You can read Part 1 here.
“So when I ramped up your desire but then said we should wait ’til tomorrow, that triggered all the old feelings of hurt and rejection from the past?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “the feeling of laying next to you being aroused, but with no outlet for it felt exactly like all those times in the Dark Years when you weren’t interested in sex and ignored me. Remember what we talked about with Post Traumatic Rejection Disorder? Where things that wouldn’t have bothered me 20 years ago are now total triggers because of all the years of sexual rejection.”
We were trying to deal with what had happened a couple of nights before. I could see that we were gradually making progress in coming out of these cycles earlier. What used to take us a couple of weeks to process and get past now could sometimes be handled in just a few days.
“When you stopped doing the coaching assignment of taking that time with me at the end of the day, I felt like you didn’t care about improving the marriage or keeping the commitment you made,” I continued. “And then cancelling our date night and not initiating were more -1 interactions. Taken alone, they didn’t mean all that much, but they started adding up. And then, when I felt like you sexually rejected me, what should have been a -1 interaction became a -5000 interaction. And it turned all the other little -1’s into -100’s. The slight negative momentum we were having became a huge avalanche, cascading quickly into the dreaded Death Spiral.”
“I didn’t see all that happening,” he finally said. “Once I missed doing the coaching assignment the first day, I felt like it would be better to just start over on Monday with a clean slate since I had already messed it up. I didn’t want to say anything to rock the boat. I didn’t realize that each little -1 was exploding exponentially into -100’s.”
I looked at my husband in bemusement. How could this man who was so smart in other areas of his life be so dumb about things like this? Seriously, the guy was practically a genius when it came to inventing and engineering and had developed multiple patents over the years for equipment he had designed. He could get a car out of spaces where it felt like you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between them. He had practically re-wired the electricity thoughout our whole house. He was a brilliant person in so many areas. And yet ……..
I sighed. “Yeah, pretending that nothing is happening is never going to work,” I said. “Has ignoring things and hoping for the best ever worked for us? We’ve talked about this at least a million times. You’ve read No More Mr. Nice Guy. You know this stuff,” my voice rose in frustration in spite of my efforts to keep it level. “I just don’t know what else to say to you.”
He pulled me close and hugged me. I tried to pull back. The last thing I wanted was to be close to this man, but he persisted, not letting me go. I finally gave up and relaxed into him.
“I know I’m an idiot about this stuff,” he said humbly, “but I love you more than anything in the world. I want this to work. I am never going to give up until we have the marriage we both want. I’m tired of this constant cycle. It’s going to change. I am going to change it.”
I stayed still, quiet in his arms. I had heard these words so often before. I didn’t doubt his sincerity, but I did doubt his ability. We needed a tool that would help us identify the negative momentum much quicker, before we spiralled down into the abyss.