On being the wife of a sex addict

After writing my last post, two things happened. First, my husband wrote an entry on his own blog talking about misery and that he is an addict and recovery is hard, and a choice, and that he is powerless and when he acknowledges his powerlessness, he is better able to see his way out of the darkness, or something like that. He is much more abstruse than I. My immediate reaction was that he was venting. He was frustrated and tired and wanted to off-load his bad feelings regarding my feelings towards last week’s conversation. It’s his blog, he can do as he wishes. The thing is though, this whole powerless thing is, the FIRST STEP. The way I look at it, they WERE powerless to the addiction before they got help. Now, now they should NOT be powerless to the addiction. He has knowledge, awareness, tools, and consequences staring him back in the face. He was always making choices, but now, now, 3 1/2 years in and with more than three years of rigorous therapy, an intensive multi-day seminar on his addiction given by an expert in the field, and months and months and months of twelve step work, he should be able to take some of that power back. Being kind to ourselves is one thing. Letting ourselves off the hook for continued bad behavior is another.

The next thing that happened is Maggie, a reader, recovering wife of a sex addict, posted an insightful comment. Her comment is useful and thought provoking to me, and I hope it is to other spouses as well. I have included it here in its entirety.

Kat, I am sorry you are going through this. I don’t have words of wisdom or advice, but please know that I care. I am 18 months post D-Day, have been through trauma therapy and have attended two support groups for 18 mos. Although, everyone’s story is unique, I have noticed some commonalities. Here are my observations:
1. The long-standing members in my two support groups are all women who are currently married to an SA who is in recovery. Some marriages are 35 years or more and most have been through counseling. The longest sobriety is 16 years, but there are several who have SAs with 13 years sobriety. My groups each meet once a week and typically have 7-8 women present.
2. In all cases, the acting-out behavior preceded the relationship, or began very early in the relationship. In most cases, it preceded the relationship. In most cases the behavior went on for years, even decades before the wife found out. All considered that they had good relationships and happy marriages prior to D-day.
3. The long-standing members in my groups are mostly fifty or older. We have young women attend once, maybe twice, then tell us they are divorcing. Their thinking seems to be that they were unlucky and they’ll do better next time. Possibly the length of the marriage contributes to whether a wife stays, i.e. more of an investment at stake.
4. All of the women in my groups have asked their partners if they would like to have an “open relationship” where both parties are free to date, have sex with others, etc. All the women say their SA partner was adamantly opposed.
5. This leads to what I’ve learned next- The acting out behavior seems to be fueled by secrecy, and covered up by lies. The SAs are accomplished liars who lie by omission, twisting facts, spinning info, etc. Their lies are generally believable. They tend not to tell “whoppers.”
5. The wives’ biggest complaint is the lack of intimacy in their relationships. I would say there is more sadness about that than the acting out.
6. SAs tend to be very delusional. One common delusion is that they tend to believe they look much younger than they are or are still sexy no matter how old. Thus SAs in their 60s or 70s believe because a young woman in her 20s or 30s is polite to them, she’s interested in them sexually. No joke.This comes up often.
7. Those who have stayed with partners for the long haul have learned to detach. They focus on what is good in the relationship and focus even more heavily on themselves. Most have separated their finances.
8. All the wives have learned to trust their instincts and intuition. If something doesn’t make sense, it probably isn’t true. All have learned to “speak their truth” and let it go. For example, saying to the SA husband, “You seem preoccupied and distant,” as opposed to observing this behavior and saying nothing, or starting a fight about “what are they thinking about.”
9. No one in either group had a voluntary disclosure of the acting out behavior. All “discovered” it in some traumatic D-day fashion such as a phone call, a text, etc.

My relationship with my husband is 33 1/2 years long, 28 years married. His addiction and behavior definitely preceded me. It escalated over time. I knew nothing about sex addiction, nor the supposed “signs.” I was 50 when I got the call from the other woman. In other words, my husband was outed.

I absolutely 100% believed I had a good, loving, happy marriage and that my husband would never cheat on me. Some of that was true.

I have been counseled by younger women to leave my husband. I have asked my husband if he would prefer an open marriage and he is adamant against it. First because he could not imagine me having sex with anyone else (oh the irony), and second because he knows he would be giving over to his addiction and our relationship would crumble.

My husband does believe that if a woman is nice to him, that she “wants him.” He doesn’t always admit it, but I know the addict in him believes it. AND, unfortunately there are a lot of women whose self esteem is built on the attention of men.

Regarding intimacy, this is a tough one. How to define it all, non-sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy, connection, communication. This is an area for us where I believe more and better communication leads to more intimacy, both sexual and non-sexual. Much of the time we communicate better now than before d-day. I took our intimacy for granted before and didn’t question our sexual intimacy. Now, I question it sometimes. We both desire both non-sexual and sexual intimacy… that is a good thing. There are times, however, when Blue Eyes gets hung up on sexual rituals, and I know this is part of his addiction. We’re working on it.

I guess, in this case, it is a bit validating that me, my husband, our marriage, coincides with nearly each and every point Maggie has made above. Why validating? Because I am not the problem, our marriage was not the problem, my husband’s addiction was nurtured long before I met him, and sex addiction has a definition, and a pattern, and a recovery path, and hope for a fulfilling long term partnership. In my little world, my husband’s recovery path needs to be diligently followed, no excuses, and open communication is a must, but I know I only have control over me.

