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So, let’s examine the other side of the coin from my last post.

It’s no secret to Tina that my sex life with Ashley has historically been less than satisfying.  In fact, the details of our sexual relationship were one of the first things Tina and I discussed after finally admitting our shared interest in each other: the rarity with which I fuck my wife, her general lack of interest in sexual exploration, and so on.  Tina couldn’t fathom how Ashley could feel that way around me, because she had wanted me for years.  (I can be quite oblivious at times.)  So, she offered to help me relieve some of that tension.  Fast forward to a cold winter’s day reunion, when Tina and I fucked like there was nothing else in the world that mattered.  Our affair was born out of mutual respect, physical attraction, and an acknowledgement that neither of us were even close to living the sexual lifestyle we truly wanted.

When Tina started fucking her new lover, they established that they would tell each other any time they had sex with another person.  This affects him more than her, as he frequently fucks new and random people, and she wants to make informed decisions about her sexual health.  This is an entirely pragmatic arrangement in my mind, and she and I agreed we would be similarly open with one another.  It’s not been much of an issue because I haven’t had any new sexual partners in a while–just her, and Ashley–and she has only slept with him while she’s been away from me.  I understand that she sleeps with him on a regular basis, and I don’t expect her to tell me every time they fuck, but I do expect her to tell me if he sleeps with someone else because I, too, want to be informed about the risks to my sexual health as much as possible.

That’s our arrangement, in a nutshell.  We tell each other if we fuck someone else, share anything that could change our exposure to risk of STIs, and understand that we could be fucking our significant others at any time.

At least, I thought that’s what it was.

It came as a real surprise to me when Ashley suddenly became more sexually active.  For the longest time, literally years, she wasn’t at all interested in sex, and we would go weeks, if not months, at a time without being intimate.  Hence the topic of this blog.  Neither she nor I know what flipped the switch for her, but we now fuck much more regularly than we once did, and she has begun exploring new fantasies and activities with me, including BDSM, pornography, mutual masturbation, female dominance, and other fun and exciting things.  (This is likely the reason I haven’t had any new sexual partners in a long while.  I just haven’t needed them!)  I didn’t share this with Tina because I don’t ask her for similar details of her sexual escapades, and my understanding, as stated above, was that we know the other could be fucking their local partner at any time.

Boy, was that a mistake on my part.

Tina recently asked me who all I had fucked this year.  My answer: just her, and Ashley.  The anger and resentment that followed was truly astounding.

How could you possibly think I wouldn’t want to know if you had sex with Ashley.

What if my lover didn’t tell me he slept with someone else, you would be livid.

I can’t believe you would be so dishonest with me.

I reminded her that I don’t expect her to tell me when she fucks her other lover, and I assumed she felt similarly.  She argued that it was different because she shares a house with him, and she fucks him so regularly it just makes sense that she probably fucked him on any given day.  I countered with, I live in the same house with my wife, and married people fuck sometimes, which I took as a given.  She responded with a bitter comment about the “sanctity of marriage”.

Point is, it was a very, very unpleasant exchange.  She and I are still recovering from the events of that day.  It was a bit of a turning point for us, frankly, and our relationship hasn’t been the same since.  There is an underlying hostility and resentment in her words at times, roiling just under the surface, that she acknowledges because she “is slow to forgive, and never forgets”.  (Her words.)

I wonder, who is at fault here?  Was it unfair of me to assume that we had a mutual understanding?  Or was her response an overreaction to the obvious realities of being in a clandestine relationship?  Admittedly, I could have told her that my sex life with Ashley had been improving, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that two people in a relationship will occasionally have sex.  I would have told her if I fucked a new person, or if Ashley had fucked someone else and thus exposed me to a new risk (not that that would ever happen, Ashley is depressingly monogamous)… but fucking Ashley is nothing new to me, and doesn’t change my risk exposure.  So I never shared it, because I often didn’t think to, and when I did, I simply didn’t want to chance hurting Tina.

Or, is assigning fault a useless exercise?  Emotions rarely adhere to strict reasonable guidelines.  Tina freely admits that she loves how receptive I am to her being promiscuous, and simultaneously admits that, though she wants me to have that freedom as well, she would probably be terribly hurt by me sleeping with someone else, because she wants me to be hers and hers alone.  So it is entirely plausible that her reaction was born from that jealousy, and thus assigning blame is simply a juvenile response to a natural human inclination.

Really, what it makes me wonder is whether Tina and I are truly compatible.  She is a phenomenal lover, and sex with her is arguably the best I have ever experienced.  She is a gifted professional and a remarkable woman, and I care much more deeply for her than I should.  I wonder whether that depth of feeling and our inability to act on it, and the exposure and vulnerability it brings to our emotional lives, makes us hypersensitive to things that would normally not bother us were we to be together regularly and in a committed fashion.  I’ve no way of knowing, obviously, and there are so many questions and unknowns that I can’t shake this sense of unease I’ve felt for so many weeks.

Perhaps I should just let it go, let the relationship end, but the thought of not having her in my life is extraordinarily painful.  So ever onward do I trudge through discontent and melodrama.

Perhaps I just need a vacation.

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I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.

That’s such a strange thing to say.  “I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.”  A perfectly unremarkable statement, carrying with it some weighty implications, as though it were an event that required planning, that having coffee with her should somehow be out of the ordinary.  It’s normal for married couples to have coffee together.  I see it all the time on television (and we all know anything on television must be normal).  But it becomes weird when you’ve been estranged from your spouse for over a week.

I haven’t seen her in ten days now, not since June 8, when we had our argument.  We’ve barely been in communication since then.  Presumably, she realized that I wasn’t just going to come home with nothing resolved, so there were a few days with no communication whatsoever.  Then today, I got an e-mail from her, asking if I wanted to have coffee at our favorite cafe.  I hem-hawed about it for a while, before finally texting her my assent.

So, after ten days of separation, I’m meeting Ashley tonight, to have coffee and catch up, and, I assume, to discuss the state of our marriage, why I left, and what it means for our future.  It’s not like we haven’t had this conversation a dozen times before.  We’re not breaking new ground here.  But, given the circumstances leading up to our meeting tonight, I have no idea how this is going to go.

…you know, I say that.  But it’s not entirely true.

I know that I’ll arrive fifteen minutes early, because that’s what I do.  I know I’ll be done with my first cup of coffee, likely with a shot of Bailey’s in it, by the time she shows up, perfectly punctual, as always.  I know she’ll look beautiful in her summer attire.  When I see her, my heart will skip a beat, my throat will catch, my stomach will turn in knots, the same as always when I see her the first time after any extended period apart.  And I know, despite how happy I will be to see her, I won’t hug her, or shake her hand, or anything, because I’m stubborn.  I’ll stand up while she sits, because that’s what a gentleman does, and I’ll ask how her day was.  She’ll tell me some brief anecdote about the day’s events, then ask me the same, and I’ll do the same.

By the time her first, my second, coffee arrives, we’ll have run out of pleasantries.  We will be silent for a little while.  I’ll ask her why she wanted to have coffee.  She’ll say she missed me, that she wanted to talk.  I’ll tell her there’s nothing to be said that hasn’t been said before.  She’ll agree, and her voice will catch, and she’ll try not to cry.  She will tell me she loves me, that she wants to be there for me sexually, but she doesn’t know how to change herself.  I will tell her that I love her too, that not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into my life, but unrequited physical intimacy is sufficient to destroy any relationship.  She’ll tell me she knows this, but she just can’t bring herself to be physically intimate as often as I’d like.  So I’ll ask her what she wants to do about this, the same problem we’ve had for years now, because something has to be done, because even though I thank God for her every day, there is also not a day that I don’t feel some level of resentment toward her for refusing to be intimate with me.

