Transparency in the Fog


When my emotions are murky, it is hard to know if I've made any progress at all.

Walking this journey toward a stronger marriage isn’t always easy. Even when I stumble and fall, I usually am able to keep moving forward, even if it’s a bit slower for a stretch of time. Sometimes, I just stand and catch my breath.

Right now, however, I am fighting hard to keep from moving backwards.

For the past week and a half, I have been living my marriage in an emotional fog. Several times, I’ve opened up to my husband about an area of emotional vulnerability; every time, he has responded in a way that I don’t handle well.

Through this fog, I see nothing clearly at all. My perceptions are all clouded by a morass of swirling emotions. My husband’s actions and responses are interpreted as an attack on my emotions and on my heart.

Just since yesterday, we’ve had several interactions (sexual and otherwise) that my mind recognizes as signs of increased intimacy, growth, and comfort with each other–yet each time, in my emotional fog, I’ve perceived only that my husband doesn’t know me, see me, care about me, or love me. This morning, as I considered sharing these feelings with him, I found myself thinking that maybe it would just be easier to keep the feelings from him.

I had a mental image of myself laying bricks on the floor around me, starting the foundation of the wall that I’d worked so hard to knock down.

Recently I wrote that I live my life through my emotions and that therefore it was how God reached me to soften my heart. I’ve realized that this is how the enemy is trying to reach me as well. Self-doubt has filled me. I’ve been flooded with tears. My heart feels fragile the second my husband walks in the door at the end of the day. I’m constantly on edge.

These negative feelings, the “why am I even bothering with this?” thoughts, the tide of resentment, and the fog are always worse when we’ve been in a growth stage. My mind knows this, even when my heart hurts.

So this morning, I forced myself to share my feelings with my husband. His response was not what I had hoped for–but honestly, the purpose of sharing was not to get a response as much as it was to keep my walls down.

I emailed one of my praying friends and shared with her what was going on. As she prayed for me, I could feel the fog begin to dissipate and become mist, and I could see more clearly. I could see the intimacy, growth, and comfort in yesterday’s sexual interactions with my husband. With less fog and more clarity, I can see that my husband and I had both taken some steps toward increased intimacy and one-ness in our marriage bed. Beneath my layers of emotion, our marriage is thriving and growing.

I’ve struggled with figuring out how to write about all this…whether to write about it at all. But I am here to share the struggle, even though it’s easier when the struggle I’m writing about is in the past and not something I’m dealing with today. My heart makes everything into an emotional landscape. I want to measure progress and growth by my feelings; when my emotions are murky, it is hard to know if I’ve made any progress at all.

We all have something that bogs us down and keeps us from seeing clearly. For me, it is emotions. For one of my friends, it is having her house in perfect order. Another friend’s view is clouded by whether or not her children are happy. And another finds her view obstructed by what she thinks other people at her church will think of her. When we’re bogged down, we can’t see through the fog.

Another one of my praying friends sent me a reminder about gratitude from Max Lucado:

“Gratitude leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up!”

I remind myself to see the things for which I am thankful: the steps that my husband and I had both taken, the fact that I was able to recognize the wall I was trying to build, the ability to feel the fog and know it was obscuring my view of what is most real in my marriage, the prayers from my friends. And my gratitude burns away the fog.

When the fog is lifted, I see that I’m further along in this journey than I’d thought. And I take a deep breath, say a prayer of thankfulness, and take another step forward.

When my emotions are murky, it is hard to know if I've made any progress at all.

Photo credit | Chris Taylor

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43 Comments on “Transparency in the Fog”

  1. Oh how I feel your pain. I wish I could wrap my arms around you and tell you it will be ok!
    I have been through this just recently. WHY can’t our husbands help us, why can’t they say the right things. Why, why, why I ask myself over and over. Then I beat myself with statements such as…… and you really think you can help other wives with your SOSW ministry? Who am I kidding, I can’t even help our marriage or myself!?!
    Then the sweet Holy Spirit reminds me, I am looking for help from my husband that only God alone can help me in. I am not to blame him, expect him to change in ways that I have not changed in myself yet.
    I hope this makes sense and brings you a bit of comfort. Hang in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is up to us to not sit down and stay in the tunnel but to rise and continue the journey through the tunnel.
    Grab ahold of HIS hand…….HE will walk with you.

    1. Thank you. I’m happy to take virtual hugs. It’s been so long since my emotions have gotten the better of me that I had forgotten what it was like. I was thinking of that exact same thing you say about looking to my husband when I should be looking to God. It’s good to have those thoughts reaffirmed by you.

  2. I am so glad you decided to write about this. Actually, it’s like an answer to prayer for me as I’ve sat with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes this morning. I’ve wanted to badly for someone to talk to, to vent to, to just hear my heartache and struggle. While having my coffee this morning, I spent some time reading the usual marriage blogs I frequent, searching I suppose for a new post that would speak to my circumstance. Nothing.

    I sadly made a trip to the grocery store, my heart and soul feeling so heavy, just going through the motions.

    Then I get home and there is…something. Your post which speaks directly to my heart.

    Our journeys are different…I’m in my second marriage of almost two years after a 20 year abusive marriage. My husband is so loving, caring and gentle, compared to my ex and we have a good, although almost non-existent love life right now. We are 48 and 58, so starting to deal with some age related issues. I’m the higher drive spouse and having sex once a week is not enough for me, by far.
    But our biggest issue (perhaps, MY biggest issue) is my husband’s horrible work hours. He is up at 1:30am and in bed by 6:30pm, and just found out he has to work tomorrow and has to be up by midnight. Ugh! Needless to say, he is so exhausted during the week is doesn’t even want to think about sex. And I don’t push it, I respect how hard he works and the long hours he has, so I try hard to keep reminding him I desire him, but try to leave him alone during the week.

