change what you’re doing. How you do that and what you do should fit your personality. Don’t expect that anyone has an answer for you because it’s not like there’s tech support for people – and you know how bad tech support can be for a machine! At some point, you have to do it differently and that means you should examine your options. As my dad, in one of his few pieces of useful advice, said, “Why shouldn’t it be easy?”But generally, acting as if is very powerful. Conduct shaping your inside is implicit in the Bible. It’s the basis of the original power of positive thinking (Every day in every way I’m getting better), which actually dates to 18th c France (right century?). It’s also been shown to work in studies that look at moods and helpfulness. One finding is that people who feel better about themselves are more charitable and friendlier, but the converse has also been found, that people who act happier, do more charity, etc. are actually happier.

Then again, one can always find solace in drink.

jonathank • 11/21/03; 2:00:30 PM
No, Harry, this is not all there is. This is just the beginning, a way of making important changes to the atmosphere.As to your particular situation, perhaps you, like Lynn’s friend, ARE married to a total sociopath who is determined to remain cruel and unresponsive for no reason at all, and thus your situation IS absolutely hopeless. These kinds of situations are far, far more rare than many people telling their friends about them would have us believe, but they do happen. If that is that case with you, I agree with Lynn: You will need to leave.

But it’s fascinating to me that you are such a perfect husband and she is such a totally unresponsive, horrible, coldassed bitch to you. You can find no fault whatsoever in yourself (beyond some minor money thing you did in the past and a little unimportant household forgetfulness, of course). You think you’re fabulous and she’s horrible, that it’s all her fault that you’re so miserable — and, most importantly, she KNOWS you blame her!

WHY is she suspicious of your attempts to show her affection, Harry? Is it just because she’s a terrible, unfeeling person? Or is it because she does feel something: how much essential hostility you’re holding against her?

The other thing that I’ll be talking about as I go along is literally getting your sex appeal back, so that you can attract your wife’s erotic interest the old-fashioned way. Not by going after physical enhancements, but by examining the very foundations of your manhood. What constitutes the masculine mystique? How can you look like a hero? How do you get centered within yourself so that you can exude the kind of confidence that will make her want you again?

Harry, it seems to me the biggest problem you have is that even though you’re sure you’re behaving like the perfect husband, you really don’t respect yourself. You’re depressed, you feel beaten down, you’re moping and mooning around — AND you’re blaming your wife for your mood.

Sheesh, Harry. You’re going around feeling and acting like a loser, and women never want to have sex with losers! Next week I’ll talk about getting your macho back.

Julia Grey • 11/21/03; 2:13:49 PM
“Pay attention. Try to figure out what’s going through her mind. Try to anticipate what she needs.”Just a quick point, but how do I figure out what’s going through her mind when SHE doesn’t know what’s going through her mind?

Shadow • 11/21/03; 11:07:23 PM
I’m trying to agree with Julia, but she’s more eloquent. This is about creating context and observing carefully. By context, I mean that your own actions, your own mood can make things happen. This is what a group like Promise Keepers was about – looking at it in the best way – that you, as a person, can become someone that makes a difference in your immediate world. You can’t make someone change. You can’t really make them listen – they’ll hear the words, but not necessarily get what you’re saying. To really get your message across, you have to embody that – whether you use method or technical acting.Observing carefully is like the conversation I had with my 11 year old just now. I’ve been working hard and this was, I realized, the first time in a while that I had been completely relaxed talking to her, really listening to her, picking up on more of her signals, making my points and understanding hers, really getting stuff across. My guess is that if you, no matter who you are, actually look at what you’re doing and how you’re behaving, you’ll find you’re absorbed in yourself, in your concerns, in your issues and the thoughts on your mind – and that you really aren’t “there” with the other people in your life.

Let’s face it, much of life demands that we not be “there”. Work is often a series of facades. Dealing with people you meet is often a series of short role playing games. You’re not encouraged in your daily lives to make a real connection and so you don’t necessarily see that you aren’t.

