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Not-You

Need help with "the talk."

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Not-You

As some of you know, I'm a sexual man married to an asexual woman (I believe). I need help talking to her, and I would appreciate perspectives from both sides of the a/sexual aisle.

I've got a long story, and I'd be happy to answer questions about our history together, but let's just start from this point:

After years of me being frustrated and her dancing around the issue, we did the standard hormone-testing and therapy combo. Results were inconclusive, but she doesn't feel like those are the "cause." So she was at a loss. I finally broke down and told her a few months ago that I would be fine going w/o sex the rest of our lives, but she at least has to tell me that's the plan so I quit getting my hopes dashed. She said "no, we'll come up with a schedule instead." I was fine with that (obviously) but it never happened because I allowed her to create the schedule to avoid putting pressure on her.

Another month or so went by and I finally stumbled upon AVEN (I'd seen the term asexuality ever since Google became part of my coping routine, but never ventured in here). Bingo! Sure sounded like my wife to me. So I sent her the link to the FAQ here along with what I hope was a reassuring note that I love her and will not leave her/cheat on her no matter what. And that, if she is indeed asexual, it actually would be a relief for me. I left it alone after that, again trying to avoid pressuring her.

Today I asked her if she visited the site and she said "yes, I read it. I dunno what's wrong with me. Sorry I suck." GAG

I asked if she thought she could be asexual, "I dunno." So I dropped it again.

Guys, I don't know what to do. Whenever I bring it up, either now or in the past, it just ends up with her saying "I'm broken, sorry I suck, I'm terrible, etc." And I really have been trying to be supportive, understanding, empathetic, and non-accusatory (especially lately).

I'm at a loss as to how to talk to her in an adult way. Any ideas?

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thylacine

I dunno... sounds like she might be asexual. If she is, I bet it's a relief to know it's "not you," huh?

But the rest is up to her to figure herself out, I would think.

You are a patient person to not just leave or cheat, like a lot of men probably would do... so I cannot predict the future of your relationship other than that.

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Not-You

I dunno... sounds like she might be asexual. If she is, I bet it's a relief to know it's "not you," huh?

But the rest is up to her to figure herself out, I would think.

You are a patient person to not just leave or cheat, like a lot of men probably would do... so I cannot predict the future of your relationship other than that.

Thanks for the reply. I WOULD be a relief if she identifies as asexual. I'm pretty sure everybody in my position wonders the following things:

1) am I fat?

2) am I ugly?

3) am I otherwise gross?

4) is he/she homosexual?

5) is he/she cheating on me?

6) is he/she deeply unsatisfied with the relationship or me as a partner?

7) is he/she "with" me for some other reason than love?

8 ) does he/she not love me?

9) is there something "wrong" with him/her?

10) and probably dozens more.

I can only imagine how hard this type of relationship is for an asexual person, as well.

But what I was REALLY hoping for are some practical tips on how to talk to her about it?

As an asexual, how (if at all) would you like to have the subject broached? As a sexual, how have you had "the talk" successfully?

Edited to make #8 up there not look like 8)

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Stormy Wether

As an asexual, how (if at all) would you like to have the subject broached?

I wouldn't have, but I have issues.

Sorry you're going through this. There are a lot of ace women in relationships here, I'm sure one of them would be willing to talk privately with your wife?

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Not-You

As an asexual, how (if at all) would you like to have the subject broached?

I wouldn't have, but I have issues.

Sorry you're going through this. There are a lot of ace women in relationships here, I'm sure one of them would be willing to talk privately with your wife?

Over the years, I've gotten the distinct impression that she just wants to pretend there isn't a "problem." Because there isn't one, as far as she is concerned. And, of course, she's right. Or at least half right. She has said she knows I'm unhappy...but that's about it.

My point is that, as kind an offer as that may be, I have my serious doubts that she'll engage. We'll see if it gets to that stage.

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Mag

I'm not asexual and I've never been in a relationship, but I really do have to congratulate you for staying faithful and trying to be supportive. :cake: !

