Liz: Brent and I have been married for seven years. Maybe that's the magic number, as the phrase "The svene year itch" alludes to. I know it was meant for men, but I think woman can have the same itch! We have no children together, but I have a son and a daughter from a previous marriage and Brent has three children, the oldest girl nineteen and a set of twin boys, sixteen. The kids are a problem and almost tore us apart but hey, that's part of the deal. That seems to be an ongoing saga.
Blended families are difficult at best. Generally speaking, Brent is a great guy. We have a beautiful home in the suburbs, a family vacation once a year and Brent and I usually take some time for ourselves every couple of months. Sounds perfect, right? Well, it's not. Brett's got one bad habit. He's a deal junkie. He has two phones growing out of both ears, four computers with four different email addresses, and he spends more time with those gadgets than with me. His idea of a relationship is to provide well so his wife can be one of his gadgets when and where he wants to use it. Well, I didn't sign up for this. In truth, I knew Brent loved his toys when I married him. Every new technical instrument that came on the market, he was first in line to buy. What I didn't know was that I would be on the back burner when his deals and gadgets took priority. My sex life felt like I had to plug myself into some receptacle to turn on, like a computer, and then become a receptacle for him. I felt like one of his gadgets.
Yes, we would talk about it; perhaps too often. I didn't like the way I sounded. I reminded myself of my mother who ragged on my father for spending too much time in the basement building his model airplanes. I once promised myself that I would never be like her. But, like everything else I promised I wouldn't be like, I seemed to have inherited many of those unattractive traits. However, in deference to me, I would have to say that Brent went beyond using his technical toys as a hobby. They were integrated into him.
Brent lived and breathed deals. His gadgets were his vehicles to pursue his deals. Our magic moments on the getaway weekends included all his mistresses (devices). Brent was having an affair with his gadgets. Talk about an addiction! I tried to find a 12 Step Meeting for Deal Junkies, but as of now, there are none. Some men are sports addicts; some are alcoholics or drug abusers; others are womanizers, sex addicts, etc. Brent is a deal junkie and with that come the tools of the gadgets! I don't think we ever had a single conversation without being interrupted by his phone, is texts, his email, or his beeper. The beeper has waned a bit since text messaging swept the world. Technology has taken over intimacy and, I hate it.
How can a woman who is ready to cum enjoy an orgasm when those tech noises interrupt the moment? How can I finish a sentence and hold onto my thought while he answers his phone? I feel like I live in an early Woody Allen movie and my competition are his addictions. The worst part is he doesn't even realize that I'm turned off; and even worse, he doesn't seem to care. So after seven lonely years, we did what most couples do, we went to counseling. He wanted to know why I thought we needed someone outside ourselves to help us with something that we fix ourselves, but was willing, although reluctant, to go. Brent and I were clearly on two different planets.
The therapist, Paul, discovered quickly what was going on. I was not sure how he interpreted it, because I talked nearly the whole session, so it required another just for Brent to tell his side. I found it interesting that what Brent said no way matched what I had said. We saw our relationship as if we were living in two different marriages. Strangely, when Brent spoke, he sounded like a stranger to me. "Is this my husband?", I thought. Brent's tone was soft and his words, carefully chosen. He was articulate and appeared very interested in my welfare. I on the other hand, sounded like a shrew, almost hysterical, certainly pressured and frustrated. Brent minimized my complaints, stating that I am overreactive and tended to exaggerate somewhat.
Our perception of the same thing was totally different. The therapist showed us both a picture of a woman that you could see two ways. One looked like an old hag, and the other, a beautiful young woman. We each saw the same picture differently. What an eye opener! Brent appeared relaxed and comfortable; I was clearly angry and agitated. As I imagined, Paul asked to see us separately on the third visit.
I gave Paul some history. I loved Brent from the moment we met. He was powerful, flashy, fun, exciting and confident and most of all, very communicative. In fact, I thought we mirrored each other. Although, not quite the entrepreneur as Brent is, I thought I brought a lot to the banquet. I had a background in mental health. I was the director of Social Work at a hospital when we met. Brent had a law background, but slowly recognized his entrepreneurial interests, skills and talent, so he exchanged the practice of law to deal junkie. He was good at both. Actually, his law background enhanced his business acumen. He was charming; people fell in love with him, as he is trustworthy and always on the wave of the newest technology. I was loving, open, and intelligent (albeit, not as brilliant as Brent, but could hold my own in any situation).
I explained my frustration to Paul, fearful not to vilify Brent, but told him I was concerned that Brent's priorities were often misplaced. My major complaint was that he had no boundaries; couldn't say no to anyone and that he didn't protect me emotionally. I felt like I was second to his business and all the accoutrements that went with it.
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