The Essential Error

The more I read in EP the more I realise that the contract of marriage can never work if the two parties want something different from the agreement.

The problems with our marriages are NOT about all the outcomes of that basic disagreement - it is about the essential error we all made in signing a contract (whether we are in a legalised marriage or not) with someone who had a different perspective on what the marriage would be like.

Like us, our spouses also made the same mistake.  So we cannot blame them either. 

The problem is that WE are the ones whose expectations are not being met because withholding sex is a far stronger strategy than giving it.  

I read a post today which really resonated with me - the poster said he tries to look at the issue from his partner's perspective and says he can see how distasteful it would be to HAVE to have unwanted sex all the time.   This is a very telling viewpoint, I think.

For some in this forum the problems are about much more than basic incompatibility - there are problems of drug abuse, addiction, abuse (physical and / or emotionaL) and other major issues.

But for many of us who love our spouses and are generally happy with them in other parts of our life, it is this issue of sexlessness that is the major signpost to our basic incompatibilty.

By realising this, I feel I can stop "blaming" my husband for his inactivity in the sex department.  Certainly my view of marriage is the more conventional and I expect we all think (I certainly do!) that those who marry expecting / planning on a "no sex" relationship are entering the contract fraudulently.

But I suspect their sex drives are so low that it doesn't really enter their minds - they "just sort of assume" we will feel the same way.  And we "just sort of assume" they will feel as we do!! Hence the essential error.

For me, this helps me to see that the contract of Marriage I have wih my DH is null and void because it was entered into with misunderstanding on both parts.  We are equally at fault (but not to blame) and it is very sad that this is the case.

enna30 enna30
56-60, F
15 Responses Mar 8, 2009

Serenity, it would be interesting to see his reaction. I can say this, once I stopped being angry (which was not actually a choice - just happened. . . ) I could act towards my husband without blame and outward resentment. (Still felt lots of inward resentment tho!)<br />
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And the outcome was we actually communicated more truthfully with each other than inthe past. Sex? No, sorry, it did not go as far as that!!

Just read this story again, Enna. Thanks for a very wise and insightful post. I wonder what would happen if I read it to my husband...

Baker, that equation is very very true!! I hadn't thought of it like that - but it sums up the situation very neatly and correctly!

I look at marriage as a partnership. Both partners....must be willing to make comprimise..<br />
Now....I would be extremely pleased if we could have sex...twice a week. She on the other side of the coin...never wants sex again...A good compromise might be....once a week...or once every other week.<br />
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I would be one hell of a lot happier with that...rather than what I have now.<br />
Sex...in a marriage...is 10 % of the marriage...till your not getting any....then it becomes 90%. (yes...I saw that in one of the other stories....and have seen it in print before....but it is soooo true

When people enter into a marriage or partnership, they are often quite young and usually healthy. With older age come health probs which in themselves may reduce libido eg diabetes, or medicn which lowers libido, like anti depressants. Very often the refusers won't acknowledge these possible factors and in some cases, unfortunately blame their partners. There is, or can be, a total lack of insight in to the origin of the problem on the part of the refuser.

Sorry MissedOut, I diagree with you---I think there are as many different approaches to being a "denying party" as there are couples in this uncomfortable situation. <br />
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Enna makes a good point that each party assumes that the other feels the same....In almost every one this group's posts, the person left to go without, is frustrated angry and resentful. And with good reason! <br />
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But it is not accurate to say that the "denier" knows what he or she is doing, and flatly does not care how you feel! My ex also felt that this was something I was doing "to him".....even in the face of seeing that this was something happening to ME! Unwillingly! I did not wish to be a denier, even tried to "put up and shut up" in the name of maritial bliss. But once your resentfulness has turned to finger-pointing, even complying with your request(s) is not enough! It is absolutely something that needs to be healed between the ears.

My wife, according to several conversations we had before we got married a little over 3 years ago, had such a high sex drive she would spend all day with a reccent boyfriend just making love. She also, a week before we met, hooked up with an old boyfriend and screwed him 3 times in the course of one night. I come along, and in less than half a year we were down to having sex 2 to 3 times a month..........at best. We had less sex after we got engaged, and outside of our honeymoon sex has dropped from 2-3 times a month to once every 2 months now. It hurts so much to know how much more active she was sexually BEFORE i came along, and how it is one of the last things she thinks about. This being my only marriage, I just feel like I got ripped off when it comes to sex. I now very rarely make any moves on my wife, I am tired of either rejection, or sarcastic comments followed by............rejection. I have decided to let her initiate sex all the time now, my newest fear is I may be 'pressuring' her into sex, and that is not the kind of husband I want to be, nor shall I be.

