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Help & encouragement please

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Hello everybody,  I've just discovered this forum and read through quite a lot of the threads, a lot of which has been helpful.  Here is my story, and any help, encouragement and advice from you would be much appreciated:

 In December 2016, a 'stray' email appeared on my computer, which led me to ask questions of my husband of 16 years.  I had found the odd thing a feyyears ago, (an email to a gay site & 'porn selfies'), but he had somehow managed to explain those away to gullible me.  Anyway, eventually he admitted to a plethora of things:  watching porn, visiting gay saunas,  accessing men for masturbation on Craigslist, trying to join other sex-related sites and, what appeared to be his main problem, - body2body massages with Happy Endings and sometimes a bit more (although he says he never took up the offer of 'full service', which for various really personal reasons, I can believe).  I turned into a detective, a role I don't particularly enjoy, but I felt I needed to find as much 'evidence' as possible.  Such was his addiction to massage parlours, that I believe he spent almost £6k on them.  

Naturally, we had a frank, emotional discussion, I was extremely upset and just about heartbroken, because, in the words of one of your correspondents on here, 'he was a good man but had done some bad things'.  Apart from this addiction, he couldn't treat me any better.  He went to see a specialised (expensive) sexual counsellor for about 6 weeks, and so did I.  I naively thought this would be the end of it - sigh - but the one word I hadn't really taken account of was: addiction.  The therapist did help him to unearth the reasons for his addiction, but addiction means exactly what it says, doesn't it?

This all took place in January 2017.  Fast forward to March 2018, and via the wonders of the modern iPad, I found out that he had made 4 visits to a woman in our local town for Happy Ending massages.  He initially tried to fib his way out of it, but had to come clean in the end.  I have now searched all of his devices and found out that since my initial discovery he has been accessing various sites online that, were he recovering,  he surely would not be?  He had already put himself on Tracker, so I could find out where he is every moment of the day (his job means he travels about a bit, but only to certain definite locations).   Since his latest transgression, he is forbidden by me to approach a cash point, as the kind of 'massages' he was having are paid for in cash.  

 I can just about cope with him having the odd massage and HE but what bothers me more than anything is the lies and deceit he used to cover up what he was doing. He has now agreed to seek more help, cannot visit cash points, and of course, we already have the tracker device switched on all the time.  I really do not want our marriage to be over, mainly for myself and because I love him and our life together.  He is my second husband, but is an integral part of our family and our locality and if we broke up and the reason made public, it would destroy me, never mind him.  I hope my story does not come across as too clinical - I can assure you that I have shed many tears, my heart hurts and I feel anguished.

What I would really like is some help and encouragement on how I can get through this please.  I do have a Christian faith, which is helping me a bit and I have confided in one friend, who has been absolutely amazing.

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Hi Snowy, firstly, I feel your pain! A discovery such as this is shocking to say the least. The Jeykell and Hyde nature of the sex addict is hard to comprehend, when you have lived with a good man for so many years. I have been married to my husband for 27 years and discovered this unfolding nightmare in July last year. Whilst it has been hard and the emotional rollercoaster is exhausting, I try to remind myself in those darkest moments that he is still a good man, despite the ‘bad things’.  So let me try and share some things that have helped us work towards a better place. When I discovered my husband had visited a sex worker and he confessed that he might be addicted to porn, I did some research on the internet and came across a site called Recovery Nation. Here, I discovered that there was probably no point in trying to get the  truth out of him in the beginning as he would lie to protect himself and the marriage - truth often comes much later when they have had a chance to get over the shock that their secret world has been discovered and are further along the recovery road. We found a specialist counsellor who worked specifically with sex related trauma included addiction and abuse, but interesting employs a technique to heel traumas called EMDR. The counsellor initially said it could take a year to get to recovery, but now thinks it will be less time than this. He is working hard and responding well to the EMDR work. Whilst it is expensive, I think that he could be spending that money on his addiction, so it is better spent here! My husband also found to nearest sex addicts anonymous group and made contact with them (this came about as a result of him seeking a ‘massage’ with a HE whilst I was just two streets away shopping in London, and in his rush, put his t shirt on inside out!! Thus,making me realise that the one occasion I had discovered was a myth).  In the beginning months we worked through the exercises on the Recovery Nation site, which helped us to find those connections that held us together whilst doing recovery work that could potentially smash us apart. I have also started seeing the same counsellor, who describe my symptoms as post traumatic stress disorder, and we have worked through that. I don’t go as often, we couldn’t afford that, but it has helped me to have a place where I can rant and try to understand what has happened in my life. I also am on the waiting list for NHS counselling, as this would be free and again is a space for me to work through how I feel. Sadly, there isn’t a lot of specific support out there for partners of sex addicts, which is why this forum is so valuable. 