Try to make a real connection, not one based on your wants, worries, etc. but on what’s between you, what she’s actually saying or maybe trying to say. (BTW, this is also the best dating advice.)

On a lighter note, look at pschopaths. The really successful ones are successful because they are so good at mimicking intimacy. Isn’t that clue? Intimacy is the answer and the you learn how to be good at it by recognizing that you can create a context in which intimacy occurs and then being right there in that context. You just start and then you realize it’s not that hard to do.

jonathank • 11/22/03; 3:06:36 PM
Just a quick point, but how do I figure out what’s going through her mind when SHE doesn’t know what’s going through her mind?An equally quick point back, Shadow: this WHOLE BLOG for the last 6 months has been an ongoing effort to help you figure out what’s going through her mind!

(And yes, Jonathan is right, ultimately it is about making a REAL connection and not just going through the motions, but the motions can be a good first step when you don’t know where else to start.)

Julia Grey • 11/22/03; 3:45:52 PM
Julia,This manhood thing is something that I have been mulling over in my head for a long time now. I am a young man, in college, an athlete, with bright prospects for the future, all so called “manly” things.

Yet I find myself wondering what being a man really is. I am sure to offend some people, namely feminists, in the next bit. I have come upon the realization lately that men and women are inherently unequal.

This is not to say that one is better than the other, but rather that man and woman fit together like puzzle pieces. If you look at two pieces of any puzzle which fit together, they are not the same shape, they HAVE to be different to fit together. So, men and women are different.

This brings me to my next point, in today’s society, it is pounded into everyone’s brains that men and women are equal. (Now I will take a masculine standpoint, i.e. how this has affected me) For example there are certain traits about both genders that are considered bad. I use the example of aggression in a man, a trait which is blown out of proportion every single day (just turn on LifeTime). Men are naturally agressive, but all my life I have been taught to completely ignore that part of myself, not to embrace it and use it justly.

I am not making my point clearly, and that is because I have not been able to make a clearly thought out hypothesis on this whole thing. Let me use another way in which today’s climate has confused me on my gender identity.

All my life I have been taught that the only strong men are the ones who abuse thier strength. Once again, turn on lifetime and watch any movie on that channel to find out how men are evil. So we have two types of men, the strong (evil) ones, and the weak(good) ones. So my whole life it was pounded into my head from all sorts of directions that weak is good. Yet now, as I grow older, and strength is something that my life literally requires (strength of mind, of focus, and of body), I am lacking in that department. I feel jaded by the fact that I was never taught how to truly be a man, but rather only how to be what sometimes feels like a woman with a penis.

So whats my point? Well I am not sure. :-). I am hoping that Julia can take my input, mold it around, tell me what she thinks, and write something truly inspired on the subject. The main thing that I am thinking on it however is that there comes a problem when Men are not Men, and Women are not Women. Ever try to put two of the same shaped puzzle piece together?

Jason • 11/23/03; 12:08:42 PM
It’s amusing in a bittersweet way.I’ve been stuck for some years in a “nothing can come between us” non-relationship (I was her boss for the first two years , serious mistakes were made on side, big-time vulnerability on both sides, etc.). The little gestures described are so like the ones I would unconsciously start toward her, and then stop a very embarassed fraction of a second later as it was not possible. :-)

So reading the piece had me smiling in a strange way.

To answer Jonathank’s query – it was Emile Coué; he was indeed French, and he formulated his self-suggestion therapy approach aroundf World War One. “Every day and in every way, my life keeps improving” is the best remebmered self-suggestion phrase, I think.

Sebastien • 11/24/03; 4:06:20 AM
Back from the weekend. Thanks, Julia, for assuring me that “acting as if” is not the only advice. I am taking your earlier advice and talking to a health care professional about climbing out of this funk hole I’ve been in. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am not a perfect husband. In fact, part of my problem is my tendency to beat myself up, lack of self-confidence, etc., which, I agree, must make it hard to get excited about being intimate with me.And here’s a nice segue to Jason’s comments. . . Jason, I hear you. Although this relates somewhat to the bad boy comments of about three weeks ago, I, too, wonder how we are to balance the “getting the macho back” with some of our partners’ views on sexism, feminism, and that men should, as Jason so eloquently put it, be women with penises.

