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Codependent wants bedroom advice
July 22, 2009
2:04 pm
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LifeandLack
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So, I recently discovered that a lot of my charcter traits are due to codependency. One of those traits was a high sex drive, because I was using sex for acceptance/love, right? Well, upon having it revealed that I only wanted sex because I really wanted something else, I'm really not interested at all now. Which would be alright, except for the fact that, uh, my husband still wants some. But when he wants to, I really don't feel like it, and when I go ahead and do it anyways, I still feel unsatisfied. I've traied to talk to him about it, but he feels like I'm rejecting him, and like he's not being a "good enough" husband, so he gets super depressed.

I want to want him, but I feel like it will take time for me to recover enough to want him, and I don't know what to do in the meantime. Suggestions?

July 22, 2009
2:06 pm
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Zebra
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I have the same issue and I will await others to respond; so we both can get advice on this issue.

Hang in there...Love, Z

July 22, 2009
2:24 pm
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Hmmm so that is what it is? Well being single I have just gone without but can't wait for you to get some answers

Bitsy

July 22, 2009
2:52 pm
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Zebra
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LifeandLack,

See what a wonderful question you brought up and see that you are not alone in this.

Hi Bisty.

Love, Z

July 22, 2009
3:10 pm
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StronginHim77
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I strongly recommend that you get into a professional therapist for counsel on this. There are MANY issues involved which really can't be addressed by anyone, other than a trained professional.

- Ma Strong

July 22, 2009
3:52 pm
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Zebra
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Thanks MaStrong.

Love, Z

July 22, 2009
4:24 pm
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fantas
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I agree with Ma. You both need therapy individually and differently. In the mean time, consider the fact for the length of your relationship, you might have used your husband to cater to your addiction and now are treating him like the addiction you are trying to kick. The two are different. He is right, you are rejecting him and he is feeling and expressing it. It could be, deep down his conscience knows that you never really wanted him in the first place, hence the sadness.

I'm not trying to be harsh here but it looks like you alone are dictating the nature of this form of intimacy in your relationship. I understand you may not be feeling like it, however, you should have the awareness that you have set him up to expect lots of sex and now you have decided to change that. From his perspective this is unfair and I'm sure very hurtful. He is probably having a really difficult time emotionally. It's the equivalence of being with someone who only loves you when they want to and not when you want to be loved.

Therapy would clarify all this up. Keep posting!!!

July 22, 2009
4:25 pm
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fantas
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I meant individually and together...

July 22, 2009
5:04 pm
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soofoo
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I have questions. The first one is for anyone. Why isn't it okay/healthy to seek love and acceptance through sex with your husband?

I understand why it might be a problem to seek love and acceptance by having sex with strangers, or people you can't have a relationship with, etc. But I think it's reasonable to seek love and acceptance sexually from your husband. I think sex with a committed monogamous partner can (and should) fulfill the need for love and acceptance. So it's okay to take those needs to bed.

My second question is more specific to lifeandlack. But maybe others would want to respond too. The question is what are you recovering from? And what needs to happen so that you feel that you have recovered?

July 22, 2009
5:41 pm
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LifeandLack
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Wow, so many responses! Thanks, everyone!

To all, does therapy really help? Everybody I know who has ever been to counseling has recieved marginal, if any, help from it. When we went to premarital counseling, our counselor was just full of hot air. I'm a little wary of therapists based on this experience.

soofoo, I don't want to be codependent forever. That's what I'm trying to recover from. I want to be able to feel like I'm okay by myself and not always needing approval from everybody. I want to be more clear about my own feelings and expectations from life. But all the sources I check say that you need to get away from the person you're codependent on to be able to develop all that, but I want to stay with my husband. Codependency aside, there's absolutely no reason for me to leave.

But, I agree that in a monogamos relationship, it's fine for you to get love and acceptence in bed. It's just that I don't think that should be the only way you feel loved. I feel like I should be able to feel loved outside of the bedroom too. And considering my husband is very generous with loving words, there's no reason I should be needing to be in bed to know that he loves me.

Again, thanks all.

