My wife Annie and I have been married for 26 years. We had met while attending the same university and after I graduated took a job with a larger corporation in her hometown. She is 54 and I am 50. Our only child, a son is in the army and is stationed out of state.
We are very dissimilar but that does not seem to affect our relationship. Friends often still wonder how we got involved due to our differences, but our marriage seems to have lasted while most of theirs have come and gone. The one area where we seem to have disagreement is in the area of sex.
I didn't know before we were married that when she was younger, actually a pre-teen, a man that the family had known for years had attempted to molest her. It was interrupted before actual physical relations were started so she didn't think that it was anything to discuss before marriage.
What happened was that the incident combined with her upbringing caused her to have a very negative outlook on sex. We would have sex once or twice a month whether we needed to or not (you can hear my sarcastic tone, can't you).
Since we both took our wedding vows seriously we came to the agreement that I would understand her needs and concerns and she would not be bothered by me deciding to jack off a couple times a day.
I will admit since she is not looking over my shoulder right now, that at one time I sat down and really evaluated whether I wanted to remain married or not. The only negative was the sex and the fact that she was downright dowdy in her dress. She had a petit figure with a small bust and except when pregnant, she maintained her weight in the ideal range. I often suggested dressing to show off her figure but she always refused.
On the positive side, she was affectionate, loved staying at home and keeping a nice home, hated shopping, was not interested in jewelry, she budgeted far better than I ever did so we had a nice income and savings, would rather stay home than go out to eat and would only go to parties once or twice a year. She might be a little compulsive because she would rather keep house and cook than watch TV.
In short, because of not shopping, etc. she cost very little and was not fixated on money. She cost me as much in one year as one girl that I dated before we were married cost me in one long weekend. I finally decided that I had married an old-fashioned farm girl and gave up trying to change her.
Our cozy little life crashed, slammed and otherwise dissolved when the economy caused the company I was with to start layoffs. I was upper middle management so I thought I might be safe but when the president of the US started talking about proposed new healthcare laws, the company decided it couldn't take the financial savaging contained in the proposals and closed US operations and moved them to the overseas plants.
I was given the opportunity to transfer to head up the operation based in Cebu, Philippines. When I broached the subject with Annie, she flatly refused to discuss it and told me to get another job like I had.
Annie took on some house cleaning jobs to help with the income because she was afraid of dipping into our savings and investments.
I got frustrated looking for work because when I would apply, there were also 15 others that seemed to have an edge in line also; members of the proper club, related to the HR director, or any of the other seemingly useless little things that are suddenly important. When I was saving the company several million dollars a year I was the golden haired boy, now I was an outsider from another state.
I reverted to my roots. I had done apartment maintenance and industrial repairs for my father's business starting when I was in my early teens as a helper and progressing to a division head by the time I got married and moved into the corporate world. Since I was now with no significant income, I started repairing anything that people would call me to repair. This was good, but it in no way was enough for us to live on. I had no idea how that would change things in our home.
Annie had a cousin named Sue that was just a year older and since their childhood homes were separated by a hundred feet, they had grown up more like sisters than cousins. Sue was almost the opposite of Annie. She was certainly full figured at the least, an outgoing person that liked to travel and be doing, a very successful career woman that married in her late 30's to an older semi-retired man.
They had a good relationship but after only 10 years of marriage, cancer struck and took him shortly after the diagnosis.
Annie helped Sue regularly in some of the domestic areas that Sue had no interest in doing. They would visit and bemoan their respective problems and concerns and laugh and get on with life. Sue's husband had been dead for about 5 years when I got laid off.
Sue was on the phone to Annie and mentioned that she was having problems with some plumbing and an intercom that was stuck on and other small maintenance items that Howard normally had looked after when he was alive. Annie told Sue that she needed to have me come and get things fixed.
They set up a time that both of us would go and have supper and then I would work on the list of repairs. After supper I went to the basement to work. I started with the plumbing but to save trips up and down the stairs I had turned on the intercom and the lights that needed repaired so I could check them also.
What I found was the intercom switch was stuck so that everything said in the kitchen would be broadcast to any other speaker that was turned on in the house. The only one turned on was the one I had turned on in the basement. I heard them chattering while they were putting the food away and doing dishes.
Sue was wealthy but very tight with her money when it came to frivolity. She had no hesitation for spending to purchase quality, but for just three of us, it was hand wash and dry instead of using the dishwasher.
Sue did payroll for a couple who owned a chain of stores and Annie cleaned house for them so the two women had a lot in common to talk about.
I ignored them and just let it be background noise while I was working since I had listened to them talk hundreds of times. All of a sudden my attention was caught when I heard Annie talking about sex. " ... and he has asked to make love least once a month and sometimes twice a month since he has been off work. I think that is all he thinks about," Annie said. "He wanted to do some nasty stuff using his tongue to get me off like I was supposed to enjoy it. I don't know why he can't just get on top and get with it instead of all that fancy stuff. I don't mind if he feels my boob while we are cuddling, but I don't see why it has to be sex ALL the time."
"All the time," Sue asked, "I thought you said once or twice a month?"