Now, though I don't know how you can approach the topic, it does sound like she might have a bit of a low self-esteem...(I'm broken, I suck, I'm terrible, etc) =/

Also, is she opposed to cuddling? or is it just sex?

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Samael
I'm pretty sure everybody in my position wonders the following things:

1) am I fat?

2) am I ugly?

3) am I otherwise gross?

4) is he/she homosexual?

5) is he/she cheating on me?

6) is he/she deeply unsatisfied with the relationship or me as a partner?

7) is he/she "with" me for some other reason than love?

8 ) does he/she not love me?

9) is there something "wrong" with him/her?

10) and probably dozens more.

I've heard that sexual people might think like that if their partner doesn't want to have sex with them. Since I am asexual, I would never think of such things of myself if I was in a relationship where my partner didn't want to have sex. But that's because I wouldn't want to have sex myself either.

Tell me, why do you think negatively of yourself if your partner doesn't want to have sex with you? Even though I might never understand it, you could always try. Who knows, maybe it would help you find a new perspective to this matter.

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Not-You

I'm not asexual and I've never been in a relationship, but I really do have to congratulate you for staying faithful and trying to be supportive. :cake: !

Now, though I don't know how you can approach the topic, it does sound like she might have a bit of a low self-esteem...(I'm broken, I suck, I'm terrible, etc) =/

Also, is she opposed to cuddling? or is it just sex?

She did admit that she's a little afraid to engage in anything because she doesn't want to tease me, something I've suspected in the past already. And she's probably about 75% right about it!! We like cake here. Imagine having your favorite cake pressed to your lips, but having your jaw wired shut and you get the idea, perhaps.

I think self-esteem might be a big part of it. She went to counseling/therapy for a handful of reasons, not just sex. She quit going because it was "too expensive."

It just seems to be her default response to a sex conversation. It's a good way to shut me up. "I'm sorry I'm a terrible wife." Sometimes said sarcastically (when we're fighting about non-sex things like all couples do) or said sincerely when we're talking about sex. I button my lip pretty quickly at that point.

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theo_tatertot

This is just my personal opinion, and very well could be totally inapplicable to your situation. But I want to try to answer your questions - if I were you I would be frustrated and ask for advice too.

It seems that your partner is not the most communicative. Since you have tried introducing the topic in a low-pressure, indirect, open-ended way and that hasn't triggered much communication on her part, maybe you should try something else.

Try bringing up the topic in such a way that staves off a negative reaction to asexuality. I guess you could say that you have read things on AVEN as well and you understand and accept asexuality as a legitimate orientation. You could ask her what makes her think she could be asexual, possibly responding with coinciding viewpoints of AVENites or in some way that lets her know that her experience is normal. Assuming some dialog has been successful, you could also ask if there are any types of sexual activity she is comfortable engaging in (and if so, what.) If you are really are ok with not having sex, let her know that again. But you should probably add that if there is anything she is comfortable doing, she should make that clear because chances are that would make both of you happy.

I have a feeling this is not very helpful :/ I guess my only real piece of advice is to build a conversation that really prompts her to communicate, but more specifically about how she feels and what she wants. I'm assuming you want to know this because you care about her. You being more direct does not diminish your concern for her. If I think of anything else I'll let you know, and feel free to get in touch with me if you want to talk.

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Not-You
I'm pretty sure everybody in my position wonders the following things:

1) am I fat?

2) am I ugly?

3) am I otherwise gross?

4) is he/she homosexual?

5) is he/she cheating on me?

6) is he/she deeply unsatisfied with the relationship or me as a partner?

7) is he/she "with" me for some other reason than love?

8 ) does he/she not love me?

9) is there something "wrong" with him/her?

10) and probably dozens more.

I've heard that sexual people might think like that if their partner doesn't want to have sex with them. Since I am asexual, I would never think of such things of myself if I was in a relationship where my partner didn't want to have sex. But that's because I wouldn't want to have sex myself either.

Tell me, why do you think negatively of yourself if your partner doesn't want to have sex with you? Even though I might never understand it, you could always try. Who knows, maybe it would help you find a new perspective to this matter.

