Therapy Sessions Starting To Have An Impact...i Hope...

many of you have read some of my prior posts - here's an update...

after numerous marriage counseling sessions - with all baggage out on the floor, my wife still cannot acknowledge how incredibly frustrating it 'might be' to live with a spouse who barely thinks about sex, very rarely initiates, is OK with a frequency of 6-8x/yr - and in general feels that 10-15 years of this pattern isn't a big deal...

we each see the therapist weekly - every other week together or alone. therapist is now clearly seeing how difficult this is for her, and is trying to coax her into realizing that our issues are all holistic, Yin & Yang, interconnected, etc. - but my wife insists on dealing with topics individually, without acknowledging 'how or why' it may have gotten to that state to begin with...

i feel like I'm finally starting to get through to her - because I won't let her 'not acknowledge' this any more, even though she says she cannot deal with my feelings until hers are fully acknowledged. (how's that for the classic avoider profile?)

if nothing else - she now realizes she can no longer 'avoid' this topic indefinately - and that it must eventually be reflected back from an emotional/feelings perspective. I'm now at the edge of wondering if she can truly 'meet me halfway' - but I expect we'll be finding out soon. I'm at the point where the thought of sex with her is far removed from any expectations - I'm just seeking direct acknowledgement of my intense feelings from the last decade or so.

what was a bit concerning to me was the therapist giving a rather guarded reply to my question "do you think she will actually come around and see herself as an avoider and that she's equally responsible for our marriage woes'?
lakeside4003 lakeside4003 51-55, M 13 Responses Dec 2, 2010

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thank you all for the thoughts...while I hold out hope - it's also been revealing to better understand the challenges of getting our relationship to a place where we're both satisfied and happy. And - to be clear - our issues are certainly a '2-way street', as we both bring baggage to our issues. The therapist has indeed been quite helpful in making us both realize this. The $$ spent doesn't concern me as many of you seem to focus on - the possibilities of improvement are what we're both after, but with somewhat different agendas that we tend to focus on (classic Venus-Mars stuff).

FWIW - she's shown the capacity to enjoy sex quite nicely over the years - just isn't the type to initiate or get creative in any way...she admits that she purposely withholds sex (and any intimacy) when she's upset or feeling unsure. She has some degree of social anxiety that is part of this and has become more introverted over the years...I'm just the opposite.

PS - we're going to an IMAGO couples workshop next weekend - so much of what we've been working on will be coming to a fork in the road soon - which way we go together (or apart) will be much clearer soon.

Thanks again to all - always appreciate the forum and the good advice and healthy exchange of opinions.

Ahh, the anti-therapist brigade!! It seems that for some people, if the therapist does not "cure" the marriage woes, then the therapist is a failure. IMO this is a case of "shooting the messenger".

The therapist's job, as Baz says, is to guide you to understand the position you are in AND recognise what needs to happen next.

One of my therapists used to challenge my thinking by asking the question:

"What evidence do you have of that?"

I would say to you, Lakeside,

"What evidence do you have that your wife will actually come around and see herself as an avoider and that she's equally responsible for your marriage woes?"

Sadly, I would suggest to you that there is NIL evidence of this, from what you report.

So IMO the therapist has done a great job in guiding you to realise that your wife cannot / will not be able to do these things. The question now is:

"What are you going to do about it?"

I wish you well Lakeside. I understand and can relate to your wish to have your perspective and feelings acknowledged and understood by your spouse. However, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. Do you understand why she doesn't have sex with you often, nor desire you as you desire her? I doubt it. Striving to understand - we all do that. Hoping to be understood - its nice, but in the long run, its a red herring - because it would mean your spouse also feels the yearning you do, and can put herself in your shoes. You may get to a position of compromise but I don't know if you'll feel from her the desire and wanting which you feel for her. As Yemanya said quite concisely, once you've identified the gap, how long will it take to bridge it and to what extent is the compromise enough. Be well.

I hope things work out for you lakeside, I would like to think there can be hope. Then again, I don't want to give myself false hope to think that.

All good sound advice here and a lot of questions raised. SO here's one more. Save your freakin money on therapy

After almost ten years in a sexless marriage, I got enough balls thanks to many here on EP, to sit the refuser down and tell her my issues with the sexless part of our marriage and her negative attitude all of the time. I then asked what she thought about the marriage and after a few minutes we both agreed that it was over after 44 years and that it would be in our best interests to end it. So we are in the process. There was now yelling, or confrontational words. Just telling it like it is and what our feelings were.

