This is the advice and list of resources I give to all members newly dealing with a possible or confirmed SA partner.
I am not a professional, I cannot diagnose your husband. However, I am the spouse of a rSA (recovering Sex Addict) and I have 10 years of experience living with that (about 7 of which were spent not knowing about the sex addiction but knowing something was "off.") The observations I make and the advice I give are based on my experience. Read my profile.
Educate yourself about sexual addiction.
First and foremost you should read, "Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts" by Stefanie Carnes. Read this book, whether you stay or not. (This is the absolute best book I've ever read for spouses of SA. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I would have given anything for this book to have been available when I found out 4 years ago, because at the time, there was nothing!)
This is Dr Patrick Carnes' website. He is *the* expert on SA.
If your husband faces his sex addiction and seeks treatment he'll most likely be directed to a 12-Step group. This is the one I recommend. If you look at their site you'll also find information for yourself that may be helpful. (I personally recommend SA not SAA because SAA is too lax in their definition of healthy sexual behavior. This is my opinion.)
To fully understand SA you both need to do some reading. If he doesn't face his addiction you should still do the reading to help yourself and decide what you want. I don't advise women to stay with SAs who are not in recovery and who are not sober.
"Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction" by Patrick Carnes (I recommend you read this after you've read "Mending a Shattered Heart" but not before.)
"Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction" by Patrick Carnes
(I don't recommend you read this book, but it would be an excellent read for your husband to start if he's willing to face his addiction, while you read "Mending a Shattered Heart")
Most SAs have a serious porn habit, this book "Porn Nation" by Michael Leahy, would be a good book for the SA. Mr. Leahy is a recovering sex addict who had a serious porn addiction that cost him pretty much everything before he finally hit bottom. (I don't recommend that wives read this book at first. It's too triggery for "just found outs")
His best hope for recovery is to seek treatment with a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) Here is a resource to find CSATs by zip code:
You might also want to start on that website to find a good therapist for yourself. He has to work his recovery on his own and even if he doesn't get help you'll need counseling to recover from the trauma of being married to a sex addict. And believe me, it IS a trauma. You need to find counselors who are experts on SA otherwise you're in for a world of confusion and pain. (This is my opinion based on experience)
You might also find this post really helpful. It's about setting healthy boundaries with your spouse.
This is going to be vital for you going forward. You cannot force him to seek treatment and you cannot control him but you do have a right to set boundaries to keep yourself safe.
[This message edited by 7yrsbetrayed at 8:18 PM, May 13th (Wednesday)]
That's a very tough situation. If you're not speaking with each other it is kinda tough to convince him of anything.
Are your communications too strained for him to even read a letter you might send? If you could write one, compassionately pointing to his background and how that often leads to SA and describe the symptoms, woul he even be open to hearing it?
Even as I type that, though, it smacks of co-addictive behavior, like you'd be trying to manage HIS problem. You can't. And he won't until he wants/needs to.
[This message edited by JustWow at 7:11 AM, May 14th (Thursday)]
edited for typos (I always have to!)
We are attending the Retrouvaille marriage retreat this weekend. This has been planned since December.
For those of you in recovery, what are your thoughts on that? Will Retrouvaille at this point hurt or help our M?
I just posted you a long winded reply in recon! But my short answer is, it probably will be a good thing since you are aware and he is open to the SA thing from the beginning. It really helped my H first in even recognizing that he had feelings, and second, in expressing them.
It is a very rewarding and very exhausting weekend!
H and I will be praying for you two this weekend.
I really appreciate your feedback and prayers .
I'm so sorry about everything you're dealing with. I can't believe anyone would make some dumbass comment on how he wouldn't have cheated if you hadn't been sexually abused as a child. What in the world does that even mean? What's his point? What happened to you as a child was not your fault. And you no doubt have trust issues as a result. To betray someone further seems like the height of insensitivity if not cruelty. However, you're right in that he clearly has some issues of his own...
Hang in there and breathe. I remember all too well that feeling that I was drowning. Consider us your life-raft and climb aboard.
I hope you can get your head (and life!) clear of this guy. Keep yourself and your kids safe.
