Porn – The Serial Killer of Our Sexual Intimacy

I baked my husband’s favourite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies after supper last week. It was Valentine’s Day and we hadn’t done anything special to acknowledge it. I hadn’t made any plans for us, and I wasn’t expecting that he would. Our silence on the subject implied an agreement that nothing would differentiate this day from any other. I did place a card on his pillow after work. Intentionally choosing that time rather than the morning, lest it initiate an obligatory and guilt induced errand during the day to reciprocate in some form.

As we sat eating our nachos and smokies, my heart wrenched a little. The flickering desire to connect with my husband more intentionally and intimately was growing stronger. I’ve been missing him. There is a widening crack in our marriage. It’s ironic how stagnancy does that. How inactivity doesn’t just stall development, it feeds the foulness in a marriage no longer striving for healing. The wrong things grow.

I began devising a way to redeem a small part of our evening. Cookies. Milk. Dreams. Talking about our wedding anniversary the following week. Making plans for spring break and summer vacation. Daydreaming about sailing away (literally) into our retirement years. Scheduling time together. The security of there being an us. That was all the romance I needed.

But I didn’t get it. As I sat at the kitchen table, anticipating the emotional intimacy of jointly sharing our hopes and desires for the coming weeks, months and years, my husband walked into the room. He said some kind words of appreciation for the cookies, bent down to give me a quick kiss, grabbed his snack and promptly disappeared. And I didn’t stop him. I sat there alone. Confused and sad. Wondering why he didn’t choose to sit down with me. Wondering why I didn’t invite him to.

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Holding back my words, my thoughts, my desires and needs. Reclaiming pieces of my heart that I have decided are no longer safe with my husband. The bruised, broken pieces that I had cautiously, but courageously, offered back to him in the last four years as we began healing and recovering from the betrayal, rejection, neglect, and abuse of his sex addiction, intimacy anorexia and a twenty year sexless marriage.

I have done a tremendous amount of work in the last four years to heal from sexual betrayal trauma, as well as the deep wounds of sexual sin inflicted on me by both myself and others. I have embraced a recovery program that has included counselling, a recovery support group, and reading and completing numerous workbooks and recovery materials.

And I have prayed. And wept. And prayed. And burrowed into the Bible. Where I discovered refuge and the promise of forgiveness, hope, grace, and extravagant love. Where God’s comfort, strength and healing power began tenderly restoring His daughter to a new life of wholeness. Where I received the assurance that it was safe to trust God with my heart. And as He drew me towards my husband, I began to understand and believe that it would be okay to trust my husband with it too.

And now my heart aches. The pain of sexual rejection and neglect continues to wash over me. I wrestle with resentment, bitterness, envy, self pity and intense sadness. My hope for God designed, mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy wanes. I am angry at those who have falsely offered me the assurance that when my husband overcame his pornography addiction, his brain would become rewired to sexually desire me. Well, he has, and he doesn’t. He denies the latter. But as recovery teaches us – believe behaviours, not words.

I don’t know for how long we can blame his former pornography addiction and compulsive masturbation for the lack of sexual intimacy in our marriage. I don’t know if, or when, the issue shifts from the effects of past porn use to a current unwillingness or ability to prioritize sexual health.

It appears that we will likely never have a conventional sex life. As we have both neared the age of fifty, the physical health of our bodies has betrayed us. It is my desire to find ways to compensate for and overcome these obstacles to cultivate and enrich our sexual intimacy, whether short or long term. An intimate connection that will work for us and be uniquely ours. My husband does not share this desire with me. And that hurts. A lot.

But what hurts even more than the continued sexual deprivation and neglect is the prevalent dishonesty, deception, and avoidance related to our sexual issues. My needs are being ignored and shamed. As are my requests for communication. I feel like I am being strung along as I was for the first twenty five years of our marriage. Being manipulated to keep the boat from rocking.

