I started therapy last week, in the hope of putting some structure to this chaotic mire of thoughts. I think I’ve been fortunate, I liked the therapist immediately, so no concerns about finding the right one.
It’s amazing how much info about your life you can divulge in an hour. And the insights offered gave me a lot of food for thought.
She suggested I consider whether or not my wife (unconsciously) uses sex as a power play, as a way of restoring balance since I’m the sole earner and effectively have 4 dependents. I admitted I had never considered it like that and perhaps there is an unconscious attempt at control there. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised this was not something new. It has been a characteristic of our relationship from the very beginning – her view that sex is something the woman “gives”. She has always referred to it as “giving sex”, as in “if you do that DIY stuff I might give you sex later”. So I partly agree – I think sex is something she uses as a power play, but not just since we had kids. It has always been this way. I just never really understood what was going on until I began to examine it, several years into our marriage.
Nothing I’m feeling is abnormal, the therapist tells me. Apparently I have “gone through years of emotional and physical neglect”. It sounds a bit over the top when written down. I wonder if maybe I have exaggerated things, and feel bad that maybe I have misrepresented the situation. She reached her conclusion by asking questions and listening to my responses, that was all – I don’t know if my answers were maybe too skewed towards making me seem like some kind of martyr. I sure haven’t been the best husband either.
Regardless, I find this process both terrifying and exhilarating, both tension and relief, often at the same time.
There are five things we will focus on in future sessions, she tells me. My fight or flight response and how to better manage it; communication; particular events from my formative years (might just link her here, haha); and a couple of others I missed because I was slightly overwhelmed thinking about the first few. I’m sure she’ll remind me.
She also called me out on something I said. I was talking about our sex life and said something like “and of course as is the case with most women, once kids came along her interest in sex dwindled and it didn’t happen as often”. She asked me why I said this, because it certainly isn’t true, and thinking on it I realised I said it because that’s what I’d been told by my wife. That led us on to discussing the fact that she does that often, referring to others and how we are either no different to them, or better than them, or worse than them, depending on the situation. I was surprised to hear sympathy for my point of view but I suppose that’s necessary or she wouldn’t be much of a therapist.
I mentioned that my wife’s opinion is that since she became a mother she finds oral sex degrading, and that’s probably why there was a three year period where it didn’t happen at all. This will probably come up again.
We talked a bit about couple’s therapy. I explained that a couple of years back, I was all for it, whereas now I’ve reached the point where I’m more interested in sorting myself out and I’ve actually gone off the idea of couple’s therapy. I asked her how bad a person it makes me if I have reached the point where I actually just want to find as amicable as possible a way to end things while doing my best for the kids. She told me it’s best not to consider things in terms of good and bad because we tend to do things not out of goodness or badness but because either our needs are being met or they are not. It seems the real understanding I need to achieve is can my needs be met by her. To do that, I need to spend some time understanding what my needs actually are, and then working out whether or not she can meet them. So that’s what I intend to do.