I Didn’t Write the Program

“I just feel so tired,” he said. “We’ve got to get to bed earlier. I’m having a hard time focusing at work and making it through the day. I feel exhausted. And my stomach is still hurting,” he continued as he rubbed it with his free hand, wincing.

I felt a surge of anxiety. His stomach was hurting again? A few years ago, he had had hernia surgery. Was the mesh tearing? The doctor had said that happens sometimes. And he had been working out so hard lately, lifting weights and sparring. Maybe he had torn something. Did I need to schedule an appointment for him? What if he needed more surgery? The doc had said that if the surgery wasn’t successful the first time, then each subsequent attempt was less likely to work. What then? His recovery last time had taken a long time and he had lost a lot of fitness while he waited to heal.

And why was he so tired? He had commented several times in the last few days about how tired he was feeling. I wondered if his T levels had fallen and if we needed to get some labs drawn to see where his levels were. Maybe his thyroid was low again?

Actually, maybe we needed to schedule an appointment with a heart doctor to make sure that everything was okay. Maybe he wasn’t getting enough blood flow or oxygen to his blood. Heart problems run in his family and his dad had had all those heart surgeries and stints. His blood pressure had improved since he started the T therapy, but it was still sometimes borderline, especially in the doctor’s office where it increased because of anxiety. What if we were missing something important and he dropped dead of a heart attack?

All of a sudden, his hand stroking my breast seemed awkward and out of place. I shifted my weight away from him and pulled the sheet over me. The post orgasmic glow I was still enjoying from last night dissipated abruptly. He put his hand back where it was, frowning and confused by my sudden withdrawal.

“Stop,” I told him, pushing his hand away, trying to keep my voice calm and even. I really didn’t want to have a huge conflict this morning.

“This is mine,” he said, “I’ll touch what I want.”

But the same words that last night had seemed arousing and exciting seemed forced and contrived. I blocked his hand and tried to sit up.

“Okay,” he said, pushing me back down. “What’s going on? Why the sudden change of mood?”

I laid there with my hand over his, struggling to find words to explain in a way that wouldn’t trigger his usual feelings of irritation and resentment that happened when I couldn’t respond to him.

“I’m just worried,” I replied, and all the concerns and anxieties I was experiencing poured out.

He sat and stared at me, dumbfounded. “I’m tired because we’ve been up late for 3 nights in a row and we’re still recovering from our road trip over Thanksgiving. My stomach hurts from injecting the HcG last night. That’s all. It’s not some big catastrophe. Why is it that any time I complain about not feeling well, you completely shut down on me?”

I hesitated, trying to pick my words carefully. We had discussed this before and it hadn’t gone well, but instead had created a lot of hurt and resentment on his part that spilled out any time we had a fight.

“When you tell me about feeling tired or sick, I start to get worried,” I said, “and I start thinking about what’s wrong and what I need to do to fix it. It’s like when one of the kids says they’re not feeling well. I immediately go into Caretaker-Mommy mode and start thinking about what meds they need, or if they’re hungry, or tired, or need a doctor appointment. It’s just how my brain is wired. And when Caretaker/Mommy program turns on, Sexy Wife program turns off. I can either be Mommy to you or Sexy Wife, but I can’t be both at one time.”

“It’s like you’re sitting at your computer keyboard and you press <Control Alt Shift CRTKR-MMY>. Caretaker-Mommy mode turns on, and then you get mad at me because I’m not Sexy Wife anymore. But you’re the one who keyed in the program and it feels so unfair to me for you to be mad at me for it. I wish I could be attracted to you no matter what because I love the feeling of being attracted to you, but I can’t. I didn’t write the program, and it’s not fair for you to keep blaming me for it. Attraction isn’t a choice.”

I saw the understanding dawn in his eyes and hoped that I had finally been able to explain it in a way that made sense to him, instead of just making him feel like I was the world’s biggest b*tch.

“So when I act weak, it bypasses your thinking brain and goes straight to your emotions?” he asked.

I nodded. That was as good a way to explain it as any, I guess. I didn’t completely understand it myself, I just knew it happened.

“So all I meant was that we need to get to bed early tonight. I should have just said, ‘Wife, let’s get to bed early tonight,’ and that would have made you feel like I was all strong and manly, providing leadership?”

I nodded again. Yep, put that way, it sounded pretty silly, but there it was. I didn’t write the program, I just had to live with it. We both had to live with it.