Saturday, September 1, 2012

To Sex Or Not To Sex With Sex Addiction - Part 1

This week I have read a lot of other bloggers write about the “BIG” issue of SEX in sex addiction recovery.  It is so confusing for all of us …. What do you do?  Should you even be having sex?  Should you talk about it?  Will having sex trigger our partner?  The questions in our heads go on and on … and then there is a huge emotional safety thing going on there. Everything is bubbling on the surface so it is a time that needs to be handled with compassion for everyone! I figured I always have a lot to say on many things so I am joining the discussion on the sex in recovery topic.  

I am writing this in 2 parts … Part 1 is my experience during our relationship and Part 2 will be what I have learned through all of this insanity!
Intimacy for Ed and I has ALWAYS been a huge issue.  When we first started dating our sex life was incredible!  I mean crazy, fun do it everywhere crazy!!!  After about a year, the awesome sex died.  Almost like a balloon that has a hole in it … it just begins to fizzle until all of the air is sucked out and then it just flops to the floor.   That is a perfect visual that explains how it went down!!!  It has been a major source of fighting for much of our life but we have always been best friends, which is what kept us together but the sexual connection had been non existent for much of our relationship.   

And I know that this is a piece that many women can relate too. It is a pretty common pattern that happens for many of us. The passion is so intense at first and when it dies, it leaves both people confused. You love each other but once that passion and lust turns to a more intimate connection ....well, we know what happens then! We kind of cling to that memory, want it back (or just a piece of it) but it isn't there and the cycle begins!

For me, I never understood where that hole in our balloon came from and Ed couldn’t either.  Many times we would have the discussion of questioning his sexuality … well, he thought that if he didn’t want to have sex with me than maybe he is gay.  I can remember quite a few discussions on that.  I even supported that feeling … I mean if you are gay, you are gay I said.  But that obviously wasn’t the problem.  All I know is at night I became lonelier and lonelier the older I got.

Then we had kids (yes, we had to do it a few times for that) …. and that gave us some big distractions.  We were so focused on our life, our new house and our new babies that although I thought about it …. I was really too tired to really deal with it.  He was a great dad and that was what made me the happiest then …

As I danced my way into my 30s the lack of sex started to become a HUGE issue.  My sex drive increased "dramatically" ... they say that women are at their peak in their 30's ... well, this is surely the case with me.  The more I would try the farther he would pull away .... and personally I think this desperate push toward physical intimacy was like the straw that broke the camel’s back for him.  He just couldn’t give me what I so desperately wanted, that made him feel horrible, he started resenting me for it, he craved intimacy, I would cry and yell, he would distance himself, I felt horrible, he would act out (I didn’t know it then though), he would feel shame and guilt  …... and the damn cycle kept on swirling around … and around …. and around …. and around ….

So, most of you know the rest …. he hit rock bottom, lost his mind, made the choice to recover, embraced that recovery with me and worked so hard to understand the inner workings of his mind and learned to separate much of those from himself.  He learned to make healthy choices and also learned how to be a partner in our relationship!  We both did!

We did this together and none of it was about sex (that doesn't mean I didn't want it - I mean really , really want it).... but for recovery it was important for us. It was interesting once we took sex out of the equation how we focused on connecting and both of us felt safe doing it. Our latest podcast in Sex Afflictions & Addictions talks about safety and why creating a safety agreement can be so useful in sex addiction recovery. Check it out .... you may learn something, feel understood and maybe laugh a bit too .....  

So there is a brief history of our story. It is something that is hard to talk about, we all want sex, we all need sex, it is an IMPORTANT part of any marriage. But if your hubby has chosen recovery and you have chosen to stay with him (for now at least) then there is HOPE! I promise you that!

Stay tuned my friends for part 2!!! I am going to talk more about my thoughts on SEX in sex addiction recovery!!!!


  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

  2. I have been writing and thinking about that very same topic myself. It is hard to know how to proceed with a sex addict in recovery when it comes to the bedroom. It is slow going, for sure. Creating a safe environment definitely helps.

