July 23, 2009

schlub vs. heroine, round 74

7/23/09

I'm sorry to call upon you, my faithful blog audience, to do so much of the heavy lifting for me, but I'm fighting some kind of sleep deprivation and need to do a another CODE WORD question for today.

While not half as fun, you may be anonymous if you wish with this one... it has been my experience that couples don't have a hundred different disagreements, they have one basic disagreement that manifests itself a hundred ways. I'm sure you can find these sentiments echoed in the Make Your Marriage Last non-fiction self-help book of your choice, so it's not like I'm going to win the Pulitzer with this observation, but if you are in a relationship, what do you think your basic "fight" is always about?

Tessa and I get along wonderfully famously, and have done a lot of the work necessary not to find ourselves in many pickles, but back when we were young'uns, our basic argument was this: she tended to overfunction, and I underfunctioned as a result. While it still happens from time to time these days, that sort of thing continues to inch its way towards balance.

And what would you say? Distilled to its basic form, what are your arguments basically about?

Posted by Ian Williams at July 23, 2009 11:10 PM
Comments
Posted by: Anonymous! at July 24, 2009 5:13 AM

Sounds cliche and very sitcom-ish. . . but it is true. And it has led to much disagreement over the years. He wants more sex, and me. . . not so much.

Curious as to whether I am alone living in this cliche. . .

Posted by: eric g. at July 24, 2009 5:14 AM

Distilled to their essence, our arguments always are about: I have too many pets; I live in the suburbs and she wants to live in the city; money; or some combination of the three (for example: I have dogs, so I want a back yard, which is only really affordable in the suburbs).

Posted by: bridget at July 24, 2009 5:35 AM

he's organized and i'm "disorganized". in quotes, of course, because there is a method to the madness.

Posted by: monheric at July 24, 2009 5:48 AM

I like uncluttered, open Zen kind of living spaces. She likes a nest where some rooms barely have a path to the center and all floor space may become "accessible storage" space without notice. Except for the unreachable closets, I have adjusted my perceptions admirably. ;-)

Posted by: Claverack Weekender at July 24, 2009 6:01 AM

How risky an activity is/how much anxiety we should bring along.

Posted by: wottop at July 24, 2009 6:09 AM

We don't think the same thing at the same time. She gets tired of telling me and I get tired of having to guess.

Posted by: Anon. at July 24, 2009 6:13 AM

She can't discipline our 13-year-old son at all; I discipline successfully, but often escalate into arguments with him along the way,

Posted by: AnonymousToo at July 24, 2009 6:18 AM

Anonymous! - you are not alone.

Posted by: AnonymousAlso at July 24, 2009 6:39 AM

Anonymous and Anonymous Too, I am also living the cliche. Why is it that the spouses take these cliched roles? Do the men ever tire of being horny toads? Do the women not like or enjoy the act of sex like they seemed to when they were dating? It's becoming a deeper chasm in my relationship and I wonder if it's a deal breaker. How do you happy, successful married folks cope with this cliche? Anonymous, why don't you want more sex? Anonymous Too, assuming you are the male, why are you so horny?

Posted by: Mr Anonymous at July 24, 2009 6:45 AM

Most husbands don't want "more" sex; we want "some" sex. This is the main argument at my house too.

What is the "normal" amount of sex?

Posted by: mr. anonymous three at July 24, 2009 7:06 AM

My wife wants sex 2-3 times a week. I want it once daily, sometimes more. This has been consistent throughout our courtship and marriage. We're in our forties.

Solution: discreet pornography + "fleshlight" sessions (sex toy) or "snuggle masturbation" (where I'm next to the wife in bed while I wank. Inexpensive, simple and mutually acceptable.

Posted by: anonalas at July 24, 2009 7:11 AM

Opposite here...wife wants it every day.. I am cool w/ 2-3 times a week. The conflict arises from perceived 'rejection'. I like the concept of snuggle masterbation.

Posted by: Another Anonymous at July 24, 2009 7:23 AM

Our basic fight is: I think he's too critical, he thinks I'm too sensitive. Over the years we've struck a decent balance, but occasionally we slip into old behaviors.

I find the comments above about sex interesting. We're both men, and we've always found the masturbation option totally normal. "Oh, you're not in the mood now? Fine, I'll just do it myself." During the work week it seems our rhythms often don't line up (I'm a nightowl; he's a morning person so to speak). We save the longer, fireworks-style sessions for the weekends. No problem.

