A few months back a man named Larry wrote to thank me for my married sex series. He told me he'd been thinking of doing "something foolish" in his 20+ year marriage, but after reading my posts about the sometimes embarrassing ignominies of keeping sex vital in my own long-term marriage, he could finally have a sense of humor about his situation, and for him, that changed everything. I have no idea what the "foolish thing" was that Larry decided not to do, but I did receive an unexpected 50$ Starbucks gift card from Larry in my mailbox as thanks, and the story of how he fell in love with his wife. Both of those things made my month. So here is the post from my site, The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful that started my married sex series where I believe humor may be the most important ingredient in maintaining a healthy marriage. I've given Henry and I pseudonyms. I hope you enjoy: Sarah and Simon had been married ten years.  They had two children, Octavia and Penelope, ages two and four.  Their angels and their succubae.  The couple shared a post-partum stress disorder that manifested in the certainty that their daughters would be felled by whooping cough, kidnapped by infertile women, attacked by the neighbor’s Labradoodle or would, just generally, be short-lived. Doctors prescribed them both a regimen of anti-depressants to eliminate their symptoms of anxiety, which included insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Dendrophobia (an inordinate fear of trees).  The medication held the insanity of raising small children at bay, but Zen didn't come cheap.  They paid for it in the currency of lust.  Leaving none between them. When every living creature was asleep, well after a long day of the various ministrations that came with the role of wife, mother and pet owner, Sarah had taken to ... pleasuring herself while watching Cabo San Lucas Nights on TV; soft porn included in the basic cable package. She’d burrow beneath the family afghan, one hand clutching the TV remote lest a sleepless child interrupt, the other hand thrust beneath her underwear.  She became a rigid mass of perspiration and effort, her orgasm as elusive as calculus.  She was twelve-years old again, in the basement of her childhood home, furtively reading Irving Wallace’s The Fan Club, a novel sensitively detailing the gang rape of an abducted movie star by a nefarious quartet, one of whom manages to bring her to orgasm. Sarah worried that, should she ever interact with other adults again, she might have an affair.  That her languishing libido would rear its ever-morphing, capricious, hela-monster head and she'd be compelled to consider their fifty-something gardener, Porfidio, as something other than the person who mowed and watered their lawn every Thursday at three. Suddenly she'd notice he was tall for a Mexican, over six feet.  Did that mean he was Oaxacan?  Perhaps he wasn't Mexican at all?  Were men taller in Ecuador?  She'd notice his stoop from hard labor, his composure and dignity, his bemusement at her fumbling Spanish.  She'd notice his hands, the long, calloused fingers that might have coaxed sonatas from a baby grand, or steadfastly repaired an aortic tear, an esophageal rupture, a pre-frontal aneurism.  Not to mention what they might elicit from the female body.

One of the most unexpected and sneaky tactics of a veteran narcissist/Asshat to keep you in an emotionally abusive relationship is ... drumroll please ... the C-word. Not that C-word! Jeez, guys.

No, the word I'm referring to is CRITICISM.

It would be unfair to say that, prior to the Asshat coming along, we had unmitigated self regard. At least that wasn't the case for me. When I started college I was just emerging from a fairly horrific awkward phase which included that Triumvirate of Terror:
  1. Zits
  2. Naturally frizzy hair aka pubic head
  3. Non-existent breast flesh.
Having said that, by the time my freshman year of college rolled around the zits were gone, the boobs filled a small B-cup and the pubic head ebbed and flowed with the ever-evolving curling iron/hair gel technology. There was a light at the end of that spit-curl tunnel. But then I fell in love with the Greek God. I've mentioned him previously and have to reiterate that there was some real love in our 5-year relationship, but it was always undercut by a current of Asshattery on his part, and masochism on mine. When the three-month honeymoon period ended that C-word reared its ugly head. We were sitting on my dorm bed. I was wearing shorts when he reached over, pinched my thigh and a few little dimples appeared. "Oh man, you've got cellulite," he said. "Cellulite?" I queried. At 18 I didn't know what cellulite was. I'd spent puberty and beyond pretty much skin-and-bones, just wishing I could put on a few pounds to fill out my Jordache jeans, so cellulite was, as yet, unknown to me. I learned a great deal about cellulite from the Greek God.
  1. It's disgusting and verges on sinful.
  2. It's caused by laziness and lack of discipline.
  3. It's unattractive and makes men not want to have sex with you.
  4. You'll never be good enough until that cellulite is gone.
This is what I looked like with my cellulite: [caption id="attachment_14601" align="aligncenter" width="600"]signs of an emotionally abusive relationship This is a blurry action shot, but I think you might see the point I'm making.[/caption]

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship!

You know you're doing it, aren't you? Giving the Asshat credit for doing the absolute minimum required to keep a relationship trudging along? What do I mean by Asshat? This:
  • They don't call when they say they will.
  • They don't show up when expected.
  • They brood at social gatherings with friends and family.
  • You're fairly certain they're cheating on you in office cubicles, toilet stalls and perhaps even in your own bed.
These are all the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. There are some people for whom the dyed-in-Charmin Asshat holds no charm. These emotionally healthy people kick Asshats to the curb once they've disappointed them for the very first time. Then there are the rest of us. We will suffer Asshats gladly for weeks, months, nay years at a time. I was an Asshat-magnet for approximately ten years. Asshats could sniff out my needy co-dependence from 100 miles away as the crow flies. And one of the things that kept me trapped in my Asshatalicious relationship FOR FIVE YEARS was my ability to take the Asshat's bread crumbs and whip them into a rustic loaf, because I absolutely wanted to make a case for staying in the relationship. For example: