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Internal feelings VS external behaviors

FearfulAvoidance posted 11/10/2019 15:05 PM

"Regardless of behaviors that are loving, kind, and are like the ones in all the relationship resources that are available, if there is not a burning fire for me underneath it all I won't stay here. If I am not seeing the burning desire for sex and intimacy that you had for your AP I will be done. You need to show my body at least as much care and attention that I showed YOURS during your affiar. I am not going to humiliate myself in staying with you if I am not the last person you experience that with. I am not growing old knowing the last time I was desired like that by you was when I was in my early 20s."


I avoided sexual intimacy with my BW for a large majority of our 10 years before my affiar. It has, and continues to be, the biggest reoccuring issue in our relationship of 13 years. I still don't know why sex was something I unconsciously chose to deny myself and her of for so long. I can have a bit of self compassion knowing at times my depression and/or anti-depressants were playing a role. As well as leftover trauma from a non-violent rape by two people I trusted that happened when I was 19. But that doesn't excuse the behavior, or lack there of, for over a decade towards my partner who has consistantly given me the benefit of the doubt that the fire was actually there but blocked with such grace and paitence. At this point she does not believe it is there, because if it was, it would have been showen by now.

This is why my affair was so ungodly devestating for her. I don't believe there was a fire for my AP, but there was a fire in me for something internal that I was getting out of having an affiar, which expressed itself in a highly sexual way towards not my BW. And before it was another person, it was towards porn or EA grooming. This thing, that she had been waiting for years to see and believing she would see it as soon as I figured out this 'big reason' in myself, I gave it to someone/thing else. And even though my behaviors have slowly changed to show more love, affection, and empathy over the past two years, she is not seeing a burning desire for her.

I struggle with this so much. I feel like there is a fire in me for her, but instead I focus on fueling it with practical things for our family, or giving gifts, or in having positive experiences through fun or difficult conversations. Why do I still avoid fueling that fire sexually? I want to please my wife, to give her pleasure and give her the opportunity to feel like a woman who is desired and pursued. I try to communicate that verbally and with actions, but my actions often come across as muted, subtle, or none existant. I know that part of it is fear of rejection. Part of it is the shame of having given it to someone else. Regardless, it frustrates me to no end, and I am so quick to be defensive about it when I want to be loving.

It was our 13th dating anniversary on Friday. I booked a night at a room a little out of town with a large soaker tub, fireplace, huge bed, and a fantastic view. I brought a box of chocolates, a rose, wine, and tickets to a concert later this month. I expressed my gratitude for haven been given the opportunity to be across from her celebrating our love. I was flirty and emotionally vulnerable. We ordered room service and took a bubble bath surrounded by candlelight. It was a textbook romantic environment. And even though I felt connected and desiring, I came across as withheld, distracted, and at arms length. BW expressed that she was tired and nervous as we laid in bed, and after subtle attemps at connection I followed her lead and ended up falling asleep. Since then I have been oscillating between irritible and self loathing to loving and attempting emotional repairs. And she has been triggering hard since 4 am yesterday.

3 years ago we went away for a few days on this anniversary. BW planned a romantic celebration despite a year of loss and alienation. She did not know yet that I was being unfaithful. We had a room with a nice view, same kind of water mountain view as we did this time. I was cheating on her during that trip, and I was horrific. I went between connected and romantic to screaming that I would divorce her and us fighting so badly she slept in the car one of those nights. From being distant and cold to sexually engaged and asking 100s of questions about what my BW wanted in the bedroom and sharing what I wanted. And in the empty spaces between all of that I was in the bathroom talking to AP. 10 days later was Dday1.

This year I made the choice to risk recreating a romantic anniversary getaway in the hopes of creating better memories to eventually outweigh the horror of our 10th anniversary. I wanted to show her the fire I had for her, for us. I had been excited for weeks leading up to this, making plans and organizing things so they would be as perfect as possible. Being loving and attentive to her and us in the time leading up. And then we are there, and I am muted and subtle. I do not make overt persuing attempts at sexual intimacy. I do not directly bring up my affair or acknowledge how triggering everything might be for her. I did this before we left, communicating I was aware of how hard this was going to be. But I didn't do it in the moment, when the trigger was actually happening. All I could do was apologize and hug her when she would let me, and I took no risks in showing her something better.

Do any of you struggle with this? Do you find it difficult to express what is happening for you internally into positive and obvious external action? How do you bypass the fear or unawareness? As my therapist would ask, how do you pay the price to get the carrot you are running after?

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 11/10/2019 17:24 PM

Iíve been there FearfulAvoidvance. Early in R my husband wrote me a letter that he read to me in MC. He expressed his hurt that I would not initiate intimacy, however during my A it seemed to come so easily. He wanted to be desired. He wanted that burning flame, as well.