Thanks, Maggie.

40 thoughts on “On being the wife of a sex addict

    • For an addict, it’s not really about sex drive and sex is not the issue. They are using sex as a drug to medicate wounds, or as a coping mechanism with serious consequences. Like, say, heroine. Sometimes they are so messed up that after they orchestrate the sexual situation they can’t perform. Addiction is the driving force not sex drive. Nobody is asking my husband to give up sex. And, he is in recovery because he wants to be. He felt shame every day and hated himself prior to discovery of his secret life.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dr M and T are astonishing at their chore.
    A psychologist (who is two states away, so she is too far for me to witness regularly) really “gets” all of this, and she has been to Dr. M and therapist Tr in SoCal. She gave me a slight pearl of Wisdom — incremental is monumental.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There is another blog commenter here who has mentioned the same pearl of wisdom. I wonder if it is the same psychologist you both speak of. We truly are a community here. Trish is my savior. I recommend her as much as I can because she was so great, I didn’t want to leave her office. I wanted to just move in there. 🙂

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  2. I would like to know a little more (without any detail obviously) about the sexual “rituals” your husband gets into when he’s struggling. I wonder about that for myself and also for future partners. If you feel comfortable sharing, I would be grateful. Your writing is really insightful. You’ve made such a incredible amount of progress and it seems like you’re in such a strong, serene place ☺️

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    • BE’s SA lifestyle included porn (men! I don’t really need porn as what is in my head is much better) and masturbation plus acting out with other women. I’m pretty honest here on this blog and have talked a little about this before. No problems with detail. BE’s porn and his sexual relationship with the 8-year partner were very similar. The ritual he used with the other woman was a simple fantasy scenario I used years ago (BE is very ritualistic). We went away to a cute B&B on the coast for Valentine’s Day (this was before he acted out with other women, actually). My parents watched our boys (they were little). I purchased some Victoria’s Secret red and pink lingerie for the occasion. I set about the romantic portion of the weekend by creating a scenario in which I was the teacher/principal (can’t remember which one as we have played out this scenario many times since) and all he had to do was lie there. I did a lot of stuff, but mainly rode him, dominated him (gently), he was tied up with stockings, etc… He wanted to go back to that fantasy again and again. I have quite the repertoire and frankly don’t like doing the same thing all the time. I have a lot of fantasies up my sleeve. So yeah, we did that and many other things, but he kept requesting that scenario. He became obsessed with it when he was in his addictive state, and when he first started seeing the long term partner, he had her recreate that fantasy and made it as if they had discovered it together, like they had something special. She bought in and basically played out that scene for years (boring much?).. silk scarves to tie him up to her brass bed, etc.. brought the same silk scarves with her on trips. BE’s porn was similar but usually two women, one dominate, one submissive. Now he has trouble with this particular scenario with me, because, now he associates it with the other woman. *sigh* But mostly, BE wants quick sex as often as he can get it when he is ungrounded (he would go for months without contacting the acting out partner, but when he did start a cycle, it was obsessive texting, emailing, calling, and then hook ups). There isn’t a lot of romantic pretense either when he is using sex to cope. The OW got little to no romance, but she was desperate for any attention. On stressful days he wants it 2-3 times (masturbation when he is alone, 5-6x). Once he has the sex, he often becomes distant (with her for sure, and also with me when he is struggling with life). His sobriety dictates no sex (no masturbation) with self or anyone other than me. So I’m it. I often turn him down when I can tell he is frantic. This forces him to find better outlets for his imbalances. Or, he could always go back to his drug, but he hasn’t so far.

      Other ritualistic things he does when he is stressed or feels like he can’t cope, is grooming. His grooming was pretty intense… following women around downtown, being the savior with business ideas and advice for the struggling “flower lady.” Also, he was the unencumbered funny guy with the woman who worked in our building at the deli. Grooming is his favorite. He has been stressed this summer and I know he thought seriously about grooming a younger woman at a shop that sells incense. Sometimes he doesn’t even realize he’s grooming. And nothing really has to develop of these relationships, he gets a hit from believing these women are into him. A couple days ago a guy at a restaurant we were at was staring at me (this doesn’t happen often, ha). He kept eye contact WAY too long. I kept putting my head down and attempting to send the “I’m not interested” vibe. It was so uncomfortable. I was sitting across from my husband. It’s not right. I explained to BE what a turnoff that is for a lot of women and that he should know how long he can keep eye contact (not very long). He needs to work on it. At this point, all I really want is the truth. So, when he enlists in behavior he has deemed inappropriate, I’m fine with him sharing with his 12 step buddies, but he still must share it with me. Of course I would prefer if he shared with me first, because it is like a punch in the gut realizing people know more about my partnership with my spouse than I do… but he considers this “his stuff.” At this point for me, nothing is “his stuff.” He proved to me he doesn’t get that luxury and get a partnership with me. But I don’t freak out due to the behavior, I understand, he is a recovering sex addict. I do freak out by lying, either straight out, or by omission. I truly still believe that if someone wants to be in a long term relationship, everything must be out on the table. It was humiliating to know my husband met up with the other woman specifically to plan for trips that I would then not be invited on. I don’t want to be with a partner who is not mine alone, and he doesn’t want to lose our partnership. I do also believe that BE has ADD. That makes staying focused difficult for him. I mean he can be quite obsessively focused on his addiction, but before he turns to his addiction for coping, his ADD tends to escalate. A symptom I guess of not wanting to stay present when things are tough.

