It didn’t work out so well. Well, maybe it did work out, for us, but we didn’t stick with the 30 days. I feel compelled to write this post and not just leave the celibacy “thing” hanging out there, so to speak. I went back and read through my other two recent posts regarding celibacy. They were titled Sex IS optional, parts one & two. I still stand by those titles. Sex is optional, everyone knows that (at least everyone that is thinking maturely and rationally—you can survive blue balls, guys!). We don’t shrivel up and die if we don’t have sex, otherwise there would be a lot of dead monks and nuns. Obviously I was talking about me and Blue eyes specifically, a sexually active married couple. A celibacy period for a recovering sex addict is still a topic up for debate in the sex addict community. But to be honest, everything is up for debate, even the fact that sex addiction is a real addiction. For me, it is a real addiction and everything I have written here on this blog for the past five and half months supports that. I see it every day exhibited in my partner of 30+ years. By no means is it an excuse for his abhorrent choices including lies and betrayal, but it is addiction that is driving the use of sex as a drug to medicate emotions that are uncontrolled otherwise. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Although most of the married and successfully recovered guys (two are picking up 9 year chips in the next month) in my husband’s 12 step group did not have a celibacy period, I fully believe a celibacy period can be quite effective for some people, but I also believe we need to be adaptable. As I wrote in part two, Blue Eyes became sick during the second week of our celibacy period. He didn’t make a lot of progress on his fourth step (something I was hoping for) and we both sort of went off the deep end at one point trying to figure out why we were abstaining from loving, nurturing sex with our life partner. I think we made it (celibate) 15 days. At about the 12 day point, I could see that what Blue Eyes was really doing, was shutting down a lot of his emotions because he was afraid he would not be able to handle them. The illness had taken its toll, and then we left on our road trip. Blue Eyes became a bit like a robot. He was not terribly effective with the non-genital touching. We probably didn’t give it enough time, but in my opinion, the non-genital touching felt forced. We have been together for more than 30 years and we do have an intimate non-sexual relationship, this became even more obvious to me during the celibacy period. Our intimate relationship is often prompted by me. I honestly believe Blue Eyes is afraid to touch me. This is what the celibacy period taught me. Blue Eyes intensely fears rejection, even from me, his wife of so many years. When he gets all wrapped up in that dysfunctional part of his brain, he cannot think rationally. He reverts to the scared, insecure little boy. He even feared rejection with the non-genital touching. We did work on that fear a little, but he fears so many things and that fear is coming from a deep place. He will continue to work on that with his therapist. I truly believe that Blue Eyes’ intense fear of rejection is the sole reason he did not have more acting out partners. Sex addicts are generally terribly insecure when it comes to sex. You would think a sex addict would be the perfect lover, but for many reasons, especially within their addiction, they are not. Blue Eyes specifically is very selfish and ritualistic within his addiction. It takes a certain kind of broken woman to want to have an extramarital sexual relationship with someone like Blue Eyes. This is why many sex addicts choose escorts. They can pay for what they “need,” and they are not going to be judged or asked for more, or asked to leave their wife, most likely they won’t be stalked, and the escort won’t divulge the “transaction” because, why would they? They could lose a client. I know why Blue Eyes didn’t choose escorts. Despite all the shitty things Blue Eyes did to me and our marriage, he has this very strong ethical base when it comes to his career and the law. Blue Eyes is a lawyer. He would not do anything illegal. When I ask him if he would have cheated if it had been illegal, he really has to stop and think about it because, it’s not illegal, so why would he ever entertain that thought. He was, however, totally able to break all his moral boundaries. People are strange.
