Death Spiral. Part 1

“You should write a blog post about that,” my husband’s voice interrupted my thoughts as we drove home.


“About that Negative 5000 stuff,” he said. “I don’t think most guys have any idea how that works.”

We had just experienced a Death Spiral and were trying to pull out of it, but it had taken a lot out of both of us. Even after my husband started T therapy and his libido recovered, he still struggled to experience normal sexuality. The years of ED and PE had taken a toll on him, and his confidence was shot. Years of feeling like less than a man, of feeling like a failure, of feeling fat and out of shape made it difficult for him to break out of the trap of his own sense of inadequacy.

He would cruise for a while feeling confident and optimistic, being sexual with me and initiating frequently. We would talk about how wonderful things had become, how happy we were to leave the Dark Years behind and be able to focus on other areas of our lives. But then … something would happen that triggered his sense of being a failure. It could be as simple as him slacking off on his work-outs for a few days or not being able to repair something around the house, and it would set off this negative cycle where he completely shut down and reverted back to that Other Guy. That guy who was too afraid to initiate, too anxious to take leadership, too insecure to tell me he wanted me. It would start off small and gradually spiral downward until we imploded in a Death Spiral.

Athol Kay talks about how important relationship momentum is. It’s even more important than how well your relationship is actually doing in the moment. You add either +1 or -1 interactions to your relationship all day long. None of these interactions is important in and of itself, but over the course of the week, they add up.

Our current Death Spiral had started when CaptR had dropped the ball on an assignment he had been given in coaching. The assignment was for him to spend about 10 minutes with me every night, following up on how things had gone at home during the day and connecting in a physical sense, kissing, touching, etc. Basically doing those things that allowed us to re-connect after leading our own separate lives for the day.

The assignment had proven to be spectacularly successful for us, and we were both glowingly optimistic on how well it was working, We had never felt so close and connected, and sex had been amazingly good. We were acting in unison with the kids, providing a united front and seeing improvements in our family dynamics.

But then …… <cue dramatic music>

But then, life had intruded. A late night coaching call, a second late night at our son’s wrestling tournament that meant a cancelled date night, a decision to postpone sex for a couple nights …. -1 -1 -1 -1 … nothing huge. Just a series of small -1 interactions.

Then the moment of truth. Going to bed late, my husband started wrestling around with me, pinning me down, playing, touching, kissing, stroking. Even though I hadn’t been up for sex when we first got in bed, I quickly ramped up and theeeennnnnnn ……… “Okay, let’s go to sleep now,” he said, moving off me onto his side of the bed.

Hunh? I looked at him in bewilderment, trying to shake off the sexual haze.

“It’s late and I want to wait ’til tomorrow night when we can spend more time. It’s been a couple of nights and I want it to be really good,” he said as he turned off the lights.

As I lay there, aroused and wanting, I felt the anger rise. I tried to shake it off. Outcome Independence. Tried to remember to use actions, not words. Words don’t change anything.

I got up and pulled on my nightgown.

My husband looked at me, “What are you doing? You know I don’t want you wearing anything in bed,” he said. I didn’t say anything, trying to choke back the rage and frustration.

I picked up my pillow and started leaving the room.

“Where are you going?” he asked, the confusion evident in his voice. “What’s wrong?”

I just looked at him. How was his brain even capable of human speech?

“You are a moron,” I said and left the room.

Part Two.