What Are Your Biggest Challenges?

Loving a Sex Addict certainly has it’s challenges especially early in recovery, but a few stand out as particularly difficult. Which of these challenges do you and your spouse or partner have the most trouble with and how do you resolve the conflict?

Building Trust Trust is necessary for you to feel safe in a relationship. Do you trust your spouse/partner? What do they do to build your trust?

Dealing with Anger Anger and it’s honest expression is vital to our recovery. Sex Addicts have a difficult time dealing with our anger. How has anger affected your relationship?

Establishing Boundaries Boundaries empower you, they allow you to take control and establish what you will and will not allow in the relationship. How do you communicate your boundaries to your spouse or partner?

Sexual Intimacy Sex Addicts use sex as medication but have difficulty with sex as an expression of intimacy and love. Are you happy with your sex life? What are you doing to improve it?

Finding Forgiveness To forgive our spouses and partners for all the lies and betrayal is often the easiest part of our recovery once we understand the causes, but it takes time. How do you feel about forgiveness? Have you forgiven?

What other issues have you struggled with since discovering that your spouse or partner is a Sex Addict?

Love truth, and pardon error. ~ Voltaire

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Responses

  1. As to Building Trust-my therapist mentioned levels of trust and I am having trouble wrapping my head around this one. I feel right now that I deserve better than this….this is just my perspective right now and that likely means moving on.
    Anger, for me comes and goes in strong waves. I hate being angry. My addict has often told me that my reaction to his initial confession years ago caused him to pull back and loose trust that he could share with me. It has taken me years to realize that isn’t fair…my anger is valid and he needs to accept it.
    Still trying to understand boundaries, dealing with much black and white thinking from him….acting in.
    Intimacy(sex) is gone….not sure it will ever return, in which case my therapist said I may as well get a divorce now. This makes me a little angry…partially because I don’t get why it wouldn’t take me A LONG TIME to open myself up again. It took us a long time to get here after all.
    Forgiveness-really for the offended right? It seems like a process, but then some wisdom says this is not so. I am struggle to fully understand forgiveness and it’s hard truths.
    Just a few thoughts.

  2. HI J.,
    First thing that comes to mind is that it doesn’t matter how you reacted to his disclosure—it would have been used as an excuse for something.

    Second thing–I really understand your anger, and your conflicted feelings around trust and forgiveness. For me, part of learning what kind of trust is possible, has been to let go of everything I thought I had, everything I thought we were, everything I thought my life would be. REally tough. And angry-making. Terrifying grief. But if you can your head around this, the possibility of trust is emerging as I relinquish the life that turned out not to be real. I don’t know how far that trust will go. It may not go far enough for me to try again. And that is sad all over again.

    Third thing–sexual intimacy. I feel such humiliation over discovering he didnt’ really want me all these years. It hurts and I can’t imagine him touching me ever again. So even if we begin again, I don’t know what kind of sexual relationship it would be. That is not about punishment–it’s about self-preservation. And I can’t imagine not having the same hesitation with any man. After all, I never saw it coming with this man–I could be heading into the same mess with the next man.

    Here’s what I’m doing:
    making decisions that are good for me. “Good” means, safe, secure, free, no burned bridges, interaction on turns I agree to, clear rules about what I expect him to do in recovery, expectation about how he treats me and talks to me.
    So far, I’m lucky. Although living separately meant we lost our house, I have my own job and can downsize my life. Those choices can be positive and that’s my approach–a time to simplify, declutter, economize. That doesn’t mean I haven’t grieved the loss and the change. But what i can control I have grabbed hold of. You can too. Then make those decisions as opportunities to change your life for the better. As you focus on your own life and the way you can give it shape and form that pleases you, the attachment to anger and resentment diminishes. You are letting go of the things that can be no more. Only when our hands are free, can we reach out and grab what might yet come–in a renewed or brand new relationship.

    A wise wiccan priestess told me that unless we embrace change, it will diminish us. Don’t let it. Even change that comes becomes of this crap shouldn’t be given that power.
    Live your life well. If he does his work, he will fit in. If he doesn’t do his work, you will at least have life that is whole without him.

    Don’t be afraid of these powerful negative feelings. They are not the whole of you. And they do not need to own you. They just have to be given their time. And then, it’s time’s up. In the matter of trust–trust that you will know when it’s time.

    peace to you sister. We share your pain.