Posted by: Lara at July 24, 2009 7:26 AM

My husband and I are constantly accusing each other of passive aggression, so I would say lack of communication is the main cause of our arguments. He reads this blog too, so I'm curious whether he would agree. Of course, if he didn't he would probably just quietly simmer about it and say everything was fine. : )

Posted by: caroline at July 24, 2009 7:38 AM

I suppose if I could see a pattern we would fight less! Though, we don't fight much. We are pretty good about being pretty straight up with each other.

Though that messy vs. organized post - oh hell yes, I feel that. He is a pack rat and I'm pretty tidy.

I just deleted about 5 paragraphs since no one wants to read that! A LOT of our arguments, now that I think of it, are about housework. Bottom line he is a high N and tho' I am technically an N, I barely am one. (For the Myers-Briggs fans out there.) Luckily he takes direction well but he doesn't notice much on his own. He could have to climb over 3 garbage bags to sit on the couch to watch TV and it wouldn't occur to him to take those bags of garbage out, etc.

Posted by: AnonymousFour at July 24, 2009 7:57 AM

Mr. Anonymous, I am in your boat. I'd settle for once a week or even having her initiate it. I feel like my efforts to initiate are regarded with the same disdain as a bum asking for money. What say the women who hold out on their hubbies or have zero sex drives? Is this the reason men stray or marriages end in divorse? Are women who hold out shocked that they're hubbies aren't feeling satisfied or feel rejected as "anonalas" said up there? Is that a reversible trend or do some women just turn a blind eye to the 'snuggle wanking' and discreet porn? Curious in Cali.

Posted by: anongirl at July 24, 2009 8:12 AM

From the female perspective - it's not that I don't want the sex, I do (not necessarily every day), but sometimes I would like it on my terms of time. My hub is a night owl and is perfectly happy not going to bed until after midnight. I need 8 hours of sleep, but am continuously functioning on 6 or less. I would like to be asleep by 10/10:30. So the more tired I am, the less "in the mood" I get especially when I have to wait up. What's wrong with having sex at 9? I can then go to bed, and if he doesn't - he can go back to watching whatever it was he was watching before. There's nothing in my book that says we both have to go to bed afterwards every single time.

Posted by: Anonymous! at July 24, 2009 8:54 AM

Glad to hear that I am not alone! AnonymousFour made me laugh out loud with the bum analogy. My husband has expressed similar thoughts.

I enjoy sex. I can have a big O as easily as the next person. When husband and I first met, we were getting busy all day, every day. Now, I just can't be bothered. I could easily go a month or more w/o sex . . .if I were brutally honest with myself, I would admit that my disinterest is a result of the grudge factor. I can hold a grudge like nobody's business. If we have an argument, if husband angers me, disrespects me, etc., I hold a grudge that never quite goes away. The grudge makes me not like husband, and I certainly don't want to have sex with him.

Obviously, this is a problem! I hold a grudge, he feels rejected, we snipe at each other, I hold a grudge . . . the cycle continues. Husband, on the other hand, doesn't care if we are arguing or whether he is mad at me. . . if the opportunity to get busy presents itself, he is ready. Which makes me bitter.

We do not communicate very well. He does not handle criticism well, and I have a sharp tongue. I have noticed that when we are on vacation, things are completely different. We enjoy each other's company, we laugh, smile, and get busy OFTEN. Problem with this is that life is not a permanent vacation, and I need to find a way to deal with reality.

Posted by: Anne at July 24, 2009 8:59 AM

Money.

Who is overspending, who gets to decide what our spending priorities are. Etc.

Over 34 years we are much more on the same page about finances, much more frugal in general, but still ... if we disagree, the object tends to be $$$.

Posted by: Anne at July 24, 2009 9:01 AM

Anon at 6:13 am: We have a variation of this basic disagreement about discipline and expectations of our teens, too. Again, it has gotten less extreme with time and with multiple children.

Posted by: noname at July 24, 2009 9:13 AM

Oh, we NEED to argue about sex...My hubby hasn’t touched me in ages, and he says it's because he gets rejected too much. So his response is to end all initiation. Meanwhile, I am more subtle in my signals and he NEVER picks them up. He requires signals that are more at his level: pumping his groin to my backside, for example (blech!). So, result is I feel unwanted and he doesn’t get what he wants either. Now THAT's passive aggressive. Top that.

