Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “lack of sexual desire

Negativity and Isolation: Branching Out To Avoid Breaking Up

the time bombs in your marriage

Dr. Jed Diamond wrote an interesting post on The Good Men Project today that triggered this post. 5 Time Bombs Set To Go Off in Your Relationship Unless You Act Now

Here are the 5 Time Bombs according to Dr. Diamond:

  1. Our social networks are getting narrower.
  2. We’ve increasingly put all our “emotional-support eggs” in a single basket.
  3. We are expecting more and more from our spouses in meeting more of our needs.
  4. Our brain’s negativity bias causes us to over-emphasize the negatives in our partner.
  5. Our brains are Velcro for the negative, but Teflon for the positive.

Can you recognize some of these behaviors in your relationships? Let’s take them apart for a second.

Our social networks
In our personal lives and our work lives, we are becoming more isolated. Sitting in front of a computer screen or texting is not really social. You can communicate that way, but going social, getting personal with someone requires face-to-face communication. Eye contact and physical touch go a long way to unlocking our deep feelings and giving us deeper connections. Who do you share your issues with? Do you have one or several friends you can go deep with? In most cases that number is very small. And there can be problems if the only person you can reveal yourself to is your spouse. It’s hard to complain and get advice from your spouse, especially if the issues are between the two of you. Recommendation: Broaden your network of face-to-face friends who can hear your problems without reacting to them.

It’s easy to see the things your spouse is not doing right. You can point the finger at her for not wanting sex as much as you do, and she can point it back at you for not paying attention to the chores and repairs that need doing.

All of our “emotional eggs” in our spouses basket
Closely related to the first one. Your spouse can be your best friend and most trusted confidant, but you need others. And there are some things that are better worked out with someone other than your spouse. Recommendation: If you don’t have other deep friends you might consider a counselor or minister of your church. You need someone other than your spouse to get things off your chest.

Expecting our spouses to meet all of our needs
And we, of course, expect more than just the ability to talk about deep subjects and disagreements. We need to talk about things like kids, bills, chores, sex, planning, money. Sometimes the blur of hard subjects can mute the positive things. If you spend 80% of your time working things out, you’re not got going to have much energy or compassion for getting close. Even closeness requires energy. And if the hard stuff hasn’t caused you both to request a break, then you might be able to spend some time making love. But that’s a long “if.” Recommendation: Get help where you can. Put your bills on autopay. Hire a housekeeper if you can afford it. Getting some of your needs (non-sexual of course) met outside of your marriage may go along way towards bringing the good energy back into your marriage.

We have a negativity bias
It’s easy to see the things your spouse is not doing right. You can point the finger at her for not wanting sex as much as you do, and she can point it back at you for not paying attention to the chores and repairs that need doing. Recommendation: Affirmations of your spouse can go along way towards reminding you what you love about them. Giving appreciations when you first get back together is easy and a great way to restart the connection on a positive note.

It’s all about biasing towards the positive and finding ways to discharge the negative. You can release a lot of the resentment and anger away from your primary relationship.

Velcro for the negative, Teflon for the positive
Often it’s the feelings of anger and resentment that get stored up and kept deep in our secret heart. It is harder to release these kinds of feelings. (Again, this is a place where a counselor or confidant can help greatly.) So we tend to stick those hurtful feelings deep inside, trying to bury them. But this never works and they fester until they come out in some indirect way. And positive feelings often feel fleeting, especially if they are small moments within the storm of life. We can hold on to the positive with some practice, but it’s harder to store. Recommendation: Find ways to release the anger and resentment, either dealing with the issues directly or talking to a counselor. And learn to bias your responses to life in a positive light. Find the things you are happy about and bring them up more often. Give thanks and affirmations freely and to everyone you meet. (Not in a trite way. Example: “Sweetheart, I love the way you made breakfast for the kids and let me sleep an extra hour. Thank you.”)

It’s all about biasing towards the positive and finding ways to discharge the negative. You can release a lot of the resentment and anger away from your primary relationship. While your spouse may be the trigger for the anger, the depth of the feeling is probably related to events and hurts that are much older. Often our deep rage is related to our family of origin and what behaviors we learned or were hurt by as kids. And here’s a key: Our spouses cannot heal us. The healing is up to us. And often it is best to get that support and growth strategies outside our marriage.