      Not sure I answered your question. I do believe I have made great strides on this journey and for the most part, other than menopause, I feel pretty good! ❤

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      • Your answer was amazing. Thank you for your candor and honesty. I think I have a pattern, but it’s definitely more relationship-situational than it is specific sexual fantasy. I am working on being as fully honest as I can about my situation. I am re-reading my own posts to see what I connect with and where I am not feeling true.
        Right now I’m also sick with a cold and that’s impeding my ability to be rational. Lol. Best time to do absolutely nothing about anything is right now for me.

        Btw- In my recovery we have something called a 3-second rule. Have you and BE ever talked about it? The idea is that 3 seconds is long enough to look at any stranger. Any longer and it’s a problem. If one is tempted to stare, counting to 3 is supposed to be a way to help counter the continued stare. Sounds like that guy at dinner could have used the tip!

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        • I understand the differences from reading your blog. You are SLAA, BE is straight out SA, but, he lied repeatedly to the other woman convincing her he was all in. He told her he loved her, how sexy she is, complimented her often. That was more than enough for her. She had been alone for years. She didn’t care about money or even that he leave me, she desperately wanted the attention. He responded to her when he was in his addiction, but ignored her when he wasn’t. She’s an alcoholic. I’m sure she recognized the signs of addiction, but ignored them. Also, the thing that bugged me is how intense he is when he’s “in his addiction.” I know she got that intense passion and lovemaking from him. That really bugs me because in recovery he seems much less enthusiastic, less intense, like his favorite toy has been taken away.

          I hope you can find an available man. I can’t remember, has your new guy committed to leaving his partner? That whole “I’m planning to leave my wife” thing is not good. If he wants a romantic relationship with you, he needs to leave his wife. Just my unsolicited opinion. You deserve your own guy, 100%.

          I’ll ask BE about the three second rule.

          Also, I think when re-reading your posts in the past you seem to tie your self esteem to how men treat you. I hope you are learning that they don’t deserve that power! Get well! Colds are a bitch! xo

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  3. I should add that the women in my groups characterize their relationships with their partners as having a high degree of compatibility and enjoyability. I would think if a relationship were already struggling SA would be a deal breaker. We really don’t spend much time discussing the SAs or trying to figure them out. I did plenty of that in my therapy. Frankly, some of the stuff SAs do just makes no sense to a non SA. Like having sex with a person they are not attracted to. How do you even do that????? When I would express wonder or confusion at stuff like that, my CSAT therapist would say, “It makes no sense to you because you’re not an SA.” Finally I decided I will never really understand SA and I don’t have to. I just have to take care of me. But I do believe it’s an addiction. Some of the stories are so crazy. If you live with it, you know it’s an addiction, and the consequences are horrible. Just look at Anthony Weiser for an example in the news. A gorgeous accomplished wife and look at his acting out partners. Oh my. And now he goes to prison. It’s an addiction because it progresses if unchecked. I would think every SA would be terrified of what can happen and embrace recovery.

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    • I would think that compatibility and enjoyability would definitely factor in as well in terms of how long our marriages are at the time of discovery. Possibly 20 something’s haven’t hit the hard times yet and are still quite optimistic, the honeymoon period. I do think the 30’s and 40’s bring a lot of stress with careers, finances, children and some marriages don’t last through it all anyway even without infidelity and addiction. Marriage is hard. Since most of these guys were addicts before we knew them, and we didn’t know, once the addict is in recovery, there is hope for further happiness. For me, part of my recovery definitely includes knowing relapse is a possibility. I know it could happen and I’m pretty sure I know how I would react under the circumstances. I don’t want to fall into the same trap I was in before discovery, the fantasyland trap. I will never be knocked to my knees again. Part of me is very happy with my progress and part of me is sad. Some of my naïveté and wonder is gone. I liked that part of me. Blind trust just doesn’t exist in my world anymore.

      BE’s original therapist (that he had prior to discovery) is a job stress and addiction specialist who services the lawyer’s association in our area, but he does not specialize in sex addiction. We visited him before we saw other therapists, very early on, maybe a week past discovery. He basically said I should stop trying to make sense of the senseless. Like you say, it is very difficult for non SAs to understand the whys of sex addiction. BUT, unfortunately, my personality is all about making sense of EVERYTHING. It has been difficult, but I think I’ve got it now. I think I do understand it all, now, but it still does feel SO WRONG.

      And yes, yes, yes, when you live with a sex addict, there is no question it totally exists and that a lot of people don’t understand. I always think of Tiger Woods. How do you leave your mansion, your gorgeous wife, beautiful babies to run off and have a quickie with a barmaid in a parking lot. It doesn’t make sense, but we get it now. I hope he got help.

      Unfortunately one of the signs of an out of control sex addict is that they believe they are completely in control. They will never be caught, they are sure of it. They rationalize the hell out of everything. Even guys who relapse believe they have figured out, now, how to get what they want without consequences. BE sees it all the time in his meetings and yet, I think he even convinces himself that he could pull it off if he really needs to.

