Her Needs, His Needs

On this blog I have done very little talking about the needs of a husband or the non-DID spouse. As a Christian there are so many commands in the Bible to put the other person first that it almost feels sacrilegious for me to talk about my own needs. And so I tried, though far from perfectly, to do what I thought was right hoping that if I loved my wife and satisfied her needs, somehow or someway my needs would get met. But though I honestly found a lot of joy in loving my wife, that joy never seemed able to erase the ache in my heart from the lack of my needs being satisfied.

Expressing my needs on this blog or in comments on other blogs and personal emails has brought mixed reactions, however (which is why I wrote this entry 3 weeks ago, but have feared posting it lest I start another firestorm.). A few have expressed empathy at the difficult situation both Karen and I are in as they acknowledge their own marital struggles. But more often I have been expressly told, or it has been implied, that Karen’s healing needs must come first. Period.

But this sentiment may be the reason why many husbands simply walk out or threaten to do so. I understand that the healing journey for a trauma overcomer means that they must learn to have their needs validated: something that never happened when the abuse was occurring. But validation should never come by invalidating the needs of others especially a spouse or significant other. The non-DID spouse/so has just as legitimate needs as the DID spouse does even if they are different. Period. To suggest that the trauma victim should be given pre-eminence simply because of the trauma is to invalidate the needs of the other person, and that is a recipe for abandonment, divorce or, as in my case, struggling with thoughts of suicide for the last 22 years.

So where does that leave us? Ideally each spouse would make it his/her priority to meet the needs of the other. But DID and the presence of the insiders, many of whom are children, throw an unavoidable twist into this scenario. Yet not even the presence of the littles should relieve the DID spouse of her/his desire to find acceptable ways to meet the legitimate needs of her spouse while not trampling on the needs of the insiders.

If this topic generates any interest, I would like to explore at least one subject that I’m sure is a source of contention: sex, and see if we could brainstorm together and try to make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation. I’m not interested in venting, and I won’t allow it on this blog because I’m sure that littles peek here. I’m also not interested in solutions that don’t take into account the safety of the insiders: the non-DID spouse’s needs don’t trump the DID spouse and the insiders’ needs either. But I’m interested in ways which understand if the legitimate sexual needs of the non-DID spouse aren’t met, somehow, during the difficult healing journey, marital disaster may be in store.

Beyond that, I would be happy to explore in subsequent entries other needs that anyone else would like to brainstorm about. If anyone is interested in brainstorming about this topic, let’s post thoughts and suggestions in the comments section.


Sam, I Am

(dissociative identity disorder)


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sam Ruck
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 22:43:07

    (Caution: this is not appropriate for littles)
    Okay, so how are the sexual needs of the non-DID spouse going to be met without violating the safety needs of the littles? Another issue: sometimes Karen wanted to have sex with me, but the insiders opposed it. Below are various, generic ways I have tried to think of to take care of anyone’s sexual needs on a sliding scale from the ideal way of happy, satisfying sex between spouses to the worst, alternative: divorce and remarriage.

    1) mutually satisfying sex between spouses. This is the ideal, but honestly our marriage has never hit this ideal in 22 years. We had sex, sometimes, but it was never satisfying to either of us no matter how hard I tried to make it good for her.
    2) non-penetrating “sex” In my mind this isn’t “real” sex no matter how much others have insisted it can be. But the husband and wife are still trying to be somewhat intimate. Since penetration often is highly triggering, couples do everything they feel comfortable doing but that. In our case, however, Alleylieu told me that as she came out more and more and lived just below the “surface” non-penetrating sex became triggering to her even if Karen enjoyed it.
    3) private masturbation. I completely saved myself for my wife having never even done this before I was married. So it’s been a struggle for me to even consider this a legitimate option in spite of the general acceptance it has in our culture. To me this is the first, definitive step in the wrong direction because once sex becomes an individual activity then one’s mind has to conjure up fantasies to reach a climax (and the fantasies likely won’t include a spouse who can’t/won’t have sex with her/his spouse). But…sigh…things are NOT going to be ideal in a DID marriage until a significant amount of healing takes place. So better this than some of the alternatives further down this list.
    4) masturbation with the use of pornography and sex toys. I see this as a further move away from one’s spouse. Very quickly plain masturbation loses its power to excite and so there becomes a need to inject it with excitement from external sources.

