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When You’re Walking On Eggshells
September 24, 2010 By 13 Comments
Much of what I’m talking about on the blog is stuff that’s really designed to get a relationship that’s in that somewhat below average sort of a slump to move upwards into something more vibrant. A lot of what I’m recommending boils down to just being playful with her. Some light teasing, some deep kissing, pulling her in towards you, a good long sex session and a playful slap on her ass.
It’s all good stuff and it really does work. However if things are really pretty difficult between you, awkward silence, distance and a trickle of tears at the kitchen sink, suddenly bouncing over to her and rubbing your crotch on her ass and staying “later baby” is going to be… ineffective.
She’s just not interested in that anymore. At this point you’re a negative in the equation over whether divorce happens, the positives are things like the house, the children liking you, the history together, and not having to start over again. “I need space” means “I need less of your negative factor in my face because I’d rather not divorce right now but you’re forcing me towards choosing that outcome.”
I’ve had a reasonably long email back and forth with a reader over the last two days about some of this. I’m not able to spill particular details on the person/couple, but the general stuff applies. The short version is that she asked him to just move out. As far as is known, there’s no other man involved here. (Which would vastly alter my advice here.)
“Initially, she was unwilling to do anything to try to patch things back up — no concerted effort, no counseling, nothing. She just wanted me out of the house, so she could “think about things.” She’s since backed off a bit and says she’d be willing to see a counselor. I told her I wouldn’t move out (I work from the house, my kids live there, and, damnit!, it’s my house!), but as a compromise I’d shift my operations to the basement for a while.”
When it’s this far down the road towards splitting apart, there’s no time for games anymore. When she’s giddy for you, you can try something risky that’s potentially very exciting and hot or might just backfire on you. If she’s at 95% interest in you and you try something like pulling hard on her hair during doggy style, she either gets more excited and heads towards 100% interest level, or says “OW! THAT’S MY HAIR!” and has her interest level fall towards 90%. But either way the relationship doesn’t fail outright. If you take a big risk when she’s down around the 35% interest level and it fails, you can push her below that “I’m trying to stay together for the kids” threshold. That’s very very bad. Attorney bad. Game over man, game over.
So you have to play a bit more of a safety approach and just be utterly truthful about the reality of the situation. You have to tell her her you love her with total sincerity. You also have to tell her that you believe that she loves you. You tell her that you know that things right now are very bad between you both. That whether she wants it or not, you are going to try and turn things around, and if she is willing to start working with you, this is the lowest point in your marriage together.
“I’m a little concerned about striking the right balance between a) accepting my (large) share of the blame, and b) making myself more desirable by not being a total wimp. That’s part of the reason, for example, I decided not to move out. It’s a little like tucking your tail between your legs and slinking off. Do you have any thoughts on that balance?”
It’s all in the framing of the thing. The point is not so much to assign blame for getting into the situation, you can do that until the cows come home and make no progress at all. He said, she said and it’s all just like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
The way out is to frame that you are willing to take the lead to get you both out of it. At some point she will either come on board or she won’t. The trick is to find out what you do together when the relationship is working positively and focus on that as something to do more of. You can actually be quite verbally firm in framing this. You’re not trying to win a logical / rational argument here, you’re trying to win on a more emotional level that frames you as simply the stronger person.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about a very low key way to keep the pilot light of love alive. And again… this all assumes no other man is involved with your wife.