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Author Topic: It's not about sex  (Read 395 times)
Tres_Libras1321

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« on: November 22, 2022, 06:07:07 AM »

My father recently passed. It was a long ordeal taking care of the arrangements, which I headed up. W tried being really supportive for the first week. After a week it was becoming clear my lack of "caretaking" was not going to stand much longer. Leading up to this W was using alcohol heavily, which continued. After the supportive period she ultimately had a meltdown the evening before his memorial services. (I'd like to note, she did not know my father. We were more or less estranged. In 8 years of marriage, she never met him)

Anyway, in the aftermath of the meltdown (4 weeks ago) Ive taken a stance. In conjunction with T Im pushing for an end to the alcohol abuse, which was a topic prior to this blowup. So, she's "agreed" it would be best and very much downplays, minimizes, or outright denies this will be difficult. None the less, she has not stopped, but has cut back and does her best to hide any and all drinking now by lying, etc.

To the topic though, now the "MAJOR" issue is sex. She wont admit it was a tough day. Wont admit she slipped and drank. Its all, "will we ever have sex again?" "I just want to be desired." "Why wont you just tell me you dont want me any more." "Im thinking about having an affair." The list goes on and on.

So to me, it's like a combination of her wanting to substitute sex for alcohol and an unwillingness to work on the deeper pain that she wants to numb/cover up." I feel like adressing this, but I fear the big blowup and fall out from the conversation. I have a very demanding job. I don't feel like I can handle a blowup about this right now. There was one last Wednesday and I needed to leave the house for a couple days. There will be another soon. If not before Thanksgiving then definitely this weekend. I want to be helpful in guiding towards recovery/healing. I feel like something is going to need to happen soon. I want to be proactive. Just looking for some support here and any ideas.

Thanks

Tres_Libras1321
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Notwendy
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2022, 06:46:24 AM »

I am sorry for the loss of your father. Even if you were not close, it's a loss.

From my own experience with a mother with BPD, I see three things going on here that are about a similar issue- BPD involves difficulty managing uncomfortable feelings. Caretaking from the partner or others, alcohol, and sex are three external ways to manage feelings. Ideally one could be able to manage feelings on their own, to self soothe, but someone with BPD has difficulty doing that.

All addictions are forms of escaping painful or difficult feelings. Alcohol can "numb" them. Sex produces "feel good" chemicals in the brain.

What happened here is a change in the dynamics-a decrease in your caretaking. This can happen for several reasons- in your situation, an emotional event where your attention is diverted to something else. Reversing these dynamics is difficult as you have observed. Consider this- if your wife has difficulty managing her own emotions, she also may have difficulty being supportive and understanding of yours. It's normal to expect a spouse to be empathetic and supportive at this time but this may not be what someone with BPD is capable of.

I understand your wanting her to stop drinking and that your T is supportive of this, but this is her behavior. We can ask someone to not drink, but we can't change someone else's behavior. They are the only ones who can do that. In addition, your wife is drinking for a reason. Taking away the alcohol doesn't change that for her. I agree she needs to look at herself and work on coping there- but that is also her own work and depends on her ability to do that.

I don't know if you have considered 12 step programs from the point of the spouse of someone addicted to alcohol. I have done them due to my own family dynamics- from the viewpoint of CODA and ACA. They do help understand the dynamics. BPD+ alcohol is its own challenge as the person is probably self medicating for a mental disorder rather than being addicted to alcohol on its own. If she can not cope with her own feelings, stopping the thing she does to cope may be very difficult for her.

It's understandable you want her to stop drinking. It may be that she needs mental heath support to do that. Whether or not she accepts that is up to her. On your part, this comes down to boundaries- it may be that drinking is a deal breaker for you, or its not, but it's difficult to impossible to control your wife's feelings or decisions.
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SaltyDawg
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2022, 02:00:59 PM »

NotWendy's insight is far more eloquent that my own, and she really has some great insight, so I won't add anything to what she said, but I agree fully with her.

 Paragraph header (click to insert in post) No 'sugar coating' below  Paragraph header (click to insert in post)

However, as you title the post "it's NOT about sex"; I am going to pushback, and say that it IS about sex, more importantly it IS listening to your wife and what she is telling you what she needs.

I am going to state the obvious first:

Sex feels good.  Sex is cheaper than alcohol.

Sex is less addicting that alcohol, with far fewer negative side effects [unless there was sexual abuse somewhere on either side in the past], and actually has over a hundred scientificially documented positive aspects.

Sex requires both parties in a loving, consensual, relationship to make an effort to validate the other's emotional needs, feelings, wants, and desires.  The extra effort of romance, shows the other partner that they are indeed being desired.

Even though, you have repeated verbatim what you wife has said, I don't think you are really listening to her, I will underline your quotes, for you to ponder...

