Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

It's taken me a while to figure out what the driving force is between the lack of desire I feel coming from my wife. And I'm not talking about desire just for sex.

She is unable to anticipate pleasure. It could be as simple as that. She lives in the moment. The only reason she can keep excited and interested on a vacation is because it's a collection of fun moments, one after another.

Examples? She's got issues with her back and shoulders, as well as problems with one arm where damaged lymph nodes (from cancer surgery) don't drain properly. Over the past few months I've learned how to do back rubs and erase the pain from one of her nerves, relax her neck, and drain the fluid from her arm so she feels a whole lot better the next day. At the time I'm doing it, she's greatly appreciative and even enjoys it. But she doesn't look forward to it. Logically, that's been a huge hurdle for me to get past. I can selflessly do things for her, that make her feel better, but I've not once, ever, had her tell me during the day it's something she looks forward to.

And yes, we've taken the 5 Love Languages course, read the book, and she knows I'm fed by "Affirmative words." And, curiously, she's fed by "Physical touch."

She'll also tell me how much better she feels after I've helped wash her in the shower. I can use the sponge thingee on her back and other places that are tough for her to get. She tells me, then, how much better she feels afterward. But just try and convince her to let me help.

I'm going to be talking about this exact thing when I see my therapist next week, and hope she can get on the same page when she talks with hers. This is really tearing me up. She knows how much it would mean to me to hear something from her, once in a while, during the day, that she's looking forward to her back rub or the shower time. And it needs to be pointed out that I've told her ahead of time, and kept my promise when I've told her this, that it wouldn't lead to anything else afterward.

I couldn't get to sleep until 2am last night, just thinking about this. And for those who've read my earlier thread, yes, things are made worse knowing that she wasn't always like this, before we met. Anticipation was everything to her. And yes, I get that people change with stability. They've found what they were looking for (she's even told me she was searching for her life-long mate, someone to marry, not just a boyfriend, when she met me) and their mind goes into a different mode, no longer trying to attract the opposite sex but now settled in.

She knows all this. She says she's working on it. That change takes time. But change might also require recognizing that something has to be done at times, and that simply wanting to change and not following through can feel even worse to the other person. I think that's where I am right now. You get a feeling of hopelessness when someone says they understand, they have to change, they understand the consequences of not changing, but... nothing changes. And yes, she's on Prozac and Wellbutrin, although we've gotten her Prozac dose reduced a bit, thinking maybe that's been blunting her too much emotionally.

I'd love to hear from someone on TAM that they've broken through a situation like this. I'd also like to hear thoughts on the unthinkable- would absence actually make the heart grow fonder? My feeling is that separation inevitably leads to splitting up, not bringing people back together. But I'm pretty desperate. I love this woman with everything in my soul.

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:16 PM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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She knows all this. She says she's working on it. That change takes time. But change might also require recognizing that something has to be done at times, and that simply wanting to change and not following through can feel even worse to the other person.
For one to change, they must to have the desire to change. Then again, I cannot imagine what cancer has done to her, psychologically speaking. Perhaps she doesn't feel desired, I really don't know.

As you love her, all I can offer is patience. And be lovingly persistent. I wish I had better to offer.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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For one to change, they must to have the desire to change. Then again, I cannot imagine what cancer has done to her, psychologically speaking. Perhaps she doesn't feel desired, I really don't know.

As you love her, all I can offer is patience. And be lovingly persistent. I wish I had better to offer.
Without question the cancer(s) have left it's mark. Breast cancer three times. And without question, it hasn't changed my feelings for her at all; she knows that what she sees in the mirror isn't what I see. But truthfully she was this way before the cancer. She's also had barriatric surgery but because she can't be told what to do, she doesn't follow the suggestions for what she should be eating, and has largely undone the benefits over time. Long way of saying she doesn't have a desire for change because she doesn't like being told what to do. Consequences don't have meaning because she lives in the moment. She can't connect the dots to see that eating badly leads to gaining weight back. Well, actually, she can. She just can't anticipate it.

It's easy to think it's anhedonia, an inability to feel pleasure, but it's not. Because, in the moment, she does feel pleasure. And yes, at times, almost reluctantly.

Thank you for your kind words.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:42 PM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

Right now I have a toothache because part of a crown broke off. I know I will feel better after seeing the dentist tomorrow; but, am I looking forward to it? No.

It's hard to look forward to something when you're in discomfort even when you know that 'something' will make you feel better.

I could give up chocolate but I'm not a quitter.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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Right now I have a toothache because part of a crown broke off. I know I will feel better after seeing the dentist tomorrow; but, am I looking forward to it? No.

It's hard to look forward to something when you're in discomfort even when you know that 'something' will make you feel better.
I get that (although I do actually look forward to seeing the dentist to get rid of pain; my view on that changed prior to my first root canal... the difference between the pain prior to getting the root canal and the root canal itself was like comparing a mosquito bike to the worst-headache-ever).

But it's not all about painful stuff I'm helping with. Feeling better after someone gets to all those hard-to-reach places for you in the shower doesn't involve pain. For the most part, sex doesn't involve pain, certainly not oral leading to an o.

Inevitably the best way to wreck something really nice for her is to let her know too far ahead of time that you'll be doing something really nice. The lack of pleasant anticipation almost makes it a negative when it happens. Anything in the future becomes risky. I learned that our vacations have to be really spur of the moment. It amazes me that people plan big vacations months, sometimes years, in advance. For me, for us, I know it's going to be sometime in November or early December, but the absolute max warning she can have is about 3 weeks. Even that's a bit much but it's hard to pull off an overseas trip in much less time than that.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:56 PM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

Talking something to death has been known to diminish the joy of anticipation.

