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post #91 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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What boundary was crossed?
It's a boundary with a complicated backstory, but basically, engaging in 'sexting' with an old friend.

In our lives before having a kid, we had a fairly large and close-knit group of friends (couples) with whom we were essentially sexually non-exclusive. We were all very close and trusted and respected each other implicitly (hence our ability to be that close), and we still consider those friends to be among our closest in life (even when sex was taken off the table).

One of the couples moved a few states away several years ago, but they remained close with all of us. Every few months, my wife would get a text from the guy half that usually opened with a (intentionally) cheesy 'What are you wearing?'-type provocation, which usually led to some sharing of sexual fantasies or other such sexually explicit texts. That behavior was hardly out of the norm for any of us, as we all enjoyed having that sort of 'sexually free' friendship within our group, so I never took issue with it (for example, I'm sure I could have sent his wife the same sort of text and it would have been happily received, but I'm not particularly interested in texting).

After my son was born, we just couldn't run with the crowd the way we used to, so we saw less and less of everyone, though we still get together with some of the old crew - in a strictly platonic fashion now - when the odd chance presents itself (hard to get out with young kids). The out-of-the-blue texts would still come in from the out-of-state friend every now and then, and at first, I thought it was actually cool. My wife was struggling with body issues and the very un-sexual nature of being a mother (to the extent that it was a big effort to even hang out with our former friends in any fashion - she was used to being a sexy rockstar with everyone so her self-consciousness was crippling), so she was appreciative that someone outside the marriage at least pretended to continue to find her sexually attractive, even if it was just in texts. I thought engaging in such exchanges might give her sexual confidence a boost (a boost that I might benefit from).

However, as our sex life (and the rest of the marriage) continued to circle the drain, my attitude towards such texts shifted dramatically. She acted quite asexual with me, so to see her being sexual, even in fantasy and texts, when she wouldn't be sexual with me pissed me off (though, of course, she claims that I was in fact being asexual towards her, a claim that has some basis, but I feel like I mostly stopped being sexual with her because she stopped being sexual with me, and I was tired of feeling like an ass). The last exchange I saw (last summer, I believe) really upset me (angry, depressed, resigned), so she said that she wouldn't do it anymore.

No more texts until a couple weeks ago. I happened to be checking the cell phone bill (as I often do), and I noticed a flurry of texting activity with his number (started by him, as usual). And, worse, all of the texts had been deleted (she claims that she deleted them so I wouldn't see them before she had a chance to talk to me about them - hmmmmmm). So, the **** hit the fan.

While I know that she isn't actually having an affair, nor do I have any reason to think that she would have an affair (if nothing else, I can count on her vanity to prevent her from doing so - there is no way she is going to allow someone to see her naked these days - she has a hard enough time wearing a bathing suit in public). But she did do something that she knows hurts me, and her first reaction to my losing my **** was to get defensive and find ways to minimize and blame shift or to try to shut me down so we'd stop talking about it, which is what I feel like always happens whenever I try to bring up issues with her. Except this time, I had the strength of my convictions that what happened was both important and definitively against me and our marriage.

We had to start a long road trip that morning (she complained a lot about my timing), so she was trapped in the car with me and couldn't avoid the issue, which we discussed as soon as my son fell asleep in the backseat. She eventually calmed down and stopped evading and accepted responsibility and apologized (something she doesn't do easily) and got that what she did was hurtful and wrong and there was no excuse for it. I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for her.

So what bothers me more than the actual texting (which taken alone isn't *that* big of a deal for me) was her reaction to it. As with many of our issues, I feel like she doesn't make my well-being much of a priority. Most of the time, she has fairly solid, arguable reasons for why that is (my being 'needy' is one of them, my being 'unhappy' is another, all of the complaints she has about me, etc) such that we usually hit an impasse early on, but in this case, there just was no excuse on her part. It was wrong, she knew it was wrong (something she weakly tried to deny until I pointed out that there was a *reason* she thought she should delete the texts first, so she should stfu about her supposed innocence), yet she didn't address that wrong immediately. It was actually relieving that I had a fairly clear-cut issue with which to deal. I felt like I was finally standing on solid ground and had every right to what I was feeling.

