Making a Better Marriage

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by mrtumnus, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. I'll repeat some of my intro stuff here, just for context (see here). 32yo, Male, Christian, Married-with-kids.

    After 10 years of marriage, I'm realizing that my growing discontentment with our sex life lays mostly, if not fully, on my shoulders. My addiction to PMO has damaged my girlfriend-now-wife's confidence and self-esteem, as well as perverting my view of healthy sexuality. For so long I thought, "if only she would just put-out more, I could be happy". All the while, I wasn't dealing with my own perspective and making positive changes (besides infrequent streaks of being PMO-free, which is really just getting back to 'neutral', isn't it?).

    My reboot goals are:
    • 90 days PM-free
    • Increase non-sexual interaction with my wife (or if sexual, then O is not expected)
    • Don't pressure wife for sex nor expect it
    • Don't be resentful when "not getting enough" or when wife isn't up to it
    I'm on day 14 right now. So far, no trouble with avoiding PM, but still struggling with tugs of resentment. I keep repeating the mantra "I don't need sex to be happy".
  2. Day 15: I had a long talk with my wife last night and spilled everything. It was very difficult, and she was pained by it. But she is still committed to making this work and helping me out. I know I don't deserve that, but I'm glad that there is now nothing holding me back from pursuing healthier intimacy.

    No temptation to PM recently. I'm not in a 'flatline' by any means, as I still get revved up around the wife. But I'm (hopefully) dealing with my unfulfilled urges by finding other outlets (exercise, housework, reading, video games, meditation/prayer).

    I'm still toying with doing hardmode for this 90-day reboot period. I mentioned it to my wife during our talk last night and she seemed semi-receptive to it.
  3. Link468

    Link468 Fapstronaut

    If both of you are receptive to hard mode, I definitely recommend it. That is the route I chose for my reboot, and I found it to be very helpful. I know that it is not for everyone. It definitely was a challenge for me. Before doing it, I had only gone about 10 consecutive days without O since I was a teenager. Now I can confidently say that it is possible. I survived it and became a better man/husband in the process. I just wanted to share that in case it was helpful to you.
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  4. Day 16

    My wife and I spoke more last night. I'm not sure how helpful this was, but she insisted on seeing what P sites I've visited & the type of stuff I'm into. I made sure to confirm with her before I went through with it. It was somewhat interesting to do, as I had never pulled up porn intentionally in front of someone else. It made it seem less desirable and more perverted, sad, and even silly. She now knows my 'alter-ego' username for P sites, and looked through my favorite-d content.

    She brought up whether divorce was possible (yes, she would have plenty of support), which I think was an expression of her pain. She feels unwanted and unloved. She feels that I was never really interested in her, just in her vagina. While I think that is somewhat unfair, there is a ring of truth to it; that is the way my addiction warps my mind to see her. Again, she is processing through her pain & betrayal.

    No temptation to PM. I've decided to start reading scripture again, bundling it with breakfast. We'll see how it goes. Today was Jeremiah 5. I picked that to start with, as it is a passage I've recently gone through in a study (although I hadn't really spent much time on my own contemplating it). I feel like every time I read a passage of my own volition, it has something to say to my current situation. In this case, I don't want to be like the Israelites (too late!).

    I feel: resolved and optimistic.

    @Link468 Thanks for the encouragement. We've decided to go ahead and do hard mode. I don't think I'll reset my counter, as it's really PM I'm trying to avoid and that's really what I want to celebrate/track. But foregoing O will hopefully encourage me to pursue intimacy rather than sex.
  5. More from yesterday:

    I made dinner for the first time in a long time (Mediterranean chicken salad & grilled parsley potatoes). That pretty much never happens. It was good! Potatoes came out nice and browned & soft. Salad was tasty. And angel food cake for dessert (OK, that wasn't me...).

    During dinner, I tried to apologize to my kids for my behavior during my porn abuse over their lives. My wife had said the previous day that she wanted me to do this, so I took the initiative during dinner. I explained it like, "You know how Daddy likes to hug & kiss Mommy and no one else? Well, for a long time Daddy has wanted to hug and kiss other women. And that made him treat Mommy and you kids badly. Many times when Daddy is mad or shouts, it's because of that". I think they were unable to understand, except maybe my 6yo son. He said it made him feel "sad". He is the one I worry about most, as he never really seems satisfied with much (like looking in a mirror!).

