Old Habits Die Hard

I have been out of my sexless Marriage for three years and eight months, I have been living in a wonderful relationship with Bazzar for two and a half years plus.  I have done the "hard yards" in many ways - four years of ILIASM and lots of therapy.

I tell you this to introduce my story - because even to me it seems amazing!!  Baz and I have discussed and worked on 
"un-learning" throughout our relationship.  It is Baz's term for the ways in which we need to undo our old patterns and learn new ways of interacting when in a different relationship.

Until yesterday, I thought I had mastered most of the REALLY important bits of unlearning I needed to do . . .but yesterday revealed to me how much more ingrained these patterns of behaviour are than we might realise.

I had a particularly long and difficult day yesterday.  It started at 4am and ended at 10pm.  It included four airline flights, two hour long car trips and a consultation at Parliament House. I arrived home with a terrible headache and feeling exhausted.

Baz put his arms around me and gave me a long hard hug.  After a few moments, I pulled away - and then mentally castigated myself for doing so. I really wanted to remain in that hug - so why did I pull away?

I was too tired to think about it last night - but I think it dwelt in my subconscious!  Because I awoke this morning with a "light bulb moment".  I realised that I am ALWAYS the first one to pull away from a hug - and I realised it is a legacy of my sexless marriage.  My ex was so uncomfortable with intimacy and touch that his hugs were awkward, brief and very "uninvolved" - the sort of hug you give a colleague you rarely see!

Because of this I "learnt" to keep my hugs very brief and to avoid showing any passion.  And it is THIS pattern that STILL lingers in my relationship with Baz. . .!!

Aha!!   Revelation!  Despite everything, I STILL carry baggage from my SM.  And I am still affected by those ingrained patterns learnt from living with my Ex for twenty two years.

The great thing about such realisations is that you can then do something about it. (Poor Baz will probably think he has encountered a boa constrictor next time he hugs me!!   lol)

And perhaps even more important is the realisation that this "unlearning" is not something I can consider "done and dusted".  It is obvious to me today that the legacy of my SM continues to affect my behaviour and my thought patterns, and that each new "discovery" will need to be rooted out as it occurs.

For those of you  in new relationships - or planning to have new relationships - it is vitally important (IMO) to be aware of these unconscious behaviour patterns we take from our SMs into new situations.  You might take a long time to uncover some of them - like I am doing.  But be aware they ARE there - and when something feels "odd" or not right, ask yourself "why?"  Maybe you are finding the changes in the new relationship so unlike the old one that it feels strange.  Or maybe you are (as I was/am) unwittingly taking old behaviours into the new relationship.

Either way, the impact of these is not  insignificant.  So "unlearning" remains a priority for me. . . !

enna30 enna30
56-60, F
11 Responses Nov 29, 2012

Love your comment Bazz!! :D
How many of us can remember having to learn to sleep on 'our side' of the bed? I too have a renown Octopus grip which I apply in my sleep to keep my love in the middle of the bed with me - helps with the unlearning and nothing beats skin on skin.

Ah yes - the infamous flannel pjs and total blanket wraparound.

I am actually "the" bazzar that Ms Enna refers to.

I am a highly observant dude, as is proved by the fact that I had never before noticed this action of Ms Enna being the first to withdraw from a hug !!!!!!!! (in fact I am far from convinced that this 'always' happens)

But now, fully alerted to this 'problem' I will apply my re-known "octopus" grip upon her person. Let's see her escape from that one !!

Tread your own path.

Mmmmmmmmm! The Octopus grip - I like that one . . !

My stbx would not let me even put my arm around her at night because she did not want my fat belly to touch her. She told me that would be gross. I learned to sleep facing away from her always hugging a second pillow. Giving up the second pillow was one of the first things I had to learn to do and perhaps there are other things along that line I will have to learn as well.

my relationship is new, so I have not really dealt with too many issues. I have known my friend for a year. We have never argued. But you see, my spouse and I never really argued either. and soI wonder. I think there are lots of things i avoided ad still avoid, as a result of the sexual avoidance in the marriage. I am not aware of other things that I don't do, but I am aware of lots of things that are just easier. We smile more, laugh, joke around, tease. None of that was in my marriage.
In the new relationship, there is just a calm relaxed atmosphere.The last two years or so of the marriage, I avoided rooms where the spouse was. I just really was so tired of dealing with all of it. In the new realtionship, we just like hanging out together. We share tasks, because it is fun doing that. When I was married, my spouse honestly, was such a nuisance. I hated when he helped doing anything, the cooking, the dishes, the yard work.In the last two years or so of the marriage, i was absolutely out of patience with the spouse. I could not deal with any of this any more.