It doesn’t always work. We fail, we get angry, we let the shit fly. And if we can’t redirect enough of the struggle away from the heart of our love, we might end up in divorce. The best we can do in this circumstance is to continue to try and forgive and move on. And even more important now, the affirmation of your ex-partner as a good parent, and accentuating the positive goes a long way towards showing your kids how relationships work. Even when you are no longer married, the issues are the same. Stay on the positive side. And if you need help, get it, from someone other than your spouse or ex.


The Off Parent

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Reference: 5 Time Bombs Set To Go Off in Your Relationship Unless You Act Now – Dr. Jed Diamond

image: love bomb, karl norling, creative commons usage

Trying to Talk About Sex with My Wife: Texting In Bed

texting about sex

texting about sex

“I’m having sex, 90% of the time alone.”

This conversation happened in bed in the form of a poem we wrote back and forth between us. Texting appeared easier than talking sometimes. She seemed to need time to consider and formulate her responses. I was in a sexually starved marriage. She had other problems. Sex was not one of her issues. Once a month, if at all, was okay with her. It was MY issue, obviously. There were other enlightening moments, but it was clearly a core problem in our marriage. When one partner begins freezing out the other one, sexually, there is a disconnect. Intimacy is a basic need. When the sex dies, in my opinion, the relationship is close behind.

+++ texting  – unedited +++

i’m having sex, 90% of the time alone
so financial crisis moments appear and go away
and I too feel fatigue when my trustworthiness is raised again and again
not a crisis
more of a chronic situation of the relationship
weariness of wanting to go into it

now you have to put some stuff in.

also weary of the dialogue around sex – frequency
my time is so spoken for
i don’t see that changing
if we could actually put every moment spent on considering the vectors of the situation of not that much (together) sex
in to crafting a situation where it could happen
we would create actual sexual encounters.
i get weary of focus on my not meeting your needs for sex
pretty much feel like your framing of the issue is you want more sex
so what can we do to get me available for more sex
and that this framing is in your mind
not expressed so much by action

In my (quite open to possibility of distortion on my part) world, I am a)working, b)sleeping, c)doing a mission-critical thing for kids, d) doing some other mission-critical thing (house, etc). Not really spending any bandwidth researching the dynamics of things you are doing or not doing that don’t meet my needs. I do speak up with clear asks, but that’s all I can muster.

so it is frustrating and feels weird that you have this thing going on where I continue not to meet your needs

at the same time I have no bandwidth left to meet any other needs period.

so do YOU have sexual desire?


and are you happy with your sex life?

in the context of reality – other real, now dynamics of time etc – sure

then we have a mismatch in desire, wouldn’t you say?

And that is a critical path issue for me. As much as money or housekeeping or kidkeeping is for the WE.

Yes. It is a critical path issue for you to __________________?

Discuss with you what’s missing. What’s wrong with this situation. Evaluate what’s going on. Is it desire? Trust? Money? Work? Housekeeping?

My TXT last Sunday saying, “I’m thinking about masterbating… but I’d rather have sex with you was a good opening.” and we were successful in connecting.

We need more casual wins.

What I am curious about is… how things have changed for you from what I imagine our SEX life was like 3 years ago.

I do not buy the house, work, sleepy idea. Something else perhaps?

What has changed for me is… The “connection” that you were speaking about say 2 months ago
to me the miss or lack is due to lack of contact and intimacy.

Sex doesn’t seem to be a part of that equation for you. Now, of course I am telling you it is. (grin)

Definitely it is a critical path issue for both of us, because you are materially unhappy (altho not in a crisis way) with the frequency and ____________ (connection?) of our sex (intimate?) life and therefore it makes the WE.

The txt was notable to me. so direct.

The not buying about sleepy and house…it’s like the conversation we had where you were asking me: what do you need? And I told you. “To see the numbers.” and that that was really what I needed was so out of range of believeable to you – you didn’t buy it – that it never occured to you to do the numbers, or engage with me to say OK, lets do the numbers now.

But it was true. I needed to see the numbers. YOU never actually need to see the numbers for that particular kind of situation. But I do.

