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Sex Addiction Creates Rough Seas in a Marriage – SOS! May Day!

On my visit to San Diego, while attending the SASH conference, I took some time to be a tourist when the conference ended.  My husband had a meeting at the same time close by so we made a rendezvous to enjoy some outdoor activities in the area.  My wish for outdoor activities included cycling and sea lion watching.  My husband was up for sea lions, but preferred to add ocean kayaking to the list of fun.  With limited time we compromised by deciding on ocean kayaking that would include a trip by a peninsula that sea lions were known to inhabit. 

The Two D-Day’s of Sex Addiction

"To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can." -Sydney Smith

D-Day.  The mention of D-Day usually conjures up the invasion of the Normandy Beaches on June 6, 1944, bloody battles that ensued, and ultimately liberation from German occupation during World War II.  In Sex Addiction treatment with addicts, spouses, and couples that I sit with, we sometimes refer to two D-days.  The first D-Day we refer to as “Discovery Day”.  The second D-Day is “Disclosure Day”.

The Partner’s Fear of Letting Go in Sex Addiction

Recently I wrote a post on the experience of teaching my daughter to ride her two-wheel bike for the first time.  From my experience of being a road cyclist and watching her gain skills for balance on the bike, I noticed the parallels of cycling and recovery.  In this post I want to look at the perspective of the person running behind the bike.  The experience of being a parent and running behind the bike supporting my daughter with the need to let go, I am reminded of the spouse’s process necessary in the recovery process of sex addiction.    Have you experienced the feeling of running behind a child, supporting the child on the bike, yet, knowing you need to let go?  Do you remember the feeling the panic of the moment you knew you needed to let them go so they will find their own skill, power, and strength to continue?   How can a parent let go running behind the bike knowing full well there might be hurt involved?  How can a spouse stop being vigilant knowing there might be more unconscionable collateral damage?  Often, the spouse has been broadsided with the discovery of the addiction and it would seem counter-intuitive to let go of vigilance now!

Sex Addiction, the Partner's Mistrust and Recovery

"To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say."  Rene Descartes

The betrayal and discovery of sex addiction in a relationship is a betrayal like no other.  As a CSAT, I sit with people who have felt that very unique betrayal.  Sex addicts are great at hiding and living very compartmentalized lives.  Rare is the sex addict that comes forward to proclaim that they have a problem and need to seek help or treatment.  Once the addiction is discovered, there is a dynamic in the relationship that ensues.  Trust is blown.  The partner feels like the only way to be sure that offending behaviors are arrested is to keep tabs on the offending partner.  In shock they feel if they had not discovered, or happened upon evidence of sorts, then they would have never known.  Continuing to seek the evidence results in what is commonly referred to “pain shopping” in recovery circles.  Pain shopping keeps one stirred up internally and as agitated or “crazy” as the addict is with their addiction. Pain shopping is a straight pipeline to enacting the codependency dynamic in the couple impacted by sex addiction.