    But last night we actually found ourselves with an empty house (my two teen sons from my first marriage live with us) and so I told my husband I was going to get him fed and in bed a little earlier because I had a “sleep aid” to administer to him. 😉 He loved the idea and so I thought, maybe we’d get to make love after going on 5 days without. But after eating a quick dinner and watching a favorite tv show, I began to watch the minute hand on the clock ticking down to his bedtime. I told him if he was too tired that was okay and he really didn’t say anything. So, ding, the clock struck 6:30 and I knew that was a big, fat ‘no’. I went in the kitchen to clean up and tried so hard to keep from just bawling right then and there. He came in, hugged me and said he was going to bed. I smiled weakly, my heart just crushed and quietly murmured, ‘maybe tomorrow night instead.’ He just smiled and didn’t say anything, and went to bed. I slumped at the sink and bawled my eyes out.

    And this morning when he called to say good morning…nothing. No mention of last night. No nothing. he asked how I slept and it was all I could not to cry. It’s like he just is oblivious to the fact that we had the house to ourselves and I actually took a brave step to initiate.
    I love making love with my husband, but every single time I’ve initiated I’ve been turned down. And now, I’m feeling so sad, hurt and yes, resentful. I’ve been praying all morning for these feelings to go away and for me to have a thankful heart instead. A heart full of gratitude. A heart focused on all the positive instead of just not being able to have sex last night with my husband.

    If only he had just lovingly said he was too tired, but really desired making love. If only he had just said I really want you and I wish I weren’t so tired since we’ve finally got an empty house.
    And if only he’d acknowledged something this morning instead of just ignoring it.

    I really need prayers that I can get rid of this resentment, because I don’t want to ruin the one opportunity on Sunday we’ll have. But it does make me angry that he’ll reach out for me early on Sunday morning and get what he wants, and yet I always get turned down when I reach out to him.

    Sorry for the long, vent…

    1. My heart hurts for yours, Amy. We’ve had some stretches of time when my husband has worked awful work hours. I felt so lonely, lying in bed alone. And when he was there, I would sometimes feel even lonelier while he slept contentedly while I burned for him.

      I will say some prayers for you to let go of resentment and for your husband to clearly see what your heart needs.

    2. Amy,
      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Just want you to know I’m praying for you today. I think you’re on the right track with gratitude. Sometimes when I’m battling resentment like that I find something nice to do for someone else. Blessing someone when I’m hurting seems to ease the pain somewhat.

      (((Amy))) (cyber hug for you)

      Be blessed,

      1. Thank you for the cyber hug…I need one today.
        I just hate when I let my feelings grab a hold, but I also need to remind myself that the hurt I’m feeling is real and it’s okay to feel it, kwim? I’m so good at just sweeping things under the rug and hoping I can just move on, but that’s not resolving anything either.

    3. Amy, you just described what happens at my house at least three nights a week, including the sitting up and crying after my husband has sailed off to bed happy as a little clam. (Unfortunately I sometimes add a little alcohol to the crying, but I’m trying hard to stop doing that.) My husband is 55 and also works long hours and starts really early in the morning, so I also feel guilty asking him for sex so often. Problem is, he doesn’t get more than 5 hours of sleep a night, because he insists on staying up to watch all his TV shows. He’ll sit there in his recliner until his eyes can’t stay open, and then say “nighty-night” to me like a 5-year old and kiss me on the forehead as he goes off to bed alone, forgetting that earlier he had said we could “maybe” have sex. He also doesn’t acknowledge that anything went “wrong”, either as he’s going to bed or the next day.

      I even got him a DVR so that our entire lives wouldn’t have to revolve around that blankety-blank TV, but I guess he has too many shows that he follows to be able to record them all. Even if he does record them, then he spends the next night watching all the stuff he recorded so it still doesn’t get him into bed any earlier. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to put a brick through that 37″ screen.

      I’ve stopped initiating altogether – it’s so much easier to operate from the idea that there WON’T be any sex. I stuff down my sex drive and focus on doing other things. (The bad part about that is that it now takes me a longer time to get in the mood when I suddenly get the green light.) I also don’t let him see my disappointment when he turns me down or doesn’t follow through on a previous offer. It’s taken me about 6 months, but I’m to the point where I rarely cry about it anymore. (Now I just have to learn to not drink about it anymore, either.)

      1. I’m so sorry for your struggle.

        I will say, despite my complaining about our limited sexual intimacy, my husband is a very loving, caring man, and I know he can tell it bothered me last night. And he knows how much it bothers me when it’s been a whole week in between, but he just does not express it to me verbally and that takes my hurt to a whole ‘nother level, kwim?

        He just got home from work and is all chipper (he rarely isn’t in a good mood). He asked how I was and we kissed and hugged as usual when he comes home, but I am still fighting these feelings of hurt and resentment. Resentment that he just acts like last night was no big deal. Does he really just not want sex at all?? It baffles me.

        And because he has to work tomorrow and be at his job even earlier than during the week, he will have to be up by midnight, which means he’ll be in bed in about two hours. one of my sons is home so not privacy today like we had last night, and honestly, I’m afraid that if he were to even suggest it, I would be tempted to just turn away. I know, bad attitude on my part, but it’s so hard to not feel that way.

