For those who did not read the intro, I will provide a quick summary of my situation:
My wife and I are in a pretty good space in our marriage. We love each other very much and enjoy doing things together. There is lots of communication and lots of affection. The only area in our marriage that I feel still needs to be improved is our sex life. Sex is infrequent and somewhat awkward when it happens. This leads me to believe that both of us are holding our most intimate selves back in this relationship. There is a part of us that we are still not comfortable exposing to each other.
Both my wife and I were insecure as teenagers, and we both struggled with issues of romance during that very formative time in our lives. We both experienced our share of heart break and rejection. As a result, we both have a reluctance to expose our deepest selves for fear of being hurt or rejected at that level. When we dated in our early twenties I was my wife's first sexual partner and it was obvious to me how completly inexperienced and insecure she was in her sexuality. For my part, I had one previous sexual partner so I was not much further down the line than her.
For the most part, I have sorted out my own insecurities over the past couple of years. I feel totally ready to take that step and explore my own sexuality at the deepest levels. However, my wife is not quite ready to go there yet. It is funny actually. When I was stuck in my needy and manipulative Nice Guy routine we had sex every couple of weeks or so. She was willing to do that because it was easy. She just had to show up and let me do what I needed to do. She was essentially allowing me to use her body for ego gratification.
She senses that things are different now and that makes her reluctant to be sexual. She knows that just showing up will no longer cut it. Sex is no longer going to be about ego gratification. It is going to be about deep bonding and she is not certain that she wants to expose herself at that level. What if she exposes her deepest, most authentic self, and she gets rejected? What if she allows me to peer into the depths of her soul and I do not like what I see there? Despite all appearances to the contrary, my wife fears rejection. It leaves her in a quandry. She wants to experience the wonderful flow of a truly intimate relationship, but to accomplish that she has to open herself up all the way. This is something that she goes to great lengths to avoid. Many potential lovers turned away when they realized how guarded she was. Many possible best friends eventually realized that my wife would never open up to them on the same level as they opened up to her, so they looked elsewhere for the soul mate that they wanted. Her deepest heart is like a three foot thick vault. I know that I cannot force it open, so how do I convince her to let me in?
The analogy that comes to mind here is a castle siege. Imagine that my wife has erected a castle to protect her deepest heart from being injured. I want to get in there to have a truly deep relationship with her. What are my options?
I could raise an army and attack the castle. This would be aggressive and destructive. I have watched many men (on various forums) try to argue their wives into being sexual. It is about as effective as attacking a castle. You might win, but you don't actually win. The enemy is beaten and it shows. Her heart is not really in it.
You could try to starve them. I call this the passive aggressive approach. The idea here is that you withhold all forms of emotional and phsyical comfort from her until she agrees to be sexual. Although it less openly aggressive, it gets the same result as attacking. Your wife feels like she was coerced into doing this and her heart is not really in it.
You could negotiate a settlement. This is much better than either of the options above, but it still falls short of what I want. I have seen all manner of negotiated agreements in which sex happens on certain days or at certain frequencies. Some of them start to look like the performance contracts that we have with our sub-contractors at work. The woman is allowed to say no, but must provide a alaternate time when the sex will occur. If more than three days pass without the sex happening, an explanation must be given ... etc etc. Such things might sound very reasonable when they are agreed on, but sooner or later it will start to feel too rigid. It is amazing how often companies end up in court arguing about the details of a contract that they both agreed to readily. The same thing can happen in a marriage.
I decided to take a different approach. I asked to be let into the castle and the asnwer was no. I said OK. I set up my camp near the gate and said "if you change your mind, you let me know." I then started a party in my tents. I sent invitations to the castle. They didn't come, but it didn't matter. The party went ahead anyway. We frequently have parties in the tents, and we always invite the girls from the castle. Sometimes they come. Most often they decline. It is always up to them. There is no pressure. Over time the guard posted on the walls has become thinnner and thinner. There seems to be no threat so why be on high alert? Sometimes they forget to close the gate but we never try to sneak in. We are not interested in conquering them or taking anything from them. We just want to party with them. It is my hope that eventually they will start inviting us over there for parties. In fact, I hope to be invited in permanently.
Returning to plain english, I am taking a very passive approach to winning my wife over. I actively manage my own state of mind, and my own emotional state. I am very positive and forgiving. This give me the patience and compassion that I need to wait out my wife's resistance. She has a growth process that she needs to go through and I am giving her the time and space to do it in her own way, at her own pace.
I do not pressure her to do anything in particular. I do not tell her that she needs to be more positive, or sexual, or anything else. I confront her if she is being rude or negative with me. I have boundaries and I will enforce them. However, I try to just let her be herself and do what she is comfortable doing. The idea here is that I want her to feel that she can express her authentic thoughts and feelings and feel that I love her for who she actually is. I don't want her to project a false front for my benefit, or to protect herself. I want to see the authentic woman so that I can direct strong love at her.
My wife gets emotional sometimes. In the past I used to try and calm her down. I was trying to make her easier for me to deal with. I don't do that anymore. When she gets emotional, even if it is directed ta me, I stay calm and allow her to say what she needs to say. If she is throwing out accusations I might point out the bits that are badly distorted or exagerated. However, I mostly just listen and stay present with her. Those incidents are not an attempt to scare me off orto punish me. They are exactly the opposite. She just wants me to understand what she is feeling. Those blow-ups are a peak into her inner emotional state. It is turbulent in there. If I really want to connect with her at deepest levels, then I need to be able to deal with that. I need to be able to stand right smack in the middle of her emotional chaos and not be fazzed by it. In fact, I need to love her right through those emotional storms.
It is no coincidence that my wife is at her most open and effectionnate right after she has had an emotional storm and felt that my love for her did not waver in the least. I saw what she is really like and I did not turn away, or try to flee, or tell her that it is not OK to be that way. I stayed with her every step of the way. In those moments she feels very safe. That part of her that fears being abandoned lets go of its tension for a while and she can relax into true intimacy. Eventually, I hope that those fears will go away all together.
However, I also sense that her insecurity runs deep. It could take a long time for her to feel safe enough to be truly open with me. I need a way to speed up the process. I need a way to get more frequent exposure to my wife's deepest heart so that I could direct more love into it. Sex was an obvious answer, but also a problematic one. We are never more exposed to another person than during intimate love making. This is exactly why my wife shies away from true intimacy. It is too much exposure. She has told me that she feels like she loses control when she has sex. So long as she is trying to keep up a facade it will be difficult for us to really connect sexually.
I need an intermediate step. I need something that would be a stepping stone from where we are now, to true intimacy. That is what I was looking for when I found Karezza.
In the interest of keeping posts a reasonable length, I will decsribe my karezza plan in the next post.