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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:00 am 
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We started looking at this site over the holidays due to my wife's, EmilyD's, love addiction and both feel hopeful that working through the exercises on here will be helpful and healing for both of us. We both started out doing the individual exercises, but only got through one or two before we realized we needed to do the couples exercises first.

We have completed the first two couples exercises thus far.

Exercise One

For exercise one, which we did two days ago, she wrote her letter and I have not seen it. I can't say that I don't want to know what else there may be, but EmilyD and I are with each other most of the time outside of work and I believe the things that have been hurtful for me in the past have happened with me there. If there is more, I am ok with either waiting to know or not knowing as I want us to be able to move forward and heal more than I want to see what she wrote. Of course, this one isn't finished until tomorrow when she can burn the letter, but I feel that, for me, I am good going forward.

Exercise Two

This was an interesting exercise that we completed last night. Most of the time, I make dinner and take care of things around the house as well as stroke her hair and such. It was sweet for her make dinner for me and read me a story. I feel like each of us reading the other a story each night would be nice. She was very attentive to me for the night and not paying as much attention to Facebook or texts, which is usual. It made me feel special.

The hair brushing/combing was sweet, but my hair is so short it didn't really feel like much so we opted for rubbing my back instead. Feeding me and brushing my teeth was a little odd, but we laughed through it as we went. I feel that if something actually did happen to me, she would be able to be there for me and help me through it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:09 am 
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We started these exercises and the first one was difficult at first. I didn't know what to say, how much to add, or how to start. Once I got started it seemed to flow, mostly. The difficult part was also knowing that I couldn't share with my husband. We usually share everything, and I'm kind of used to him looking over my shoulder with everything I do. He has learned not to trust me, rightfully so, and I'm used to him checking on me whatever I am doing. So keeping this letter from him seemed strange to both of us. But now it is done and I feel confident I put everything in there I needed to get out and am ready to burn that entire envelop tomorrow when the 3 days are up.

Exercise two was interesting too. That was fun and a bit funny. I am used to him cooking and taking care of me, so I felt really good to be able to take care of him for a change. It made me feel less selfish. I cooked dinner, drove him around, fed him, which was funny. I even brushed his teeth, which just made us both crack up the entire time! But overall I felt pretty good about it because it made me feel like I was doing something good and selfless for a change.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:41 pm 
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Exercise 3

I. Values

Honesty - I want complete honesty regardless of whether or not it would hurt me to know the truth. Lying or omitting the truth are the same thing in my eyes.
Fidelity - This is fairly simple. She should not flirt with, make out with, sleep with or spend significant time conversing/chatting with someone else where these things appear to be developing into a relationship.
Fairness - I should be held to the same values that I hold her to as well as she should be held to the same she holds me to.
Responsibility - Everyone should be responsible for there own actions. She must take responsibility for her actions and know that the urges, while powerful, do not control her actions.
Self-discipline - She should try to be disciplined and not give in to the urges.
Intimacy - We should always maintain emotional and physical intimacy between us as things progress. We both love each other and have not lost this even with the things that have happened, nor do I wish to lose it. She has some issues with sharing emotionally everything, worried that I would be hurt, and with libido after as she is not addicted to me, so we should continue to work on this.
Respect - We should always respect each other, regardless of what happens. No name calling or degrading the other. This has not been a problem and I don't see it being so in the future.
Cooperation - We should always work together as a team and have others view us as such. We shouldn't be disagreeing in front of others. This has also not been a problem in the past.
Compassion - I always value compassion in others and she has this in droves, except when she is addicted to someone. That is when her compassion for me wanes in favor of the addiction until I'm hurt.
Patience - I will be patient with her as she goes through recover. She should be patient with me as I build toward trusting her again.
Trust - I want to trust the people around me. Trust, once lost, must be earned back and may require additional scrutiny in order to earn that trust back. This would not require my sneaking around to find out information, but would be asked directly in front of her, such as seeing what the nature of a text/chat conversation is. I will always do this in the open. This also involves her trusting me when I tell her I believe she is behaving in a manner that indicates, to me, that she is addicted to someone. Each time this has happened in the past, I have told her what I see and she doesn't trust me until things progress further and I end up hurt. When problems have arisen we have talked them through and most of the time things are resolved this way.