Because, to sexual people, either society has drilled it into my(our) head(s) or it is simply something innate, but a mutually satisfying sex life is proof of many things: a healthy relationship, love, commitment, health, respect, trust, being attractive, etc.

I totally understand the asexual perspective: sex is NOT necessarily proof of any of those things (and can in fact be antithetical to many of them). And, if my wife is indeed asexual, I can live with it. Because I know intellectually that she cares for me, etc. But I don't FEEL it. If she's asexual, I can understand her point of view.

If she's NOT asexual and is just refusing sex for other reasons, then that is typically understood to be a sign of some other serious problems in a relationship (unless there's something medical, of course).

So that's my point. She won't even engage with me in a conversation about her possibly being asexual. Or at least won't go too far down that road. So what am I supposed to do?

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theo_tatertot
So what am I supposed to do?

Force the issue! Seriously, I don't see what other option you have.

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Not-You

Try bringing up the topic in such a way that staves off a negative reaction to asexuality. I guess you could say that you have read things on AVEN as well and you understand and accept asexuality as a legitimate orientation. You could ask her what makes her think she could be asexual, possibly responding with coinciding viewpoints of AVENites or in some way that lets her know that her experience is normal. Assuming some dialog has been successful, you could also ask if there are any types of sexual activity she is comfortable engaging in (and if so, what.) If you are really are ok with not having sex, let her know that again. But you should probably add that if there is anything she is comfortable doing, she should make that clear because chances are that would make both of you happy.

Thanks Taters! I would LOVE to get into this kind of conversation with her. But we (at least so far) can't even get there. Perhaps because I'm a chicken. I don't press too hard once her responses become "yeah," "I dunno," "maybe." Should I just forge ahead and get into the more detailed parts of the conversation (specific acts, etc) when it's obvious she doesn't want to talk about it at all? That was a serious question.

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Samael
I'm pretty sure everybody in my position wonders the following things:

1) am I fat?

2) am I ugly?

3) am I otherwise gross?

4) is he/she homosexual?

5) is he/she cheating on me?

6) is he/she deeply unsatisfied with the relationship or me as a partner?

7) is he/she "with" me for some other reason than love?

8 ) does he/she not love me?

9) is there something "wrong" with him/her?

10) and probably dozens more.

I've heard that sexual people might think like that if their partner doesn't want to have sex with them. Since I am asexual, I would never think of such things of myself if I was in a relationship where my partner didn't want to have sex. But that's because I wouldn't want to have sex myself either.

Tell me, why do you think negatively of yourself if your partner doesn't want to have sex with you? Even though I might never understand it, you could always try. Who knows, maybe it would help you find a new perspective to this matter.

Because, to sexual people, either society has drilled it into my(our) head(s) or it is simply something innate, but a mutually satisfying sex life is proof of many things: a healthy relationship, love, commitment, health, respect, trust, being attractive, etc.

I totally understand the asexual perspective: sex is NOT necessarily proof of any of those things (and can in fact be antithetical to many of them). And, if my wife is indeed asexual, I can live with it. Because I know intellectually that she cares for me, etc. But I don't FEEL it. If she's asexual, I can understand her point of view.

If she's NOT asexual and is just refusing sex for other reasons, then that is typically understood to be a sign of some other serious problems in a relationship (unless there's something medical, of course).

So that's my point. She won't even engage with me in a conversation about her possibly being asexual. Or at least won't go too far down that road. So what am I supposed to do?

The way you portray the situation, the first thing that comes to mind is to figure out where she stands. If you aren't getting anywhere by nicely asking in a non-pressuring way, then you need to tell her what's the deal here in a more direct manner. Provided that the both of you can appreciate honesty, then simply say everything that has been discussed in this thread. You need to figure out why she's not being straightforward with her opinion: her simply saying "sorry I can't answer you because I'm a terrible person" isn't really convincing, is it?

Sounds like she's avoiding the matter, perhaps. You need to find out a way to extract that information where she stands one way or another, and if the nice way didn't work, then I'd say you need to try something else.

