I just realized a pattern in my marriage

sender's picture
Submitted by sender on
Printer-friendly version

My wife can be very stingy with affection. Her default setting is to just not think about it, I guess. She focuses all of her energy on what has to get done. At the end of the day, she's exhausted and there's nothing left for me/us. It's hard for her to switch into an "us" space when she's already tired. I find this hard to understand because even when I'm tired, I "make room" to give her affection; backrubs, footrubs, etc. I like doing those things for her; I like giving of myself to her in that way. And I don't expect anything in return, at least not in a quid-pro-quo way. But I realized last night that I do need affection...from her, and when I don't get any for days or weeks, I start to feel sad, angry and resentful. It's particularly hard when I see her be so effusively affectionate with our daughter, which is pretty much all the time, yet she's got nothing for me. I know I need to let her know when I'm feeling like that. She's getting a more-or-less constant stream of affection from me, so she's not feeling what I'm feeling - and may not even be aware of what I need. I hate it when she expects me to read her mind, yet I'm expecting that of her. Oy. Partly, I don't say anything because I feel guilty for expressing a need - like I'm being needy and adding to her burden. I know that having needs isn't the same as being needy, but I don't know how to ask for affection without sounding needy, and she's particularly sensitive to that.

When I feel this way, I'm reminded of the feelings of social isolation and desperation that I felt so intensely as a teenager which is probably why the feelings are so intense now and cause me to overreact. I'm sure that I regress to about that level emotionally when I get triggered in this way. The memory of that part of my life will always lurk somewhere in my psyche waiting to jump out and torture me, so I need to learn better ways of dealing with this.

Last night, after giving her a nice back-rub, I got pouty and snapped at her a bit. I just found it too hard to man up and approach her directly with these feelings. I quickly recovered and apologized, but she said there was no need. It was a "feeling thing" and she understood. As bad as it felt to behave that way, I suddenly understood what she feels like when she has emotional outbursts; the feeling that I know I don't want to come off that way, but not being able to control myself and doing it anyway. I used to stuff these feelings by using porn. As long as porn was an option, I could just fap these feelings away, tapping into the imaginary affection and acceptance of the endless supply of pretty, willing females on the computer screen. Now that I'm not using porn, these feelings have nowhere else to go.

Ironically, none of this happens when we're in the Karezza zone. At those time, she almost always has the energy and interest in connecting with me and being generously affectionate, which is fundamentally what I'm looking for out of sex in the first place. But after an orgasm (especially when she has one), I know I'm in for 2-3 weeks of hell. Since we've been looking at it (for the past year), this pattern has become crystal clear, like an immutable law of the universe. Knowing that, why would I ever go for orgasm (or incite her to do so)? I read that the rational brain actually shuts down during high states of arousal. I am beginning to see that clearly in myself. When we're having sex, and it's feeling so good, going for orgasm starts to seem like a good idea (to us both, not just me). The part of me that knows it's a Bad Idea is like a radio that's getting turned down in volume to the point where I can't hear what it's saying clearly enough to understand. Maybe what makes Karezza challenging is developing the ability to fine tune the volume on that radio so it never gets so low that I'm tempted to ignore it.



I feel for you, that you are

I feel for you, that you are not getting the affection that you require. I am happy for you, that you and your wife are intermittent 'Karezzers.'

I stay away from orgasm because it really kills my energy levels for a few days and tweaks my perceptions for a bit longer. I have inadvertent ejaculations here and there -- accidents -- but rarely pursue a full-blown peak orgasm. I am much more energetic and giving -- and forgiving -- because of that.

Our marriage is much more comfortable, now. I am far from perfect, but I am a better husband, now. My wife is a better wife, too, now.

It is tough changing actions, habits, and preferences. But, oftentimes, the rewards are worthwhile. I think the benefits of Karezza are immense, and worth the change in behavior. And, our sex life and intimacy keep improving (we have been at this seven months, now).

Best wishes to you and your wife as you sort through things, s-.

Well said, both of you

I can't tell you how many times I had to hit the same brick wall before the cost-benefit analysis really got properly integrated. Biology is powerful stuff. Smile Be gentle with yourself(ves).

The funny thing is it really is the "hangover" talking. When I'm not hungover, I can ask for things, and so can Gary, in a playful way. But we're also both definitely feeling less needy. It's truly a bizarre situation, but I know we're both happier because of karezza. Those dark clouds just don't descend much when we're "clear." And his chronic depression is just...gone. And the price really doesn't seem high...except in that moment. Biggrin

Aw man, sender, I feel this

Aw man, sender, I feel this because I have been on both sides of this. Once i pretty much shut my husband out for a while. It took a while to realize what I was doing and the pain it was causing him. There's research showing that stressed women "tend and befriend," meaning we focus on nurturing children and our relationships with other women:

Anyway, these days, I do feel like I'm the one in our marriage doing the giving and the reaching out for bonding (this is a man who for subconscious reasons seems to build a wall of pillows or blankets between us in the bed... wtf?) I hear you because often he isn't there for what I need... I get fatigued of doing all the giving, all the initiating...