I am being denied the opportunity to improve our sexual intimacy, and I am being denied the ability to mourn and grieve an integral part of marriage. Of my marriage.

The last several months, I have been unable to fully trust my husband’s words and behaviours. That makes me sad. My heart is his. My body is his. But he can’t or won’t accept that gift. And I don’t know why.

I struggle with this. I recently encouraged a friend by telling her that if she was struggling and wrestling, that meant she was still showing up every day for the battle. She hadn’t surrendered to the enemy.

I haven’t given up either. Even though some days the temptation is strong. I truly believe that God continues to heal, restore and redeem that which pornography and addiction destroyed in our lives and stole from our marriage. I’m awaiting the final victory. Just wishing we were waiting together.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

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31 thoughts on “Porn – The Serial Killer of Our Sexual Intimacy

    • Most of what I have written here I have said to my husband. Some of it more than once. That is where a huge part of the pain comes from. From feeling unheard. My husband reads my blog. And I guess, in a way, I was hoping that reading my words might lead him to acknowledge and understand my pain in a way talking to him hasn’t. Especially because he knows that I have always been careful to respect him throughout the writing of our story and healing journey.

      But yes, yes, I do need to say what I think and feel out loud. Before I let my feelings overwhelm me. This was a much needed, gentle, loving nudge in the right direction. We talked last night and again tonight. Now we just need to keep talking. Thank you for your caring words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It takes more than once. Put it on a loop darling. xx

        I was going to suggest he read your Blog, so that is good to hear. Writing is healing, and yes, stay respectful. A good rule of thumb is to not publish anything we wouldn’t say to them personally. xx

        Just keep talking. In my experience, when the words die, so does everything else. Much love to you! xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with the post above 👆. Be honest and open with him. If you think you’ve done everything, let go and let God take care of it, no matter what the outcome will be.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you. I have found comfort and encouragement in your caring words. The honest and open part is what is tough. I can often start the conversation, it is the pushing through with everything that is on my heart that I struggle to do. If I’m completely honest, I don’t think that I have done absolutely everything. I’m just tired of it all. And for some reason, when I am tired is when I take back what I have already let go into God’s hands. Weird how that works. This was a good reminder for me to refocus.

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  2. Cynthia, it’s clear from your words how much this absence of intimacy still wounds you deeply (and with good reason). Do I recall correctly that you and your husband do attend some kind of counseling together? If so, what does he say about this in those sessions? Is he able to acknowledge that your hopes and needs in this area of your marriage are unfulfilled and unmet? Does he offer any explanation?

    My husband has shared that in the wake of the outing of his addiction he did not feel as though he had any right to initiate sexual intimacy with me. He felt such shame and guilt that he just stopped reaching out. We worked through it, but it was/is a struggle. To me it’s a problem that’s illustrative of the addict’s viewpoint of sex as a self -serving act. In a healthy marriage it should be about mutual pleasure and shared intimacy, so how our husbands feel should really only be a part of the equation rather than the entire equation but the addict brain still makes it all about them.

    Xo

    Liked by 4 people

      • Intimacy anorexia is brutal. I know I often tend to write blaming porn for most of my pain and hurts, but it is truly the abuse and neglect of intimacy anorexia that destroyed my soul as much or more than the sex addiction. So that says a lot about the devastation it causes.

        Liked by 2 people

    • My husband and I haven’t done any couples counselling for close to two years now. I still go occasionally on my own, but he doesn’t. I have never thought that he spent enough time in therapy. And even with our last couples sessions, he would pout whenever I asked him to go. That being said, I did make an appointment for us this Saturday. He agreed tonight that we might need some outside help to move forward. And yet he has still been sullen this evening.

