Challenges with anorexic partner

Submitted by buld444nine on
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Just to start I've only been in recovery for 4 months and abstinent for the same from all forms of porn, sex, masturbation. During my intensive recovery the notion of healthy sexuality is being introduced as normal and something to work on/toward. The issue is, obviously, that my partner has to be comfortable too. Unfortunately (from my narrow perspective) she is unwilling. Not just unwilling but pretty aggressive about just that. Her counciling may have something to do with it. From my perspective there are two things I see. I have caused great harm during our relationship. However we were still sexually active while I was in my addiction and only she was in her recovery. The other thing I observe is that she has through the entire relationship exibited a sexually anorexic approach. This is for a number of reasons that pre-date our relationship and similar addictions and behaviors have been seen in her life in other ways.

The struggle I'm having is impatience of course. But on the other hand the relationship now, with me working hard on recovery, is perfect for her. All the things she wants in a relationship with the safety of no sex. Now I realize that it may not go on this way forever. I know it will go on for today, that's for sure. And I'm unhappy about this. Trying to release resentment, keep away from self-serving things (like sex!), etc. But I'm not a dumb guy. And I don't like games. I guess they say when you start recovery to get a period of abstinence. Which I shared with my wife to get her blessing. So it sounds like she has embarked on her own quest for abstinence without discussing with me any of her goals or timeframes. I'm not saying I can't wait a while, but my addict doesn't like it. And from what I'm being trained to live like, normal people don't live that way either.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not sure I can keep the resentment of this out of balance situation away from my emotions. I know none of this is good for me, but I feel my sobriety is at risk in this situation. I've left out a mountain of detail on purpose, but you get the idea.

Sounds painful

I totally understand your frustration, and why it can be incredibly painful. I think you might want to speak with Neil. He's a forum member who went through a long period of abstinence within his marriage. http://www.reuniting.info/user/2540

Are you engaging in daily bonding behaviors? I know you may think of them as "whatever she wants," but actually they can be part of a very effective strategy for either sex. Here's an article about them: http://www.reuniting.info/lazy_way_to_stay_in_love

They work by speaking to a primitive part of the brain, urging it to find the other partner juicy. Smile What you then do with that juice is up to both of you. My husband and I have found that karezza works fine for us. And we don't think of it as "anorexic" in the least. That's probably because our background was the carefree pursuit of lots of orgasms...followed by the recognition that too much of a good thing can shift perception for the worse.

I don't know if anyone else will agree with this, but I think I'd stay away from labels like "sexual anorexia." Just as you don't benefit from being called "an addict," your partner's unlikely to find that the "sexual anorexic" term warms her heart. It some times takes partners (of either gender), who have been used sexually by the other, months to welcome sexual advances from the partner who has overtaxed their desire. Smile

I think if your partner found a new sexual partner, you'd discover she wasn't in the least "sexually anorexic." Such labels obscure the complex dynamics of habituation between partners. Have you read, "What If She Were Always in the Mood?" http://www.reuniting.info/science/coolidge_effect_2009

Good luck. Blog if you like.

I agree about labels

Labels tend to reduce a multi-dimensional person down to one dimension. It creates stereotypes, not people.

I, too, had problems getting my wife to engage. I did the bonding behaviors anyway. I made sure I hugged her every day, not with an intent to do anything particular, just a hug. It took several months, but I did notice a considerable increase in affection. I was probably affected too (if so, hurray, it's just hard to measure yourself).

I am certain you can find a way to re-connect with your wife. Start with the feelings you had for each other during the best moments of your relationship. Allow yourself to see the woman you remember in the woman you are with now. I don't know if it will take a couple of weeks or a month, but I am 100% sure that you two can have a better relationship because you are so committed to finding a way.

P.

The labels...