    After dinner, I took all three kids out for a walk to the park while the wife waited for some marinara sauce to finish simmering. She drove over and met us before coming home to have dessert. It was a beautiful day, and my 2yo daughter kept saying, "I love my mommy and daddy".

    This stuff might not seem relevant, but it's the sort of stuff I wouldn't have taken the time to fully enjoy if I was in a PMO cycle. "I don't need sex to be happy".
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  6. Day 17

    Yesterday went quickly. I probably spent way more time on the forums here than I should have (not doing work). I'm wondering if this is just another form of my acting out. My abuse of porn was tied to boredom and desire for comfort (i.e., laziness). Is it the same thing here? Might be. It certainly is when I'm endlessly scrolling Reddit or Facebook. The difference being with PMO, there is a dopamine response that cements the behavior and makes it addictive.

    All that said, I do need to continue to work on myself and fill my brain both with positive ways to change as well as seeing others' struggles/experiences/successes and remind myself why I'm doing this. I started looking into finding a therapist. I'm not even sure how to go about selecting one, but have to start somewhere. Also found a Celebrate Recovery group nearby that I'm considering attending.

    Yesterday had PT. Still have an annoying pain in my neck, been over a years since it started. I think it's genetic (mom & granddad both have it). Someone told me once that once 30 hits you'll start feeling it. Boy was he right.

    The conversation with my wife last night continued to be difficult, but I think we're making progress. I realized that I had still been hiding some behaviors (gaming on my phone, surfing the internet aimlessly, procrastinating at work). Also, some P preferences and triggers that I hadn't divulged earlier are now in the light (not because I wasn't hiding them from her, but because I had forgotten to mention them earlier. 15 years is a long time!). At this point, I can honestly say all my cards are on the table. If there's anything else, I'm either forgetting it, or have hidden it even from myself. If I think of anything, I'll need to get it out to her ASAP, as I don't ever want anything else to come between us.

    She spoke more of divorce last night, and how feasible it would be for her. Still shakes me to hear that, but I understand the sentiment. I abandoned & neglected her and my kids. Yes, I got some chores done and minimally kept care of the house and kids. But I wasn't really positively building anything in our home and marriage. She was doing all of the work in that department.

    My wife suggested that I start writing in a physical journal. She had me start by writing down 10 statements. Here's what I came up with, trying to be as genuine as possible, and not just write things to sound good to her (as I usually do):
    1. I don't need sex to be happy. There's so much more to life than my pleasure.
    2. Jesus is the only antidote to the hole in my heart.
    3. I love my wife and kids. I don't deserve them.
    4. My wife is safe. I can share myself with her. She loves me no matter what.
    5. People are worthwhile. Just because you're an "introvert" doesn't mean you get to avoid them.
    6. Life is work. Suck it up.
    7. Sex is wonderful, but don't F it up.
    8. I hate that my sin is causing my wife to consider breaking her vows. She is literally the most loyal person I know.
    9. My kids need a father who leads them to Christ.
    10. Porn is a lie.
    11. Whatever you put in your brain changes your brain (added later).
    After that she actually encouraged me that I would be a good patient for a therapist, because I'm 'willing to work'. I'll take that and put it in my back pocket.

    I feel: resolved and hopeful.
  7. Link468

    Link468 Fapstronaut

    You are exactly right. Don’t lose sight of that. It’s all about that balance. You are not just taking things away. You are making your life complete by filling it with things that make you feel whole. Fleeting things in life will not sustain you. I have to remind myself of that regularly.

    It’s hard to be honest about all of that, but it is also freeing. My wife finding out about the skeletons in my closet was my worst nightmare. I thought for sure it would be the end of us. In all reality, though, it has brought us closer together. It’s not like life is a piece of cake or anything, but I am so glad that I am not walking around with all my shame and secrets anymore. It helps me to be a better dad and husband.

