I’ve had these three things jiggling around in my head and I’m going to try to see if I can pull them together in a way that makes sense. In case I don’t, the idea I want to get a cross is that women have a lot of “invisible” power in relationships and that invisible power damages relationships as long as it stays unacknowledged.
The first invisible power is over sex. The second is over food.
In my marriage, yes breaks the tie when one of us wants to have sex and the other doesn’t. Friends of ours gave us the idea years ago, back when we were in our late 20s, way before the idea of sex addiction ever reared its head in our relationship. At that time, up until I met my former therapist, my sexual acting out consisted of erotica and masturbation. Was I compulsive? Yes. Was my life unmanageable? Absolutely not. But that was before Fr. M the wonder therapist. Afterward, as we were putting our lives back together, I basically stopped asking for sex because I couldn’t really tell the difference between normal sexual desire and sexual compulsivity and trying to figure it out was driving me crazy. But now that I’m better we’re back to yes breaks the tie, although to be perfectly honest, we’re a lot older now. I’m 46 and my husband’s 49. Sometimes it’s just too much bother to try to get things going and we put it off until the next night.
My husband loves to cook but generally, I’m the one who does the cooking in our house. I’m also the one who buys most of the groceries. So basically, we eat what I say we’re going to eat. Now that I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom, sometimes I come home and find that dinner’s been made. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice surprise but it’s always a bit of a jolt because normally, my family eats what I feel like eating. Sometimes I come home to spaghetti when I felt like having grilled chicken salad. When I come home to spaghetti cooking and a pile of groceries on the counter, that’s even more aggravating. Again, I’m glad for the help, but my husband doesn’t buy exactly what I’d buy. He never buys swiss chard. I never buy cake. He’s the king of treats!
In most marriages, women control two of the most basic pleasures in life, sex and food. That can be a cold, lonely place for the men. They’re in the position of having to ask for what they want and having to be grateful for what they get even if it’s not exactly what they want.
Interestingly enough, this has been swirling around in my mind because I recently discovered that my husband has been cheating. He got caught when the results of his blood work came back showing that his cholesterol is very high. I was surprised because we eat a very healthy diet, lots of swiss chard and very little cake. But what I didn’t know was that my husband has been cheating for a long time. Instead of grabbing the fruit or oatmeal I have for him here at home, he’d been making a daily stop at the Dunkin Donuts. He intends to just get coffee but usually ends up adding a donut or muffin. And at lunch time, he’d often stop and grab a quick hamburger at McDonald’s and then come by the office and eat the salad I’d ordered for him. I was shocked. I honestly had no idea he’d been doing this, he’s a health nut! He exercises daily and preaches healthy diet and exercise to his patients. This behavior was completely out of whack with his personal ideals. He was really embarrassed at having to confess this little secret life of his and I was astonished that I could be so completely in the dark about his life.
I know my husband has a sweet tooth. But I don’t. Sweets aren’t good for you and I don’t buy them. This feels righteous and good to me when I stop to think about it, which is rare because I’ve been skipping the potato chip and cookie aisles in the grocery store for over 20 years now. That stuff doesn’t even register as a temptation for me, other than ice-cream isle. It’s really eerily familiar in a reverse way to how he never noticed the porn shops on the way to our nearest major city. I could tell you exactly where those suckers are. How could anyone miss them? Now I know. The same way I miss the sweet stuff in the grocery store. I love my husband dearly. I’m hoping that after a while, the healthy sweet stuff I’ve been buying will be more appealing to him. I noticed this morning that the organic chocolate cookies made without hydrogenated oil is still unopened. I’m guessing that the healthy sweets don’t taste as good as the unhealthy ones, which is why he’d leave the fruit on the counter and buy a donut on the way to work instead.
It’s been interesting how I’ve been feeling about his “disclosure.” Concerned about his health, that’s for sure. I love this guy, and the deal is that we’re both going to live to 80 and then drop dead together at the same time. Compassion. I absolutely know what it’s like to do that which you do not want to do, over and over. Superiority. I don’t have any trouble not eating sweets. Hurt. Why sneak? But mostly I think we need to redress the imbalance of power in our relationship regarding food. It’s really not fair that I make all the food choices. So I’m trying out how to extend “yes breaks the tie” even though it’s tempting to stroke those feelings of superiority and allow my compassion to become condescending.