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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 18

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DogsnBooks posted 5/7/2018 06:21 AM

Ladies, I need some more advice ...

Right after DDay, one of the things that I wanted was to switch on parental controls on WH’s phone & iPad. What ended up happening is that he turned on parental controls, but he set the bypass passcode to a something he chose. So while in theory it would hopefully be a deterrent and make him think twice, in reality it would still be very easy for him to enter the passcode and still be able to access everything, delete his history, use private browsing, etc.

I am very tempted to take his phone and change the bypass passcode to something he doesn’t know.

I don’t trust that he isn’t still sneaking around & deleting his history ... I kinda want to catch him in the act.

Is this a bad idea? I know I can’t mother or police him forever, but I still just don’t have any trust. I want to prove myself right or wrong, one way or another. But I also don’t want to damage our marriage further ... we have been working a lot in MC on open communication, and I don’t want to undo that. But at the same time, obviously if I TOLD him I’m changing the passcode, I’m sure he could find other ways around it.

Shocked123 posted 5/7/2018 07:50 AM

What if you brought this up to your MC?
I wouldn't worry about messing up the marriage at this point. It already is if you'e worried about hidden passcodes on an Ipad.
Seriously, we lose perspective over what is normal/not normal after a while.
I wouldnt trust him as far as i could throw him. It's the same with my husband. I will never trust him again and have to live that hell every day because of what he did.

DogsnBooks posted 5/7/2018 11:04 AM

What if you brought this up to your MC?

In theory I could, and he would probably be forced to agree to a passcode change. But then that puts me in the same boat where he will find ways around it and I won’t “catch” him at all.

Ugh.

marji posted 5/7/2018 11:22 AM

Dogs, Just wondering if each of you are working with good ICs, i.e. therapists who are familiar and experienced working with the kind of problem your H seems to have and which you are now victim of. There are all types of infidelity and not all ICs are trained and able to work with all kinds.

You say you're working with an MC but if that therapist does not have professional experience working with the kind of issues your H has than that might not be the best of therapy to get. There are therapists that work with couples who are dealing with this type of sickness but most not.

I suspect if you were working with the right type of therapists, individually and together, you might be able to work out the dilemma you have now. As others have said, I wouldn't worry about damaging the marriage--that work was already done--now it's how will each of you recover and what is your H doing each day in every way to change into a healthy, honest, stable person. His habits suggest something rather serious that needs serious treatment.

DogsnBooks posted 5/7/2018 11:34 AM

Dogs, Just wondering if each of you are working with good ICs, i.e. therapists who are familiar and experienced working with the kind of problem your H seems to have and which you are now victim of. There are all types of infidelity and not all ICs are trained and able to work with all kinds.

You say you're working with an MC but if that therapist does not have professional experience working with the kind of issues your H has than that might not be the best of therapy to get. There are therapists that work with couples who are dealing with this type of sickness but most not.

We are both working with ICs although I’m not too sure if they’re “good.” I have only just started IC myself and have only had 2 sessions so far, so we are still feeling each other out.

WH’s IC is “good” in that she is helping him realize a lot of things about himself and work through a lot of his childhood traumas, and she claims to have worked with addictions many times before, but she is not a CSAT.

secondtime posted 5/7/2018 12:03 PM

Dogs

What will you gain by catching him in the act? Do you feel this info will help you make a better decision?

Gently, if your husband is an addict, MC isn't what you all should be spending your time on, anyway.

You can't have a good, healthy working marriage with an active addict or dry drunk. Wish you could, but you can't.

You also aren't supposed to trust an active addict, or dry drunk. That's not how it works.

I'm not even sure we can trust recovering addicts. I'm pretty sure Lionne said..we must work to trust ourselves..that's pretty much the only option if your husband is an addict.

From my perspective..I'd rather you got to IC, and ask your husband to got to 6 12 step meetings and see a CSAT for a diagnosis.

That's where I would want to start.

Then you can make decisions about your life.

I knew about my husband's SA at relatively early age. He saw a CSAT at 31.. I wished I really would have understood the gravity of choosing to stay married to an addict then. My 43 year old self would like to go back a decade and make some different decisions.

Ifeelalone posted 5/7/2018 15:05 PM

Dogsnbooks,
My husband does not have the pass code to the restrictions on the iPad. I do. He also gave up how smart phone and doesn't ever want to go back. I caught him using private browsing once after disclosure (to book an appointment for std testing) and I had a panic attack. Do to the nature of his work I can't lock down or monitor all the electronics (nor do I want to). But I can feel safe enough. Which I think safe enough is what is the most all ever be able to hope for again. It's what my first counselor was teaching me.

