Being Open About Sex

15 Jun

I have to warn you now, this topic is personal.  I have grappled a bit with if I should post it, but I decided to take my own advice from my last post and be honest.  I know this will probably make my husband uncomfortable, so I apologize in advance to Mr. Mess.  I just feel like I need to get this out there and talk about it so maybe someone else in a similar situation won’t feel like they are all alone.

I have heard from lots of people about their hysterical bonding after DDay.  That never happened for us.  We maybe had a slight upswing in our sex life a few months in, but nothing drastic or immediate.  Now things are back down to pre-DDay levels which is around 1-2 times per week if I’m super lucky.

I’m a very sexual woman.  I have always heard that men are supposed to have a higher sex drive than women, but that is definitely not the case in our relationship.  My husband often turned to pornography and masturbation rather than actual sex with me.  When I was interested he was always “too tired” or some other lame excuse – except for about once or twice a week (usually on the weekends) when he couldn’t think up a lie I would believe.

Like I said, there was a slight upswing in sexual activity a few months after DDay, but nothing sustained.  And nothing to write home about.  The fact is that it doesn’t take much to have an “upswing” from nearly never.  Part of the disparity in our libidos may be that I am 20 years younger than my husband.  I am 27 and he is 47.  Women are just hitting their sexual peak at my age.  If you consider his sexual addiction issues and his age I guess I can see where my sex drive might be a little higher.  But he’s a sex addict for goodness sake!  A s-e-x addict who never seems to want s-e-x!

I have voiced my concerns in the past about the lack of sex in our marriage.  That has been when some of the upswings have occurred.  He has now been on anti-depressants for a little over a year, and I know that those can effect sex drive.  However, I just keep feeling like there is something more.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something.  It’s just not right.  I’m here.  I want sex.  I’m open-minded and flexible (in more ways than one).  I put myself out there.  Still, when it comes to our sex life, I get crickets…

The other night my husband was ready to head off to bed early – at around 9.  He never wants to go to bed that early, and it hadn’t been a particularly long day.  His work was normal, and he didn’t have to go to school.  I was thinking that maybe I might get lucky!  Alas…. no.  He basically wanted to get in bed, put on his CPAP machine (he has sleep apnea), and go to sleep.  I was beyond frustrated.  It’s not like we don’t connect or touch.  It’s not like he isn’t affectionate.  We kiss, he slaps my butt, we hold hands on the couch, I had snuggled up to him and was wearing barely anything… but it rarely goes much further.

Wenesday night it was just too much.  I told him that I am frustrated.  He thought it was because he wanted to go to bed so early.  I told him that wasn’t it.  I can almost always sleep because I am stressed right now, plus I like us to go to bed at the same time so we can unwind, talk, and connect.  I feel like if we start going to bed without each other we may as well just get separate rooms – something I am not willing to do.  I told him straight-out that I am disappointed by how infrequently we have sex.  I told him that I am not ready to be in a sexless marriage at 27!  And to me once per week is basically that – because there is no passion, no need, no feeling of hunger or desire from him.

He was quiet for a long time.  I thought he had just decided to go to sleep and ignore me, which was making me even angrier.  Then he finally said that he can understand.  I said something like, “oh, really?” in a slightly (okay, very) sarcastic tone.  He just replied “Yeah.”  That was the extent of our conversation.  Sometimes it is like pulling teeth with that man!  I was still frustrated, but let it go for the night.

Yesterday at lunch he gave me a call.  He said that he has been thinking about what I said.  He said that he is sorry that he has been neglecting me.  Then he said that he thinks he is really just afraid.  I asked him “what of?”  He said that he is afraid that if we have sex more he will start thinking about sex more and he is worried that will lead to acting out and cheating on me again.  He was teary – I could tell from his voice – and it gave me a little pause.  I thought about it, and told him that I can see where that might cause some anxiety.

I pointed out that there is a difference between healthy sex and unhealthy behavior.  He should be able to have sex with me without that making him want to have sex with someone else, too.  He said that he does know that.  So I asked again what is it that makes him feel afraid of sex with me (the healthy, normal, necessary to sustain a marriage sex).  At first he said he wasn’t sure because he knows that isn’t the same as his unhealthy, obsessive, unsatisfying, secret porn/ chat room/ affair-driven sex life (if you can even call it that).  I asked if he really feels like he has addressed those issues.  He said yes immediately.  Then I asked him if that is really true… has he dealt with them or has he just been avoiding anything that would make him have to confront them.  He then admitted that was probably it.

He is so afraid of messing up again that rather than develop healthy coping skills, confront those triggers, and do the work to heal himself, he is just trying to avoid sex altogether.  Once it reached a timeframe where he felt like he needed sex or he should be giving it to me, he would give in briefly and have sex.  Then he would bottle up all of his sexual feelings together and store them away somewhere.  He would only allow himself to feel sexual during that hour (or whatever) he allotted for us each week, then he would lock everything down.

