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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:49 am 
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I'm hoping for some suggestions about how to protect my boundaries, when many instances they seem to go against my own values.

I've been married nearly 17 years and learned about my husbands SA about 6 months ago, although I've been ignorantly living with the consequences for the entire marriage. I know some of the issues....porn, masturbation, constant fantasy of everyone, everywhere along with, flirting, trashing me to benefit affairs, etc and obsession with certain ''special'' women and LIES (can't really know if any of these things are completely true or what other things may end up being added). He is working through the workshop and is on lesson 29 so far. The lies pervade the lessons as well here and there. I've completed the partners workshop, but was nearly finished before joining ( and waiting or acceptance), so I haven't gone back and copied everything to the thread at this point.

One of my boundaries is that I will disengage from conversations (text, verbal, all) at the moment I realize (or strongly suspect) he's lying in any manner. When I manage to do this (still fighting to stop engaging..it's extremely hard), it makes me feel as if I'm shutting him out/off. I feel like it's a ''punishment'' or something. I'm told in the workshop to expect lies...but do not tolerate them. I'm also told not to try and force truth. I can't figure out how to be intolerant of something that I'm supposed to ''expect'' and ''understand''. If I call him on it, then it's like ''forcing''.....if I say nothing and just listen and respond, then I feel like a liar for ''pretending'' I don't know he's lying....if I remove myself from the conversation, then it's like shutting him down. I don't know how to reconcile these boundaries vs. my own values (understanding, patience, truth, support etc.). As of this moment, he text me from work...said a couple of things (one most likely a straight lie and another misdirection/blame/jab (passive aggressive). I told him ''this is where I exit'' the conversation. He's written a few more times since and I feel like the biggest pos for not responding at all. I second guess myself...start thinking ''what if it's true this time? how awful he must feel if it's actually the truth for once?'' etc. etc. I start thinking that I could be standing my ground wrongfully.

Any advice is welcome and I'll be glad to answer any questions or give details needed to help anyone offer better advice.
Thanks ahead


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
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Facing the reality of lies and deception is probably the most difficult part of dealing with sex and porn addiction. Just as the lessons state, the lies will continue after d day in spite of our repeated requests for honesty until the addicted partner learns the necessary life skills and lets go of the old patterns because lying has served him well until now.

My partner still lies and it’s something I have to live with. I don’t like it but I have to be realistic, which is a lot better than being naive. I don’t believe I know “everything” but I’ve had to learn how to tolerate the ambiguity between knowing and not knowing, and perhaps never knowing the whole story. It has been really difficult to accept this, but I’ve learned how to, like developing a skill.

When we know or strongly suspect that our partner is lying, we can choose not to accept whatever they’re saying, or not. Or we can suspend judgement until we feel convinced one way or the other. Always remember that it takes two to make a lie — the liar and the ‘lied to’. In the past we were unwittingly playing our role but we know we cannot play the role of the naive fool anymore. If I have any questions and I’m not convinced by the response I keep an open mind. I don’t have to accept his answer, nor do I have to say so. Sometimes I don’t even have a question at all, sometimes things feel a bit “off”. I trust my gut, but that’s not evidence in itself, so I might have to keep my feelings to myself until I know some details that start to make sense.

My husband could lie very convincingly. After d day I discovered how impossible it was to tell the difference between the truth an a lie. In the end I didn’t know what to believe, and that’s how I’ve arrived at this never believing anything 100%. I always accept the possibility that whatever I’m told isn’t completely true. I may decide it’s *probably* true, or maybe/maybe not true, or I might not be convinced it’s true at all but even then I can accept the unlikely possibility I’m not being lied to. It can be any point along the truth/lie spectrum.

Of course there may well be times when our partner is being honest and we don’t believe them, and times when they lie and we do believe them. It really can be impossible to tell the difference, and that created a lot of instability in my own recovery especially in the first year.

If this is confusing you it’s because it IS confusing!

I would say, stick to your boundary if you can. Make your own judgement and act accordingly. You can rely on your instincts but accept you won’t always get it right. This is the instability which arises from lying and being lied to. You are probably going to have to just play it by ear for now. We can’t force our partners to be honest and tell the truth. That’s a skill they have to learn for themselves.

My husband uses the “lie of omission” tactic. It’s very annoying to find out that he didn’t tell me something, sometimes weeks later, and it’s often something that isn’t even worth lying about. How do you create boundaries about lies of omission? It’s not easy especially when someone doesn’t consider omissions as lie. I still haven’t figured that one.

If your husband commits to honesty, that will be a great thing. Most of us however only get part way there. I know that’s probably not what anyone wants to hear. Most of us end up in a space where the acting out has stopped but where there is still a certain degree of low level behaviours that our partners don’t see as part of their addiction — white lies, scanning their environment, etc — are so ingrained they think it’s “normal”. Stick to your boundaries as best you can. You can fine tune them as you go along and see how your relationship progresses. It’s not easy! Keep us updated :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 8:00 am
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Hi Blue, Thanks for the response.

Just curious as to how long you've been dealing with this kind of mess?