I had to figure out why it was so difficult for me to initiate any kind of deep intimacy. First, was fear of rejection as you mentioned. That was such a big part of it. What I learned was that I really had nothing to lose at that point. I was going to lose my M if I didnít learn to put myself out there and risk that there would be times my husband may turn me down. I also had to realize that if he did turn me down, it wasnít because he didnít love me, but because there might be too many things going on inside that were too much of a distraction. If thatís is the case, then it opens up a good time for intimate discussion rather than touch.

I also realized that I had very traditional ideas about roles in our relationship. He was supposed to pursue me, not the other way around. I had to realize that I am in control of my sexuality. I am allowed to to enjoy it. Itís not a duty or something to be negotiated. You may need to look into what your personal views are regarding sex and the roles you have established in your M.

Do you desire your wife? If so, why? Share those things with her. Get vulnerable and open up as to why she is the one that is special to you.

You said you have had conversations about what you each desire. Make a point to incorporate that into daily acts. For example, touch her hair, look into her eyes, kiss her deeply, etc. whatever was on her list. The more you do this, the more you will find enjoyment and fulfillment from it.

devastated717 posted 11/11/2019 09:06 AM

Iím interested to hear other perspectives about this as well. Lack of sex was a big problem in our marriage before my D Day a month ago, when hubs found out I sexted with an ex 9 years ago. We never talked about it, it just kept getting worse. I revealed after d day that I mad molested as a child and that I think that I have issues with intimacy after the ďhoneymoon phaseĒ ends. I knew it was a problem, but I didnít know how much my lack of physical affection was devastating him until after d day. It got to the point where I felt he didnít really care if sex felt good to me, he got so scared of being rejected he stopped coming on to me, and our marriage was very child centered so it just became a thing. I think itís possible to get the spark back, but I donít know if my BH is ever going to let me touch him again. Now that Iím getting rejected all the time, ironically, I see how hurtful and devastating that is. I donít know when Iíll ever feel the loving touch of a man again, but Iím committed to renewing and reinvigorating that part of our relationship if I get the opportunity to. Which may not happen but Iím doing the work with my IC anyway.

hikingout posted 11/11/2019 09:28 AM

Goodness, I may be taking this in a completely different direction than I should.

It sounds like that you did a grand gesture, and both of you were feeling pressure from it. Your wife, especially. I think we as women respond to spontaneity a little better than we do a planned event. I can understand why the grand gesture, but without the connected lead in to it, then it ended up showing you all your distance more than bringing you together.

I think your wife was projecting some of her feelings on you because she felt the way she described you.


Getting a connection you haven't had in a long time is a really awkward thing to accomplish. It was for me and my husband even though we didn't really have the intimacy issues that you all had prior to the A. Because there was a grand gesture that fell flat now it feels like a grand failure, or a grand sign for your marriage.

Moving forward, I would shake that off and try to be intentional with your wife every day to try and recover from this and rebuild some intimacy. I tried to be mindful with him and build off of some peppered touching and innuendo. Small sparks build a big fire. Patting his butt as I went by in the morning while he's standing at the sink shaving or brushing his teeth. Embracing him as often as I could. Cuddling on the couch during our favorite programs. Taking his hand even when we are just making a short walk from the car. Initiating sex was a big change for me. I was always willing, and sometimes I would put my intentions out there earlier in the day but the actual starting of it...I found that to be an extremely vulnerable thing.

But, it showed me ways he had been vulnerable all along in being the initiator. I would find inspiration from him at odd times and would just try and act on them, because our routine that got ingrained in us while we had children was we would just go to bed a little earlier that night. It had varying results though because often by that time everyone is so tired. Initiating in the morning has been enlightening to us because our bodies react differently than after having worn the whole day. I have gone home to have lunch with him with no intentions but that and have had to go back late because we just felt that vibe. If you have children at home, it really does take the spontaneity out of sex and then it can seem like a chore to do at times when you have just gotten so exhausted.


I guess that was a long-winded way of saying just pay attention to it, experiment with it. Be open to it. You will be surprised what you can learn about your own preferences when you get out of your comfort zone.

In the meantime, go to your wife and apologize. Recognize why it was a trigger, and why it put so much pressure on both of you. Talk to her from your heart. Stay vulnerable, because this would be the most tempting time to shut down and it could really make a difference if you don't.

FearfulAvoidance posted 11/16/2019 12:44 PM

What I learned was that I really had nothing to lose at that point. I was going to lose my M if I didnít learn to put myself out there and risk that there would be times my husband may turn me down.

WOES, this struck me. I have been saying for at least a year now "I have nothing left to lose" both to myself and to my BW as motvation to push myself into and through uncomfortable situations. But the application of that to sex hasn't been as prevalent. I keep telling both of us that I will be persistent in initiating no matter how many times I am rejected, but I am not. And the truth is that I am rarely rejected because the frequency in which I initiate is so low.

