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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 37

A. Consider a behavior that you have engaged in recently that produced some type of positive emotional stimulation. Break this behavior down into its emotional elements. Into the times when emotions were experienced as a result of your actions, thoughts, etc. Ideally, this situation would have between 7-10 emotional elements that you could track throughout the experience. Identify the emotional elements.

Example situation: buying clothes online
    1. Checking the website to see what’s new.
    Experienced anticipation and excitement
    2. Check that the items I like are in stock.
    Experienced suspense
    3. Think about ordering. Consider the cost and the amount to pay on my next credit card bill. Can I afford it?
    Experienced annoyance, frustration
    4. Image myself wearing the clothes. Image the occasion. Image how good I would feel wearing the clothes. Image the compliments and admiration.
    Experienced fantasy and projection
    5. Tell myself that it would be worth overspending just to feel this good. Try and work out what other expenses I could forego to pay for the clothes.
    Experienced justificationand entitlement
    6. Add the items to my cart because they’re in stock and I might as well buy them while I can. Click the Buy button and check out.
    Experienced excitement and elation
    7. Wonder how I’m going to justify the expense to my husband considering he’s going without unnecessary purchases in order to save and stay solvent, whilst I am spending my money on things I don’t strictly need.
    Experienced guilt and remorse.
    8. Try on the clothes when they arrive. Wonder when I’m going to them and realise that I might be on the receiving end of resentment rather than complicated and admiration.
    Experienced regret.
    9. Decide to hide my new purchases to avoid any annoyance or resentment on the part of my husband.
    Experienced shame.

B. Do your best to break down one of your partner's sexually-compulsive behaviors in a similar way. Put yourself in his/her mind, what emotional experiences do you feel he/she experienced throughout the act? Important: break-down only a single behavior — a snapshot in time — not an ongoing pattern of behaviors.

Compulsive behaviour: going to a strip bar
1. Wake up in morning. Fantasising about watching stripper.
Experienced fantasy and euphoric recall.
2. Decide to go to a strip bar on the way home from work.
Experienced anticipation and projection.
3. Spend most of the day looking forward to watching strippers. I work hard. I deserve it.
Experienced fantasy and entitlement.
4. Phone partner to tell her I am working late. She believes me. I’m now free to go and enjoy the show.
Experienced fear, then achievement.
5. Make my way to the strip bar. I think about going straight home because it doesn’t feel right. But the alternative is going home to the same old routine.
Experienced doubt and frustration.
6. Enter the bar.
Experienced exhilaration.
7. Watch the performance.
Experienced excitement, exhilaration, arousal and embarrassment.
8. Leave venue after performance.
Experienced achievement.
9. Arrive home. Welcome kiss from wife who has prepared evening meal. She has no clue.
Experienced achievement and guilt.
10. Sit down to dinner. Wife asks about work. I lie about backlog of work that had to be done.
Experienced guilt, shame and embarrassment.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:13 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 38

A. Make a list of the ten biggest stressors in your life that you believe are currently affecting your emotional well-being. For each item, document whether each stressor is mild, moderate, severe or extreme

Refer back to the values you listed in this workshop previously and consider the role that they are currently playing in helping you manage these stressors.

10 biggest stressors
    1. Relationship tension :severe/moderate
    2. Health: moderate
    3. Isolation: severe
    4. Finances: mild/moderate
    5. Pet age and health: moderate
    6. Christmas: mild
    7. Artistic block: moderate
    8. Lack of opportunity: moderate
    9. Insomnia: severe
    10. Noisy environment: moderate

In order to manage these various stressors, I rely enormously on practicing good self care, which includes my daily routines of showering, skincare, eating well, taking care to dress well and making sure I have meaningful activities on a daily basis.

I make sure to pursue my own interests and remind myself to include activities that strengthen my identity beyond my relationship. I still consume a lot of ‘self help’ (articles, podcasts).

If anything, this lesson has reminded me about the importance of having clearly defined values, and how indistinct my values had became over the course of my husband’s addiction. At some point in the future, I intend to re-visit some of the earlier lessons in order to identify and re-evaluate my own values *as they are now*.

B. Assign each value to one of the following columns:
- Plays no role in my emotions;
- Plays a small role in my emotions;
- Plays a large role in my emotions;
- Plays an enormous role in my emotions.

Plays no role in my emotions:

Plays some role in my emotions:

Plays a large role in my emotions:
    Creative practice/projects
    Caring for my pets
    Tolerance and understanding

Plays an enormous role in my emotions:
    Self care
    Caring for others
    Learning and growing

C. How would you manage this stress if all but one or two of your most important values were suddenly removed?

I would find life very difficult and devoid of meaning. I can sense the need for escape and distraction from reality. I believe I have already experienced this to some extent throughout the recovery process. I could not rely on my partner and I scarcely had my own inner resources to cope. My value system had become systematically compromised over the timescale of my husband’s addiction, and collapsed completely at d day and in its aftermath. I now recognise that my husband’s addiction developed from similar feelings except that in his case he was a child who was left unsupported. I was the partner of a sexual compulsion/porn addict for longer than his entire childhood. I was an adult. I was supposed to be able to cope. In the end my values were compromised and my boundaries non existent. In many respects I haven’t managed to cope with my stress very well at all. I overspend, trying to make myself feel good. I eat emotionally at times. I know that I really must re examine my values and make decisions from a healthier perspective. I’m acutely aware I’m not coping as well as I should be.

D. In your own words, and considering what you have learned so far...what do you think the role of addiction has played in your partner's life?

    * An escape from the stress going on around him as a child
    * A fantasy world of excitement in an otherwise boring, routine existence
    * Autonomy and rebellion, as there was no opportunity in his own upbringing to develop his individuality
    * An imaginary identity (of sorts)
    * Emotional intensity
    * The challenge and thrill of “getting away with it“
    * To escape from loneliness and depression (self medication)
    * Avoidance of genuine sexual intimacy
    * His addiction was his friend and companion

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:00 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 40

A. Now that you have considered the role that sexual addiction might have played in your life, in your opinion, and knowing what you should now know about addiction...what are some of the reasons that it didn't develop?

I could have become a sex addict. But I didn’t. Ironically, it was meeting my addict-to-be future husband that allowed me to develop my own healthy sexuality, as well as allowing me to develop as an individual, in all areas. I had lived through some difficult experiences at a young age which had significant effects on my self confidence and my education. At that time I needed someone to believe in me. My husband was the first person to make me feel good about being myself. I fell in love for the first and only time in my life. I believed I was the luckiest woman alive. This handsome, intelligent, talented, sexy man chose me. I was special, and so was he. I really believed that happy ever after existed for the lucky few — and I was one of them.

