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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Because Settling is NEVER The Right Thing To Do

What is one way to go from being married to being single, without a death and without getting a divorce? Easy. Get an annulment. I was married once, a long time ago. To a Bavarian. Please don't make the mistake of calling them German, it's like calling an Irishman, English.

Why did we marry? Good question and one neither of us could answer at the time, except it seemed the logical next step in our relationship. I didn't love him, but I wanted to be married. I felt I should be married at 35, so I settled. He didn't love me. He felt he should be married at 36, perhaps even more than I felt I should, so he settled.

Max worked as Chef in a hotel in China. I worked as Human Resources Officer in the Regional Office. We both worked for Holiday Inn Asia-Pacific. That's how we met. Or rather how we were introduced. And this is how it went:

My friend Tat-Leong, standing at my office door with a dark-haired, bearded, slim man in tow: "See I told you she has big boobs." ( I later found out he has a penchant for large mammaries)

Me, standing up to 'meet' him, glaring at Tat-Leong: "Hello, I'm Fiona." Handshake

Him, eyes fixed on the features pointed out to him: "Hi. Max." Handshake

Three years later, we were each working with other companies and not always in the same city, but still 'together'. We had some ups and downs but come December 1993, there we were at the Registrar in Hong Kong. The fact I had to buy our wedding rings should have sent a clear warning signal but alas, it didn't.

I should interject here that during our entire relationship leading up to marriage, never once did he actually have full-blown ('scuse the pun) sex with me. He said it was because he respected me, and he milked abstinence for over three months by saying he had a hernia. After we were married, we honeymooned in Bali, in a villa with its own pool. Special, very special. And still no sex.

We moved to Germany (both of us between jobs) and still no sex. I started to think it was me. I was still dealing with so much from my past and he was only my second boyfriend (I'd met Andy before him). Goodness knows I tried but whenever 'it' got near me, 'it' went flaccid with apparent fear, or revulsion.

I was still on shaky ground, sexually, and after a while I stopped trying, thinking there was something wrong with me.

Three months into my stint living in a tiny village in Germany, I came back to Hong Kong, moved in with my parents, and went back to work. He eventually found a job in Jakarta. At my invitation, we went back to our honeymoon villa on our first anniversary. Still no sex. I tried talking with him at that point. He walked away and didn't come back for hours. I spent all that time thinking. When he came back, we went for dinner and I offered to find help, a urologist, a therapist, something. He said he didn't need help.

I was convinced it was me, why else wouldn't he want to have sex with his wife and at the same time say he didn't need help?

In April 1995, I made one last effort. I booked a hotel room and went to visit him in Jakarta. I'm not even sure why. I suppose that's how I am, I don't give up easily. I probably, more than anything, wanted to know why we had failed with such a basic part of a relationship. He said virtually nothing and left me alone in the hotel room after about an hour. I cried non-stop until my flight the next day. By then I knew that if I stayed, I was just settling.

I was also starting to think it wasn't all about me, that he had to be part of the problem.

In November, I decided I wanted out of this sham of a marriage and contacted a lawyer. He explained that I would have to wait two years to initiate divorce proceedings from the time we officially separated, which we hadn't done up to that point. And five years if both parties were not in mutual agreement. Even two years seemed intolerable, at that point. As my lawyer spoke with me, more pieces of my story came out. The parts relating to the fact that the major cause of the failure of our marriage was his unwillingness to have sex with me. And that's when he told me that we could go ahead right away, with a Petition for Annulment.

That's the route we took and Max agreed not to fight it. However, he refused to attend court in Hong Kong as the Respondent, even though he had a ticket I'd given him after the failed anniversary trip, just in case he wanted to come and visit me (ever hopeful was I). It was explained to him that if he did come, it would make it much easier on me. All he agreed to do was to write a statement declaring his part in the whole sad situation. I was going through my old papers the other day and came across the documents submitted to the court, including the lawyer's official submission of my statement.

