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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 21

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Holeinthewall posted 2/12/2021 08:13 AM

Hi Ladies!

I found a ray of sunshine in my recovery. I've started to speak up, set some boundries and be assertive about what I need. Not exactly big stuff but noticable enough to make an impact.

I've stated that he's interrupting something I am doing (yoga, meditating)and that he's not pulling his weight (not giving enough money for bills), and that he continued a conversation that will stress me out before going to sleep, even though I have attempted to cut him of, then call him out when he does not and ask him not to do it again.

What I have noticed is that he is not sure how to handle someone who stands up to him, gets pouty or pissed and does not like me standing up for myself one bit. I feel validated that I am doing the right thing for me. I am changing things up and moving in the right direction.

Like all of us, one day at a a time. This may be short lived until the next wave of emotions or whatever hits. Either way I'll take it, enjoy it and keep doing it

Have a good day ladies!

skeetermooch posted 2/12/2021 09:26 AM

This is exactly it ^^^ and my STBX banks on it with me. His last manipulation was all about how sad he is and how it is making his feelings of abandonment worse. It took me 3 days of being depressed and feeling guilty to get past that text but I gave him crickets.

Man, our ex's are twins. Mine sent me the same email a few days ago. I felt a twinge of empathy - but not for his current situation - more for the fact that he still doesn't freaking get it and never will. His message was all about his loss, his loneliness, his pain. I want to scream: I don't care about your pain. Go back under your rock, reptile.

I saw a great twitter thread today - something like, What's the the meanest thing you've ever said to a man - OMG that was cathartic reading. One said something like, "You're the worst thing that's ever happened to every woman you've been involved with." Yep.

skeetermooch posted 2/12/2021 09:28 AM

I've started to speak up, set some boundries and be assertive about what I need. Not exactly big stuff but noticable enough to make an impact.

Congratulations! I love that you aren't letting him sabotage your very important self-care activities. Now, prepare yourself for the backlash.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 2/12/2021 14:31 PM

I echo skeeter's sentiments - prepare for the backlash now that you're putting yourself first!

"Just because someone gets angry when you say no, doesn't mean you should have said yes." I don't remember exactly where I got that from, but repeat it to yourself. I remember the feeling well, where I knew that if I just gave in and did what he wanted he would stop bitching/moaning/having a temper tantrum and we could go on with our day. It seemed like it made everything run smoother when I would just give in, even just a little bit. But all it did was teach him to throw a bigger tantrum the next time.

I had always stood up for myself, but had at least tried to accommodate him and all of his "quirks." When I stopped accommodating is when shit really hit the fan. All of a sudden I was a stubborn, selfish controlling bitch who didn't care about him. It really hurt to hear that. I can still hear those phrases ring in my ears sometimes when I'm in a bad rumination cycle.

But I promise you, you are not selfish or stubborn or controlling. Learning to be assertive will save you. If he dives deeper into his delusions and victimhood because you've asserted yourself, then you know he is not strong enough to be with you, and you can call it quits.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 2/12/2021 15:51 PM

Thought I would update with a small victory.

I've just noticed in the past month or so that I'm able to wear non-cotton underwear again! The texture of the seamless underwear had given me the heeby-jeebies for so long that I had been avoiding them. And don't even get me started on lace!

But the past few times I've been at Target I've seen the $5 underwear and the thought of it hasn't totally repulsed me, so I finally bought a few. They aren't full lace, just a little bit on the sides, but it's more than I've been able to wear for about 5 years now!

Not that I give a fuck what anyone else is thinking about what I'm wearing, but it's nice that I can now wear the seamless option so I'm not rocking a panty line. I still like the cotton ones a lot, and they'll likely remain my day to day. But it's just nice to have options again!

Gpeach posted 2/12/2021 18:18 PM

Hi, all! This thread was recommended to me based on my post. Iím not sure if my WH is a SA or not, but his behavior was consistent with some of the characteristics. I can repost the whole story here if context would be helpful. I mainly came by to ask if anyone had any experience with the program Celebrate Recovery. It was recommended by our MC to WH as a possibility. Positive/negative experiences?

Thank you.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 2/12/2021 23:47 PM

Hi Gpeach!

Welcome to our little corner of SI.

I never had the chance to actually address the SA or do any other sort of recovery work with my XH, so I don't have any knowledge of any recovery programs.