Harry • 11/24/03; 5:48:51 AM
Excellent segue material, Jason, since I am NOT of the school that believes that men should be, as I put it in the Introduction material my agent and I sent out the other day,* “Members of the Universal Unisex Who Happen to Have Penises.”It’s absolutely essential that men embrace a masculine mystique that gives them confidence as MEN, and that means, by definition, in some sense “different from women.”

But the problem has always arisen in what elements of “masculinity” some men have chosen, why they’ve been chosen, and how they’ve been (mis)understood and (ab)used. You CAN be a strong, virile, excitingly “manly” Man in a respectful partnership — the guys in romance novels do it all the time! (Heh.)

But unfortunately I can’t go into all this stuff directly or right away. I’ve got other fish to fry in the meantime. Stay tuned.

* for a project that never came to fruition

Julia Grey • 11/24/03; 8:51:49 AM
I have a couple things to add. One is, that I think that respect is the number one vital thing in a relationship. I was in a long-term relationship where I lost the desire to have sex with my boyfriend because I lost respect for him. He seemed to do everything right — he said all the right “I love you”s, he paid more attention to me than anyone else I have been with, he was very manly, he seemed confident and made friends easily… and in the end, none of that counted. I realized that I value education and intelligence, and he didn’t have that. He wasn’t able to get his degree. He didn’t have a regular job. University culture became my life, but he wasn’t really part of that. I was ashamed of him and that basically killed the relationship. As Julia said, nobody wants to have sex with a loser. But what women consider to be poor qualities can vary. I left a macho guy for a geek, and I’m tremendously happy. The qualities I respect seem to be self-confidence, intelligence, self-sufficiency and lots of skill in toasting people with a rocket launcher in online games. Obviously, not everyone is looking for the same things, otherwise more of my male friends would have girlfriends.As for equality, I think Frank Herbert said it best in “The Dosadi Experiment”: “All sentient beings are created unequal. The best society provides each with equal opportunity to float at his own level.”

The big problem with gender identity and gender stereotypes is that we have to be very careful with figuring out what traits are natural and what traits are the product of society and culture. We indoctrinate children into gender roles right from the very beginning. So we have this idea of “man” and “woman” which may be biological, or may be merely so much cultural brainwashing.

Now, societal stereotypes might not be a problem, except for the fact that they don’t work for everybody. You may expect your spouse to act in a certain way based on what society tells you to expect, but the reality is that every person is different and it may be just your luck to be married to one of the millions of “weird” people out there. And it may be just your luck to be “weird” yourself — to be a “masculine” woman or “feminine” man, suffering from societal disapproval because we’ve got these bizarre ideas about what people should act like based on their gender.

Anyway. All I know about gender is how it is to be female. I am the sort of female that I am. It’s obvious that I am different from my partner, but trying to figure out what part of the difference is gender-based and what part is our different life experiences is confusing and, I think, ultimately futile. You have to learn each person’s quirks individually anyway. I’m always coming up against things men are supposed to like but individuals I have come across actually don’t — and the opposite. Gender stereotypes can be helpful if your spouse buys into them, but very confusing when they don’t.

munkymu • 11/24/03; 2:46:46 PM
NO MORE METHOD ACTORS!!! Even Stanislavski, who invented the nonsense REJECTED it. He came to believe that emotion couldn’t be created on stage, only the illusion of emotion. AND he said that all the BS that actors did to “become” the character just got in the way. THIS from the man who started it all! Of course none of his later writing caught on in the West—- Method acting had too quickly become an industry. By the time Lee Strausberg got a hold of the method it had been totally perverted. I gave up a good career as an actor (let’s just say I never had to look far for work) because I couldn’t deal with the BS! C’mon everybody—- time for group warmups!Just got asked to play Hamm in Endgame though— Might just have to take up the habit again.