It could have turned out very differently. I was a misfit kid and as a music fan I found a place to belong. And then I was introduced to a rock star and initiated into another world. From virgin to rock star’s groupie. Yes, it really did happen. And little did I realise that I’d been picked out my the rock star’s personal assistant and brought to him. Because I was teenage-sexy with good looks and a hot young body. I discovered my power — a limited and temporary power. I thought I was special. In truth, I was disposable. And so it began.

As a young woman I was aware of my ability to attract male attention, but attracting the attention of a rock star was intoxicating. Regular guys and dating were boring. I started hanging out and meeting these music guys, musicians and their entourage and that’s how I became the groupie. It was easy. At that time in the 70s, some groupies were stars in their own right and I was dumb to believe all that shit. Back then, the music business was notoriously sexist and even misogynistic in my experience and bizarrely I went along with this role. It wasn’t the sex, it was the excitement that went with it. From time to time I could opt into the rock and roll lifestyle using sex was my passport.

The experience became empty and predictable. It started off with the thrill of the chase but was all over at ejaculation. I always knew when the sex began my purpose was about to be over. I can remember observing myself as an outsider might, as the prize jewel became yesterday’s trash, ousted to make way for the next conquest by a vain, egocentric B-list rock star milking his 15 minutes of fame. Such was the experience of the rock star’s groupie. Empty, soulless experiences. Bad sex. Bad hangovers and feeling like a used up piece of shit.

I have asked myself about why I didn’t become a sex addict, and the answer is I don’t think I could have repeated the cycle long enough before the predictability and dissatisfaction made the experience mechanical, repetitive and boring. The excitement had run its course and I didn’t like feeling used and disposable.

I left it all behind when I got into college — something I dreamed of but had given up on — and became just a regular student. I found a purpose. I had friends and peers. It felt like a new beginning. Eventually I met my future husband and I fell in love with someone who fell in love with me. More importantly, he believed in me. Despite his addiction, which didn’t emerge until some years later, he was an enormous influence on me becoming the person I eventually grew into. I had moved on in my life and without even being aware of it, I had made so many important changes that were going to sustain me into the future.

B. Reviewing your exercise results from the lesson itself, at what point do you think you would have recognized that you were addicted? What do you think you could have done about it? How do you think you would have hidden your sexual addiction from others?

Repetition and predictability would alert me to something not being quite right in my behaviour especially as I didn’t feel good about the experiences afterwards. An inner compass would have alerted me that I was not acting in my best interests.

In reality, had my behaviour developed into an addictive behaviour cycle, and I had no realistic alternatives to pursue in life, I don’t know if I would have recognised my behaviour as a sexual addiction. When sexual behaviour is the only way to create a temporary sense of self esteem, I can see how the behaviour could continue indefinitely. For me, if I had become involved in a longer term relationship, perhaps there would need to be a clash in values between what I shared with my partner and the need to pursue the “other” behaviour.

Perhaps I would start up sexually addictive behaviour if my relationship was no longer giving me that sense of someone being impressed and smitten by me, and/or having an intense sexual desire for me. Although it may begin for the same reasons people have sexual or emotional affairs, I can see how this can become a compulsive cycle because it’s not the extramarital relationship or the other person I’d be interested in, but the emotional high from being wanted and desired.

Personally, I could not cope with the huge emotional burden of leading a double life. That’s probably a key factor in why I never became a sex addict, but for the purposes of this exercise, I need to consider how I would keep my behaviour hidden from my spouse and others. My biggest strategy would be secrecy — saying nothing, making sure I don’t contradict myself about my whereabouts; making sure my indiscretions took place without there being any realistic potential for my partner to know or meet my sexual partners. Everything would take place in a separate realm away from my relationship. I think I would minimise the risk of “cross contamination” — that my secretive life would not bleed into my regular life. How realistic this is, I don’t know. From my own experience, partners of sex addicts DO know or at least sense when something doesn’t add up. We do suspect but in the absence of proof we are powerless to act. So, without evidence there’s always the ability to deny and stick with the “fake true” story. It’s also quite common for sex addicts to give gifts etc to their partners, and I suppose this is also part of the manipulation, acting as a decoy or a distraction, to prevent the partner’s suspicions.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:18 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 41
I. For this exercise, put your intellect away. Mourning is an emotional experience, not an intellectual exercise. How you achieve the goals outlined in the lesson should be unique to you. The only critical directive is that, when you have properly mourned for your losses, take at least fifteen minutes (several hours, preferably) to celebrate yourself. Celebrate your life. Your experiences. To recognize the ebb and flow of your life span and your current place within it. To reconnect to your individuality, your esteem and to the control that you have over your future.
II. Optional, share your experiences with this process. Again, don't worry about the intellectual aspects of communicating. Just share. Let it make no sense to anyone but yourself, if needs be. Just share your thoughts as an individual who is breaking free/has broken free from the grasp of another's addiction.

I mourn the loss of my youth, my physical beauty and my younger body
I mourn the loss of my sexuality, my sexual expression and the opportunity to explore and allow my sexuality to grow
I mourn the loss of the opportunity to experience the physical ageing process and sharing this experience as a couple
I mourn the loss of my body confidence.

I mourn the inability to grow as a couple and the potential to share our lives and experiences.

I mourn the loss of the relationship we used to have before my husband’s addiction emerged and the relationship we couldn’t have because of it.

I understand that this mourning process is ongoing and I may never fully understand all that I’ve lost

I acknowledge the lasting effects that this experience has had on me. I continue to feel triggered and destabilised at times. I accept that I need to work on releasing the trauma from my mind and body and that this may take some time.

I feel the pain of being discarded and forgotten by my husband during his porn addiction. I feel the hurt not only of rejection but becoming invisible to my husband.

I acknowledge the sadness and shame of carrying around the secret that for many years my husband showed no sexual interest in me whatsoever.

I want so much to let go of all of this pain, and all the feelings that still linger. I know it will take time to move through these feelings and I acknowledge how far I’ve come since d day.

I acknowledge the need to let go of the need for my partner to understand my distress and trauma of living with and confronting his porn addiction. For a long time I held on to the hope that after he moved through the stages of understanding himself, he would begin to show empathy and understanding for how I have been affected. I realise that this is looking less likely as time passes, and that detachment is essential in almost every aspect of my recovery process.

