Uncharacteristically Mind Altering

Uncharacteristically, I awoke early this morning. It probably had something to do with forgetting to disable my weekday alarm though. Irrespective of that, I’m awake. Early. On a Saturday. As I do anytime I find myself alone and needing something to do (I could do the dishes or go to the gym), I began reading up on what interests me. Surprise, surprise, I’m looking into marriage stuff.

I have been researching and planning for a short vacation for My Bride and I. Since she is a fan of the cabin in the woods variety of travel, that’s where my focus has been. My browser has a bookmarks folder called “Married Stuff.” In that folder is a sub-folder called “Cabin Stuff.” I think we can all agree I overuse some words, “Stuff” happens to be one of them.

I had been looking through those “Cabin Stuff” bookmarks to see if anything really struck MY fancy. After I had gone through all of my “Stuff,” I saw the other “stuff” in the “Married Stuff” folder. One thing caught my eye. It was a link to an article called What Is Karezza?

Karreza is a form of love-making in which orgasm is NOT the intended outcome. In fact, orgasm is to be avoided. The Intended outcome is a very long love-making session that is focused on intimacy. Anytime one of the partners begins to feel they are entering “Performance” mode, you are to stop, relax and do some slow, deep breathing. I think this is a pretty cool concept and something I look forward to introducing it to my relationship.

As is also common, I began link surfing. I see a link in an article that interests me and I’m off to the races. Many times this exercise would take me from a story on ESPN to a porn website in about 5 clicks. It’s crazy how things are interconnected. If you’re reading this, you know EXACTLY what I’m speaking of. This time, however, was FAR different. This was an instance in which I would be totally fine if my wife or kids went through my internet history. It might be slightly uncomfortable if my kids did that. Though I’m pretty sure they are aware that we get to take a ride on “The Love Train” every now and again. My middle son, just a few months ago, walked into our room and saw me sitting on the bed, surrounded by candles as very romantic music played in the background. My Bride walked in a half-second later. I blushed a bit and she turned 17 shades of red. I made a joke, he laughed and she turned yet 3 more shades of crimson. This was not a bad thing, she was just very uncomfortable now that her baby was aware of our intentions.

My link-trek led me to an article about intimacy through cuddles. That led me to another article on Psychology Today called Hold Me Tight. leading me to another article on that sight over attachmentThose all led me to writing my thoughts, so hold on tight. I go all over the place on this one… 

I have been made aware that Sexual Addiction is, generally, a symptom of attachments gone wrong during childhood. Since I was abused as a child, that makes a whole bunch of sense to me. So I have to first learn what attachment means. The article I read says that attachment is:

The emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver, usually a parent, not only stimulates brain growth but affects personality development and lifelong ability to form stable relationships. Neuroscientists now believe that attachment is such a primal need that there are networks of neurons in the brain dedicated to it, and the process of forming lasting bonds is powered in part by the hormone oxytocin.

Reading that blurb led to another search. This was to see if there’s a link between sexual addiction and oxytocin.

You guessed it; there is.

Ok, so I know that I was abused by my parents. My mother was a main offender, especially in the emotional/mental area. She also is guilty of emotional incest,

but that’s a rabbit I don’t really want to chase right now. So it seems perfectly logical to me that the healthy attachments I was SUPPOSED to form were, at best, perverted by those abuses. I’m beginning to think there’s a lot more to it than that (Duh), I just can’t form the picture in my mind yet. So I understand the attachment part of my problems.

That leads me to my marriage…

Over the years, as a result of my addiction and behaviors in support of said addiction, it could be said that the intimacy in my marriage has dwindled to minimal levels. I hate that. I even believe, now, that My Bride hates it too. {I have to be careful here. Part of me says that I have to be careful as to what I believe and what I say I believe. I also have to be careful when I go into this next part.} As a result, I would say that, even though she says she loves me, that she hates me for that. Not as in a “I hate you and hope you die” way. More in a “I hate that this happened, I hate that you did this to me, I that you did this to us and I hate that PART of you” kind of way.