While we did eventually reach a solid reconciliation with regards to that particular incident, the issue of how my feelings and needs get de-prioritized and invalidated is definitely something that I'm now going to address much more vehemently in our MC sessions. I used to think that it might be all just me and my 'neediness' and my neuroses (and a lot may still be me and my 'neediness' and my neuroses), but I now know that that isn't always the case. I might still be a POS in many ways, but I do have the right to not be treated in such a hurtful manner.


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post #92 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 11:43 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Your wife is not asexual. She's just not sexual with you. After all, why flirt or be sexual with her husband when she can do so by text to somebody she's actually attracted to.

She is in a low-level emotional affair, and is getting her sexual validation from someone else. You realize that, right?

At this point, I think you want the marriage more than she does. That is a problem.

Deleting texts is a problem.

Being sexual with another man, and not her husband, is a problem.

Being unwilling to work on her end of the marriage is a problem.

Essentially you are being held hostage to your fear of your child being raised in a single-parent household.

No principled decision can be properly made when fear enters into the equation.

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post #93 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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Your wife is not asexual. She's just not sexual with you.
I totally get that. That's why my views shifted on the texting a while back.

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After all, why flirt or be sexual with her husband when she can do so by text to somebody she's actually attracted to.
That's part of it, though she claims that the attraction is just 'fun' and not real.

Mostly, I think that it is validating and easy and safe for her. She doesn't have to actually *be* anyone or *do* anything to get that sexual fix. There is no vulnerability, no risk.

She claims that she feels sexually rejected by me. Which is not entirely untrue - there have been a few times that I have, either overtly or indirectly, sexually rejected her. Part of that was my reaction to constantly feeling sexually rejected by her.

One of the things that came up in our talk was about how we both have rejected each other in equal measure. My jaw dropped. Yes, there are times that she made some overtures and I was less than receptive (mostly because I wanted to feel actual *intimacy* with my wife as well, not just as a tool for her to use to get off whenever she decided she wanted sex). But those were maybe a handful of times, compared to what seems like hundreds of times from her end. But as we all know (and I've learned), women are not forgiving when it comes to any kind of sexual rejection.


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She is in a low-level emotional affair, and is getting her sexual validation from someone else. You realize that, right?
Well, yeah - that's what set off the explosion. Though the EA is definitely 'low-level' - it's not like it's a regularly active thing, nor is it a function of trying to escalate to something more illicit.

I understand that us being sexual is difficult right now for a whole variety of reasons, but that doesn't justify doing something that hurts the other.

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At this point, I think you want the marriage more than she does. That is a problem.
I honestly have no idea. I do know that she has said that *I* can no longer be her first priority - she is focused on taking care of our son (and I do appreciate her devotion to him) and paying the mortgage - though she separates that from 'our marriage.'

As I said before, she's very independent, and feels she is doing everything she can to help our marriage. Whether that is true or not, I know she believes it to be true. She has done a lot in recent memory to tone down the negativity on her part, though I'm not sure if the underlying issues have resolved themselves as well.

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Deleting texts is a problem.
That was one of the biggest problems I had. I can understand her argument that she felt there wasn't time to deal with the issue when it happened (a common argument for a lot of our issues), that she couldn't deal with all that while also trying to get ready to leave for a week, but I feel like, when it comes to something that significant, it should become the top priority until it gets resolved. If that means putting the family vacation on hold for a day or something, so be it.

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Being sexual with another man, and not her husband, is a problem.
Yep. That's a big problem.

Again, being sexual with someone else hasn't always been a big issue (as long as everything was above board), but that changed when she wasn't being sexual with me. I don't really care if she thinks it's my fault that she wasn't being sexual with me - we have to find a way for ourselves first.