Oh well, the labels of addict, co-addict, sexually anorexic are part of the recovery process of truth and honesty. The sugar-coating is gone. But some of it comes from my anger. In any case I'm not sure how to even broach (sp?) the idea of bonding behaviors since her responses have been fearful when physical intimacy comes up. Since she has struggled with anorexia, bulemia, suicide attempt, chronic pain, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and been sexually violated there's plenty to deal with. I guess the point was her "program" or "care" is possibly playing into her issues and being used as an avoidance tactic. And it started at the start of our relationship. Boundaries about sex that were related to the issues I just mentioned. My recovery program includes the resumption of sexual health. And that comes not only from an outpatient program I'm working but the 12-step groups as well. I need to ask her what her intentions are in terms of celibacy so that I can understand and process that. We actually have made some very good progress with intimacy and sharing but the 10-foot concrete wall of sexual contact is firmly in place.

Sounds like a tough situation

Has she read this article? "The Lazy Way to Stay in Love?" http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-laz...

Have you asked her which bonding behaviors she DOES feel comfortable with? Are you engaging in them daily? The paradox is that when you use them to their full potential, you actually are content even without intercourse. That's when your mate will probably open to the idea of intercourse again. *chuckle*

Gary and I sometimes wonder if several weeks of truly *selfless* bonding behaviors can dramatically "re-parent" a partner. (We were struck by a long-time RAD sufferer who finally bonded to his new mom after just a few weeks of eye-gazing/holding/nurturing. Link available on request.)

Gary experienced something like that in our relationship. As he said about the early time of our relationship, "I think I know what it's like to sprout new oxytocin receptors in my brain." But instead of feeling different, he said he felt "more and more like himself." And this process has continued.

So there's hope for your partner, and you may find that bonding behaviors can complement her therapy amazingly effectively. Can you think of yourself as a "healer" rather than an "unwilling penitent" for a few weeks and see what happens? You could be the best medicine available to her right now, and a healed partner is a joy.

Yep!

[quote=Marnia]Have you asked her which bonding behaviors she DOES feel comfortable with? Are you engaging in them daily? The paradox is that when you use them to their full potential, you actually are content even without intercourse. That's when your mate will probably open to the idea of intercourse again. *chuckle*[/quote]

I can confirm what Marnia says. See my articles:
http://www.reuniting.info/node/3560
http://www.reuniting.info/node/3111

Bonding...

Well, we have daily "wall building". She puts it up and I consider scaling it. Even a whiff of the subject of sex together elicits a frozen robotic response like there is an attack upon her. My feeling is every time the subject would be covered, the more distant she will be. Of course as an addict this approach by her makes me crazy. As far as the bonding behaviors I have some concerns right now conceptually. This entire concept is centered around no orgasm. I've read a bit here about it, but another anorexic shield to hide behind is not what we need right now. Yes, I know these bonding behaviors/exchanges aren't about never having sex again but the base premise isn't the medicine we need in my opinion. Recovery has been confusing enough and then trying to digest this concept on top of it might be too much.

I did read most of the above links/blogs. I found it curious how the intercourse moved to shorter and shorter and shorter intervals between sessions over time. Like the addict couldn't get enough and needed more and more and more. I'm sure if/when I ever get to that point it will just be another challenge to learn from. But what I did notice was an increasing hunger for the activity even minus the orgasm in his blog.

I'm not sure what you read,

but increasing hunger is not the universal experience - although many people learn the hard way that going close to the edge satisfies less (we did).

The bonding behaviors seem to be able to cause substantial shifts in a partner's receptivity if you're willing to stick with them for several weeks...without bringing up intercourse constantly. To relax your wife's amygdala (the brain's inner guardian), your contact must not be "hungry." It has to be about nurturing your mate, not about what you want. Otherwise, the subconscious remains on guard.

Here's an inspiring radio show on the power of these bonding behaviors. “Love Is a Battlefield,” This American Life, Aug. 31, 2007, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=317. It's about a kid...but we've had examples on this forum involving adults, with similar "miracles."

So bonding behaviors are not "just another shield for her to hide behind to keep from giving you what you deserve." They can actually HEAL the underlying fear. Then you have a new foundation to build from.

You can make this experiment without taking on the entire karezza concept. (Many visitors never go for that. Wink )

Still off limits...

