Me, You,And We

Note - this is a re-post (explanation at the bottom)

"My marriage is perfect, but for the sex"

The opening ambit of many an initial poster in this forum.

And maybe, they actually believe it at that time, being in denial about the true state of their union. Or, maybe it is a situation of being embarrassed at their situation "I can't tell total strangers that my marriage is in the ditch, better stick to the most obvious symptom, sex. Maybe someone can help with that, then the rest of it I can work out myself."

Either way, the initial post invariably seems to convey this "it's just the sex" claim.

And, it needs challenging, very early on. Very early in the piece.

In any relationship there is "me" - "you" and "we".

"me" is my unique talents as an individual.
"you" is your unique talents as an individual.
"we" is the bit where both individuals bring their attributes to the table to share.

In a functional relationship, this is the magic bit, where the results are greater than the sum of the two individuals. This is where "me" regards "you" as just as important as "me". And "you" regard "me" as being just as important as "you"
It is not always equal though, sometimes "you" are pulling more weight than "me", and other times "me" is pulling more weight than "you".

After the smoke has cleared from the largely mythical "perfect marriage bar the sex" scenario, it is usually found that the "we" is largely a myth in a dysfunctional relationship.

To a greater or lesser degree, the dynamic looks like this ("me" being in the role of sexual refuser in the following)

"me" has unique individual talents. However, they only run to what suits "me"
"you" has unique talents, including regarding "me" at least as much as yourself.
"we" in this case, sees being brought to the table what "me" wants, and what "you" will do for "me". What "you" want is of no real interest to "me"

So "we" is going at less than half capacity. It's all about "me". And "you" can get ****** (only figuratively unfortunately).

Mind you, this can still work not too badly. If "you" likes sailboarding" and "me" likes it too, there is no problem.

But if "you" like sailboarding" and "me" doesn't, then "me" will not engage. Indeed "me" may actively subvert "you" when you want to do this activity.
"You" of course, are expected by "me" to join "me" in going to Star Trek Conventions even though the subject holds little appeal for "you". And, as an empathetic member of what "you" think of "we", "you" at least try and show some interest in whether Kirk was a better captain of the starship Enterprise than Piccard.

When the subject is sex, matters like sailboarding and Star Trek tend to assume vastly diminished importance.
"me" does not desire or need sexual expression with "you"
"you" do desire sexual expression with "me".
Result, in this perverse "we", "me" does not bring sexual expression to the table to share with "you". "you" do bring sexual expression to the table, but that is of no interest to "me".

So "you' are bringing something of no value to the table, "me" is bringing nothing at all to the table. The table is bare. There is no "we" in this dynamic.

And, if you look at many cases objectively, "me" bringing nothing to the table unless it suits "me" covers a heap of other things apart from sex, which, as ever, by its' absence, is the most visible symptom of a dysfunctional relationship.

I think, that initial posters to ILIASM need this pointed out as early as possible. In a manner that engages them rather than belting them over the head with it brutally. Particularly those cases where the posters' perception really IS that "it's perfect bar the sex. Lessons 'learned' are more powerful than lessons 'taught'. I think a lot of initial posters have succumbed to thinking that what they have is 'normal' and the penny has only partially dropped that it ain't normal at all.

I know that when I first lobbed in here, I thought I knew a fair bit about what was going on in my sm, and to some extent I did. But it was a very steep learning curve to really get a handle on it I found. And, even though it's through the rear view mirror these days, I am still learning heaps.

Tread your own path.

Note -
I have had a couple of recent requests to re-post this story which I first submitted on 15th October 2010. At that stage it was titled "You, Me and Us". A troll got hold of the story and much of the comments turned into a slanging match, which was a pity.
Anyway, here it is. All I have changed is where it originally said "us" it now says "we".
bazzar bazzar
56-60, M
10 Responses Feb 4, 2013

you looking for sex

WTF? Can you read?

I think baz is a hot tamale...

:) :) :) Agree!!!!!!!

Perhaps I am too thjck or too young to assimilate all this, but in my book it is utter tritus

Let's go with BOTH too young AND too thick . . .

Thanks for the repost. You manage to be kind, empathetic, and yet lead in the right direction. I admire that from you.

So well spoken Bazz. All so true. And just like you it was only when i stumbled on these pages is when i really learnt whats up.

