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Guiltguilt
Sex is certainly not the all. To be wanted and needed for something, anything. To feel like I have a part, a function and a say in the relationship and household. I didn't feel that way at all. I felt like a child. My wage was inconsequential. She didn't need me for anything. In hindsight, the more I felt like I was nothing, the more I retreated, the more resentment from both of us. a horrible situation. There were times I could have, and should have stepped up, but it all seemed under control and that I would be getting in the way. It's all total bull, but that was the way I felt at the time.

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Anna26
Kalmarjan wrote:
I agree/disagree with this. It's too generalized, and a bit sexist. I, for instance, don't view intimacy as just sex. I get validation from other forms. A great read is the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman. In it, he describes 5 different ways couple can view acts of love.




Not sure who you are really responding to here but,  why was it sexist Kal?

I was basing my point of view on my own relationship and a very generalized view of the  different thinking of men and women.  I'm certainly not trying to lump all men or women in a set category.  Neither, I'm sure, was Sunflower07.

As Guiltguilt says, if he'd spoken up more about what he needed more in the way of intimacy, there might not have been a problem, and that's exactly my point.  I did speak up, but it didn't solve anything because my husband didn't seem to be capable of absorbing that information. Or wasn't able to put it into actions.  He finds it very hard to express himself. 
So where does that leave you when things aren't validated in other ways...frustrated, misunderstood and undervalued.

I can that a lot of these kind of problems are at the root of many marital breakdowns, including probably, my own, and possibly lead to affairs.. though my husband would never admit that in a million years.

By the way, I have read the book too, great read... confirmed what I already thought about what I needed.



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Kalmarjan
I don't mean "sexist" with the derogitory connotations attached to it, but more like what you outlined in your response. 

I think that relationships are more complex than what people lay out. For instance, my wife thought for years that since I was a man, all that she needed to do was throw a bit of sex my way here and there, and that would be all that I needed. I was led to believe that since she was a woman, I could assume that I would never be able to understand, and I should never try. 

It's more complicated than that. If sex were the only driving force in a male, then every single affair from a male standpoint would be sex based, and we literally would have sex with the AP, then drop them like a hot rock because the AP is so dangerous for our situation.

Instead, you see a lot of EA. My affiar started as an EA, and rapidly progressed into a physical one. 

The mechanism was sexual based, in terms of how she sent me nude pictures of herself, yes, but then that implies that all my wife would have had to do was send me more. 

Instead, what happened there was I got what I was desperately craving. Validation. You may say that the pictures were all about sex, but it was more like a bonus. What I needed, what I was starving for was someone to think that I was awesome, listen to me, think that I was giving great insight, pay attention to me, fulfill my needs. All of the things that my wife did when we first met and before we settled into the boring thing called marriage.

As an aside, I remember my best man telling me straight out that marriage was going to change the dynamic of the relationship I had with my wife-to-be. I didn't believe him. I thought he was crazy, because at that time my wife was all those things to me. Sure enough, what he said became true. I think that pissed me off more than anything back when I was entering into my affair, because I put the blame squarely on my wife. It was easy to compare because here I had someone that was doing all those things that my wife did when we first dated, and I couldn't help but feel like I was duped.

I'll admit that part of that is the sex, yes. (I saw a line in the movie Still Alice where Alec Baldwin jokes with his wife that were they to relive their youth, then there would be blowjobs on the beach...) But again, the sex was secondary to what was really happening, and that was I was trying to relive the relationship that I had with my wife before we got married. 

I didn't say that it was rational, but I realize that looking back, that was what was happening. 

Okay, for those of you with flamethowers, put them down for a second. 

I know that my relationship with my wife, and my inability to express or communicate my unhappiness is what drove my misery, and led to the situation where I thought having an affair would be the solution to my problems. I've learned that I need to communicate my issues and problems with my wife so as to give her (and me) a chance to solve them together. 

The other part of all of this... believe it or not Anna26, my wife is like your husband when it comes to relaying her feelings. She is a closed book, and sometimes dragging the information out of her is like moving a camel that decides to stay put. I had to figure out a way to communicate, or to at least get on to her level for how she is feeling.

It's like playing detective sometimes. I go by body language, her actions, what (and how) she says things. I don't give up though. It may annoy the heck out of her, but we are talking about what's wrong. I simply can't afford to let things go anymore. 
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Anna26
Kalmarjan wrote:


 What I needed, what I was starving for was someone to think that I was awesome, listen to me, think that I was giving great insight, pay attention to me, fulfill my needs. All of the things that my wife did when we first met and before we settled into the boring thing called marriage.

The other part of all of this... believe it or not Anna26, my wife is like your husband when it comes to relaying her feelings. She is a closed book, and sometimes dragging the information out of her is like moving a camel that decides to stay put. I had to figure out a way to communicate, or to at least get on to her level for how she is feeling.
 



Hmm...interesting, this is exactly how I feel and what I was trying to communicate.  It's true that other things somehow take priority over what you need in your marriage and the thing is, often we don't even realise at first that we are letting it slide. We kind of assume that the marriage will always be there, to 'sort out' when we have more time, taking it for granted.

I think there is a very stereotypical view of what both sexes are 'supposed to be or do' and then we do our darndest to believe it!
And it's very difficult to unlearn all of that way of thinking of each other when it's something that's probably gone on for years and learned from role models.
 
And yes, I know that feeling, it's like trying to draw teeth isn't it?  Out with the verbal hammer and chisel trying to mine for information...
Thing is, it was always me that was trying to communicate, to find out what he needed, but he very rarely let go of anything. 
I know exactly what you mean about the body language and how they are acting because I can always sense when there is a problem. There is quite a heavy atmosphere.  He is always really quiet and retreats into himself and no amount of coaxing will have any effect, apart from producing the stock answers, 'okay, or fine', or getting angry when I persist in asking.

What I wonder to myself sometimes is, is it because he is so bad at communicating with me, that things went wrong?  Did he feel all the things you felt but just couldn't express it?  
I know I felt undervalued and insecure too, but I seemed to throw myself into home and family more whereas he took an 'outside interest'.  I suppose you could think of all kinds of reasons and excuses as answers to these questions and more, but maybe that's a whole new topic [wink] 








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sunflower07
Personally, I was speaking about how intimacy in marriage might be. This is after some readings and discussions with my husband. I'm not talking about the screwed up dynamics in an affair. I think we all know how messed up that can be!

I said, "For men, intimacy starts with sex". I never implied that this was the only form of intimacy that men want. Just that if a sexual connection isn't in place, the rest doesn't follow.

What's messed up in nature is that women want all of the other stuff to end up at sex. At least that's what I want in my marriage. This is the part where I have asked my husband to help " close the loop". It's a cycle of giving that should result in more intimacy between us and hopefully both of us having our needs met.

As far as generalizations go, this whole site is full of generalizations. Sure people can have variations in their stories but it sure seems like there are many common themes here.
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Guiltguilt
I think this is a great conversation to be having, and interesting the way it's unfolding.

I don't think there is a beginning and end to the loop, but when sex becomes a tool of manipulation, it becomes really ugly, really quickly.
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sunflower07
Guiltguilt wrote:
I think this is a great conversation to be having, and interesting the way it's unfolding.

I don't think there is a beginning and end to the loop, but when sex becomes a tool of manipulation, it becomes really ugly, really quickly.


I agree but it is equally devastating when a spouse with holds intimacy.

I think this is what happened in my situation, or at the very least my spouse wasn't able to give me the level of intimacy that I needed early in our marriage.

So, we ended up with a huge disconnect. We were very young and this pattern was set in motion 20 years ago.
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Guiltguilt
I agree. Done it myself. Awful. It is a snowball effect that is hard to turn around.

I'm going to add to the generalisation and say that us blokes sometimes aren't as sophisticated as women in regards to intimacy. Until this counselling, I would never have known that there are tools to use. My view was to not rock the boat and keep her happy - and I would never have known how to do that properly. Never knew that we could have an argument, that there is a way to have one and get some sort of moving on from it. Terribly inept.

I had no family relationship to model mine on. All I did was cobble bits from other people. Generally the crap bits, because nobody actually sees what goes on behind closed doors.

I say this is a great conversation to have because this can be the lead up to an affair, sometimes quick, sometimes slow. Not a justification or reason, or an excuse. I will always be responsible for my actions. I'd have had this conversation if I had my time over., let me assure you.
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Anna26
sunflower07 wrote:


I agree but it is equally devastating when a spouse with holds intimacy.

I think this is what happened in my situation, or at the very least my spouse wasn't able to give me the level of intimacy that I needed early in our marriage.

