Making a Better Marriage

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

  1. @budvap Thanks for reading and caring to comment! I learn so much by others' perspectives here, and it's really not something I can access IRL (at least, not with much awkwardness and future difficulty in relationships).

    I definitely see this recovery process as preparing me for more difficult work ahead - that of leading my SO and family. It will be much more delicate work, as you say, to avoid any sense of judgement, superiority, or pride from that task. But it's the calling given to husbands (thinking Eph 5:25ff).

    I do see the role of the husband as the one who risks his needs first. That's definitely on par with what I am attempting to do here. I fail nearly every day at it, if not more. But that's my goal, S.M.A.R.T. or not.
  2. Day 95

    These days have been flying by! Busy at work and home, keeps me out of much trouble I suppose. No trouble with PMO, though I have caught my hand creeping around where it shouldn't a few times.

    I've been very productive at work lately. I've finished up tasks on one project, made great progress on another, and fixed issues that flared up with an old project. Now I'm back on to the project I'm supposed to be spending 80% of my time on.

    I've had some good conversations with my SO some nights. She expressed old fears of not feeling safe in our bedroom, due to my constant "prowling" or jumping on any slightest indication of potential sex. I agree with the sentiment, and she thinks I'm doing well at providing her some safe space. Just holding hands or her laying on my chest, without me grabbing at her, is how she feels safer.

    I'm still struggling on-and-off with some feelings of sadness, helplessness, and loneliness. My SO doesn't really show much affection, physically or verbally. Granted, she's been very busy and exhausted at the end of each day. The little she does show, I appreciate and thank her for it. I'm trying to not let the lack of affection get me down, but it's hard to do. I feel conflicted initiating affection with her, as I don't want to bring up old fears or make her feel unsafe. It's a hard balance. Again, this hearkens back to the previous thought - how does a SA/PA start having healthy intimacy with someone they've hurt? Time, patience, and consistency. I've been trying to pray together with her, I think that's critical.

    Trying to think of other things I might have missed over my semi-absence here...

    Monday night I had a bad evening of numbing myself out with video games and eating too much, including caffeine late in the evening. I enjoyed the immediate result of poor sleep that night. The next day was better, and I got a hold of my attitude.

    Last night I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. I worked late into the evening, and I think I had trouble coming down from it. Eventually, I picked up my book and read for about an hour. Still had trouble after that, and woke up in the early morning again. Not sure what the deal was; I had some frustration with lack of intimacy I think. I prayed a little, but it was feeble.

    I'm looking forward to the weekend. My son's birthday is tomorrow; we will be going to a movie in the evening. I'm thinking of busting out one of my big LEGO sets and starting to build it with him during the day. He would love that.

    Happy Friday! Have a great weekend, to any reading this :)

    I feel: Head-achy, tired, motivated, determined
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  3. What is your love language? What is hers? Have the two of you discussed this together? I have found that simply knowing this about one another is a great help.

    I infrequently receive love from my wife in my love language (acts of service), but when I do, it is extra-special. We all have a tendency to express love to others in our own language. So, even though I speak to my wife in her love language (physical touch), in my mind I am really performing an act of service toward her. :) But just knowing these things about one another has been immensely beneficial.

    And don't forget -- the truest love is always self-sacrificing in nature. If you must set aside your own desires for a time to focus on the need for security and safety in your spouse -- a lack you yourself caused -- what of it? For "...‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’"
  4. My top two are physical touch and words of affirmation. Hers are quality time and words of affirmation.

    I think part of the problem for me was that I was always using PMO to escape/soothe my (often unmet) desire for affection. Now that I'm not soothing it, I feel the pain of the perceived neglect that much more. Don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming my SO or saying she should be doing more. She does show me affection, and it is wonderful when it happens. I just need to work through this time of managing these desires and learning how to cope better. I may come off as whiny or needy here in my journal, but that's because this is the space where I get out these feelings in the hope that I don't burden my SO with them or make her feel like she needs to do more to meet my needs. Maybe she will eventually, but that's not up to me and not something I can control.

    Another part of the equation now is that it is somewhat difficult for me to make quality time for us at the moment. Between her jobs and exhaustion at the end of the day, it is difficult for us to even want to plan something else. But, "quality time" doesn't have to be something that takes long or a lot of effort. We've enjoyed some card games, joint video games, and just talking in bed. But we both really enjoy going out to dinner the most, which will probably have to be a sporadic thing for now.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  5. Good stuff. Perhaps you can both focus on "words of affirmation," since that is a love language you have in common?