    Karen and I are no longer celibate, but it was an hellacious 7 months this year while we gave Alleylieu time to heal, and physical intimacy is still an infrequent, one-sided affair in which my needs are not really considered. So I still find myself teetering at this stage.

    So here’s the question: should a DID spouse willingly sanction the use of whatever “aids” the other spouse needs/wants during a period of extreme sensitivity by the insiders because the next step in my mind leads to the point of no return? And yes these aids may not be moral, ethical or desirable in a healthy marriage (don’t want to debate that here), but maybe these are better than something far worse.
    5) prostitution/one-night stands. The non-DID spouse is desperate for his needs to be met, so he/she justifies that this is sex “without any relationship.” The slippery slope is getting steeper…
    6) extra-marital affair. Now the point of no-return has almost been reached as another person has been brought into the mix to satisfy the longings of the heart and body.
    7) divorce and remarriage. The non-DID spouse decides to have his/her legitimate needs met by someone else.

    I’m an idealist. I have found anything but the attempt at #1 wholly unsatisfying. And yet my unwillingness to bend my ideals has often brought me near to the breaking point. So I am trying to learn to bend because I do NOT want to break. I love my wife and girls, but to ignore anyone’s needs is dangerous to a marriage. I hope others will feel free to share their thoughts.


  2. davidrochester
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 23:52:21

    As a DIDer with a DID partner, I have found masturbation to be the best and most satisfying solution to periods of time when one or both of us were having difficulty with sex. I guess I don’t understand your comment about it being unlikely to include fantasies about the partner who is sexually reticent. I have never fantasized about anyone other than my partner, and they are wonderful fantasies focusing on how I know the future will be once we are both safe. They’re emotionally and physically fulfilling, and I feel completely connected to my partner. Perhaps I am unusual in being able to absolutely inhabit a fantasy about a partner I actually have, and to project that fantasy into circumstances which are evolving rather than immediately present. I’ve never understood why most men need to fantasize about women other than the ones they’re with, so perhaps my psychological or emotional wiring is what makes this solution possible. I am completely in love with my partner, and she is the embodiment of everything I’ve ever wanted, so … it’s pretty easy to fantasize about her, and to fantasize about sexual experiences we haven’t yet been able to have, and to fantasize around memories of the good experiences we *have*had. It’s not a solitary activity; it includes her in a pretty profound way, even if she’s not there for it.


    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 30, 2010 @ 00:11:27


      thank you so very much for your comments. Maybe my problem is struggling with frustration/resentment at the lack of the sex life I had dream about and that Hollywood shoves in our faces all the time. I think you offer a wonderful and worthy goal: to make our partners the star of our fantasies!

      Thanks again!


      edit: 4/6/11 I have thought about David’s reply for a long time. And I’m not sure my reply was honest. David has DID. Maybe masturbation is fine with him. I do NOT have DID. I kept myself a virgin until I got married and hadn’t even masturbated before I got married (yeah you can psychoanalyze me if you want). But masturbation is NOT supposed to be the main course in a happy married relationship. If I wanted it as my main course, I could have stayed single.


  3. Kay
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 19:02:49

    (not a reply for littles to read)

    Being the DID partner in my marriage, I’m thrilled to find this blog (cause I’m totally going to send my husband the link) and I know that at times this has been an issue – and maybe some perspective from another system might help.

    I know that this comment is going to be from my perspective, and as such I apologize if it isn’t as helpful as I would like it to be.

    There were a number things that helped to make sex safe for me within my marriage- the first and primary one was learning the difference between abuse and sex. It meant long conversations, it meant lots of research and reading – it meant talking with a close female that I trust about sex. Because the reality is that due to the trauma and neglect, I never had an accurate picture of what healthy sex was.

    The second part – was to create a safe room inside for all those who would be scared, uncomfortable, traumatized etc if they were to accidentally pop out in the middle. We explained to them that sex was different from what they knew and that this was my choice. We explained that just like they got to have times to do special things with our partner, that this was a biggers way of having something special and that it was something we wanted even if it felt scary sometimes.

    There’s a book by Wendy Maltz called The Sexual Healing Journey which might be a resource worth looking into. It has been very helpful to a lot of people (DID and non) that we know. We used a similar approach in our own life – of slowly reclaiming things.

    Instead of trying to have intercourse from the get go, we started with just cuddling, and then cuddling with one piece of clothing off each – leading to a place of mutual masturbation, and so on and so forth.