I could give up chocolate but I'm not a quitter.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 04:59 PM
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Are your talks with her about this issue as long as your posts are? Because if so there is your answer lol. I love 6, and even I wouldn't be looking forward to enjoying it after those novels. I am being a bit facetious, but if you are over thinking and banging on this with her this much, she doesn't have a chance to anticipate anything.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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Are your talks with her about this issue as long as your posts are? Because if so there is your answer lol. I love 6, and even I wouldn't be looking forward to enjoying it after those novels. I am being a bit facetious, but if you are over thinking and banging on this with her this much, she doesn't have a chance to anticipate anything.
I try to go as long as possible without bringing anything up at all. On the one hand, it sounds like setting her up for failure. On the other, you're right, if somebody doesn't want to change, talking about it too much doesn't help. That's why I brought up the possibility of taking some time away from each other.

My original post was quite wordy. I didn't want to get things out in bits & pieces. I tried to keep my replies on-point. Thanks-
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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Talking something to death has been known to diminish the joy of anticipation.
Agreed. And sometimes guilty. But I don't think that has much to do with backrubs and working on her arms' lymph nodes. Things I have to almost force her to do, because she will feel a whole lot better for it. I never talk about it beforehand. Yet she could go without, for who knows how long, maybe months, and feel miserable, and not ask or expect.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:46 AM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

@Casual Observer

It's the Prozac. It can make you not give a ****, get upset, or happy about anything. Total flatline. I quit Prozac because of the flatline "blahs". I haven't had that experience with Welbutrin so I still take it.


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 01:21 AM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

Prozac for depression??--have y'all tried Welbutrin alone?

I'm wondering if somehow her paralysis goes back to her family of origin? Anticipation of good things becomes too risky, because of ??? the pain of disappointment. amount of effort involved, need for perfection?

Clarify again what you need, each and every time you need it--repeat to her (like teaching a child good manners) after a rub, You say to her: "Thanks husband for the rub, I feel so much better, I appreciate you." Wait for her to parrot back.
or
"Thanks, Casual Observer, for your thoughtfulness." Wait for parrot back.
or
"Thanks CO for planning the trip. Lets work together on further plans." Wait for parrot back.
Once she gets the hang of it, reward her!!

I don't see separation as solving this problem--maybe MC? It's like she has an emotional empty spot that needs work.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 02:24 AM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

Does she know, specifically, that you would like her to tell you she's looking forward to something and she still doesn't do that? Does she say why? Is it because she doesn't want to lie when she really isn't looking forward to it? She completely forgets about it until you do it? She's resentful toward you about other things and doesn't desire to make you feel good?

Also, why is it important to you that she look forward to things? It sounds like she is grateful when you do nice things for her. Is getting her to do anything like pulling teeth? Or do you have something where you specifically want "anticipation" from her? (It's not something I'd ever thought about.) Does she actively un-anticipate and drag her feet when you're trying to plan nice things? (That would kill the mood.)

And with her "not liking to do what other people tell her to do" -- does she openly say "I don't eat well because I'm not going to let the Dr. tell me what to do?" Or does she think the Dr. is wrong? I thought most people who didn't eat well did that because they REALLY craved the unhealthy food and had lifelong habits of eating that stuff.

It doesn't make sense that she would have all these health issues and deliberately disobey the Drs. suggestions simply because they weren't her idea.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 07:11 AM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

Around 5-6 years ago my doctor tried me on a low dose of Prozac. I couldn't feel anything, either. Happy, sad, love, hate, desire, anticipation, pleasure.. all were gone and my world was constant grey. I could become physically aroused and orgasm, but couldn't actually enjoy it. It was just a thing that happened to my body. I stopped taking it and demanded a meds change.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 10:10 AM
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

That's a typical side effect of Prozac for many. She may be okay with that (some don't care) but at least ask her if she's willing to try something else.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Lack of anticipation of pleasure (on W's part) is killing me/us

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@Casual Observer

It's the Prozac. It can make you not give a ****, get upset, or happy about anything. Total flatline. I quit Prozac because of the flatline "blahs". I haven't had that experience with Welbutrin so I still take it.
Yes, definitely seeing this, and yet she can still get quite sad and cry a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsetmist View Post
Prozac for depression??--have y'all tried Welbutrin alone?

I'm wondering if somehow her paralysis goes back to her family of origin? Anticipation of good things becomes too risky, because of ??? the pain of disappointment. amount of effort involved, need for perfection?

Clarify again what you need, each and every time you need it--repeat to her (like teaching a child good manners) after a rub, You say to her: "Thanks husband for the rub, I feel so much better, I appreciate you." Wait for her to parrot back.
or
"Thanks, Casual Observer, for your thoughtfulness." Wait for parrot back.
or
"Thanks CO for planning the trip. Lets work together on further plans." Wait for parrot back.
Once she gets the hang of it, reward her!!

I don't see separation as solving this problem--maybe MC? It's like she has an emotional empty spot that needs work.
She sees her therapist next week, and I'm going to see if she's willing to bring up the prozac and lack of anticipation issue. Yes, I've worked on the parroting thing but it's an area that has to be tread upon very lightly because she doesn't like being told what to do, even in a kind suggestion that something might be worth considering.
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Around 5-6 years ago my doctor tried me on a low dose of Prozac. I couldn't feel anything, either. Happy, sad, love, hate, desire, anticipation, pleasure.. all were gone and my world was constant grey. I could become physically aroused and orgasm, but couldn't actually enjoy it. It was just a thing that happened to my body. I stopped taking it and demanded a meds change.
Sounds very familiar!
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