And this is where the future becomes cloudy.  It’s unlikely that she’s going to tell me that a permanent separation is in order, but given the state of things, I doesn’t strike me as totally impossible, either.  It’s just really improbable, because we still love each other as much as we ever have.  Ashley feels like she’s not enough for me (and let’s call it like it is–she isn’t), which scares and upsets her, but she won’t do enough to amend the situation.  However, that’s not enough to drive her away from me.  She wants me for the rest of her life, as she so often reminds me, in the most romantic, if still asexual, manner possible.

That means, if things go badly tonight, it will most likely be my doing.  And for all our problems, and despite my indiscretions, I’m not ready to say goodbye.  Being away from her always reminds me just how much I need her.  I acknowledge it frequently, but it’s her absence in my daily life that makes the need more palpable.  When we’re together, I crave her physical touch.  When we’re apart, I just crave her.

Anyhow.  This was intended as more of an update, and instead evolved into some kind of inner monologue about the state of my marriage.  My apologies.  Also, please forgive my absence in the past couple of weeks.  I just… haven’t felt up to responding to emails, comments, etc., which I hope is understandable.  I’ll be back soon, hopefully with something more positive to report.

Regards,
BimodalTendancies

I hate hotel rooms.  I like the service, sure, and the water pressure is usually something out of a wet dream (no pun intended).  But I hate how empty they feel.  Hotel managers strive to pack their rooms with all the comforts of home–fresh linens, a television with cable, a writing desk, wireless internet access, and a variety of scented soaps and lotions to make you look and smell as lovely as the room you’re staying in.

But everything feels artificial.  The bed is a little too firm, the linens a bit too abrasive.  The shower is too tight, even with the bow-shaped curtain rod, which is designed to create a sense of space–also artificial.  The television is grainy, the writing desk cramped, the internet too slow.  The soaps and lotions have the same smell across all hotels, clean and soapy, but uninspired, unoriginal.  And no matter how many lights you turn on, it’s never bright enough, always slightly more dim then you’d like wherever you’re working.

And it’s all just a little too cramped.  The desk is always shoved in the corner, out of the way, with a floor lamp above it (the one place in the room where you can get sufficient light, but it’s too bright on the laptop’s screen, causing eye strain).  Clearly defined walkways are narrow, and too angular.  There’s no flow to the space, no feng shui.  In their effort to make the place feel like home, they have stripped it of anything resembling the natural comfort of your personal living space.

And it makes the place feel soulless.  Every hotel is the same, regardless of its position on the star-rating continuum.  And as I sit in my hotel, I can’t help but wonder about the room’s previous occupants.  How many people have come through here?  How many have left their individual mark on the place, only to have it sterilized the next morning by hotel staff?  How many individuals have been homogenized by this place, their stories assimilated by the collective?

I’m just being bitter.  I know I am.  But then again, I have plenty of reason to be bitter at the moment.

My phone chimes, and the screen lights up.  I retrieve it from the desk beside me and half-heartedly activate the screen.  A text message from Ashley.

Please come home.

I consider the words, the implication.  It’s been four days since I saw her.  Since the last time she rebuked my sexual advances.  Since I reminded her that it had been a good month since our last sexual encounter, if not longer.  Since we argued about the role of sex in our marriage, and my need for intimacy.  Since I grabbed my gym bag and stormed out of the house.  Since I booked my hotel room for an unspecified amount of time.

I look at my phone, rereading the message over and over.   I imagine what it would sound like coming from her mouth.  I can hear her voice, straining through pain, struggling to hold back the sobs.  I can see the tears in her eyes.

I know she misses me.  Christ, I miss her too.  Being away from her hurts me at the core of my being, at the most fundamental of levels.  I love her more than I can explain.  I need her in my life, like I need food and water.  She sustains me, supports me.  She centers me.  I want to be close to her.  I want that intimacy, that sexuality, to feel her physically consuming me the way she consumes me emotionally, mentally, and hell, probably spiritually.