Just had a seesion with my counselor. He doesn't feel I'm ready for sex yet because of various feelings I have attached to it (see above). Of couse when I talk to others the S-groups done necessarily agree with this approach and some of my support network doesn't either. So it's been since mid-November and it's starting to create a fire of rebellion in me. If it's going to be so far off I'm starting to convince myself to masturbate. I know it's not the answer. I also know the process isn't supposed to be one of deprivation but I'm nearing the end of my rope. My frustration usually moves into depression and despair and that's a bad place. I'm stuck for sure because all of my "progress" feels like prison at this point. I guess I'm venting into outer space here. I'm can't go on living like this. I don't want to.

Have you thought

about contacting Neil? I really think he would be a good one to connect with - because he has been through what you're struggling with. http://www.reuniting.info/user/2540

I only know of two fundamental ways to deal with sexual "fire." I've tried them both. In fact, I trashed a number of relationships using the method you're now "building up to." Once you start, your hunger will only increase. Those feelings that "your situation is intolerable unless you get your sexual needs met" are incredibly loud and demanding. However, if you're like me, if you dive into them to scratch your itch, you'll just go around on the merry-go-round and end up the same place in your next relationship. I know that right now you think that would be a small price to pay, but you may feel differently when you look back. I do.

There's a second way. Instead of fantasizing about what you can't have (which increases those feelings of dissatisfaction until they're so loud that you can't hear any other part of your brain), you set about balancing your brain from within. There are lots of techniques for doing this: daily meditation, better diet, time in nature, socializing with friends, time with pets, splashing your unruly genitals with cold water when they get too fired up, solo techniques for circulating sexual energy and hypnosis (both available here...see wiki page), vigorous exercise...and above all, daily bonding behaviors with your mate. Also, comparing notes with Neil.

If you have decided that you can't take it anymore, then you are ready to do a swan dive off the cliff. In a sense, you have nothing to lose. So why not make an honest effort to employ all the above listed techniques for one week first. If they don't work, you'll just be one week behind schedule in the destruction of your unsatisfying marriage. If they do, then you could continue them another week and see how you feel then.

I wish I had had this advice in the past, so I pass it on to you.

All the best.

*big hug*

Open to more feedback.

I appreciate the advice. Here's what I've done. Daily meditation, better diet weakly, time in nature, socializing with friends, time with pets, solo techniques for circulating sexual energy and hypnosis (don't know what that is), vigorous exercise...and above all, daily bonding behaviors with your mate. The bonding behaviors involve touching in many ways. I'm ALL for those myself. Gee intercourse? Yes please. I also do some community work, accupuncture, group therapy and structured recover work daily. It's a certified program. Doing all of the non-wife stuff is great when I can fill my schedule with it. The with-wife stuff is plus and minus since it's triggering for me.

So...the problem is in a lot of ways I'm doing what you say. And we continue to have better and better moments and some real intimacy and partnership. Even if it means a step back, for me, I need to understand her recovery and celibacy direction so that my mind is clear. I've had thoughts of finding another partner which would just take me to a new level of craziness so I'll limit my current desire to masturbation without porn or fantasy. Two weeks into my recovery a temporary sponsor suggested a sobriety date change due to some touching behavior I did. Others disagreed after I shared the details but in any case it seemed like my opportunity to masturbate so I did. Without porn or fantasy. Was easy.

So, I'm stuck. Open to more advice of course. Maybe 4 months is just too soon. We have a two week vacation coming up late this month and I can tell you that we at least has sex some days on vacations. But not this time. And without all of my normal support, my likely (but ill response) will be resentment and anger. So, it's a pressure packed vacation and I don't feel all that comfortable but I'm commited to the vacation now.

Lastly I should just say it. I'm not sure it's the best idea but I feel like I'm entitiled to at least ASK what her celibacy plans are at this point. I'm not entitiled to an explanation or reply but I'm entitled to ask. And if I'm waiting forever anyway what's another few days of her being pissed onto forever anyway. A part of me wants to divorce ASAP. But I feel it's worth trying to work it out.

