It seems kind of funny to talk about the benefits of feeling close as a couple. The experience itself is, after all, it’s own greatest reward. That said, such closeness also works wonders in the arena of our addiction recovery efforts.
Marcus told me, "I haven’t been triggered as much lately. Not nearly as much as I’m used to."
What did he think made the difference?
"I’m talking to Dorothy a lot more. Quite a bit, in fact. I told her about my relapse, as you were encouraging me to do. That was hard. She was mad at me for three days. But then she was over it and in fact she seemed more open and at ease with me. Since then we’ve just kept talking about other less difficult topics."
What kind of things are they talking about?
"It’s often about the addiction, but lately I haven’t been giving in, so it’s just about the initial pull I feel. It’s funny, when I talk to her, it feels like less of a burden. Having it out in the open, between us, dispels it somehow. Beforehand, there’s some kind of pressure inside that makes me feel "lit up" or super-oriented toward sex. Then I talk to her and it grounds me again. Makes me feel more stable… calm… settled… peaceful. I like it."
I’ll bet he does. Compared to feeling on that edge. Is it hard to bring himself to talk to her?
"At times I have to force myself to do it. And there are still times, honestly, when I don’t do it. I default back into handle-it-on-my-own mode. It’s hard to have these conversations. It’s hard for her to hear that I’m still craving this thing that has wreaked havoc in our lives. But we both feel better after talking it out. And she almost always thanks me for bringing it up, which at first seemed strange to me because it seemed to reopen the wound for her. She told me, ‘The wound was always there. Just because you weren’t pressing on that spot didn’t mean it wasn’t tender.’"
He'd heard about the importance of honesty, openness, and teamwork in your recovery before. What has enabled him to open up more now?
"Something shifted last month. I was reaching the point of desperation. I knew I had to do something different. I’ve had plenty of moments of resolve in the past, but those were usually associated with a new regimen or a book I was reading. It was always some plan I was going to follow to a tee by sticking more thoroughly to my checklists. This time, I’m being very loose by those standards."
It sounds like he's loosening his boundaries with your wife instead of trying to tighten his control over his urges. Instead of racheting up his efforts, he's lowering the wall he kept between the two of them, letting her in, and sharing these sexual struggles, which are deeply personal. It's so good to see him let her in. Marcus is a great guy having a common struggle. He deserves to feel close even when he's struggling. And he needs connection even more when he's struggling.