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        • Hi, Kit. I miss you!!!! Unfortunately, an addict is an addict is an addict. We have addicts in our family, plus we have twice when I was growing up lived next door to addicts, mostly all alcoholics, but they relapsed regularly. I don’t believe they were terribly weak and unhappy people in general. I know addiction is difficult to overcome. The brain chemistry has been altered. One day at a time, for sure. I believe in BE… but BE has to ultimately believe in himself. He’s working on it. ❤

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  4. I’m still here, Kat. Reading and agreeing. Obviously navigating difficult territory at present. But I think I am doing it okay-ish. Got wet on last day of my tramp. Just about back off track and looking forward to a hot shower!

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  5. I have learned so much about SA on this site. Very interesting and I see some cross over to some of these applying to my husband who has cheated, betrayed, lied to me etc. I don’t know if he’s a SA or not. This is something I think he would have to figure out and get help for.

    I have a question for both of you. How is SA eroding your marriage and your relationship with your husband? I know what the cheating has done to MY relationship but I am wondering how it is different for a woman married to a SA.

    Because seriously I can’t imagine anything much worse that can erode away a relationship faster than cheating and all it’s collateral damage.

    I think the women in the group mentioned by your friend are very wise and I kind of understand why they stay and why the younger ones leave.

    Crazy world we live in.

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    • Hey, TH. How are you! 😉

      It took me a while to realize my marriage WAS what I thought it was and my memories were mine to keep and I would not let them be tarnished by my husband’s addiction (or in other words, his lying cheating philandering behavior with free whores ++). I have now metabolized what it means to be married to a recovering sex addict, which is completely different from being married to an unrecovered sex addict. The unrecovered sex addict handled life pretty well from my point of view, because I wasn’t seeing all the inner turmoil or the coping drugs. I didn’t see as much of him as I would have liked, but what I did see worked. Now I have the truth, and I have a recovering sex addict on my hands, and it is a tougher road. He’s moodier now. His time away from me is spent in therapy/12 step meetings/buddhist meditation, but he still struggles, and he admits it. I am actually getting to the point where I feel like I know what the hell is going on in my life again. I’m okay and I still have my (formerly cheating, sometimes still lying) best friend. I guess our marriage today (versus three years ago) is less about me just accepting what he did and being expected to move on, and more about him being the person he always pretended to be, and me being stricter with my expectations of him and our partnership. I don’t, however, think it is eroding our marriage. I needed the truth. We are building a new relationship. I’m good! ❤

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      • You hit the nail on the head here with life B4 knowing and life after. Life worked pretty well for us, too, “before” all of his secrets came crashing out. He managed life well, and I didn’t see my husband a lot either due to tremendous work commitments. I had a very busy life filled with my career, volunteer & charity work, creative pursuits, and a wide and varied groups of friends.

        When my hub told me about his secret life, he was having a critical psych breakdown, right before an out-of-state move. I don’t know if that means he felt tremendous guilt or if he just couldn’t keep all his balls in the air anymore and he fell apart. Once, he said he told me to hurt me (emotionally). What is the truth and what were the lies? How much does it matter to know every aspect of the truth? Maybe I am getting hung up on that?

        It’s been hard for me b/c I am not established in a social network here yet and I don’t want my life here to be only about my husband’s problem. I want to be myself again. I miss the woman who I used to call “a radiant being of light”. I’ll get there. I need to make friends with my trauma, or love on the traumatized parts or??? something.

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        • You will get there, beleeme. You will get back to a version of your former self. I know I will never be the same, but hopefully these lessons I have learned will help me be stronger. I do appreciate more now and take less for granted.

          It is such a crazy addiction because it is very difficult to hide other addictions. Addiction is built on anger and resentment and control. He was obviously losing it all when he confessed. I hope confession and recovery is helping him enjoy life more. My husband carries a lot of shame, regret, remorse, but he also built his addiction on resentment. He blamed me for a lot of things I didn’t do and for being a person I wasn’t. He only blamed me when he was in his addiction and rationalizing, but I know he still struggles with the resentment factor. It is very difficult for him to just admit he hurt me terribly and that there is simply no excuse.

          Likewise I didn’t want my life to be about my husband’s addiction and at first it was incredibly lonely. I was lucky to receive the trauma therapy when I did because it started me on the road to getting me back. I was devastated, destroyed on d-day. I am a different person than I was four years ago, but also a very different person than I was three years ago. My only advice is to seek out groups where you can work on yourself without constantly thinking of the sex addiction. Some new or old hobby that rounds out your life in a positive way. I bet you will meet people that way. Much love to you. xo

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          • Thx, Kat. I am just starting to reach out to other groups of women, locally. I felt for a long time that I had nothing to offer, that I’d spontaneously start to cry in public, or that they’d somehow know what happened. Crazy, I know.

            I went to a women’s service group the other night. They raise funds for local charities, such as the food bank.

            Today, I am starting training for an adult literacy program (goal – ELL instruction).

            These are big steps for me.

            I want to get back into a yoga class.

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            • My advice is not to take on too much too soon. It is also easier if some of the activities don’t have such strict time requirements. I know for me in the beginning, I felt an obligation to carry on. I was going out due to a feeling of responsibility to someone else versus really wanting to be out in public. When I got home I would inevitably crash and climb inside myself and just cry, sometimes for hours. The burden of being out amongst people and not being able to tell my truth, was frankly, devastating. Eventually I stopped doing almost everything. When I climbed out of that hole, I realized I needed to do things based on my own needs, things I was comfortable with and that didn’t send me back to my bed crying. It sounds like you have found that space. But keep listening to yourself, beleeme. Don’t try to do too much too soon. ❤

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          • Yes – new or old hobby and getting out of the house to be with people a little. I am a homebody too. I am working on this b/c I admit, I have trouble *not* focusing on the problems when I am here. It helps to get my body and my hands out in the world (a little) and then my head follows. My head needs to be absorbed in other things Today – going to walk by the mighty Niagara River with our Golden Retriever.

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              • Goldens – yes – special breed. The male we have now is a bit over a year old. We had 3 before (together – in a pack – they were wonderful and all 3 were rescued). Just one now to make life a bit easier, and we got him from a responsible breeder. We use a harness with him, too. They just LOVE people and want to run up to them and jump up to be close to their face! Working on that! And pica – yes – we had a Golden who ate rocks and – and – and … OY. Our 1st was a female and she was so independent, so smart, so- everything! LOL That’s one reason I wanted a male this time. They are a bit easier, but our guy gets a twinkle in his eye and is occasionally naughty. Dogs are such healers. I *think* your other dog is an Aussie Shep (by the photos)? My sister has had a few of them. So smart and active. OH DEAR – I love dogs. ❤

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                • Yes, we have Lily, the 9-year old golden retriever (our second female golden), and Bernie our 4 year old blue merle Australian Shepherd. He’s supposed to be a mini, but he’s not very mini! Nearly 50 pounds! He’s our watch dog. So smart and so much personality! I also love dogs and they are absolutely healers. I especially love big, fluffy dogs. xo

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  6. Thank you, Kat. I think you would fit right in with my groups and I mean that in a good way. All the women are into self-development. One woman, at 63, is going back to school to renew a professional license and get back into her career. Another who travels frequently started a travel business. Another, who owns a beautiful home in the woods has started having day retreats for women. We do laugh a lot. The support groups get a bad rap because many see them as trying to tell the partner she has a problem. Well, she does if she is with an SA, living with an SA. The recovery for a partner is to recover from the effects of being with an SA.
    No one in my groups has ever done the polygraph disclosure but several of us wish we would have. The polygraph disclosure is new in our area. I would only do it with the help of a really good therapist, though. The problem as I see it is the SA can continue to lie after the polygraph, so unless you do it periodically I’m not sure how valuable? Still, it might prevent more stuff coming to light later on. The sad truth is that many SAs lie to everyone- to their support groups, to their therapists, even to themselves.

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    • Hi Maggie. Yes, the wives that I know that required a polygraph have also stipulated that they will be required on a regular basis (every six months, yearly, whatever), as part of their boundaries, if you will. I would have wanted it just to validate that BE was actually telling the truth. Disclosure is only as helpful as the addict is willing to be truthful. At four months in, BE told me he had disclosed absolutely everything he could think of, but, but, he was lying. And that was a torturous four months because every single day I was quizzing him, asking him questions, tricking him into the truth, or at least tripping him up because I knew he was trying to remember what his latest lie was. In fact, at four months there were trips he hadn’t divulged, and other things. At 11 months in, while still working his first step, he divulged a fourth acting out partner. *sigh*

      It definitely takes a while to get to the point where no matter what he says now, I feel very little pain. It is still and has always been about the truth. Today, it is really a practical matter of what I require in order to stay in the partnership and not about dragging things out of him due to trauma.

      Even though I know S-Anon and trauma therapy are not mutually exclusive, and I know from my husband that 12 step meetings are really quite unique, each meeting having it’s own personality, I realized early on that I could not be around a lot of other women who weren’t in the same space I was. I did try the wives of sex addict’s group and they all attended S-Anon meetings, most of them attended the same S-Anon meeting actually. And in fact the therapist who headed the group is a CSAT, BUT, she was originally trained as a traditional addiction therapist. I know from seeing her personally and for couple’s counseling that she is very old school. She was focused on what my husband needed (as an addict) and told me, a few times, that I was HINDERING HIS PROGRESS. Basically, I was in trauma, caused by him, and somehow me exhibiting trauma symptoms was hurting my husband. To me, it’s called consequences and reality. I know he is broken, but the whole world does not stop because he is an addict. None of the women in the group were living with their husbands, and two were suicidal. I tried, I really did, to relate, but I couldn’t. There was pure hate in that room (towards the men, of course, much love all around for the other women) and I needed to focus on myself and my healing. Even though I do absolutely live with a sex addict, I know it is not my “problem.” I know a few people who attend Al-Anon meetings. I know what they are about. Living with an addict is difficult. Having people to talk to, share with, and learn from, that understand, is a gift. A gift my husband has been given. It doesn’t work the same for me. I had to heal on my own, in a way that worked for me. It sounds like you have a great meeting. I’m sure, at this point, I would get a lot from the discussions. I attended a seminar for betrayed wives about 9 months out from dday and that seminar was designed to build back our individual strength as women after being lied to and cheated on. Other than in the initial share at the beginning of the three-day seminar, there was no talk of husbands at all. It was great and I am still in touch with the women. I belong to a couple other groups as well, one is for wives of sex addicts, but it is online and I can come and go when I please. That is it for me, like with this blog, I need to be able to set the parameters myself.