The Wall

On her end, she's apparently had some events in her life that have affected her views of sex and physical intimacy greatly. It may be the link between being violated and sex has created an association between the two that she hasn't been able to separate.

Something similar happened to my wife. She did get "nearly" molested one time, but he never got beyond squeezing her breast before something happened to break up the scene and she was able to escape (back when she was a teen doing babysitting for someone). But I think what affected her more was a bit different: finding a picture of her mother giving her step dad a blow job.

For the longest time she had that negative "nasty" feeling associated with sex. It took 15 years before that changed and our sex life grew

And it isn't a wall you can tear down. She has to do it. Maybe through her counseling, maybe through something clicking in her mind that makes the break obvious.

It may be you have to decide whether you are willing to help her through this or not. It won't be easy, I'll agree, having been there. But it can be worth the effort.

I really admire your commitment

on every level. And I can certainly empathize with your frustration. I don't know what you've committed to in terms of masturbation/touching. We think in terms of "balance" here, so masturbation isn't necessarily a problem if it's done without fantasy.

I'm not sure asking her that question will get you anywhere. She may not even HAVE a plan, so it will just register as "pressure." That said, feel free to vent here! We're fine with any moaning you care to do, and you'll get a lot of sympathy. Smile

The alienation between the sexes is far deeper than people realize. The good news is that if you take the time to clear it out from the bottom up, things can be amazingly good thereafter.

Would lying naked in each other's arms be OK on the vacation? If you can do that, perhaps with some structured exchanges of massage or whatever, you might find that it soothes you. But you'll have to keep your mind from going around and around on the resentment track. That just builds frustration and releases more dopamine.

Have you ever done a visualization exercise? The kind great athletes use? Can you visualize yourself really enjoying your vacation, or telling a friend how great it was when you return? Can you imagine gazing into your wife's eyes over dinner, and getting high on that? The courtly love tradition, 1000 years ago, heavily relied on that practice for exchanging sexual energy, and many poems were written about its blissful efficacy. Seems like now would be a good time to try it out. Hopefully, you'll soon be physically intimate again, but meanwhile, see how close you can honestly get to contentment without intercourse. It may be you can get a lot closer than you think...without it being an exercise in frustration.

This kind of exploration bears unexpected fruit...for years. When your nervous system really *gets it* that contentment (of an unfamiliar sort) is possible without intercourse, it takes ALL the performance pressure off of both partners for the remainder of the marriage. So if ever your performance is off in the future, you'll both know it's no big deal. The playful connection between you continues effortlessly. This is your chance to lay that groundwork, even though it wouldn't be your first choice of activity.;-)

*fingers crossed* that this hiatus will soon end.

The support is amazing...

After all of my angry ranting and raving it's amazing the loving support that exists here. I've shared my story with therapists, friends, at meetings, etc. And I DID ask my wife gently how she came to her plan with the aid of her therapist or support group. We it turns out she developed the plan in her head. A dangerous way to operate for addicts. But she was willing to share that. She said the door "isn't closed" (cracked open) to sex some time. Even on the trip she had given it a thought. But in anger she also said if we EVER have sex and she EVER detects me acting like I was in my addiction (whatever that means) the relationship is over instantly. Now of course that's a bold statement. Which she admitted to in anger. You see the issue is this. And she doesn't know this. I NEVER fantasized about others when with her. It didn't work for me. I usually could only think of her when I masturbated. Porn was a different story with the images in front of me.

So I have a dilemna. I'm in a phase of forced deprivation.

The idea of us being naked lying together sounds like the most awesome thing ever, but I just don't know how to approach it.

So...I've talked to my therapist and sponsor about moving masturbation from my inner circle to middle or outer circle for now. To see if it leads me to porn, which I can never view, and/or poor treatment of myself and others. I'll know the answer on Monday. I do know this. I've felt really crappy at times during this recovery but this is really troubling to me and I feel a path must be reached.

