ABOUT THE PARTNER OF A SEX ADDICT
If you are the partner of an addict, there are some very common tendencies and behaviors that you may be experiencing. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that most partners of addicts experience denial, hurt, anger, and guilt. Some even feel responsible for their partner’s sexual compulsivity. It is important for you to know that your partner’s sexual acting out IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME! These two important concepts are covered in your treatment.Yes we recommend you come for treatment also. Even if your partner has not admitted to having a problem, or is not willing to enter into a recovery program we recommend that YOU come for help and healing. Now is a good time for you to reflect on your own life, and determine what changes you can make that will help you live a life full of peace and passion, and the happiness that you deserve.
When a spouse learns that her husband or loved one is involved in pornography and related compulsive sexual behaviors, she is flooded with distressing emotions. These include feelings of shock, anger, disgust, deep hurt, and confusion. Women also experience intrusive and obsessing thoughts. These overwhelming emotions and obsessive thoughts occur naturally as a result of the betrayal, trauma, and being blindsided by the disturbing information surrounding their spouse’s sexual secrets. Often times, the end result is impaired daily functioning and profound powerlessness. The most common request that women seek through therapy is a safe place to sort through this traumatic experience. Because most addicts are disconnected emotionally and tend to deny or minimize their problem, it is not very likely that the partner can consistently provide the safety and support necessary for healing. You need a support system! CLICK HERE to learn about the treatment process.
THINGS THE SPOUSE NEEDS TO KNOW
- It’s NOT your fault!
- You have been traumatized and need recovery and healing.
- THERE IS HOPE!
- Couples are recovering from even the worst of circumstances.
- Your feelings are real and MUST NOT BE SUPPRESSED!
- Your spouse may have an addiction as severe as a chemical addiction to a substance such as Alcohol, Heroin, Cocaine, and LSD.
- With help, He Can Recover!
- The thought and possibility of divorce and separation are real and scary.
- YOU CAN HEAL AND RECOVER and SO CAN YOUR SPOUSE!
- This may very well be the most difficult thing you have ever faced! You are strong and capable of getting through this!
- LifeSTAR Dallas provides a safe haven for you to begin your recovery and healing. You will need a strong support system.
- Your experience and participation in LifeSTAR Dallas will help others heal and recover as well!
DOES MY PARTNER HAVE AN ADDICTION?
Has your partner admitted to you that he/she has a problem with sexual acting out or compulsive sexual behaviors? You may have known something didn’t seem right in your relationship for a long time, or perhaps they confessed and the confession may have caught you off-guard. Often times, the partner of an addict knows, at least on a subconscious level, that something is wrong. Some signs are very obvious, like finding a pornographic video, discovering inappropriate internet browser history, or unexplained charges on your credit card statement. Other signs may be so subtle that it takes years before a partner suspects anything. The following list of symptoms may indicate your partner is suffering from sexual addiction. These are not absolute indications of addiction—just possible red flags or warning signs (some of the items on this list were adapted from the National Coalition Against Pornography).
- Noticeable change in frequency of sexual relations with you—from total lack of interest to insatiable appetite for sex
- Noticeable change in actual sexual relations with you—rigid, dispassionate, quick, detached
- Requests unusual sexual practices that make you feel uncomfortable
- Neglects your sexual, physical, and emotional needs
- Neglects responsibilities involving family, finances, and job
- Increased isolation or withdrawal from family; unexplained absences
- Easily irritated, argumentative, defensive
- Unexplained or secretive financial matters
- Has stopped participating in hobbies
- When confronted, reactions may include some of the following: defensiveness, pouting, turning the blame and fault to you, manipulation, withdrawal, playing the victim role, getting angry, or playing dumb
- There is an unsafe feeling for your emotions
SECRETS ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF ADDICTION
If you’ve ever felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you already know the impact of unmanageability. For the addict, one life may be spent as the ideal father, mother, son or daughter, upstanding citizen, and devout church member; while the other is a secret life as a sex addict in Dallas or Fort Worth. The task of keeping their secret life from affecting their public life is an unending struggle. As the partner, you may find yourself in this same double life—acting as if everything is okay, while separately attempting to keep others (family members, friends, boss, etc.) from finding out.
Remember, secrets are the lifeblood of addiction. Managing two lives takes its toll. When this task becomes too unmanageable for the addict, most make promises to themselves that they will not give in to their sexual cravings again. However, their blurred vision, impaired thinking, and the euphoric recall of previous sexual experiences lead them to succumb “one last time,” and soon they actually begin lying about their lies.
Your partner’s addiction affects every area of his/her life, which will also impact your life. Relationships with family and friends suffer; hobbies are neglected; finances, church status, employment, and other responsibilities are compromised by this dual lifestyle. Your partner’s recovery—and your own healing—will also affect every aspect of YOUR life. It could even be that your husband has visited specific sites that you would not expect him to and your problems may not be as easy to solve as his addiction to porn because of the nature of the porn that’s on that particular site—it may be something that no one can help him with. This fact is actually a dual-edged sword—both frightening and comforting. While we cannot guarantee what changes will take place in your life, we can guarantee that things will not be the same, and should get better!
TO STAY OR NOT TO STAY
The spouse and family members of the addict are dealing with the harsh reality of an attachment being violated. The security and safety of the emotional needs are lost or gone. Much of the relationship feels false; like a fraud. If the addict, has been a safe place for the partner in the past, after learning of the addictive behaviors, she is left feeling vulnerable and disoriented. She will naturally ask, “Who can I trust? Who will be there for me now?”
The betrayed spouse does not know where to turn and will often struggle alone. The spouse’s identity, security, and stability are destroyed. This type of trauma shatters the internal world of the spouse of an addict. All aspects of her life are affected. Her ability to function with employment, household duties, and parenting is disrupted. Her sense of self is altered. Often her spirituality is impacted. The experience is very traumatic and her responses to this type of wound typically fall into the category of a “trauma response.” A trauma response can be defined as an emotional response to a perceived threat.
Responses to trauma in this sense can vary widely, and may include any of the following:
- Fear and/or anxiety
- Outbursts of anger or rage
- Sadness and/or depression
- Hypervigilance (excessive alertness or watchfulness)
- Worrying or ruminating
- Intrusive thoughts of the trauma
- Tendency to isolate oneself
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Feelings of panic or feeling out of control
- Increased need to control everyday experiences (parenting, cleaning, dieting)
- Difficulty trusting and feelings of betrayal
- Feelings of self-blame or responsibility
- Flooding of feelings and/or emotional numbness
- Feelings of helplessness
- Minimizing the experience
- Feelings of detachment
- Concern about burdening others with problems
- Under or overeating (weight loss or weight gain)
- Shock and disbelief
- Diminished interest in everyday activities
- Preoccupation with body image
We recommend that you do not make any major decisions regarding your relationship during the first year of recovery!! The world of the spouse needs to have some stability before major decisions are made. To go or to stay will become clearer after the first year of treatment and the healing process is well underway.