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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:07 pm 
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Exercise 11 B

B. Upon completion of your personal letter, it will be your task to write one more. This one, a letter from your partner to you. In this letter, take some time to think about what it is you would say, "if you were them". How would you apologize? How would you offer reassurance? How would you explain the behavior?

The key to this exercise will be in your ability to write a letter that, if you were to read this from their own hand, would fill you with confidence that they understand the pain and confusion they have caused you.


I'm sorry. I never imagined that my behavior would ever damage you or our relationship. I believed that watching porn was harmless. I admit I took steps to hide my activities from you because I knew you wouldn't like it, but I never imagined you'd feel that it threatened our relationship or it would make you feel bad about yourself.

I'm not making excuses for what I did. There were times when you were unwell and I didn't want to put any pressure on you to have sex. There were times when you didn't seem as interested or as available. I didn't consider looking outside of our relationship so I turned to porn. If I thought I was ever going to cause harm by doing what I did, I would never have done it. But I did. I had no way of predicting how compulsive it became, and I could never have imagined how damaging it would eventually become. It damaged you. It damaged me too. What's worse was that I couldn't see the damage.

Porn became part of my routine and I had no idea that your apparent lack of interest was because you felt that I wanted a sexual relationship with porn more than I wanted sexual intimacy with you. I admit that my energies were diverted towards masturbation with pornography but by that time I believed that sex wasn't going happen as often, so I felt justified in some way. I didn't realise that my habit was actually putting you off.

I can understand why you felt rejected and in one sense that's true. I did literally close the door and shut you out. When you discovered the evidence on the computer and said I was sorry, I intended to leave the porn sites behind, but I admit my intentions were half-hearted. In my mind, if you didn't know then no harm would be done. I didn't want to be found out. I didn't want any angry confrontations.

Getting better at hiding my activities was a win-win situation in my mind, but this was the emergence of the porn-addicted mind that told me porn is good, porn always delivers, porn is always there. It's easier just to think of yourself and not have to deal with someone else's feelings, I'm ashamed to say. I could pretend that it wouldn't come between us, even when it did.

I remember one day you told me you didn't care what I looked at online, as long as I was faithful to you. My porn-addicted brain heard this as "go ahead, I'm fine about it". What my mature adult mind didn't hear you say was "I've given up trying. You want porn more than you want me, and there's nothing I can do or say that can make any difference". I didn't recognise your exasperation. I had no
idea you felt defeated. In my own selfish porn-addicted mind, it felt like permission. Yet I still carried on with my secret habit, hiding everything, making sure you didn't find any proof. Perhaps I knew that this wasn't "permission" at all. Perhaps I should have paid attention to what you were really saying – "Please don't pursue your sexual interests by going elsewhere. Please don't take it any further than internet porn." I was too much under the spell of porn to hear what you were really saying to me. I even interpreted it as you not being hurt by my porn habit. How foolish was I to believe that? It never occurred to me to question what you were saying. All I can say in my defence was that it was my addict mind wanting another's excuse.

I learned the hard way. Porn became a miserable, depressing behavior cycle. It stopped working and there was no way back. I couldn't tell you. I wanted you to catch me out. And then I didn't. I tried to quit. And then I went back to porn. I didn't know what to do. I was unhappy. I stayed in that trap. I didn't even like porn but I kept using it because I was driven to find something to orgasm to. And then I'd feel disgusting and I'd hate myself for doing it. I told myself that would be the last time but I always went back to it. When you activated parental controls I was relieved at first, but pretty soon I had to find a way around them.

When I saw you at your lowest ebb and you finally told me how bad my porn habit had made you feel, I was relieved to stop. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from me and I was free. I still feel deeply ashamed about what my behavior did to you. Neither of us had the skills to tackle the issue properly. I'm learning better ways to handle my difficult feelings and to communicate better.

Porn could never replace what we had together. I'd like to believe we could find that again. I'm truly sorry for everything.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 5:59 am 
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Exercise 12
12a
A. Describe where you are now in terms of your response to the discovery of your partner's addiction. Not where you were last month, or where you hope to be next month. Where are you right now?
Example: "I continue to struggle with obsessive thoughts about where he and what he is doing when I'm not around. I have no sexual desire whatsoever. My moods range from apathy to despair. When we talk, I feel intense rage at what he has done to my life.

I continue to have doubts about his history of acting out, particularly after we stopped having sex. He says it was only ever "just porn".

I continue to feel insecure in public places where there are attractive young women.

I feel uncomfortable when we watch TV and there are attractive presenters or actresses on the screen.

I continue to feel insecure about my older body and its physical imperfections even though his body is also older and definitely imperfect.

I feel insecure about the size of my breasts because he had a definite preference for porn featuring women with significantly large breasts. If I see a woman in public displaying cleavage or with obviously large breasts I feel crushed because I fear that is what his eyes will lock onto.

I am fearful of ageing and becoming less sexually attractive because my partner is a porn addict and has viewed much younger women, regardless of his own age.

During sex I often wonder whether he is living out a porn fantasy or mimicking something he saw in porn. I wonder if he remembers it's me and not some object/fantasy woman/imaginary scenario.

I don't know who he fantasised about and what he imagined doing with them sexually. I don't even know if he had other sexual partners. It really hurts to know that he never fantasised about having sex with me, just hundred of strangers and probably a few people he knew.

Sometimes when think of him performing sexual acts on my body I feel violated and dirty and I want to get in the shower and scrub him from my body.

I still can feel overwhelmed by anger about erasing me from his sexuality and replacing me with porn actresses and strippers.

I feel powerless because I know he could just as easily shut me out again.

I continue to check his phone and his computer to make sure he's not back on the porn sites.

I still don't trust him to be honest with me.

I have some idea of what my boundaries are but I would feel powerless to enforce them because I would have no way of knowing whether they had been violated.

I haven't worked out any consequences if I discovered that my boundaries had been breached

I don't feel able to talk about issues arising from his behavior because I expect to be ignored or silenced

I don't feel confident about stating my boundaries

I sometimes wish I could see his "favourite porn stars" being abused and violated in a porn video and watch them suffer.

I also imagine forcing him to watch porn that would traumatise him and turn him off porn forever as a way of letting him experience how distressing it felt for me.

I still feel his porn habit was my "fault" because I was not available when he felt the "urge" to use it


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:26 am 
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Exercise 12
B. Because you have experienced a traumatic event in your life — and the discovery that the foundation of your life has been jeopardized is severely traumatic — there are common patterns that you should expect and even prepare for in the months and years to come. Discuss what these patterns might be and how you will deal with them. There are no right or wrong answers here. The goal is to begin looking ahead with a realistic and constructive eye. To realize that with even the best healing process in place, the trauma that you have experienced will have a lasting — albeit not permanently destructive — effect on your life.

I will continue to control access to the home wifi system at my partner's 'danger times' with his agreement. At the moment this is an absolute. It was my partner's suggestion originally.

I will keep the 'parental controls' in operation even though he knows how to get around them and did so when he was using porn. To do so now would be a conscious decision on his part. This is also with my partner's agreement. It gives me some peace of mind.

I will probably continue to check my partner's computer and phone. I will resist the temptation as I know that when I do check there is never anything suspect.

I will probably continue to remain anxious about the possibility of relapsing and look for any subtle signs. I rely on his honesty. I can only try to improve our communication about this issue.

I will continue to doubt the extent of his previous behaviour. I need to accept the possibility that there are some things I may never know.

I will very probably continue to feel anxious and threatened by the presence of attractive young women when we are out together. I need to learn to feel comfortable.

I will continue to restrict what I might otherwise watch on TV in his presence because of his potential reactions to onscreen women

I will very likely watch any movies or documentaries which may feature mild adult content alone because I feel uncomfortable about his reactions if we were to watch together. Although it gives me peace of mind and the freedom to watch what I like, I feel that it is one way that I can learn to tolerate mildly adult content in his presence.

I will very probably become overwhelmed by waves of anger about his behaviour when he was using porn. I will attempt to express privately by writing about it rather than creating upset in my relationship.

