If you are in recovery for sexual addiction and you are in a relationship, you have learned that not only do you need to keep your own recovery in check; you will also need to consider your partner’s recovery. The same goes for relationships healing from infidelity. There are certain things that you want to avoid, so that your spouse is not triggered again.
Following disclosure, a triggering moment would be if you become defensive when asked about your progress in recovery/therapy. When you become defensive, it may signal that you have something to hide. If you allow defensiveness and irritation to seep through because you have repeatedly been asked about the same thing and you feel like that topic has been covered, you need to put yourself in her shoes. Your spouse will ask about your recovery or progress as many times as she needs to. Your spouse may be asking you these questions for the purpose of seeking some kind of emotional safety in a relationship where she may not have had any for some time.
When your partner asks you about your progress, she is not attempting to be controlling or nosy. Her world has been turned upside down and she is still trying to seek safety in the relationship. She still wants to stand by you. When asking about your recovery, she needs to know that you are also taking the relationship repair seriously. She feels like you are holding her heart in your hands. You have hurt her and she knows that the chance of getting hurt again is a possibility. She is afraid and she asks for confirmation of safety.
When you become defensive, irritable and angry in response, you have threatened her security of safety in the relationship. She has now become triggered and doesn’t know if she is emotionally safe with you. She may think that you have something to hide and that you are still lying and manipulating. Rebuilding trust and healing the relationship will take complete openness,honesty and a belief in the behaviors that you are displaying.
Instead of her having to ask you about your recovery, willingly share it. You are not asked to share all your personal notes about recovery, but share how many meetings you have attended, share what step you are on or what general exercise you are currently working on. This allows more stability and relieves anxiety and irritation. When you have seen your therapist, share in general terms about what you discovered or learned. You do not have to share details. This allows for your spouse to see that the recoveryof the relationship is also important to you and that she is not alone in working towards rebuilding the relationship.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, SRT, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco,
Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist