I find that I'm stuck in a vicious cycle. When Pete views pornography and practices self-gratification I withdraw my physical affection and shut down sexually. Some of the reasons for this are obvious, some I am still discovering. But the more our intimate relationship suffers the more he is tempted by outside sources for fulfillment of his desires.
I am learning not to take responsibility for his actions. I used to believe that if we just had sex more often he wouldn't be interested in pornography. I know that this is not true. He has an addiction and I can't make it go away by forcing intimacy that is neither fulfilling or enjoyable for me. He has damaged our intimate relationship and therefore it will take time and effort to repair that damage. In the meantime he will have to learn to resist temptation and suppress his raging hormones because I refuse to have sex just to appease him. This is not to say that I withhold intimacy out of anger and revenge. I am trying to regain my desire and have a healthy sexual relationship in spite of his struggles.
I used this analogy the other night to explain to him how his episodes with pornography and self-gratification have hurt my self esteem. He is the financial provider in our home. He takes pride and satisfaction in knowing that he is capable of meeting my material needs. He works hard to support us and give us a comfortable life, and is confident in doing so. When he looks elsewhere to meet his sexual needs I feel robbed of my opportunity to meet those needs for him, the way God intended. It hurts my self-esteem and self image.
My other struggle comes when my husband approaches me to solicit intercourse. I find myself doubting his motives. Is he coming on to me because his male body desires gratification? Or is he attracted to me, loves me, and longs for us to be intimate again?
Getting past pornography to have a healthy intimate relationship is so difficult. But I know that it is an important step to healing and ultimately will help us be happy and emotionally close.
I have found a great source to help me. The Marital Intimacy Show by Laura Brotherson. She is straightforward and understanding. You can get the podcast for free on iTunes.