I wonder, what do you think is her love language? (I'm guessing it's not touch?) Have you asked her what it is you do that makes her feel deeply loved? How does she show love? Maybe she feels that doing things for you like cooking is what really comes out of her heart to offer love toward you. (When you'd really prefer she'd just be with you or sit with you on the couch, etc.)

I also wonder, does she feel like she's trying to make up for some lack in your parenting toward your daughter? It's possible she feels like you never read stories to her or do x, y, or z with her, so maybe she's working hard to try to fill what she sees as gaps in your fathering? (and maybe there's an underground resentment there?) I know my appreciation (and sexual desire) for my husband goes way, way up when I see him nurturing the kids.

Have you asked if there are things you could take off her plate so she can have more time and energy for affectionate time with you?

Somebody on here, I think emerson, worked out a schedule with his wife for sex on certain days and cuddling every night. You could try to explain that you don't want to get moody/needy/crabby again like that outburst and that daily cuddling really helps you stay centered. Also, sticking to an agreed schedule for sex will help her feel safe to cuddle you knowing you won't take the cuddle as a reason to try to get sex. (who could blame you, but surely it's good for both of you to have cuddles where there's no finagling or underlying hope for sex) my "daily sex" experiment was great partly simply because of the scheduled aspect of it. When there's no schedule, we have to do a dance that involves me "guarding my eggs" and getting (unreasonably) disappointed if he doesn't do some impossible feat of mind reading to overcome my resistance, so taking that dance out of the equation helped cultivate a more relaxed, bonding atmosphere between us.

I also wonder what you might do to reach out to the teenager you used to be... It sounds odd, but it might be therapeutic to have an imaginary conversation with your past self or write a letter to him... "Hey kid, I understand how you feel because you are me and I was there; I went through exactly everything you're going through. I have good news for you from the other side: you won't be isolated forever. You're going to sleep in the same bed with a beautiful wife and give her foot massages and back rubs. And you're going to have a daughter; you're going to tuck her in at night and read stories to her... Just wanted to let you know I care about you. I've walked through the exact pain you're in, and I just want to hug you and tell you you're going to be okay."

Like you, I'm finding that it's much more possible to be "the giving one" and to offer unconditional random acts of love when I'm staying out of orgasm territory.
Being the giving one through these rough spots is worth it. It's a great life.

undying wrote:

Somebody on here, I think emerson, worked out a schedule with his wife for sex on certain days and cuddling every night. You could try to explain that you don't want to get moody/needy/crabby again like that outburst and that daily cuddling really helps you stay centered. Also, sticking to an agreed schedule for sex will help her feel safe to cuddle you knowing you won't take the cuddle as a reason to try to get sex. (who could blame you, but surely it's good for both of you to have cuddles where there's no finagling or underlying hope for sex) my "daily sex" experiment was great partly simply because of the scheduled aspect of it. When there's no schedule, we have to do a dance that involves me "guarding my eggs" and getting (unreasonably) disappointed if he doesn't do some impossible feat of mind reading to overcome my resistance, so taking that dance out of the equation helped cultivate a more relaxed, bonding atmosphere between us.
I've tried this, and will try it again this time. I think the difference is, I need to explain to her what I expect on sex nights. I think I need to say (and she needs to know) that what I want on those nights is to not have some a-priori restriction on how far things will or won't go; e.g. "I'm not interested in penetration tonight." It's not that I will expect penetration or anything specific to happen, just that nothing is off the table at the start of the evening. I think this will be important for me to get across to her.
One other thought... how old is your daughter? My older child is in school, and this year I homeschooled her. That has revolutionized our marriage because I can get in lots of quality time with the kids during the day, and then when my husband comes home, I'm all his. His main love language I think is being listened to, so it means a lot to him when I can get all other tasks done and just sit with him at the end of the day. So, yeah, it's hard financially to have just one income; we're renting in a not-so-good neighborhood, but it's totally worth it for us to have less stress in our marriage and more time for me to nurture the kids. Like we're investing in our family relationships instead of the brick and mortar house of the fabled American dream...
She's 8. I hear you loud and clear about the American dream. We are definitely caught in that to a large extent. I am trying to encourage her to quit her job (or at least go part time). But it's a hard sell. She identifies strongly with work and productivity. I think we'd all be happier if she quit her job. I might be successful enough in my business soon that she can do it without financial concerns. But even at my present level, I believe that we could easily afford to make that change. Her work is very demanding and draining which really makes it hard for us to set aside enough time and energy as we should for each other. I really hope I can make some headway on this point.