But I will say that it's imperative that you focus on yourself right now, and he focuses on himself. If a recovery program is focused on the marriage, not on the individuals, you're probably going to have a really rough go of it. Your marriage is not the problem, your husband's behavior is. And especially with SAs, waywards will latch onto anything they can to shift blame away from themselves, so if there is even the slightest hint at the marriage being "bad," they'll try to use that to excuse their behavior.

Somber posted 2/13/2021 07:19 AM

I found a ray of sunshine in my recovery. I've started to speak up, set some boundries and be assertive about what I need.

Great news. Our recovery is important. Itís not selfish to do whatís best for you. He doesnít have to like it, look at all the things we donít like about them. Itís okay to take care of you, set boundaries and change in a healthier way. I always hope for others that their spouses will choose recovery too! Hang in there. You are making healthy important self care steps. Way to go.
"Just because someone gets angry when you say no, doesn't mean you should have said yes."

Wise words! So true. I like this.

I remember the feeling well, where I knew that if I just gave in and did what he wanted he would stop bitching/moaning/having a temper tantrum and we could go on with our day. It seemed like it made everything run smoother when I would just give in, even just a little bit. But all it did was teach him to throw a bigger tantrum the next time.

Yea mine too! It was always easier to give in so I would feel peace and his toddler behaviour would stop. The peace would only last so long until the next time. Boundaries broken, toddler behaviour, I have in and stop pushing because I was mentally exhausted from him. I wish I enforced boundaries earlier on. I truly believe they help us tremendously in having self respect and teaching them what we will and will not put up with. I indirectly taught my spouse I would put up with anything if he carried on enough.

Somber posted 2/13/2021 07:27 AM

GPeach, this thread was recommended to me a couple years ago as well. For me, it became clearer with time and IC that my spouse was a SA. Whether your spouse is SA or not, we deeply and thoroughly empathize with the pain of your spouses betrayal and infidelity.

Unfortunately, my spouse never chose recovery so we have had multiple failed attempts at R. Others on here have more experience with their recovery. Iíve not heard of that specific program. The first page of this thread has some great resources to look up and browse through. As in anything on this site, take what you want and leave the rest. All of our situations are similar but different so not everything applies.

I agree with focusing on you with IC and your spouse to focus on IC too. MC in my opinion is secondary to recovering from any type of betrayal. IC is priority to determining the root problems, defining things and to allow you to focus on your healing while processing what has happened.

You are not at fault for his behaviour. I imagine you are a kind, loving, generous and sweet person. Do something nice for yourself today. You deserve it. One day at a time ❤️

[This message edited by Somber at 7:30 AM, February 13th (Saturday)]

skeetermooch posted 2/13/2021 08:52 AM

GP Peach, no experience with any programs - my ex was only interested in having his cake and eating it too so we divorced. I hope you're doing okay.

Random question - so in one of my rabbit hole adventures I came across a study that showed narcs can be identified by their eyebrows - apparently it's a credible study. If you google narcissism and eyebrows you'll find it.

Both of my narcs had very prominent, thick eyebrows. And I realize now they kind of resemble each other - same dimples and very similar features. Have any of you noticed the eyebrow thing??

crazyblindsided posted 2/13/2021 09:40 AM

That was interesting looking up narcissistís and their eyebrows mine has thick pronounced eyebrows and is very expressive always wants the attention of others.

Welcome to this side of the forum GPeach my STBX wasnít diagnosed as sex addict but it usually comes with the NPD disorder and he was diagnosed with that. I donít have anything to offer either as recovery there are some members here whose WSís are in recovery and some have had success you have to read through some of the previous posts. Hopefully they will chime in. I agree that Marriage counseling isnít going to fix this issue he is going to have to see a CSAT therapist. This is a him issue not a you issue and itís not a marriage issue.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 9:42 AM, February 13th (Saturday)]

HeHadADoubleLife posted 2/13/2021 09:41 AM

Skeeter, Iíve read the same thing.

And yes, my ex has a very prominent brow ridge. And even after plucking them within an inch of their life he still had very bushy eyebrows.

I donít know how much I believe it though, because Iíve known some people with very prominent brow features who are lovely people. Maybe itís a correlation, but not causation?

Most narcissists have prominent brows, but not all people with prominent brows are narcissists. Kind of like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Or how not all cheaters are SAs, but all SAs are cheaters.

But yeah now when I look back at photos of him, I notice how angry he looks. How intimidating. He has a great smile, but never smiles for photos. Itís always a stern look. Trying to look tough, I guess. He used to send me selfies all the time, always the same expressionless look on his face. I personally hate taking selfies. It feels really vain and strange to me. I sent a couple to him over the years since it seemed to be something he liked, though it always felt profoundly uncomfortable. But if I went back into our texts, I would find dozens of selfies from him. Just unprompted photo shoots of himself in the middle of the day for no reason.