Its all, "will we ever have sex again?" "I just want to be desired." "Why wont you just tell me you dont want me any more." "Im thinking about having an affair." The list goes on and on.

She is telling you point blank that she wants to feel wanted and desired by you.  She is also telling you in no uncertain terms that she will look elsewhere if she doesn't feel desired by you.  Is that what you want for your relationship with your wife?  She obviously desires you, and she wants you, otherwise, she wouldn't be begging for you to have sex with her... and make you feel the same way about her...

So to me, it's like a combination of her wanting to substitute sex for alcohol and an unwillingness to work on the deeper pain that she wants to numb/cover up." I feel like adressing this, but I fear the big blowup and fall out from the conversation. I have a very demanding job. I don't feel like I can handle a blowup about this right now. There was one last Wednesday and I needed to leave the house for a couple days. There will be another soon. If not before Thanksgiving then definitely this weekend. I want to be helpful in guiding towards recovery/healing. I feel like something is going to need to happen soon. I want to be proactive. Just looking for some support here and any ideas.

You have admitted to having a very 'demanding job', is it so demanding, that you cannot make time for your wife?  When I was working, I often worked in excess of a hundred hours per week, but still made time for my wife when she wanted attention -- I sacrificed TV, and I sacrificed going out with friends to please my wife.  The act of sex by itself is only several minutes, less than half an hour, less than the length of a TV show.  Now if you do full romance of a date with dinner, and an evening out, of course, with a busy job, this is much more difficult to do; however, a 'quickie' if it does what she wants will often do, but do make time for her at least once per week for more.  However, if you blow her off, she in return will have bad feelings towards you, and yes, she may explode, or she may numb herself to kill the pain of [apparent] rejection.

With regards to substituting sex for alcohol, yes, both are addicting.  Alcohol numbs my mind and makes me feel more distant from reality; whereas, sex does the opposite, for me and makes me feel closer to my spouse.  What is more important to you -- maintaining a healthy loving relationship with your spouse, or letting her become numb with alcohol since your job is [too] demanding?

Another question for you to ponder...  what feelings of 'the deeper pain' do you think she 'want to numb/cover up'?  Could it possibly be you rejecting her and not feeling wanted nor desired?  By rejecting sex, and since this forum is about BPD -- if your wife is BPD, I am also assuming that there are abandonment issues at work here.  Having healthy sex, along with genuine tender words from you that you are thinking of her, and you will be there for her -- I personally think will go a long way to alleviate any abandonment issues that may be present.

Also, even though she has not stopped alcohol; however, she has reduced it.  Provide truthful words of encouragement, that you see that she is using less alcohol and really appreciate that.  Using "I" pronouns, [examples:  "I really love it when I can talk to you and be with with you" when she is sober; conversely, you can use “I feel frustrated and sad when I can't talk to you, or make love to you after you've been drinking.” when she has a setback/relapse] express your desire to see even less alcohol being used without accusing her of failings, which I am pretty sure she is aware of.  Baby-steps in the right direction, is progress, and you need to support her for that -- even if it means having loving consensual sex with your wife to make her feel wanted and desired. 
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Notwendy
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2022, 02:40:12 PM »

Great ideas- I will also present a counterpoint but eventually I agree with SaltyDawg. Nobody wants to feel used. I think sex in marriage is about both a physical and emotional need and for connection with another person who we are emotionally and physically intimate with. Otherwise, we'd just have casual hook ups to take care of our own needs.

Addiction is using - using alcohol, using drugs, using other people. While sex can feel good on its own, when you want the emotional connection and the person is wanting a "fix", the emotional connection seems missing.

This is a tough situation in marriage because if there's a mismatch of needs, well one can't look elsewhere if one is committed. So I am going to go along with SaltyDawg and say- she's told you she wants to be desired and that has to be by you in the marriage.

What I suspect is going on with you is resentment. Resentment is a real downer for wanting any kind of intimacy. You may not be feeling desire but still, if you want to keep trying in the marriage, sex isn't something to withhold. There is still work to do, for both of you, but this one, I think issues over sex don't need to be added to the issues you are working on, if working on the relationship is still something you want to do.
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Tres_Libras1321

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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2022, 04:10:35 PM »

Thanks for the responses so far. There are gems in all of them.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2022, 08:07:23 PM »

I’ll continue on the topic Notwendy opened up: resentment.

My relationship with my husband began with lots of sexual intimacy. However over time, it felt as though he was choosing alcohol as his lover, instead of me. I became rather disgusted with him when he had too much to drink and sex then became a real turnoff. I felt like an object, rather than a person, though I really don’t think he meant to objectify me, he was just sloppily drunk. Over time, it got worse and I wondered why he couldn’t just be present with me, without overindulging in alcohol.

