It finally just...clicked

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.)

Congrats

It sounds like you have made a real breakthrough. Just wanted to add my two cents because I have been in the same place regarding sex. However, our therapist once told us the average for sex was 1-2 times a week, 8 minutes per time......That's it....... Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I can't blame guys too much for their sex drives because sexual stimuation is everywhere they look in this culture, and the myth is perpetuated that everyone ELSE is doing it all the time. However, as with any addiction, the more they feed it, the more it becomes all consuming. Maybe I could compare it to drinking -- I sometimes love to have a drink after dinner, enjoy the wine, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the happy feeling. Ahhhhh, life is good. But the alcoholic drinks from a completely different compulsion that I don't have any desire to share. Must have drink, must have another drink, must talk about drinking alot, make jokes about drinking --- life becomes all about drinking. That could be enough to make me become a teetotaler if I had to live around it. Get the comparison?

I found I could do 1-2 times a week, 8 minutes each. With less pressure, maybe you could enjoy it more?

Linsy's picture

sympathy and an idea

Thanks for sharing. Every time I read a post on this forum, I feel hope as there are so many similarities. I am currently living apart from my husband because it all became too much for me and the children. The porn addiction wrecked our sex life completely. I do feel for you, but also wonder if sex therapy might help? Where he is taught to make love properly, and not just barge in on your sensibilities? also that you learn to enjoy sex when done properly - you don't have to be 'highly sexed' to enjoy sex!

We are extremely cerebral creatures, and sex is in our minds almost more than our bodies. You clearly associate it with porn (which I completely loathe and fine very physically shocking when I originally found it on computer) and very rough 'wooing'. If you associated it with connection, gentleness, holding, warmth, good physical sensations such as gentle stroking on your skin etc, it would be a different thing completely.

I think you are magnificent to try and find help, and to stick with your guy. Sex can be really lovely when done with both parties' needs and wants in mind (it used to be with my hb until his issues overwhelmed him and destroyed our connection). I am utterly fed up with being celibate (just one of many uncomfortable non-choices I have had to espouse due to his issues, and have been really for more than ten years) but would not find sex elsewhere until I find out for certain what it is that stops my husband being happy and effective in relationships and the wider world. Good luck, and let us know how you get on.

Thank you

Thanks, both of you, for your comments and support. I really appreciate it. As a quick update, we set aside some time the other evening before he went to work (I didn't mention before that he works four nights a week so he can go to school during the day...scheduling, stress, and exhaustion are also big obstacles for us) and I followed some advice I read in one of Dr. Hallowell's books. I took a smaller dose of my meds about an hour before our scheduled "us time", even though it meant I ended up having to take something later to help me get to sleep that night. It helped me focus and be more interested and less distracted. We agreed that we would both try hard to "be there in the moment", meaning I did everything I could to drown out distractions (lights low, music playing to drown out any noise, taking another dose of meds beforehand, and really trying to stay on track and enjoy our time together) and he worked to focus more on his feelings for me and expressing that, rather than worrying about how it was making him feel and fulfilling his "needs". It was nice. Really nice. Both of us said it was better than it had been in a really long time, for me probably easier and better than it has been since we were newlyweds.

This doesn't mean we aren't going to stick to our plan to find a therapist and really fix our issues. But, I think it means we're finally really on the right track.

Linsy's picture

Well done

I feel benign envy that you can reconnect. My husband can't hear me at all now. Any attempt to reconnect leaves me in tatters as he lashes out, saying the most hurtful things he can think of. He cannot forgive me for getting him out of the house. But if he had stayed another minute, I think I would have broken down completely and not been able to continue working and earning and keeping my children stable. 

finnaly can see what is wrong with me

I was diagnosed with add as a kid but my ability to comprehend what that meant was not there i never understood anything.  School was awful teachers thought i was smart cause my iq  is above average but i just wasnt applying myself when i was younger i had some nasty old lady teachers and whenever i would forget somthing or get caught staring out the window they would scream and yell at me in front of the whole class until i would cry which is somthing a young boy does not want to  do in front of his peers but i couldnt help it they were so nasty, im jealous of kids these days nice young teachers that are understanding and not so quick to pick on a child with a learning disablility(i hope that those nasty old battle axes are burning in hell right now for making my child hood unbearable i used to cry every day before school because i was scared i would be embarassed again).  I acted like i didnt care but was actually trying very hard until i got so discouraged i gave up and started self medicating with whatever i could just to take the embarrassment away and it made me feel better about myself cause my self esteem was  so low that i would drink and use drugs to the point of blackout just to turn my crazy mind off i hated myself and felt akward and drugs made me feel like i fit in even if it was with a bunch of losers.  My parents insisted i do team sports and i would always sit on the bench cause i couldnt even comprehend that and that was another huge blow to my self esteem.  It is now 15 years larter and after jail multiple dui's 18 rehabs heroin and crack addiction and probably one of the most severe cases of alcoholism ever in the history of mankind i think i see the light.  I got out of rehab last christmas and they set me up with a psychiatrist who doesnt belivee that im a drug addict but was self medicating because of untreated add, i told him i knew i had it but never took the meds or did anything about it cause i didnt understand it.  Its been almost a year and i tried alot of the stimulant drugs but kept having the issue of them wearing my insurance does not cover add meds because they think it is impossible for anyone over 18 to have add.  Finnaly i told the dr i dont care about the cost i want  what works money should not be a issue because the roller coaster ride of the drugs wearing off and taking another one was getting exhausting and making me extremely irratable to the point it is effecting my relationship and i was not being patient with my two young children.  I started vyvanse two weeks ago and it finnaly seems like i can think clearly last night i was reading a book my aunt gave me about add and was able to relate to everthing and it just clicked how important it is to do somthing about this so i called my insurance and they set me up with a counselor to help me figure this out because i know that the meds are not a miracle pill but help i have to put in some work too.  ever since i started taking add medication my craving for alcohol and drugs has been almost not existant im not going to lie i stay away from high risk situations and bars because i dont want to tempt myself but really dont want to do somthing that may affect the way my meds work.  Im sick of switching from dead end jobs to another one i want to make somthing out of my life i know im capable of so much its just i litterly could not do it before.  I m really excited about seeing a therapist and hope they can help me get on track im also going to keep up with these forums because it is nice to know that others have the same issues i do, i cant talk to my wife because she doesnt seem to think add is as devistating as it is she is extremely smart very attractive and everthing comes easy to her she is currently going through law school and has perfect grades it puts a strain on our relationship because i am very jealous of her, and shes paying the bills right now because i work at a dead end job that doest give me hours and doesnt pay alot.  I am excited to finally start taking care of this issue and for the first time in my life im somewhat optomistic seeing the glass half full instead of empty i just wish i would have listened to all the drs when i was younger and took care of it then and skipped 15 yrs of mysery but i cant go back in time so im trying to look forward and hopefully can get through this because i cant go on the way i was self distruction is no way to live.