I feel sad that our recovery as a couple has not been as complete as I believed it could be, but I remain committed.

I go forward with the hope that I will heal and that I will continue to be proactive in healing my life and repairing my relationship.


In celebration of myself I have done the following:

I have reconnected with my love of learning by signing up for a short course of study, a subject which connects my past interests and my creativity. I feel enthused and alive again.

I visited a gallery exhibition (alone) that connects me with previous interests and my current studies. I’m connected with myself and to the outside world after what feels like a very long time of putting my inner self back together again.

I bought some new clothes in styles and/or colours I don’t usually wear. I feel like adding a little bit of glamour and being a little more daring in my dress — but in a subtle way.

I’m nurturing my friendships again. Since I’ve been developing my interests again, I’ve got more to share with my friends.

I’m making more effort with my self care. I’m taking better care of my appearance and sticking to my exercise routines.

I acknowledge that I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of residual issues from my husband’s addictions to overcome. I still need to learn how to deal with trauma triggers and how to expose myself (carefully and safely) to situations that I have found upsetting or triggering. I know that those feelings won’t go away but with proper coping strategies in place, those feelings may become more manageable and less significant over time.

I accept that this experience has changed me forever. It has taken me down a path I didn’t want to go and I’ve been forced to acknowledge and learn about things I didn’t want to know. In some respects, I’m stronger for it but there are times when I feel it’s beyond my control. What I can control are my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and this is now my mission in life — to look after myself and to look forward and remain positive.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 42

Consider the following situations and share what your response would be in each:

Your partner is contacted by an old romantic partner that they haven't seen in many years. Not wanting to keep any secrets from you, they tell you exactly when the person will be in town and would like your permission to catch-up over dinner.

I would thank him for letting me know rather than keeping it secret. But here’s the thing. He only admits to one previous romantic and sexual partner before me, and I wouldn’t see her as a threat these days. I doubt that he would be interested in her sexually or romantically. If it was this particular individual, I would accept his wanting to meet up. My only request would be for him to let me know when, where and at what time, and to let me know when he’s on his way home.

There is one other situation that he admitted to after we had been living together for a year or so. Early in our relationship he spent the night with a woman whilst creating the impression that they were just “friends”. He claimed it was a one-time thing and that no “sex” occurred even though they slept in the same bed.

I would not be happy in the slightest if they were to meet up. I would ask him not to go. If he was still determined to go, then he would most likely go in the knowledge that I felt uncomfortable about it. I would not fear any sexual infidelity , but I would still expect him to tell me his whereabouts and keep me informed.

Neither of these scenarios are ever likely to happen, but there’s always an outside chance. It’s what I don’t know that worries me.

You come home early from work and find your partner masturbating to porn on the Internet. Upon seeing you, they quickly close down the computer and lie about what they were doing.

My husband was addicted to internet pornography and although this behaviour would be a serious breach of trust, I also recognise that he is always going to be vulnerable to relapse. The way he deals with it, particularly his willingness to disclose any lapses of behaviour, would make all the difference. If I was to walk in on him and he were to deny it, I would give him the opportunity to correct his story. If he persisted in upholding that lie then I would withdraw from any communication with him for several days. If there was still no change I would go ahead and book an appointment with a relationship counsellor with specialist training in sexual addiction. I would make it clear that I don’t tolerate pornography, and don’t accept lying. I’m sufficiently aware of the potential of relapsing, hence the reason why I would give him the opportunity to be honest. It would be up to him to either deny or confirm and take it from there.

You suspect that your partner is lying to you about where they were, but you have no proof.

This would be a very tricky situation because my husband would only ever admit to anything if there was irrefutable evidence that would stand up to scrutiny in a court of law. Otherwise he would deny everything. I would ask him outright but I know that there would be a 99.9% probability of being lied to. In this case I would probably feel justified to ‘snoop’ in order to seek out evidence. I would always give my husband the opportunity to disclose voluntarily. In the absence of any evidence or disclosure, I would put this one alongside all the other “don’t knows” that I strongly suspect but know any admission on his part would be highly unlikely.

You find yourself feeling frisky and so you make a few sexual overtures towards your partner that are quickly brushed off. You are feeling hurt and rejected.

This was EXACTLY how it was before we stopped having sex altogether as my husband’s addiction behaviours progressed, so I’m already well acquainted with the feelings of rejection, humiliation and not feeling good enough that followed. I know a lot more about addiction now so I’m less likely to repeat my own history. Or at least I’d like to think so.

If he has honest reasons for not wanting to have sex he knows that he has the opportunity to tell me and that I will respect his feelings. This can and does happen now. I know that one partner’s desire is not always going to correspond with the others. Communication at these times is a part of being mature and adult, and this is what we are aiming for.

I am not so naïve about addiction that I don’t realise that previous behaviour patterns can and do emerge. I know that my partner masturbates secretly and denies he does it. Sometimes this has been the reason why he did not want to have sex. I have given him the opportunity to be honest about it, and he never has been. I can’t force him to be honest but it’s not the sign of a healthy recovery. There is also the possibility that my husband will slip into viewing the ubiquitous sexualised and ‘soft core’ imagery and be triggered into masturbation. I can’t say with any certainty that his happened but it would have a more damaging effect on our sexual relationship.

It’s the pattern of “not being in the mood” that I know to look for. “Not” as in on one occasion is less concerning than “rarely” or “never”. If a pattern of avoidance became evident I would attempt to discuss it with him. I can explain my own personal feelings and my concerns for our relationship. That’s the best I can do. If the problem persists I would seek professional help for either myself or for both of us.

After discovering that your partner had been involved in many affairs over the course of your marriage, you experience the urge to ask your partner if he had an affair while you were pregnant some eight years ago.

My own suspicion is that my partner may have been unfaithful when I was at a very vulnerable time in my life so it’s a question that always lingers in my mind. Assuming he had admitted to any infidelity, I would very probably have an emotional need to know more and to find out the details, but I also know that this could become an unhealthy obsession. If I was to ask the question outright I know that on the balance of probability he’d lie to me — if he was indeed guilty of any infidelity at that time. Andf he wasn’t, would I believe him?

This is the predicament I have found myself in for over two years now. I suspect more that he has ever been prepared to disclose. In truth, he has disclosed very little. I’ve had to make a deliberate and painstaking search to discover at least some of the truth.

