It Takes Two: Connecting with Your Spouse to Move Past Your Sex Addiction
Are you steadily gaining confidence in your recovery from sex addiction, but still struggling in your relationship? Here’s what you might not know about reaching out and reconnecting with your spouse.
As a married person in recovery from sex addiction, you are likely heavily focused on what you need to do to stay healthy and avoid a potential relapse. You have probably been told that in the long run, this should help you overcome your addiction and save your marriage. However, while committing fully to recovery is an absolutely critical element in maintaining your relationship, there’s more to it that just your journey. This is because the things that can help you beat your sex addiction won’t necessarily help you reconnect with your spouse.
The good news is that the journey of healing and self-discovery that you are on can absolutely include a recommitment to and the strengthening of your marriage. Recognising and prioritising a few key relationship builders like trust and frequent, open communication alongside your recovery will help make your marriage work.
If you have struggled with sex addiction while being in a relationship, this has resulted in broken trust. Despite all your rightful assurances to your partner that your sex addiction has nothing to do with them, they are already entangled in it. Their pain and hurt over what has transpired in the past won’t just disappear, even if you’re in treatment and actively working on it.
Regaining Trust Takes Time, So Settle In for the Long Haul
It is important to remember the old adage that trust is difficult to gain and easy to lose. If your spouse is grappling with a loss of trust, it will take time to regain this, and probably longer than you would like. There will be moments where you will want to blame your partner for their feelings and perhaps even attribute these feelings to their own issues. While there is not a person in the world who doesn’t have some underlying struggles, the reality is that the trust problems in the relationship have surfaced because of your addiction.
This point isn’t to make you feel bad, but to highlight that this breach of trust will take a while to overcome and that it is normal for your partner to cycle through different moods as they process and heal. To really understand this, try to equate the broken trust with a serious physical injury.
Major physical traumas can take months or longer to heal, and this process is marked by both successes and setbacks; the same is true for emotional traumas. By being supportive, patient, and understanding even during your partner’s frustration or hopelessness, you greatly improve the chances of a sustainable emotional recovery for the both of you.
Laying the Groundwork during Your Recovery
Dealing with your partner’s sadness, insecurity and anger over the past can be really difficult, especially if you’re struggling with guilt and shame over what has happened and even thinking about these things proves painful. However, part of overcoming your addiction means confronting the issues at the root of your problems, letting go of your shame, and engaging with people and your life in a new healthy way.
Your therapist and support network will help you do this so that you can take the next step and begin to talk with your spouse. Ultimately, what helps relationships heal is a rebuilding of trust, which is often accomplished through open, honest, and consistent communication.
The Power of Communication
While you likely weren’t able to be completely open with your spouse while you were in the midst of your addiction, you can help to re-establish trust and understanding with communication about your recovery. This does not mean compromising the anonymity required in support groups, or divulging every detail of your therapy sessions, but rather sharing information so that your partner feels involved and included in your recovery.
This could include information like:
- What exactly is a 12-step process?
- What step are you on?
- What goes on in group therapy? How does it help you? Does it ever trigger you?
- Do you have a sponsor?
- What do you and your therapist talk about?
- What else are you doing to support your recovery?
- What are some coping tools you’ve learned?
You don’t need to wait for your partner to ask you these questions. Set up a time where you can have a focused conversation and share some of this information with them. To open things up even further, ask them what you could do to make them feel more a part of your recovery. Efforts you make towards sharing this part of your life with your spouse, and making them feel included, will be massively important in the health of your relationship.
What’s Okay to Keep Private
Being transparent about your recovery doesn’t mean that you are required to report every detail of what goes on in your private counselling. In fact, confidentiality and anonymity are necessary and important parts of various therapies. You can protect these principles by not mentioning the identities of those in your group session, or specific or identifying details of what is discussed. You’ll find that you can share quite a lot even by speaking in general terms, and by doing so satisfy the communication needs of your relationship and the privacy needs of your recovery.
Remember that You are Both in this Together
Therapy puts a tremendous focus on your issues, needs, and perspectives. When you are in a marriage however, the healing that you are doing has to make a space for your partner to come along. You’re the one responsible for your recovery, but the health of your relationship depends on the involvement of both of you.
The nature of addiction is isolating, and there were times where you probably felt utterly alone and like no one could understand what you were going through. It can be hard to let go of the feeling that you’re in this on your own. Part of recovery from sex addiction is about reconnecting, being comfortable with intimacy and learning how to interact in a healthy, constructive way. Together with the support and involvement of your spouse, you can reinforce your recovery and rebuild a strong foundation for a lasting, loving marriage.
Overcoming Sex Addiction at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab offers discreet, compassionate, professional support for people struggling with sex addiction. The fundamental objective of our signature addiction programme is for clients to achieve and maintain a long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with life’s challenges, thereby eliminating destructive habits.
Sex Addiction Treatment and Your Spouse
As addiction has a ripple effect that also impacts loved ones, The Dawn includes a therapeutic component that can include your family. We will engage with your family via educational and clinical consultation sessions either onsite or remotely, helping them understand your addiction and your recovery needs.
If you are struggling with sex addiction and worried about its impacts on your marriage, call us today to learn more about how we can support you.