        Anyway, enough of all of that.
        I pray that you are able to find peace and hopefully change in your marriage.

      2. How do you think he would respond if you did let him see your disappointment and tears? I think that could be a blow to some men, although it’s hard to think about holding back such strong feelings and I wouldn’t be able to hold it back without feeling resentful.

        What will you replace the drinking with?

        1. “How do you think he would respond if you did let him see your disappointment and tears?”

          The usual way – silence and a sad face, followed by leaving the room.

          “What will you replace the drinking with?”

          Nothing – it doesn’t need to be replaced, just removed.

        2. My heart is hurting for you right now. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he would experience the sadness with you, but I also know that it could also lead to insecurities in some men, so I understand your desire to keep that to yourself. As you remove the drinking, try to add in something you to for yourself. You deserve it.

  3. Yes, exactly…”And when he was there, i would sometimes feel even lonelier while he slept contentedly while I burned for him.”
    That made it all the worse last night. When I finally went to bed he slept and I wept.
    He knows how I feel about wanting to make love more and honestly, he has made some efforts during the week on the rare occasions my boys are gone before he has to go to bed. So I feel like I’m beating a dead horse to bring it up again and yet I want him to know how much it hurt last night with him just seeming to ignore it, kwim?
    I’m praying right now for the right moment to present itself and the right words to pass from my lips, so I can share my heart with him.

  4. Amy, FW, OML,

    As a male older in the range of some of the husbands you speak about, I can offer you this in the way of possible explanation:

    Wednesday my wife asked me what I had planned for Thursday to which I replied, “Nothing.” She then said, “Maybe we can spend some time together tomorrow night.” That tells me two things: 1) She probably had wanted to Wednesday night but I had missed a too subtle clue and it got to be too late since she had to work Thursday. 2) She definitely wanted to get together the next day without fail. How easy was that? What actually happened?

    I began anticipating the deed in the morning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and had wanted to do for a week or better. I knew she would really enjoy it. I know her likes very well. The previous night she hadn’t slept well and napped late that afternoon. I watched something on the tube. When she awoke, she did the same since I was occupied. Here is where it all unraveled. My libido (testosterone level perhaps?) plummeted around 8 pm. I could not work up enough “want to” even though I had wanted to for so long. My testosterone seems to peak in the morning when she has the least interest now that she is older. It pleases me when she initiates as she did, but I hated hearing the word “night” as to when. Things really dip past 9 pm, unlike the younger days. This may be the case here too. Your “hormonal clocks” may be out of sync and then fatigue sets in. How does this square with the attitude of sacrificial sex we men expect women to attempt to exercise when we want and they really aren’t interested? Shouldn’t we too just jump in and go with the flow hoping to work up interest or at least give service to our mate? That’s for another post I would guess. How do you ladies feel about that? Do we have a double standard going on, or is there more to be considered because we are indeed very different.

    1. Userdand,
      I appreciate hearing a man’s point of view on this and your willingness to share openly and honestly. Of course, we each have our own story and not everything will apply, but what you said makes a lot of sense. I know for my husband this is probably true also. We’ve already had the talk about morning vs. evening sex, and yes, I prefer the evening and he the morning.
      For him, he is just too tired in the evening and much more ready first thing in the morning upon waking. Of course, that only leaves us Sundays because of his early mornings rest of the week. And I’m not sure his is testosterone related or not at night, I think he’s just exhausted.
      For me, evening is best because I’m already ‘warmed up’, if you will. Last night I was able to really be ready and that was part of why it hurt so much when it didn’t happen, and wasn’t even acknowledged. I was really in the mood and then, wham, no go. I have come to enjoy the mornings, don’t have much choice since that is when he wants to and the only time he can right now. It takes me longer to get warmed up and sometimes if we are limited on time, I just don’t get to climax.

      It’s interesting you brought up the sacrificial sex so often laid on women when the man wants to and she doesn’t. This is actually an area that I struggle with because I feel it’s not fair that if he isn’t in the mood or too tired or whatever, and yet I am, nothing happens.
      Yet tonight for example, after he got home both my boys left and my husband suddenly comes onto me and now he wants sex, although last night when I brought it up and the house was empty, it didn’t happen. I knew too that he was trying to make up for letting me down last night, so of course, I agreed. I have never once turned my husband down, but believe me, my heart was not into it tonight and honestly, I was still feeling very resentful.
      So,tonight I’m not ready at all, he is and I sacrifice having an orgasm just so he can finish because it’s getting late and he needs to go to bed. He offered to wait for me, but waiting would mean him putting it off for two more days. So, I just tell him to finish. And that was that.
      But last night, he could have turned off the t.v. and made an attempt, even it was only to help me climax, but he doesn’t want to do that unless we are both in the mood. And I appreciate that and really would rather where the two of us can finish. Sometimes, I too wonder why it is that society tells women to just do it whether she wants to or not, yet men don’t seem to get that same message. Actually, men get the message that women don’t need an orgasm to feel complete after sex, so it’s all good. I disagree. I can certainly have sex and not climax, but it feels so much more complete when I can reach orgasm.
      And my husband is not a selfish man at all. Tonight he hesitated about not waiting for me, but I just told him not too. There was no use trying, as our time was limited and I just cannot come that quickly. but even though I told him not to wait for me it does still hurt especially after I was so ready last night and now it will be a week since I’ve last had that experience.

