Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three years on...

It's amazing to me that it's been three years since I took my vow of celibacy.

Life has changed so much in that relatively short time.

For a year I trained myself -- cold turkey -- out of my libido.

Then Sue and I reconnected a bit and talked about it. We had several long conversations. Well, they didn't feel hugely long to me, but by Sue's standards, they would have been marathons!

The upshot is that Sue felt the best way forward was to try to "prime the pump." She still had no libido, but she wanted to reawaken it. So we discussed that we would... be intimate... every couple of weeks.

What a disaster!

She clearly did NOT want to be there. And if she didn't want to be there, I didn't want to be there, either. And I most certainly did not want her to be there when she didn't want to.

It felt terrible!

But she bit the bullet and insisted that this was what she wanted to do. She wanted to be intimate without any libido in the hopes that the physical intimacy would re-spark her amorous feelings.

She tried the classic, "lie back and think of England" thing.

I was reminded also of the old joke:
Q: what does the young bride say during sex?
A: "faster, faster!!!"
Q: What does the mistress say during sex?
A: "Slower, slower...."
Q: What does the wife with no libido say during sex?
A: "White! I think I'll paint the ceiling white!!!"

She wanted to do this, despite her lack of libido. She made that abundantly clear. And yet I still felt a bit of a rapist. She was so clearly, so very, very clearly not present in her body, in the moment, with me.

It felt so... exploitative. And not the least bit enjoyable. For either of us.

This went on for about seven months before we finally gave up.

We tried having her give me back rubs for awhile, as a more low key way of making a physical connection. (She wouldn't have her back be rubbed. She had no desire to be massaged or touched at all.... whether back, foot, hand, scalp or wherever.)

Well, that didn't last long. It was a bit forced.

Strike that. It was VERY forced.

I guess she liked the idea intellectually, but emotionally she dragged her metaphorical feet to the "task".

So that fell by the wayside after two or three massages.


So, there we are in May or June 2010, back to celibacy, back to a complete lack of physical intimacy.

It dragged on and on and on.

And I'm used to it now. It's no longer a huge deal for me. I don't expect sex with her, I don't anticipate it, I don't even hope for it.

It's simply not on the cards.

And that means I no longer get rejected, and I no longer feel hurt. I no longer lust after her. We have become more and more like roommates.

And so it has been from then to now.

There is more to say: about how she told me, quite bluntly, a year ago that she wanted us to split up; about how I still have a libido, even if neither the same sense of frustration nor of hope; about how our difficult children are getting easier; about how I upgraded my professional status and my car (two things she was very keen on me doing), and how it "went down like a cup of cold sick".

I could go on and on and on.

And, like it or not, gentle reader, I shall! ;)

I have reread almost all of what I wrote in 2008 and 2009, and I am amazed at how much I have forgotten: Thoughts that I had had; incidents that had occurred; patterns that were entrenched even then.

This last point -- the entrenched patterns -- is a serious wake up call for me.

We had a series of major natural disasters in our town over the last year, turning life a bit upside down. (Can you be just a bit upside down?!?)

And I find that I have been retreating mantras that were near identical to forgotten mantras from three years ago.

Three years ago, it was: "Ok, you can do it. Just ten more months, and then things will be better. Ok, you can do it. Just six more months, and then things will be better. Ok, you can do it, just three more weeks and things will be better."

It was like waiting for Godot!

And what strikes me now is that I am waiting in much the same way. "Ok," I think, "just wait til the first anniversary of the last natural disaster. We've all been affected. We all need to clear our heads. After that, things will be better."

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra: "It's like Deja Vu all over again!"

So, for me, this is no longer a blog about sex, celibacy, intimacy and lost libido. For the moment, at least, all of that is so far off the chart as to be irrelevant.

Now I am thinking about things like: loneliness and love; our children; whether she will ever snap out of the depression she seems to have fallen into; whether I can do anything to help; and how I can best look after myself through all this mess.

Ok, it's late. I'm tired. More on this another time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

making love or having sex?

I could had sex tonight. It wouldn't have been that hard to nudge Sue along in that direction. Nudge her just over the edge on which she seems to be sitting.

I decided not to.

Why not?

Puritanical self denial? Obsessive compulsive determination? A loss of my own libido?


The real reason is, I don't want to go back to the chaser/chasee cycle that Sue and I were in for the year or two (or more) before I took my private vow.

After all this time, I could get her into bed, and she would be wanting to go there to please me, to move on, to move this all forward.

But she wouldn't want to be going there for herself. It would be starting off on the wrong foot; taking a step in the wrong direction.

