- Research the many resources out there.
There are countless resources available online to help you find healing and hope. Here are just a few of many examples:
- Fight the New Drug
- Addiction Hope
- Covenant Eyes
- Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center
Please consult these and other resources. You don’t have to suffer through this alone and seeking out accurate research and information from qualified organizations will help you see that. The more you do to learn about pornography and sex addiction, the more you will see that his problem has nothing to do with you or your insecurities about yourself—it has everything to do with his own issues such as self-worth and confidence. You’ll also learn more about betrayal trauma and the symptoms that spouses of sex addicts experience when they’ve learned of this secret habit. You’ll learn how to recover from the trauma and what you can do to heal.
If you haven’t already, work with your partner to put effective filters on computers and phones. While this won’t keep him from seeking out pornography, it will still lessen his chances of seeing it and give you greater peace of mind. Think of other boundaries that will help you feel protected and safe. Remember that boundaries are meant to help you feel safer and help protect you from more betrayal trauma and not meant to punish or control your spouse.
Here are some examples of personal boundaries you can set that can help keep you from experiencing those trauma symptoms over and over:
- I will not let myself think about what my spouse has viewed.
- I will not have negative thoughts about my body.
- I will not let myself go into panic/anxiety mode where I feel like I need to constantly check what my spouse is doing.
If you find yourself doing any of these things, set some rules. If you break a boundary, call a sponsor from your support group. Write in your journal five things you’re grateful for. Say a prayer or meditate. Read something inspirational. Go for a walk or play the piano. Do something to help you get back to a state of peace.
If you feel the need to reach out to a trusted friend or relative talk to your spouse first then proceed with caution.
Working with a counselor can be an excellent and confidential outlet for the spouse of an addict. As previously discussed, a support group can be very helpful in talking about things in a confidential setting. While you may not want to tell anyone, talking to someone about what you’re going through is a good way to find a little relief and comfort. However, the potential for additional damage in discussing the issue with extended family or friends is significant. If done without the knowledge of your spouse, their sense of betrayal might be as great as what you’re feeling.
Plus, there’s the possibility that the friend or family member you’ve told will spread it to other people who will then spread it, and so on. Such discussions often lead to the creation of opposing sides, with husband and wife collecting allies, which can lead to worsening the situation.
That’s why it’s so important to not only ask your spouse about their feelings regarding you reaching out to someone you trust, but to also proceed with caution as you go to this person. Make sure you emphasize how important it is that they know you’re coming to them in confidence. Remember, if there is no one suitable in your circle of friends or family, you can turn to a support group, or clergy, or a professional counselor. It is important that both partners feel safe as they make the journey to recovery.
Many couples have found that a LIFE Marriage Retreat can play an essential role in that journey.