"One of the dangers of staying in a situation, even if you are making personal changes, is that you can become unaware of the costs and damage that are done."
I feel as if I'm now fully aware of "the costs and damage," which makes each day harder to bear.
Update, fast forward several months.
No progress of any sort to announce, DW is even more frigid now than she was back in March. We've dealt with this conflict our whole marriage, and rather than finding mechanisms to help it improve, it has only gotten worse, much worse.
DW recognizes how disappointing it is for me, and she is therefor willing to let me use her body like an inflatable sex doll, but what fun is that? She's better looking that an inflatable sex doll, and way more interesting from a tactile perspective, but beyond that her behavior is similar. I resort to that in the event of the inevitable "I can't take it anymore" moments I have when I give in and just do it. This happens once every 6 weeks or so. They are unfulfilling and disappointing because I want a connection other than the minimal physical one that this arrangement allows.
I haven't been able to keep my code of conduct promise to myself to not complain, either, though I am improving. It's difficult because I am powerfully attracted to her and I think she's the sexiest girl in the world. This morning when she came down from getting ready for work she knocked me off my feet, and I can't help but tell her, "wow, you look awesome today". She always gives me her patented little embarrassed, "thank you", and then poors herself a cup of coffee.
She likes to cuddle and hold hands, she likes me to massage her feet and pamper her, but she doesn't seem to care about sensuality or eroticism, or just plain sexuality at all. When used to ignore her sexually I could tell she would start to get anxious after about 10 days and start to make very faint, difficult to discern gestures toward me that could have been interpreted as sexual invitations, but even those were as non-descript and neutral that it couldn't be distinctly interpreted as an invitation or come on, or even flirting, just very oblique and only detectable because I know her patterns of behavior. She doesn't even do that, anymore. Now it is a pretty fraternal relationship.
For the record, I have read EVERYTHING you can about libido issues in marriage, relationships, etc. Most of the advice to us lovelorn men is that we have to notice the carpet needs vacuuming, pick up our underwear, etc. I have always shared or done the lions share of housework, not because I want to ingratiate myself, but because I married a wife, lover and friend, not a housekeeper. In addition, I am not an unemployed alcoholic who plays video games till 2 am. I am not overweight, I brush my teeth, I shower daily, etc. I make over a 6 figure income and have for 25 years. Not to boast or sound my own horn, but I don't think I'm a slouch. So life just seems to throw you things to make sure you're never completely happy!
So I am still committed to this marriage, I don't want to live without her despite how sad this makes me. I think I can be happy and I believe I am morally committed to being responsible for my own happiness. But as happy as one might be, there are still sad things. This is a big one.
"My feeling is that you're still working through the acceptance of the situation, the detachment that Xi (mostly) appears to have achieved eludes you."
To be honest this has proven easier for me now that I've let go but that has taken many years to achieve. It hasn't hurt at all that DW has responded positively to the new power I have ceded to her over our sex life.
"One of the things that bothers me though, is your framing and descriptions of the sex you do have. I really really don't like the inflatable sex-doll description, that doesn't do justice to the complexity of feelings that both of you will have. And unless she really is acting in the moment as if this is a chore, get it over with, a bad attitude - then how about reframing your own take on what is happening, so that it's more ecological and caring for you and for the relationship."
There was a time when I would have described DW in those terms. Those were bad days and I only made it worse by considering it in that light. That perception/reality did not change until I backed off for a couple years and she came back out of her shell. On her own. And yes, every complaint or hint of displeasure virtually resets the clock on easing the felt pressure. So was my experience, YMMV.
'In addition, I am not an unemployed alcoholic who plays video games till 2 am. I am not overweight, I brush my teeth, I shower daily, etc. I make over a 6 figure income and have for 25 years. Not to boast or sound my own horn, but I don't think I'm a slouch.'
I can't believe you haven't had an affair yet. (and I'm LL myself)
What stops you?
Just sex kind of thing, with a super-HL woman you feel nothing for? Surely not a difficult thing to find for a man described above?
No affairs for me, I'm too high profile (don't mistake that for important) in the community, plus I really want DW. The opportunities have presented themselves and for many reasons I just don't choose that path. I am kind of dumb with women, anyway. They can be flirting very obviously and I will just think they're being nice! I also too polite to presume anthing of that sort, too.
I don't like lying and cheating, it's just not for me.
I had to think about the below quoted statement a bit
"One of the things that bothers me though, is your framing and descriptions of the sex you do have. I really really don't like the inflatable sex-doll description, that doesn't do justice to the complexity of feelings that both of you will have. And unless she really is acting in the moment as if this is a chore, get it over with, a bad attitude - then how about reframing your own take on what is happening, so that it's more ecological and caring for you and for the relationship. Which could mean that you have rather more frequent encounters (not often or complicated to be sure) - but that keep you feeling rather more cared for in that way."
Obviously the encounters are not totally as though with an inflatable doll would be. The amount of unanimated, indifferent, and passive responses is being described using literary exageration. My feelings for DW are distinct in these encounters; there is admiration and love coupled with grief and frustration. Reaching out to her in any way I can that is simply unrequited, I have described it as shouting from a cliff only to hear the echo ofmy own voice returned. If I do follow through to finish, the feeling of, "thank goodness it's over" that isn't stated but is somehow conveyed non-verbally would not be present with an inflatable, nor would there be any expectation for any sort of response. Most of the time I do not finish, I just quietly give up, keeping a stiff upper lip and suggest we just cuddle a while.
My frustration with these encounters is that I want her to vest herself in our love life, and she can't, won't, whatever. The love doll allegory states my feelings regarding her indifference. I believe very strongly that the emotional, intimate connection is far more important than the physical, sensory experience. The word, "knowing" is used to describe sex in biblical texts because it connotes a form of knowledge of any other person at a very personal level, perhaps in those writers eyes, the most personal. My DW makes it very impersonal, as though she is inanimate.
I don't give up because she is 1. Hard to resist, 2. willing to try, 3. Was once responsive enough to make things satisfying if not superlative, and 4. I am an eternal optimist and believe in her statement of wanting things to get better.
"Another difference from Xi (please correct me if wrong), is that he has effectively ceded complete control to his W to initiate, he is not doing so for various reasons but that does mean at least that she is more invested in the dread procedure. Have you tried this?"
Close, I had ceded complete control to her for several years until the present. In my on-going experiment I decide late last year to 'engage' roughly 25% of the time. The results have been, well, baffling. I think I hinted a couple months ago that weird stuff was happening so maybe now's as good a time as any to give an update.
She's weirding me out! Like I said, roughly every 4th cycle (on her rate of desire, that being about monthly) I give it a go a little earlier (about a week) than she would normally go for it. Naturally this has only happened a few times to-date but in every instance she still gave it a go the next week, so I've gotten some bonus. And for now I'm not going to mess with it. Much. I figure by years end I'll go with every 3rd and call it good.
Even had that try not been effective, just the fact that she is re-engaged now is just an incredible change. Agan, YMMV.
When you see it coming, duck!