By the way Marnia, if you need a replacement husband at some point I could try to be available. That's my first attempt at some humor up here (with some truth in there too).

Listen,

I'd be ranting, too. In fact, when I was once celibate for a year (inadvertently), I remember throwing votive-style candles at my wall in angry frustration. (Not recommended. Wink )

I strongly believe that both male and female energy are needed to solve this conundrum. The men are right not to settle for a solution unless it truly satisfies. The women are right that "more and hotter orgasms" are not the path to deeper mutual satisfaction. (And in some couples those roles are split up differently.) So you are right to want a solution that doesn't leave you aching with frustration.

If I were in your shoes, I would find a couple of things useful, so I'll share them. Take what you can use, and ignore the rest. The first one is the account of a man on this forum who went to visit a woman here for two weeks. (http://www.reuniting.info/node/3111) Only a few months earlier she had been unable to even look a man in the eye, didn't think she liked them, and certainly wasn't open to snuggling one. Smile It won't surprise you that she had a history of abuse. He decided in advance that even though she was open to having sex, she was not ready. He stuck to his plan. They snuggled and nurtured each other, but they did not have intercourse and didn't make each other orgasm...even though lots of delicious sexual energy was flying around. He enjoyed himself, too.

The change in her has been nothing short of miraculous. She just needed someone to care about her for herself without compromising to meet his needs. That gave her a solid foundation. And if ever they were to meet again, I suspect that sex would be added to the mix quite naturally (hopefully with a slow warm up!)...because her nervous system has registered this experience of being able to trust another person totally. But the key is that his actions had to speak louder than his words. In other words, no matter how much he respected her or cared about her, he had to give the right signals (actions, or non-actions) to her limbic system. That's where our "inner guardian" resides. If we don't soothe it (the amygdala), then a subconscious defensiveness remains.

The results of even a few short weeks of bonding behaviors (with NO OTHER AGENDA) can be very powerful. Listen to this radio show for some examples (at least the intro and "Love is a Battlefield" piece), and you'll see what I'm talking about. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=317 This is how we realized that a few weeks can make all the difference to a limbic system. It can't reason. It needs the right signals. Not forever, but for a solid several weeks.

My theory is that your wife has signaled that she needs this kind of healing. She wants to get rid of this old, subconscious defensiveness, which probably predated you. Unfortunately, compromising to meet your needs just leaves the defensiveness in place. So does resentful celibacy...since it feeds the defensive feeling that "this person just wants me for his purposes." So...so far no real progress in your situation.

Now, my thought is that if you can give her 3 weeks of solid, selfless nurturing of the type the guy from the site did...you may quiet her amygdala permanently. Even though it seems like you're going backward, you may then see a big leap forward...just as we all witnessed in the woman mentioned above.

It sucks that you most likely had nothing to do with this old pattern in your wife, and yet it has resulted in your not receiving the affection you need to thrive. On the other hand, when you help someone re-parent themselves (by allowing them to make a close, trusted "attachment," based purely on giving, with another...AT LAST), you have really helped a fellow human being to take a big step toward healing. I might add that that person and you will have a tighter bond than ever, and that that person is also likely to do anything they can to help YOU when you need help. So it will pay you back over time.

All this is a long way of saying that once you understand the real problem, then it makes perfect sense to adopt a strategy that calls for a step backward first - and for telling her what you're doing at least by the end of the first two weeks...and then sticking with your resolve for the full time so she can experience solid boundaries.

Once her nervous system feels that you really want nothing for her but a cocoon of playful safety, you may see those clothes come off faster than you think. Wink But, if I could advise you...she likely needs about three weeks of this selfless, strong-boundary affection BEFORE you add sex back in. She will think she is ready before she is...so be ready, and don't just jump her bones the moment she becomes receptive. :-O

Show her you know what boundaries are ONCE...and she can trust you forever. Otherwise, her amygdala will continue to say, "See? He's just like all the rest." (whether or not you are). Make sense?