And this is how the whole process has left me two years post d day. Suspecting but never really knowing; the knowledge that my husband has lied to me and almost certainly still does; that feeling that I live with that I’m always protecting myself and careful to let my guard down.

I’m working hard to limit the damage already inflicted upon me by trying to rebuild my own life as well as learning to deal with my various triggers. It’s difficult. and at times I feel my wounds just rupture and I feel very low and pessimistic about my husband ever making a genuinely healthy recovery, and that our relationship will limp on in a suboptimal state.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:34 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 43
My values

1 No pornography
(Personal and shared)
This is non negotiable. Pornography created considerable damage to the relationship and contributed to my own feelings of low self worth and to developing a negative body image and the switching off of my own sexuality. Although I have a greater understanding of what porn addiction actually is, and how it was supposedly not a rejection or a judgment of me, I cannot live with a pornography habit in my relationship, particularly when it requires secrecy and deception to exist.
No porn in the home. No viewing of porn whether accompanied by masturbation or not. No viewing of overtly sexualised imagery for the purposes of sexual stimulation. I ask that any viewing of porn or sexual imagery is disclosed within 48 hours. If not, the matter becomes one of deliberate deception. In any case, disclosure is still required.
I recognise that internet pornography is easy to access, despite the restrictions already in place. I also recognise that people can relapse unexpectedly, in spite of all their apparent good progress.
I would like my partner to voluntarily disclose any viewing of pornography, including “soft porn” and sexualised imagery within 48 hours. This would give us both the best possible opportunity to look at any issues that may have contributed to this happening. In return, I will endeavour to listen without judgement to the best of my ability.
If my partner has accessed porn, or viewed sexualised imagery for masturbatory or fantasy purposes, and he fails to disclose or lies to cover up his behaviour to prevent discovery, then I will cease all meaningful communication and sexual activity until he is able to communicate honestly.
I understand that there may be occasions when he accesses pornography, deletes all evidence and chooses not to disclose his activities. In such circumstances it may be impossible to enforce my own boundaries.
I will continue to trust my instincts and raise difficult subjects if I detect any signs like his showing no sexual interest in me, being distant and contrasting with being almost uncharacteristically ‘happy’ in a very forced and unnatural way. Negotiating deception becomes very complex when various moods and behaviours are enacted in order to prevent suspicion and possible discovery.
The only way to enforce my boundaries in these situations is to distance myself from the partnership temporarily and pay particular attention to my own self care. This is not so much a rule but an exercise in asserting my autonomy, identity and independence.

2 Open and honest communication
Shared and personal.
If our communication skills were healthy we wouldn’t have thrown away 20+ years to porn addiction and other sexually compulsive activities. And because those behaviours required secrecy and deception, our ability to communicate openly and honestly was eroded. I expect us both to work on consciously improving our communication skills, with help from a therapist if necessary.
We will commit to communicate openly with each other. We will commit to conversing openly every day. We will not lie or withhold information from each other deliberately. We will not manipulate conversations or derail the other by being ‘clever’ with words. The goal is to have conversations that flow freely and where we can discuss matters without fear of being silenced or manipulated.
If my commitment to open and honest communication is not honoured I will take it upon myself to call out omissions, evasiveness and other transgressions when I am aware that they have occurred.
I will continue to assert this value by being proactive in establishing good communication, and will work on building better communication, listening and reflecting skills.
I will point out when my husband’s willingness to engage in meaningful communication is less than satisfactory.
If/when my husband is lying by omission, being evasive in conversation or lying, or if I suspect this is the case, and there is an unwillingness to communicate honestly on his part, I will suspend all communication with him as a means of re establishing my boundaries until he recognises open and honest communication as a value I seek to uphold.

3 Individuality and Personal Space
(Shared and personal)
I believe that each partner should have the space, encouragement and opportunity to pursue their own interests and personal growth
Allowing for personal space also created the time, space and opportunity addiction to develop. My trust was abused and as a consequence my previously weak boundaries were broken down in many respects. I do not seek to curtail the pursuit of individual fulfilment and growth but I expect some degree of transparency to ensure my trust is not abused again.
If creating that space within the relationship is devalued by seeing it as an opportunity for acting out (for example, viewing pornography or sexualised imagery, or as a secret masturbation time) I will act upon my suspicions and ask my partner if this is the case.
If I have good enough reason to suspect lying, I will probably go ahead and check for any ‘evidence’, bearing in mind that this is a breach of the value I am seeking to uphold.
If there is no conclusive evidence I will most likely continue to reassert the right for privacy and personal space and continue ‘as usual’ and do my best to keep the channels of communication open at all times, as much as possible.
I realise that lying and secrecy is the greatest barrier to progress and creates a walled environment where addiction can continue, or behaviours that work against the health of our relationship.
I cannot force my partner to learn the necessary skills but I can at least role model the values I wish to uphold.

4 Responsibility to communicate and own our feelings
(Shared and personal)
As two individuals, we are each responsible for our own feelings and how we communicate our feelings to each other, where appropriate.
We will listen, reflect and seek to understand each other using the communication skills we have learned.
To allow each other to speak. To listen without judgment or extreme reaction. Not to talk over one another. To fully participate in a mutual and free flowing conversation without attempting to control or manipulate.
The aim is to promote mutual understanding and to resolve conflict where necessary.
If either of us is reacting with hostility, or is deliberately stalling communication, either of us can stop the conversation and resume later.
If I feel that my concerns are being dismissed or that I sense that my efforts to communicate are being blocked, I will withdraw from the conversation and distance myself from the relationship for as long as I need to.
I will continue to practice good self care.

5 Trust
Trust depends on honesty. Lying and deception can destroy trust in an instant. I expect honesty at all times. I acknowledge that we each have a right to privacy, autonomy and personal space but this should not be seen as an opportunity to deceive or act against the relationship.
To be honest with each other at all times. Deception and manipulation is unacceptable.
Where there has been deliberate lying or withholding information, the person who has attempted to deceive the other will be reminded that their behaviour is detrimental to the health and the future of the relationship.
There will always be an opportunity to correct the lies and give a true picture of the event/s.
If I have given these opportunities and the lie is not acknowledged or if I suspect that I’m still being deceived, then I will cease all communication and focus on my own self care.

My boundaries are not a statement of intent or rules, but my own personal guidelines for living in a relationship blighted by porn/sex addiction.