He has quit drinking, but the distance has remained. He felt that I *rejected* him, but what I didn’t like was the behavior associated with alcohol. He has an inability to separate behavior from self, so by me not liking how he behaved, it felt to him that I was rejecting *him*. And because of that, he told me that he “couldn’t trust” me, which felt tremendously wounding.

Things have been mostly good between us, other than he had a serious medical setback that may end in significant disability. The romantic part of our relationship never came back, but the love and friendship endured. He’s a much nicer person without the alcohol.
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2022, 06:00:21 PM »

Excerpt
Things have been mostly good between us, other than he had a serious medical setback that may end in significant disability. The romantic part of our relationship never came back, but the love and friendship endured.

Cat,

I'm so sorry to hear this, so very sorry. I have no idea who you are but I think the world of you!  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

zondolit
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2022, 01:03:05 AM »

Thanks zondolit. Happy to contribute my experience. Life is precious and you never know when things can take an abrupt turn.


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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2022, 06:22:39 AM »

Hi Cat, sorry to hear your H has medical issues and hope he stays well.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2022, 10:05:55 AM »

 With affection (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2022, 01:41:50 PM »

Dear Cat, not to threadhijack but you have been such a positive influence in my life. Hope your husband gets better soon  Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2022, 03:36:49 PM »

 With affection (click to insert in post)
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Tres_Libras1321

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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2022, 10:51:44 PM »

Hi everyone,

Thanks again for the responses. NotWendy you really hit some things on the head, especially about not wanting to feel used. I liked your understanding of how there was a dynamic shift occuring and that was probably creating even more uncomfortable feelings for my wife to deal with at this time, which deserves some additional consideration.

Cat, I want to thank you too for sharing your experience and supportive words. Im sorry to here that your husband is having serious medical difficulties. As much as Im hearing you two have been through already its obvious you both care deeply about one another. This cant be easy. I hope the best for you and him.

Saltydawg, I took your closing to heart. I could certainly be communicating my own feelings better and providing reassurance of my love, conveying my likes and dislikes more effectively. That was really good and practical. Thanks. I did also want to let you know that, at the same time, I was really bothered (maybe even a little triggered myself) by a lot of the other thing you wrote. I want to take just a minute though to unpack that, if by chance you read this.

Im not making any assumption about your intention but this is how I felt. Overall, I felt judged and I felt like I was being condescended too. I felt like the verdict was, "guilty... of being an inconsiderate, foolish, and judgemental jerk." Of course that is not what you said, but how I felt. I sat with this a little bit. Ultimately, I recalled how I thought this way many times over the years, criticizing myself and feeling guilty. This was especially true when I realized my wife had BPD almost 2 years ago. With that new information I felt so terribly, deeply guilty in a new way. It was like I then had the key and I could see every terrible folly I made over the previous 6 years. Then I set out to do it right, thinking I just needed to input the correct values in the equation and I was going to finally get the "appropriate" outcome (better for her, for me, & for us). Thats a black and white way of me putting it. My thinking was a little more nuanced than that, but Ill just say, Im still learning and we're still working on things. So, I dont know, I could be way off base here and feel free to correct me if Im wrong, but to me Im getting the sense that you are feeling like I did. Is that correct? Maybe it's just something to think about some. Let me know either way if you happen across this thread again and are open to discussing.

Finally, I want to add I found the article on the F.O.G. "model" interesting, informative, and helpful.

Best Regards,
Tres_Libras1321
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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2022, 11:10:44 AM »

I’ve read over and over that before treating the BPD, the alcohol abuse must be addressed. And if that’s a longstanding habit, it’s certainly not an easy issue to resolve, even for people who don’t have a personality disorder.

You have to wonder why people with BPD choose to drink, or do any other behavior that is self sabotaging: gambling, reckless driving, drug abuse, sex addiction, overspending, etc.

The crux of the matter seems to be the self loathing and lack of a stable emotional center, and that leads to what caused them to experience that: was it an unstable environment as a child where they didn’t experience the developmental learning that should have come at that point? Or perhaps it’s an unlucky genetic throw of the dice. Or both?

In any event, the origin doesn’t make a lot of difference for us, their partners, other than offering us a deeper level of understanding and compassion for their inner struggles. It is, however, something that can be addressed in therapy, which unfortunately is not an avenue that most people with BPD want to pursue, as it is too painful to confront their internal issues.

I tried, unsuccessfully, for years to ask, beg, demand, request, plead for my husband to moderate his drinking. It fell on deaf ears and only succeeded in building up his resentment toward me. He saw it as a rejection of who he is, rather than a self sabotaging behavior that I hoped he could regulate.

