Author Topic: The maturity issue  (Read 2535 times)

stillme

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The maturity issue
« on: December 30, 2016, 08:28:50 AM »
I just replied to someone's post on this issue, but thought I would make a new thread. This is one area of porn addiction that I haven't seen addressed very much, but one that is proving to be what feels like a potential nail in the coffin for my marriage to a recovering addict. There is something about porn that not only stalls/stops the ability to mature, it actually causes what is emotional/psychological regression.

When my husband was early in his recovery and I am shell shocked from d-day, this aspect wasn't one that was a big issue. The first 90 days of his reboot were all consuming and I was just trying to keep my head above water. We are now just over seven months out and are focusing much more on our marriage. My husband and I are both in counseling and he has had no issues with relapsing.

So, what's the problem? It honestly now feels like being married to someone twenty years my junior emotionally. He things, reacts, responds in ways I would expect from a guy in his twenties - someone just starting out in life with little to no life experiences to draw from. His emotional intelligence is almost nonexistent. All of his attempts at reaching out backfire, mainly because they are just the wrong thing to say.

Examples:
Yes, I am the first to admit we have a lot of catching up to do in our relationship. He was emotionally checked out for at least five years, if not more. However, his attempt to reconnect is buying a book on "101 questions to ask your spouse". This is the type of book you would give a couple at an engagement party, not at all something that would be a good way to reconnect in what has been a thirteen year marriage. Some of the questions in the book: "Were you ever caught masturbating as a teenager?" Really? That is kind of NOT the type of question we need to be asking each other when you battled porn addiction - hell, you were still masturbating to porn this time last year! Most of the questions in the book are things we talked about over a decade ago. I mean, really - I don't need to ask if you you competed in any sports as a kid or what are you thoughts on death or where you want to retire. What we need is more about rekindling romance or how to create new memories. But, he doesn't see that, he thinks it is possible to 'start over' as if we are complete strangers meeting one another again for the first time.

I have been completely taken aback by his inability to have any sense of how I am feeling in the moment. Look, I get that women as a whole confuse men, but men and women with whom I am only a causal acquaintance have more insight into my feelings that my husband does. I gave the example in another post about feeling a bit depressed and going to the gym where two guys and one woman (trainers that we work with for classes) as gave me a look and asked if things were okay - meanwhile my husband could be none the wiser. It isn't just when I am feeling bad, we were on holiday and I had significantly more causal interactions with strangers than I did with my husband. Feeling silly - another man or woman in the waiting area of a restaurant would look at me, see a smirk, and we could joke back and forth with one another about the cold temperatures or totally out of place 'mood music'. My husband would be two steps behind "Oh, your in a good mood now." No - I was in a good mood before we even got here. Those strangers I spent five minutes with could pick up on the fact that I was in a good mood and ready to joke while he was completely unaware. If I am feeling particularly amorous - wearing my nicest nightclothes (or jumping in bed completely naked), touching his shoulders, giving a 'look' or a smile - nope. If I don't grab his penis or literally say, "let's have sex", he is just clueless. He knows when he wants sex, I know when he wants sex - he has no idea when I want sex. The problem is, before porn addiction - he could pick up on those things. He could tell if I was 'feeling fat' or catch my eyes when I was telling him I was ready for 'bed' or seem me being silly and join in. It is like porn completely severed that emotional connection. The sad part is - I can still read him. I can read him quite well; it hurts that the connection doesn't run in the other direction.

Other things that have seemed to be completely deadened in him - long term planning, the ability to anticipate what will be the likely outcome of things, the ability to think ahead and have plans for when things could go wrong (back up planning). One thing I have been working on in counseling is to stop coming to the rescue. The reason why his porn addiction was able to go on so long and progress so far was because I never let things fall. The more he went into his fantasy world, the more responsibility I took on for the real world - to keep the household running, to keep the kids' needs met, etc. He could spend his emotional and mental energy on porn because other than his job - he could slack. Over the years of  his porn addiction, I became less of his partner and more of his parent. Part of my recovery has been to step out of the parenting role, and I have been amazed at the things that have falling as he tries to juggle real life. For instance, I get no longer wanting to live a lie, but does it really make sense to out of the blue tell your 70 year old parents you have been jacking off to porn and now your wife is mad at you? What got gained from telling your mother you want to a massage parlor and got a blow job? She is 70 years old, she doesn't want to know her forty something year old son got his dick sucked by a stranger! Really, there was a better way to handle the whole "confessional" thing. But, the reason why he felt the need to even 'confess' to his parents was because he is thinking like an adolescent. He doesn't live with them, they don't pay our bills, he has been on his own since he graduated high school, there is no reason to tell your elderly parents about your sex life, especially since we were working on our marriage and had no plans for divorce. But, he saw himself as a kid that needed to confess to mommy and daddy and no longer "live a lie". The fallout of course, was his mom was so horrified she called all of her friends to figure out what was wrong with her son and they apparently all agreed that when a wife is not around to do her "wifely duties" men have to go purchase those things from prostitutes. Ugh!!!! Of course, I could have told him what the outcome of his little confession sessions would be, but my stepping back and letting him navigate the world has meant I end up more embarrassed. It is taking everything in me not to 'parent', the only out is now saying he might want to run things by his counselor first. But, that just puts the counselor in the parent role.

