Tag: relationship recovery

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.

Cat Videos, Sugar Shame and Treadmill Trauma

Cat Videos, Sugar Shame and Treadmill Trauma

Over the New Year’s weekend I heard David Brooks, New York Times opinion columnist and author of How to Know a Person, describe social media as performance art. I like that. It is not connection or interaction no matter how many people we can reach, how fast or how far across the globe. Social media is not about growing closer. It is about screaming our opinions into the wind and posting pictures of our best, fake selves.

 

I have never really interacted with social media on a personal level, and we ditched facebook, Instagram and X for promotion of our blog and podcast in mid 2023 as an experiment. Our platforms continued to grow at the same slow and steady pace. No social media had no impact.

 

I do watch Instagram reels in bed most nights looking for funny cat videos to send my wife. It makes her giggle, so in that way, social media does create connection in my life. A wife who giggles because I show interest in her passion is about as good as it gets.

 

This is the time in the annual cycle when we all vow to make profound changes in our lives. You know it is the start of a new year when some of the beer commercials during the football games are replaced with ads for exercise equipment and tax preparation websites. But change doesn’t come from gym memberships and diet plans. Change comes from pain, and a few pounds gained from eggnog and sugar cookies doesn’t hurt enough. That’s why in January, when we realize our winter sweaters are sufficient cover for our holiday indulgences, our resolutions are fleeting little traumas of unwelcomed self-restraint.

 

But what if you are in enough pain?

Evolution Series: If You are Wondering

If You are Wondering

If you are wondering if your relationship is like the relationships of others, it’s probably different. If you are wondering, you are probably too afraid to ask.

 

If you think marriage and children will fix things, they won’t.

 

You can’t fix their holes that they had when they came to you. You can’t give them your family as a replacement for what they didn’t have, no matter how much you share and shower them with love and attention. It can’t fix that which never existed.

Evolution Series: The Four Letter F-Word

The Four Letter F-Word

Fear.

 

According to Yoda, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

 

Or maybe for me: Fear leads to silence. Silence leads to pain. Pain leads to resentment. 

 

Fear. Four simple letters. One little word. A massive amount of weight.

 

Fear holds me back.

 

There’s the fear that if I confront an issue, that makes my experience too important, and she’ll internalize it and shame herself. Shame leads to her relapse. Or the fear that I’m not important enough, and I’ll be the one hurt by being ignored.

Too Comfortable for Comfort

Too Comfortable for Comfort

When my shorts outlive their socially acceptable outside-of-the-house lifespan, I still wear them at home. I am no fashionista, so to be socially unacceptable, said shorts need a hole in the crotch or an unwashable oil or paint stain. I’ve worn pants with a ripped back pocket such that I had to pair them with my nicest boxer shorts before leaving the house, so my standard for at-home-only attire is pretty low. I pair my should-really-be-discarded shorts with an equally unthinkably torn and stained sweatshirt in the winter. And I wear that combo, day after day, once my time outside of the house is over. I’m like Mr. Rogers when I get home, except instead of changing into a nice cardigan, I slide into the same sweatshirt I’ve been wearing since the furnace first kicked on in October. Gross. That’s the point.

 

To top off my inside outfit, I wear socks with soccer slides (think open-toed flip-flops) to keep my tootsies warm in the winter. I often have an ice bag on one or both of my knees, which is one of the reasons for shorts instead of jeans. The other reason is that jeans are ridiculously uncomfortable, and the cultural embrace they enjoy, decade after decade, generation after generation, makes about as much sense to me as drinking a toxic poison and calling that relaxation. We are a curious species, and our infatuation with bluejeans is just one indicator of how easily brainwashable we are. No jeans at home for me. My at-home attire is selected for ultimate comfort.

 

Which begs the question: Why was I so uncomfortable for so long in my own home?

The Myth of Unconditional Romantic Love

The Myth of Unconditional Romantic Love

My wife loves her cats more than she loves me.

 

That’s not intended as an attention-grabbing joke. It’s the absolute truth, and I’m OK with it.

 

One of our cats only has one eye, and is not particularly adept at cleaning himself, and he is her all-time favorite of the dozen-or-so cats she has had in her life. I am sure I’ve disappointed her by not knowing the precise number of fur babies she has nurtured during the past five decades, but that’s not the point. The point is that I rank behind a cyclops with matted fur, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Clear and Manageable Timetable for Relationship Recovery

The Clear and Manageable Timetable for Relationship Recovery

If you put in the work and make the effort…if you are patient and compassionate…if you learn how to be a really good and empathetic listener – this is when you can expect to be finished with your post-alcoholism relationship recovery:

 

Never.

 

I bet that’s not the analysis you were expecting when you read the title of this article. Unexpected or not, it is accurate, and it delivers on the two promises in the title. Never is clear in that it is not ambiguous. There is no range of possible timing. And never is manageable in that if you know it will not end during your lifetime, you can be better prepared for that challenge you face, or you can opt out of your relationships if they’re not worth it to you.

 

If you want sunshine blown up your ass, turn to the recovery community on social media. If you can handle the truth, keep reading.

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.

Evolution Series: Owning My Story

Owning My Story

As the partner of someone suffering from addiction, alcoholism is part of my life, my fabric of experience, and continues to take me on a deep and bizarre journey. Through this experience, I am learning, growing, trying different approaches to things – essentially navigating a thick jungle with no guide, no map, and no trails. However, it is a part of my life’s journey and I continue to become better and better at guiding myself.

 

But I can’t tell my story without impacting my partner. So the question lingers:

 

Who owns my story?