Celibacy Period: Results for HimJun 02, 2023
The following statement is written by a man who collaboratively entered a Celibacy Period with his wife while under the care of a therapist who understood porn/sex addiction, betrayal trauma and complex marriage dynamics.
See the results for yourself...
When I first started down this journey, I remember talking to a friend who had gone through something similar the year before. He made it clear to me that drastic measures had to be taken if I wanted to take this seriously. However, even he brought up a celibacy contract as something that was probably a little too extreme, even for me. After hearing about it though, it rumbled around in my brain. I didn’t want to do it at all, I knew that. But it just stuck with me. I even brought it up to my wife, whom I assumed would love the idea. Even she passed it off as something someone in a more dire situation would need. Not us.
But it still stuck in the back of my brain. And it kept coming back up in little places here and there. In my mind, it came down to an argument between “Good Christian married couples have sex” and “My addiction includes a chemical dependency”. Ultimately I realized that sex with my wife wasn’t helping rid me of my addiction. I was determined to do anything I could to address my addiction. My life was littered with half-hearted efforts that never stuck and never actually addressed the issues in my heart. I was told that I needed a clear head to really start to answer the hard questions that were going to come up. I don’t know that I really believed that it would help me, but I did trust the people telling me it would.
So with direction and support, my wife and I wrote up a contract that would mean no sex for a little more than 3 months. One of the first things I noticed is that there were times/situations (think birthdays or anniversaries) that I used to be able to rely on for sex. Those days felt weird. I didn’t know what to do with myself. We even went on a vacation with just the two of us, no kids. Normally that would include at least a few opportunities to knock boots, but not this time. I remember taking a moment to myself on that vacation, halfway through our contract, thinking two very different thoughts.
First I was growing closer to my wife than ever before. I was able to connect with her without having a not so hidden agenda in mind every day. Secondly, I wanted a divorce. Or rather, a historically very vocal part of me wanted a divorce. It was a hard time for me. I vividly recall thinking about divorce on more than one occasion only to make the pain of withdrawal stop. It was such an odd feeling. Falling in love with my wife again, and also wanting to end it all because I wasn’t getting my fix. Thankfully, I was connected with a support group who could help me through this time, people who could understand those feelings and name what they were, the hunger pains of an addiction being starved.
I came to understand that I had been looking at the world through the glasses of addiction. Our time of celibacy made me come to terms with how I had been viewing not only our sex life through a lens of addiction, but also our marriage, my wife, myself, and the world around me. I also learned that I can’t trust my instincts. I had been coping with my issues by using pornography for 30 years, so that’s where my instincts go. In many ways, I felt like a child learning to walk again, unsure of what ground was solid and what would give way at any moment.
All that said, I’ll forever be grateful for this time. I gained a brand new perspective that I honestly hadn’t been able to see for the vast majority of my life. I also saw the woman I married for possibly the first time in our 14 years of marriage. The clear vision of a sober mind made it clear that where I was, is not where I wanted to be.
Then came the end date we had written on our contract… and then it went. Now, do not get me wrong. I was eager to have sex again. But, I was scared. I didn’t want to lose the clarity I had gained. A part of me grew to be okay with the strict rules we had put around our interactions. We had both gained something we couldn’t put our finger on, that we wanted to hold onto. Again, through counsel, we came up with a plan on how to reengage that part of our connection. This turned into the most amazing part of my recovery.
We took things slow, constantly checking in, being open in communication, and giving each other grace and mercy as we walked together. Together is the key word here, we did everything together. I wasn’t pushing for something and she wasn’t reluctantly doing another thing. We were taking steps together. I realized that what I was really desiring was true intimacy, not the chemical shot of an orgasm. Every step toward sex was a rising crescendo of intimacy that I’d never experienced. This was the best lesson of this whole experience. I was able to experience sex in an entirely new way. Before I had seen sex as a tool, but now I was seeing it as an experience.
I had always heard that sex would be better once I gave up on pornography. I guess I had no reason to not believe them, but something in me had always said “I doubt it”. Now, I realize that what I had heard while in addiction was that sex would be more frequent and/or more erotic or whatever my addicted mind was wanting. The reality is that sex became something I had absolutely no concept of when I was addicted. It became Godly. It became other. Something that I can’t easily explain with words. But I can say that I never want to go back to anything else.
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