It’s winter again.
Where I live we get snow. Not every day. But we get it. At times a lot of it. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s the shoveling. The not being able to hop in your car and go somewhere without first moving pounds of snow. And then never knowing if your car will start or stop when you need it to or someone else’s car will slip and slide and crash into you. Snow means weather related cancellations which are inconvenient, and often cost me money. Snow means being stuck inside.
It’s snowing tonight.
But there are other reasons why snow is irksome to me. Snow brings back memories.
It was years ago, on a snowy night, back when I lived in a cool neighborhood with friendly social neighbors. Back when I was still married.
I have never really talked about this night. This is to be a shortened version, by emotional necessity.
My husband had been distant. He was never gregarious and often not engaging, but for weeks he could not seem to make eye contact with me at all.
And though I had made this Sex on Demand pledge, I realized that it had been a long time since there had been any demand, request, or suggestion requiring me to honor my pledge and when I did it wasn’t, well, how does one say, romantic? There was certainly no eye contact. And there were other things. Just little things that I don’t want to talk about now. (How could I have been so clueless?)
I mentioned my growing discomfort to a girlfriend, who said, of course, that I needed to talk to him. Duh. Obvious response, and I knew that’s what I needed to do, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it (or I knew I wasn’t). It’s like when there’s a funny smell — before you do anything about it, first you ask around, “Does anybody else smell that?”
So I hadn’t said anything to him. Not yet. I was going to, but I didn’t know how or when. And I wasn’t completely convinced of why — I mean everyone is entitled to be in a funk from time to time. Maybe it was just that. And winter.
Then there was a snowstorm. This meant that until the morning sun could break through clear skies and shine on our faces, signaling that it was time to begin the back straining process of digging out, we were housebound. No one could go anywhere. So my very cool neighborhood decided to have a snow party. Everyone was invited to walk to one neighbor’s house, bring whatever we had on hand to share, and just hang out. It was like college, where you didn’t need a car to go out and no one had to worry about being a designated driver and we could just walk home. Except it wasn’t like college, because I had all those kids and a brooding husband who could not look at me . . . but I digress.
My husband didn’t seem to want to go to the party. This was not unusual. He never liked to go to parties. Not with me, anyway. See My High School Self, My Vampire Boyfriend. Still, we went, with our kids.
I thought it was fun. It gave us something to do, I could be around adults and consume free food and it was better than being cooped up in the house with little kids watching TV. My husband seemed okay once he got to the party, chatting with the neighbors about travel and hobbies (his travel, his hobbies). But he didn’t talk to or make eye contact with me. I remember coming up to him while he was talking to someone and trying to join the conversation. He did not acknowledge my presence in any way. He’s tall. He looked over me, literally.
When the party was over, we walked home in the snow and put the five children to bed. He sat on our bed, his back to me, saying nothing.
Out of exasperation rather than anger or reason, I said — blurted out, really, “What is wrong? You’re acting like something’s wrong. What is it?”
Without looking at me,
he said, simply,
“I have to go.”
Those four words changed my life, his life, our children’s lives and set me on a course which landed me here talking via the interwebs to you fine people. (Channeling Jack from Titanic — oh wait, he died. Oops.)
Tragically, my initial response to him was, “Go where?”
I didn’t know what he was talking about. I mean, we were snowed in and all.
Where did he have to go in all this snow?
And that, as they say, was that. Well, a lot of stuff happened, but he did eventually, go. He had to, you see.
So, now, on this snowy night years later, almost to the exact day of that fateful snowy night when my husband said those four stinging words, I sit here, thinking . . . I really don’t like snow. It’s a lot of work. The shoveling and all.
Just Me With . . . snow.
My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra — Packing my husband’s things.
When I Needed a Helping Hand — Moving my husband’s things out.
My Worst Superbowl, Remembered — When I realized it was a lost cause.
Just a virtual hug. It is an honor to be privy to watching you grow stronger emotionally.
What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.
Tough when you memories are triggered like that…my hometown dealt with the death of a young man my first husband and I used to socialize with. I dealt with intense sadness for his family(wife and three kids…parents…siblings) and then I had to deal with some intense anger/sadness. I was angry that once again I was away from home,grieving alone because my ex had ruined my safe place, people often assume I left for romance(that’s what my ex tells them) but I left for my own sanity. My anger/sadness was that I blamed him for everything in our divorce, I had let him get so far under it that he basically turned me into the person He kept telling everyone about. (Antisocial-well it’s hard to be friends with his backstabbing friends, postpartum- um parenting for the first time with a fair weather partner is just hard as hell, cheating- nope kind of hard to do when I worked 8+hrs a day and then had to take care of an infant solo 6 days a week and the day off was spent with his family) it was a looking battle and and I ultimately didn’t understand why he couldn’t love me enough to change or just HELP… Anyhow. Thanks for writing this, I don’t really blog anymore but feel compelled to reply to others when they post something that touches me.
Honest and visceral. Been there from the other side, and though it hurt then it was for the best. Thanks.
