Lust Kills Love
Your note reminds me of a lot of stuff my wife and I have been through. I will try to share everything I have about this, be"H, with you. Please read it over and please bear with me. Forgive me if I say anything that sounds judgmental or critical of you , as I mean nothing of the sort. I will be frank, try to waste none of your time, and save the niceties for some other time, OK?
This is a big, big, parsha you are in together. It needs siyata diShmaya, love, and patience. It needs sanity. Which brings me to this:
If you are not sober for a significant period of time first, I sincerely believe you are kidding yourselves if you expect to be making significant progress in these issues. This is true for two reasons.
First, for you: without at least a good while sober and actively working your recovery from craziness, you will likely still be way too screwed up in the head to get anywhere with changing your insides. Furthermore, with any real step forward, we are likely to misuse it and slip back into even more murky and confusing lust stupidity. That's the way it is for me and some others I have seen.
I do not 'buy' the thought that "I'm just 'hypersexual' and she isn't"... we are self-obsessed. And our wives see it painfully clearly. Not because they are healthier than we are (which they may or may not be), but because they are not ' us '! Though they may freak out about our specific behaviors or demands, it's not really I do not 'buy' the thought that "I'm just 'hypersexual' and she isn't"... we are self-obsessed. And our wives see it painfully clearly. Not because they are healthier than we are (which they may or may not be), but because they are not 'us'! Though they may freak out about our specific behaviors or demands, it's not really about the sexual act, preference, or whatever, for them. That's just a smokescreen that we make into the 'issue', blowing it out of proportion.
Rather, the big turn-off for them is being deeply disappointed and frightened to see they are actually living with a self-obsessed and needy partner for life. That they are alone with that guy all night, every night. "He may be nice to me in lots of ways, and a really good person - but I know that deep down inside, when push comes to shove, all he really cares about is himself," is a disturbing thought. Especially for the young woman who chose her chosson because "he is so incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and really cares about me." Don't we all know that's exactly what they thought when we married us?
And we often respond in our hearts with something like, "look how selfish she is - she doesn't want to please me, her own husband, who loves her! Why?! I'm not asking for that much." And around it goes. The entire thing builds both of our fears and resentments like manure feeds grass. The pain can be immense, as you know. And as much as we wish it, it does not go away solely with the passage of time.
We are self-obsessed.... did I write that already?... and we will likely always be self-obsessed, to some degree. But that character defect expresses itself, gets watered, and keeps growing as long as we put ourselves and our lust first. In other words, as the White Book puts it, "Lust kills Love". Neither of you deserve that vexed state of being. Life is just too short to waste - and married life is even shorter and so more of a pity to waste. Gevalt - we have so many ingredients for a great life all together in one room - some people never even find a zivug, at all, R"l. Recovery gets a chunk of my 'ego' out of the way with every step and with every challenge we get through. Bits of sanity leak into me, and everyone around me knows it. Without sobriety and the recovery that it allows, nothing good grows in my life. For me, Lust slowly turns everything to trash.
And second,for her: she needs to see a guy who is changing - not in terms of your sexual mishega'as - that's not where the recovery really is, at all! Rather, she needs to see a man who (the following is in my own case) gets himself out of the way enough to do for her with no thought of any repayment. A man who respects her enough to (generally) be where he says he will be when he says he'll be there, especially when she needs him. That proves she's important to me, not just someone who I am afraid of. She needs to see a man who doesn't treat his kids like second-rate citizens when he is in a rush. And for whom the marriage doesn't suddenly become important/serious when it comes to sex: with unspoken messages like "you get this and that, so I deserve sex/you owe me tonight for the two nights you didn't give me any/do this thing and that thing to me now," etc.
Those are some of the things that she probably needs to have in her life. And if you are her husband,only you can give that to her. Ever.
With respect to sex and sexuality, compromise is often needed on both sides. In my case, our relationship began to really improve after I was sober about three years. Around that time we really began to make progress in these issues. We just didn't find success working together as a team on our pain and frustration revolving around sexuality till I was sober for a rather long time. Every marriage is obviously different, and I know of other guys who say their marriage improved (even in this area) after only a year or so. I am a slow-poke.
We only found the success in dealing with this stuff when we both felt a lot of good-will toward each other. As long as she felt cheated by me or unloved, it was a non-starter. So at some times when we were happy with each other, I asked her if she was OK talking about sex. That each of us could say whatever we wanted without getting interrupted and without counter-arguments. No debate - just hearing on both sides. Like a meeting for two people. My sponsor taught me to do that. She'd say OK and say that she knows I am not pleased. She made it clear to me that she really wanted to make me happy and wanted to find some pleasure here herself, but that the relationship meant so much more to her than sex itself did. I found that kind of weird. I was shocked to learn that plenty of the things I thought she'd like were not pleasurable for her, at all. I discovered that we were really two different people. Porn didn't prepare me for that. The ladies there just want to be used and do what you want, no? My heart was learning that I was living with another person. A real olam molei. There is more to marriage than whether I am fulfilled sexually. As crazy as it sounds, I never believed that before. Since then, I have been learning about this woman as a real, independent person; and living with her is often fascinating, never boring.
One more point, be"H. I found out that my wife never fantasized in lust terms, it seems. That's just the way she is. Years ago during one of my heavy acting out periods (when I was sure that all I needed was to make my wife more sexual, instead of make me more human), I heard (or read) that fantasizing and masturbation are the building blocks of a good sexual relationship. I believed it be'emunah sh'leimah, and, my G-d, how much suffering that caused me. It gave me a license to put all my energies into changing her. The result was horrible for her, but much worse for me, I think. I grew deeper into perverted lunacy, all the while looking like a pleasant, functional, frum guy. I was impossible.
My G-d seems to see the key to happy sexuality as having more to do with me being right-sized - with knowing and growing in my true place. He put sex into the very strict g'darim of marriage: I have a place. I can't stray from it... but at least it's really my place. And success will depend on what I make of what I am given. Second, my wife and I (and many other people I have met in recovery) have a happy sexual relationship without using schmutz and fantasy! Fantasy would only make it fake. I now recognize fantasy and masturbation as sex purely with myself... isn't it something entirely different than sex? And that it is actually an obstacle to me fully participating in the real thing. After all, when I am fired up with fantasy and lust, I may be in bed with her, but we are sharing the bed with my very own sex object! My body parts have changed from how they really function, into having an end in and of themselves. She's essentially out of the picture - and she knows that she plays second-fiddle to my eiver. Schmutz conditions us to believe that this is a turn-on, but it's not. There really is no room in the bed for the three of us. It's really us guys and our 'body parts' - and eventually, we don't even see our wives any more. And that is what I do, as an addict.
Hatzlocha and more gradual freedom to both of you. Freedom to love each other and to allow yourselves some comfort and nachas from each other.
You have both been through a lot of pain. May Hashem bring you patience and love this year, instead of pain.