Our issue is communication. I have a very charismatic husband who is adored by all but who also stinks at “emotional intimacy.” Recently, in discussing our issues, he was baffled by the very term and joked about looking it up in the dictionary. Dude grew up with parents who are whack, so I try to cut him some slack.

Nonetheless, it’s an issue, and once it’s resolved, I think the other type of intimacy will return. I have explained to him that, at my age, I have a higher level of acceptance for what turns me on…and very little of it is physical.

I am betting you didn't think the content was gonna go down this road, did you Ian?

Posted by: Megan at July 24, 2009 9:17 AM

He underfuctions; I have to overfunction to compensate.

Posted by: julie at July 24, 2009 9:36 AM

Our disagreements surround one issue - my husband's overcompensation for the lack of good fatherly input when he was a child. So what this translates into is slackness in the discipline department, spending way too much money on the kids for tangible (read toys video games etc) department, and the lack of wanting to be a "parent" but instead wanting to be a "friend."

So that means I'm the miserly, bad-cop, Mother who lays down the law and tends to lose her temper/patience when pushed too far. The teen years are going to be UGLY.

Posted by: Neva at July 24, 2009 10:11 AM

I'm with Ian and Megan. I plan, worry, focus, plan, worry, focus so my hubby really doesn't need to, but then sometimes I resent that he isn't planning, worrying, focusing..

Control freak vs. laid-back type B.

We manage it very well though and I think have learned to negotiate these things better. It usually comes to a head at times like preparing for vacation or planning a party - which we happen to be doing right now! - any local xtcianers what to come have a microbrew with me tomorrow to celebrate the big 40 - you are more than welcome!!!

Posted by: AnonymousVIII at July 24, 2009 10:15 AM

Thanks to Anonymous! (the female) and noname for your female input. I have a couple of points to make.

One suggestion for noname and this is for for all women, really. Men have very little capacity for understanding all things subtle. We get it early on in relationships because we're focused and horny. Let's face it, we open doors and buy flowers, groom really well and don't fart in front of you and ladies, in return, you all give blowj-bs!

After marriage, blowj-bs fall by the wayside like those booster rockets on the Space Shuttle. And with it goes a man's ability to perceive all things subtle. If you like sex with your man just as much as he does with you, back that thang up and put it on your hubby's groin. That's sexy to us.

To Anonymous!, don't be surprised if your grudging drives him to find more receptive women in between the otherwise enjoyable vacations. A grude that denies sex for a month or more? That's almost like a dare or an invitation to have drinks after work with the cute secretary. And I don't believe that's your intended consequence.

I don't understand why women use sex as the bargaining chip. That should never be used that way. Use the remote control, chores, cooking, bill paying, kids, hell anything. But not sex. Eventually a man (or a woman who is denied) will tire of having that used as leverage and they'll find a way to replace that perceived control over them.

Has anyone on the list been denied or been the denier and then been surprised when the denied spouse found a new source for his/her affections?

Anongirl, get a DVR. Pause the football game. Jump his bones. Go to bed and let him finish watching the game with a big , yet exhausted, smile on his face and then let him stay up til midnight if he still can. Meanwhile, you get yours and you still get your 8 hours of sleep. An easy fix and a win-win situation.

Mr. anonymous three, shut the f--k up. Your living the dream. Take your golden ring and be thankful and quit bragging. 2-3 times a week? Lucky bastard. Your wife is woman of the year.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 24, 2009 10:19 AM

We rarely actually argue - but when we do, it's about his need for organization and my contentment with (somewhat) organized chaos around the house.

Posted by: GFWD at July 24, 2009 10:22 AM

Late to the party. Got a text from one of the anonymous posters suggesting I check out the action today. One of the best discussions ever.

Neva, happy 40th. Looking good to be so "old" [he said, being less than 11 months younger].

The dude who gets it 2-3 times a week? I don't know that I'd be looking that gift horse in the mouth. And I wouldn't be taunting all the poor anonymous dudes who would kick your butt to trade places with you. Smile.

Julie, I used to err on the side of being the "friend" instead of the parent to the kids, but then I grew out of it and helped find a balance. Your hubby can, too. If not, let the kids trash something he values and see if he doesn't find his inner disciplinarian in a damn hurry. "WHO BROKE MY MILLI VANILLI LP's and my signed PEE WEE HERMAN movie poster?" We all have our breaking points.

Posted by: GFWD at July 24, 2009 10:25 AM

To AnonymousVIII, the following line makes me want to buy you a beer: "blowj-bs fall by the wayside like those booster rockets on the Space Shuttle"

I'm never gonna be able to watch a shuttle launch again without thinking about that line.