Christ, that sounds fucking crazy.  It sounds like an unhealthy infatuation.  Hell, maybe it is.  Ashley is my obsession.    She is the physical representation of everything that is good and wholesome in my world, and I want to be a part of it, in every imaginable way.  And to be constantly denied the sexual intimacy that I want, that I crave, from someone who is otherwise everything I could possibly want and need…

My phone blinks off.  I hastily reignite the screen, rereading the message, over and over, anxiously, obsessively.  Fuck, I’m so angry at her that I can’t think.  Four days later, and I’m still angry.  Does that make me juvenile, I wonder?  Am I a spoiled, immature brat?  Or am I justified, and this is righteous indignation that I’m experiencing?  I don’t have the slightest clue.  All I know is, I’m fucking furious.  I’m frustrated beyond words, beyond any hope of reconciliation.  I need something to change, but I don’t know how to change it, and that just fuels the anger.  It’s probably why I’m still mad, I think.  I’m a published scientist, a researcher, a theoretician, a programmer.  Hell, I’m a fucking genius.  And yet I can’t find a solution to the one thing that I need more than anything else in this world.

What good is intellect if it can’t give you the things you need, if it only makes you dwell on alternate scenarios, how things could be different but never are?

That’s my problem.  I’m dwelling.  I need to stop thinking about things.  I need to stop letting the situation get to me.  I need to immerse myself in infidelity, to find pleasure and satisfaction in my marital indiscretion.  Ashley won’t give me that, for whatever reason, so I should get it elsewhere.

But I don’t want to get it elsewhere.  I want what we used to have, and I’m afraid that in losing it, we’re about to lose everything else.

I don’t think my marriage is over.  I’m sure I’ll go home soon.  But isn’t leaving, for any amount of time, an indicator of what’s to come?  Is the ability to just up and leave for days at a time the litmus test for a failing marriage?  If so, where does mine fall on the scale?  Are we on the cusp of a major failure?  Am I about to become another divorce statistic?  The idea is heartbreaking.

And I realize now, I’m not bitter.  I’m just sad.

I reread the message.  I consider the words, the implication.  And I have no idea what to do.

For now, I put the phone to sleep.

The following post was inspired by TerriblyTorn13.  If you aren’t familiar with her blog, I highly recommend it.

For many years, Ashley and I have talked, on occasion, about what works well and what doesn’t in our relationship.  We tend to come to the same conclusion each time.  In most every respect, we have what most couples dream about and never achieve.  We’re best friends, and coming home to each other is the best part of our day.  We share equal financial responsibility for our household, and an equal share of the housework.  We talk about our work and lives outside of our marriage, and we take an active interest in what has happened to each other when we’re apart.  Sure, there are a couple of things here and there that we could do differently, but this usually amounts to little more than whether the dishes are done every night or every other night, or who will scoop the litter box.  Our marriage really is a partnership in most every respect.

That is, until you get to the sex issue.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears further discussion.  For the past three-plus years, Ashley has been decidedly asexual.  This wasn’t always the case, but her once dynamic, sexually curious side seems to have disappeared.  We usually make love only once a month, if that.  This may not seem that bad when some couples have sex once a year, but for a young couple married less than five years, this is a very bad sign, an indicator that you may end up in that once a year category.  This is the last thing I want, because I wouldn’t remain in a relationship wherein I can’t be physically intimate with my wife.  It would be like being married to my sister, someone I love but with whom I could never, ever be intimate.  I know it would spell the end of my marriage.

And today, I told her so.

It’s hard on both of us, me leaving for weeks at a time to go on research trips, and we make it a point to talk via Skype as frequently as we can.  During our conversation today, I cracked a joke about her showing me a little webcam skin.  Her response, coupled to an exasperated sigh and a roll of her eyes, was, “God, don’t be so gross.”