    I did also want to say that while there does need to be focus on healing, those needs do not trump your needs. It’s a struggle to find the balance between my healing and being able to meet my husband’s needs not just sexually, but overall just being a stay at home wife. I know there’s a lot out there that puts the survivor’s needs above everyone else’s but that isn’t balanced. Even without trauma there are times when some needs are more urgent for one partner, than for the other. Sometimes needs are in direct opposition to each other – and then like so many other things, it’s about compromise.

    I also agree with the comment above that masturbation when things are just too stirred up internally has been helpful. And I know that my husband does make that choice sometimes, and that when he does, he is thinking and fantasizing about me.


    • Sam Ruck
      Jan 25, 2011 @ 22:15:16

      Hi Kay,

      welcome to my blog and thanks for your thoughtful reply. I had hoped this entry would generate responses from both spouses, so I’m very happy to hear your perspective.

      Since I wrote this entry awhile ago, Alley (the defender) has begun to let me and Karen have sex again. But I found that Karen wasn’t always trustworthy to let me know how the others were doing while we were being intimate (because sometimes she wants to do it for me or herself and doesn’t want to listen to the others), so I talked with Alley and gave her a way to signal me (she digs her nails into my arm–hopefully without drawing blood, lol) without having to come all the way out when Karen and I are being together. Alley has only used the signal once but each time I make sex something in which Alley knows she has an out if she gets scared, it gives her a history of sex feeling safe to her.

      Another thing I’m doing to help Alley become more comfortable with physical intimacy is she and I are learning to snuggle together. I noticed that the insiders like to hide under desks and tables when they get scared. So I told her, “Honey, will you let me become a ‘living desk’ for you?” But she wanted to know ‘what if I feel trapped with you?’ So she and I worked on helping her know that I would NEVER trap her, that whether by word or actions she only had to make it clear to me that she wanted out of my arms, and I would instantly release her. And she has REALLY latched onto this idea of me being a ‘living desk.’

      Were still working on kissing. Alley sees it mechanically (spit, slober, licking, etc) but she likes for me to rub noses with her. So I’m teaching her to feel safe with physical affection, and as I do, she is becoming more comfortable with it for herself and Karen.

      Break’s over, gotta run.



  4. jeffssong
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 10:20:59

    Kay struck the nail on the head for us with her comment about ‘making a little room”. Years ago we ‘made’ our paradise island, complete with friendly natives, soft surf, ruffled sand beaches, combination starry night sky to the north, sun and soft breezes. This was where alters or others got to go – including myself when the system broke down (okay, yeah, we cut, hurt ourselves, almost died). And it is where we send our children for times like what you are describing. This is not something you can do, KA and her other ones must reach a consensus; invent a place for and by children (her children, her souls) – where they can live and play while you two ‘do your thing’. Having an ‘adult’ helper with them helps to keep them there (we use Jeffery; M3 is the spouse’s spouse – okay, confusing here, M3 is ME right now, but we switch fluidly now, no fighting, just love 😀
    Your wife (okay, by that I mean ALL of her souls) can do this; I’m almost certain they already have – they were ‘somewhere’ during those dark years, maybe not a good place (we kept M1 in a BAD place for a LONG time – cold, dark, lonely – to protect him from us, and us from his pain. Very real.)
    O’tay, me’s talked too much Sam I am. I want you and your ladies to feel free to contact me if you want, o’tay? We feel for your souls, all of them, and smile at what you’ve accomplished. Not bad for a monomind kinda guy! Wish there were more like you.


  5. bunchofpeople
    May 15, 2011 @ 01:08:57

    (not for littles to read)
    I always feel deeply guilty, as the DIDer in my relationship, when I cannot engage in sexual activities with my partner. I know that she also feels a great deal of anguish over both her physical needs for intimacy and the fact that she may, accidentally, become a trigger for me.
    I’m going to mention this post to her, and I hope she reads it through and can brainstorm with you all.
    As for the idea of an internal safe place, I really like it. I haven’t explored much of the Innerland (that I can recall) and I think it would be really good to work with the littles to create a place they like to be while inside.

    I agree, Sam, that the non-DID partner’s needs are very important too, especially as they are commonly the main source of support for the traumatized partner. They have a difficult job, and it’s important their needs get met somehow. No one is more important than anyone else, just as no insiders are more important than others.


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