Here We go again

Six years. Would you believe it, Dear Reader? Last week represented six years since I started this blog. Having looked back at how it has told the story of much of Our Dysfunction, I’m surprised.
On the one hand, it was when I resolved to try to resucitate our flagging sex life, though I don’t really remember what had led up to that in any detail.
It was also when my Wife willingly accepted The Infamous Red Lingerie for Xmas.
And possibly most significantly, it was only a couple of months before we first visited a marriage counsellor.
I honestly can’t get my head around how these things fitted together in such a short period of time.

And here we are again. At our first session with a counsellor. Albeit one that comes from a sex therapy angle.

Sex is certainly a significant problem for Us, but it’s certainly not Our only problem. And who is to say which came first.

[Apologies, Dear Reader. It is late, I’m tired, and I haven’t had the energy to proof read this. It is a bit of a brain dump, but even if it is boring as hell for you to read, if nothing else it is a way for me to remember what has been discussed and to keep in my mind.]

On our drive across town, conversation slipped into a lull, from which we were abruptly hauled by my Wife asking what are We trying to achieve? I couldn’t answer. Or rather I probably could, awkwardly, and confrontationally, but I felt the need for a mediator. It was not a conversation to have in the car, so I brushed it off with an excuse.

Arriving at the clinic, we were met by Sue and shown to an archetypical calm room, Ikea art prints on the wall, lighting that was gentle but not dim, three chairs arranged so no one was directly facing anyone else – all very non-confrontational.

Paperwork was handed out and Sue and my Wife waited, patiently, while I read the T&Cs so much slower than anyone else. (I’m a slow reader and, as my Wife can consume text immeasurably faster, I was aware that this could test Her patience. More of that later.)

Then onto what had brought us to the clinic? I filled the silence by answering first. It would have been easy to spew out all that I’ve bottled up, but that was not going to be productive, so I aimed for some headlines: increasing arguments, no real sex life for years, a power struggle within the relationship. My Wife said much the same (including mentioning sex), with the added factor of poor communication, which was an issue She repeated later, possibly two or three times.

How long had it been like this? There had been stuff We’ve never really dealt with, even when We tried counselling before. We had stopped hating each other for a while, but we had been on a downward slope for a while. My Wife offered that We didn’t talk about sex at all with the previous counsellor. I think there was some mention of that having been because it was a male counsellor, and I carefully quoted Her as having said I don’t think I can talk to a stranger about sex. Sue asked if She might be able to now, to which there was a cautious Probably.

What had brough Us together? A shared social circle and, for me, whilst We had very little obvious in common, She was both interesting and I was attracted to Her. As was said at our very first counselling session nearly 6yrs ago, apparently I just pitched in and got things done without being required to nor asking for thanks, and I wasn’t a flash-bang but rather I grew on Her.

We came back to communication. She acknowledged that the way She communicates may be an issue.
And how we struggle to do things to gether – book a holiday, choose a new washing machine, etc etc, and how I frequently acquiesce, because there is no point in trying to contribute when my opinion is not valued. In the context of eg. finding a holiday We talked about the fact that (for Her) sharing a screen is frustrating because I am a slow reader, and how She is irritated by my inability to remember the dames of Her colleagues
When a little digging was done here, She reluctantly used the phrase Control Freak to describe Herself.

At some point sex came up again, though with no comment from me. I was surprised to learn She had only recently come to realise how big an issue that has been for me. With a few hours hindsight, I find it even more surprising: I know there is no shortage of baggage locked in my closet, but from conversations We’ve had over the last few years, I genuinely struggle to believe She wasn’t aware.

The timing of our demise was mentioned, and how that had largely come in the wake of becoming parents. We touched on familial roles – bread winner / home maker (though not in this words). We discussed different parenting styles and how this was an area We perpetually fail to resolve differences. She said how She has had to accept that as I’m the primary carer in the family, She had had to relinquish control. But that there were times when I did not support Her. That I have had a tendency to wade in and not just settle with Do what your mother says. I wasn’t sure what support means for Her.
I brough up how there have been things I’ve said about parenting – offering my observations and suggestions when things weren’t working for Her, that have been rejected, but when She has worked out the same thing for Herself a couple of years later that was what She’s do. How did I feel about that? Second class. Like my opinion didn’t matter.

There was discussion about whether I’m a negative person. She wished I’d be enjoy the positives of parenting more. How did I feel about my Wife wanting me to be more positive about the things I get right? I don’t need to fix those. I see a glass that is neither half empty nor half full, but which has the capacity to have another half pint added to it. But I’m not allowed to even criticise my own failures. No, I wasn’t trying to avoid the question. How do I feel? I don’t know.

There was loads more discussed. Some little things. Some bigger things. The surface was scratched.

We agreed a provisional date for Our next session and were sent away with homework.

  1. Say something positive and affirming to each other once each day.
  2. Try a 5 Languages of Love online quiz, because usually people give what they want to get back.
  3. And to write three lists of threes:
    • 3 things we want to keep
    • 3 things we want to discard
    • 3 things we want to introduce

As we left Sue and took the lift back down to reception, my Wife asked what I’d thought and gave the impression that She thought Sue would be a good person to help us. I observed that Sue was very much what one would expect from a counsellor and asked all the questions that one would expect from a counsellor. Knowing I am quite a cynic sometimes, my Wife hoped that wasn’t too much. It’s not Really. It’s fine. And I can easily get past that. I was glad we were there as it felt like we were at least making a start.

What I didn’t say was that I was glad to have been able to discuss Us with a mediator who was able to take what are essentially my criticisms of my Wife and get my Her to reflect on them without getting defensive. Whilst I’m sure this was reciprocal, there were times when I felt Sue was on my side.

She probably isn’t. And that’s almost certainly good.

5 Responses to “Here We go again”

  1. corsetandstockings Says:

    Good start AM, sad though when it gets to the stage where the only way you can express your real views is in front of a mediator…

  2. I loved reading this. Even if you haven’t had time to proofread. (Do you think I always have time for that? 😉 )

    I’m glad there was discussion, that both of you were able to hear what the other was saying without getting defensive. I think that’s the hardest part, once a negative relationship has been established, to go back on it and actually try to take things from the positive side.

    Good luck!

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