Tag: intimacy

Intimacy Series: Another Mother or a Lover?

Attraction?
Attraction or Contempt?

One of the worst days of our marriage, for both Sheri and me, was July 14, 2021. Since we are a couple who experienced my active alcoholism for 25 years, you might be surprised to learn I was four-and-a-half years sober on that traumatic day. Even without alcohol, Sheri and I make occasional trips back into the pit of hell with emotional relationship relapses.

 

Relationship relapses often spin out of control as both partners revert to deflection, manipulation, overreaction and self-protection – all skills learned during active addiction. But before we pull out the old tools of dysfunction, there has to be a spark. An impetus. A new or refreshed wound around which the spiraling decline can revolve.

 

On July 14, 2021, I was hurt because Sheri no longer found me attractive.

Intimacy Series: Sex-Drive Snowflakes

Sheri is 1 of 1 and Proud of It

Popular media and other cultural depictions of us guys as horny, thoughtless seed scatterers are crass, shallow, and add a lot of unnecessary fuel to the inferno of misinformation and stigma blazing around the very real (and really important) topic of sexual desire discrepancy in romantic relationships. Take, for instance, the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series episode titled, “Broke.” The very real (and really unfortunate) cultural trend of counting the number of, “baby mommas,” male athletes can impregnate as a source of bragging rights is one of the main topics. And as we have come to expect in our society, when our professional athlete superheros brag about something, the message trickles down. In this case, the message is that lots of indiscriminate, unprotected sex without acknowledging the very real (and really generationally traumatic) consequences is a sign of virility and success. It is part of what it means to be a man. I don’t relate. I don’t feel that way, but I am a man, so I am at least ever-so-slightly, tangentially tarnished.

 

But like with most stereotypes, amid the legions of uneducated assumptions is the kindling of truth from which the fire was started.

Intimacy Series: No One is Sexually Broken

No One is Sexually Broken

“Sexual health.”

 

Those two words in response to the question, “Oh yeah, what in?” elicit stunned looks and awkward silence with consistency. Depending on who I am talking to, I hesitate to varying degrees to acknowledge that I am finishing up my master’s degree.

 

People who know my passion for writing about and studying maladaptive coping mechanisms like alcoholism assume psychology. Others who know my wife and I are self-employed assume it’s an MBA. A master’s degree in sexual health drops jaws to the floor. Those who compose themselves always have one or both of the same two follow-up questions. “You’ve got to be the only 50-year-old heterosexual white cisgender male in the program, right?” and, “Why?” The answer to the first question is, “I am meeting a lot of people I would not otherwise encounter, and it’s great to hear different perspectives (that is a long way of saying, ‘yes.’)” The answer to the second question is so simple in my mind, but it’s a bit hard to explain.

The Unexpected Connection between Orgasm and Addiction

The Unexpected Connection between Orgasm and Addiction

As an active alcoholic, the only connection I could imagine between orgasm and addiction was that I sure liked to have sex when I was drunk. Even years into sobriety, when I thought back to the relationship between my drinking and sex, my sloppy, handsy, unromantic and insistent predatory behavior brought a wave of shame crashing over me.

 

And now – even as I’ve studied the issue from a scientific perspective – even as I make a pitch here based on what I’ve learned – I still feel compelled to defend myself. The compulsion for self defense can only come from one place. It comes from an indelible mark of shame stamped permanently on my soul. All of my sexual attention was always directed only at my wife, and I never raped my wife. I was often disgusting. I was verbally and emotionally abusive. But I defend myself by insisting that I did nothing worse, as if my transgressions are not far more than enough.

A Hunter’s Guide to Successful Gathering

A Hunter's Guide to Gathering

I’m a hunter. I’m married to a gatherer. And it’s really fucking hard.

 

Does this stupid analogy really explain why we find marriage to be so difficult? Do you also want to hear my regurgitated insight about the mixing of oil and water, the distance between Mars and Venus, and the oh-so-soothing conventional relationship wisdom about how opposites attract? Is it really so simple? I have been accused of oversimplifying before. Usually by my wife after I have hunted down a solution while she is still gathering information on the topic.

Intimacy is the Solution

Intimacy is the Solution

“If you would have more sex with me, I wouldn’t have to drink so much.” Ah, the twisted phrase uttered out of intoxicated desperation in marital bedrooms around the world. And every one of the millions (maybe billions) of women who have received that accusatory plea have the same two simultaneous thoughts:

 

How dare he try to put his drinking problem on me. It is my body and my choice, and frankly, sex is the last thing I want with this man who has grown increasingly unattractive to me over the years and decades of his abusive drinking.

 

And…

 

Maybe he’s right.

Consent is Not Enough

Consent is Not Enough

“We can.” That’s the response I received for years when I asked my wife, Sheri, if she wanted to have sex. As an active alcoholic, that consent was good enough for me. I didn’t know it, but I was looking to sex for the same dopamine hit I got from alcohol. A reluctant, “We can,” was enough.

 

When the question is, “Do you want to…?” and the response is, “We can,” that’s never really enough.

 

I’m not just talking about the psychological damage her consent did to Sheri. “We can,” really messed me up in profound and lasting ways.

Intimacy is Critical to Recovery

Intimacy is Critical to Recovery

There’s nothing more important to a successful marriage than intimacy.

 

There are things that are equally important, like trust (which is the cornerstone of intimacy) and loyalty and cohesive parenting and mutual protection, but there is nothing more important, if a long-term romantic relationship is to thrive, than intimacy.

 

These aren’t the ramblings of a horny teenager. I’m not just talking about sex. I’m talking about the emotional connection that takes place at the intersection of vulnerability and sexual contact. It is important. In fact, nothing is more important. And if we are going to solve the catastrophic intimacy problems that are enmeshed in alcoholic relationships, we’d better stop moving intimacy to the back burner and downplaying it as hopeless, and thus, unimportant.

The Naked Truth about what Sheri Likes

The Naked Truth about what Sheri Likes

I was naked before the hotel-room door closed behind me. I love the rare occasions when we are behind the locked door of a hotel room – just me and my wife, Sheri. No kids. No neighbors. No one who hasn’t seen me naked more times than she’d like. I threw back the shades and walked straight onto the balcony. Our room was one of the few with a solid, three-foot-tall, concrete and plaster railing, rather than the metal slats with three-inch gaps leaving nothing to the imagination of anyone peering up from the pool or hot tub below. “We could have sex out here, and no one would know,” I thought, but was smart enough to not say out loud. I’ve come a long way in my sobriety, and the associated adolescent immaturity shedding.