"Well that is about twice as much as I need," Annie retorted.
I heard them talking in more detail. Sue asking what type of perverted things I wanted and telling how Howard was a frequent lover, but didn't last long and it was missionary position only. I found out that Annie had taught Sue about masturbation and they had tried it together. Interesting, I didn't know that.
I heard Sue ask Annie if she still liked to play around outside like they used to play and was stunned when Annie said that she wanted to but was afraid of getting caught again. AGAIN!!!!????? She went on to say that she always wanted to make love outside but wouldn't let me because she knew we would get caught or was afraid of what I might think of her. When was she caught? Now I knew that there were things that I needed to find out about her.
Sue went on to ask if I had a girlfriend on the side and when assured that I didn't asked Annie what she would say if I had one. "If you are getting more than what you want and he isn't getting nearly enough, why would you care?
"I would leave him in a moment if he did any such thing. A marriage isn't about sex, it is about a lot of other things, but if he betrays me in that way, how could I trust him any other way?" Annie declared.
"I see," Sue answered. She went on to ask Annie about my job search and what prospects I had. "I don't understand why people can't see what they are missing by not hiring him. He has an extensive hands-on background and experience combined with his education he could be such an asset in so many fields. I would always see stories in the business pages about how he had gotten a contract for one company or restructured another and expanded yet another for his employer."
"That is what makes it so frustrating. We are so desperate, if anything was offered he would take it no matter what it was." I heard Sue assuring Annie that she would mention it in her network of friends and see if she had any leads for us.
In my mind, I wasn't as desperate as Annie was but I knew that she wanted to be at home again instead of working outside of the home. I tuned out the conversation and finished the list of repairs.
I totaled up the time and materials and gave Sue the bill. I apologized for billing her for helping family.
"I expected a bill when I asked you to do this and I know you have helped me many times in the past years and never charged me so don't feel bad. You know as well as I do that Howard left me very well off when he passed away and I have the income from the apartment units that he owned before we were married. I don't waste money and paying you a fair wage for an excellent job is not a waste."
After a little visiting we left. On the way home, Annie very hopefully told me about Sue's offer to recommend me to her friends. She told me that I "had better be prepared to take anything that came up." There was no direct threat but after all of these years of marriage I completely understood that there would be serious hell to pay, not excluding divorce.
I didn't think much more about it until I got a call on my cell phone while I was working and Annie wanted to know if I could got to Sue's house that evening. I told her that I could reschedule a service call so I could make time for that.
When we arrived, Sue invited us in and we sat at the kitchen table. After serving us iced tea and visiting, Sue got right to the point. "I have decided that I might consider hiring you part time to work for me. It would vary what you would do, some days you would do repairs on the apartment houses, some days you would be doing business planning since I want to get out of the landlord business in the most profitable way, other days you would do whatever I tell you to do. Some days would not be very pleasant and others wouldn't be quite so bad. I am willing to pay $1000 a week which I know is high for maintenance work, but it is also low for the business planning that I expect you to do for me. Hopefully it will make up for the unpleasant days. Would you be interested?"
I sat there and thought about it for a moment when Annie spoke up. "He is very happy to take it. I don't care how unpleasant it is, he will be happy to do it." I knew that she was at the end of her rope working, but I didn't realize it was that bad. I hadn't been debating whether to take the work, but thinking that it would allow Annie to quit working outside our home if she wanted to quit some of her cleaning jobs.
Sue looked at me and asked, "We have heard from the boss," and laughed jokingly and continued, "but do you have any questions?"
"In general, no. When do you want me to start and when you say "whatever I tell you to do," can you give me an example?"
Annie interrupted me and firmly stated, "You will do whatever she needs done. Do you understand?"
Sue looked at her and asked, "Does that mean that you support him fully working for me as needed?" Somehow I sensed that there was more to the question than Annie was sensing. She was so focused on my getting work so that she wouldn't have to work that she didn't seem to see the trap.
"As long as he is working, I don't mind if I have to help out a little, but I will not be working full time anymore."
"Good," Sue said smugly, "you have answered my next question. I was going to ask if you minded if he took care of my sexual needs when I needed some sex, but you have answered that question. Or," she slid the knife in, "are you going to change your mind now about him helping me?"
Annie stuttered and tried to back up on her unequivocal declarations that I would be helping in any way that was needed. After a couple minutes of excuses and double talk Sue finally interrupted.
"If you don't want him working for me it is no problem. You told me that he would be available and you even used the word "happy" to do whatever I needed. You also told me that he was always bothering you for sex, sometimes even as much as once or twice a month. I was hoping that I could help out with some of the excess that you don't want." She paused and then continued, "Let's just forget about working for me, and that way there will be no problem."
"But can't he do the other work that you need done?" Annie protested. "He needs work so I don't have to work all the time. You have a lot of work that isn't sex that he can do for you." We could both hear the desperate tone in her voice.
"Annie," Sue said quietly but firmly, "How do I know what the next thing is that you will say no to? If I need to have him go with me to an evening meeting or conference, if I have to go out of town, what will you say no about? I am expanding a side business and wanted to get his help in addition to the maintenance. I was planning on letting you accompany him if we needed to do something, but I think we better just do something else."