I will continue to feel insecure about my body and my attractiveness as a sexual partner, and about the inevitable changes with age. I also realise that feeling good about myself comes from within and that I can work on myself esteem as an individual. I need to let go of my partner's approval to feel good about myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:24 am 
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Exercise 13

2. Seeing the world through the male gaze and seeing threat everywhere as a consequence

4. Concern that my husband is withholding information or being evasive

6. Concern about M

5. Monitoring his internet usage; checking his internet history

5. Doubts about his history and whether there are incidents and behaviors he has no intention of telling me about

1. Fears about the future and becoming less "attractive" with age.

4. Concern over the size and shape of my breasts

6. Concern about his porn fetish for large breasts

3. Dislike of being out with him in public places because of his scanning for attractive younger women and/or women's breasts and bodies

6. Fears that he will look for legitimate ways of getting a bit of porn like viewing online such as YouTube videos, websites featuring scantily clad models and celebrities, etc

7. Dislike of hearing or seeing any mention of lesbianism because of his preference for "lesbian" pornography, even though it's actually a porn category that caters to men's fantasy

4. Rarely watching TV or movies together because of the fear of sexual content, nudity and good looking actresses

3. Watching TV, movies, YouTube videos alone because I find it too stressful to watch with my partner

4. Keeping any fashion catalogues, books, magazines and fashion websites that might contain female nudity or attractive women out of sight of my husband and only looking at them when he is not present

5. Dislike and fear of people like neighbors, especially if they have large breasts and/or young and attractive

3. Anxiety about where he goes, or who he speaks to

4. Dislike of certain celebrities, actresses, singers, etc who he has secretly viewed online because of their breasts, cleavage, sexualised or performances.

3. Hatred of the pornography industry

4. Anxiety about the future of my relationship and fear of infidelity


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:51 pm 
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Exercise Fourteen

*Over the next month, how much time do you intend to spend focused on managing, tracking and/or assessing your partner's addiction/recovery? List the role(s) you intend to play in his recovery. If none, say so. If some (and there are potential healthy roles for you to play), list them.

The most positive way that I can help my partner is by being a good listener if he wants to talk about any difficulties or changes he is going through. I understand that he finds it difficult to communicate with me. All I can do is to try to be a good listener and allow him to express himself. It is not easy for me to just listen and not interpret, comment or judge just as it is not easy for him to say what he needs to say. We need to work on these skills together

I do not believe that abstinence from viewing sexualised imagery online is the only indicator of recovery. Other behaviors could substitute or fly below the radar. I rely on his commitment and integrity to deal with his addiction.

At his suggestion, I will continue to control wifi access at home, particularly during his danger times. He is free to look at whatever he wants but with the parental filters in place. I may occasionally do spot checks on his browsing history, either with or without his knowledge, but I feel this approach focuses on one aspect of his addiction and I prefer communication and spending quality time together as positive indications of recovery rather than anxiety over internet browsing.

*How much time do you intend to spend secretly investigating his actions? If none, how will you manage those times of mistrust and/or doubt?

Possibly not at all. If I feel the need and cave, no more than 5-10 minutes per week maximum but I realpthat by doing so I am only seeking to alleviate my own anxiety and possibly perpetuate it.

My best strategy is to control wifi access at his danger times because I have peace of mind and he is happy not to have the opportunity to waste time online needlessly, which was one of his risk factors that would lead him back to the porn sites.

*What personal values are you willing to allow your partner to continue damaging over the next month? If none, how will you protect these values?

At the moment, I feel I have to tolerate "lying by omission" regarding his recent masturbation (without porn) which may be affecting our sexual relationship and possibly hindering his recovery. If I raise the matter it will be met with denial and anger at a time when he is beginning to feel able to tell me about some of his difficulties. I am prepared to accept his omission in the short term so that I do not risk damaging this fragile connection.

I will protect my values of honesty and openly communicating by encouraging him to tell me whatever difficulties he is currently experiencing. I will let him know there is an open door if he wants to volunteer any more information. I don't intend to ask, but if he lies outright I will gently remind him that I believe in being open with each other. I will also remind him that he needs to be honest with himself.

*Over the next two months, what mistakes are you prepared to tolerate from your partner and why? What mistakes (if any) are intolerable and will serve as the catalyst to end the relationship? Note: think with your head here, not your heart. You are no longer ignorant as to what to expect in recovery and so, define those true 'bottom lines' for you and your relationship.

Tolerable
He may continue with masturbation and would be unlikely to admit to it. This is not a deal-breaker but the behavior denies my own sexual pleasure because of his loss of interest in sex and ED. It also indicates ongoing difficulties in communicating openly about sex and masturbation.

I can possibly tolerate unintentional slip ups such as watching YouTube videos or falling for sexualised clickbait, as long as it didn't involve masturbation or if he carried on watching it in the belief he was "getting away with it". I would consider that a relapse.

Gray areas between tolerable and intolerable
Seeking out and viewing sexualised imagery and using it for masturbation. This would signal a return to his previous addiction behavior. The only way I could tolerate this would be if he could admit to it within 24-48 hours of acting out. If it was a one off it could be contained within the relationship by examining how it happened and learning from the experience. If it happened repeatedly, or if he intended to prevent me learning about it then this would be a relapse combined with dishonesty, in which case I would expect him to agree to couples therapy.

If he lies about other aspects of about his behavior, and I know or strongly suspect otherwise, I would calmly state the facts and remind him that he needs to be honest with himself as well as with me. Lying and omissions have been at the root of all the problems caused by his addiction and needs to be tackled with seriousness. We should be able to resolve issues around lying and deception within our relationship but if this proves to be an obstacle to progress then I would require some kind of therapy.

Disclosure or discovery of past acting out
This is a tricky one because I have had to draw a line under the discovery/disclosure stage even though I strongly suspect there are things I don't know. I don't believe he has told me "everything". However I have had to forge ahead in my own recovery and try to rebuild the relationship regardless of what I may not know. A further disclosure of discovery would indicate that he had knowingly lied and intended to keep up that lie indefinitely. That would be a huge blow but the real difficulty would be that regardless of what he did in the past I had accepted the "unknowns" and tried to rebuild and reconnect anyway. In some ways this would be the equivalent of relapsing or acting out at the time of discovery even though it belongs in the past. If it was an admission of more strip clubs or more porn I could probably deal with it as I strongly accept his addiction was more extensive than he would admit. If the discovery was more serious, like paying for sex or having a casual sexual relationship outside of our marriage we would very probably require some kind of therapy. The biggest difficulty would be that I had rebuilt our really on a foundation of lying, and that would be too much for me to deal with alone.

Intolerable
Infidelity – I cannot rule this out because no one ever can, addict or not. Whether I continue with the relationship would depend on the circumstances and what steps he would take to put right the damage.

Lap dancing, table dancing and strippers are a non negotiable as is paying for any kind of sexual service.

So many of these boundary transgressions rely on secrecy. I have been blindsided in the past, and I know it can happen. This is the area that ties my logic and honest intentions up in knots. I know I can be fooled and live in a state of ignorance for years. I'd rather know than not know, or at least I think I do.

*How much responsibility do you intend to invest in changing your partner? Versus placing the responsibility for change on them? How do you envision communicating your observations about their motivation/responsibility — both positive and/or negative? For those positive observations, how will you make them seem genuine? For those negative observations, how will you make them seem non-punitive?

I want to give my partner the best opportunity to recover from his addiction and heal his life. I can only show him the signposts — tell him about the books, tell him that therapy is an always an option, give encouragement and try to be a good listener.

I know I have to tread carefully because one wrong word can set off a chain of denial - anger - shame - retreat and whenever this happens there it keeps our recovery as a couple stuck. When he speaks openly I can tell him how much I appreciate his honesty and acknowledge how difficult it must feel. I also want to encourage him to see the addition as an entity that exists outside of himself in the hope that he can detach himself from the shame of his behavior in the hope that this approach helps him to communicate more easily.

These are my positive ideas, and I would introduce these ideas as the opportunities arise in conversation. If I am calm and open when I communicate these ideas and suggestions he may be more receptive, particularly if I offer reassurance that I understand what addiction is.

The negatives are when I am seen to be making demands and taking away his autonomy by setting down dos and don'ts, exposing my own insecurities and being seen to be making demands. I am dealing with someone who has never had to account for his behavior even when growing up, and he tends to perceive even my own expression of my own feelings (without any judgement on him or anyone else) as a criticism or as making some sort of demand or putting pressure on him. It is so easy to say the "wrong" thing and create even bigger problems in communication. All I can do is to stand my ground assertively and calmly.

*Do you intend to motivate change in your partner by threats and/or rewards? Or by simply sharing your needs and allowing your partner to find the motivation to meet those needs? If the latter, how much clarity do you have in determining and communicating your personal needs?

