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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:11 pm 
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I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how wives are able to be intimate with their husbands after they are struggling with sexual addiction. How can one just forget all of that and give up all vulnerability to him. Whether he's still struggling and just beginning the recovery process or eve when you think he is done with recovery. How do you ever know he's being honest with you to feel comfortable to give your body up to him?
I'm struggling with this because I don't know if my husband has told me everything and I want to know it all before I become vulnerable again to him. And even when he is recovered how do you know he is being truthful without checking on him? As muxh as im learning through this forum to take care of me, I just feel like I'm never going to trust my husband even if he has recovered and that I'm always going to feel the need to do my detective spy work and check up on him.
How have you dealt with these two situations?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:56 am 
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The reasons that partners continue to have sexual relationships with their addicted significant others can be for several varying “reasons”. Here are some that I have noticed, and I would say that it is often a combination of reasons, not just any one reason in particular.

    Not all partners feel that trust is the most important values the supersedes others that are also relationship promoting. Some partner’s requirements are such that they need to see “some” work being done, with “some” being defined according to what their vision, values, and boundaries are.

    Some partners think that they can somehow keep their PWA from acting out if they are fulfilling their needs (this is a faulty belief, but none the less one that is held by many, at least for some time after discovery).

    Some believe they have sexual needs and feel it is their right to have them fulfilled, too.

    Some love their partner, so having sex with them is not a violation of that value (even if it violates other values).

    Some emotionally guard themselves, at least temporarily.

    They believe that their partner’s ability and willingness to have sex with them is a sign of their health (most likely to be the case with those whose partners have avoided sex with them, in favour of their addicted sex).

    They objectify themselves.

    They objectify their partner.

    Immediate gratification.

    They believe the willingness of their partner to have sex with them means something about them (they are good enough, sexy enough, desirable, etc.)

    Some partners experience hyper-sexuality upon discovery of their partner’s addiction, and this leads to a huge indulgence in sexual behaviour.

In any case, they are prioritizing sex with their partner over other values that would otherwise prevent them from having sex with their partner, either consciously or (often early post-discovery or in disorientation stage) unconsciously.

Quote:
And even when he is recovered how do you know he is being truthful without checking on him?
Truthfully, you don’t ever know in an absolute sense. And, it also depends on how you define recovery. There is a lesson in the workshop that walks you through a few “stages” of recovery (early recovery, middles recovery, late recovery) and how to identify a sincere recovery from an insincere one, and how to identify which behaviour and thought patterns support a transition from addiction to health based living. The thing to remember is these “stages” are conceptual and there are no clear lines that delineate, and people can vacillate between these stages, at times seeming like they are in middle recovery, but at others seeming to revert back to early recovery. This is assuming the person has actually entered recovery, which most say they have but not all of them actually have (for example, if recovery is an exercise in appeasement and maintaining status quo/controlling their environment, at the first sign of safety (where balance seems to have been restored) they will reduce their efforts, eventually coasting along with no effort). Others will want recovery, but not actually believe it is possible for them, so they will put in some effort, but when they don’t get immediate results (which depend on their motive, as these can also be appeasers) they will give up, using any signs of failure (their partner being upset with them, having a slip, etc.) as further evidence to why they are “not able” to stop their addiction. Anyhow, the lessons cover these questions.

Quote:
How have you dealt with these two situations?
How one deals with these situations depends on their individual vision and values.

I used to try to force recovery, pushing and prodding, nagging. I used to snoop at every available chance as an exercise of testing what I could and could not trust. This is a form of self-deception though, because just because you don’t find something, it doesn’t meant there isn’t anything to find, so resting on the laurels of not finding something is no guarantee, and instead can cause greater trauma than the first discovery (that is, if the person with addiction is still acting out, but just hiding it better). If you happen to realize this (that not finding something not necessarily a good sign) then this can perpetuate an insatiable quest for “finding the truth” (getting that irrefutable evidence that he is actually acting out). Even just typing this returns me to the sensation of feeling completely exhausted, but also “wired” from the search. It was definitely a compulsion, as it is for many and clearly not a values-based way to deal with it.

