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Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by Warfman, Nov 17, 2022.
Your a good example of this Thor, and I want to be where you are at someday.
I agree with you 100% on everything you stated. That's why I said, don't push your partners for intimacy. We caused a lot of deep trauma and betrayal, like is no joke. Probably SOs would be able to explain the hurt a lot better than me as honestly It took me a long time to even stop to think how my wife was remotely feeling. I think a lot of SOs put their emotions on hold to support us, but at some point the former addict has to start supporting on the recovery process or their partners, its really not all about us and satisfying our needs right now. Thinking like that is still thinking like an addict. While living a life without intimacy is not realistic, expecting intimacy after some progress was done is not either, and until the ground becomes fertile to cultivate love again the best thing we can do is to keep our hands away from out pants and our brains bussy with healthy activities.
When it comes to the timeline I agree with you as well. Generally three months is not much to either the spouses or the addict. I try not to measure in days as to me how i feel is a better guideline. But when people has been addicted to porn for 10 years sometimes more, three months it's also a blip. I got hooked with porn in my early teens, I don't expect to be fully recovered anytime soon, that's two decades of fucking up my brain. It will take a lot more than just a few months and I will probably have to watch my back for the rest of my life as my brain won't forget about it that easily lol. That is why I don't like looking at the recovery in terms of time, because thinking of keeping my guard up my whole life is exhausting, instead if I think I need to stay strong today that's a whole lot better. Same thing with my partner, she also did not want to be intimate with me, sometimes she would be so upset she didn't even feel like coming home. In this case scenario expecting to be intimate does not only neglects her feelings. Furthermore thinking oh we weren't intimate for four weeks does nothing other than creating a false expectation and more hurt. Instead I can ask her how are you feeling TODAY and what can I do to make your day better, do you need venting, etc. Trauma recovery and addiction are similar in terms that It can't be quantified in days, emotions are very dinamic. Some days will be good and others won't be.
I have also asked this question on "what's something I can do today that will make you feel loved". She's speechless, and says "I don't know" I'm trying to continue this just to show I care enough to try. Hopefully the ball starts rolling in this regard soon.
Keep trying to find times where you can tell her calmly how you’re feeling, ask how she’s feeling, and if there are things you can do.
Good books to work together: Five Love Languages, Emotional Fitness for Couples/Intimacy. These books can help you understand your partner better and do things that resonate with each other. And also create safe, regular spaces to have intimate conversations, instead of the moments of frustration when emotions boil over.
Remind yourself that the thought of if your road to recovery is doom for your marriage…That is not a helpful thought for your recovery, your marriage, your happiness.
There are a million paths your marriage could take and ending is a simple one to imagine, but there are millions of other paths that are harder to imagine. Other paths involve you spending years working on yourself and your wife slowly moving alongside you and you finding a deeper connection together. But marriage is never an “If I do this, she’ll do this and I’ll get this.”
It took my wife years to stop being defensive when I challenged some of her negative behaviors. It has taken my wife years of baby steps to initiate intimacy. But that is the time it takes for changes to happen.
@Real Jerry Seinfeld There are aspects of your post I much agree with and appreciate.
@Warfman I agree about putting some boundaries related to self-respect and gently but clearly taking your wife aside asking her not to disparage you in front of your children. Again, I say gentle. Because the honest fact is, at this point, your wife may be too immature to (1) receive this request or (2) to actually follow it, even if she was of a mind to agree with you on principle. She is merely following the subconsciously ingrained pattern she likely learned from her family of origin. You have to seriously take this into account. Your wife isn't ready for change. Not now, but, Lord willing, later.
Honestly, without having a marriage counselor in the room, you may want to hold off on any of the really serious, deep, emotionally-upsetting conversations.
