inner dialogues and sex – here’s mine
The hardest thing for me to overcome in this struggle of marriage has been the feeling that my wife just does not want me. When I start to think about sex, the first thing that comes to my mine is that my wife does not want it and therefore does not want me. How sad really. From there I start to see “ghosts.” I draw conclusions from every little thing she does. She gets up and starts to get ready without a kiss = she doesn’t want me. She takes her time getting ready and precludes morning sex = she doesn’t want me. She makes plans for her day doing what she wants = she doesn’t want me. She comes home and sits down at the TV = she doesn’t want me. She doesn’t kiss me during sex = she doesn’t want me. Ad nauseum. I find myself looking for things that support this idea. IT becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Truth is, she most likely is not thinking about me at all – good or bad. She is usually thinking about herself, like most people do. And I let that fact even hurt me. Turns me into a needy little child. Not sexy. Nothing to “Want” there. But how to stop it? That is the hardest thing. Truth is, it is not all on me, but a lot of it is. Truth is, she doesn’t “want” me like I would like her to, not like I want her. But she also doesn’t “not want me” either. She honestly has no active running thoughts about it either way. Unlike me, who is ALWAYS thinking about it. It is typically only on her mind when I put it there. And if I put it there attached to some underlying negative feelings, she gets those first and foremost. This started to become clearer this weekend.
We visited her family this weekend. My daughter was discussing a psychological phenomena she had recently learned about with everyone. I can’t remember the name, but it had to do with how people view the passing of time. This led into a discussion of “inner dialogues”. Most people have an inner dialogue. They approach life as a running conversation with themselves and their thoughts are framed this way. Turns out, my wife is NOT one of the normal people. She has no inner dialogue. I can’t even perceive how this works. Best she could describe it was she has lots of independent thoughts that are not always interconnected and she does not process or perceive them in a dialogue format. She thinks in pictures often. A LOT of pictures at the same time. This makes it difficult for her to be empathetic I think. She can have an inner dialogue, but it is not her default.
So as I talk myself ( 🙂 ) through this idea, it makes more sense that she just doesn’t think about sex nowhere near the same way I do, because she can’t. She compartmentalizes everything, and in a much different way than I, or even many people. We had this discussion with everyone of the family there. No one processed things the way she does. Everyone else had an inner dialogue with themselves. Thinking about it now, my son is very good example of the inner dialogue, as he will often outwardly verbalize his dialogue. I listened to him work on a photoshop project lately and talk himself through it out loud- “no….that doesn’t look right…what if I put the line heavier here…..Yes, that looks better….” etc. I do the same thing, but usually in my head. This makes practical sense to me. But apparently not my wife. So how does that affect her ability to respond to me sexually I wonder? I think it is huge, because she is just not thinking about it, nor has she been throughout the day. So every time I bring it up, it is “new” information, a new picture forced upon her screen that she was not prepared for. Usually it means she will have to push something else off the screen to make room for it. Unfortunately, this usually irritates her at some level. And I perceive that as “she doesn’t want me.” After years of doses of this bitter medicine, you just don’t want to go there. But it doesn’t stop my inner dialogue from arguing the matter over and over in my head – “WHY doesn’t she want me? Am I not good enough? What can I do different? NOTHING! I’ve done it all before. But maybe I’m selfish. ……” On and on the conversation goes. I can’t turn it off, no more than she can turn it on apparently.
I found out that she actually dislikes the inner dialogue when she does have one. Thinks it a waste of time I guess. To use a baseball analogy – she’s a “see ball, hit ball” player. I’m a “what will the pitcher throw in this situation? what’s he think I think he will throw?” mental battle player. Two totally different approaches to the game. Both have their merits and both have their shortfalls. One problem is that the instinctive player has a very hard time being anything but that – because that would require active learning, and that is not instinctive, but they are swinging with all they got! These are of the players you see slamming the bat on the ground in disgust. While the mental game player embraces learning new things, even how to be instinctive is something new to learn, and can be used with success at times. The key is knowing when to use either method – and that often leaves the mental player in the lurch, unable to act. These are the players you see walk away shaking their heads, or even nodding to the opponent “yep, you got me this time.”
So how to move forward? …. I gotta think about this 🙂
I know I am very analytical. But my wife is as well. We just analyze things in very different ways. Her way is much faster it seems. But sometimes it can be very wrong in it’s assumptions – “see ball, hit ball” doesn’t always work, and it usually pisses her off when it doesn’t. I often take too long and drag stuff out, making it worse than it really is, causing myself lots of anxiety and pain. Pain leads to the dark side.