He isn't going to be scheduling hookups in my house again or accidently leave dick pics on our cloud again (vomit)

These are sick and disturbed people. Try and ffind a way to get yourself to a place where you are "safe enough"

And tell your husband to get to a csat and a support group. Mine skypes with his and meets her in real life a few times a year. That was a non negotiable for me.

number4 posted 5/7/2018 16:37 PM

WH’s IC is “good” in that she is helping him realize a lot of things about himself and work through a lot of his childhood traumas, and she claims to have worked with addictions many times before, but she is not a CSAT.

DogsnBooks - If we had known last summer that H would eventually be diagnosed as a sex addict, we would have known to get a CSAT. He started with someone who (as she eventually put it herself) needed someone way above her pay scale and when the sex addiction finally came out, was the second (after me) to admit he needed a CSAT.

When picking an IC (even if they do work with a lot of addiction issues), I think it's helpful to remember something our MC told me, "Sex addiction is like all the other addictions... except on steroids." So even an IC who has worked with a lot of addictive personalities is not necessarily qualified to work with a sex addict.

You will need to remember that, almost every other addiction out there claims people who, when they walk into a room and announce they are in recovery for whatever addiction they have, will get a standing ovation and encouragement to stick with it and keep working their program. A sex addict doesn't even have the option to walk into a room and announce their addiction to anyone - there is too much shame and misinformation out there (they're all pedophiles, etc.). So a sex addict's professional support person, along with a 12-step group of their choosing, and you, will be their only recovery support system in the beginning, until they find a person or two outside of the recovery community they feel safe sharing the news with. It's an incredibly lonely place to be, so they need an IC that gets that and can support them as they excavate the chaos they've created (and was in their lives long before they became sex addicts).

I'm usually not so forward to suggest people change ICs, but you and your partner are very early on in the process, and it would be worth your while to find someone who is proficient in sex addictions. You won't lose much time if you switch now, as opposed to three or six months from now when you realize they don't have the experience you or he needs. That being said, I know how difficult it is to switch after even only a few sessions - you feel like that person is sort of your lifeline. And really, part of my own issues are trying to micromanage H's recovery, and although I expressed some concerns last fall that his then IC wasn't quite up to what he needed, it wasn't my call to make to tell him to switch. I expressed my opinions based on my own experiences, but it had to reach a certain level before he realized the IC wasn't competent, and he made the choice. Of course, we always hold some leverage in these kinds of choices, but we must be careful not to make demands. We can express our wishes and needs and provide consequences if they're not addressed, but they need to find their own recovery path.

number4 posted 5/7/2018 17:21 PM

For those here who have mentioned working with trauma specialists... can you be more specific on how this differed than working with a regular traditionally-trained psychotherapist?

I've now had six sessions with her, and am not sure what to expect. I told her so, and said I guess it was like I wanted a road map.

I was also experiencing a lot of anxiety today, and when I saw her, she tried to talk me through a body awareness exercise with breathing, but it didn't really help. I took a Xanax on the way home, and am still feeling hyper-aroused.

ashestophoenix posted 5/7/2018 20:21 PM

Hi - I've learned the hard way to change therapists when it just feels....off. In my case, it felt like they weren't seeing my husband or me clearly. When I didn't get this, I had IC's and MC's who damaged me. So there is no problem in changing therapists.

I recommend a CSAT for our addicted partners, but trauma therapists for us. When I interviewed, I'd ask if they treated trauma, and they all say "yes". But then I asked "how do you treat it." My current therapist is trained in Internal Family Systems. It's great for trauma. You can google it. Also, EMDR is a known trauma approach that is successful. But I'd have the therapists give specific descriptions of their training and approach. My current one did just that. Some I interviewed bristled at my questions, which I thought were reasonable.

ashestophoenix

[This message edited by ashestophoenix at 8:21 PM, May 7th (Monday)]

marji posted 5/8/2018 05:16 AM

Number4 Trauma specialists should be able to tell you exactly what types of methods they use, what type of training and background they have and yes, should be able to tell you what to expect. Currently EMDR is considered one of the most effective trauma treatments but as with any other health therapy, it is important to that the EMDR therapist be experienced and very competent. You can always ask about their training, years of experience, number of sessions typically required.

number4 posted 5/8/2018 11:12 AM

@marji - the agency this therapist is with is known in our large metropolitan area for offering different modalities of therapy that a lot of other therapists do not offer, such as imagery, EMDR, CBT, DBT, trauma groups, etc. She did tell me she is not certified in EMDR, but has several colleagues that are. Yesterday she suggested we spend one of my appointments in consultation with one of her other colleagues who does EMDR so I could hear more about it. She herself works more with imagery. She said they also offer art expression, yoga, etc., so lots of different things.

