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#154936 - 05/07/07 09:54 PM Is this how it will always be?
Summer Offline
New Here

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 8
Hello~

I found this forum a few weeks ago and have been reading and reading and reading! It has been so helpful to come here to learn more about what survivors go through to heal and how family and friends can help in that process. Unfortunately, I am also sadly seeing that some of my nagging fears are also being confirmed by reading many of your posts, too.

To start, I am in a relationship of just under a year with a survivor of family incest/abuse. My boyfriend thinks what went on was a lot of inappropriate touching with two of his older sisters. He is in therapy to finally process and heal from the experiences. He has been open with me about this issue since fairly on in our relationship. We are also both members of a 12-Step recovery fellowship, so we are lucky enough to have men and women around us who care about us and are available for us individually and as a couple. (Interestingly enough, there are a lot of incest/abuse survivors "in the rooms"...no small coincidence!) Oh, we're also 38 years old.

Here is my dilemma...our sexual intimacy is sporadic, pretty much has to initiated by him, is almost always in the dark, in bed. We have not yet had sex as we both (after some wild pasts!) know that the next person we sleep with should be the person we want to marry. We both agree that BEING married isn't a requirement, though! I guess we are trying to do things "the right way" in this relationship and let God guide us.

So, after reading stories here and in the survivor forum I am beginning to see that no matter how much healing, no matter how long he sees his T, no matter how much step work he does around this, no matter how much time he puts between his abuse and the present...we may never have what I would consider a spontaneous, randy, fun, silly, aggressive, whoooo-hoooo sex life.

I have no idea if he realizes that sometimes 3, 4, 5 weeks go by without our touching each other sexually. Plenty of hugging, cuddling, kissing...but nothing you couldn't tell your mama about. When we have been intimate it has been satisfying and truly is an outcome of our close relationship, but the patterns I am now seeing make me nervous. I have tried to initiate some more intimate touching at times different than our "normal" ways and have been rebuffed every single time. Even after he disclosed the certain ways of touching him that caused triggers and I avoid doing that he still ends up giving me his "stop" gesture (which tells me that he is being triggered). Now I am afraid to keep trying, since although I know it's not me that he is rebuffing, but still...it kinda stings.

At our age, beginning to climb up to a year, we have talked a bit about marriage. To each other and not just in general. I am somewhat struggling with whether this situation would be a deal breaker for me. Many of the posts here have said that even after being married for 10, 15, 20 plus years that your sex lives are difficult, strained, and sporadic.

Although I have had some unfortunate sexual experiences in the past, I have no experience like his. I still love "fooling around" and having sex and enjoy sharing that with my partner multiple times a week (from what I remember!). I can't really imagine a future where the way it is now is the way it will always be, but I also love this man very much and adore him in every other way.

I guess I didn't really have a question in there, did I? I have only talked to my sponsor about this and my frustration and didn't realize how ummm, isolated I feel about this situation.

Thanks to each of you for being here and sharing your experiences.

~Summer


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#154945 - 05/07/07 10:36 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: Summer]
Chain Breaker Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/21/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Hi Summer,

I hope you find whatever it is you are looking for here. Ultimately you will have to be the one to decide whether his lack of intimacy is a dealbreaker. It's all very tough for both survivors and partners. Hang in there. I'm sure you will get a lot of good support here.

FWIW, I don't think this is how it will always be. I think that, if he allows himself to grow, he will be able to overcome much of this. It may not be as relaxed and spontaneous as you might like, but I am confident it can at least become mutually enjoyable again.

_________________________
My name is Joe. I am a survivor and a good man. You can count on me.

CB

"[Insert your name here], I am [Chain Breaker]. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?"
--Wind In His Hair, Dances With Wolves

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#154946 - 05/07/07 10:36 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: Summer]
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Summer,

Welcome to MS.

Just to give you one couple's general timeline... my partner and I have been together for close to 11 years. He disclosed to me in 2003.