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Being unwilling to work on her end of the marriage is a problem.
She claims that she has done a ton of work on her end (she is very private about such things), that she has worked to give up her resentments and to try to have more compassion.

One of the problems for me is that I don't feel like we've worked *together* very much on the problem (possibly because I'm not the easiest person to work with at this point, but regardless...). I do know that the amount of conflict and anger has gone down significantly in our home, and I appreciate her efforts in that regard, for both myself and for our son.

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Essentially you are being held hostage to your fear of your child being raised in a single-parent household.

No principled decision can be properly made when fear enters into the equation.
To an extent, you're right. OTOH, I don't want to blow up my life and my family without doing everything in my power to keep it together first. What we all would lose seems greater than what we would gain. I've watched a lot of divorces with young children involved in recent years (we're some of the few who have kept it together after having kids while not displaying open hostility towards each other), and no one seems better off for having gone through that. The parents are still unhappy, the kids are emotional messes, everyone has to live with much less financially, socially, emotionally - it's not like getting divorced represented some great life change for them, even if it did make some things easier. You kind of pick your problems when it comes to these situations, it seems.
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post #94 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 12:45 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

So what are you actually going to do? At this point I really only see talk.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #95 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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So what are you actually going to do? At this point I really only see talk.
Well, several things have become more clear, and I credit this thread with a lot.

First, I will stop being a victim of my circumstances, and I will stop making 'not sucking' my goal. Things are hard and life did in many ways not turn out like I had hoped. But focusing on what I don't have, on what I'm not doing, and wallowing in my own dissatisfaction, depression, and misery is doing nothing but draining me of energy (and therefore time as well).

I am going to focus on attacking every day, not because I'm hoping that someone else appreciates it or because I'm hoping it will 'fix' things, but simply for my own integrity. I will do the things that need to be done because I am a man who honors his commitments and his word. If I focus too much on how I'm *not* fulfilling on everything I feel I need to do, I just wind up demoralized and looking to others to tell me that I'm okay. I'll do what I can do because I can, not because I should.

I will also stop playing the 'tit-for-tat' game with my wife. I will work to be the husband and father that *I* know I can be. I will not fulfill those roles in an attempt to prove myself or to ingratiate myself to others, but because I want to look myself in the mirror and know that I am doing everything I can do to be the sort of husband and father I want to be, regardless of who is doing what in response or what the reaction is.

To accomplish that, I am going to have to become generous again and drop my protective walls and my sense of being handed the short end of the stick. In short, I'm going to have to stop resenting her and start forgiving her. Again, not because she 'deserves' it or something, but because I can't be the person I want to be unless I do those things.

Shortly after my first post, I went home from work and, first thing, gave my wife a hug. She just about broke down. I had no idea she would respond in such a way, mostly because I don't feel much in the way of love or interest from her. But I realized - it's a freakin' hug. It apparently makes a huge difference to her (whether I understand why or not), so how hard is it for me to 'swallow my pride' and do something so simple? My 'punishing' her has achieved virtually nothing for either of us up to this point - if I'm going to have any feeling of freedom, I'm going to have to start acting 'free.' I will give hugs because that's the kind of husband I want to be, not because I am hoping that it changes something with regards to my needs.

Along with that is to work on taking things less personally. Yes, my wife is going to be unhappy. Yes, she is frustrated and wishes life were different/better. Yes, she is terribly afraid in life. And yes, some of that is going to be because of me. But she also feels like she can't talk about any of her problems or her fears or her dreams/wishes because I immediately hear such talk as an attack on me (and I swear to God that it really is an attack at times). But my getting defensive and feeling ashamed and bad about myself and our marriage is doing nothing to help any of us. So I'm committed to 'distancing' myself (at least somewhat) from her worries/frustrations/complaints/wishes and just letting her talk. My reactivity doesn't solve anything, and it just serves to drive us further apart.

That's not to say that I just put up with bad behavior on her part, but the first step is to stop reacting and letting any perceived 'attacks' get to me. That was what was helpful about the texting blow up - I actually got to experience myself dealing with her 'from a distance', and that felt powerful.

