Which One Of These Is Not Like The Others?

or the alternative title of this Story was going to be:

Earning the right to leave.

I have been reading with interest the number of threads running through the ILIASM forum at present that deal with all of the similarities or 'commonalities' inherent in everyone's Sexless Marriages. It has been interesting because although I often find myself nodding and agreeing I also equally often find myself shaking my head...no - mine isn't like that, yes we have make-up sex, yes my refuser compliments me occasionally...he doesn't always say no to sex. So I then wonder if my relationship really fits the bill and is it as hopeless as I think it is? 

And if its not - have I done everything I can to repair it or am I throwing in the towel too easily? The very clever Bluewood had this to say on an earlier story of mine about what the options are:

1.) leave/ separate/ divorce
2.) Have an affair or emotion -less, purely physical temp. FWB arrangement (hopeful discreet, LOL) as a means of survival
3.) Put up with it and keep grinning. 

BTW: These options are assuming you did all the necessary ‘pre’ conversation and deep, ‘reaching-through-to-your-spouse’ work to try to resolve the problem.

When I read everything that you have all done to save your marriages I hang my head in shame - there has been some truly herculean efforts on some of your parts. And I can't put my hand up and say that I have done all the necessary work that Blue is suggesting here. Which brings me to something that LaoTzu said on someone's blog (and I hope you all don't mind me quoting you - if you do, let me know and I will pull it down - its just you said it so well)

Lao was talking about crawling through the dark sewage pipe that is the hellish path out of our SMs. He was using the scene from the movie 'The Shawshank Redemption as an analogy:

'Tim Robbins had to go down that pipe alone. We've got a Congo line in here. Keep crawling people. How ironic, Morgan Freeman's character waited, parole hearing after parole hearing.....he had to feel he deserved to leave. He played by the rules.... No one can tell us whether we deserve to go or not, whether we've tried our best or not, except ourselves.'

in light of these questions and the glimmers of hope in my relationship I don't think I can put my hand up to say that I have tried my best. So this has lead me to a decision of sorts...

Try. Really Try. Have the talk, really have it - don't let him wiggle out of it. Admit to yourself its not just about the sex (this was news to me - like many others I thought that was what the problem was but predictably for those of you who have gone before it is just a symptom). I don't think I have ever said to him the words, 'you need to know that if we can't resolve these problems I am leaving'. He needs to hear them, because we have such a low conflict relationship if he was asked he would say that everything is going well. Yes I have tried telling him how unhappy I am but not with that level of clarity. Who knows - being this clear might just precipitate the bust up but at least it will be...real...and in the context of honestly trying to sort it out.

Realistically I don't hold out much hope - hope after all is not my friend but I am giving it 12 months, 12 months of honesty, of genuinely working, of exhausting all of the options because then at the end of that, I will know, with a clear conscience that I can put my hand up with the rest of you and say that I have tried my best.

And then I too, can lower myself down into the hole, through the filth and the murk and start crawling, not needing to look back because I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is nothing there for me. And that the only way is forward, to a new path and new future.

Thank-you all again for your wisdom and generosity in sharing the journey with us newbies. For shining a light in the darkness and holding our hands.
deleted deleted
23 Responses Dec 10, 2010

You never want to walk away from anything in your life and not be able to say you did your best, your damndest to make it work, to make it happen. <br />
<br />
You are right to try. I understand. I have been where you are, and even now, today, I deal with a similar situation. Keep your chin up and your light burning, MissM.

I echo your sentiment from my personal experience of third time round trying:<br />
<br />
'it shouldn't have to be an effort to be with the person you love, you should want to have sex and communication with them - you were bang on the money when you said that relationships have to be self-sustaining.'<br />
<br />
Good luck MissM on your journey and process.