I can't change him. I can only lead by example but that's proving difficult because he is often defensive and guarded rather than open. So far I have tried to repair our relationship by sharing my feelings and thoughts in the hope that he would share his needs and be able to express himself with more confidence and a sense of safety. So far this has not brought about the improvements in communication that had hoped for. I feel that whatever I say is interpreted as me creating difficulty for him. All I can do is communicate my expectations.

*How do you envision moving beyond two individuals in recovery/healing to becoming a team in overcoming those areas of your relationship that have been damaged? What changes will YOU need to make in your own perspective to regain a sense of teamwork? What changes do you need to see from your partner for this to happen?

Working as a team seems such a long way from where we are now. My partner does not seem to understand that trust is earned and that if I have any difficulties with trust he seems to see it as a failing on my part. We need to improve communication but my attempts often make our communication even more strained. We both need to agree to commit to improving communication. We might need to consider couples therapy because I have given our recovery enough time and we are still stuck in the same place. I need to see my partner becoming less hostile and less defensive, and I would like him to stop seeing my difficulties as some kind of failing on my part, or blaming me for causing problems. It's tough for me. This situation is getting me down and I'm reaching the point where I've tried and tried and nothing I do seems to make anything better. I'm afraid of being stuck in "learned helplessness" if our communication doesn't improve. Only this time he does not have his addiction to escape into and I'm not the naive fool who believes in the fairytale of romantic love. We have to start working as a team if we are to survive as a couple. I can introduce the idea of the addiction as an entity outside of him, and I can set an example by attempting to communicate openly, assert myself when necessary and keep trying.

*Apart from your partner's addiction, identify the current major obstacles that your relationship faces. For each obstacle, seek out any patterns that will eventually need to be worked through as a team. For instance, communication. We have fallen into a pattern of dysfunctional communication that must change. Here is what I can envision doing to bring about change to these dysfunctional communication rituals:

Communication can be difficult and often he takes anything I say as a criticism of him. He also says I don't listen. We can set aside periods time where we each take time to talk without interruption. I also want to introduce having a set topic for an allotted time period. I believe he would be receptive to this idea.

Intimacy - it's all about building on a base of regular physical contact. After d day we spent a lot of time being physically intimate as his sexual dysfunction gradually recovered. I look back and see this as a honeymoon period. Emotional conflict emerged during the trickle truth period and one particular discovery created a significant rift, which affected my sexual response. I know how easy it is to break the continuity and witness our intimacy ebb away. We need to connect physically more often than we do now. I need to somehow let my husband know that touching or kissing does not only happen as a prerequisite for full penetrative sex and then forgotten once we move on from there. I need to suggest this again. We also need to coordinate our bedtime routines to create more opportunity for a more honest intimacy without the expectation of pressure to have sex.

Trust has been very difficult for me to rebuild. I am confident in my belief that he no longer looks at online pornography since d day. I also believe that he has not visited strip bars for some time, possibly a few years before d day and certainly not since. I feel confident that he is well motivated, committed to staying away from porn and and has made some necessary lifestyle changes to prevent relapse. The biggest threat to trust comes from the slow drip feed of discovery after d day and the lies, denials and omissions that emerged during that period. Although I understand the reasons for lying in an intellectual way (shame, guilt, embarrassment, perceived threat to the relationship) I do not have sufficient trust that he will not lie in the future or report any slip ups and relapses, as I have asked him too. I know how "just the once" can become "maybe once or twice" then "not very often", but I suspect he would not admit to it and put himself at risk of going back

Sexuality
This is another aspect of our relationship where I have to take the initiative and express my needs. I am wary of old patterns of non communication emerging, avoiding talking about difficult issues about sex and intimacy and risk of masturbation displacing our sexual relationship. I will probably continue to be the one who raises these issues in conversation but I am also prepared for awkwardness and resistance from my partner. He prefers to say nothing and deny any perceived 'wrongdoing'. All I can do is to persevere and continue to assert my needs and share my own difficulties in the hope that he will be able to reciprocate. I need to show him that it is safe for him to share his sexual concerns.

Lifestyle habits. During my husband's porn addiction, our bed times became very disconnected. Partly this was deliberate. I wanted to sleep through the times I knew he was using porn and he used the time when I was sleeping to masturbate to porn. We need to coordinate our routines better, and be there for each other instead of staying with the old sleep pattern that came out of avoiding each other at acting out times.

Shared time
As a consequence of the lack of intimacy created by porn addiction, we didn't spend much quality time together. We tended to do separate things when we were at home together. Although I believe it is important that we each have independent interests and allow each other our own space and time, we both need to nurture our shared interests and include each other more in our lives to avoid the 'roommate" scenario.

*Should you find yourself struggling to manage your own life (intense emotions, undefended boundaries, deteriorating values, neglected values, etc.) how do you envision getting yourself refocused and back in balance? List this general plan.

An effective and immediate coping strategy for intense emotions is to be express it privately in writing. This helps me get my thoughts and feelings in order. Sometimes the mood is transitory and it's the safest way of expressing myself without causing bad feelings for anyone else.

If I want to talk about a specific issue one strategy which I intend to use is to write down the specific issue I want to discuss beforehand as a way of being clear and avoiding drifting off my point.

I am still going through the process of (re)discovering my values and I have recently had the opportunity to point out that my opinion is being drowned out by the weight of his opinion. I have had to assert myself. This has grown out of being informed and educated about issues that are in alignment with my values. I feel I have a lot to learn about many issues that have been brought to my attention through tackling his porn addiction. Some issues are political, some are personal. Through finding my voice and the courage to speak out, I feel that I am at last learning what boundaries are and the value of defending them.

I am discovering that there are some unexpected gray in our relationship which have been unexpected and are raising some issues about boundaries and values in respect to communication. For example masturbation without porn which could explain his recent sexual difficulties. He has not disclosed this voluntarily and I know that if I asked outright he would deny it and run the risk of making good communication less likely.

**I will continue to use writing and journaling as a safe way of expressing difficult emotions and challenging my thoughts and negative beliefs. I will also work on using CBT techniques. I can read self help books on confidence building and refer to the books I already have on sex/porn addiction which can help me gain perspective. I can also use online support groups

**I also intend to be informed and educate myself about issues that are in alignment with my values, including women's rights and the realities of the sex trade.


*What signs will you look for in your partner to generate confidence in the sincerity and stability of his/her recovery?

The most important sign that he is making progress in his own recovery would be the ability to forgive himself. That would be a huge step forward. In our relationship, openness, honesty and empathy would be signs that he feels more able to communicate in an authentic way.


*What unique signs will you look for in your partner over the next few months to generate warning of imbalance and/or insincerity?

An unwillingness to communicate about matters relating to recovery. Evasiveness and hostility if I raise difficult issues.

Low libido and erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of emotional issues or may signify a return to behaviors that increase the risk of relapse, or that relapse may have happened.

Unnatural "happy" moods that feel false and forced.

These are just some of the questions that you will want to consider and prepare yourself for. There are potentially many others. List anything additional that you feel is important in preparing yourself to face this transition in your life/relationship over the next few months.

I need to practice what I preach and learn to be more open myself as years of addiction and secrecy means that I am out of the practice of sharing and revealing myself.

I netting continue to build up confidence in myself and my own self worth. I need to work out my values and boundaries, and how to defend them.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:01 pm 
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Exercise 15A
Supportive people:

My counsellor
My CBT therapist
Online support community

They have been helpful in giving me the space to express myself. I don't feel able to share this issue with anyone who doesn't have prior understanding of porn/sex addiction. My support system is very limited.

Exercise 15B
B. List all resources (not people) that you have available to you in developing a balanced, healthy support system. This list should contain at least eight items. Put an asterisk in front of each resource that you are currently using to help you through this crisis.

*Art making
Visiting galleries
*Reading for pleasure (novels, fiction, literature)
*Self help and personal growth books
*Self care
*Dressing creatively
Listening to music
Watching movies
*Feminism and women's rights
Learning new subjects and ideas
Nature and the environment
*Photography
*Journaling
*Cooking

15C
Being part of someone else's support system

I have found that the best way of supporting someone is to spend time together doing ordinary things like going to lunch or sharing interests, not spending too much time and energy talking about the difficult issues, although that's part of it. Otherwise I have at times felt burdened by other peoples' personal problems if they start to depend on me too much. The stigma of porn/sex addiction has made me wary of unburdening on to other people because I fear a lack of understanding. This is why I have turned to professional counselling and online self help.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:38 am 
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16
A. Create a list of at least ten core values that represent the person you want to be. You should be able to rely on this list with confidence in guiding decisions, actions, prioritization, etc.

