My First Post: It gets ugly, but I need help...

My First Post: It gets ugly, but I need help...

Postby daveisnotwell » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:20 pm

My wife and I have been together for 8 years, and we have two kids. Six months ago, I learned that she was cheating. She was arranging meetings with strangers on the internet. This happened twice.

I've known for some time that she was subjected to abuse as a child, but the cheating has motivated her to seek counseling and uncover the true nature of her trauma. So I have since become aware that she was raised by an alcoholic mother and raped and molested from the age of 4 up to her teenaged years, by her mom's boyfriends (yes, that's plural) and even her own brother. Lots of trauma!

I have decided to stay. I know this is the hardest path for me to take, but I do not want to subject our children to any negative environment that might exist in my absence. And beyond that, I cannot escape the fact that I love her with all my heart, even in light of the pain she delivered. I want to be a part of a success story that involves a recovery of her trauma. I need to believe that this is possible.

We are both in counseling; she is doing individual counseling once a week, and we do couples sessions twice a month. We are both committed to progress. And I am slowly becoming aware of how to deal with my emotions, and how to cope with all the crap without going crazy or being a complete ass to everyone. =-)

But one aspect of our progress completely eludes me. Sex. Where to start...well, I have always been a very sexual person. I was concerned that sex would be weird, but was pleased to find that we are still able to connect. I am happier afterward, and able to deal with things so much more level-headed. I find that I get all sorts of validation from it too. Being cheated on throws a man's self esteem down the tubes, and it is important that I feel she is attracted to me and desires me.
When we do not have sex, the negatives bubble up; I feel taken-for-granted, unappreciated, unattractive. I start to dwell on the thought that she just isn't attracted to me, and that -of course- leads to the obvious connection that she must be attracted to the other people with whom she was having sex. Not a good place. It makes me fear for the future, and wonder about relapses or poor choices in the future.

The problem is that she doesn't seem to have nearly the same desire. She NEVER initiates it, and usually turns me down when I do. I do not want to force her to have sex; besides being creepy, that's obviously not productive given her past. But at some point, I have to admit to myself that sex is becoming a deal breaker. In my mind, I have to somehow deal with all the trust and infidelity issues, and at the same time I have to deal with her lack of attraction to me? I can't make this work. Infidelity is difficult enough on it's own, but add the abuse she sustained and I wonder if we are just fighting a losing battle.

If she would just tell me that she is not attracted to me, then at least I could make an informed decision about our future. Or, I would think that she feel some level of responsibility to at least tell me if her trauma is having some negative impact, that I need to be patient, or maybe even show me how to go about pursuing sex. But none of this happens. All she does is say "yes, i'm attracted to you, but i'm just not in the mood", and then she accuses me of using sex as a crutch.

I am a reasonably attractive person (though seemly not to her), and I find myself rationalizing having sex outside the relationship. I have a few "leads" but up to this point, I have just ignored them. Do I pursue sex outside the relationship? Do I end the relationship? Do I grin and bear it?

I feel terrible on so many fronts. I feel guilty for wanting sex when she obviously doesn't. I feel hopeless because she doesn't want me that way. I feel angry that she refuses to consider how her rejection is affecting our relationship. Any thoughts would be helpful.
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