Posted by: Mom spills TMI at July 24, 2009 10:30 AM

Somewhat related to the sex discussion: I have 2 sons. One rubs himself to sleep every night, and the other never seems to touch himself. I already know which one I'm going to have to worry about getting busy in middle school!

Posted by: Rebecca at July 24, 2009 10:32 AM

Greg: I thought you were AnonymousVIII! It just sounded like you.

Posted by: Piglet at July 24, 2009 10:34 AM

I learned about marriage from piano lounge comedians, and so I thought the whole purpose of marriage was for husbands to try to play golf while the wives tried to prevent the husbands from playing golf. I figured, if I didn't want to play golf, our marriage would be conflict-free.

Turns out there's this thing called housework. I grew up on Free to Be You and Me, which taught me that it's wrong to expect a spouse to work outside the home and then do all the housework. Since I work outside the home and my wife doesn't, I expect her to do her share of the housework. I keep the rooms I use the most clean, while the rooms she uses the most look like Superfund sites. She complains to me about the smell. I tell her, when it gets bad enough maybe she'll do something about it. She throws a fit.

Amazingly, our sex life has stayed pretty good, as long as the nookie takes place on my side of the bed, where the crumbs aren't.

Posted by: GFWD at July 24, 2009 10:36 AM

I aspire to be as funny as that dude (or woman). I'm still giggling over that line, which is bad because my son was asking about the shuttle the other day and when we discuss it and he innocently says, "what are those things falling off the rocket, daddy?"

I'm gonna have to say, "ASK YOUR MOTHER!"

Posted by: jje at July 24, 2009 10:53 AM

At this moment, our biggest source of tension is the laundry. I know it's completely stupid and easily solved, but I can wash and dry with the best of them, but I'm s-l-o-w about getting it folded and put away. Hence mountains of clothes always piling up. Drives him crazy to constantly be on the hunt for underwear and running socks.

Oh, and the amount of time I spend on the internet (specifically my "mommy boards" and facebook) is something of an issue. There was an article on MSNBC.com about SAHMs who become addicted to the internet and it definitely hit a bit close to home.

Posted by: Julie at July 24, 2009 11:20 AM

Sex. Money. In-laws.

Posted by: AnonymousToo at July 24, 2009 11:20 AM

AnonymousToo here. Funnny someone assumed I was male. Actually, I play the frigid wife in our little sitcom.

It seems that the only time I ever get my husband's undivided attention is when he wants to get busy. Frankly, it pisses me off.

Posted by: Anonymous! at July 24, 2009 11:45 AM

I am going to heed AnonymousVIII's warning and get busy tonight. Have a good weekend.

Posted by: Ian at July 24, 2009 12:26 PM

WOW! Definitely worthy of a whole school of study. Great comments, please keep going.

Funny... I assume some of the anon posters are regulars here, but donning a masquerade mask for the conversation. I'd be interested to know how freeing it is not to have to sign your name every time, regardless of topic...

Posted by: AnonymousVIII at July 24, 2009 12:31 PM

Anonymous!, that was funny. I'm glad for your hubby that your going to set aside the grudges tonight. I was just joking about his secretary. I hope.

AnonymousToo, if you have kids, you and your spouse both work and neither of you is independently wealthy, how can you expect your man to give his undivided attention to anything. As long as the kid is up, my head is on a constant swivel. Work, the kid, bills, the economy and life keep the space between my ears whirring constantly. It only stops when I'm asleep. Instead of being angry, consider yourself lucky that he at least does give you and your body his undivided attention at nookie time.

Does this mean that the other anonymous lady is going to get that DVR to help with her mate's timing issues?

GWFD, make my beer a Sierra Nevada or something from the Carolina Brewery. I get your Carolina updates through a mutual friend.

Great posts today!

Posted by: anongirl at July 24, 2009 1:03 PM

well - we have a dvr so that's not the easy quick fix. not to throw out too much tmi, but the hub has a medical issue that requires specific timing (not the blue pill either) and that plays into part of the prob. i can't nag every time - "hey hon did you remember to...early enough so that the second one can be done before midnight?"

