by Dairek Morgan, LMFT, CSAT
The moment has finally come where your wife/girlfriend/partner followed up enough on her suspicions, pulled on that loose thread long enough, and now your whole life is unraveling. Those fears you have been keeping at bay, the denial that your behaviors won’t really have an impact, have come flooding back in. She knows.
Chances are you’re probably reading this article right now at her “request” (that’s a nice way of putting it). She’s enraged. She’s unglued. She’s maybe let you see her pain and anguish, and if that vulnerability has come through, her tears have just slayed. The panic is setting in, the realization you may have just blown up everything you’ve ever really cared about. And now, at long last, your denial that you have a problem and you need help has been exposed. So, here you are.
I know you’re hurting too. I know you’re scared. I imagine you feel pretty helpless right now. There is help. The intent of this article is to help illuminate the path before you and provide you with some immediate resources to begin the healing journey.
Most men who come into my office soon after “D Day” are here to try and save their relationship. Maybe a piece of you is glad you got busted and want to get some much needed help, but the crisis at the moment is all about how you save your marriage. Here’s a few things you need to know:
DON’T CONTINUE TO LIE: Most partners report that the “slow-drip disclosures” are the most painful part of the entire process. For many women the torturous experience of being re-traumatized each time they think they’ve heard it all/the worst, only to discover that there’s more information, is what ultimately breaks their resolve and leads to separation and divorce. I get that it’s scary and the fear says, “If she knew everything she would for sure leave.” Well, she may. But at this point the only hope you have of repairing your relationship is the truth.
BE KIND IN YOUR HONESTY: Most partners are going to ask for every gory detail. There’s a difference between sharing truthfully, and painting a picture for her that she can never unsee. If you are, in fact, being fully honest and she’s still insistent on more details, remind her that you want to have a full disclosure in a safe/least traumatizing way for her, asking her if she would be willing to wait to discuss further in therapy.
THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT: Most men who enter into recovery from sex-addiction report that it is approximately a 3-5 year journey toward stabilization. Most couples report at least a year (if not two) before things begin to feel more secure. I recently heard a couple report that it took them 11 years to work through the trauma. It is likely this behavior took years/decades to develop, it will take some time to deconstruct.
FIND A GOOD THERAPY TEAM: The recommended course of action is for each of you to have a personal therapist and at some point later down the road, a couple’s therapist. Repair is going to cost finances, time and the investment of your heart. Yes, that’s expensive and a big pill to swallow, I get it. Therapy is cheaper than divorce. When it comes to finding a therapist, it’s very important to “go with your gut” and find a good fit. Not all therapists are created equal, and, as in any relationship, sometimes people click and sometimes they don’t. It will be very important that you find a CSAT (certified sexual addiction therapist) or someone else trained in dealing specifically with sexually compulsive behavior, and recommended that your partner find someone within the field as well.
ANTICIPATE AND TOLERATE THE UNKNOWN: There are a lot of variables at play right now. It’s common for a partner to experience a great deal of ambivalence about your relationship after discovering this type of betrayal. Slow down, know this is going to be a rough road, and commit to working hard to change yourself first. You will best serve her, your relationship, and yourself if you adopt the serenity prayer, “God, give me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Our team at Banyan Therapy is here to help. Please contact us to learn more about our treatment team and to set up an appointment.
Dairek Morgan has been a vital part of our team for 2 years, and is now in private practice. You can find out more about his practice at: www.dairekmorgantherapy.com