@Real Jerry Seinfeld But there are some pieces of advice I want to respond to:
He doesn't need to offer unconditional love when the other person doesn't reciprocate? That's the very definition of unconditional love. Here you are asking Warfman to begin implementing the same methods of manipulation and control that his wife is (immaturely) employing on him. This is wrong. Absolutely the wrong advice.
We must love our wives unconditionally. We are Christians. That is what the Christian is called to. Period. Whether our wives are what we want them to be or not, that is love. God doesn't abandon us when we sin against him; he has done everything for us in Christ. He has every right to abandon us, but he doesn't. That's the sort of unconditional love we're to imitate. There are Biblical conditions that allow the relationship to be ended by one of the parties - such as adultery. That is not currently a path I see Warfman entertaining in the slightest. He wants this relationship to grow more healthy and to flourish, not to end.
We should not try to manipulate our wives or control them in an inappropriate way. Tit-for-tat. Well, she won't do this, so I won't do that. That is downright childish immaturity and not real love.
Yet - I am also not advocating being a doormat. If Warfman wants to rub his wife's feet or back because he loves her, he should do it. If he decides he simply wants to cut back on giving these massages just because he wants to, because he no longer enjoys giving them, he is free to do that. He should not manipulate her by giving -or- withholding backrubs. And she should not manipulate him by accepting -or- being upset when she doesn't get a backrub. He is free to give the backrub or not; she should happily receive it or be content without. This relationship is supposed to be founded on love, not manipulation and control.
Absolutely not. Now is not the time. Warfman has enough work to do on himself. You are talking about giving ultimatums, about upsetting the apple cart once and for all, about taking a stand. At this point, as I see it, Warfman has plenty of work to do on himself--dude, we're addicted to porn. After that, he can slowly and gently encourage his wife to go down a path of healing in her own life, which has the potential to open her up to his love and to loving him.
@Warfman, brother, be encouraged. I think there is hope for your relationship with your wife. It will not be an easy road, it will take a lot of time and energy, but it is certainly possible. Pursue your own recovery and help and healing on your own. When the time is right, you can invite your wife to open up and start on the path to her own healing. You have yet to learn the way for your own healing; maybe after you've figured out how healing happens, you will be better equipped to be a resource for your wife. Now is not the time to confront her or push her away.
If your wife starts yelling at you, or treating you inappropriately, then do what you need to do for yourself - go take a walk, go call a friend, go get it off your mind with a hobby, whatever. After you and your wife have cooled down, come back and tell her (without heated emotion) what you thought was inappropriate about how she treated you, how that made you feel, and calmly and coolly work towards understanding and reconciliation.
Sex. It's supposed to be the cherry on top in the relationship, not the foundation. Evidently, your relationship with your wife isn't what it should be. It seems like more of the blame for your relationship's state lies at the feet of your wife, but of course, you haven't been perfect either. Sex should be something that "if it happens, great; if not, I will be content" for now. Work on yourself for a while, then invite your wife into the process (with a counselor?), heal and strengthen the relationship, and then sex will be natural. Something in your wife's past seems to be affecting her in a negative way. You have your own stuff to work through, too. Take your time.
As you are to me buddy!! We share many of the same challenges!!
I appreciate and agree with you. My fear is mostly rooted in the fear my wife will never have an interest in changing. As it's "always my fault" facing my issues, reveals how lacking many things are in my marriage. And it scares me that I might be faced with difficult decisions. I agree with you that there are millions of potential outcomes. Yet only one I can control, which is my life story.
This I agree with you here.
I do want to point out for accountability sake, that a lot of my "love" has not been unconditional. It's an issue on both sides for sure. And one I deeply desire to end. I want a kind of love with my wife that builds upon itself naturally. I'm the King of covert contracts.