Since our intimacy is at a negligible level, it is only now that I have realized and understood what we have lost and the depth of the problems I have caused by serving my addiction. Here’s a quote that kicked me straight in the onions this morning:

Lack of cuddling eventually leads to lack of desire to cuddle, whether through laziness, habit, resentment or indifference. Cuddling (all bonding behaviors included) causes the desire for more cuddles. It is a beneficent biofeedback machine, just as the absence of bonding behaviors seems to be the opposite. Everyone will be familiar with young lovers not seeming able to get near enough to each other. Well, we’ve experienced the same, repeatedly, as a result of initially scheduling bonding behavior and watching it snowball.”

I used to be EXTREMELY hung up on sex. And by used to be, I mean, I still am but have now realized sex does not define intimacy. As the summer began to change to autumn, I began to crave cuddles. This was a new phenomenon to me. I had been previously so hung up on sex that My Bride confused my evening “Getting Close To You” moves as overtures to sex. Some where but many were serious attempts at cuddling. I was denied. Almost every time I was denied. A lot of the times I would get up and “do my thing” and come back for sleep. Other times I would get up and sleep on the couch. In fact, there was a time covering 3-4 months that I chose to sleep on the couch instead of next to her. I would always “accidentally” fall asleep watching TV. We both knew what was up though.

The problem that has crept in, as a result of my actions, is that she has lost the desire to cuddle. She will say she wants me to cuddle her, sometimes, but she RARELY cuddles me. And this makes sense to me now. Cuddling is an enormous act of intimacy. After getting out of the habit, she has lost the desire.

*****I am not saying these things to blame her for anything, mind you. I am explaining that I can understand how we got here. I understand that her behaviors are in response to MY behaviors and they are initiated as a protection for her. I get it.*****

I have also now realized that, as a result of my misdeeds, she is wary to engage me in any of the other types of bonding/intimate behaviors. Here’s another great excerpt of an article found that details bonding:

Bonding behaviors

So what behaviors can lovers use to signal each other that they want to deepen their emotional connection? Here is a list:

  • smiling, with eye contact
  • skin-to-skin contact
  • providing a service or treat without being asked
  • giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
  • gazing into each other’s eyes for several moments
  • listening intently, and restating what you hear
  • forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, whether past or present
  • preparing your partner something to eat
  • synchronized breathing
  • kissing with lips and tongues
  • cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso (works well on a couch, or with lots of pillows)
  • holding, or spooning, each other in stillness for at least twenty minutes to a half-hour
  • wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
  • stroking with intent to comfort
  • massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders and head
  • hugging with intent to comfort
  • lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to his or her heartbeat for several moments
  • touching and sucking of nipples/breasts
  • gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort
  • making time together at bedtime a priority (even if one partner has to get up and work on something afterward)

The desire for, and rewards of, these behaviors are deeply rooted in millions of year of evolution. Enjoy!

Smiling, with eye contact, took place A LOT during our post D-Day honeymoon.And I mean A LOT. I found it intensely pleasurable whenever she would simply stare into my eyes as she smiled. I call it “The Look” and I had been mistaking it for bedroom eyes.

Skin-to-skin contact is something she was really into during our courtship and early marriage. After the years of my bullshit, she doesn’t ask for it. ever.

Providing a treat without being asked- THIS one is her Love Language and  I suck at it. It’s one of the things I’m working on as hard as possible. She, on the other hand, excels on this one. However, she doesn’t really do it overtly anymore. For example, early in our marriage, she would randomly make a sandwich for me or bring me a drink or any other variety of treats (back rubs and even really cool sexual stuff). Not anymore and that also makes perfect sense.

Giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments- Another area I suck at. Chalk that up to selfishness. It’s the one thing I try and provide on a daily basis now. It’s also another area that she used to give affection that has, mostly, fallen to the wayside. She still says nice things occasionally. Hearing nice things or getting “The Look” of approval is something you can never get enough of.

Kissing with lips or tongue- Not as much as I would like. The tongue part, to me, is a highly desirable activity. Anytime I experience that, I become putty in her hands. She has total control of me at that point and I am her willing slave. She says she finds it to be gross and unnecessary. Never mind that is an instinctive act. She just doesn’t like it. Or so she says. Personally, I think she’s turned off by memories on this one. I’m convinced that her mind does not allow her to give into this one anymore. It has been YEARS since we engaged the tongue regularly. I’m convinced of this because there was a time that she was very responsive, and even aggressive, at the use of the tongue. THAT is no longer the case.

Cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso- This is one that has never really happened on her end. It also happens to be one of my most desired activities. She hasn’t ever really been one to engage me on this one. BUT, I’m not exactly grabbing her head in order to rock it. In fact, nowadays she might think I’m sexually attacking her. There have been a few occasions in which she has deliberately placed her head on my lap, grabbed my hand and placed it on her head. A pretty obvious request for cradling and stroking. Rocking comes as a natural activity after that.

Spooning- Here’s one in which I often engage her. It is EXTREMELY rare that she engages me in this behavior. This is another action that I crave.

Stroking with intent to comfort- I do this one a lot. So much so that I end up annoying her. She too will, on occasion, provide me with comforting strokes. The time I was having my spirit broken at church was the last time I recall it happening. When we watched the online sermon about lust was the other time that I can recall. I like it when she does this one. A lot. I can never get enough of this one.

Massaging with intent to comfort- We both suck at this one. I’m making an attempt to increase this behavior. But it used to be a sexual overture, so I’m taking it real slow on this one. I seriously do not want to scare her off. I can remember one time in the past 6 months that she came up to me and gave me a massage. It was a few weeks ago as I made my initial efforts at budgeting. I was providing an act of service, her Love Language, and she came to me and spoke one of my Love Languages, physical touch. It. Was. Awesome!!!

Hugging with intent to comfort- this is our most common expression of intimacy. We hug A LOT. I’m very satisfied with hugging. No complaints here.

Lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to his or her heartbeat for several moments- I don’t think we have ever done this one. It sounds nice though.

Gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort- Ummmmm, this one seems a bit odd. I’m willing if she is. I just don’t see us going there for a very, very long time. In fact, I think my short beard would be entering ZZ-Top territory before we tried this one.

Making time together a priority- This is my favorite time of the day. I adore pillow talk. I think she has less-than positive feelings about pillow talk though. We need to address this one in a major way. There’s probably a pretty good compromise that can be made, we just need to try and find it.

This  that takes me back to the main point. I had been reading an article called Hold Me Tight which discusses intimacy, hurts and healing through touch.

It was also a kick to the gonads. Here’s the part that affected me:

Losing the connection with a loved one, however, jeopardizes our sense of security. We experience a primal feeling of panic. It sets off an alarm in the brain’s amygdala, our fear center, where we are highly attuned to threats of all kinds. Once the amygdala sends out an alarm, we don’t think—we act. The threat can come from the outside world or from our own inner cosmos. It’s our perception that counts, not the reality. If we feel abandoned at a moment of need, we are set up to enter a state of panic.

Why? Because my actions have led her to lose connection to me. She is not married to the man she thought she was. The marriage she thought she had does not exist. That has led, and she AND her therapist will say this, to a total disconnection. She has had to make this disconnection in order to protect herself from further trauma. {She/they might not say it that way, but that’s precisely what it is.} She HAS said that she does not have a sense of security in our relationship; she cannot trust me. That is what I have earned by the way; I’m not bitching (I am but not because I feel wronged). She will also tell you that this has caused her panic attacks. These instincts are what has led to our intimacy disconnection. She’s protecting herself.

Next ass-kicker

It’s what we do next, after those moments of disconnection, that has a huge impact on the shape of our relationship. Can you turn around and reconnect? If not, you’ll start engaging in fights that follow a clear pattern. I call these “demon dialogues.” If they gain momentum, they start to take over and induce a terrible sense of emotional aloneness. Your relationship feels less and less like a safe place, and it starts to unravel. You start to doubt that your partner is there for you, that he values you. Or that she will put you first.

And engaging in fights that follow a clear pattern is precisely what has been going on. Likewise, she HAS been emotionally alone. And she has said that our relationship has not been a safe place for her. In fact, EVERYTHING in that paragraph describes our marriage. EVERYTHING!

Wait a minute…

When we fight with our partners, we tend to follow the ball as it goes over the net, paying attention to the last barb lobbed at us—and not whether we even want to be in the game at all. It’s possible to break out of the demon dialogues, but the first step is to be aware of the game itself, not just the play-by-play. Once you realize you are latched onto your pattern of arguing, you can agree to put the whole game on hold.

Disappointments are always part of relationships. But you can always choose how you handle them. Will you react defensively, out of fear, or in the spirit of understanding?

