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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:16 pm 
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I have started the partners workshop on my own. I have only worked through the first three topics and I understand that my focus should be on myself. Our plan is to do the couples workshop next week but to try and get through the weekend with positive attitudes. The idea is that we will have focus and less distractions after the weekend. I have however began the partners workshop myself to try and settle my emotions.
The issue I am having is about honesty. I told my partner a few weeks ago that I would stop looking through his computer and phone because I knew it was not helping our situation and in fact it was making it worse. I tried to stick with this agreement and focus on my own healing but yesterday I broke down and looked through his phone. I had a nagging feeling that something was not right and I was correct. I found text messages between him and a girl that were inappropriate. Now I am struggling with what the right action is. I was dishonest and he was as well. I have not said anything about it and I am not sure If I should. I know that I can't expect things to stop right away but I still feel crushed by my discovery. I also know that he has never taken responsibility for his actions and because of immaturity is unable to. If I say something is it going to set us back? Confronting him is going to further all of his negative feelings, and not confronting him is painful for me. I am confused and hurt, hoping that someone has some objective feedback.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:49 pm
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If you confront him needs to be your own decision based off of what is important to you. The recommendation that RN makes to partners not to "snoop" is for the benefit of the healing partner, NOT the recovering partner or the relationship. Personally, I would not recommend that a healing partner make a commitment not to check up on the recovering partner TO the recovering partner. You have every right to check up on your spouse if you feel like they have been unfaithful. You are well within your rights to look for information of if they are purposefully working on recovery or not. A partner who is truly committed to recovery would not attempt to take away that particular tool that you have to protect yourself. For a recovering partner to say, "If we're going to be together, you can't check to make sure that you're safe" suggests to me that they are trying to protect their addiction and that they are not actually in recovery. So regarding that particular commitment, if it were me, I would rescind that. Something along the lines of, "I realize I said that I wouldn't check up on you, but I'm taking that back. I'm not saying that I will, just that I reserve the right and that it's my own business if I do or not."

There is a difference between thinking, "My gut says that he's still acting out, I'm going to check his phone for evidence." And compulsively monitoring his phone at every opportunity just to double check that it's still "clean". The first is very valid. At this point, if my gut told me that my husband was looking at pornography, I would look for evidence to support that feeling. And if I found it, I wouldn't feel guilty for looking. The purpose of the "don't snoop" suggestion is that allowing your entire life to get sucked up into monitoring their behavior through secret means because that is damaging to YOU. That wastes YOUR time and YOUR energy. It has nothing to do with a betrayal of your partner's trust.

Now to the question of if you confront him or not. What do you hope to accomplish by confronting him? Do you need to set, clarify, or enforce boundaries? Saying something is NOT going to set you back. If he's still secretly acting out, there is not progress to interrupt. He's not in recovery.

1940XE wrote:
I know that I can't expect things to stop right away but I still feel crushed by my discovery.

Of course you feel crushed! That is a completely reasonable reaction to what you found. Is it shocking that he is still acting out? No. These are patterns of behavior that he has been developing for years and will likely take a long time for him to dismantle even if he's committed to doing so. But you DO still have the right to expect that he stop. It is reasonable for you to expect that your husband not engage in extramarital sexual activities. Him being SA does NOT change that. You can, and should, expect him to stop those things immediately. If not now, when? It's like a person who says they're trying to quit smoking but is still smoking a pack a day. If they're going to quit, they have to quit, all of it. And if they said that they were "in recovery" while still smoking, everyone would point that out as the complete BS that it is.

I'm sorry things are so difficult right now. I hope what I wrote gives you some context that you can use to make the right decision for you. Straight up? If this were me, I would tell my spouse what I had found. And I would set boundaries to protect myself. And I would use the information as evidence that my spouse was not in recovery and act accordingly. I hope you have a peaceful weekend, even if conflict is necessary during it. Be Well!
Mrs. Jones


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:54 am 
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1940XE wrote:
One further issue is, when he realizes I am looking through his things he just does more to protect his lies. I know some of the lessons in the work shop have me lay out my "gut feelings" so that I can recognize his behaviors that triggers them. However setting boundaries based on these signs seems so foggy to me. Maybe this is why I have never set any, and potentially what got me into this situation. So if consequences for violations are then based on actual actions, then I have to monitor him to find these, and this too seems unhealthy. I also don't really know what consequences to make. I know that no one can tell me what consequences fit violations of my boundaries, but I don't even know where to begin. Most of the consequences I think of have to do with not sharing space (i.e. our bed, our house) or me not investing time in our relationship. Forgive me, I am going in circles here. These consequences seem to simply give him more time and reason to act out. While your insight is really helpful and appreciated, I guess through writing this I realize I am very confused.