PeskyFly • 11/25/03; 3:43:27 PM
Harry ….I am fairly new to the website and have not been following your story. Please forgive if my ramblings have already been mentioned.

The description of the way you perceive your wife’s actions is similar to the way my husband use to react to me. I know this doesn’t help much, but I consider you lucky … at least she tells you she loves you. I can sympathize with the pain of rejection you feel. If you were my husband and followed Julia’s advice with me, we’d be doing more than “sleeping” in bed, but you’re not.

So, I ask you some obvious questions …. do you brush your teeth and bathe frequently? Wear deodorant? Wear clean unwholly clothes? Smelly B.O. is a big turnoff and many people feel uncomfortable pointing this out to their loved one. No problem there?

Has your wife been to the doctor to have her hormone levels checked? having kids, menopause, stress, ilnesses, etc can have an affect on hormone levels. If this checks out …..

Was she sexually abused as a child, raped, physically abused? Sometimes these things stay buried for a long time and never shared. How they affect a person’s life sometimes does not show up for a long time. No? Then press on ….

Do you have young kids? If so, she may be so emotionally/physically overwhelmed with the kids that she can’t stand one more set of demands of her time or attention no matter how loving you’ve been. For example,a simple kiss from you during the day could be interpreted as a demand of sex later that night. She may want to ward you off at the pass before you even get started. Negotiate with her… maybe there are 6 days of cuddling and 1 day of sex. Maybe you could give her the afternoon off to take a nap or have time for herself while you watch the kids. Let her regain some of her strength and she may be more amorous in bed. That’s not the case?

How does she intepret your actions? Is that suggestion you made about dinner needing more garlic interpreted by her as a simple statement or as a criticism of her hard work. Big turn off for sex if you feel your actions are being criticized … even if you didn’t mean it that way. Ask her, “How does it make you feel when I do or say this?” You might be surprised by the answers.

I hope this has at least given you a different perspective even if it wasn’t helpful, but please do NOT follow Lynn’s advice!!!

There are only 2 choices not 3 …. Either STAY (continue to work with her, get counselling either as a couple or individually, or simply resign yourself to the situation … your choice)or GO (leave the relationship and then search for someone else).

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT take a LOVER.

Unless you have ever been through an affair, you will NEVER fully understand the depth of pain and destruction an affair can have on the spouse, the betrayer, children, friends, extended family members, the lover, and their family, (if they have one). The trust issues it creates. The damage it does to the self image of everyone involved. Ugh … I don’t even know where to begin.

Please if you get nothing else from this post, please do NOT have an AFFAIR. It will not solve your problems …. only worsens them … and if you think you have emotional problems now …. wait for your affair to be discovered. You’ll think life was a piece of cake pre-affair.

I speak from experience having just recently discovered my husband’s affair 4 months ago. While I do not know where the path in my life will lead me and my children, I hope you will never take yourself or your family down that path. It is a long, dark, weary, and painful journey fraught with great peril. I hope to see a light at the end soon, but in reality it’s going to be a long time before I finally wind my way out of this horrible mess I never asked to be a part of.

Good Luck ….

VelvetPear • 11/25/03; 10:53:44 PM
Thanks, VelvetPear. I won’t go into the answers to all your questions, but I do want to clarify something: I bathe frequently. :^) I appreciate the questions and advice, and will take them to heart. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s affair. My ex pulled that on me, I stuck around for three more years after that, even had another child, before I realized that I needed to get away from her. It’s a rough decision to make, especially when kids are involved.

Harry • 11/26/03; 5:31:47 AM
, Harry ….Glad to hear you bathe -frequently. :0) Just had to ask … don’t know you from Adam and if it was that easy to fix, lucky you! It was just part of my brainstorming.

Yeah … I’m sorry to hear about my husband’s affair as well. :0( And, sorry to hear about your ex’s. Then, you know the pain and despair I speak of.

