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Commitment to My Relationship Being Tested

Old 02-16-2011, 07:54 AM
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Commitment to My Relationship Being Tested

Hello All,

My situation is I've been married to my wife for 13 years. She was in recovery when we met and she welcomed me into her world. We ended up moving away (45 miles) from her support system (sponsor, AA friends and what not) and she slowly stopped going to meetings or working with her new sponsor. That was about 3 years ago, this past summer, she "rediscovered" her program and reconnected with her long time sponsor. She went from doing basically nothing to 4-5 meetings a week, 2 service positions and of course the socializing with her "new" friends.

I started going to Al-Anon in August and it was the best thing I've done. I'm discovering things about myself that I had been repressing for decades. I have a sponsor and I've just completed my first step. I still find it hard to just pick up the phone and cold call someone on the phones lists I have so I've got to work on that.

My current issue is my wife has now cut off all intimacy until she feels connected and intimate with me. I've started seeing a counselor and he feels that she's testing me to see if I'm serious about working the issues between us out (spent most of my life a poor communicator and that carried over into my marriage but of course I believe there are other issues she has with me but her sponsor doesn't want her to go to couples counseling until I've been in therapy for 3-6 months). He also said that I have to start seeing this from her perspective and have empathy for her struggles. I asked him how that takes care of me and my needs (selfish I know), he said with patience and empathy, I was in a no lose situation in that even if this doesn't work out, any future relationships will benefit from it. So asked him about detachment and he said that I can to some degree but the empathy is going to go a long way to healing our relationship.

Here's my issue, I feel like I have to detach, for myself, on some level to keep myself sane, but I don't know how to go about it. I know that it probably looks different for everybody but I don't know how to start.

Sorry for the long ramble, just feel like I'm at a crossroad in my life and don't want to take the wrong path.

Thanks
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:43 AM
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WELCOME to SR. You have found a GREAT site, with lots of Experience, Strength and Hope (ES&H) from folks who have been where you are now or are where you are now.

I have found for me, that in order to 'detach' a bit from the A in my life at the moment, I have to change my actions and reactions to that person. ie I would and do stop 'engaging' in conversations that are obviously going to lead to an argument. I will just listen to what the other person has to say and then repeat it back to them.

I understand your therapist saying you should have empathy for your wife, but I don't necessarily agree with that. She is in the place she is in now, because of her LACK OF ACTIONS when you moved. She did not keep in touch with sponsor, she did not take the time to go to her home group one night a week. She got COMPLACENT in her program.

I know, I have been there in mine several times. I don't understand the 'intimacy' issues with her right now and would not attempt to explain them. She does sound like she is back in her 'early' recovery and playing 'the blame game' to a degree.

I am glad you are seeing a therapist for YOU. I will say however, if you are not totally comfortable with your therapist there is no rule that says you cannot find a different one. I have known of folks that have gone through 4 or 5 to find one that they 'fit' with and that specializes in 'addiction counseling.'

Now, not knowing how things work in your household, I can only suggest that you try and do some small thing for your wife each day, expecting nothing in return. One morning you might bring her a cup of coffee as she's getting ready for work, or of an evening do the clean up after dinner. Maybe do a load of laundry one day. Maybe one day vacuum. You get the idea.

It's changing your actions, and in the process her reactions will change as you continue to change.

The above does not mean to bend over backwards and fill her every demand, lol The above is to suggest what you might be comfortable doing.

Hopefully, as she once again continues to work with her sponsor and starts using her tools you will also see changes for the good in her. Recovery from alcohol and drugs, to be quite honest is a biotch. I know, I did it and even all these many years later if I do not stay 'vigilant', I can again become complacent and old Kind Alcohol will come back into my head.

I also have to tell you that recovery from codependency isn't much better. Once again it required me to 'work on me' from a different perspective than my AA program.

So, I hope you will continue to post and let us know how you are doing as we do care very much.

Love and hugs,
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:06 AM
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welcome here
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by laurie6781 View Post
It's changing your actions, and in the process her reactions will change as you continue to change.
I love this - have finally internalized what it means, embraced it, and it works! Most importantly, it works for me. I feel much better about my life now that I have stopped fighting it so much.

Great advice! And also great to hear the message again this morning...I needed the reminder!
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:46 AM
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sounds like more manipulative behavior to me. A marriage, by definition has intimacy. If she doesn't want it, you can force it.

I disagree with the concept of letting them do what ever they want because they are in recovery. You are part of a team. I feel I have the right to be a part, even if just a small part of the recovery. I have the right to discuss her progress and be informed. Not everyone agrees. But AA is not a right granting her steam roller privileges over me. I think the bar for the recovering alcoholic can be raised a bit.

Years ago, my wife did something similar. It wasn't AA related. But very similar. She was "finding" herself. I simply told her "from this day forward I will no longer tell other women no". And walked away. She changed her tune in about 3 days. And it has never been an issue since. We never talked about it again.

