I'm a wife dealing with her husband's addiction to pornography. I hope to be a resource for wives (and family members) dealing with similar struggles. Please join in the conversation and leave comments--even if you are here for curiosity's sake and are just learning about this kind of struggle! You can read my story here and the 4 things I think every addict's wife should know here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sex Isn't Easy

{This post was written as part of a series directed toward the young men who are struggling with this addiction and are not yet married.}

I could have gone on and on about this topic in my last post, but I decided to cut it out entirely and make it a separate post. I think it deserves its own post. Because some of the young men struggling with this addiction are not yet married and have not yet had sex, I want to be open about what it is and what it isn't when it comes to being in a healthy relationship. I think we don't talk about it enough to sufficiently prepare ourselves. A friend gave me a book about intimacy in marriage just before I got married. I didn't really feel like reading, and you can bet my husband wasn't about to crack that thing open. We should have, but we figured we could handle it on our own.

Before sex enters a relationship, it's all about the anticipation. It's this glorified thing that can't be had yet but is supposedly great.

And it is. Sex is great!

BUT you know how I said that marriage is difficult? Sex can be, too. Go ahead and add it to the list of marital stresses I listed in the previous post.

First of all, the actual sex itself can be a challenge. Partners have to grow together and figure each other out. People have to be in tune with what they like and don't like, and be willing to express that to their partner. Sex is a learning process. Most people who wait until their wedding night to have sex don't exactly end up with an awe-inspiring performance. Did you do a wheely and shred up a half pipe the first time you got on a bike? Did you play Chopin the first time you touched a piano? No. Sure, the wedding night (or the first time you're with someone) can be magical and fun, but the chances are it won't be the most amazing sex ever. You have to work your way up to that. It takes openness and patience and teaching and learning and working together. Good sex takes work. Just like a good marriage takes work.

So now that we've talked about the actual physical aspect of sex, let's talk about the even harder part: the emotions. Sexual desire is kind of a taboo subject in our religious culture. It's not something that is talked about openly. In fact, I think many people are embarrassed to actually say out loud to their own spouse that they are aroused. So we tiptoe around it, sending subliminal messages that we are in the mood. Sometimes it's great, because both partners are in the mood at the same time. But many times, that is not the case. Because it is a deeply personal and (unfortunately for some) embarrassing thing to put out on the table, it is easy to get offended or hurt when the other person (1) misses the subtle hints, (2) pretends not to notice the hints hoping it will go away, or (3) flat out says they aren't in the mood. We take it personally. On the other end of the spectrum, a partner may be so obvious in expressing their desires that the other person feels (1) like they are being pressured into having sex, or (2) like they are some sort of object.

So let me dispel some myths. (And, of course, there are exceptions to these generalizations, but I'd suggest that young men and women assume they will fall into these categories so they don't go into a sexual relationship wearing rose colored glasses.) Most couples don't have sex every day. I don't actually know anyone who has sex more than once a day. That may have been something they tried on their honeymoon and decided it was a little overboard. In fact, most people I know have sex once a week. Or even less. Once every three weeks is not uncommon for people who have careers and small children. One person in the relationship inevitably wants to have sex more than the other person. Chances are, the longer you are married, the less often you will have sex; people get tired and busy.

I'm not saying these are good things or that this is how it should be. This is just often the reality. Can things be different? Sure! Can a couple maintain a wonderful and frequent sex life that is thoroughly enjoyed by both? Sure! But you'd better believe that (1) it's not the default, and (2) it requires a great deal of attention and cooperation and work from both partners to be sure your emotional relationship is so amazing that your physical relationship follows suit. If your emotional relationship is struggling, you'd better believe your physical relationship will, too.  I wish this was explained better to the young couples before they add sex to their relationships.

So how does this all relate to sex addiction? It's simple: a woman who feels betrayed and hurt by a husband who is looking at pornography will not be happy. Her emotional state will be fragile. She will not feel comfortable sharing such an intensely personal aspect of her life with her husband. Their sex life will be strained and perhaps non-existent.

It's a harsh reality.

To the young men who may be reading this post: a good sex life in marriage stems from a good emotional relationship. Looking at pornography will hurt your emotional relationship and will ruin your sex life together. I'm sure you know this, but I'm adding it for good measure: gaining a sex life with someone you love will not fix your addiction. I wish it could, but it just doesn't work in that direction.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for being so dang honest. I would have loved to have a real, honest sex talk when I was a teenager. Instead I felt ashamed of my intense feelings and it caused a lot of problems.