What’s in a word

It never ceases to impress me how much significance is invested in some words.

  • A vocal feminist I know recently took to their soapbox to expound on how “Guys” is not gender neutral: you wouldn’t ask a man if he fucks “guys”.
  • The night I complained about Our pedestrian progress towards sex therapy, I also mentionedmy Wife’s objection at my having said I had been enjoying spending time with my Wife. She was now all but apoplectic at my use of the Third Person, when what I was trying to convey was that it had felt like We were something more than just two individuals – that it felt like We were actually married for a change. In response my Wife likened my use of the word Wife to using the word Nigger. (I confess this struck me as perverse, contrary, misandristic hyperbole.)
  • Meanwhile, in my own silly little world, I see the importance, as a parent, of not asking a child if they’d like to do something, as opposed to just asking them to do something.
  • And I can’t abide the euphemistic avoidance of phrases like down there.

And yet, to paraphrase The Bard, a cunt by any other name would taste as sweet.

Anyway …

At some point in the next 2 or 3 months, We will be relieved of parental duties for a few days as the rest of the family will be respectively dispersed on school trips or familial visits. Its been on the cards for some time – even before Our current marital implosion – and We’d loosely talked about my Wife and me having a short break away. Some Grown Up time.
The school trip was discussed briefly today and in that wake, She offered a suggestion:
Her: Seeing as We’re about to embark on therapy … well, it’s counselling, not therapy … maybe We should set ourselves the task of planning it together?
Planning things together is something We have become increasingly bad at. The word I have repeatedly used in the context is my acquiescence. (It’s just not worth the hassle of me coming up with suggestions, merely for them to be taken on board, and then stuck on a back-burner. The path of least resistance.) But if, as I guess, She maybe tying to relinquish some of that control, it’s possibly worth considering.
Me: How about a weekend abseiling?
Her: I’d been thinking of a city break or a couple of days in the countryside, but I guess we could do some adventure training if you wanted?
To be honest, Dear Reader, I was being flippant … although I was tempted to mention how such things are often prescribed as trust exercises.

But again I digress …

It’s not the first time She has tacitly made the distinction between therapy and counselling. We have signed up for the latter. Apparently.

I looked online for disambiguation.

As far as I can tell the terms therapy and counselling are used pretty interchangeably when it comes to relationships/marriage/couples. Sex therapy, however, seems to be regarded as a specific subset of relationship counselling.

Wikipedia describes relationship counselling as …

… the process of counseling the parties of a human relationship in an effort to recognize, and to better manage or reconcile, troublesome differences and repeating patterns of stress upon the relationship …

… and sex therapy as …

… a strategy for the treatment of sexual dysfunctions [which may include] non-consummation, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, low libido, unwanted sexual fetishes, sexual addiction, painful sex, or a lack of sexual confidence … problems commonly caused by stress, tiredness, and other environmental and relationship factors [and] possibly regaining an active sex life …

I could find nothing meaningful that used the term sex counselling, as distinguished from sex therapy.

To me, therapy is for individuals that need fixing, whereas counselling is more about finding compromise in a relationship.
Maybe I need fixing. Maybe I don’t. But reading the above definitions, I’m in little doubt that We do.
We are broken. Sexually.
At least one of Us is sexually dysfunctional.
The degree to which that may be the product of respective individual dysfunctions is yet to be determined. And unlike my Wife, I believe Therapy is exactly what is required.

5 Responses to “What’s in a word”

  1. The more I read you, the more I see the parallel with my own marriage.
    I stopped suggesting places to go/things to do because it was always discounted or worse, made fun of, or the opposite was chosen (say, I wanted sun and warmth and he’d decide to go skiing).
    I stopped hoping we’d do therapy, because he kept saying HE was perfectly fine.
    I stopped trying to organise for adult times, because he had no interest outside watching TV.
    I had the higher sex drive and gave up on sex because my needs were always discounted.

    I wish you strength and courage.
    And hope things turn out better than with me.

    • If he was making fun of your choices and choosing the opposite, what you’ve described sounds borderline malicious. I believe it is a subconscious need to have control in my Wife’s case.
      In Her defence, it was at Her behest that we went through counselling several years ago, and it was She that picked a sex therapist this time as, as She acknowledged, sex is something we need to deal with. I’m guessing a significant aspect of the delays is that Her sexual inhibitions are holding Her back from throwing Herself into counselling (or whatever you choose to call it). And I think that Us Both talking to a psychosexual therapist will be a revealing (and probably challenging) experience.
      Fingers crossed and thanks, as ever, for your support.

    • My ex was… IS a jerk. It’s why he’s my ex. He is a narcissist, abusive emotionally, financially, sexually.
      He didn’t overtly make fun of it. It was always much more subtil than this.
      The controlling part of it IS the problem.
      When the need to control lies in the hands of the person with the money and the career, it doesn’t help!
      I’m not sure he was/is aware of doing it to control me. I hope for him he doesn’t because it’s a really pitiful life if you willfully try to hurt the people around you.
      It may have been she who picked the sex therapist… but she made you do all the work, otherwise it would not have happened. My ex also had significant inhibitions. Or he was using sex as an extra tool. We never really got to discuss it with a counselor, he gave up therapy before that.
      I don’t mean to say she is like my ex. Too many things I don’t know about you both.
      I’m just pointing out the similarities with what I went through.
      Even the fact you’re regularly finding excuses reminds me of my plight.
      The fact you’re considering you’re the sick one for being you, a man with a high sex drive and a latex fetish. You’re no more sick than she is. You both just need to figure out whether your differences can be worked around.
      As ever, good luck!

    • If I’m honest, I don’t think I need fixing. Yes, I probably have an unusually high sex drive, and yes, having a latex fetish isn’t run-of-the-mill, but I really don’t see either as a problem.
      If I’m honest, I think my Wife does need fixing. She appears to have issues with sex an I’ve got a hunch, albeit one that would have me treading on dangerous ground, that it is easy to know where it comes from.
      Why do I mention the possibility that I might need fixing? Because it is difficult to be objective about oneself. Especially in the face of conflict.
      Why do I think She needs fixing? Because whilst I’ve not had sex with a huge number of women, amongst those, my Wife is unique in Her lack of libido and aversion to various normal aspects of sex.
      We need fixing in terms of finding middle ground, but before We can do that, We Both need to independently acknowledge Our respective responsibilities.
      I may pull punches, but I don’t believe I am making excuses for Her own dysfunction.

    • I hear you. I’m glad you realise that you don’t need fixing, yourself, but your couple does. And yes, she probably needs the most fixing. But it also seems that she doesn’t want to acknowledge she needs fixing. And as long as you don’t acknowledge a problem, it’s hard to fix it.
      I was talking more in the sense of day-to-day life than just sex, when I’m saying you’re making excuses. As I said, I don’t know hte full picture, so it’s hard to speak honestly. But… it feels like you tend to say she has good reasons for not doing this or for doing that, or for being the way she is. That’s what I used to do. Still do, to some extent, though hopefully less often, and only with my kids.

      I agree that you both need to acknwoledge your respective responsibilities. And that’s where you’ll see if there is any hope of fixing anything.

      As I said… good luck! It is not a quick process usually. I’m glad you’re taking the first step. It’s often the hardest.

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