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I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:02 am
by Boozer
This is a call for help. It's been a few months since my last post so I guess this is an update of where I'm at. I posted this to reddit but I find the discussion and insights here more helpful. It contains juicy tidbits and talk about sex in general

This will be a long post. I'm desperate and need advice. I need to hear if I'm so in the wrong or if I am crazy or if I am stupid.
Background. I met my wife as a Mormon Missionary in another country. I am currently transitioning out of the church. We have been married for 10 years and have a child together. I found internet porn like most of my generation as a teenager. In a very sexually repressed culture I would occasionally partake and of course feel shame and guilt and then not talk to anyone about it. Looking back I can say that when we got married we never had a realistic talk about sex, our attitudes, our expectations. My viewpoint was very skewed from learning about sex through the internet and hers was a very hopelessly romantic viewpoint. some years into our marriage I was having self esteem issues and was beginning to look at porn at work and realized that I had a problem and I couldn't just stop. She was very hurt but she was also understanding and we counseled with our Bishop at the time who suggested the churches 12 step addiction program. At the time it helped, but I became the porn addict. it became who I was, to myself and to her, and it helped me to go for 2 and 1/2 years without so much as a peep.
She has always felt that I don't trust her (which often equates to I didn't do what you want me to). She has always felt that it was difficult for us to connect emotionally, which for me I have always felt ok with our flow, for her she feels abandoned and unloved, despite me being very caring. From my point of view its like she wants me to be a gusher and I just don't gush on and on about my emotions. She has struggled with depression and anxiety and I have tried to be supportive and help but it always ends up being my fault because I do X or I don't understand her. This led her to an emotional affair. She is super honest and can't hide anything, so she told me about it right away, but I feel that she never took full responsibility for it and just said things like "I stopped it right away" or "I wasn't looking for that to happen". I do love this woman and I want our marriage to work so I forgave her and got over it really quick. I don't beat her up for it and I don't really bring it up to beat her (emotionally/verbally) with it. I mean, I was the porn addict, the first wrong doer, and I crave forgiveness and a return to happier days so if that's what I want then that's what I have to give right? There was a point where she says that I broke her. Our therapist gave us the assignment to dedicate time to talking and not interrupt each other as we talk, there was a night where I just couldn't wait to get it over with, I am uncomfortable sitting and talking about our feelings. That was the point that I broke her. Since then she will not say the words I love you, hold my hand, give me a hug. anything. I thought for a while I could power through, I can say i love you without expecting it back, but it became clear quickly that I am not as strong as I thought, and that in turn has broke me in return.
She has always had a complex because her parents used to fight a lot and her father showed her mother little respect. Her mother once or twice moved out temporarily but never fully left the guy. My wife takes this as a sign of strength. I admire my MIL and yes she is a strong woman, but I am a very respectful and I am a thoughtful husband, but my tolerance for existing in a loveless situation as I am now seeing is very low. Through all of our therapy and talks she doesn't want to hear the word divorce. The fact that I brought it up in a conversation where I was basically saying "look we don't connect and we just hurt each other, maybe we should look at where the line for divorce should be drawn". Two nights ago I brought it up, I asked her why she doesn't want a divorce. It was every reason except "I love you". She wants me to be clear if I want a divorce or not, and my answer is I do not want a divorce but I don't want to be in a marriage where there is no reciprocation of love and where I am always the villian and the source of her pain and driving her into depression and anxiety. I am always the transgressor, or I am never emotional enough or romantic enough. I want us to go back to being happy go lucky. I told her that a part of me wants the divorce yes. I love her and I want to just be us and be happy again but we just circle back to her being miserable and it is my fault.
This lead to last nights discussion. She is anxious and understandably so. She wants to be super clear about everything. We had a lengthy discussion where we talked about a lot of things. We have been unable to get past a certain argument lately. Sexually speaking I am more accepting of behaviors or thoughts than she is. For example, I think a threesome would be something I would try, I think that's why its a fantasy. I know that my partner is not ok with that and her expectation of me is that I fight that thought. I have not asked her for a threesome, but I am supposed to fell/think that it is wrong and awful. The fact that I think that hurts her and she is currently hung up on "you want to be free to fantasize without consequence". My argument to this has become thought are not actions and if I have to think about sex the same way you do then you will never feel safe or loved. I think that unrealistic expectations are being set and she refuses to rethink that. I understand that things hurt people, but I feel that she is setting extreme expectations that will just reinforce her to live in a place of hurt. I feel that this battleground of what I think will only set us up for failure and hurt for her. She has a very romantic view of we are faithful to each other mind body and spirit, while I don't feel that the occasional sex fantasy about another partner is unfaithful and in fact a fairly normal human behavior. She feels this to the point that she feels it is not acceptable to think that another man is sexy. With porn I am willing to say ok i need to stop. 0 porn use is a good goal, healthy for a relationship. But if you are unwilling to express any love to me or there is no hope of sex between us then its just not going to happen. I am willing to say ok when we are together is not a good time to have a sex fantasy, but for her it must apply to my entire life. it must be 100% or none. It is not ok under any circumstances. This even goes to masturbation (which the church teaches is a sin). So last night as I am saying I think these are unrealistic expectations she setup an all or nothing choice. I either have to choose porn, masturbation, and fantasy or choose her. I am currently angry that this is all I am to her. I am angry that I am currently reduced to my bad habits or my vices or the worst things about me.
I am hurt, she is hurt, no one is happy. We were once amazing friends. I don't really want a divorce but I don't see a way that we will ever be in love or intimate again with the way things are. I am afraid that we are just going to continue around the merry go round back to the same spot again and again and again.

