The love languages:
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Physical touch
- Connectedness: The desire to feel emotionally connected, engaged and intimate with our partner.
- Priority: The desire to feel like our partner has made us their top priority.
- Affirmation: The desire to be accepted and validated.
- Equality: The desire to have equal influence and control in our relationship.
- Freedom: The desire to maintain an independent identity within the marriage.
But enter a hidden and secret dimension--one that my ex-partner defended and protected to the very end--sexual compulsions, addiction and pedophilia.
Dr. Bill Struthers has written an excellent book on the impact of pornography (adult not child) on the male brain. From his research he found that when men watch a pornographic video, "The brain reacts in such a way as if [he] were the person engaged in the sexual act. Viewing a pornographic movie creates a neurological experience whereby a person vicariously participates in what he is watching." (Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. 2009. P. 96). According to Struthers, when masturbation is combined with the viewing, a new neural pathway is established without the presence of a partner and the man attaches to the image rather than to a person. So in essence, "Pornography corrupts the ability to be intimate." (p. 45) The user has learned to substitute the quick and easy fix that pornography provides for the emotional and relational work that true intimacy requires.
Patrick Carnes, the pioneer of sex addiction treatment indicates that "Addicts withhold a major portion of themselves--a pain deeply felt, but never expressed or witnessed. They do not trust nor do they become intimate with others, especially their families." (Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, 2001. P. 6) Furthermore, their "Secret lives become more real than their public lives." (p. 15). He has likened cybersex (Internet pornography, instant messaging, chat rooms, etc.) to crack coccaine--all it may take is one exposure for an addiction to occur.
So what does all this have to do with love languages and emotional needs?
Each week in my recovery group I hear stories from men and women married to an addict and their relationship woes are so similar to mine. It really is amazing to me because for so long, I felt alone and isolated. But these men and women work hard to maintain good communication, to affirm, to connect with their significant other. And the tears and sorrow they feel is because it is a losing battle. You cannot connect with someone who is not available for connection. And you will not be a priority when the mistress Addiction is the driver of the relationship. She must be dealt with first and dealing with her is not pretty or clean.