I've heard that Retrouvaille has even addressed the issue of sex addiction so I suspect you'll find it quite helpful. I've heard nothing but good things about it.
In my experience, there is no way to get an addict to admit they have a problem -- and I've tried everything. Save yourself...
I do, indeed, feel like I'm drowning but I feel like everyone is just sitting there watching it happening. Maybe I'm just sitting there watching it happen too. I don't know.
Maybe I stay because this is the enemy I know versus the enemy I don't know, kwim?
I have never met a man that doesn't cheat. I'm a flight attendant and I get hit on by men on every trip. It's amazing how men behave (and I'm sorry if you're reading this and you're a man who doesn't behave this way....it's just the reality of what I've experienced in my life. I've never met a faithful man.)
I was even thinking yesterday if I could just get used to his behaviour, pay attention so he goes back to extremely discreet, ........... wow, I'm really losing it, aren't I?
Well, I'm flying up to see him for the weekend now.
Thank you again for the support. I'll shortly get to know you and your stories and maybe I'll even be able to help someone too one day.
(fyi - in real life, I'm not a pathetic, loser type of person like I obviously portray myself here. I'm personable, attractive, nice. I think that's why no one has a clue AND why no one ever reaches out to help in 'real' life...they don't know or suspect and I don't tell. I guess the REAL me is a pathetic loser and the outside me is just a shell. Gosh, that sucks. )
[This message edited by reelingbuthealin at 11:52 AM, May 14th (Thursday)]
Behind every woman who trusts no one, is a man who taught her to be that way!
If you are drowning, we are all here with you, holding hands, forming a human chain and kicking to the nearest life boat.
Educate yourself, set boundaries & consequences, then let go and focus on self care. See a doctor for anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills and/or anti-depressants, and for STD tests. Go to Dr. Patrick Carnes' website for general information. Seek IC. Post often.
From your post, you seem to feel overwhelmed by all the contradictory emotions. I can tell you, you are not losing your marbles, but in fact, your feelings are entirely normal in the circumstance. I feel stupid, angry, vengeful, betrayed, disbelief, lost, numb, hopeless, helpless, ugly, sorrowful, alone, afraid, and morally superior, depending on the hour of the day, and sometime feeling more than one of these emotions at the same time.
When they say you will go through a roller coaster ride, it's not just some new age, catchy, cliche. When I am down, I feel like the clouds and the sky are closing in over me, descending on me and enveloping me so that all light and warmth get squeezed out. And I am one year out of D Day.
Hang in there. We are all here for you. You are not alone. Be gentle with your emotions. Don't be afraid of them. Don't bury them. Don't ignore them. Rather, embrace them and feel them. Give yourself permission to be human.
I am thinking of you dearly.
fyi - in real life, I'm not a pathetic, loser type of person like I obviously portray myself here.
We have all been where you are. Some of us have fought terribly hard for our relationships, and put up with tremendous fogginess and abuse, because we have loved someone too much, or sometimes just been afraid to leave. No one thinks you are pathetic or needy, goodness, we ALL understand!
And you would be surprised at the incredibly capable, self-assured, attractive, in control of their lives, intelligent people that get caught up in addiction sickness.
It can be very insidious, and creep up on you, kind of like a cat going for his prey, until, boom, you are caught in this web of lies and deceit that you really had no idea was even coming for you.
And the shock of being in a relationship with a person you realized you never knew can be incredibly traumatic, that is why we talk about PTSD on these boards fairly regularly. (I have it!)
You are just a human, like the rest of us, trying to navigate thru some totally uncharted territories, without a map, in terrible fog, at night. Because that is how it feels, sometimes, to be an addict's spouse.
Hang in there, the senior members here at least have the charts to help with the navigation, and can also help with lifting some of the fog!
And a good counselor can also help you find your way!
I took my college aptitude tests yesterday.
I got 100% on the English and Composition parts , I did just slightly above average on basic math concepts, and, no surprises here, flunked algebra!
But the instructor said I did really well for being out of school 25 years, and I only have one course I need to take, to make me "college ready", which is that algebra junk, (which I already told everyone I didn't have a clue), so I am taking pre-algebra, along with English, Intro to Psych, and Microcomputers for my first trimester.