Honesty
Integrity
Caring
Principled
Fair
Inquisitive
Creative
Curious
Loving
Positive
Animal lover
Artistic
Feminist
Loyal
Trustworthy
Tolerant
Assertive



B. In your own words, how can you use these values to guide you through this current crisis (or a future crisis)?

I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to put right the wrongs they have done.

It is important to forgive my partner as and when I feel ready. It is important to communicate that forgiveness to my husband.

I aim to live in alignment with my values of honesty and integrity, tolerance and respect. I accept that there will be times when I may not live up to my own values but I am sufficiently aware of the uncomfortable feelings within me when I don't. There may be times when I need to question myself and my motivations, but there may also be times when I need to forgive myself for failing to live up to my ideals.

For these reasons, I seek not to stigmatise my husband's addiction but to commit to supporting my husband throughout his recovery process. I try not to judge. I try not to see his addiction as a reflection on me. I aim to be tolerant and understanding. I will continue to listen to him, and be prepared to challenge my own ideas and preconceptions.

I also need to rebuild my own life outside of my relationship. I need to choose how I want to spend my time and what my priorities are. Art making is important to me but the emotional demands of recovery have left me feeling unfocused and creatively "blocked". I need to re-establish good working habits, but this can only arise from better lifestyle habits and being better organised, making time and space for my creative projects.

I need to re-engage in learning and discovering. So much of my recent learning has been about porn addiction and recovery, and about the porn/sex trade from a feminist perspective. Although I have found this knowledge to be essential to gain greater insight and control throughout my recovery process, I don't see myself as permanently "damaged goods" on an endless mission to "fix" myself. I want to use that energy to rebuild my life and continue with my own journey of discovery through the history, literature, poetry, painting and music of others.


C. Compare this list to the vision that you created in Stage One; Lesson Two. Are they similar? They should be. In fact, they should be practically identical — with your vision serving as a narrative for the list you have here. If they are not, change whichever is inconsistent with the life that you want to lead. Your vision must be forged from your core values or you will continue to struggle with imbalance and chaos.

My values in this exercise are very similar to those of exercise 2.

I notice that this time I missed out my core values of resilience, resourcefulness and self defence. I am surprised that I didn't think of these values when writing my list. I still feel these values are not only relevant but an integral part of who I am. I don't know whether leaving out these values is an oversight or a warning that I should be on my guard


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:57 pm 
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Exercise Seventeen
A) In Stage Two; Lesson One, you created proactive action plans for three values to help you begin the process of stabilizing your life. You now need to expand this to the remaining values listed in Exercise Sixteen.

I have looked at my list of values and for the purposes of this exercise I have grouped many of the overlapping values into three distinct subject areas that are active and ongoing in my recovery process.

B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.

1. Positive, resilient, self protection

This is about the recovery of my inner self, my identity, confidence, self worth and self esteem.

I have come a long way since d day. I have worked on rebuilding my self esteem from the damaging effects of my partner's addiction, and the trauma of coming to terms with what was had been going on for many years.

One of the reasons why I did not take action sooner was because I had lost faith in myself. My sexuality was no longer part of my identity. I felt detached and betrayed by my body. I had internalised my partner's lack of sexual interest in me and believed that I was an unattractive and undesirable woman. The "evidence" was what I saw in the mirror. I hated and feared my own reflection. I stopped buying clothes. I hid my body from my partner because I couldn't endure his relentless indifference which I internalised as a permanent rejection. By d day I had developed body dysmorphia. This was my way of life. I faced the trauma of d day in an already vulnerable state.

Since then I have done a lot of reading
and research into porn and sex addiction. I understand that my partner's addiction is not a judgement on my physical attractiveness or sexual desirability. More importantly, I now realise having a positive body image is not (and should not) depend on anyone else's approval.

When I look back I am shocked at how low my self esteem really was and how distorted my self image had become. I believed that I had to accept whatever my husband chose to do, whether I was happy about it or not. I realise now that I cannot control my husband's behaviour but I can set boundaries about what is acceptable or not. I realise now that I have the right to protect myself from emotional pain.

I still feel I have some way to go before I can get out of this emotional funk. No matter how far I have progressed, there is still more work to do and more stages of healing to move through. Doubts and insecurities still haunt me and there is always another aspect to dealing with the fallout from the addiction, there's always another issue to be worked through. The recovery process is so much more complicated than I ever imagined. What I want more than anything is to be at peace. At peace with myself and free from the tyranny of an overly sexualised porn culture which I felt bullied by, through my partner's addiction and neglect. I want to have the emotional freedom to be who I am, regardless of age or looks or body type. I want to return to my core values and become myself again and explore my potential and pursue the activities that give my life meaning.

___________

2. Creativity and artistry
Prior to day art making was the most significant part of my life. D and the dealing with the trauma of the following weeks and months was emotionally and spiritually exhausting. I had no emotional energy or motivation for creativity and new ideas. Instead, I was driven to learn about and understand porn/sex addiction and how it had affected my relationship. We both had to put the time and effort into rebuilding the relationship but it was against a background of staggered discovery and the minimum of honest disclosure. The enormity of the trauma left me feeling creatively blocked. I had also got out of the routine of making time for art projects.

In that respect, my ability to engage with creative pursuits may reflect my progress in moving beyond being stuck in a cycle of reaction that I sense may be fuelled by a lack of trust on my part and perhaps not prioritising my own recovery as a woman with an identity in my own right, and still being stuck in the "partner of an addict" role.

My creativity is what gives my life meaning. It's what gets me out of my own headspace and out into the world, engaging with others, sharing interests and ideas. It drives me on towards learning and discovery.

As things stand now, I am not engaging in those activities that create meaning in my life. Staying in the headspace of "the partner of a porn addict" has taken me further away from my true personal identity and prevents me from fulfilling my potential, and living as I should.

_________

3. Principled, a person of integrity, feminist

Several months into my recovery I realised that I had not fully developed my opinions, viewpoints and principles. In my youth I formed my own beliefs based on an incomplete understanding of the world.

Until d day I thoughts I had "grown up" principles about equality and fairness but in reality my beliefs were naive and insufficient to fall back upon at a time of extreme threat to my emotional wellbeing.
I learned that my husband was a hypocrite and a liar. In recent years he would speak out against the use sexualised imagery, but he would secretly watch music videos featuring women performing highly sexualised dance moves or wearing skimpy clothes that exposed a lot of cleavage. He had also gone to strip bars yet I had no idea that he was even interested.

When I first met my husband he had very strong sympathies with the women's liberation movement. This was probably more to do with the prevalence of feminism in universities at that time. I was very young had not yet been exposed to feminist ideas although I had already experienced sex discrimination and sexual harassment in daily life. So I believed that this was a man who was insightful and understanding about the fears of being followed or subjected to harassment and was smart enough to reject sexist and objectifying attitudes to women.

I suppose I rather naively adopted his stated anti-sexist opinions in a very superficial way. I believed that this was a man of principle and I honestly believed he would never set foot in a strip bar. I certainly didn't imagine he would sit and watch music videos by artists he didn't like or that were aimed at a much younger generation just so he could leer at the women. Even when I knew he was watching porn, the fact that it was so explicit made it more "honest" in the sense that it was impossible to deny why he would watch it. There was something more covert and voyeuristic about the sexualised non-porn material that hinted at the unpleasant realisation that this was how he was looking at women whether driving, at the supermarket or on TV, and if so, it went against every single declaration of feminist sympathy he had ever expressed.

After d day I had to examine my own views. Of course I would have identified myself as feminist, having experienced sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and, later on, age discrimination which I learned from experience begins to affect women by their mid thirties. But looking back, I hadn't actually read the writings of the women's liberation movement, my grasp of the theories and ideologies was superficial.

My husband turned out to be full of the sexist bullshit that he once spoke out against. In the early days, I adopted his "principles" which turned out to be completely fake and hypocritical. Looking back I think it was probably his way of impressing a woman at that time, in that environment.

How could I have put my faith in a 'man of principle' when he didn't have any? And what did that say about my beliefs? I wasn't sure what I believed any more.

I had to ask myself what my views were, why do I find it all so abhorrent? So I read books and articles on the sex trade including pornography, but also prostitution and the 'adult entertainment' industry. I watched educational videos too. I also read about body image, the diet industry, the rise in cosmetic surgery in recent years. The issues that are affecting women today which feminism was supposed to address have become worse. Much worse. The normalisation of pornography in advertising and pop culture is having such a detrimental impact on women's lives that I could not afford to bury my head in the sand any more. It was affecting ME, it was affecting my marriage. An unlimited supply of free online pornography 24 hours a day had wreaked havoc in my personal life and it was dragging me down. Everything I believed I was smart enough to reject and strong enough to resist was no longer working. I was an emotional and physical wreck. My husband was so far gone with his addiction that he didn't see the effects. He was happy to buy into an abhorrent industry that treats women as disposable consumer products. And you know what? I too had been turned into an disposable object when I was deemed not "clickworthy" any more.