Our sex life became very bad about 4 years prior to his disclosure. As with most things there were cycles and some times were better than others, but mostly just varying degrees of bad. It does make you afraid to keep trying and after a while becomes hard not to have some anger about. There were certainly periods of longer than 5 weeks where not only was there no sexual touching but he was actively avoiding any intimate situation or any kind of private/quality time that might lead to sexual contact. Talking about it now, he characterizes this as just wanting to say NO to sex, period... that he had never felt that was an option for him and he just didn't want to be sexual anymore.

From the time he disclosed up until maybe about 10 months into his therapy, things were more intimate but not always more sexual. There were more times when he just wanted to be held or to have me sit with him for extended periods of time.

One thing he told me during this time was that he felt he wanted to take time away from sex because he was realizing how many of his ideas about sex were based on a bad model, and he wanted some freedom to try new things slowly (not like anyone looking would have noticed "new things"-- just in his mind). That was something I was fine with in principle, but to feel like 8 years of *my* sex life with him had been based in something bad, or to have fears about whether or not he felt like I had contributed to his bad beliefs about sex... it hurt too. I had fears about how things might change. I bring this up because I wonder if your boyfriend is in a similar place emotionally and wants to take it slow with you so that he can "learn" to do it right.

At this point, we have an active sex life that is probably "normal" or a bit better. We communicate well, we have fun, and there is a lot of trust there. His bad days are infrequent and he is generally able to let me know what is going on kindly and ahead of time (with words, not gestures). I would say that probably MY insecurities and resentment about the bad times are more of an issue than his CSA at this point. It has taken me some time to learn to trust him again.

How does he respond to you when you share your frustration with him? Does he recognize that you are feeling isolated and hurt by his refusal of you? Or is it the elephant in the room?

SAR


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#154947 - 05/07/07 10:54 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: Summer]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Quote:
So, after reading stories here and in the survivor forum I am beginning to see that no matter how much healing, no matter how long he sees his T, no matter how much step work he does around this, no matter how much time he puts between his abuse and the present...we may never have what I would consider a spontaneous, randy, fun, silly, aggressive, whoooo-hoooo sex life.
Not necessarily true, Summer. Healing, even in this area, is indeed possible although the chances of the kind of intimacy you speak of are probably somewhat diminished, and perhaps impossible in some cases.

The triggers you speak of are difficult to move beyond, but it is not impossible. My view of the dynamic is that the survivor's primary work should be toward his recovery issues and not so much about the sexual dysfunctions resulting from his abuse. If he can do that, the thought is that the intimacy issues will quite naturally take care of themselves. He will find himself in a place where he feels free to love and be loved because he realizes perhaps for the first time, that he is safe with the one he loves.

Perhaps you say he realizes that now, but his reaction to your touch indicate otherwise. It is a terrible thing that was done to us. We find it impossible to feel safe with the ones we love the most even tho our souls cry out to us that we should. Our old tapes, our subconscious minds keep us from doing so. As little boys we built walls in order to protect us from the hurt. Now that we are men the walls are so difficult to tear down and destroy, but it can be done and is being done every day, slowly but surely we find we can love and be loved.

There is hope, Summer. You of course at some point will have to decide if you wish to take that risk and keep hoping, or move on to other relationships. Your first priority should be you.

Lots of love,

John

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#154958 - 05/07/07 11:53 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: WalkingSouth]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Summer,

Welcome to MS and the Family and Friends forum. I'm glad you found us. You've already got a lot of good ideas from others, but I'll just add here that so far as my experience goes, a couple's sex life is always dependent on a spirit of sharing and trust between two people who, on any given occasion, are often going to be in two different places emotionally anyway. And as you get older, what you want from your relationship and from sex itself will also change.

In any really close relationship I have been in, my feeling has been that the overall spirit of the relationship is what makes for great sex. That is, it isn't sex that makes the rest work - it's the other way around.

That said, it's you who has to decide what you want and what's important to you. It's difficult to say how any given survivor will respond to therapy and how quickly he will recover. Certainly we don't get to forget what was done to us; the impact will always be there to some extent.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#154984 - 05/08/07 08:12 AM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: roadrunner]
Summer Offline
New Here

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 8
Wow! Thank you so much for your kindness and insight. Each of your responses gives me hope and some things to think about. Thank you thank you thank you!

