How do find it in you to not give up trying?
I can feel myself growing colder towards my husband, and I don’t know that it’s something that I feel inclined to work at halting. I love him fiercely, and I find him incredibly sexy, but… I just feel done pursuing him. I have struggled so much, and so hard, to not be tempted by other men trying to seduce me. A part of me is angry, so angry that I can’t count on my husband to help me through this, so I’m not constantly burning.
It is so tempting to just shut down and to become a refuser myself. I can’t help but protest at being used by him sporadically, however and whenever it eventually pleases him, while he ignores my needs. I do worry that it would tank our relationship though, if I were to erect boundaries around this area of our interaction. He’s my best friend. I don’t want to lose him or leave him. I’m just so tired of trying to fix our intimacy issues. We’ve been broken for 19 years. I’m losing all hope that this can ever be made right between us. I just… want to give up. I don’t know if that is sinful or wrong, but I’m beginning to not care.
I did a fair bit of research into porn addiction some time back, and the porn recovery community says it takes 60-90 days (depending on the severity of his addiction) to sexually “rewire”. No porn, masturbation, and no handjobs from you, for 60-90 days (no porn indefinitely, goes without saying) – sex only.
Essentially, our brains have neuro pathways that get deeper and deeper, the more a behavior is repeated. The goal here is to starve out the porn and masturbation neuro pathways, and replace them with healthy ones. During this time, you need to be his guide by helping him establish new sexual habits that leave you satisfied and fulfilled. No selfish “just for him”, or “wam bam thank you ma’am” porn-type sex, unless that is what you, Wren, want to do.
As for preventing him from looking at porn:
I recommend Covenant Eyes. It’s unique in that it not only allows you to block pornographic material, but it also monitors for circumnavigation attempts. So if he even tries to bypass the filter, or find not as risque material not blocked by the filter, it will send you (Wren) a notification.
This is super helpful, because he’ll know the moment he even tries to look at something, it’s going to let you know. And that will motivate him to not do so, cause he won’t get away with it.
What I don’t think he has realized, is that he’s an addict. He has lost his ability to function sexually without pornography, and that should scare him. If this were alcohol, it would not be a good idea to leave him in a bar, hoping that his self control holds out. Which is what leaving him with the ability to access porn would be comparable to.
So summing up, he needs to realize that he has an addiction. This is not a “so I like a little porn, so what” – he’s an addict. You guys need to talk, and get him to agree on installing Covenant Eyes on all your devices. As well as him not masturbating, for the next 60-90 days.
Make it clear to him that you will be available for sex, whenever he needs it. And only engage in sexual activities you (Wren) find fulfilling. This is your opportunity to create a better sex life together, so guide him. If you want an orgasm, then guide him in giving you one. Don’t accept excuses. Don’t allow your sex life to go back down his selfish path. If he doesn’t put in the effort to satisfy you, then don’t satisfy him. If you don’t get to orgasm, he doesn’t get to orgasm.
Get him the book “She Comes First”, and when you guys have sex, have him satisfy you. After you’ve been fulfilled, then do the same for him. It’s a reward system, which solidifies the neuro pathways you’re creating. If he pleases you, he also gets pleased. If he doesn’t, neither does he.
Does that plan sound realistic for you guys?
I’ve also linked two sites below that can give you actual research and articles regarding this addiction, and how to recover. Both so you can know more about it, but also so you can present them to your husband if he has difficulty abiding by the plan. Both are secular though, not faith-based.
Oh sister, I have been there (hugs). Circumstances may be different but your emotions, your feelings, could have been…no, they were my words.
Just to cover the bases…. Have you done everything you can to confront him on his behavior? One on one, with sharing your needs? Having another come with you in confronting, a friend of his or both of yours, an accountability partner, or a spiritual mentor? Have you gone to your pastor? Have you tried counseling?
I did everything, and nothing impacted change beyond a day or two. It ended up being me hitting bottom, and getting to the end of my rope…. my husband seeing me actually seek out prayer and counsel because I wanted to walk away from ministry and marriage, that jolted him with the fear of the reality that he could actually lose me, that his eyes were open and he immediately made shifts and started being intentional on changing.
I didn’t use it as an ultimatum or a threat. I didn’t make things conditional and set up rules he had to follow for him to keep me or lose me. This really was not about him but me. I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t live the rest of my life this way. But also I knew that I couldn’t just walk away, even though I overwhelmingly wanted to and thought that it was my only option of relief from the crushing burden I was carrying. That all led me to seek out prayer (privately, one on one, but publicly, in front of a church and my family) and counsel. I was later honest with my husband on why. The man I went to for prayer, was an older man my husband had worked with off and on, and understood our ministry situation and my husband’s personality. He and his wife offered to meet with us that same week. After that, we got into counseling/therapy.
On the other side, but still not fully out, I am still trying to make sense of it. Realize there are multiple layers here that this is about and needs addressed. Yes, this seems like it’s mainly about your husband and your marriage, and God does want to do a work there. But ultimately, I think it’s about you and Him. I could share some of the deep lessons He taught me, and how He revealed more of His character and His truly unconditional love for me. But I don’t want this to get too long or bore everyone. But one thing, my most recent lesson, and a Biblical truth, there has to be a death of something for a new thing to live. John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
I can still recall the moment a hope in me died. I remember the circumstances, the emotions, and that feeling of death take place. After that, I became detached from my husband, and it was less than a year later I hit that bottom. But here is the one hope that never died. It was my ONLY hope. And it’s a hope you can hold onto….. that hope is in our Resurrected God. The One who can raise the dead from the grave, and breathe life back into the dead. With Christ Jesus it is always too early to give up hope.