Much of what I have had to deal with was hidden and concealed from me. It has been very difficult to create boundaries to protect myself against deliberately concealed behaviour.

My boundaries are about establishing a place of emotional safety and protection for myself where I can process any difficult feelings after any transgressions (or perceived transgression) against my own values.

Thids could also mean putting distance between myself and the relationship and practicing good self care — which is easier said than done.

Rather than set rules that may be difficult to enforce, I have decided to respond as and when my boundaries are
breached. My strategy will be one of self protection and self care. I will choose when to respond and how. I do not necessarily have to inform my partner, it depends on whether I sense that doing so would be counter productive. Unfortunately my partner has not let go of dishonesty as his ‘get out of jail free’ card for and I can’t force him to be honest. I can only respond to what is, not an ideal.

My best strategy for recovery is my own personal development. Over two years later, I’m still discovering my own identity. I am gradually returning to the activities that give my life meaning and fulfilment. My feelings of self worth are much improved. I have a clearer sense of who I am and what I value. I am still healing and rediscovering my sexuality and sensuality. I have largely overcome body dysmorphia /negative body image. I am still affected by disordered eating but most of the time it’s under control. I accept that anxieties about sexuality and body image will probably persist in the background for some time as this was how my relationship distress was expressed. I suspect that this was a consequence of having no other way to express my feelings, nor was I able to articulate my feelings — I believe this was a consequence of having so much hidden from me and therefore being denied a voice.

My husband’s addiction was going on for possibly 20 years or more. It’s a long time out of anyone’s lifetime, and is inevitably going to have a profound effect, every bit as much as one’s family of origin has on your adult life Just as we eventually break away from our birth families, I am observing myself going through a similar period of forging an independent adult identity, and even a sexual identity.

This experience is by far the most prolonged stress I have ever had to endure. It’s a problem that appeared to have no beginning and if never really ends. If my relationship was to end tomorrow I would still be feeling the effects of my husband’s sex/porn addiction for years to come. That’s why I need to be clear about my own personal recovery.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:08 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190

Exercise 1: Sharing my experience 3 years on

Over the past three years since I began this journey, no further information about my husband’s acting out has been disclosed. I feel certain he has not relapsed but I do believe there have been a few slips regarding the viewing of softcore/glamour images. I am certain that he would never admit to such slips.

His shame persists. His inability to communicate openly still persists. I believe that he masturbates secretly which impacts negatively on our sexual relationship — mostly it means he’s not interested and sometimes results in ED/DE. He still lies, mostly he lies by omission, even withholding seemingly trivial information. This does nothing to build trust. He still scans and ogles in public. I’d like to believe he’s getting better at not doing this but that could be wishful thinking on my part.

Although nothing more has been disclosed, I don’t believe I know ‘everything’, nor do I believe I ever will. I’ve had to learn to tolerate this ambiguity. It’s been a difficult skill for me to learn, but a necessary one in rebuilding the relationship.

There have been significant improvements in some areas. We’ve had couples therapy and we have learned some communication techniques. He is better at listening, although there is room for improvement on both sides.

My own body confidence has improved enormously. I feel more at ease with my body, and I certainly don’t blame my body or the ageing process for my husband’s behaviour any more. I’ve let go of that fear of being “good enough”. I’ve worked on reclaiming my sexuality as an inherent part of myself, not something that depends on my husband’s permission to exist.

I’m also learning that my own recovery work is never done.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 2:
Reclaiming my life: 3 years later — then and now

Looking back over the past three years I realise just how much of my energy has been diverted into my own healing and working on my relationship. I have had so little energy and enthusiasm left to pursue my own interests and projects. I have grown as an individual but the life lessons I have learned have not been easy. I have been recalibrating continuously — what does trust mean now? How do I assert my own needs? What is good communication and why does it fail? Who am I now? What are my values? What are my interests? How do I relate to my own body? What does healthy sexuality look like *for me*? I am constantly defining and redefining my answers.

I see myself as someone who takes care of herself
I see myself eating well, exercising sensibly and making sure I sleep well
I see myself taking care of my physical and emotional health
I see myself working on my creative projects
I see myself making time to pursue my creative projects
I see myself as someone who is open to new ideas and experiences
I see myself as someone who enjoys the ideas and creativity of others
I see myself working in my chosen field with energy and enthusiasm
I see myself as someone who loves to learn
I see myself as someone who loves to read
I see myself as someone who appreciates art and expression
I see myself as someone who is prepared to challenge her preconceptions
I see myself as a valued friend
I see myself as someone who is loved by the people who matter most to me
I see myself as someone who seeks to grow and learn from personal hardships
I see myself as someone with values and ideals
I see myself as resilient
I see myself as worthwhile
I see myself as someone who takes care of her appearance
I see myself dressing stylishly and appropriately
I see myself practicing good skincare and haircare
I see myself as as a loyal and caring partner and friend
I see myself honouring my commitments
I see myself expressing and honouring my sexual needs
I see myself becoming a better communicator
I see myself living by my values and principles to the best of my ability

My vision is practical in that it requires taking specific actions to improve my quality of life. I realise through experience that this is easier as said than done. Healing and recovery has been very draining and leaves very little energy for much else.

I would also say that I have lived according to my values over the past three years but they have been tested and challenged every step of the way. For example, lies of omission (which still happen) breach my values of good communication and honesty but I cannot protect myself when I don’t know what has been withheld until months later.

This means I have to redefine and recalibrate my expectations. My trust has been challenged throughout. It’s very disruptive to go through this repeatedly. It takes a lot of mental discipline not to allow these disruptions and they feelings they provoke in me to distract me from the activities and routines that give my life meaning and direction.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 3
My previous answers still apply.

The feelings I had some months before d day have never been proven either way.

Split feelings are something I have accepted as part of the reality of being in a relationship with an addict. There is what I know thus far, and what has never been discovered or admitted to. My gut tells me there is probably more but I know my husband well enough to know he will never say anything more.

During the past year I began to feel uneasy about my husband’s working relationship with a female coworker. My instincts were right but I didn’t find out what had been developing until some months after she had left the job. She had told him about her recent relationship breakup (yes, that old cliche). His version of events is that he was just the passive listener, that she was the one initiating this “friendship” and that he was the innocent bystander. All I know was that at that time something was making me feel uneasy. When he told me she was leaving my first reaction was “I can’t wait until she’s gone”. He concealed the details of this ‘relationship’ until months after she left. I know that his workplace boundaries are entirely his responsibility but he either had to choose to keep this woman at a healthy remove or to become duplicitous in his relationship with me. I don’t believe went as far as developing into an ‘emotional affair’ nor do I believe he had any contact with her outside of work but he still concealed some important details, which would have been huge red flags. Whatever his feelings, whether he enjoyed the attention, I don’t know, but my gut was alerting me that something was “off”.

