Trying to save my marriage

Submitted by imready on
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I have a dilemma that I hope someone can give me some advice on. I was addicted to porn and masturbation for many years. I've been married 24 years and other than my sex addiction our marriage has been good. My wife, a non-practicing marriage and family counselor discovered my addiction through my internet history about 6 years ago. Since then the pornography has not been a problem and in the last 2 years there has been no compulsive masturbation. Of course when we are doing well sexually I begin to feel like my old self and notice more objectification of women and less attraction to my wife. I also am compelled to masturbate more often, say once every few weeks. Unfortunately through my work with addiction counselors and SAA groups my wife and I came up with an addiction contract about 3 years ago that stated I would refrain from masturbation and if I did I would tell my wife within 48 hours. I have failed this contract three times in three years and my wife feels that she can never trust me again. She has asked me for a divorce and I am somewhat bewildered.

My wife is a leader of a Co Sex addicts group and is very adamant about setting strong boundaries. I do understand this to a certain extent but our marriage is not a bad one except for this one area. I feel that your ideas about masturbation and porn addiction are the most logical and scientifically based that I have read about. My wife though seems to feel there is much choice in the matter and I have chosen to hurt her too many times. I am desperate to save this good marriage and have not had any help from conventional therapists. One, in fact, said just get used to the idea you are going to get divorced. I am tired of the negativity and lack of objectivity of the marriage and addiction therapists I have seen. I read "Peace Between the Sheets" when it first came out but my wife and I were in a rough spot and she was not receptive to trying any of the excercises. I doubt she would be receptive now as we have not had any physical contact in 7 months. It breaks my heart because I want the same thing as my wife a strong intimate marriage. If at all possible could you please give me and my wife some advice on where we can go from here to heal our marriage.

With warm regards,

Healing your future.

Hello Mike,

I have no particular advice to give you, as you've probably heard them all during your counselling. I just would like to comment on a few things. I wish I could help you.

First of all, I am a man and I know something about addiction to masturbation and such, and I also know what it feels to want to save a marriage, so I understand where you're coming from.

[quote=imready]Of course when we are doing well sexually I begin to feel like my old self and notice more objectification of women and less attraction to my wife. I also am compelled to masturbate more often, say once every few weeks.

Yeah, that's typical of the Coolidge Effect
(and I notice in passing that our host Marnia has made good use of the picture of our friend Sooty, that I sent her - btw, Sooty in in the Guinness book of records for being the hamster who received the most Valentine's cards. The year after his adventure in the female pen, he received 106 cards for Valentine's Day. Not bad for a hamster, heh?).


Your comments about your wife wanting a divorce despite your good will, your efforts and your achievements reminds me of this thread I read on another board. I am not saying that what is discussed there applies to you. I just post the link here in case it's useful. "Simply abstaining is not recovery--it's simply sobriety". You wife's trust has been shattered, and she may not have hope that you'll change. So, it may be that giving her some real hope of a blissfully happy future is the key to saving your marriage.


Actually, I do have two pieces of advice that may or may not be useful:


1) You said that you've read Peace Between the Sheets, and that you understand the science presented here in this web site. It seems obvious that everything else has failed. You say yourself that you noticed the "pull-away effect" when having regular sex. The same acts will have the same consequences. You said that you didn't try this non-orgasmic method to have sex. Maybe now that you haven't had any physical contact in 7 months, is precisely the time to introduce this material (the book and the web site) to your wife. If you try something new, there is always hope you'll get different results (I mentioned hope above). If you think it might help, show her your post and the replies you get.

You may still live in the same house, but you are emotionally and physically separated. So, start from the principle that she is not your wife. Now, the courtship may begin. You are courting a nice woman who just happened to be you ex-wife in a previous life. In this life time, however, you have learned your lesson and understand the destructive aspect of orgasmic sex (not only masturbation, but also conventional orgasmic sex between husband and wife). You know that if you want to create a happy matrimony, you have to let your future wife (who is also your ex, since you are courting her anew) know about the kind of sexuality you will want to have with her. Give her some bear hugs. If she pushes you away, let her do that. She needs to express her anger and frustration. Be happy to know that it has to dissipate, be expressed somehow. But find other opportunities to give her short, supportive, non-demanding hugs, without expecting any good-will in return. (unconditionally-loving hugs are powerful and good at melting boundaries).

At the same time, talk to her, explain to her what was missing before (the knowledge made available here), and why things may work out better next time. Don't rush on to try to have sex, but wait until she is receptive and slowly build up the courtship. Long hugs, standing, with your clothes on feel nice. Try to feel like a teen courting for the first time and enjoying every step of the courting process ("Ah! the pure joy of holding hands with the girl I love!!"). But you are a teen old enough and wise enough to know not to let your biological impulses get in the way.