I know H did some EMDR when he was in rehab last fall and felt even the one session he did helped. However, while my long-time individual therapist does not offer EMDR, he is familiar with it, and is cautioning me to tread carefully before trying it. He would like to see me more stable and in a place to process what would come up and not have it set me back further. If anything, all this trauma has brought to the surface a lot of trauma from my childhood. Long story short... I was born with a cleft lip/palate, had three major surgeries by the time I was two, and there's a whole host of issues that come with it... the hospital separations from my parents, the papoose I was forced to wear so I wouldn't irritate my incisions, major feeding issues, etc. This doesn't even include how my parents responded to having a baby girl with a major facial disfigurement - I'll give you a hint... my parents cared a lot about how we 'appeared' as a family to outsiders. Appearances meant a lot to them. And they never talked to me about my birth defect; I had to piece together most of my story from my oldest brother.

My psychiatrist has been telling me for years she thinks the root of my anxieties go back to my pre-verbal medical experiences and how I was, or wasn't soothed. But I didn't get it; I just knew it was a hypothesis she had; now, after having a few sessions with the trauma therapist, I get the body/somatic piece. But is now the best time to go back and deal with that? To me it feels too overwhelming to dig that stuff up when all the sex addiction/infidelity stuff is in my face.

Oh, and the trauma therapist, yesterday has suggested she, my long-term therapist and our MC have a three-way conference call. So she emailed them last night (according to my IC who I spoke with this morning), requesting times they are available to do so. I think that's a good approach as my IC has known me the longest and knows my resilience level better than the other two and can offer some insight as to how I typically respond to instruction, etc.

DogsnBooks posted 5/8/2018 12:13 PM

Secondtime -

I missed your earlier question.

What will you gain by catching him in the act? Do you feel this info will help you make a better decision?

Yes, I want to be armed with as much information as possible. What will I gain? Nothing tangible, but I think it will help me know if I can/can’t trust him, and by default, if I can/can’t trust my own gut. Right now, he says that he has stopped watching porn, etc. My gut feeling says otherwise.

If I do catch him doing something, I will know that I can trust my gut and can’t trust him. If by some miracle he DOESN’T do anything for a while, I will feel a little better about giving him a few more inches of my trust “rope.” He will not have my full trust for a long, long time. Maybe not ever again.

I am still not entirely sure if he is an addict or not. Some things fit, and some things don’t.

I looked into it and unfortunately there are no CSATs anywhere in our vicinity who accept our insurance. There is the Skype option as others have mentioned, although I’m sure they wouldn’t accept our insurance either if they are in a different state. Not really sure what to do... we aren’t exactly rolling in dough and I don’t think we could afford to pay out of pocket for a CSAT.

marji posted 5/8/2018 18:12 PM

Dogs Im just now looking at your age. Don't see that you have children but Im wondering if you are wondering why you think/feel/believe/ whatever --you need to continue living with someone you do not trust; someone who choices are giving you such great discomfort. Again, I surely do not know any more than your age and your H's unhealthy behavior. Also reading that you are not in a location or financial position to devote yourselves to many years of therapy. I would just think about thinking about choices. You are very young and have a whole life ahead of you. Please give it some thought.

secondtime posted 5/9/2018 06:23 AM

I am still not entirely sure if he is an addict or not. Some things fit, and some things don’t.

My husband doesn't completely fit the profile of an SA, either. Yet, he is one, by diagnosis and later by admission and complete acceptance.

Acting out is highly individualized. Get 30 SAs in a room, and no two acting out behaviors are exactly the same. My husband has been getting high for about 30 years now. He's 42. He "should" have progressed to something beyond porn, but he hasn't. He "should" have progressed to something beyond vanilla porn by now, and he hasn't.

But, let's ignore the diagnosis part for a bit.

What's your bottom line. Is this behavior set something you can live with? If it is, under what conditions...

I guess I'd rather see you focus on your boundaries over trying to catch your husband. And truthfully, you can't really catch him on everything, since you can't read his mind.

DH and I have been doing the recovery dog and pony show for a decade, now (his has not been successful and he relapsed, and I discovered last year ..so we are dealing with that.) The last time I checked up on him...was likely 8 years ago.

Consider there's other ways to see if your husband is trustworthy. If he commits to something does he follow through? Do his words mean something? If he says he went to the store to pick up dishwashing detergent...did it take him 2 hours for a 20 minute errand? Can you ask him where he's been? Does he get defensive or does he say "Well, honey, I was here. But you can always use "find my friend."