Other than this, there have been a few occasions when I’ve picked up on something not quite adding up or making sense, and I’ve been right.

It’s very true that as partners we can end up silencing our own alarm bells. One thing I feel I need to be wary of is that my partner can actually “shame” me for having gut reactions, along the lines of “how could you think such a thing?” or “I don’t do ...” or “I’m not interested in ...” I know what gaslighting is and I know he’s done it. But I also know now that gut instincts can sometimes be evidence enough to take action and do what’s necessary to take care of my own needs. Gut feelings are tough because sometimes we know there’s a “something” but we don’t know what. We may never know what. The important thing is always put the focus back on doing what you need to do to feel safe. That’s only a recent lesson but I know it’s my next big lesson to learn.

My husband shows no interest in sex, often for several weeks at a time. His lack of interest and the change in the way he relates to me is what I pick up on first. If he is easily distracted in my presence (picking up his phone for no reason, or reading junk mail, or switching on the TV and scrolling through the channels), or suddenly finds too many other things to do, as if avoiding any communication with me, chances are he’s been indulging in either compulsive or avoidant masturbation.

My husband sexually objectifies women in public, and he also responds to or is triggered by what he sees on TV. It’s particularly upsetting when he does this in my presence because he doesn’t see it as part of the continuum of his addictive behaviours. He flat out denies that he even does it although to me it is quite obvious. If he detects that I’ve become alert to a shift in the focus of his attention, he switches into a very aggressive reaction and flips the script so that I’m the one causing trouble.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:56 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 4: 2 1/2 years on

Careful with money
Willing to learn
Willing to change and grow

Needs for approval from others
Terminal uniqueness
Lacking in empathy at times

It has been 2 1/2 years since I did this exercise for the first time and it is interesting to review my previous answers. His positive qualities have remained consistent and stable.

I have noticed some differences in the traits which work against recovery. Workaholism emerged at about 12 months after d day and was in response to changes at work. Over the next 12 months the workaholism intensified. During this period our relationship suffered because he was always obsessing over work. It is fair to say that he did not have the necessary skills to manage his work-related anxieties which only intensified over time. Fortunately he was able to recognise this and his employer agreed that he could work in another role.

I have also noticed that I haven’t listed his passive-aggressive tendencies. I think that this is because we can communicate more directly, if not perfectly.

A few of his negative traits remain, however. The secrecy/omissions tendency remains persistent.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:39 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 5: 2 1/2 years on

I have various ways of dealing with stress, some healthy, some not. I might go for a walk, exercise or catch up on chores. I find that going out alone for a change of scene like going to a coffee shop, or a gallery or a bookstore are good ways to get myself out of being stuck in an unhealthy mindset. If I am emotionally overwhelmed my unhealthy escapes are typically overeating and overspending.

Considering my compulsive spending to gain insight into the compulsive rituals of addiction:

n December I observed myself shopping and overspending as a direct response to having unmanageable feelings.

I’d had a phone call from my husband and somehow in that conversation I became triggered. I don’t remember exactly why I felt that way but afterwards I felt very agitated and unsettled. In the past week or two I’d seen a dress online that I’d liked but talked myself out of buying. It was a bit too expensive and I knew I didn’t need it. After the phone call I decided I’d buy the dress anyway. It was an act of defiance especially clicking on the ‘buy now’ button, but I was only defying my own prior reasoning. Rebelling against my better nature. There was also a feeling of “I can take care of myself” because I wasn’t having my emotional needs met by my husband. I also knew that this emotionally induced act of spending was unnecessary. I had spent money on something that I didn’t need and wasn’t going to change my life. It was only a dress and I have plenty of dresses I don’t wear very often. Yet in that moment of buying the dress I felt that I was stepping into another world where I could afford to buy on a whim, and I where could be stylish and elegant, and perhaps “I’ll show him! I’m not some little mouse! I‘m not going to be invisible!” I have that dress now. It hangs in my wardrobe with the others I hardly wear. It’s only a dress. It didn’t change my life.

If I had chosen not to buy that dress I know those feelings would have passed. I know there may have been feeling of disappointment and dissipation. Life goes on. Buying the dress gave my brain a temporary escape from my feelings of anxiety and fear.

As this is the second time I have worked through this program, I decided I would try and break this episode down to the various elements and identify the feelings involved.

1. Phone call. Feeling: undervalued.
2. Decided to go online and buy dress. Feeling: in control
3. Looked at dress online, anticipated how nice it would look on me. Feeling: projecting myself into the future; my fantasy self
4. Thought about not buying, questioned whether I was throwing good money away on something I didn’t need and that I would probably undervalue and under appreciate anyway. Feeling: reality check
5. Tell myself that I can afford it, and I deserve to look nice and have nice things. Feeling: entitlement
6. Decide to buy the dress. “If he doesn’t appreciate me then I do”. Feeling: defiance, justification
7. Choose the dress in my size. Click on Buy Now. Feeling: control
8. Try on dress. Look in mirror. Does it live up to its promise? I realise it’s just a dress but I decide to keep it. Feeling: resignation, disappointment
9. Think about when I’m going to wear it. Project the image of myself wearing the dress into the forthcoming Christmas celebrations. Feeling: anticipation
10. Imagine my husband’s reaction. Will he notice I’m wearing a new dress at all? Will he notice and say nothing? Will he object to my spending even if I’m spending my own money? Feeling: anxiety, resentment
11. Hang up dress in closet. Feeling: resignation, emptiness

This exercise has been very insightful. It breaks down the decision-making process and demonstrates the emotions that are driving the process. In contrast to what I have learned about sexually compulsive rituals, I don’t experience any kind of adrenaline rush or anticipatory high and my only “regret” about not buying would be that the item would sell out. If I didn’t follow through then at least I’d have kept my money. I would end up in the same place of resignation.