      Again, thanks for sharing a man’s perspective.

      1. Very pleased to share. Thanks to Chris for publishing my comment. I know you realize I wasn’t saying low testosterone may be the only problem. I cannot give you the source now, but I do remember reading somewhere that most men’s T-levels do peak in the morning and most women’s desire peaks in the evening. For women this can be more about circumstance than only hormonal level: Chores done, kids in bed, clean from a bath, stomach settled from dinner, no mental distractions or pressure, body feeling relaxed, feeling connected to husband, not dog tired, and then feeling interested. A lot going on there when compared to a guy. Even with a guy it does come down to more than a time, place and ready erection, but is nowhere near as complicated as for our wives. FYI. It didn’t happen here tonight again either. Can’t tell you exactly why, and not whining about it either, just pointing out that we both planned it for tonight, had our date day at the movie, late lunch out, empty nesters, and plenty of rest before hand. A couple of pinà coldas around 9:30 and later after bonding conversation “Love you, love you too. Goodnight.” No pain. No foul. But, what? I’ll ask tomorrow and will probably hear “I thought you lost interest,” like she hears “I thought you might be too tired.” Maybe we need to stop reading each other’s minds and simply ask, “Still interested?”

        Older people especially, not that anyone here qualifies of course, need to stop thinking of sex as primarily (or worse only) intercourse. We (oops), make that they, need to take the focus off of orgasm as the only satisfying goal for a sexual action. Due to declining lubrication in women, declining erection strength in men and possible decreased sensitivity in both, we need to begin considering manual sex and, here it comes, oral sex a more frequent part of our sexual interaction. It really can become more necessary as our biology changes. For me, PIV sex has grown more frequently disappointing which also disappoints my wife (I can be honest for here) though doesn’t leave her stranded. Manual and oral are now far more stimulating. None of it her fault. Pfizer and friends are not much of an option at over $10 a pop, especially if it all goes bust like tonight. If either of you has bad manual technique or a resistance to oral, start working on overcoming those issues. Unlike wine, it won’t improve lying in the dark and aging.

        I really am sorry you are having this frustration. I can tell you not to take it as outright rejection, though it is difficult not to do otherwise. I do desire my wife. I enjoy pleasuring her almost as much as she enjoys what I do for her. If I could have a spontaneous orgasm while pleasuring her, I would have as much pleasure. As much as we both wanted to tonight, it didn’t happen and not for lack of desire on either part. To stay healthy, we both have to realize it had nothing to do with rejection or lack of desire. While working through this, try to keep that foremost in your mind. You are still love, still desired, still wanted, and still needed. Some counseling or good reading material should help, but he has to want to participate. I feel sure you are ready anytime he is. I would like to address the double standard thing, but I am trying (Arrgh) to make my contributions shorter.

        1. “Maybe we need to stop reading each other’s minds and simply ask, “Still interested?””
          I think the most important thing is to communicate our desires, needs, difficulties, expectations, etc, instead of just, as you say, trying to read each others minds.
          My issue with the previous night wasn’t so much thinking I knew what he wanted or didn’t, we were actually both on the same page…at least at first. So, when he didn’t say anything to the contrary I thought it was a sure thing and was getting myself all worked up for it. If only he had just spoken up and said, “honey, you know I desire you and really want to, but I’m suddenly just feeling exhausted now that I’ve had dinner and sat down. How about tomorrow night?” Kwim??

          We have to rely on vitamin V due to my husband’s blood pressure meds, and I’m sure partly due to age now too. He has found a place to get his supply where it’s doesn’t cost $10/pill so that part is not an issue for us.
          Re: implementing manual and oral sex, that has always been something we’ve done. My husband though has never wanted me to finish him orally, saying that his greatest satisfaction is helping me climax and then to finish through PIV. Maybe as he gets older, and me too, that will change, but for now we use manual and oral as foreplay only.

          Maybe orgasm shouldn’t be the main focus, but when sex is only once a week, at least for me, I crave it. When my husband and I used to have sex more often, I found it wasn’t as important to me, although honestly, it still would feel as if something were missing. I think it’s about always wondering when the next time will be and therefore, feeling that this one time I have may be it for another week so I need to make it count, kwim?
          When you’re getting enough of something you feel satisfied and don’t desire it as much, but when your denied something your hunger for it grows to where you almost cannot get enough.

          I truly know in my heart he is not rejecting me and one time I said something to the effect of him not desiring me, and he looked surprised and responded, “you really don’t believe I desire you? Of course, I desire you!”

          Today I’m not as emotionally raw as I was yesterday so when he gets home I want to just share my feelings and be very open and honest about how it all made me feel. And as a side note: he did apologize last night for hurting my feelings, but I was still very emotional and just could not respond or offer anything else.

          Thanks for openly and honestly sharing your thoughts.

        2. As to the use of Viagra and similar drugs, even though a little chemistry can increase hardness and extend time, your man may still not climax through your ministrations. If he has extend too long, his sensitivity may be too fatigued and not adequate for you to take him to completion by any method you try. You might be able to do it manually for him , but at that point the hand technique has to be very specific and very specifically applied. This may cause him to have to do it himself if he is to achieve orgasm. It is like when he masturbates you and inevitably speeds up too soon or changes pressure and motion at just the wrong time and actually sets things back. When his sensitivity is down, it will take greater communication from HIM for you to finish him manually, if at all. So, don’t feel hurt and assume that you don’t turn him on or aren’t desirable enough to take him to climax if he has to masturbate. Especially if older or on other meds, he may simply be having sensitivity issues that require coordinating actions with sensual feedback that only he can interpret and act on himself. Feel free to use erolalia and/or caress certain body parts which may help him in that instance; a you-hold-this while he-holds-that kind of thing.

