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Emotionally Drained

Lack of Understanding

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I found out 2.5 years ago that my husband of nearly 27 years had a sex addiction, I had kind of guessed something was not right but after years of trying to confront and ask questions it became easier to deny and carry on best I could.  When I discovered the truth my world fell apart, so what next I thought, funny it was relief initially I knew I had been right but what about us, the truth being there hadn't been an us for many years.  He started a 12 step program and has now been over 2 years in "recovery" but that is where my problem has really started...... he lacks total understanding for the stress and pain he has caused me and our sons.  He talks the talk but in reality he is not doing his daily suggestions and seems detached from all reality of normal life.  I feel confused by the steps and how he says he is no longer doing what he did yet he cannot live a life without problems.  He gets stressed, sleeps days away and then blames me for not planning things in his outer circles.  I work full time and he seems to be unaware of the real life responsibilities around him.  We tried couple counselling, which I was happy he agreed to as I had reached my breaking point with the pain I was feeling.  He chose the counsellor - an ex addict recommended to him, that was not helpful like a post I read earlier the blame became about me and things he fabricated in his own mind, past events and I came away feeling like the person who had done everything wrong.  I was wondering if others had found once their partners had completed the steps if they really changed or is life living with a recovering sex addict a journey of pain and roller coaster of emotions.  I love him dearly but am now feeling so tired of the hurt and not knowing whether he is carrying a resentment for something he thinks I should have said or done and needs to speak to his sponsor before he can clear the air or tell me what I need to do.  I have grown as a person and continue to do so and feel that that growth is pushing us apart and I feel sad that I am unsure if I have felt real love and connection to the man I have spent all my life with.    I am now independent of my own life goals and am a stronger more resilient person but equally I want a partner who loves me for me and not somebody who seems to get confused by his own thoughts and knows how to stay sober.  The last resort for me was this weekend when he had been moody, I challenged, he said he had resentments towards me and his sponsor suggested we needed a meeting to discuss them - " a meeting?!" - furthermore if I didnt he runs the risk of spiraling out of control.... I do not buy into any of that stuff now but equally I feel angered that he can still say things like that and think it is ok?  Any help, reflections or similar experiences would be welcome.  

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Hi Emotionally Drained

my name's Ian and I'm an associate with Paula Hall Associates. You're not alone with your experiences as that of a partner of a sex addict. In general, I have heard many similar stories from partners and yet for each story there are also the many unique differences in any relationship, that also need to be heard and acknowledged. Life will change for both of you after what was once secret is now uncovered to be questioned. And those changes to both of you will also be difficult within a relationship that will change , as it is also you and the relationship that needs time to heal and recover too. Empathetic and making amends to those we have caused harm to is also one of the steps and getting support in twelve step is key as well as individual work. However, for couples,  therapy with a trained sex addiction therapist is also important. Although I may say that, there are fast differences between a couple exploring the impact of an affair, to the impact of sex addiction on the relationship.  And support is there for you too. We have workshops for partners of sex addicts so you can share and work through the impact this has on an individual and the couple bond. 

The growth you are feeling and roller coaster of emotions are very very real, but there is one central thing within this area of work and that is  you are not a co-addict in this. Co-addiction comes from AA or NA work but more research within sex addiction goes towards the belief that labelling the partner as a co-addict is damaging. Couple work may help the partners uncover more codependent behaviours but this is still not co-addiction. 

Life without an addiction uncovers aspects of attachment to intimacy and I ask partners in couple work to explore intimacy by breaking the word down into P.R.I.S.E.; physical intimacy, relational, intellectual, sexual, emotion and emotional intimacy with self.

Instead of tension and angst it helps to begin to explore where relational strengths exist to help support other areas of the relationship to work on, by breaking down defensive conversations that escalate into more vulnerable/listening conversations that can flow to explore the many truths existing in each unique relationship. 

kind regards



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