Living (as Usual) In Interesting Times...

What a week. The friend with whom I've been flirting visited from out of town---and while it was fun to spend time together, it didn't rock my world. We did fool around some, which was nice, and needed. But it seems he also has some ED-type issues, and I've been down that road already. It gets old, fast. My queendom for a man with no problem getting and staying hard. I mean REALLY: is that so rare???

The real result of his visit was that I realized that not only am I NOT ready for romance (sex maybe, but not romance) with anyone, I still love my H very much, actively.

At the same time all this was playing out, I got a chance to email and speak with my H, who is still in CA. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but WOW: he finally gets it. Took full responsibility for his anger issues, his procrastination and avoidance, his lack of courage that made him take his anger out on me in all these weird passive ways instead of just manning up and expressing it, so he could have let it go and moved on. Didn't blame me, his parents, the economy, the weather. No excuses. He's in therapy, reading books, working on healthier ways of channeling his anger. Within two minutes on the phone we were both crying and expressing how much we love and miss each other, how this all seems like a nightmare---how did we wind up here?

I told him that there is no chance of us getting back together unless I am a million percent sure that he will not revert back to his PA behavior. I know how hard it will be to learn a new way of operating in the world---he will have to literally think through every moment and decision until it becomes natural to do and think about things differently. I told him that if down the road we try to get back together, it has to be a different relationship, a whole new paradigm. We cannot go back to the way things were.

In the meantime, I'm going out of town for a month and he is still looking for a job and could wind up here or 3,000 miles away. I've decided not to rush the process of him packing up the apt while I'm gone. It just doesn't feel necessary at this moment.

I have no idea what is going to happen, but I haven't given up all hope yet. If he continues to deal with his issues and I see concrete, definitive evidence of change over time, I am open to trying again at some point in the future. For now I'm going to move forward with my life. I'm not ready to fall in love with someone else, but I can't be on hold forever either. We will just have to see how it plays out...

What can I say? Love is not logical. I do believe people have the capacity for change. Now we will just have to see if he can follow through and do the hard work change will require.
nyartgal nyartgal
36-40, F
10 Responses Sep 7, 2012

Just a little on my own experience. My ex did not believe she held any responsibility for the demise of our marriage - not one bit. After I left and she had recovered somewhat from her fallout tirade, she asked me, quite genuinely not to fix all my personal issues too soon because it would just be awful for her if I suddenly became the one she wants after leaving, and even worse for her, if I formed a happy and fulfilling relationship with someone else. Note how the responsibility was still on me to make her feel good?

Your ex sounds nuts. That's exactly the opposite of how I feel. I don't think I'm perfect or that he is all at fault. But I was the only one working on trying to fix the relationship, and that's not something I can do alone. Im not your ex, and this is not your marriage.

That's absolutely shocking LT.

Nyartgal,

You misunderstand me. I am not saying you are like my ex or that your marriage resembles mine. Its something to reflect on is all.

Sorry if I misunderstood. It sounds like you are implying that I am putting all the responsibility on my husband to fix the marriage. Is that correct? How I actually feel is that my H has been angry and depressed for years, hasn't been willing to really confront or acknowledge or deal with it, and as a result his whole life is falling apart----the marriage is just one symptom. I hope he starts to work his way out of his paralysis and deal with his issues, for HIS sake, regardless of me. If he were to do it "for me" or to save the marriage, it wouldn't be authentic or real.

My apologies for being unclear. I was reflecting on the self-same idea about change and its impetus, that it is for one's own sake and the irony in my ex's statement. I was also wondering at how you juggle your hopes (albeit slim, as you indicated) for the marriage being fixed and your hope to move on separately.

Good question. I know intellectually it would be better for both of us if I gave up all hope and TRULY moved on. But the heart is not logical. I am going to do my best to move forward as if it is completely over and done. Because it may in fact be totally done. I'm a really tenacious, loyal, passionate person. Not caring about something or someone I care about is very hard for me. It's going to take awhile...

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NYG, much as I would like to see someone - anyone - here have a magical "fixed it" story ... P/A behaviour is sooooo ingrained. It's pretty "easy" for him to sit on the other end of the phone and say he's changing. You need to SEE the proof, to EXPERIENCE the proof of change. In the meantime ... my advice would be to keep your options open. Waaaay open.