I may not have answers, but I can give comfort to you as God has comforted me, if you desire to have a friend sit beside you and walk beside you, to have one who has a listening ear, who will be honest, and will lift you up in prayer, as one who has walked a similar path, you are welcome to PM me. Hugs and prayers!
WG, so sorry to hear of your predicament. I agree with JB that if you haven’t already done so, please pursue a Christian counselor.
To answer your question as it relates to myself, my first response is by nurturing my relationship with Jesus. It is my commitment to Him that is the basis for my commitment to DW, our marriage, to family, to service in the Kingdom, etc. Secondly, it is through my relationship with Jesus that I have the power of God (Holy Spirit) to help me – to do what I can and to do what I should. In many areas of my life, if it wasn’t for the availability of God’s power, I wouldn’t be able to make it through difficult times. And prayer and trust in God have been my way of warding off discouragement in the difficult times I have faced.
Do you have some free time each day to find rest and shalom?
Do you have a close friend or relative or accountability partner to walk with you?
In what setting do you and your DH have the best talks? Try to nurture such settings. Perhaps set some guidelines so those times don’t go badly and end up hurting you more as you seek to be vulnerable with him.
As Christians we are called to live a surrendered life. That means we do lay down a fight. Losing our fight in us is not necessarily a bad thing. The question is, who or what are you/we surrendering to? Is it a surrender of your will and your way to Christ, trusting and believing He has a work to do in you and through you, no matter what outside circumstances are going on? Or are you surrendering in defeat to the enemy, letting his lies bind you and overtake you? Make sure you are laying down your fight to the right(eous) master.
So sorry to hear about this.
“He’s had his testosterone checked. It was on the lower end of normal. ”
“Lower end of normal” is a joke. He needs to see a doctor that specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (see https://www.a4m.com/find-a-doctor.html or contact these people who provide phone consultation and treatment https://defymedical.com/)
There is more going on here than just hormones. My testosterone was “low normal” as in I could hardly have sex at all. Yet I didn’t mind playing with girl parts to help my wife orgasm. If your only problem is sex as you say and he is generous in other areas of your life, I don’t know what is going on. Performance anxiety perhaps, or guilt over past sexual sins or bad teaching about the place of sex in a Christian marriage.
“Honestly, the only area where we can’t seem to find contentment is in our sex life. I have asked him to try counseling, but he refuses. I haven’t spoken to anyone else about the situation, because it would be incredibly uncomfortable for both of us. I don’t know that I want any of our familiars to know the intimate details of our sex life.”
Sex is really the only thing that differentiates marriage from other relationships. Your marriage is in crisis. So don’t worry about being uncomfortable or embarrassed or upsetting your husband. Unless decide the current situation is something you can live with the rest of your life, you will have to take drastic action. Things will likely get worse before they get better.
Jesus’ words in Matt 18:15 on how to handle a fellow believer who sins against you is relevant here. Yes, he is sinning against you, in a major way. You’ve tried resolving this with just the two of you and have gotten nowhere. You wouldn’t want the whole congregation knowing, but it is high time to bring someone in to support you both and to confront him. Tell the pastor and elders, or a Christian marriage counselor if you feel your church will not be understanding or helpful.
You are past going it alone. You, he, and your marriage need help.
I’m so sorry you are dealing with this, Wren. It seems likely that your husband has again become embroiled in porn addiction. One boundary that would certainly be reasonable would be to require that he have some sort of monitoring software/app that you have access to on all his devices (assuming he is willing to promise to stop and seems sincere in his wish to break free of it). It also seems reasonable to require more effort of him in other areas of his life. This may sound funny, but I think it could work. When he wants to hang out as buddies, make him be the one to grab the beers from the fridge. Get him to pick up dinner when you are having takeout. Insist he do whatever little jobs you can think of just to get him incrementally used to putting forth effort. And you can do it with finesse and positive reinforcement, no manipulation or withholding needed. When he gets his own (or your!) beer, immediately ask him a question about a topic you know he loves to talk about or snuggle up if he’s in the mood; whatever will give him a little pop of pleasure in that moment. Yes, it’s a bit like training a dog, but frankly it sounds like he’s behaving a bit like one at the moment, and the principle crosses species. If he no longer has the porn to satisfy his pleasure center, but gets (non-sexual) pleasure from doing things that require effort and please you, then he may eventually learn or re-learn that little effort on his part for sexual pleasure gives him as much pleasure as it gives you. This is just my weird idea and crazy opinion, but I feel like it makes sense. Ignore it if it doesn’t resonate with you.
I’m sorry you’re going through this 🙁
Could you provide more details on the situation? Is he refusing to care for your emotional needs in general (affection, intimate conversation, help around the house, etc.), or is the issue exclusively about sex?
Would you share what happened 19 years ago? How did this all start?
What happened 19 years ago is… we got married. lol We’ve struggled with our sex life from the very beginning. We get along well. He is my best friend. We typically have no issues with communication, and talking isn’t difficult, as a rule. There are times, once in a while, when he clams up and doesn’t care to talk about things that are bothering him, but it’s rare. Honestly, the only area where we can’t seem to find contentment is in our sex life. I have asked him to try counseling, but he refuses. I haven’t spoken to anyone else about the situation, because it would be incredibly uncomfortable for both of us. I don’t know that I want any of our familiars to know the intimate details of our sex life.
Hi WrenGray, I clicked on your username and read your descriptions of the problem that you shared in June. It can be really hard to remember everyone’s situations. Once I read your story, I remembered it, but had forgotten whose story it was.
Is your husband using pornography at this time?
You have my deepest sympathies. I know you have sought individual counseling, but said that they were uncomfortable addressing the problems. I wanted to suggest that the folks at Marriage Helper don’t shy away from the messy problems, in fact I think that’s their specialty. (In case you wanted to try again, but I don’t blame you if you don’t.)