Maybe you need to read up on the stories and suggestions from those here who have figured out that the refuser isn't going to change and if they did it wouldn't last. And every sex act will seem like pity sex just to shut us up. You need to move on and enjoy your life. There are plenty of wonderful ladies out there who would love to find a man that will love them and have sex with them. Good Luck!

When there is a gap between where you want you want things to be and where it is, then the question is even if movement is made to close the gap, how long will it take and will it be enough?

You said " wife still cannot acknowledge how incredibly frustrating it 'might be' ,,,"

Right, so she doesn't see it as a problem. I don't know if there will be much progress until / unless she does.

Stop wasting your money on the therapy.

Stop wasting your soul on your wife.

The therapist is a refuser too. The therapist refused to tell you the truth. The guarded reply was: "Your wife does not love you and I am just stringing you suckers along for the money. If I tell you, poor loser man, that your wife does not love you, you will dump your wife and I will lose your business. So, I will give you a bullshit runaround answer..... just like your wife has been all these years."

By the way, your wife does not love you. That is why she does not want to have sex with you. The truth really is that simple. Govern yourself accordingly.

Enna and Baz are so right that just wanting to increase your wife's capacity for sex and intimacy will not actually make it a reality.

The sad part of this sexless marriage dilemma is that we can't make our partners want sex more than they do. It is as difficult for them to make us want sex less than we do. If you want to make love say twice a week and your wife is content with once every every seven weeks then the mismatch is an enormous factor of fourteen! Even if your wife were to attempt to double her accepted frequency to once every three and a half weeks and you were to half yours to once a week you still have a discrepancy factor of three and a half times which even then would be enormous.

Do you not think that in HER individual sessions SHE has not posed a question like "Do you think HE will be able to moderate his sexual expression needs to a much lower level ?"

And would you not expect the counsellor to give HER a guarded response to that question, similar to the response to your question ?

The counsellor is there to GUIDE you, NOT "Instruct" you. And, it seems to me, the counsellor is guiding you two very well indeed. You are either at - or very very close to - the point where you will have your answers. Which you will have worked out yourself under this guidance.

I wouldn't want to pre-empt where this is going. You KNOW where this is going. The next stage of the process will be what actions you are going to take in the light of this knowledge.

You are going well, stick with the process, the result will take care of itself.

Tread your own path.

The therapist is probably expecting you to draw your own conclusions from the evidence in front of you. I'm guessing that if she could speak her mind freely, her answer would have been:

"Not in this life time!!"

You have shown a lot of patience and commitment in trying to get your wife to recognise and acknowledge the issue of your marriage problems. But mate, it just aint gonna happen.

Oh, well, I would say a guarded response is not very optimistic. You don't seem to be very optimistic either.

But, i am not sure what you are really trying to achieve here.

1 I am not sure if you are trying to convince your wife to be more willingly sexual with you.

2 Or perhaps you are hoping your wife realizes she will never be willingly sexual with you and want out of the marriage.

3 Your just going through the exercise of therapy as a way to convince yourself you did everthing possible and then you can leave.

I am not saying one or the other of the above is wrong. I am just not sure what your gaol is. Do you even have a clear idea of your goal?

Being in a sexless marriage we tend to react to what happens to us. We are not in control of anything and so i know how hard it is to even have a goal.

I want to be suportive but i can't offer an opinion or ideas to help because I haven't a really clear idea of what you want.. At the same time i want you to be successfull. So it is a bit of a delima.


And the guarded reply was…?

Keep at it if you think there is a future with her. It appears you are starting to box her into a corner where she will have to do something. If you let her (or the therapist) keep dipping, diving, and dodging the real issues you will continue to be unhappy for quite some time.

Keep in mind, for her, 6-8 times a year is probably it. It's all she wants. It isn't for you. There's the rub. Neither of you are wrong, you're just mismatched. Probably on a few levels. Years ago my wife actually declared 'Maybe once a month is all I need' to me when I had the first 'Talk' with her. I didn't know then what I know now or I would have driven that point to the edge and back to completely see what the next 10-12 years were holding for me. Now? I'm stuck, or at least feel stuck.

Keep at it. Unstuck yourself.