Thanks, I know you are right. Oy!! I just had dinner with a close friend and her husband, who is a psychologist and pretty good friends with my H. He basically said the same thing, that it's very hard for anyone to change, usually all you hope for is at least you are more aware of your issues. That most people don't actually change all that much. IT'S SO FRUSTRATING. *******, I do love the guy. I wish he could figure his crap out. :(

Nooooooo! See, there you go. YOU do not have to figure his crap out. HE has to figure his crap out.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around this. Maybe if I understand it I can move forward a little? Still in total shock, that's for damn sure...

Kind of sweet...

For what it's worth... (about what you paid for it), my prophesy for the future of this...<br />
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He will try and cry and improve and blow you away with his efforts as long as you are apart...<br />
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He will be attentive, loving, and sexual should you decide he has changed and begin to share the same roof, and the same bed...<br />
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...he will begin to feel resentment but will hide it from you...<br />
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He will resent that you left him... will resent that you spent time with others... resent that he had to work so hard to get you back...<br />
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He will begin to blame you for that... but he won't want you to leave again, so he will hide it, perhaps even from himself for a while... <br />
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...and it this resentment will slowly begin to make itself known in little hidden ways... little hidden passive aggressive ways, because now, even more than before, he knows what will happen if he is open with his resentment and openly attacks you for leaving him and for having other relationships while you were apart...<br />
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You will begin to notice that he isn't "trying as hard"... and you will call him on it... <br />
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...and he will deny that there is anything wrong...<br />
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And slowly but surely, insidiously... the pattern will re-emerge... and depending on how good he is at hiding it, and how much you love him, and fear the big old world on your own... well, that is how many years will have passed... wasted...<br />
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In my experience here... 6 to 18 months for the backsliding to finally push you back to where you were when you finally decided it had to end...<br />
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...and you will be back, sadder, wiser, heartbroken, and disillusioned... and we will empathize and feel it with you...<br />
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Much empathy (having been there and done that...)<br />
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FoP

Yeah, I could definitely see this happening exactly as you describe it. Do you think that PA people are by definition unable to change? Are they consigned to a life of this crap no matter what? It seems tragic that anyone would have to live in that head space forever, especially is he/she is trying to change...

And I'm so sorry you had to go through that---I can imagine how unbelievably painful that was for you. Horrible.

Awesome post....and so true.

I think this is a pretty accurate forecast.

Passive aggressive people hate confrontation, and are not good at it... not good at expressing themselves in adult to adult conversation (in my experience). They pretend to be more than they are, because they don't feel they are good enough, and don't believe they can do anything about it...

They learn that they can effectively control people that are more competent than they are, either perceived or actually, by doing small underhanded things behind their backs, then pretending it was an accident, or a mistake, if they are caught... and by taking credit for things the other person did, or paid for, etc... They live a lie...

In order for them to change, their own belief in their ability to function in a worthwhile manner has to change. In the relationships where I have either experienced this, or watched it progress, usually one partner is employed, doing well in their career, able to function well either socially or in business, or both... and the other doesn't feel that they can measure up.

The unfortunate thing is, that they probably can't... not in the areas they wish to... and they can't forgive their partner for being, in their perception "more"...

In this relationship, no, I don't believe it can change... it is too much a part of the fabric of the relationship. Therapy may help him, but not enough to change the dynamics of the relationship, because he resents you for things that you can't change.

Thanks, this is a super insightful comment. I can't ignore the fact that his anger and resentment coincided with period when my career exploded and I had huge success, and his floundered. I don't think that's all that's going on, but it's certainly part of it.

Actually, it's probably pretty much all of it... the male ego is a fragile and sometimes foolish piece of work. ALL the problems in my marriage stemmed from his jealousy of my career and earnings... all sorts of other crap and minor resentments built from that, but that was the root cause of the sexlessness, and the sabotage, that eventually brought the whole thing tumbling down.

We had a wonderful love too, before jealousy took root, and did everything together and talked about everything... and had a fantastic sex life too...

Don't put too little weight on it... it is sad and ridiculous, but to him it's everything.