  3. Thanks Diane, for your encouraging words. I certainly have been very afraid that my anger will consume me…I am also afraid it has turned into a bad depression. So, it’s like “what do I do next?”…get help for depression and on and on…so much help for me, because we both need “help” now! Occasionally I have a glimpse of what would feel good now. That would be life on my own once I establish some security for myself and my kids. It is so scary to pass through that door. I don’t want to hurt my kids, I fear being alone etc. and yet I know these are not good reasons for not moving on. I also keep saying, I am 36 but I feel so old, like too old to get out there and do it on my own. I wish I could go into the future and look back on NOW and see how much bondage I am putting myself in from that perspective. Maybe I would be more fearless! Ha! The conflict is there for now though, and I acknoweldge it.
    THANKS especially for encouraging me to experience the negative feelings. I am really tuning in now to the fact that I have put them down for so long so I “wouldn’t push spouse into his bad behavior”-Ridiculous right, because I couldn’t ever control that anyway. These awful, confusing feelings of anger aren’t really me but they are consuming me right now. I will trust that things will right themselves in the right time….you are right about that.

  4. re: leaving
    You know what,
    I was married for 30 years, my kids are grown, I have an education and a job that includes a lot of responsible tasks, I have friends who love me, family who love me, a religion that nurtures me…and I am scared to pass through that door as well.
    I am packing now. The truck comes at the end of the month. I’m afraid of being alone, of growing old alone, of wondering what happened to my life, of how to mix in our circle of friends as a single person, of letting my children down, if my love is inadequate etc. etc. I am afraid.

    But we both know what’s on THIS side of the door. And it’s no life for us or our children.

    Think of me packing too. I’m right beside you. We’re going thru that door. There are just some things that are meant to be left behind—umbrellas, one glove, your bag lunch, and unrecovered sex addicted partners.

    You never know…maybe he will walk through that door too, one day, a changed person. maybe not. Either way, you will be changed and your children will be out from under the shadow of their parents’ pain.

    Take the first step. And the second. You will gain strength with each one. You will know which way to go. You won’t know what’s ahead, but you will be heading in the right direction. Trust yourself.

  5. Thank you so much! I am crying right now. You know I am so alone here-in a small town where I know everyone will be shocked and I am looking at my two beautiful kids and hating the the thought of loosing Dad….but you are right! My very best to you-and joy, excitement and health as you move on!

  6. J.

    Funny, I used to call my ex “J” as well, but listen please. You DO know what your future holds in store for you, if you stay, but are understandably having trouble facing it. It is also most likely part of what is at the root of your depression. Depression is usually a combo of anger and sadness and sweetie, you have every reason to have both of those feelings, in spades! So yeah, treat the depression with some meds, if that helps. Get regular exercise. Eat well. Sleep. Pamper yourself. Talk to your therapist and get all the support you can!

    Now, I would like to give you a new mantra, if I may. “I am still very young and anything is possible.” 36??? OMG!!! That is a baby, in my book, right Diane and others of us who are waaaaaaaaaay older? I didn’t even have my second child until I was nearly 39 and he’s now 15! My shrink mother who is 87 went back to college at 47 and she still sees clients! She remarried, my incredible step-father at 54 and spent 25 glorious years with him until he passed away nine years ago. I went back to college at 32 and had my first child at 34 who is now almost 20. Sweetie, you are not old,you’ve just had to pack in a lot more livin’ than anyone should ever have to do in an entire lifetime!

    Your children are NOT losing a father. He has not died (yet)and when they are old enough to understand, they will applaud and admire you for your courage and strength to free them from a very unhealthy situation. Of this, I am absolutely 100% certain.

    Leaving him would be the most loving thing you could do for your children. I only wish my mother had left my father 10 years earlier than she did. His illness only escalated (hugely) in that time, and the pain of that can never be erased. This will most likely be the case with your husband who hasn’t even hit his mid-life crisis yet! Oh boy… You’ve done everything (and them some) to help him.

    As a matter of fact, leaving him would be the most loving thing you could do for your husband. For if you stay— he will never have even a remote chance of recovering. Not because of YOU, but simply because he will continue to use you as HIS excuse. Right now staying with him would be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    “Run Forrest, run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    And please do not worry about what others are thinking about you either. Let them walk in your shoes and then they can judge. Hold your head up high, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. nothing. Do not worry about your spouse either. Right now, I feel like punching him.(ick, he’d probably enjoy that) He’s totally full of it and he’s dragged you right down into his low, low world.

    Yes, it is scary, but even scarier, would be a life of needless suffering. And please remember, that you will never be alone. And there is never a need for anyone to fear growing old alone, either.

    My shrink told me that she has a client who at 74, found for the first time, the love of her life.

    You see, anything is possible!

    xo,

    L

  7. The biggest loss of trust was with trust in my own judgement. That’s a doosey. Sometimes I trust my judgement a bit and it feels good. Alot of times, I don’t and I feel frozen. More often now, when I go with my judgement and it turns out to be wqrong, I look over the facts I had and try to see whether I was reasonable. Was I? If so, then ok, I can only do the best I can with the fact I have.

    Trust in my husband? Wow, when you can get any straight facts, it’s hard to trust-really it’s not all that wise. Before, I didn’t know I was dealing with a liar. Now, I do.

