Building a Good Infrastructure in Marriage

Architecture, by Unsplash

I’ve been having an interesting exchange with a member of my forum about whether I feel that I could sustain my no-porn position if my marriage became sexless.  I wanted to share a portion of the conversation here, about how I have structured my relationship to help ensure that sexlessness is less of a worry.

My wife and I have a very clear boundaries and needs established with one another, combined with a carefully constructed rapport.  When things are not happening between us regularly due to health, low drive, anxiety, or depression she still finds time to meet my needs.

Likewise, I know that she needs to talk.  Even when I am feeling at my most absorbed, frustrated or irritable, like when half of my business contracts collapsed at once back in May, I remind myself that conversation in a linchpin of our relationship,  and my wife needs to talk about her troubles once in awhile, so I make sure to put my own issues down make a cup of coffee, and ask her to tell me about herself every day.

My wife and I have an exceptional marriage because we communicate well, and we value our marriage.  We have a shared mental frame that makes all of the difference to a relationship:

  • We understand that our marriage is a work in progress, not a fixed thing. Therefore we must keep building up positive experiences with each other to make sure it is healthy and resilient.
  • We understand that no two people think or feel the same way. We have worked hard to understand each others verbal and nonverbal cues.  We each work hard to speak the other’s langauge, and not just communicate solely in our own mode.
  • We understand that for a relationship to work it needs to be win-win.  That means we need to keep seeing what the other person needs in order to feel loved and cared for and doing it regularly.  We turn caring for each other into habit and ritual.  I need sex, games, and someone to appreciate my creations.  She needs conversation, compassion, leadership, and motivational coaching, and so I do something to provide them every week.
  • We understand that the marriage is not about either one of us:  It is about creating synergy to build a better life for both of us.  That means that we have to keep communicating, checking in, and making sure that we don’t make it selfishly about ourselves alone.
  • We realize that life is hard and often painful, and that going through it without support only makes it harder.  And therefore that whatever frustrations the marriage bring, they are nothing compared to what life without marriage would be like.  Therefore we commit ourselves to fixing and building a great marriage, rather than letting either one of us be unhappy in it.
  • But we also know that we have options.  That neither one of us would stay in a marriage that didn’t meet minimum conditions. Neither of us would stay with a spouse who hit us, or hit our children.  Neither of us would stay with someone who used love as a bargaining chip or trading commodity.  Neither of us would stay with someone who didn’t work actively on the marriage.  Neither of us would stay with someone who didn’t actively contribute to the marriage.  And so we always make sure that we are meeting those minimum requirements.
  • We know that spouses have to be friends, lovers, and business partners all at the same time, and that sometimes those roles clash.  Therefore we have set up little rituals of communication, rules, and spatial cues that makes it easier to compartmentalize those roles.
  • We understand that one person cannot be all things to all people.  Therefore, we encourage our spouse to have friends and emotional supports beyond ourselves.  We encourage and nurture each other’s friendships.

I have essentially built a situation where being without pornography is sustainable. I do this being very clear and consistent in my communication and my values, and building a strong, consistent, and positive momentum in my relationship through good habits.

My conversationalist’s other big objection here is that I am putting a lot of trust in my wife to sustain those values and in her character. There is an element of faith in this.  But I am also willing to call my wife out and challenge her when I see her working against her own values and interests.  We have the trust and the openness that we can rely on each other to keep us honest and on a good path.

Better still, I continue to expand my skills and knowledge to make sure I will be as valuable in parenting and caring for my family as I am in other aspects of her life.  I make sure she has good incentive to keep the marriage alive by being a quality man.

Ultimately most human choices are economic choices.  They are made based on what incentives are offered, and choose the best among alternatives.  I try my best to make sure that I am the best possible choice.  All relationships in life are an ongoing negotiation, so I make a good offer.

Most men do not take the time to put the infrastructure in place to make sure either emotional and sexual needs are met.  They aren’t aware that it is possible, and have no idea about how to do it.  To a degree it is something that can be done even in a poor relationship through hard work and communication.  It is easiest, however, if you do it young by being selective, examining your values, and establishing the values of potential spouses.