I was awake this morning about an hour before her usual alarm time. I was laying there, seeing the ball in front of me, but didn’t take a swing, too afraid of missing, of being made a fool of. So I did nothing. It didn’t bother her, because she didn’t know about it nor will she ever be thinking about it to be bothered. I’m the one hurting myself in all this. What would have happened had I took a swing? She would have probably given a little push-back to being woken up, but likely would have acquiesced and we would have had, at worst, mediocre sex. I then would have a choice – let those facts feed into my thoughts of “she doesn’t want me” or take the base hit and move on. Even if it was a swing and miss, another plate appearance is coming up. She does live in the same house after all.
My son has told me, and others, that the best thing he learned from me in all his baseball training, and has applied it to his life, is the concept of “have a short memory.” Forget your failures, your errors, or they will affect the next play and they become who you are. If you forget them and move on, they will quickly be forgotten by everyone else. I preached that mantra to him over and over. He now lives that way. I think I should take my own advice.
Fascinating dialogue LBD! As I read your post, I kept coming back to the notion that we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. When your wife does something that irritates you or disappoints you, do you stop to question your reaction, measuring it against her why? Or do you just assume you know her reason (“she doesn’t want me”) and judge her actions based on that. I fall into this trap a lot—expecting my wife to respond to a situation the way I would, when she is a completely different person so that expectation is ridiculous. I empathize with your dilemma.
While not easy, I suspect the solution is lots of open dialogue between the two of you. Make it self-deprecating if your wife is not good with feeling criticized: “I’m probably wrong here, but when you did X, I felt Y because I assumed you were thinking Z.” Give her a chance to explain what she was actually thinking—then you’ve both learned something about how you each think, act, and feel in a given situation.
I can relate. I keep an inner dialogue going all day.
Yours seems much kinder than mine.
Mine would say “she doesn’t want me.” But then continue with, “Of course. Who would want you? You’re a piece of trash that fails at everything, and now you’ve dragged her along and ruined her life too.”
I know supposedly our inner dialogue is false, and I try to tell myself that. But I believe it far more than I don’t.
I have lots of inner dialogue, as well. Lol I never thought about whether others did, or not. Where it pertains to DH and I, I have done a lot of work. He has no inner dialogue, or at least, not much and I’m not sure he would even know what I was talking about.
@LBD, some of the things you wrote could have been written by me. Especially after coming to TMB and reading about all the husbands who give their wives lots of words of affirmation. Ok, mine doesn’t and I really have felt starved for it. But, when I have mentioned it to him, he is completely clueless. He doesn’t ever think of saying I Love You, unless he isn’t in and I text him that I am going to bed. He told me that. I know he won’t notice my new clothes until the second or third time I’ve worn them. Other people do. He doesn’t notice my tan or that I’ve lost weight. (He doesn’t notice if I have gained, either!) So I’ve had many conversations with myself and still do, but they are a lot better than they used to be!
The conclusion for me is to shut up and rather notice all the MANY other ways he shows love. And its automatic for him. I am loved beyond measure, even though its not how I originally would have liked to be loved. But when I could shut the negative voice down and focus on what he was doing, I felt so much better. I can never let myself believe that DH doesn’t love me. Its just in a different way. And many are the times, when I ask him about something, he says he never noticed or thought about it. And I know he is being honest, LOL, because he can’t hide a thing from me.
Wow! I think that describes my wife, she rarely plans or things about anything. If I bring up something, she is usually ok with it, goes along etc. but I don’t think she has much of a dialog going on either. I think all the time.
I liked your statement ” Turns me into a needy little child”. I felt like that for years and still do to some extend about sex. I feel like a needy little boy asking for sex from my wife. I am the one that wants it and feel very needy when I ask for it. It is like she is saying, “really, am I going to have let you have some so you won’t be so grumpy?”
This idea of people not having an inner dialogue is fascinating to me. I would say I have one, and yet you said she describes it as thinking in pictures and I do that sometimes too. There are occasions when my inner eye is seeing something like that thing one of the movie studios does at the beginning of their videos where they flip through a whole bunch of movie scenes so fast you can barely register what movie you are seeing before five more have gone past. Then sometimes my brain is like a squirrel on some energy drink (like in Over the Hedge) and it’s not just pictures, but I still can’t slow it down enough to actually do anything with it. Then other times I feel like I’ve gone into slow motion and it can take a full minute to think a couple words. When I was a kid my inner dialogue was to narrate my own life, as in, she walked up the stairs. She went to the bathroom. She washed her hands. (And much more detailed, too.) I think that’s why I like to read a lot: it puts my brain on a speed-controlled track so it doesn’t feel like it’s going to bounce off into the atmosphere or just stop moving altogether.
It never occurred to me that other brains might work entirely differently. Better regulated and more efficiently and less uncontrolled, certainly, but not in a whole different way.
I’m sorry I don’t have anything useful to apply to your situation, but I really appreciate you sharing what is completely new and mind-boggling information to me!