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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:18 pm 
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This was one of those lightbulb moments. I’ve been working on improving my communication skills because if there is one thing that goes completely awry in a relationship where there is sex/porn addiction it’s communication. I know it seems so obvious especially when there were years of deception and secrecy, hiding, lying, misleading and manipulation. I bet that many partners of sexually compulsive spouses would probably say that when it came to conversations about sex, we couldn’t have those conversations with our husbands. My husband just wouldn’t talk about sex. Or couldn’t talk about it. It was a huge factor in keeping his addiction going.

When I first discovered his porn activities, he wanted me to believe he wouldn’t do it. Until the next time, and the next, etc. When he never showed any interest in having sex — no explanation. It was up to me to offer and I’d never know if he’d accept. When he turned me down, he’d just st turn over and go to sleep. No mention of it. When he couldn’t finish because he’d lose his erection — same thing. No mention of it. Just that feeling of being alone. When I gave up on “offering sex” because I’d be refused or it wouldn’t work for him, nothing was said. We could not, would not talk about sex.

I know that I felt I couldn’t. I knew about the porn and it really hurt. When he showed no interest it really hurt. When it stopped working, it really hurt, and the worst part was that he never said “we’ll try another time, maybe we can make it work”.

I didn’t say anything because I didn’t feel I was allowed any say. He hid his porn use but I knew why he’d be in his office with the door closed when he thought I was sleeping. Sometimes I’d walk in and he’d be clicking all the windows closed, and sometimes there would be tissues. There would never be anything in his internet history because he had it all set up to delete on quitting the app and what he’d saved he would disguise or store on a memory card that he’d keep in his digital camera or in his phone. I only discovered how he hid it after d day, and I had to search very thoroughly. The thing about being so thorough about cleaning up the evidence was that if there was nothing to find I’d have nothing to say about what he was doing. He could always deny it. So this was another way of denying me a voice. I had absolutely no say in our sexual relationship whatsoever, he said nothing, did nothing, so it ceased to exist.

Since d day I’ve wanted to work towards open and honest communication, no lies about his addiction behaviours, being willing to talk about sex, porn, masturbation, triggers, etc. Of course he committed to honesty at d day but you know what? That was just another lie that would have foretold of all the more lies to come, had I known that was a lie. Naive me, I thought he’d never lie after what we went though at d day. But the effect of all the denials and lying is that I still didn’t have a voice.

Over two years on do I have a sexual voice in my relationship? I don’t think I do. I thought early on I did, and that being more open with each other would actually happen (it didn’t) and we would both be able to talk more easily (not so). I’m now in a situation where my sexuality is being switched off and closed down because he’s not been that interested in sex and says nothing, and of course he denies masturbation (and hopes to get by on that conversation ever happening). I don’t think he’s using porn but I do think he’s using fantasy/masturbation and relying on secrecy and silence.

But here’s the interesting thing. When I look back on our relationship, I feel that my voice has been unheard in many other areas. The result is that I’ve often felt very alone and isolated in my marriage. Abandoned even, and just left to my own devices a lot of the time. Some of it is the legacy of his addiction. Some of it is me not having or losing the skills of connection and emotional intimacy, which is not surprising in a relationship affected by sex addiction.

Can anyone else relate to this feeling of being silenced? Of not having a voice? Especially where you feel you need connection but you just can’t seem to get there?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:54 pm 
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I agree,this has been my experience, my husband has avoided sexual talk,emotional talk, denied he even had needs, shut down any talk about our intimacy problems,or his addiction.
He went so far as to make out he wasn't into sex etc..thus making me feel like I was pressuring him I brought up such issues..
I have never been heard on most things tbh,and the gradual feeling that what you say is just an annoyance, its something I can look back and see its always been the same


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:00 pm 
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My husband also told me he wasn’t that into sex. It was yet another way to ‘hide’ his addiction, because he would throw in these decoys to divert my attentions away from what he was actually doing. It’s also a way of avoiding having to talk about sex, and of course risking his own behaviour being exposed.

