Updated: Sep 26, 2019
So here I was, looking fitter, feeling prettier with a hot new secret piercing and I still couldn’t get his attention. I was frustrated that he was missing the hints but at the same time I have wondered if he purposely ignored me because he didn’t find me sexually attractive. By this time in our marriage he had known me for 10 years (married eight years). He had seen me at my best, he had known me at my worst. I wanted to explore other reasons why we were now in this downward spiral but I still couldn’t find the words to express how I felt without him feeling attacked.
Over the course of a few months I tried to be more direct without using words. I would come to bed freshly showered and snuggle up to him, I slept in the nude and would lay there exposed pretending to be asleep on the mornings I knew he was awake, my body craving him to touch, I so badly wanted to feel desired, I wanted him to see me.
But my naked sleeping body went untouched, and my snuggling up to him, resulted in a kiss on the forehead and him turning away as he said goodnight. I felt low, I felt embarrassed, not only from the rejection, but also because I began to wait for him to fall asleep so I could masturbate. I had never felt more unwanted and alone than I did in those nights.
So one night I finally decided I had to ask him. We were sat up in bed and I turned to him and ask him why he never seemed to want sex anymore. He was shocked at the question and sat there in silence for a long time before finally saying he didn’t know why. He said he knew I wanted it more but he just didn’t feel like it. I asked him if he noticed the effort I was making. Another long pause he admitted he did notice but he didn't know how to respond. Evasive as usual (a pattern in our marriage) I had to let it go. I felt good that I bought it up, maybe he could now face it and we could tackle it together.
A few nights later, much to my surprise, he responded to me when I snuggled up to him at night, he tried to turn on the passion but the conversation we had earlier in the week had gotten to him and as a result he couldn’t perform. I have been in relationships in the past and since, and I can say that anytime a man has not been able to perform (albeit rare) he will still make an effort to take care of me, this however was not the case in my marriage. When the lil guy couldn’t perform, nothing could. I knew it was my fault for bringing it up but I didn’t have a choice. By this stage I was a mixed bag of emotions, I was angry, hurt, rejected. I felt guilt and despair. I decided I needed him to do something and so I asked him to seek marriage counselling.
Round 4. Not doing the work myself.
I knew that asking him to seek marriage counselling was going to fail from the start. Throughout our marriage I was the one that was responsible for pretty much all the decision making, I researched, I planned, I scheduled. I had embraced it. But when it came to this, I asked him to seek a professional, not because I wanted him to fail, but because I needed a sign from him that he was willing to work on us. He promised me he would look into it, I told myself that I would not nag him, I would not berate him for moving slow, I would let him work on this in his own time. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. We never spoke of it again.
In hindsight I wonder to myself if I should have just bit the bullet and made the call myself, I was expecting him to change, but grown men (and women) rarely do. By asking this of him, knowing full well that he wouldn’t follow through, I essentially doomed my marriage, I had set it on fire and was watching it slowly burn to the ground.
Round 5. Turning to others for attention.
Sometime after we had the counseling talk and the before the separation I had come across a Podcast about defining your own marriage, this was the first time that the concept of open marriage became a topic for us. I began researching before I discussed it with him and stumbled into modern day dating. I remember the last time I was single, I was in college and the internet had just evolved past dial-up. Back in those days you could click on a website and make a cup of tea and eat a biscuit while waiting for it to load. Dating online was in its infancy, Yahoo Chat was a thing and so were sites like Hot or Not. I downloaded various sites and found that dating or hooking up happened on every platform and wherever there was opportunity, not just limiting itself to dating sites. I remember the first time I was asked for a nude was from someone on a bodybuilding forum. I was shocked that they used the same directness asking for nudes as they did asking me what my favorite food was, but I guess this was how the single world had evolved since I left them back in 2007. I began to wonder what it would be like to put myself out there again, I knew men still found me attractive and while I was googling away and checking out different forum style apps a part of me felt a little excitement again. So I broached the subject.
Again I waited until the house was quiet for the night, as we prepared for bed I turned to him and asked him how he felt about an open marriage. He stared at me with disbelief and didn't say a word. We silently got into bed and laid there until we fell asleep. The next morning we woke up and acted as if nothing was said the night before. It wasn't until two days later that I he came to discuss it with me. He told me that he was willing to try it instead of losing the marriage. The very short lived open marriage phase will be another post, but needless to say it didn't work.
So what did I learn from Round 5? Do not add others to your problems, it will only end up accelerating the issue. The problem with getting attention is that it becomes addictive, I spent a long time wanting that attention from my husband and through reasons still unknown he was never able give me what I needed. So when we opened the marriage and a lot of different men were now trying to get me to give them my attention it completely took my focus away from fixing my marriage, both he and I had something new and shiny to play with, all it did was distract us for a moment. But once the dust from the excitement settled, the question was no longer why does he not want to connect and instead it became why is he willing to spend so much time and energy pursuing someone that is so insignificant and he can’t bring that same level of energy to fixing us. Open marriage was a temporary band aid on a gaping wound, each day that we didn't confront our issues was another nail in the coffin. In the end both of us had explored outside of our marriage but it didn't do anything for our bond or connection. Within a few weeks of suggesting an open marriage we decided to separate and he moved out.
Conclusion. So what did I learn from all this? We have to get to the root of the problem. The issues in our marriage came from our inability to effectively communicate, it was a running theme throughout and I should have taken the preventative steps as soon as I noticed an issue, but instead I let my stubbornness get in the way. If I had just made the call before I reached the point of no return, things may have turned out differently.
We did eventually go to counseling, it was six months after I had asked him, he was living with his brother and his brother got him a number and forced him to call. In the session he confessed that he felt I was just going through a phase and he felt that if he just waited it out things would go back to normal. Normal for us is barely any sex instead normal for us was watching Netflix until 11 pm and then falling asleep, normal for us was pretending to be the coolest couple in public and then going our separate ways once we walked through our front door. I couldn’t do that normal for another 50 years. By the end of the sixth session I told him I was done, he agreed and filed papers.