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I would like to help you with your question.
I can understand how frustrating and even upsetting this situation is for you. In a way, its like your wife can't make up her mind what she wants and that gets you absolutely no where. I think that taking sex off the table for a month is likely a good thing as it will take the pressure off both of you and give you the opportunity to get close without that in the way. Learning (or re-learning) intimacy without sex is a good exercise in how to listen to each other and how to read the other person's non-verbal responses to touch.
Sex is Fun
There is a very good book that I want to suggest as an aide during this "trial" period. It is:
This is more of a workbook - with funny drawings and such. It is absolutely non-threatening. The point is to break-down the barriers that tend to keep couples from talking about sex - what they like and what they don't like.
I do think you are on to something when you talk about her relationship with her dad. It would seem to me that she has a blue-print in her mind of what it is to be a man and that blue-print is frightening and unsettling. She does not feel "safe" around her dad due to the physical incidents. There might also have been verbal fighting. In any case, she seems to have developed a fear of men and she is painting you with the same brush. Do you understand my point here?
It would be good if she would see a therapist to work on these father issues...but from what you write she isn't willing to do that. So..that leaves you in the position of trying to help her understand her past and how that past is influencing your relationship.
I would like to say that if she is uncomfortable around her dad..she should be empowered to stay away from him...or only be with him when she feels adequately supported to handle those encounters.
Meanwhile...she seems ambivalent about sex. And this 1 month trial does seem like a good step in giving both of you to explore intimacy on a different level. Please consider getting the Sex is Fun book as a way to support the current plan and to open the door to actually being able to talk about sexual pleasuring.
*like a good step in giving both of you the opportunity to explore intimacy on a different level.
You are right that pressure is a big part of what has happened here. Another part is not having a voice. That lack of voice came from a dad that over-powered her and the picture she formed of male dominance. What she needs to experience with you is that you are not her dad, you are not that old blue-print and that she does have a voice in your life and, in this case, in what happens in your bedroom.
I await your response.
I will buy that book thanks. My big fear is that this is caused by some sexual abuse that she has repressed, or was just young enough that she has forgotten it. Are there signs I should look for? Also, is it possible to sort out problems like this on our own, or is it only really possible by seeing a therapist together? lastly, how do I let her experience with me that I am not her dad, and the old blue print? We have been together 12 years, wouldnt this have happened? Or do you mean by not pressuring her for sex, so she feels she has no say or 'voice' in what goes on?
Thank you for your response.
Let me address your questions:
Sexual abuse - the possibility exists that she was touched inappropriately but with a 12 year marriage it likely would have come out by now. Still...at some point you could very gently ask that question. But I would not encourage you to ask that now..right now you are committed to the 30 day trial and I would let that unfold before bringing up a new question.
Signs to look for: fear of being touched, exaggerated startle response, night terrors, hyperarousal.
Therapist or on our own:
Right now you have a new plan for addressing this issue. I would stick with that through the 30 days. If at that end of the period, there has been no change no improvement, then I would ask her if she would be willing to consider therapy.
Not her dad/not that old blueprint: this is were a conversation/discussion needs to occur. And no...wouldn't this have happened. The "imprint" she had in her family of origin occurred during her formative years...those messages do not disappear in adulthood. It is unlikely that she even realizes that this blue-print exists! Rather..she has been going about life with that blueprint, not realizing how toxic it was. We all have blueprints. You got a male and female blueprint from your parents and likely parts of those blueprints are not accurate either! So you may want to address this as: let's look at the blueprints we each received from our parents...let's see what parts are relevant and what parts need to be changed. That would be taking a proactive approach to this subject.
No say/no voice: What I was suggesting was that her old blueprint gave "women" no say or no voice. So what has been occurring in your marriage is that she has felt that she had no say or no voice over what happened in the bedroom (and maybe in other parts of her life). The result was that she has responded with ambivalence to sexual intimacy. Once she can come to realize - and accept - that you want her to have a say and you want her to have a voice...then she can slowly begin to exercise those choices.