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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 11:03 am 
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Hi everyone,

I haven't been here in a while, but whenever I have a burning question or feel alone I remember you guys :) Anyway, my husband and I are 3 years past d-day and it's been bumpy but always forward-moving. We've both stayed in therapy and are making progress. So here's my situation, recently my husband told me about a mistake he made. A woman he had an affair with several years ago called and asked a favor, to borrow something from him. Instinctively he said "sure, you remember where I live". She came by, picked up the item (he was not home alone, my mum and son were there) and left. According to him, it was only after he had hung up the phone that he realized he just done something problematic. He did not confront the woman, he let my mum hand off the item. He wanted me to know about it however and he apologized for it. I guess I give credit for that. He swears he can't explain why it did not register to him from the moment he heard her voice that this was a "no-fly zone". This is not the first time this has happened. There are at least 3 -4 other similar instances over the years where he just reacts to former sexual partners with the most casual, accommodating attitude, as though they did not help him almost destroy his life!

My issue is that I wonder if I will ever be able to count on him to make decisions that aren't a slap in my face. I mean, I feel like he's a child, a well-meaning but stupid child. I can't explain how this grieves me so much. A part of it is because I wonder if it can ever change. It seems that all he can process is, "don't act out", but all the peripheral stuff about what constitutes an appropriate interaction and what will offend me is often lost on him. If you put him in a room with any of his previous lovers he will make small talk instead of walking out. So can I just expect him to not ever fully know when he is in fact disrespecting me? I hate it that I am the one who has all these harsh memories and feelings about his affairs, but he seemingly still has none, and I am beginning to realize that he probably never will. It made me start to feel like he does not know how to love...and that's when I knew I needed help because I haven't felt this negatively in a long time.

Thanks so much...


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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 2:29 pm 
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Hello sapodilla - I can understand your feeling negatively about the interaction you described. What came to my mind was wondering if you and your husband had a specific agreement about how he would handle contact from these women. For example, my husband and I now have a contract that says he needs to inform me within 24 hours of any woman/girl coming to our home if I am not here or of any woman/girl being in the car with him if I am not there. And, he needs to tell me their name and the circumstances under which this came about. I believe you can have a bottom line boundary of NO CONTACT with any ex-partner. This is your right. You would need to be clear about it and inform your husband in a calm way. The issue, for me, in these situations is to make explicit the consequences of violating such a boundary (I'll leave for the night; two days; forever....). And, I need to be clear that I will follow through. So, these kind of boundaries are challenging.

In any case, I think it would be helpful to say to him something like "When you let X come to the house, I felt hurt and disrespected." Best to say this when you are feeling calm.

Yes, I see this as insensitive on his part. He may not have yet developed the skills of empathy. He may fear 'hurting' these women, which would be a problematic sign in terms of his recovery, rather than explicitly letting go of them. Hard to know which it is.

It has really come home to me what Jon meant when he said our crisis moment in deciding to stay or go was not after discovery, but after recovery. Will are partners be healthy enough for us to trust them, to love them, and to forge an intimate relationship with them. My personal view is that it will take these men quite some time to learn empathy and compassion, and how to treat other people well.

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:01 pm
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It's so much work, setting up the agreements, monitoring his behaviors, keeping the passwords, establishing the consequences. It's work and even though I don't resent it yet, I'm wondering if one day I will. Is this as the way my life will be from now until...one of us dies? Is that what I agreed to by staying married? My spouse talks to his therapist now as he deems necessary, once a month, once every two months...whenever. I don't know whether or not that's even okay. I guess I'm just always caught off guard by the fact that this is still with us. We have so many great times, and he's a wonderful father. I want normal, and sometimes it really feels like normal, but then something happens and I remember that normal is different now

How do you have any sense of purpose and direction in a situation like that?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:48 pm 
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sapodilla - You are much further ahead with your husband's recovery than I am with mine so I defer to others about their experience with the "new normal."

I was struck by how tiring it sounds for you. It seems more like your are monitoring your husband's recovery (passwords, etc.) when you could be monitoring his health. I think the lesson is "Monitoring your partner's health" that was so helpful to me. This is the one where Jon talks about looking for healthy behaviors, like your husband initiating spontaneous meaningful communication, correcting himself mid-sentence to be honest, etc.

I was thinking maybe it is time to review your boundaries and agreements. We're allowed to change them anytime we want. For example, I think it is fair to ask your husband to let you know what he learns in therapy. He has a right to privacy, but you have a right to know if there are issues that are affecting you or both of you as a couple. It is fair to establish boundaries that do not exhaust you.

I sense your gut is telling you to worry. Is that right? If that is so, I would honor that feeling. Can you talk with each about your concerns? Has he learned the skills to do so? Are you able to express your concerns and have him respond in a mature way?

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:22 pm 
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Thanks for asking those questions. I'll have to go and read that bit on 'monitoring health'. I sincerely believe my husband wants to stay on the road to recovery and that he has learned some invaluable truths in therapy. He does share with me what they discuss, but I have never asked...I always let him volunteer to tell me. Usually he's so amazed by some new understanding he got that he gushes about it. It's always encouraging when I see him like that. It's like he's connecting the pieces in a puzzle that's been kicking his butt for a long time.

Can I talk to him? Nowadays, yes. He doesn't get scared/withdrawn like he used to three years ago. He can face me now, and he's not intimidated by my ups and downs. It's a balancing act for me though. I feel positive that he's making progress, and simultaneously negative because we're in this situation at all so I feel both entitled to my pain and yet guilty whenever I'm in a bad emotional place.

