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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 18

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DogsnBooks posted 4/16/2018 06:19 AM

Hi all,

I’m not really sure if I “belong” here. I do think my WH has porn addiction, but not sure it broaches over into SA. He has never acted out with an IRL affair at least.

I guess I’m not really sure where to go from here. WH is in IC but his counselor is not CSAT - although she does have experience working with addiction. I don’t think I could convince him to change therapists, bc this one has helped him a lot with various areas of his life.

What are our first steps now that the word “addiction” has been spoken outloud?

Do I put parental controls on his phone & computer? Tell him he is never to watch porn ever again? What boundaries are healthy and what would be more damaging to him or cross the line into “parenting?”

sami1234 posted 4/16/2018 07:26 AM

Dogsnbooks think we just chatted on another forum. The folks on this thread are really helpful about what steps to take. My WH had a major porn addiction, unbeknownst to me, but it did take him to IRL acting out. We are sort of on the fence as to whether it was/is a true SA though. Still learning. Setting boundaries is very important..assuming you are in IC and MC? The others here can tell you more about counseling and groups specifically for SA than I can, i'm just dipping my toe in as well. Good luck to you as I'm navigating many of the same things that you are.

DogsnBooks posted 4/16/2018 08:38 AM

Yes, I think we did chat on another thread. It may have been you who recommended this thread to me, I can’t remember.

Yes, we have been in MC for 3 months now, and WH has been in IC for 4 months. I am just about to start IC myself - first appt is tomorrow actually.

Looking forward to more responses.

Lionne posted 4/16/2018 08:47 AM

The term sex addiction can be misleading. These people aren't really addicted to having sex with others even if that's their mode of acting out. They are afraid of and avoid intimacy and do that by compulsive masturbating and by escaping into a fantasy life. It's addiction, not because of chemistry, per se, although I believe brain chemicals change, but because it has hallmarks of what happens in the addictive process, the planning, the anticipation, the act, the let down, and then the shame which starts the cycle again. Your husband is having ED issues with you, a very common symptom.
Sex Addiction has very clear steps to take to recover. 12step groups are one part, essential in my mind. CSATs address very specific issues and help the addict define his boundaries. To me, the diagnosis leads to this specific kind of treatment that WORKS.
As to your putting filters on, or telling him he can never watch porn again, well, you cannot control him at all. You set boundaries for yourself, what you will and will not accept.
I'm not sure why the idea of him never using porn bothers you. Like alcoholics, SA must stop using their drug of choice, FOREVER. Porn is not a healthy choice for them. At the very least, while sorting all this out, he should become completely sober, abstinent about porn, at least until brain chemistry regulates, about 90 days.
The word addiction is scary, I know.
Personally, porn is verboten in my marriage. It's a slippery slope, and frankly I find it offensive, it objectifies people and contributes to human trafficking and child abuse. It sets up a condition whereby sex with a partner just doesn't provide enough stimulation, hence the inability to climax, an ED condition.
Maybe good ic can do the work of a CSAT since she works with other addicts. It's specialized yes, but not rocket science. You should meet with her.
Read a couple of the books on the first page of this thread. Education for yourself is a great tool right now.
Welcome to our group and I'm sorry you find yourself here.

secondtime posted 4/16/2018 12:18 PM

My husband is a SA, diagnosed by a CSAT.

Porn and compulsive MB is how he gets high. My DH has never had a physical affair.

Also works the steps. His sponsor is also in a similar situation.

I kept my boundaries simple. Stay in recovery. If you know you are slipping. Tell me. We'll juggle to get the recovery back on track.

I didn't have boundaries beyond that. If DH is hell bent on getting high..there's nothing that will stop him.

My husband broke both boundaries. I get all the time I need to decide if I want to stay married.

marji posted 4/16/2018 13:50 PM

Dogs Only two plus years out in any of this Im surely no expert but as far as I've learned the boundaries talked about here are ones that you set up; they are for you, for your safety for your health; the boundaries are yours-the one's that you decide are important for you; they are boundaries that you impose and which you do not want him to cross; they are boundaries that you communicate are right for you and for which there will be consequences if not respected.

So it's not about deciding what good or damaging for your H; it's about deciding what's good for DogsnBooks.

You can decide that you are not comfortable living with him if he continues his computer habits. You can decide that a porn free home is your boundary. And you decide what the consequences if he doesn't respect that. You might think of it as making clear your emotional territorial limits and the consequences for a trespassing violation. He must then make his choice, his decision in light of what he now knows is your boundary. But again, it's not your responsibility to decide what you need based on what you think is or isn't healthy or damaging for him.

SA takes on all sorts of forms and not always involving physical relations. Many SAs are dealing with porn habits and various types porn habits. So if you and/or your H think he is an SA then you belong.

Some first steps may be reading as much as possible about the subject; you might also want to read about setting boundaries for yourself. If your H is possibly an SA then he might want to be regularly attending group support meetings as well as working with an IC. CSATs typically recommend that a possible SA attend at least 6 such meetings to help further decide if one is. You might also find it very helpful to attend SANON meetings.

I am a little puzzled about your H not wanting to change ICs since "this one has helped him a lot with various areas of his life." Im puzzled because I think you also wrote that he's worked with an IC for only 4 months. Unless he was going 4x/week, as some do, 4 months does not seem quite enough time to decide if someone's helped with life issues nor does it seem like enough time to become so attached. On the other hand 4 months is probably enough time to decide if your H is an SA and to be working out a treatment plan accordingly. it doesn't sound as though this person has done that. You mention that she has experience with addiction but SA is a different kind. If SA is what she's worked with Im surprised she hasn't recommended group meetings. If it's other types of addiction, drugs, alcohol then her experience might not be relavent. My H went several weeks to a psychiatrist who specialized in addiction--just not the SA type. It wasn't very helpful.

Smjsome1 posted 4/16/2018 14:14 PM

Lionne -
I’m glad you made your needs known! And he followed thru
That’s always been an issue for us too. It stopped last fall. One too many times, and he saw it as it was - key the angel music!

For all question
I’ve never been the type to stand and figure stuff out, you injure me, I’m gone. I’m trying to figure out if I can
“Getting past the pre DDay actions, A’s, betrayals”
At 8 months out I feel this seems impossible to me. I need to hear your experiences, if you have? I need to have the pro and con arguments.
All I hear RL is, “with time, with consistent actions”
“He was a sick man back then, so you have to choose to forgive”

If I had my way I’d stand and debate this loudly in room full of people who can forgive and others who can’t.

number4 posted 4/16/2018 14:15 PM

The discussion about addiction cannot take place without someone mentioning how much addicts lie, or break rules. They do not think the rules apply to them; they justify why it is OK for them to break rules. This was pounded into my head early on in H's recovery. And yes, his dribble disclosure proved that... there were questions I had specifically asked him about his sexual acting out that he lied about, or to manipulate the situation even more, lied through omission. UGH!

Another discussion that comes up in the reading we've done about sexual addiction is how pervasive it is due to the easy availability to act out... internet porn, hiring prostitutes online vs. having to go out in public and locate them, etc. Many people say the discussion and dialogue around sex addiction is at least 15 years behind the discussion and acceptance of alcohol addiction as a disease, and therefore partners feel additional shame because they can't disclose the trauma they're going through with people they might ordinarily reach out to for support if their partner were diagnosed with many of the other 'outed' addictions.