Right now, I’m back to where I was. He’s not showing any interest in having sex with me. Like going for weeks at a time, and he’s saying nothing. I’m left in the same situation where I’m having to second guess his masturbation schedule and wait to see if he’s going to have any interest in having sex with me. Meanwhile, he says nothing and if I was to dare mention the M-word he’d deny he ever does it, and then get annoyed at me, and turn it against me somehow. I know that none of this is healthy. It’s just reverting to type. Meanwhile I’m just expected to put up and shut up, go along with what suits him without actually being told what suits him. The irony is we’re going to couples therapy. But here’s doesn’t want the porn addiction issue brought up because *he says* it’s not relevant. So, I’m silenced again and we can’t talk about the very thing that has caused so many problems.

I feel powerless all over again. I guess I knew in the first six months that we weren’t getting it right. The commitment to honesty was a lie. He answered every question with a lie and denied all memory of what there was evidence for. He disclosed practically nothing except buying magazines over 20 years previously. Every time there was an addiction-related issue his reactions became more extreme rather than more calm and mature. He admitted to nothing. As time went on, I realised an honest and full disclosure about his addiction years was looking less likely. When he reverted to masturbation, he lied. Now he’s back to having his primary sexual relationship with himself, not with me. Can I talk to him about it? No. Does he say anything about it? No. I’m witnessing him regress and no matter what I do or say, the progression continues. The inevitable consequence will be masturbation with images. I’m sure the unhealthy fantasy habit has already taken root. And of course, lying, hiding, denying and for me it will be increasing isolation. The question is, what do I do about it? The sensible answer is ‘talk about it’ but you can’t talk to someone who won’t respond in any meaningful way. One thing I know for sure is that there’s no going back to the prison he kept me in before.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:18 pm 
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To me,this was the most hurtful,cruel aspect of our relationship, from the outset he made out he was shy,didn't talk to women, I was his first, so I felt swept up in romance,poems etc, asked to become engaged pretty quick.
So for a long time I felt I had to hold back my needs,
I even recall thinking I could sacrifice an exciting fulfilling sex life in favour of true love,I even felt my sacrifice showed him I truly cared on a deeper level,that he said he didn't go for make up on women,etc and loved me as was..meant he loved me on a deeper level than appearances. He made me feel ungrateful if I masturbated, and denied vermently that he ever did..
I was very much hoodwinked and deceived,as he was masturbating from the off.
That my needs were nothing to him and he could carry on knowing how much I wanted a full sex life is a butter pill to swallow, I feel a lot of the time the him not wanting to talk, was due to a fear that the truth would slip out..on the odd occasion it did ...i know now why weird sentences or phrases slipped out..it was safer not to talk,or get complacent in discussion.
For me I feel it is fruitless trying to talk about things, or expect any admission,any details,...any truth tbh.
So I have stopped needing to talk about it.
He seems unable to open up, any sign that he has to admit,or discuss,express feelings and he is a child, saying anything to divert from having to show any vulnerability..
On other matters, my opinion has never been asked,
My husband uses I instead of we..a lot


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:57 am 
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Yes, I experienced the same things as well. The inability to talk about sex (still happening for me). The rigidity around it. The joylessness.

They do a lot to protect the addiction.

But I also see it as immaturity as well. I don't think my husband knows how to think about sex or sexuality in an adult way. He needs to reach a level of maturity that he hasn't yet. And Jon's point about values around sexuality, that's uncharted ground for my husband.

Blue, you don't have to stay silent. You can tell your husband that you are telling your MC about the addiction. How in the world can MC work with this secret.

I believe my husband has achieved a high degree of sobriety. But he struggles with honesty. Dishonesty is a "go to" life management tool for him and it permeates so much of his life.

The dishonesty is a huge red flag for me, as is the lack of transparency and the problematic communication. It leaves us, as always, with the question of how do we take care of ourselves. What do we do.

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:39 pm 
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Thanks for your replies, Jenny and dnell.

Jenny, it seems like your husband is affected by what was described to me as “hyper-religiosity” only in my husband’s case it wasn’t religion in the faith sense, but in the views he expressed. When I met him he was reciting the rule book of “second wave” feminism. He knew all the right words to say. It was a great strategy to appear “different” from all those other guys who were just sexist pigs and couldn’t respect women. Oh the irony of it all!