My husband has an inquiring mind and loves to learn. Without his addiction he may well have read a lot more and developed his interests. My husband also enjoys music, both playing and listening, so he would have pursued his musical interests. Above all else, my husband may well have learned better communication skills had he not developed his addiction. He may have learned how to express his feelings, and actually respect his own feelings with the expectation of being heard. 3 1/2 years on,

I feel confident enough to say that my husband’s coping skills are somewhat better but it’s also been hard for him not to revert into isolation or self soothe with alcohol, food or excessive gaming. More recently I am noticing that he relies less on these other behaviours which were very much in evidence after d day, and shows much more self awareness and maturity compared to before.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:56 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190

Exercise 6 - 3 years on
I did this last time I worked through the program. This time I dipped in at a random chapter and read about this belief in feeling ‘special’. I think my husband shares this trait, but perhaps not so blatantly.

Describe the patterns that you suspect can be attributed to a sexualized mind.

Since learning about sex addiction I have been able to identify the various ways my partner filters the world through a sexualised lens.

My partner was able to conceal his behaviour very successfully. He distanced himself from the very behaviours he was guilty of, at least to begin with. When I met him he was a vocal supporter of women’s rights. No one would ever have have guessed that he would go to bars to watch strippers or visit ‘adult bookstores’ to seek out hardcore pornography. He kept this part of himself very well hidden. As I learned from this program, this is effectively ‘hyper religiosity’. His stated beliefs were an excellent disguise.

Some years later, as his addiction became established and progressed he lost all interest in having sex, very much as described in this lesson. His sexuality existed in a compartment outside of our relationship.

I suspect that my husband has always sexualised his environment but was expert at hiding it. I feel like I’ve been the victim of his sleight of hand. Once I was able to recognise this behaviour I saw it all the time, and would feel very uncomfortable and almost aggressive towards me if he thought I had noticed. Sometimes he would even blame for inviting men to look at her because of the way they had dressed, and express his disdain for “attention-seeking” women. Oftentimes he pretends not to have noticed a woman walking past who is obviously wearing a revealing or figure-hugging outfit. He will swear not to have seen her, only to ‘remember’ later and then rant about her seeking attention “otherwise why go out dressed like that?”

I can now see how ingrained his scanning and objectifying habit is. It happens in stores, or in any public place, or from the car, or watching TV. I’ve witnessed him fixate on a woman in the supermarket then follow her around, keeping his distance but always having her in his line of sight. He seems to operate on the safe side of the line where his behaviour is plausibly ‘normal’. For most of our relationship he was able to hide his compulsions and was able to develop sophisticated methods of concealment and distraction. A year or two before d day I was beginning to notice his inappropriate attention towards very young women but I honestly believed it was just a one-off isolated distraction. I silently blamed myself for our sexless relationship as an explanation. His sexualised mind was probably always there but he could hide it well and I was probably easy to fool because I believed in the image he chose to present to me.

The sexualised mind, as described above.

The objectified mind is very much in evidence. His interest in pornography and strippers was all about physical characteristics and body parts. In public places he can sexually objectify a woman almost instantly, very much triggered by particular physical characteristics, and he will switch into a strange kind of euphoria. He evaluates women by their bodies and body parts and on their “usefulness” in providing him with fantasy.

I’ve also realised that the primary purpose of other people in his life is to make him feel good. To put it bluntly, other people are there to feed his ego. At work he’s always vying to be better than everyone else, he wants to be the go-to guy who has all the answers. He’s always got to be the expert, but if there’s no ego payoff then he becomes resentful of other people taking up his time. This is another manifestation of his objectifying mind. It’s not necessarily sexual objectification but how much feel-good factor he can get from someone

All or nothing thinking: as described the first time I worked through the program.

Immediate gratification: in many ways, like financial responsibility, he is very good at looking at the bigger picture and thinking longer term.

When it comes to sexual compulsions, I recognise that during his addiction, if he didn’t indulge in his urge to act out then he would have felt uneasy if the situation was unresolved. He has described his brain/body being so taken over by an “instinct” that he would then be compelled to carry it out, as if it was inevitable. Even now, I’m not so sure that he believes that interrupting the process would be a possibility if he started to go down the route of acting out again.

Last edited by Blue In Paradise on Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:21 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 7 - 3 years on
Effective communication
It was very difficult and distressing to come to terms with my partner’s behaviour. Early on I reacted with a lot of anger and judgement. My partner disclosed very little. I was able to react more calmly and with acceptance to what he disclosed, but that was very minimal. Almost everything I found out was the result of a painstaking search for the truth. I found myself in a trickle truth situation and it was very, very hard to maintain any sense of dignity and calm. I was angry and sometimes repelled. I admit I did not deal with the situation very well. As a consequence I don’t believe my husband has told me “everything”. I don’t think it’s all his shame, my anger might have been a factor (but then it might not).

It is the most difficult thing to have your partner telling you what you don’t want to know and wish you didn’t have to. It’s a skill that you cannot develop until you have lived through the situation, by which time all the anger and resentment has already created its own unhealthy dynamic. My listening skills were/are not as good as I would like. This is not for the faint hearted.

In some ways I fear that these early reactions have had a negative impact on my partner’s addiction recovery. It’s easier for him not to say anything, as it was when the addiction was in flow. On my partner’s side, he still hasn’t quite been able to give up on his lies. Mostly these are omissions and they are all the more difficult to detect.

I would very much like to improve our communication but I fear that my partner is not capable of honesty, certainly as far as relationship issues are concerned. Although I can admit to my own shortcomings and I would very much like to establish honest communication between us, I can’t do this alone. My partner needs to take responsibility for his part.

I don’t do much to manage my partner’s recovery. However, I do try to nudge him into thinking about how women are treated and how certain behaviours can feel threatening or intimidating, or just part of the everyday sexism we can all do without. The MeToo movement provided an opportunity to raise various issues — that it’s very unpleasant to be watched, or followed, or stalked; that a young woman receives unwelcome attention just about everywhere she goes; that one in five women are raped and even more are sexually assaulted; that we can’t always tell who’s a threat and who isn’t; that women are exploited mercilessly by the porn industry; that the pressure on women to look and act in certain ways fuels low self esteem, depression, body image problems and eating disorders; and so on. Did he relate any of this to his own behaviour? I suspect not. That’s about the only thing I did, raising awareness. I also control access to the internet at home but this is by mutual agreement.

My husband has been fairly well motivated in developing healthy interests but boredom and lack of tangible outcomes seem to work against his motivations. I have supported him in some aspects, less so in others. I realise it’s not possible to influence him very much.

