Don’t Ever Let Them Tell You to Stay on Your Side of the Street
There’s nothing more infuriating then when you’re doing a lot of reading, you’ve joined a coaching group, you’re seeing an APSATS or CSAT partner trained therapist, and he seems to be sluggish. He may be doing his meetings, but he’s not working his steps. You don’t see him reading the Green Book or the White Book, depending on what 12 step program he’s in. He’s calling his sponsor maybe once or twice a month, and you’re like, “Carol says you should be checking in at least weekly.” Does that mean that I’m doing his inventory? No, I just know that when you work it, it works, so I get that it can be very difficult to watch somebody not work as diligently as you are.
You have every right to say, “if you want to make me feel safe, you have to work harder, because what you did to me created so much trauma that I’ve got to see extreme measures from you. I’ve got to be able to know that you’re kicking this thing, you’re rockin’ it, you have to prove to me that you’re taking good care of both of us. You, because you’re doing your work, and me because you’ve got to keep me safe.”
I get that the old model was you stay on your side of the street, and he’ll work on his. That’s not how we do it anymore, folks. What we know is when you’ve experienced partner betrayal, the addict has to restore the coupleship while he’s working his own program. To do that may mean that he participates in a disclosure. You know that’s what I recommend. Within 6 weeks after discovery, you get that process started, unless there’s something really unusual like he needs to go to treatment, or he’s moved out of the house and he’s not sure what he wants to do. If he cares about you and he wants to work, disclosure is of the utmost importance in a treatment plan. I know he may get some advice from his buddies in the 12-step program where they say, no no no, you wait til the 9th step, you do the amends. You may even choose to not to do it with her because it’s going to kill her, it’s going to hurt. An amends and a disclosure are not the same thing.
One of the things I know to be true is the old model said as long as you’re working on your stuff, partner, you will get healthier and you will be able to then join up once he gets healthy and live happily ever after. Maybe that worked in AA or NA, I even kind of doubt that, but that’s not my specialty so I’m not going to comment, but it does not work with sex addiction. Your husband or wife, whoever the sex addict is, drastically needs skills that show you that he gets how much pain he has caused you.
Those are empathy skills, when he acknowledges, validates, and reassures you. That’s when you have daily check-ins. That’s when he asks you, “how are your triggers?” He doesn’t wait to hear about it; he inquires, he wants to know, he wants to remind you he’s working a program and he’s so sorry about the triggers, but in reality, he knows that he didn’t cause the ones that occurred today. That’s if he didn’t cause the ones that occurred today; I don’t know, but oftentimes what I do know about partners is they’ll just have triggers because they see a certain color or it’s a certain date. There are things going on inside of them that they learn how manage.
The addict needs to work on the coupleship while he’s doing his work, so if you have an addict who’s in recovery or working on it, I want you to let him read this blog.
If you’re a sex addict reading this, it means that you have to work your butt off to do all three. You have to support her in her work, you gotta do your own, and you have to support the coupleship. Your first and foremost important thing is to keep her safe.
If she asks some crazy things of you, to check your phone, to put a GPS on your car, to have filters, to take polygraph tests, to go through your desk, to search your wallet, let her do that. I get that sometimes you haven’t cleaned up as well as you thought you needed to, so she finds something from your past that is super upsetting and it retriggers her. You have to take that chance, because what you have to be is an open book. You have to practice honesty first and foremost.
You have to the consequences of how she reacts. If she’s working with a good therapist, that therapist will help her to manage some of the stuff that perhaps you didn’t immediately provoke. You provoked it for the past, but you didn’t do anything that triggered her in the moment. That therapist will help her, but you have to help her too.
I do have your best interest at heart, and I know you can get through this. I’ve worked with thousands of couples, and the majority of them get healthy and have better relationships than the average couple. When you work recovery, it grows you up into being the better man or woman that you should have been, and that you can be and that you will be. Don’t cheat yourself, work together, and do what you can to make her feel safe.