Part of the moving forward is also to look at really making myself independent. What can I do, what can I take on, that can give me the sense of pride and self-respect that I feel I am missing. To do that, I'm going to have to stop worrying so much over the little things at times. Dishes may pile up in the sink, my wife might get stressed out by that, she might even express her disappointment in me for letting that happen, but I'll have bigger goals that I am focused on such that the dishes in the sink isn't my only concern.
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post #96 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 03:59 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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Originally Posted by farsidejunky View Post
Your wife is not asexual. She's just not sexual with you. After all, why flirt or be sexual with her husband when she can do so by text to somebody she's actually attracted to.

She is in a low-level emotional affair, and is getting her sexual validation from someone else. You realize that, right?

Except he allowed it in the past, and seems to still allow it now.

At this point, I think you want the marriage more than she does. That is a problem.

Deleting texts is a problem.

Being sexual with another man, and not her husband, is a problem.
I think this is both their problems. If he's allowed it in the past, it isn't an EA or even close IMO. This reads to me more like he isn't actively being the alpha male in his relationship, which for many women, is necessary for attraction (a masculine energy to their feminine). Not questioning the OP's masculinity, just the role he's taking in his marriage. He's allowing another man to sexually flirt with his wife, a man who likely had sex with her in the past. This makes him look less attractive to his wife for allowing this.

Being unwilling to work on her end of the marriage is a problem.
A semi-open marriage in which contact/flirty texts with previous sexual partners sounds like it could also be the problem in this marriage, in addition to other issues.

Essentially you are being held hostage to your fear of your child being raised in a single-parent household.
I see nothing wrong with kids being a major "hook" for trying to work out issues in a marriage. It's a big hook, and even though divorce is increasingly common today, it still is ideal for a husband and wife to learn and grow together to improve the marriage than to walk away from it, even if initially that is for the sake of the kids, IMO. She's likely "held hostage" too at the moment due to their shared child.
No principled decision can be properly made when fear enters into the equation.
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post #97 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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Except he allowed it in the past, and seems to still allow it now.
I allowed it in the past because it was part of what we enjoyed socially. I never saw it as a impingement on myself or our marriage, when our marriage was healthy and we had a rockin' sex life.

Last summer, I made it clear that such behavior now hurt me. As a result, she said she wouldn't do it anymore.

Looking back, I definitely didn't 'put my foot down' - I was mostly just feeling hurt and confused as to how she could respond the way she did when I felt like she wouldn't respond to me that way (her response was 'well, you've never sexted me, so you don't even know'). I was mostly a hurt puppy about it but didn't want to come off as 'jealous' or 'controlling.' Not good.

I did not make the same mistake this time. I was clear that A) she did something she knew would hurt me if I found out and B) it is not okay, and C) that she was going to have to accept my request that she not engage like that any more, at least at this point. No more 'well, you didn't specifically say...' justifications.

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This reads to me more like he isn't actively being the alpha male in his relationship, which for many women, is necessary for attraction (a masculine energy to their feminine). Not questioning the OP's masculinity, just the role he's taking in his marriage.
Agreed. It's been a ***** figuring out how to continue to be the 'alpha' (which I clearly was for many years) given where we have ended up, but I've got to get that back, regardless of my circumstances.

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He's allowing another man to sexually flirt with his wife
Allowing? I don't know why you would say I'm allowing.

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This makes him look less attractive to his wife for allowing this.
I am not equivocating on any 'allowance' here, I don't think. It's not allowed.

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A semi-open marriage in which contact/flirty texts with previous sexual partners sounds like it could also be the problem in this marriage, in addition to other issues.
Yeah, it's not longer 'semi-open', I wouldn't say. We haven't gone there in a long time.

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She's likely "held hostage" too at the moment due to their shared child..
I'm quite certain she often feels that way, too. But she has also said repeatedly that she can't imagine being in a nursing home with anyone else, so she wants to figure out how to make that happen.