Is your husband emotionally present or is he off in his own little world? Is there any emotional intimacy? Does he feel like a true partner? Does he try to meet your needs? (Last night I was D-O-N-E parenting after 12 hours. Dealing with a clingly baby and a hard-headed teen wore me out. DH changed his plans to take the baby off my hands for 2 hours. I didn't ask.)

The emotional stuff is my husband's tell. We've been together for 21 years, so it's pretty easy for me to know when he's distant and when he's present. I mean, I don't expect him to be all chatty like a woman (I'm not generally even like that.) But, I deem my husband really recovering when he can share his feelings unprompted.

The other day I asked my husband if he was working his steps for me (and to stay in the marriage and have a much easier life) or him. He said him. He really thought about it...so I am very encouraged by that. This is what's more important to me....

[This message edited by secondtime at 6:26 AM, May 9th (Wednesday)]

ashestophoenix posted 5/9/2018 08:13 AM

Number4, a good, well trained and experienced EMDR therapist will first work with you on learning to access a peaceful state. They will also work to provide a sense of protectors and other elements (often visual) to prepare for the trauma work. EMDR can be very intense (my husband is in it right now), but it can be "quicker" in getting results than the trauma work I'm doing (Internal Family Systems). And, any trauma brings up previous trauma. It's just the nature of it.

Dogs, I agree with Marji. You're very young. I'm 60...if I knew what I know now about my husband and this addiction when I was your age, I would have divorced him. And, frankly, I would never have married him. I think the window for divorcing him started to close when I got very sick in my late 40's. I'm okay now. But if I wasn't dependent on staying married to keep my health insurance, it would be easier to divorce now. I think they can achieve sobriety in a couple of years; I think it takes much, much longer to gain maturity and mental health. And then, we are always in a marriage in recovery. They can never get complacent. I know of relapses after 10 years of sobriety. It can happen.

My husband is a voyeur a well.
Do they know they are offending women? I've thought a lot about this. In my husband's case, he is/was very delusional. He thought because he was all turned on and in love, so was the object of his obsession. Right? She was the perfect one and her perfection meant she was in ecstasy at his pleasure. That's how delusional he was. That was the power of his fantasy. So I think some of the messages women give off are missed, and some are distorted by my husband as flirtation or coyness. When he's in his fantasy there is no room for reality.

But some of this I think is about power. About being able to do this and women not having any control to stop it. About getting away with it. The getting away with it feels like a sneaky 10 year old. But the power, that feels like a sick adult. I wonder about this. I wonder how much my husband actually hates women. He swears he doesn't, but I don't believe a word he says and he doesn't know himself. I know how much my husband needs me...in a desperate, very non-adult way. And he hates himself for that dependency and for sure he hates me for "putting him in that situation." The problem, of course, is I didn't "put him in that situation." Remember how much they blame and don't take responsibility for their behavior.

It's ugly and sad.

ashestophoenix

DogsnBooks posted 5/9/2018 11:06 AM

marji and ashes -

Isn’t that the worst question we all have to answer? “Why bother staying?” “Why do you want to stay with him?

I know I am young and I have my whole life ahead of me. Trust me, it is very tempting some days just to say “screw it” and imagine a carefree single life. But I know that isn’t realistic, for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good.

Even though I’m young, this is an 8-year relationship that I would be throwing away. He’s the only man I’ve ever been with. So there are some not-so-good reasons there (How would I even find another relationship? This is the only one I’ve ever known. Would anyone else even love me?). There are also better reasons, like that I have tried imagining being with other men, but he is the only one I want. So it is not so much that I feel trapped or like this is all I can have, but that somehow, despite everything, he is the one I want.

There are other relationships I’d lose too. His family, who have been far more of a family to me than mine ever was. His little neieces and nephews, who light up my day. Our friendship group would be irrevocably shattered, and once again these friends are more like family to me than my family ever was.

There are also really “dumb” yet practical reasons, like the fact that we wouldn’t have enough money for a divorce and even if we separated, I don’t think I would have enough money to live on my own, even in a shitty studio apartment. And I really, really don’t want that life.

Did he hurt me? Yep, sure did. I think back on our relationship and remember all the times he was toxic and selfish, even outside of the cheating. The difference here is that now HE sees and understands and accepts that he was selfish (whereas in the past he would get angry and defensive if I said he was being selfish).

He is truly remorseful, and though I do not trust him, I believe his remorse. It pains him deeply to know how much he hurt me. He has shown me this through words and tears and actions.