That describes our fights too. We simply react to each other’s attacks or defenses. We never stop and say, ‘Hey, I actually want US to work out’ and make an attempt to STOP the fight. THAT is a mind-altering paragraph right thar. I am going to make an overt effort to put the argument on hold or to stop it altogether. In other words, grow the fuck up.


The article continues to deliver mind altering material:

Men often say they don’t know what to do. Yet men do know how to soothe—they do it with their children, tucking them in at night and whispering gently to them. The difference is, they see their children’s vulnerability, and respond to it, but when they look at their wives, they see only someone who is judging them. But she feels vulnerable, too.

Touch is the most basic way of connecting with another human being. Taking your partner’s hand when she is nervous or touching his shoulder in the middle of an argument can instantly defuse anxiety and anger.

The world of therapy has been obsessed with maintaining boundaries in recent years. I say our problem is just the opposite—we’re all cut off from each other.

If you watch two people in love, they touch each other all the time. If you watch two people finding their way back into a love relationship, after falling into demon dialogues, they touch each other more, too. They literally reach for each other; it’s a tangible sign of their desire for connection.

Well that’s totally opposite to everything I’ve ever heard or said in this area. I tell My Bride frequently that I do not know what to do. I say it A LOT. But I really do know how to comfort and give affectionate touches. I had never considered that as a way to re-connect with My Bride.

And to touch her hand during an argument?!?!? That’s freaking crazy talk right there. I’m going to do that. BUT, I’m going to do it when I realize she is right and I’m wrong to start off with. maybe THAT will help her whenever I have taken her for a ride on my Emotional Roller Coaster From Hell that happens so frequently.

That paragraph is profound to me. I really hope that My Bride will take a few moments to read it in its entirety. It really is something I plan on implementing in our relationship.

I would like to reiterate something here. I am not writing these things in the spirit of complaint. I say this, again, because of one of My Bride’s frequent complaints. Whenever I speak about her, in relation to our marriage and/or progress in rebuilding, she will frequently say, “It’s never good enough. I’m working my ass off on this stuff and it’s never good enough.” She’s right. I have given her the idea that her efforts are NOT good enough. That’s a shitty thing to do and I would like to apologize for that. This post is not written in that vein, however.

This post was written in an effort to explain, to myself I guess, the how and why of our current status. As I see it anyway. It also is meant to detail some of the ways I’m beginning to think might actually help us in building our new relationship. Nothing more, nothing less.

About MyJourney

I'm a 41 year old married father of 3. I am a sex addict. This blog is to document my progress, recovery and marital growth. Pornography is an evil creation. Let my experiences serve as a warning to all.
This entry was posted in Marriage Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Uncharacteristically Mind Altering

  1. chipgruver says:

    This doesn’t read like complaining. It read like introspection. And good introspection at that.

    Isn’t it amazing how, when we give up porn, we find it so much easier to empathize and care for our wives?

    You talked about how when you fight with her, it would be very strange to show her affection. You don’t feel like showing affection. You feel like lobbing a grenade. While reaching out to touch her is important, I think the most important thing it to reach deep into your soul and say…the words…

    I’m S…..I’m so…..I’m soooooorrrrrryyyyyy.

    Yes, the gutwrenching words. it is easier to say i’m Sorry after the fact. It is really helpful to say it right in the moment. Remember, a true apology is:

    1. Sincere
    2. Specific
    3. Spoken
    4. Repentant

    Be specific on how you sinned against her in the fight. How your own immaturity led you to respond in a childish way to her pain. Ask this without an expectation of an apology from her. Sure she may have sinned, but you are primarily responsible to confess your sins, not hers.

    if you humbly apologize and then touch her, I suspect she will take a few moments to be overcome by the shock. Then I bet she will feel a lot safer being with you.

    An excellent (I mean truly life-altering) book on this topic is called The Peaacemaker by Ken Sande. It changes my view of apologizing and really showed me what humility in relationships looks like. It challenges me to apologize when it is 10% me and 90% them. I still owe an unqualified apology for my 10%. It is a wealth of help to the pathologically proud like you and me.

    This was a wonderful article to read from you. Clearly you are growing. God is moving. Let’s watch and see where he is going.


  2. Pingback: A Mans Heart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s