I think we both feel like we have the potential for a great relationship again (it was amazing for so many years), so that is why we are being so dogged. As my wife likes to point out, we really do share some deep-seated values that we really only find in each other, despite experiencing some big personality differences at the same time.
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post #98 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 04:25 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Dazed, no doubt marriage can be hard and you guys have your share of work ahead of you. I see you're trying to improve things and have come a long way. She needs to meet you halfway too though. Your marriage was not set up on the best foundation IMO, even though for a while things were good. You can and are changing this. You have a lot to overcome, mainly that she's taking on the more masculine energy in the relationship and that can be hard on any marriage, but especially one in which previous lovers are still in the mix due to your former lifestyle.

I'd state that you're no longer willing to live with this guy (and any other ex-lovers) contacting her. Start there. That is likely at least partly responsible for the emotional detachment you're experiencing with your wife, in addition to the work you need to do on yourself. She needs to stop her independent behavior, which you've encouraged in the past. By "allowed," I mean I see no personal boundary stated otherwise. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I know that if my ex-lover texted me for anything at all ever, my husband's boundaries would be violated. Your wife doesn't know that at all, and in her mind, this may be totally acceptable in your marriage, and thus, you are less attractive to her (even without her fully realizing that).

Unless you want a different type of marriage. In that case, I admit I don't know how to help. That wouldn't fly in ours though.
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post #99 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-04-2017, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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She needs to meet you halfway too though.
As I mentioned previously, she feels like she has done and is doing everything she can to work on herself and, thereby, the marriage.

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Your marriage was not set up on the best foundation IMO, even though for a while things were good.
Why would you draw that conclusion? Keep in mind, the extracurricular activities with friends didn't start until after we had been together for around 10 years.



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mainly that she's taking on the more masculine energy in the relationship and that can be hard on any marriage
This is definitely something we talked about a while ago. When she took over as breadwinner (at the same time as she took on starting a family), she felt she had to be more masculine. More masculine than she wanted to be, for sure (she already possessed some masculine qualities). And it was tough for me to be (feel) masculine in the new situation as well.

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but especially one in which previous lovers are still in the mix due to your former lifestyle.
How do you think her increased 'masculinity' is affected by 'lovers'? (I think 'lover' is a way overblown way to look at them - more like FWBs, or really, just regular friends whom you get sexual with for fun on very rare occasions)

I don't think there was 'love' that went beyond the kind of love that comes with friendship amongst any of our friends. It's not like the conditions are even there for 'love', which I would say comes from being intimately one-on-one with someone over time and in a variety of settings. Fooling around with someone at a party on a whim doesn't pack quite the same punch.

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I'd state that you're no longer willing to live with this guy (and any other ex-lovers) contacting her.
I'm no longer willing to live with her engaging with this guy in sexting.

For example, they have occasionally reached out to each other for professional advice as well (they both share a similar profession). I've seen those texts (this was the first text conversation on her phone that she has ever deleted, as far as I can tell) and they are perfectly within bounds. As are the various texts that come to both of us on special occasions, like our birthdays or something.

And the problem with cutting out friends we have ever been sexual with is that it would dramatically reduce our circle of friends, lol.

Honestly, I have little issue with us remaining friends with those we have been sexual with in the past. I trust them, they trust us, not one of our friends has ever done anything but actively and vocally respect and support all of our respective marriages/partnerships. That has always been abundantly clear for everyone involved.

The problem, for me, is the agreement that I thought she and I had, and that she failed to keep her word on the agreement.

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She needs to stop her independent behavior, which you've encouraged in the past.
It's never been a problem in the past. I felt the (new) boundary was clear, and her deleting the texts would indicate that she was at least somewhat aware of the boundary. My issue isn't with her 'independent behavior' (honestly, I think little of the texts our friends send each other), but with her not honoring the boundary.