Well, I feel sheepish for

Well, I feel sheepish for going so deep into problem-solving mode. Sometimes a little empathy is more helpful. I'm definitely feeling empathy with you, so I hope that comes through in what I was trying to say.

K-zone is a totally useful term! Nice! And I'm with you that that's the main point. I wandered around into talking about a lot of other stuff. but that's my experience, too, that I can take better care of my man by at keeping myself in the K-zone.

Also, wishing you well with your business. That's so great that you have something you started that's growing and is able to support your family. Wow!

I am interested in the connection between sex and business, since so many men seem to report that handling sexual energy well and success in business seem to go together.

Yeah! K-zone power!

My man is not committed to try karezza, though he knows karezza has its benefits, so my mind runs to everything ELSE I can add on to keep us on the rails and keep myself in a giving frame of mind.

Re: scheduling, I see what you mean that setting up the schedule with specific "cuddle but not sex" nights and "open ended" nights could be good. (or mornings...)

Everyone is so different... but be aware that masculine leadership can be a real gift... it sounds like she likes to take charge and stay in control of what happens, but on the other hand, your needs might feel more like a burden if you're leaving it to her to decide what to do about them. Does that make any sense? She makes decisions all day at work, and decision fatigue is a very real thing. What exasperates me sometimes about dealing with male neediness is having to decide/arrange/guide the situation (in other words, when I have to take on the masculine, directive role to make sure his needs get met.)

A lot of times I would prefer to hear "get your beautiful self to our room Now." It can be really nice as a woman to feel that my man with his masculine, directive energy is looking out for the relationship and is able to call me "out of the woods" and back into the connection.

So, how it plays out will surely be unique for you, but I hope you don't stop looking for ways to respectfully use your masculine to hold a space for her feminine.

Karezza is the answer for us

You're dead-on right about her decision fatigue. I really appreciate your insights.

First, let me say I think the push/pull we go through is largely a direct manifestation of the mating sex dance. Letting go of that is the primary struggle I face. I'm a sex addict of many years, so just shedding this part of myself is both a loss and a relief.

The dance is something I have struggled mightily with because on the one hand, I get that there is something appealing about the masculine energy of initiating and directing. But this tends to backfire for me for a number of reasons, but mostly because anything I do that she perceives as pushing or pressuring (even if it's not meant that way) will send her straight to feminine lock-down (do not pass go, do not collect $200). That's mostly my fault for being selfish and pushy for almost 20 years. So as much as I'd like it to, this approach just doesn't work for us. Yet, I still have to be the one to initiate and lead because if I don't, nothing will happen. She has initiated in the past, but only like 2 or 3 times in 20 years. Telling her I want her to initiate doesn't help either.

So, when I'm perceiving that she's not in a good space, I wait. But if I wait too long, then we slip into a bad space. If I approach, I get rejected over and over, and if I approach too much, we have lock-down. Those rejections are painful, and they add up leaving me feeling unloved and just horrible. Worse, when I'm in that space, it's hard for me to be generous, giving, and unguarded; I just can't do it. And I can't really talk to her about any of this when she's in that space or she reads it as just another form of being pressured, so getting it right is a bit like threading a needle in the dark.

I've concluded that the best approach for me is to let go of my sexual neediness completely. Just let go of it. Instead, replace it with a sincere desire to connect with her, and to give of myself without being guarded or holding back. Head straight for the K-Zone (Community Chest?). The amazing sweetness, sensuality and extended pleasure of the sexual experiences that result from this approach are well worth the effort it takes and whatever I have to leave behind. And as a bonus, all of the bullshit just melts away as if by magic.

We have found that the structure provided by reading Cupid's Poisoned Arrow together (and now we're working through the ecstatic exchanges) helps enormously because it bypasses the defensive response from her. The ideas are not coming from me, so it's not me pressuring her. We are learning together and can both come to understand how a "middle road" is worthwhile and achievable if we just follow the plan! In some ways, that seems boring or routine, but ironically, sex becomes boring and routine when we don't do it this way...

Clearly, we're still in the learning phase, but fortunately, we've had some wildly successful stints of Karezza early on; that helped us realize where we want to be. And our "mistakes" have helped us realize where we don't want to be.

