Helping My Wife Understand - Advice? Experience? HELP!

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by AllanTheCowboy, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. AllanTheCowboy

    AllanTheCowboy Fapstronaut

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    PMO, and as it led to for me, Chat-MO, has severely damaged my marriage, and may yet destroy it. I am currently separated from my wife. I read about NoFap, and tried to do it on my own (without coming to the site, or getting any support from anyone) about a month before she found what I had been doing, and walked out. I lasted four days that time. I began NoFap again the day she walked out, and this time sought out the support of this community. Today is Day 269.

    My addiction affected how I treated my wife; I mistreated her. At long last we started getting counselling in January, but it has stalled. At the moment, she says that how I treated her during sex is the chief obstacle for her, rather than what I did online with others. I would pressure her into sex with guilt trips, and during sex I would not pay attention to signals she sent with her language and body language. I was selfish. I was hurtful. I now abhor what I had become. She is not sure she can forgive me for these things, and therefore she finds it unlikely we can ever reconcile.

    I think she has difficulty understanding the effects of my addiction. I take full responsibility for my actions. It is not porn's fault. My addiction to O drove my actions, but that does not excuse them in the slightest. She sees a logical contradiction between me acknowledging the addiction as an underlying cause of my actions, and my accepting responsibility for them. I think that, from her perspective, identifying the addiction as a reason for my behaviour is the same as excusing it. I want her to understand that I do not excuse myself, and I do not want her to excuse me.

    I knew I was hurting her, and yet I did not stop. In her eyes, I think that knowing I was hurting her is the same as wanting to hurt her, or choosing to hurt her. I have reached a rebooting milestone in the last two weeks, and I now understand this better for myself. I neither wanted to, nor chose to hurt her. In the past, I have used the phrase "let this happen" or "let myself do that." She objected to that language, because I did not stand by and let something happen, but rather actively did it. I understand that; it is logical. My recent, fairly sudden progress has taught me that my original language was more correct than I realized.

    Eleven days ago, I experienced (what I think is) normal sexual arousal for the first time I can remember. My urges, compulsions, have been weakening steadily over the past months. Controlling them is now as easy as swatting a mosquito, perhaps easier. While they weakened, they had not actually changed. They were still urges and compulsions to be controlled, to be purposefully and actively repressed. Eleven days ago I became aroused, and had a string of sexual thoughts and feelings without any urge or compulsion to action.

    I suddenly understood what was different about the way my brain has been processing sexuality all these years. In my addicted brain, action was the default response to a sexual stimulus. If I did nothing in my mind, I would do something in the world. In order not to act on a sexual thought, idea, or feeling I had to resist that action deliberately. These urges are not gone, but they are now being steadily replaced by the new (normal?) type of sexual activation. The default response is no action. Instead of having to stop the action or not, I have to initiate the action or not.

    Let me give an example. For most of my life, if I was walking down a grocery store aisle and noticed a woman with an attractive bottom, my default action would be to touch her as I passed by. Every, single time this happened to me before now, I literally forced myself not to assault the woman. I would also have to force myself not to stare, or leer; I often failed at this part.

    Now, in the past week and a half, I have been able to notice women, and notice that they are attractive, and yesterday that a woman was wearing somewhat revealing clothing, without having to fight anything off. I do not have to take specific control of my hands, or my gaze. I was looking around a large room yesterday, and noticed a woman's bare stomach. Even two weeks ago, I would have need to force myself to continue moving my head and eyes in the same direction as before. Yesterday, however, that just happened. I saw the woman, and noticed her, but did not look at her.

    I now understand better what was happening within me, with my wife. I wanted to stop myself, but failed. Sometimes, the compulsion was too strong to resist. Sometimes, I was too weakened by other things to resist it. Sometimes, I tricked myself into thinking I was in control, rational, or justified, when I was not. And sometimes I did not fail; a lot of times I did resist. Most of the time I partially resisted. Sometimes I was able to stop myself during harmful behaviour, after having failed to prevent it.

    Now I want to help my wife understand this, without seeming that I am trying to absolve myself or responsibility. At times I did not recognize my own pitiful level of self-control, and at other times I ignored it. I did that out of shame and embarrassment, selfishly putting those things above her well being. I am now far more ashamed of my selfishness, than I was of my weakness then. I did not act to prevent dangerous situations from arising. I rationalised my actions to myself. I did not look for ways to improve. I did not look for causes. If she raised concerns, I tried to explain them away, instead of addressing them, and addressing my own faults and failings. For all of that, I am to blame. These are a combination of faults in my character, and weaknesses at identifying/resisting the more pervasive cognitive effects of the addiction. These are a combination of conscious actions, knowing failures to act, unknowing failures to act, and unconscious actions. These are indirect causes of harmful actions on my part. I am trying to think of with a segue here that doesn't sound like a "but," because there is no "but," so I'll just say the next part.