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theo_tatertot

If I were you I would try to push for more specific responses to your initial questions. If she says something like "I don't know," ask what she IS more sure about. If a certain topic is going nowhere, try another one (related to the larger theme.) If that doesn't work, again, ask her what she DOES know or want to say. It's fine to be unsure (or at least so I convince myself :P), but you can be unsure and still think/know SOMETHING. Let her know that you just want to know how she feels so you both can be happy, and if she changes her mind later that's fine.

If she still doesn't provide information, I think you need to let her know how troubling her lack of communication is to you.

(I feel like Dr. Phil haha) Actually, your posts about your situation have prompted me to do some serious thinking about this, because my last relationship had serious communication problems. Hang in there - you'll figure it out :)

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Not-You

The way you portray the situation, the first thing that comes to mind is to figure out where she stands. If you aren't getting anywhere by nicely asking in a non-pressuring way, then you need to tell her what's the deal here in a more direct manner. Provided that the both of you can appreciate honesty, then simply say everything that has been discussed in this thread. You need to figure out why she's not being straightforward with her opinion: her simply saying "sorry I can't answer you because I'm a terrible person" isn't really convincing, is it?

Sounds like she's avoiding the matter, perhaps. You need to find out a way to extract that information where she stands one way or another, and if the nice way didn't work, then I'd say you need to try something else.

I suppose I am being too passive. This is a very delicate situation for me, though. I'm worried that if she feels pressured (at all), any willingness she may have to be intimate with me will vanish. Nobody likes a jerk.

It's funny, because a married couple that are mutually friends of ours are basically going through the same thing. And that guy apparently pouts and gives his wife the silent treatment if he doesn't have sex. So the two ladies talked about it for a while and my wife said afterwards to me "I guess I never realized what a big deal it is to you. He said that's how he experiences love? If that's the case, I will try to work on it." Never happened, of course. Because I'm letting her drive the ship.

It's her sexuality, why shouldn't she be in control?

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Not-You

If I were you I would try to push for more specific responses to your initial questions. If she says something like "I don't know," ask what she IS more sure about. If a certain topic is going nowhere, try another one (related to the larger theme.) If that doesn't work, again, ask her what she DOES know or want to say. It's fine to be unsure (or at least so I convince myself :P), but you can be unsure and still think/know SOMETHING. Let her know that you just want to know how she feels so you both can be happy, and if she changes her mind later that's fine.

(I feel like Dr. Phil haha) Actually, your posts about your situation have prompted me to do some serious thinking about this, because my last relationship had serious communication problems. Hang in there - you'll figure it out :)

I'll give it a shot here sooner or later. What doesn't help my position is, in fact, my faithfulness and relatively low level of complaining. She's gone this long without having to deal with it...so why should she start now? That's how I imagine her thought process (probably way off though).

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Samael

The way you portray the situation, the first thing that comes to mind is to figure out where she stands. If you aren't getting anywhere by nicely asking in a non-pressuring way, then you need to tell her what's the deal here in a more direct manner. Provided that the both of you can appreciate honesty, then simply say everything that has been discussed in this thread. You need to figure out why she's not being straightforward with her opinion: her simply saying "sorry I can't answer you because I'm a terrible person" isn't really convincing, is it?

Sounds like she's avoiding the matter, perhaps. You need to find out a way to extract that information where she stands one way or another, and if the nice way didn't work, then I'd say you need to try something else.

I suppose I am being too passive. This is a very delicate situation for me, though. I'm worried that if she feels pressured (at all), any willingness she may have to be intimate with me will vanish. Nobody likes a jerk.

It's funny, because a married couple that are mutually friends of ours are basically going through the same thing. And that guy apparently pouts and gives his wife the silent treatment if he doesn't have sex. So the two ladies talked about it for a while and my wife said afterwards to me "I guess I never realized what a big deal it is to you. He said that's how he experiences love? If that's the case, I will try to work on it." Never happened, of course. Because I'm letting her drive the ship.

It's her sexuality, why shouldn't she be in control?