      Last night BE and I talked about your observations. What he has noticed from his three years in SA meetings is that he was happy to have met men with 20+ years sobriety. And yet, on the flip side, there are guys who regularly lose their sobriety, mostly through porn and masturbation, and that is a reminder to him, of how difficult recovery is. That there are young men in his group (in their 20’s) whose wives and girlfriends have stayed, so far, but it seemed the men in their 30’s struggled most with their relationships, especially if the women had been married before. Almost like the younger women were still full of hope about their relationships, but the women in their 30’s (generalizing of course) seemed to believe that they were still young enough to get out and try again for something better. Generally the men in their 40’s-70’s that he knows are still with their wives. Amazing if you think about it. But that is why he likes his group(s). The guys don’t really talk about intimacy or sex or a bunch of things we talk freely about here on the blogs (and elsewhere). Generally women and men are indeed different. I do read a couple of female sex addict blogs though, and what I hear from the women is that they don’t want the ego stroking as much as they want the intimacy. They want to be held and loved and they often use sex as a tool to try and get to that place. But, as we know, sex isn’t love. It seems they’re all trying to fill an empty void inside.

      Thanks again, Maggie.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My experience with an “old school” CSAT gave me add’l trauma (therapy-induced trauma).

        Re: “CSAT, … She was focused on what my husband needed … told me, a few times, that I was HINDERING HIS PROGRESS. Basically, I was in trauma, caused by him, and somehow me exhibiting trauma symptoms was hurting my husband. To me, it’s called consequences and reality. I know he is broken, but the whole world does not stop because he is an addict.”

        You hit the nail on the head again. You must be great with hammers and nails! 😉

        Some CSATs say that the couple needs to separate (temporarily) if they are really enmeshed. I understand that theory, but if the goal is to heal the relationship, why separate? Let’s face it — the word “separation” is loaded. Even if it’s physical separation, the legal connotations can muddy the waters.

        You are very wise, Kat, to set your own parameters and your own process for healing. You are true to yourself. I think I am working on “getting there” — the trauma & PTSD flashbacks really get in the way, but believe it or not, I am using a tool (a rock, actually) to ground myself. The rock is associated with when I feel really grounded and calm. So when I start to feel my guts twist, I pick up the rock, start breathing and literally ground myself. It might sound a little strange. In reality, it’s a physical symbol of me feeling grounded, and having something tangible is helpful. I tell myself “that’s not happening now” (whatever I am seeing during a flashback).

        I think I’ll write about the rock in my blog. I still have to figure out the “tech” ins and outs with my blog.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I ran out of time yesterday. I type fast and talk a lot, in case you haven’t noticed :). I also feel quite traumatized by that old school CSAT. I know from experience that if the therapist understands betrayal trauma, they will not cause more damage. If they understand, they are able to be nurturing while helping us with tools for the continuing journey. Also Chatty Kathy was another horrible therapist choice by me. Who knew? I went to her purposely because she wasn’t trained in sex addiction and I wanted to focus on myself. I wanted to become a stronger person. I was so shocked by my own trauma responses. Anyway, she was worse, if there is such a scale for these kinds of things. I was still in the throes of self harm and dissociation, and she was constantly belittling me. I don’t know what it is about some women, but I think even she believed I had caused my husband to stray. There is such a competitive nature nurtured I believe in some females. Anyway, therapy with her was a disaster. I have heard and can attest to in my experience, sometimes it takes a while to find a good therapist, no matter what credentials they have acquired.

          I contemplated many times the separation question. My issue is… I know myself. I am not sure I would have wanted to stay and work on things if I was away from my husband for too long. I can be a cut and run person, if my mind gets into that place. Outside of this betrayal trauma, I truly am independent and strong-minded. I also live with integrity and wanted the same for my marriage. BE fought so hard not to be separated because I think he knew. It would a lot harder to get me back if I was living independently of him. Also, I love my husband, for all his faults. At the point of discovery we had 30 years into our relationship. If I had thought things were wrong, I would have left him a long time ago. We had spent way too much time apart in my opinion. I wanted to work it out together, but I am not completely convinced at this point that that was wise, for either of us. It’s a tough call and each couple has to make that difficult decision for themselves.