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By "allowed," I mean I see no personal boundary stated otherwise.
While I recognize that I may not have clearly stated, "Sexting violates my boundaries and I don't want you to do it", when we talked about it and she told me she wouldn't do it anymore, I presumed that defined the boundary.

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I can tell you with 100% certainty that I know that if my ex-lover texted me for anything at all ever, my husband's boundaries would be violated.
Well, I can totally get that.

Do any of your ex-lovers text your husband for anything? That might be one difference.

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this may be totally acceptable in your marriage, and thus, you are less attractive to her (even without her fully realizing that).
I think that my letting her walk over my boundaries would definitely make me less attractive (and I will admit that this has probably happened more than I would like to admit in the past few years, though none of them involved behavior with other people). This particular boundary, though, I did call her onto the carpet for crossing.

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That wouldn't fly in ours though.
Wouldn't fly in most people's marriages, for sure. Of course, most people don't have the kinds of friends we have, either (at least, the friends in that particular social circle).
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post #100 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-05-2017, 10:05 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Dazed, I think you're looking at this through your point of view and I'm trying to give you the perspective of a wife. It's a well-known fact that MANY men are able to keep sex and their emotions more separate than many women are. By "allowing" I mean that your wife is in contact with former sex partners, and this is acceptable in your marriage. The fact that it has lead to sexting is really no surprise here, and it likely is affecting your marriage. One reason why many married couples agree to stop talking with their Ex's after marriage is because of this very reason. It definitely can impact the intimacy in a marriage and is a slippery slope.

I think there are many issues in your marriage that would have to be fixed before things will get better. To me and what I have learned about boundaries in marriage, you and your wife both have poor boundaries that would affect intimacy, so it's really no surprise that's what you're dealing with.

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post #101 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-05-2017, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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By "allowing" I mean that your wife is in contact with former sex partners, and this is acceptable in your marriage.
I appreciate your perspective, and it does give me some ideas that I need to consider.

Clearly, I have a slightly different perspective. Many of those former sex partners (sex partners whose partners have also been my sex partners) are also some of our closest friends, despite the fact that sexual contact is no longer an aspect of our friendship (not that it ever was a big component to begin with). Cutting out those people would severely impact our social well-being, and wouldn't really be fair to them, either. They have been very supportive of us (platonically) during trying times, and cutting them off simply because sex happened at some point in the past doesn't feel right.

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The fact that it has lead to sexting is really no surprise here, and it likely is affecting your marriage.
Why should sexting be no surprise? It's entirely possible to control oneself around others such that platonic friendship is possible. I don't understand the 'inevitability' of such things. Are women incapable of managing themselves?

I am still close friends with some of my past sex partners. In fact, one of my/our very best friends was a former 'FWB' (we only had sex a handful of times over a couple years). I now consider her to be like family, and there is *zero* sexual interest between us anymore. Not only is she in a relationship now that is sexually monogamous/exclusive, but sex with her would be like having sex with my sister or something. I'm not interested and neither is she. We're very warm and affectionate with each other (hugs and the like) because we've been through so much together as friends, but there are no sexual overtones, not even from her end.

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One reason why many married couples agree to stop talking with their Ex's after marriage is because of this very reason. It definitely can impact the intimacy in a marriage and is a slippery slope.
Well, many couples I know who are no longer together but actively coparent talk with their Exes on a regular basis, and come together for the sake of their kids on special occasions and what not. They are often on friendly terms with each other. I'm not sure that it is a reasonable expectation that one should cut the other out of your life.

I'm not saying that our situation is all that similar (a friendship is admittedly different from coparenting), but I'm just addressing the blanket statement.

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To me and what I have learned about boundaries in marriage, you and your wife both have poor boundaries that would affect intimacy, so it's really no surprise that's what you're dealing with.
So I would like to get your thoughts on this.

How does one go about, say, telling their spouse they have to cut contact with their friends without coming off as weak, insecure, neurotic, controlling, or whatever?

