Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't ask people with penises for advice.

I had a powerful conversation with a friend yesterday.

Her and her husband are very young. Been married about 2 years and have a little boy who will be one soon. The conversation left me thinking - even still today.

Though I realize that Rambo has a penis and therefore, cannot think much beyond that….I thought I’d get his take on the conversation to see if he had any thoughts.

I will sum up the conversation that she and I had for you in the same way that I did for Rambo.

We were sitting in the bathtub filled to the brim with bubbles and I turned to Rambo and just blurted this out.

“X & X haven’t had sex since January. She says that she can count the times they have sex in a full year on one hand.”

Rambo’s thoughtful, helpful, intensely wise answer to my pronouncement?

“What? Ain’t no way that’s ever happening in this house.”

Thank you douchekabob.

Really Einstein? That’s what you got for me? I’m genuinely concerned for them.

When she confided in me – for once – I was kind of speechless. I don’t know the answer for them. I don’t even know where to start. My answer to her face was that I think she should schedule it on the calendar and follow through until it becomes natural. It sounded as lame in person as it did to just write it. Eeesh.

In deep conversations like this, you always want to be able to say, “That’s totally normal. We go through that too. You’ll be fine.” so that the person feels relieved and not alone.

However, yours truly had literally sent my kids away for a few hours, took a bath and shaved and prettied up and put on a black string that some would call lingerie and I met Rambo at the top of the stairs when he walked in the door from work.

She was hurting and I didn’t want to sound preachy and say, “Marriage and romance and passion take effort. He’s all you have and you need to nurture that relationship. Blah blah blah.”

He loves her. She loves him. How does this happen?

Rambo commented that there are many couples we know that have sexless marriages – by choice. They don’t really even like each other but stay married and they don’t have sex. There are others who like each other just fine but have sex with other people in swinger situations or open marriages. It works for some people. Maybe I should have told her that it’s okay – that maybe for them – that’s their pattern and way and it is neither good nor bad.

The thing is – it’s not okay because she’s hurt about it. She looked at me and said, “It’s not normal. We are the only young couple I know that doesn’t have sex.”

Her eyes were pleading with me for answers. Just something.

She didn't just need me to listen - she wanted help.

Then she went on to say – as we insecure women do – that she questions him. Is he cheating? Getting it somewhere else? Does he find me unattractive? Does he still love me?

And I told her that chances are that he could be thinking the same thing about her.

I want to put them in a room and tell them to just love each other – openly and fully….and to try every day with everything they have. But who the hell am I to give that kind of advice? I don’t have a perfect marriage. I may think it’s perfect but I’m using my own rules to define what perfect is for me.

What Rambo and I do or have done isn’t necessarily what they should do or shouldn’t do.

I told her that I would take her little boy any time and that offer stands but that I simply cannot help her if she doesn’t let me. I told her I knew that she had taken care of everyone her whole life and she was used to never trusting or taking help or reaching out but she had to try. That I gave the offer meaning it. That they need a break from parenting and life and just time alone. I told her that Rambo and I would help – if only she would let us. That made her cry…

I had no other answer. Nothing of substance to tell her things would be okay or how to fix the stuff weighing so heavy on her heart.

I just felt sad for her. There’s just so much sad and hard stuff in regular life that I can’t imagine home not being a refuge. Like when I’m home with Rambo and just laying there in that moment – it’s easy to forget that outside our doors there is evil and bombings and explosions and death and hurt. Everything else outside my front doors might hurt but it doesn’t matter because inside is serenity and laughter and peace and love. I want that for her. I want her home-life and marriage to feel like Care Bear Land the minute she shuts the door behind her. I want Skittle baths with her husband for her.

I want to erase her self doubt about not being good enough or wanted or loved by her husband.

I want to tell her that while everything else in life is hard – love can be easy – if you let it be.

That’s a lie too though because sometimes love and staying are the hardest things we’ll ever do in life.

What would you have said to a woman barely over 22, married less than 2 years, with a one year old – standing in your house begging you to give her some answers on how to fix the only thing that matters to her?

I feel like I failed her. I just didn’t give her anything of substance or make it better.

Could you have?

What would your answer to her have been?


Rachel said...

Oh this is so tough! I was in a relationship similar to this... I tried to initiate and was rebuffed over and over again. It turned out to be a medical condition of his. Once that got fixed things got much better. He was a bit older than your friends, but still a young man. Can you suggest to your friend that discussing this with their doctors might help?

The Ninja said...

I read one of those "tip lists" for how to rekindle the dying fire, and it actually said something to the effect of, "do it, because the more you do it, the more you want to do it and then it becomes a part of your life again."

Did she say that she has spoken to her husband about it? One of the biggest issues with marriage and sexuality is people having the inability to say, in plain English, what they want. Women sometimes believe that talking about what they want sexually makes them slutty and dirty. So they just go along with whatever the man wants and have no idea of how to express their own sexual needs.