      On the positive, after his teleconference recovery support group call tonight, he said they talked more about sexual intimacy than he recalls them doing in a very long time. He found it helpful to realize that he/we aren’t the only ones struggling so much. It was good timing, and yet I wonder why something that seems like it would be a commonality in the group isn’t talked about much. Makes me wonder a bit what they do talk about. Anyway, I’m hoping this enlightenment will carry forward to an openness in our session.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, I’m familiar with that pouty, sullen mood. I’ve decided that it’s manipulative (intentionally or unintentionally) and I ignore it.

        I had to chuckle about your comment about your husband’s recovery support group. I too often wonder what my husband’s group talks about because he seems ill informed about certain aspects of his own addiction – things that I would think would be addressed regularly. Maybe it’s all a matter of hitting the right meeting on the right day. 🤷🏼‍♀️

        I am glad you scheduled a session for the two of you. I will be thinking about both of you on Saturday and hoping that his enlightenment holds out the next few days. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not giving up yet. I can’t. God won’t let me. Conviction stirs in my heart every time I say no more. *sigh* But with your words of encouragement, along with all this other amazing support and love I have received in these comments, I feel a new fortitude building. I guess it’s time to pull back another layer of the recovery onion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Then God is still moving. He wants you to have that intimacy He designed for marriage!

        And anytime your husband feels like talking outside of counseling know that I am always available. Course, I don’t know how you would let him know that..lol.

        Sometimes, it feels as if the feeling back of layers never ends. I know in my own recovery it felt that way as more and more things were revealed to me by God about my past that I had blocked out.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so sorry that you feel this way Cynthia. I do believe that life (God) shows us the way, & when we don’t take on board the lesson then they keep showing us, and sometimes the lessons get harder and harder until we listen. There are 2 people in any relationship and I don’t believe that God would want one of them to be so unhappy for the sake of the other. I agree with Blackacre I think you need to talk about how you feel, as you have here, at your counselling sessions. We should always communicate and we should always consider our own feelings and be able to say what they are, otherwise what is the point? Be strong (although yiu already are) and initiate that conversation. Listen to the messages life is sending you.
    Moisy

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your words of encouragement and wisdom always inspire me and fill me with a new strength to keep moving forward. The lessons are getting harder and harder, and indeed, that is because we haven’t listened along the way. We heard, but didn’t act. And now the issue has expanded to where we can no longer ignore it. Something has to happen. But whatever erupts from this, the pieces can and will be put together. Just don’t know what that will look like yet. But we will find out this time. I have to. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your ambitious pursuit of God, His Word, and His ways are worth the investment. He will nudge you, lead you, give you comfort. You are learning His still small voice. God is working mightily in both you and your husband. God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My goodness we have such similar heartaches. Praying for you and beseeching the prayers of St. Rita, as well. God is good, but we also have to USE the tools He gives us, you must speak up Cynthia, he can’t read your mind, he’s just a man… God gave you such a way with words, speak up! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is such a theme running through these comments telling me to speak up! I so need the strength from all of you, so I am grateful that you are offering me the encouragement to be courageous and use my voice. You are a great cheerleader. Thank you! xo

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Online recovery stuff is good…to a point. He needs one on one, in person, interaction to where he can’t hide his emotions.
    And yes, one line recovery groups are mostly schedule their discussions weeks in advance to prepare. Intimacy whether sexual or not MUST be addressed regularly though..just my thought.

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    • This is a phone group led by our Sexual Addictions Recovery therapist, so there is more personal contact and interaction than an online support group. It isn’t ideal, but it has been established to fill a need for his clients living in rural areas or other urban centres. My husband did spend 3 hours a day/evening driving to the city for an in person group every week for the first two years of his recovery. That cost and pace was noticeable, and I am just happy that he faithfully continues with the next best alternative for where we live.

      From what my husband has explained, our therapist will have topics ready for discussion if needed, but mostly lets the needs/concerns from the check ins lead the discussion as that is what is most relevant to them at that time. That is probably what happened last night. Someone, maybe my husband, was brave enough to introduce sexual intimacy and away they went.

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