Even during his porn addiction he’d speak out against all the overtly sexy imagery you see everywhere, or when female pop performers were on TV he’d say how inappropriate it was. Meanwhile in secret he was actually viewing highly sexualised music videos, the kind that verges on soft porn, or nude/sex scenes from movies, actresses undressing, etc. Not only was he seeking it out he was downloading it and saving it to his phone. Yet to hear him, he was Mr Moral Majority. As you say Jenny “I’m not really into sex” was another one. He had me fooled. I admit it.

Once it was explained as hyper-religiosity it suddenly made sense. Some women find that their addict spouse wants them to dress up or imitate porn scenes etc, but my husband showed no interest in sex. He doesn’t particularly like me wearing makeup or colouring my hair, or using nail polish. He doesn’t want me in stockings and garters. He doesn’t want me in heels. He wants me in jeans and walking boots. He wants me to show up in the bedroom and take my clothes off before getting into bed. Undressing is not part of foreplay. Yet this was a man who watched strippers.

During the earlier stages of his addiction I made those efforts to present myself. I kept it upscale and elegant, and he rejected me outright. I remember his rejection so well. I was hoping he wouldn’t have spent all his sexual energies on porn earlier on but I figured I’d got that bit wrong too. His rejection was a bellwether moment. Since d day I’ve made efforts to wear tasteful satin lingerie to create a sense of occasion but there’s absolutely no purpose. It’s just a case of turning up for a sex appointment, removing my clothes as if I’m having a medical or whatever. There’s hardly any kissing, or eye contact and he says almost nothing. Sometimes I’ve felt like a prostitute providing a service.

I thought about this today. If I was in any other relationship (just say it was an affair) and my affair partner said I was to show up and undress at a prearranged time and place, I’d feel pretty used. If he was in an affair, he’d put a lot more energy into impressing the woman and demonstrating his interest and desire before they reached the bedroom. And if the affair partner undressed to reveal her lingerie and made it all part of the foreplay and anticipation, he’d probably be thinking “this woman is so sexy”. Obviously these are imaginary situations that only exist in the realms of “what if” scenarios. All I know is that I want to feel contemplated and desired. He could do that for pixels and ink, but he can’t do it for me.

dnell, I agree totally about the addict spouse not being able to talk about sex and sexuality in an adult way. Since d day it’s been a constant struggle. If I don’t initiate the conversation he’ll say nothing, and even when I do he’ll make it as difficult as he needs to in order to deflect any responsibility for his half of problem. I know that his relationship skills are stuck at the age when he discovered porn. I see quite a few similarities with other partners. They also report quite a lot that their addict spouse didn’t have their first sexual experiences until later than most people. In my partner’s case it was an older woman and she did the initiating. He’d never had a girlfriend before. I’m supposedly the second woman he has had sex with. He says he hasn’t had sex with anyone else. Do I believe him? No. Like a lot of addicts who were late starters, I’m certain that his addiction was fuelled in part by a fear of missing out. I don’t think I’ll ever know the real truth.

I accepted maybe within the first year of recovery that he can’t be honest. Lying and specifically omission is his modus operandi. The further we are from d day, the more entrenched the lying/omission pattern. The less likely it now seems that he will finally see that honest communication and is right for our relationship and it’s potential for recovery.

Of course I’m in a quandary about raising the addiction at therapy. He doesn’t think it’s relevant which leaves me in a very “one down” position. Who has the power here? The truth is, he doesn’t want to ‘look bad’ in front of the therapist. I said, She’s heard it all before, and probably far worse. The interesting part will be when we move towards discussing our sexual relationship. I don’t it’s reasonable to have been so damaged, particularly the way sex addiction decimates the female partner’s sexuality, and somehow skip over it and say everything’s fine. Because everything isn’t fine. My other alternative is to pursue a more specialist individual therapy for my own healing. I intend to do that anyway it I’m beginning to think I need to do it sooner and I need something more specific to PTSD or cPTSD, and possibly look into EMDR to process traumatic feelings and memories. Since #MeToo I’m triggered on an almost daily basis by stories in the news relating to sexual assault as more and more people come forward. First it was Hollywood, more recently it was sports and this week it’s been NGOs. It’s been very triggering in regard to my own history but I’m also more sensitive to being triggered by my husband’s addiction-related issues too. More so than before. I know I can use this as an opportunity to heal and grow with the right support though. I have to do something otherwise my personal healing will stall.

