(Mandy. This will be long. Read what I said about your own safety first below!)
I am just hopping on in support of this topic, because I am so glad to see that SI has made a place of support for this.
Years ago, on my first SI account, I explained that I was arriving in need of support for many isolating variables in reconciliation.
One of them was that on DDay and in our reconciliation process (in 2013), my WH Mr Uxor revealed that not only had he been seeing a counselor during break-ups with his married COW to try overcome his attraction for her, AND that he kept going back to her but wanted to stop, BUT also that he had kept from me years of lying about many deceptions: Increasing porn use, no-physical contact flirtations with women around us that were about what acts they did with their husbands that resembled the porn he liked (including showing vacation beach and almost not swimsuited photos, which lingerie items they ordered online and even showing the item by lifting the side or their skirt or unzipping shorts when crossing paths with work or running errands etc.) Some were acquaintances. One was also a close friend.
And they were always the "lonely victim wife whose husband didn’t accomplish what Mr Uxor did and really could not satisfy them like maybe Mr Uxor might."
His fetish for porn was always "hero"d his ego.
Mr Uxor as the accomplished life skill and sexual skill rescuer. And it self-medicated his own accomplishment and social approval stress. He was accomplished and socially admired. Except to his family.
No support or admiration on my part was ever enough. I was not his family. I was not his fetish. I was destined to be a double fail.
But I was very skilled at managing any parts of his busy life he could not attend to. I was and am an irreplaceable convenience. (I still say am, because he is damned lucky I do not want the wheels to fly off for anyone near him. Myself. Our kids. We deserve the fruits of my efforts as much as his actions exploited them. For our family’s sake, I do use my abilities to keep our ship afloat. Because it is not just his ship. It is mine and ours too.)
Porn had been his go-to since family conflict and girl problems accelerated in his teens. And his family, though very religious, philanthropic and leveraged with social clout, felt porn was healthy and cultural though not to be openly discussed with the world - just hinted at. Because their deeper actions may cause social rejection. That could ruin their faith based reputations!
And porn is not all they lie about.
They were his first enablers for both porn and deception.
Because it was compulsive and he could not control the urge, because he progressed from:
1. covert porn (though I actually did not originally think of it as toxic as it became. Early in our marriage, I just asked him to not hide it. But he did anyway, because women needing rescue was not my profile and he knew it. I did not feed the addiction. ) to live imitations in conversations as described above (lying to himself that if he did not "touch" he was ok),
2. to using other men to pointing out in front of me that their wives knew they take clients to strip bars as a part of business (then asking me to go with him to learn to dance for him so he would never go with the guys, then he loopholed to watch strippers online instead); then,
3. to an affair with married COW who asked what he liked when he watched porn, imitated it, then asked what I could not do and declared them a sexual match, (BUT, oops! then she was caught saying exactly the same thing to other men. she was looking for her new bank account. Her 3rd husband was terminally ill),
4. but he STILL thought he was the one she really LOVED…and so had been diagnosed with sex addiction even before DDay.
RESULT? It cost us time, money, family breakdown, marriage flatline, career reputation damage and trapped us from our dreams in more ways than I can describe.
When I first brought this info to the reconciliation forum, that porn had been his gate-way drug to affairs and betrayals, I had some support but also attacks on the concept. And I really did not have the stamina and at times - stomache - for another battle.
Obviously I had something to work with that many don’t. He was trying to get on the sex addict recovery wagon before I found out.
After DDay Mr Uxor also tried to tell me everything he could over a two week span. To give transparency at a pace and quantity I could
handle. There was a lot to handle.
To receive what I now know was about 95% of the truths, that fast, did have me leave room for some trickle truth to be true memory lapse.
I have learned that in the extremes of the psychological twists of sex addiction, some do have memory issues and they get worse the greater their fears and shame.
So…Mr Uxor did also get some credit for truly trying and giving me what I wanted to know as I said I was ready for it.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED THAT IS USEFUL IN TEN YEARS SINCE THAT HISTORIC EARTHQUAKE IN MY LIFE:
1. Uncontrolled compulsion to cope with life in damaging ways defines a toxic state of addiction. SO - Uncontrolled compulsive sex acts ARE a toxic state of addiction.
2. Lies increase the toxicity because the people surrounding the addict are manipulated to allow the compulsion to be fed. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW YOU ENABLED WHEN YOU DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE WITH AN ADDICT OR THAT YOU WERE BEING LIED TO. But you are responsible for what you do once you DO know!
3. There are ways to manage addiction and ways for spouses (and families) who have been enmeshed within the toxic cycles to heal. Both mean new coping skills for everyone affected.
4. All addictions need AND deserve professional help that’s trained for that realm and has resources for the addiction. That includes therapists trained for sex addictions and who firmly believe it exists.
5. I reject anyone who says sex addiction does not exist. Sadly, too often, people will only accept alcohol and drug substance abuse as actual addiction. I politely move on from this - they are not helpful to anyone who deals with a spouse or family member who battles sex compulsion because it does not insert a mind altering substance into the body.