    Getting out together is crucial. My wife and I have had a weekly "date night" in our schedule (and in our budget!) for many years now, and it is a practice I highly recommend. If it is a priority, then other things will have to make room for it and not vice-versa. This is what I would recommend. As our marriages are a direct reflection of Christ's relationship with the Church, I think they merit high prioritization to be invested in! But, sporadic is better than not at all, and I realize that some seasons of life make time out together extra difficult to make happen.
  6. Day 98

    I feel ridiculous. After that last post, I basically turned around and wallowed in self-pity and hopelessness this weekend. I let my selfish, addict-brain take over and poison my attitude. I'm over it now, but only after my SO and I had yet again another difficult talk where she explained how this pattern of behavior makes her feel (unwanted, unloved, hated, etc.). Same old story, and I keep falling into the trap of my own design. No PMO, thank God, but it feels like I've hurt my SO just as bad as if I had indulged.

    I need a paradigm shift. PMO was never the root issue. My enemy now (still?) is myself - selfish thinking and living. I've lived nearly my entire life always thinking about my own needs & wants, and how to "fill the pipeline" so that they are nearly constantly satisfied (but never really am, am I?). Anything that impedes that is to be avoided and escaped. Thing is, what happens when I can't do that, either through circumstance or desensitization to the things I'm using? Why not just give up the striving altogether?

    I'm reminded by @Tao Jones of C.S. Lewis' quote:
    And another way to put it, in tandem with putting to death the old behaviors of the flesh (Col 3:12-15):
    Now that I've quoted Scripture, I can now pat myself on the back and call it a day, lol. Mission accomplished!

    J/k. Reminding myself that this will be a lifelong struggle, requiring constant renewing of my mind and daily choosing to live differently. I'll be seeking ways to do this in future posts (books, resources, Scripture passage recommendations welcome!). Hopefully, the tone of my journal will shift to being less about my life in the past tense and more about who I want to become, or even less about me in general. My pastor has often said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking less about yourself".

    I feel: Ashamed (momentarily; not dwelling on it), eager to grow, determined to love unconditionally
  7. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    You are doing so well. I really admire your jurney!

    Have you ever considered seeking for professional help (like visiting a psychologist)? This helped me tremendously and I started to be a big advocate of psychological help to all who take their lives seriously (like yourself).

    Do you remember me writing about spacks and planks here and how sensitive this surgery is. I believe a good psychologist is just the right surgeon. And yes, it does not do without pain and tears... These "needs & wants" have likely their roots somewhere deep in you. So beware of rooting up the wheat along with the weeds...

    ps: Why to call yourself your biggest enemy? Aren't you the biggest ally of yourself in fact? ;)
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
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  8. I see a licensed professional counselor every other week. I don't think he's very good, but I do appreciate what he says. I would like to find a CSAT at some point, but there aren't many in my area.

    Can't I be both? I do have two natures within me, at war!
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  9. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    Just for my curiousity: Do you speak about your P-addiction? I tried to bring this issue in few times but he seemd kind of resistant to it. In the end of the day, I undesrtand why - he wanted to point me to more deep problems so that I am now actually better armed for fighting my addiction.

    ps I do not know what CSAT means but it does not matter, anyway.

    Depends on who of the two you want to call "myself" ;) Well, seriously, you see my emoticons... I only want to encourage you to be positive about yourself :)

    You know me being a bit philosophic on this channel…:

    I see it like this: God made me as the good one and I want to be the good one so I technically am the good one. Yet, not living in the Paradise means that my good-self is inevitably mixed with my bad-self (so as to know good and bad). I may call my bad-self my enemy, but wouldn’t then Jesus reply: But I say to you, love your enemies:) Well, the point is that calling my bad-self my enemy puts me into a constant war… So what is the alternative? How about just saying, look my bad-self, I know you are here, I love you as much as I do love myself, I take you with care, but I know you are sick and will not allow the sickness to overtake our common life ;)
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  10. I absolutely speak about P with my counselor. That's the whole reason I wanted to find a therapist/counselor. I'm still a little vague on his approach to my case, but I'm going with it for the moment.

    CSAT is "Certified Sex Addiction Therapist". A therapist with more of a focus on sex-related issues.

