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.
This excursion was my first ocean kayaking experience. My husband has a passion for the water. While I grew up on the Atlantic Ocean, I am more comfortable on land, but I do love the sea from the distance (or on a fast speed boat!). We began our trek in the kayak out towards the sea lions off in the distance. As we ventured out, the Pacific Ocean was quite calm. The stillness of the water was a real selling point for me to agree to this activity. I am not the strongest of swimmers and have a healthy fear of water. After a while my anxious feelings began to settle. It was even becoming quite enjoyable as we approached the sea lion area. We were in an alcove of limestone cliffs but were warned not to get close to the shore in that area as the ocean could carry us in pretty quickly and possibly slam us into the rocks. Occasionally a few swells would come along that would serve to gently rock our kayak in a bobbing fashion. All of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere appeared a guide which cautioned us that some large swells were coming in and to get prepared! Oh my, this was not in the plan! I turned to see that I could no longer see the horizon and could only see what felt like a wall of water coming towards us! We knew that we had to face into the direction of the swell to keep from being toppled. Thankfully we were able to maneuver properly. Along came another large swell that prevented us from seeing the horizon. It was so tall if felt as if it would break over top of us. For me, this was very frightening. I didn’t panic, but I found myself going through a protocol of water safety “what if” scenarios in my head. A third very large swell came along. I thought my husband would better know how to take care of himself than I would if we toppled, but I am sure I could make it, but there was a lot of trepidation!
Being out in San Diego for my professional conference I thought of the couple faced with sex addiction and the parallel to this excursion. Often we enter marriage with the idea that it will be smooth sailing. Rough seas are a possibility but they remain out of our minds. The metaphor of us in the kayak is we are in this together, like it or not, and we are two different people with different skillsets! When sex addiction is revealed in a marriage, it can produce a panic similar to the large swells we encountered out there on the Pacific Ocean. At that moment, one cannot see anything except the crisis at hand the way we could only see the wall of water. It is large. It is ominous. It feels like one might not live through it. There are waves of it coming and waves of it passing, seemingly without warning, and rhyme or reason. One feels an eminent danger. There is a need to find a way from being toppled without the ability to see the horizon. Couples faced with sex addiction are forced to come up with safety plans for safe passage through deep, murky and dangerous-feeling waters. Couples need a plan, a set of safety regulations, and a set of skills to guide them to safety.
A CSAT therapist specifically trained in Sex Addiction can be a helpful guide to teach skills and navigate to safe waters in marriages that find themselves in the swells they feel like they might not survive.