I'm with Enna here - I think that you have to give it a go - you have to rationalize things for yourself, it is most definitely a process - however long that process takes.................and yes, that process may take a year, it might all blow up earlier, who knows. but for your own mind's sake - you do what you need to do.............and you have really made the decison that your marriage is either ****** or saveable and you either want to leave or stay.. Difficult decison, neither of us wants to make - but I do believe that it takes time to work it out - especially if you are leaving for no other reason than your marriage isn't working. Much harder to do, than if you have met someone and want to be with them. I'm right there with you girl, and it's not an easy process.

Nothing more painful in life, IMO, than living with "What if . . . ?"<br />
<br />
"What if . . . ?" I'd tried one more time and it HAD worked out?<br />
"What if . . . ?" I wasn't so quick to give up?<br />
"What if. . . ?" I had paid more attention to MY role in this mess?<br />
<br />
By staying and working on your marriage, you need not face these dreaded "What if?" moments. Because EITHER things will improve OR you will reach the inescapable conclusion that they cannot and never will improve.<br />
<br />
And if/when you leave, you will KNOW that nothing more could have been done . . . So it takes a bit of time? So what? It is only "wasted" if you are really NOT trying at all - if you are paying lip service to the concept for some external reason - such as pleasing family, not upsetting the church, etc. But if YOU are firmly committed to giving it one last "red hot go", then it is NOT time wasted IMO. . . . <br />
<br />
MissM, I firmly believe you have a wise, rational and realistic plan - GO for it! My only hesitation is this - the time line may need to be flexible. Can you commit to a time line that says:<br />
"Until I become convinced there is no further hope. . . ?" And hopefully, that time will never come!! {{{Hugs}}}

I do understand why you're doing it, and it's a shame it may take a year out of your life, but maybe that's what you need to do before you actually get to leave. But in reality it will most probably cause you so much pain, that by next Christmas the decision will be made. Very unlikely to see progress here - and actually, should it be that hard?? No, it shouldn't. <br />
<br />
What I would say is for goodness sake, plan for the worst. Do what you have to do to make your escape in 12 months time. Whatever you need to do - and don't be sharing this information in the spirit of openness with your other half. Looking out for number one is a darned sight easier with some dosh in the bank xx

Some lessons must be lived to be learned... the one about being ashamed of wasting time on one more good try just to be sure... appears to be absolutely one of them...<br />
<br />
We'll be here when you're done, and not saying I told you so... just, "I know."

vivalashoohah, Are you saying that one shouldn't try to rebuid a relationship? or that one shouldn't establish a timefr<x>ame?

I will stand behind you in any efforts you put forth and anyone else for that matter. I believe differently on these issues but that is not going to help your situation. Just don't let it drag out when you know it's over and you can't see any progress, I don't believe it should be so hard as to take the entire effort of only one of the hearts involved. If both are working towards the same goals, life, love and they are truly compatible, there will be bumps along the way but smoothed quickly within weeks and not months. And that is when both are working together hand in hand, heart in heart...<br />
<br />
I really like the way you present and write this, thank you for sharing...

Agree with ETG and Wisi. That's something that I did as well. <br />
<br />
Use this one year to maximum benefit. Work on yourself. Physically and mentally. I realized I had emotional baggage that was keeping me where I was. So, I got therapy for it. The better YOU are as a person, the better the outcome.<br />
<br />
And, as Baz has said, don't let this be a jail sentence of 1 year. It is a timeline of your choosing. Be open to any changes to it. Do not force yourself to stick it out. You've been trying everyday of this marriage, it's time he starts reciprocating.