    At first glance, its seems you may be taking that passage out of context. When Jesus says "enemy", I think he is referring to other people. We should always love other people, even when they attempt to harm us. However, we are not being called to love the "enemy" within us. That enemy is sin, that which separates us from God. He hates it, and we also should as well. I do not love my selfishness. I do not love my PA/SA. They do not make me whole or satisfy me, and in fact hurt me. Maybe I'm missing something you're saying, but that's my take on it. The 'two natures' concept is described well by Paul in Romans 7. Also, found this neat little poem that summarizes it nicely:
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  11. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    OK, I may have taken it too far... I just do not like the view of calling oneself one's biggest enemy. I feel it more like my bad-self is very weak and I have to grow strong enough to protect it from its own sickness… What you call the sin I call the sickness in my aphorism. So I do hate the sickness but not its holder - my bad-self, so to say.
    ps: As to enemies and love. Does God love Satan? Are we expected to do so? Huh, it's too much to even try to answer... :)
  12. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    I am not saying the following must be your case, too. Just sharing my own experience with the therapy (and it took several years to get to this point):

    I tried to focus on my P-addition a lot during my therapy. As I see it now, it was easier for me to accuse myself of being that bloody selfish P-junkie than going through some deep subconscious feelings and emotional footprints inside of me. I think, my therapist knew it and did not allow me to fall into that trap. And I had to go through a few periods of real emotional discomfort, like started crying in the middle of my working day or had to stop driving for uncontrollable thoughts and feelings…

    All this did not make an excuse for my addictive behaviour but helped me to see it from “outer” perspective. Then the things started to really change and I got confident that my fight against my P-addiction is not hopeless. This, in the end, forms the basis for my previous post.

    So I do not know if you are, but you may be too focused on your PMO problem which may hinder your successful psychotherapeutic process. But as I said, I really dunno.
  13. Day 100

    I'm trying to figure out what I want this journal to be. Thus far, it's been a way to get out thoughts and feelings, record my ups and downs, get feedback on patterns of thinking and growing, take personal inventory, and generally record events. This has all been good, I think, except for the fact that it often leaves me still rather focused on myself. I'm toying with making my entries more structured, but also don't want to fall into the trap of checking boxes and making me feel like I'm on top of my recovery "game". I already do the "I feel" entry, which I'll keep, as it provides me a touchstone to the reality of my emotions (rather than stuffing them down or masking them). Some ideas:
    • Who can I pray for today?
    • How can I help my family today?
    • How can I love my wife today?
    • What am I avoiding today? (seems self-focused, but often involves avoiding communication or doing something for others)
    • Daily/weekly Bible verse or quote
    • Longer term goal tracking
    After writing this out, it's starting not to sit well with me. It seems like I'm trying to "force" myself to be a better person. I mean, I guess that's the whole point of "recovery". But, as a Christian, I know that the key to being less selfish is to be filled with the Spirit and set my mind on things above. Filling out a journal entry seems far removed from that. I suppose it could be one of the tools I use to focus my mind on "things above".

    It seems helpful to restate my goals here, as well. My primary goal as a Christian is to be obedient to God in response to his salvation, which is to love him and his image-bearers. Obviously, I'll need to be a little more specific (S.M.A.R.T.) with my day-to-day goals. The goals I stated at the beginning of this journal still apply:
    • 90 180 days PM-free
    • Increase Daily non-sexual interaction with SO (or if sexual, then O is not expected)
      • Talking, hugging, holding hands, snuggling, massage, kissing, going on dates, playing games, doing puzzles, watching something, etc.
    • Don't pressure SO for sex nor expect it 30 days letting SO initiate sex
      • Haven't been great on this front. As soon as she shows any interest (intentional or not!), I'm hyped up and ready to go.
      • This wasn't a great goal, as it was all negative and unbounded. I restated it positively and with a time period. I'm starting with 30 days, and will reevaluate afterward.
    • Don't be resentful when "not getting enough" or when SO isn't up to it
      • Much better than earlier and certainly than when I was engaged in PMO. Still need to work on this though.
      • Again, not really a great goal as stated; I removed the conditions, as they aren't really necessary. It also seems partially covered by the previous two goals (if I'm interacting with my SO positively, it will be difficult to harbor resentment, and if she's the only one initiating, then I won't be rejected).
    Some goals I've picked up along the way:
    • Journal daily
      • Again, for both this journal and my personal one, I would like this to be less self-focused and more other-focused. But it's been a great activity for me generally.
    • Exercise 1-2 times weekly
      • This has been great, and I don't plan to stop this. I've been alternating between running and strength training.
    • Practice Spanish daily
      • This is something I'm learning to enjoy, and helps me connect with my SO better. She is nearly fluent, and enjoys it. It's fun to try to say new things to her.
    • Meet with IRL APs weekly
      • I'm waiting to see how this practice will fare. I've been closer friends with one of the guys for a while, but he's not super mature and I have a hard time connecting with him. The other is more mature, and I connect better with him, so I'm interested to see where this leads.
    • Pray throughout the day
      • This is super vague and hasn't been a priority. I want to do it more. I've spoken about making it a "trigger-based" thing, like every time I do X, I say a little prayer. It just hasn't happened yet (because I haven't nailed anything down).
      • I'm going to start with one trigger: pray at meals. I already do this with the family at dinner, but will include this practice for breakfast and lunch.
    New goals? I don't know. The above is a lot, and seems like enough for now. One I know I want to reincorporate is regular Scripture reading. That's another practice that I know will help pull me out of myself and be less selfish, and certainly in line with my prime directive.

