The role of sex in a strained marriage
By mrpuppy1983
7/10/2011 7:06:33 PM
I have been a porn/sex addict for the majority of my life (since my preteen years). My wife and I got married several years ago, and I was not a member of the Church since then. Prior to me entering the waters of baptism, I accepted the principal that my sins could be "washed away", but have yet learned how to fully deal with their ramifications.

Since I've been a member of the Church, I have made an ever more concerted effort neither to act out in relations with the outside world, nor to take my frustrations out of her. That's not to say that I've been anywhere near perfect, but I think I'm getting stronger every day. Nonetheless, my path of destruction has left a wake which has nearly destroyed the lives of my wife and children, never mind what it’s done to my own.

We are now working on trying to shift the momentum, and set our sights ultimately on being married in the Temple; but that is still in the distant future. My immediate questions center more on the here and now, and how we can gain that positive momentum. For instance, it has been well noted that sex inside the bonds of a marriage is a wonderful thing,; but what if those strains are already weak, and one or the other party gets little to nothing out of it? Likewise, if that party decides to be generous despite their own hesitations, is that well meant generosity simply serving to feed the addiction and thus prolong any recovery?

I'm interested to hear from those who have been where we are. My wife and I are constantly being bombarded with advice, but it generally comes from those who have little to no working knowledge of the entire situation. I want to believe that my marriage is still viable, but I now that the time for help is fading fast. Any input and insight would be greatly appreciated.


"I cannot comment yet, can you write more and be more precise because it is hard to really help you. I believe there are many of us who are able to give you some first hand experiences.

The 3rd paragraph needs more elaboration.

Look forward to reading more."
posted at 20:17:03 on July 10, 2011 by ruggaexpat
I think I get it    
"I think I get what you mean (to a degree, anyway)...
Since the relationship is dysfunctional from a SA, is it ok to have one pull away from sex, or on the other spectrum, offer to be sexual w/ their partner often.

*I* think those approaches are dysfunctional as well. HOWEVER, being the one with a SA, it's really hard to find a HEALTHY medium.

I like being sexually intimate. So, holding off is usually not a problem. But, there have been times where I want "it," but don't push for it because I'm so alienated by the thoughts of my husband's SA choices. Other times, I've said ok to his requests because I want to prevent any bad SA choices later.

So, IMHO, I'm protecting myself when I hold back from my want for sex. But, I'm not protecting myself when I go through with it to "prevent" him from faltering with his addiction.

If I hold back for too long though, I'm just hurting both of us because I'm not working on myself and my marriage. I'm just being selfish. Sex is for both though, not ruled by only one party (no matter what society says). Sex is a sacrament between husband and wife. Both should partake as a team every time."
posted at 20:34:31 on July 10, 2011 by ConfidenceIn
"I see what you're saying. Honestly, I feel like she participates simply to appease me, or "make me less grumpy" as she puts it. This approach may be physically appealing, but it often leaves us feeling empty inside and somewhat used. She feels used by me, and I feel used by my addiction.

I'm struggling to distinguish the hard and fast definitions between sex for the sake of the addiction, and sex for the sake of our marriage. Though I can typically feel the difference between teh two, it is hard for me to help my wife differentiate which is taking place at any given time. As such, she remains feeling like my sex toy, even if I want to simply enjoy intacy with my wife because I want to feel close to HER. It has gotten so bad that even an attempt to cuddle or hug her is suspect. Though I recognize my fault in this, it is emensely depressing to know that she has put that wall there and that I have no idea how to help her tear it down.

I love my wife dearly, but I've done a terrible job showing it. I am willing to be patient and try to meet her needs as best I can, I'm just at a loss as to how to do it. I'm finding that I need to learn entirely new ways to show her love, and having to let go of what I once thought was possible I feel overwhelmed by the whole process and I've yet to find a way to let go of my guilt. I haven't the fanintest idea how to forgive myself for all that I have done to her, nor do I know how to become the husband that she deserves."
posted at 21:06:33 on July 10, 2011 by mrpuppy1983
A suggestion,    
"Try going on a sex holiday. Decide that for one month you will not have sex but practice being intimate with eachother. Practice non-sexual gestures and holding eachother instead of sex. If this is too difficult for you without it leading to sex, you can put the sex thing aside while you work the Steps with a sponsor. There are safe ways to be intimate without the addiction invading the moment. For example, while you are working your Steps, you can take walks and hold hands.

Recovery is a process. It takes a lot of practice. Some would say it is like learning to live life a completely different way. I know how it is in the beginning but nowadays I don't think it's ever ok for me to use my wife for sex. I know I did that in early recovery thinking it was better than masturbating but I don't see it that way anymore. The kind of sex we aspire to in marriage isn't carnal at all. My wife, bless her heart, was all too willing to be of help but in retrospect it wasn't helping. I had to quit "having sex" and learn what intimacy was. We don't want to control or manage the natural man. We want to kill it. That it the goal, anyway. A good test is when it is true intimacy, the sex act may or may not happen as a result and I would be ok with either outcome. When it was lust, I HAD TO HAVE IT or I would be pulling my hair out."
posted at 21:43:58 on July 10, 2011 by Anonymous
This is an area I am sure others will be more helpful    
"I do have some thoughts:

I have asked myself the question: How important is sex really? Can I live without sex and still love someone? Can my wife and I have a meaningful relationship without sex as a pillar holding our happiness up?