As a recovering nice guy, I identify Covert Contracts with this part, I've definitely done it a lot. However, due to my NGS I have almost no idea how to ask for things, it's a deep feeling of being bad or selfish when I outwardly ask for things to the person I desire them from. So I struggle with a internal battle of, either ask for what I want, accept the reality that it's out of my control, or revert back to my Nice Guy tendencies. It probably sounds silly, but it's actually a pretty hard issue, especially when it's so closely linked to my cycles of PMO addiction. I used it as an "intimacy substitute". A typical cycle is, ask for intimacy, try using a covert contract to get that need met, if that doesn't work get resentful and eventually act out. I've done this countless times.
I agree with this, and that's why I've been working on this. As you have encouraged me, I need to start taking my life story more seriously with private counseling, to work through things like my toxic shame, attachment styles, etc.
Yes, I've mentioned before, I'm not going to dump all this on her and demand she start going to counseling with me. We are 5 weeks from our next child being born. I'm totally focused on allowing time for our life to normalize, and not make this an issue during a very taxing and emotional time in our lives.
As far as doing what I need for myself, I will say I've tried. I've tried going on walks, called friends, tried to take my mind off things. When my wife is upset with me she follows me, and attacks me, tells me I'm a bad person for walking out, I can't express how much it hurts.
I know there's things from her past, things I will not share here. And I know there's lots of stuff I can explore on my own from my past and that seems to be something I need to fully focus on.
It's difficult for me to offer speciifc advice as I think I'm quite disagreeable by nature. But I don't think you necessarily have to view withdrawing footrubs as manipulation. I just wouldn't personally be inclined to go the extra mile for someone that doesn't do the same for me. I suppose what I'm saying is that asking nicely and piling on more kindness isn't necessarily going to move your relationship forward in whatever regard if it hasn't already. Taking a more firm approach in terms of your boundaries and expectations may yield more fruit.
I think you've misinterpreted my advice a little here. My assumptions is that Warfman is giving out footrubs not because he loves to do so but because he's hoping this will bridge the gap between them in terms of intimacy. In other words, he is doing something nice to hopefully get something back in return. Some may call that manipulation, I wouldn't personally. My suggestion is that this doesn't seem to be working and perhaps requires a rethink.
I am also a Christian and subscribe to the view - as I'm sure you do - that a husband deserves love, respect and obedience. You're perfectly within your rights to set out your expectations and boundaries within the marriage. The background circumstances may make this more difficult, but ultimately you need to seek to return to that dynamic. I don't think there's anything in my post that violates what a husband owes to his wife in turn. In my view, offering unconditional love doesn't mean offering unconditional backrubs. If that's in the Good Book, I must have missed it!
With regards to being firm vs gently-gently, I don't think either of us really know what will work in his situation. But my suggestion is that the latter doesn't appear to be working as well as one might hope. My go-to is to be very direct and I've found it's always yielded good results in relationships. However, it may be that it pushes her further away, I can't say. Certainly it's a risk I would take but I'm not him and I'm not you.
The advice I'm trying to give without sounding patronising is to stand tall and have courage. Don't grovel. That is the jist of it.
Do that! I’d suggest to drop it all and just do whatever she wants and needs at this time. Don’t be to hard on yourself, it’s a stressful time. It will be tough.
I agree with @Wilderness Wanderer....she isn't quite ready to make the changes that you're hoping to see. In addition to what he said, I think there's another important aspect to recognize in this dynamic, and this is related to what @CrushedandLeaving said...the timelines for the addict's recovery and the SO's healing are very mismatched. Sometimes, people think they should be moving along simultaneously, but that almost never happens. It's just unrealistic.
The SO's healing will be significantly behind the addict's recovery because the SO's healing usually can't even begin until they see a considerable amount of consistent changes the partner is making in their recovery. Oftentimes, the SO doesn't recognize...or doesn't believe...their partner is really making the changes and/or doing the work because there have been so many "false starts" in the past where the addict said they were serious about recovery, but nothing ever really changed. So, it can take awhile for the SO to realize 'this time' might actually be different. And, then, it takes even longer to start trusting that the changes will last.