I am so excited (jumping up and down), I can't wait to start (I am truly nuts, yes).
That's wonderful news. Congratulations!!! http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/images/icons/icon_smile1.gif
That notion of feeling like there's a "real" you and a "public" you is quite common, I think, when you've lived with an addict. I grew up with an alcoholic mom and, on the outside, we looked like a "nice" successful family and I used to always think "if people only knew..."
When I first found out about my husband's affairs, I felt that same way -- that if people only knew what was REALLY going on, they wouldn't want to know me, be my friend, admire me, etc. etc.
It has been really important for me to tell a few VERY trustworthy people in my life in order to get past that shame that kept me convinced that the "real" me had to be kept under wraps. It's important to understand that none of this makes you a bad/pathetic/insert-negative-adjective-here person. It makes you a human struggling to deal with a particularly rough patch of life the best way you can right now. You'll be better equipped as time goes on and you learn more and trust yourself more. For now, simply accept yourself and allow yourself to feel the pain without blaming yourself for any of it.
And, for the record, there are some honest men out there -- I just haven't had the good fortune to date/marry any of them!!
You didn't have to do the aptitude test, I could have told myself from just reading your posts that you are an intelligent woman .
Congratulates! It's great news. You are embarking on a project that excite you and that will further your education and knowledge. After all that you have been through, you so deserve this!
Yipppeeee to Naiveagain!
My MASH book finally came and I've been reading it. It's pretty depressing so far because the focus seems to be for partners who are staying together.
How do you know they are "serious" about beating SA?
SAH is going to a CSAT (been to two sessions so far), but I don't think he's being honest. Plus, he looked at porn earlier in the week, tried to hide it (thank you keylogger!) and then never mentioned it. He SAYS he's serious about R, but I've yet to hear him admit he's SA or admit he slipped and looked at porn.
If they are "serious" about recovery, are they suppose to tell you if they slip? No, he's not in a group program yet or has an accountibility partner.
I know, I'm not suppose to control his progress. We just had a disagreement last night because he wants to put in a $10k screen room on our pool and I said I'm not willing to take on that debt until I know he's serious about recovery. He looked at me like I'm nuts and said of course he's serious about it. We're going into debt to pay for a CSAT. But he didn't tell me about the porn...
I hope I make sense and others with different experience can give theirs.
My SAH has gone from both ends of the spectrum with attitude about recovery. In the very beginning it was such a relief and he felt so good knowing that he wasn't alone. He was enthusiastic. Then he realized how much work this was going to be.
He started to slack. Then he slipped.
So he realized maybe he needs to be more serious, and he might really be an addict.
I know, he knew he was SA, had already admitted it, but still thought he wasn't as bad as those other guys.
This has gone in spurts over the past several months. I see the effects of counseling and group and his meetings. Then other times, it's like he has never heard of recovery.
For instance, we were discussing the confusion he has with healthy sexuality and just what intimacy is.
His words to me were "but I don't know who to ask." REALLY? How about your IC, or Group, OR your workbook, or your sponsor???
It was a good moment for me to realize what a long way he has to go in learning to accept all that he has available for his recovery.
All of that said, I am analyzing his seriousness less and less. I am actually becoming less occupied (just less, it isn't all gone!) with whether he is crossing the lines or viewing things he shouldn't, or admitting things. I am mostly sad for him when I can see he is not honest with himself. He is the loser in that situation. He will impede his recovery, if not totally halt it. He will lose the relationship he is gaining with himself, with me, and especially our son. He will lose more precious minutes of what life he has left. He has actually slipped twice in the past 4 weeks, (big ones Porn and masturbation) and yet I see him as actually serious right now.
He is facing some very difficult stuff right now and looking within and he is scared sh**less. So while I certainly do NOT condone his acting out, I do understand the factors involved. I was so pleased for him that he called his sponsor right away, that the acting out was secondary in my consideration of the incident. (he is very reluctant to ask for help) Not to mention that he told me the second I walked in the house.
Progress. Little steps.
And of course that overused line: "Take care of you."