As much as my wife might feel I am unattractive for 'allowing' such contact, I know for a fact that my telling her that I can't abide her being in contact with these people because she had sex with them years ago would be seen as weak and insecure. It was hard enough that I broke down and showed my hurt when I first approached her about the texts last summer. I'm sure that for her, it was just 'one more thing' that she was going to have to do to accommodate my sensitive ass.

It's hard for me to find a way to deal with these sorts of things that doesn't leave me feeling like I'm being weak and neurotic and sensitive, or, alternatively, that doesn't leave her feeling defensive and intruded upon and like I think she's a bad person (she often says, 'I know I'm a good person - I don't know why you can't see that, too').
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post #102 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-05-2017, 03:11 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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I appreciate your perspective, and it does give me some ideas that I need to consider.

Clearly, I have a slightly different perspective. Many of those former sex partners (sex partners whose partners have also been my sex partners) are also some of our closest friends, despite the fact that sexual contact is no longer an aspect of our friendship (not that it ever was a big component to begin with). Cutting out those people would severely impact our social well-being, and wouldn't really be fair to them, either. They have been very supportive of us (platonically) during trying times, and cutting them off simply because sex happened at some point in the past doesn't feel right.

Because the history with them isn't platonic. Sharing private texts with someone you've been intimate with can easily rekindle sexual feelings/tension, as you're seeing with your wife.

Why should sexting be no surprise? It's entirely possible to control oneself around others such that platonic friendship is possible. I don't understand the 'inevitability' of such things. Are women incapable of managing themselves?

She's going to experience a rush of dopamine when a former sex partner tells her she's attractive, sexy, etc. You've already agreed to the contact. The chemicals are already there, given the history. That rush/connection = impaired intimacy with you.

I am still close friends with some of my past sex partners. In fact, one of my/our very best friends was a former 'FWB' (we only had sex a handful of times over a couple years). I now consider her to be like family, and there is *zero* sexual interest between us anymore. Not only is she in a relationship now that is sexually monogamous/exclusive, but sex with her would be like having sex with my sister or something. I'm not interested and neither is she. We're very warm and affectionate with each other (hugs and the like) because we've been through so much together as friends, but there are no sexual overtones, not even from her end.

Then by all means, continue what is working for you. My point is that this may not be working out so well for your wife.

Well, many couples I know who are no longer together but actively coparent talk with their Exes on a regular basis, and come together for the sake of their kids on special occasions and what not. They are often on friendly terms with each other. I'm not sure that it is a reasonable expectation that one should cut the other out of your life.

And many struggle with appropriate boundaries in their new marriages, hence the high divorce rate for second marriages. I'm sure you've heard of instances where a spouse in a second marriage returns to their first spouse? I have and it was devastating for the 3 kids in the second marriage whose father returned to his first wife.

I'm not saying that our situation is all that similar (a friendship is admittedly different from coparenting), but I'm just addressing the blanket statement.

Its a slippery slope, which is why many marriages have the boundary of no contact with Exs, with the exception of coparenting logistics only.


So I would like to get your thoughts on this.

How does one go about, say, telling their spouse they have to cut contact with their friends without coming off as weak, insecure, neurotic, controlling, or whatever?

Honey, I love you and want to work with you to improve our marriage. I am no longer ok with our lack of boundaries in our marriage, among other issues. I know that I have a lot of work to do on my end, and I'm going to do everything in my power to be a better husband, but I need you to make changes too. I am aware that you are sexting with X. In order to improve our marriage, I'm no longer willing to agree to contact with former sex partners.

As much as my wife might feel I am unattractive for 'allowing' such contact, I know for a fact that my telling her that I can't abide her being in contact with these people because she had sex with them years ago would be seen as weak and insecure. It was hard enough that I broke down and showed my hurt when I first approached her about the texts last summer. I'm sure that for her, it was just 'one more thing' that she was going to have to do to accommodate my sensitive ass.

