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 Post subject: Update from me
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
I wanted to post an update to my story, just to share and to see if anyone else out there is at a similar stage in their journey. It’s over a year and a half since my husband told me about his porn addiction, which he said was active for about a year. At the time and for a while afterwards, he was really cold towards me, withdrawn and distant. He also told me that he felt differently about our relationship, and he didn’t love me as much anymore. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’ve tried everything to break through his stonewalling and unwillingness / inability to deal with the difficult stuff and fight to save our marriage. I’ve been working on my own health for the last 6 months and am seeing a really good therapist who is helping me to understand myself and how I am in the marriage / why I react the way I do to my husband, some of which has been tough, but it’s making me stronger in the long run.

But here I am, 1.5 years later, realising that very little of the fundamental stuff has changed. My husband is trying to be a better husband & father, helping out, asking me how my day was, ticking a list of boxes that I feel he has in his head of what it means to be a better person and make up for the hurt he caused. But there’s a hollowness in our relationship behind it all, a lack of real emotional depth and connection, and it feels empty. We made a little progress over the Christmas break, when he opened up to me a bit, but nothing since. We’re starting to be able to enjoy each other’s company a bit more and our time together is better – a lot of the anger & resentment has died down for me. But I feel wary. He says he still uses porn, but just now and again and it doesn’t have the same effect on him. And he’s totally believable when he says it, and I think he believes it himself. Maybe it’s true – but he’s still in the same job that he hates, staying in the same hotel Mon-Fri that he swore he’d get out of, still can’t seem to take control of his life and change anything. So I feel there’s a real danger we will eventually end up back in the same place, even if it takes a while, or if it’s a different addiction / issue. He started therapy in December, after I issued an ultimatum, but that’s going to be a long road for him.

I can’t help feeling that he has consciously or sub-consciously created a situation where we are right back where we were when he started on that dark road. By refusing to engage with me to really dig into our issues, it’s like he has ‘waited me out’ to see if I would eventually stop pushing. Actually, I don’t think it was a deliberate thing, but it has happened all the same. And I find myself thinking ‘it’s not so bad, this is ok’ but there’s always a whisper of dissatisfaction there for me that I have to make myself listen to, because it’s telling me that things aren’t totally right. But it’s hard to put my finger on what it is exactly it is, and even harder to express it to him! Have any of you struggled with this? How do you explain exactly what intimacy means?

Physically, we hadn’t been intimate for about 6 months, until I initiated sex a few weeks ago. Nothing since. I don’t know if he doesn’t want me anymore or if he’s afraid to make a move. I struggle with attraction to him, probably for lots of deep-seated reasons, and he knows this so it’s probably hard for him to take the initiative.

I keep asking myself it this is bad enough to put two children (and us) through a separation and wondering when I’ll ever be sure of the answer. There is no easy way to deal with any of this. If anyone can offer advice regarding boundaries, how to figure my way through this, I’d love to hear it.


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:06 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:35 am
Posts: 107
Hi , I just read your post and just wanted to offer my thoughts.
I am in no position to comment, if a separation is what you need.

Quote:
He says he still uses porn, but just now and again and it doesn’t have the same effect on him. And he’s totally believable when he says it, and I think he believes it himself.


I can only tell you about myself when I was acting out:
I was a very good liar.
I lied to myself.

There are a lot of other warning signs : You describe that he mechanically goes through a list of topics when talking to you, that there is no intimacy and that he uses porn which according to him has less of an effect on him. He is staying in a hotel 5 days a week.

I recognize my former self in that description, that's what I would have told my ex-wife. I would have not been abstinent in so much unaccounted time in a hotel.

You situation is very difficult, as you have children.
We got separated which was the best thing for my ex-wife and much later also for me.

( I lied to myself even throughout the divorce proceedings, which shows that some addicts don't even recognize rock-bottom when they hit it...It took me much more to deal with my addiction, so don't expect that threatening him with divorce will have a shock effect which will turn things around ).