          Why did he wait too long? For some men ten minutes could be too long. He likely extended for reasons Amy addressed earlier. “I’ve been starved for two weeks and now I have this buffet before me and don’t know for sure if or when I’ll eat again so I’m going to stuff myself and that may take some time.” It does continue to feel good, just not quite good enough when push comes to shove if he waits too long. TMI? I hope not. It was all given in honest sharing.”

        3. Thanks for sharing. I think the intimate moments can only become sweeter with age when both spouses are willing to patiently and lovingly enjoy the journey of growing older together.

        4. Thanks for not shying form the discussion and being appreciative of and encouraging as to my being open and honest in my sharing. I learned some things and that put value and joy in the process for me.

  5. Amy,
    I just read your comment to Old Married Lady. I know how hard it can be to overcome resentment. Even when you totally recognize that those feelings will only lead to further separation from your husband. Maybe this will help. I went grocery shopping today and all the way through the store I was thinking about how much I hate grocery shopping. So as I was driving home thinking about how I’ll hate putting it all away when I get home. Then suddenly I felt so ashamed of my lack of an attitude of gratitude. I should be grateful that I have money to buy groceries and a car to bring them home and a home to bring them home to. I was still thinking about you, Chris and OML and realized I’m grateful that I get to sleep with my husband every night.

    Be blessed,

    1. I love your grocery store analogy. It is true that we can get so caught up in what we don’t like, what irritates us, that we miss seeing the good.
      I’m grateful i get to sleep with my husband every night. It could be worse, he could be working out of town instead of being home every night. Guess I’ve gotten so caught up in not being able to make love with him more often that I’ve missed the part of him just being here.

  6. So the real problem was you got all ramped up with anticipation and then nothing happened. I’m so glad you said that. Welcome to the male world. The rest of your comment is also so male sounding in nature that it has caught me off guard. Perhaps there is more commonality than we know, and in time the net and blogs will bring out much more of it out. I REALLY do wish a forum existed where both sexes could comfortably comment, communicate and clear a lot of air. It would no doubt suffer some growing pains created by trolls on both sides exhibiting prurient interests or long-standing misconceptions but in time a more educative culture would prevail I believe. The really big advantage would be the possible permutations upon a common theme. There a many common issues and even a few common solutions, but there are not so many one-size-fits-all solutions as we would like when we are in emotional or physical pain. How great would an available community of potentially hundreds be when seeking counsel? Off the soap box for now.

    “Maybe orgasm shouldn’t be the main focus, but when sex is only once a week, at least for me, I crave it.”

    What I was trying to say there was, especially in older people, try to focus on enjoying the journey as much as possible as you may not get to the desired destination. We have to be prepared to think of the sexual experience as not just intercourse and only pleasing if we climax. There may come a time when circumstance forces the choice upon us. Better to be prepared for the transition than cursing in the darkness. Desiring orgasm is only natural and I certainly did not mean to play down its significance.

    “I think it’s about always wondering when the next time will be and therefore, feeling that this one time I have may be it for another week so I need to make it count, (she is speaking of orgasm) kwim?” I don’t text and am such a tech dolt I had to google “kwim.”

    This is exactly how we husbands feel too. I am so excited to hear a woman express that concern and anxiety that goes with it. When it may be the only meal you will be getting for a while, you don’t want a snack; you want a buffet on all it has to offer. This is why I am an advocate of “scheduling” sex. I put that in quotes to say I don’t mean like punching a time card. IF you KNEW you were going to have sex on X day and X times a week (No, not month, but week) and only digress by mutual consent while rescheduling, how much anxiety and frustration would be missing in many relationships? In our society, we may overeat out of pleasure (not ignoring neuroses) but we do not gorge because we fear starvation before the next meal. We tend to eat/overeat with some sense of moderation. With sex though, we place something so desirable, pleasurable, potentially fulfilling, and necessary to our psychic well-being on the very back burner. It is not there out of lack of importance for most of us, but only because we don’t prioritize its occurrence. Scheduling does not destroy the romance of sex, only its fantasized “spontaneity.” What scheduling does do is create anticipation and the opportunity of mental and physical foreplay leading up to the moment.

    “When you’re getting enough of something you feel satisfied and don’t desire it as much, but when your denied something your hunger for it grows to where you almost cannot get enough.”

    I am sure looking back you don’t mean you actually feel diminished desire when satiated as much as you mean you don’t feel anxious about being adequately fed and satisfied on a regular basis in the future. You feel safe and secure that your needs will be met and in a way that is both pleasing and complete. This too is a very male attitude, or is it? An obvious observation is how much of the things we attach to one sex or the other are really more universal than we think or know.

    I certainly get trying to make it count. We are going to try once again tonight. We will succeed at the doing this time I am sure, but with what level of orgasmic anxiety as opposed to just plain going with the flow of sensual pleasure? Her achieving complete pleasure not near the problem it is for me. I am having to learn to adapt from time to time.

    Thanks for continuing to talk about this with me and the other followers here. How am I doing Chris and Trixie?