Do I feel worried? I don't think I'm worried, but sometimes I can't actually articulate what I feel. It's not as though he is exhibiting questionable behavior. He discloses regularly, and by that I mean he'll let me know when he feels he needs my help. An example would be this past week; I went out for a few hours and when I got back he told me that he'd prefer I took all the smart phones with me when I go out, we have two. He bought himself an older model that doesn't have internet capabilities. A couple of months ago he asked me to change and withhold his social media passwords. He didn't say why, but I could guess. He'd begun to scan the profiles of persons he'd acted out with. I know he is trying to be vigilant and monitor his own behavior. He asks for help when he needs greater accountability. So, I guess it's like I said, sometimes it's fine and then sometimes it just hits me that this is my new normal...

I live in a small community and I know nearly all of the women my husband acted out with. Sometimes I run into one of them. I often run into people who know about the fall out that led to his initial disclosure. It's always a bit weird and sometimes it sends me into a mild depression. It's a feeling of not being able to get away, not being able to truly begin again. I feel caught in this new reality, one that has the potential to be a very satisfying life if we both get it together...but I struggle with it nonetheless.

I have a therapist, but in the months that I've been talking to her I've hardly discussed my marriage. It's like I have a block...I don't know where to begin. I don't know how to express what I feel to someone who hasn't been there. I talk about career, my parents, general emotional issues, whatever. My therapist knows about the addiction, the affairs, etc. and I think she's waiting on me. I know she's waiting on me. She doesn't pressure me and I appreciate that. I've touched lightly on it, but I feel like 'will this person understand me'? 'Will this person see me as a victim, judge me and my husband, or will they be able to help me find my way?' This is my second therapist. I had the same problem with the first one, I never truly opened up...eventually I quit the sessions. I just couldn't get it out, I couldn't talk about it. This time I'm doing better than before. I don't try to be 'okay' in my sessions, I try to figure out what's going on inside and express it the best way I can. My therapist uses visualization, which I like; talking in 'pictures' and metaphors works for me. It's slow and sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm going to have to let the wall down, but I've made a decision not to stop until I get there.

Okay, that was a long one :) Thanks Nell! And I'd love to hear from anyone who can relate to anything I've said, no matter how far along your spouse is.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:05 am 
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sapodilla - Such an eloquent post that resonated with me. It has really come home to me about Jon's advice that for us, the real decision about our partners is not after discovery, it is after a period of recovery and health. Is this man healthy enough for us? Can we get enough out of the relationship to make it worthwhile for us? Such a tough, tough question.

My husband is not as far along as yours, but he is actively engaged in therapy and 12 step and finished RN. He has changed, significantly, over this last year. But he is very broken and has a long way to go. He is better able to hear me and talk to me, but he still has a ton of work on communication skills and developing empathy. He is still way too self absorbed, and frankly, he is boring since he was so lost in his compulsions and obsessions for so long he has to develop interests and an interior life beyond his addictions. As far as his work and progress, I feel, what...good about that for him, for me, for us. Yet, I don't trust it. I see progress, but I also see how much further he has to go.

It would be very, very difficult for me to encounter the women he acted out with. I admire you for your courage and can't imagine it NOT creating depression. As far as your therapist is concerned, I trust your instincts. I was deeply harmed by my old marriage counselor who did not know about my husband's addictions and her advice to me really harmed me. Therapists MUST have experience with sex addiction in order to help us, and if they don't, they harm us. I also struggle with the balance of being a supportive partner in my husband's health and recovery, but not being his accountability partner. I feel that in your post.

I read Magness's (sp?) book, which was excellent, and he has a survey of partners with recovered addicts. Very, very few of them restore full trust in their partners. I think that will be my reality. I will never, ever fully trust my husband and I do not yet know how I feel about that. It feels like I will always hold something back and I don't know if that will continue. I know I will not achieve the "dream" I had of an intimate relationship with a man with my husband. There has just been too much abuse for too long to achieve that. These feelings are not pleasant. I guess my question will be since my marriage is no where near what I wanted, will a different but healthier marriage be good enough? I just don't know.

I feel your struggle and hope other partners will tell of their experience.

In solidarity,
dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:26 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:01 pm
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dnell wrote:

I read Magness's (sp?) book, which was excellent, and he has a survey of partners with recovered addicts. Very, very few of them restore full trust in their partners. I think that will be my reality. I will never, ever fully trust my husband and I do not yet know how I feel about that. It feels like I will always hold something back and I don't know if that will continue. I know I will not achieve the "dream" I had of an intimate relationship with a man with my husband. There has just been too much abuse for too long to achieve that. These feelings are not pleasant. I guess my question will be since my marriage is no where near what I wanted, will a different but healthier marriage be good enough? I just don't know.


dnell


Thank you so much dnell. Yes, we are in solidarity, and it makes me cry just to even type that because l often feel very alone. I have friends, good friends, but they don't really understand that I'm married to an addict. They think it's primarily about forgiving him. No one even asks how we are doing anymore; that stopped about six months in. I think people assume that since we are still together then I've forgiven his 'mistakes', he's changed, and all is well. My parents love us both so much that it is really heartbreaking for either of them to conceive of the things he's done, so I haven't told them very much. My dad thinks he's just had an affair (a slight and pardonable offense in my culture), and my mum specifically asked that I not share with her, and I get it...she doesn't want to hate him for hurting me. She wants to believe in our future.
I'm going to see about finding this book you mentioned...and I ask myself the same question, 'will a different but healthier marriage be good enough'? I don't know either.

Best,
Dilla


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