In my personal life I know that I cannot make excuses for anyone who buys into the sex trade, including the pornography industry. I have drawn my boundaries. I have values to live by and fall back upon at times of need. My beliefs give me a power which was absent in my life before d day and gives me confidence where there was none. Now I have a voice. In the future I want to have the confidence to use my voice.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:41 pm 
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Exercise 17 D

1. Positive, resilient, self protection
I will take good care of myself by eating well and sensible exercise
I will go to bed at a reasonable time instead of staying up late
I will actively engage with positive people and be open to new experiences and opinion


2. Creativity and artistry
I will make time every day for my art practice
I will create a plan my forthcoming projects
I will make time to visit galleries and exhibitions

3. Principled, a person of integrity, feminist
I will continue with the book I am currently reading
I will listen to podcasts on women's issues
I will continue to explore the achievements of inspirational women, whether in art, literature, film making, architecture, academic, etc.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:54 am 
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18

A. Provide an example of a value collision in your own life. How did you handle it? What resulted from this collision (e.g. compromise, resentment, suspension of the issue, etc.)?

D day was followed by about 5 months of drip-drip-drip discovered. The typical pattern was angry denial, minimisation on being found out ("it was just the once") before a reluctant admission. My husband disclosed very little.

Because of this ongoing dishonesty and near refusal to communicate about my his behaviors, I felt that I had no alternative than to make a thorough search of all his devices including his camera memory cards and old phones.

I discovered that he had been downloading videos from a particular site which required membership. He angrily admitted to this.

Some days later I wanted him to delete the account and but he denied he even had an account, and said he didn't know what I was talking about. I wasn't having this. I told him to log in and show me his viewing history in my presence, and then delete the account. I told him I was sick of all his lying and that if he didn't do this I was leaving. I had never made such a threat before. I used my only tactic I had available to me and that was emotional blackmail. He did what I asked and deleted the account.

Immediately after d day I asked for openness and honesty from my partner but almost every question was answered with a lie. His porn behavior within our relationship had been going on for 15-20 years and had eventually replaced our sexual relationship. I felt rejected as a woman, and abandoned emotionally. I compromised because I believed that he chose masturbating to porn in preference to having a sexual relationship with me. I compromised because he continued using porn after I found out and knew that I was unhappy about it. I felt powerless but I felt that if he didn't want me and he couldn't have porn then l could end up having to turn a blind eye to infidelities and affairs, and that would mean the end of our marriage and none of it would have been anything I could control. So I lived in a situation where my values were compromised and had no validity in our (unequal) partnership.

Eventually I had a complete crisis of confidence and had developed body dysmorphia and I was beginning to self harm. I felt 'entitled' to honesty and I naively assumed that honesty was a shared value. I suppose being lied to was another way I felt disregarded. I had reluctantly endured his porn behavior for years and I felt that answering my questions honesty was the 'right thing to do'. He wouldn't. It was another conflict of values.

Searching through all his devices was my only option, I felt. I knew it was wrong but most of what I know came from these painstaking searches. I have always believed that each partner is entitled to their own space and a degree of privacy in a relationship . My request that he log into that account and show me his viewing history was a more honest way than 'snooping' but his first response was to deny all knowledge of such an account and become angry at me. Threatening to leave him was my only way of exerting what little power I might have had over him. He did what I asked. The entire episode was unpleasant and involved conflict on both sides. I was not comfortable using threat as a negotiation tool.


B. What current values do you hold where conflicts can be likely anticipated? (Use your history in relationships as a reference)

The recurring conflict is over honesty. I am finding it difficult to trust my partner, not so much his behavior but his willingness to be truthful and open in general.

Some of his addiction related behavior went completely below my radar. I had no idea about his interest in strippers and I had no idea about the locations of various venues that he knew of. I had no idea he was interested in going to such a place. I had no idea that in the past he had visited adult bookstores and bought porn.

So, it's the deceptions that I don't know that creates the greatest potential for conflict. Sometimes, I find myself trying to work out whether my partner is withholding information from me, not necessarily addiction related, but as a legacy of being blindsided.

It's also impossible to know when someone is being dishonest. A strong suspicion can be different to prove, and I know from experience that a lie can look exactly the same as a truth. It's difficult to trust my judgment because it's also possible that I may not believe a truth when I only have the word of someone who has lied in the past. That in itself creates conflict, and I can end up being accused of "always being suspicious" which provides my partner with a kind of fake justification for withholding information from me – because of my "suspicious" or "hostile" reaction. In reality, I want open communication and it seems quite difficult.

Another potential area of conflict is potentially uncovering or discovering previous lies – that is, lies about my partner's past behavior that have been deliberately upheld.

As far as the past is concerned, what's done is done. The progress we've made as a couple since d day has been hard earned but could dissipate if lies have been told and found out to be so.

So, the key areas of conflict for me are open communication, honesty and trust.

C. What values, if any, are you unwilling to compromise under any circumstances? Give a thoughtful response, not a prideful one.

This is such a difficult question. At one point I might have said "if you looked at porn again it's over". I can now see the issue from the vantage point of my own learning and healing process. The nature of addiction, the ubiquity of sexuality stimulating images in today's cultural and the impossibility of fully reversing the changes in the brain forged by reinforcing the behavior over many years inform me that may not be realistic to end my relationship just for one (known) incident.

However, it would still represent a breach of my stated boundaries and a betrayal of my trust. As long as my partner is honest and discloses any relapse behaviors, I would see that as a commitment to keep working on recovery. Lying and deception are red flags but I have yet to decide on what a realistic response would be. My boundaries have ill thought out consequences.

I could realistically tolerate an instance of internet pornography if it was disclosed and used as a learning experience.

I do not want to be married to a man who visits strip bars or even pays for table dances or lapdances. I wouldn't necessarily end the relationship if he did but it would certainly signify something was wrong. The most worrying aspect for me is that he could indulge in that behavior and I would never find out. So again, the context of the behavior is everything. Disclosure or secrecy? A one off event or a repeating pattern?

Any physical infidelity would definitely mean a serious review of the relationship and possibly couples counselling. The outcome would depend entirely on the nature of the infidelity, but for the purposes of this exercise I take it to mean covert sexual activity with another person with the intention of returning to me and carrying on as if nothing had happened. It's difficult to discuss this theoretically because infidelity can be a serious relationship or it can be a 'meaningless' one off. Infidelity could break the relationship permanently depending on the nature of the other relationship/s.

So, having worked through this exercise I find it impossible to say what I would be on willing to compromise. I could not compromise sharing my husband with another woman but whether or not the relationship to continue would depend on so many different factors.

I still feel that my boundaries are not properly in force and I don't really have any consequences to fall back on.


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Exercise 19A
A. Make a list of rules that you can use to help define the boundaries of your most important values. Like goals, each rule should be specific and measurable.

Honesty
1. I will endeavour to be truthful at all times
2. I expect you to do likewise at all times
3. If I withhold information I will explain my reasons to the best of my ability when it is appropriate to do so
4. I consider omissions, partial truths, distortions and outright lying as dishonesty
5. I expect my questions to be answered truthfully and accurately without distortion or evasiveness
6. I expect both of us to uphold the value of honesty as a cornerstone of our relationship
7. I expect any lies about previous behaviours to be disclosed, particularly if I have asked about these behaviours in the past and was lied to
8. I expect a sincere apology for any and all lies, misleading statements, distortions, partial truths and omissions

Fidelity
1. I am committed to my marriage vow of "forsaking all others"
2. I remain married to you in the expectation that you stand by your vow to do likewise
3. My definition of sexual infidelity includes any flesh-on-flesh sexual contact with another person; it includes, but is not limited to, penetrative sex, touching of the genitals and breasts, with the lips, tongue, hands, breasts and genitals of either or both partners.
4. I do not accept any incidence of sexual infidelity in my marriage
5. I consider so-called emotional affairs and inappropriately close friendships with people of the opposite sex as an emotional infidelity, especially if the nature of the relationship has been kept secret from me
6. I consider webcam sex, cybersex and cyber affairs as a significant breach of trust
7. I do not agree to pornography use in my relationship nor do I consent to having pornography in my home. Undisclosed use of pornography represents a significant breach of trust
8. Visits to strip bars, strip clubs, lap dancing venues and similar represent a significant breach of trust and should be disclosed as soon as possible.