This!! I 100% agree. I’ve been chasing intimacy and thinking from a few days in I’m a reformed new man! Why doesn’t she want me.
It’s taken me a long time (maybe 157 days!) to accept this is for the long haul. She can clearly see a new me… but she’s also not ready to take that leap and I just have to wait till she is. If I made her wait years whilst I played with my cock when I shouldn’t have done… perhaps I should be prepared to wait for years - or as long as it takes to regain her trust and confidence.
we can’t fix what we broke over years in a few weeks. We may be fixed and recovering… but for others we hurt it takes longer. Be patient buddy!! It will come I’m sure!
Well it's also the complexity of unraveling just how much has been tainted by the addiction. Yes, it is great and it is wonderful that the acting out stops and remains stopped. But for the SO, her experience likely didn't even include a direct awareness that the behavior was happening in the first place. Her experience may have been all the damage, all the side effects from the addiction. And those things can take so much time to address because they take so much reflection from both partners to identify and correct. It's hard to realize that you may have to completely overhaul how your relationship worked in the past because you were reacting and interacting with a limited reality. And it's not just about the SO being willing to work on all these things. My husband is doing great, he's in a solid stage of recovery right now. But he often is very clueless, even still, to how he was in certain situations in the past. He'll bring something up thinking it was one way, only for me to clue him in to how he was to the rest of us. Or he'll reference something and not realize it was something he'd hid from me. He has to be able to receive the corrected version of the past, without losing it or returning to shame, for us to even work on it. It's kinda like cleaning out an old garage full of both your stuff and junk so you can use it again - it's all got to be gone through and cleaned, sorted into keep, throw out, give away. Gotta do a lot of hard work before the car can go back in.
Another aspect of all this is that intimacy may never be the same again. The addict needs to learn to love, for the first time. Perhaps for a normal person orgasm is not an issue but for the addict is. There is an inherent desire to have sex for O, instead of to have sex for connection, a desire to use our partner other than be present with her. If your partner does not want intimacy, why do you want intimacy then? Must be for O because If it's for connection then we are going from step one to five, specially if your partner is not giving you the qeues or feeling affectionate.
I wouldn't be stranged if SOs felt repulsed to be with us. Say a porn addict repeats what's seeing on the screen, after all this it would be impossible not to tell that the same mindset is still there. Kinks? Probably will remind your SO of every time your relapsed and every time you chose P instead of her. It's not so black and white but like everyone else said here, it may take a lot longer for an SO to heal and having sex might be a trigger for all the pain. There has to be training to take out as many elements that resemble porn to sex of the in order to move to a more wholesome form of intimacy.
Personally I still struggle with intimacy, I am very open about it with my wife and I confess that sometimes the feeling I get seems a lot like a relapse. When present, the chaser effect sucks and I have withdrawals symptoms for days, we try to chose the best time to make sure I'm not going to be in a shitty spot the days after. Sadly in my experience doing progress with my addiction didn't exactly correlate with being fine for intimacy... Work in progress
I've had to emotionally pull myself back some here for a period of time, and just get myself back into a place where I can process things, Been spending a lot of time listening to a new podcast @Wilderness Wanderer referred to me. Adam Young's "The Place We Find Ourselves". I've been listening and taking notes while in my tractor. There is so much here to unpack for me that I can't get into now, I hope in time I can focus on this more here.
There's a lot of responses I'm trying to respond to, but when I try it pulls me down a road I just need to stay out of. One I've been down before on here. Some of these responses are my 3rd attempt. There are few key realizations though I want to acknowledge though.
What really hangs me up on this is that my wife says things that makes me think a certain way, then never actually fulfills them. I definitely understand what you are saying. I'm just so confused by the things she says one time, and then acts completely different. I'm starting to realize it's not all BT that is to blame, and actually is lots of different things, things I just can't fix myself.