Making love to a woman who isn't REALLY there -- who doesn't REALLY want to be with you, who is not sharing the experience with you -- that's not making love. That's not even having sex. It's masturbating into someone's vagina.

Sue and I had the BIG talk (though with much yet to say) a week or two ago.

Things are changing for the better. Glacially slow, but changing nonetheless.

Until then, I want to wait until she is ready to make love to me. Knowing that I could persuade her to have sex just isn't good enough.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

empowered in passivity

My last post received a very provocative and thought-provoking comment from "anonymous". My response was so long that I've had to make it its own post.

Here is Anonymous' comment first:

I don't mean to discourage you. Quite the contrary, I think your situation would be helped by your having some clarity. It seems like you are in denial at this point and not wanting to face reality. Why were you expecting a "pot of gold"? What made you think that something would happen arbitrarily at the end of a year?

It is bad enough that you are in a marriage without sex, when it is clear that sex is something you desire in your life. What is really tragic is that you are in a marriage where there is so little communication.

Human beings have needs that go beyond food, clothing, and shelter. You are literally be starved and it is killing you. What would you do if you were not getting enough food to sustain your body? Would you just let yourself die? More importantly, would you starve your wife of food and just sit back and impassively watch her become sick and die?

You are being abused and I think you need to face that.

You--and only you--have the power to change your life. I think you have to ask, why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you think this is what you deserve?

When you respect and care enough about yourself to take of your needs, you may find it is a wake-up call to your wife, but don't count on that. In significant ways, she has already left you and abandoned you. I know you said that she had some abuse in her childhood that caused her to be like this, but the fact is that she will not get help for herself. You are just making yourself another victim of the abuse that she suffered.

Life is short, my friend. You only get one chance to live. Don't waste it.
And my response:

Your thoughts are challenging, provoking, and thought provoking, and I that's a good thing. It really gives me something to chew on. I think there can be a fine line between being a "nice guy" and being a spineless, wishy-washy one. I need to make sure for myself that I always fall on the right side of that line, and your comment is a very salient reminder of that fact. Intellectually, of course, I knew that the end of the year would not mean a magical end to all of these issues. On some level I knew that the end of the year would be hard. And, thinking about it now, actually the end of the year really only means that things will get harder, in that I am no longer putting this issue in suspended animation. I want to be actively working through it with Sue, which means work. But on some subconscious level, yes, there was definitely a fantasy that at the end of the year, my vow and forbearance would solve all of our problems, and Sue would not be able to keep her hands off of the guy who made such a grandiose gesture on her behalf. That fantasy, along with a bit of stubbornness and a bit of pride, helped keep me going. Do I want sex? Back in December, I could think of little but sex at times. I wondered if I were a sex addict. Now I could see myself being like a friend of mine, and quite easily going for 20 or 30 years without sex. It is no longer a gaping hole in my life; an unquenched thirst; a driving desire. Nonetheless, I am not just going to give up on it. Despite the fact that I don't feel a need for it on a day-to-day basis, I am still sure that Sue and I would both be happier if we were able to connect in that way. I have wondered, at times, what would happen if we couldn't get this solved. Would it be a deal breaker? Would it need to mean divorce? I never answered that question for myself, but the very fact that I asked the question of myself means I was open to the possibility that it could mean just that. I have a good friend who has had a number of long term relationships all of which have ended for various reasons. But the one he is in now he is so happy with. He feels he's finally met the right woman for him; and he seems to think that the rest of us who have imperfect relationships just need to do the same. The funny thing about that is, I felt exactly the same in the early years of my relationship with Sue. I looked to my unhappy friends and thought, "why are they slogging their guts out trying to fix a relationship which is simply with the wrong woman in the first place?!?" In fact, I effectively asked that question of a friend of mine not long ago. His response: "what choice do I have?" This came not from a place of disempowerment ("no one else would have me") but rather from a decision to fight life's battles and solve life's problems. Looking back on my life, I can see that there are times when I really grabbed life by the proverbial cojones and had a great time. There have been other times when I have hunkered down, closed my world off and have not thrived the way I should. I guess part of this year long experiment was to change a negative experience into a more positive one. Rather than just hunkering down in the face of our disintegrating love life, I decided to reify it. To make it into a challenge and a blog. In some sense and on some level, doing that put me back in the driver's seat. I was choosing to wait, I was choosing how long to wait, I was choosing to anonymously express myself to the world about these most private things. But your point is a very, very good one, as -- especially now that the year is over -- there is a risk that I shift from making this a personal challenge of growth and learning. Instead it could become a shutting down of self, a closing off of possibilities and passions. I think it's a knife's edge thing. As long as it is a project, a challenge, an endeavour (rather than a mere condition to be endured), then I can feel like I am choosing it, that I am living life on the front foot. But I must be ever vigilant that I never let it become an inevitability that I passively and begrudgingly accept like death and taxes. As soon as I do that then, yes, you are completely right, I would become a victim of her abuse. Thanks for your provocative post. Keeping this distinction in the forefront of my mind will help keep me on the right side of that divide, which is something that I need now more than ever.

