I am new to this site (just found it maybe a week ago) and brand new to forum posting. I wasn't sure where to post this, so I hope I got it right. I was going to tack my story on as a comment to another discussion, but again, wasn't sure where it best fit. But, I wanted to share. My husband and I have been married for eight years very hard, but overall good years. He and I BOTH are ADD! (As are most, if not all, of our four daughters, but that's another post for another day.) Although having a marriage and family so fraught with ADD and all the challenges that brings, we have been a pretty good match, for the most part. We have plenty of petty disagreements, but neither of us are really fighters and both of us are quite seriously committed to the long haul, no matter what it takes. But, from the very beginning we have had one (really big) issue of contention and disconnect. Sex.
This one thing has been the cause of so much pain, misunderstanding, rejection, isolation, and more gut-wrenchingly emotional "discussion" than I can count. He is very hypersexual and has also battled an addiction to porn since childhood. I am the polar opposite. Although I always thought, prior to any personal experience, that I was a very sexually driven person, after marriage (we were both virgins when we married) reality quickly became much less interesting and tedious than I had imagined. I fall soundly into the group of ADD-ers who lack the ability and focus needed to linger and just be in the moment, which makes sex something that I get very little out of and very quickly felt more like a chore than something enjoyable and connecting between myself and the man I love so dearly.
For years we have gone the rounds over this "thing" between us. Our giant elephant in the room. His sexual appetite is insatiable. He has been very demanding and impatient when he feels his needs are not being met. He very quickly gets frustrated and moody, sometimes to the point of being miserable to live with, when he isn't getting "enough". His methods of "flirting" and "enticing" me have been very coarse and off-putting, and even offensive. Then there is the immense damage done to each of us and our relationship over "the porn thing". That issue came to a head a few years ago, just before our third daughter was born, and I gave him the ultimatum of having to choose once and for all which was more important to him, me and our marriage or his uncontrollable need to stare at nudie pictures online and masturbate during, and at frequent other times, too. I told him I felt as though, through all the abuse (that word didn't sit well with him) that he'd put me through concerning sex, that I had remained loyal to the vows I made when we married, but that this other thing had become such a mistress to him that it felt like nothing short of cheating to me. He made his choice and spent months working regularly with our church leader to overcome the addiction. I tried to convince him to see a therapist to help, but he has always refused. After not knowing for months if we would make it through, he eventually was able to put the porn addiction mostly behind him. Three years later he still struggles with the temptation to delve back into it, and often catches himself starting and quickly stops. But, the frustration and anger and moodiness that I came to associate with the times when he was in the grip of the addiction most strongly are still frequent visitors in our home.
What I want to make clear is that this is not a bad man. He is not the monster he may sound like from reading all I just wrote. He is a wonderful, loving, loyal, amazing man. He is still the love of my life. And, I haven't made it easy on him, either. As you can imagine, his behaviors and expectations through these past eight years regarding sex have often caused a rift between us, and often make it very hard to want to be open enough to share such an intimate thing with him. Add to that my lower than normal sex drive and my inability to focus and just "be there", which also almost always means a total inability to orgasm. In the midst of all this turmoil, I have spent so long wondering what is wrong with *me*. What it is that has brought me to the point of feeling such resentment and disgust at even the thought of having sex. I spent so long blaming my husband for "breaking" me, which caused me more resentment and has made it next to impossible to just forgive and let go of past wrongs and hurts, because I still see the evidence of them so vividly.
But, when we are busy with everyday life, or when we are able, for a while, to ignore or push past all our issues and turmoil over sex, we still make a great team. We love to spend time together, share many of our interests, love being able to talk and share, work very hard and very well together towards shared goals, and make a (most of the time) really good parenting team. But, we keep coming back to the sex issue. And the rift between us over it just keeps growing and causing more pain (for both of us) and more feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Then, I read something about how ADD can affect sex drive, to both extremes, as well as all the other problems in cause to a relationship. The more I read, the more it seemed that between us we had all the possible variations of sexual dysfunction and ADD relationship can have. I read so many books and articles and posts on this site. And it gave me hope, because it gave me understanding.
Over the past week, my husband and I have talked some here and there about all the things I was reading and learning. Then, last night, we both put all distractions aside and talked. I shared with him what I think his problems are and how they affect him and us, and what I think my problems are and their affect. For the first time ever, we were able to talk candidly and honestly and with love and understanding and real connection, without all the messy hurt and negative emotion that has always accompanied similar discussions. He was finally able to see how his expectations and actions are not "normal for a guy" and that it is much more than me being "cold" and "a prude" and just not understanding because "you're not a guy, so you just can't see it the same." He was able to, at least mostly, see that I wasn't calling him a freak or a pervert, but that I am trying to make him see where both of us are off, just on opposite ends of the spectrum. And we made the decision to go to counseling. To help him finally accept his porn addiction as an addiction that can be conquered, and to help us work through all the emotional wreckage of handling such a sensitive matter so wrong for years, and learn to really connect and have a loving, romantic, intimate relationship in a way that is a happy compromise for both of us. And, an even more amazing thing happened. We had a talk about what is and is not appropriate contact and where the boundaries need to be to help me feel more turned on and less turned off. And I committed to work on learning to stop and be in the moment.
This will take time, and it will be a lot of work with plenty of setbacks, I'm sure. But, he heard me finally. And, for the first time in a long time, I looked at the man sitting next to me and had the overwhelming desire to kiss him. It was a brief moment, but we were both able to be there for each other without me being resentful and thinking about all the other things I would rather be doing, and without him thinking about how far he push me this time before I shut down. And that's a pretty good start. The real point is, a miracle happened in that we were able to FINALLY understand and discuss the real issues and the heart of the problem, and commit to try. All this time, and all this hurt and resentment I have built up and fear of him never understanding, and it happened. We both finally understood and can see more clearly now.
I have read so many posts on this forum by women full of hurt and anger and frustration about their ADD partner never being able to really hear their needs or make the changes. And, I just really felt like I needed to let those women in that position know that, if he really loves you and you really love him, there IS a way. Keep trying. One of these times, things will click into place and he'll really hear your feelings and understand and, because he loves you, he will do the hard thing and work to be the man he thought he was being and he knows you deserve. (Please forgive my novel, and congrats if you made it all the way through.)