Making a Better Marriage

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

  1. Truth. Thanks for the much needed reminder to give the glory to God, rather than proudly pat myself on the back.
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  2. Day 108

    Things are moving along. I'm not sure if "progress" is the right term, just continuing to focus on being healthy. No issues with resentment or PMO. Work has been busy and productive. I've run twice so far this week, and read Scripture and prayed beforehand. I like doing that, as it really gives me something to chew on while I work out.

    My SO and I haven't had much time to talk about how she's doing. She still struggles with trusting me and is reluctant to be physically intimate. She did offer encouragement this morning, indicating that I am doing well being patient and not pressuring her. I am committed to treating her with love and understanding, regardless of whether my perceived needs are met (or attempted to be met) by her. I don't know how to help her heal better, other than by continuing to be committed to recovery, being patient and loving her wherever she's at.

    I think I'll be keeping up posting here every 2-3 days. With work the way it's been, it's difficult to get on and collect thoughts enough to post something every day. I'm still doing my private journal daily; that's not going to stop.

    I started to plan a date for tomorrow night (at-home date), but forgot we are having family over. Maybe after, but I'm guessing we'll be pretty tired by then.

    I relished the following passage in my reading this morning. It is a great reminder that the God of the Old and New Testaments are truly one and the same.
    I feel: Slight headache, physically tired (workout and short but good sleep), achy back, excited to get to work, disappointed that there's no time for a date (even at home) this weekend.
  3. This is the very best thing you can do. It took a while to dig the hole; it will take a while to fill it back in. Eventually, she will start helping you do so and the work will go quicker. Until then, time is your ally. One day at a time...
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  4. Day 109

    Yesterday went well - very productive at work. The evening was pleasant and got to have some good, brief family time.

    I was reminded yesterday that some SOs like to know more or less when it comes to recovery. So, when I got home I asked my SO how much she wants to know about my daily struggles. I had already assumed she wanted to hear about any relapse, whether P, M or both. She said she'd prefer to know about any level of struggle. Yesterday, I had an issue with album art on Spotify - looked closer at a cover that appeared to have skin on it (it did). That's as far as it went, but I mentioned it to her and she seemed to appreciate the honesty. It's actually quite freeing to be able to give that level of detail to her, especially after being in the habit of lying for so long (either by omission or overtly). I hope it's not too much for her, that she doesn't feel like she "has to" know, but that's what she said she wanted!

    My SO expressed that she feels like she's being a bad wife by denying me sexual "rights" at the moment, but she doesn't feel up for it yet. I reassured her that I am OK and that the way she feels is valid. I don't want her trying to force herself to move on when she's not ready.

    The weekend is relatively free of plans. We are having some family over tomorrow night, which will be interesting. It's a part of the family (one person in particular) that we don't see often, and the relationship is just...odd. This person is very anxious, lives a very different lifestyle, and is very sensitive to many topics. We will be walking on eggshells, more or less. But we have had good conversations in the past, so kinda seems like anything could happen.

    I feel: Neck-achy, coffee-infused, ready to get it done, grateful
  5. Day 112

    My weekend was productive, relaxing, and sweet. Lots of entertainment in the evenings (movies & video games), though it was all enjoyed with friends and family. I vegged out with some video games this morning; don't want that to be a habit this week, so I'm mentioning it now.

    My SO was rather anxious Sunday evening, and started to stress me out. But I refused to give into codependency and I think was successful in holding space for her. She got something done on her to-do list, and immediately felt better. I'm glad we were able to pull through that, as it made for a much sweeter evening than it might have been. She confessed that she wants to be intimate with me, but is still scared. I ended up just holding her, which I think did not produce any further fear or anxiety.

    My SO asked, "Will we ever be whole again?". I challenged her, asking if we ever were "whole" and what would it look like to be "whole" a different way. I offered that we could continue walking down the path to wholeness, with a sturdier and better foundation. That's how I feel about my own personal growth, anyways. It's a lot of striving, baby-steps, and looking ahead to somewhere you'll never be fully in this life. But the striving is where joy can be found.

    I've been praying with my SO sporadically in the evenings right before we turn in. I'd like to make this more regular, but don't necessarily want to tie it into my recovery goals.

    I feel: body achy (wood splitting on Saturday probably), head achy (caffeine?), desire for my SO, slightly reluctant to get to work
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  6. Psalm27:1my light

    Psalm27:1my light Fapstronaut

    Love this, can’t wait until my hubby will pray with me.
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  7. Have you asked him to? We men can be rather thick-headed, even forgetting about things like this that we know are good for us.
  8. Psalm27:1my light

    Psalm27:1my light Fapstronaut

    Actually yes, and he will. I guess I should’ve said “ I can’t wait until he’s confident enough to be my spiritual leader and asks me to pray”!
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  9. Love this! Brilliant!
  10. Now I just have to actually believe it and do it, haha.