Last night I was smacked right in the face with a realization about how complacent we are about breaking rules. H and I were on a flight home; we were seated in the third row behind the last row of seats in first class. The flight was a little bumpy (flying through all the crappy weather running north to south in the mid-part of the country) so I couldn't read, and instead talked to H a bit, and then just watched people around me. On various occasions in this almost two hour flight, I saw: 1) a woman get up and go to the bathroom before the pilots had turned the seat belt sign off after we reached cruising altitude. While she was up, the flight attendants rolled out the service cart, so she got caught not being able to get back to her seat for almost five minutes (the flight attendants had locked the cart there while they went to the galley to get more supplies). 2) I saw another guy get up and start rummaging through his carry-on up in overhead bins before the seat belt sign was turned off. 3) I saw this same guy later get up during our descent, seat belt light turned on, and go into the first class to use their bathroom (announcements had been made earlier to use the bathroom in your seating section, meaning, unless you've paid for first class, don't use their bathroom). 4) Two guys in front of us reclined their seats before we even took off (flight attendants couldn't see this because they were in their jump seats). 5) During our descent the flight attendants walked by to do a final check and told them to put their seats upright for landing. They both did so as she was standing there, but as she moved on down the cabin, one of them moved his seat back to reclining.

As I watched all of this, all I kept thinking was, "More people who don't think the rules apply to them." Close to landing, I said this to H, "What is it about so many people who think rules don't apply to them?" Of course, he knew I was just as much talking about him as I was all these transgressions we observed during this flight. And he said as he watched all these people do this stuff, he had had the same thought. All I kept thinking was, "Other than the one woman, all other transgressions I'd seen in just these three rows were men; I wonder if they look at all of their world as a place that rules don't apply to them." Yea, I may be over generalizing something, but if you have no respect for the safety of other people around you (which is why most rules on airplanes exist) in public, then what are you doing in private?

And with that thought, it just became more and more apparent that addictions (and sex addiction in particular) are probably so under-reported and untreated that I would be blown away if everyone were honest in admitting their addictions. And for a few seconds, I at least had gratitude that my H has admitted to his addiction, and while not perfect, is working a pretty strong recovery program. In years past, he would have been one of those grandiose idiots ignoring all the airline rules, and at least now he could acknowledge that there is something very curious about people who choose to believe rules don't apply to them.

number4 posted 4/16/2018 14:36 PM

“He was a sick man back then, so you have to choose to forgive”

This may be anecdotal, but this weekend we visited H's brother and family - H is trying to open up to his brother's many attempts over the years to reconnect as adults, so it was a bonding weekend. As they were going through boxes and boxes of stuff in the basement, something very profound was discovered. Both of H's parents were nasty alcoholics (which we've known for decades), his father even more so than his mother. Now we can look back and see that he was just a miserably clinically depressed person. However, we learned this weekend that at some point after H's father began to drive (so probably somewhere in his later teens), he was involved in a car accident where a friend was killed. We're pretty sure (based on pictures of two damaged cars with names written on the photographs) H's father was the driver, and he killed his friend. Whether there was drinking involved or not, we'll probably never know because there's really no one left anymore to answer these questions. But regardless, someone died, and now we see H's father as probably a tormented soul that finally couldn't cope anymore and could only live with himself if he was inebriated. He had had an incredibly high-level job in Manhattan he lost due to his drinking, and eventually died due to alcoholism. He was mean, isolated, withdrawn and sullen; if THAT didn't play some role in how H emotionally developed (or didn't develop), then I'll eat my words. Of course, H's father also cheated on his wife, so there's that. But hearing about all of this truly put some big pieces of the puzzle together as far as I was concerned. H's brother got into enough trouble in middle school that he was sent away for treatment and school, and he says had he not had that kind of intervention back then, he'd probably be dead now. A third brother is more of a lost soul than their father is... they have no contact with him.

I guess what I'm saying is, I absolutely believe they are sick, and their sickness can, for so many unknown reasons, send them down a path that, looked at in a bubble, makes no sense. Add in a genetic tendency toward addiction, and trauma, and you've got a smoking gun.

