One of the hardest parts of my recovery from sex addiction was to let go of the guilt and shame that I had because I hurt the one I loved. Seeing her pain would throw me into a downward spiral and unfortunately, all I could focus on was my pain.
I minimized my ex’s pain because I didn’t know how to manage my own.
On our path of recovery, it’s very important to learn and understand what we put our partners through. While there may have been other issues in your relationship, the choices you made had devastating consequences on your partner.
Lessons From a Love Warrior gives a first hand account of how it felt when Glennon Melton found out her husband admitted to having multiple affairs.
For the Partner is Together We Can Heal’s resource for the partners of sex addicts. There are numerous articles, books, and other resources that will not only help your partner find a support community and start the process of healing, but it will also provide you more insight to what you can do to help your partner heal.
The following are notes I took from the Douglas Weiss DVD, Helping Her Heal (the DVD refers to the partner as “she” – I do realize that a partner can be any gender). I recommend watching this over and over. Had I done this for the first four years I was in recovery and through our separation, my former spouse and I may have been able to reconcile our marriage. I would have given her the respect she deserved and not trampled over her again and again. By the time I had learned to listen, the damage had already been done.
- This is the most painful thing next to losing a child.
- You gave her a burden she didn’t ask for.
- When she hugs her child, she is plagued from what you have done.
- Like cracking a mirror, that is what happened to her heart.
- She does not know who she is to you. Is she really your wife that you love and honor and cherish or is she some piece of furniture that you purchased and like to look at, use, throw away and dishonor. Is she the tramp or hooker or someone you really love?
- Not only does she not know who she is to you, but she does not know who she is to others.
- It’s hard to believe anything you are saying.
- She is emotionally feeling feelings like she has never felt before. So intensely are the feelings, she can’t keep up with them and doesn’t know what is true. Those emotions have to heal.
- Remember, you are the one who scrambled the eggs.
- She loves you and she hates you. What you’ve done is unimaginably dark. You brought this in her life.
- She feels you hated all of her. Spiritually, emotionally, her mom and dad, her friends, her family. You hated all of them at that moment. It is your hate that caused that.
- She has no confidence in her judgement or her future. Not only was her past damaged, but you also damaged her future.
- Her body was affected too. She feels dirty, her body is not enough for you, her marriage is not enough for you. She feels defiled, unwanted, hated and disgusted. Magnified by hair, size, weight, etc. Nothing about me was enough. When she recoils away or does not want to have sex – YOU did that. She gave you her body willingly and spiritually, and you trashed it with your addiction.
- She looks in the mirror and questions her beauty. She focuses on her age. She doesn’t see the beautiful woman she is. She sees something second hand, something not enough. And she sometimes, doesn’t want you to look at her.
- Now she has the burden. Does she tell or not tell. Does she defile other people by talking? Who does she tell? When does she tell? She placed a dark secret with them. She wanted to live with them open and honestly, but now there’s a little bit of drag on that. And YOU did that. That day.
- She’s angry because she loves you. Remember and memorize that you caused her anger!
- Anger is a part of healing.
- Anger is only a feeling. Feelings aren’t truth. Feelings aren’t facts. Feelings are feelings. Feelings always leave.
- I accept her when she is angry. Don’t reject, don’t punish, don’t shame, don’t humiliate, don’t act childish. If you do that you will probably go around that mountain again because you didn’t get it.
If you want to make her more angry:
- Probably default to talking about you she will get more angry.
- Defending yourself will add gasoline to the fire.
- Sell yourself. Tell her what a wonderful guy you are can definitely exasperate the problem.
- Never never never say I understand. Accept that you don’t understand. You don’t understand what it’s like to have your life shattered by somebody else’s choices in that intimate of a relationship.
- To understand means to stand under. When your wife is in pain she needs you to stand under her. Not equal to her, not over her, but under her and look and discover her. It’s not about you! Different posture and different position.
- Most men want to be understood. What happens is, that when you want to be understood, it puts her under you. She’s asking you to come under her.
- Seek to wanting to understand her more than you seek for her to understand you. The choices you made were insane!
- Men bringing an issue to another man looks for solutions, some options, some creative ideas; we really want them to help us along the way. Your wife doesn’t. She doesn’t want you to fix her. She wants you to hold her weight. Understand her, NOT fix her. She doesn’t need to be told what to do. She needs you to be her husband and hold her weight.
We are trying to discover where the pain is, what is it? You can’t guess. You can ask, you can inquire, but you cannot show her the light. She needs to bring it towards you. You are trying to discover something. Take it as emotional GPS. Trying to figure out where we are going. Just try to find out what street she’s on.