It's hard, because I do love my husband. He is a good person who made a very bad choice. Unfortunately, that bad choice changed him in a way that I am not sure he will ever truly recover from. My husband is out of the porn fog and well away from porn, but the man standing in front of me isn't who I was expecting. I am frightened by what I see, I am sad and angry. This isn't fair for him or for me. I know that if he knew then everything porn would take from him, he would have unplugged the computer and threw it out the window all those years ago.

I know on RN and YBOP, they sometimes say that it is easier for older men because they didn't get introduced to porn through high speed internet. I don't think it is easier, just different. I think in some ways, the damage may be worse. Younger men have the gift of time, when porn releases them from its grip - they are still young enough to mature on schedule. For older men, they have to look in the mirror and see a 40, 50, 60 year old man who is overcoming the something his children or grandchildren might be dealing with. They are expected to be beyond such foolishness. No one wants to imagine some 50 year old man holding his dick while jacking off to watching some teenager pleasure herself. It is creepy and not at all age appropriate. Even if they are looking at a 'mature' woman, she is still likely ten to thirty years his junior. The only way to cope is to force their mind to meet their actions and when they finally snap out, they see just what their bargain with the devil was about.

It is so hard, I miss what we both wanted in our marriage. I mourn for the loss of my husband, my partner, my best friend. The man that stands in front of me, that shares my bed, that keeps trying to work his way back into my life - is just a shell of what is left. Just what porn was willing to spit out and give back. I hope one day he will be made whole.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2016, 08:49:00 AM by stillme »

aquarius25

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2016, 01:48:20 PM »
Stillme,
I completely agree! My husband and I have been best friends for about 16 years and married for 13 and I am only 33! So for half my life I have known him. He is well past the 90  day reboot with no relapses but he too is a complete different person sometimes. I understand that when he grew up his parents isolated him a bit but he acts like he doesn't know how to process emotion at all. He acts like he can't even talk half the time. Like a scared teenager. Even when I spell out for him step by step how to communicate he still doesn't do it and he acts like it is such a hard and difficult thing. These are basic skills that my 6&9 yr old kids can already do! I have read that when you are addicted it stunts your emotional growth. So by that rational since he got addicted at age 14 now that he is  "out of the fog" I find myself married to a 14 yr old? That is not what I signs up for! I am not attracted to that at all! This is by far the worst part of the entire process!

Gracie

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2016, 09:19:05 PM »
Well, I am 64 and my husband is a little younger.  And let me be the first to say that it feels like when I hit 45 is when he went into high gear.  Mind you people thought I was in my 30s and even now 40s is their guess.  But I feel it was because of my age.  I hate the thought that this is the way our marriage became.  We do not have that luxery of many years.  I thought these would be our coasting years.  Kids out of the house etc. Well it is not coasting.  I was rather adventerous in bed prior to d day and now?  It feels porny.  I have a tough time with that. 

chickaboomski

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2017, 08:19:36 PM »
I wish I read that first as I just commented on his thread. JKS you are at the right space right now for healing of not wanting anything to do with it. I went through that. And I am still there. But still here. Like I said in the other thread, we do not ask for it, we don't create it, and yet we have to deal with it. It is hard to let go of what was, accept what is, and look forward to what will be with positive goggles when we have no idea if our partners are going to dive head first back into the mud and get us all dirty again.

stillme

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2017, 07:52:11 AM »
I am joining my husband for his therapy appointment today to address this issue. Basically, I committed to not make a decision for 12 months past d-day. We are at 7 months past d-day and I do not feel that I am seeing the progress I need to see. He has stopped jacking off to porn and that is great. But, I am beginning to wonder if deeper permanent damage was done to my husband as a result of his porn use.

Someone on another thread posted a statistic that over half of marriages were destroyed due to an addiction to porn. I looked it up myself and the research was confirmed. A study of divorce lawyers noted that 56% of divorce cases involved one party having an excessive interest with internet porn.

Following excessive porn use, husband's also reported loving their wives less after prolonged internet porn use.

It is good to see that there is absolute precedent for what I feel like I am seeing with my husband. He wants desperately to 'want' this marriage. Do I believe he loves me? Yes. Do I believe he loves me as much as he should or as much as he wants to? No. Those things can be rebuilt, but right now - I don't want to. I feel the price is too high to pay for his porn use. Really? I am supposed to try to 'win my husband back' from internet porn? At this point, I think I will pass. Yes, he is 100% devastated that jacking off to porn might cost him his marriage and family, but - not my problem. He had it all - a great wife, three amazing children, and a life that most men would sell their right arm for. The fact that he decided to use porn to deal with issues instead of talking with his wife, getting a therapist, or finding a less life devastating outlet is not my problem.

