I remember the good ol’ days. Those days filled with innocence and ideology. Those days when marriage was sacred and I could never envision myself ever forgiving infidelity or giving a Sex Addict a second chance. I remember wondering what Hillary was thinking when she didn’t divorce Bill. I criticized her for not respecting Chelsea enough to leave that lying, cheating bastard. How easy it was back then to be judgmental before I had walked in her shoes.

How quickly things change when cheating hits us square in the gut and we have to make those tough decisions ourselves. Life just isn’t that simple any more. But, at least now I understand my friends and family who can’t fathom why I am still with Larry and sometimes are just as judgmental as I used to be.

Just as there are stages of grief, research has revealed that there are stages that partners and spouses of Sex Addicts go through when the addiction is discovered. (I’ll do a post on that later) Along with the intense feelings of anger, shock, devastation, disbelief, disappointment and fear most partners and spouses also go through stages of nurturing and premature forgiveness. This forgiveness is usually eroded as more details come to light and the reality of the situation sinks in.

But, as we go through the crisis there comes a time when we have to decide to either leave the relationship or give the Sex Addict a second chance.

I ran across an interesting article in Psychology Today about giving cheating husbands a second chance. Although this particular article is geared toward celebrity marriages there is a lot of good information. Here are just a few sentences from that article:

The biggest problem with cheating on a spouse or significant other is not necessarily the sexual liaison itself, but rather the betrayal of trust it causes. This painful rupture of trust in many cases proves too much to get past. But in others, the partners, when willing and motivated, can sometimes work through this trauma together and salvage their marriage.

So, what does it take for us to try again? What does your spouse or partner have to do to deserve a second chance?

Most importantly I think they must have a real commitment to their recovery. They must have a plan, be able to share that plan with you and stick to it. I think they need to seek and attend counseling and 12 step meetings (I think 12 step programs can be beneficial for Sex Addicts). They must show you, over a length of time–usually at least a year, that they are following their plan and have remained sober.   They must be willing to really ‘hear’ your pain and concerns without minimizing, defensiveness or denial. And, they must be willing to abide by your boundaries and be accountable for their choices.

A second chance should never be given lightly, or prematurely or it will have no value.  But, to those who are deserving, a second chance can be the beginning of a new and loving relationship.

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. ~ William Somerset Maugham