It doesn't mean we accept their behavior as tolerable or acceptable. It doesn't mean we don't spend the rest of our lives not hyper vigilant when it comes to trust. I wish the answers were black or white; it would be so much easier, but they're not... they're gray.

Lionne posted 4/16/2018 14:56 PM

SMJ, I don't believe for one minute that it's your job to forgive. I don't think I've ever forgiven. I have been able to with through the anger and reach some sort of acceptance. The things he did and said to me fall into the unforgivable realm. I do appreciate that he's changed and tries everyday to show me those changes.
I did forgive myself for being such a naive idiot, still working on how my stupidity affected my kids.
Most SAs are sick. Not an excuse, obviously. I had a far more traumatic childhood than he did. I coped differently. But, we had the same experience with finding family secrets.

My h's mother is Australian, a war bride. At one point, she traveled gone for a month long stay which turned into almost a year. My h was about 14, two brothers. The belief was that she had a "nervous breakdown." We found a letter after his parent's death from her doctor, describing a woman off the deep end with "obsessive inappropriate sexual behaviors." My fil was the recipient of that letter. To me, it sounds like a full blown manic episode. It was a revelation to my h. His mother was somewhat volatile, but no more than many stay at home mother's with three active boys and the added stress of being far, far away from everything she knew, no support system and a h who worked nights with long commutes.
Both my husband and son are also bipolar. Imo, all addicts should be psychiatrically evaluated as part of the recovery process.

[This message edited by Lionne at 4:13 PM, April 16th (Monday)]

DogsnBooks posted 4/16/2018 14:57 PM

To clarify about my WH’s counseling ...

He started going to IC because his depression & anxiety got so bad that he basically had a mental breakdown right before Christmas. (This was around the time that he brokenly tried to tell me about his porn and webcam use, but I didn’t understand or clarify at the time because he was so mentally fragile. It was not until New Years Eve that I clarified with him and understood that he had cheated on me, so that is the date I consider DDay.)

The porn use/addiction has only come up more recently, only within the past few weeks has he finally stopped denying and accepted that he has an addiction. So his “treatment” in IC in regards to this has only just begun.

Smjsome1 posted 4/16/2018 17:27 PM

See - my issue with acceptance/forgiveness is he chose to do the things he did knowing it would damage me. How can I forgive that. That’s when I’m told “he was a very sick man”

My answer to that is he had two times he could have gotten help but was “too embarrassed” so his embarrassment he valued more than me or our marriage.

Then I’m told “but he’s figuring his stuff out, changing”

My answer is “could have taken one of the two chances and done it sooner, before he started actually physically having affairs” and ”. “Trust me, figuring my shit out in my twenties was not fun, but I did it so my kids would have better parents”

This is the answer I’m given “he wasn’t ready to ask for help”

My answer to that is foul language.

The problem is, I like him much better now, even only at 8 months, and I see his changes, but I cannot get past, accept, the things in my mind he chose to do, rather then step up. That he enjoyed - which makes me think he didn’t step up because he enjoyed his activities too much to stop.

It’s like a spiral and I’m down the hole screaming I want you gone! Get out! I hate you!

I really need to have reasoning in acceptance, forgiveness, that my anger and pride can accept.

secondtime posted 4/16/2018 17:58 PM

For me..Forgiveness is for myself.

Sure. I can be super upset and remind myself daily that my husband's addiction is the most important thing in his life. He proved that with his relapse.

But, that doesn't do me any good. I mean, it just doesn't add anything positive to my life.

I grew up with a mom that *never* forgave. When she fought with me, in my 30's she'd still be mad at me for the things I did as a teenager. And they weren't "bad" things (I got through HS a virgin, no drugs, drinking, and high grades.) She was STILL be mad at me because that one time, my friends didn't chat her up when my friend walked by her.

She rewrote the past the suite her needs, and then she used that to punish me at will in the present and future.

So. That's the example of refusing to forgive that I have.

It's so emotionally consuming. It's ugly. I don't want that. I don't want to be that.