Yes, it's hard to enforce consequences when you don't have specific proof of your suspicions. With the relationship that you have now, how much intimacy could you maintain with him and still feel safe and stable? What activities could you participate in with him and feel confident that you were not going to wind up hurt? The consequences are not going to be punishments for specific actions that he takes, they are going to be walls that protect you from the ups and downs of his recovery (or lack thereof). Lets pretend for a moment that a month in you suspect that he has been using pornography. Lets say that you enforce your boundary to protect yourself from that and then later learn (I'm not sure how, but lets go with it) that he actually was not using pornography at that time. That boundary still did it's job. You still did the right thing because you protected your own stability.

As far as those boundaries giving him more time to act out, it also gives him more time to practice his recovery. It gives him more time to seek out support from other sources. It gives him more time to build a healthy life outside of SA and your relationship. It all depends on how he uses that time, and as you so accurately pointed out, you can only control yourself. It's okay that you're confused. Most of us started out confused as to how all of this information should fit into our lives.

About him manipulating the conversation, that is a very common tactic with SA so you're not alone. It can be very hard to stay focused when your partner is doing everything they can to derail the conversation. It was helpful for me to remember that just because he STARTED a conversation about something else, didn't mean that I had to continue that part of the conversation. "We're not talking about that right now." Became a very commonly used phrase for me for a while. I hope something in there helped. Be well!
Mrs. Jones


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:37 am 
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Quote:
I had a nagging feeling that something was not right and I was correct.
Honoring those gut feelings is a key tool for you to continue to use. It's one we all learn to use so we don't drive ourselves crazy with worry or assumptions. This is different from obsessively searching and getting stuck in the detective role.

Now you feel conflicted because of an agreement you made, but you've discovered that you want to be honest. It's an important value to you - maybe your priority. Hence conflict and confusion. Rather than worrying about setting him back, perhaps, you should think about what will set you back. Coming to terms with conflict is part of your healing process, and you can only heal you. He has to learn to take responsibility for himself as well as accept the consequences of his choices which includes your right to listen to your gut and honor your prioritized values and openly check on him if your gut tells you something's up. Protecting him, from my perspective, won't help him. He may try to blame shift to manipulate you and maintain control - many SAs do. At some point he needs to face his addiction and accept responsibility. At some point, hopefully he will sincerely want to lead a healthy life based on healthy values. That's the only way his recovery has a chance. Your healing, however, does not depend on what he does or doesn't do. You are not responsible for his reactions to your honoring yourself. In fact, any boundaries you set and consequences you are willing to enforce, gives him the opportunity to honor and respect your values. It won't be easy at first. Takes practice on your part. The natural consequence for many boundary violations is emotional detachment and what that looks like is up to you.

It's good that you are doing the healing workshop lessons - not to be rushed or cherry picked. The lessons give you the framework on which to hang your experiences, learn about the nature of SA, and determine the values/boundaries you need in all walks of life - it's very hard work but so worth it. And it's a process unique to you with light bulb moments along the way...it's your journey. The choice is yours to make, not his.

My H and I have done both workshops, doing the healing workshop first followed by the couples lessons. I felt that we were able to do much deeper work in the couples workshop because we did the the healing and recovery workshops first. It's up to you.

Hope this helps. :w:
Nellie James


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:17 pm
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First thank you for you feedback, it's releiving to finally have some. When I think about past relationships, or even friendships, I have never verbally stated my boundaries. My typical approach has been when someone crosses the line and I feel unsafe, disrespected ect. I detach from that person. From what I gather, simply detaching may not be enough for someone like a SA. Should I be explaining to my partner that when his actions are a violation I will detach by doing ____.?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:27 am 
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Quote:
From what I gather, simply detaching may not be enough for someone like a SA. Should I be explaining to my partner that when his actions are a violation I will detach by doing ____.?
There are later lessons on determining values/boundaries and setting appropriate consequences that you are willing to enforce. But to answer your question, from my perspective, communicating your boundaries and consequences is important for you and for him. As I defined my values and what I considered boundary violations, I put them on a list that I posted on the refrigerator door so there was no wiggle room. The consequences can vary depending upon the value violated and the frequency of the violation - in other words - you give him a chance but no "get-out-of-jail free" card. He may feel that your consequences are punishment but they are not. You are protecting what you value in life and basically showing him that certain behaviors are not OK with you. Another tool that I used, at the suggestion of my personal counselor, was a straight forward feeling statement: "I feel __________when you _____________. It's a way for you to just get it out there without emotion, with no expectation of a meaningful dialogue to follow. If there's an emotional reaction on his part, don't engage. Walk away telling him it's not open for discussion at this point. It's not easy at first - takes doing it a few times for him to realize that you do have boundaries you are willing to enforce and that you do have a right to your feelings. Right? Right! :g:

How you detach - separate bedrooms, no hugs or kisses, only polite conversation or none at all - that's all up to you. How long you detach is up to you as well. It won't feel comfortable, but what does at this point. If violations continue, your consequences will most likely become more extreme. It's not a matter of what works to stop the violations as much as standing your ground. However, consequences are worthless if not enforced.