The better option is to do the work getting a clear vision of what you want for your life, of prioritizing your values within that vision, of creating boundaries, deciding what your bottom line is and what they flexible grey lines are in between. Coach Jon once said to me that if it was an absolute boundary for me that he never act out again, then I may as well end the relationship now given that divorce was my consequence for continued acting (at that time). It took me a long time to see that it was my need for control and my ego that had me hold such an absolute value. I was fruitlessly trying to control him, which is a vain pursuit. The only person we can control is ourselves (and even that takes a lot of work, because we must uncover all of those things about ourselves of which we are not aware). The question then becomes, not “how will I ever trust him?” but “can I trust myself?” (to do the work, to set and honour my own boundaries and follow through on my consequences, to be the person that I say I am as defined by my vision and values, to live from my vision using my values to guide my choices).

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:14 am 
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Hi Blg,
Quote:
I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how wives are able to be intimate with their husbands after they are struggling with sexual addiction
You are very early in your healing and trying to figure out this mystery that has so many possible answers, as Coach Mel pointed out, uses up a lot of energy and gets you no where. Sorry. I wish there was an easy way around this but because our own sense of betrayal and rejection looms large for a while we tend to get bogged down with questions like this. As you grow and evolve on a personal level, the answer may become clearer for you. In reading through Coach Mel's list about sexual intimacy, I found I fit a couple of descriptions early on but those changed as I grew and changed. Thanks goodness! :w:

Knowing all the acting out - well - it doesn't help from my perspective, and if you give knowing it all that much power, I think there will always be some lingering doubt. I went through the detective phase, and it was a nasty time in my life and certainly wasn't healthy for me. I realized I was worth more than that. At some point, we learn to accept that our life partner has a huge problem that he take responsibility for, not our job. When we can accept that and delve more deeply into what it is will take to heal ourselves and move on, we shift into a different place. It takes some letting go of what we thought our happiness hinged upon; it takes determining the values and boundaries our life can be built upon; and it takes embracing that self empowerment - and this is all a HUGE PROCESS that will be, unique to you, Blg. Eventually, you will get to a place where you can make value based decisions, live according to your values/boundaries, and figure out what you can accept in your life and what you can't. There are no guarantees for any of us regarding the relationship - none - even when addiction isn't part of the situation. You, however, can move forward regardless - put your trust in you.

As I said, you are early in your healing process. Have faith in yourself to work through this stage and go forward and claim a life that you want for you knowing that you are the only one that you are responsible for. If he does the work on his end, which will be up to him as well as determined by his process, then you can work on a new relationship - but that's down the road...for each of you. :w:

Mel is right in saying that putting your trust in yourself, rather than your husband, is key. Learning to trust in your gut, your love for yourself, and the vision and values you determine for the life you want removes the question of vulnerability from the equation. It will take time and hard work on your part but you can do this.

Hope this helps.
Nellie James


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:11 am 
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Coach Boundless found this old post from Coach Jon. It was his reply to the very question asked here:

Quote:
How do you know that they’re being honest?

Someone asked a question in her thread that I come across quite a bit. I wanted to share it here for open debate, as I know that what I am sharing will ruffle some feathers. That's okay. This whole process is about coming to the answers that you feel are right for you, not simply adopting the answers that have worked for others.

Quote:
"How do I know anything for sure, given the extent of the lying and secrecy that's been going on?"

This will not be the most comforting answer, I know, but it is the truth—you cannot ever really know. The reality is that lies, secrecy, addiction, and emotional immaturity all go hand in hand. When one of those elements exist in a person with a history of addiction, they tend to all exist. And so, a partner saying something along the lines of "it's not the behavior itself that hurts the most, it’s the lying" is setting rational, but unreasonable expectations on the relationship. They are one and the same. The lying is a part of the addiction (usually; it is possible for someone to overcome their addiction and still be a liar, but this is rare.)

My point: you can spend the next month demanding answers; demanding the truth; questioning everything he does, says, and remembers; questioning every motivation and every thought; checking up on his every behavior for validation. It is an emotionally stimulating exercise —not fulfilling, but certainly stimulating in the sense that it gives you the illusion of control. And at the end of the month, you will likely be no farther along (and in many cases, worse off) than you are now. You can just as easily expand this to six months or a year. Any growth that you may experience over this time will be from other areas of insight and experience. It will not be from the “answers” that he provides, except in very rare cases when you feel in your gut that he has connected with something internal and has truly opened up about himself and his past. But this is rare. Even through the tears, the promises—heck, even suicidal threats or gestures—there is no guarantee that what you are hearing is the truth or, at least, the whole truth. And typically, the truth that you do hear only triggers more conflict and imbalance.