He wants to, and is, changing. He has become more patient. Does more around the house. Checks in on how I’m feeling and wants to help me succeed with my goals, even outside of the scope of our relationship. He is starting to dig in deep at IC and learn more about himself, his bad coping mechanisms, how he reacts to change, working through childhood trauma, etc.

It has taken longer than I wished for some of these changes. It feels like pulling teeth at times. But I finally am seeing some real change.

I talked to him about the CSAT and SAA groups that I mentioned earlier, and he seems open to the idea. I expected him to react poorly and defensively, so this was a nice surprise.

DogsnBooks posted 5/9/2018 11:30 AM

If he commits to something does he follow through? Do his words mean something? If he says he went to the store to pick up dishwashing detergent...did it take him 2 hours for a 20 minute errand? Can you ask him where he's been? Does he get defensive or does he say "Well, honey, I was here. But you can always use "find my friend."

Is your husband emotionally present or is he off in his own little world? Is there any emotional intimacy? Does he feel like a true partner? Does he try to meet your needs?

Followthrough has always been an issue with him in the past. It is something I have been talking to him about a lot lately, and he finally does seem to “get it.” He is now making an active effort to follow through more, and is even retroactively following through on some of the things he “should have done” months ago.

I am not really concerned with where he is or anything like that, and he has never been defensive with it. He didn’t have any physical interactions so that isn’t a top concern to me. He’s always been where he’s said he was.

As far as emotionally present ... this one is a little confusing. In therapy he talks a lot about how the porn/webcamming was a coping mechanism, that he would retreat into his own little world, feel closed off, feel like he couldn’t talk to me, etc. But from my perspective, he has always talked to me A LOT, if anything was an over-sharer. Always coming to me to talk about how he was depressed or lonely or anxious, complaining about whatever was happening that day, etc. He never shied away from talking about emotions or being emotional with me. So I guess there’s a disconnect in our perceptions there.

He is starting to feel like more of an equal partner now. In the past, I always felt more like his therapist or his mother than his wife (see above about his mental health) but I have expressed my feelings about this to him and now it feels a little more equal.

He does care about my needs. He wants to help me emotionally, wants to help me with my personal goals, etc. His issue is that he “doesn’t know” what to do to help. He “doesn’t know” what I need.

number4 posted 5/9/2018 22:53 PM

I talked to him about the CSAT and SAA groups that I mentioned earlier, and he seems open to the idea. I expected him to react poorly and defensively, so this was a nice surprise.

That is very encouraging, that he is even open to a dialogue with you about these as opposed to getting all defensive and creating reasons why he doesn't think he should need to do this. I hope this is an ongoing positive trajectory for your healing.

number4 posted 5/11/2018 14:41 PM

Grateful for the small steps:

It has been stated here that sex addiction is really an intimacy disorder; I'm sure all of our partners are guilty of not knowing or experiencing true intimacy in probably all of their relationships. This is one of the things H has really struggled with, but I have to brag a bit. He is 1,000+ miles away for business, but when he got done today, he decided to drive about an hour and a half away to see his nephew pitch in his high school game this afternoon. I think it's wonderful he is making the extra effort to be present in his FOO's lives, which has been woefully neglected for decades.

But even more heart-warming - when he was growing up and his parents were such mean, nasty alcoholics, there were a couple of other families that sort of 'took him in' and tried to offer nurturing he didn't get at home... these parents showed more interest in H than his own. Today, as he was driving from his meeting to his nephew's game, one of these mother's place was right on the way. We haven't seen her in probably eight years, so I encouraged him (some might say pressured) to reach out to her, see if she was home, and stop in and say hello. When I last talked to him he kept coming up with excuses... "I don't want to be late to my nephew's game (who is the starting pitcher today)" "I'm not sure she's still living at the address we last have for her", etc.

I will admit I used the Find My Phone app right about the time he'd be passing by her little town, and it gave me goosebumps to see he HAD stopped. So I texted him and told him how I knew he was there (he's the one who showed me how to use the app several months ago), and told him to tell her hi from me. Before he left, he took a selfie with the two of them, and sent it to me and this woman's son, who H is still good friends with. He ended up spending an hour with her (which 'could' make him late to the game), but he called me after he left and told me, "Thank you so much for encouraging me to stop and say hi; it was a great idea. I'm so glad I did it. When I called her, she even canceled an appointment so we could visit." I could hear in his voice how much it meant to him to see her again.

It's the little things like this that allow our partners to heal beyond the healing they need to do with us, and I'm very proud of him (and take a little bit of credit myself for it!).

P.S. His friend just responded to the selfie text with, "Good for you! What a Mother's Day gift early!"

I may get teary-eyed when I tell my support group about it tonight!

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