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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:46 pm 
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I am a partner posting to the Recovery Forum as a follow up to a discussion in the Partners Forum. In our discussion, some partners mentioned that their husbands perceived an imbalance of power in their relationships, and that the husbands were 'one down'. I am looking for help in understanding this issue since my husband has mentioned something similar to me (and we will discuss it with our marriage counselor).

I am wondering about the experience of others, both those in recovery and those in healing, with feeling that there is an imbalance of power in their relationships. In particular, has anyone experienced a change in this feeling. That is, did they feel more of a balance with their partners. If so, how did they achieve this balance.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:19 pm 
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Hi dnell,
imo the imbalance of power is a perceived one due to inner negative beliefs by the SA. Also the perceived imbalance has been used as a trigger/excuse for my partner's AO. If there is no change/willingness to change then there is automatically a sense of helplessness and a 'reason' to blame me for all his feelings...result in our relationship: seething anger and relapse/detachment.

Strangely enough I never really perceived the so called power imbalance in the same way. I probably did not need to, because I do not view our relationship in terms of power. I always saw us as equals, simply because we complimented each other in skills and were a good team in many ways and we wanted the same in life. I knew my partner was insecure, but it never made him less of an equal in my eyes. We all have our quirks was my way of thinking. and I fully expect some 'quirks' to be part of each of us after this journey. The imbalance perception was on his side not mine. His insecurity or even his SA never made him 'less than' for me. There were too many things I admired in him, and still do. Even though with increasing years and deminishing hope to ever see any will power to change my respect started to wane. But more so I increasingly saw him as a partner who I did not want to share my life with any longer, because it simply hurt too much. This had nothing to do with viewing him 'less than' me. Just goes to show the difference in perception in our relationship.

It can be overcome imo only by healing/recovery. Once the confidence in oneself is restored the rest will follow. Also there is the beginning of confidence while starting to feel things. I mean really feel them and also the remorse. It is a biggy for a SA to truly let themselves feel all of it and I am so very proud of my partner for letting it in and expressing it at last. My partner is going through this right now and I can already sense him growing from that. And also I am gaining respect for him more by watching his willingness to change. This is where we are at. The rest I can maybe imagine for the future if things go well, but I cannot say I have experienced it in reality as we are only at the beginning of healing. Here I am wishing for that life fast forward button again! :w:

Healing hugs.

_________________
NewDawn x
Giving up is not an option...
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
she became a Butterfly!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 pm
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hi dnell
imbalance of power?
not sure that power is the correct term but certainly I would say there is an imbalance of something
call it what you will but lets be honest addicts deserve what we get
how can a sex addict , someone who has betrayed , lied to and cheated on his partner expect to be treated as an equal to someone who is innocent and has done none of the aforementioned , straight from day one?

and yes ALL sex addicts from those of us who have affairs and visit brothels to those who compulsively MB are cheating upon and being unfaithful and disrespectful

sex addicts are immature, we need to grow and guidance from our partners can speed this along, it did for me, my ex found RN but then stepped back to leave it to me

I do not condone the " I got caught please forgive and forget" attitude that some addicts dream of , that is not reality
can equality be re - achieved
YES
but it does take work and commitment from BOTH sides
the addict needs to recover
the partner needs to heal and to take that leap of faith

Both sides need to remember the pre D day relationship is gone
the recovery / healing relationship can be together or apart
any post healing / healing relationship will be better than the pre D day because it will be honest even to point of pain

_________________
Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:52 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2014 3:43 pm
Posts: 64
Hello Coach Kenzo,

your post made me think and reflect on my relationship. I agree that we change our view towards our partners after discovery. How can we not. At least for a while, sometimes longer or forever. I called mine a 'limp noodle with no spine' as my initial reaction this time round. I could not believe that he had done it yet again. I was angry beyond belief and threw it at him. I gave him many chances previous and he knew that this one would have been his last and there would be real consequences this time. His recent relapse confirmed in my mind that he did not deserve my respect after all.

But this was only my very first reaction to the shock, and also I was realizing that I had to let go and concentrate on myself now, even though I still loved this man. This was very painful for me. After I cooled down and we were able to talk like two adult human beings I gained some of that lost respect back already when I was told that he had found help out of his own initiative. But this was post dday scenario.

Pre-dday(s) I would say that a power struggle infiltrated our relationship increasingly as the years went by. It originated from his warped way of thinking. It did not though, make me respect him less, but made me want to free myself from this increasing oppression. We talked about this quite a few times recently. This need for power is something he wants out of his thinking as it stops him from sharing.