So you ask what would help….per sex….and I nearly always come around to: house (a visually peaceful – that sensuality for me), sleep or workout (that’s body – a key to my sensuality). But you CANT BUY it. Because it’s not your experience of the world, I guess.

I’m empathetic with NOT BUYING another person’s experience. Certainly I miss on this more than rarely.

On the mismatch of desire. Maybe we have a mismatch in the desire for genital rubbing and intercourse v other sensuality. I feel like I live in a world of visual sensuality, and touch, and working out – exertion, and some kinds of foods – beautiful, fresh foods. And then there is sex, like, in bed sex.

And ? for you the sensuality of life stacks up differently. Sex straight UP gets more brain cells – loving the clean curves and surfaces gets fewer. Fresh pinapple, not so much. Ice cream – a lot!!

More pragmatically, there is a cycle we are in that at least does not help. I can’t sleep next to you. When we are spooned, the snoring is so loud – some just because of what spooning does, put your mouth in my ear, I wake up. Then, if I am awake, I have to go to another room. This was not the case 3 years ago.

I don’t have a point of entry in to that situation. Not sure.

You have not told me recently about the snoring and that is the reason you are leaving the bedroom so frequently. I am always happy to apply a breathrite strip. They seem to help. And I need to lose weight. I am actively working on that.

Back a the discussion about what you needed, it was not that I didn’t buy your experience. In fact, we agreed that restarting money discussions was probably critical path.

We didn’t DO the financial plans again until we were reminded by our counselor of the critical WE in everything.

+++ end of texting +++

I used to say “It wasn’t my idea,” about the divorce. And in my divorce recovery group, I was definitely self-identified as the dumpee. But what was different is I was beginning to express my dissatisfaction with the status quo. Her money-house-tired story had reached the end of my accepting it. I was tired of having sex alone 90% of the time. I was demanding we talk about it.

What didn’t know was she was already in the process of figuring out her options. Probably, in terms of her critical path issues, house and money she was beginning the process of trying to figure out what she would get if she decided to go for a divorce.

When she admitted in therapy that she had already consulted with a lawyer, I was stunned. “Well,” I said. “I guess you are a lot further down the road than I am about this.” And she got motivated to find full-time work and basically created a job within a few months. And then, I suppose she saw the potential for escape from her private hell.

I remember saying to her, once the “divorce” was agreed to, “So you think it’s me that’s making you so mad all the time? And you think I’m going to walk out that door and you are somehow going to transform into a happy person? Wow. I think you are wrong.”

The WE is the construct and loving connection of the relationship. What we learned from our time in couples therapy: everything we do together, every commitment we make and break, every communication we share, is part of the WE. As our WE collapsed under the isolation and frustration that was occurring between us, my then-wife simply got mad and stayed mad. She didn’t want to be intimate. She was mad. She woke up mad. She stayed mad all day.

Today, nine years later, she’s still more like a hornet than a rational human being when dealing with me.


The Off Parent


To Love and Be Loved (Dating After Divorce)

dating after divorce, ok cupid, your matches, your profile

Adoration is a wonderful and powerful thing. The woman I am dating has been responsible for lifting me up with the sheer will and determination of her adoration.

But somehow the word “girlfriend” still feels weird in my mouth. Like “wife” did when I first got married. After a while you begin to like the sound of it. I’m not there yet.

Last night, at her house, she said, “You know next Wednesday it will be eight weeks.”


“Since we met.”

So why am I so reticent? What is my hold up?

It’s back to that adoration thing. It is absolutely frickin wonderful to be adored. And adored like I have never been before. Adored after a devastating divorce which left me nearly crippled. And on so many ways, this is enough.

But in one way, it is not enough. And I think I’ve got a handle on part of it.

The adoration from someone is a powerful healing force. BUT the complete circle is not made until you too are adoring back. It’s like I’m half open. I’m grateful. I’m loving. But I’m not adoring.

She feels it. She pushes against it, even if it’s like pushing on a sore spot. Because I can’t say it’s there if it isn’t. I can’t profess my undying love (like I did in my first two marriages) if I’ve still got my eye out for something that hits my chemistry love button as well.

But I don’t have to make all those decisions now. I have to be honest. I have to not lie when she pines for my “l” word. And I don’t have to make the decision to be with her till death or divorce do us part. We’re still only 8 weeks into it.


The Off Parent

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