July 23, 2009
2:31 am
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soofoo
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Lifeandlack,
I found most therapists to be unhelpful too. But I know a lot of people, especially here, that swear by therapy. There was one therapist that helped me, by giving me very solid and sound advice about how to create a network of support in my life. She was a social worker. I didn't spend much time with her, but I didn't need to.

I see what you mean, about wanting to feel okay by yourself and to not need approval, and wanting to be more clear about your own feelings and expectations from life.

I fully believe that you can do this and stay married, if that is what you want to do. I think that respecting your own feelings about sex at the moment is a great start. At this time, you wish to be celibate. Own it. Tell your husband this is part of your journey in self-exploration, that it has nothing to do with him whatsoever, and that you love him. And allow yourself all the time you need to be celibate.

And then be open to what happens next, and let it flow as it will.

July 23, 2009
2:52 am
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chelonia mydas
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Hi Lifeandlack,

I faced a similar situation a few years ago (although there are major variations: in addition to working through codependency, I'm also working on childhood abuse issues- also my relationship had some major issues that had developed because of my issues and his inability to face/deal with issues). I stood my ground with celibacy and hubby felt rejected. We went to therpy- but the only one covered by the insurance really sucked and made things even more complicated and horrible. If I could do it over- I would have done better screening of therapists and chosen the right one, insurance or not. I honestly feel that was a major turning point in our relationship and we turned apart- partly because of the misguidance of the therapist. Had we had a therapist that better fit us, we might have grown together and our relationship would be better because of my healing and working things out.

End result was that I had decided to embark on a healing journey. Hubby was invited to join me. He only wanted to come if we maintained the same level of sex. Part of my healing required celibacy. We've now been divorced for two years.

Looking back it was the best thing because I have grown more in the past two years and am so happy of the direction I'm going now. I am confident that I couldn't have done it and stayed in my same patterns. Spending time by myself allowed me to see that I blamed him for a lot of my issues. Once I took off the blankets of the relationship- all I had was me and I needed to see that naked view in order to accurately identify where I need to grow.

I really wish I had gotten more support from my hubby, but without his support for me to heal, our relationship was headed south anyway. I was becoming a bitter old hag that wasn't the person he would have wanted as a spouse. I do feel that the person I am becoming is much closer to the person he would have liked. But life isn't always what we want. This just means that there is something else out there for me.

July 23, 2009
10:21 am
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LifeandLack,

I read this post and then had to close it the first time because it was like handling a hot potato. Our situations have threads of similarity.

I was the one that always wanted sex and he was the one that often turned me down. I started to feel rejected by him and I sought another person.

The part that is really similar is where I am now. For the first time, I actually verbalized that I didn't feel like having sex. That felt good but I know he felt rejected. At this point, I'm much more interested in working through issues than having sex. I felt like there was an imbalance of power among other things.

We have been to a counselor. I think that helped some but now I feel like I'm on a journey. I don't know if he's coming with me or not.

July 23, 2009
9:12 pm
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LifeandLack
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I've actually considered asking to have a seperate bedroom--we're moving from a 1 br to a 2 br later this summer. It seems like a lot of sources say that you have to "discover yourself" to recover from codependency, but is that the right way to approach it? I want our marriage to work out... I feel like I'm beginning to get better, but I'm not sure if he's going to. (He won't admit that he's a little codependent too.)

Lanigirl, I relate. I'm beginning to grow, but I'm not sure if he's going to come too.

Again, thanks all. You're really helping support me.

July 24, 2009
2:42 am
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fantas
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(((lifeandlack & Lanigirl))),

You are both definitely consciously on your journey to recovery. Wooohooo!!!

No one can go on it with you until they are ready to work on their own recovery. You can only work on you. Since you are in a relationship by choice and your partners are willing to communicate with you, I feel like it's only fair to communicate the journeys you are on as well as accept your partners exactly where they are and allow them to speak their hurts just like you are. It's possible that once they understand what is at the core of the matter, they will offer to support you.

Someone on this site posted that their partner was so worried about triggering past trauma that he didn't want to have sex with the her. He was willing to do whatever he needed to keep her feeling safe and loved.

From what I have read, regardless of the addiction, the addict always seeks to control circumstances, mostly driven by fear. They are their own #1 priority and nothing or no one is even a close second. Often many addicts will transfer one addiction to another. Make sure that you aren't replacing the sexual addiction (my word not yours) with the obsession with recovering. One way I'm able to assess that is to see if I'm able to allow others to have their emotions, ideas, thoughts, without me needing to offer an opinion about it or feeling attacked and ignored.