I know that I'm lucky to be with a partner who is as committed to this path as I am. It took us 20 years and for me to want to recover from porn addiction (and its effects) to discover and embrace Karezza. I think a lot of guys decide to go down this or similar routes mainly due to having issues with their sexual performance. In the case where that's not an issue, I think it's hard to convince a guy that he should be doing anything differently, especially avoiding orgasms. By the way, one thing that really helped me see this path as worthwhile: my wife got honest with me. Although she wouldn't come out and say it on her own, she admitted to me that she wan't enjoying sex anymore, that it had become a chore best avoided whenever possible, and that when she did agree to have sex, it was to get it over with and me off her back. How different things are now... I'm glad she told me the truth about that; the last thing I ever want is for her to feel that way about having sex with me!

I wonder what your truth is, and what might happen in your relationship if you were somehow able to communicate it without it coming across as a judgment. How would you like your experience to be different, which is not the same as how you want him to behave differently...


[quote]I've concluded that the best approach for me is to let go of my sexual neediness completely.[/quote]

Absolutely! There's nothing more intriguing and magnetic than a man coming from a place of abundance. I can see how it's not easy to let go of something so deeply rooted

[quote] Just let go of it. Instead, replace it with a sincere desire to connect with her, and to give of myself without being guarded or holding back. [/quote]

That's beautiful... I'll think about cultivating the same attitude myself.

[quote] wonder what your truth is, and what might happen in your relationship if you were somehow able to communicate it without it coming across as a judgment. [/quote]

Wow, I appreciate your putting the challenge back in my court.

I'm not sure what is left to say... he knows I'm sometimes in pain after sex. I have been medically advised to pre-treat myself with ibuprofin before sex. How whack is that? ... Something bigger is definitely wrong. (And how woefully incapable the practice of medicine is to deal with a human being as a whole.)

Anyway, I've told him all this. What else can I say? He knows I take several sex-pain-related doctors visits each year...

He's sorry, he's solicitous for a few days, and then I guess he forgets about it and wants what he wants. And I don't lock down, I'm up for any kind of connection I can get, because like a dumb 16 year old, the sex feels sort of like love. At least it's attention. You know, at least it's with me and not the computer.

So, I'm insecure and using sex to stay close to him and taking what crumbs of affection I can get, at whatever cost, before my youth and beauty ultimately run out and he has to turn elsewhere. Maybe I can get my kids grown first. That's my truth. ouch

[quote]How would you like your experience to be different, which is not the same as how you want him to behave differently...[/quote]

yes, hmm, that is really helpful to think of it that way... I need to think and talk in terms of my experience. Recently we had a great time where I coached him through the experience I wanted, and it was amazing.

A different time, I simply made a worried face, and he said "Don't make me feel bad for liking normal sex."

we need a new normal.

Does he use porn?

If not, then disregard this.

I saw this TEDx talk yesterday: Why I stopped watching porn. It gave me more reasons (as if I needed more) to steer clear of porn; to not even want it. If he does use porn (or even if he did in the past), you might try and show him that and see what he thinks about it.

Years of watching porn (and even only the "nice kind", if there could be such a thing) grossly distorted my idea of what sex should look and feel like. Sadly, porn is often the only information people have about sex because we don't talk openly about it in our society. This video was really helpful for me to get another perspective (from a guy) on my new normal, or maybe what my normal could have been if I had never seen porn, or could magically forget ever having seen it. Of course, I can't do that, but I can intentionally cultivate a more human, connected, sensual, nurturing, honoring form of intimate contact, and make that my new normal.

The pornified view of sex is still in my brain. It still grabs me and begs for attention, even though I know it's wrong; that it's poison to me and to my relationship with my wife. But I believe that with enough time and experience with my new normal, the pornified view of sexual relations will seem increasingly ridiculous to me; that it will simply wither and die.

I feel for you. I understand how hard it is to ask for what you want. Ultimately, it comes down to how important it is to you, and how much risk you're willing to take to get it. For me, there wasn't much risk because I know my wife is committed to our relationship, and to making it as good as it can be. So I wasn't worried about approaching her with some ideas for how things could be different; at least I wasn't worried that she'd leave me over it.

