Maybe you discovered that your husband is spending more time with porn than with you. Maybe you found a credit card bill for strip clubs that could buy a car. Maybe you suspect that your partner is having an affair. Whatever it is, there are five very important things you need to know:
1. You are not crazy.
If you think there is something amiss, there probably is. He may turn it around on you and make you feel like you're the one who's crazy -- it's called gaslighting and it's what many people do when they want to redirect attention away from the shame they feel for something they have done. It's very effective and it's confusing. It tends to leave people feel like they are crazy because gaslighting is crazy-making behavior.
But you are not crazy.
2. This discovery may leave you questioning everything about yourself, your partner and your relationship.
Discovering that your partner is a sex addict is overwhelming. You may question your relationship, your judgement, your attractiveness, your sexuality, your history with your partner, your future with your partner and your very sense of who you are. You may feel shameful about his behaviors as though they are your own, and shame around your decision to stay or to leave. You are not alone. These feelings make sense given what you have been through. What you thought you knew about your life just got pulled out from underneath you. It's hard to find steady ground. But you can and you will, in time.
3. Your partner's sex addiction is not your fault.
It's not because you aren't attractive enough, sexual enough, smart enough, available enough or nice enough. You are enough, even if you are not perfect and have not been a perfect partner. That's not what sex addiction is about. You are not responsible for what your partner has done and you can not control what your partner will do. You may feel like a victim and in some ways, you are -- you have been betrayed, lied to, cheated. And this leads me to the next thing you need to know:
4. You can't manage your partner's recovery.
It may be tempting to focus your attention on your partner and your partner's recovery but you can't control your partner or their behaviors. You are not responsible for what they have done and you can not be responsible for what they will do. If your partner doesn't make the effort to recover, you can not make the effort for them. It doesn't work that way. And that sucks because it means you can't control this and you can not control what will happen. It might feel like if your partner gets better, you will be better too. But recovering from this trauma is not that simple--
5. Discovering your partner is a sex addict is traumatic -- you need to heal too.
Do not underestimate the trauma of what you have been through. Having your world turned upside down and being forced to question everything you thought you knew about yourself, your partner and your relationship is so very hard. Your world has been rocked. Be gentle with yourself. This is a difficult time and you need all the support you can get.
When individuals embark on a journey that includes healthy self-care, creating strong boundaries, and healing, it can be empowering and actually fuel growth. That may not seem possible right now, but it is. I know it. I have seen it. I have experienced it. Finding somewhere safe to explore these issues free of judgement is so important. When I have the opportunity to work with partners of sex addicts, I am grateful.
I want to help you re-build yourself and the life you want. I know it's possible. Reach out if I can help you on that journey. There is one last thing you need to know and it's the sum of all 5 things:
You are stronger than you think you are.