If you are ready to seek recovery while you are with your partner, with whom you had a codependent relationship, you must decide if you are able to accept them as they are or let them go. Insisting they now adjust their lifestyle to match yours no matter how commendable and beneficial it is, is another form of control. You can't have it both ways. It's like a person insisting that no one around him drinks alcohol since he/she is now sober. Would be a kind gesture of support if people refrained from liquor in his presence, but he can't require that of them nor should he be upset if they said no to his request. They aren't in recovery with him.

By choosing to not continue the relationship as it was, because it wasn't fulfilling for you, is awesome and you should continue on it. However, there will be a time you will need to make amends to those you hurt along the way in order to fully let go of the past hurts and wounds. I find that this is a good yardstick for me to balance my journey of healing with my interaction with those around me. Now, if I feel that I will need to ask for forgiveness later I will think long and hard about how I need to handle things. Slows things down quite a bit, but in end it well worth it.

By the way, I'm not saying you should have sex with the partners but that you should attempt to understand this from their perspectives so you aren't guilt tripped to do what you don't want to you or develop resentment and judgment about how your partners choose to react to your recovery process.

I wish you all the best on this path. Please keep us posted...

July 24, 2009
11:26 pm
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Thanks Fantas. The tricky part is trying to keep a balance and I know I go overboard with recovery at times.

The part you wrote about the addict really hit home. Hard to hear.

LifeandLack,

I completely get where you are coming from. Have you asked him how he feels about separate bedrooms? I'm not certain myself of how to proceed with things.

July 25, 2009
10:01 pm
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LifeandLack
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Fantas, interesting input. It's been good for me to think about it from his point of view. "Everything was great until...", right? I wonder if the codependent thing was a surprise to him...

Lanigirl,
Yeah, I did make the suggestion of seperate bedrooms to him... He said that he would not like it, but if I wanted to, we could do it. So I have the option to, but I'm not sure if it would really be what's best for me, or for us. This is so hard.

Thanks for the help.

July 27, 2009
12:39 am
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soofoo
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Lifeandlack,

There are a lot of different definitions for "codependent".

Codependency isn't the same thing as attachment. But when being attached to someone does damage to your life because that person is an alcoholic or addict, or in some other way very messed up, then you are in a codependent situation. It can cause you to feel a need to control that person, because that person's craziness is messing up your life. But you can't really control another person, it's hard enough just to control yourself, so you run into many problems. I had this problem. I read the book "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie and I got a lot out of the practice of detachment. It's a better way to deal with someone else's problem behavior, or your own anxiety about someone else's problem behavior or anything else you can't control. It's the art of letting go. Instead of trying to control the outcome, you take a deep breath and let it be. Let events unfold, let nature run it's course. If you can't bear to totally let go, you "hold on loosely". Just relax your grip on everything, especially that other person. It is surrender, and yet it is empowering.

Having sex could be a way to control a relationship. But so can not having sex. The sex isn't the issue. It's the energy that you're putting into it. If you have trouble with codependency, you might tend to wall another person in, or wall another person out. You are likely to flip flop between the two. It's due to a lack of faith (in the environment, the universe, God, a natural order) and trust (in the person with whom you have the relationship).

I am telling you this with love and without judgment. I hope it doesn't sound rude. You say that you want to stay married but your actions point to something else. Again I am not judging you here. I have had many, many conflicting emotions and actions myself. There could be many reasons why this is happening. I know what they could be but I have no idea which one.

I am going to clarify, and I hope you'll forgive me in advance if I sound rude. If my friend told me that their spouse wanted a separate bedroom, I would think to myself "this is the beginning of the end". Getting a separate bedroom is a very strong action of separation from a spouse. Sleeping in a separate room is not. Having a guest room, and then sleeping in it when you have a fight or during a rocky time, is a different situation. Even if one spouse sleeps in it for a long time, say a month. As long as it is still the guest room or the attic, or the workshop or whatever, this is not as serious. But when you ask for a separate bedroom, that to me, is a very clear sign that you are on your way out.