Looking back, itís very odd that someone could be so obsessed with taking photos of themselves, but also so committed to this tough guy look that he wonít even smile in any of them.

Towards the end I also started putting the pieces together that I think he was taking those selfies and not only sending them to me, but also to other women. It was how he went fishing. He could use the same photo with every woman, and they all thought it was just for them. I also wonder now if thatís why he always called me gorgeous, instead of by my name. So he wouldnít accidentally slip and call me someone elseís.

Edited to add: I always thought it was strange how obsessive he was with particular things surrounding body image. For someone who really tried to give off this overtly masculine image, plucking his eyebrows seemed very strange. He also cared a lot about the way his body looked, weighed himself daily, worked out a lot. But then dressed in clothes that were way too big for him and looked like the skater clothes kids I knew in middle school wore in the 90s. He wore nail polish and had long hair. Kinda looked like someone you would see in a 70s rock band, but with 90s clothes.

I think thatís another reason why I didnít pick up on the narc/BPD tendencies early on. All of the narcs I knew before fit a very stereotypical mold. They were always up on the latest fashion, hair coiffed. The wannabe, stereotypical celebrity type. But narcs/cluster Bs come in all shapes and sizes. He was the ďIím going to be an infamous rockstar poetĒ type. He fancied himself to be Jim Morrison, but he ended up more like Charles Manson.

[This message edited by HeHadADoubleLife at 9:49 AM, February 13th (Saturday)]

skeetermooch posted 2/13/2021 10:35 AM

I've also read that they don't smile in photos - mine actually did. He's the selfie king - constantly posting pics of himself look adorable

Maybe itís a correlation, but not causation?

Yes, I don't quite get the mechanics but I haven't read the study. I mean some people are simply born with thicks brows. Of course, nowadays women are fond of micro-blading and creating a prominent brow, so that just confuses the issue.

I do think narcs tend to be very good looking (maybe prominent brows are a factor in attractiveness?). Being attractive certainly creates a feedback loop, reinforcing their entitlement and insulating them from consequences with a constant supply of kibble. Why would you face your issues when you've got 10 women on deck? Reading my ex's journals, I am stunned by the number of women he had throwing themselves at him - I mean, this guy couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone eager to have sex with him. I think that alone would make an asshole out of most men.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 2/13/2021 12:00 PM

Ugh, yeah, he posted a nauseating amount of selfies as time went on.

And yeah, he was/is very good looking. He's also very tall, which is one of those instant attraction thing for most women. So I know he had women throwing themselves at him constantly. I witnessed it a time or two, and just laughed it off. Numerous people - gay men and straight women alike - would meet him and then gush to me about how hot he was.

But I'm also confident in myself, so I never thought of that as a threat. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I know I'm attractive. If nothing else, I've got a great ass, haha. And most women I know have men throwing themselves at them all the time. It's hard to walk down a street without getting cat called. And yet most women I know aren't narcissists.

skeetermooch posted 2/13/2021 13:58 PM

My ex is tall too - I agree instant head swivel effect.

And most women I know have men throwing themselves at them all the time. It's hard to walk down a street without getting cat called. And yet most women I know aren't narcissists.

True.
I think generally men face a lot of rejection and very, very few have ample opportunities for sex, like almost all women do. Plus, toxic masculinity culture tells them they should act on any and all sexual opportunities. Of course, I don't blame the culture for my ex being a soulless, immoral douche. That rests squarely on him. By the time a man is a married adult, he should have his head on straight and integrity.

BlackRaven posted 2/14/2021 01:44 AM

Gpeach,
I just googled it and it's a Christian-based 12 step program, but I didn't get much more off the website. I would ask the following questions:

Is the group specific to SAs and those involved with SAs (ie: a SA-Anon type program), or is it a general 'recovery' group. I can't relate to those who live with alcoholics who pee in the bed. It's not my reality.

Are the meetings gender specific? Not all SAs are men, but most are, and speaking only for myself, I appreciate an all-woman meeting

What are the meeting options? Are they frequent enough that one will be available when you need it.

Are the meetings in person, by zoom or by phone and how do you feel about each option?

If the meeting, or anything else, has any element of 'co-dependent' blame, run for the nearest exit. It is an antiquated and inappropriate way of looking at the partners of sex addicts, especially since most of us didn't know about their secret lives.