Hope that is not too harsh but you asked for other people's opinions.
I am sure that every case is different but from the information you give, it sounds to me like he is as addict who is acting out.


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
Thanks for your honesty afs100, although it's hard to read. My heart is pounding reading your reply, as you've given voice to the feeling of unease I've had. I need to think about what you've said, digest it and decide what to do next.
C.


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:32 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
Hi beachcomber,
I will post from two hats: the partner's mentor hat, and my personal hat.

From my partner's mentor hat, I see red flags all over here. One of the things I'm curious about is where does your husband's admitted (and, likely, he minimizes the extent of how much he's using) porn use fit within your boundaries?

Everything you describe points to him not being in recovery--to that not being a priority for him. With that in mind you may further gauge where he's at by asking him WHY he's using porn. I caution you to not expect a mature or enlightened response, and even if you get something resembling that, to be on guard. However, my thinking is that if porn was truly not an issue for him, and he'd overcome his sex addiction and was healthy, he would engage with you in a mature way about what porn's meaning is for him, its possible impact on your marriage, and what meaning he derives from it in a healthy manner. I'd place a large wager he lacks any deep self-reflection on this issue and you are likely to get a pat response such as "sometimes I just like to get off by myself."

Generally I wouldn't advise probing someone who isn't in recovery about their motivations, but I'm suggesting this partly for your sake: from his response you may get a better understanding of just how stunted his growth is (or isn't) so you can make more informed decisions for yourself.

On a personal hat note: I can relate to several patterns you've described. The 'checklist' of things to do to keep me/you happy. The lack of any depth/shallowness of the relationship. The foot dragging around recovery work. The 'waiting you out' -- yes. I am tired of being the one to push. It is a one-sided relationship.

Others have posted here about their journeys with hope and their partner's recovery. It's common. It's what had me put my own divorce on hold in the fall. I believed his sincerity and desire to get well. I believed he had turned a corner and would become a human with iniative and purpose. And, frankly, I think at the time he believed that, too. We see this a lot: the sincerity may be there in the beginning (combined with a large dose of desperation to keep us/maintain the facade of their lives) but it's the long-term committment that often falters. That is the case for me, too.

A month or so ago I wrote my husband a very specific, detailed list of my needs. It included recovery work, counseling, and a requirement that HE be the one to initiate weekly communication with me about this so that I was not the one pushing/initiating. Apart from 1-2 brief sentences that he was 'going to go work on his recovery work now' there has been nada. Nothing.

To an extent I still personalize it in that, I have given someone (who begged me for a another chance) a list of my specific needs to stay, and that is being ignored. While it doesn't hurt, it reflects continued selfishness on his part and I, as a human being, question why I linger for such small crumbs. To another extent, I understand, objectively, he is functioning as an addict and will likely continue to do so. The likelihood of him hitting a proverbial bottom looks bleaker. So I, and you, must now turn to what choices we will make in light of all the data we have at hand.

Beachcomber, i've had glimpses of what a different life looks like. I can see how much brighter my own life is without the dynamics of living with an addict who drags his feet. Understand that that dynamic, that energy, and that lack of depth on your husband's part does impact your children. Although separation/divorce is stressful on children, consider the ongoing impact of them surrounded by an unhealthy marital dynamic. What will they pick up, that they may take into adulthood and their own relationships? Do you see yourself (realistically) being able to model a healthier environment for them if you separate from your partner?

These are the tough questions. You are not alone in asking them. Often it is easier to stick with what we know, even if it's holding us back, than have the courage to move forward to a different life.

Meepmeep


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:35 am
Posts: 107
I thought Meepmeeps reply was excellent.

I am sorry that my reply was so harsh ;I don't often post here. My own recovery thread is in the personal coaching session and most of the time I only read other people's post but do not comment. I read yours and felt that my answer could contribute.