So if you really want to keep your marriage intact, then that is not the best move.

Codependents have trouble with responsibility. We can be overly responsible. We are the people who volunteer to do things that others can and should do for themselves. But when we become exhausted by this we can flip flop and neglect our relationships, refusing to take responsibility for what we cherish, failing to provide necessary care.

Sometimes you can get into a push/pull dynamic in a love relationship. She pulls away and he is drawn to her more feverishly, then he pulls away and she is the one clinging. I have heard this described as codependency and I can see why. The cure for this is not more pushing and pulling. The cure is detachment. This is simple, but difficult. You let the person go. They want to go, you kiss them goodbye. You don't cling, even though you want to. When one person does that, the dynamic is obliterated. Often the relationship goes with it. But it doesn't have to if both people are willing to stand on their own two feet.

How do you solve the push pull dynamic if you are the one pulling away or pushing the other one away? You simply detach from that behavior. If you intend to stay in the relationship then stay in it. Don't move out, get an apartment, see a lawyer, file for divorce, etc. If you need time to yourself, take it. Own it. Sleep on the couch. Go for a walk or a drive alone. Say "I don't want to have sex tonight." These are reasonable things to take for yourself in a marriage, and if you aren't doing them, you don't need to get a divorce or move into your own bedroom to start doing them.

There is a reason every good recovery program has you take things one day at a time.

July 27, 2009
9:35 am
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Lanigirl
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Sofoo,

I appreciate your words.

Finding that balance is very difficult for me. You're right, I'm either too invested to the point of neglecting myself or I pull away. I see the push/pull dynamic often happen in my marriage. The more I ignore, the more attention is showered on me.

I'm really working on just letting him go into his zones without clinging. Saying no to sex felt to me like I was giving myself permission to say no. I didn't do it in a mean way. I'm really working on self-care.

July 27, 2009
9:58 am
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Being divoreced from one man and having ended a relationship with another due to his cheating...sex isn't the answer here. It isn't even the question. My ex husband didn't have a very strong sex drive and often I was left to fend for myself (by myself). When I was involved with the other man, we both had a very strong sex drive. I gave him so much sex he should have been too exhausted to cheat on me, but he wasn't.

There is something else going on here. Even though I hang out and post here, I think codependency is over rated and much to diagnosed. You are in a MARRIAGE. Marriage by it's very definition is a codependent relationship. Is he a drug addict, alcoholic, or some other addict ? Are you? Some of the best advice I ever got on marriage was from an elderly neighbor after my daughter was born. I was telling her how exhausted I was and that I had no energy or interest for sex. Her advice (and she had been married 50+ years at that time) was "you better get interested".

Your husband sees this as a rejection of him. He is going to start looking for validation somewhere else. I would see a couples therapist ASAP if I were you...

Bitsy

July 27, 2009
11:22 pm
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soofoo
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lanigirl,
Thanks for responding to my post. I think the push and pull stuff is just human nature. We want what is unavailable. The desire fuels itself.

I wasn't suggesting that it's mean to refuse sex. I think you should refuse sex when you want to and have sex when you want to. It's a mood thing, and it should be. But if you make a plan to refuse sex, it's probably something you're doing for control, to get a leg up on your partner. And I don't even think THAT'S necessarily mean. Although it could be.

I would call the push/pull dynamic and a whole lot of other related dynamics normal human interaction. It's the regular game we all play. It's a standard chase game. I chase you and you run away and then once I catch you, you chase me and I run away and so on.

It is very freeing to stop playing the game. And no one else ever has to stop playing with you. You can just unilaterally sit this one out. It doesn't have to be a life-long decision either. But I think it's a good idea to sit it out if you are getting injured or exhausted by the play. Taking a break gives you some peace of mind. You can take that with you when you go in again too, and help keep the drama from spilling over into the dysfunctional stuff like the break up/make-up phenomena. Sure, if you sit it out, your partner is going to taunt you. Remember when you were a kid and you were "it" and maybe you didn't feel like playing and the kids would say "soofoo's it, soofoo's it, she's a stupid iddy-it!" until you started chasing them? That's exactly what it is. It's the same darn thing.