9. The said marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the Respondent to consummate it.

Particulars of Non-consummation
On the night of the wedding ceremony and on every night thereafter which the Petitioner and Respondent spent together, the two parties shared a bed. During the course of the one-week honeymoon directly following the wedding ceremony, the Respondent made no effort to consummate the marriage and rejected all such advances to do so by the Petitioner. The Respondent refused to give any explanation as to why he did not wish to consummate the marriage and despite the Petitioner's attempts to consummate the marriage, the Respondent rejected all such efforts. The Petitioner tried on several occasions to assist the Respondent in achieving sexual intercourse in order to consummate the marriage, however the Respondent refused to engage in sexual intercourse. Discussions took place, however the Respondent failed to explain his refusal to consummate the marriage and would state only words to the effect that "I've lost the urge" and "I can quite easily live without sex". As a last effort to rescue the failing relationship, the Petitioner offered financial and emotional support to the Respondent to seek medical and/or psychological assistance to attempt to find the reason behind the refusal of the Respondent to engage in sexual intercourse, and through such assistance to attempt a reconciliation between the two parties. The Respondent refused, advising the Petitioner in writing that "You tried everything but......I do really believe that we should go each our own way." This refusal by the Respondent to either consummate the marriage or to accept help in remedying the situation, has left the Petitioner no alternative but to seek a formal separation from the Respondent and subsequent annulment of their marriage and the parties have since lived separately. The Petitioner knows of no reason whether from a health, psychological or emotional cause, why the Respondent should continually refuse to consummate the marriage.

Part of the process was standing in an open court and defending the reasons for this request, answering questions from the judge as to how hard I'd tried to make it work, after that statement was read out. It was the most humiliating moment of my life, listening to that and hearing sniggering from the public area. I wish my role had been as easy as Max's that day. I really hated him at that particular moment, for making me do this on my own even though he was the party at fault. Later on, I came to the realisation that he might have been gay, which helped me come to terms to a certain extent. That is until a couple of years ago, when he contacted me to sign a statement that our marriage had been terminated because he needed this to re-marry in Germany. To a woman. Mind you, she worked for the German branch of a company a friend of a friend here worked for and I found out she was a 350-pound leather-wearing, heavily-inked and many-pierced woman. So perhaps I just wasn't his 'type'.

I've not remarried. Andy wanted to, but I didn't. That would have been settling. Dave wanted to, bizarrely even after we broke up, but I didn't. That would have been settling. It's not something I take lightly. I never thought, at this late stage in life, I'd meet the man I want to grow old with, but I have.

My greatest wish is that one day we will get the chance to start our life together, the one which will enable us to grow old with each other. He's the only man I've ever known, about whom I've thought: I want to commit to forever with him. And even forever doesn't seem long enough.

There's no 'settling' in this case, far far from it in fact. He fulfils my desires, he inspires me, he cherishes me. I fulfil his desires, I inspire him and I cherish him. We nurture each other, we respect each other, we admire each other. We balance each other. And while we know neither of us is perfect, we accept those imperfections as being part of who we are, part of the person we love.

I'm closing my eyes and wishing very, very hard. It's all I can do right now.


Anonymous said...

How could you think the no sex was your fault sweetie? You did pretty good I think. I would have lasted about two weeks.

NWO said...

First of all, I agree with Deb. Stories like this always amaze me, I just cannot relate. As for the courtroom scene, it was him that should have been mortified. Even from a distance. I'd sure hate to have that stuff read and said about me. A public description of one's limp dick is just never a good thing.

Good luck Eyes. Enjoy your moments. You sound great to me.

Gillette said...

Ahh...so happy this is the past and the now is the now.

D said...

Fiona isn't it about time you took your life story to a media company in the States as episodes in your life have "made for tv" written all over them. You never cease to amaze with what you have been through. So who would you want to play you in the movie ?

Fusion said...

Yes Fiona, once again you have shown us another surprising twist to your amazing life. Wow, it makes the 2 weeks it took to consummate my marriage pale in comparison. You truely have been through so much in your life, and bounced back from it all a stronger person for it...

Matt K. said...

There is no way on this earth that I would ahve remained married to someone who wouldn't have sex with me on our honeymoon, period. But that's just me.

And no, it was certainly not your fault. Judging from your description of his new wife, it sounds like his tastes just leaned to the kinkier side of the street, something perhaps even he didnt realize while you were married.

If you were really tweaked by the situation, why didn't you just not respond to his letter requesting verification of your annulment? Y'know, leave him dnagling on the hook a while... ;-)

kimba said...

Far out Fi!

The story was a good one - but the best bit was the last paragraph.. :)

It's a lesson - if you don't fit - you can't make it fit. And if it fits! Well! Whew! :)

kimba said...