Remember this when your partner is sharing her pain:
- Try to hear her heart. You need to hear what is coming from her heart, not her mind. Don’t get the facts right. The facts are not the issue. She may have them all twisted. It’s not about the facts. Pain is not always factual or factually accurate. The pain is in her heart.
- Discover and explore her feelings. What are you feeling? What else are you feeling? You need to be really good at this (like a therapist). You put her in the emergency room. Now your up. Can you tell me more about that? Practice those words! Please can you tell me more? There’s a wound and when you open it up there is some pus in there. If you try to shut it up too quick, guess what happens? You get to do this again and again and again because you didn’t hear her. If you really hear her the first time, you don’t have to go through it again. What are you feeling? Is there anything else? Any details? Nuances? Anything else? When she says no, you have probably arrived. Let it bleed. She doesn’t need to be fixed, she has been found.
- Validate the feeling. Remember feelings aren’t facts. You can help her. “Honey, that is a legitimate feeling. I can see that you would feel that way. I can hear that you are feeling that. That’s really real.”
- Take full responsibility. I caused that pain. That feeling of not being enough, I did that to you. I did that. I’m responsible for those feelings. Hear her. Let her feel and then take full responsibility.
- Ask her what she needs from you. She might need a hug, she might need distance, she might need you to take her for a drive, she might need you to go for a walk, she might need you to just own this. Whatever she needs, just ask her. It may not even be rational. Whatever she needs that’s reasonable, you do. “As you wish.” She asks for a hug, hug her. She asks not to be touched, don’t touch her. She asks to be left alone, let her be alone. She asks you to watch the kids for a couple of hours, watch the kids for a couple of hours. I’ll be happy to do that for you.
- Take Responsibility
As You Wish
-The Princess Bride
The following DVD and books are great resources so you can support your partner during their journey of recovery.
This DVD is for the man who has disclosed his sexual addiction. Helping Her Heal offers practical tools for hearing her pain, navigating her grief and losses, discovering her expectations of you and the boundaries she may need to heal. This DVD can save you many long nights and ongoing counseling when these tools are applied. Take advantage of Dr. Weiss’ more than 20 years of professional experience counseling partners of sex addicts.
Sexual addictions and compulsive sexual behavior are growing societal problems, with as many as three to six percent of the world population affected. Your Sexually Addicted Partner shatters the stigma and shame that millions of men and women carry when their partners are sexually addicted. They receive little empathy for their pain, which means they suffer alone, often shocked and isolated by the trauma. Barbara Steffens’ groundbreaking new research shows that partners are not codependents but post-traumatic stress victims, while Marsha Means’ personal experience provides insights, strategies, and critical steps to recognize, deal with, and heal partners of sexually addicted relationships. Firsthand accounts and stories reveal the impact of this addiction on survivors’ lives. Chapters end with “On a Personal Note” questions and propose new paths that lead from trauma to empowerment, health, and hope. Useful appendices list health and mental health care providers and clergy.
Men and women are very different when it comes to relationships, and this difference is amplified when a man cheats. While men are able to compartmentalize things like casual sex, women typically view any form of cheating as an affront to their entire relationship. They think: “If he is lying to me about sex, he’s probably lying to me about everything.” For betrayed women, trust just flat-out disintegrates. Without proper guidance, men–who are often unaware of the type and degree of pain they have caused their spouse–have little chance of restoring it.
Underneath the hurt and betrayal, usually there is still love. Where there is love and motivation for change, there is hope for the relationship to move forward. Robert Weiss, a nationally acclaimed expert in the treatment of sex, infidelity, and intimacy issues, has spent over 25 years helping couples find peace and healing. In “Out of the Doghouse” he shares his expertise, illuminating the concrete steps men can take to rebuild trust, restore intimacy, and save their primary relationship. He also gives direction to women on how to know when it is okay to move beyond fear, suspicion, and remorse to a place of hope and relationship renewal.
Sudden changes in routine, bizarre and inexplicable shifts in behavior, in the bedroom and out. Emotional distance and excuses for lack of connection. These are all telltale signs that something is very, very wrong. For a sex addict’s spouse or partner, these changes and fluctuations are upsetting and crazy making, leading to thoughts that they have done something wrong, aren’t good enough or that there is some other reason for the inconsistent, bewildering behavior. For many, sex or porn addiction is farthest from their minds or too scary to consider. Inspired by a career of working with sex addicts and their partners/spouses, Wendy Conquest’s collection of letters fuses fiction and nonfiction to astounding results. Diving deeply into the psyches of those whose lives are shattered by betrayal and the resultant feelings of hurt, rage, resentment and despair, this book directly mirrors a partner’s experiences from multiple perspectives. Each letter explores a different facet of the relationship dynamic, the addict’s illness, and the partner’s thoughts and feelings throughout all the stages of this devastating experience.