Everyone's situation is different, yours is so hard because you have children.
The questions you need to answer to yourself are - how much energy do you have left? How much do you prioritize your children's well being above your own? Do you think there is hope?

Hope:

This course had an influence on all aspects of my life, it is a change for which I worked very hard. I am a different person now, different to when I was acting out and different to when I achieved abstinence by following other programs ( which were focusing on the abstinence and not on the much more complex reasons for addiction).
Sorry for rambling on about me.
But just like the course says : you can change your life , if you commit to it .
I am no one special and at a guess would have done things worse than what your husband is up to.
So, there is hope , if you decide to invest the energy into him and your relationship. More importantly, if he fully commits.
But it is also true that my ex-wife is living a happy life without me on the other side of the country.


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
meepmeep wrote:
Hi beachcomber,
One of the things I'm curious about is where does your husband's admitted (and, likely, he minimizes the extent of how much he's using) porn use fit within your boundaries?


Meepmeep, many thanks for your thoughtful response.

I don't know the answer to this question, honestly.. I ask myself what's the point of a boundary that you can't enforce? He could tell me he never uses porn and how would I know any different? I'm not willing to check up on him as that's not the kind of marriage I want and, if I have to do that, what's the point in being together. I'm genuinely not sure how to answer this. If I say that I don't want him ever using porn again, it feels a bit pointless as it's not something I can control.

As you said, the big question is why he is using it, and his response (and attitude) to this will tell me everything I need to know. If he becomes defensive and / or tries to minimise it, I'll know that nothing has fundamentally changed, which is what I suspect anyway.

I feel so anxious about the conversation as I'm afraid that it will spell the end of our marriage.

Afs100, no need to apologise.. I didn't see your response as harsh. I appreciate your honesty.

Meepmeep, sorry to hear that things aren't going so well in your marriage.

Thank you both again for replying.
B x


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:19 pm 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
Hi Beachcomber,

Ah, yes. It's a bind for you, isn't it? I agree fully with your sentiment/value surrounding not wanting to be in a 'checking up' type of marriage. It's not good for your health, for one. And, all that enregy and focus going to check up on him that could be expended into much more meaningful things in life.

Long ago, I believe it was CoachVIolet who posted a statement along hte lines of "if he's not in recovery, he's lying." It marked a shift in how I saw things and what I expected/needed. The shift was from "stop using porn" to "dedicate yourself to recovery and a meaningful life." My metrics slowly became less about what my husband STOPPED doing, and more about how he was demonstrating change and growth (which he is not). Because, as you wisely noted, being the porn police isn't fun, it isn't healthy, and it's no way to be in a marriage. And, as you also noted, it's so far beyond our capacity to control or adequately measure.

Quote:
I feel so anxious about the conversation as I'm afraid that it will spell the end of our marriage.


With empathy, I, again, can relate.

Is there a possible softness for you here? If you find that that fear stops you from having the conversation that is an important one for you, can you explore for yourself (maybe in writing) possible outcomes from this conversation beyond "this will end our marriage." For example, could it lead to you sleeping in another room? Suggesting a trial physical separation? Consider what protects you, and your children. Especially what protects you emotionally.

I suspect part of why some of us avoid these conversations is because we're faced with possibly betraying ourselves. We're faced with the very difficult choice between living with integrity, and burying our heads in the sand. We continue to invest in hope rather than make a decisive action toward protecting ourselves and our boundaries. I write all of this without judgement toward you or any of us, but rather with recognition and compassion.

Maybe you aren't ready yet, Beachcomber. If you aren't ready for this conversation and its outcome, perhaps your focus shifts, instead, toward working on you, your strength, and how you can further empower yourself so that a time comes when you can have the conversation and feel more grounded in your values and what you are willing to do. If you are in the place where you need more time, use that time. Use that time to give to yourself. Be patient with yourself, while retaining awareness of where you'd like to be and a rough sketch of a plan for how to get there. I have faith in you, beachcomber. And we walk similar paths.

meepmeep


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:43 pm 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
Just a note to afs100, here at Recovery Nation the rules are that those in recovery do not post on the partners side; and those on the partners side do not post on the recovery side; unless the forum post title contains "Both sides".