I think I can and sex is great but I believe I am living in a period of my life where building my emotional intimacy capacity is paramount to any physical relations. I bruised and battered her emotionally through serious neglect that there is no space for sex but being nice to each other, building trust again, talking through our differences, we are back to friends again in a real way. The dynamic we live with is good friends before boyfriend and girlfriend. No sex, no hugging, no kissing, no touching. Dude there is a BOM distance between us 27/4.

Is that healthy one might ask? I don't know, what I do know is that my wife feels safer that way, is she being selfish, I don't think so she is just seeking feelings of security. She does not feel safe trusting me at all, she cares for me but she is happy as is. I wish it were different that she could trust me but she cannot.

I am not in a position to say do this and you will see a miracle. I am also not in a position to say what does not work. I just know that if we can learn to love the Lord and get closer to him we will simultaneously get nearer to our wives emotionally. I think we need to develop more emotional maturity. It is not just us, but any man who is not sensitive to the emotional needs of his wife for a long period of time will experience the same feelings you have now.

Her emotional needs need more attention than anything else right now.
You can really help her healing by being clean 1st then work on the emotional aspect and if you are in the same boat as me, OVERCOMING THE ADDICTION IS A PIECE OF CAKE COMPARED TO DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL SENSITIVITY!!

This is my reality, the long haul is getting up to speed with the emotions."
posted at 22:01:42 on July 10, 2011 by ruggaexpat
"Last night, my wife and I had a good long discussion, and I decided to propose a "sex holiday" (right about the smae time it was being usggested on here). I don't know how the next two months are going to go, but I dearlyhope that it will begin to help her see that she means far more to me than just a sexual object.

Like the last person said, getting by without the sexual component is going to be cake compared to untangling the emotional mess that I have created. Though she remains open to some affection such as hugging, I feel so insecure that I never know when to approach her for them. For whatever reason, my pride keeps me from wanting to verbally ask her when its ok, but yet I don't want to attempt mind-reading at this point eitehr.

So far this morning I think we've madea bit of headway. I was able to tell her that I love her with no shadow of an alterior motive, which has been far too rare around here. I know right now she doesn't love me in the way that I would like for her to, but I'm hoping that someday she will again.

My Priesthood leaders have assured me that if I work on my end - showing her unconditional love to the best of my ability - we will be entering the Temple soon enough. I try to have enough faith to believe that, but it really does seem like a miracle at this point. While I could say that I'm just lacking faith in myself, not the Lord, I know in my heart that I owld be lying to myself. If i can have sufficiant faith in him, I know that he will show me how to accomplish the things that he has set out for me. It's just hard to do that these days."
posted at 11:53:43 on July 11, 2011 by mrpuppy1983
"Sex and intimacy are two different things. The addict has bonded with unreal sexuality, and trying to use that in the real world with his spouse.. It never works and always leaves both unfulfilled and empty.

Withholding sex from the SA for a time is completely normal. Often but not always, the spouse has been hurt badly and needs to pull away to feel safe and to begin healing from her wounds. She needs to see spiritual healing and sobriety for a long while. She need to gain her own spiritual healing. One of the most important things is for the SA stay sober so as to not reinjure his wife. Indulging in addiction brings it all back... mustrust, paranoia, pain, etc...

A common misconception we hear often is that having sex with the SA it might keep them from indulging in their addiction. Wrong! Until the SA can get out of the unreal world of sex and enter the real world of beautiful God-like love and physical bonding, the spouse is feeding the addiction to a point.

I believe much of our training in sex comes to both the SA and the spouse because of all of the imagery that is constantly being placed in our path through various forms of media (doesn’t even have to be official porn). If you live in today's world especially here in America, you know what I mean. The world has trained our minds, both male and female (and that includes LDS folks too) of what sex should be, and often it is like we are playing out a scene or acting on a stage. Something like, the guy is the stud, and the girl is the sexy porn star. Through media, we have all been taught what we should look like, be, and act in the bedroom.

The truth is, Heavenly Father's plan for creation and expression of love comes from within, and is completely opposite of the worldly sex, where books are written, instructional videos are produced, and “experts” preach. They tell us to try this toy, and that method, blah, blah, blah, to improve our sex life. God’s plan of intimacy crushes anything the world can throw at us. I think Hero calls it “mind blowing”

The answer is so simple, God like love, and to learn that, we must first turn Christ in every way possible. When we turn to Christ, we begin to understand that we are not in need of the orgasm the world is selling us and we begin to connect with the person who we love so deeply and we begin to share, not just our bodies but our whole selves with them. And that is a very amazing experience!

If we want that experience, we have to do all we can to rid ourselves of the world. Yes, that means shutting down the Direct TV, and almost all movies. I have said this out loud before and people have looked at me like I have three eyes. The question is, how bad do you want God like love in your marriage?

Google, Dr. Douglass Weiss. He is a Christian and recovering SA. He has some really good stuff along those lines.

Does anyone know of and LDS books written about the subject of God like intimacy? "
posted at 12:58:26 on July 11, 2011 by Anonymous
Between Husband and Wife by Lamb and Brinley    
"Can get it at Deseret Books.

This book was written for therapists but has great info from pages 72 - 85.
Answers many of these questions."
posted at 20:08:46 on July 11, 2011 by ruggaexpat

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"Are you battling a demon of addiction—tobacco or drugs, or the pernicious contemporary plague of ography? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. In that regard Alma's testimony is my testimony: "I do know," he says, "that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions."

— Jeffrey R. Holland

General Conference, April 2006