    I like the list you made and the approach you are taking to recovery. Good for you, man. Change doesn’t happen overnight. I wish it did. You will see change, though. Stick with it. Stay humble and willing to grow. Glad to be in community with you, @mrtumnus.
    Dojokyoto and mrtumnus like this.
  8. CR is a great program. Take the time to work the steps with a sponsor. It was what helped me most early in recovery. maybe consider installing accountability software on all your devices and commit to daily interaction with APs. This is one thing I have done to help my recovery and to honor my wife. (She is not one of my APs, btw, and wisely [I think] does not want to be.) if I can help you answer questions or get this set up, let me know.

    You are motivated now. Use this time to give yourself nowhere to hide when you start running out of steam.
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  9. Day 18

    Another fast day - lots of little interruptions at work that make me feel like I'm not getting anything done. REALLY looking forward to the 9am stand-up scrum meeting this morning.... /s

    I forgot to bring my notes that I wrote from last night, so I'll update later with more thoughts from yesterday (probably, mostly for myself). I've built a new routine for myself over the past 4 days, to encourage external discipline, and hopefully allow room for internal discipline to grow:
    6:30/45 Exercise
    7:00 Get lunch ready
    7:15 Eat breakfast while reading Scripture, pray
    7:30-40 Shower if needed
    8:00 Start workday

    I hope I'm not trying to do too much at once. My wife expressed concern about me burning out this morning. I think the added routines are helpful for me, but maybe it is too much. I'm scheduled to see a therapist tonight (first time ever), which I will stick with. But I'll hold off on CR for now, as it will be a lot to add both to my schedule. At the same time, I do want to set myself up as much as possible for when the urges return.

    Mowed the lawn then went to the pool last night with the family. Maybe not the best choice of recreation, but I managed to keep my eyes from wandering.

    My wife seems to be processing through all of this well. She was in a good mood last night and this morning. She still doesn't know what to make of me. I continue to find myself very attracted to her, and it was rather difficult to realize that I've committed to hard mode. She even expressed it might be difficult for her (which is saying something, given her lower drive). I mentioned the concept of sex without O (karezza), and I don't think she was really interested. To be honest, I don't know if it would be at all helpful anyways. Seems like it would just get me revved up and then I'd have more to deal with. But at the same time, the purpose of this challenge is to allow me to learn how to process the feelings of desire/lust/discontentment without a sexual release.

    I'm looking forward to the weekend; it should be pretty chill. Lately, we haven't had many free ones. I don't think I'll be journaling on the weekends (we'll see how it goes).

    I feel: slightly aroused but in control.
  10. jk85

    jk85 Fapstronaut

    Thank you, @mrtumnus, for your journaling. I've read through it tonight and found it both inspiring and encouraging. You've got another supporter in your corner.

    Only you can know for sure whether your routine's too much. For me, the real danger lies in the expectations. In the case of my most recent relapse, I had tried to add a couple of new habits to my "rule of life." The new habits proved a bit too much for me - but what really got me was the undercurrent of shame that resulted from not meeting my goals. I felt like a failure. So I hope whatever you decide, you'll give yourself a little grace too if you can't quite do what you had planned!
  11. Thanks for the encouragement, @jk85. It's so cool that something I've done mostly for myself can help impact and encourage others as well.

    Yes, I'm definitely taking this routine one step at a time. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is an aid to my life - not the Savior or purpose of it. I even tweaked it a bit over the weekend, as my wife mentioned that she missed me in the mornings! So, I'm now doing part of my routine in the bedroom :)
  12. Day 15 (PMO; formerly day 21 for PM-only).

    I decided to change my counter to reflect my decision to stick to hard-mode. It will be difficult, but necessary, as I will be able to devote myself more fully to directing my attention outward. Furthermore, my therapist recommended abstinence as well, so I'm glad to have multiple sources confirming this is the right way to go.

