Overcoming “Roommate” Status
Our situation is so complicated, it’s hard to find the appropriate category to cover it. Ultimately, where I find myself today, is in the frustrating and depressing situation of feeling like my husband’s roommate. A very long story made short, he has been addicted to pornography since his young teen years. I didn’t know that it was a problem, until the first year of our marriage, when he started choosing porn instead of enjoying me. I am ashamed to say that this behavior was not met well by myself. I’ve struggled very badly with my own perception of my self-worth, desirability, etc. In my struggles, I did sin, by engaging in flirtatious and sexual type activity with a couple men online. The even deeper problem is that this fed directly into my husband’s porn-fueled sexual appetite, and the things that he desired from me were blatantly adulterous. I brushed off my own uncomfortable feelings about it all, because for the first time in so long, he was exhilaratingly excited by me. (I later realized that it wasn’t actually ME, but the situation that caused so much passion.)
I found that I could not out-run my feelings of guilt, regardless of whether I had my husband’s permission and encouragement. I could see that what he wanted, was hurting us. Eventually, I broke down and begged him to put it all away. I just wanted our sex life to be between us. I wanted all of the passion and excitement, but for it to be something that we kept for only our marital relationship. He agreed, and things instantly changed. He stopped viewing porn (to the best of my knowledge). He stopped suggesting blatantly sinful scenarios to me, during sex. He stopped requesting that I wear very revealing clothing when out with him in public.
He also stopped wanting me.
I don’t know how to put it any other way. As soon as the porn was removed from our equation, and he was no longer free to use me as an outlet to his fantasies of sharing, he just stopped desiring sex from me. We are back to having sex very infrequently, and always with as little effort and input as possible. I haven’t the slightest idea about how to try and fix any of this. I had thought that playing into his desires would make things better, that he’d want me more. It started simply enough. I would wear my hair as he liked, apply more makeup than I usually care to wear. He began shopping for lingerie with me, which should be a wonderful and tantalizing thing. But, the more that I gave, the more that he asked, until I hardly recognized myself anymore. During our last big conversation over it all, I broke down sobbing, and told him about how ashamed I felt that I allowed my love for him, and my desire to have him want me, be more important that what I believed was right. I let my own husband become an idol in my life.
I’ve since been concentrating on finding some kind of balance, where my own out-of-control sexuality is tamed and utilized in a blessed way, within my marriage. That is so hard to do though, with my husband just … not wanting me. I’m frustrated, and am exercising all of my control to avoid sinning. I do confess that I’ve been struggling a little bit with porn, since he has stopped desiring me. I don’t know how to bank the fire of my desire otherwise. I take care of myself, to try and keep things peaceable between us, and to try and stop myself from becoming angry and resentful over his disinterest. It is there though, quietly lurking in the back of my mind. That’s why I use porn at all, in the first place. I can’t use my own husband as my own masturbation material, because thinking about him and sex together just brings up feelings of utter sadness and rejection. It’s easier to look at faceless bodies in motion, and try to embrace thoughtlessness. After it’s all over though, I just feel like garbage. I feel like a pathetic hypocrite.
I wish that I knew how to fix this, that for once in our life together, we could just be happy and content. He won’t talk to a therapist. I’ve tried therapy, but the nature of our problems has made others too uncomfortable to address the issues. It’s easier to tell me to “go out and make new friends”, than to tackle what ails us. I don’t know how to make anything better. Maybe someone else has some insight that might help. As it stands, my husband is either ON and losing himself in unhealthy fantasies, or completely OFF and not desiring any kind of sexual contact. If we mange any sexual activity, it is almost exclusively focused on his pleasure and desires. If I try to suggest that things be modified so that I might get more pleasure out of it all, then he takes it as my saying that he’s a terrible lover… and we’re back to zero intimate contact. For all of our stumbling and fumbling, I do love him deeply. If I must resign myself to an essentially sexless marriage, I’ll do that, in order to be with him. I’m still struggling with hope though. Maybe someone knows something that I don’t. Maybe there is some way to make this at least better. If not, maybe someone has some helpful words on how to be gracefully celibate, without falling into sin.
Have you researched how porn affects the brain and sexuality? I know that porn can actually lead to ED. Maybe this situation isn’t about your husband not desiring you, but that he has rewired his brain in such a way, he physically can’t respond without high stimuli, and he is too fearful of what that means, or too humiliated or prideful to share that. I know that a brain can be rewired, but it can take months. Is he willing to do the fight to beat the porns wiring and reset his body and brain?
Covenanteyes.com and yourbrainonporn.com may be good starts.
First WrenGrey…thank you for the courage to post what is going on with you and your husband. I know this very hard for you and I feel your pain.
May I take a different route instead of throwing out suggestions or resources?
How is your relationship with the Lord? Your husband? Have you gone to the Lord about these issues? How do you think He is speaking to you in this situation?
I sincerely admire your courage in laying your dilemma out so honestly and for “owning” and acknowledging your mistakes and regrets. My heart breaks with and for you (and your husband) and I wish that I had a “happy ending” I could share from a couple dealing with the same history, or sage advice that would give you fresh hope… but I don’t.
From a spiritual perspective I know that Jesus is with you (and your husband if he is saved) every step of the way and does not desire that either of you give up on having a healthy Christian marriage in all respects… including an intimate sexual relationship. You have clearly repented and are not trying to rationalize or blame your poor choices on your husband. Based on what you wrote, your husband is CLEARLY the initiator of the sin you both immersed yourselves in… which raises the question: Has he HONESTLY ACKNOWLEDGED and REPENTED of HIS SIN? Only he can repent for his sin.
I have no doubt that you love him deeply but your relationship can never be repaired if you are the only partner who is honest about what has gotten you where you are now. When you wrote “If I try to suggest that things be modified so that I might get more pleasure out of it all, then he takes it as my saying that he’s a terrible lover…” which leads me to believe that you are sheltering him from the truth in many areas. (After all, he obviously is a “terrible lover”.) If you are allowing him to avoid the hard truth of his sin, I doubt either of you can move to a healthy place where your marriage can be based on Biblical truth. I will pray for you both
I can’t speak to his prayer life, and what is between him and God. At one point, I was completely undone and honestly suicidal. He said that he was frightened that his depravity was breaking me, and destroying our relationship. He had thought that I could be his conscious for him, and stop him from spiraling out of control. I wish that I had been healthy enough, strong enough to do just that. In the end though, my codependency got the better of me. I fulfilled every fantasy of his that he whispered to me, because I wanted him to be happy with me, and to treat me like I was precious. My sense of self-worth has been dangerously tangled up with his desire for me, whether he’s happy, or affectionate towards me. Ultimately, I just told him that I can’t save him from himself. I need my husband to love God, and me, enough to not ask me for things that hurt me. I need him to be my safe place, and my covering. To my knowledge, he hasn’t gone back to porn, and he doesn’t press me to put on revealing clothing, nor talk about giving me to other men. He just turned off his sexuality, and trying to reach him through that closed door is difficult. When we are occasionally intimate, he is shut off from me. I wonder if I even need to be there. I don’t even care about an orgasm. I can take care of that myself. I just wish he’d kiss me, or even SEE ME.
We are kind of roommates too – but in love! Our marriage is VERY GOOD in all areas except sex. She even gives me a friendly hard time about being so romantic, so it’s not just about sex itself. So I appreciate knowing there are others struggling with the “roommate” issue. Thank you for this thread.