          I totally understand your rock tool. At different points in the first couple of years, I used a tapping method and also a rubbing method, on my leg. It drove BE insane when I did it, but it is calming to me. He thinks it is part of the dissociation/trauma, but in fact it is like meditation. I have tendencies towards obsessive compulsive behaviors. It helps if I can do it consciously. I was also guided to picturing images in my mind. Specifically a tree, a large, strong tree, that represented my inner strength. Really, anything to draw our minds away from the negative and destruction thoughts. I have no doubt that the images I conjured in my brain regarding my husband’s behaviors were far more romantic than what actually happened. Seriously, his acting out partner is freaking scary looking. I am not a mean or vindictive person, but it blows my mind that my husband ever, even once, touched that woman. And he in fact touched her hundreds of times. It literally is like everything I knew and believed in was false. Betrayal trauma is hard. Your rock sounds magical. Do write about it on your blog. Blogging is easy… take the plunge. For me, on many days, it was all I had. Writing it all out helped so much. I hope you figure it out soon. 🙂 xx

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Maggie’s comments were validating to me as well. My husband’s addiction was also nurtured long before I met him. I believe that some of the severe trauma he had as a young man in his early 20s (regarding cancer – testicular) also played a role in his disease. My husband confessed to me while he was having a breakdown. He had no previous psych history, so I didn’t know what was happening — I thought he was just extremely anxious, but definitely not acting like his normal self. His diagnosis was Major Depression, and then it became Major Depression – Psychotic Break. The psychotic part was when he lost touch with reality (from feeling so much guilt? shame? self-loathing? emotional pain?) that he nearly ended his life in a very violent way. I stopped his attempt, literally, and he is alive now b/c of my efforts.

    Maggie’s comment on the addiction being fueled by secrecy and covered by lies rings true. I’d like to add something to that, if I may, from my experience. Fueled by secrecy, covered by lies, with comfort in CONTROL over others. My husband knew about what he was doing, and I did not. Control. He controlled it all; the ritual, the who, the when, how much to pay, what the prostitute looked like, etc. My husband controlled all of our finances as well, and I trusted him. Regarding the comment that most of these long-standing wives have separated their finances — I have recently begun to think this would help me with feeling more secure financially. I wish I could pick the brain of Maggie’s women’s group. Sigh.

    I am currently mired by the fact that I don’t have enough information (my new reality – as the past reality was shattered), so I can “know” the ground I currently stand on. Not too much detail, but enough to answer some specific questions. I’d like some type of disclosure with a polygraph — I wonder if most of the couples Maggie speaks about (or the ones you may know, Kat?) go through that process. I’d like it to be a less arduous process than the descriptions I have read about a disclosure process, as I don’t need more trauma.

    Yes, we only have control over ourselves. I’d like to know the reality of my husband’s infidelities, both sexual and financial, so I can make some decisions going forward, and so I can begin to forgive him to help ME heal. This is hard for me — I have no control over whether my husband will give me the information I’d like, and whether it will be the truth.

    One thing is for sure — we do need people in our lives who laugh with us until we pee our pants.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Just yesterday I had another betrayed wife ask me about a formal disclosure. She was counseled that it wouldn’t help her to feel better in the moment, which I totally understand. Hearing it all either for the first time, or even if we have heard it before, in front of others, is difficult, but I do believe it is a process the addict needs to go through. I felt like during BE’s 1st and 4th-5th steps he did as much disclosing as he was ever going to do. Unfortunately it took a couple years to fully get through the initial 12 step process (the 12 steps are technically never “done”) and that was a LONG and TORTUROUS time period of intermittent disclosure and truth seeking on my part. I was in the same situation as you… longing for anything that could put me back on firm ground, help me understand what was really going on and even gauge what other people theoretically knew about me, and also about our life, our finances, etc… The addicts do tend to block out a lot, so asking for a disclosure early on may not be as beneficial as waiting until they have had some therapy. I do wish we had continued on the recovery path we had started on as that would have included a formal disclosure with polygraph with proper support for both of us. It wasn’t really our doing that all that fell apart. The sex addiction specialist in LA was in transition. Not sure I would have asked for yearly polygraphs as some wives do, but it definitely would have been on the table. We could still do it all now, but I do truly believe I have as much of the truth from the past as I need. What I long for now is openness in the present. He’s working on it. It is a process.

      You do deserve whatever you need to carry on with the addict, and if they want to continue the partnership, they should want to be able to provide that to you, but it doesn’t always happen. They do not like to give up control, but they will need to… the whole “powerless” concept, if they want to recover. I like the idea of a polygraph with the disclosure because honestly, it just helps solidify they are actually telling the truth on some crucial points. They cannot hide from nor control the polygraph.

      I controlled ALL of our finances before discovery. BE did not spend any money on his sexual exploits other than maybe a card and a few flowers… to keep the last acting out partner quiet. She paid her own way on all trips. Porn, grooming, etc… didn’t cost him a dime. Fear kept him away from prostitutes. Fear of being caught, fear of losing his legal license, fear of being arrested, oh, and also, he answered to me on all the money he spent. For years I did our books and taxes and all money went through me. After discovery, I demanded he get involved because I wanted him to see what a huge job it is. You should definitely get involved with your finances. I have heard way too many stories of women finding out their SA’s have bled them dry on prostitutes, unknown second mortgages, etc…

      These days, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for me to “pee my pants.” Ugh, getting old is a bitch! xx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good thing I just went to the bathroom, or I’d have pee’d my pants after your last two sentences! LOLOL The struggle is real. I’m 50.

        Thank you so so so so much for taking the time to share your thoughts about the polygraph and finances.

        Openness in the present is a good way to put it. All we really have is now.

        I think I need to surrender a bit to the process my husband is working on with his CSAT and let that be. It’s a challenge, as you know, when we seek information. I just want enough of the truth for grounding in reality and then I can move forward with whatever I choose to do. It may not go the way I want.

