I haven’t left him.....yet. I said I would, but EVERYTHING he’s doing now is exactly what I knew needed to happen before, but never did.....disclosure, sex addiction treatment, seeking a local counselor, giving me his cell phone password (never did before), etc.
I am an alcoholic with 23 years sober. I say that to let you know that I have some knowledge of addiction and addicts. I hope what I have to say is helpful and know that it is meant in a loving and supportive way.
My FWH is a sex addict. He was clean and sober from alcohol/drugs for 20 years. He stopped doing the things he needed to do stay sober and to maintain a healthy spiritual condition: stopped going to 12-step meetings and stopped working a program. It took a few years, but he began an addictive relationship with pornography. I caught him a few times and finally began to see that it was becoming a problem for him and for our relationship. Sadly, I swept this under the rug and, like all addictions, it progressed... into a physical affair. When my husband was caught, he was actively planning a second affair. Progression is the name of the game with sex addiction,
It is very typical for and addict to replace addictions if they are not actively participating in a program of recovery consistently and for the long term. Sobriety from addiction is a LIFETIME process. If your husband is not actively working on the emotional and behavioral dysfunction that enables the disease, then this is almost a guaranteed path to relapse. He needs to learn the tools necessary to sustain long term sobriety and he can only learn those tools through work with sober addicts. In my experience, sustained sobriety is only possible with active participation in a 12-step program. Period. Not for a week, not a year, FOREVER.
TBH Words are meaningless. Addicts are constitutionally incapable of honesty. ACTIONS will tell you if your husband is serious about being safe for you and for himself. If your husband will not do whatever it takes to get and stay clean, then he is not serious about recovery. I have been working with addicts for many years. They, like cheaters, follow certain patterns of behavior. They commonly promise a LOT of action while waiting for the commotion to die down so they can continue to use. In this, your husband is acting like most other addicts when they are asked to face a consequence. Unless he actually follows through with his promises, then it is addict bullshit. Your husband has “used”/cheated before and you are still married. Addicts understand this as a “free pass”, and will manipulate the situation so that they can continue to comfortably do what they want to do.
If your husband refuses to make meaningful changes, you will be a hostage to his active addiction (behaviorally, if not physically). As you know, life with an active addict is guaranteed to bring chaos and misery to your life. If he does not want to take the steps necessary to get and stay clean, it is up to you to set the boundaries and expectations with what you can or cannot tolerate and to follow through with consequences. Addicts do not find sobriety until they hit their "bottom". If he is able to stay in the house and married to you without making any significant changes, why would he? He will not get better until he is ready and this is completely up to him, NOT YOU.
This would be my list of non-negotiables:
1. 12-step meetings multiple times per week. They are online, so no excuses.
2. Work with a sponsor.
3. Ongoing therapy with a CSAT. MC is not what he needs right now. The marriage is not the problem. HE is.
4. Taking the suggestions of his therapist and his sponsor and ACTING on those suggestions willingly.
5. Complete honesty at all times.
6. All electronics are open to your review whenever you need to see them and his whereabouts are verifiable. This is ACCOUNTABILITY. If he is misbehaving online, then I would consider computer use only when you are present when he is not at work.
I am an outspoken gal, and I will tell you that without honesty, there is no hope. If your husband does not get willing and honest, he will almost certainly continue some sort of addictive behavior and you will bear the brunt of that. Addicts will take advantage of kindness, which they see as weakness, to manipulate in order to continue to do what they want. Yes, addiction is a disease, but the only way for most addicts to be truly willing to get the help that they need is for the lifestyle that is assisting their using to go away. Yes, addiction is a disease, but do not let your husband manipulate you with his sickness. Addiction explains the behavior, but in no way excuses it. He and only he can decide to get better. You need to take care of yourself first. If you have kids, they need to be far away from active addiction.
It is counterintuitive that kindness, mercy and compassion will enable an addict, but that is the truth of the disease.