I knew there were deficits in his emotional world which was pretty obvious, but I viewed the relationship as a whole entity. He was still my best friend and supported me through many a rough time I had, which now that I am not so young any longer has become a great value for a relationship to me. How he supported me was real. I may be mistaken, but at this point I still believe that he really cares for me deeply and always has. My partner brought more than just his strange thinking into the relationship. I hence did not view him as a lesser person. Just someone who had a few issues and eventually made the relationship feel too uneasy for me and that it got increasingly uncomfortable for me to stay in it. I considered leaving him at that point. This happened already before I knew that he had relapsed.

My partner told me sometimes that he perceived a power (his words) imbalance from early on in the relationship. Triggered by watching me express love and affection naturally and be able to do leaps of faith when I decided it was worth it. At times (I view them as minute reoccurring glimpses of reality throughout our relationship) he even expressed his anguish over this to me. Over the fact that he cannot express himself normally. But on the other hand he was never willing to change and could/would not not take that as a hint. So in the end I lost my faith in him/us as a couple and started to give up. This was based on me feeling unhealthy in my relationship and not a judgement of power status. But he saw it differently, it made me more powerful in his eyes when he felt I was detaching myself. This is how he explains his thinking. The thought of me taking charge of my life made me president of the world and beyond (and henceforth an excuse for him to AO as well), rather than make him look at himself properly. I can follow the bizarre logic in it.

I have come to see his perception of power and power imbalance part of his fantasy world and also his need to project thoughts onto me that I never had. Projecting his own thought world on to me is also a classic in our relationship.

I think power imbalance or maybe more shall I say struggle sums it up quite accurately for our relationship. Which of course may be different for others. But my partner's goal/obsession, by his own admission, was in fact to gain power over me and therewith control me/make me less of me / stop me from expressing love and affection / stop being a reminder of his inadequacies. In the course of our 11 years together this seeking of control/power progressed into just about all areas of my/our life. His solution to feeling bad about himself was to change me/quench whatever it was he felt he could not be/have.

It is a bizarre way of viewing a 'loving' relationship, but this is something he shared with me so I can only assume for us as a couple it is true. And being on the receiving end it really did feel like I was being overpowered and caged in. Hence it feels true.

But I truly believe if there is enough love and willingness left, that these issues will resolve themselves for both sides through healing/change of thought process. If his recovery works out, then I cannot see a breeding ground for any such bizarre power struggle left.

_________________
NewDawn x
Giving up is not an option...
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
she became a Butterfly!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:55 am 
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Recovery Coach

Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let everyone know that while this is an important topic to discuss, this post breaks a board boundary, as partners are not allowed to post in the Recovery Community Forum (with the exception of "both sides welcome" threads; however, partners are not permitted to post new "both sides" topics in the Recovery Forum, and vice-versa). We don't allow cross-posting of topics by people on the "other side" in both forums to ensure that people on both sides feel safe in their use of the forums.

Therefore, I would ask that, for the moment, this thread be frozen and people don't post any further until it is moved over to the Partners' Healing Forum.

Thanks everyone,

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:33 pm 
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Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Hello everyone,

dnell (a healing partner) sent me a message, requesting to post a "both sides" post. I did not realize that she meant that she would post it in the recovering partner's forum. Just a quick reminder--both sides posts are always posted on the originating partner's "home" forum. I will move this thread over to the partner's support forum, where it will be should anyone choose to share their insight. If you have never posted in a both sides thread, or if you are unsure about the "rules" surrounding posting in both sides threads, please visit the welcome centre where you will find useful information pertaining to this and other topics.

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:15 pm 
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I think pre-dday and in recovery/healing, there are two different imbalances of power. Prior, the addict is wielding power, in that they are using manipulation and deception to secretly violate their partner's boundaries. This creeps out, I think, to the other aspects of the relationship, but is usually subtle or normalized to the point where the partner is not choosing to take the position of dis-empowerment, but is adapting to their circumstances, yielding over time. A fully committed, invested partner is at a natural disadvantage to a secret saboteur (for lack of a better term, sorry if that's offensive).

After dday, power shifts, when the partner now has access to the secret. There are a number of ways the addict will feel vulnerable and dis-empowered; they no longer hold all the cards and that is amplified to a person who has prided themselves on their ability to control things. The partner is likely not sure whether they want to continue to relationship, and the PWA is at the mercy of their partner, for where information will or won't be spread. The PWA has spent all their "relationship capital" on control and addiction, so they've lost everything at once: the secret and the relationship. It can be a very frustrating, hollow place to be - including a very immature resentment of the partner's new found empowerment.