II. Questions

What behaviors would you find completely unacceptable in your partner?

Flirting, making out with, or having sex with someone else as well as devoting a lot of communication time to someone else (daily) and trying to include them in our lives as much as possible.


What behaviors would cause you to worry about your partner's overall balance?

The above behaviors plus excessive depression, excessive alcohol use or overeating regularly.


What behaviors would symbolize a return to their addiction and/or a detriment to their own healing?

Any of the behaviors in the first question would symbolize a return to her addiction while all of the above would be detrimental to her healing. Excessive depression is tough to combat other than through healing in general.


What healthy behaviors would you like to see from your partner in response to what has been identified above?

Obviously, not flirting, making out with, or having sex with someone else, nor devoting time to communicating with someone daily (this one is somewhat subjective, but easily falls into a different pattern for her when she is addicted to someone, but is hard to write down as a way to detect it). Perhaps spending less time responding to every person that texts as well as less time on social media. Not every post by everyone else needs to be reviewed every day, or at all sometimes. Attempting not to abuse alcohol and keeping with her calorie counting for eating as she has lost weight and wants to keep it off. Ignoring that is usually a sign of the depression setting in more and feelings of low self-esteem.


In all of these values, it is hard to come up with consequences, but I will try.

Consequences

If I believe she is addicted to someone and perceive it as such, regardless of whether or not she believes it is correct, wherein she is frequently communicating with them or flirting, she should cut off communications with that person for at least a week and we should discuss daily how she feels about not talking with that person.

If this has gone further and she is making out with someone and/or heavy petting, she will cut off ties with them for at least a month and, before doing so, will tell them about her addiction and that I am not ok with this (as we have friends who are polyamorous and with whom this sort of behavior is considered ok). We will also discuss daily how she feels about this as well.

If she is having sex with someone else, she will cut ties with them completely. This may involve them not being invited back to our house for any reason. While they may have been led to believe that it was ok by her, in doing this she is accepting responsibility for them being cut from our lives. If this does happen, I will also need to evaluate how I feel about continuing.

We need to not put ourselves in situations with our polyamorous friends where we could potentially be invited to "play" with them. I don't want to walk away to the bathroom and come back to her involved in something because she was drinking. If this occurs, I will ask that this behavior stop and tell those friends that it's not acceptable and then likely have us both leave the situation.

Beyond these consequences, I think most things are up for discussion when they occur. I am not sure how we will incorporate these into the future contract, though.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:58 am 
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Quote:
What healthy behaviors would you like to see from your partner in response to what has been identified above?
I would take your responses and frame them all in a positive. For example, “being mindful of her relationships to others and maintaining healthy boundaries within these relationships”.

Quote:
If this has gone further and she is making out with someone and/or heavy petting, she will cut off ties with them for at least a month and, before doing so, will tell them about her addiction and that I am not ok with this (as we have friends who are polyamorous and with whom this sort of behavior is considered ok). We will also discuss daily how she feels about this as well.
My response is coming from my own values, so if it doesn’t fit for you, disregard it. I question whether it is acceptable to remain “friends” with someone with whom one has become this familiar with, who apparently reciprocates the lack of boundaries between “friend” and “sexual object” (i.e. “make-out partner”). It’s like a person with alcohol addiction going to the liquor store, or a person with drug addiction hanging out with their dealer.

Given that you have polyamorous friends, I wonder if your wife’s addiction is a perhaps a lifestyle choice that no longer works for your life together. I imagine you might have already discussed this, but if not, I encourage you to do so.

As you both progress through the workshop, there will likely be times where you will need to work out shared definitions for things like “change” and “safe environment” and “encourage” etc. You want to maintain awareness that “change” for one of you might look one way, and for the other it may mean something different. The same holds for many concepts and we tend to take these for granted, until they cause problems. For example, early in my own situation, encouragement to me meant checking in, asking how my partner was doing, sharing my learning with him, et.c but for him these actions meant I was monitoring him and trying to control him. His idea of encouragement would have meant that I acknowledge the positive things he shared. As such, we had many a quarrel over each of our ideas of what the other “should” be doing.

