It's Not Reset Sex - Long Post (sorry!)

Thanks to this board I have learned:
1) Watch out for "reset" sex when I finally get things moving forward with sex in the relationship again, it can be hot once or twice but then falls back into the same routine.
2) IF we are lucky enough to get sex going again, then sometimes the "refused" has trouble getting back in the swing of things, so I was prepared for my own response and did experience a bit of this.

An Update:
It has been a month since I gathered up knowledge gained on the board from both refusers and the refused and was able to articulate to my spouse what my issues were and outline some very concrete suggesitons of how we could deal with them by being intimate to a level that both of us were comfortable with (see my earlier posts on this).

Before people start posting negative comments that "it's only been a month, come back later and tell us if it stuck" (or worse)... YES - I knows it's early, that's why this is an update and why I am still on this board.

Sex has been going well. It's not blowing the lights out, but it is good, satisfying and intimate and both of us a much happier. Knowing that there is a minimum bar that we have both agreed to has drastically cut her performance anxiety and made her more open to trying things. If we start to get sexual but things start to hurt, or her mind won't settle down, or one of a million other things prevent her from getting into it, then she knows that she can "do a certain minimum" and feel good that I am happy. I hate how clinical that sounds but...

At this point it's been 4 weeks, with sex 6 times, and we have not yet resorted to "the minimum". What the hell, 6 times is like a year's worth of sex.

For my spouse at least, it came down to stress. Due to her medical condition she was so stressed that it would hurt almost every time (she would basically lock up) and to avoid the pain she would say "no". My frustration and eventual begging, pouting or generally being a jerk (after a couple weeks of false starts) would only make it worse.

She is finding that it is easier to let go, to see what happens. As a result her mind is more willing, which makes the body more willing, and this lets her focus a bit more... and the process spirals upwards (instead of downwards) into a pretty decent sex session.

Of the 6 times, in 4 of them she did lose focus part way through due to pain, but in all 4 cases she was still into it and enjoying it enough to, um, finish me off in some fun ways that certainly went beyond the minimum. In the other 2 times she actually made it to the big-O so that's wonderful and is an average that surprises the heck out of me and will (I hope) keep her coming back for more.

So, we will continue, in a couple months I will post another update.
Not sure what what point I would declare that "I don't live in a sexless marriage". Since there is always a potential for relapse.

I do feel more strongly now that communication is a HUGE part of fixing things up. Not just saying "I want sex more" but spelling out in embarassing detail what it is you want, how you feel (physically and emotionally), etc. It is absolutely mandatory that your spouse wants to fix things, that they actually want you to be happy and that they open up too.

On item #2 at the start of this post - Last night I actually didn't want to have sex. But two of our kids were away on sleep-overs so it was such a prime time. I don't know why I didn't want to have sex, this never happens to me. My spouse said "we should at least get naked and cuddle and see what happens". That's when I though about posts on this board where the refused said they had trouble getting back in the swing - THANKS - Rather than saying "no", I said "yes, lets try".
back2nature back2nature
41-45, M
6 Responses Dec 9, 2012

Whenever two people are facing in the same direction, it is quite possible (even likely!) that they can journey forward together. When one is facing the opposite direction, or digging their feet in ther mud and refusing to move, the chances are not so good!

You two seem to be making GOOD progress towards a recovery and that is GREAT news! You are aware of the potential pitfalls but you are not allowing these to cripple you. Nor are you living in "la la land" and refusing to recognise reality . . . . I wish you both continuing success and I very sincerely hope you do achieve one of the few real recoveries that we see here. Be sure to let us know how things go over the next few weeks and months!!

Wow, thanks for the comment. Getting some positive vibes on this board can be like pulling teeth :-)

Do you not believe that all sex has some element of reset to it?

It resets the connection and the closeness in all relationships. Even functional ones have some level of reset sex. If I am ever not in the mood but my partner is, if I decide to start my engines anyway is that not reset sex? Most of the times one partner desires more than the other, even if one day it's me and the next it's him.

It seems like you find the notion of reset sex to be distasteful. If you could see it more neutrally I think it would allow you to assess whether it's happening or not more accurately for yourself.

Any time you assign negativity to something you will want to deny it is happening in your own case.

I was using the term Reset Sex as it appears in common usage on this particular group. I do agree that any sex has some element of reset to it.

However, as the term is used on this board it more often is applied to situations where a long (or very long) period of time has gone by AND is coupled with some defining event (such as a talk about leaving, possibly an ultimatum, or in my case an agreement on new ground rules for sex). In many cases you will read here again and again cases where the refuser engages in one (or more) acts under the guise of pleasing their partner, but the reality seems to be more akin to shutting them up on the subject and buying time.