Posted by: Caitlin at July 24, 2009 1:23 PM

Our main point of contention has been whose career takes precedence. And also how we are going to negotiate where we live and eventually settle. It's been hard to make compromises since we are both in fairly narrow niche careers. However this has meant moving a lot and failing to put down roots anywhere, which is also a problem.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 24, 2009 5:05 PM

I think it's amazing how many couples have sex issues. Within my group of girlfriends, we talk about it a lot. I often wonder how many husbands that travel frequently find hookers in hotel bars. One husband of a friend of mine is probably guilty - he loves to feel up his wives's friends after a few martinis... Am I wrong to think that about him?

Posted by: Rebecca at July 24, 2009 5:06 PM

wives's?? Sorry

Posted by: Anonymous! at July 24, 2009 5:08 PM

Okay. If I were to take my sex issue to an even more honest level, I would admit that I don't really think that humans are meant to be monogamous. Familiarity breeds contempt, and having an exclusive sexual relationship with one life partner is boring IMO.

Posted by: AnonymousToo at July 24, 2009 5:41 PM

AnonymousVIII - Yeah, you're right on all counts. My earlier post did have a shrewish edge that was unintended. My husband is a really great guy and I know that. We're both just pulled in a million different directions at this point in our lives.

Posted by: Annonnooomuus at July 25, 2009 10:29 AM

Money, Sex, In-laws.
Sometimes I think women have been so programmed to interpret a man's sexuality as one dimensional, that their own behavior strips the intimacy out of sex. From courtship to marriage, how are we supposed to interpret the shift?

Our love, our connection, our emotional, physical intimacy, inextricably bound in the words, experiences, smiles, taste, touch, sweat. Every aspect of every moment bound together in a rue, all that magic stuff that makes us want to be one, not two.
(Previous emotion brought to you by the spirits of Johnson & Johnson and Dr. Suess.)

There are levels of physical intimacy that mean more to men, on an emotional level, than women seem willing to believe. Believe it or not, if you’re married, sex during your courtship, actually meant something to your husband. He probably didn’t think you were on the casting couch, doing what it took to get the relationship you wanted. I know YOU don’t see it that way. Love makes me hungry for every curve, roll, and taste. If it doesn’t do that for you, that’s cool, be honest from the start. It’s going to hurt when things change. He might even think your feelings changed or never truly existed. Have the courage to build intimacy on solid ground. At least it won’t hurt when you extricate one of your partner’s sexual preferences, like an inventory item. Oh, and while I’m at it, when we say we don’t care if you gained weight, we fucking mean that we don’t care that you gained weight. Own it. The man, who loves you, wants you to accept and celebrate your body the way he does.

These things that add up to marriage may not be eternal, but they shouldn’t necessarily be treated ala carte.

Pardon me while I pay tribute, to the Cavemen of the past, with this summary.

Sometimes Booster Rockets are more than Booster Rockets. If you marry a non-smoker, there is a reasonable assumption that they will remain a non-smoker. Conversely, if you marry a smoker, there is a reasonable assumption that they will remain a smoker.

So, Ladies… Smoke’em if you got’em!

Posted by: Anon number 9 at July 25, 2009 12:08 PM

He gets upset over tiny things and holds grudges for days. (Things like me forgetting to bring the laundry detergent back up after I put the wash in the Landromat, and I leave it downstairs to pick up when I come back down. He's afraid someone will steal it.) I forgive him instantly for things. I don't get angry unless it is really really worth it.

Drives me up a wall.

Oh, he decides to dislike people (including relatives of mine) for no reason. When I ask for one, he says impressions are good enough. I think that's childish and something I've spent most of my life trying to overcome. I think there is good in almost everyone (no, not hitler or the obvious) but if you dislike someone, give a freaking reason.

Posted by: P.S. at July 25, 2009 12:10 PM

as for sex, you guys need to go slower, even if we don't ask for it. we don't want to hurt your feelings, but we are just not turned on by your sudden hardon. give us a backrub or leg rub first, then move in for the kill, like you used to when you were in love with us. don't act like all that stuff is just hindering you. act like you are excited just to touch us and make us happy.

doesn't matter what a woman says - that's what she wants.

and if we're tired or resting, no, we do not want to have sex. but we may give in to a backrub...and then...

Posted by: anonymous at July 26, 2009 7:15 AM

One thing I've never figured out is how to deal with a partner who's always, always running late. Other than to grin and bear it...

Posted by: Annonnooomuus at July 26, 2009 7:22 AM

RE:
P.S. as for sex,

Starting with your second sentence.
Your advice would be best served gender neutral.

"make us happy", that's a tall order. Is that really someone else's job?

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