Oh - and NI-ICE way to be introduced to someone btw.. is Tat still your friend?

Miranda said...

What an idiot....His loss. Im glad its in the past now. What you have now sounds wonderful.

Lickety Split said...


In the brief time I have known you by reading your blog, I can honestly say that you will never cease to amaze me with the insights you have. Keep in mind, however, that when the insight is into one's self, it's far more difficult to see clearly.

We make the best decisions we can at the time with the best information available at that time. Sure, in retrospect, getting married wasn't the right thing but that has as much to do with him making a choice that wasn't right for him either. How someone can turn away a lover is hard to understand. How someone can turn away their new bride is beyond belief. This man obviously had enough issues and head games going on that he needed to stop pointing the finger elsewhere and start looking at himself.

I think that your experience has made you a better partner in any relationship now. You know both what you want and what you should expect in a partner.

I have made bad decisions in life based against a background of emotional abuse during my childhood. I can't really change some of those easily (if at all...)but I will always wonder "what if...".

At least those bad decisions (from an outsider's view) had some tangible, finite existence. You aren't tied into a bad marriage many years later because you took the initiative for the annullment. Thanks for sharing...glad you can move on and find fulfillment.

freebird said...

Fiona, I've just come home, tired from a long and difficult day, but WOW, you've knocked me off my feet once again! I can't even make any sensible comment... just wow!
Yes it's easy with hindsight to see the signs that should have rung alarm bells, but one naturally approaches a marriage with optimism. I can see now why you are so keen to encourage some of us out here not to 'settle'! If anything I'm surprised it took you so long to make the moves to escape - agonising though they must have been.

BTW, Mr B is half Bavarian - it's a wonder they haven't died out, isn't it ;-)

And you two have GOT to get together!

palmtreefanatic said...

he is an out an out JERK!!! Wow! To think you put up with all that for so long...you are a saint!

Te rest of what you have NOW sounds absolutely beautiful!

Fiona said...

Deb - I was horribly non-confrontative in those days (hard to believe I know!!) and I interpreted lack of communication as no desire to communicate. It took a lot for me to push and ask like I did but I always harboured those deep-seated feelings about sex and wondered if he didn't want me because I was 'damaged'.

NWO - why thank you :) The weird thing was, his dick wasn't always limp, only when it got close to my nether regions!! That's why I thought he might be gay.

Gillette - me too and I really do believe I can appreciate the man who loves me now, because of all these people in my past. You were right, all those months ago, when you told me not to sell myself short :)

D - hahahahahaha you think? As to who I'd like to play me, Amy Sedaris would have my vote, I think she's the bee's knees :)

Fusion - such is the role of adversity and always pushing oneself to stay positive. I'm right where I'm meant to be today, and so appreciative of who I'm with!

Matt - as much as I disliked him, I'm just not that malicious, I truly wished him well. Sex isn't everything but when you've been lied about it and then had any hopes of starting a family pulled out from under you, there just isn't any other way out than the one I was forced to take.

Kimba - Amen! And no matter how much you might struggle to get that damn square peg in a round hole (chance would have been a fine thing!), if something takes too much effort it's never going to be sustainable anyway :). Oh and yes she was, surprisingly, but we've grown apart over the years.

Miranda - I am truly blessed to have the love of the man I love. Thank you :)

LS - I know, sometimes I look back and realise what a strange path it has been, but MY path :) I, too, have done a lot of 'what if' wondering, but interestingly enough, not lately. It's more 'thank goodness' these days :)

TB - exactly, and in not settling I have found myself in the life of the only man I want to go all the way with. Had I settled, had he settled, it wouldn't happen for us. And it IS happening :)

Palmtree - never mind saint, I sure did feel like a nun though ;). I am happy, so very very happy, thank you!

anna said...

Refusing to settle shows how much self-respect you have. I am so proud of you and so happy for you. You're an inspiration.

Fiona said...

Anna - Thank you for your words. I have great respect for you, too :)

Emily said...

Dear Fiona

What a very sad story. I was really wincing for you in the courtroom scene, even though people are right about how it was him who should have been mortified rather than you.

And not just mortified about the limp dick. Mortified about having lied to you and deceived you about the relationship you would have with him. That was just so wrong. Pitiful.

Really, its a testament to human resilience that you are enjoying the sex life you have now!


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