This powerful book is for men and women experiencing the trauma of infidelity caused by their partner’s sexual addiction and the fallout that occurs. This informative book was written for anyone needing to understand what is happening to them, that they are not alone, that there is help and that there is recovery. In addition, this book is for addicts to better understand what is happening for their partner, why healing is taking so long and what they can do to help their spouse. Therapists, ministers, counselors, pastors and doctors will be better able to relate to people whose partners are unfaithful. This book is a must read for anyone doing couples work when pornography use or affairs are present to assess how much damage has occurred for the spouse and the relationship. These insightful, gut-wrenching, yet hopeful letters create a well-rounded picture that delivers clarity, understanding and a path of healing. Letters to a Sex Addict: The Journey Through Grief and Betrayal will help those affected to regain sanity and clarity and peace of mind.
Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.
Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another – and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true―true to themselves and to each other.
Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.
A few days after an ordinary Valentine’s Day, Cindy Beall’s life changed forever. She listened with disbelief to her husband, Chris, a respected pastor, confess to pornography addiction, numerous affairs, and the startling news that a woman was pregnant with his child.
With raw honesty and intimate knowledge of pain and of God’s power to resurrect something new out of the debris of betrayal, Cindy reveals how to:
- seek guidance, counseling, and prayer support when deceptions surface
- help the family heal from the grief and humiliation
- rebuild trust after porn, sex, and other addictions undermine a relationship
- protect a marriage from lies and unfaithfulness
- rely on God to pursue forgiveness and move forward in new promises
Cindy’s compassion, grasp of God’s Word, and the Bealls’ remarkable story will help wives and husbands trust God with their broken hearts and follow His leading, hope, and redemption.
Once an affair comes to light, many unfaithful persons “wake up” and want to save their marriages. Yet, they usually make terrible mistakes in their bungled attempts to win back their partners’ trust. Linda J. MacDonald, an infidelity specialist for 23 years, has identified behaviors and attitudes that determine unfaithful persons’ success or failure to mend their marriages after the wrecking ball of an affair.
How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair offers practical advice for those who’ve strayed and want a second chance. It would take weeks of therapy to learn what Successful Rebuilders know:
- How to avoid the potholes that doom marriages after affairs
- Critical guidelines for the first hours after discovery
- 15 essential steps for repair after betrayal
- Skills to cope with your partner’s obsessions and “triggers”
- Ways to undo the damage from your lies
- The keys to avoid prolonging your spouse’s agony (and yours)
- The difference between helpful and harmful apologies
- How to rebuild your broken life, relationships, and integrity
A staggering number of couples in America—about 70 percent—have been affected by extramarital affairs. After the Affair is the only book to offer proven strategies for surviving the crisis and rebuilding the relationship. Written by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., a nationally known therapist and acknowledged expert on infidelity, this revised and updated version brings the groundbreaking classic into the 21st century, with a new section dealing with online affairs in cyberspace. For women who are struggling in their marriage—and for clinicians, psychology academics and readers fascinated by of popular psychology—this newly revised and updated edition of After the Affair is essential reading.
One of the world’s leading experts on infidelity provides a step-by-step guide through the process of marital infidelity—from suspicion and revelation to healing, and provides profound, practical guidance to prevent cheating and, if it happens, recover and heal from it.
You’re right to be cautious when you hear these words: “I’m telling you, we’re just friends.”
Good people in good marriages are having affairs. The workplace and the Internet have become fertile breeding grounds for “friendships” that can slowly and insidiously turn into love affairs. Yet you can protect your relationship from emotional or sexual betrayal by recognizing the red flags that mark the stages of slipping into an improper, dangerous intimacy that can threaten your marriage.
Few challenges in life are as difficult as regaining a wife’s trust—and few are as ultimately worthwhile. Trust can be rebuilt in your marriage! With patient, loving, self-sacrificing effort, it’s possible that one day your wife will risk her heart with you again. And she may even have more respect and love for you than before.
In Worthy of Her Trust, Jason Martinkus relates how he repaired his own marriage after revelations of sexual addiction. Along with Stephen Arterburn, Jason offers exercises and tools rooted in counseling principles to help your marriage begin again. This comprehensive guide discusses:
· How to be truly and effectively transparent
· Combating the “he must not love me” myth and other untruths
· What to do about the Internet, office temptations, and travel
· Encouragement for wives who wonder if trust can ever be restored
· The “five-minute phone call” and other daily trust-building strategies
· What meaningful forgiveness and restitution look like
· The Amends Matrix—a concrete exercise to admit past wrongs and cast a vision for a faithful future
Including insights from Jason’s wife, Shelley, Worthy of Her Trust guides you through the process of rebuilding your relationship so it is stronger than ever.