So what does that mean to you? Well, it doesn't mean that the truth is not important. It means that your focus on whether or not he is telling the truth is misplaced. You have given him the opportunity to tell the truth. You continue to offer him the opportunity to tell the truth. You value honesty and have made that value clear. You have established your boundaries and commitment to be honest. As a partner, you must accept that you have done your part and leave the impetus of actually telling the truth to him. Yes, this means that you will have to take risk, make yourself vulnerable, and have faith in his sincerity. But as a comfort, know that you are no longer approaching these things with ignorance or naïveté. You now have experience. Leave the responsibility of your partner being honest with your partner—expect that he will tell the truth. Take your life and your marriage in the direction you would as if he is telling the truth, then keep your eyes and your “gut feelings” wide open.

As the addiction resolves and as he transitions to a healthy, values-based foundation, sharing his true, vulnerable, imperfect self with you is a part of that foundation. At least, it needs to be. These are the areas of his “recovery” for you to focus on (but really, it is his life that you are focusing on, not his addiction or recovery).

Now, I am not as idealistic to believe that the past can simply be moved away from. In the mind of some addicts, this is desired and even healthy; in others, not moving beyond the past is one of the main reasons the addiction is perpetuated. But in the partner's mind, almost universally, there remains unresolved trauma from that past that needs to be healed. Logically, that healing would stem from having a clear picture of that past. I understand that. I know that, rationally, it makes sense. But practically, it will keep you from moving forward. You will never be able to force him into sharing what he doesn't want to share. At best, you may offer enough threat to make sharing the best option for him. But even then, you will never know if what he has shared is the whole truth. And what if he has already shared the entire truth? You just can't know. And because you can't, there must be other ways to evaluate his sincerity (and there is). But you can be assured that the best time for learning the whole truth is not now. It is after he has strengthened the foundation of his life. After he has developed the maturity to act based on his values, rather than his emotions (in this case, avoiding shame, conflict, causing you pain, facing consequences, etc). If he is engaged in a healthy recovery, where he will end up is that he will have detached himself from that past emotionally and will have connected to a foundation that will allow him to actually derive value from sharing everything with you, without fear and without the childish impulses that so pervade his current identity.

Where does this leave you? Likely, right where you are now. So few people have the ability and/or willingness to apply what I have shared above to their own lives. So, they continue to demand a complete unadulterated account of their partner's past, demand honesty to the point of their own unquenchable satisfaction, and therefore, the conflict and volatility within the relationship (and their own life) will continue. Sadly, honesty in this context (from an active addict) is unreasonable to expect in much the same way that it is rational, but unreasonable, to say to an addict, "Why don’t you just stop?" There is a learning and maturation process that must be undertaken. Add to this the reality that his honesty will be impossible for you to gauge with precision and so, logically, this is a path that should be avoided. When enough information has been shared to determine that an addiction is in place, chasing down every last detail, motivation, and ritual of that addiction is destructive, at least for the partner. For the addict, there can be value in doing so with a counselor, coach, or therapist.


With that, it is up to each of us to determine, according to our own vision and our own values, what role we will take in this and we must decide our own boundaries. This takes work, but it is worthwhile.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 am 
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This is a phenominal post. I don't have time to expand, but it brings up a few other thought for me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:53 am 
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Wow !!!!
I am having issues with myself about this topic , on if it's best to question or leave confronting a lie . Fab post thank you . Will give it lots of thought too !


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:31 am 
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this came up in a recent conversations with my ex - he asked how I would know if he were using or not - and I answered that he behaves differently when he has been using - especially in the way he treats me

one of the sad things is that he was using through out our relationship and while I "knew" something was "wrong" I feared that facing it myself, let alone asking him to talk, would result in him leaving me - for about the umpteenth time - (a big conflict - two months into our marriage - he had been verbally abusive and when I told him this he crossed his arms over his chest and said, "if I am abusive then we are done") and I did not want to be "done" - I wanted to be married to the man that I thought he was

it has taken me a few years to understand the conflict in my values and trust my own sense of self - and having been abused by others I need to vigilant that I am not walking around with a hammer looking for a nail - but I believe I can trust my own perceptions, intuition, gut feelings, much better now thanks to RN, a therapist and a couple of domestic abuse counselors and the confidence that can develop in solitude.

