I once read a statement by an LDS Church official (perhaps by one of the prophets, I cannot remember) that said one shouldn’t talk negatively about one’s spouse in public. That is sound advice, for it often leads one to only think of the negative. Furthermore, it tends to diminish the reputation of the one doing the talking and not the one being talked about. Of course, there are a myriad of other obvious woes that can beset one engaged in such activities.
Having said that, and believing it in most cases, I must risk sounding hypocritical and relate my current challenges regarding my spouse. Before doing that, I would like to reiterate the caveat that these words are only my opinions. Of course, the people I write about have their own opinions, and they frequently contradict mine.
Shu Mei and I are nearing another wedding anniversary. It is our fourth, but to me it feels like our fortieth. Most marriages begin with long romantic bliss, followed by an extended adjustment period and then relax into a prolonged groove. That is how ours has been, too, except for the “long”, “extended”, and “prolonged” aspects. And the “groove” has been more like a rut.
Almost from the start (day 3 to be exact), Shu Mei considered divorce as a viable option to resolving our problems. To this day, she harbors desires to end our marriage completely. It has been an extremely difficult journey for me, thus far, trying my best to hold our marriage together. When I say “my “best” I am talking about my actions, not my thoughts. I have often toyed with the notion of what it would be like to grant Shu Mei what she has asked for on numerous occasions, a divorce. I feel on many fronts, I would personally be better off.
Before Shu Mei, I was a relatively happy single man for many years. Sure, I had some character flaws (i.e., I wasn’t good with money, I had a bit of an ego problem, and I was spiritually weak). I thought that marrying Shu Mei would help me overcome some of my flaws, as she seemingly possessed what I lacked. However, I feel that my strengths far-outweighed my weaknesses. After my parents first met Shu Mei, they told me that I was a lucky man to have encountered such a gem so late in life. I agreed with them, but also felt that Shu Mei was a lucky woman to have encountered me so late in her life.
I believe that a successful marriage is never easy. If it were, it wouldn’t be worth it. We can learn how to overcome many obstacles by reading about it in a book. Learning how to overcome other obstacles can come from things taught to us by our family members and friends. However, learning how to overcome some obstacles only comes through experiencing them firsthand. Thus, we need difficulties in marriages to learn how to grow. One of the great ways that marriage helps us grow is through the completion factor.
When one person lacks certain important traits, as I did, it is a great help to be married to someone who possesses those missing traits, as I thought I did. The key to the whole process lies in an equal amount of giving and taking by both parties. The way to reach this equality is to just focus on the giving part. The taking part happens naturally. In fact, if one focuses on the taking part at all, he or she has already created an imbalance in the relationship, tending on the side of taking, and progression stops.
Having experienced a variety of long-term relationships in the past, I knew all of this before marrying Shu Mei. She, on the other hand, was inexperienced and is still struggling to learn these things. I didn’t know this about her before getting married (love is blind, deaf, and dumb), but quickly realized shortly after, during our honeymoon.
I knew Shu Mei was sexually inexperienced. A virgin when we got married, Shu Mei had barely even kissed her last boyfriend after a seven-year courtship. (I couldn’t imagine sticking around a girl for seven years and only getting some kisses. Some of these devout Mormons are pretty strange characters, if you ask me.) Shu Mei and I hadn’t gone past kissing during our dating, but that was for less than a year and we were working toward a worthy LDS temple marriage. Knowing her naivety concerning sex didn’t change my feelings about her. Some men would have found it repulsive. Others would have found it alluring. I have to admit hat it didn’t make a whit of difference to me. I just figured there would be years of teaching in store for me. And it isn’t the worst teaching one could imagine.
Because of Shu Mei’s inexperience with sex, I bought her a sex manual. Sadly, she hasn’t read any of it to this day. Obviously, that has been a major area of difficulty in our relationship and one that I never anticipated. You see, even though we never engaged in any physical intimacy beyond playful kissing, I made certain that we talked about it. One of my biggest fears was for Shu Mei to become frigid after we got married. I voiced that fear to her on several occasions during the courtship period. She assured me that this would never happen. Time has proved otherwise.
That fear has become a reality and we’re going on two years without sex (and half that prior to the last time). Even kissing has been nearly nonexistent, with a small peck about every two or three months to keep up appearances for our sons. Admittedly, she has not been the only one rejecting physical advances. Initially, she was the one that rejected the advances, usually due in part to some small disagreement we had had prior to each advance. Almost immediately, Shu Mei withheld affection when we disagreed on matters. It must be made clear that I’m talking about disagreements here, not arguments. Even minor disagreements have always been cause for Shu Mei to recoil into her shell.
Somewhere along the line, after she rejected me countless times, I gave up trying. Then, she made a few meager attempts, which I shrugged off. I feel she did this just to satisfy her inner guilt for all the rejection she put me through. Because of this, she can now rest her conscience and point all the blame in my direction. I feel that is how her mind works, as I’ve seen this sort of thing in the past (although, not on quite this level). Now, that part of our relationship seems to be like that sex manual I gave her, sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
Aside from sex, Shu Mei and I have many other problems. I’ll leave talking about those for Part 2 of this missive.