    1. Userdand,
      Thank you again for another great response.

      “So the real problem was you got all ramped up with anticipation and then nothing happened.”
      Pretty much. But I think the biggest problem I had that night was the lack of communication. I truly believe he initially wanted to, until we ate dinner and he had sat down, then the exhaustion set in diminishing his desire, much as you described in your situation. I even asked at one point if he was too tired and if so, we could wait until the next night. But he just smiled, kissed me and didn’t say “no”, just went back to watching a tv show we had turned on. Although, I may have still been disappointed if he had told me he was too tired, I don’t think I would have felt so frustrated and resentful.
      I felt ignored, and through my tears that night after he went to bed, vowed to never, ever ask again. And I know that was from my frustration of never making love when I’m wanting to. He never wants to when I have asked. We make love on his schedule.
      And yet while saying that, I love my husband so very much,and he is a wonderful, amazing lover. He does try to be aware of my moods and can tell when I’m getting edgy and grumpy, and will try when possible to make time for some intimacy. But it still comes down to sex only being when he is ready and wanting to. That ol’ double standard thing. 😉

      “Welcome to the male world. The rest of your comment is also so male sounding in nature that it has caught me off guard.”
      Truly, I AM a woman, haha! But honestly, I’ve never bought into what society says about men and women being so different in sexual desire. How could it be that God would create man and woman for each other, as sexual beings, and yet give only the man a true sex drive? I don’t think so, Tim…as my husband would say, quoting from the show Home improvement!
      There are certainly the obvious things for women, such as pregnancies, child rearing, physically and emotionally taking care of our families and shifts in hormones due to monthly cycles and age, which can create exhaustion and therefore, lower desires for sex. But overall, I still believe that women are just as sexually charged as men…if they will allow themselves to see it.

      I have more I would like to comment on this, but I need to go for now.

      I’ve enjoyed the dialog and would love to see a community where Christian men and women could actively discuss issues like this to be able to gain the perspective of the opposite sex. Sounds like something you need to get started, userdand! 😉

        1. Thanks for mentioning marriagebed again Chris. I did find the forum helpful and interesting. What I was talking about in my comment was something more open where commenting doesn’t involve a user account, logging in and dealing with cross-threads that all forums seem to involve. I like the open, easy access of the blog format with easily seen categories, monthly archives, and tags you can click on. I don’t know that much about the tech side of forums, but perhaps there is more privacy protection and censoring as to trolls within the forum format that blogs cannot easily provide. However, in a forum with no moderation, comments are more immediate and it can operate much like a chat room and may be less costly to the operator/author of the site done that way instead of a blog. Thank you again for publishing my comments on this particular post. I know. Still too long. Sorry.

        2. I would be very cautious about chat rooms with little to no moderation. The immediacy of conversation certainly is nice, but they can lend themselves to hurt. When vulnerable people share their hearts, they can too easily become targets for people who want to take advantage. Even two lonely hurting people with good intentions can make an emotional connection that can become an online emotional affair. With moderation and a sense of accountability, some of that risk is minimized.

          I will say this about the TMB forums….they are moderated, but once you’ve been around for a while, your comments don’t need to be approved and are therefore immediately posted. Moderation can protect people who post, and because of the vulnerability with sexual issues, I value that.

        3. I wasn’t advocating for chat rooms, just observing that an operator may choose a forum over a blog because it is less costly for them to operate and that a lack of moderation can keep the dialog flowing as there is no significant wait for the comments to post. I do understand the need for moderating and like the sites where you can report inappropriate comments. I do understand your caution. Two great resources on affairs, online and otherwise are Online and Personal, The reality of internet relationships by Jo Lamble & Sue Morris, and Not “Just Friends” by Shirley P. Glass. I have read other recommendations for the marriagebed forum, especially for high-drive wives.

  7. Have you heard of the companion books “His Needs, Her Needs” and “Love Busters” by Williard F. Harley, Jr.?

    The first book is about meeting each other’s most important emotional needs (emotional need = “a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment, and, when unsatisfied, leaves you with a feeling of unhappiness and frustration”) For many men and some women, Sexual Fulfillment is a top emotional need. Other top needs include: Conversation, Affection, and Recreational Companionship, amongst others.

    The second book is about the things we do that cause one spouse to “gain” at the other’s expense, causing unhappiness – the most common being Selfish Demands, Disrespectful Judgments, Angry Outbursts, Annoying Habits, Independent Behavior and Dishonesty. (These things cause erosion of love and can lead to our emotional needs not being met.)

    I think it would be so beneficial for any married couple to read the following article about a concept discussed in both books:

    “Four Guidelines for Successful Negotiation”

    From the article:
    “Chances are that you have been responding to this issue [in your situations = lack of sexual fulfillment] in one of three ways: 1) ignoring your own feelings and doing it your spouse’s way, 2) ignoring your spouse’s feelings and doing it your way, or 3) ignoring the problem entirely. Negotiation, however, requires something very different–taking your feelings and the feelings of your spouse into account simultaneously.”

    My husband and I use the following worksheet when “negotiating”:
    (it’s not very “romantic” but it’s so helpful in keeping the focus on finding a solution that meets both of our emotional needs and avoid eroding our love for each other – which is the best situation!)

    Anyway, the whole website offers so much valuable insight into creating a truly healthy marriage where BOTH spouses have their emotional needs met. It includes many articles about meeting the need for sex (including how to turn sexual willingness into sexual desire – a BIG difference!) I highly recommend the whole website. If you’re interested, I think it makes the most sense to start with the “Basic Concepts” page:

    Blessings! I pray each and every one of your marriages becomes the fulfilling, happy, passionate marriage you desire.