This sex/porn addiction and the problems it has created is without a doubt one of the most difficult experiences I have had to face. It still throws me as to why it’s so hard.


Last edited by Blue In Paradise on Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:54 am 
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Blue, I strongly encourage you to find individual counseling. I see a therapist specialized in trauma healing and it has really benefited me. I had to try out three other ones before I found her. I don't see how marriage counseling can help you with this big lie you are supposed to maintain. It's not good for you. An individual counselor can help you with this as well.

I don't underestimate the trauma of this addiction for partners.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:18 pm 
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I agree with dnell, individual counselling is a must. my husband is a mega manipulator, and I know he would be the same in MC,
it would all be about him being there to monitor and make sure the subject was kept off what he wanted it kept off of.
my husband scoffed at my counselling when I said I needed to see someone, if ever I mentioned that I had felt this or that he said I was just being led by so called experts who know nothing..thus invalidating my own feelings as being from my own self.he has never asked about what is said, how I am feeling, or anything to do with my sessions..he knows it may open some discussion, and that is not what he wants, he hasn't ever acknowledged why I need counselling, he has no comprehension, or indeed any deire to hae any comprehension of the pain and trauma his long term behaviour has caused me, indeed I never fully realised till I had counselling


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:18 pm 
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I agree with dnell, individual counselling is a must. my husband is a mega manipulator, and I know he would be the same in MC,
it would all be about him being there to monitor and make sure the subject was kept off what he wanted it kept off of.
my husband scoffed at my counselling when I said I needed to see someone, if ever I mentioned that I had felt this or that he said I was just being led by so called experts who know nothing..thus invalidating my own feelings as being from my own self.he has never asked about what is said, how I am feeling, or anything to do with my sessions..he knows it may open some discussion, and that is not what he wants, he hasn't ever acknowledged why I need counselling, he has no comprehension, or indeed any deire to hae any comprehension of the pain and trauma his long term behaviour has caused me, indeed I never fully realised till I had counselling


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:28 pm 
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Thanks dnell. I know I have to take action for the sake of my own emotional wellbeing.

Right now, the relationship recovery isn’t going well. No matter what I try to make things better, it only gets worse. Looking back, it was his lying and his unwillingness to be open about his addiction behaviour and his inability to empathise. I expected him to commit to honesty and disclosure but he didn’t. I expected him to learn how to empathise as his “recovery” progressed, but he didn’t. Early on in his recovery I asked him to tell me if he masturbated. He didn’t, and when I asked him, he lied. And now he isn’t interested in sex any more because his masturbation habit is re establishing all over. And there’s something else that is concerning me.

At the weekend I checked his cookies and saw the name of a video hosting website that I wasn’t familiar with. So I googled it only to find it hosts a lot of overtly sexualised videos of porn-like women in lingerie doing porn-like moves in skimpy lingerie. Some videos feature two women together. Now, this site also hosts other videos. It’s one of those situations where there is no proof of him viewing this type of video specifically and there are possible innocent explanations too. So I have to put this down to a suspicion rather than evidence or proof. I know if I was to ask him he’d deny it or he’d say there’s so much crap online it’s impossible to avoid clickbait appearing on a webpage. I’m also reminded of his membership of another “innocent”’ video sharing site that had a policy of allowing “artistic nudity” meaning topless women, full frontal nudity and videos featuring more than one nude or partially nude woman “performing” together. Soft porn, in other words. At first he denied being a member, then a few months later he admitted to viewing the nude videos. The following week when I mentioned his membership of the site, he denied all knowledge of this site, said he didn’t know what I was talking about. So that’s what I’ve dealt with in the past. All because he didn’t want to admit watching this garbage. He still has never admitted to a lot of the evidence I discovered on his computer. “I can’t remember” and “I don’t know what you’re talking about” are his standard go-to excuses. I can’t face going through this predictable, energy-sapping routine all over again. And I can’t prove or disprove anything.

