Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wives don't generally understand - and that's good.

by Dov (See all authors)

My wife doesn't understand how smart it can seem to me to chase lust! And she probably can never, either. That's probably a good thing.

Though acting on lust is probably the very stupidest thing I can ever do in any situation - and makes life's troubles worse, never better, I remember that whenever I have ever wanted to act out it seems like the most important thing for me to do at that moment. I really seem to need it. If I really feel I need it then it must mean that at some level I believe it is in my very best interest, no?

I came to see it this way because of what Rav Noach zt"l taught me, that nobody - even the PLO (his example) - intends to be evil and "do bad stuff". They all have some crazy cheshbon as to why their hearts are swayed to do these horrible acts. I guess that I work that way, too.

This is the power of lust in an addict. And I believe it's good that my wife doesn't truly understand how powerful lust can be in my brain, cuz then she'd realize that even she is totally powerless over it and freak out, I guess.

My wife means well, but she is a human being and we all have the right to protect ourselves from pain. She might react to an understanding of how powerless I am over lust by thinking, "hey, this poor guy may run off with another woman if she's pretty enough...I'd better deck myself out real good, lose some weight, wear the right makeup and get a better shaitel, etc. More than that, I'd better play into his every desire in order to keep him happy at home. I owe it to myself and my kids!"

For a normal person with strong desires this thinking may be right on, and may work just fine! I wish them all the best. Really.

But it does not work for any lust addict I know. (I know this sounds a bit like "the more you feed it the more you need it" concept, but it isn't necessarily the same, but that's another discussion.) A lust addict cannot be satisfied with lust behavior. In lust, he craves a connection that can't be matched by any wife for more than a little while. She simply cannot compete. When she tries, she becomes addicted to her addict. That's called codependency and leads to hell on earth. (Spouses of addicts have S-Anon for this reason and others.) As he grows ever less satisfied, she twists her brains into a knot to keep her power over him and tries harder to please - chasing her own lie that she has the power to keep her man. Being an addict, he does what addicts do, and acts out anyway. She figures it's partially (or maybe totally) her fault, and sees him as the proof of her failure as a woman, wife, and as a Jewess. It leads her to hate him and still be unable to let go of her burden! Not a pretty picture.

In the meantime, his acting out inevitably gets drawn to a higher level by the unhealthy relationship he feels that he 'won' at home. Finding that his wife didn't work for him after all, he feels he must push the boundaries even further either at home or elsewhere just to feel OK. He also begins to doubt that he will ever get satisfaction at home...

At least one Rav (and one shrink indirectly) told me that the solution was more effort on the part of my wife to please me. They did not know what animal they were dealing with...

In recovery, all these lies get exploded slowly (or quickly). Then things slowly get better, and hopefully satisfaction in the right-sized relationship slowly becomes a reality to both parties.