  8. I’m another male who reads your blog. Thank you very much for sharing your feelings. Sometimes one reads these (excellent) marriage blogs and is left feeling like one’s marriage is the only one prone to such swings of mood. The post gave your blog more authenticity. We are not reading a “victorious winner” but a real, flesh and blood human being. What a relief!

    1. We have two very real flesh-and-blood, sinning human beings in this marriage–just like in every marriage. The only difference is that I just let the mess show through the victorious posts.

  9. @Userdan

    “Thanks for continuing to talk about this with me and the other followers here. How am I doing Chris and Trixie?”

    Sounds like you’re ready to start your own blog. You’ve talked about it for months. What’s holding you back?

  10. I honestly don’t know, which means if I would think about it deeply I could know but not off of he top of my head. As you can tell from my comments here and elsewhere, it isn’t because I’m shy or for lack of words. HA

    I did work up my “about me” page when I got hot under the collar about a Facebook incident involving a pastor and his wife so I am that much closer. I feel like I need a mission statement page so I will be working on that next. This blog is a big help to me in focusing my attention on the mission.
    Sis at Delightful Oak, Robyn at Up with Marriage, Hiddinsight at Persuaded 4 Purpose, and Rock His
    World all ask me the same thing. Why not and when? Apparently it’s time.

    In spite of my commenting nature, I proceed with caution most elsewhere in my life. I will research something to death. That may be part of the problem. The need to do it right and well out of the chute. Mistakes will be made. I need to get over it. Thanks for the additional push.

  11. Wow. We just had this same situation this weekend. I had expectations and got ignored and it set off all the ‘old’ feelings just like you said. He doesn’t really care, I’m not really desirable, why keep trying. I had made a real effort to try something out of my comfort zone again as the kids are gone for a few days. Perfect time, right? All bathed up and smelling nice, casual strapless sundress, wearing jewelry in places that I’ve not worn jewelry before just sitting on the couch next to dh while he watches his tv show. For hours. Until it’s past our usual bedtime. I had rubbed his back and held his hand and leaned on him w/my hand running up and down his thigh in those hours and nada. By bedtime, I was almost angry and started acting bratty.*and feeling justified in doing so* It’s been YEARS since I felt and acted like that and I really didn’t like what I was doing or feeling but I figured that I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him. I could feel the wall going back up. I could SEE that my actions and words were laying bricks and things were on the verge of spiraling out of control if I let it. UGH. After a bit, I decided to do the grown up thing and just SAY what I thought. Not just what I felt, but something concrete, so I did. It made me cry, which I hate, but I did it. I told him how I had prepared myself for him and had been ignored and how that made me feel unattractive in all ways…..and he apologized. THEN, I told him what he could have done and still been able to watch his show like he wanted. He could have switched places and put my head in his lap and his hand on the front of me or something. He could have pulled me onto his lap and just held me there while he watched. He could have just thought about me a little bit and done something/anything w/his hands-in my hair, on my leg, SOMETHING, I mean using your hands won’t necessarily pull your eyes away from the show. He agreed and said he appreciated the concrete ideas. The talk was in essence, me removing the bricks I’d laid. I’m not sure if he’ll remember my ‘advice’ when this situation comes up the next time, but at least I didn’t let the wall-building get started again this time.

    1. It’s hard when I can feel the walls again. It still feels like my default mode and offers the easiest path to not feeling hurt, so it takes intentional effort to move past that. Good for you to share something concrete and keep the walls down!

    2. I’m obviously not a woman, but I feel your pain. You went to a lot of special effort that both made you feel sexy and was meant to appeal to his visual instinct. You probably would have felt more comfortable in a pair of yoga pants or sweats but not felt as sexy in your own head or as desirable to him in his. Instead, you went through what amounted to an elaborate mating ritual: All that time in the bathroom primping, powdering and perfuming, choosing JUST the special dress, picking the jewelry, then you made your grand entrance expecting to floor him. I wasn’t there, but you looked stunning I assure you. Then you physically initiating and patiently waited. And waited.

      You are not the only wife who has done this with similar results I am sure. A good reason for gun control. I can only imagine the depth of your hurt and the blow to your self-image and sensual nature. HE blew it big time. You did everything exactly right in my book to get his attention and desired physical response. I also feel for him because he missed a really fantastic night because you were prepared to go the physical and emotional distance with him. It would likely have been remembered in his top 5 sexual encounters with you had he got with the plan.

      You had every right to be disappointed. You did the right thing in telling him how you felt instead of building that wall. Building the wall would have solved nothing and exacerbated the problem in the future. It was honest of you to tell him what he could have done to give you attention. What it did was tell him in what ways you could be made to feel desired and loved by him. Now I want to add a caveat. Don’t ever settle for that as standard operating procedure. I liken it to petting the dog or cat as it lies in your lap while you are otherwise occupied. You are giving it its desired attention, but you are not focusing on it. Think about watching people interact with their pet. The pet demand attention. For a moment, they look eye-to-eye with the pet and attend to them. Then they refocus elsewhere as the continue to pet them until, unnoticed, they stop or the pet leaves.
      I am in no way likening you to a pet having animal desires. I am pointing out that you deserve a better type of attention from your spouse than that. He needs to come into and stay into the moment with you. We all absentmindedly hold hands or touch as we sit near each other, but there is a time to be more conscious or our interactions and to do less is a disservice to the one we love. DO NOT settle for, condone, or encourage “pet treatment” in the way you implied above. It may satisfy temporarily, but you are encouraging a bad, though convenient, habit. YOU DESERVE BETTER. It wasn’t “advice.” It was a plea and he needs to regard it as such and so do you. Don’t give up on him, but don’t let him quit on you either. We all get what we settle for. Don’t settle for that.