You are right to say that no one likes jerks. However, this is not the time to be passive because if this matter is so important to you, no one else is going to solve it but you. You need to do what is necessary here, because obviously your misses is fine being passive.

Shake her up a bit, I'd say, and be direct and honest ;) I don't know your wife obviously, but direct action is as far as I can see the wisest course of action here.

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Not-You

You are right to say that no one likes jerks. However, this is not the time to be passive because if this matter is so important to you, no one else is going to solve it but you. You need to do what is necessary here, because obviously your misses is fine being passive.

Shake her up a bit, I'd say, and be direct and honest ;) I don't know your wife obviously, but direct action is as far as I can see the wisest course of action here.

I suppose I should heed the advice in my avatar. *sigh*

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Samael

You are right to say that no one likes jerks. However, this is not the time to be passive because if this matter is so important to you, no one else is going to solve it but you. You need to do what is necessary here, because obviously your misses is fine being passive.

Shake her up a bit, I'd say, and be direct and honest ;) I don't know your wife obviously, but direct action is as far as I can see the wisest course of action here.

I suppose I should heed the advice in my avatar. *sigh*

I was just about to say that :D

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Not-You

Well thanks for the help, all!

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mylittlehazmat

I honestly don't know how to broach a topic with someone who seems so unwillingly to talk about it that their position is that they "suck" every single time. Maybe let her know that it isn't just her in this, that if you could "resolve" (and by that, I mean clear up if she is asexual or not) the issue, it would make you feel a lot better too. IDK, if I was in her position and my partner was being hurt for it too, that would instantly make it my goal to resolve the issue ... *shrugs* But IDK why your wife is so unwilling to talk about it, so I can't be more direct. Sorry if this is unhelpful.

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Not-You

Part of the communication problem is certainly my own, as well.

I don't want pity/duty sex. And I am therefore concerned that ANY activity that stems from a conversation about asexuality or anything else related to sex will be performed out of a sense of duty on her part. This may be the biggest reason I don't press the issue.

So, that's my own problem that I just have to deal with.

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Mag

DEAL WITH IT. NAO!

Heheh, jk just trying to lighten things up a bit. xD

But, yeah, I agree with everyone else. I think it's time for you to get SRS! Be direct and don't take "I don't know" for an answer! You can do it!

No matter the outcome that comes from forcing her to finally talk, at least you will get somewhere instead of just staying in the same spot!

Good luck man!

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Samael

Part of the communication problem is certainly my own, as well.

I don't want pity/duty sex. And I am therefore concerned that ANY activity that stems from a conversation about asexuality or anything else related to sex will be performed out of a sense of duty on her part. This may be the biggest reason I don't press the issue.

So, that's my own problem that I just have to deal with.

If she turns out to be asexual, chances are the only sex you will have will be out of duty or pity. Still, it is possible for asexuals to enjoy sex even if they wouldn't feel sexually attracted to people. In the case she is asexual, you might face a new problem: how to train her to like sex, if such a thing would even be possible with her.

Clarity to these matters will be easy to achieve, provided communication works.

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Not-You

If she turns out to be asexual, chances are the only sex you will have will be out of duty or pity.

Yeah, I know. :unsure:

And I'm not sure I EVER want that. If I did, I would just pay somebody to sleep with me.

I guess I will find out, someday.

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Stormy Wether

If she turns out to be asexual, chances are the only sex you will have will be out of duty or pity. Still, it is possible for asexuals to enjoy sex even if they wouldn't feel sexually attracted to people. In the case she is asexual, you might face a new problem: how to train her to like sex, if such a thing would even be possible with her.

"how to train her to like sex" - sorry, I know you're trying to help but that terrified me on Mrs NT's behalf. You probably didn't mean it quite that way.

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Kalea

It just seems to be her default response to a sex conversation. It's a good way to shut me up. "I'm sorry I'm a terrible wife." Sometimes said sarcastically (when we're fighting about non-sex things like all couples do) or said sincerely when we're talking about sex. I button my lip pretty quickly at that point.