As far as I’m concerned, he lost the right to be believed as soon as he knowingly lied to me after d day. After he put me through so much crap, and shouted and had tantrums, and even denied his own words, etc etc etc, all because he did not want to admit to his own behaviour. That’s when I realised he’s incapable of being honest. So, on the balance of probabilities, I would say there’s maybe a 60-65% chance that he viewed videos on that site I just discovered in the fairly recent past. I’m not saying he masturbated to them because he could only access them when I’m at home and when I’m up and about. I allow him privacy and I expect him to respect my trust.

It’s all very deja vu, isn’t it? It all begins with the lying. Once the secret masturbation started, bearing in mind that he had a previously unhealthy pattern of masturbation that is actually at the root of his addiction issues and our relationship problems, it was only a matter of time before unhealthy fantasy porn-like imagery shows up.

This time around, I’m going to look after me. I have to sort out individual therapy soon.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:37 pm 
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Blue, sadly, I see the red flags here as well. The site you found...yes, my husband went to the "art" sites as well. That's just the porn industry being "clever." I think my husband, once he finally realized he had an addiction, made deals with himself about what was or was not "okay". As in, he was thinking like an addict. He wasn't thinking about what he was doing was part of escaping and getting emotionally stimulated, he was still rationalizing that "lingerie is okay" when he was getting the same jolt as if it was hard core porn. This is addict thinking. It's not a sincere approach to recovery.

My experience is they have to get sober before they can start to learn to relate relationally, not objectively, and in an adult manner, not in an immature way. If they aren't sober, it isn't going to happen. My husband is significantly more sober and there is a LOT of hard work to do to become an adult in a mature relationship.

So, I need to ask myself: is my husband in sincere recover? is he relapsing? is he showing improved signs of honesty and transparency? is he showing empathy and compassion? is he INITIATING meaningful conversation? is he taking responsibility for his behavior? does he apologize? If I do not see improvement in these areas, or significant backsliding, then I know that there is no way I will be able to have a meaningful relationship.

IC will help with this.

dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:20 am 
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Thank you, dnell.

Oh, I’ve sailed past all the red flags and noticed every one of them. As for this video site, whilst I know there are innocent explanations and whilst I can accept the possibility that he hasn’t been deliberately viewing the sexualised content hosted by that site, I’m not so naive to as to discount the possibility that he has looked at those videos. As I said before, when he chose to lie to me, he lost the right to be believed.

In the past, he made it so difficult for me to even raise my concerns by denials and tantrums, stonewalling me, gaslighting, and just plain outright lying. The effects of his behaviour has been to silence me. He’s made it so difficult for me to ask questions that it’s like tiptoeing through a minefield. Getting back to the original point of this thread, it’s just more ways to deny me a voice. The workshop teaches us that the words of an addict can be meaningless at times.

The worst reaction of all was my final discovery in the post d day trickle truth when he just erupted and raged at me. I can recall the physical shock. His anger and rage was so extreme and completely out of proportion to the issue I had raised. It actually felt like a physical blow to the body even though it was a verbal assault. I remember that a froze in shock but also that my body went into emergency mode. All the progress we’d made over the past few months evaporated in an instant as far as I was concerned. That was also the moment when I knew that he wasn’t capable of honesty.

So these are the various ways I’ve been silenced. I know I’m pretty much on my own in my recovery. I know that individual therapy is the thing to do now.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:27 am 
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Blue, I hear you. Finding my voice in my marriage and being able to speak the truth has been critically important for my well being. My husband used all tactics possible to silence me, and it worked. He used rage throughout our marriage and I am so sad that I didn't recognize it for what it was...abuse. Mainly I just gave in to keep the peace and to escape from the chronic and relentless awfulness. I settled in to getting through each day rather than stepping back and seeing how ALL the days were awful and they were getting worse. Making this much harder for me was my husband's gaslighting and how he had allies who would also, unwittingly, gaslight me as well. I had numerous marriage counselors believe his stories and make me the "crazy" one. And if they had known about the addiction, as my current MC does, they would not have believed my husband's lies. I can't emphasize enough that going to MC and staying silent is not good for you I want you to focus on you. You don't have to go to MC. Finding your own counselor will help with this.