Partners usually don't feel very empowered - they feel the opposite; like a pawn. And then they are confronted with the struggle the PWA will unleash, trying to regain control. But the fact of the matter is that in any relationship, one person wants it more than the other. And that person is at a disadvantage to their partner. In a healthy relationship, this can be almost invisible. In a relationship fraught with values conflicts, it is impossible not to notice.

My husband has spent nearly 3 years rebuilding the trust and parity with me that he was granted on our wedding day and then demolished in secret. He resented it, he balked against it, but there was no way around it; he wanted to stay together and I wasn't sure I wanted to be married to him. I tried to be gracious and kind, but there was no way around the reality that I held power over him, because it was going to hurt him more than it hurt me, if he blew it and I called it quits. I wasn't playing a game - that just is what it was. He had to respect my boundaries in ways I did not have to respect his. Of course, mine were also healthier and more worth respecting...not because I'm a better person, but because I was a healthier person.

May you find the grace and courage to gently embrace your situation and make the most of it.
thebagholder


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:17 pm 
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Thank you, bagholder, for the thoughtful comments.

So what do I know if anything, but my assumptions about "power" is that it is complicated. I think my husband added the element of power, from the wheel, to his rituals. If I think about his scanning and fantasy, he has absolute power in the fantasy and a power in the reality that he "devours" this woman/girl (be it a real one in public, or in the movies, on television, anywhere....). Voyeurism is holding power over the unsuspecting target. Scanning, ogling, staring, fantasizing is holding power over all these unsuspecting female objects. Porn is all about power over the woman/girl. Fantasy holds the ultimate power. He can do anything he wants and make the object do anything he wants. Objectification, to me, has entitled, selfish power as its basis. All of this beats reality in terms of always getting what you think you want.

And, yes, he held power over me with the secrets and lies, and the withholding of intimacy and sexuality, and the knowledge that he is searching for the perfect female/females while I am blindly faithful at home. Now there's power. Now whether or not he feels good about that kind of power, or it raises a complicted brew of guilt/shame and satisfaction, I'd have to ask him. But, I can get the intensity of the power in the fantasy. Add orgasm, and it's pretty intoxicating.

But, I think this all arises from an unconcious feeling of powerlessness, especially within a suppposed intimate relationship (that is, me) and with women in general. I know my husband has a hard time expressing his needs in a healthy way, and that creates resentment and anger and leads to lots of acting out. (More fuel). And, I assume he can't express his needs since he doesn't trust that they will be honored, accepted or met; and he feels "one down" with me.

And, the more I think about it, the more I see this as an unhealthy view of intimacy and sexuality. Why is it about power? Why isn't it about love and respect, and trust and vulnerability? Isn't that the opposite of power?

I know we were all powerless as children. I know we carry the wounds of early childhood trauma into adulthood. I know that addiction can START because of those wounds (but I get it continues for other reasons).

I would assume that if my husband is able to recover, he will feel more confidence in himself, more ability to trust and be vulnerable, and ironically, he will feel stronger. I hope that would make him feel more powerful.

dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:40 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:49 pm
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Hmmm. The feeling of an imbalance of power may stem from their (the SAs) feeling so out-of-control. They have lost their comfort blanket, their secret life is not longer secret, their life partner is questioning everything....there is a power shift and it's huge. It may take a while for the SA to understand his own dilemma and accept it for what it is. He no longer controls his environment or his life or his life partner. Wow. Huge change. Learning to accept this will take hard work and personal insights on his part but will eventually lead to more of a feeling of balance. Baby steps.

Good thread.

Nellie


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:55 am 
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Hi Nellie James - Thanks for the helpful post. My husband told me he felt the "power imbalance" prior to D-day. But, he does relate it to his escalating addiction. I think it is a symptom of the underlying intimacy disorder that is amplified by the compulsive behaviors. What a mess.

I am beginning to get this issue of control, though. It's pretty clear that the SA (my husband) felt in total control of himself, his partner (me!), everything around him. Of course, this is so frighteningly untrue, but that's addiction. With discovery, control over me is gone. But the reality is he did not have total control over me. He had me in the dark and had manipulated me into doing some of the things he wanted, but I was not in his complete control. It must be tremendously disorienting to start to realize that the SA is out of control. I think that must take a while to figure out and accept.

I am getting a better and better understanding of sex addiction in general (but not of my husband's indivdiual sex addiction). And while I have an understanding, I don't think I'll ever "get" what it really feels/felt like. My own issues with alochol/drug dependency and acting out give me some sense of what it is like, but that kind of addiction is so different from a fantasy addiction. As I heal and get more clear headed, I realize the damage to me. But, I really have a sense of how utterly destructive this addiciton is to the SA. I'm not sure they get it unless they fully recover. It's tragic.

dnell


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