One year three weeks and two days without sex

But who's counting?
The drought goes on.
Hey, that's not what was supposed to happen after the end of a year!
Where is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?!?
We have talked, which was a great breakthrough. Not as big as I would have liked, but real watershed stuff by Sue's standards. (More about that another time.)
She tells me her libido is inching back to life, and that in the not-too-distant future she will come to me...
So for now, I continue to wait.
Trying to push things along would be counterproductive, so what other choice do I have?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Since Feeling Is First

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

e.e. cummings

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

thought for the day...

thought for the day: "You Can't Change Someone Else."

Second thought for the day: "Bugger!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

the future of nonogamy (sic)

So, I decided to push some boundaries tonight, and started to cuddle her as we watched a movie together. She let me, but didn't encourage or reciprocate. Then we went to bed, and I tried to cuddle her some more. Uh-oh! That was a cuddle too far. My feet were cold, she said. She got her nose out of joint. "No more cuddles!"

"Can we talk about it?"
"Stop interrogating me!" came the reply.
Hmm. That took some digesting.
We couldn't discuss it any further -- talking of any sort felt like interrogation to Sue.

Naturally I disagreed, but that's how she felt, so fair enough. She wanted space and wanted to drop it.
But I also wanted to tell her how I felt: that she never wants to touch me; never wants to be touched by me; never wants to talk about it; and never wants to do anything about it.

She said that was unfair and untrue.
"Fair enough, but that's how I feel," I replied. "Can you tell me how you see it differently, so I can understand where you're coming from on all this?"
"Stop interrogating me!"
That was the end of that. She agreed to tell me at some indeterminate time in the future.
We both stared at the ceiling for some minutes. The she picked her book back up and started reading again, and I went and brushed my teeth.

It wasn't the seamless segue from radio silence to openness that I had hoped for. But then, I didn't wait for just the right moment as I had originally wanted.
I waited for a year already, so there comes a time that perhaps a non-sexual cuddle is just not something you have to wait for the stars to align for.

I don't think anyone would accuse me of being impetuous (!) but perhaps it was not the most politically savvy thing in the world.

Then again, my life is not the high-drama of parliamentary politics. This is my wife, my intimate partner, we're talking about here, not SALT II negotiations nor the Great Game.


I have been celibate now for just over a year. Although celibacy was not part of my original public vow, it was a private one I made to myself. It is the longest I have been celibate since I first became sexually active in my youth. I even had more sex when I was single!

Which reminds me of a radio interview I heard with Noel Biderman, the creator of a cheating-facilitation website, Ashely Madison. Noel contended that his website was a good thing because it could help make marriages last longer. He pointed to France, Japan, Italy and other countries where affairs are more tolerated and more common -- and the divorce rate is lower.

No, rest assured gentle reader, I am not contemplating an affair in any way, shape or form. But his idea makes new sense to me. Sue and I are both in our marriage for life. That's the way our parents were, that's the way we are, and that's what we want to do for our kids.

Hollywood thinks of marriage as being about love, passion, and all kinds of romantic cliches. That's all great, but what do you do after the first few years when s/he loses all interest? What if one or both of you is unfulfilled despite all sorts of good faith efforts to get things back on track again? The D-bomb: divorce.

I wonder about political marriages that were made amongst the families of the aristocracy back in medieval times. A marriage was not a source of personal fulfillment, but a strategic alliance and a source of children.

Personal fulfillment, happiness, self actualization, and perhaps even a satisfying sex life were found elsewhere.

I prefer a society that smiles more readily on a marriage with infidelity, than on a divorce with fidelity. I don't live in a society like that, and I don't want to have an affair regardless. But I can see that it makes sense to have society allow another option besides either being joined at the hip with your spouse for life, or getting divorced.

I hesitate to publish this post, as I can see so many ways that it could be misconstrued as condoning inappropriate, unhealthy behaviour: sex addiction, deceit, betrayal, self-indulgence, even simply infidelity itself.

So be it.


Monogamy without sex, touching, or even going out seems more like non-ogamy.