Neui, I think it is important to "make" yourself confront anything - no matter how insignificant it may be - that is a constant niggle in your new relationship. that is VERY hard to do in a new relationship - ecause you don't know each other well enough to be ceetain of the response. But if you can calmly and not aggrssively say "This is bothering me" and your partner can hear it, itwill help GREATLY with any unlearning. Of course, you must be prepared to hear the same from him too!

To be honest, my friend is probably very aware of issues that need to be addressed..and i have not a clue. i have nothing to compare it to... but he does.. and so when we are together again i will just ask..and say well what do you think about us...honestly, and what could i do better or differently, because of my past, i am not sure.

I have a slightly different take on these things - which do indeed crop up sometimes unexpectedly, though less often as time goes by.

I try to honor these behaviors because they have the intent of looking after us, keeping us from harm. And I try to say gently to myself, that's not needed any more, we are safe and keep ourselves that way now. It will never happen again.

I Just LOVE that thought. Will now include it in my "self lexicon"! Thanks so much, hl42.

I've mentioned it before, but I still think it's worth repeating. I said "thank you" after sex for some while, without initially realising how utterly strange (and even off-putting) most normal women found this. I was still in the mindset that I was being given a favour. It led to some odd conversations.

And yes, LaoTzu, I recognise what you describe and it is wonderful - although for me, perhaps the greatest 'night and day' contrast is simply to re-experience eager, giggling, enthusiasm. I'd almost forgotten how much fun this could be.

This cracked me up!! Baz and I still say "thank you" to each other! At least with both of us coming from SMs it was something we each understood absolutely from the other!! ROFL!!

There's nothing wrong with being thankful : ) and expressing it. Those of us who have found our way into new "normal" relationships - we are bound to be very thankful.

What about when you have made love and later, (in the same night), you reach out hesitantly to your dozing lover, pushing against a learned resistance, to initiate love-making again.....and she wakes and wants you eagerly? The wonderment indeed!

Not the same night, may be if I overslept for about 50 days and nights...

@LaoTzu --- Speaking of arguments, seen on a t-shirt yesterday at a grocery store: "With no power comes no responsibility". That's how I often feel in my marriage. Revealing, leave alone claiming, that I, too, can be wise and rational on some rare occasions is a no-no.@Enna --- My baggage is so bad there's no point even trying. I can spend a couple of lifetimes alone just healing, before trying to reach out again. This belief has not been shaken yet by individual therapy.

learnt" to keep my hugs very brief and to avoid showing any passion.

gypsy...> yep, me too, it feels like a contest, who will walk away first,

i find my self, avoiding him and his quickies.

Enna, that is a realization of self, after you pulled away in a loving embrace. Had you not been in a sm, this behavior would have been a big nothing. Yet you did it and thought about it and put Baz in the equation. All of us are far from perfect, yet we don't walk around in a shadow any longer. This should teach others, who stay too long with their needs unmeet, the damage we sometimes don't know is really there.

I totally agree that we don't fully realise the damage until we are OUT. I think this is partly because we have told ourselves for SO long that "everything bar the sex s omk"! Once we are out, things become clear that were not even remotely on our radar during the marriage. . . . Strange, but true!!

I have had a number of these types of lightbulb moments over the last few years. Such as coming away from an argument feeling that you have been heard and that nowhere was there hurtful name-calling. That there are post argument hugs and kisses and mutual comforting. That after a wonderful day of theatre and dining and wonderful rich conversation, that the words 'I'm tired' means 'come to bed so we can make love'. There are so many more such things which together add up to demonstrate how far from normal my previous dysfunctional marriage had been.

That argument thing rings lots of bells here too! Knowing that the other person is actually seeking to make things truly better - not just being "magnanimously forgiving" . . . !! And so much more.