2) I believe that the advice above might work even better if you are actually willing to let go of your wife. Surrender her. You cannot force her to stay with you if all she really wants is a divorce and start a new life. There are times in life when we need to give up our attachments to things and to people. Love is said to be the highest law in the universe. Love means to me the same as Freedom. Let her be free to choose her own fate.

I have made this experience many times. Sometimes, when facing a difficult situation, I am inspired to surrender whatever that I was attached to. If that thing (object, person, idea, situation, experience, whatever..) is actually supposed to belong to me, or to be part of my life, it will come back to me, and the situation would actually be better than before I surrendered that thing. But sometimes, the thing was not supposed to be in my life in the first place. By surrendering it, I allow that experience to go away, and make room for something new to appear. I have experienced both: surrender something and see it come back, only better, and surrender something and it never came back. Something else, something better appeared in my life instead.

Believe it or not, I have actually had the experience of surrendering my wife. She is not an object (!!!), she does not belong to me. She has her own free will. But I was clinging to her, begging her to stay with me, etc. One day, I actually surrendered her. She is not mine. Let her Free Will be done. I was preparing to move out. I was visualizing the kind of life I wanted. The kind of relationship I wanted. But I didn't see my wife within this relationship. I only saw a faceless, unknown woman. I did that. Then my wife came back to me. She actually wanted me. She is actually supposed to be with me at this time. Things are getting better and better. And we both understand the importance of the kind of sexual relationship described in this site.

So, do surrender your wife. If she wants a divorce, let her have it. Assume that the divorce papers are already signed. Don't rush to the lawyer's office (or wherever that is where you can get divorce papers). Let her do that, if she really wants to. Just assume it's already done. Now you are free. Not free to fool around, mind you :) But you are free to visualize your next relationship. Don't think about any particular person. Don't give a name or a face to the woman of your dreams (that would be fantasising). Imagine speaking to her about the knowledge base, here. Imagine her agreeing. Imagine slowly, slowly, building up a non-orgasmic sexual relationship. Imagine holding hands, hugging, looking into each other's eyes, the soul to soul connection. Imagine the feeling of having found THE love of your life, and knowing that the feeling is reciprocated.

When I spoke above about flirting with your wife, I meant a bit for you to do it this way: she might be the one, and she might not be the one. Court her, be nice to her, but surrender her first, so that you are not attached and you do not expect her to respond to your advances. Allow her to pull away, if she wants to. But leave room for her to come back, it that's her will.


To conclude,

[quote=imready] If at all possible could you please give me and my wife some advice on where we can go from here to heal our marriage.[/quote]

I don't know if it is at all possible to heal your marriage. I don't know you. I don't know your wife. I don't know the situation.
What I believe, though, is that it is possible to heal your NEXT relationship, your next marriage. Your next wife might be the same person, in which case you would have successfully healed this marriage. Or your next wife may be another person, in which case you'd have found that you're actually better off with someone else.


I am not sure anything I wrote is actually helpful to you, but I wish you and your wife to find True happines.

Blessings to you both.


Thank you, Janitor....

I needed to read that. I will give it to my husband, who
is desperately hoping that we can save out marriage, but
won't admit that he only wants this for our kids.



I think a lot of people shun

I think a lot of people shun the idea of marriage counseling and think it is for the movies/TV only, the fact is it's good to have someone not related that isn't a friend listen to both sides and give suggestions on how to get along better with one another. A counselors job isn't to take anyones side but listen to what each of you have to say and find a way to bring you back together.

I'm no expert on keeping

marriage together, but I gently ask whether there is not really something deeper going on that either you, or she, or both are unaware of. For I'm sure that such 'contracts' have their place, but so also does understanding, forgiveness and not being too exacting of each other. I can only say, do feel free to keep coming back here, it is a wonderful resource, the best resource of all being the humanity, supportiveness and advice you can find here. Once again, though holding a marriage together isn't my expertise, I believe that you need to put alot of energy into personal growth and healing, for however things are going for your marriage, whether well or ill, you will be better placed to deal with things if you are healing. It must be hard to have that perspective when your life has been shared for so long that it might be hard to separate you from her, I imagine it must be hard. But It sounds like there is some separateness at present in any case, so (and I mean this in a nice way) it might be better to realise that things cannot be as they once were...I mean we can never return to the past. But you might be able to build a better future (together I hope).
I can feel your pain and wish I could advise you with more expertise. I wish you well.

Does anyone know?

How it is the spammers manage to find such old threads to spam upon?

lol~~it's kind of nice, though, because it brings up things I haven't read before--thanks, spammers!!


Strange, eh

We're discussing changing the registration requirements so that people have to be approved before they post. That should cut down on silly spam attacks.

I've hesitated to do it because I want people to be able to post if they need to if they arrive in distress, but the spam traffic seems to be picking up. Sad