When she said that, I suddenly thought about all of the things I’ve been putting here.  Pouring my thoughts and memories and exploits into an anonymous, honest venue.  Hearing the feedback from my readers.  Reading the hatemail.  Forcing myself to dwell on what I do, why I do it, and why I can’t be more honest with her.  I realized, on some emotional level, that I hold so much resentment and frustration because of her refusal to help with my sexual urges.  In that instant, her words just made me so fucking angry.  And I never get angry at anyone, much less her.  Why the hell is that gross?  What the fuck is wrong with wanting to find sexual pleasure in the woman I love?  I wanted to scream at her, tell her everything I’ve done, and what I planned on doing at that moment just to spite her.  But instead, I just closed my laptop without a word and walked away.

An hour passed before I finally came back to my computer.  She immediately called me, and I could tell she had been crying, a lot.  She’s an emotional girl and tears up frequently, but when she cries out of grief or fear, her face takes on a drawn quality.  Not sickly, but drained, emptied.  It broke my heart to see it, because I had caused that, by losing my temper and letting myself get caught up in my emotions.

She asked me if I was mad at her.  I told her, yes, I am, and I have been for a very long time.  She asked why I was mad.  I told her because I have tried to be a good husband.  I have tried so hard to change who and what I am to make myself worthy of someone like her.  I told her I fail a lot, and that I have let her down, whether she knows it or not, but I struggle every day to overcome my own issues.  But I need her to be more than a partner.  I need someone who will do more than put her head in my lap to watch a movie.  I need a lover.  I need her to be the one and only thing I think of when my body is screaming for release.  But she can’t be that thing for me if she always refuses to be involved with me sexually.  And if that doesn’t change, as much as I love her, as badly as the very thought makes me ache down to my bones… I will eventually leave her.  And when it happens, I won’t feel guilty about it, because I will have become so bitter and angry that loneliness will be a better alternative than suffering through a failed marriage.

That’s not verbatim, but it’s damn close to what poured out of my mouth.  When I was done, Ashley stared me, mouth agape.  I suddenly felt very self-conscious, and I waited for her to start crying.  But she never did.  Instead, she wiped her eyes and asked me how long I’d felt like this.  I told her years, and didn’t she remember all the times we talked about how upset I was because we no longer had sex?  She did, but thought it was an immediate thing, like “I’m not getting sexed up right now, so I’m mad!”  I was just as shocked as she was.  We’d had dozens of conversations about it, and she had never understood what I was saying.  It had never registered to her that our marriage could be in real danger if we didn’t find a solution to this.  Today, it did, and it scared the hell out of her.  So she asked me, “What can I do to fix this for us?”

We talked for a couple of hours about it.  During our discussion, I learned that sex has never stopped hurting her.  She experiences physical pain before and after, and it makes her not want to be intimate even when her body is really feeling it.  I asked her why she never told me.  She said, “Because I love having sex with you, and I didn’t want you to think you had to change something.  You’re just too big for me.”

Makes me feel like a bit of an asshole, but there it is.

Anyway.  We don’t know what the best solution is, but we have agreed, when I get home from this trip, we’re going to sit down and talk about this, try to figure out what she is willing to give, and what I am willing to concede.  Ashley doesn’t want our marriage to fail, and neither do I.  We’re going to see if we can make it work better for both of us.

I think writing this blog has been therapeutic in some respects.  I don’t know if your stories and feedback gave me the push I needed to really confront Ashley about our problems, or if forcing myself to be honest here made me want to be honest with her, too.  Hell, maybe I just snapped.  But I feel that I have begun to look at myself a bit differently over the couple of weeks I’ve been working on this.  And I now have real hope for what may change in my marriage.

Thanks for keeping up with me, folks.  Psychiatrists are quacks, but you people are not.

And no, I’m not leaving.  I have a hell of a lot more to say and share.  I just like the way that last sentence sounds.

Being in a committed, cohabitating relationship is difficult for most people.  It requires changing many things about your day-to-day life.  You hardly ever have true privacy anymore.  You have to share the television and the bathroom, and adapt to the awkward mid-slumber habits of your partner.  Then there are the little things that you often take for granted like when you wake up and go to bed, or where you eat your dinner.  It gets rough sometimes, especially in the early stages of a relationship when you’re still getting used to sorting their laundry from yours and can’t figure out how they like to have to towels folded.  But even when the going gets rough, young couples have something to fall back on: the sex drive of youth.  No matter how frustrated you may get with your partner, you can always release some of that stress in gloriously vigorous make-up sex.

Well, unless you’re me.  I live in a mostly sexless marriage.

I’m not really sure when it happened.  Before we got married, my wife–let’s call her Ashley–had a decent sex drive.  I was her first lover, and she showed real interest in trying new things in bed.  We experimented with different positions and styles of lovemaking.  We christened every room of our house in different ways.  We tried mutual masturbation, toys, movements, basically everything we could think of.  She would tease me in public places by flashing little glimpses of skin or illustrating that she wasn’t wearing anything under a thin dress.  It was this playful yet somehow innocent demeanor, coupled to a naturally athletic and curvaceous body, that held my focus so intently for so long, despite my compulsions to pursue sex wherever and with whomever I could.

But after we got married, she began to change.  It was a gradual shift in behavior–keeping her body covered more, responding less passionately to a kiss, merely laughing when I would suggest trying something new in bed.  We still had fun, sure, but after about a year and a half of marriage, we had begun to have sex every couple of weeks at best, sometimes going as long as a month with nothing more than cuddling on the couch.  My advances, which had once been met eagerly and with more passion than I had ever seen in a woman, were ignored or outright rejected.  No excuses were ever made, just, “No, I don’t want to have sex.”  When asked why, the answer was always, “I don’t know.  I just don’t want to.”

This trend has continued through our entire marriage.  There have been occasional increases in her sex drive, usually following my return from a long business trip, but we regularly go a month or longer without any kind of sexual interaction, despite my best efforts to the contrary.  This is bad enough for your average male, I’m sure, but to me, given my obsession with sex…  The closest analogy that comes to mind is the Allegory of the Long Spoons.  A bunch of starving people sitting around a pot full of food, trying to feed themselves, but the spoons they have are too long to be easily maneuvered into their mouths, and they can never get the nourishment they need.  This is the way I feel every day: malnourished, starved for the one thing I need to get by yet am constantly denied, despite being totally surrounded by it.  So, as I have always done in previous relationships, I get my fix from other places.

Let me be clear: there is no justification for what I do.  If you are reading this blog and thinking that I am a horrible human being, as I suggested in my last post, then you are 100% correct.  I am.  Because I love my wife more than words can describe.  She is the physical embodiment of everything good and decent in this world.  She is, in the most literal sense imaginable, my reason for living, and she deserves all the happiness that this world can muster.  Yet I betray her trust often enough that I have developed a rather strong hatred for myself.  I want more than anything to tell her the truth, to enlist her help in overcoming these urges I have, but that would mean destroying something beautiful, unique, and precious.  I can’t do that to her.

There is no justification.  There is no excuse.  I am a weak, selfish person, consumed by self-loathing and regret.  I know that one day I will be caught, and my life, everything I have and love so dearly, will be taken away, because of that weakness.  But in the moment, when I’m caught up in the act, tangled in bedsheets with some woman I just met a few hours earlier, I don’t think about the risks, the consequences, or the guilt.  The thing that causes me so much pain and worry is the one thing that makes me forget the pain and worry.  So I keep going back to it, and adding another potential nail to my marriage’s coffin.

There it is.  I am not a good or likeable person, dear reader.  Not the real me, anyway.  I put on a good and believable show, but the truth I keep tucked away beneath the already broken promises of faith and loyalty is a grimy, feculent thing.  It hurts to admit it, but there it is.

I think that’s enough introspection for one evening.