There are some truths that about addiction that I CAN understand. I can understand that we are only ready to deal with something when we are ready.

Had my husband pushed me to make some boundaries with my parents, before I was ready...I would have sooner divorced him and chose an abusive relationship over a marriage with him.

All of my husband's behaviors..are expected because he's an addict. That doesn't make it right. But, I shouldn't be surprised/hurt/angry that an addict behaves/thinks like one.

I know I also have to remember that the world doesn't operate like me. They don't have my strengths, my weaknesses. I have to accept that others' paths are different. It's not somoene's fault because they aren't like me, process things like me, have my same personality, etc.

Smjsome1 posted 4/16/2018 18:07 PM

If I can’t find my path thru this, despite his work, I will have to divorce.

There lies the problem.

I remember 30 years of gaslighting, lying, betrayal. It rips at me, physical pain, I just can’t live like this. My choices in our life taken from me. Etc.

How did y’all do this, did you? Have you? Can you?

[This message edited by Smjsome1 at 6:11 PM, April 16th (Monday)]

Lionne posted 4/16/2018 19:51 PM

I remember 30 years of gaslighting, lying, betrayal. It rips at me, physical pain, I just can’t live like this. My choices in our life taken from me. Etc.

Of course you can't. You are still in active trauma. This may be a deal breaker. You really can't make a decision right now while you are in crisis mode.

The only way I got through was to detach, detach, detach. Of course, I still spent a long time asking him to explain himself repeatedly. That wasn't the best use of my time, but, oh well. I needed to ask him the same things over and over. Until I didn't. But that took FIVE YEARS. And then I began the long road back to liking him.

This may not be the path for you. But you'll still have to process this trauma within or out of the marriage.

You're right. He was a lying, cheating, selfish, stupid man. He can change 180 degrees, the reality of his actions in the past won't ever change. You might not be able to be in an acceptance state of mind. Sometimes a therapeutic separation is the right choice. From what you say, his need to constantly be in contact with you, his overt shame, it all may be hindering your healing.

This journey for you is also one day at a time. The only way to get through this is that way (and probably supporting medication) Aggressive self care.

I'm so sorry. I wish I had answers.

number4 posted 4/16/2018 20:08 PM

This may not be the path for you. But you'll still have to process this trauma within or out of the marriage.

This... read this so many times you'll be seeing it in your dreams. This is why they suggest not making any major decisions within six months or a year (unless someone's safety is at risk). If you don't deal with the trauma, it will be next to impossible to ever enter into another healthy romantic relationship. Heck, it may even hinder your every day relationships with family, friends, co-workers, etc.

Smjsome1 posted 4/16/2018 20:21 PM

Second time - - so you can understand and accept the addiction caused the behavior/betrayal? Which allows you to understand and have a relationship you can be happy with? Am I understanding you correctly?

Lionne -
The only way I got through was to detach, detach, detach. Of course, I still spent a long time asking him to explain himself repeatedly. That wasn't the best use of my time, but, oh well. I needed to ask him the same things over and over. Until I didn't. But that took FIVE YEARS. And then I began the long road back to liking him.”
See- I get that - it was your path, and I get that. I have to find my path. I want to know everyone’s path, how they have negotiated it.
I do that - ask him to explain, repeat questions.

Today he had a bonescan across from where he met and worked with one of his sexting buddies. It just enrages me every time we have to go there. I don’t know why he wants me to go with him - we haven’t had a successfully untriggered, calm trip yet. Plus it’s the same hospital he took me too DD1 to the ER, the entire time lying to me about the scale of what I have to deal with. It makes for some very uncomfortable moments for waitresses, medical staff, etc. I just stare and am not helpful. They must think - wow, that is one of the most uncaring wives ever.

Lionne posted 4/16/2018 21:07 PM

I don’t know why he wants me to go with him - we haven’t had a successfully untriggered, calm trip yet.