I attend a 12 step program by zoom called SALifeline and find it hugely helpful. The women in the meetings get it, and support me and we learn from one another. I encourage you to explore a 12 step program, and to shop around until you find one that is right for you.

Having said all this, I concur with the other women that early recovery needs to focus on you, (and your SAWH needs to focus on dealing with his addiction and learning what trauma led him down that path) and that MC usually comes much later, after IC, after a full theraputic disclosure, and after you have your set boundaries and grounding skills. A good 12 step program can help with that, so too a betrayal trauma therapist and the Vicky Tidwell Palmer podcasts.

Gpeach posted 2/14/2021 10:07 AM

Thanks all for your replies!

HHADL - I'm trying very hard to focus on myself. Still feel haunted by the why would he do this question.

Somber - Thank you for your sweet reply and support. I read your story ((hugs)). This sucks.

I'm fairly certain he is not NPD or BPD. My ex was an abusive narcissist, so I don't see that in him. He shows empathy - though I don't think he can really understand the depth to which he's hurt me.

Black Raven - Thank you for your detailed response and perspective. CR is a general recovery, but they do break into groups that are gender and addiction specific. They have two meetings per week. One is a general meeting. Another meeting is the 12-step, study meeting with small groups. It is in person. I looked up SALifeline, and that looks like a great option. Zoom meetings might actually be even more convenient. I have no clue as far as how they deal with the idea of codependency in the meetings. As you said, I had no idea of his secret life, so I don't see how I could have been unknowingly enabling it.

It's hard to understand why he would do these things when we had a solid marriage and a regular sex life. It's really painful, and it's been a struggle dealing with feelings of inadequacy and rejection. I don't understand why he would keep on engaging in the behavior when he said he felt bad/guilty afterward every time... Can anyone give me some perspective on this? It just doesn't make sense to me why someone would keep on doing something that made them feel bad.

I also wonder - how do you know if someone is a SA or if they got caught up in a toxic work culture/went along with what other peers were doing? Is this something a CSAT can answer? My WH was a first responder, and it has come up that some of the other men were engaging in this behavior (NOT everyone of course). MC talked about how it's easier to fall into behavior when others around you are doing the same thing. Also talked about how when you engage in behavior over time the guilt gets less and less...

He started "acting out" in the summer of 2018 and carried on all the way through January 2020. He said in January the guilt was so strong, he decided he wanted to stop on his own. Thought about telling me for three weeks, but couldn't. He thought it would be unfair to hurt me and that he could deal with it on his own. From January to June, he said he was "clean," and then in June an opportunity came up and everything went downhill from there and came out in a semi-public way. He was then forced to tell me what happened. I asked him if he tried to stop in January and failed in June, then what was different now? Obviously, willpower wasn't enough. He said it was different now because I knew - reality hit him - and that he was still watching porn from January to June, which he believes contributed to his problem.

Another thing I struggle with is - why did this behavior start in 2018 after we were married? Why am I the only partner he's done this to? Before our relationship, he was engaged to someone who he was with for 4 years, and he claims he never cheated on her. He broke off their engagement because he said he wasn't in love. He says he married me because he truly loved me - he said he had other long-term relationships that could have resulted in marriage but it didn't feel right to him, but when he was with me, it felt right. This just confuses me. How could you cheat on someone you say you truly love but be faithful to someone you don't feel as strongly about? Can there be a catalyst or sudden start to a SA problem?

Looked up Vicky podcasts, and I will definitely listen to them. Thank you!

skeetermooch posted 2/14/2021 12:16 PM

I don't understand why he would keep on engaging in the behavior when he said he felt bad/guilty afterward every time... Can anyone give me some perspective on this? It just doesn't make sense to me why someone would keep on doing something that made them feel bad.

They do it because they can, they like it and they feel entitled to it. My ex also said he felt shame afterwards and didn't want to do it, and yet, he did - over and over for years. They might think having guilt or remorse around it makes it somehow not as bad. I happen to disagree. No one does something that requires the amount of juggling cheating requires if they don't like it. He may have known it was wrong and felt fleeting twinges of guilt, but they weren't strong enough for him to seek help and stop the behavior.

This comes down to values - he values instant gratification more than he values integrity and your vows. Actions show values and character - lip service without action is a smokescreen.

Why am I the only partner he's done this to? Before our relationship, he was engaged to someone who he was with for 4 years, and he claims he never cheated on her.

Many abusers don't start abusing until they have their spouse trapped vis a vis marriage and/or children. Infidelity is abuse. The other thing is, we know he's a liar, so his story about never having cheated before could very well be a lie. I discovered after dday that my husband lied about just about every aspect of his past and his relationships prior to me. Don't selectively believe a known liar - it's all up for grabs.


