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How to improve communication?

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I'll start by giving you the context (and try to be brief!)

I found out five weeks ago that my partner of two years has a sex addiction that has included behaviours over the last ten years of watching porn, paying for live interactions with people over web cams and visiting escorts for sex (at least I'm told this is everything). I've made no decisions to stay, go, commit or otherwise at this stage as I recognise I'm feeling traumatised and need time to process how I feel, however easy a solution breaking up seems sometimes. So we're still living together while we try and get through the days. He has fully admitted he has a problem, has started intensive therapy sessions to get to the root causes, and I've been having some generic counselling sessions to help me vent my feelings. 

Typically we have always been very good at communicating, understanding in times of conflict, learning from each other and compromising. In fact, it's one of the things I have valued the most about our relationship and I had thought that if our relationship was to survive, that would probably be an important factor in it.

However this week I feel like our communication has really broken down. There was a near-relapse, then contact with an ex-girlfriend who he knew I wasn't comfortable with him speaking to because I discovered loads of naked pictures of her and another ex on his laptop, and on reading their WhatsApp conversations last month I noticed he once told her that I was jealous because they still talked (not true, perhaps insecure, and have no idea why he felt the need to tell her that). When trying to discuss how much the ex thing has upset me, we've both been tired, stressed, I've been very upset and found it difficult to stay calm, and he has started to become defensive and tried to excuse his behaviour, in no way acknowledging why this is such a betrayal for me, even if on the surface it seems fairly innocent. 

Whether or not we can get past this incident, I'm worried more generally that we're losing our ability to communicate well and wondered if anyone had any suggestions for improving communication in times of high emotion? I'm also wondering whether couples counselling would help.


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Hi May.

These conversations are very emotional and difficult. I am in a similar position but fortunately my husbsnd had agreed to come to couples counselling . I think having someone facilitate will give you and you partner the opportunity to talk and ask questions without getting angry. I will let you know if it helps after our first session at the end of this month. Good luck with yours.

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Thanks Pippa. I agree with what you're saying. I hope your couples counselling goes well.

I don't think my partner's against the idea, he just wants me to get individual counselling with someone who's an expert in this stuff first, to work through what I'm feeling, which I'm looking into. This does frustrate me though as it makes me feel like I'm the only one working on "recovering" the relationship. He is focussed on his own therapy for the addiction, which is great and obviously crucial, but I want him to see that I can't be the only one making efforts to work on the relationship (e.g. setting boundaries, working on effective communication). And I feel like as long as we keep living together and stay in the relationship day to day, this stuff can't really be on hold. 

I imagine this is probably typical of partners' experiences, and I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts on this. I think I need to get him to read some of the chapters in Paula's book for partners!

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