Looking Up:

Linda Pressman's Blog

Linda Pressman

Linda Pressman
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A.
March 07
The author of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, available on Amazon, Kindle and b&n.com. Kirkus Reviews said, "Humor and tragedy blend seamlessly in this memoir of childhood upbringing and family trauma...A memoir whose heart pays considerable homage to its subjects." Please visit my personal blog, Bar Mitzvahzilla, and Poetica Magazine where I'm the Blog Editor.


Editor’s Pick
MAY 8, 2011 12:58AM

My First Mortifying Marriage

Rate: 15 Flag


My ex-husband and I might have had sex more than once in 1988, though it’s doubtful, but the minute we started our marriage counseling in August, marriage counseling that went on for ten endless months, the counselor figured out that our sex life was so attrocious that she took us all the way back to square one: to kissing.      

The issue of our horrible sex life came out in our first session. We walked in and Ron stomped over to a couch opposite from me. As an extremely snotty claims adjuster with a substandard insurance carrier he proceeded to hassle the marriage counselor about her billing methods.      

“You do understand that I only want a diagnosis of Anxiety used for these bills?”    

“Yes, Ron.  Why?” she responded calmly.    

“Well, it’s well-known in the insurance industry that if you’re diagnosed with Depression that it becomes a black mark on your record and you can never get insurance again.”    

“Do you think you suffer from Depression, Ron?” she asked.    

“No.  Why do you ask?”    

“Well, you mentioned Depression.”    

“It’s just very important to me that we get the diagnosis established correctly. And also, I don’t want this billed as marriage counseling because I’m sure our insurance won’t pay that. Just bill it as individual psychotherapy.”    

The marriage counselor nodded her head, humoring Ron as he used up half of our first session discussing various issues of what he would and wouldn’t allow as far as the billing went. 

When he finally allowed her to begin she asked us for a quick recap of the various parts of our marriage. I’m Jewish, he’s Catholic. I’m one of seven sisters; he’s an only child. Both college educated, Ron with a law degree he refused to use, saying that he always wanted to be a claims adjuster, that he found the job very exciting and intellectually stimulating, so much so that he didn't plan to ever practice law.      

We got to the subject of sex and she looked at me, asked me how our sex life was.  I was a little embarrassed. I tried to put a positive spin on it.    

“I guess we have sex about once a month,” I said, exaggerating.    

She opened her eyes wider.  Repeated what I said. “Once a month?  And you’re how old, Linda?”    


“And Ron?”    

“I’m twenty-nine, but what does that have to do with anything?”    

“Well, it’s unusual for a twenty-nine year old male to not want sex more than once a month, Ron.”  She looked at him pointedly.    

Then he waved his arm in my general direction and said, “Why would I want to sleep with her when she looks like that?”      

And there I was, in the spotlight of our dark marriage counseling chamber, all 185 pounds of me – I was on a weight upswing right then – the despised, sexless spouse, the one my husband couldn’t stand to sleep with, although apparently he would and could if I were thinner.    

So the marriage counselor, after telling Ron that he was full of it, suspended our sex life, started us on homework of kissing and back massages.  And everything would have been okay except Ron and I never did our homework or we did it in a rush the night before our marriage counseling sessions like cramming the night before an exam in college and we would hurriedly and unenthusiastically kiss with our mouths closed like relatives.  At this rate, I could see the sexual bases of adolescence yawning ahead of me; we were never going to graduate to back massages, to fondling, to foreplay.  We were never going to have sex again. 

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Im in a strangely similar situation except right now. seeing psychologist for couple counseling. the homework is unbelievable. Ive probably spent more than 20hrs on it so far. and its only the 1st chapter with exercises of the book. the only good news is that I dont have to see the psychologist while Im working on the homework. maybe the idea here is that the couple gets so sick & exhausted from doing the exercises that they just decide to accept their marriage.
That's sad. Were you overweight as a substitute for sex? You must be better off without him. Best wishes.
Well written. Wanted to read more. Best wishes.
I hope things are better for you now. If that is your photo, you look so hot - you should have pot holders attached to your waist... ! Rated
Your husband was unfair. You were still good for blowjobs.
vzn, sorry to hear this rings a bell. It was, obviously an excruciating moment for me but mostly because of the weight and being embarassed in front of the (skinny) counselor. Strangely enough, two other women have gone on to marry my ex-husband. Not sure if the second one divorced him yet... :)
blufeather, the weight problem went on, unfortunately, well beyond my marriage, though it's been gone for 11 years now (yea!) I did find out from my second marriage that this was very strange behavior indeed!
Wow, you would think that love would transcend weight gain/loss, amputation, disfiguring accidents, etc. But, that's beside the point, I bet at 185, you had some great curves, which so many men out there find uber-attractive. The no-sex is totally on him, what a (expletive deleted with numerous equally damning adjectives)! I'm so happy for you that the loser is out of your life.
lauri, thanks. I thought it was long enough or I would have put in the day I realized I was leaving. Another post. Another mortification!
whistleberries, thanks for the compliment! That is me.
May I ask, are you still married?j