This is concerning. About him. His insistence on you going with him. Is it the health issue that he needs support with? His need to hang on to you in this way. He must be having anxiety about your trip to see your daughter.

I think you need to discuss this with his IC. Can you handle a joint session?

Smjsome1 posted 4/16/2018 23:18 PM

Well, my IC is his IC’s mentor and we’ve both signed off on them discussing us, she has made it clear to his IC that it’s a problem, hiding my keys, sleeping on floor in front of the door.

I slept in the arm chair Friday, woke up and he was asleep on the floor in front of the chair, his hand on my leg - over the blanket. I had to step over him to get up. The door was open though. Seeing my IC tomorrow, that’s coming up.

We had a discussion about me not being able to accept it forgive or get past - I said I’m going to do research on our states divorce laws. Later he came back and asked if I divorce him will I let him call and talk to me. “Will you let me talk to you?” “Will you still by my friend?”
It was odd. I said if you continue your recovery I can see us being friends, I like who you are turning out to be, we have grand kids, etc, I’d like it to be amicable.

Health wise his artificial knee is having disturbing symptoms,, may be failing. They at first thought it was an infection. The bonescan is to see if the bone is deteriorating. Either of these options means a major surgery with months of recuperation. After today he’s wants to see if he can change drs and hospitals even though his is one of the best in the state.

Then there is his and my groups, he parks outside at mine. His group is after my IC. He meets me, we eat dinner, and if I don’t wait for him at his group he gets upset. That’s coming up in IC too.
Edited to clarify - originally I was told not to drive by my Dr, I wasn’t eating and I was on meds. So while my daughter was here she would drive, but after that he would. I’m now driving and it’s just continued. I actually don’t mind, but it’s been brought to my attention so I’m going to discuss it w my IC.

He used to be my best friend, best friend with terrible painful secrets,

[This message edited by Smjsome1 at 5:17 AM, April 17th (Tuesday)]

sami1234 posted 4/17/2018 07:50 AM

Forgiveness is a tough one. In my mind, forgiveness has always been: oh gosh, that's ok. Well it's never gonna be ok! What I think I can do is move past it. That means not dwell continuously on it and not bring it up constantly AS LONG AS he remains a changed man.

I also think it's important to empower ourselves. It is more that we can CHOOSE to forgive if we want to, not that we HAVE to forgive. Because honestly if it happens it will take time, and I don't want any time constraints on that by myself or by my WH (we shouldn't have any.) But, and second time said it, the main forgiveness I need now is for myself. For being so trusting, for being stupid enough not to see the signs, for believing in him so strongly. I think forgiveness for ourselves is the first part of the process and until we get to where we feel whole again, I don't see how we can reach out to forgiveness for our SO.

DogsnBooks I am still working on the boundaries for my WH. And it's daunting because Geez...he seems to have such amazingly good judgment in the REST of his life that I didn't think I needed to spell out what was ok, but now I do. I am getting ready to discuss another one with him now, that I haven't mentioned yet. It often feels like he is the child now. I used to think...oh he would know better...not taking anything for granted any more.

"It's a sickness." Ok. But they allowed themselves to get really, really sick. If my husband had a melanoma on his leg and knew it, and didn't tell me, and continued to get sun exposure, watch it grow, knew how dangerous it was...etc until, ok now we've got to have amputation and years of treatment...well I'd just think he was an idiot. But yes essentially that's what he's done. Ignored his own problems and nursed them along. How many times I've said "you could've gotten books to read," you could've gone to therapy without anyone knowing...just take care of yourself for gosh sakes!! But no, the porn use escalated out of pun intended but yes it did!!

Anyway, for me the important part of this puzzle is I am first, I am important, I will not stand for any type of relationship where I do not matter, where my needs and my values are not met where I need them to be, nope, not after this. I. Will. Not. But that attitude is based on our past relationship where he was clearly the taker and I was clearly the giver. I am never going back there again.

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