He told me that he knows that isn’t right.  It isn’t fair to me.  It isn’t healthy for him.  It’s not what he really wants.  He said that he wants to be more open and sexual with me.  He is just afraid that once that box is open he won’t be able to control it.  I told him that I can understand now that he is talking with me about it…  That it definitely allows me to give him more grace around this matter.

I also told him that I’m not the person who knows what the solution is.  I’m patting myself on the back for that one a little bit because in the past I would have tried to come up with some “game plan” or started researching and looking for an answer.  Today I just told him that I think he is feeling that way because he hasn’t really addressed things.  I suggested that he talk with his IC today in their appointment to get guidance.  I didn’t push.  I didn’t call and get the schedule.  I didn’t dictate to him anything that he needed to do – other than reach out and start figuring this out with appropriate people who can provide assistance.  I said that I am really glad he shared that with me, and I want him to keep talking to me about those sorts of feelings.  But I didn’t try to become the “rescuer.”  I think that is a healthy step for me.

What I am wondering is if anyone else has had a similar issue with their spouse.  I know not everyone is dealing with this kind of situation, but I am curious about if other people’s partners have fear around sex.  Do they worry that letting go in one area will cause bad habits to pop out in another?  I haven’t heard a lot about this, so I’m not sure the best way to support my husband through this.  All I know is that it’s frustrating as hell.

20 Responses to “Being Open About Sex”

  1. lolalately October 26, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    I applaud your ability to acknowledge and verbalize that you can’t “fix” things for Mr Mess. That’s a realization that many don’t come to for years and years. Not trying to “fix” our partners means we recognize our – and their – boundaries. That’s huge, and I’m so very happy for you that you’ve come to that understanding!!

  2. secretfemalesexaddict September 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I think I can really relate to what your husband said about not being able to control himself, or having it lead to acting out. In the rooms I have learned a little more about what is definitely acceptable behavior for me, and what is not. Usually I approach everything with an “all or nothing” attitude. I often fear that even talking to a guy will lead to compulsive sex with him, so it’s really hard to understand myself sometimes. I often worry about opening the flood gates.

    • beautifulmess7 September 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      I think an “all or nothing” view is common among addicts of many sorts. It’s hard to find that balance. Life happens in the gray area, but it can be very scary there.

  3. Scabs August 31, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    We both have sex issues stemming from sa. it sucks. especially since at one time we had a healthy happy sex life without porn or sa or whatever.

    we were just talking about this the other night, he says he’s afraid, his sexual confidence is gone, he is so vulnerable. It’s so funny because I didn’t think he would really have issues like that. It’s almost counter-intuitive. After all, he has had all this extramarital experience while I was left home rejected. It’s very real how fragile we both are.

    • beautifulmess7 August 31, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      We are both so fragile. I definitely wouldn’t have ever thought he would have issues with lacking sexual confidence since he was the one straying, like you said. It really is counter-intuitive to be with a sex addict who is afraid of sex. I think it’s really the intimacy that they are afraid of, though.

  4. Not Over It August 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Hi Beautiful – I don’t have the SA issue in my marriage and I admire the compassion and integrity with which you deal with it. I just wanted to point out that age does not necessarily mean the end of frequent or good sex. My husband is 57. I am 53. We went through hysterical bonding, averaging 2 times per day for several months. After that, we settled down to what is normal for us: 3-4 times per week. And that’s without any kind of hormone or Viagra or whatever else is out there. It’s just us enjoying each other. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude, and maybe some of it is keeping fit. Daniel still has the sexiest buns in the world, to me anyway…

    Our issues in getting over his affair do affect that, and recently with all our fightiing, we have gone down to 1 – 2 times per week. I feel undernourished. I just may jump him tonight when he gets home, especially now that it’s on my mind… just a few hours more to go… 😀

    Love & prayers being sent to you,

    • beautifulmess7 August 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      That’s what I thought, but thanks for the confirmation that his age should not be that much of a factor. If we have sex twice per week I am lucky. If you feel undernourished, I feel starved!

      I am trying my best to be understanding, but it is tough. I understand it is a complicated, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. Sex addiction is a tough thing to unravel.

  5. rgonaut August 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    This is a very interesting topic! I never thought of this particular problem before, and it seems strange to me, however, given your age difference there are bound to be some issues. I can’t really understand your husband’s problem however, (even though I’m a bit older than he is). From my point of view, he might lose interest if you were never there and just give up trying, speaking from my own experience. But it sounds like you really are there, all of you and you are trying your best to be understanding and patient. Maybe he’s embarassed by his “deviance” and lack of progress in learning to deal with it?

