Confiding in a friend

So, a few months ago, I ended up talking to one of my IRL friends about the sexless marriage thing.  This is a woman I’ve known for 20 years, and we have dirt on each other going back that far – it’s Mutual Assured Destruction if either of us spills the other one’s secrets.

In the past, she’s been one of those women who complains about her husband wanting sex all the time.  Now, however, they’re close to divorce (that marriage has other problems besides sex) and she just doesn’t want to any more.  I understand.  When I want to break up with a guy, I don’t want to jump his bones. Under these circumstances, I don’t consider her a refuser.

But you would not believe how long it’s taking me to get her to understand the  point of view of the person being refused. Like most people on the winning side of a sexless or low-sex marriage, she just hasn’t understood how terrible it feels for the other person.

To begin with, she hastened to assure me that it couldn’t possibly be because I’m not attractive, not sexy, etc., but she still gave all the old familiar advice (“Have you talked to him about it?”  “Has he been to a doctor?” “Have you tried setting aside a time to be romantic?” etc. ) In other words, even though I’m not the one who changed the way this relationship works, it’s still MY job to fix the problem.

[Just a thought:  We could make up some bingo cards and play “Advice Bingo.”  File that thought away for later.]

Now – finally – after she and I have been in deep discussion about our respective man problems for about 3 months – she’s starting to say, “He should really do  something about it for your sake, if not his own.”  IOW, putting the problem back in HIS court.

And this is a close friend, who wants me to be happy. If that wasn’t the case, she might still be telling me to try wearing a corset and fishnets; or drag him to the doctor; or [fill in the blank].

If a person was withholding anything else from their mate except sex, it wouldn’t be this way.  If your mate takes away anything else you need, like money,  housekeeping chores, even companionship…. you can tell a friend about it, and they understand right away, and they affirm you by saying something like, “I  can’t believe that horrible monster is so immature, inconsiderate, etc.”  They show you they’re your friend by being on your side.

But if it’s sex?  Not so much.  (Of course, I’m a woman, talking to another woman.  If you’re a man, YMMV.)

I haven’t talked to anyone else about this IRL, for a number of reasons.  First, I’m ashamed.  If he doesn’t want me, I must be [fill in the blank….not pretty, not sexy, boring, old, etc.]  In fact, the main reason I try to look as good as I can is to prove to myself that it’s not because of that.

Second, a lot of the women I know would think I was crazy.  Another close friend of mine told the story of how her husband was always bugging her for sex late at night on weeknights, even though he knows she has to get up really early for  work the next day.  (They resolved the matter by having more sex on weekends.)

After she told me that story, there’ s no way I can tell her what my sex life is  really like.  (“Sex?  Oh, I’ve been spending a lot of time with ‘Bob’ lately.”)

The women in my family are even worse.  Both my mother and my aunt, for entirely different reasons, are pretty much anti-sex.  My mom is mentally stuck in the 1950s, and my aunt is a hardcore feminist. I’m fairly certain neither of them would understand my situation at all.

It’s a cliche – the wife always complaining about her horny husband – but cliches get that way because there’s a grain of truth there.  And because most women seem to embrace their scripted role in the cliche, I feel different, and weird, and as if no other woman could possibly understand.

So, when my confidante told me how unhappily married she is, and some of her problems, I felt like I could tell her the truth about what goes on behind closed doors at my place. And she is sympathetic.  She wants me to be happy.  She wants things to be different for me.

But I’m still not 100% sure she really gets it.

Posted by SmartKat at 17:02 on September 1st, 2013 at 5:02PM


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Born, went to school, went to work, will die someday. Fluent in English, sarcasm, and profanity. Open-minded skeptic, INTP in the Myers-Briggs, 5-Investigator (or Observer) in the Enneagram, Sagittarius in astrology, Pitta/Kapha in the Ayurvedic system. Likes: Music, books, reading, paid time off from work. Dislikes: Authoritarians, micromanagement, illogic, and asparagus.

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