Trust
1. I will honour my value of trust at all times
2. I expect you to do likewise
3. I will always say where I am going, where I am and when I am on my way home, as far as practically possible.
4. I will answer any questions truthfully and honestly in ways that do not mislead or detract from the intent of the question
5. I will communicate my personal boundaries clearly so that can be no doubt about what behaviours would violate a breach of trust.
6. I expect to be told about any behaviours which breach those boundaries (relapses, for example) within 24-48 hours
7. I will say when/if I feel uneasy about your behaviour or manner if I suspect a breach of trust
8. I will ask for permission to see any evidence to confirm or to rule out any suspicions

Self respect and assertiveness
1. I will respect myself by honouring my values, feelings and needs instead of denying them to 'keep the peace'
2. I will endeavour to communicate my values and needs in a calm and non confrontational manner (assertiveness)
3. I will look after myself in terms of self care – eating well, taking care of my appearance and exercising appropriately
4. I will honour and respect my sexuality
5. I will role model the values that support self respect
6. I will defend myself from the destructive effects of my partner's addiction on my self esteem and self worth
7. I will continue to develop my own interests and personal projects

Tolerance
1. I accept that porn addiction requires understanding
2. I will continue to learn about this condition and how it affects individuals and relationships
3. I will be tolerant and understanding of any slips and relapses, particularly if they are disclosed promptly and if lessons can be learned
4. I will seek not to judge you because of your acting out, whether past, present or future
5. I accept that you and I, and our relationship, needs time, patience and understanding to recover
6. I expect you to demonstrate tolerance of my own personal difficulties and triggers as I go through my own recovery process

Resilience
1. I will seek support in my journey towards recovery whether from formal therapy and counselling, online peer support communities or self help books
2. I will continue to work on recovering my sexuality
3. I will continue to work on recovering my self esteem and self confidence through self care, meaningful activities and relationships and self help
4. I will ask for help in times of need
5. I will support and help others by sharing what I have learned along this journey towards recovery


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Exercise 19B
Describe a scenario from your past where not having a well-defined set of boundaries has prolonged and/or intensified the personal consequences that you have experienced.

I tolerated my partner's porn habit. I knew it was going on 'in the background' even when I was at home. Early on I told him that if I found any more evidence of his porn use then I would insist on psychosexual therapy. I didn't enforce this condition. Instead I let the behavior carry on because I felt powerless to stop it. He became very thorough about covering his tracks so I had no evidence to prove it. He could always deny it. What I ought to have done was forget about looking for 'evidence' as the starting point and insisted we fix the relationship.

Part of my inability to enforce my boundaries was fear of losing my relationship. My partner had effectively checked out of our sexual relationship and I felt that I was losing out to porn. What would happen if he couldn't use porn but had no more interest in having a sexual relationship with me? Physical infidelities? An affair? Leave me for someone else? So I endured his porn habit in preference to losing everything. That's how I perceived the situation.

I realise now that my thinking was wrong. Looking back I realise that my inability to enforce boundaries and my state of learned helplessness would not have prevented any infidelities or other ways of acting out. In any case some of his behaviours went below my radar, the strip bars certainly did.

Eventually I couldn't take it any more and I broke down. My self esteem was totally gone. I had reached the point where I found myself considering that I may also have to turn a blind eye to the possibility of physical infidelities, but then I realised I couldn't live with him under those circumstances.

Looking back I can see the anguish of my own "tolerance". I compromised my self respect and my own feelings of self worth
and I became a hollow shell. I ended up in a very dark place all because I believed I was powerless to act. Living with dishonesty and infidelity would be too serious a transgression. My breaking down was my subconscious mind rising up to tell me "no more". In retrospect, it was unacceptable that I had to tolerate a situation that I felt deeply unhappy with and that I had to have to break down completely before my partner realised that his behaviour had created huge problems.


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 5:12 pm 
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19C
Describe a potentially realistic event in your life where having mastered the use of boundaries will assist you in managing the event in such a way as to protect your value system.
Example: My spouse expects me to have sex on demand.


Example:
My partner is viewing sexualised imagery online and using it for masturbation and engaging in deception and secrecy.

These behaviours would be in breach of my values of honesty and trust. He would know that he is in breach of those values but in all likelihood would fail to disclose it. I know that if I asked outright his reply would most probably be a lie. My fear is that he would slowly drift back into using porn using so-called "harmless" imagery of swimwear and lingerie models or celebrities, initially just to view and then seeking them out to become aroused, and eventually masturbating whilst viewing them. At the same time he would probably swear he never viewed porn, because this kind of imagery, in his mind, "is not porn".

I accept that I cannot control his behaviour. I cannot control whether he chooses to lies to me. I cannot 'force' him to uphold the values of honesty and trustworthiness. If he chooses dishonesty, omission and deception I acknowledge that I have no way of enforcing this.

However, I can enforce my boundaries of self respect, assertiveness and resilience. I can re-state my values concerning honesty and trust in a calm and non confrontational manner, and role model the values I seek to uphold.

I will at all times seek to keep the channels of communication open. I have on occasions attempted to discuss sexual matters with him in a calm, mature and rational manner, but this has proven difficult because of his reluctance to respond. He won't initiate conversations about sex. If I say nothing, it wouldn't happen at all. This was the situation throughout his addiction and very little has changed in that respect. After the trauma of d day faded, he seems to have been trying to recreate ways of being that were previously his "normal", of secrecy, autonomy and not sharing. I wasn't happy with his "normal", in fact I was deeply unhappy and have no desire to go back.

Gradually he has returned to secretive masturbation. As an addict, he did not have a healthy relationship with his own sexuality and his compulsive use of pornography eventually replaced our sexual relationship. I asked him to tell if and when he started masturbation shortly after d day because I believe could only happen if his sexuality was healthy and recovered. However, he seemed to begin using masturbation shortly before when we had planned our times for intimacy and sex, and then he would either avoid showing any interest in sex or he wouldn't be able to become erect. He denied masturbation outright when asked. This was not a one time occurrence but became a pattern.

I know this because I have seen him masturbating after waking up very early, and then it becomes fairly predictable that he would avoid intimacy. I was right, pretty much every time. Also, when I first became aware that he was reverting back to masturbation, he mentioned that he'd been having porn flashbacks. In a very short space of time, he was masturbating more than we were having sex. When asked he denied it, so he was back to secrecy and lying too.

My position on masturbation is that for both partners, occasional self pleasure is inevitable and if both partners have a healthy relationship with their bodies and sexuality it need not become an issue.

Porn addiction within a relationship means that one or both partners do not experience their own sexuality in a healthy way. Masturbation can be a risky behaviour for a porn addict until healing has taken place and before it has become disassociated from his addiction behaviours. These are my concerns and he needs to be aware of it, besides it has interfered with our sexual relationship and it's creating lies and secrecy between us.

All I can do is uphold my own boundaries concerning self respect, assertiveness and resilience.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:52 am 
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Exercise 21
1. List five of the most likely major boundary violations that you will face over the next year. How will you recognize them as they are occurring? How will you respond to them if they happened tomorrow?

1. Viewing sexual Imagery
I realise that I may not know if this is going on at all. It may be impossible to detect. There may not be any discernible changes in his behaviour. It's also feasible that he starts by viewing celebrity and swimwear type images without masturbating and then gradually progress to viewing more revealing images of women which then trigger a masturbatory response afterwards rather than at the time of viewing, and then progressing to a soft porn/masturbation habit which is a effectively relapsing in stages.

Assuming I did find out tomorrow that he was gradually relapsing in this way, I would ask him to tell me honestly about how long this has been going on and how often is he viewing sexualised imagery. (I wouldn't expect an honest answer.) I would then discuss the installation of accountability software to prevent access to porn and nudity, and also any seemingly 'innocent' sites where similar content is available. I would also initiate a conversation about seeking specialist psychosexual or addiction counselling.

2. Masturbation in secret
I am almost certain this is going on although he will vehemently deny it. It is not masturbation in itself which is wrong but in the context of porn addiction and relationship recovery, there is no doubt that he had an unhealthy relationship with masturbation which resulted in the compartmentalisation of all his sexual activities outside of our relationship.