Oh, and thanks for the compliment. There have probably been days when Gary would have seriously considered trading me. Smile But most of the time we truly are delighted with each other...and it's a wonderful change from past chaos in our earlier, conventional-sex relationships.

Whatever you decide to do...feel free to continue to rant!

I'll give that show a listen

I'll give that show a listen when I can. I can't even do it at home as I don't want the history on the computer and won't delete any activity there again. The wrench in the works is the big vacation trip coming up in 9 days. I don't expect sex on that trip but I do have some thoughts that things may go poorly at times and she's trying to predict that to give herself an "I told you so" moment or three.

I know that a part of me thinks masturbating without porn or fantasy isn't exactly the answer but this is getting ridiculous. And if I choose to start doing that within my program it will become evident through honesty if it's harming me. I did read the article about the man and the women meeting. I know it's exactly not the point but after all the meetings I've been to I have so many ideas now. What's worse? Divorce because you cheated or divorce from some creepy sexual compulsion to look at "normal" porn. I know what most people would think. Never considered cheating before but all of this has brought it to my attention.

My wife has stated to me that the past 2-3 weeks have been really fantastic for her since it feels like we are newly dating again. With no threat of my horrible addictive piece of s*%t sex to deal with. So I get a sense of what you mean. If this type of trust is breached, it's a huge loss. My concern is that the trust will be so fragile it won't be worth it in the long run, that I have to move on.

Well, the way I see it...

moving on is always an option. I was very good at that in fact. Smile But now I see the gifts of sticking around and working through something. I wouldn't have seen them...except by sticking around...and I don't, personally, think I would have stuck around if I hadn't been using a new approach.

I had a thought about you. I think some of your misery is coming from being told you're "wrong" and that your urges are "wrong." I'd just like to offer my opinion that you are not "wrong" and nor are your urges. They are normal, biological urges. You seem like quite a wonderful man, in fact. Thoughtful, determined to choose a good course of action, willing to engage in some self-control for a larger end, honest about your frustration with your current situation and your fear that it will become permanent (EEEEEeeek!). Those characteristics are quite admirable.

So whatever happens, or happened in the past, don't buy into the idea that you are "wrong" or that your urges are "wrong." If you want to try a different approach, fine, do it...purely as an experiment. But not to try to make yourself "unwrong." Don't let your wife's projections make you wrong, just because she senses a new strategy may make your marriage more harmonious. It may...or may not. If you want to explore with her so you can assess your other options, fine.

But don't buy into any labels.

*big hug*

Just saw this...

Some couples find it useful to take turns each day, picking their favorites. Here you go:

· smiling, with eye contact
· skin-to-skin contact
· providing a service or treat without being asked
· giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
· gazing into each other’s eyes Relaxed lovers holding each other
· listening intently, and restating what you hear
· forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, past or present
· preparing your partner something to eat
· synchronized breathing
· kissing with lips and tongues
· cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso (works well on a couch, or pillows)
· holding, or spooning, each other in stillness
· wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
· stroking with intent to comfort
· massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders and head
· hugging with intent to comfort
· lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to the heart beat
· touching and sucking of nipples/breasts
· gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort rather than arouse
· making time together at bedtime a priority
· gentle intercourse

Hey thanks. I'd like to edit

Hey thanks. I'd like to edit that down to a select few. Wink In seriousness I took some of the exchanges too. My "proposal" will be to share these with her. Then let her decide if she is comfortable at all. Then if she is I suggest we do what she is OK with. My goal would be to do one daily, make sure we make the time.

Gee...

I wonder which ones you'd pick? Wink

Sounds like a shrewd plan. And here's a little tip. Even one or two minutes of spooning each other, even through jammies if necessary, "works," so never let "we were too busy" get in the way. The most important parts are DAILY and "less is more" to start with.

Some of the men here call this "stealth karezza." Your mission is to tiptoe past her wary amygdala, so it relaxes. At that point she will be amazed to discover that your touch is suddenly a lot more appealing. Smile

Good luck with your mission. Keep us posted.

Stealth Karezza Works!

A daily hug for no reason at all.