This I get. I'd start with her Achilles heel then- tell her what steps you're taking to improve your job situation. let her know that you'll be working hard to hold up your end, but that you have marital needs too. I think you really need to raise the bar in your marriage- but it has to start with you.

It's hard for me to find a way to deal with these sorts of things that doesn't leave me feeling like I'm being weak and neurotic and sensitive, or, alternatively, that doesn't leave her feeling defensive and intruded upon and like I think she's a bad person (she often says, 'I know I'm a good person - I don't know why you can't see that, too').

She's defensive. And I don't think you are being weak or insecure by wanting a better marriage. She may say that (I find that pretty insensitive, honestly) but give her time to see a stronger, better, more alpha you and you will find your marriage is greatly improved. But you need a plan, because winging it isn't going to work, especially since your case is a bit more complicated than some (she is sexting with a former sex partner that you've agreed to let contact her).
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post #103 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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She's going to experience a rush of dopamine when a former sex partner tells her she's attractive, sexy, etc.
I would say that she probably experiences a rush of dopamine when *anyone* attractive tells her she's attractive, sexy, etc. But yeah, that's what hooks her.

Quote:
That rush/connection = impaired intimacy with you.
When you have no intimacy, 'impaired intimacy' is hardly a threat, lol. But yeah - I'm definitely not cool with her having any 'rushes' or 'connections' when we haven't had either of those between us for a very long time. If I have to live life without 'rushes' and 'connections' (something I sorely miss), I'm not sure why she should get to experience them, however fleeting they may be.

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My point is that this may not be working out so well for your wife.
Point taken. Fortunately, these exchanges are brief, and have only happened on a handful of occasions over several years, which is why it wasn't a bigger issue right off the bat.

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I'm sure you've heard of instances where a spouse in a second marriage returns to their first spouse?
Actually, I've never heard of this. With all the divorced people (some of whom have remarried, some haven't) I know, I can't even imagine this ever happening. That sounds like crazy levels of drama...

Quote:
tell her what steps you're taking to improve your job situation.
It does always come down to that. I wish it were something more concrete and immediate, but I'm working on it. I still haven't figured out what steps I can take that will give her some confidence in my being able to take the lead again soon.

As I said, working part-time and managing the household seems to take up most of my time and energy (though I'm working on changing my attitude and paradigm with the intention of creating more productivity and effectiveness). I have no idea how I can add going to school or whatever to my plate (or our finances), but I'm looking for ways.

She makes a lot of money - I'm going to have to figure out a way to come close to what she is making in order for her to relax enough to feel comfortable easing back on her work such that she feels free to refocus on taking over more of our domestic life (if that is even possible, lol - she's quite the workaholic).

And so far, having one person with a flexible schedule has been really crucial to making everything work - if neither of us can get away from work to manage, say, a sick child, I'm not sure how we'll handle those sorts of things.


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And I don't think you are being weak or insecure by wanting a better marriage.
I don't think she thinks I'm being weak and insecure for wanting a better marriage. I think she may feel I'm weak and insecure because I feel hurt or threatened by a friend texting about sex from 1500 miles away. But maybe that's just me projecting...

Quote:
but give her time to see a stronger, better, more alpha you and you will find your marriage is greatly improved.
I have no doubt. I would love to get my 'alpha' back. I just have no idea what it is going to take for me to be a 'stronger, better, more alpha' me again. My wife is hard to impress. Which is part of why I loved her for so long, and, honestly, why I'm not more spun out about this latest incident. Her being hard to impress was a great protection in our marriage, but it's become a huge challenge for me now, too.

Last edited by Dazedconfuzed; 04-07-2017 at 01:44 AM.
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post #104 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 07:16 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

If she thinks you are weak for clamping down sexual communication with others outside of the marriage, you have far larger problems than your job situation.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #105 of 284 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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If she thinks you are weak for clamping down sexual communication with others outside of the marriage, you have far larger problems than your job situation.
Weak for clamping down because of my own hurt and/or fear. Going forward, I should probably take much greater care to not show how such activity affects me personally/emotionally.
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