In June, Susan and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. How can time go by so fast? Wasn’t a just 20 years ago? Look, we’ve had mostly good times. We built a foundation that would help us withstand the trauma of the last 8 years without knowing we were doing that. That amorphous cloud that I really don’t understand, what is referred to as luck has something to do with our maintaining a relationship this long. We also sincerely belive our marriage is not “’till death do you part.” That was not included in our wedding vows. We both believe in a life hereafter and our relationship will carry on forever. That all said, in truth I have have doubts we can hold this together now or later. Isn’t bravado wonderful?
So we muddle along both fighting our demons. This last week, Susan apologized to me for “tricking” me into marrying her. I gently questioned why she thought so. She explained since she has the sex abuse / D.I.D issues it has caused a lot of problems for us and if I would have known then what I know now, I would not have married her. At times, I can only stand with one foot on logic and the other planted on reason. This rarely works with Susan, and perhaps most survivors. I feel compelled to use logic anyway. I reminded her that at the time, she was only aware that she was sexually abused by a cousin and had no idea there were others inside her holding horrific, sickening memories. I told her at the time that it was a non-issue for me and upon reflection, she said it was a not an issue for her.
We have another anniversary a few days later. A year ago, just as we were getting ready to sleep, Susan asked. “What would you say if I told you I do not want to have any sex for the next two years.”
Allow me to tell you something about how Susan communicates to me on important, emotional or financial issues. She waits until the late at night when I am tired and ready to call it a day. I don’t know how many times she’s pulled this stunt. For too many of those occasions, whatever my response to the issue, it would be partly fueled by anger at why she would wait until the end of the day to ask questions that required clear thinking and thoughtful discussion. This time I was prepared for this ploy.
“Hmm.. let me think about that and I will get back to you.” I pulled up the sheet and turned off the light. I gave the idea a few minutes thought, then fell asleep.
I mulled the question over for a couple of days. I concluded that it really wasn’t a question of what I thought about no sex for two years. This was her new boundary. I knew this was not something that was not open really open for discussion. The decision was made. I wasn’t going to beg, or try to change her mind. I’ve read enough “partner of survivor” books that this was not a complete surprise. I really didn’t matter what I thought about it, but since she asked, I decided I would answer the question. I came to her after dinner a few days later and informed her it was time for our discussion on the issue.
We turned off the electronics and sat face to face a few feet apart. I asked her rhetorically, how would the next two years be different than the last year or two years or five or 10 years. Really. Any physical relationship we had at best mercy sex at say 4 to 8 week intervals. And nearly always at my suggestion. She might initiate once every 6 or nine month because she felt sorry for me. What compounded the problem is when I went on Effexor after my second stay in the hospital, my dick would not respond to anything. She did not want anything to do with a limp member, so I started on Viagra and the other e.d. meds. This introduced what I call the “Mother, may I…” syndrome into our relationship, where I would ask Susan if it would be OK if I took a pill. “Oh, how about tomorrow…I promise” was the typical answer, and typically tomorrow never showed up. Why ask me about something that is a “done deal?”
I didn’t yell or scream, but I was angry. Livid.
She told me she hated the sight of me from the waist down, hated to touch me, and did not trust me. This she said even though, when we were in the middle of a sexual act, I would ask if she was OK and she said she was and enjoyed what was happening. She dissociated while she did what she had to do and fanticised about being hurt to pay penance. I hit another level of anger because of the deceit.
I set my boundaries. I am a visual and physical touch person. I told her she had to keep herself covered up. No walking around in bra and undies. No exposed nipples, no frontal nudity. We agreed a hug and a kiss is OK. I would not knowingly expose my genitals to her. We’d continue to give a squeeze each others ass. But there could be limits on that too.
So we are into a year of this. Her boundaries have moved slightly, but we are pretty much as described. There is some slight progress, but nothing, nothing close to normal. What I don’t understand now is how we are ever going to get to some point of normalcy. I’m not sure what normal will be. I don’t like that I have no control over what happens when. Susan will have to work hard to regain my trust that when she says something is acceptable, it will be or communicate her true feelings. I’m trying to expand my intimacy continuum to simpler, gentler acts and interaction. We need that in our lives. I understand how she feels about sex and how and why she hates it. I really do. I don’t understand how someone could do what they did to her.