IMO it is more about us knowing ourselves than it is about "knowing" what our partners have or have not done.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:44 am 
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Thanks, Coach Mel and Coach Boundless. I was struck by this topic. I am sharing this from my journey.

My H's lying about his past acting out continued for well over a year after D Day that I know of, and what he held onto just seemed to fall into my lap - serendipity. I remember coming across an orange T shirt with the Reggae logo for a 3 day outdoor concert he attended years before - he maneuvered getting a job there and made it clear that I couldn't go along with him. I recall feeling left out and a bit dubious because I knew the nature of the event and young adults that would be there and the dancing, clothing, music - but accepted that there wasn't room for me. When I ran across that bright orange T shirt, I connected the dots and being far enough into my own healing, I calmly presented the T shirt and said, "Tell me about (name of venue). And he did. He confessed. I had a few questions and he answered them. Then I asked, "Why hold onto to this and lie by omission?" Like all of you, it was the fact that he was still lying that bothered me, not his acting out. He said that he just didn't want me to know how bad he was. He still didn't understand that the lying hurt more than his acting out. I recall that I didn't react emotionally. I was totally calm as I explained once again that his need to lie rather than take the risk to be vulnerable with me was a red flag. He was not healthy enough to trust me with the truth. It was several months later that he worked through his issue of fear with his counselor or at least identified that fear was a huge problem for him that touched many areas of his life and our relationship.

There were a few more discoveries that happened for me which sometimes was like my unconscious connecting dots that I had forgotten were even there, and I was able to take this new "old" info in stride. He was still fearful to be honest with me. I found that the bigger issues in our relationship were those fear based ingrained behaviors that still reared their ugly heads from time to time. "Old patterns are hard to change" rings in my ears, avoidance being a big one which interferes with his ability to show compassion and empathy to me still. He does try, I feel, but doesn't quite get it. His communication skills with me are still not good - I think it's a habit that he chooses not to deal with but instead excuses. He's known for his bad memory....that goes way back. So I choose my battles or at least I try.

I accept that I may never know the extent of his SA activities or when it all actually started, and it's OK. That is only a small part of the man. He's much more and offers much more to me and our relationship. There are more important things in our life. There are more important things in my life.

Nellie James


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:37 am 
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Just a (I hope) quick testimony to the truth of Coach Sue's post. When my husband's "shady" behaviors began to surface a couple years into our marriage, he incrementally lost my respect, my devotion, etc. I didn't know what he was hiding, and I couldn't get him to tell me what he was hiding, but I knew that it was up to him to be trustworthy, not up to me to force the truth out of him. I had learned, at some point, the lessons of self-reliance and avoiding co-dependence. He has, at times, blamed me for his choices because, in his mind, I should have forced the issue when I distrusted him. I have reiterated and will continue to do so that I did not have enough energy left over from living my life, working my job, and parenting my kids, to chase him down. And guess what you get when you press for more answers from someone who you suspect lied to you with their first answer - yep, more lies. He made his promises and he chose not to keep them - it was his job to be trustworthy. Period.

Why I say testimony is because the discovery was traumatic - I did not expect that the lie he was hiding was unfaithfulness. I thought it might be too much drinking or a giant collection of baseball cards, not massively habituated p&m. And I was not clairvoyant - I didn't recognize all the fallout it was wreaking on our relationship. I blamed most of that on myself for my lack of respect, devotion, and trust of him. But when my central "pillar" - my marriage - fell apart last summer, I had many, many other pillars to rely on. The energy I had put into all the other aspects of my life, when I wasn't wasting time tracking down his lies - it bore fruit when I needed to find meaning and purpose to my life that wasn't dependent on my marriage. I do not regret one minute that I didn't spend interrogating my husband.

Leaving his trustworthiness up to him - the downside was that he failed and we both had to reap the emotional consequences, but the upside was that I still had a life worth salvaging and a pride and sense of myself.