"But I wouldn't do that!!!" Annie protested. "It is just the sex that is the problem."
"No, Annie, it is not. Control is the problem. You sat here promising that there was nothing no matter how unpleasant that your husband wouldn't do if he would work and you could stay home. Now we have gone from anything to all except this one thing now. When will your promise change again? What will be so inconvenient that you will change your mind? He has worked and made it possible for you to stay home and now you are desperately committing him to things without even asking him his opinion."
Sue paused a moment and went on, "I am going to leave it at an all or nothing option. It is either you agree to all or nothing. You two need to go home and discuss this in detail rather than you demanding that your husband do whatever you tell him to do so YOU can be Helen homemaker again."
Annie started to talk but Sue firmly interrupted her and told her that there would be no more discussion until after we had our discussion in private. "I will not be the cause of your divorce, but your self-centered focus well might be if you don't get things into perspective, Annie."
There was little discussion that took place before we left. The silence weighted heavily in the car as we rode along. When we got home we both got some coffee and went into the library and sat down.
Annie finally broke the silence, "Were you really going to have sex with Sue?" she burst out.
I looked at her and gently but firmly reminded her, "I made no commitments to anything. I was still asking questions when you told both of us that I would be doing whatever Sue told me to do. You recall I was still trying to find out what all was involved..."
Annie interrupted me with a tirade, "Why are you two trying to blame this on me? I was just trying to help you get work. You were just sitting there asking questions instead of taking the work when she was offering it to you. I had to jump in and take it because you weren't taking it." She continued on in the similar vein.
When she ran out of wind, I once again calmly reminded her, "I did not take any work that I didn't understand. You were the one that told her that I would do whatever she said and then when you found out that there might be sex involved, started back tracking. In business, you do not agree to something if you don't know what you are agreeing to, unless you want to end up bankrupt. Now, do you want me to work for Sue or not? She has told you what that might entail so now it is up to you. What do you want done?
"I want you to work for her but I don't want you to have sex with her. Can't you just work?"
"Annie, listen to me, she is your cousin, not mine. She has told you it is all or nothing. I overheard you telling her that you think sex more than once or twice a month is all the time. You two work it out. When you get your details worked out, then I will talk to her as one businessperson to another. You are dealing with her from the standpoint of family and emotion. When you bid on a job, you either deal with all the issues presented or negotiate for other details. What you did was to cut off any negotiation leaving nowhere to turn. When you two get your arguing done, then I will talk to her knowing what you are willing to do and what I can do. Right now, I can't say anything because you are trying to be in the driver's seat."
Annie was crying by now but I decided to finish my venting. "When you are done trying to run things from desperation, you will find that there might be other options. I don't know if Sue will back down or not. I am going to bed. I have a big day tomorrow. When you are done talking to her, then I will take my turn." I gave her a hug and kiss goodnight and assured her that I DID still love her.
I went about my work, scheduling appointments and calls. I enjoyed the hands on work but I knew that my body was not as young as it had been when I was doing this type of work years ago. I didn't tell Annie because I knew that she would once again try to micromanage, but my consulting work was beginning to take off. I was getting contracts signed and work scheduled. I expected that in four to six weeks, I would have my current income more than doubled and replaced with one to five year contracts.
I hadn't told Annie any of this, because I knew that she would start demanding that it happen NOW and not when negotiations were finished. If I didn't get it done in time, she would likely call and ask why they couldn't hurry things up. She had already done this once before and never told me about it. I found out when the owner called me to cancel further negotiations. "I will not work with someone whose wife will call and interfere when she doesn't know anything except that there is to be a payday. If we don't have the details worked out, how can we agree on a price?"
When I confronted her, Annie's answer was that he had no intention of paying or else he would have done it when she called and told him that I needed the work. I actually agreed with her that I didn't think that we would have ever been able to come to an agreeable price, but I didn't tell her that because she was trying to excuse her deliberate interference. I knew that her desperation was getting out of hand so I decided not to agree with her and condone her actions.
I got a call from Sue on my cell phone asking if Annie was there or if I was able to speak freely. I told her that I was en route to a consulting job and was able to speak freely. She told me that as I had suspected, most of her talk the previous night had been to shake Annie up. Sue wanted her to get a reality check and understand that her demanding behavior was counterproductive.
"After you left, I did wonder, what would you have done if she had been willing to let you go ahead with whatever I asked you to do?" Sue questioned.
"Why?" I asked non-committedly.
After a moment Sue answered, sounding half ashamed, "The more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking that having sex with something other than my vibrator and yet not having to worry about a relationship sounded so good. I guess that it would be a "friends with benefits" thing that I am looking for."
"Let be blunt. There is no way that I would do anything without Annie's knowledge and permission. I also mean permission freely given, not coerced. With that said if she gave permission and it did not affect our marriage, yes I would be happy to help out. Jacking off two or three times a day has little appeal to me, but neither does sneaking around cheating." Then to break the tension I continued, "I always wanted to be a gigolo," I teased.