A few days ago, I awoke to an email containing a desperate plea for advice—it was from a woman teetering on a proverbial emotional ledge.
I met this woman (I’ll call her Leslie), back in my old hometown, after we both separated from our respective spouses. Leslie and I had been living parallel lives up to that point (which is what initially bonded us), but continued to live parallel lives with online dating and finding our forever-husbands. Even though I moved away, we have always kept in touch and been each other’s sounding board, or shoulder to cry on, when needed.
The awaiting email made my stomach churn; as I could sense her true pain. Some, who read this, might guffaw at her plight, but this is a real person, with real insecurities, and real pain. If this doesn’t apply to you, maybe you know someone who struggles with the same demons, and can now offer them some sympathy.
Leslie has often complained that, although she adores her forever-husband, she struggles with their infrequent intimacy. Even at her seasoned age, she desires her husband and withers away inside when a week or two passes and they have not made love. It is, apparently, one of the only topics they argue about—and he always claims fatigue as his excuse. Leslie feels embarrassed and ashamed that she is the one who must initiate it 96% of the time, and has recently taken to waking him in the middle of the night just to use his man-parts out of sheer sexual frustration. But yet, when they are intimate, he claims to thoroughly enjoy it.
What’s worse though, is that he does have performance issues far too frequently, but also blames it on fatigue, being out of shape, or that he’s had too much to drink (that’s a whole other topic). Leslie still believes that it’s because he’s just not attracted to her.
She, like most of us, is very hard on herself concerning her looks, and ignores anyone who reassures her that she is attractive. She can’t understand why her husband (who claims to truly love her) barely even pays her any mind. Never reaches out to touch her anymore (which is nothing new, and has been an issue for many years now), she never catches him admiring her like he used to, and it’s not even a blip on his radar when she wears her hair exactly how he used to love. She feels invisible.
Leslie’s above struggle was not what put her over the edge though—it was Shania Twain.
The other day, she inadvertently deleted a recording off their TV’s digital recorder. Her husband called to her while she was getting ready for bed and asked if she deleted it; and when she admitted that she did, she received a very terse reply of, “Thanks.” She could tell he was very upset and asked if he wanted her to find it online for him to watch. “Luckily” for her, it was playing again on another day, so she set their recorder for it and went back to bed. Unfortunately though, not before saying, “Sorry about that. I forgot how important she was to you.”
Ouch. Low blow.
Leslie proceeded to retire with a knot in her stomach and unable to sleep. Why was she so emotional about this? The answer is two-fold.
- Early in their relationship, her husband gushed a little too enthusiastically about his feelings for Shania. At the time, it made her feel “this big,” and only fueled her insecurities that she would never be able to live up to being the object of his desires.
- On the evening in question, they were “watching” TV together. What that means is she was watching and he was sound asleep. When she saw that he was asleep, her hopes of making love to him that night were dashed. Still, she tried kissing his face gently in the hopes he’d reciprocate, but he only woke up and looked back at the TV. She thought, “He’s too tired. There’s no way I can expect him to perform.” When she got up to go to bed, he didn’t follow as he normally does (when he’s been dozing on the couch already, that is); this time, he chose to jump to his awaiting dream-girl, Shania, once Leslie had cleared the room.
I wasn’t able to speak with Leslie until late the following evening, so the emotion had been festering all day for her; and they hadn’t spoken since the incident. I had to really sit back and think about what I could possibly say to talk her off the ledge on this one. I had talked her down many times before, but this was a tough one because it was the same problem, only now exacerbated by “the other woman”—Ms. Shania.
“He can’t even look at me Veronica. How can he possibly say he loves me, and is attracted to me, when he just ignores my existence; and does everything in his power to avoid having any physical contact with me?”
“But you told me before that he always wants the lights on when you’re intimate. Don’t you think that means he wants to make love to you and not just fantasize about another woman in the dark?”
“He doesn’t look at me, he looks at my bouncing boobs and the action that is going on with our ‘parts’. He says he’s too tired to make love to me, but then lays on the couch to fantasize about another woman. How can I compete with his fantasy world? I’ll never be able to look like her. And if he claims to looooove making love to me so much, then why does he choose his booze and the TV over an orgasm? We used to go to bed together to make time to have sex. We used to do it all the time.”
Leslie was very emotional, so I knew this was very real to her. I was forced to get a little harsh with her, because I knew she was being unfair to her husband; but I needed to find a way to explain it to her so she could move forward unconditionally.
I explained that his fantasies were none of her business. I’m sure everyone has fantasies. Hell, I used to have fantasies all the time before I met my husband. I lusted after other men (only in my mind, of course), who were both celebrity and otherwise. For me though, when I met my forever-husband, I literally went blind to other men around me. I am so gaga for my man, that I sincerely don’t even notice other men anymore—I am 100% satisfied to just fantasize about him (and do so each time I watch him get undressed or even wash the dishes). Before that goes into a blog of its own, I’ll just summarize by saying—I can relate. Been there, lived that.
I did my best to drive reality home with her using a few points:
- Although the love is still there for both parties, life gets in the way. Endorphins take a backseat to bills, kids and jobs. It’s just the way it is. That’s why it’s crucial to carve out time for a date night with each other.
- She will never be able to go back in time to be the young, firm, twenty-year old she used to be; so she needs to fall in love with now-Leslie. Her husband has a growing beer belly, so she shouldn’t be so hard on herself about how gravity has worked against her over the past decade. Unfortunately though, society does create an unrealistic expectation of women and it has perverted the minds of most everyone. We are supposed to walk around flawless and airbrushed, but yet, find it “cute” when men tap out a tune on their fat stomachs. (I won’t go on a tangent about this topic today—I promise.)
- Her husband is not unfaithful (and she knows it), so I reminded her to be grateful of that. Many women aren’t so lucky—no matter how beautiful they are.
- Let him have his fantasies. As long as he doesn’t ask her to start dressing like Shania and singing “I feel like a woman,” as she does the dishes, then he is allowed his private thoughts.
- Talk to him. Not at the end of the day when they are both tired. Not as an added topic to another argument. Talk to him at an appropriate time, and express your feelings and insecurities. He’s your husband. He should be the one that you can trust completely.
- As we are at an older age, maybe ask him if he’s ever considered any remedies to address the performance issues (a very touchy subject I know, but maybe it could be addressed gently).
Leslie didn’t initially appreciate my advice, but promised to go away and think about it. I received a follow-up email from her a couple days later thanking me for my sage words. She said she was able get over it because of my perspective on the situation, and was going to find the right time to have a loving conversation with him.
I asked her permission to write about this today and she gave me her blessing. I joked, “Maybe you should just leave my blog open on your computer for him to happen upon.” She laughed and said it was a good idea.
Like I said then, Leslie, “I am only joking.”
Don’t do it.
Close my blog and go talk to your husband!