One example, my wife after my 90 day celebration expressed love through "quality time" which is a key love language for her, sacrificing her time to spend with me is easy for her. I express it through physical touch which is easy for me. I don't know that either of us receive it well because our love languages are very different. My wife is great at "receiving" my massage, but quite terrible at reciprocating with "Physical Touch" or "Words of Affirmation" which are my two main ways I seek to receive love. What makes things worse is we don't often recognize that this disconnect even exists. This I think is extremely frustrating for both of us.
When I'm rejected, I'm sent back to issues like the foot rub issue, and actually further back, into things I just realized were affecting me from my childhood thanks to my reflections listening to Adam Young's podcast.
I appreciate your words as always, though I don't feel this represents me at all. I actually reject the notion that someone addicted to P can't "love".
I feel I'm quite aware of my desires, O is one of them, however so is an expression of love through giving and receiving (massage) that does not end in O. Just as a loving affirmations of appreciation for it.
Actually, I express love this way to most people, I massage my daughters feet, fingers, and back before bed. Funny enough, my daughter openly says, "Daddy gives great massages, Mommy doesn't."
I think in this last instance, I allowed myself, to become dysregulated, because of things my wife had said she "couldn't wait to do", that it was something I looked forward to, and was taking longer than I anticipated. I suppose, her saying she couldn't wait to do it somehow made me feel fully disconnected from her during that time. What may have been a passing comment made by her, meant the world to me. In those moments, I felt everything seemed more important than me.
Regulating my Affect I think is a key component to this situation, as it's what's in my control. And seems to be a different way of looking at "repressing emotions". Little have I realized, things like this dictate behaviors in ways that I have not fully addressed. Abstaining for short periods of time from PMO for me has come relatively attainable for me, working on this next bit may take a little longer.
What puzzles me at times is how little BT symptoms my wife seems to be outwardly showing some of the time. I know that doesn't mean she's not feeling it, but I am also realizing that there's a whole lot more to her than just BT that through this process I've ignored and so has she. Deep personal work, that needs addressed as it without a doubt affects our relationship. You know better than most about this as we've talked before about much of it. I think what I'm trying to say is for the last 10 months I've made everything about P addiction recovery and BT. Thinking that this will solve all, not realizing how much uncovered stuff my wife actually needs to work on herself. Recently, we have had some deep convos about some of it, but there's no doubt that I can tell she has no interest in going through the deep work needed to process some of it. I think I need to be more aware that not everything is a cause and affect of my P addiction. When I do that, and things go sideways, I end up blaming myself, feeling rejected or unaccepted, which fuels addiction.
I appreciate you taking the time to offer advice, I do struggle with the "manipulation" aspect of not doing something until she does something for me. My wife does this to me and it makes me quite sensitive to it.
As I've pondered on this though, I think that I need to deconstruct this "give to get" mentality. I'm not sure I'm there yet, I just know it causes me a lot of heartache.
I addressed physical touch as my main love language already in this post. The thing is I want to express my love that way, it's also how I desire to receive it. My other main way I desire receiving love is "Words of Affirmation" which is also something my wife isn't very good at. Going through attachment styles, my wife is most likely an Avoidant Attachment Style. The term "opposites attract" has a whole new meaning to me now as I've been thinking through all this.
Maybe, something I should focus on is continuing setting and establishing boundaries, like how I am spoken to. While also working on some personal stuff to address for myself. I can probably spend a lot more time than I thought thinking through things like attachment styles and life experiences that molded me into who I am today.
It’s frustrating when your spouse won’t recognize their need to do work just because you have work to do. But it makes sense. It’s easy to sit and blame instead of taking responsibility for our own responses. Especially when it’s so easy to blame your addiction for everything. I would be likely to sit and blame my wife for all of our problems if I had something it could point to. At least I would have before I did recovery work to see things more clearly.
You’re a patient man and you are doing the work. Just keep at it. Being sober is just level 1 recovery work. You’re teaching into family systems and helping your inner childhood wounds and trauma. That’s the higher level stuff that will make recovery stick. You’re doing great. Keep it up.