Can we be friends? I feel like we are married to the same man. :)

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My take is different. Your sexual rendezvous with the guy you were flirting with didn't meet expectations. That stings. That would make me question myself (especially having been with a man with ED before) and make me wonder if all that was going to happen over and over in the future.<br />
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If that's what is in your head then suddenly it becomes much easier to consider reconciling with him because you may be thinking that things out there aren't that much different than they were in the marriage bed. That may be the case for that one guy but it doesn't mean your p/a husband is a better match for you than he was before.<br />
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I think you need to have a great sexual experience or three before you can even consider reconciling. So do that. But don't confuse your current feelings of disappointment over what didn't feel great with the other guy for a sign that the marriage should continue.

I agree that if the sexual experience with the "friend" had gone better you would not be considering reconciliation. Instead, you'd be dancing on clouds telling us how great it is to be out, and not really interested in your refuser's newly found ah-ha's.

I have often advocated for alone time post separation. This is partly why. Your ego is still badly hurt. A bad sexual/romantic experience has the ability to wound you very deeply. You need to learn your own value and heal a bit. I'm not one who thinks "sampling the men" is really going to be good for you either. It wasn't just about the sex and sex alone I doubt will fix your soul.

Definitely, definitely don't tell the almost-ex that there might be a chance! If you think there might be, play those cards close to the chest and watch what he does without that knowledge. Give it 18 months minimum to see change that lasts. I'll bet a chocolate cake that at the end of 18 more months the very thought of going back will make you have PTSD-like symptoms.

This **** takes a lot out of you, more than you have yet appreciated. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Give yourself the gift of time.

Princess SomeWoundsTakeLonger

@HellHath, yeah that's pretty right on. I do feel a little cursed. Though it wasn't so much that the sex was disappointing---we actually did have fun---just the whole thing made me miss my H. His body, his voice, his sense of humor, his personality, his mannerisms, his affectionate nature, everything. And you're right, I did think at one point, "If I'm going to be with someone with ED, I'd rather be with my H." I know logically these are not the only two men on earth! What can I say, I still love my H despite all logic. Maybe it will fade when I start dating and start having mindblowing sex (when?). I just can't delete the wonderful parts of our relationship from the narrative---even though the last couple years have been so hard---and up until fairly recently we could have fun doing anything, just grocery shopping or cleaning the house together. We can talk for hours about anything, from art to politics to ideas to part-planning, both very inquisitive and intellectually compatible. We cracked each other up all the time, loved just being together, just curled up on the couch watching baseball or hugging in the bed. We got so much pleasure just from occupying the same space for so many years.

I suppose those are things I could find with someone else who is not PA and doesn't have ED and all the other lovely acronyms that have come to dominate my life. Maybe. Or maybe not---let's face it, there are no guarantees. I could be happier with someone else---or he could figure out his issues and I could be happier with him. I really don't know...

@ Princess: yeah, as much as I do want to have good sex I'm not entirely sure it won't make me feel even emptier than the failure of my marriage. I feel stuck in a catch-22 of epic proportions. When does it start to get a little less confusing and a lot more fun?

When does it start to get a little less confusing and a lot more fun?

When it is better than what your fantasy has made it. And that can be a long row to hoe depending on expectations.

I do not think you will find it empty but there are highs and lows to such a game if hubby is still on your mind.

You might want to give your paramours a chance to settle in - men can be tepid and show ED symptoms the first time - or two. We are more fragile than we like to admit and there are emotions swirling in his mind just like in yours.
- MEN! LOL

Thanks. Obv, I'm all over the place in terms of what I want. I do want good sex, and I'm probably not ready for anything more than that, but ultimately I loved loving someone and don't know how long I can do the casual thing. I suppose I'll just have to let things play out and see...

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Oh...and I wanted to share my experience about the anger issue. In conseling - for months - he cried and apologized for all of the anger. For the holes in the walls. For the bullying...the name calling..the yelling. He took accountability for it - "saw" how wrong it was and the damage he did. He BEGGED for an opportunity to make it right.<br />
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As soon as he moved out - he started saying things like, "I never had an anger problem - I don't know why you guys keep insisting I did." To this day - two years later - he still makes sure he tells our kids that every time he see's them. <br />
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He admitted to being abusive...but now he never was and it was just me (yes me) getting "in his head" and trying to manipulate him. RIIIGHTTT......<br />
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In hindsight...if we had waited to reconcile at least 18 months....we'd have had a better shot...but what would have really happened is that we wouldn't have reconciled. He wouldn't have been able to keep up the act...

