Oh what a pleasure it would be to be reading Walter Issacson's Steve Jobs biography on my Kindle rather than Ethlie Ann Vare's new book "Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs" (my current read). It seems I'm in self help and sex addict education overload.
I think it was in Melody Beattie's famous book: "Co-dependent No More" when she describes:...As a co-dependent you get all the crap and all the trauma and all the pain and all the shame and all the fear and everything else the addict gets EXCEPT THE HIGH. Which in my wife's case is the sex (for the record: she says it was only for the attention, the sex was apparently a means to get it)
Think about that. Your spouse or partner has mentally checked out of your life, her vows, feels shame about her own behavior yet continues to have sex and whatever pleasure may come with it on a regular basis, which is a natural and important part (in theory) of life and (in most normal) marriages. And the innocent spouse, gets nothing - physically and emotionally.
Now as the husband of a recovering sex addict and trying to stay supportive and committed to my wife and our marriage, I am faced with personal challenges. My wife is STD free (she had the full battery of tests as a part of her inpatient treatment). She has committed to a monogamous relationship which I have insisted is my bottom line going forward. How does a sex addict return to healthy sex with their spouse?
• Will she be emotionally present with me during sex?
• Can her addiction be triggered by having sex with me?
• Can her addiction be triggered by not having sex with me.
• Will a certain position or act remind her of being with her extramarital "qualifiers"?
• Will she allow herself to have sex fantasies with me?
• Did my sex skills drive her to seek sex from others?
• Did her qualifiers perform better sexually than I?
• What did she do with her qualifiers that she will not do with me? I'll never know and she'll never tell me and it haunts me that I will never know the truth.
• Will she want me to act as her qualifiers acted with her?
• Will I ever be able to get past thoughts of her being intimate with others during our marriage.
• I'll never know what she did to them sexually.
• Can sex be pleasurable for her or me again?
• When can she put my needs first or at least equal to hers?
Yikes, it sucks to be me.
When I think about this, I seem to regret staying in this marriage because it is seems so torturous to me. I would like regular sex with my wife. (we are on our second 90-day no sex period as my wife said she needed more time and wasn’t ready yet---Did I have a realistic choice to decline?) However, the decision to stay was made and as long as my wife stays in recovery and sober, I have agreed to remain in our marriage.
So what did I do.....of course, I bought another book: "The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy: How Sexual Reintegration Therapy Can Help Your Relationship Heal" by Bill and Ginger Bercaw. I actually bought two, one for her and one for me so we can read at the same time (not available on kindle). I initiated for us, not my wife, but does that really surprise anyone. I told her that I would not start reading the book unless she's was ready to fully commit to the program. I told her she would have to let me know when and that I was not going to nag her about it. I don't know when (or even if) we will ever start. I'll also let you know what happens if we finish...which I sure hope is in the next year.
Is it unfair for me to want sex with my wife?