I have taken a self help approach to my own recovery. I realise this is essential for my own emotional health. I don’t have a ‘do nothing’ option. My husband was not sympathetic to my needs early on. He was lacking in empathy. He is somewhat more empathetic than he was but he doesn’t ask me about how my recovery is progressing. I have taken it upon myself to look after me, and if I do that, then I can bring a better version of myself to the relationship. If anything, my priority is my own recovery.

Clearly state my boundaries and redefining my boundaries as I need to
Improving communication skills
Becoming more assertive
Role modelling better communication skills
Learning to listen
Controlling my reactions
Talking about sex and sexuality
Seeing myself as an equal
Nurturing the relationship
Planning date nights

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:25 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190

Exercise 8
2 1/2 years on

1 Emotional distancing. Sometimes I sense that my husband keeps me at arms length, emotionally speaking. It’s as if he deliberately avoids telling me about himself — what happens in his day, how he feels about his life, what he wants. If I try and ask him he tries different strategies to avoid telling me about himself. I never know what he wants/doesn’t want, and I often don’t know much about what happens in his day.

2 Dishonesty. I don’t know if my husband knows how to be honest. If anything, he’s learned more ways of being evasive and unaccountable since d day. I know he’s not acting out. It’s not that he’s hiding “something”, it’s more like he’s hiding himself.

3 Belief in his own uniqueness. He believes himself to be somehow “different” from everybody else. That’s he’s the exception, the “special” one. He wasn’t like all the other addicts. He wasn’t like all the other men who used porn. He wasn’t a “mark” like all the others. He’s not the supermarket stalker because he’s not “that guy”. He always has to be “better” than everyone else at work and believes that other people should recognise his “specialness”.

Looking back at my answers from three years ago, I’m struck by the difference between then and now. Back then it was his emotional volatility, his shame and his lack of recognition and empathy for me. His emotions seemed very raw. I had been hoping that this would give way to more openness and honesty. Sometimes he is more open with me, but often I see the opposite. The reinforcement of the distance and compartmentalisation that protected his addiction has evolved into keeping *himself* apart.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:28 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 9


I have worked through the various sections and I have explored the plus and minus points for each topic.

1 Recognition of fundamental flaws
My husband has a good understanding of why he was vulnerable to addiction and that his upbringing did not equip him with adequate skills in managing difficult emotions, major life events and adapting to different life stages.

2 Change is generalised across other areas of life
This is also evident. Early on he switched into other potentially unhealthy traits and habits — spending, food, alcohol, gaming, and later on workaholism began to manifest. These behaviours were never out of control but they were evident. My husband may have gained better insight into his behaviours but he can fall into unhealthy thought patterns because these unhealthy thoughts and the accompanying feelings anger and anxiety feel ‘safe’ to him, and the danger is that he seeks out a resolution through an unhealthy behaviour. However he seems to have developed healthier attitudes to the issues that he used to find stressful and his reliance on (potentially) unhealthy behaviours is reduced.

3 Vulnerability and transparency
Good and bad.
The good. He will open up a lot about his early years and upbringing. He will describe the feelings that drove him to addiction in the first place. He will tell me about his insights and discoveries as he recovers.
The bad. He doesn’t tell me very much about his day-to-day and there have been a few omissions that were obvious ‘red flags’. I don’t find out about these omissions until much later, and I feel disempowered as a consequence. Also, I’ve never had full disclosure. I’ve waited. I’ve demonstrated emotional safety. I’ve told him about my doubts and fears about his past. I’ve sensed there is more, but I also sense that the time for a full and honest disclosure has passed. I know it’s too late for him to un-tell a lie. So, its a partial success.

4 Proactive versus reactive
Mostly positive, but not perfect.

5 Slips, relapse
The covert rituals of scanning and objectifying in public are still apparent. My husband denies it. He has also said that it’s “normal” to look, and although I can accept that to some extent, I don’t think he considers that *his* normal is one that has been influenced by years of consuming pornography which is also filtered through the eyes, ideas and prejudices of pornographers. I am often triggered when I’m out with him and I know when he is sexually objectifying someone. If he notices that I’ve observed him in the act he will become hostile and angry towards me. He makes a difficult situation worse for me.
So far my husband has not admitted to relapsing or even “slipping” but I doubt that this is completely true. I don’t check his internet history very often, but I did find a link to what could be described as overtly sexualised (but not pornographic) videos — women “dancing” in lingerie. I didn’t raise it with him because I couldn’t go through that ritual again — his anger, insisting that he didn’t know what I was talking about, being verbally bullied, and for what? So he didn’t have to admit to looking at these pathetic videos? I created my own boundary and I blocked the site. I didn’t tell him. This was one step that I can take that doesn’t depend on anyone else to do/not do something.
Although I don’t believe a full blown relapse has occurred I do believe that he has ventured into some “iffy” territory online (although I appreciate that sexualised imagery is everywhere and he is vulnerable to it. It’s impossible for me to know for sure, but I suspect there secretive and unhealthy masturbation going on that resembles what he used to do when he was in his pornography addiction — secretive, in the same room and at the same time of day — which also interferes with our sexual relationship as he tends to do this when an opportunity for lovemaking is anticipated.

C. Communications
I find it difficult to communicate my concerns and observations because of my husband’s reactions and denials. Sometimes he will make a ‘pre-emptive strike’ as soon as he suspects I am aware of his objectifying behaviour in public places. I learned from experience very early in recovery when I communicated my concerns about ‘soft porn’ in his internet history only to be subjected to rage, hostility and denial. When I found something similar again, I knew I couldn’t say anything so I blocked the site instead. This was an important lesson about putting boundaries in place to protect myself. I have the right to protect myself from toxic media coming into my home and I also have the right to protect myself from emotional upset. I am realising the power of self care and that it is a very important part of the recovery process.

There are many positive improvements too. I tell my husband that I appreciate the very real and tangible changes he’s made and the time and thought he has devoted to repairing our relationship. I appreciate him telling me more about his day and not keeping things from me, at least to a greater extent than he did previously.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me not to overreact or feel anxious about some of the things he tells me. I still feel uneasy about his interactions with female coworkers even though my logical mind knows there is no threat. I still feel somewhat hyper vigilant, but I understand why I feel like this. I still haven’t really developed good listening skills and ‘talking’ boundaries — I am prone to feeling threatened and uneasy. I’m also aware that being as critical as I am of the pornography and sex industries (and for good reason), I may be creating shame for my husband and making it difficult for him to express any difficulties he may be going through.

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