Flaw in that very wrong theory: There are many non-drug/alcohol compulsion addictions: gambling, or eating disorders, or gaming, or…(whatever consumes the compulsive inner drive).
Sex addiction exists!
6. For the betrayed…A counselor for myself who understands sex addiction was and IS critical. BECAUSE It is the only one of the many compulsions that has me LYING to myself that I am not enough as a spouse in how I look, dress, flirt and make love to my husband. How very cruel sex addiction is in this way! Even more cruel is to deny me help and support.
7. There is more support than ever before for this. But not all materials are a match. Not all programs are a match. (Eg. Mr Uxor is very spiritual. He does best with materials that match our faith. I don’t push my faith on others here. So won’t list them here. Some are in the resource library, though.).
My mantra when I get glitchy is “I DID NOT CAUSE IT, I CANNOT CHANGE OR CONTROL IT, I CANNOT CURE IT.”
Done - my job is me. Not Mr Uxor’s addiction.
8. We recently had trouble with a counselor who was not a good match for this situation.
Hind sight for me, now, I can see she was undoing my boundaries and edging toward me enabling compulsively related demeanors and mood swings in Mr Uxor. He was not required to fix himself. I was.
That also made it impossible for me to maintain my own healthy boundaries and safe marriage reconciliation platforms.
If this happens to you, revert back to good support materials steps until you and/or your spouse find new help.
Mr Uxor has recently found a great personal counselor who fully supports who I have to be as a spouse who DOES NOT ENABLE sex addiction or the manipulative behaviors associated with it.
Why? Even if he is “dry”? Toxic behaviors that break relationship stability also have to be worked on. Mr Uxor struggles to self regulate emotions. Me enabling by placating does not build him a “set” to deal with life. It can even spiral him down.
Giving a fix of heroine to an addict will not permanently stop the craving for heroine to come back.
Placating toxic behaviors big or small will not help me or Mr Uxor.
Let go of any counselor that makes it your job to please anyone else when your own needs are being stolen from by the cycle of addiction.
8. There is an important word that scares the bejeezZes out of both a wayward who struggles with sex addiction recovery OR their betrayed spouse/significant other.
"Relapse". My advice? Have a plan.
I will not ever tell someone to stay or go. But even a rough "what if" plan will create a "go to" place of start up action for both parties.
Eg. WaywardSA: "If I relapse on the web, my phone, toxic people I know, or feel the tug of my addiction, I will call my counselor/sponsor/support group leader and make plans on how to stop again and how to tell my spouse.”
Eg BetrayedPerson of WSA: “If they come to me before I find out I will take care of myself by going to my support systems. Then we can discuss steps they plan to take to help them and steps I will take to feel safe.”
“If I discover proof of lies I will set safe boundaries to take care of myself first by (__________) then (_________).”
Those are just examples.
Sex addiction is real and is now much more recognized and prevalent than was known even a decade ago.
It is as damaging as any other addiction and can destroy carreer, families, marriages, finances and even draw good people into criminal realms.
It is betrayal and lies that make the addiction increasingly dangerous. The more the lies, the greater the danger.
It is treatable, but can relapse.
Relapse plans are needed.
Every spouse has the right to be heard and respected in their needs to be safe, and set healthy boundaries just like with any other addiction.
Every addict deserves to have professional help and to be valued and of worth. When saying and doing healthy things they deserve at the very least, to not be sabotaged.
Every situation is different and both the wayward and betrayed in SA deserve that respect as they learn to navigate what is best for them.
This is my stubborn deeply rooted take-away from a decade in:
If I see anyone or anything that KNOWS the wayward is addicted to and struggling control their compulsion, who then uses that knowledge to manipulate them into further destructive behavior, I will call it out. They are NO better than drug lords, nicotine industry greed and con artists. They are an exploiter.
They do not actually care about the addict no matter what the addict believes. This is why a SA has to go clean and learn skills to stay clean from their fix. Live human or otherwise.
The addict has to know that just sniffing the bottle (allowing their addiction triggers near) is a danger to them and their loved ones.
The danger IS real.
This brings me to all of US here.
My dear SI friends…do NOT mistake me on this. If your sex addicted loved one has a dime to their name, a mind to serve and become a slave to the sex world, a muscle to move someone else’s selfish mountains, and do NOT do the lifetime work of recovery; then, they CAN be blackmailed financially or emotionally by sexual compulsions or fetishes and the people and industries that promote them…
and YOU are in the way.
What happens to you does NOT matter to the sex dealer on the other side of your spouse/significant other.
Keep yourself safe first! Always!
Remember, even in a divorce, someone may be whispering sweet fetishes in their ear while convincing them you are the problem. The sex addicts brain may believe you should be left destitute or even in harm’s way.
Be safe. Be smart.
Just hoping this helps someone.
(I keep editing as I am writing from a phone and see glitches, errors and need for clarity.)
[This message edited by Uxoragain at 7:34 PM, Sunday, June 4th]