I can almost guarantee that she knows "I'm a terrible wife" is a way to avoid talking about any topic she doesn't want to discuss. So that needs to stop right away, and the only way for her to stop using that line is if you don't allow it to derail a conversation. Easier said than done, but.... A potential way of dealing with this that doesn't require you to be quite as assertive may be to make a small jar with slips of paper in it, and on each slip of paper have something about what she is/does/says that makes her a great wife/person, and every time she says "I'm a terrible wife/person" (or anything else self-deprecating for that matter) to you, have her pull a slip of paper from the jar. It's corny, but it just might break the habit of trying to use self-flagellation to derail unwanted conversations. Because after she reads what's on the slip of paper, you can go back to the question/conversation that had resulted in her response. To me, this would be easier that trying to think up a response on the spot to her saying "I'm horrible" or whatever. *shrugs* Dunno if it would be something you'd be OK doing, but I figured it couldn't hurt to throw it out there.

Also, I agree with a number of the other posters who have said you need to push the issue and not keep backing off. She may temporarily see you as a "jerk" but in the long run, it's an absolutely necessary step to take in order for your relationship to flourish (in my opinion, of course). Don't only think short-term; the goal is a long-term, happy, committed relationship, right? So some of your strategies may appear to be lacking in the short term, but since it's the long-run that you really care about, that's what you need to focus on. (Even though it may temporarily make things more difficult.)

Anyway.... my few cents on your situation.

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mylittlehazmat

Why do you shut up if she says she is a terrible wife? Why don't you just offer up a quick riposte of, "You're not a terrible wife!" and move on with the conversation?

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Not-You

It just seems to be her default response to a sex conversation. It's a good way to shut me up. "I'm sorry I'm a terrible wife." Sometimes said sarcastically (when we're fighting about non-sex things like all couples do) or said sincerely when we're talking about sex. I button my lip pretty quickly at that point.

I can almost guarantee that she knows "I'm a terrible wife" is a way to avoid talking about any topic she doesn't want to discuss. So that needs to stop right away, and the only way for her to stop using that line is if you don't allow it to derail a conversation. Easier said than done, but.... A potential way of dealing with this that doesn't require you to be quite as assertive may be to make a small jar with slips of paper in it, and on each slip of paper have something about what she is/does/says that makes her a great wife/person, and every time she says "I'm a terrible wife/person" (or anything else self-deprecating for that matter) to you, have her pull a slip of paper from the jar. It's corny, but it just might break the habit of trying to use self-flagellation to derail unwanted conversations. Because after she reads what's on the slip of paper, you can go back to the question/conversation that had resulted in her response. To me, this would be easier that trying to think up a response on the spot to her saying "I'm horrible" or whatever. *shrugs* Dunno if it would be something you'd be OK doing, but I figured it couldn't hurt to throw it out there.

Also, I agree with a number of the other posters who have said you need to push the issue and not keep backing off. She may temporarily see you as a "jerk" but in the long run, it's an absolutely necessary step to take in order for your relationship to flourish (in my opinion, of course). Don't only think short-term; the goal is a long-term, happy, committed relationship, right? So some of your strategies may appear to be lacking in the short term, but since it's the long-run that you really care about, that's what you need to focus on. (Even though it may temporarily make things more difficult.)

Anyway.... my few cents on your situation.

This has been helpful. Thanks! I may alter your jar idea and just make a list, probably on my phone for easy access, of the same things to present her with if she starts going that direction.

And I am probably thinking too short term as well. I hate making her mad, and I would rather avoid it. Kinda wimpy I suppose.

I need to pick a good night and just open up to her I guess. Somebody do it for me. :twisted:

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Not-You

Why do you shut up if she says she is a terrible wife? Why don't you just offer up a quick riposte of, "You're not a terrible wife!" and move on with the conversation?

Because I've tried it a few times before and it devolves from there. Usually morphs into "you should just divorce me if you're that unhappy" or "why don't you go hire a hooker?" stuff. Just saying "no you're not a terrible wife" isn't credible when I then continue to talk about why I am unsatisfied with our marriage.

I guess I need to power through that nonsense.

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