Sex Addiction Recovery: Spousal Support

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In a lot of relationships dealing with addictions of any kind, the hardest part is sharing the journey with your partner.  When it comes to sex addiction, this becomes exponentially harder due to feelings of sexual and emotional betrayal, a partner’s potential feelings of inadequacy (compared to other women real or imagined via fantasy/pornography).

In your recovery circles, you may be real, authentic, and vulnerable in sharing of your slips and acting out episodes to men or women in your 12 step groups, group therapy or other support groups where you feel people truly understand the nature of this disease without fear of judgment or condemnation.  However due to these same fears stemming in your marriage or intimate relationship, your romantic partner may be the last to know.

As I mentioned earlier, part of this is due to the intense fear of shame, rejection, judgment or condemnation one may have received in the past from your partner.  You probably were ridiculed, called names, or even were physically hit because of your out-of-control sexual behaviors.  In a few cases, men and women may not share due to projecting these fears onto their partners thus limiting their ability to share.

So what occurs is the recovery process could feel very disjointed within a coupleship (i.e. if the couples are working to stay together and work through the addiction_.  One side invests and exerts a lot of energy attending recovery meetings, checking in with sponsors/group members, reading, journaling, and other recovery work that can lead to painful yet meaningful discoveries within themselves and then shared accordingly with like-minded peers.  However, that level of emotional depth and vulnerability may not transcend beyond recovery circles and thus the romantic partner gets short shrift in terms of the significant recovery details other than the proverbial and awkward check-in process as detailed below.

Impacted Partner: “So how’s it (your addiction recovery) going (this week, month, etc.)?”

Sex Addict: “Good” or “It’s been a hard (week, month, etc.)”.

I don’t mean to paint a negative picture on the recovery process for couples but I do feel there is a greater need for impacted partners to know there should be a much richer and fulfilling dialogue leading to a much more connected coupleship.  If you feel the two of you are living separate lives in this area, then please consider seeking guidance in growing in this area.  The worst case scenario is when no information is shared (after the initial discover or acknowledgement of the addiction)_ and the impacted partner lives by the mantra, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

If you’re in addiction recovery please consider having your partner join you in the process (if he/she wants to).  You’ll be surprised that many impacted partners want to be on this journey with you.  This doesn’t mean they’re to be an accountability partner but they do and should have access to your recovery process (feelings, emotions, slips, relapses) as a means to support you and to not feel left in the dark.

Too many people go through addiction recovery separate from their partners not realizing how much this causes couples to actually grow more distant and less emotionally intimate than having the courage to share their journey with their partners.  So in short, addiction recovery is not an individual journey (as many of you know by now with your support people) but also a journey where your intimate partner should be on as well.

One Comment
  1. Ed says:

    Mr. Louie, I’m a sex addict in the early months of recovery. Your blog has really hit home with me. My wife has told me, in her anger, that it has become all about me. I realize that she is being left out of much of my journey – by my choice. I don’t yet have the courage to share all the secrets of my 30+ years of addiction and marriage. I do want our marriage to survive – I just don’t know how to pull her into my journey without causing great pain for her, and probably ending our marriage. Thank you for your blogs and insight. Please know you are valued.

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