    • beautifulmess7 August 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      I understand your confusion, really I do. It took a few revelations for me to be able to grasp where my husband could be coming from on this. The first, and most important, is that his primary (and only for a long time) means of sexual gratification was pornography and masturbating. For decades his “sex life” consisted of more and more deviant pornography, ridiculous amounts of money spent at strip clubs, compulsive masturbation, solitary, hidden activities, and no intimacy. I came to realize that sex addiction is an intimacy disorder. He didn’t have much of a sexual identity outside of those things.

      The second realization is that his issues had nothing to do with me, but my own healthy sexuality was intimidating, or at least just as confusing to him as he was to me. Unlike my husband, I have only had 2 sex partners. He isn’t a man-whore or anything, but he did have several non-monogamous, one night stand type of sexual experiences. Those really require no intimacy. On the other hand, all of my sexual experiences were in the context of long-term relationships where I felt safe to experimental and express myself. My enthusiasm and openness with sex was in stark contrast to his secretive, shameful, deviant sexual experiences.

      Third, sex addiction, and especially compulsive masturbation to pornography, causes performance isues. I posted an article about that a while back. ED and problems achieving orgasm with “regular” sexual intercourse (read vaginal penetration) are extremely prevalent among sex addicts. My willingness and need for frequent sex could be intimidating, his over-stimulation caused problems, and they just kept snowballing. His solitary activity was not only part of a cycle, it was less stress and he didn’t have to be intimate or worry about performance.

      Now that he is seeking help for his addiction and unhealthy cycle, he is worried about using sex as a means of acting out, of fantasy instead of real intimacy. He still has issues with really knowing HOW to be intimate with another person. I’m sure my openness is still difficult for.him because sex was something that was just NOT discussed in his house. It is a lifetime of behavior and thought-processes to undo. That is hard, and there will be bumps.

      • rgonaut August 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

        so complicated. I experienced periodic ED in my twenties for a few months, with one particular woman. I think it was a result of deep emotional conflict. It ended as suddenly as it began. I met another woman to whom I had no previous attachment or baggage to deal with and all was immediately normal. I dated her for perhaps a month, before moving on as guys in their 20’s are likely to do. Which leads me to suggest that perhaps he’s avoiding sex (with you) because he’s lacking confidence, afraid of ED or other problems. My therapist is fond of telling me sex is mostly an activity of the mind, only secondarily physical, although it doesn’t seem like that to me, and I would never have believed it when I was younger.

  6. beautifulmess7 August 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on Being a Beautiful Mess and commented:

    I wanted to reblog this topic today because it is still something we are dealing with, and a friend of mine is going through something similar. Sex addicts trying to recover deal with a lot of fear around sex. Spouses also deal with the uncertainty of not feeling wanted by the addict. It can be a tricky time, and communication is key!

  7. Samantha Baker June 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I’m really encouraged by the fact that he was able to open up to you. It shows that he’s open to being vulnerable to you. That’s an amazing step. And i’m proud of you for not trying to “fix” it and voicing that you can’t. Kudos to you!

    • beautifulmess7 June 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      That part is something I’ve been working on. It is counter-intuitive for me, but I realize that I feel so much better when I let him worry about is own issues.

      • Samantha Baker June 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

        I completely agree with you on that. Last week Mr. Baker made his own therapy appointment for this week. An IC that he hadn’t done in quite some time. He needed it, and it was nice that *I* didn’t have to do it all for him. And nice that he didn’t switch it to an MC at the last minute like he has in the past.

  8. A Dog With Fleas June 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Wish I had advice to give, but I do not have any experience with this matter. But I am happy for both of you that you were able to talk through it and both of you better understand why it is happening. Hope that is the first step and your intimacy will grow after that. Good luck!!

  9. persuaded2go June 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I can empathize totally with where you are at. I just wanted to say that. It feels lame, because I want to say more, but I don’t have any personal experience or ideas or advice at all. I am so encouraged that you were willing to talk to him about it, and that he would try to get better and be ready to change, must make you feel like a million bucks. This all just makes so much sense, and I just wanted to say so.

    • beautifulmess7 June 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Yeah, it was really good that he didn’t just push it aside. I am so encouraged that he would be honest with me about what’s holding him back. He wants to let go and increase our intimacy, but he is afraid it will open up his addiction again. Even if he knows in his head that it’s not the same thing he just doesn’t want to mess up again or sacrifice his sobriety. I’m glad he’s willing to talk to his IC about it.

  10. Wendy June 15, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    I have fears around sex, but in a different way. I can elaborate more later when I am on my computer. I have a lot to say, but don’t want to peck it out on my phone. 🙂

    • beautifulmess7 June 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      I get that! Thanks for being willing to offer me your insight.


  1. When Your Sex Drives Don’t Match: From the Perspective of a Woman Who Wants More Sex « Being a Beautiful Mess - September 18, 2012

    […] Being Open About Sex ( […]

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