I did the separation thing. Back in 2008. We lived separately for 8 months. Seemed long enough and we had made "great" gains...only in my experience...it reverted fairly quickly back to sexless. Old habits die hard.<br />
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By fairly quickly...here is the timeline....July 4th...decided to separate...August 1 - separation date. November - serious about trying to reconcile. LOTS of counseling...joint and separate. February - decide to move back in together. March - reconciled. First of June - first conversation about why his libido took a(nother) hike. September - marked 120 days without sex. Kept trying...February (2010 now..)...last somewhat intimate encounter...May...he forgot our 19th wedding anniversary...he moved out in September that year. <br />
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It was two years of my life that in hindsight I see was wasted...we have kids...and that reconcile/break apart thing ****** them up. Shoulda just stayed gone.<br />
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That's just my experience.

Yikes, that is so depressing. I'm so sorry you got screwed over like that. He sounds like a sociopath. I hope life is better without him!! I think anger must be addictive---so many people can't or won't let go of it.

If you meant this - "I told him that there is no chance of us getting back together unless I am a million percent sure that he will not revert back to his PA behavior" - then that eliminates him from your life for at least 12 months.<br />
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With that part of your life out of the way for the medium term, you are left free to tackle the other issues you refer to unencumbered by him and his issues.<br />
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Love is not logical, that is true.<br />
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Choice is.<br />
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In times of uncertainty, information and choice is the way to go.<br />
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Tread your own path.

I am hoping by my birthday in late November I will have at least some sense of whether he is making progress or not. If so, I would give him another 4 months and check in again. Hopefully going to Europe for a month and sampling the local men there will provide ample distraction in the meantime. :) Maybe in another month or two I'll be ready to date, who knows? Right now, I'm definitely not up for more than a fling.

Perhaps I am reading this wrong but it seems like the power is in your hands. You are weighing his responses - whether he takes responsibility, works on his therapy, etc, and you are holding out hope to him (even if its a million per cent). In the meantime, you get to check out what you feel you missed out on - see if you can date, etc. I guess I am so familiar with how my ex used to hold out the possibility of sex to me, provided I did x, y, z, yet kept shifting the goal posts - the similarities are starkly clear. Why not just cut the bugger loose? You are still sitting on the fence and keeping him on the tow line.

In my case he has been the refuser, and I've been the one waiting and begging. He was the one making excuses and shifting the goalposts, and I was the one working on the relationship---while he did nothing. Despite all that, I still love him and believe he can make progress dealing with the emotional issues that undermined our relationship. In the meantime, he is also free to date. He's also looking for work that might keep him on the opposite side of the country, which would no doubt end our marriage for good. So I think we both have power here So far, neither of us want to divorce but we both recognize it has to fundamentally change for us to try again. I've told him he can go for a long time. I offered any kind of freedom he could want, from an open marriage to divorce. I think we just really love each other, ad as complicated as the issues are, the love part is very simple. Trust me, it would make everything very easy if this was a no-brainer, if he was a bad guy or there was no love. He's a great guy with some significant emotional problems. I hope he can figure them out, regardless of me or our marriage, because I care about him and really want him to be happy.

All good points, thanks for chiming in...

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I agree too. People CAN change, but it requires precision to discover the problem and fix it. <br />
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I liked reading your story very much.. but it's the same as a lot of cases on here: it seems like you want other guys to treat you like a woman more than you want you husband to do that?? I highly DOUBT your husband is incapabable of this. I've never met anyone on Planet Earth that didn't have tongue! Most guys have all MOST working digits on their fingers!! Willingness is a whole other area! If he is not willing, I can't possibly imagine! I love women, the bodies, the pubic hair, the smell, the kissing, the vagina, the hips, the breasts, ahh.. when I read about a man rejecting a woman, I think it's incredulous, but I know it probably happens in this modern day and age. I have never rejected any woman in any country, unless I was extremely peeved at a woman, which for me, lasts about 15 mins. tops.<br />
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I'm not accusing you of this OP, rather, just venting: I've read many stories and I see (a few) people using whatever excuse to cheat on their spouse with 1 or more people because they have a near-dead sexual relationship with their spouse. This is terrible. A divorce in these cases is much cleaner.

I am not cheating---we have agreed that we will not be monogamous during our separation.

"Love is not logical"<br />
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You said it, sister.