        Thanks for your advice about money. You are spot-on with that as well. My hub *used to* control all the money, and I’m sure that was orchestrated on his part. I’m in charge of the finances now. All of the money goes through me. This was a consequence of his financial infidelity. I may change my POA to feel an additional layer of protection.

        I appreciate you, Kat.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Obviously, I am just going to respond to your comments individually. I think very carefully about what I write and I totally wish when I started on my blog that there was someone out there that was a little ahead of me who could remind me, it’s going to be okay. The worst is over. And yeah, I have to admit the bladder thing is becoming an issue. Time to talk to the doc. 🙂

          Do give your husband some time to figure this out. They are clearly broken and unable to handle some simple things that seem so easy to us, like honesty, and communication. He has to learn. If you have read through my blog, you know how much I struggled with this and how difficult it is not to want to know everything. I realize now, some things I did not need to know at all, or at least immediately, but I hold strong in the fact there some of the things I did NEED for my own sanity. Go with your gut. It is their responsibility now to make us feel safe. Unfortunately, it takes them a while to get to that place. They cannot change, heal, recover, whatever, overnight. BE was just talking last night about how one of his good 12 step buddies, who is often ungrounded, started 12 step in 2000. Seventeen years!!! I can’t remember what his sobriety time is now, but it is not 17 years. Maybe four or five? They cannot change or cure themselves just because they are now getting help. I know from my husband that he feels a tremendous amount of shame and he sometimes he feels like what I ask for is a monstrous burden. He doesn’t want to go back and talk about, much less think about, all those horrible things he did in his addiction. They did not ultimately make him feel good. He was surviving, not having a blast and laughing at me behind my back. I know he felt and still feels awful. I don’t want to add to that, but, I still need the truth. He knows that and he is always working on it. That’s important. Progress not perfection. I know how difficult this is. Hang in there. xx

          Liked by 3 people

          • Progress, not perfection. I like that.

            A psychologist (who is two states away, so she is too far for me to see regularly) really “gets” all of this, and she has been to Dr. M and therapist Tr in SoCal. She gave me a little pearl of wisdom — incremental is monumental. I should blog about that too.

            The lovely psychologist I mentioned encouraged me to read you blog and I had already discovered it — that’s synchronicity! I’m on the right path.

            Peace and hugs to you!

            Liked by 2 people

              • It’s true! I believe she was looking for resources to help women like me who are working on the relationship, and she is a fan of Dr. M and Tr — your blog was one of the resources she suggested I check out.

                My blog – meh – I don’t think it looks attractive, is user-friendly, or interesting. Blogging is a digital platform/writing style to learn. I’m a newbie. Open to any feedback. I still need to write about my Tiger’s Eye and the “incremental is monumental” work.

                Liked by 2 people

  8. I hope you have a girl friend that makes you laugh so hard you pee in your pants. I hope he has a buddy he can hang with and talk about boring man stuff that does not include sex. I hope you have couples friends that enjoy the same things you do. I hope this disease does not invade your every waking moment and i wish for the same for BE.
    I think he needs to sit still and let the anxiety come at him. He should hang on for dear life and just get through it without imagining any addictive thoughts getting in. He needs to get to whatever sensations are hammering at him. Fear, guilt, whatever. Those feelings are not going to kill him even though they are bloody uncomfortable.
    My daughters have both studied brain development and how it can change even as we age. BE needs to believe that he can control his actions which will help control his feelings which will help control his addiction. This illness should stop being his hobby, dammit! Sorry.
    I wish you two could have sat with me, my husband and another couple while the man told us about his hairpiece and the day he went hunting. I have never laughed so hard in my life. I hope you get to do that soon.
    Maggie had some great info. Sadly there are too many of you and too many BEs.
    Hope your fires are out but it looks like even western Canada is affected.
    We got blown sideways and lost a huge tree but all my loved ones made it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So glad you and your family are safe, Moi. What a storm! What a year! The fires are not out, unfortunately they continue to burn some of the most beautiful spots in the Pacific Northwest (and all over the west). The forest will re-build itself, over time, in the meantime, we mourn and try to help in any way we can.

      I agree with everything you say about BE. He reads all your comments (all the comments actually) and takes them to heart. He has quite the arsenal now, but recovering from addiction takes time. I know you know that. Not making excuses for him. He still has a long way to go.

      Unfortunately, my best female friend, who could always make me laugh, is now in my rearview mirror. She is part of the detritus from BE’s sexual acting out. It makes me sad, but her own actions made her part and parcel to the fallout. I have friends, BE has friends (LOTS of them). We don’t really have a lot of couple friends. I am a bit of a home body when it comes to socializing. Having such a large family, I long for quiet evenings at home with just BE. We are also still healing, so sometimes doing things as couples takes a lot of effort. BE still works a lot. We have at least 10-15 more years of hard work before we retire.

      I can only imagine your hysterical story. It reminds me of a story told by my friend’s husband of returning from a trip, waiting for his luggage to appear on the arrivals carousel and when it does come out, it is ON FIRE. Such a funny story! I am a big laugher. I love to laugh and sometimes cannot catch my breath. I am very happy to have my Tokyo Brother, wife, and the Princess in town next week for a visit. We’ll be taking them to our CSA farm, going to the zoo, out to dinner, etc… Fun! xx

      Liked by 3 people

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