During the celibacy period, Blue Eyes became even more distant, not less so. What I realized most of all, was that much of the sex really had been coming from Blue Eyes trying to help me feel connected to him. The only time he really pursued the non-genital touching, was the same scenario as with the sexual touching. He confidently pursued it when I was distraught or in a bad place. He knew it would help me, and he instinctively knew I wouldn’t reject him (I rarely ever reject him in any way, but in his head, is whole different story), and it also helped him feel connected back to “real life.” I ended up consciously and openly taking the non-genital touching out of the equation when I was wasn’t feeling well, or happy, or connected to him. We seemed to be going in circles and no progress was being made. Instead of being more attached to his reality and his surroundings and me, he seemed to be less so. At that point, I felt the celibacy period was not really doing what we had thought. Blue Eyes was not begging for sex. I was not desperate for sex. We both got to that place where we realized the celibacy was a very doable phase, but neither of us could see how it was helping him, or us. We decided that during the road trip, we would be more conscious of our intimacy and of our desires. That we would not use it to medicate bad times or bad feelings or insecurities. We talked about stopping the celibacy period, and then we did. We made love in Santa Barbara. No one was in a “bad mood.” Neither of us was feeling desperate. We just took it slow and let the non-genital touching turn into regular old love making. We didn’t have sex multiple times a day, nor did we even have sex every day. Since leaving the celibacy period behind, we have made a lot of progress and we have been able to be truly intimate in our lovemaking sessions. Fifteen days without sex is not a big deal, I would imagine, in a regular relationship of a couple of 50 year olds who have been together for over 30 years. I frankly hope we do not get to a point where we get too busy or are too sick to not want to or not be able to make love for more than fifteen days in a row. But I realize things happen, each couple is different, and each relationship has it’s own rhythm. My father had his prostate removed over 12 years ago and my parents have not had sexual intercourse for more than 12 years, and they never will again. They love each other dearly. Life trumps sex. For us, where we are now, the celibacy period was a big deal. We learned from it, we grew from the experience. Will Blue Eyes need a celibacy period in the future? I have no idea. I am not sure what would precipitate it as the celibacy period did not seem to help him with what he struggles with in his recovery, but I guess we will take it one day at a time and see where the journey takes us.
8 thoughts on “So what ever happened to that celibacy thing we were doing?”
My sex addict Husband and I completed the 90 day celibacy agreement, and I think it made things worse for us. During it we were “making out” and things would get “hotter” but then he would feel incredibly guilty that we were so close to breaking the contract, feeling like I wouldn’t believe he was committed to change.
When the contract was over, imtimacy was awkward, and while he’s never been a guy of longevity, he would orgasm as he entered me. So not a very satisfying experience, and one that caused him that fear of rejection, despite my saying repeatedly it didn’t matter. That I wanted to “make love” not “make orgasm.”
Since then it’s been an additional 5 months without anything – not even makeout sessions, because he is so caught up in fear and the thought of rejection.
If I had to do it all over again – I would go with how we were feeling at the time, and not stick to a contract. I believe we are now smack dab in the middle of sexual anorexia. I really miss the intimacy and our relationship is getting worse not better because of it’s lack.
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Wow, thank you Radlady for your comment. Reading it really hit me hard. I will now be thinking about you and your husband and hoping you are able to work through this sexual anorexia. The recovery process is so raw as it is and then to mess with the intimacy we do have with our partners, it felt so wrong to me. Hopefully as he works his recovery path, open and honest communication regarding intimacy will be part of it and that closeness will return. I remember vividly our very short celibacy period. I am a very stubborn person and overthink absolutely everything. I also observe and evaluate constantly. I am sure I am on the obsessive compulsive scale. My husband is so self UNaware. He would have gone along with anything I said. I was the one who brought up the celibacy period because he was struggling so much with his recovery program and I did feel like he was using the sex to medicate. Once it was out in the open, and not hidden in some strange place in the back of his mind, he was actually quite good about it. So many things happened during that short time we were celibate. I will never believe that my husband was not capable of a healthy intimate relationship with me during the years he was an active sex addict. Those were the most disheartening conversations I had with my therapists… both CSATs and non-CSATs. If my husband was a sex addict incapable of true intimacy, what did we have for the past 30 years??? I knew in my own mind what we had. I adore my husband and we never had any trouble with our sex life. We have always been passionate lovers and friends. My husband always had trouble coping with his parents and all the perceived expectations of him. He did carry that over to me, thinking I needed him to be a certain man, make a certain amount of money, whatever and he caused himself additional stress. I never did that. It was all in his head. I love people for who they are, not who I think they should or could or will be. I did not grow up in the environment he did, where material things meant more than people’s feelings. He was broken when I met him, but what we have had is real and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. He was sick, an addict, he used sex as a drug. It was separate from our life, even though it sucks that his behaviors crossed over, I was blissfully unaware. I would never do anything to hurt my husband. Our celibacy period taught me a lot, even though it was very short. Again, I am incredibly stubborn (some might say controlling… ) but also intuitive. We have to go with our instincts, regardless of what therapists, and books, and whatnot, try to tell us. Sex addiction is a complicated beast. My thoughts are with you as he heals inside and hopefully your marriage and intimacy will be healed too. ❤
Gosh reading this post makes me sad for me but glad for you. My last MFT told me that sex was a NEED in a marriage and couldn’t understand why I said it wasn’t. All of this in front of my husband just fueled his anger even more towards my vulvodynia and it and caused him to be even more hurtful and hateful toward me. I still believe as you that it is really about our communication, needs and feelings in our relationship to be better partners.