I know that the final decision is up to me. At this point my frustration is a small "elephant in the room", as we did talk about this a few months ago when I explained how frustrated I was that I didn't seem to have a voice in our sexual life. I explained that everything seemed up to him and his decisions and it was hard for me to not feel I could initiate, etc. Through this discussion I learned more about how important this actually is for him and that he needs to feel comfortable and not pressured to just do what is expected. He also reassured me that it wasn't me and made an interesting comment like "If you knew how it makes me feel then you would never think that it was you I was turning away from in any way." (or close to that) I encouraged him recently to explain it to me when it comes up again and would listen with an open heart. we have also talked a little bit about the possibility of our doing a joint therapy session with his T once in a while, to help us both. Along with his offer to put me in touch with his sponsor's partner, since his sponsor was also abused at some point and her partner understands things from my perspective (they've been together for forever). Maybe I just need to take advantage of some of these avenuse that are being offered to me.

I also agree that a lifetime relationship is a whole picture and sexual intimacy is the result of a healthy relationship, not the other way around. Being spiritually, mentally, and physically fit together, growing and deepening our friendship is what will make us a better couple. I don't want to rush or push for something that neither of us may be ready for. I just wanted to, ahhhh, turn up the volume button a little?

When I quietly think and pray about it, I really don't feel that this is something he and I can't grow through and "overcome" to some extent. I know I would never in a million years want to exchange all the wonderful things in our relationship just to have this issue never to have happened.

Again, thank you so very much for responding. This is a wonderful place and incredible source of fellowship. Kudos to those that run it and those that bravely participate.

~Summer


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#154990 - 05/08/07 09:27 AM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: Summer]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
Hi Summer and Welcome,

I definately think you should take advantage of what is being offered. Talk to the partner of your b/f's sponsor and absolutely meet his T since he's making that offer. I've met with my b/f's T on a couple of occasions and it has been helpful both in the session and sometimes for weeks afterwards because my b/f and I have talked about it. Some issues that I wasn't even aware of are brought forth. It provides food for thought and a direction to work on rather than just stumbling around fighting fears that may or may not be real.

ROCK ON.....Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#155047 - 05/08/07 02:36 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: Trish4850]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Summer,

I can sooooo see where you're coming from in your last post here. It's VERY easy for the partner's needs and concerns to get hijacked - it feels like you are playing cards with a guy who always has the ace of trumps in his hand. That's no good at all for the relationship, of course.

This is part of what I was talking about when I suggest that you need to be strong for yourself first. When you speak up, state you are really looking for a livelier sex life, and make it clear this is important to you, you can do that in a way that allows him to state how he feels as well. Your willingness to be strong for yourself encourages him to do likewise. Then the issues are on the table and can be discussed openly and honestly, instead of being the elephant in the room that you both negotiate around as if it's not there.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#155094 - 05/08/07 05:55 PM Re: Is this how it will always be? [Re: roadrunner]
weepywife Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 57
Hello Summer,
Just to share my experience. I have been in a relationship with a survivor for almost 9 years. Everything was fine for the first 7 years. (In hindsight, I can see some little clues) Then about 2 years ago my husband's memories came flashing back to him. Our intimacy became pretty much nonexistent. It still is for the most part. Unfortunately, he will not tell me what bothers him...I have asked and asked. He doesn't want me to know and I think that is very unhealthy. I still kiss him, hug him, and snuggle with him. Sometimes it bothers him sometimes it doesn't. And he won't tell me when it does or doesn't.
My husband finally started therapy about 3 months ago. I still have hope that things will improve. Things seem to be slightly worse right now. This post has helped me alot. He is depressed and states he just wants to feel normal. He loves me...of that I have no doubt. He states if things stay like this he will leave me because of his feelings of self loathing and inadequacy. He feels that I would be better off without him. It is frustrating because I feel like there is nothing I can do. At this point, I wonder if letting him go/leave would be the best thing for him?
I wonder if he would be happier without me? This stinks! I thought love conquered all but now I am not so sure.
I hope that I am not depressing you. I am just being honest. I have no plans on leaving my husband but I wonder what is best for him? I still have hope. I still visualize us happy. I try to think positive. I am focusing on myself and dong healthy things for myself. I am actually feeling better psychologically but this is still a very hard process.


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