But, my husband isn’t totally to blame. After 15 years of marriage, I realize that we never really became experts at tuning into the other’s needs.

So, basically, we were both in the canoe, paddling hard, going nowhere, and getting very tired … with little or no communication.

Despite the affair, I still love him with a burning passion. I want to make our marriage work. I have found a book that made a tremedous difference in our lives. It is called “Surviving an Affair” by William F. Harley, Jr and Jennifer Harley Chalmers. While you will relate to the beginning because of your past experience, the recovery plan he gives would work for any marriage. He gives step by step instructions about how to protect and care for a relationship in a way that makes it simple and leaves you wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that or doing that already?”

It might be worth a try. Twenty bucks on a book is cheaper than a counsellor. :0)

If in the future you thought it might help,I would be happy to discuss the reasons that turned me off to sex at various times in our relationship. Maybe it might help you, maybe it won’t.

VelvetPear • 11/26/03; 10:43:58 AM
VelvetPear – I would be very happy to hear what the reasons for getting turned off from sex were with you. It would speak volumes on how things are perceived on “the other side of the fence” I believe.

Jason • 11/30/03; 5:12:34 PM
VelvetPear: I, too, would like to hear your reasons. Also, I’m glad you found a book that seems to be helping. It’s a long road ahead of you. You might also try “www.divorcebusting.com” which is a site run by the author of The Sex-Starved Marriage. Besides advice, message boards, etc., they have counselors on call who, for a fee, will talk with you and give you advice. I also highly regard this site, and I think Julia’s advice is usually right on point.

Harry • 12/1/03; 5:18:34 AM
Hi, Harry and Jason ….First, I have to say I have never denied my husband sex such as punishment for something. My desire has not always been the highest, but that’s something different.

I thought about my “reasons” and found that they were more factors that affected the level of desire… Things like kids, feeling unloved, exhaustion, him not touching or expressing his love for me, my own body image hang-ups, money issues, perceptions (his & mine), and ideas of how a “wife” as opposed to a lover should act in bed are just a few of the factors.

But when I really tried to simplify it all down, I kept coming back to one main factor that tied all the others together… communication.

How well we communicate our needs and hear/understand the needs of our spouse and respond to those needs affect our level of desire for each other. It is as simple and complicated as that.

If there is a specific area or question that you would like me to expound on, I would be glad to, but being a newbie, I don’t know the etiquette and didn’t want to take up too much space on Julia’s site.

Harry … thanks for referring me to DB.

Guys …. I have a kind of embarassing question to ask you and need some insight. I would say in the last 8 months or so, I have noticed a huge change in my sexual libido. Where before, I could take or leave sex, I find myself thinking about it all the time. I am the one going excuse me … a day has passed … when are we having sex next? And when he isn’t interested, I feel hurt and rejected even though I can understand that he’s been sick in bed for three days with a 103+ temp.

Is this what it is like all the time for guys?

VelvetPear

VelvetPear • 12/6/03; 10:03:07 PM
More or less … YES is the answer to your question VelvetPear. It is ridiculous to think that sex, sex, sex, is always on a man’s mind but it’s something we can’t really control. Sure environmental factors will influence the degree but you’d better believe it’s always there!

Steve • 12/8/03; 5:42:42 AM
I second what Steve says. I’m always surprised when I realize that I’ve gone all day without thinking about sex. It’s usually a several-times-a-day thing. Any explanation as to why your libido is changing (for the better, I might say)? Is it some new medication? Where can I get some?

Harry • 12/8/03; 11:04:38 AM
I wish I knew where it was coming from …. I would have gotten it a long time ago … I really do enjoy sex when I have it! :0)I have often toyed with the idea of trying a natural hormone supplement with testoterone in it …. But, I guess my body decided to turn up the production level on its own. Maybe age is a factor … I’m in my late 30′s. That is what our counsellor attributed it too.

You know, I went in to the doctor’s several years ago and had my hormone level checked and results came back as normal. But, I think each person is unique and what may be normal for some may not be enough for others. Maybe your wife might want to try a supplement from GNC or the local health store?