As you continue with the lessons, you will gain more insight into yourself, your own patterns that you may want to change, and what your priorities are. This is a process. It takes hard work, time, and patience. Sometimes we have to set boundaries for ourselves and come up with action plans that we can put in place to help us change and become healthier. I had songs, verses, mantras that I used along with activities to re-direct my focus when I felt myself sliding into my old patterns. It's all about baby steps in the right direction. :w:

Hope this helps.
Nellie


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:11 am 
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Just a comment about detachment - detachment shows up in specific actions like Nellie described. But that may sound a lot like "giving the cold shoulder," and I think its worth mentioning that the "cold shoulder" is usually a way to illicit a particular response from the other person. Detachment is much more internal. The actions you need to take are derived from an internal need to balance your emotions and give yourself a feeling of safety, so that when your partner does or does not do what you want, it does not impact you (or does not impact you as much). It is creating enough emotional distance between yourself and your partner to be able to heal your hurt and let him make his own choices.

For instance, when I needed to get off the roller coaster I would consider the potential actions he might be taking (like unsavory internet use) and think of how I relate to other people, who either might do that also, and who I felt no personal, emotional impact when I thought of them doing so. Maybe a more distant friend, or an acquaintance, or a stranger. Once I established this sense of how distant I needed to be from someone, in order for those potential behaviors to be (not OK) tolerable to me, I had a base line sense of how distant I needed to be from him, in order to feel safe from his potential choices. I have friends I suspect use porn, that I am still able to be friendly and kind to, but I don't change in front of them, I don't watch movies or tv with them, I don't offer them a bite of my food, etc. Knowing where I needed to draw the line, internally, led me to the choices I made that he could see. Being aware of this can help you remain confident and hold your line without guilt when he (almost inevitably) accuses you of giving him the cold shoulder to punish him.

From my experience, my partner really struggled with my detachment. It was very painful to him to feel my withdrawal. It did not illicit kindness or amends from him. It actually panicked him sometimes and led to hard words. But, as I developed my awareness and got better at detaching, his responses had less and less power over me. Which can be part of the cycle - the more you detach, the more you change the dynamic of the relationship. It forces change and it becomes up to him to adapt, instead of your having to continue adapting to him (which is usually what our relationships have been like). He can adapt in a number of ways, not all of them pleasant. Of course, we all hope for him to adapt by pursuing recovery - and sometimes that happens. That did eventually happen for my husband. But I had to enter my healing with no certainty how it would turn out.

May you create a sphere of safety for yourself that grows with each passing hour,
thebagholder


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:25 am 
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Defining detachment is a bit complicated. I recall many different descriptions from coaches and partners. In a nutshell, we each figure it out for ourselves in terms of how we do it. We naturally detach emotionally and withdraw when folks violate our boundaries. We do this without giving it a lot of thought. It just happens. When it comes to our life partners, it takes on a deeper meaning. I totally agree that it's about feeling safe and giving ourselves space and time to achieve that. It's not about punishment or attempting to attract attention. At the beginning, we may feel uncomfortable because we are taking ourselves out of our usual role - whatever that may be for each of us - watching TV together, going to the weekly baseball game, eating out, checking in with each other, arguing, etc. In my case, healthy detachment came in response to a semi-slip covered by a lie that snowballed into a bigger lie. I felt the need to protect myself and focus on my own healing for a window of time at the end of which we would assess where we were. For about six weeks, my H and I lived together more like roommates who don't connect on a personal level. We didn't argue. We didn't socialize as a couple. Our conversation was limited and polite. I kept busy with my gallery, my yard, my friends, my lessons and counseling. My H went to work, mowed the grass, fixed things, did his lessons and counseling. Over time, detachment softened incrementally for me, not because I was softening on my boundaries but because I felt stronger and more confident in me. I finally had turned my H totally over to himself to figure out what he truly valued and how to achieve that. I focused just on myself and my healing. It was a turning point for both of us. There were still bumps in the road, ups and downs, disappointments, doubt....it's a process and I continued to grow as I faced each step of the way. So did he.

Hope this helps. :w:
Nellie


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