    What a weekend! Here's the whirlwind tour (in bullet form, because I'm an engineer. Deal with it):
    • Had dinner with friends of ours on Friday, a couple. Both me and my wife confessed separately (without knowing beforehand) to the respective partner about our recent issues. That felt good, I think, for both of us. I'm planning to have breakfast with the guy at some point.
    • Met with my therapist for the first time (first time seeing ANY therapist). It was interesting, not what I expected. It was more of a lecture and exhortation than what I pictured (laying back on the leather couch, telling him about my childhood). There were whiteboard diagrams involved, and most everything agreed with a lot of what I've seen on this site and in educational materials I've been researching lately. I'm interested in the next session.
    • Busy day on Saturday. Started with a 4-mile run, yard work the rest of the day, and grilled burgers in the evening. It was a good day.
    • Sunday was restful, with some much-needed reflection and conversation. I realized that I have been building up my new habit/routine without very much input from the wife. We tweaked a few things and now are on the same page.
    • Throughout the weekend, my wife occasionally mentioned still not feeling safe around me and not sure if she wants to continue investing in me/us. She's particularly concerned that I'm still holding back something from her now, or that if I fall back into old habits that I'll more quickly move to more extreme behaviors (affair, etc). She's probably right on the latter issue, but the first is not the case. I can only continue to be open and honest and hopefully trust & safety will follow. The thought of losing my wife and family makes me physically ill, but I recognize that this is a valid and reasonable consequence of my past behavior.
    • Sunday night was a wonderful conversation and time with the wife. I think she has chosen to trust me, at least partially, for now. I realize that one of the symptoms of betrayal trauma is mixed & unstable emotions, so I'm hoping that this wasn't just a temporary 'upswing' for her. Time will tell, but for now my heart is full.
    And thus starts another week. I'm looking forward to it, as we will end it with a family vacation with my in-laws (short week!).

    Here's a quote from a passage I've been going over over the past few days:
    'Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'
    Jeremiah 6:16​

    I'm feeling: joyful
  13. Love that verse. I am totally stealing that. :)
    mrtumnus likes this.
  14. I omitted the following part, "But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’" :D But important to point out, since that's essentially what we do when we drive ourselves to PMO/PA/SA.
    Tao Jones likes this.
  15. Day 16

    Another fast day of work, followed by an evening at home. I'm starting to enjoy my daily morning routine more, I think.

    Yesterday, I could feel some of the old desires start to encroach, but they are far from being able to dominate me or fill my mind. I'm recognizing this here and now, and do not plan to give them a foothold. This morning I feel much better after a run & my morning routine.

    I'm looking forward to the day. I hope to be productive at work, and will spend some time with guys at a brewery tonight. I continue to seek people in my life to keep me accountable, not only for PA/SA, but for my struggle for growth as a man.

    I feel: content
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  16. petros1982

    petros1982 Fapstronaut

    wow - reading some of your posts and want to congratulate you on your steadfastness. Talks of separation divorce send me to silly places. great that you are able to be with your wife through those conversations and then move to more positive moments. Love that Jeremiah 6:16 verse too. Strength peace and a sound mind to you today @mrtumnus
    Link468 likes this.
  17. Thanks, @petros1982. I am trying my best here to be open and honest, and not just do the typical social media thing of showing only the great/positive things going on. I'm glad others are finding it helpful; I find reading others' thoughts and struggles helpful and encouraging too. This must be what David felt like when writing the Psalms (I'm NOT comparing myself to him, only the process of writing EVERYTHING on your mind out, searching for more, and writing that too).
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  18. for the time being, i would say it’s fine to get caught up in the forums... better to be addicted to a site meant for recovery than to be browsing P sites
  19. I suppose that's true. As long as I'm planning to deal with the underlying causes of addiction in the long run.
    Chefb87 likes this.
  20. Day 17

    Had an upsetting, porn-filled dream last night. One of those ones where you're trying to stop something but can't (like trying to press the brakes in a car). It was crazy too that none of the images were ones I had seen before, all generated by my mind. I told the wife this morning and have moved on. It definitely felt like a spiritual attack, since it seemed to come out of nowhere. I'll have to be on my guard, as I think some part of me was excited within the dream (hard not to, I guess; it's only natural).

    Yesterday I was out with some guys at a brewery, so didn't have much chance to speak with my wife. I missed it, especially after the last week of deep and much more intense conversation than we've had in a long time.

    I still struggle with desires to be physically intimate with my wife much more than she would prefer. I think it's going to be something I'll have to give up for now, without resentment or bitterness. Again with my mantra, "I don't need sex to be happy".

    Yesterday was pretty good overall, I cooked dinner again (roasted kielbasa, potatoes, beets, zucchini, onions, and sweet potatoes, served with grapes). I've been rather busy today, hence the later post than usual. I didn't get to do my devotions this morning, and I think it's reflected slightly in my attitude today (see previous paragraph). Still looking forward to the long weekend starting tomorrow afternoon.
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