[This message edited by skeetermooch at 12:17 PM, February 14th (Sunday)]

BlackRaven posted 2/14/2021 14:41 PM

Gpeach,

MC talked about how it's easier to fall into behavior when others around you are doing the same thing. Also talked about how when you engage in behavior over time the guilt gets less and less...


They do it because they can, they like it and they feel entitled to it.

Neither of these comments are consistent with an addiction model. There is a wealth of research that shows that processing addictions (like sex, and gambling) have the same effect on the brain that chemical addictions do. If opioid addicts could just stop, we wouldn't have a crisis in our country. This doesn't excuse their behavior, they are still responsible for the consequences, but they are sick people, not evil people. And if the guilt became less and less then they wouldn't feel such shame and self-loathing when they act out.

Skeetermooch is correct that SAs very seldom reveal the entire story up front. In fact, my trauma therapist believes it takes 90 days of sobriety (which includes no masturbation, no porn) before they can even begin to remember all their acting out, because they compartimentalize it so much. If you work with a trauma specialist and your H works with a CSAT, you will likely do a full theraputic disclosure with polygraph that will help you understand his full acting out behavior and how he hid it from you. It also then allows you to move forward working on your marriage from a level playing field without the swirl of lies around you.
(It's also supposed to be less traumatic and less likely to cause PTSD to get the information in that format.)

There are online questionnaires that your H can take to help him identify is he is a sex addict, but basically, sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment.

Patrick Carnes is the leading researcher on SA. He write:

"Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their
self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and
risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.
Sex addicts come from all walks of life - they may be ministers, physicians,
homemakers, factory workers, salespersons, secretaries, clerks, accountants,
therapists, dentists, politicians, or executives, to name just a few examples. Most were
abused as children - sexually, physically, and/or emotionally. The majority grew up in
families in which addiction already flourished, including alcoholism, compulsive
eating, and compulsive gambling. Most grapple with other addictions as well, but
they find sex addiction the most difficult to stop.
Much hope nevertheless exists for these addicts and their families. Sex addicts have shown an ability to transform a life of self-destruction into a life of self-care, a life in chaos and despair into one of confidence and peace."
- Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.
Author of Out of the Shadows

My therapist recommended a book called "TINSA: A Neurological Approach to the Treatment of Sex Addiction" by Michael Barta. It's short and easy to read and really provides an overview of sexual addiction that will help answer a lot of your questions. I really recommend it.

My SAWH had repressed his childhood sexual abuse and was three weeks into an intensive inpatient rehab program when he recalled it. I suspect that his inability to face it is what caused him to lie to therapists he saw over the decades and as a result he never told them about his actual behavior. He'd just gripe about work stress..

Know that your questions and feelings are perfectly normal. Your world has been turned upside down and whatever caused him to do it, it happened and now you deal with the trauma he inflicted on you. (My personal feeling is that a general 12-step meeting won't be of any value. You need a place where you can feel 100 percent safe and not judged and where the women around you just get what you are going through and can offer love and support)

The first thing is good boundaries to help you stay safe. (Try the book "Moving Beyond Betrayal" by Vicky Tidwell Palmer. Also, google good grounding exercises, so you can calm yourself when you're triggered.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 2:53 PM, February 14th (Sunday)]

skeetermooch posted 2/14/2021 22:47 PM

There are conflicting opinions here on why they do what they do and what amount of control they can exert. Even addicts can choose ethical ways to indulge in their addictions ie. remaining single, refusing to make monogamous commitments, not driving while intoxicated, etc. Many cheaters quite successfully maintain their jobs and appropriate behavior in their work places, all the while plundering their home lives.

The addiction model may apply to some cheaters but not others. Cheating can also be a feature of a personality disorder, rather than addiction - particularly cluster b disorders which include empathy-impairment like narcissism, borderline, anti-social, etc. I'm a believer that many people called SAs are actually cluster b personality disordered folks. Addiction isn't their primary problem - it's the personality disorder, which is far harder to conquer - and that's saying something because SA alone is very, very hard to overcome. You'll find these people can maintain standards at work, in hobbies and with friends - it's only with their wives and children that they are abusive, because relationships exist to serve their needs. When they're required to serve other's needs, to be empathetic and deny themselves instant gratification their true colors come out.

Most important is not their diagnosis, nor their worth or relative goodness versus evilness. What matters is whether they are safe partners and whether staying with them means accepting abuse.

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