Does this sound negative... well yeah.

If it happens occasionally for for short periods (as you state, one day you are not in the mood, the next day she is not in the mood) then it's not a big deal.

When it happens that you have one bout of sex/intimacy followed by 3 months of not even touching, then have a talk followed by one bout of sex/intimacy followed by 3 more months... well, that more closely fits what i think the definition is on this group (other input welcome of course! I am a newbie here).

In general, most people here hold that concept as you describe with the caveat that all sex to some degree resets the relationship in some way. I've had terrible crash and burn attempts at sex with my ex-husband that reset us straight back to zero. It only resets to somewhere good if the sex feels connected and loving and good. And the more common experience of reset sex is 3-4 months of attempts by a spouse to make efforts in some direction that is closer towards the middle of what you both want, followed by things returning back to their version of normal. The reality is that many intimacy-averse people can not sustain intimacy for a long period without feeling uncomfortable and like something isn't right in their lives, no more than we intimacy-craving people can go without intimacy without feeling uncomfortable and like something isn't right in our lives.

I've been a big proponent of seeing your spouse for who they are and accepting that there may be a basic mismatch or incompatibility between you. I wrote a story about it last night but I've been particularly vocal about it on a few of my friends' stories here. Just as they ask us to be sexless and it makes us uncomfortable, us asking (and expecting) an intimacy-averse person to develop intimacy is going to make them very uncomfortable.

Read Awakeforthedance's journey or EinEngel or... well, almost anyone. or read my story Basic Mismatch from last night. I don't know if you and your wife have a basic incompatibility or if in fact, her refusal is situational. Way more often than not around here, it's not situational enough that they are able to fix it long term.

Back about a month ago, you started to choose differently (to what you had been doing) in your interactions with your missus.
That compelled her to make her own 'fresh' choices.
Which in turn made YOU make fresh choices in response.
Which passed the ball of choice back over to her.
Which - - - well, you get the idea. Choosing something different gives the other spouse an opportunity to also choose something different. Doesn't mean they WILL choose something different to their 'standard' response, but it does present an opportunity.

If you can get that ball of choice being constantly passed back and forward between you, you end up with a functional relationship.

In dysfunctional relationships, one - or both - drop the ball of choice, don't pass it back to the other spouse, and everything grinds to a halt.

Tread your own path.

So what you are saying is to be careful handing your balls to your spouse?

Your post seems hopeful. It also seems like you have both been working at it. It seems like there's been a lot of work needed for her to calm her mind and her body enough to be into sex. She's got a lot of personal work left to do to be there on her own. I remember these times in my own marriage. We would work at it and things would improve for a whole sexually. If she doesn't do her work though to help her learn to relax, enjoy and want sex then it will be temporary. For your sake, I hope she does keep working at it.

I'm glad to see that at least sometimes someone attempts a solution other than "It's broken, it won't get better, run". I suspect that for many, maybe most that that is the case and the younger the people are that are involved the more likely they should indeed run as a life without love can last a very long lonely time.

I hope also that some of the people that come here are willing to consider that they are at least part of the problem and that maybe even though they have tried over and over and failed that maybe there is still something different that they can try.

If you love your partner then look for and try creative solutions.

Riley, We ALL attempt a solution (many solutions) other than "it's broken, it won't get better, run." We all attempt too many solutions. The reason you hear the old-timers around here (which I think I am rapidly becoming) saying that is because it is hard-won wisdom and in 95% of the cases, it turns out to be true. To say "at least sometimes someone attempts a solution other than" giving up ignores all the efforts that we all make. I have NEVER met a person in this situation who JUST says "In the last 30 days we haven't had enough sex so I ended the marriage without a second thought, effort or attempt to improve things. I take my marriage lightly, after all. It's just a marriage. You can find those anywhere." We have ALL been where you are, not wanting to just give up. We have tried to look for many creative solutions and we have implemented many of them. Most of us, for WAY TOO LONG.

This is pretty much why I posted this. My first instinct is to not post, feeling like I don't belong here anymore. But if anyone else can follow this path, or finds help in these words then that is awesome (the same way I found help in the words of others on this board). Also, as i stated earlier, there is no guarantee this will stick long term and I am sure there is still tons for me to learn on this board.

I am happy for you. Your update is interesting to me as my wife and I are working on our intimate relationship. Perhaps in a couple of months I'll have as good an update.