Now 8 months down the line, I have started to seek the truth about the extent of his acting out, and whilst it is shockingly worse than I might of anticipated, we are both in a better place to deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a happy household, and there is rarely a day goes by where one or the other of us, and usually both, are in tears at some point in the day. However,I believe that the work we did together, in those early days, following the Recovery Nation couples exercises, were invaluable to where we have got to now. I think the key thing was that my husband realised that he naeeded help after the shopping incident, where I became devastated and realised that I should get tested for STIs. Basically his two worlds collided that day and that was his wake up call ( this was 2 months after my initial discovery).  Health wise, I am glad to say, we are fine but emotionally there is a long way to go. As things stand currently, I believe that we have a chance to make out marriage work. Whilst I can see he is trying, this gives me hope. However, I manage my expectations, and recognise that I cannot yet trust him, and state that clearly, and we have worked out ways to reduce my fears; so for instance, today he in London for work and he will phone when he arrives, then when he reaches his work destination he will text to say he is there etc. I have messenger and what’s app so I can video call if I am feeling insecure to see where he is. He had a slip a couple of weeks ago and so the computer is not allowed to be downstairs in the mornings, so he doesn’t have access to the internet first thing before I am awake. ( we have porn blocks on our internet now, but who know you could still get photo images! I am still naive!). Taking from Paula Hall’s book for partners of sex addicts, we have now drawn up an accountability contract, as a means of helping us to clearly communicate our needs and keep safe. This means you don’t have to be doing all the checking, as he has to take responsibility for himself.

im sorry this turned into a long rambling response to your message, but I hope there’s are some things here that you might find useful. If you have any questions about anything I have said I will be more than happy to try and answer them. This journey we find ourselves on, which is not fault of our own, is long and hard, and whether we make it together with our partners or not, it is a journey we have to face for ourselves, regardless. There are no guarantees in life and promises seem meaningless, but what we can do is build our strength, develop our resilience, and nurture ourselves so that whatever happens we will come out of this mess in one piece!

Edited by Florrie

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Florrie, thank you so much for answering my appeal for help and encouragement, and I was sorry to read your story; we both know how much a partner can hurt with trying to deal with this kind of addiction.  I am pleased to report that my husband started attending our nearest SAA group last week and will carry on with this.  I had vaguely heard of the EMDR treatment  and that is an option we would both consider, if we feel my husband needs it.  I hadn't heard of the Recovery site you mention, and I've had a good look at that.  It is something we will definitely seriously consider, and I do like the idea of an 'accountability contract'.  What we have now is a lot more honesty in our relationship - I've not tried to be kind to him, nor let him make excuses, as I do not think that will help.  

He's just had the kind of stress pop up in his life that led him to relapse before, and we both know that the next few months will have to be 'managed'.  I had not got to the point of trusting him after finding out the first tranche of things, and I'm not sure I can ever trust him again, but that doesn't mean we won't keep working at our marriage.  Apart from him not being allowed to use a cash machine, I also have a Follow Me track on his iPhone (although he found a way round that last time).  However,  now that I found out what he did, he can't pull that one again!  Follow Me might be something you want to consider, for both your sakes?

 You're right, there are no guarantees in this life - I've gone through big crisis' before; this is another one.  Your response to my plight was really helpful, thanks, and I especially took comfort from your final sentence:  'There are no guarantees in life and promises seem meaningless, but what we can do is build our strength, develop our resilience, and nurture ourselves so that whatever happens we will come out of this mess in one piece!'

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