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Author Topic: Limits of Compromise ** Longer post, sorry **

November 21, 2019, 04:05:55 PM
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To be honest, I never thought that I would find myself here; putting into public my private struggles for strangers to see, but I’m feeling that at this point that I really don’t have a choice.  The company and advice of strangers is likely better suited for honesty and right now, I could use some.
For the last three years I have been with a very nice woman, twelve years my junior.  Both of us being once divorced, we have found comfort, solace, respect and understanding in each other’s company post-marriage.  On most things, we agree or at the very least have learned to know what buttons can be pushed and which ones can’t.
Unfortunately, in the last year, a couple of buttons are stuck and can’t seem to find resolution.

As her partner, I try very hard to be a good one.  Domestically, because my occupation is done from our home, I am able and willing to take on household chores (as I should) to make sure that they are completed before the end of the work day to allow us to all spend some time as a family unit after my partners day is complete, rather than ‘coming home to a sink full of dishes’ or ‘piles of laundry’.  And, as such, I’m available to stay home with sick kids, be available when trouble arises and generally, be a loving, helpful, involved partner and parent to our children.

There are three children in the mix, two hers (a boy,8 and girl, 5) from her marriage and my son (boy, 11) and we do our best to navigate the raising of a mixed family.

The issues that I’m having are not new.  In some ways, they have both been there from the very beginning, though I thought that over time as we developed our relationship, the troubles would decrease, rather than increase.  As a partner, I am not ignorant of the past, neither hers, nor mine.  My ex-wife lives nearly an hour away, and aside from picking up my son and sporting events, we rarely see each other and she plays a role, albeit the necessary smaller role in my life.  We do our best to co-parent.
Her ex-husband lives in the same town as we do and with their visitation, he is at our place between 3-5 times per week and they text each other every day, several times a day.  I don’t have any fears of infidelity with him or anything like that.  We agreed in the beginning that we would try to manage their co-parenting arrangement in a way that would work.  Over the last year however, his presence has increased significantly.  Now, while his presence has increased, it’s on terms that they decide, not when it’s needed (he won’t take time off when they are sick, isn’t interested or included in schooling decisions, won’t actively participate in discipline, but instead wants to bark orders than talk solutions).  She has started to allow him to come over and do his laundry on the weekends, come watch football, and for the last 14 months, he is present at all of her family’s gatherings (Graduations, Holidays and Parties). 

The increased presence has started to make me feel like a third wheel in my own life, and frustrated by the fact that despite talking about it, my partner’s response is ‘what do you want me to do about it?’

I understand and appreciate the need for involvement.  But I feel like there is a defining line between being friendly with your ex; co-parenting and being civil and the level to which we have arrived at now.  In addition to that, I’m perfectly willing to be friendly, courteous and involved.  Lately however, I am starting to feel like the ‘manny’, rather then the man that she chose to be with.

The second issue that has become increasingly difficult to deal with is the ever decreasing frequency of intimacy (from conversation to simple touching to sex).  Our drives have never been completely aligned.  Hers, even from the beginning, has been less than mine.  In completely transparency, I’m not a guy that needs sex every night.  I’m perfectly comfortable with once a week (twice wouldn’t hurt my feelings, haha, but once is the general number we came to along the way) because we both have stressful jobs, a young family, sports, etc., so I made a conscious decision in the beginning to compromise on my patience level and try to be cognizant of what is going on and the differences in our drives.  But for the last year, that once a week has turned into much less than that (to about once every six weeks or so, sometimes longer), the conversation is far less and the simple physicality has diminished.  We share a bed, but only in terms of space.
Additionally, we are also complicated by two other factors.  First, she lays down with the children every night for bed and will, almost without fail, fall asleep with them.  Even though I don’t personally agree with it, who am I to tell her she is wrong?  Does it take away from time that we could have balancing out our relationship, yes, but that is her choice.  I’ve just learned to try and compromise on that.  That’s what partners do, right?

The second factor, more related to sex is that she will now not have sex if the kids are in the house, unlike our first year together.  And when we do have the opportunity, it’s not even close to a priority.  And honestly, for me and I've expressed this, it needs to be. She doesn't owe me sex and I'm not being pressuring.  I just enjoy the intimacy with my partner.  It invigorates me and makes me feel good about us, the closeness; all the stuff it should make you feel.

The main issue that I am having is that we all have levels of compromise.  From the very beginning, I was willing to compromise and be understanding of our varying needs and not be a pressuring/annoying partner about the subject.  But, we have gotten completely out of balance.  Despite being very consistent about flirting and being loving (and not to just get sex, but even simple connection), I’ve been rejected so many times that I have begun to stop trying.  I feel low and depressed and ashamed.  It has started to leave me questioning?  Has the attraction gone away?  Is there someone or something else?  Being physical and intimate is something that I think is very important for a couple, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even initiate.... why, what's the point?

The topic is, unfortunately, not approachable.  The few times that I have tried has been met with my being told that ‘I’m wrong’ and ‘I'm being stupid, this is what normal couples are like’…  I’ve tried to connect with her emotionally, but try to be delicate out of fear of her shutting down.  But it does need to be talked about, because it is hurting our relationship, or at the very least it’s making me wonder what I should do.  We both have invested so much into this, but honestly, I’m having a hard time rectifying the concept of the rest of my life being this way, where the person that I have love, unilaterally deciding that my intimate/sex life is over and who, where and how my life will be lived.

Thanks for listening.


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