    Whew. I need to be done for today. The nice thing about these entries is there's no rush and I can pick up a topic again another time.

    I feel: reflective, motivated, energized, happy
  14. One more thing. I found this article helpful, especially the section at the end:
    This journal can be an aid for me to choose this!
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  15. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    Hi mrtumnus,

    may I congratulate you to that nice round number on your counter?! :)

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  16. Thanks! And I forgot to respond to your other comments:
    Yeah, I think we're on the same page.

    I think the answer (or at least what we can try to say about it) to this mirrors the same struggle humans go through, except that Satan has set himself against God for all eternity. Maybe God loves Satan (God is love, after all, and Satan is presumably a being he created), but Satan has rebelled against him. All postulation of course, since Scripture isn't really clear on it. It would be interesting if God had an open invitation for Satan's repentance, but he will always refuse it...

    I think I have sometimes been overly focused on PMO, yes. But I think recently (past several weeks) I've been expanding my focus to other, deeper issues, seeing as I feel I have had little trouble avoiding PMO. Like selfishness.
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  17. Day 102

    I had a decent meeting with my counselor last night. The topics were resentment (again) and digging into what it's roots are for me. It was relevant, and I felt like he was finally connecting with me in a way I needed. I'm making progress, but still can be very emotionally immature. This is what happened last weekend - I had feelings of loneliness, unwanted-ness, and fear: of not being able to build a good marriage and of not having my wants/desires ever met. Instead of processing through and discussing them, I internalized and isolated myself.

    Another good exercise we went through was thinking through what it's like being a low-libido partner. The lie I often fell into believing was that my partner just doesn't love me enough to want sex. It's not a choice! How do they feel when a partner has PA/SA, especially when they stop asking for sex? Among other emotions, fear is probably the most devastating. Am I enough to satisfy him/her? What if he/she goes to someone else? Fear kills love and eventually a marriage.

    Moving on...

    This weekend I am going to try my best to help out with a party we're throwing. Choosing to love, not to devolve into selfishness, self-pity, or resentment. This is a choice I need to make daily.

    I feel: Resolved, energized (again, is it just the coffee? Maybe I need to journal before coffee :D), content
  18. persona2903

    persona2903 Fapstronaut

    Thanks for share this! God bless you @mrtumnus!
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  19. Day 106

    It's been a busy few days here, including the weekend. Lots of housework (painting) on Friday/Saturday. Then we threw our big birthday party on Sat night. Sunday was a much needed rest day.

    I've been slacking in my dailies. Noting it here, and will be getting back on the wagon. I'm even going to try to add a short devotion/meditation time back in, first thing in the morning, before exercising. I've gone without it since school started, and I've started to miss it. This morning I cracked open Jeremiah and went on a run, which was great!

    PMO still feels like a non-starter, and not an issue anymore. However, I have been noticing more inclination to ogle. I've caught and redirected myself well, I think. This coupled with a craving for affection from my wife tell me that my brain is desperate for sexual input. I hope this lessens, and even goes away some day. It does feel empowering to be able to almost observe myself dispassionately and say, "no, I'm not going to do that". Is that what people talk about here as "superpowers"? Not the kind where you're irresistible to women, but more so powers of self control.

    I feel: Balanced, motivated, content (I'm writing just as I'm starting to drink coffee, so I can't blame it on that now :) )
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  20. Self-control is a gift of the Spirit. There is amazing peace in simply saying "No." It is indeed a power that is greater than us and comes from outside of us. I don't think many on NoFap have that idea in view when they discuss "superpowers," but that is the reality behind it, I believe.
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