Oh, I don’t want to write anything that makes you sad, Bugs. Sex can be part of a healthy relationship IF each person is able to do it and participate without pain. Sex is truly optional and if people think it is not, in my opinion, they need mental health guidance. His feeling like he has the right to have sex with you, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his “man box” as my husband (and his therapist) calls it. I think the term was coined by Tony Porter (there is a really great TedTalk out there about it. I posted it on someone’s blog a while ago, but I cannot remember who). The man box is all the negative and destructive shit men learn from their fathers and other male role models that allows them to bully and desire power and control and often causes them to manipulate the people around them (and think sex is their right). It includes the old fashioned belief that men shouldn’t cry or show emotion. It messes them up and hinders true emotional bonds with their partners. Anyway, you are correct, it is absolutely about communication and feelings, but both people have to be communicating on the same level for that to work. Hugs to you Bugs. ❤
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I wish my husband was seeing your husband’s therapist. I wish my husband saw the benefit in individual counseling for him but he doesn’t and won’t even consider it.
I wanted to also say that I am glad you were able to figure out that sex was not a huge factor in your husband and his issues and that you did in fact use it to self medicate. Makes me wonder if that is really what most of us do anyway.
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Very interesting, Kat. I had always felt that I needed sex. Regularly, often and of great intensity. With some gentle, tired sex in amongst all of that. But I now know for sure that I don’t. I could easily stay celibate. I miss intimacy terribly. But not really sex anymore. And when I realised that, I felt sad. And unfeminine. I mourned the loss of that part of my imagined sense of self. Deeply. I guess I still do. But I am more at peace with it now than I was. So I imagine multiplying all of my fuckedupness by the exponential power of sex addiction, and – wow!
All that said, I love how aware you both (especially you) are about the celibacy period’s effectiveness, or not. Here’s to lots of loving, connected intimacy x
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You know, Paula, if I was not in a serious relationship with someone, I could totally be celibate. I am really not a casual sex kind of gal. Plus, I am very loyal. I love sex with my husband, but without that intimate relationship with someone I care so much about, I could easily do without the sex. Let’s just say, I could never imagine myself being on a hook up site like Tinder (or being a sex addict, obviously). I have always thought Blue Eyes and I had a pretty great sex life. It is even better now as I do not have the demands on me I had when our children were younger, Blue Eyes is home more, and we are living a more honest and open life now. It’s not that I knew he was being dishonest, but now I know what honesty from him looks like. I never really got how insecure he was. Now, I take what I need and want instead of waiting for him to pursue me. He used to pursue all the time, but it seemed so half-assed that I thought he was just teasing. I think it was much less about teasing and much more about the insecurity of rejection. If he didn’t seem genuine, then he could rationalize it away if he didn’t get the sex or intimacy he wanted. I know him going off to act out was his addiction, but hopefully with a more open and honest line of communication between us, and me knowing the truth, and his getting positive reinforcement for living the life he really wants to live, he will never feel the need to feed that dark side again. For me sex is about intimacy and honesty. In most ways, I still adore my husband, so I want to be intimate with him. I do need to be aware of Blue Eyes’ addiction and his needs, and I am glad we tried celibacy. Now I will not wonder if we had done a celibacy period, would things have been different. I’m pretty confident the celibacy is unnecessary for him to be able to get in touch with all that is him and his addiction, and it is really all about the communication of our needs and feelings. I do still need to learn patience though.
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