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Hi Lam - I had to learn to make boundaries for myself. Like you, I did not want to be lied to any more. Boundaries are meant to protect ourselves; they are not meant to punish others. When others respect our boundaries ("I won't lie to her") that is how it is supposed to work. Unhealthy people don't respect boundaries. The compassion you feel for your husband, I understand that. I want you to feel that compassion for yourself. I had to learn to do this. I had to learn to put myself first. It hurts to be lied to by our partners. It's destructive. It's not safe. Why in the world should we put up with that? We shouldn't. I as well point out when I think my husband is lying. He has an opportunity to think about it and try to be more transparent. If he does, I continue the conversation. If he responds with more lies or anger or defensiveness, I stop and leave. There is nothing wrong with this. It is in our best interest to treat ourselves well. And, frankly, it is in our husband's best interests to stop the dishonesty which has been destructive to themselves and others for so long.

What really has helped me was to find a very good individual therapist who specialized in treating trauma.

dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
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Lam, we’re about three years into recovery now but recovering the relationship wasn’t possible in the first 6-12 months because it was impossible to get the truth out of him and impossible for me to feel safe. He carried on lying and would erupt in anger if I called him on it. He employed a few classic gaslighting strategies eg “I have no idea what you’re talking about” if I referred to something he’d actually admitted. Eventually I realised firstly, there was no absolute truths to be found in any of this and secondly, I had to protect myself from his acting out history, his lies and his lack of empathy.

Learning to take care of your own needs in the aftermath of sexually compulsive behaviours becomes a necessary survival skill. It was important for me to put a healthy distance between myself and my partner. I recognised – with great sadness – that I was not going to have my needs respected. I asked for honesty. I didn’t get it. I asked for a complete disclosure. I didn’t get it. So what were my options? I had to fall back on my own resources.

I read about boundaries and consequences, but eventually I realised that I cannot enforcing any consequences when the behaviour is not disclosed. If I did suspect something wasn’t quite right he’d become aggressive and tell me my behaviour was the problem. So all these cute rules and consequences as detailed in the recovery literature were a non starter.

It was dnell through her wisdom and experience who introduced me to another concept of boundaries. That boundaries are our own protection; that we do not have to state our boundaries in terms of trespass laws and consequences for breaching them. We firstly must define our boundaries for ourselves by knowing what we value. Sounds easy? No! I didn’t even realise how my values had been compromised over 20-plus years of his sexually-motivated compulsions and deception. I accepted distance; I accepted a sexless marriage; I deluded myself into thinking everything was OK between us; I accepted what he said about not being very interested in sex; I accepted the closed doors on the home office at certain times; I accepted that my body was not attractive or exciting enough; I accepted that no man was going to be interested in me; I accepted his vague non-answers when I asked him if he had been unfaithful; I accept that my husband was probably unfaithful and that I should just carry on pretending everything was fine as long as I ignored those nagging doubts. Until one day I realised I was going to sail right over the edge whilst thinking everything was calm and lovely. Until I woke up.

It took me a long time to see how compromised my value system was. When I first met my husband I was young I hadn’t formed any values or opinions of my own. I looked to him. I took on his views, his opinions and the values he said he had. I thought I was an assertive woman and maybe outside the home I was. He got his way by being passive-aggressive and ultimately by secrecy and deception. There were times when I wanted to deal with what was happening but he wasn’t going to change his behaviour no matter what I threatened. Ultimately I was trapped in a stare of learned helplessness, by which time I was a mess. My mental health was deteriorating and I couldn’t even see it.

Values – I had to figure out what my values were. Hell, I’m a feminist. Wake up, Blue! I believe in fidelity. I believe in honesty. I believe in treating others with respect. I believe in respecting my body, and I had to start looking after myself. What had happened to me? I was ashamed of my body. How did I end up in such a bad place? I was heading for the psych ward if things carried on line that for much longer. When I look back, I’m shocked at myself. I had to rebuild myself and work out what my values were. Eventually this happened. Like dnell said elsewhere, we don’t have to say anything to our partners. We can choose to retreat and care for ourselves when we sense our boundaries have been disrespected. When our partner sees we are taking care of ourselves, and they see our confidence return and our independence emerging, they see the change in us. So they respond to us differently. It’s possible for a new dynamic to emerge, in time. They realise their old ways won’t work because they sense were no longer so invested in pleasing them and keeping them sweet at our emotional expense. It’s not a foolproof plan. It’s something that may happen gradually over time.