Beachcomber, I agree with meepmeep. I think you should trust your instincts here about your husband's state of recovery. Still looking at porn is not good. Thinking he can 'control' or 'manage' his porn use is the denial of addiction. His reluctance to pursue therapy on his own seems to me to be a red flag. I don't want to sound harsh. I want you to continue to trust yourself.

My husband has been in active recovery for 3 years now. It took him a year to accept that he was an addict. He did all sort of "deals" with himself about what was acting out and what wasn't in a way to keep being stimulated. He really didn't believe he was causing any destruction to himself or others. It took time for him to break through his resistance and denial. He lies to himself in addition to lying to me.

The coldness, distance, lack of openness, and lack of sexual desire also indicates to me that your husband has a lot of work to do about becoming mature and a healthy partner. My reality is that my husband may end most or all of his acting out and still not be a good partner. They must address their fear of intimacy. I think my husband needs years of work on this issue and he may never achieve healthy, adult intimacy.

That leaves us in a very painful place.

Here is what I have learned that I hope provides solace. As you continue to focus on you and your children, the answers to what to do will emerge. I am becoming more and more clear about what I want in my life and my marriage, and what I will not tolerate. I have peace with these decisions. It has taken me three years to reach this point. I had to be gentle with myself, I had to give myself the gift of time, and I had to find a very good therapist.

A large part of my healing was to grieve. I really had to understand my losses. This process of grieving actually bought me back to myself and the importance of what I want and need. I ended up giving so much and getting so little from my husband. It is so sad and tragic. But all of this history doesn't mean I can't have a meaningful and happy life. It's taken me years, but I am at the point where the decisions about what is in my best interest are becoming more ingrained. And as they do so, I feel more at peace and more aware of what decisions I need to make about me and my marriage.

With deep compassion,
dnell


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:35 am
Posts: 107
Thanks , I got the message .
I interpreted the original post incorrectly and thought both sides could answer .
I apologise if it caused any harm.


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 Post subject: Re: Update from me
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:13 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
Thanks dnell for your reply.

I spoke to my husband at the weekend. Firstly I asked him about the extent of his porn use and he answered 'every 2-3 weeks'. He wasn't defensive and seemed to be speaking pretty openly about it. He said he had asked himself why he had used it, and it was generally because he had had a particularly bad day at work and it was a type of release. I compared it to a different type of addiction, like gambling for example. If he had told me a year and a half ago that he had become addicted to gambling and it had brought him to his knees emotionally and our marriage also, and then told me he was gambling now and again in recent times, I'd be understandably really concerned. He seemed to take my point. We talked about some other stuff and the conversation ended well but, later on, it still wasn't sitting right with me. I told him that I still didn't feel reassured, that his instinct right now is probably to minimise things and mine is probably not to believe him 100%.. it created tension between us again, but I needed him to know that I wasn't convinced. It seems unlikely to me that he's using porn only every 2-3 weeks when he has so much time alone, but the reality is that I have no real way of knowing. It's also bugging me that, until I pointed it out to him, he never answered texts from me at night. He claims it was because he was shutting himself off from work stuff so wasn't going near his phone. Still....

So I'm left wondering where I go from here. He has started back in therapy, but I'm not 100% confident that it's the right kind or that it'll go deep enough. Our lives aren't terrible, but they're also not right. I guess I need to go back to my boundaries and try to figure out what I want & need right now. I'm continuing in my therapy and it's helping me to figure things out, but I always have that great fear of ending the marriage and keep asking myself, 'is it bad enough to do that?' or 'am I being fair?'. I'd love some thoughts & advice on boundaries in this kind of situation.


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