Ah. And therein lies a truth about me that spans far beyond sex. I have starved my BW of intimacy over the years to the point that she will jump at any opportunity when I want to feed it. I have been focused on the fact that I am no longer rejecting her when she makes a move, and translating that into being "enough". My god, that is such bullshit. So many times over the years my BW has told me that she would revel in even having the opportunity to turn me down, but she doesn't, because I don't give her any opportunites at all.

This needs to change. I want this to change. I will change this.

As for the traditional roles in our marriage, that has been an area of grey the entire time. We have gone out of our way since the beginning to establish equality in our marriage. We bucked the idea of one of us needing to conform to the gender roles of a man/husband or to mimic heteronormity at all. Which worked and still works to an extent.

But at the same time neither of us have the modeling of what a "whole" family even looks like, let alone how to do that without assigned roles. She was raised by a single mom, i was raised by a single dad. I have modeled after him: work work work, provide anything and everything for the family, and sporadically do grand gestures of fun or love. With that I have inherently leaned towards a more sterotypically male role which, in keeping with stereotypes, would suggest that I would be the peruser in all things physical. But I'm not. She is and always has been. Of all the gender roles I took on, THAT is the one that I decided to put my foot down about?

I'm getting too abstract and psychoanalytical with this. The bare bones of it is that I have always controlled and manipulated situations so that I am the one being sought after. That is how I have gotten my ego kibbles since I was a teen. If people wanted to be my friend, or wanted to date me, that meant I was worth something. That meant I didn't have to worry about being rejected and abandoned. (Stupid FOO contatnly ruining everything.) But my BW has shown me over and over again for 13 years that she would not and will not do that to me. I told her at the start that I would self sabotage and try to blow up our relationship the more real it got. I told her not to listen to me when I talked like that. And she believed me and she stayed everytime I started to light the match that would burn our house down.

Even now, after my A and all the abuse that occured during and after it burned the whole thing down, she is still standing here next to me surrounded by the ashes. The difference is that now, she can't/won't accept the self sabatoge anymore. She can't/won't continue to be alone while sitting right next to me. She can't/won't exist in a relationship where she is not actively persued and given opportunities to say no thank you. If I don't get my shit together and learn how to be a consistent loving partner regardless of my mental health state, she will leave. And she will leave soon.

Fake Dday1 3rd antiversary is 2 days from now. This will be the first A season that I have been 100% honest about EVERYTHING I have ever done or hidden from my wife, A related or not. I can feel myself slipping into a depression episode. I can't let it happen. I can't leave her alone during this. I am running out of time...

FearfulAvoidance posted 11/16/2019 20:34 PM

I think that I have issues with intimacy after the ďhoneymoon phaseĒ ends. I knew it was a problem, but I didnít know how much my lack of physical affection was devastating him until after d day.

Devastated, I had been the same in each relationship since my rape occurred. The beginning is dopamine fueled. I am hypersexual and emotionally vulnerable. I become obsessive and every drive I have is to be closer to the other person in every context you can imagine. The first several months to a year are a sex filled love fest.

Then it settles a bit. And I realize I have genuine feelings that aren't dopamine fueled. That I feel safe and cared for and like I've found a partner. And then I shut down. I either jump to another partner or my sex drive drops off the charts more and more until it's gone. I don't even realize it's happening, and then one day I am told it's been x amount of time since we had sex and it's an issue.

I say this like it happened a bunch. It didn't. I was 19 when I was raped and I met my wife when I was 22. I had a handful of relationships in between, but they all followed that pattern. The difference with my wife is she didn't give up on me and leave when the sex stopped.

It took me a decade to realize that this cycle had a lot to do with my rape in the context that I genuinely cared for my rapist. It was a fucked up situation with a couple, and while I have always blamed the one who instigated that night and held me down, it was the one I was falling for that actually raped me. My body never forgot that, and my wife has suffered for over a decade, partly because she has loved me so fiercely and I have felt safe with her.

The difference between us is that I did know my wife was devastated by my lack of physical affection for years before my A. I justified my lack of action and kept myself traumatized over something that had nothing to do with my wife. I took advantage of her loving paitence to not have to deal with my trauma.

And the cherry on top? I "processed" my rape through my A. I put that in quotes because by that point I had been processing in therapy for a while to the point where I wouldn't trigger during sex. But my A became full blown when I decided that taking back my power involved some fucked up sexual stuff through text with, at that point, an anonymous stranger. I even gave that away to someone else. My patient wife who wanted to help me heal for a decade, I gave that away too. At least on the surface.

Sexual dysfunction being linked to trauma is no joke. It also isn't an excuse.

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