    3. Yep, been there too. I’ve gotten all dressed up (although I always wear makeup and fix my hair daily, and do not live in sweats or yoga pants), put on a little extra makeup, fixed my hair up a little more, put on his favorite perfume and a sexy top to go with my jeans and paint my toenails his favorite hot pink color. Then get all seductive, making lots of not so subtle hints, and….nothing. 🙁
      There is nothing that makes you feel so undesired and unattractive (even though I will say, my hubby always tells me on a daily basis how beautiful I am) as your man ignoring you sexually. Especially when you think you’re making perfectly clear what you want. At least we think we’re perfectly clear, but are we really?

      I mean it’s easy for us women to think our man should just be able to see all the effort we put into fixing ourselves up, getting all sexy for him and touching him in not so subtle ways. I mean come on, do we really need to light up a big neon sign over the tv that flashes the word SEX? Haha!

      Regarding my situation from last week. I thought I was being perfectly clear on what my desires were and I thought my husband was truly on the same page and on board for it. But today when I woke up and called to say good morning to him (he leaves at 1:30am for work), he said something that totally blew me away.
      Let me preface by sharing what happened last night. After days of stuffing my feelings down about what had happened last week, I finally exploded last night. When my hubby hugged me before going to bed last night (he has to be in bed by 5:30pm), I just started bawling, and could not stop. Just sobbed, shoulder shaking sobs in his arms and told him how much it hurt what had happened last week. He held me and apologized, then headed to bed, but came back out once both my boys had left the house and led me into our bedroom. It wasn’t the best sex we’ve had with me still sobbing and emotionally having a hard time relaxing, but it was healing.

      So, back to this morning…I apologized to him for my meltdown last night, but also was able to finally share my feelings about last week and then he said the thing that blew me away…he said, “I’m sorry for not knowing what you were wanting, I guess we were not on the same page!”

      What?? Really?? Are you kidding me?? How could you not know what I was wanting. Aside from actually saying, “I WANT SEX”, I thought it was pretty clear. We were both jokingly teaching about the ‘sleep aid’ I wanted to administer to him that night before he had to go to sleep and he thought that sounded great. How could we have not been on the same page? It blew me away!

      And got me thinking how I believe that possibly for men, they do need that neon sign flashing the word “SEX”, right along with us flashing them! 😉 Haha!
      I can certainly say as a woman, that I often think, “why does he not know how I’m feeling? Can’t he just see it??”
      But I don’t believe men do.

      Or the other thing that could possibly be happening…and I can say this from experience…is them trying to ignore the come on, the advances, because they are not in the mood and are hoping we will stop.
      In my previous marriage, I did whatever I could to avoid sex with my abusive ex. And when I look back, I realize that I often did what you say your husband did and what my hubby did, I ignored him and the situation…kind of hoping it would just deter him and he would stop trying to make advances at me. And many times it worked, not without totally agitating him though.

      Anyway, our conversation this morning really got me thinking about whether we women need to be more direct and not offer subtle hints. But I think we do that too, because as a woman, we know that men typically are turned on by the physical appearance, right? So getting all fixed up and then moving our hands in what we think are the right places to get him going, will maybe it’s not direct enough.
      Now coming out naked with a pretty necklace on, and makeup and hair done up, and placing the hand in a more direct area if you will, THAT would probably work…at least I would hope so!

      It’s good that you chose to talk it out that night and not let the wall start getting built up. Unfortunately, I didn’t talk it out with him right away, but let it simmer inside of me until I boiled over.

  12. I’m like you, Amy. I always wear light makeup, jewelry, perfume and I dress daily to please my husband, and he really appreciates it. He also tells me daily that I look great or sexy or something positive. I don’t own a pair of yoga pants or sweats (although I saw some yoga pants at a store the other day that were really cute! So I’m considering them.*grin*)

    I appreciate your advice userdand. I wouldn’t say I’m settling for anything, I’m just trying to encourage my man to be deliberately loving. It doesn’t come natural to him and sometimes he really blows it. After our……’talk’….. we ended up making love as usual and it very well may be in his ‘top 5 encounters’.*wink*

    I am trying to remember how men think differently than women. Mine is NOT a multi-tasker in any way and I brought that up during our ‘talk’. I understand that when he’s watching a show, that that’s all he’s thinking about. But as I step up the generosity, I would like to see him step up the thoughtful touch. Being deliberate with me. He IS making progress, but it’s in inconsistent spurts. I’ve been patient for about a year and a half and I’m noticing that when these times come up, it’s getting harder for me to do the right thing. Harder to not just whip out the mortar board and wheelbarrow of bricks while in the fog and have at the wall building. What stops me is experience. I KNOW that I won’t feel better when it’s over. I KNOW we’ll lose ground. Both of us. And I really really don’t want to do that because it’s taken a LOT of work and humility and vulnerability to get to where we’re at right now.

    1. I actually a couple pair of yoga pants and I usually slip them on after he has gone to bed. They are comfy to wear especially when it still feels to early to put on pjs. 😉

      I pray that you see more consistency in how your husband responds to you. I can only imagine your frustration.

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