    Day 110

    Things have been going OK. Still strong on no PMO, although I had another instance with album art on Spotify. Will be on my guard in the future. I've been very sore and exhausted at the end of the past few days. I'm looking forward to my first appointment with an orthopedic doctor, hoping they will be able to provide a diagnosis.

    My SO has been supportive and loving. Despite this, I still have occasional feelings of loneliness and rejection, especially last night. I know that she doesn't intend this for me and that she does love me. What is(are) the reason(s) for these feelings? Hard to say; I don't think it's just having been in hard-mode for a while (not tracking, but probably up to 40 days or so). I've been reading Hold Me Close by Sue Johnson and just finished the first section. I read through the A.R.E. self-assessment, which I think made me realize and dwell on all the ways that I am NOT satisfied or supported in our relationship. Kinda the opposite of the intent, and probably my fault in allowing me to read it that way.

    I'm still too dependent on my SO for validation and comfort. After tossing and turning last night, I went to sleep on the couch; I figured if I am feeling alone I might as well go be alone. I initially tried to get close to my SO, but it was clear she wanted to sleep. I shouldn't blame her for that, but on some level I do. The lie is: my wife loves her sleep more than she loves me. I shouldn't force her to pick between the two.

    So, what is the truth? Using I Corinthians 13 as a guide, I'm reminding myself:
    Love is patient - I will patiently accept validation and comfort, it's not my SO's job to always give it when I want it. If I need it, I can ask for it when she's awake and in a good position to give it.
    Love does not envy - I will not be envious of others' relationship that seem to have things together and are able to meet each others' needs
    Love does not boast
    Love is not proud - I can communicate my feelings safely, even when it makes me look pathetic
    Love does not dishonor others - My SO is more than my personal comfort blanket
    Love is not self-seeking - My SO is not just here to satisfy my needs; what am I doing to satisfy hers? Let her get good sleep, for one.
    Love is not easily angered
    Love keeps no record of wrongs
    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
    Love always protects
    Love always trusts - I can assume that my SO loves me even when she hasn't said so explicitly
    Love always hopes - Things won't always be the way they are now
    Love always perseveres - I need to work on myself and our relationship regardless of how I feel
    Love never fails

    Moving on, I am looking forward to celebrating my daughter's birthday tonight with family. It was cute listening to her try to figure out what she wanted for dessert.

    I feel: Achy (head, back, neck), insignificant & empty (more earlier, less so now), hopeful
  11. Makes me think of Philippians 2. Christ is our example in all things. (Emphasis mine.)


    3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

    5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

    6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
    7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
    When he appeared in human form,
    8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

    9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.


    What if your wife became disabled and could never be intimate with you again? What would you do? Do you believe that in such a scenario God would meet your every need?
  12. Why you gotta be truthing me so hard? :D

    I recognize the call to be selfless, including in my desires for intimacy, but struggle greatly to accept it in my life. My SO has often asked me, "what if I became disabled". Certainly it would be difficult, and I don't fully trust that God would meet my needs. In some respects, it might almost be a relief for me, as would then know where I stand. She wouldn't constantly be in front of me, tempting my passions, often out of reach. As it is, I'm learning to deny myself apart from her (at work, in the car, while alone), but still struggle when I'm near her. When I left last night to sleep on the couch, I could finally just sleep; there was no rejection, denial, or temptation. But this is only fair-weather "love", or infatuation.

    It seems like I'm still holding out on God. "You can have porn, finally, but don't make me give you my 'healthy idols'". I'll have to figure out a way to talk about this all with her, without casting blame or causing damage.
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  13. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  14. Day 119

    Been a few days. I had a disappointing weekend, through my own fault, not anyone else's. I had another bout of self-pity, loneliness, and, as ridiculous as it sounds, anticipated unmet expectation. It was my birthday this weekend, and I knew that I wasn't going to get "birthday sex" this year (again, my own fault). So, instead of enjoying the fullness of what I DO have with my spouse, I chose to internally reject her and wallow. I did genuinely enjoy much of the weekend, but mostly only with the kids and my extended family. Why do I feel compelled to attempt to hurt her this way? It's because on some level I still harbor blame for her - for not giving enough, for not wanting me enough, for not getting over her pain fast enough. It's disgusting how I'm essentially heaping more pain upon her and expecting her to heal faster. I need to get over this compulsion, and fast, or our marriage will end.

