Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking a Dive...Into Risk

Our marriage counsellor wants me to consider taking risks.
Sure, I said. I'll jump out of a plane. I'll summit Everest. I'll eat deep-fried maggots.
Unfortunately, those aren't the risks he's talking about.
He's talking about something far more frightening. Far more likely to end in tears.
He wants me to consider trusting my husband again.
Specifically, he wants me to engage in intimacy with my husband.
Now...and this is likely way too much information for some of you. In which case, put your hands over your eyes and hum the tune Yankee Doodle Dandy until I get past the personal stuff.
But my husband's and my sex life has been somewhat...sporadic. As in almost never.
It wasn't always like this. In fact, it was rarely like this.
Even post-disclosure – particularly post-disclosure – we were like caffeinated rabbits. I learned later it's called hysterical bonding. But whatever it's called, it's a whole heap of fun if you can prevent the occasional sobbing or urge to plunge a knife into your cheating husband's back. 
But then I came to my senses.Or perhaps I lost my senses. I'm still not sure. All I know is that, as quickly as hysterical bonding arrived, it packed its bags and hasn't been seen since.
In its place? Reading in bed. Working in bed. But very, very little sex in bed. At least not with my husband. Or with anyone else whose name isn't the same as my own (if you get what I'm saying...).
But now my marriage counsellor (and, incidentally, my husband) wants to change all that.
Admittedly, I wouldn't mind changing it, too. At least in theory.
But when I consider what it would entail...
Actually trusting that my husband won't decimate my soul once again. That he'll cherish my heart and my loyalty. That he is, in actual fact, being faithful to me and I won't end up with genital warts.
Well, all that seems like an enormous leap of faith that looks an awful lot like vulnerability to me.
And vulnerability isn't my strong suit these days. (Ha!)
I'm pretty darn good at cynicism. I'm a master at worst-case scenarios. And I've become adept at keeping my heart (and private parts) under wraps.
But, as MC explains it, there's no change without risk.
We can keep on keeping on (and keeping our clothes on). Or I can take a risk.
MC offers up this metaphor:
If someone is afraid of the water, we don't simply suggest she never wade in. Instead, we offer to let her go slowly. To wade in on her own terms. To maybe splash around in the shallow part for a bit. And then, when she feels as though she can trust those around her to not let them drown, she takes a dive.
I get it. I know I'm the fearful swimmer. And, apparently, I'm being asked to take a dive.
I remind myself that my fear is based on what happened. It is the product of memory, which focuses on the past. As MC says, there are no guarantees. Except that, without trying, he can guarantee that nothing will change. Trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt.
Only facing that fear with risk...and achieving trust.


  1. How do you overcome the mid sex thoughts of your husband doing things with other women? I am tormented by it. Our time of hysterical bonding is coming to a close and when that's gone I'm not sure there will be anything as I can hardly look at my husband or bear to touch or be touched by him all that much.

  2. Frankly, I haven't really mastered the ability to stop the thoughts of him with other women. My approach, which I don't recommend by the way, was to simply stop having sex with him. It just hurt too much.
    But now, as I wrote, I'm being asked to at least entertain the notion that intimacy is possible in our marriage. And to commit to trying to bring it back. MC promises me it will be a very slow process. He totally gets how traumatized I am. So...I'm willing to try. My goal, of course, is to rebuild my marriage. And without intimacy, it's not much of a marriage. So...I'll keep you posted.

  3. I went thru H.B. the first 2 weeks and then nothing since (2 months post D-Day). I have wanted to be intimate, but I'm actually afraid to initiate because I'm afraid I will get rejected and I'm already feeling pretty dejected as it is! And yes, it is very hard to get that picture out of your head! Hopefully in time, I will be able to block it out. Right now, though, I am working on getting myself happy again and working on regaining my self-esteem and confidence because we all know how sexy that is/feels.........if you feel sexy, than you won't feel intimidated by those thoughts least that's what I'm doing for MYSELF (not him)!!!

  4. Kudos to you! You're absolutely right. I honestly think I took the wrong approach by just avoiding. Worked in the short term but now it's time to climb back onto the proverbial horse. :)

  5. Now, sex has come to a stand still in my life. I want it, but he doesn't. I'm really confused. I asked him why and he said it's because of our fighting. He said "we didn't have that active of a sex life before he cheated, why is it bothering me now?" (it did bother me before and he knew it) I responded by saying, "oh, but you had no problem banging whats-her-face every chance you got......." I really am confused........



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