A couple of years ago I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s office and he turns to me and asks, do you fantasize about your wife? “Of course I do,” was my reply. I expected that to be very normal and not an issue. I was definitely still in my early stages of addiction recovery (more of the discovery stage versus the solution stage). His simple but powerful reply was, “That’s interesting. Does she know that you fantasize about her? Do you have her permission?” I went to answer and found I had no words. I was dumbfounded. I had never thought of that before.
When I was a teenager I struggled with both pornography and masturbation. When I started dating around 16 years old I decided that I wanted to stop masturbating as I was concerned it might interfere with how I treated the girls I liked. Additionally, my church also taught us that we should gain self mastery over our physical bodies and that included not masturbating. It took me about a year to finally break the habit and the biggest reason it took so long is that I kept wanting to hold on to sexual fantasy and not let it go.
It should come as no surprise that once I learned to master my thoughts and stopped allowing myself to fantasize about other women or pornography I was finally able to stop my habit of masturbation. I call it a habit because I didn’t have to fight it like I did my addiction to pornography. For those of you that are addicted, I definitely recommend speaking with a trained sexual addiction therapist and working with a 12 step group. Be sure you interview your potential therapist to see if they share your views on what you’re trying to accomplish (not all therapists are the same).
Fast forward back to sitting in my therapist’s office. That was such a profound thing to hear, “Does she know and do you have her permission?” No, she did not know. No, I did not have her permission. In fact, as I thought about it I began to realize that I couldn’t remember the last time that we had been intimate where I was not engaged in mental fantasy about her and I doing something else. I was never present. I was not being intimate, I was fantasizing. It was about my needs and experience. It was not about hers or ours. I feel sad writing this. We’ve been married for over 20 years. I can’t remember if I’ve always done that but I think it was most of the time.
Now for the good news (enough sadness for now): I do not fantasize about my wife any longer. I met with my therapist a couple of months ago (you can read about it here) and one of the questions he asked was, “How are you and your wife doing?” I quietly sat and took in the emotions that question brought up in me. I realized that there was something different, something new. There was this warm glow inside of me when I thought of her. I would call it intimacy. When we are together the experience is different. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that it is better. I believe that for the first time or at least in a long time, I know what it means to be intimate and not just sexual. That’s pretty cool 🙂
My name is Mike