We will see if he can perform heroics over the next five months to save the marriage, but I am not holding my breath and holding out hope for it. I honestly think my husband has a make-up that led to porn use causing permanent brain damage. Just like some people can smoke for 50 years and not get lung cancer, while another person can smoke very little and end up with it. Some people can eat whatever they want and not get fat, other people  gain weight quite easily. I think the same is true for internet porn addiction - some men can recover from the ill effects of porn addiction in a 90-day reboot. Others may never fully recover. His dick works, so that is good. But he has not yet been able to regain those things that are most important for an adult relationship.

We'll see.

http://www.marripedia.org/effects_of_pornography_on_marriage


suzanne

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 09:36:44 AM »
Stillme- wow, your post could have been written by me. Not once during this ordeal has my husband asked how I am feeling. I wrote him a letter detailing my profound emotional pain, and he balled it up and threw it in the trash in front of me after reciting my words an a mocking whiny voice. He does suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, and is developmentally arrested. Like your husband, he often responds like an adolescent and doesn't seem to have an adult grasp on what is going on here. I spent my life running this household and managing our family while he built a successful business (and basically did whatever he wanted). The scary thing is that he's about 20 years older than your husband. I don't hold out hope that he can change. 

stillme

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2017, 09:47:13 AM »
I would definitely say head to the chump lady website I shared in the other post for you. It will give you an extremely good support system of people who have also dealt with spouses that had NPD.

My husband doesn't have that issue, which is actually a bit harder. He is trying and giving it his all, but keeps falling short. It would be easier if he was a jerk. But, you definitely deserve to be embraced by people that understand and have compassion for you.

Hugs to you, so sorry you are going through this.

Emerald Blue

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Re: The maturity issue
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2017, 10:38:18 AM »
 Such an interesting topic, and one I can relate to as well.

My husbands lack of emotional maturity became evident after D day.  The most obvious  manifestation of this kid-like behaviour was his lying.  He really did believe that as long as I didn't find out about the details of his behaviour he could deny it indefinitely. He behaved like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.  If nobody "caught" him, then it didn't happen. It was a very immature attitude and it has been a huge barrier to progress.

He wanted to pretend it didn't happen and that we would somehow revert to being young lovers. He had this idea about "starting over" and going back to how things used to be in the early phase of our relationship, but of course that's impossible and I knew it. We're different people now and we're at a very different life stage.

Stillme,  what you are saying about permanent brain damage is very interesting. In the obvious sense, the pathways of the addiction have been hardwired into the brain. If not exactly "damage" in the medical sense, it's certainly a negative conditioning which has been reinforced by years and years of repetition.  The way he sees women is very immature, he probably hasn't moved on in this regard since he was a teenager. He doesn't do kissing, and if he does it's only if it leads to sex. He doesn't do romance. He doesn't even like any sort of seductive undressing. I'm expected to take my clothes off and get into bed naked. Yet this is someone who was into going to strip bars where he'd actually pay to watch someone undress in a roomful of strangers.

Like Gracie, some sexual activities I would otherwise enjoy have been tainted by his porn addiction. It's like certain activities are no longer personal and have lost feelings of intimacy. Some things I just don't like any more. How do I know it's me who turns him on or whether it's just Pavlov's dog responding to a reward cue?  If someone's primary sexual relationship is with porn I think it is inevitable that the art of lovemaking is extinguished. Porn is all about fucking. It's impersonal. It's about having  sex without relationships, or responsibility, or consequences. Porn is about sex with random strangers reduced to their body parts. Watching that stuff year after year will inevitably warp someone's expectations about sex and relationships.

There is a detachment and distance that occurs within a relationship where one partner is addicted to porn and it seems to me that porn addicts have a lot of trouble finding their way back to emotional intimacy. I learned that my porn addicted spouse was (and is) a very good mimic. He can imitate the appearance of someone who is thoughtful, responsible, ethical, mature and even understanding but a lot of it is a charade. Porn and sex addicts rely on their skills of mimicry to hide and protect their habit.

Is this permanent damage caused by years of porn addiction? I think it could be. Quitting porn is the easy bit. His relationship skills were probably nonexistent in some respects. He relied on mimicry and not being rumbled. He also relied on my passivity and lack of assertiveness, but of course I'm not that good little mouse any more. I want more from this relationship now. I want to restore what porn took away. Does he have the maturity and relationship skills for that? I'm not sure. Is the damage permanent? I don't know, but it seems to me that some of the damage is long term and very possibly permanent.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 11:14:06 AM by Emerald Blue »
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it