    What I want her to understand is that when I hurt her, the direct cause was not choosing to act, but failing to stop. I did not decide to hurt her. I did not choose to keep hurting her. I tried, with all the resolve I had, not to hurt her. Sometimes I had little resolve, because of other things in my life. Sometimes I had plenty of resolve, but the compulsion was still too strong. Sometimes my resolve prevailed, but too late. Sometimes, too, my resolve truly prevailed. All the time, even when I was failing, somewhere inside, sometimes locked away very deep inside, I was fighting tooth and nail to protect her, and to be the person I wanted to be, and knew I should be.

    Every time I lost the battle, or part of the battle, I hated myself more. That, of course, just gave fuel to the other side. This separation has forced me to prosecute the war to victory, not just keep living to fight another day. The enemy is now in staged withdrawal, and I am freeing its prisoners as I advance. But that is not good enough; I will force it into full retreat. I will chase it to its capital. I will burn out its bunkers. I shall accept no surrender. I shall give no quarter. Total victory and total destruction are the only option, and they are within reach.

    How do I help her understand all of this? What can I do to show that this is real, and the changes are real?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  2. TheWife

    TheWife Distinguished Fapstronaut

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    Wow, thank you for writing out your story. As a wife, I am in two minds about your post. I understand what you have written above, and I understand your wife point of view from being in her shoes.

    As a partner of an addict, I am beginning to realize that it is difficult to understand the compulsions and it is something that I may never fully comprehend. I have done the research and watched the videos, but I still don't understand how my husband could have treated me the way he did. To me, he chose to do the things that he did, knowing how much it would hurt me. I too felt like he was using the addiction as an excuse and that he was absolving himself of the things he did. I guess I am still coming to terms with it all.

    I hope that you can find a way to get to counseling. I hope that it helps you both to find some ground to talk.

    I have two suggestions for you based on what I want from my husband. Not sure if they will work, or perhaps you have already done these but it's worth a try. One is to listen to her and how she feels. Don't try and rationalise or analyse, but just listen and understand how hurt she is. Repeat back to her what she has told you so she knows that you have understood how she feels. It will be hard to hear but it may give you some insights into what you can do to fix your marriage. The other is to provide a real apology. A proper one, which states what you did wrong and how you intend to ensure it doesn't happen again. None of the "sorry I hurt you" stuff.

    The frustrating thing with changes are that to the person making the change it occurs rather quickly. For others it takes much longer to be evident as they need to see your actions have altered. Seeing as you are not living together, it may take a while for her to see your effort. A very frustrating situation for you unfortunately. But keep at it. Don't give up.

    I hope that things work out for you both. Keep up the good work with your recovery.
     
  3. i_wanna_get_better1

    i_wanna_get_better1 Fapstronaut

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    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It's amazing how much damage our addiction causes... both inside our brains and to those around us. As your story exemplifies, it can take a very long time to address all the consequences of our actions. You have taken many of the steps needed to heal yourself. Unfortunately, healing relationships is not as easy.

    As I understand your situation, the hangup is how you would manipulate her into having sex and what you would do to her during sex. Is that correct? Our addiction can cause us to do and say things that are disgusting and shameful. In retrospect, it's as if someone else was inhabiting our bodies for a short amount of time. As part of taking responsibility, we have to help those whom we have hurt along the way. It's good to see you take those steps.

    Unfortunately, it is very hard to have someone understand the mind of an addict. You can explain it. They can study it. They can try to imagine what is going on inside your brain, but only another addict can truly empathize. Our addictions take on a life of their own... we pushed our roller-coaster to the top and then the roller-coaster got away from from us. Yes, it is all our fault. We can clearly see what was a choice, what was our intention, what was a compulsion, etc.... but to the victim it all looks and feels the same. It's just shades of difference. The conundrum is the more we try to explain ourselves the more it appears we are justifying ourselves.

    Is the problem, not a problem with understanding, but a product of emotional trauma? In her mind is what you did so bad you don't deserve forgiveness? Does she relive all the negative emotions when she thinks of you? Is she going to therapy to get closure or to reconcile? Was what you did so bad in her mind that you are spoiled and will never be worthy of trust?

    Is your only interaction during your therapy sessions? If she only sees you in the doctor's office then she could rightly believe you are only putting on an act to get her to forgive you. Many of us have had to go back to the beginning with our wives and start to 'date' them again and form a new foundation. How was your marriage outside of the bedroom?

    Even though you have been clean 269 days, you are only 2 1/2 months into therapy. You've had 9 months of healing. She has had only 2 1/2 months. Does she need TIME to address her emotional trauma? Could what she went through be equivalent to a PTSD-like event? That can take a long time to heal. Or does what you did to her touch on other issues in her life... issues that may predate your relationship?

    I hope you find the answers and the peace you are seeking.
     
  4. AllanTheCowboy

    AllanTheCowboy Fapstronaut

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