I need to know if I have gone full stupid here. I need some heavy relationship advice.

That was my post. I love this girl and I want to work it out but I feel like its a no win situation.

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:19 am
by wtfluff
You talked about a therapist. Have you and your wife discussed each other's unrealistic expectations with this therapist? Are you still seeing the therapist?

That's the only thing I suggest: Counseling/Therapy. Not from folks on NOM, not from folks on Reddit.

You need professional help, NOT from LDS Family Services. Help from a REAL professional counselor.

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:07 pm
by Boozer
We have been seeing a therapist (Licensed and nevermo) for the last year or so. She has also been seeing a therapist on her own. Some of the last sessions that we had ended with the therapist basically saying you both have valid points, so where's the compromise? Who gives up what. The therapist doesn't come straight out and tell us whats right or wrong, which I think is a sign of a good therapist and also a sign that neither of us are blatantly out in left field.

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:01 pm
by wtfluff
Boozer wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:07 pm
The therapist doesn't come straight out and tell us whats right or wrong, which I think is a sign of a good therapist and also a sign that neither of us are blatantly out in left field.
Sorry, but it sounds like both of you just want the other to change into someone else, and be what "you expect."

If your therapists think that it is valid that both of you expect the other to change (valid points) to "fix" the relationship, it sounds like you both need new therapists.

Then again, I'm not a therapist. My fluffy advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. Likely even less...

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:53 pm
by alas
I am a retired social worker and did a small amount of what would be called marriage counseling with couples where there had been domestic violence, and I do have one thought from my experience and that is that it is never a good idea to tell your spouse your sexual fantasies, or even that you have fantasies. It is almost always going to make them feel inadequate, like they are not good enough sexually.

Now, every normal person HAS fantasies, and it usually doesn’t mean that they wish their spouse was someone different, just that they have a normal imagination. Claiming that your spouse fulfills all your sexual fantasies, to me come under the white lies we tell to keep each other happy. Kind of like, “does this dress make me look fat?” She doesn’t want honesty; she wants flattery. So, quit telling her the truth. She doesn’t want to know you are a normal red blooded male and have sexual fantasies, she wants to know you think she is terribly and irresistibly sexy. She wants to be told that you think she is prettier than any other woman and you will never so much as look at another woman. Sure, that is unrealistic. But you said yourself that you are married to a romantic. So, to make her feel loved, you have to say it in the ways she will hear it, and knowing you have fantasies about a threesome isn’t it.

Now, as a therapist, I would never give a man that advice in front of his wife. Because then she would know you are not being honest, and she needs the feeling that it could be the truth. She needs the fantasy of being beautiful.

