If sex addiction has consumed your life and the marriage is now in jeopardy due to your actions, you need to fight for your spouse if you want to save the marriage. You fight for your spouse by following through on your recovery work, attending groups and seeing your therapist. You fight for your spouse by not defending yourself, your actions or by turning the tables and making everything about you and your recovery. You fight for your spouse by supporting her through her recovery.
Being supportive is to allow your spouse to share the pain, fear
and anxiety that the addiction has caused her, and you taking accountability for the actions that led to her despair. You simply state, “I see that you are in pain and my actions caused that. I am sorry.” You also know that the past cannot be undone, so you could state, “What can I do for you today/ now?”
When your spouse is triggered or wants to share her feeling, allow her to do so. Do not make this time about you and how great you are doing in recovery. Remember, your spouse needs you to fight for her. You
fight by making it about her and her feelings. When she shares how she feels, you may simply say, “Tell me more about that” or “Is there something else that you would like to say?” This is not the time to become defensive, sarcastic or making it about you.
Fighting for one’s spouse does not mean that you allow verbal or physical abuse from your spouse. You excuse yourself if verbal abuse or raging takes place. You may simply say, “I can see how angry you are right now. I would like to hear more about that at a time when we can both talk calmly about this. Please let me know when it is a good time for us to continue this conversation. “
It takes courage and practice to learn to hear and tolerate the pain that has been inflicted upon your spouse. In the past, you may have become impatient, defensive, angry and unable to hear the message.Your spouse needs you to hear her. Your spouse needs you to validate the pain that your actions caused her. Relationships can make it, and even become stronger following sex addiction recovery, but your road to couple’s recovery will be longer -unless you can hear her.
Relationships are more likely to end, even if the acting out has stopped, if the sex addict becomes “the hurry up guy.” Dr. Weiss describes the “hurry up guy” as the person who cannot tolerate the pain he has caused. He just wants to move on quickly. He cannot allow for his spouse to grieve. The “hurry up guy” wants it all the acting out to be behind them, as if nothing has happened. It doesn’t work that way. She needs you to fight for her no matter how long it takes.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, SRT, therapist at McKinneyCounseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy
deprivation. McKinney Counseling and Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
The TV stories about the celebrity relationships ending due to
betrayal are quite frequent these days. Many people also have family members or friends who share their devastation and pain relating to infidelity or deceit in their relationships. Other than the obvious: infidelity, sex addiction, physical
and emotional abuse, there are many other betrayal areas that may also play out in a marriage. According to Dr. John Gottman, there are some main areas of betrayal that may play out in relationships that can be devastating to the
1. Conditional Commitment- This is the kind of relationship where everything is “well” until the next best thing comes around. It is a shallow relationship where either one, or both, people are not truly invested in
deepening the commitment. Deep issues are not discussed. This may be the couple who married because they felt pressured or felt like they “should” instead of wanting to.
2. A Nonsexual Affair/ Emotional Affair- The marriage may be in trouble when there is a “work wife” or “work husband” involved. This work confidant is someone outside of the marriage who has been told a lot of private information about the marriage and is described as “just a friend” from work. Having close friends is fine, but if intimate information is shared that may make the other spouse uncomfortable should they know, the line may be crossed from a friendship onto the side of a nonsexual/emotional affair.
3. Lying-Some couples may lie to each other as an attempt to avoid tension and conflict in the relationship. As a result, there is a breach of trust. Secrets keeping is harmful to the relationship, but it can be worked through, unless one person is a chronic liar. Chronic lying is a pattern established in childhood and that pattern may have additional challenges to be worked through. Regardless, lies and secret keeping in marriage is destructive.
4. Forming a Coalition Against the Partner- This is the “ganging up” tactic used against one spouse. Maybe it is the husband who gangs up on this wife by having his mother as his ally, or it is the wife who colludes with her mother to gang up on the husband. Either way, it is destructive to the marriage. Boundaries need to be established around how much is shared with others who may interfere in the relationship.
Dr. John Gottman also identifies several other betrayal areas in marriage, such as: coldness, withdrawal of sexual interest, and disrespect. This list is not all inclusive and there are many other areas to explore. If you
identify with an area, it does not mean that your marriage is doomed. It simply means that there are areas of concern that you need to work on in order to make the marriage stronger.
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