One of the hazards of having a combined social media account is that you are exposed to the pages that your spouse follows. The real hazard is that you might end up following and reading the posts and blogs. This happened to me and now I follow a page called Scary Mommy.
Most of the time I enjoy the blogs. They come from multiple women and are a very real look into the mind of a mother (or parent in general). I particularly love the articles about raising a willful child. They hit home. This morning I read an article that stuck in my head. It was titled, The Night I Gave My Husband a Free Pass. The writer goes through the rationale behind her telling her husband that he has a free pass to go sleep with another woman because she doesn’t have the sex drive that she used to have.
Her assertion is that the marriage is fine. They simply need to take the “romance” out of the equation for a while. Unfortunately, in her own article, she shows that her marriage is not fine.
“I just wish you’d fuck someone else. Have a free pass. Don’t let me know – just do it. I can’t fuck you like you need. Just be safe, and don’t fall in love.”
My husband looked shocked and hurt.
“You don’t love me anymore,” he said, lowering his voice.
My eyes swelled up, but no tears. I looked down at the ground. Didn’t he understand? I offered because I DO love him.
He looked genuinely crushed.
“Have you even considered the possible consequences of me fucking someone else?”
I found my voice after getting choked up.
“Yes, I’ve run it over and over through my mind, I feel like it’s the only option to make you – and me – happy. I just feel all of this pressure. Pressure to be a good, hot, skinny, sexy wife who knows how to bone you like a freaky prostitute, and put dinner on the table, and ask you how your day was, and be this loving mother to my kids – oh, and kick ass at my job. It’s too much. I just can’t take the pressure anymore.”
I’ve underlined the phrases in this discussion that show that her marriage is broken. A marriage that is okay does not have one party looking shocked and hurt. A marriage that will last does not have one party that says, “you don’t love me anymore” as he looks genuinely crushed. Her marriage is damaged. The problem isn’t that he needs to go have sex with someone else. The problem is that, as he asked, she hasn’t taken the time to consider the problem and the consequences of simply throwing a band-aid on the symptom instead of addressing the problem.
I have been taught to examine a problem in-depth to look for the root of the problem instead of picking a solution based on my recognition of a symptom. This kind of problem solving results in less likelihood that the problem will persist and that it will become even worse.
Reading this account, it is pretty clear that this woman is exhausted.
My story is no different from that of anyone else with young kids. I’m exhausted. I’m drained…I don’t need the pressure of trying to act like a sex fiend, when really I’m just jonesin’ for some good zzzzzzzz’s. I don’t have the bandwidth for mind-blowing sex every week.
Digging down into the problem the question I would ask is, “why are you exhausted?” She gives the answer.
I can’t be physically and emotionally available to my husband like I used to be. There are a bazillion reasons why being romantically available can’t happen as often as I’d like – kids, work, travel, activities, etc. We’re all plagued by various family life logistics. Then enter in my post-baby body issues. (Which I could cry about that for another 5 lines, but I’ll spare you.)
Her answer is that she is simply so busy with family life that she is just too exhausted to be turned on and intimate. The idea literally repulses her. I’ve been there. Family life can be tiring. It’s easy to neglect the romantic relationship with your partner. The problem is that doing so will actually hurt the future of the relationship that she seems to value so much.
She writes about psychologists multiple times in the article.
At this point, psychologists and shrinks would be telling me to “do it anyway.” That a healthy relationship is “all about intimacy.” They’d urge me to “try harder, even if you don’t feel like it – you’ll get in the mood.” I need to “schedule sex.”
I can’t get down with scheduled sexcapades, sexpectations, obligatory date nights, or the clichéd marriage counseling that shrinks suggest to every couple struggling with sexual intimacy.
The problem seems to be that she has a pre-conceived notion of what a psychologist does and what he or she would recommend. It’s likely that she’s read some articles online that included much of the same thing. “If you’re lacking intimacy schedule date nights, spice things up, etc.” What she’s doing is reading a watered-down version of what a psychologist would really say. What these articles really mean is that she needs to find the time in her schedule to continue dating her husband. If her schedule is so busy that she needs to block out time for her and her husband to be a couple, then that’s what she needs to do.
I’m not a psychologist. How do I know this? I’ve been through that “clichéd marriage counseling” that she quickly dismisses. I’ve experienced these problems from both sides and discussed the issues with a psychologist. It turns out that psychology and counseling aren’t the dirty words a lot of people assume them to be. Talking through problems with someone who is educated and trained in human psychology and motivations actually produces real insights, finds the core of the issues, and helps people work through the problems that life throws their way. Stop being afraid of counseling. If someone has an opinion about you going to a “shrink” then tell them to go to hell and rest assured that they are probably already there while you are living a happier and more fulfilling life because you are facing your issues head-on instead of burying them and treating the symptoms.
I’m sure there are people in open relationships that are just fine; however, based on her husband’s reaction, I don’t think this will be one. She says that, “The big picture is the friendship [she’ll] have with [her] partner in the long-term.” The reality is that this may be all she has in the long-term if she doesn’t look at the problem and try to find a real solution instead of giving up and just trying to find a quick and easy fix for the symptom. If you are in the same boat, please take the time to think about your life. What is the symptom? Why is it a problem? What is causing the problem? Keep asking these questions over and over again about your answers until you get to the core of the problem. Then look for a solution. It may be obvious like reducing your activity load. It may take talking to someone about the issue (like a counselor) and doing more work to find the solution. If you love your partner and want to have a happy and healthy relationship, it’s worth it.