Abstinence in Marriage
By Summer
8/28/2014 6:41:48 PM
Ugggg. Life is kicking our trash. We are dealing with quite a bit. Husband is seeing mental health professionals and we're finding out his problems are much much deeper than just P and M. I've been saying for years something's just not right. And after many prayers he listened. His family has a strong history of serious mental health issues. He was hoping it wasn't going to be his lot in life...but is accepting it is, I am proud of him for this!...admitting he has these demons has been hard for him. He's taking meds seeing docs and counselors willingly....Folks his OWN free will! Big deal here.
Here's another prob we're dealing with. I called it quits (about a month ago), as in with no emotion I said, "I'm done." I completely disconnected, but logically I want to give him another try (he's never admitted to mental illness, so "this time" could be different)...but being vulnerable isn't happening. I took it as long as I could I really did before I told him I needed out. He asked me to please stay while he gets on medicine and sees professionals. I agreed, I still love him...not in love, but I still care for him so much. We are currently in an "in house separation". He has a mattress on the floor of our room. Our children know that dad has made decisions that mom is having a hard time with. Relationships between dad and kids are strained. I've dealt with some hard things for years, bishop said he won't counsel people to leave marriages then went on to say he understands why I would leave and that most women would have left long ago. Logically I can see that with medicine and proper mental health "this time" could be different. I've just had so many, "this time" conversations that my heart is having a doozy of a time attaching to him. We tried sex once (since I called it quits). I cried the whole time, we just stopped. I have a pretty healthy sex drive, but I'm just not feeling it. I really don't cry ever anymore (except when we attempt sex) lack of emotion is a new development and is another barrier we are dealing with. Husband has been very supportive of me and trying his hardest to respect me (there was an issue where he thought no meant yes...but he has been very apologetic about this, and it hasn't happened again.)
Husband is reading recovery material he found on his own (I know super cool of him...right?!?!) anywho in the reading they talk about having a "sex fast". Purposefully going without to reset his brain. You use this time to try to connect in other ways and Set a date to "get busy".
My questions are...
Anyone done this?
What did you allow physically? (Ex., kissing, cuddling)
What things did you do instead? That brought you closer emotionally
How long did you go?
Did it help with your emotional attachment?
Any addicts see the math in sex=reset brain?
Has anyone ever been completely done...then stayed, but had a hard time reattaching?

Big crazy post...but those that know me know that's how I roll. Thanks all!


"I've never done the deliberate sex fast, but I can't be physically intimate with my husband if I don't feel emotionally connected. For such a long, long time it was impossible for me to be emotionally connected to him if he was acting out in his addiction. So there was some long stretches without sex in our marriage. First, because he wasn't 'there' emotionally. He was gone....gone in his world of pornography and the selfishness, blindness and self-loathing. That killed attraction even if I didn't know what was wrong. But my codependency also made it impossible for me because I took his addiction so personally and I shut down completely. How could I be with him when I took his pornography use as a personal insult to me? I would deny physical affection as a form of punishment and control at times, but those were forms of me being selfish and blind and self-loathing in my own form of acting out. Those were the bad days. I've also abstained in good ways and that feels totally different.

This is what I do know though about abstaining. It is possible to abstain from sex in a healthy way and it is possible to abstain in an unhealthy way. Healthy ways include boundaries established on self respect and respect for your partner. It is OK to say, "I choose not to have sex with you when you are active in your addiction." and mean it in a totally non-codependent way. Because you mean it with love for them and love for you. It isn't about controlling THEM! It is about just you loving yourself and being honest.

The line is more about your INTENTION than it is about the action itself. A codependent person could say the same thing and it would be unhealthy because they are trying to manipulate the other person. That is so destructive. Only you and God will know your heart. And while I am talking about God, I'll say that making an abstinence decision is totally something I think He will direct you to if it is right and the best choice for you.

I think that an abstinence contract might be helpful for some people for a reset, but only if other recovery tools are the focus. By itself, I don't think it would do anything. I guess it is like the difference between fasting with worship in your heart or just starving yourself every first Sunday of the month.

As far as what intimacies to allow? I guess what feels right to you. All physical affection is a by product of emotional connection if done right. What feels healthy to you?

My husband and I have had separate bedrooms for years now. I love it. To be deeply personal, one of us invites the other to stay with us on most nights. But on nights where we need privacy, either because of convenience, or because of an emotional disruption, we have a safe place/sanctuary we can go to that the other person is not there. It is born of knowing ourselves and gifting ourselves with time and patience in tough spots. It works amazingly for us. But again, our attitude and intention when we first moved to separate rooms was originally based on loving and healthy boundaries, not to distance or punish the other person. Because of that it is all very respectful and happy and not tense and weird. When one of us calls a time out we really get to honor it. I can totally see why couples had separate rooms back in the Victorian era....they were on to something!! I know that this doesn't work for everyone's circumstance and I am not suggesting it to anyone. It was something we did prayerfully and works uniquely for us.

As for mental illness...I am so glad he is getting a diagnosis! Living with untreated diabetes or something would be so dangerous and miserable and confusing. And mental illness is no different than any other physical disability. Diagnosis means that he can finally get treatment!!! Congratulations to both of you! Such hope!

If God wants you to leave him, He'll tell you for sure. Until then, my advice is to just focus on your relationship with Heavenly Father and your own recovery. The apathy for your husband will melt as you strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ and let him heal your broken heart. Who knows? Maybe by doing that you will fall in love with him again. Or maybe that will be how you'll know for sure it is time to call it quits. I've seen it go both ways with friends and loved ones.

This is a novel and I am going to shut it for while. I hope something in here helps. Take what you like and leave the rest!"
posted at 08:34:29 on August 29, 2014 by maddy
"I sure think you're great. I have no real wisdom to share on this one. Except maybe breath. Remember to breath. And remember you're way fun even when life's a drag. At least that's how it looks from my side of the mountain. Other than that just wanted to say yo :)"
posted at 23:07:40 on September 5, 2014 by they_speak

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"Brothers and sisters, let's sell that summer cottage in Babylon. Let us be not "almost" but "altogether" Latter-day Saints. "

— Larry W. Gibbons

General Conference October 2006