A kiss that's just a kiss, not a prelude to something more.

A hand on her shoulder, not caressing, just being there, supporting.

Words of affirmation.

Reaching out and taking her hand when talking, even when arguing. (Just try and get angry with someone who is holding your hand and looking gently into your eyes.)

A quick smile.

A wink when nobody else is looking.

A coupon for a free back rub.

A note on her pillow mentioning a "little" anniversary (like the date you two started dating).

A comment on how good she looks.

A morning cup of coffee served in bed.

Little gallantries: holding the door, helping her with her coat.

Flowers (not the guilt kind).

But, whatever else you choose to do, don't forget the daily hug. The rest is icing.

P.

The report...

[quote=Marnia]How was the vacation?[/quote]

Yes, it's not fair to leave it at that. I'll say the trip overall was very, very good. My anxiety level was way down and we had some closeness that we haven't had in many, many years. I did have one tough spot. I was getting signals (I thought) one evening from her. After a romantic dinner she announced we should both shower before bed. After she showered she annouced that she shaved her legs and took her time. I thought those were signals. When I came out of the shower there was nothing. So, I tried to let go of that. I even aplogized for being a little standoffish that night and she didn't even recognize it. Now, after another romatic dinner the next day, towards the end of dinner I suggested we "make out" with our clothes on that evening.

Well, that didn't go over well. Discussions about how it could go too far, etc. Then after some tense talk the truth came out about the celibacy and that she's been instructed to not have sex with me by her therapist because (I'm not ready). So...I've tried very hard currently, without resentment, to just let it go. To not be concerned and let go of the idea of sex between us for the forseeable future. If I dwell on that I get unhappy so I just let it go a day at a time.

In the mean time the masturbation is something I'm working on to keep in a healthy perspective. I have many viewpoints on the subject, one being to openly share what I'm doing with my wife. I think that's a mistake right now. Secrets are bad, but I think she's working my program for me (along with her therapist) and I doubt I'm working it to their standards.

She's also regularly indulging with her vibrator so I suppose she's got her temporary solution. At this point when we are together it's quite positive and supportive. I try to snuggle with her, hug her, encourage her, touch her, do my share, foot rubs, neck rubs, etc. Still haven't quite figured out how to sleep in the same bed soundly.

Perhaps some day in the future, we will have intimate sex together. Perhaps we won't. One thing I know, I will some day.

Thanks for the details

Wow. That's quite something. It's really impressive that you can keep your resentment levels so low. My thought is that about the time you don't care if you have sex or not, you'll be pronounced "ready." (I'd yawn whenever the subject is mentioned, if I were you. *giggle*) Hope it all works out.

Can't help wishing I could send some articles to her therapist about the effects of orgasm on women.... "Vibrating" isn't bringing out the best in her...and that may be having a significant, unsuspected impact on her ability to "be there" for you at this critical juncture of your marriage. (Same goes for you...ahem!)

Encouraging couples to masturbate on their own is, one day, not going to be viewed as a healthy strategy...and you read it here first. Smile But for right now, it's quite in fashion, so I guess you're stuck with it. It's based on a misunderstanding of what truly satisfies. *sigh*

Anyway, I'm glad you're visualizing a healthy future. Keep going on the bonding behaviors. They may still yield harmonious fruit.

Is it therapy when . . .

Is it therapy when it's being done TO someone instead of with their complete co-operation? I'm no therapist, but something doesn't sit right with me about the situation as you have described it.

Is it possible for the three of you to meet so the therapist can explain the approach to the point where you either agree that this is the right thing to do or you decide to go a different way?

P.

What you say makes sense...

[quote=Poet]Is it therapy when it's being done TO someone instead of with their complete co-operation? I'm no therapist, but something doesn't sit right with me about the situation as you have described it.

Is it possible for the three of you to meet so the therapist can explain the approach to the point where you either agree that this is the right thing to do or you decide to go a different way?

