Those who discover their partner has been living a double life face the stark reality that everything they believed about their relationship commitment has now been shattered. Just as someone who has experienced the death of a parent or close friend, he or she may begin to question whether they could have done more to enrich the relationship or prevent what has transpired. The pain of broken trust is massive and takes time and hard work to overcome. Getting support during this time of betrayal is needed to help you redefine normal.
It is common to not know how you are going to overcome finding out that your loved one and/or spouse is a sex addict. Many partners experience feelings of:
- Shame and Guilt
The trauma of finding out your loved one and/or spouse is a sex addiction is repeated as all the ways their partner has lied and cheated is uncovered. Even if the relationship ends or the addict gets into recovery, such trauma is challenging to overcome.
Safety and support are essential for the best outcome. The most important thing to remember is this is a process and we can help you along this journey of healing.
You might be saying to yourself: “I don’t understand! What is sex addiction[link to education]?” “What is going to happen to my relationship/marriage?, “How did this happen to me?”. This is completely normal and expected. At Doug White & Associates we are aware of how your partner’s secret life has impacted you and the trauma induced from this kind of abuse and betrayal. We are uniquely trained to help guide you from the abuse to processing your emotional, physical, and mental anguish, loss and anger.
Discovering your spouse struggles with sex addiction creates a vast wound in your relationship with your partner and in your heart. You also deserve to have dedicated treatment centered on helping you redefine your new normal and to get help for the pain of the betrayal, rebuild self-esteem and worth and to develop strategies for self-care. It is completely normal to react in a variety of different ways. You may experience outbursts of anger, withdrawal, or even disassociation in an attempt to escape the pain of the betrayal. You may constantly relive or rethink conversations and circumstances in a desperate attempt to find answers and peace.
It is common to feel as though you have done something wrong or that the sex addict’s betrayal is a result of something you did. However, the addict alone is responsible for their acting out and/or associated behaviors. Simply put, it’s not your fault. That being said, you are also not responsible for the addict’s recovery and sobriety. That remains solely their responsibility.
It is vital the betrayed partner process and gain an understanding of the trauma they’ve experienced. The professionals at Doug White and Associates are here to walk alongside you on the journey to overcoming betrayal trauma.
Emotional regulation comes in many shapes and forms. During the process of recovery, both the addict and the partner will experience intense emotions they feel ill equipped to handle. Learning how to identify, manage, and regulate emotions is a vital part of the healing process. Understanding these underlying feelings and thoughts and what they mean and where they originate is a major first step.
When we become overly emotionally stimulated, our brains transition into survival mode and the prefrontal cortex shuts down. When this happens, our ability to rationally and logically communicate goes out the window, resulting in our lashing out at our spouses. Gaining emotional regulation helps the partner fully understand and communicate the pain they have experienced from the betrayal by a loved one and/ or spouse. The “Window of Tolerance” is a phrase we use at Doug White and Associate to ensure one is fully present and aware of where they are and what they are doing cognitively and emotionally.
Techniques to remain in what we call “The Window of Tolerance” might include:
- Deep Breathing Exercises
- Self Care
- Grounding Techniques
- Yoga and/or Exercise
- Body/Mind Awareness Exercises
None of us like change, but now your world has just been turned on its head. Learning to cope with the unfortunate reality that your loved one and/or spouse is a sex addict is not easy. It is common for partners of sex addicts to desire to return to some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. Because of this, you might be tempted to utilize unhealthy coping tools and patterns. Common patterns include:
- Anxiousness to please or help the addict
- Becoming more tuned in to the addict’s behavior than your own
- Losing yourself in your work, kids, extracurricular activities
- Attempting to control the addict’s behavior
Learning to cope with this new reality is vital to overcoming the brutal trauma and pushing forward into your personal recovery. At Doug White and Associates, we come alongside you in your recovery from betrayal trauma and help you identify healthy coping tools and strategies
This self-test was developed by S-Anon, a 12-Step fellowship for people in relationship with a sexual addict.
- Do you have money problems because of someone else’s sexual behavior?
- Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s sexual behavior?
- Do you think that your loved one’s behavior is caused by his or her companions?
- Do you make threats such as, “If you don’t stop, I’ll leave you,” but you don’t follow through?
- Are you afraid to upset your partner for fear that he or she will leave you?
- Have you been hurt or embarrassed by the addict’s behavior?
- Do you find yourself searching for hidden clues that might be related to the sexual behavior of a loved one?
- Do you feel alone in your problem?
- Have you gotten someone out of jail as a result of his or her sexual behavior?
- Does sex play an all-consuming role in your relationship?
- Do you feel responsible for the addict’s behavior?
- Are you preoccupied or obsessed by the addict’s problems?
- Do you find yourself being sexual with the addict to prevent him or her from being sexual with others?
- Do you find yourself engaging in self-defeating or degrading behavior?
- Have you thought about or attempted suicide because of someone’s sexual behavior?
If you answered yes to even one or two of these questions, you would benefit from getting help.