It's not so frequent that I write a blog entry in hot anger, but perhaps tonight is an exception.
I don't know how a woman can withhold sex from a man thinking that this will inspire him to rethink past arguments or fights.
A few weeks ago, my wife urged me to go to a seminar relevant to my law practice. We agreed that if I left the day before the seminar, I could take some time to get settled, and I could arrange to be at the seminar the following morning without worrying about missed flights
The day before I left was Shabbos. Our son for the past few days was ill with fever and diarrhea. Not so ill, but sicky. On Saturday afternoon, my wife started to feel ill as well. She was tired, lacked energy, and she had diarrhea as well. We thought it might be stomach flu, and I was concerned for her well being, especially since I would be leaving for the next few days.
She slept through most of Shabbos, and I took care of all family duties (e.g., watching the four kids, etc.) and let her sleep knowing that these next few days would be difficult for her. She came out a few times, but overall, she looked tired.
When the evening came, concerned for her, I asked her if I should cancel the trip. She said "no," and I told her that I was willing to cancel it if she wanted me to. Then in the morning when I woke at 5am to head to the airport, I again wondered if I should cancel the trip. ...Because I couldn't figure out if I was more concerned about her well being or my own insecurities that she would give me hell for leaving her ill (when for all I knew, she could have been feeling better), I decided to continue on with the trip.
All through the trip, my only question for her was whether she was feeling okay, and how she was doing with the kids. I knew that we arranged to have them stay after-hours at their school, so the time she would spend with them was minimized, and for those extra hours where she would be with them, her parents promised to chip in and help out. In addition, we had a new maid come in each day I was gone, so I knew "help" with the household activities and chores was covered. Now when I asked her how she was doing, I knew the answer was that she was having a difficult time, but I still wanted to make sure she was okay, so I asked her about how she was doing many times and in many ways.
The trip went fine. I woke up every morning at 5am, drove to a 6am minyan an hour away from where I was staying, purchased food and lunch for the day at 7am, then I took the 7:15am train over to my seminar, arriving an hour later (8:15am). I was at the seminar from 9am - 5pm (texting my wife throughout the day to make sure she was okay), and then I took the train back, had dinner with my family one night, and my Rabbi who I was staying with and his family the other night, and then I went to sleep to repeat the experience the next day.
The seminar was grueling, and the effort required to make the schedule work was equally grueling. But still, I attended the seminar so that I can learn an important aspect of my field so that I can properly support my family.
In the airport returning home on Wednesday, I saw a beautiful set of earrings. My wife in the past has complained why I do not look at a piece of jewelry and say, "Wow, I think you would look WONDERFUL in this," and then buy it for her. Looking at these earrings, I knew my wife would have looked wonderful in them, and so even though they were expensive, I bought them for her. I had them cleaned, and nicely packaged, and I was excited that I got her a nice gift to give her when I come home (usually I show up empty handed). Plus, she just went through a few days of feeling ill, and I thought she would appreciate the gift.
I came home, and my wife was, well, I don't know how to describe it other than reserved. She was friendly, but not that friendly. In fact, a good way to describe her was distant and closed off. I gave her the earrings, and she said thank you, but she didn't seem to be that excited by them (despite the stunningness of them). That night, I went to bed alone because she said that she was getting over feeling ill and was tired.
Then came Thursday -- I pretty much took a huge chunk of the law firm day off to spend time with her. We went to the marriage counseling meeting, spent some time together, and then I went back to work. I don't know how else to explain this, but because I just spent so much time away from my law firm, I was behind on EVERYTHING and pretty much every client was in EMERGENCY MODE, and everything was going wrong. I was swamped, exhausted, and quite frustrated, but because I got confused about the time, I accidentally came home an hour early (maybe G-dly intervention, who knows). Once I realized my mistake, instead of going back to work for that extra hour in our home office (even though G-d knows I really needed to), instead, I let my wife go to bed early while I took care of the kids until late in the night, doing NOTHING ELSE. I did no work, and I got nothing done that evening, and once again, I went to sleep alone. This is a common occurrence in my marriage, as it sometimes feels as if we are two people sharing a common household and raising the same kids, but the connection between us is non-existent.
Then it was Friday. Instead of doing my planned morning routine, knowing that my wife expressed on a number of occasions how difficult the few days I was away were, I spent most of the early morning hours helping out with the kids. My morning started at 5am when I jumped out of bed hearing that my wife was awake and was giving the kids food. I was excited to spend time with her (and I didn't want her to be alone), so I jumped out of bed and joined them. As soon as I got up, however, my wife went back to bed; "tag, you're 'it'." That game in my opinion sucks, and I hate it when she does that, but this seems to be her modus operandi. Knowing, however, that she had a tough few days, I spent the morning with the kids. However, I did explicitly confirm my wife that come 8am, I could not take them to camp (as I knew she would want me to), because I needed to get to the office. I asked her if she would be willing to take them (since usually when I help out in the mornings, I also take them to camp -- but today I could not). She agreed.
Apparently she did not realize that I was home with the sole intention of being helpful because around 7:30am, she complained to me why I was still home and why I had not yet gone to work (completely oblivious of the fact that the whole morning was focused on helping her and the kids so that she could take it easy). Obviously she was still preparing the clothes and food for camp, and I did sit down at one point and have coffee, but still -- the morning was focused on spending time with the kids and keeping them occupied and away from my wife who needed the space.