I am so very sad that I wasted so much time being silent. I didn't take care of myself and that is what I am doing now. I wouldn't go to MC if it wan't helping me and that is my right. You are worth it. You deserve all the support for your healing. You can stop sacrificing yourself, as I did, for a husband who lied to me and betrayed me and raged at me for decades.

With deep compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:59 am 
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This has been on my mind of late.

There is a roller coaster I see myself ride, continuously, and it looks like this:
My rational brain continues to believe that communication with my husband is doable or fixable. It points to the areas/topics in which my husband CAN communicate effectively, and then my brain tells me the story of how I can transpose my expectations about communication over to areas of intimacy, sex, and addiction.

Then, another part of me steps in and recalls the wise words spoken by so many who've walked this path: there is no reasoning or collaborative communication with an addict who isn't fully sober.

I really struggle with that. I continue to fight reality, convinced that somehow a rational and mature conversation about addiction, boundaries and consequences can be had with a person who is immature, acting out, and identifies with addictive thinking and perceptions.

Jon says in our workshop (regaining balance and stability: lesson 11) that exploring our options in the relationship will present a threat to the insincere partner, and be a welcomed opportunity from the committed partner.

That metric alone can tell us almost everything we need to know about where our partner's are in recovery (are they sober? Are they fully invested in recovery? If they are, communication, while possibly awkward, should no longer be fraught with retaliation techniques on our partner's parts).

So what do we do? Once again, the onus is on us as to assess the communication as it goes and adjust accordingly. No small feat. Do we go into a possible minefield with the best of intentions for collaborative communication? How do we move and adjust if and when that doesn't occur, especially in relationships like ours where the partner is not new to recovery or ignorant of the fact that he has an addiction that's harming him and harming the relationship?

My sense is navigating all this lies on a spectrum. There are the clueless addicted persons who, upon an ultimatum being given, throw themselves into recovery and learning about their addiction for the first time in their lives. On this part of the spectrum, the only communication that really gets through to them is action to protect ourselves (leaving, filing for divorce,e moving into the other room, etc). No amount of talking breaks through the addictive mindset at this phase.

But what about later? What about the proverbial dry drunk, or the half-hearted recovery? Where they have the information, the resources, they've done the work, but they've done the work as if it's a checklist to finish, instead of being a integrated way of changing how they think, perceive and. live their lives? How do we approach communication with the person who's half in, half out, lacking in humility, yet somewhat "progressed" from where they were before?

I ask because I do not know, and I don't see this as a black or white issue: that issuing the same actions (ultimatums) that worked when their heads were totally in the sand are as relevant when they fall in a different place on the recovery spectrum. I can be calm, and clear-headed and emotionally neutral, but where does that get us when it comes to communicating our concerns with the addict who has not "gotten it" yet?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:50 pm 
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Blue,

I was thinking about what you originally said in your post that started this thread, about lacking a voice. One thing that feels particularly helpless to me, and I'm sure others have experienced this as well, isn't just about not being able to have a conversation but when you do have a conversation, its almost as if your SA can't hear the words you're saying.

My experience: My partner's addiction is largely rooted in self-esteem issues from childhood. He felt (feels?) like everyone, everywhere, is constantly telling him he isn't good enough. As a result, whenever I said anything, regardless of what I was really saying or what the literal words coming out of my mouth were, he would interpret them through this viewpoint and think that I was being too critical, too harsh, mean, and putting him down. He couldn't be honest with me because he couldn't see me as a safe person to be honest to, since he thought I was full of un-meetable expectations and had no respect for him. One of the hardest things in having conversations with him is trying to get him to HEAR WHAT I'M SAYING. I often have to ask him "what's the takeaway of what I just said?" and he'll frequently say something COMPLETELY different from what I just said. Then I have to repeat myself, and say "listen to the words I'm saying right now, and try to turn off your filter so you can really hear them." Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.


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