    1. You are so right, it is slow ... and like you said, creating a safe environment is so important for both people. I also think it's a good idea to take the focus off of sex for a period of time ( a decent amount of time - we did the 6 month thing so he could get tested - which he is fine) . When you are in a place where there is no chance for sex it allows you to start focusing on other ways to connect .... creating that sense of safety and connection. I think it helps a lot ...

      Thanks for your great comment .... This is definitely a topic that we could go on and on for days on ....

  3. Happy Birthday tomorrow!!! I love that we're both Virgos! :)

    Sex is so charged...right? STDs...don't forget to talk about STDs. Even if you don't have them he might. YOu can't enjoy sex if your worried about getting something.

    1. Love the virgo GODDESS energy .... LOL!!!! Happy Birthday TO US!!!!

      You're so right .... STD's is a HUGE issue ... thanks for that, part 2 is def going to include that. Ed and I took the 6 months where there was no chance in hell that sex was going to happen, just to make sure he was healthy .... and even after he had the negative test I was still uncomfortable for a time! It's crazy ..... getting everyone tested and knowing that physically everything is fine is soooo important!!!

      And ... that 6 months did allow us to take the focus off of sex for once and onto us ... it was a really good thing for physical and emotional safety!

    2. yes, that's been important for us too.

  4. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great post! Our experiences are so similar. I'm curious about your "safety contract". That's a huge issue for me. I simply don't feel "safe" in terms of intimacy so simply avoid it. Can you give me a quick overview of what a contract would include?

    1. Hey Elle! Thanks so much!!! Isn't it amazing how alone we often feel ... but yet how many of us do experience such similar things! That is why blogging and connecting online is such a powerful tool for recovery!!!!

      How the Safety Agreement works is a GREAT question!!! For us the true issue is our safety ... our safety was ripped out from under us and it is the scariest part of this whole thing. All of the crap we deal with boils down to the fact that we don't feel safe! And that is a sucky place to live in. And the most important thing is that you simply cannot create true intimacy without feeling safe.

      And when I say intimacy I don't even mean sex. Intimacy is different than sexuality. Intimacy is a deep emotional connection with your partner, one where you trust, are vulnerable and you feel safe. Once you develop that ... well, then the sex will naturally follow. SO ... creating a sense of safety is HUGE!

      Ok, so here is what Ed and I do .... I try to fully embrace and feel what actions or behaviors trigger my feelings of unsafe. I make this about ME and what I am feeling and what I need to create safety in the relationship ... not about what he has to do or not do. Then I list them .... but I make sure to use "I FEEL" language and keep it about creating safety for both of us.

      Here is an example of a thought many women have and how they may originally state it: "You need to check in with me regularly so I know where you are"

      Here is how I would say the same thing in my safety agreement: "I get very anxious when you are away from the house and I get really scared when I don't know where you are. Checking in with me regularly while you are out would help to ease my anxiety and help me start becoming more comfortable when I am alone."

      Keeping the list to your feelings helps our hubby's hear the words in a way that is constructive for them and not in a negative or controlling way (although they totally deserve it - it doesn't work to put rules on them in the first way) ... that only leads to shame for them and that is the cycle that we don't want to be in. SO, I have about 10 things on my list. And Ed has his own list too. We both share it and talk about how my list made him feel and vice versa. If there is anything on my list that made him have a defensive or shameful reaction we talk about it and how I could word it in a more positive way. It's a way for us to work together to create an environment where we both feel safe and want to support EACH OTHER. It's a list that is important to create for both people. He feels unsafe too and although you did nothing to create those feelings ... that feeling is there from way before your relationship.

      So, an example on Ed's list is "I get physically scared when you raise your voice at me or the kids. It is a trigger for me that brings me back to my childhood. It helps me stay in a more positive, open and supportive place when you use a calm tone when talking about important issues."

      Although I feel like I deserve to yell at him when I want ... when we put our needs in those words it is hard for the other person not to respect your feelings. Creating this really spells out your needs to one another and gives you a framework for developing trust and safety!

      It's amazing how much I can write .... I think I may do a blog post on this so I can be a bit more descriptive. I'll let you know when I do!!!!! Let me know if you guys want to try it or you need some help with it! You can ALWAYS email me at and I will totally help you with it!!!!!

      BIG HUGS TO YOU!!!!!