Yes, and also it's just not something anyone wants to really do. Nobody wants to delve back into painful issues of the past, my wife has some pretty traumatic ones too. Actually reliving those is painful. I'm not saying at all that it's these issues that are the problem in our relationship and that P addiction isn't. But, I think I have just been too hard on myself, taking the pressure off addiction recovery's benefits, in a way feels liberating. It's still my first step, but I see many more that follow to get to where I want to be someday.
I'm not sure what to do about our inherent differences, but I think a first step is understanding them. Even just on my end it changes the entire way I perceive them.
I think it's interesting you speaking about love languages as I think these are often impactful on the dynamic of a relationship.
Like your wife, mine values 'quality time', and tends to view expressions of love in terms of making an effort to spend time together completing various involving activities. I like my own company and my own thoughts, so it's a bit of a sacrifice for me but I do try and make time for this kind of thing. For example, I take her to a lot of classical music stuff which she seems to like.
My love language is 'acts of service', which my wife refers to as 'acts of servitude', if that gives any indication as to how she views them. It is very, VERY difficult to get her even to complete basic household tasks to an acceptable degree. Like, her idea of 'clean and tidy' is an order of magnitude below mine. It is a constant source of resentment for me that she apparently won't make any effort in this regard. Like, it's probably the leading source of discord in our relationship.
So I can sympathise to some degree with what you're experiencing as it's incredibly frustrating and disheartening when someone who professes to love you won't act in a way that you see as indicative of love. It's not just about sex or chores or whatever, it's what the refusal to sacrifice represents regarding their feelings for you.
I believe there are many of us here who would agree with this 100%.
I think, given her resistance (some of it very understandable, as you've said it is very hard to go back to painful issues when you've already locked them away) and with baby almost here, you have the situation of having to, for right now, focus on sorting through all of your own issues and moving forward there. Obviously it is extremely important for your own recovery to identify and heal all these wounds that lead to developing an addiction to cope. So none of that is going to be wasted work. But I also think that you can take what you learn, and reflect, maybe even with a therapist or here, to continue to look back and identify how your addiction did effect your relationship. How it did effect communication. Because if she was bringing her own trauma and reactions into your relationship WHILE AT THE SAME TIME you were throwing your addict self at her (anger, lack of empathy, lying, whatever it may be), well it's just a recipe to establish really unhealthy relationship dynamics. The more you can identify and verbally own when you discuss these things with her, the more she will see you desiring to change your part of the dynamic. My husband and I can look back at some of the bigger fights that happened when he was using, like the ones that he was a jerk and I completely flipped out, and we can now identify how bad it was. Back then the dynamic was he was just fine and I was flipping out. Now he looks back and sees, wow he was lying to me, he was gaslighting me, he was avoiding a direct conversation or giving answers. He gave me a flaming pile of dog poop, of course I was flipping out! Am I happy I was flipping out? No. I'm not pleased with it. It's not how I wanted it to go at all. But how could I interact rationally with someone who was not giving me rational behavior? Now that we've identified some of those things we can apply it to future disagreements. I can respond well, I can calm my urge to flip out IF he is giving me honesty, empathy and the full picture.
I'm hopeful that at some point she might be responsive to you saying something like, on my end I wasn't engaging in a healthy way and so I understand, especially with all that you've gone through, how those situations didn't have a chance to land right and go well. I want to work towards a place where I am coming to you in a fair and rational way so that we can reset how we handle those harder things.
If she doesn't, it gives you a place to start when couples therapy becomes an option. You guys have so much relationship ahead of you. I really pray that you can commit to a lasting recovery and that God will soften her heart to want to heal from all the hurt she's had in her life.
On a random note, since you are big into podcasts, you might like The Full Cup with Craig Berthold. My husband found it very helpful with freeing himself from some of his childhood issues.