  8. Loss of trust in him, loss of trust in my own judgment, loss of faith, have trouble discerning what is real and what is an illusion, anger….anger……anger…….and more anger. At 18 months post discovery, our therapist seems to think I shouldn’t be angry and that I should be ready to forgive. I need a new therapist. And the sex is abysmal. I have no genuine desire. None. It seems he’s rewired his brain to climax within seconds. There is no intimacy in my marriage, physical or otherwise. So many shattered dreams. Worst of all, I will never trust another man as long as I live. The loss of trust in all areas of my life is devastating.

  9. Betty,
    I too had lost my sex drive. I think the majority of it has to do with how emotionally draining this all is. Vampire sucking the life out of you. After I instituted a seperation I am now getting energy back and feel like a women again, after two months. Can;t for sure put my finger on why, except that the relationship must have been draining me in ways I did not even see. Constantly working of our recovery and their recovery is tough, worrying endlessly unconscioulsy about tomorrow and a year from now. Especially when the therapist drags you in, adds his crap on top of yours. You will forgive when you are ready and if you want to. It is not right for someone to expect this of you. It is entirely possible that he has not earned your forgiveness. Remember forgiveness is earned to given. So him sitting there saying he has not acted out in 18 months, and he is working hard, is not grounds for forgiveness. This is not nearly enough. You will know when or what is, it is not for the therapist to decide. Stand your ground.

  10. Thank you, Flora. I appreciate your input. He stole 23 years of my life. I’ll forgive on my time line, not the therapists. You’re absolutely right. It’s not for the therapist to decide.

    Peace to all………

  11. Building Trust Trust: No. I cannot trust that he is ‘sober’. I cannot trust that he is not grabbing some on the side between work and sessions. I cannot trust that he has been where he says he will be. I cannot trust that at any moment he will spew addict speak at me again. I cannot trust my own instincts that I was stupid enough to buy his lies, to trade real love for what I thought was good love.

    Dealing with Anger Anger: I am hurt and angry far too often and far too long. I am no longer raging, which is good because every time I did i would begin menstrual bleeding again. But I have hours, days, when I cannot get the thoughts out and I want to hurt him, badly. But I know he doesn’t feel anything except his own misery, so that makes me even angrier with myself for caring, for falling into that trap again, and for having little real outlet. He allows me to pour my anger over him sometimes, but then he will get caught lying or deceiving, or I can feel he has been concealing, or he will blame me and speak narc speak all over again…. And he does not deal well with his anger at all. It is sad to be happy that someone is yelling at me. He was always so passive/aggressive, just saying whatever would keep the other person away from his little secrets…

    Establishing Boundaries Boundaries: Very difficult when I am financially trapped. Mostly, I quietly state what is not acceptable for me, and how I will respond the next time it happens. I still feel they are very lame, and the ones that would mean the most are unenforceable, cause I cannot proove he has lied, only that I feel he has…. and I wonder if I should have to prove it, or if I feel it I should set that as my boundary and f*ck his anger about unfounded accusations.

    Sexual Intimacy: Ha! Not having sex, I’ve probably been more celebate than he is. Kind of nauseating to think of having sex with him anyway. When I thought he loved me, having sex with a lazy fat goob was doable. Now that I know what he was really up to, OMFG, I put up with crappy sex all these years to be treated like this? What a joke. Saddest of all regarding sex – during the trauma bonding period, we had two sex moments that were true, absolute connection. Nothing like it, ever. And that, more than anything, has probably kept me doggedly thinking there is something that might be saved. But I bet he doesn’t even remember them now, and they aren’t worth the pain of knowing I don’t think I can ever, now that I am no longer that kind of insane, capable of having sex with him again.

    Finding Forgiveness: No. I have not forgiven. My brain ‘gets’ his issues and his emotional incest and his need to lie and hide and the affects of years of warping his brain with addictions and medicating with sex and making it OK in his own twisted brain. My heart cannot wrap itself around how someone could be so cruel. Until I can forgive myself to my stupidity, I don’t see me forgiving him in any real sense.

  12. AM, I just love your posts! Amazing!

    I love it all, but here are some of the points I wanted to hi-light that really spoke to me.

    (from a different post)
    “I do not believe he was here to heal my pain of my childhood, only that my pain left me open for his manipulation to take advantage of me.”

    “Establishing Boundaries Boundaries: Very difficult when I am financially trapped. Mostly, I quietly state what is not acceptable for me, and how I will respond the next time it happens. I still feel they are very lame, and the ones that would mean the most are unenforceable, cause I cannot prove he has lied, only that I feel he has…. and I wonder if I should have to prove it, or if I feel it I should set that as my boundary and f*ck his anger about unfounded accusations.”

    ***

    In my situation, I did have enough of the proof to ask him what the hell he was up to? My answer came when my sweet predator, became a raging lunatic… Raging isn’t even a strong enough word.

    Thanks again!

    Lex