It's tricky, if you want to become truly more independent. Because as soon as you start cultivating independence, you will become very attractive to others and start getting all the attention you weren't getting before, which is why you started cultivating independence in the first place. And when THAT happens you are likely to say eff independence I've got love! And forget all about the endeavors that made you so attractive in the first place.

July 27, 2009
11:55 pm
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Part of recovering from codependency is getting in touch with YOUR feelings. Making sure that your feelings are important to you.

When it comes to sex its simple have sex if you feel like it and dont have sex if you dont feel like it.

If you feel that feeling loved is important before you have sex then make sure you feel that before you have it.

Learn how to tell a man what you want and dont want. That way he can have a chance to fix the problem.

It doesnt matter if you are married or not. You dont owe any one your body. Your body belongs to YOU.

If you are with a man that you dont feel like sleeping in a bed with. Then why be with him at all?

July 28, 2009
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fantas
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There is a difference in dependence, interdependent, and codependent. In a very simplified nutshell, Children especially babies are dependents on their parents. This is a one way giving relationship for the most part. The children know that if they do not follow the rules and expectations of the house, no matter how twisted or sick, they may not survive. Therefore they learn to adjust their emotions, needs, behaviors, and contribution to the household to meet this very important need. Codependent tendencies start here. If the parents create an environment that requires the child to manipulate circumstances, withhold their needs, offer more than they should have to, they continue to use these skills to relate to others in their future. Manipulations to get the outcome desired and learning to anticipate people's needs, and people pleasing, are major traits of codependents. Boundaries are only as good as they help the codependent feel safe.

Interdependence suggests a more balanced and respectful relationship between people. As the child grows, the parents teach him/her how to express their desires respectfully and accept people's responses to them without inducing guilt, shame, or fear in them. Hopefully the parents hold them responsible for appropriate things. The parents in this case allow the children to learn through their own mistakes and success. They openly support and protect them without making feel responsible for that which the parents are for. There is a clear boundary between the adult and children world but it's based on respect not disregard. Children are allowed to question and create solutions to some of their needs and never made to feel responsible for their parents' well being.

Many of us who are codependents or whatever the term is, usually experienced the over protective/controlling, neglectful, abusive, dependent, perfectionist, religiously dogmatic, keeping up appearances, etc. type of parents, who made us feel shame, guilt, belittled, overly important/responsible, helpless, useless, worthless, etc. Because our greatest need was always for survival and to be loved, we learned to put our child needs a side and meet these new needs. Many of us are emotionally stunted from whatever age we started to cope instead of living. For me it was about 6 years of age.

Almost all our relationships will mirror this emotional stunted growth until such a time when we gain the awareness of our automated reaction to the circumstances around us and seek the appropriate assistance to help that little child mature to match our chronological maturity. Hence the term healing journey. I believe that relationships are meant for this very purpose and we attract into out lives those who will help us heal our wounds. There is no short cut. We are offered this opportunity each time until we get it. Hence the repeated attraction to the same characteristics in different people.
All the various forms of addictions/addicts we encounter are all pointing us to the wounds we wish to heal. Heal the wound, heal the addiction or replace it with a healthy coping strategy.

I always wondered how I could be so successful in other parts of my life and not in relationships. It always felt like there was a life manual out there that others were using except me. Several bad relationships which only got worse with each one and physical illness later, I was forces to look into myself instead of others for help and healing. I'm still on this journey but things are so much more clearer now.

To all of us, may our healing journey continue to yield us growth and wisdom.

July 28, 2009
5:54 am
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Hey, thanks to all for their input.

Bitsy, you're right. There's a lot going on in life. The threat of job loss was looming (just confirmed today), alcoholism, mismatched sex drives, and an affair.

Sofoo,
Yes, I want to stop the playing. As Fantas suggested, I learned to play whatever games were being offered in order to get love. I want to work toward offering love to myself so I don't need to exhaust myself looking outward.

Fantas,
You continue to offer information that helps me. It's taking time to unlearn all the childhood stuff I adapted to in order to survive.

Destinystar,
Good reminder. I am giving myself permission to say no when I feel like no and yes when I feel like yes.
This was the first time in 20+ years that I can remember that I said no. It wasn't planned and it felt good cause I plain didn't feel like it. A

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