I think chemistry has not much to do with weight. But who knows exactly what it has to do with?
One thing about OS, it makes me feel less alone about my ghastly first marriage. Not the same problems, but mortifying n'less.
it'll be interesting to see how you corrected the mistaken choice.
So I hope you are now in a good second marriage. Or at least retain the hope of having a good second marriage. Thanks for writing this piece.
I had a bad sex marriage for 25 years!! I wish I had left sooner. Things can get better. He sounds like a jerk. There are men out there who would appreciate you no matter what you look like. That is the man you want to get old with because age brings so many assaults on your looks that if that is your criteria for sex you wont be in the mood at all. It is important in a relationship tho. Good luck and congrats on the EP.
Darla, thanks for the kind words. I probably had a few too many curves, and ended up with more besides because I became heavier than that before I lost all my weight in 2000. In retrospect, I think he was blaming something in him on me and it was handy to have an overweight wife to point the finger at. A few months later I actually lost a bunch of weight while we were still married and he tried desperately to sabotage me!
I love it! I have a law degree but always wanted to be a claims adjustor. Thankfully you didn't have kids with this loser.
lea, divorced him in 1989, the year after that counseling session! Met my present husband in 1991 and have been married since '93.

Chemistry is a funny thing because to me it wasn't the visual with men as much as the intellect and humor. Like I never minded weight at all! Yet, second husband considers himself hugely overweight at 158. Oy.
myriad, that is one thing about writing deep dark secrets, sometimes another person has the same one or something similar and it does feel a little less lonely!
Ben Sen, maybe I'll just continue the story of my miserable first marriage, like a series... :) I guess it was all mortifying!

Mary, thanks for your comment. I've been remarried 18 years (that went fast!) The last time I saw the first was by accident, after the divorce, the week I got my new engagement ring I ran into him at a restaurant while waiting for some friends. Come to think of it, that was a mortifying moment. For him!

Zanelle, it took a lot of guts to leave for so many reasons. I thought for so long that he was the best I could do. One day I realized I'd rather be alone forever than spend one second sharing breathing space with him. That was pretty much it. :)

And surprised by the EP; I didn't expect to see my lack of a married sexlife plastered on the front page!
Deborah, because of his "guidance" I was an adjuster too, for 18 years, well beyond the marriage. Once in, it was hard to get out, and the benefits! But there was something that rankled a little when I'd think about the times he studied for the Bar and didn't speak to me for months on end, passed, and then didn't use the Bar membership.
What is up with these pseudo-scientific marriage counselors. Gut in himmel, the last thing you want to do is tell people who are repulsing each other to repulse each other more by forcing them to engage in arousal behavior. What works is the exact opposite. I used to have great success telling couples to do things like speak to each other with their eyes closed, picturing each other in the best possible light. Like magic, people begin to see the attractive parts of their partners. There are a hundred techniques (quite literally; I once tabulated them) for progressive desensitization to negative stimuli. However, in this case, I don't think anything would have worked. The key was the comment that considered himself overweight at 158...and, without evening knowing how tall he was, I seriously doubt that he was overweight except in his own mind, which is highly indicative of sexual preference issues - and the denial of them - in adult males. He was probably raised in an emotionally repressive, sexually repressive household - one child? - where any overt expressions of sensuality (overweight is inherently sensual; food is sensual) was probably met with Catholic disapproval. Coming from a Jewish home with seven sisters, your upbringing was probably diametrically opposite to his. Mismatched from the get-go.

Congratulations for kicking the bum to the curb.
Yeow. That sounds pretty awful. I suppose there must have been enough good things to incline you into getting married in the first place, but the bar exams silent treatment coupled with no sex, yecchh.
It has always been my opinion that, if a couple has to go or think they have to go to one of these counselors, it's all over but the shouting.
I wonder how many of THEM have happy marriages.
He sounds yucky, saying that about your beautiful body. Keep going with this story. It's interesting and you write beautifully. r
sagemerline, you are so right! Really, we're already having stupendous problems and she puts us on a regimen of back rubs. Nuts! And "sagemerline" indeed! He was an only child. You can only imagine how he liked getting together with the loud, gigantic Jewish family for holidays... :)
Macco, that pretty much sums up Husband #2's reaction as well.

Abrawang, I still shudder when someone says they're studying for the Bar Exam. How many Bar Exams does one person have to take to NOT practice law? :)

Maureenow, thanks for your kind words and for the encouragement.
Macco, that pretty much sums up Husband #2's reaction as well.

Abrawang, I still shudder when someone says they're studying for the Bar Exam. How many Bar Exams does one person have to take to NOT practice law? :)

Maureenow, thanks for your kind words and for the encouragement.
Definately better off without that one
XJS and ME, There always was a sense of mystery about the counselor's life! Like did it have to be perfect for her to be a psychologist?

Peggy, Amen.
Your ex sound nuttier than squirrel shit.
A man who would say anything that hurtful to his wife (or any woman!) deserves to be alone. I'm glad you got away from him.