If she wants a roommate, you could start treating her like a roommate. If she wants a husband and partner, suggest you can handle the task well. But she can't have it all her way, all the time, on her terms. In my opinion.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JakeB View Post
My current issue is my wife has now cut off all intimacy until she feels connected and intimate with me.
HI Jake,
Personally I will not ever tolerate a sexless marriage.
Friendly behavior includes sex, If my wife had legitimate medical reasons for withholding sex I would of course be understanding but how in the world is a couple supposed to be “intimate” without sex?
Withholding sex has never fostered a feeling of “connectedness” and “intimacy” in any of my relationships; in fact I believe that by withholding sex one partner is intentionally sabotaging the marriage.
A frustrated spouse isn’t very likely to exhibit caring and loving behavior.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:50 PM
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Women want to feel emotional intimacy first and then express that through sex.
Men feel emotional intimacy through and as a result of sex.
So, generally if men will provide the mood in the daily life, they will get the sex they need and want.
Then every body is happy.
Most women will not cut off a sexual relationship that they find satisfying.
We are equal but different...viva la difference!
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:07 PM
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Thanks for the post, Live. Could you expand on it a little? What do you mean by "mood"? I really want to get this because I don't want to just throw away 13 years of my life. I'm looking for any help to get me to either acceptance or is it time to call it what it is? Things have been okay since our last discussion on the subject, a couple of days ago not sure I have much more tolerance for any further "testing".
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:09 PM
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Sure thing, Jake...that came from an excellent article I read recently.
Something I all ready knew but sort of forgot.

I will try to find it and pm you some links. It will be a little while, k?
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:13 PM
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Sounds great thanks for your help
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:14 PM
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Questions to Ask Before Ending a Relationship


Jake, there are a bunch of articles on this site about relationships and sex.
I think I sat and read every one of them one night.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:17 PM
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Thank you so much I'll be reading all of them this evening.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:33 PM
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Gosh. Therapist says it's a test. So there you sit, wondering if you're going to pass, locked under the thumbnail of approval...etc., etc., etc.

Not only are you dealing with things as they are but now you have to shoulder additional codependent thoughts as well?

Sorry bro. I understand the empathy part but this whole thing reeks of "what are you going to do for her" concepts. I understand your needs to selfishly take care of your intimate needs but I reckon both you and the RAW need to do some more work. So much damage is done that trust and respect need to be re-earned.

In the meantime, keep on posting. Keep on reading. Keep on taking care of you.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:39 PM
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Is she on any kind of meds? Could it be a chemical libido issue?

If not, I think it's important to gently press the issue, let her know sex is a reasonable expectation of your partnership, while also doing all the things suggested above to make sure she knows that you *do* care about her. Nothing revs up my libido like a man running the vacuum cleaner.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:41 PM
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My comment above is assuming she's being real about the situation and not just using this to have control in the relationship.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:47 PM
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Good point, Florence! I am on meds that knock my sex drive way down.
If that were the problem, I think that can be negotiated and compromised?
I can still be seduced, tho' ..as you say.
Conversations go a long way with me. and other things in the male role.
I am afraid I take help with the house for granted. maybe I am getting spoiled.

In any case, lovemaking is an art, as well as a need in relationships.
I think it is when we honor that, that it works out best.

I did try to teach my daughter that withholding sex was not a good move in a love and marriage relationship.
I hate it when it is used as punishments.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:00 PM
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Shellcrusher, you are right, a lot of damage has been done by both of us and there is much to earn back in this marriage. I'm hopeful that at some point, we can get back to couples counseling and work on the issues between us, as it stands now, she's working her "program" only and I'm doing everything I can. She won't even consider couples counseling until her sponsor blesses it, so I have much to think about in the very near future and decide if I want to live like this any longer. Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:04 PM
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I am sure your therapist has a much clearer view of the situation than we can, also.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:09 PM
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Hi Jake to SR. Thank you for sharing your situation with us. I don't have personal experience being married to an alcoholic for 13 years but I can say I have been in a lot of relationships where the intimacy just stopped.

I must say that there is something I think I am missing from your story. So your wife is an alcoholic, she's recently gotten back into recovery, and you've recently gotten into recovery for yourself for the first time, and now she says she won't have sex with you? Until SHE feels "connected" and "intimate"?? So why doesn't she feel connected or intimate? Because you don't talk enough? Did she say WHEN she's going to feel connected or intimate again? Or what you even need to do in order for her to feel connected or intimate again? What is it your therapist thinks you need to be more empathetic about? And what do you feel you need to detach from?

About this:
I asked him how that takes care of me and my needs
This is a two-way street. You are not the only one in the relationship with this need. Women have the same "needs" as men do in this department. Maybe start thinking in terms of "our" needs and not so much "my" needs. Sex between two people is something that is shared.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:28 PM
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Have to agree with L2L here. Of course I don't know you, the whole story or situation or your wife's side. But my ex insisted I was "withholding s*x" before we broke up when in fact I wasn't turned on at all because we never talked, spent time together, etc. My ex thought he was spicing things up by sending me an iphone video of him jerking off to a pic of me...he thought he was fixing it and turning me on. He refused to do anything but spend genuine personal time with me.
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