So, we ended up with a huge disconnect. We were very young and this pattern was set in motion 20 years ago.



I agree with you here too because it's similar situation for me. It makes me wonder if we just accept feeling like this quite early on because we believe it's all part and parcel of a marriage. Or that it's just the way someone is, and who they are. Another learned behaviour based on what we already know from parents and relations marriages.
It shouldn't be of course, but when you are young, and naive...that's all you sometimes have to go by.
Just my thoughts...
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Guiltguilt
The expectations of relationships have changed so much in the last 50 years. Yes, they've needed to change, and, generalising again, us blokes haven't. Again, no excuse or justification.

This was quoted in another thread, and I thought it made interesting reading.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-all-or-nothing-marriage.html?referer=&_r=0
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sunflower07
The expectations of relationships have changed so much in the last 50 years. Yes, they've needed to change, and, generalising again, us blokes haven't. Again, no excuse or justification.

This was quoted in another thread, and I thought it made interesting reading.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-all-or-nothing-marriage.html?referer=&_r=0[/QUOTE

Good article!


Yes, we continue to generalize. Sorry Kal!

I've actually been very intrigued by the difference between men and women. I've done a ton of reading about the topic. I've also become equally intrigued by how we interacted with each other from the cave man days.

I think modern roles have made things SO difficult in relationships. I'm not sure that women's equality has really done us any favors, at least in the realm of marriage or at least in my marriage. My husband very much wants to function as protector and provider for his family.

Modern society and how we function has really diminished the importance of this and I think also a man's ability to get any sense of accomplishment in this area.

I'm thinking of the men from the cave man days and how a man must have felt after he had to PHYSICALLY defend his family and turf not to mention actually physically bring home the bacon, so to speak. I don't think the 9 to 5 rut can even compare. And Iook at the fact that it now takes two wage earners to survive. Another blow to the collective self-esteem of "men" in general.

Don't apologized GuiltGuilt! My husband says the same thing. I'm sure it must be very confusing.
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UrbanExplorer
I read Sex at Dawn a couple of years ago, which is an anthropological view on sex and intimacy before the agricultural revolution, when humans lived in small social groups of foragers for 100,000+ years. Their assertion is that for most of human evolution, humans were not monogamous at all, males or females. They had interwoven relationships that maintained cooperation and harmony and child-rearing in the group. Not until agriculture and land ownership did the concept of male possession of females and concern over paternity arise.

It was an interesting read. The scientists who wrote it were not proposing everyone live like that again but tied it into many struggles and desires in modern times (e.g. affairs, loss of sexual interest over the years in a long-term relationship, and even what kind of pornography people seek out).
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Searching4
It is very true that our sex life waned during our marriage, but it waned because of the affair. We had only been married 10 years before the A, and we had four young kids. Our connection suffered because we didn't realize that our marriage needed nurture as did the little ones. We failed to make the time for us alone. We were both guilty of taking the other for granted.

As Kal mentioned, the need on my husband's part for validation also played a significant role in setting up the perfect storm. Enter OW offering attention and compliments, ego boosts and validation, not to mention no-strings-attached-sex to a man who was already high on his own success and entitlement, and BAM! An affair is born!

But as the affair progressed, whether it was because of those few twinges of guilt or his own justification or just the fact that as he drew closer to her he pulled away from me, the disconnect between us grew. And then our sex life waned. It was very gradual, but toward the end of the affair sex was rare (between us anyway). At first I was worried and frustrated, but he had also become moody and mean so I stopped liking him so much. After a few rejections, I pulled away also and threw myself into projects and organizations. I actually believed that his lack of interest was due to his age and I accepted that explanation too easily. Never would I have suspected him of an affair!!!!! Until I did.

All this to say that we did not have a sexless marriage prior to the A. But the distance between us caused by the wedge of the affair impacted our sex life.

Part of my horror and rage at finding out was that I realized this man could be and actually WAS sexual - just not with ME! And here I had been, being understanding and accepting of his "age-related" lack of libido!

In his case, I don't think sex always leads to intimacy, because as weird as it sounds, their LTA was not intimate on any level apart from sexual.

Truth and honesty leads to intimacy. Lies and deceit are intimacy killers.

His attentions, in every way, have reverted back to me since MOW was ejected from our lives. And it had better stay that way.
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