Unmistakable Signs that Signal Change

The past couple of days I’ve been struggling with the desire to act out in self-sabotaging ways. I don’t want to drink and/or use; but I’ve thought about reaching out to ex’s (behind Mitch’s back), joining dating sites (again, behind Mitch’s back), and/or attending AA meetings that I know are not good for me (ones full of chaos and misery, rather than strong recovery).

I recognize these desires as a sign that something deeper is bothering me; and I have kept my feet moving in an attempt to ignore the whirling hamster wheels in my mind.

The problem with that is that eventually the feet get tired and I’m left listening to the endless squeaking of madly spinning wheels. And they’re always squawking about the same damn thing…

A Problem I Cannot Solve Alone

Mitch and I have not had sex in over twelve years, for many reasons: Mitchell is diabetic and has sustained a lot of nerve damage in his wrists and hands. He’s morbidly obese, which complicates sexual functioning. And, after four years of marriage, he declared that he was a-sexual (a decision he made without consulting me).

He has also stated that I was always the instigator in our sex life (and upon reflection, I found this to be true); and now that I am sober, I find it really hard to take on that role.

We also have massive trust issues in our marriage that we are trying to overcome. Mitch is really bad at keeping his word (regarding anything to do with us — chores, plans, finances, attempts at intimacy, etc.); and I am an addict who relapsed on drugs and alcohol, and had multiple affairs after ten years of forced chastity.

My husband has said that he understands the role he played in my relapse. He has apologized for being MIA emotionally when I needed him most. He has granted his forgiveness for the affairs, and says that it no longer bothers him (but I have a hard time believing that in light of the fact that we still have not broken any ground towards repairing the sexual rift in our relationship).

I have also forgiven Mitch — and continue to forgive him — for not keeping his word; but forgiving is not the same thing as forgetting. I find it hard to trust him; and I know he must feel the same way about me. And trust is a really important part of intimacy (in all of its many facets).

A Difference of Opinion

When we argue about this issue (and blessedly, we haven’t for quite some time), Mitch is fond of saying, “Cass, there is so much more to marriage than sex.”

I agree with him; but I also point out that sex is an important part of marriage — and that I need it to be a part of ours.

In response he always says, “I’m working on it. Soon, I promise.”

Apparently though, his definition of “soon” is different from mine. As a result, I’ve spent another three-plus years in forced chastity; and it’s beginning to take its toll.

Stepping Up

I have started to gain a deeper understanding for Mitch’s inability to keep his word in regard to chores.

The man works twelve hours a day, five days a week. He is perpetually exhausted; and since I am now obese myself, I have a greater appreciation for how easily one tires when carrying around an extra one-hundred pounds (and Mitchell carries much more than that).

To help in this department, I have started stepping up my responsibilities at home.

This past week, I vowed to do at least one load of laundry each day — meaning all the way through from the washer to putting clothes away (vs. leaving them in the dryer for days on end) — after returning home from the gym. And you know what? I’ve kept that vow, and feel incredibly accomplished for having done so (those of you who battle with your own mental health afflictions know that these small victories mean more to us than most).

After a couple of days of that routine, I found I had a bit more energy; so I decided to start adding one other household chore per day (i.e. I scrubbed the shit out of the powder room — something that hadn’t been done in many weeks — after doing the laundry yesterday). This morning, I plan to change the sheets and to tackle at least two sink loads of dirty dishes (sadly, we do not have a dishwasher in this damn house).

True, the kitchen is supposed to be Mitch’s responsibility; but clearly, it’s a chore that he just can’t handle at this particular moment in time. He does make dinner each evening; and for now, I have to allow that to be enough.

I’m hoping that if I stick to a routine — dishes each day, powder room once a week, dusting once a week, etc. — that my shame and anger regarding living in a home I am not proud of will dissipate. That the arguments about these things will grow fewer and farther apart; and that ultimately, Mitch will follow my lead and do the few things around the house that I cannot (i.e. yardwork is impossible for me in the summer heat of the Sonoran Desert).

Already, my efforts have given my husband a sense of pride and gratitude that I rarely see. He has thanked me for keeping up with the ice trays (we make ice the old fashioned way, and often, I just neglect it and leave it up to him). He is astonished at his closet full of clean clothes. He marveled at having a “floor he did not stick to” in the bathroom, and generally seems more relaxed when he’s at home.

For my part, I have a renewed sense of accomplishment and self-confidence (both of which are hard for me to obtain). I’m also starting to reclaim the satisfaction of having a clean home (something that is far more important to me than it is to Mitch).

Practice Makes Perfect (Or Closer to Perfection)

It occurred to me that if I think of intimacy as an art, then it is something that has to practiced and maintained.

Mitch and I haven’t even kissed one another with our mouths open for more than a decade. It’s a skill of sorts that we both threw aside… waiting for the other to make a move.

I have always been the leader in our relationship, and Mitch the follower.

Perhaps if I make a greater effort to make my husband feel desired, things will start to turn around for us. I know that when I feel sexy and wanted, it’s easier to act that way.

I haven’t felt that way in my marriage for a very long time; and it breaks my heart on a daily basis… but maybe, my husband feels the same way (and I’m well aware of the fact that if he does, he’d never say it).

Mitch is fond of saying, “My wife is the one that gets in the ring and fights. I’m just a spectator, always wondering where she’ll jab next.”

I suppose it’s time for me to put the gloves back on.

Soundtrack: “Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts

This is “our” song — Mitchell and I.

7 thoughts on “Unmistakable Signs that Signal Change

  1. That’s my wedding song!!!!! Ah, I love it. That’s great. ❤️
    While I don’t *enjoy* having sex, if my husband didn’t actively pursue me, I’d be offended and hurt and think he didn’t love me. So I can imagine how that must play a really hard toll emotionally on you.
    I’m proud of you for getting things done even when it’s hard and for working towards understanding and forgiveness.
    I managed to fold 2 full loads of laundry today and I definitely feel more accomplished because of it. It’s the little things sometimes that make a big difference, even just mentally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Really?! Ours too! LOL!

      Yeah, not being pursued is a tough one for me to manage… but after experiencing many different types of relationships (over the course of my lifetime), I’ve learned that often the men I find “passionate” aren’t willing to be there for the “normal” moments in life — like making dinner and watching television together, or getting through an illness. (Things that Mitch really shines at.)

      And I haven’t actively pursued him either; so maybe he feels undesired and unloved.

      Kudos on the laundry! It’s a much bigger deal for us than most people realize! I’m proud of you! ✨😉✨

      Like

  2. Please do put those gloves back on! Sometimes men just need us to be the ones to start (something that’s frustrating, indeed!)
    Let us know if there’s been any positive updates in the intimacy field 😝💕

    Liked by 1 person

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