Some days I’m extremely grateful for it and other days it’s frustrating because I do have things I need to get done and concentrate on! :0) Kudos to you guys to be able to focus!!!

It’s strange having to deal with this new distraction especially when hubby isn’t in the mood or available.

VelvetPear • 12/8/03; 2:15:33 PM
Hey i’m making a sort of wife cradential list, anyone with thoughts or ideas, i could really use the help… email me at vanillamilk20@yahoo.com

Gerald aka VanillaMilk • 12/12/03; 1:02:35 AM
I would like to throw in a few things here and in return ask for opinions. I agree with much of what has been being said about a woman’s desire for sex as being linked to her perception of her husband/lover/boyfriend. It doesn’t matter if the perception is correct or incorrect – what matters is her perception. My partner of some five years seemed to loose a lot of interest in sex about two years ago and I struggled for a long time with trying to understand where I had gone wrong. She kept telling me to just relax, stop incessantly wanting to talk about it and just get on with my job. All of these things, I see now, were perfectly correct things to say.yes – I was worried (and still am) and acting often in an emotional way with trying to understand it all and getting frustrated with not finding any answers. I looked for evidence that she was having an affair with another man as a possible answer, I thought that she may have been a lesbian, I thought that she may have hormone problems and many other things. None appear to have been correct.

I have recently (~6 months ago) decided that I’m fed up with living my life like this. I guess I’m saying that my attitude became “If you don’t want sex, that’s fine – but I’m loosing interest in living like this and I’m getting on with my life – whether you like it or not”. This may sound harsh but the funny thing is that she seems to have a little meore interest in sex now.

The things that I think I was doing wrong are:

* Being emotional. This is supposed to be a feminine thing and may have been making her think that I could not protect her as a man; * Talking excessively. Women don’t seem to like men who harp on about things – particularly about sex matters; * Forgetfulness. No explanations needed; * Not listening to her. No explanations needed; * Letting the sex problem affect my work. I was so worried that it was affecting my work. Now I seem to spend more fruitful time at work because I’ve adopted an attitude of just getting on with work and let nature take it’s course at home.

Now that I’ve had my say, I would ash the women out there to make constructive criticism of my comments and to add anything that you think I may have missed. I have one question for the women – now that our relationship has been damaged in this way – is it possible to retrieve the “old” sexual relationship?

David A

David A • 12/16/03; 12:16:53 AM
I discovered this site today.. and I would like to thank everyone for their time and comments.. It has really made me consider the problem my fiance and I have been having. It hasnt really become a PROBLEM i guess.. but I tease her about it sometimes… wondering why she hasnt seemed interested lately, when we used to be all over each other.. We have only been together for one year.. and I was thinking that ok.. so maybe with time things slow down.. but THIS soon?Yesterday.. I made some comment.. and for the first time I could really see that it bothered her… And I apologized.. I said I was only teasing.. but she told me she didnt think it was funny.

I realized.. that I was making her feel like there was something wrong with her, when there are likely many reasons why she feels not-as-interested as me in lovemaking..

She claims that she just doesnt think about it all the time like -men- do.

A while back, we talked about it, and I tried to explain to her that I didnt want her just because I had a need and she was handy… I explained that I desired to be close to HER.. desired to be intimate with HER..

Looking back now.. I recall that not long after that.. SHE lured me into the room and locked the kids out twice in one day. (dont worry.. the kids are 4 and 6 but their older cousins were visitng and had them occupied :o) )

But.. things wound up back to ‘normal’ when its more like 3 times a month…maybe… I know alot of it is timing..we have busy lives… but I feel we are disconnected without the physical intimacy…

anyway… reading these posts.. I really think I need to rearrange some of my attitudes.. and perhaps communicate more about this with her.. instead of dropping ‘hints’ in the form of jokes..

thanks for your input..

RJ

Rainman • 12/24/03; 9:34:00 AM

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