Also, especially with such a young marriage, after having a child, and during pregnancy everything about your sex life changes for awhile. You get used to single, non-baby making sex life where you can just do it whenever, (when you wake up at 2am, lunch time, in the bathroom at your parents house) and it's cool.

I feel like if they are not discussing it, there is really no good advice you can give because to fix the problem you have to understand it. In reality it could be any number of things:
1. he thinks it's never a good time and just stops bringing it up.
2. he sees how tired she is and wants to give her a rest.
3. he's trying to make her life easier by not adding extra expectations.
4. He's a pod person?
5. he doesn't know how to talk about what he is feeling, dudes sometimes suck at talking about that.
6. he's still adjusting to the huge changes in their lives, marriage and baby in 2 years is a lot to deal with.

Sarah Kopf said...

The answer is that there is NO answer, honey... I'm in the same situation, truthfully. And I'm fine saying it. Whatever, right? I took my hubs to those fancy digs this weekend and NOTHING happened. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Does he love me? Absolutely. He's totally crazy about me. When it does happen is it absolutely smokin'? Yup. Does it happen often? Omg no. Do I have a huge pit where my heart is some days? Sure. But I have a choice: Walk away and leave a good man who loves me behind because he isn't a sex driven man. OR stay. Stay and let him love me the way he needs to... My choice is pretty clear to me. It's hard. You know? Hard accepting that. Women need intimacy- or they need to learn to adapt to the way their spouses show love, which can be very difficult. (Women get lonely. They NEED affection and attention- however that happens.)

Three. Since Jan 1. THREE. Didn't even need a full hand to count... (The cancer ruined that part of our relationship, by the way. Long periods of time living in the hospital. You adjust pretty quickly, because you have no choice.)

All that said, I need a cold shower... ;)

xoxo Give your friend a HUGE hug for me! xoxo I get it. I really do.


Sarah said...

It's one of those age old Mars/Venus things isn't it. Women crave the intimacy and closeness of sex and the reassurance that we are attractive and to not get it, we feel like it is something wrong with us. Men hold back though if they are feeling insecure and like there is something they aren't able to provide. They have to be emotionally reassured and loved through it.
I'll be thinking of your friend though. I hope she and her husband can talk about it, find a balance and work it out.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

Did you see the movie 'Hope Springs?' It's what happen when a married couple don't talk about these things that are bothering them and then turn around and 40 years have passed and there's no connection what so ever. They need to talk about it, not over dinner with a screaming 1 year old in his high chair. You were right- they need to schedule time together. Life is hectic, especially with a little one. as that little one grows and begins to create their own schedule of activities, life is only going to get busier. They need to figure this out now, while there's still love there.

Kelliann said...

I don't know what I would have said to her and I think what you DID say to her was eloquent and helpful. Maybe HE's having the issues and doesn't want to talk about it? There are a lot of things that can effect male arousal, stress, medications, weight, etc... so maybe he's avoiding because there is an issue? Just a thought.
You are such a good person. The fact that she felt like she could come to you and confide in you just proves that.

Kelliann said...

I don't know what I would have said to her and I think what you DID say to her was eloquent and helpful. Maybe HE's having the issues and doesn't want to talk about it? There are a lot of things that can effect male arousal, stress, medications, weight, etc... so maybe he's avoiding because there is an issue? Just a thought.
You are such a good person. The fact that she felt like she could come to you and confide in you just proves that.

Robyn's Nest said...

What you told her was good advice. Sometimes you have to just make the effort.

I had a good friend that went a long time and they were young. Once they talked and made sex a priority, it improved. That takes effort and trust to start talking.

Heck, I think I have a great sex life but I still make a goal of at least 100 a year just to make sure. I often have to be the one to make the move and I do get excuses sometimes and I have to work at times to get him in the mood- it isn't just a wink and it is on.... I wish it were..... But I digress.

The swing thing will not work. Couples that are swingers or polyamorous usually have a great sex life and connection. You have to have trust and confidence in your connection for that. If not, your relationship is not going to make and I don't think that is what she wants.

Didi said...

Reading this made my heart hurt. There are all different reasons why couples stop having sex. Sometimes after a woman has a child the man doesn't see her in a sexual way any more because she is a mother now. I pray that isn't the case with this couple, because that kind of a complex usually runs so deep in a man that it takes a lot of help to get over it. (And most of them can't get over that)
Does she try to initiate sex and get rejected?
I would try to find out specifics, because there are so many different reasons why something like that can happen. They are young though, so in a way it's good that she is reaching out now instead of years and years down the road when it is too late to fix anything. You should advise her to find some kind of a marriage counselor. She needs to let him know how much she is hurting, and that she wants them to get help!

My lovely lovely cousin was married to a really great guy, but eventually left him because after they were married he flat out was no longer attracted to her. He told her as much, and she still stayed with him for many years. Some issues can be fixed and other times a person needs to walk away to salvage their own heart.