The therapeutic sofa, part 5
Bucket #3. Have sex with your partner. This is something I brought up, because I knew the situation was not good. It’s not so much that I miss sex and want to have more of it. It’s that when we’re not having sex, we don’t touch at all aside from a couple of chaste kisses per day. There’s a decrease in emotional intimacy with a decrease in physical intimacy.
As you guys and the therapist both confirm, this is typical for hetero married couples with young kids. (Which doesn’t mean it’s universal, by any means, but just keep your fucking trap shut if you’re in that category and have tons and tons of blissful sex.) Regardless of the normalcy, it still makes me feel bad. So I wanted to change it. But just telling myself to have sex with my husband more often did not work. Mysteriously. Here’s what she told me that helped.
1.Buckets 1 and 2. Time for self, time to reconnect with partner.
2. Accept that getting in The Mood takes time and work. It’s not that I’m never in the mood. It’s that I’m never in the mood at 7pm, after a long day, the only time when there’s really an opportunity. So don’t expect The Mood to just magically appear, find some ways of bringing The Mood on. Find the things that make me feel sexy (at which point I laughed like a hyena. You think there are things that make me feel SEXY? I shrieked. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!) and do them. For me, it’s a fairly simple combo that takes about an hour. Because I am all about the details: After the babies are down, I do a 15 minute workout. Exercise is one of those things that’s supposed to make you feel better about yourself or some shit? Seems to work. Then I take a shower. Then I look at/read some light porn. I found a couple of websites with free erotica that doesn’t have too many spelling errors and can be quickly brought up on a phone. This usually brings enough of The Mood on that when we actually start making out, I find I’m into it.
4. Tell your partner that you care, that are making the effort. She pointed out that all he sees is me not having sex with him, he doesn’t know I feel bad, or that I do sometimes want to. I was like, Won’t he feel bad when I tell him that it takes me so much effort to want to sleep with him? She was like, He already knows that. So I told him. And as embarrassing as it was, I told him that I have a process that requires time. He was very positive about the whole thing. I think he probably heard blah blah blah more sex blah blah.
3. This was my OWN brain wave, and I’ve very proud. If I commit to sex ahead of time, it will be vastly more likely to happen. Because my normal approach is to be all Yes, I will totally do it tonight! And then tonight comes and, uh, NO THANKS. So now I email my husband to tell him he’s getting laid, unless he has some objection. So far, no objection. And since he knows I have a Process, he gives me some time and space to prepare.
Are we having a great deal of passionate sex now? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But we’re getting closer to a reasonable place.
Bucket #4. Deal with some of your long-standing bullshit problems. We have a few perennial sources of stress in our marriage. While I think we are pretty good at talking things out, somehow these issues never get all the way resolved. We agreed that it’s effective to communicate about some contentious shit via email rather than in person, because then we can have our angry reactions offline and a more reasonable conversation later. As long as the email communication is respectful and diplomatic, of course. This decision has allowed us to have faster, more productive conversations about some of the shit we just go round and round about, and I think, to make some real progress. We’ll see.
And them’s the marriage buckets! And I’d say that things are considerably better.
Next up…well, a request for parenting wisdom. And then Career = hard.