Understanding the feelings involved
The following is what to expect in the early stages:
Relief: The addict usually finds a great sense of relief after admitting the secrecy of the addiction. The end of the double life may bring a premature sense of accomplishment, which needs to be balanced by attending meetings, going to group therapy, and connecting with program friends for support. Partners also feel a sense of relief at the end of secrecy and the validation of their experience of pain.
Anger: Both partners can expect to experience anger. The revelation that the life partner is a sex addict may trigger much anger, mixed with legitimate hurt and betrayal. The addict feels anger about the need to make changes as part of recovery. Both partners may blame and shame the other.
Hope: The work being done by both partners can bring new life and hope to their relationship.
Self esteem: The self esteem of both partners initially may worsen, but with continued work it will improve.
Intimacy: Recovering couples began to communicate at a more intimate level, often on issues they have never discussed before. Communication skills such as empathetic listening, being respectful, and expressing vulnerability, are essential to both partners recovery.
Grief: The addict experiences pain over the loss of their "best friend", the addiction. The partner mourns the loss of the relationship as it was imagined to be. Partners often berate themselves for not having been aware of the addiction sooner.
Sexual issues: Sexuality has a different meaning in recovery. The goal becomes intimacy rather than intensity. Abstinence, and later the frequency, types, and quality of sexual contacts, are issues that recovering couples must address. Past sexual relationships, as well as possible past child sexual abuse of either partner, need to be explored. Where other sexual partners were involved, the possibility of an HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases must be faced early. Couples who continue to learn about healthy sexuality will do better as they address these sexual issues.
At BluffView Counsling we are skilled and highly trained to help you and your partner navigate the road to healthy couples recovery. Please contact us today to start the healing journey!