Ok so Step 4 feels more daunting to me this time around for some reason. I haven't picked it up.
I haven't yet.
That's why I haven't posted again in the last little while. But all excuses aside I'm just putting it off.
For now though, I have a few thoughts about being married with addictions present.
This post is going to get into some real detail that some people avoid. But I feel these things must be clarified. I needed them clarified. I know others do too. I'm going to try to keep my wording as appropriate and wholesome as possible and avoid triggering. I'd appreciate it if I make the mistake of writing anything triggering that someone will comment and make me aware so I can adjust it to avoid that the best I can.
I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who went with me to addiction recovery meeting (the actual addiction recovery meeting, not the one for those supporting loved ones).
From her point of view, being physically intimate with her husband made temptations become more difficult for her because her body was more awake to those feelings. She expressed frustration in trying to balance having a healthy marital relationship but also battling the dirty feelings she sometimes got while being with her husband. I am only sharing her experience because I don't see it as being too unique. I think there are many of us in the same boat. There have been other ladies in the meetings who expressed similar feelings.
Also those who have a husband struggling with addiction add feelings of responsibility to helping their husbands by being their physical outlet. Many women feel that if they ever say no, they may trigger the bad behaviors in their husbands. Their husbands might have a harder time withstanding temptations if they haven't been able to release that tension with their wives.
Let me just say one thing here. My husband felt that way a year into recovery. He would always try to tell me it made it harder for him if I didn't feel up to things. But as much as he was convinced this was true, it wasn't. He knows it now, three years into recovery.
I want to emphasize that point.
It doesn't help. It makes no difference. I knew it because we could be intimate and in the same day he could struggle with some temptation and even fail.
The reason? Because they are completely disconnected experiences.
I know this for myself now as well, with my own addiction. I could be with my husband and still have temptations on my own because the experience is completely different.
Too many couples then turn to outside help for their marital intimacy to give their time together more "spice" to make it more exciting and so the temptations to go elsewhere will lessen. This is another lie. It doesn't work. It actually triggered my friends addiction now.
So Myth #1 is Physical Intimacy in marriage occurring more often and with more "spiciness" will help an addict withstand temptations.
The next myth goes along to support this one and explain further. I've explained in another post somewhere about the way the body reacts to different stimulation. My body had practiced arousal the wrong way for so long, it was hard for my body to respond the right way to the healthy practice with my spouse. It was so much easier for my body to react when I wasn't with him. It was because of the practice. Things have gotten much better as I have withstood the wrong kind of practice and kept trying with the right kind.
So, what happens when we cross the wrong practice into the right one? If someone's body reacts best with pornography triggers or with self-gratification involved, and that is brought into the practice with their spouse to get things going, it might make things work a little better for a time. But we are missing something important when we do that. AND it's the most important thing.
When physically intimate with our spouses, we are engaging in a spiritual activity. SPIRITUAL. It's not just a physical thing.
The first time I heard that I was completely confused because I didn't know what it meant. I had never felt the spirit when I was physically intimate. I didn't know I could. I didn't know I should!
But with the presence of the spirit, the experience is so much sweeter and more meaningful. It truly is where a husband and wife can become one, both body and spirit.
My friend felt dirty sometimes with her husband. I have had the same feelings. It's because the spirit is not there. Something is wrong. Do you need more excitement? More stimulation? No. You need the spirit.
If or when I feel this way I know I cannot keep participating.
Something has to change.
So I had a discussion with my husband about the need for the spirit when we were together. Because of the discussion, all I needed to say to him was that I couldn't feel the spirit and he'd understand in a much better way then before. It cut out the disagreements we used to have and we didn't fight about the subject anymore when I with-held myself from him. Instead, it drew us to prayer.
Sometimes praying helped us reset and begin again. Sometimes praying led to just cuddles and sleep (which isn't bad, after all). But it always left us feeling loving, and stopped the fighting.
Myth #2 is Self-Gratification or other outside "help" during physical intimacy can help make marital intimacy more fulfilling.
Instead, just make sure the spirit is present. You're welcome. :)
After my conversation with my friend about the struggles she felt, I hope things are going better with her and her husband. She was actually contemplating abstinence for a full year! I didn't judge her for it. Maybe for her personally it would help. However, I knew that would sound very daunting and impossible to her husband, and it very well could have been detrimental to their relationship as a whole. Instead I suggested taking a day at a time, prayerfully, and praying for her spouse.
It's helpful if both spouses are doing that. Praying unselfishly for what is best for the other person. This way, things can be sorted out in the best and loving way. However, I know that it's not always the case. It's hard to balance being unselfish and giving to ones spouse while also drawing boundaries and caring for oneself.
The best advice is to follow the spirit.
I feel rather advice-y on this post. I apologize for that. I usually refrain from too much advice because everyone's experience is different and there is no one right way for everyone. But that is the one thing I feel I can say that would be individual to everyone. Let the spirit guide you in your own decisions and they will be the right ones.
Thanks for your feedback!