I think that is one of reasons it is so important to take of ourselves. The recovery process is so unpredictable and up and down and hot and cold, that we will go insane if we try to manage our own health AND theirs.
One other thing I thought I would mention. Since I made a decision (boundary) that I will not be engaging in sex with my husband until I felt "ok" with it, I have not felt a need to have any consequence etc. I truly feel it is his issue, not mine. I feel like I made a very good decision, since he has struggled with 90 days of celibacy since November.
How do you know they are "serious" about beating SA?
You know they are serious when,
* they acknowledge they have a problem (i.e. not minimizing the acting out or its grave consequences)
* they take responsibility for their actions (i.e. not shifting the blame on others or make excuses)
* they recognize that their behaviours cannot continue, for themselves and they want to change, for themselves
* they realize that they cannot heal on their own, and they need professinal help
* they seek and continue in recovery programs (IC etc.)
* they learn new tools and strateties, and rebuild their lifestyle, to deal with stresses and negative feelings in life in healthy and productive ways
In my case, I am "lucky" because my husband went from porn, to cybersex, to phone sex, to dating sites, to meeting up for coffee, and was able to rationalize his behaviours and minimize the consequences. But when he evetually escalated to emotional and physical affairs, even he himself knew he had a serious problem. That was about 1.5 years before D Day. At that time, he tried to stop cold turkey, but instead of succeeeding, he relapsed and the acting out actually went from bad to worse in terms of frequency and nature. He freaked himself out; he knew he was getting out of control but had no clue what to do other than to double up his efforts to hide his tracks. So on D Day, he needed no convincing on my part that he has a serious problem and he cannot stop all by himself without professional help.
Having said all that, I sense that you asked the question because of another subconscious reason - you want some confirmation that your husband is committed to recovery and is on the path of healing. You don't want to be hurt and betrayed, or to be caught off guard, ever again. If you are like me, you are paralyzed by fear and misery.
It is normal to want reassurance. However, I have learned that our spouses' commitment to recovery, and their progress in recovery, is, alas, beyond your control. We, as betrayed spouses, often ask "how can we know if our spouses are really in recovery". I suggest to all of us to ask "how can we know if WE are really in recovery". We have to re-focus on ourself. Whether our husbands will eventually succeed in recovery, and whether we will eventually stay together, we must care for ourself to rebuild our physical and emotional well-being. We owe it to ourselves.
So, from now on, when I ask "is my husband in recovery", I am going to imagine a big red stop sign and imagine the following question written on the flip side of the sign "am I in recovery".
It is really painful to not be able to control our lives. I do not always walk the talk, which makes me a bit of a hypocrite (or a big one). However, I know we can support each other here to get through this. We have each other, and we must look out for each other.
[This message edited by birdwatch at 3:51 PM, May 16th (Saturday)]
How do you balance controlling/managing their recovery with the need to know what you are living with?
One of the main reasons I check the keylogger is because when a few days/weeks go by where I see he didn't look at porn, it helps me to trust him. Or at the very least then I know, ok, he's still doing it. More about ME knowing what I am dealing with than with "he's still lying and sneaking around".
Whether he gets healthy or not, that's up to him. But I have my boundaries (will not stay with him if he doesn't/can't accept his issues), so in a way I feel I check up on him to know what I'M dealing with. I don't want to waste my time on someone who won't help himself, and the only way I know to figure out whether or not he's helping himself is to check up on him.
Does that make sense? I would assume even when I get myself healthy, I am going to need to know if he's at least trying to recover, so that I can make a decision whether or not to stay with him.
How do you balance that? Should I not even worry about what he's doing until I'm at a point to make a decision whether or not to leave?
[This message edited by hoping2heal at 6:25 AM, May 17th (Sunday)]
I'm no expert since my husband doesn't even want to work things out, but I am reading the MASH book right now and they said it's ok to have rules such as computer monitoring.
It's for your healing not theirs. Just as long as you know you can't control them, but if you need to do that for you, it's fine. I know if my husband and I tried to R I would need actions like that to make me feel safe.
Have you read Mending a Shattered Heart yet? It has been hard for me at times (the hardest part if that a lot of it is on R with your spouse and I'm sad that I don't ge that chance), but it has helped so much.