I came home Friday being wiped out. I was half asleep, but I pushed myself so that I could give my wife some slack so that she could "recover" from my trip (by the way, not once [until now that I am writing this] did I ask myself, "shouldn't *I* be the one that needs to recover from what was a very stressful and work intensive experience?"). I watched the kids and helped out around the house ignoring my own needs, and I forced myself to keep my eyes open and to stay alert and cheerful, knowing what should come after Shabbos dinner. I even drank coffee right before Shabbos so that I would be awake. I put the kids to bed, and then when it came time for Kiddush, thinking that it would just be myself and my wife, there was a knock at the door. My wife invited her dad over for Shabbos dinner without telling me -- this was a complete surprise to me, and while I love having him over, this evening I would have rather been alone with my wife.
The dinner lasted for literally hours. He kept talking about medusot (jellyfish) in Israel, how his nuts were on fire, and story after story. Fighting myself not to fall asleep, I stayed awake throughout the whole long dinner (note, our Shabbos dinners when we are alone are 15-20 minutes, tops). I involuntarily nodded off against the back of my chair for a few seconds at least three or four times -- that is how uncontrollably tired I was. However, I wanted to stay awake so that I can be there for my wife. [Religious people could figure out what I am referring to.]
After I bentched, I sat down on the couch [purposefully not the bed, to communicate that I had no intention of sleeping for more than a few minutes], and I closed my eyes as my wife walked her dad out the door. I was closing my eyes and gathering my strength so that I can be present for my wife. I could have easily gone to sleep on the bed if I wanted to sleep, but the previous week, we explicitly discussed that there was nothing wrong with waking me up if I was asleep on the couch after a miscommunication over me laying down and falling asleep on the couch the erev Shabbos beforehand. After all my efforts these past few days, and considering that it was literally a week or so since the last time we were together in private, I was SURE we would be spending some time together catching up after her father left.
...I woke up at 12am on the couch, surprised and disappointed once again. My wife had gone to sleep without waking me up. I was a bit confused and a bit disappointed, but then I thought my wife might be waiting for me (obviously not lying awake, but knowing that I would come say hello eventually), and that perhaps she was giving me some time to recuperate. I went in to cuddle with her, and she was upset that I woke her up. I then rolled over and went to sleep next to her in her bed thinking that maybe she'd come find me at some point. I would have stripped off my clothes to make my message quite obvious, but the last time I did that many months beforehand, I woke up with the kids jumping on me, and no action.
No surprise, I woke up alone [yet again]. I joined the family, and I spent the entire Shabbos day being present and involved in my family. I didn't go to shul -- my own fault because of timing and my issues with showing up late -- but I did change three diapers, something that made my wife very happy.
The entire day I spent talking with my wife, and sharing with her and speaking with her about many things that comprised our common interests. We discussed how she wanted to go back to work, and we discussed our marriage counselor, things that were discussed, and how advice we were given paralleled John Grey's "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" book, Chapter 13.
Shabbos ended, we put the kids to bed, and after all this week (especially since nothing happened the night before, or even the week before or the week before that), I thought for sure we would share a few moments together in private. I said Havdallah, put the kids to bed, and then when I came out, she was sitting in the dark. I started talking to, holding hands, and kissing my wife. We moved to the bedroom because she wanted to brush her teeth (hinting probably that my breath was not fresh); I brushed as well. Then I suggested that we shower off since we were probably grimy from Shabbos. After I was finished, I joined her in her shower, but immediately upon closing the lights, she yelled and complained that it was dark, and then when I turned the lights back on and joined her, she shut the water. "Okay, awkward timing, I thought." Then she told me that she was still upset at me for not caring about her being sick when I returned from the trip, and that she was not interested in being physical.
...WHAT!?! After ALL THAT WORK!?! After all that time spent on her to make her comfortable and to feel taken care of?!? Are you KIDDING ME?
Holding back my own anger and desire to explode from what felt to me like a coquettish manipulation followed by an overt rejection, I said that I understood, and that I would be in the living room if she wanted to speak about it. Yet inside my heart, my blood was boiling and I was quite hurt. I sat down on the living room couch, I opened up my laptop and I started to type this blog entry. She sat down next to me and without speaking to me, she started watching her Netflix TV shows, completely ignoring me. After a while, a bit upset, I stood up with my laptop, and moved over to the dining room with a bit of a huff. I couldn't be around her.
She came into the dining room roughly an hour later and told me that she didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but she felt that I didn't do anything to show her that I cared about her, or to show that I cared that she was sick when I was gone and that she had a very difficult time. I sat there and listened wondering whether we were in the same house for the past few days and how is it physically possible that she completely overlooked EVERYTHING I did... specifically to help her rest and to show her that I loved her. She then proceeded to tell me that I never asked her about how she was feeling, etc., where at this point, I lost it. I couldn't listen to her bullshit anymore because I asked her roughly a hundred times and she sometimes gave me one-worded answers, and other times, she said a sentence or so, but I did ask so many times about how she was doing... and now she is saying that this never happened?!? Are you KIDDING me?
So I lost it. I raised my voice and I started listing the times I asked about her and her well being, and how it was her that never opened up or shared anything. I told her that I thought she lived in a "poor me" reality where she keeps replaying words like "he doesn't care about me; he doesn't listen to me, etc." in her head completely ignoring what is going on in reality. I was pissed. She didn't want to hear it and walked out. I followed her into the living room and I told her she was fucking nuts (obviously a misstep; whenever I chase my wife into another room to continue an argument I usually say the wrong thing), and as I write this article, I am quite upset, hurt, and I am feeling quite alone.
Later, she came to the doorway and told me that she didn't mean to hurt me. I told her I understood, and I said "okay," still visibly hurt. As far as I'm concerned, what she said was lip service and it meant nothing to me. I'm not okay with someone doing something, apologizing, then doing it again. We have obviously been down this road before, and I'm not okay with the way things are. I think the intimacy level between us sucks, and I think I would have more of a connection with a stranger I meet on the street than I have with my own wife. It's pitiful.