It’s Not all Her – or All You

March 5, 2014

in Be a grownup, Change, Seeing Clearly

When Lori and I married, she has a LOT of sexual baggage. She knew she did and was completely honest about it before we got married. So, when our sex life crashed and burned during our first year together, we both knew it was because of her stuff. I thank God she was willing to accept her problems and work on them. 

However…

Baggage © Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee | freedigitalphotos.net

I was not without sexual problems. I’d not looked at porn for nine years, but my mind was still messed up by porn. My desires were warped, and my understanding of normal healthy sexuality was skewed. Because her problems were so obvious, and because she owned them so well, I ignored my problems. Big mistake! My stuff was also hurting our marriage and sex life. Some of my stuff was making her stuff even more painful for both of us. Some of my stuff made it difficult for her to work through some of her stuff.

Eventually, I realised I needed to own up to and deal with my sexual baggage. Doing that made life, and sex, better for both of us. Had I admitted and worked on my stuff sooner we both would have benefited. Additionally, we would have gotten to an awesome sex life sooner; maybe years sooner.

It’s rare for problems in marriage (sexual or otherwise) to be all about one person. Even when one person is the majority of the issue, their spouse usually has something they need to change. Focusing on the one who is most “at fault” may seem logical, but it’s not the best approach. Any good change by one person can make it easier for the other to change. The person who is less “at fault” has less to do, and should be able to make quicker progress. A small change can supercharge the change process for the spouse, or encourage them to work on change in the first place. 

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10 comments
MrComplicated
MrComplicated

This resonates with me on so many levels.  Are there any resources you could recommend ?  

MrComplicated
MrComplicated

Also resources for how to navigate a relationship when you know your partner has had childhood abuse. Trust issues, prone to lashing out, insecurity, etc.

Justagirl123
Justagirl123

How did you two release both of your baggage? I have never been married. My boyfriend was sexually abused as a child and I had made the dumb decision of watching porn several times.. I haven't watched it in months however. I want to get rid of my warped view of sex before I am married and I also want to help my boyfriend get past his past. How do I do that?

themarriagebed
themarriagebed moderator

@Justagirl123  It was a slow, deliberate process steeped in prayer. We were willing to help each other, but each focused on our own stuff.

Spamgoshi
Spamgoshi

Thanks for the post. I have a question. You said your sex life improved after you admitted your sexual baggage. If she was abused sexually, did she not find you repulsive or did she not magnify your baggage exaggerating the problem with mixed, strong and hurtful feelings of her own? Did she not retract from you, putting you in the same light as her previous abusers?

It's really important that I know how you helped her as I empathise more than you know.

Many thanks

themarriagebed
themarriagebed moderator

@Spamgoshi  She did struggle with things as you suggest. The important in that sentence is the word struggle - she knew it was wrong and she fought with it. She didn't always win, in fact, she lost more often than she won at first, but gradually she did better and better.

My problem was assuming all the struggle was about her past. In reality, my approach was not always the best. Some (maybe more than some) of my efforts to have sex were done in ways that would have put off a woman with no abuse in her past. My poor attempts were in part a result of my past.

Admitting I had sexual baggage meant I no longer dismissed any failure as being about her. I started looking at myself and how I approached her. I started learning and trying other things

UBAwesome
UBAwesome

A good reminder. I need to look at my own perspective in balance with those of my wife. Time for a healthy self-assessment and discussion.

IntimacySeeker
IntimacySeeker

Thanks for this insight. Perhaps I generalize here, but many husbands would say their wives have baggage to address and lack the courage to face their own baggage. Brene Brown, in her TED talk on vulnerability, defines courage as "telling the story of who you are with your whole heart." For those observing Lent (today is Ash Wednesday), what if your Lenten journey led you to a place of vulnerability?

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@IntimacySeeker  I think men are, by and large, less willing to address their baggage. The one place I see as an exception is women dealing with their sexual baggage - I see a lot of denial, justification and excuses there.

Big fan of Brene. She found it very difficult and painful journey, so she can speak to it from that place.

Give up hiding for Lent? I like it!

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