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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: Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:48 am 
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CoachMel wrote:
My response is coming from my own values, so if it doesn’t fit for you, disregard it. I question whether it is acceptable to remain “friends” with someone with whom one has become this familiar with, who apparently reciprocates the lack of boundaries between “friend” and “sexual object” (i.e. “make-out partner”). It’s like a person with alcohol addiction going to the liquor store, or a person with drug addiction hanging out with their dealer.

Given that you have polyamorous friends, I wonder if your wife’s addiction is a perhaps a lifestyle choice that no longer works for your life together. I imagine you might have already discussed this, but if not, I encourage you to do so.


Thanks for responding. I understand what you are saying, but I feel the need to explain a little more about this. When she met me, I was polyamorous and she was a serial monogamist. I introduced her to this world and unknowingly introduced her to a way to feed her addiction in a community that accepted multiple partners. While I think there is nothing wrong with polyamorous relationships, dropping a love addict into them is like dropping a bomb in a crowd. I'm not sure if you've read on it, but you can google love addiction and polyamory for some articles. A love addict may seem to fit right in, but they actually cause splits in existing relationships and then leave behind those relationships after the high has left and leaving more than one person devastated.

She and I agreed to be monogamous after being together, but her perspective would change back each time an addiction would come up and we would rehash the conversation about polyamory again. She realizes this now and truly does want to get healthier and improve her self-esteem so that she doesn't seek out this validation and high from others.

The reason I worded this the way that I did is due to the way things have happened in the past. She didn't tell someone who believed we were polyamorous that we were monogamous and cheated that way. After knowing that we were monogamous, he stepped back and was no longer a participant in furthering her addiction to him. So, I can understand if this person was a knowing participant and was willing to go forward with pursuing her even knowing, but all of the friends that I know who are polyamorous are respectful of boundaries as long as they know them.

In this case, should we be telling each of our polyamorous friends that we are monogamous or should it be told if they express some form of interest? It just seems odd to go around telling folks that on a regular basis.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:29 pm 
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Exercise 5

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

INEFFECTIVE: Absolutely not! How can I trust you to go out with anyone where there is possible romantic involvement?
EFFECTIVE: I'm glad that you are being honest with me. However, he should be able to have dinner with both of us. If that is acceptable, then we can all go out. Otherwise, I wouldn't feel comfortable with you having dinner alone with someone with whom you have had a past romantic relationship.


You come home early from work and find your partner typing on their computer which you believe to be chatting with someone. Upon seeing you, they quickly close down the computer and lie about what they were doing.

INEFFECTIVE: I can't believe you would lie to me about someone chatting with you! I saw you and you tried to cover it up! You don't want to get better!
EFFECTIVE: I feel like you may be trying to hide something from me by closing down the computer. I am not going to be angry if you have slipped, but I do need to know and we need to be honest with each other.


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

INEFFECTIVE: Where were you? I know you're lying to me! Tell me now! If you can't tell me where you were, I'm leaving!
EFFECTIVE: I am unsure of where you were and am worried that you could have been out with someone else. Can you please take me through where you were and what you were doing to reassure me?


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

INEFFECTIVE: You never want me anymore! All you want is someone else! Why are you even with me?
EFFECTIVE: I want you to know that I feel hurt and rejected that you are brushing off my desire for you.


After discovering that your partner had been involved in many affairs over the course of your marriage, you experience the urge to ask your partner if she had an affair while you were in the hospital some eight years ago. You want to know if she ever used your bed to have an affair.

INEFFECTIVE: Did you ever have an affair when I was in the hospital eight years ago? Did you sleep with them in our bed?
EFFECTIVE: I would like to know if you had an affair while I was in the hospital eight years ago. If you are not ready to share this information, I am willing to wait until you are.