Ms M, may I suggest you approach this year with a few tools that might assist you? I don't know how familiar you are (or not) with the following, but please consider using them . . . <br />
<br />
A SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)<br />
SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely)<br />
Goal setting - long term, mid term, short term<br />
A Time Line - which shows your Goals in time sequence - using SMART goals<br />
<br />
This might sound very artificial, but it WILL help you to focus on your plan. These tools will help you to be:<br />
Realistic - both in goals you set and time lines you develop<br />
Precise - set goals that can be accurately measured<br />
Feasible - goals that CAN be achieved as opposed to "hopeful goals" - such as "Be Happy"!!<br />
<br />
If you track your timeline and regularly assess your progress, you will see if the general trend is positive. This will help you get past the "glitches" that might discourage you . . . <br />
<br />
Equally, you will see if your efforts ARE bearing fruit - or if you are simply marking time.<br />
<br />
And I particularly like this quote from "PsychologyToday":<br />
"• Make good sense of a bad relationship by examining it as a reflection of your beliefs about yourself. Don't just run away from a bad relationship; you'll only repeat it with the next partner. Use it as a mirror to look at yourself, to understand what in you is creating this relationship. Change yourself before you change your relationship. "<br />
<br />
Wishing you every possible success - and only YOU will know how that success is measured. And keep coming to ILIASM for support and encouragement - and to share your inimitable wit and wisdom!! We'd miss you TERRIBLY if you left . . . !!!

MissM,<br />
<br />
clearly, you feel the necessity to "earn your way out of the marriage" as I read the story.<br />
<br />
I get that completely.<br />
<br />
This is not advice, merely an observation.<br />
<br />
I decided on the last stand too. To do one last lap with everything I had in the last ditch effort. I thought I had given everything in the previous lap ("Last ditch effort #2"), but believed I had another lap in me.<br />
<br />
I went in with all good intentions, motivations and committment (I thought).<br />
<br />
I ran out of gas after about half a lap. Pulled into the pits. Put the car on the trailer. Left the track.<br />
<br />
I commend you for having a last crack at it.<br />
<br />
Reckon you need to recognise the possibility that your true deep committment to do this might not actually be there (though you obviously think it is). Keep your plan flexible to allow for this possibility.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

ETG,<br />
<br />
Great advise. My situation is different than most but I keep calling this the year that I lost. I struggle every day to try to get a plan to pick myself up and to figure out how to move on!<br />
<br />
Also, in a sick way you can see it that self improvement has ANY effect on your spouse. How often have we read here, "I lost weight, I dressed nicer, I bought bacon scented candles." This can work as a gauge to see if your spouse even notices and how they react. How they react is very important!! They may actually get mad when they realize they can't keep you from being happy, they may not even notice how you have improved, or they may like it!

Listen to ETG - I am doing exactly that. Although I am working on my marriage - I WILL NOT LET IT DRIFT in the way that I had previously allowed it to. I am going to do things I want to do. I am going forward with my life - with or without him. I have a time limit in my mind - but I'm flexible - if it's working or getting better, good, if not and I can see that sooner, well I will decide what I have to do then. Nothing is set in stone. I rather suspect that a WTF moment will arrive and decision is made. But yes, be proactive. Don't waste the year.

Oh - MissM - this 1 year, dont let it go by with the only focus being your H and SM.<br />
I trained, got fitter, am starting a new company, started some old hobbies, got lots of old friends back I had lost touch with.<br />
<br />
You need to LIVE, get bigger, better, wiser. Dont waste the year...

If you are comfortable with one year, go for it. The amount of time is immaterial. <br />
When you look back on your marriage, it should be with the clear conscience that you gave it your best shot. <br />
I spent 3 years giving it my best shot. And, as I leave, I don't regret that time because, I gave him enough and more time to rectify the situation. <br />
No regrets as I move on.

Very well thought out post. I admire you for trying "everything" before finally calling it quits. I would imagine that it will provide some comfort if after that it still results in divorce. Don't get me wrong divorce is always painful as it is a form of grief over the death of something we all hold dear. Some will say go now & some will say stay but the truth is only you can know in your heart what is the right decision for you.<br />
<br />
None of us live in your house or in your heart. Also what is the right decision for one, may not be the right decision for others. One thing I have learned on here is that some really come from positions of pain & anguish & have long ago been pushed past the point of no return. Some are not there yet & may never be. I do wish you the best in whatever the future holds for you both.

