How do you remain content?
to provide context, My amazing wife of 10yrs is a sexual and physical survivor who was traumatically abused from the ages of 3 through 14. We have been together since our sophomore year in high school, and have always generally had an amazing relationship. Although we were in sin when we first started having sex in our first year of being together, sex was amazing. We then abstained until we were married after high school, during which everything about sexuality changed for us. It’s true that the subconscious will psychologically suppress everything until we are in a safe enough to process trauma. There were lows for us, and then EXTREME lows for us. We in the last 4-5 years have had successful PIV sex maybe 5-6 times. with the help of 3 counselors we have been able to make great strides in her development, and I praise god for that. After 9 years of trial and error, we Finally began seeing a sex counselor, and have been for almost an entire year.
Throughout our entire marriage I’ve felt every emotion from rage at her abusers, to resentment, to deep sadness at a depressing level. I have an addiction to pornography that was greatly impacted by not being able to share my sexuality with my spouse. I’m proud to say that with the help of a counselor, exercise, and yoga, I’ve been clean for almost 4 months now. The fact that we haven’t been able to experience LM in the way it was intended for us makes me feel numb these days. For those of you who have a similar story, how do you continue to fight the overwhelming thoughts of resentment from not having sex? How do you manage to stay away from temptation as it arises?
I wanted to respond as another survivor, someone who can relate to your wife and just encourage you to fight on! I don’t know your side, but my husband could relate to you. I have gone through my own stages of depression, rage, defeat, etc… and especially DEEP shame. My inability to engage well with my husband sexually was one of the hardest things to walk through in my life. I often begged God to just take me home so my husband could remarry a woman who wasn’t broken. So many days laying on the floor prostrate, sobbing, and pleading with God to just fix me.
Your side of this just sucks. Her side of this just sucks. Keep fighting on to not make the other the enemy. It took us 17 years to get there, but God is and has been doing miracles!!!! God has brought healing, He has been healing me sexually. My husband and I have been enjoying a fun sexual relationship. I never thought I would view sex as fun. Press on, God can do this! Pray together, A LOT! This issue divides, robs intimacy, makes you hide from each other. Concentrate on building deep intimacy. Do devotionals together. Share what is on your minds.
If you can, try to find ways to be sexual together that bring intimacy. You are able to do other things besides PIV? I would encourage you to pray and ask God to help you lay PIV aside for now, and build gratitude for the intimacy you can share. Explore and revel in what is on the table right now. You will show acceptance for your wife where is she is now, help her to feel unconditionally loved. She likely feels very much like a failure. You being willing to enjoy her just as she is right now (not staying stuck there, still pursuing healing) is a powerful expression of love. PIV is great, but sex is SO much more. You can completely connect without it.
The enemy will remind of us all that is wrong, what is missing, how we fail, how we have been wronged, and wants us to play that tape over and over, building up resentment. Preach back! Preach to yourself how God will provide. Name out all the wonderful things about your wife, major on the little victories, speak gratitude for every little sexual intimacy shared. Every time the enemy tries to suck you back into how bad it is that you can’t enjoy PIV, shout out NO, instead name out all the things you can do and how you are grateful for them.
I will pray for you and your wife. I’m so sorry you are in this pain.
Sorry to hear of your difficult situation. It is good to hear you have been free for 4 months. That is a great victory to rejoice in!
I recommend seeking joy and contentment in your amazing wife, Jesus, His Word, the fellowship of His people and other God–honoring pleasures in life. You may also want to reflect on the Apostle Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4. Especially 10-13.
Focusing on a greater joy, a more meaningful passion, may be one way to help you stay away from temptation.
I have nothing to offer but prayers for healing, wisdom, peace, strength, perseverance and that Jesus will be everything you need through this. But I am angry with you by the destruction others sin can do.
I was just watching a show today with a similar story, but of course it didn’t dig so deep into this side of things… but as I was watching the show, and listening to you, husbands who marry these broken and abused women have a special call on them. As a believer, the Lord had to know and believe that you would be the best tool to work through to show your wife love, commitment, and to help bring her healing and wholeness. And at the same time, He is doing a sanctifying work in you.
Praying for you and your wife.
Thank you for sharing. I am sorry to hear about what your wife went through and what you are both now going through.
My own wife’s emotionally abusive past was not as traumatic, but it still affects her every day more than 20 years later, and has had a huge impact on our sex life throughout our marriage. We have worked on all aspects of healing, but the sexual part leaves me particularly frustrated and angry (and she knows and shares that frustration). I have felt very alone and isolated and sad, because I feel I can’t share my sexuality with my spouse, as you put it, except in very small, carefully controlled, doses. 90% of the time it completely overwhelms her and she retreats, often crying with her own frustration, leaving me alone and struggling.
I wish I could offer a great solution. What I can say is that you are not alone. Unfortunately I think the church, and in particular many men’s ministries, have let us down here, particularly on the issue of pornography that you said you struggle with. I have noticed that nearly all the anti-porn resources directed at married men make an assumption that they are actively choosing porn over their wives – rather than turning to it in frustration precisely because they cannot share their sexuality with their wives. More broadly, I see very little support or recognition in the Christian community, particularly for men, on living with a spouse with mental and emotional issues.
My own strategies for remaining content have been to accept and thank God for what he has given me and asked me to do. above all in protecting and helping my wife to heal; and also to try and pursue a balanced life of moderation in all things – sexuality, alcohol and food consumption; work and family; exercise (you mentioned yoga), etc. I wish I had more friends and other men to share my difficulties with on a regular basis, but over the years I have met a few husbands with similar marriages and struggles and those have been good conversations. A lot of times I still get very angry but in my heart I know that God has asked me to do this.