I even spoke to his previous doctor, who was also my doctor, about his excessive drinking and my worries about him abusing his prescriptions for Ambien and Norco. I don’t know if she addressed this concern with him, but she was astonished to hear how much he drank, and I didn’t even know for sure, as I later found hard liquor bottles he had hidden in his closet, when I needed to get into it because of a repair that was being done on the external wall.

He changed doctors some time after that and had slowed down his drinking somewhat. With our Covid isolation I noticed an increase in his drinking and I phoned his new doctor and told her how much he was consuming. She too, was shocked, and told me that she could no longer prescribe the sleeping pills for his chronic insomnia and pain meds for his back pain. So as of February this year he quit cold turkey.

He was furious with me, thinking I was trying to ruin his relationship with his doctor. She runs a concierge practice, with fewer patients and has more time with each, and he was really happy to start seeing her, as he has numerous health issues he worries about, most minor, however he didn’t anticipate the recent stroke and it came as a shock to most people who saw him as a very healthy and vital person. However, it wasn’t too shocking to me, as I knew he had multiple risk factors between lifestyle and genetics, and as much as I tried to mitigate some of these issues, he was very resistant.

It must have been a Herculean task to quit drinking cold turkey, as he had been a heavy drinker since he was very young. But he did, and with that change, he became a lot easier to be around. Still there were BPD episodes, but not nearly so extreme nor long lasting. It was only a few weeks ago that he admitted he was still angry with me for informing his doctor. I told him, “I have no regrets and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Thank goodness he quit drinking when he did. I suspect if he had continued, his outcome post stroke would be much worse than it is, or he might not have even survived.


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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2022, 03:13:06 AM »

Tres_Libras,

I will validate your feelings, as it was painfully obvious to me that you were 'hearing' your wife, but you weren't 'listening' -- something that I have been often been accused of by my uBPDw and more than one Therapist -- I too have felt like an 'inconsiderate' a$$hole ('foolish jerk' as you put it) after I figured out I wasn't listening adequately to her even though I was hearing her -- it was this terrible feeling in me that I needed to wake up from and realize that I have a wonderful woman who is my wife (most of the time when she is not splitting or raging), and I am hurting her a lot by not 'listening' to her -- however, the reverse unfortunately is still a work in progress; however, she has just recently made some gains in that area too.  It was only then I was able to realize that I was in a very destructive cycle with my wife, by repeatedly emotionally hurting her by not 'listening' and her BPD splits/rages made matters a whole lot worse.  Now combine my insensitivity with the emotional multiplier of a pwBPD, and that is a very volatile scenario.

My intent was to be direct and blunt, as I know when I am given subtle hints from others, I often miss the mark and need to be told directly, with evidence to back it up.  Since you were brand new, and many newbies only post once only to never return, I thought I might have had one shot at making my point to you, you provided her statements that you heard her made, but did not listen to -- so I was blunt and to the point.  I will endeavor to not be so blunt / triggering for you in the future.

How did you get your wife's BPD diagnosis 2 years ago?  Is she a conventional violent BPD, or a higher functioning invisible?  My wife is a combination of the two.

I wish it were as simple as changing the 'values in the equation'; however, the BPD will adapt continuously to the variables, and therapy adds a whole new dynamic to the mix to combined with the multiple stressors of everyday life.

I felt a lot like you who realized in that I wasn't actually listening and only hearing the words, and I also felt a lot like your wife, and still do [that's triggering for me], who wasn't being listened too, as I have said the same things to my wife, that your wife has said to you (only the underlined portions that you quoted your wife on, I did not threaten infidelity) -- so there was a bit of countertransference there -- and for that I apologize.

I am open to discussing just about anything, as I am continually learning about BPD and other mental health issues too.  In addition to this forum I also visit one for BPD's on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/721751655503457 to figure out how the BPD mind thinks, and there is a wide spectrum to learn about in various stages of 'recovery' and discern what is relevant, and what is not relevant.

If you have other questions, feel free to ask.


Cat Familiar,

   Sorry to hear about your husband's medical issues -- that is really tough.  You were the first person to welcome me here, and if you need someone to talk to, feel free to vent some more as this forum is an easy place to be one's emotional outlet.

SD
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2022, 11:55:18 AM »

Cat, thank you for sharing. I'm / we're listening. I'm sorry for your challenges. You have brought so much wisdom and support to me this past year. Thank you.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2022, 12:03:25 PM »

 With affection (click to insert in post) He’s been recovering after a stroke at an acute rehab center. I’m getting everything set up for his return home in less than two weeks. He’s relearning how to walk, but his left shoulder and arm are useless at this point. Apparently that’s the last area to regain function, if it does at all. Thankfully we can afford help and there’s part of the house that will be a good recovery room.

Everybody, if you don’t already know now, please learn the signs of a stroke. It’s becoming increasingly common, even in very young people, after microclotting post Covid infections.
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