    Something my wife mentioned this weekend stuck with me. When I feel lonely, it's because of something that I've done (I broke the relationship, I failed to reach out and connect). However, she feels lonely through no fault of her own (at least in most of these cases)! I foisted this situation upon her, and as a result, she simultaneously does and doesn't want to connect with me. I asked her if there's anyone else she can talk to about these issues. She said "the old you, the fun you, that apparently never existed". I don't think that's quite true, as my personality is still largely there and intact. But, it was "propped up" with the false fuel of P and self-gratification, and thus truly wasn't real.

    So, once again picking up the pieces and trying to figure out which parts go where and what needs to be inspected or replaced. My SO suggested again that journaling might actually not be helpful for me, as it is just reflecting my own thoughts back to me, and reinforcing them in my brain. It's an interesting thought - maybe the private journal is actually problematic here. Unless I tweak it to somehow be less self-centered.

    I'm rethinking what "recovery" is and should be for me. Appreciate any thoughts, but I'm essentially thinking of re-targeting it a bit. Scripture, prayer, and exercise seem like the essentials for working on "me". But I also want to consider how I can be working on "us". Weekly date nights (in or out)? Tough with kids, but doable if I can commit to it. Nightly check-ins (FANOS or some other structure to make sure I'm not harboring any pent up emotion or feelings). This might be a good replacement for my private journal, as it brings my SO closer into my inner-world.

    Overall, I think I am making progress. It seems I am lasting longer between these bouts of resentment. It would be nice to find a trick to avoid it altogether, as it is repeatedly hindering my SO's healing process.

    I feel: Ashamed of my failure to ward off resentment/self-pity, hopeful for progress
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  15. budvap

    budvap Fapstronaut

    I am repeating myself but I cannot resist after reading this post. I admit I may be wrong and you actually made me re-think my own way of doing several times…

    You took all the shame on you and try hard to stay accountable. But, I am afraid, that is not possible. Even with God’s help, God made us humans, weak and vulnerable, and as far as I can tell he does not take off our weakness and vulnerability from us for whatever good sake. There is a purpose in it.

    You have your own needs, your own feelings, your own faults even when free of PMO. You may expect birthday sex, you may feel stressed by that expectation, you may be rude, you may need your time for yourself…

    What if you just got trapped in your own prison of guilty and self-accusation? Isn’t that actually selfish? As I wrote some time ago, coming out with ones needs and feelings, true needs and feelings, even that not nice, not saint, these that are inside us, men, coming out with all this is equivalent to opening that prison. It is very risky since it leads to a world of unknown. But I by all means believe that this is the risk our wives want us to take, even though they dislike it at the same time. And this is the tension we have to bear.

    At least I am sure that this is what my wife wants me to take. I can disturb her comfort zone by myself but then it’s again nobody than me who should stay by her in that situation; strong, prepared to hold her and show her my endurance.

    Whenever I stop taking this risk, whenever I stop pushing the borders of our relationship in a hope of making myself a better person for her, I am always only back in my own head and my own heart. Then my wife gets into that highly confused state of “does and doesn’t wanting me”, that state of vainly looking for my “old me and fun me”. That’s because she doesn’t want me perfect but she wants me principled and emotional. The principled me gives her a trust needed for mixing her own emotions with my emotions. This way, our souls swirl and pervade each other, which can be accompanied by occasional bouncing that may scare her but, in the end, she can feel more and more anchored in our relationship.

    Be me only principled, there are no emotions to mix with. Be me only emotional, there is no trust as needed. As far as I can tell, building both parts simultaneously is not possible without taking the risk I am talking about.

    Yet again, I am speaking just out of my experience (and knowledge) that, indeed, may not apply to your case.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  16. I don't journal much, either, @mrtumnus . I did a moral inventory for CR, and it was a painful, albeit very therapeutic and revelatory, experience. But, once I got from it what I needed, additional journaling did not seem to help very much. In fact, it seemed to make things worse. My problem is I get too much in my head. Journaling only serves to make me do that more. No thanks. :) Find what works for you, or doesn't, and carry on.

    Recovery for me was greatly helped (and still is) by interacting with a community. Engaging with others in their stuff, while they engage with me in mine, has helped me keep the proper perspective while still remaining close enough to my own junk to see it clearly and deal with it effectively over time. A practice I plan to continue with friends like you! :)
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  17. Yes! Wallowing in self-pity and negative feelings is selfish. I must not have communicated this well, but I fully acknowledge and know this. But yet, I still find myself falling into patterns where I succumb to this, as it FEELS good to have a reason to blame others. Hurt upon hurt.