I’ve given up on scrupulous honesty. I’ve given up on full disclosure. I’ve given up on 48 hour rules about slips and relapses. I’ve given up on consequences. All of these depend on his actions and I have no control over his behaviour. So I have had to work out my own way forward. I know MY boundaries and I am responsible for their protection. When something is off kilter I put a healthy distance in place, I withdraw and I work out what I need for my immediate self care. Hope this helps.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:20 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:35 am
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Blue in Paradise,
You've done Lam a huge favour in telling her exactly how it is. Such an accurate description of our lives with an addict and having to address our own values and boundaries. Mental health is such a huge and very important issue for us as partners. 'Gas lighting' is so easy for our H's, it was here at RN that I learned about it and how it had impacted on my mental health long term. I no longer try to explain to my husband what my boundaries are, they are MY boundaries and I put them in place to keep me safe. It's 11 years since our D-day, I was 58 years old then and have just had my 69th birthday; my husband had been acting out in one way or another since before we were married. The prostitutes started when I was 34. I was young, slim and attractive but none of that made the slightest bit of difference. He's pretty miserable now because he doesn't have the loving, compliant wife he would like at this stage in his life. I've not painted a very pretty picture either have I? But sadly none of it is pretty or fun or an adventure. Do what's right for you Lam, take responsibility for your own life and happiness and I hope you find peace of mind along the way.

Lizzie


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:05 am 
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Thanks for the responses.

I'm having a really hard time feeling like I basically have to become like my husband, in order to live through more years of abuse and just be able to not care about it. I don't think that's who I want to be. I don't want to be numb.

Is there anyone on here that isn't just learning to live with it? Anyone whose husband/wife has successfully recovered? I don't want my son to grow up thinking that this is the way a marriage is supposed to be.....that it's normal....that abuse is ok.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:17 pm 
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It’s an unfortunate reality to acknowledge — there is no way that someone who has had an addiction will ever become the same as someone who was never addicted. They’re either an addict in recovery or not in recovery, they can’t revert to someone who was never an addict. In today’s always-on world, which is flooded with sexualised imagery, we’re never more than a couple of clicks or swipes from any kind of pornography you can think off, webcam girls, dating apps, and on and on. For a recovering addict, he has to learn to manage his triggers, whether environmental or emotional. He has to be strict about how he spends his time online. If he acted out “in the real world” it might be somewhat easier to avoid certain locations or venues just by staying away, but then there are so many “temptations” that are very easy to access that are also plausibly “innocent” though not to an addict — music videos, exercise videos, lingerie pics on Instagram etc etc. It’s up to the addict to learn to spot his triggers and manage them. In truth, we don’t really know when and where or if an addict is triggered and sometimes the addict isn’t aware of his triggers in the moment. So, how well can he control his vulnerabilities? His ability to do so will determine whether he is likely to relapse. Some recovering addicts relapse every few weeks or months. Some can go for 3 years, or 5 years even, before relapsing. They say it’s out of the blue but when they look back they’ve actually set up the conditions for it to “just happen”. They often become less disciplined about managing their risks. Complacency is definitely not a good sign.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts by men who are recovering sex and porn addicts and years after quitting, years after their last relapse, they still have to manage their danger zones. They still find women in yoga pants triggering (or whatever it might be, but that was one example) so they still have to deal with it. From a woman’s point of view, we just think “what’s the big deal? Women in yoga pants are everywhere. It’s just a mundane everyday sight. Surely you’d be bored with all that by now.” But we aren’t addicts. Addicts keep repeating and reinforcing. These sights are cues, they activate the brain’s reward circuits. So it’s like ringing Pavlov’s bell and suddenly the brain starts up and wants to act out and get the reward. There’s a saying that “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Even if the acting out has stopped, the hardwiring in the addict’s brain remains in place. It may weaken with deliberate disuse but it doesn’t vanish. If you also bear in mind how long ago your partner started the behaviour, you’re probably looking at 20 years of repetition and reinforcement. Those brain pathways are as hardwired as anything else. Riding a bicycle or swimming, you don’t forget how to do it.

Recovery is more about managing rather than eliminating the addiction. Not everyone relapses. It’s not inevitable. How the addict deals with a relapse is also important in terms of long term recovery. Will he use it as a learning opportunity to make it less likely to happen again or will it be the beginning of acting out as a recurring or habitual behaviour? We don’t know until it happens, if at all. And would out partner admit within 24-48 hours if we have asked for this, or will he keep it as a secret?

There’s also how you define recovery. Is it no more acting out (quitting the overt behaviour) and does that also mean an end to ogling or whatever can be passed off as “normal”? This is a huge one for partners because so often it happens in our presence and our SA will feign innocence. Or justify it as “normal”. My husband most definitely does it but denies he ever would, and gets mad he sees that I notice it. Yet he doesn’t act out with the porn and strippers any more. It’s recovery, but I don’t call it full recovery.

So, is full recovery possible. Yes, but the only stories of full recovery I’ve been very known of are the guys who write the books and the blogs, produce the podcasts, and have had a ton of therapy. In the online communities such as this, it tends to be more a case of what you read here. I’m at the stage when I feel I must review where I am in my relationship’s recovery, what’s good, what’s not so good, what needs work and what do I have to learn to live with. I also need to be able to communicate what I find difficult to live with and hope my partner will hear me out rather than erupt in anger and deny his behaviour and so on.

I know this isn’t exactly the answer you want. I really hoped that my partner and I could have the perfect recovery and end up with one of these “better than ever” relationships. The reality was that there were so many aspects of discovery and recovery that could not be forseen. You can only deal with things as they arise and neither will have the skills or knowledge to handle the complexities. Recovery is not a straight line, it’s a very meandering and messy line.


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