Sometimes I have woken up early and seen him but I've not known what to do. I have asked him outright and he denied it. I can't risk making it an issue. I can only mention casually that it's a behaviour that can impact on our sexual relationship and that it was a significant part of his porn addiction. It's not masturbation itself that is the issue, it's the unhealthy ways he used it in the past.

If I suspect that his masturbation is connected with viewing sexualised imagery then I would proceed as above with a view to installing accountability software and seeking therapy.

3. Lying
Omissions and evasiveness are my husband's most typical pattern of lying, that is, controlling my interactions with him so that I don't ask questions or express any unwanted emotions. Every few days or so he might mention something that I knew nothing about. Throughly his addiction he adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" strategy so that I would not suspect that he had any interest in visiting strip bars, for example. He has also never mentioned anything about his dealings with certain people until the pornography issue brought many issues to the surface, so I learned about things that he purposely didn't mention.

No matter how hard I have tried to reestablish a relationship built on honesty, I now realise that it's unlikely. If I learn about something and I have questions, and he doesn't like me asking, or that I find out he has lied about some of the details, he now holds the view that honesty isn't the best policy because for him " it only causes more trouble".

I can't force my husband to be honest. In many respects I will have no idea if my boundaries have been breached. Confronting my husband with his lying inevitably leads to "I can't remember" or "I don't know what you're talking about" or blame-shifting (how dare I ask such a question) and if my persistence continues it becomes tantrums and a refusal to communicate. I always end up apologising "to keep the peace" even when I know there's nothing for me to apologise for.

I don't know what the solution is. I can role model honesty. I can state my boundaries clearly.

3. Flirtations with other women
By this I mean taking an active interest in another women because he is sexually attracted and/or emotionally needy.

This can be difficult to ascertain and I'm mostly alerted to it by my gut feeling. When this happens he becomes increasingly tense and his moods towards me are somewhat volatile. He also withdraws sexually from me and avoids intimacy. He starts taking a greater interest in his appearance and becomes concerned about his weight h

It's very difficult to deal with these situations as and when they occur because of his 'protective' barrier of hostility and his blame-shifting strategies. "I don't know what you're talking about" etc. If I was to say anything I'd be made to feel as if I was imagining things or being ridiculous or, even worse, emotionally unstable.

I realise that I cannot control my partner's behaviour. If he chooses to create the conditions that allow situations to "just happen" and believes that all he has to do is to say nothing and avoid detection, that
puts me in a very weak and disempowered position.

All I can do is re-iterate my boundaries. I can tell him clearly that I don't accept infidelity of any kind, whether it's a physical infidelity of becoming emotionally or personally involved with someone else. He knows my boundaries. Whether he respects them or not is his decision but I have made it clear that any incidence of infidelity is likely to end the relationship, given all the years of deception I've been through.

4. Uncovering lies about previous behaviour
Strong suspicions of lying can occur during conversations. Often it is his choice of words that alert me. For example he will say he has always been committed to me but cannot say directly he has not been unfaithful. There have been many unexpected moments when something is said, or there has been a change in eye contact during a conversation that points to his discomfort about this issue. I don't believe he finds it easy to hold lie of such enormity but it's as if he feels he must conceal whatever it is at all costs. At this stage, and knowing him as I do, there is practically zero chance of truthful disclosure.

My response is to make a mental observation. I sometimes wonder if I really want to know the truth because I fear it could be kicking the hornet's nest. I know that the past cannot be changed but I can still make it clear to him where my boundaries lie. My boundaries are the same as before but until d day they were assumed to be mutual agreed. Now it is the case that I must take ownership of my boundaries regarding pornography and extra marital relationships and state them explicitly. At the very least he needs to know that I do have boundaries and knows when he is breaching them.

5. Ogling and fixating in public
This is a difficult one but nevertheless problematical for me. I don't like it and I find it disrespectful to do this in my presence. As his pornography addiction became his sole sexual outlet I became aware of this behaviour. Perhaps it was more subtle in the past and he had been able to disguise it better. Since beginning our recovery process after years of no sexual activity between us, I became acutely aware of his fixating on women in public. I found this triggering and I would become upset. He would notice and become angry. He refuses to admit he is ogling and sexualising women in public places, or from the car, although every partner of a porn addict reports this as do many recovering porn addicts. He is the exception, so it seems. I end up being blamed for being "wrong". So not only am I triggered by the environment, I am also made out to be unreasonable.

The difficulty is how to deal with it. If I say I feel upset by this he says he doesn't do it. On the other hand he has also said that it's "normal" and "natural", which is true, but l have felt that it goes beyond noticing someone and moves into a more sexualised fixation. For example, walking behind young women to look at their asses is tight jeans, suddenly going down a supermarket aisle after noticing an attractive young woman so he can stand next to her and look at things on the shelves, or becoming transfixed by a woman with obviously large breasts.

My current way of enforcing this boundary is to educate him the sexual harassment that I have experienced. I have told him of my own experiences of being followed, or being watched, or being approached by men in parks. I have told him that it can feel intrusive or threatening. Of course, be doesn't see what he does as sexual harassment because he thinks nobody notices. In his narcissistic view of the world, he probably sees himself as a handsome Prince Charming who most women would want to know and that somehow he is complimenting and respecting women rather than intruding on their privacy. But that's all I can do in the hope that he sees his behaviour as a symptom of blurred boundaries rather than "normal" or being flattering. I could say that it is certainly not flattering to me when I see this happen, but he will deny he does it, so educating him is my best strategy.

2. List five minor boundary violations that you will likely face over the next month. Write out how you will likely respond to each.

*NO BOUNDARY VIOLATIONS should go unaddressed. But at times, that may mean that you address those violations simply by recognizing that they occurred and making the decision to take no further action.
*I need to remind myself that recognition and choosing not to act or say anything is a conscious choice.

1. Evasiveness
If I ask direct questions I get a vague answer, or something that can't be challenged like "I can't remember" or "I don't know".
I don't like this but it's been a common tactic over the years in many situations. Sometimes the topic of conversation is so insignificant in itself that it would only create conflict to press for a truthful answer, and it's really not worth it. Ther s also a possibility that it may be a genuine answer at least some of the time. All I can do is become aware that this response is a 'trigger' and brings back memories of being lied to. I can assert and reinforce my boundaries in general terms — that I dislike being lied to. That's all I can do.

2. Omissions
The problem is that there is no way of knowing whether details have been withheld until later on. Some of these omissions may be insignificant, but they can be indicative of ongoing communication problems. Once again, all I can do is to reiterate my values and boundaries — the value of developing and maintaining honest and open communication skills. If one person does not communicate effectively, it means that neither partner is able to communicate effectively.

3. Complaining and negativity
This is a bad habit and it drags me down, having to listen to endless complaints mostly about coworkers, but also in general. Negativity can be contagious so I feel it's important to catch it before the overall mood spirals downwards. I am not immune to negative thinking either. If my partner's negativity is damaging our relationship it could mean that he has not yet learned the skills of managing his emotions (a red flag that can prevaricate addictive behaviours) and it would also be less likely that he could turn to the relationship as a source of strength if it has become tainted with negativity, pessimism etc. Once again, the key is to develop better communication skills. I can listen but I have to draw a line and protect myself when negativity becomes damaging. If I cannot change the subject I can suggest we do something together, or I spend some time alone.

4. Walking out of the room when I'm talking
I find this disrespectful and sends me the message that what I have to say is of no value. I will draw his attention to this as I actually believe he doesn't realise he's doing it, that to him it's just a normal thing to do. If I do not get his attention when I point this out, I can ask him when he will be available to listen or I can decide on whether what I have to say is important. Sometimes it might not be so important. In which case I will give him time and space to do something else whilst doing the same for myself.

5. Blame shifting
It took me a long time to be able to recognise this but now I see it was actually a typical first response. For example, when I walked in on him and caught him masturbating to internet porn he accused me of being 'sneaky' when in reality he had taken steps to act out in secret and avoid detection (he was already very thorough about deleting his browser history). After d day whenever I drew attention to any of the important issues like lying and trust, he would say that I couldn't be trusted because my moods were so variable, which hardly the same thing as lying about the facts of his acting out. No matter what I mentioned he would frequently stop the conversation going any further by turning the focus onto me. I've only just been able to identify it when it happens and identify it for what it is.

The best way of dealing with it is to remain assertive and not allow the conversation to be derailed by shifting the spotlight on to me. I realise that nothing is resolved when this happens. Sometimes it will be necessary to draw attention to blame shifting when it happens. At other times it's probably more diplomatic to stay on topic and not waver. It may be necessary to end the conversation if my partner maintains his position of blame-shifting.

