We had an interesting discussion last week at our therapy appointment. It revolved around the emotional sharing that occurs in a relationship. For most of our relationship, William has been resistant to this sharing. I knew he had emotions. I knew he loved me and the kids. I always thought of him as "still waters running deep." But I didn't realize until recently how much of himself he didn't share, how much he kept to himself. Even more than the sexual fantasies, he didn't share his desires, fears, and feelings - he didn't share himself. Prior to September 17th, William had been physically affectionate with hugs and kisses outside of the bedroom, he has participated in raising our children, he had done the surface things required of him as a husband and father., but it was a false front.
In the beginning of our discussion, William revealed that his fears. He felt that fully sharing himself emotionally with me would somehow dilute him; make him less than himself. He felt that I was asking him to sacrifice him as an individual on the alter of our marriage. Funny. I don't see it that way at all. In fact, I believe that it's the exact opposite. I believe that emotional sharing would make him MORE, not less. Certainly not less of an individual. I see that sharing as a way to "flesh out" the ghost partner that I've had for seven years, making him more real, more solid. Definitely not diluted. I actually believe that the emotional sharing is a key component of a committed relationship - otherwise we'd just be friends with privileges. Or maybe even less, maybe just roommates. And after much discussion and thought, I asked William to take that leap...regardless of his fears. I asked him to begin to share himself. And he agreed. And what's more, he followed up his words with an action. This week, he asked for my help with a recurring problem that he has never asked for my help with before. A problem that I have asked to be allowed to help with for years, a request that he had always denied previously. It was a big deal for both of us - and I can't tell you how good it made me feel.
William's reluctance to share his emotional self, to allow me "in" makes me think about some of the comments left on this blog and others. It's made me think about William's instinct to satisfy all of his needs himself - and what that "all" encompasses. About the fear of one's own inadequacies. About the dark and lonely side of AGP. And I believe that, in the same way that change, even a positive one, is scary, William is afraid to let this go. After all, this secret and secluded way of living is all he has ever known. In some ways, I am honored that he is fighting himself so hard...for me...for us.
In case you can't tell, I'm actually at a high point this week. I feel good. I am very happy that William is open to trying, to making efforts, to put himself into our marriage.
And so we continue our work...