Here is a very short description: There is a harsh competition between his interest in himself and the degree of care he has for others. In conflict resolution, we look at how those main interests balance and support each other. If you care for yourself and ignore others around you, it means that you are unable of sympathy and of recognizing other people needs’ as legitimate and equal to yours. Perhaps your “mirror neurons” are not working properly, and so you are blind to the needs of your partner? If you care for others too much and give up your self-protection, what will be left of you? Preserving your self-esteem AND caring for others have to be in a constant balancing act…there are days when you need to do things for others (if you have a sick mother, or child) and other moments in which your focus has to be in self-preservation and building your own core of happiness.
All this introduction has to do with our question: If having sex is so pleasurable for almost everybody, how come you find yourself willingly deprived of it? And, in a marriage where the contract itself says that both will “become one flesh”? Well, let’s hear from one wife, and please read this long forum posting, which presents very clearly this opposition between “HIS INTERESTS” and “OUR INTERESTS”:
“Husband and I have been married 20 years and at no time in this marriage has it been easy, or have found him to be emotionally engaged. He has always kept me at arm’s length. Always patting himself on the back for his calm personality while pointing out my “emotional challenges”. Talking to him is like talking to a brick wall, we can agree and then he goes and does whatever he wants. We were in counseling several years back due to his porn addiction….he believed it was fine for him to view naked women and have chats with ladies on line, he actually told me this. He sought out girls in his office to flirt with and all the while through all of this I am the one trying to make the marriage work, trying to communicate, trying to keep the home together, raise the kids and balance my own career.
I have always been the one going to him for everything….to talk, to have an idea on what to do or where to go, even sex. When I complain to him about our sexless marriage, he claims he doesn’t see my interest, that he knows that I wasn’t interested, the list goes on and on, because it is always my fault. Even when I correct his thoughts, it never makes a difference in his behavior.
When we do have any sex, there is no closeness, it seems very ritual or matter of fact. Over and over again I have asked him if he fears intimacy and if getting close makes him uncomfortable as this is what I sense and then again he turns it on me, saying he sensing that from me but he does not see himself this way. So we never have any real conversations, it’s always dumped on me.
Otherwise he is absorbed in his own world, an untouchable world that I obvious have no part of. Many times I have threatened to leave but as soon as I say so, he is begging me back, saying he just doesn’t understand what I need. Basically I have told him I just need to know you care, that you love me and that you want to spend time with me. It may last 2 weeks, he’ll actually put forth an effort and then it all ends again, over and over again.
We are in counseling. Counselor has not actually labeled husband as passive-agressive but we did take a test that showed what type of personality we each are. My personality is the one who engages with people, the helper, the listener, the loving one who likes to be around family and friends. He was the person who relationships mean nothing to, he is literal and thinks only for his wants and desires. The counselor basically let him know I was ready to walk because he was not able to extend any kind of loving gestures my direction. When he hears this kind of thing he gets defensive and thinks it would be fine for me to leave, making the most obnoxious passive aggressive comment I can think of. Counselor then told husband that he would not be able to replace me and then he changed his whole attitude and asked for her help. He tried to do some things differently, and I have to admit I have been resistant because I know as soon as I give up my claim, he will stop all together, that’s just the way he works. A couple of weeks have gone by and we are back in the same boat. He CANNOT give. He does not know how to love anyone more than himself. He has no compassion for others. I do not want my child crushed by a divorce but I do not know how much more I can take of this.”
This is such a clear description of the behavior of a narcissistic husband! Nothing else to be added…
There you have it…In the basic choice that we all have to face, because of reasons hidden in his past, he has decided that his own welfare is the purpose of the universe, and that he has to ignore everybody else’ concerns, even from people near him. Taking this choice forces him to isolate himself from any empathy feeling that could move him to open up and care for others…he must protect the only valuable entity: his own self.
I can’t imagine what twisted childhood forced him to locate his own self into a narcissistic cocoon. I can’t imagine either how can he change by himself, because any request for change is a real threat, and he will resist…
No easy choices at this point. If you are still dating, ask him for time, dedication, effort, his money, his car, whatever you can use…and watch his response. If he has excuses not to share, run away!
Want to learn more? You have always the conversations here, at the “AskNora” column….and of course, in our growing list of Kindle books,