I corresponded with two respected and active members of ILIASM, who have both had success in pulling their marriage out of the ditch. They each shared with me a book that was influential in their approach (Passionate Marriage, by Dr. Schnarch). It has been extremely influential with my wife and I as we continue to raise the bar on our expectations from our marriage, challenging each other.<br />
It focuses a great deal on the topic of restoring "differentiation" within a marriage, as a remedy for "fusion", and I think this ties nicely with the discussion you've introduced, above.<br />
We begin a marriage as more differentiated individuals.<br />
In marriage, our points of difference are eventually ground away through compromise and sacrifice, our response to criticism of difference, and our dutiful support of mutual endeavor (ie. kids first!), until a point is reached where there are no longer two growing individuals with their own interests. There is only a "we" fixed in amber. My hunch is that this applies to folks who post pics of their kids on facebook in lieu of real profile pics. At that point, passion will disappear from the marriage, though there will still be significant and even toxic investment and co-dependency (which I think leads people to think "everything is great"! - the mutual endeavor is functional, but the individuals are lost) Growth, on either side, is seen as a threat of loss, a risk in finding something better, or incompatible.<br />
This is a normal stage of a long term maturing relationship. I'd say that thesis is supported in that ILIASM is one of the most popular groups here. And lately, the topic seems to be flying out of pretty much everyone in my main social circle, aged 35-45, unbiden. <br />
Couples are either able to find themselves and differentiate again - a very challenging process. Or, they split, and begin again with a new partner (also a challenging process, but necessary if a partner refuses to allow differentiation)<br />
So, yes, to what you say, Baz. There are times where it is just me thinking but no "we".<br />
It's equally toxic and I'm considering more common in ILIASM, the reverse - which is that the ILIASM generally presents a scenario where there is ONLY a "we" and no "me" on either side. If there is no differentiation, there is no individual - nothing left to "want". There's simply nobody there. Folks feel that the marriage is running, logistically - there is considerable investment in that, and a feeling that these are necessary to protect from threats. There are activities, rituals - but no hunger or desire within the marriage.<br />
(I apologize for the odd spacing on my post - I keep trying to correct and it keeps re-inserting extra spaces)

well said...

Blah blah blah

I just got seriously confused...and yet throughout your story I kept wondering..what about the children? Where is the acknowledgement of the "Children affect"? They are an effective means of curtailing time spent on mutual interest and/or on developing new interests. Plus they enhance the selfishness attitude as they are so demanding you've got to protect your space or they'll take over!!! My god! Why in the world would two married people in love create a life-long project that requires new skills at every phase which would eternally bond them?!?!? Better to go golf Hilton Head for a weekend or bar-hopping in New Orleans. Maybe even surf a 100 ft wave. Marriage with kids suck! It's all a power play by one person over the other to gain control and me time by any means possible. And tats the attitude you have to have if you're gonna survive marriage. BUT if you want to enjoy marriage a change in attitude is required. We create the world we live in.

I believe that focusing on the children, to the long term detriment, of personal interest, ends up putting many of us in this group.

There is a period with a newborn where it becomes necessary for young parents to take themselves offline to get through it. The problem is that this notion can become ingrained on a permanent basis, long after it is necessary to re-assert oneself and the interests of the couple. Parenting is generally regarded uncritically as its own virtue, with little attention given to the limits, aside from the effect on the kids themselves (ie helicoptor parenting).

love hovering "helicoptor parents"
from Love and Logic Parenting...
a first for me...
to see their lingo applied by another
in a perfect usage...
am i gushing?
joyinthejourney, clg

thanks for reposting, as i have not seen previously.

I am still learning as are right that in the beginning going down this journey, sexlessness and then "the talk" made us feel like we had a handle on things and knew what to do. With me, and I'm guessing many others, there are much deeper issues that are invisible, or just not on the table. It all needs to be on the table. There are so many things from childhood that drive our behavior, our feelings, our reactions...most are moot, but some really do affect behavior as adults...I'm deeply exploring this now, as I don't know who I am anymore. Thanks for this, I'll never look at a table the same.

I agree, I was thinking this last night, ILIASM ir a wrong group name, it should be more like,"somethings are missing in my marriage". I thought that too (that it was just the sex), GUILTY, but it did start with that, he stopped it and I'll never know why, he doesn't even know, then everything else just got stale. You stop trying so hard, and when you do it's only to get something in return (sex).The entire relationship get's side tracked, GUILTY. I have had the wrong approach on everything, after all the hurt, once you sit back and look at the picture, it's easy to see how it all turned to ****, and how big a part "we" both played in it, and since two wrongs don't make a right it can only mean the END.Thanks for the post BB

I think "the end" should mean that the spouse who realizes this first, takes the brave and difficult step of being selfish enough to ensure that the "me" is not missing from the marriage. You are never going to both realize this at the same time, with one of you focused on kids and the other on work.

Brave, because once either of you steps out of your comfortable but miserable role, the difference will challenge the other spouse.

Yes yes and yes.

This..I honestly cannot imagine in a relationship. something2talkabout, it bothers me a lot that you cannot engage in a hobby that you enjoy. What the heck is that about?!

It's not only a hobby that I enjoy, it is a hobby of many decades, and it might be the hobby refusal, not the sex refusal, that ends the marriage!

Thanks for the re-post.

Currently my wife has now forbidden me from going sailboarding. It was something I used to do individually for many years, and then we did together for a few years, and now that she can't (bad knees), she doesn't want me to ever do it again either, as it would make her "emotional". She says, "this doesn't make me a bad person, does it?"

Maybe not a BAD person, but certainly a very SELFISH one!!!

It is not really "forbid" in that I couldn't just go, but I would have to face consequences, which not be wrath but a meltdown.

Perhaps it may be helpful
for your wife to get some help in
accepting her physical limitations...
for this is the issue...
she has lost a part of her abilities,
and is grieving that loss...
it has nothing to do with you sailboarding...
its the meaning she has attatched to that activity that makes it painful for her...
just a thought,

yes, you are accurate, it is the meaning she has attached to that activity that makes it painful for her, and even though she only had a few years of doing it, she does miss it, there is grieving of the loss, and for me to do will make her emotional, and she doesn't see any reason to get any help

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