“Can you live in a marriage without sex?” she asked.
“Can you live in a marriage where I have a girlfriend?” I asked in response.
She paused thoughtfully. “Yes. I would have to.”
So how did we get here?
As you know, for the two weeks following The Big Announcement, Catherine was very adamant that she’d lost any sense of intimacy for me. The thought of having sex with me filled her with “dread” and “this pressure that was always looming over me” she would say. During those two weeks I was trying to convince her that there was too much at stake–most importantly the children Mary and Elizabeth. They were both young and sensitive and I was convinced a divorce would do significant harm to them (perhaps hot irreparable harm, but certainly significant harm). Catherine would argue that the children needed a “happy mommy” and that she was feeling so empty inside and the only way to get healthy would be away from me.
For two weeks I tried to convince her that our communication together was great, that we had proved time and again that we could work through anything with respect and patience. Yes, the intimacy had been a problem that plagued our relationship, but in the big scheme of things, the sex was relatively minor, and it was the intimacy was missing. If we could recapture the intimacy the healthy relationship would follow. Catherine herself had even said that she knew she could be a passionate person, and that one day she’d hope to be able to rekindle that (albeit, with someone other than me.)
Somewhere during this discourse, I offerred that we could try a sex-free marriage, so long as I could have a girlfriend. And then somewhere else, about 3 days later, she agreed to give it a try.
Initially I was ecstatic that she was even willing to look into saving our marriage. I had listened to about 19 straight days of insistance that divorce was the only answer. And then, she’d asked the question above.
And I have to tell you friends, I’m more than a bit nervous about a marriage without sex, but I’m free to get a girlfriend. It’s like telling me the world is flat. Of course, there are a slew of articles out there about what might be the cause of a sexless marriage, how to get it back on track, and what it really means. In the conversations that have followed, Catherine has been very clear with me: I can’t agree to make this work with the understanding that sex with her may eventually come back into the picture, for if that were the case the she says nothing has actually changed and that she’ll feel the pressure. I need to accept these conditions that I will never be with her, and I have to trust her that when I go outside the marriage (note not if but when… I have not agreed to a celibate marriage, just one without sex to her) that she will continue to love and support me.
To say I have grave concerns that could work, would be putting it mildly.
That said, the last few days with her she’s been more supportive and lovingly than she has been in months. Its obvious in her actions these days that she cares, and that she now wants the marriage to work. I may need to re-name the blog from Divorced D20 Dad to Sexless D20 Dad, but she does seem to now stay together. She agrees that our family life is good, our time with the children is important, and that there are plenty of other things about me which she loves–maybe she read my perfect husband post?
Regardless, a week from today we’ll be going to her family therapist together. This will be the first time I’ve ever been to a therapist, and going where we’re in the room together will be interesting to say the least. Should be some quality posts about that coming up.