Now for my shortcomings (because my no means do I mean to say that I didn't have shortcomings!). I was not clear enough on my own boundaries. Even without knowing what the secret was, I should have had clearer and stronger boundaries in place than simply withdrawing my respect and devotion from the relationship. My husband, it turns out, never believed I was going to love and respect him to begin with, so he hardly noticed as this consequence played out. If I had understood the full picture, I would have combined my detachment with clearer boundaries and consequences, which would have given me both - the energy to devote to other aspects of my life, and less of my life wasted on a man who was being unfaithful. He thinks I should have tracked him down for him, so that he could have broken the spiral of his addiction sooner. I disagree. I should have invoked stronger consequences for me, because I value myself and should not have tolerated such a lopsided marriage arrangement.

I went through the post-traumatic desire to check up that everyone does - and I think some of that is good, because our husband's finally experience that "your sin will find you out." They need a dose of the reality that the rest of us live in - never base your actions on the assumption that you will never get caught, there is no action you can habituate that won't eventually be found out. But what caused my distress wasn't my failure to distrust my husband - I see now that I was right on in that, why I felt unsafe was because of my failure to invoke consequences that had teeth. Combine detachment with toothy consequences, and you have a fine recipe for empowerment that should help you put the trust demon back in its cage. Which is not in any way to say that it is easy - I am still processing and adjusting my boundaries and consequences, because I want them to be authentic and natural for me, not reactive to this particular situation.

Ha, I said quick. :s: Just to synopsize my pratter: it's not about turning a blind eye and letting him get away with treating you like crap, it is about being aware of the limitations of your relationship and taking productive action that is for and about protecting yourself and your interests. Not necessary at the cost of his, but sometimes so. Then it makes being trustworthy his problem, not yours.

Hope that makes sense! I really appreciated the post from Coach Jon - it helped me sort out some of my lingering "I did this right, how did it serve me so wrong; this is so unfair" issues. :e:
bagholder


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:34 am 
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Words to remember - great thread
JON
Quote:
As the addiction resolves and as he transitions to a healthy, values-based foundation, sharing his true, vulnerable, imperfect self with you is a part of that foundation. At least, it needs to be. These are the areas of his “recovery” for you to focus on (but really, it is his life that you are focusing on, not his addiction or recovery).

MEL
Quote:
The question then becomes, not “how will I ever trust him?” but “can I trust myself?”

Quote:
(to do the work, to set and honour my own boundaries and follow through on my consequences, to be the person that I say I am as defined by my vision and values, to live from my vision using my values to guide my choices).
SEETHESKY
Quote:
IMO it is more about us knowing ourselves than it is about "knowing" what our partners have or have not done.

BAGHOLDER
Quote:
it is about being aware of the limitations of your relationship and taking productive action that is for and about protecting yourself and your interests. Not necessary at the cost of his, but sometimes so. Then it makes being trustworthy his problem, not yours.

COACH SUE
Quote:
As others have already said in this thread, you are not alone in this desire to know. Not at all. So go with that knowing, understand its part of the process of healing, and each time it rears its ugly head, turn your attention back to yourself and your own healing. Only through repeated practice and work on yourself with things change.


This is one of those threads that should be bumped up on regular basis. We all need to remind ourselves of the realities that our healing and our life partner's recovery and the self-discovery that seems, for me, on-going.

Nellie James


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:40 am 
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bagholder - thank you for your post -
and Coach Mel via Coach Sue - that put into words what I have been seeking

My experience was that my ex volunteered a great deal of information that I did not ask for and became a large weight on my psyche - why he did this is still a question in my mind but the fact is that there was still more that he did not reveal, perhaps because openness and honesty was not his motivation.

I "spied" on him once because a peculiar chain of events began to cause concern about my risk for STD's. I did not find any confirmation of my concern - what I found was in some ways much worse. I do not regret what I did - what I discovered was the final straw and I will eventually heal from this - but I was not fully prepared for the horrifying reality of this man's attitudes (I read an email exchange between my ex and another addicted friend of his - hatred and objectification, much of it directed at me, it still makes me sick to think about it)

I think every situation is a little different. We did not have kids. I did not have much of any reason to stay in a relationship with this man so I felt no need to "know" what he was doing with his sexuality. After a brief spell of my own self - destructive behavior (pretty much giving myself to his "needs") I realized how risky this was. Then I considered insisting on a condom again but if I did not trust this man to refrain from risking my well being why would I want to be intimate anyway?


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