One more idea - although I did enjoy sex with my wife, even when it was porn-informed and not very pleasurable for her, I knew something wasn't right. I knew it could be better; like I just couldn't understand why she was not that into it, and often it was just not that good for me either. I was also concerned that I was using her body as a prop for my fantasy. It felt wrong to do that, but I didn't know another way. I had the idea that I should be able to face her during sex, to make eye contact, to kiss, etc., but I just couldn't become aroused that way (again because of the porn influence). What I didn't know was how much better it could be. I mean, we're not talking like 25% better, we're talking like 25,000% better. Now, she's totally into it. The sheer beauty of her goddess energy when it unleashes itself upon me challenges my self-control (in terms of maintaining a calm, Karezza-style arousal level). Maybe if he somehow got a taste of what that would be like, he'd be hooked on your new normal? It sounds like he's willing to take direction from you, and that the results were positive. Maybe just try and maintain the driver's seat for several weeks and see if his perspective changes? Giving up orgasm is a whole other level, so I'm guessing that's too much to expect, but even slow, sensual sex with orgasm is better than painful sex. For what it's worth, my wife used to have problems with lubrication during sex. Now, it's totally not an issue...

Here's to 25,000% better!

That makes me smile.

Marnia's right -- I can't stay in the drivers' seat for weeks, because post orgasm, he's neurochemically driven for something more intense.

Thanks for the video! Porn is such a horrible influence. Unfortunately, he is one of many who was watching porn at the formative time when he should have been learning from real women - scary how universal that must be for teenage guys today. I honestly don't know for sure about his porn use now. In the past, he claimed he doesn't even like the erotic content, he just used the nihilistic oblivion to get away from his problems.

I was going to the worst case scenario, sharing my worst fears; it would be very unlikely that he would move out or leave, but he's certainly not always "here."
I just know that this path of chasing more and more dopamine doesn't end pretty and I'm not kidding myself.

Keep in mind

that during his post-orgasmic cycle, he will not really be able to remember how good the sex was when he followed your directions. He's in a lowered-response-to-sexual-pleasure-hungrier-"I-need-my-jollies" neurochemical state. So it seems like he's not listening and doesn't care. But actually, he's just "hungover".

He's more likely to "hear" your inspiration when his hangover has passed. Some guys report that it only takes about a week after ejaculation. I'm definitely worse in week two as a rule.

Not sure how much you can steer, but try to realize that he's not consciously making a choice to ignore you. It's happening at another, unconscious level...because he didn't make a conscious choice to skip the orgasm and later he has a bit of a lingering "chaser." Maybe read this, as it could help you explain it to him...preferably when he's not in his post-O cycle:

Do You Need A Chaser After Sex?

Thank you!

This exactly matches my observations. I could sense I'm not dealing with a problem that can be solved on a rational level. Let me check my understanding -- when you say a "lowered-response-to-sexual-pleasure-hungrier-"I-need-my-jollies" neurochemical state," that occurs because some dopamine receptors shut down due to the overload of orgasm? So it takes something bigger and more intense to get the same response? And it's a "brain pain" to suddenly be getting less dopamine action than usual? A peak and then a crash to below normal levels (because of reduced receptor activity?)

It is almost humorous how predictably he goes for sweet treats and buying things, and forgets all of our much-talked-about plans for the future and goes into despair. (Dopamine has to do with optimism?)


everyone for the thoughtful feedback.

For what it's worth, I don't really see a problem that needs to be solved. It's really about our committing to the path of Karezza because the alternative isn't as much fun as it seems in the moment. My observations were really about how things go to shit when we have orgasms.

There are some who say don't bother talking to each other, just do Karezza. I'm beginning to see that there is wisdom in that idea. However, for us, talking is still important. Undying - you hit the nail on the head re: love languages. Her love language is being heard, seen for who she is, and appreciated for what she does. Mine is being lovingly touched. We begin to speak each other's love language naturally when in the K-zone (I'm coining this term if it's not already in use). Yet, even with total commitment to this path, we will still have the occasional orgasm here and there, so I think it will be helpful for us to be conscious about trying to use the right love language intentionally when recovering from a passion cycle.

I have noticed that for us, the on-ramp to the K-zone usually isn't smooth and requires some struggle from us both re: getting honest, vulnerable, etc. It's not as automatic as we'd like it to be. In other words, we have to convince each other that it's safe to get close again. Given our particular wounds and emotional baggage, this is just the dance we go through. (do a little dance...make a little love...). Maybe soon we can move past this awkward on-ramp phase and just go straight to the cuddling, generous affection, nakedness and touching. We haven't actually tried the "ecstatic exchanges". Although I have suggested this in the past, she becomes very resistant to touching and nakedness during her post-o recovery. I know I haven't made it easier by being a sex addict for so many years. These changes in me are relatively new, so she'll need time to fully process them (and accept that they're real and permanent). And maybe now she's ready to try the exchanges (next time we fall off the k-wagon). I could even try and make it fun. I could put each exchange on an index card and stack them in a small box made to look like a fire alarm labelled on the top with something like, "break in case of emergency".

Thanks for listening.