Today, I still marvel at how my own nearly 20-year marriage ended in less than half an hour. I, too, had to follow my gut and ask THE question, and with that… it was over. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading more along your journey.
I was just commenting on something similar from another blog that led me here due to your comment.
This situation seems to not only be spreading everywhere, but it feels endemic of our society. Inevitable. It’s a painful feeling to contemplate.
I’ve been the man in this situation. I never cheated – not even with Porn. I was the doting husband who gave back and foot rubs on demand (even daily if needed or asked for, sometimes for over an hour). I made breakfast, dinner, taught the children, changed diapers, stayed up with the babies, sang them to sleep, taught them to pray and provided adequately for my family.
But I’ve BEEN in the situation where the relationship has degraded to where she is offering a “on demand sex” contract. How degrading that feels. As if I want it to be about MY satisfaction or even JUST the physical need of release. When I’m stressed and feeling vulnerable, there is nothing in the world as powerful as the acceptance of a Wife of her Husband’s affections. In those moments I’m aching for that acceptance, the connection and the peace that comes with that connection. It erases the harsh boss at work. It removes the low marks on the final exam. It says “I’m with you, even in the hard times.” like nothing else can.
In my situation, the most often cited issue is her stress and poor health. Those two things are not unrelated. But it becomes so much more than that… It turns into hugs where she’s not even putting her arms around me. A rare kiss and its the quickest peck. No touching anywhere else! So different than before. Continually saying its not me, its the stress and the poor health. But, being the male brain that I am, I have provided solutions. Medications without side-effect for the physical ailments. Chiropractors for the old injury as well as countless hours of needing out knots. And the stress! The stress is almost 100% the X. On dates I feel like he’s right there, because its almost all she talks about. How awful he is and what he did and what he is doing. I’ve done the years of “I’m sorry those things happened” and “I know it is so hard”. And those are sincere. I’ve been through awful things. I KNOW what it feels like.
This event really sums it up for me:
She talked about taking me to bed (yay!)- and I was over eager because it had been a long time. I really try to hide that, but I can’t hide anything from her. It all came undone when after we were lying there naked together, she asked for cuddling to just be enough…because she was too tired. She could see and feel my disappointment. It had been weeks. I tried the usual beggars can’t be choosers tactic – I’ll be fast! You won’t have to do a thing! I’ll be gentle! By then, we’d been lying together for almost an hour and it was getting to be very late.
But no. She was too tired. But then something crazy happened. She remembered that the library books were due. It’s a 15 minute drive to the Library. The fine, because of a few DVD’s, was going to be somewhere around 10 dollars. She jumped up, got dressed and got ready to go.
So I said “Wait a minute. You’re too tired for me, but you’ll get dressed and go for a 30 minute drive to save $10?” Its not about the too tired. Its the lurking variable that she can’t or won’t say. Why not? To me, this is emotional infidelity.
What a cardinal sin I committed by asking this question. What a rage she went into.
I don’t know your situation, but seeing this just rips the memory wide open. I’m sorry you don’t feel well, or are so stressed out that you don’t “want to”. It is clearly different for Men than for Women. We feel the same attraction and need for intimacy on day 3650 (ten years) as we did on day one – and we still will until our hearts stop beating. Yes, we remember the amazing connection it was for a year or so. The tenderness. How I ache for the tenderness. And what I’ve found, is that it isn’t so much don’t “want to” but “Don’t want to” and it feels like “not with you.” Women are as capable of narcissism as are men. After the fact and in moments of clarity she admits that it’s not about just being tired or stressed.
To me, it HAS to be a change in attitude. Gone is the tender, slow, loving, just-because-I-Love-You lingering moments basking in each-other’s warmth. And when she is open to talk about it even a little bit, she always ends up saying “I’m sorry, I’m just an irrational, crazy woman and its all my fault!” This is not my accusation thrown back me. I make no accusations. This isn’t me raising my voice and her giving up…I don’t raise my voice. But what is it?
A woman I respect once said “Sex is to a Husband what conversation is to a wife.”
The burning question I have to ask is this. How can women not see the direct correlation between “on demand sex contract” and his withdrawal and finding someone else? You’ve basically said “you can have my body – grudgingly, but I’m not there.”
Emotionally, I need your body AND you there.
The equivalent reverse proposal would seem to be this. “Once a week I will “talk” to you, but I’m only going to nod my head and mumble and only because I have to. I won’t actually listen or care about what you are saying. Sure sometimes the conversation is good, but don’t expect me to WANT to talk to you or actually listen or care about what you say.”
I’m not trying to place blame. There are innumerable reasons why this can happen. I just cannot wrap my head around how this is so normal.
It’s amazing how we don’t talk about what is right in front of us, wonder if others see/feel what we are see/feeling and don’t listen to our inner self.
Wonderfully written story!
Thanks. Others made comments after the fact, and others were completely shocked. I didn’t know what was normal and didn’t trust my gut and sometimes my gut was horribly wrong. Oh well. One friend said about my ex-husband, “He’s the kind of guy who when he walks into a room the temperature seems to drop ten degrees.” No wonder folks didn’t come around much. As he liked it.
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