Have you ever heard of “love languages”? There are a couple of different books out, that list some of the same and some slightly different “languages.” But the basic idea is that some people need touch, some needs words of love, some needs gifts, some need quality time, or other things in order to feel loved. Now, my husband is big on the touch. I never was, but I had to learn how to hug and kiss more than I would have done normally. I am big on quality time, but don’t care at all for flowers or gifts. He had had some other girl friends who were big into the gifts. So, he had to learn that I would rather a walk on the beach than a diamond bracelet.

So, I think from what you have said that you are not speaking her love language. So, you can find some books on love languages, or just have a serious talk about what makes her feel that you love her and what makes you feel that she loves you. Then show your love by doing the things she needs, even when you don’t feel loved. Especially when you don’t feel loved.

Anyway, I don’t think your situation is hopeless or that you are crazy or stupid. But you do have some serious issues, including that she met you in another country and came here for you. That kind of cultural difference is hard and her giving up her life to come be with you is hard.

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:20 pm
by Red Ryder
It sounds like you guys have a typical case of the pursuer/distancer relationship.

You are sexually the pursuer. She is the distancer.

She is the emotional pursuer. You are the distancer.

You guys are driving down the opposite sides of the street and can’t meet head on to work through your challenges.

Look up Dr. Lauri Watson. She’s the author of a book called “wanting sex again” and also has a podcast called foreplay radio. There’s 2 excellent podcasts that describe the pursuer and the distancer.

In order to make things better you’re going to have to become more emotionally involved and drop the sexual pressure down to zero until she feels safe. This will probably drive your need for sex through the roof which you’ll have to figure out how to work through. I’d suggest meditation over looking at porn (especially at work).

If you want to start making better connections here’s 4 simple things to start.

Every night ask her how was her day. What went well. What did not go so well. Have her reciprocate and listen to you.

After you both develop more trust and feel comfortable talking and listening then discus and evaluate your emotional connection and sexual connection.

The only way through this is to communicate. You have to be able to listen as well as speak your concerns. Talk it out.

Alas has great advice too.

Edited to add. There’s a great podcast on fantasy as well. Dr. Watson makes the case that fantasy helps to bridge the gap between the mundane day to day things that limit sexual desire and helps to get people in the mood. Especially women who may not be in the mood because of a long day with children, chores, and the never ending list of things to do.

I think you’ll find your not in a helpless situation even though it feels that way now.

You guys have work to do so get busy!

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:15 pm
by Hagoth
This seems to be a tangent off of the ol' bishop in the bedroom syndrome. While the church puts so much emphasis on relationships they simultaneously demonize sex to the point that it often undermines those relationships. For one thing, porn is not the greatest evil in the world. There may not be a place for it in your marriage but way the church casts it as Satan running rampant in your life only messes with your even more. Same with fantasies. I agree with Alas. Don't talk about fantasies if it bothers your wife. Neither you nor her nor Russell M. Nelson can make your mind not produce fantasies form time to time. Well, maybe Nelson could. He's a surgeon but I don't know if he's qualified to do a lobotomy. If your wife says she doesn't have fantasies I think what she's really saying is that she severely beats herself up WHEN she has fantasies. For one thing, you can't get into an emotional relationship if you can't fantasize about it.

I think RR had some excellent advice. If there's nothing else I have learned from being married it's that my wife needs someone to just listen and encourage her. It's not a good day if she can't do a full brain dump of everything that happened today and get some reassurances about some of the things that didn't go so well. A lot of women process their feelings that way. Probably a lot of men too. Pretty much everything else takes care of itself if I make that a higher priority than any of my immediate needs (arterial bleeding and exploding phone batteries excepted).

I would, however, not expect an actual threesome any time soon ;) .

Re: I need help. Im so lost, I hurt, she hurts. I have no hope.

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:01 pm
by SincereInquirer
Boozer, you aren't crazy or stupid. You need help, and I can relate to the feeling of not knowing where to turn and felling like the only place to go for help is these types of message boards.

I agree with alas on the recommendation to look into the love languages. That can be a quick way to figure some things out and help you both find some connection to each other.

Professional counseling is a must. What has worked best so far for my marriage is emotionally focused therapy (EFT). If you can find a counselor that uses that method in their practice, I think it could really help in your situation as well. Look up EFT online and you can read about the method and how it works.

Hang in there!