Sadly, infidelity is a topic more on women's minds than usual in the wake of the Ahsley Madison exposure this week. Once again Donna Meredith-Dixon and I have teamed up to answer a body image survey respondent's question about body image and sex, after discovery of betrayal.
This post will end with the second episode in the Body Image Podcast series hosted by Journey to Healing and Joy's Marsha Means. Donna, Grace and I share more of our stories in this episode: where our body image began and what betrayal did to it initially... but also the journey it put us on to reclaim a healthy body image.
How do you allow yourself to feel sexy around him when you know the kind of trash he enjoyed looking at and sex acts he enjoyed with prostitutes?
Dawn: In the 2014/2015 survey of wives of sex addicts (which close to 700 participated in) over 70% of wives said they needed a break from sexual intimacy following discovery/disclosure of the addiction.
Though this may make some therapists gasp, women intuitively know this is right and natural. More sex isn’t going to heal him (or us): more intimacy might. Intimacy is not going to be possible until some healing takes place, in us and in the relationship. Once we gain a degree of healing, we slowly begin to feel comfortable about sex again.
I think the reality is, however, that sex will never be the same again. And for me at least, that’s something to cheer about. I probably never “feel sexy” with my husband any more… but I’ve been enjoying the best sexual relationship of my life. This is a normal by-product of having the closest relationship of my life. Discovering intimacy has redefined sex for both of us. That said, this didn’t happen over night. And once it started to happen, it wasn’t an uninterrupted express train to cloud 9. There are still times when we move apart and I ask for a break – because sex is now all about the relationship and not about anyone’s hormones.
Right to Decide
Donna: And, from my perspective, when I understood that at the root of sex addiction is an intimacy problem, and began experiencing connecting intimately outside the bedroom, it made it easier to choose when I was ready. Prior to discovery (when I had no understanding that intimacy brokenness in my husband was the root cause of my feelings of disconnect in the bedroom) I “naturally” felt “I’m not quite enough.”
Our understanding that it's our choice to decide when we are ready for sex again, based on the safe connecting we feel throughout the day, might help us move more easily through some of the underlying “self-image” issues we face. In the end, I believe it’s in our court to decide when we are ready. Many of us have been used as a sex object for little more than our husband’s orgasmic relief, and we want to be able to offer our entire selves to someone who cherishes all of us… body, mind and soul.
Take it Slowly
Dawn: A couple of posts ago we discussed sexual re-integration therapy. This technique can help re-program a sex addict’s brain and lead him to bond with his wife again. It also has the advantage of helping the couple move very slowly back into a sexual relationship. There is a book on this technique (by Dr. Bill Bercaw) which I haven’t read, and one by Australian Christian sexologist, Dr. Patricia Weerakoon (Best Sex for Life), which I can recommend – with the caveat that her advice about sex toys, games etc. is best completely ignored for our demographic.
Body Image Podcast: Episode 2
Thank you again Donna for sharing your wisdom with us (you're so awesome) and to all our body image survey respondents for sharing your hearts, your stories and your questions. Thanks as well to the talented Marsha Means for taking the lead on organizing and producing this podcast.