P.[/quote]

I'm open to whatever sessions people would like. The current advice to me is to stay away from her. And sit tight for a year. And to show her all the kindness I have in my heart. I've honestly had differing opinions on our treatment from others but I'm trying to stay the course.

I can also understand how her masturbation will diminish her desire to bond with me. I can sense the same in myself. Instead of looking forward to new intimate bonding times together we are in our own worlds by direction. We also spend many evenings apart due to schedules and don't sleep in the same bed due to her anxiety and insomnia. That isn't helping either.

It's a long road...

I think it's going to be a very, very, very long time before anything transpires between us. Her therapist has given her the license to put up an indefinite boundary. I think she needs boundaries but this enables behaviors that I think aren't helping her without a plan forward.

Can You Get a Therapist?

As silly as it sounds, could you engage a therapist and have him/her talk to your wife's therapist? A second opinion could be helpful here, both for you to understand what's going on and for your wife's therapist to understand your side of the relationship.

P.

An update...

OK. I reviewed these with my sponsor over the weekend. When he saw some he just laughed. The reason he did that is that he knows the situation with my wife. In any case, we had been working on adjusting my sobriety definition for now also. Doing a test with boundaries, etc. So, my sobriety stays intact with masturbation. SAA wants you to find the things you can manage with help and those you cannot if you know what I mean. So for now I'm in an observed test with a lot of reading, praying, observation, journaliing and disclosing to others my situation. Just not my wife for sure. One of the benefits of this change for me is that I can take away any manipulative agenga my addict was working to get her to cave in before she's ready.

I'm going to further edit the exchanges and bonding behaviors that seem unlikely to trigger her defenses. I need to focus on my stability and she on her recovery. And hopefully a bunch of these safe exchanges and behaviors and become our daily committment to each other.

So while in my recovery I'm sorting through when I can masturbate, how often, what it means, making sure I'm not guilty or ashamed in any way. I had nearly 100 days of complete abstinance. And strangely I had some burning pain during ejaculation. And I can say clearly, masturbation for me now is nothing like it was with porn or in my addiction. I actually had all kinds of sobriety training kicking in and slowing/stopping me when I started even though I was excited. Like Pavlov's dog. My prior pattern was regular daily or every other day masturbation with binges on trips alone or lots of alone time at home (days alone). If or when I have sex again with my wife I can only hope for a real spiritual sexual expression between us that brings us closer. My view is changing, it's great. And I feel better about myself and my future and purpose in life. I like saying that. Knowing in my heart I had NO IDEA was that was several months ago.

Yup

[quote]I had some burning pain during ejaculation[/quote]cleaning those rusty pipes can hurt
I admire the work you're doing
I wish you every success

Outstanding Progress!!!!!!

[quote]My view is changing, it's great.[/quote]

It is a wonderful feeling, is it not? Self control you never imagined possible. Putting the healing of your wife first, willfully and with great joy.... Congratulations!!!!

Neil

Another update...

Well. Turns out the wife has her own habit of regular private masturbation. Which I'm convinced has diminished our ability to connect. And also may be passive aggressive on her part. It even may be addiction. So we stay where we are. When she's comfortable to be honest about her actions with her therapist and sponser we might advance. But...that's all beyond my control. In the mean time I try to enjoy my days. I'm careful not to make any rash decisions for 12 months. That ends in November. For now, I have a level of serenity. The pressure is off our sexual relationship. I do have fond memories of genuine connection and health from our past. It gives me hope that it could return, but patience is the key.

I share your view

that private masturbation habits can interfere with closer bonds. I just posted an article that helps explain why. (http://www.reuniting.info/cant_shehe_see_i_need_sex) Intense stimulation can temporarily dampen the brain's natural responsiveness and tarnish perception of our partner's charms. And both sexes are affected.

Unfortunately, the mainstream sex advice seems to be out of step with this reality, so your wife probably has no idea what she's doing. Sad.

I admire your patience...as well as the fact that it's not endless. And your willingness to visualize a satisfying outcome if things change. I hope the light goes on for her soon. You sure sound like a "keeper" to me. Wink

*big hug*