Miss M - GOOD post and a rational choice<br />
I don’t know where you are in your head, but I know you need to feel for yourself you tried.<br />
I did the same as you, to a T, without a doubt.<br />
We had THE talk, not like the other talks -THE talk.<br />
She asked if I want to divorce her, I said I don’t know.<br />
THE Talk took 3 days in all, at the end we said we would 'try'.<br />
In my head I said I would try for a year.<br />
For me it was to make sure I tried, like you, I did this for me, and being honest, I don’t think I wanted it to work - for her it was a chance to get me back to the status quo man she had before.<br />
On the 2nd Jan 2011 that year is up, but I knew we were F**ked by June in reality, and that’s when I decided I was considering staying for the wrong reasons.<br />
That’s when the functional but covert planning started, and it continues.<br />
I did have a timeline, but finances and illness and family cancer and just life gets in the way of this stuff, each in their own time.<br />
But when it’s all done and behind me, I can lay in my bed at night and think, yes that was the RIGHT thing to do, as I had no more ideas, no more energy, and no more to give.<br />
<br />
So for me, the 1 year thing of trying, it was really a lie but I didn’t know, but the process of trying led me out instead of in, and that was a valuable process in itself.<br />
<br />
Good luck MissM

What I learned in the last little talk i had with my spouse, was that my iinput was passionate. i was emotional, What I was saying mattered to me as much as my life matters to me. I was crying. I could hardly speak. I used phrases and content that demonstrted how I felt about him and about us.<br />
<br />
Meanwhile, His retort was passionless. There were no tears. he was calm. He was bland. His statement was said like you were ordering a coffee at Starbucks. And his response was a simple small sentence.<br />
<br />
I think that if you are on the fence in your relationship, and it can fall either way, as to whether you save the marriage or not. the passion, this desire to save the marriage, has to be there for both of you. <br />
<br />
By passion, I mean emotion. You both have to have this energy to show each other, to talk to each other, to say to each other, that the marriage, the relationship really truly matters to you. That you both want and need each other in your life.<br />
<br />

I understand your dilema - who wouldn't want to make sure that they really had given their marriage another chance - you don't want to throw away all that you have together without a fight, but.......it's a hard fight and it may not go your way. I am in the ring at the moment going through the maul and my nose is bloody and I'm not sure I'll make it..................But I do think it is worth the try. I wish you all the best. You need to be able to look at your conscience and say that you really did try - and (continuing the prison analogy) walk out of that prison with an unconditional discharge! Be kind to yourself.

AC is right this time.<br />
<br />
Don't make my mistake of sitting on the fence for years, trying (and faking) to make things right.<br />
<br />
From your earlier posts, you had previously made the right decision to leave and it was now all about timing. Self-doubt is natural but don't second guess yourself and be led astray by feelings of guilt 'that you have not tried enough'.<br />
<br />
Life is too short. Grasp the mantle and move on. Good luck on your journey.

That was a very insightful essay. Give it all you can for the next 12 months (great new year resolution by the way), and if at the end nothing changes you can throw the towel and say "I did everything I can, and now it is time to go". I loved that analogy by the other member related to the scene form "Shaw shank Redemption", which is very true, we can sit here year after year waiting for our spouses to change, or break free once we realize that we are waiting in vane. Who knows, maybe after the 12 months you realize that your husband is really trying and that the situation is progressively changing for the better. Hopefully that will be the outcome.

MissMD, <br />
I can not speak for every guy. All I can tell you is that despite all of the bullshit, despite the lies, despite the fact that my wife and I are a poor match, despite us getting a divorce, despite the fact that I think my wife is a bad wife, despite the fact that I think I am a bad husband, despite all of the failings between us, despite the fact that my wife does not love me and despite the fact that I do not even know if my sentiments towards her constitute love anymore...... I still want to make love to my wife. My point is that if my wife was in your shoes, she would not have to try at all.... if she wanted to make love to me. I am ready to go now. <br />
<br />
That does not make me better than your unloving husband but it makes me wonder whether you girls should even bother any more. I would not beat yourself up over whether you are trying enough. Just pack up and leave. <br />
<br />
If a guy loves you, he will **** you now.

" Try. Really Try. Have the talk, really have it - don't let him wiggle out of it. " <br />
You mean..... listen to more lies?