We aren't quite sure about this last one. Would even asking about an affair, even with allowing them not to say anything, still be a valueless question or is asking for details the valueless part?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:45 pm 
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Couple’s Recovery Exercise 5

Situation #1
There exists something about your addiction that you were afraid to tell your partner about. The further you get into recovery, the more you realize the importance of absolute honestly not simply as a policy for recovery but as a value for your life. You now want to share with him these additional disclosures but don't know how. You fear his response will be targeted towards the behaviors themselves, not the maturity and growth that was at the center of wanting to disclose.

Ineffective Communication:
I know I messed up and now you probably hate me!

Effective Communication:
Here is what I was keeping from you. I felt as though you should know about all the details in our relationship, and I want to start with a fresh, clean slate. Full disclosure, and total honesty.

Situation #2
After achieving two months of complete abstinence, you find yourself talking to a friend online whom you are attracted to where they begin to compliment you on your physical attributes and you begin to flirt with this friend. Your partner was sleeping or at work at the time and is completely unaware of what you did. What's more, you have covered your tracks effectively, recognize that you wouldn't have engaged in this behavior if you weren't having doubts about your relationship from an argument earlier in the night and feel certain it was just an anomaly. You are thinking to yourself that communicating this event to him will cause more problems than they will solve.

Ineffective Communication:
Keep it hidden from him and pretend it never happened.

Effective Communication:
Let him know when he is available—I wanted to be completely honest with you and tell you I talked to someone online and we flirted. I realize now that I did this after our disagreement earlier and I have no intention on continuing this flirtation. I know you may be upset with me for this, but I wanted to be honest with you and I am ready to accept the consequences stated on our contract.

Situation #3
You have abstained from engaging in rituals that lead to love addiction. Still, a haunting feeling of insecurity and doubt has begun to develop inside your head. You don't want to act out, but are feeling uncertain as to your ability to maintain your abstinence.

Ineffective Communication:
Not mentioning it to my partner and allowing myself to act on my insecurities by flirting with someone.

Effective Communication:
Talking to my partner. Tell him that I am feeling insecure and am afraid of relapsing. Possibly tell a support person if one exists. Ask for help with keeping my insecurities from messing up my progress.

Situation #4
Your partner comes to you with concerns about you having lied about the details of an affair. You have been through this with him many times and nothing ever changes. Your answers remain the same (because they are truthful); his accusations remain (because he believes them to be truthful). You are at an impasse. (Note: this might be more difficult to process than the others so, work together to generate an effective response. Don't allow frustration to enter into the picture. See this as a puzzle to solve together.

Ineffective Communication:
You don’t trust or believe in me! Even after all I have shared and worked through with you! You don’t want this to work, you aren’t even trying!

Effective Communication:
We need to learn to work together in this. I understand that you don’t have any reason to put trust in me right now, but I am being fully truthful and honest with you. We may have to put this situation on hold for a while, at least until I am able to gain your trust and prove myself to you. I am in this to get better and for us to be healthy and happy, and I am willing to wait until you gain that trust in me in order for you to believe me in this situation.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:04 pm 
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Exercise 6

Only one day left in this exercise and it's been great. I have two more to plant still. She's found all 8. My favorites that I did for her were changing her computer's log in screen to represent the animals she loves the most with a message of love and changing her phone alarm to have Whitney Houston belt out "I will always love you!". My favorites that she has done for me were writing the I <3 U in the snow on my windshield when I went out in the morning and changing the background/lock screen of my phone with a picture and message of love. Fun exercise! This was somewhat hampered by my traveling for three days, but we got back on track after that.

Exercise 7

I verbally summarized her addiction and I think it was accurate. She couldn't say whether or not she agreed for certain if what I said were the actual triggers, but she agreed it was possible.

Exercise 8

This exercise is tougher because I believe that I already do support her and not berate and she agreed with me. I am giving her the time she needs to heal and I know that she'll make mistakes. I won't get angry or yell about them, I'll simply discuss them with her. We always enjoy each other's company and there is a lot of joy in our lives.

The only mistakes that I can think of that I've made is the very few times where I have gotten angry and yelled, but there are only two of those that I can think of and I would calm down and then talk rationally about it with her. There is still a lack of trust that will build more as she goes through her individual workshop. I know it's a process that takes time and may take a few steps back before moving forward.