    It's a little hard for me to understand what you're getting at, but I think the gist of it is that we men should be sharing all of our inner-selves with our wives, even when it's painful for them or they wouldn't like to hear it. I'm not sure that I agree with that, as I think that some things should be left to accountability partners, unless the spouse has explicitly said she wants to hear about certain things. But on the whole, yes, more communication and vulnerability is good and helpful.
  18. I think I'm slowly realizing this. I'm considering @Nicko Stretch's approach of reading journal entries to my SO, so as to fully capture the context and intent behind each entry.

    Yes! Appreciate your attention and feedback :)
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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  19. Day 121

    Things are going well today. I've been too busy to be selfish (although, I often make time to be via procrastination; not so presently). I helped my parents last night by fixing their water softener and helping my Mom pair her Fitbit to her phone. Instances like those remind me that I actually do have useful skills that can make a difference for other people.

    Connected with spouse last night and today. She decided to turn down an opportunity to teach another class in order to be more flexible with her options next year. She currently teaches two classes, for two different schools (one online, one B&M where my older kids go). We still have one kid at home during the day.

    I started my day with some exercises, and also "dusted off" (it's on Kindle, haha) my chronological Bible and jumped back in (in the middle of Luke). Reading the word never disappoints, especially the gospels.

    I feel: Loved, hopeful, determined, productive

    EDIT: 4 months down! It doesn't FEEL like a lot of progress, due to my rollercoaster progress with self-pity and resentment, but I'm starting to see past it.
  20. Day 123

    This week has flown by. We went out to a burger place for my birthday on Wed - food was good, but the service was so slow that we ended up leaving despite still having room for more. The kids were wound up too, so it wasn't very relaxing. All this sounds like complaining, but I actually came away from it level-headed. It could have been an opportunity to get stressed and annoyed with life, but it was OK. We got home, and weren't worse off for it. Maybe it was more difficult for my SO, as she said she could have made dinner in less time and the kids would have been better behaved.

    I've been content the last few days. My SO and I have had some enjoyable down-time. Last night we vegged on the couch and watched TV. Haven't done that in a while. It's so hard to want to move to bed for "real" bedtime when you're comfy on the couch.

    I've been slightly unmotivated in my work. I'm dealing with a tough problem right now, and the solution isn't coming to me very easily. There is a simple, brute-force solution that I'm avoiding because it is not very elegant or maintainable. But that might be what I have to go with. Is there an insight here into how my personality works? Maybe I tend to avoid doing hard, "brute-force" labor of self-improvement because I'm always looking for a simple, easy "trick" to fix my bad habits and attributes. This is perhaps why the "drudgery" of Scripture reading and prayer are often so unappealing to me (I say "drudgery, but it happens that every time I DO these, they are not so!). And, of course, this is why porn was such a problem - the supposedly quick and easy solution to satisfying my greatest desires. It turns out that the simple, elegant solution isn't always the best one; it takes more time to come up with it, maintain it, document it, and maybe understand it. The "brute-force" solution can be less costly in the long-run, both with the initial implementation and with maintenance. The analogy doesn't quite fit porn vs marriage, but the general principle of "just do it" can still apply to the hard, selfless work of building a marriage.

    I met with my Friday discipleship/accountability group this morning. The discussion was good, although it seems like they are having a difficult time understanding why I'm OK (or trying to be, at least) with holding off on sex for the moment. I think they see sex as "relational glue" that would help with healing. Maybe so, but since my SO doesn't feel safe with me, I'm not going to push it. One of the other guys struggles with self-pity when he feels sexual rejection. He recommended a podcast that his wife has been listening to, that has helped them both with thinking through these issues (Julie Slattery's Authentic Intimacy). I might throw it into the rotation, even though it's geared more towards a female perspective (that helps me too!). He also mentioned that they struggled with sex early on in their marriage due to the birth control hormones that his wife was on, reducing her libido. My SO happens to be on the same hormones... Trouble is, she's taking them less for birth control and more for her endometriosis. I'm not sure if her libido is affected - she has mentioned wanting sex, but just not feeling safe at this time.

    I had a brief spat with my SO this morning over the responsibilities around managing the kids' homework assignments. I had forgotten about logging some reading that we track for our kids' grades. My SO was in a rush to get to school, casually tossing blame and yelling at me and the kids. I clammed up and took it, resentfully, and let her just leave without saying goodbye. I instantly regretted it, so I wrote her an apology note. Someday I hope to be able to weather through times like these; I can see improvement already, as I'm not dwelling on it right now and using it as an excuse to wallow in self-pity or even act out. Yeah, she was definitely in the wrong for treating her family that way, but we all make mistakes - I have done much worse - and I can choose to give her grace. AND, she did have a point - I can help out more with sharing more of the responsibilities in the home.

    Looking forward to a date brunch on Sunday sans kids. This weekend will be full of friends & fun, which means it will unfortunately go too fast.

    I feel: Hopeful, determined
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