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 Post subject: Reclaiming our desire
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:13 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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This is a hard subject to talk about. Even anonymously. But, I think it would be helpful to me to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Over the course of my marriage, I experienced intimacy anorexia with my husband. One of the many things he withheld from me was not just desire, but sex itself. Now that I know about SA, I understand why. I know many of us experienced sexual anorexia.

Of course that was profoundly damaging to me. Couple that withholding with the blame I got for his choices to withhold; the devaluing, belittling and demeaning comments about my sexuality and desirability that he did in order to keep distance and protect his addiction; and the betrayal with all that sexual energy taken elsewhere, and, whew, it is still hard for me to come to grips with all of this. As, I heal, I have felt: shame, lack of self worth, rage, confusion, sadness and despair.

But I don't want to lose my sexual desire. I don't want that to be a casualty of my husband's addiction. I have ranged from unleashing my desire and valuing feeling its return. It's great. And, I can feel it disappear. Completely. I can feel it come back but have no desire for my husband. I can feel it come back, and with the cloak of anger, have some sort of desire with my husband but it's not loving. I realize I want loving sex. Not angry sex. I had enough of my husband's angry sex.

Trying to connect with my husband sexually would be easier if i could connect emotionally. He is trying to learn the skills to do that. Reconnecting would be easier if I trusted him. I'm a long, long way from that. I've let go of my anger, and that makes it really hard for me. I suffer from intrusive thoughts. This has gotten worse for me. Even holding hands is an opportunity for intrusive thoughts that are so unpleasant and hard. It's hard to escape feeling hurt and betrayed.

So, what is your experience? What have you done that helps?

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:35 am 
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Partner's Coach

Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:36 pm
Posts: 1291
I'm almost out of time at the moment, but I think this is an important topic.

My experience have been similar dnell.

dnell wrote:
Trying to connect with my husband sexually would be easier if i could connect emotionally. He is trying to learn the skills to do that.

Yes I think emotional connection, real emotional connection makes it easier and more meaningful.

dnell wrote:
Reconnecting would be easier if I trusted him. I'm a long, long way from that.

Yes I understand this too.

For intrusive thoughts, I tried saying 'stop' and redirect my focus to something in the room. It helped sometimes.

One other thing that was helpful to me was to realize what love language really spoke to me and that my ex-husband was using a different love language. He wanted to help, do acts of service and I just wanted him to spend time with me as that felt more meaningful to me. I also realized though that I wasn't speaking his love language either and so tried to do more of that. That all started with a list of 50 loving things you can do in a relationship that a counselor gave us. We both checked off the things that really felt loving to us and it was interesting that only a few of the things were being done by either of us. That same sheet, we listed how we liked to show love too and that was eye opening as well since we were trying to loving but not in very many ways that felt meaningful to the other person.

One other thought.
dnell wrote:
It's hard to escape feeling hurt and betrayed.

Absolutely. Maybe this will sound odd, but don't try to escape the feelings of hurt and betrayal. Maybe one day when those feelings come, close your eyes, open your heart and look at the feelings and say something like "I accept that I feel deeply hurt and betrayed." Maybe try to just experience those feelings for a few moments without trying to stop them or fix them. Maybe just feel it. Accepting what we are already experiencing helps us drop the resistance which can help move through it. Acceptance though doesn't mean not doing anything to me. It just means I stop resisting what I am experiencing. I don't know about others but I really wanted to do things "right" and sometimes my feelings were scattered which made me feel scattered so I'd force myself into right action. But sometimes, a lot of times, I think it's perfectly healthy to just grieve it all. To just let the feelings move through us. A woman told me when I was grieving the death of my first husband that tears shed cleanse the soul, but tears uncried drown the heart. I finally made time for myself to grieve all the losses that come with this. I still grieve some but not nearly as often as I used to. What a road this is, huh. :sat:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:00 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2015 12:43 pm
Posts: 83
CoachAutumn wrote:
I also realized though that I wasn't speaking his love language either and so tried to do more of that. That all started with a list of 50 loving things you can do in a relationship that a counselor gave us. We both checked off the things that really felt loving to us and it was interesting that only a few of the things were being done by either of us. That same sheet, we listed how we liked to show love too and that was eye opening as well since we were trying to loving but not in very many ways that felt meaningful to the other person.


Any chance you would be willing to share the list of 50 loving things you can do in a relationship?

I'm in a different situation with my partner, when we saw each other last my partner seemed overly focused on how great the sex was, how often we had sex, how long it last etc and consistently complimenting me on all of these qualities. My partner discussed this with our therapist who noticed the same thing I did, while I was satisfied sexually, while my desires were met, while a high level of intimacy and emotion was there, it felt like this was about my partner's addiction. Later my partner brought up that this was the first relationship where love and intimacy were so important but added that the fact that we had sex so frequently, that it lasted for hours and that we were so physical together (holding hands, kissing etc in public as well as very intimate in private) meant just as much.
(this was before my partner's SAA recovery and abstinence started)
Now, I'm about to see my partner for the first time in a long time and on one hand I'm concerned that my partner's sponsor/group will still insist on abstinence which at this point seems to be more of a punishment for me. I'd like to have physical and emotional intimacy with my partner and feel like I'm being punished once again for my partner's actions. On the other hand I'm not interested in fulfilling my partner's addiction.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:36 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:40 am
Posts: 67
Quote:
I'd like to have physical and emotional intimacy with my partner and feel like I'm being punished once again for my partner's actions. On the other hand I'm not interested in fulfilling my partner's addiction


Yes, this thought is something I struggle with. My husband has been really trying to connect with me emotionally and show me how much he loves me. He's been able to be more present for me when I'm crying and struggling and hold me, rather than just shut down in shame. Feeling that emotional connection to him has really opened the flood gates of desire at times. A desire that I thought was long ago dead. We have had some wonderful moments where I'm able to let go and enjoy myself. But all too often, I interrupt myself with thoughts of, "what if I'm just feeding his addiction right now, what if he isn't REALLY feeling a connection to ME?". Then I am a mess of tears and accusations when it was all over and go on the attack.
My husband notices when I disconnect, and he has gotten to a place where he will just stop and try to hold me, telling me it doesn't feel right. Here is where my own issues kick in and I'd end up crying and accusing him of rejecting me and not finding me attractive. He truly is damned if he does or damned if he doesn't when those situations arise. Like everything else with this mess, we are working on it.
His 12 step group and therapy do not require or suggest any kind of reset abstinence period if you are in a committed relationship with someone. My husband committed to abstinence of any sexual act (including masturbation) that doesn't involve me. I sometimes wonder if a complete period of abstinence would be beneficial. I guess I'm on the fence. I get the principal that it helps the sex addict reset their priorities and overemphasis on sex acts to fill a void. And I think it might help me as the partner not have to wonder if I'm feeding an addiction. But the times where it feels right for both of us......well they are a really wonderful and connecting experience that I feel benefit our relationship and recovery. So we are just working on making sure it is something we both want for the right reason, not medication on his part, and not a control/power play on mine.


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