As for what I'm doing to model healthy partnership skills, I believe that I communicate problems with her effectively and without malice. She seems to understand them and I usually ask her to determine how she would feel if the situation were reversed (which is sometimes harder to come up with than it sounds). I am not perfect by any means, but in this arena I feel that I am somewhat of the anomaly in that I don't react from a position of hurt all the time. I see her addiction as a separate from who she is and know that what she does is not to strike out at me, but to fill a void within herself.

Exercise 9

This one wasn't so difficult to articulate. When we broke up and got back together and then she slept with someone, it was similar to the when the partner was found out to be embezzling. The only difference here is that, while it's not my fault that she slept with someone else after we got back together, I did trigger her feelings of abandonment when I broke up with her back then and pushed her more quickly into finding the next person, whom she found before we got back together (but I didn't know about that). I guess that would be more like the business partner who was embezzling was scared to run the business alone and the partner went away on vacation without telling him and making it seem like he dropped the business in his lap, although not that irresponsible.

The other things that have happened since then have all been in front of me and I've been able to stop them before they got further, so they don't quite match up as well.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:02 pm 
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Recovery Nation Exercise 10:

I would probably want him to be completely open and honest about everything from the past, so that we can have totally open and honest communications between us about everything. Then have the same from here on out. Allow him to know that it is safe for him to tell me when he feels he is having desires or urges or addiction type thoughts again so that we can work through it together. I would want to know everything and practice completely translucence with everything. I would want him to promise to stop before acting and come to me first so we could try to talk it out before he makes another mistake again.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:56 pm 
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Exercise 11:

We got 43 same answers total, and 23 new things we learned about each other :) So a total score of 66! I have no idea how this compares to others, but I thought it wasn't bad. We had fun with this one :)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:37 am 
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Quote:
We aren't quite sure about this last one. Would even asking about an affair, even with allowing them not to say anything, still be a valueless question or is asking for details the valueless part?
It seems that you are asking because you already have an idea about the answer, but another way to look at it may provide clarity. Think about what actions would ensue would the answer be yes to these questions. If she said that she did have an affair 8 years ago, and she did use your bed, would that change anything for you right now? If it would, for example, if using your bed is a deal breaker (i.e. an absolute value) then it is not necessarily valueless. If it wouldn’t change anything (i.e. you are still committed to working through recovery with her, regardless of the answer to what happened 8 years ago) then maybe, if she is not ready to tell you, then probing for an answer might be valueless. Also, think about the consequences of the answer. If she says no, will you believe/trust this is the truth? If she says yes, will it undermine your overall health (given where you are right now…since the goal is that you will be able to know such things without it undermining your balance and stability, or if it does it does so only temporarily).

Quote:
Here is what I was keeping from you. I felt as though you should know about all the details in our relationship, and I want to start with a fresh, clean slate. Full disclosure, and total honesty.
It would be good for you to also communicate why you feel he should know. What are the values that transparency and disclosure will nurture? Think globally, as in think about the contribution this kind of disclosure would be to your values and your recovery, as well as to his values and healing, and to the values and healthy of your relationship.

Quote:
I realize now that I did this after our disagreement earlier and I have no intention on continuing this flirtation.
I encourage you to expand on this response as well. It sounds like this is a justification, “I did this after our disagreement”. We know that it isn’t the disagreement, but what you made the disagreement mean, that led to the flirting. What does the flirting provide?

Quote:
We need to learn to work together in this. I understand that you don’t have any reason to put trust in me right now, but I am being fully truthful and honest with you. We may have to put this situation on hold for a while, at least until I am able to gain your trust and prove myself to you. I am in this to get better and for us to be healthy and happy, and I am willing to wait until you gain that trust in me in order for you to believe me in this situation.
Excellent! This demonstrates understanding and empathy.
Quote:
There is still a lack of trust that will build more as she goes through her individual workshop.
Working through yours will also help with building trust, or rather, with the ability to trust discriminately vs blindly. Doing the workshop does not in and of itself constitute recovery. There are no guarantees and the best thing you can do for you is educate yourself on what healthy recovery looks like (which is part of what the workshop is about).

Good work!

_________________
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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