Enna and others make great points, but after "acknowledgment" comes "consequences" or "actions." And what should these be exactly? A special arrangement where a libido stricken, yet understanding and self-aware, spouse allows you to seek physical companionship elsewhere? Or do we simply cast away the shackles of our early moral training and tell ourselves that we are justified in creeping around with someone else on a long "business trip" replete with a carry on bag packed with deception? Or, sigh, do we simply take the hard medicine, call the divorce lawyer, and enter the not-so-fun world of dating after we lick our wounds and pay the legal fees? Oy...now my crotch AND my head hurts just thinking about it...

A successful marriage respects each other above all others. When we signed that contract and filed it with the State and Church, (if there was one), we became bound by a legal agreement. According to my friend the priest, that came with rules and regulations for the marriage to be valid. When there is a difference that affects one or the other negatively, their inability or capability to fulfill their promises, there is no marriage.<BR><BR>I have been struggling with this newfound truth and unfortunaely, my husband takes it much more lightly than I do, because he's not lacking and will lose if we split financially and emotionally. He has been playing the big wonderful husband ... he thinks ... and I know he's just playing. Underneath nothing has changed and I continue as he says to "be obsessed with our relationship" ....<BR>Sometimes we have to take the wheel of life and go for the big spin ... with the help of God and EP friends, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.<BR>Blessings for everything good today!

Very good point Bazzar about the other person not necessarily entering into the partnership knowing in advance they way they will be that way in the future. Another good reason tonot blame our partners.<br />
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Good luck with the "no resentment" part - I have always found this hard too. I think I've accepted and conquered my resentment, only to find it reappears later.<br />
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The only thing to do IMHO is to deal with it every time it rears its ugly head - darn thing doesn't seem to know when to die!!! lol.

You focused in and said it wonderfully. I could not agree more. Thank you.

I believe it was me . I entered a period when I was very depressed and hated my job . I was not wanting 2 do any thing but 2 make money . I left that job and could not believe how bad I was . From that day on every day was down hill . Now I have been retired 4 7 years I have tried 2 B more romantic . I never was a big romantic , I am sex crazy though . What can I say . NO U DO NOT HAVE THE WRONG END THE STICK . Thank U very much 4 your comments . Joe B. in Pa.

You make some telling and salient points enna.<BR>Just to add to it, I reckon there are also cases where, in the initial flush of passion and lust, the partner (who turns out to be the 'withholder' later) is oblivious to this facet of their own make up. They start off honestly believing they like sex as much as the next person.<BR><BR>You identify other factors (addiction and suchlike) that actually change the person who entered into the partnership. <BR>Physical injury factors, mental issues, all sorts of things can change a person.<BR><BR>It is true that a person who entered into a partnership in good faith, can, for many reasons, be unable to fulfill aspects of the 'arrangement' as time moves an and circumstances change. Not because of any lack of initial good faith.<BR><BR>I completely agree that apportioning blame under these circumstances is an excercise in futility. It advances neither the partnership (whatever form it has morphed into), the unfortunate partner who is now incapable of fulfilling one of the partnership expectations, or the other unfortunate partner who has had an expectation unmet.<BR>"Sad" is something of an understatement enna.<BR><BR>I've said in one of my bits that I am struggling with the concept of "accepting the past WITHOUT RESENTMENT" but I've been thinking about this very issue a lot lately, and whereas my "WITHOUT RESENTMENT acceptance of what has happened is a work in progress, I'm getting there. The blame game achieves nothing. It is an extra bit of useless baggage on top of a sad situation.<BR>Best we concentrate on 'the things we can control' and not divert our energys into 'things we cannot control'<BR>

Good points - thank you. PL - did she really love sex do you think - or was it just a way to "cement"the relationship?<br />
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If it was a genuine delight in sex, it suggests to me that there are health issues (physical and / or mental) issues in her case. . . ??<br />
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But no doubt you've considered that. Has she had health checks? Refusal to have health checks would suggest to me that she prefers to be sexless - but I don't know her and you do. Sorry if I've got the wrong end of the stick.

All I can say is she loved sex as much as I did 4 many years . Than no warning and no sex !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!