Husband is serving in Iraq...

by Anonymous
(USA)

I am a military wife, recently my husband went to Iraq. We haven't had a very solid relationship and in fact both of us admit we've used sex a lot to fill in the gaps where we've lacked coming together for sex without dealing with issues and then they're still there afterwards. Part of the issue being his addiction to pornography. He has gone through phases of denial, and also of blaming me for "pushing" him to it and also saying it wasn't wrong and it was my problem, and then at times when he was initially convicted by the Lord, admitting it was wrong and was a problem. Well now that he's away, and in a rough spot, he is sexually frustrated and so, just like always we've relied on sex, doing video chats and masturbation.

Just recently we've really faced the facts that this is not as fulfilling as having an intimate relation spiritually, he's once again realizing his/our need for God in our lives and at the center of our relationship.

So, now he just ordered me a rubber penis and sent it to the house. I was suddenly struck by it and am not wanting it in the house for the children to possibly discover by accident (ages 6 and 8) and thought maybe someone who is trying to break free from pornography this is just another form even though it's with me...your thoughts?

Our Answer:
As you and your husband have acknowledged, pornography is a detriment to any relationship; it hinders the development of true intimacy: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and also sexual. We're glad to hear that he has acknowledged his problem. What is important is that you both have a strategy to help him deal with it, and to enrich your marriage.

The first steps in enriching your relationship are understanding, honesty, and communication.

Understanding:
1. "Both of us admit we've used sex a lot to fill in the gaps where we've lacked coming together for sex without dealing with issues and then they're still there afterwards". Your comment seems to indicate that it was wrong to have sex...because you hadn't dealt with issues. Please understand that sex is never wrong between you--it is a gift for both of you! Of course, this doesn't mean you neglect dealing with the real issues! The best sex comes from focus on developing intimacy (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and sexual), and great sex is one of the by-products!

2. You also said, "he is sexually frustrated and so, just like always we've relied on sex..." Again, don't get the idea that "using sex" is wrong because you haven't yet developed the intimacy you desire to experience between you. On the contrary, remember--sex is a gift!

3. We somehow think you need to realize that your husband is wired in a way that you may not be. A woman's primary needs tend to be conversation, feeling cherished and loved, and non-sexual touch. A man's primary needs tend to be sex, sex, and sex (not necessarily in any particular order!). A wife connects emotionally to her husband through conversation; a husband connects emotionally to his wife through sex. In other words, for a man sex is incredibly important--while many women could do without sex altogether, and not really miss the experience. To complicate things, your husband is serving in Iraq! Any married man would find this very difficult--make sure you are praying for your husband!

Honesty:
Because of the hidden nature of porn, it was easier for your husband to hide the truth of his abuse. Now that it is more in the open, it will require a lot of honesty from him to keep it there. And so we want to encourage you---make it easier for him to be honest with you by practicing forgiveness, by recognizing his struggles, and by praying for him.

Communication:
Typically, this will be harder for your husband than for you. Talking comes easier for wives, usually, so make sure you get your husband talking--and the deeper the better! Why not use something like our 22 Questions to start some directed conversation.

Now to the question at hand--the rubber penis. What was he thinking? We don't know! You asked us about our thoughts on whether this is some connection with his porn problem.

We don't think so...he is a soldier deprived of sex, thinking about it more than you could imagine. According to your comments, you have engaged in video-chats and masturbation together. He probably thought his "gift" would help spice things up?! Also, we don't think the kids finding the gift is a critical issue--surely there are places in your home to which they have no access.

Perhaps his "gift" was not appropriate--but it's not our call to decide that. What we do think, however, is that you have to extend a lot of grace to him. He is in an extremely difficult situation and misses connecting with his wife!

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