3. Over the past six months, you have no doubt violated the boundaries of others (innocently or otherwise). List a few of these and share whether or not you were aware that you were violating their boundaries at the time.

1. Checking internet and phone history
I was aware that to do so without permission was a breach of privacy.
2. Checking for evidence of m
This is a breach of privacy and personal dignity. My only 'excuse' is that I had asked him to tell me if he resumed but he didn't tell me and I suspected it when we ran into problems of his ED and low libido. My suspicions were almost certainly correct and I would have preferred open and honest communication rather than this breach of privacy and dignity.
3. I have not been open about spending money
I am spending my own money and living within my means. There's no impact on our joint financial commitments. I have bought clothes, luxury items and lingerie after hardly spending a dime on myself for years. I have felt discouraged by my husband's lack of interest in my dressing for date nights and intimate occasions. I have continued to spend money on myself and dress for when I'm at home alone. It's a ridiculous situation but I've made efforts with my appearance only to be met with no reaction from him whatsoever. I don't want secrecy in my relationship, and I assume my partner doesn't either, but I desperately need to hold on to my identity, especially as a woman.
4. Website memberships
I am a member of a few sites that are completely innocent, mostly centred on women's health and wellbeing yet I don't tell my husband. I'm not practicing the transparency that I want from my husband. The websites have played a role in my recovery and I'm very protective about my recovery as an individual. I would feel too vulnerable otherwise.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:39 pm 
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24.

A. List three or more relationship options that remain available to you.

1. Remain committed to healing the relationship
2. Seek professional relationship therapy as an individual to explore my options
3. Seek relationship therapy as a couple to find out what each of us want and whether our relationship can work and address any lingering issues from addiction — trust, truth, intimacy etc
4. Take a break (alone)
5. End the relationship with view to separate permanently
6. 'Wait and see' if work pressures resolve and whether we can commit more energy to addressing relationship issues
7. Continue to work on the relationship, through self help books and resources as an individual
8. 'Wait and see' if any further addiction
9. Continue to work on the relationship, through self help books and resources, together as a couple
10. 'Wait and see' if any further addiction issues arise such as undisclosed behaviours


B. For each option, consider all of the benefits that that option would produce. List them.

1. Our relationship will continue. We can continue to share our lives, our time and our activities. Companionship and mutual support. We would still both have a home. Financially better off together than apart. Reassurance from someone who loves me. Dependability and reliably.
2. Clarity; some idea about where I'm getting 'stuck' in my recovery; an outsider's perspective; guidance and ideas about how to make my life better; someone to ask probing questions about what I want, what I need from the relationship and whether I'm getting it wrong
3. The opportunity to check the health of our relationship; guidance to work out where we're going wrong; jointly working through any blocks to recovery; the opportunity to learn how to communicate effectively; an objective opinion on how we can both work to resolve the hangovers from the addiction.
4. Peace of mind; focus; the chance to discover who I am and what I want without my emotions being turned upside down every day; freedom from worry; the ability to sleep without being too stressed out by my partner's moods and behaviours; a break from the constant anxiety and stress from being in close proximity to someone I don't feel I can trust.
5. A life without the stress and damage of porn addiction. The ability to heal. The opportunity to rebuild my life without triggers and the constant reminders of my partner's addiction. Freedom from the constant fear of relapse, infidelity, betrayal and deception. The ability to heal and explore my sexuality.
6. Freedom from work obsession and workaholism; the possibility that my partner will be more able to commit to healing our relationship without the constant stress of work-related anxieties.
7. Learning and growing; gaining perspectives; seeking out new ideas that resonate with me
8. Joint commitment and working together to heal our relationship; the opportunity to work through any issues we have not been able to identify; openness to new ideas on making our relationship better; the opportunity to improve our communication skills.
9. Disclosure about previous acting out behaviours could signify increasing trust and commitment and getting issues out in the open could be the impetus to move on to the next stage of recovery; clearing blocks to progress and better communication.

C. What obstacles do you see as being the most problematic for each option listed above? Are these obstacles that can be overcome? How?

1. Commitment to recovery won't work as long as my partner does not acknowledge we both need to work at the recovery process and make a concerted effort to healing. So far it's been more of a one-sided effort with him preferring to avoid talking about it. We can't heal the relationship if we can't have two-way communication and recovery can't happen if there are any persisting lies.
2. Finances, and making time to attend appointments. Attending therapy alone would be a one-sided effort that won't fully address the relationship difficulties.
3. My partner taking time off work and making a financial commitment. From past experience I know that he did not disclose his earlier acting out behaviours because he 'didn't think it was relevant'. From past experience, I don't trust him to be honest in couples therapy so it could work out to be a waste of time and money. I fear being 'blamed' in some way for his addiction or the effects of his porn use being trivialised. I don't want a therapist with a pro-porn agenda.
4. My partner is forever demanding attention for his own issues that always seem to be more important and more requiring of attention. My needs are not a priority. Perhaps I give him more attention to the detriment of my own needs. Perhaps this is a pattern that I need to consciously change. There is always some drama happening in his life, usually it's work-related, and his work always comes first. It just an assumption that it's his it should be. Just like his sexual needs. It was OK for him to find his own sexual outlets that, by design, I. was not to be a part of. My sexual needs weren't on his radar at all. Right now he's back to excessively focusing on work matters. One evening or even an entire weekend will be dominated by his work-related anxieties. The next day there's no mention of any of it, everything is "fine". And then the same cycle repeats again. Sometimes it's the job itself, sometimes it's a coworker he can't stand, or it can be anything. The same gripes are recycled over and over. But where do I fit in? What about my needs and wants. I'm fed up with this constant recycling of these dramas. It interferes with my ability to sleep because he's always in a state of extreme anxiety. Looking after his wellbeing and being caught up in his infinite loop of repetitive crises isn't good for me. How can I work out who I am, what I want, what I need, what I want my life to look like when I'm in caught up in his permanent state of emergency. He isn't going to change. I'm going to have to make a few changes in how I relate to him. I need to be assertive and be my own advocate.
5. I would be financially worse off, and my savings would be depleted rapidly by increased housing costs. I'd be alone. I might have to move to another part of the country to be closer to family. I'd need to find more practical help because of my disability. My overall quality of life would be reduced.
6. I have tried to establish openness and better communication but it's been consistently difficult because he can't seem to let go of hiding and obscuring his truth It's difficult when only one person has expressed a desire for honesty and who accepts that full disclosure probably didn't happen and probably never will. It's difficult when the other party is hindered by shame and regret. So. I have found my partner to be reluctant to communicate. He's always 'tired' (and blames his work, which is almost always a greater priority). Arguments ensue very rapidly. He uses the blame-shifting tactic A LOT. Two years on and it's still a struggle. I reluctantly accept that this is probably as good as it's going to get. We're not getting it right. I know that. I draw his attention to what we need to do, what we need to talk about, but I can't get a much further.
7. Emotional upset and shock.

D. Select the one option from exercise A that you feel yourself leaning towards (or have already selected). Why do you think this is/might be the best option for you? What would be your second option?

Option 2 - seeking individual therapy.
My partner's porn addiction went on for many years and it's only now that I can recognise how it impacted on my self esteem, my body image, my identity and my sexuality. My healing cannot depend on the recovery of our relationship or the actions of my partner. I have also realised that after many years in a sexless marriage, the recovery of my sexuality cannot take place solely within the context of my relationship either.
My second preference is Option 8, which is essentially self help. It's cost effective, and I've already made adequate progress using self help. My emphasis would continue to be on my own individual recovery, at least for the immediate future. I am aware that self help does not challenge me and probe me in ways that a therapist might. The risk with self help is that it is self selecting and that I may stay too much within my comfort zone.

E. What options do you believe are realistically available to your partner? Which do you think he/she would choose?

Option 6. My partner has recently taken a less pressurised role at work. He did this because of the effects of stress on his own personal wellbeing and on the relationship. It is too soon to tell whether this will bring about positive changes. My concern is that we have lost ground in the recovery of our relationship, especially with physical and emotional intimacy, because of work pressures. I can only wait and see, and be gently proactive in bringing our relationship issues to his attention.

F. Optional (though strongly, strongly recommended for anyone with even the slightest hesitation towards whether they should stay in the relationship or whether they should end it)

I have thought this through in the past, and my only practical issue is who remains in the apartment and who leaves. I would be worse of financially but I could get by initially because I already have some savings. Divorce would be relatively straightforward if we should go down that route.


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