Our second testimony follows the journey of a partner of a sex addict. From the initial discovery through to where they are today as a couple. This testimony provides advice on what she would have done differently and things they did as a couple to heal. We hope this testimony will help you feel less alone and provide support as you travel your own journey of recovery. This testimony concludes our blog series for partners of sex addicts and porn addicts. If you missed the series, then you can catch up by following this link.
Just over 4 years ago my husband left his laptop open in his study. I spotted an email for a hotel reservation (when I was going to be away). That night I asked him why he had booked a room. There was a long silence, so I knew it was not good. I was distraught and fled the room. About 15 minutes later, my husband found me and explained he had been going to strip clubs with some of his colleagues and had met a young woman there, they had become friends and had met occasionally for drinks, however it had got to the point where he wanted to take it further.
I was devastated., felt sick and literally could not believe this was happening to me. We had been married for a long time and had never doubted our relationship. I had always trusted him; he is not a risk taker and had been a dependable husband and father.
He told me how sorry he was and that he realised now that it was a mistake and would end it there and then. I felt numb and tried to convince myself it was a stupid mid-life crisis and it had been nipped in the bud. I was too ashamed to tell anyone.
Over the next few weeks, I could not convince myself of the coincidence of the discovery and so I asked him to be completely honest with me. He admitted that he had met her in hotels a few times over several weeks and had developed feelings for her. I cannot describe the pain and sadness I felt. I found it very difficult to function for the next few weeks, I lost my appetite, had brain fog, could not sleep and suffered a complete loss of confidence. I told no one, I was sure they would all judge me.
So, what happened next? Well, we decided to embark on relationship counselling and made good progress. We both realised how much good there was in the relationship – our children, we enjoyed each other’s company and shared the same interests. However, I still felt I was in a very dark tunnel with no light at the end. I had a niggle that I did not have the whole story.
So, after 8 months since the first discovery/disclosure, I decided to go through his emails on his laptop. I found hotel reservations going back 2 years. I could not believe he was still lying to me. I confronted him and told him I needed to know the complete truth. He said, ‘are you sure, there will be no going back’.
He then told me that he had been regularly paying for sex and looking at pornography for many years. There is no way I can explain the pain I felt, the sadness that what I had perceived as a good, strong marriage was a complete sham, that suddenly everything I believed in seemed to be shot to pieces.
After this final disclosure, my husband enrolled on a 12-week sex addiction recovery course. The leading therapist asked me not to make any decisions on the future of our relationship until the course was finished. To give the relationship time. After the course ended, my husband attended weekly group sessions for 4 months and then later he attended individual therapy to help him understand the root of his addiction. We also continued couple counselling.
Initially, I could not find any support for myself. A local retired therapist saw me for two sessions. Weeks later, I found the Partners course at the Laurel Centre. This course provided me with knowledge of the function of sex addiction, how to look after yourself, but most importantly a network of other partners who could relate to what I was going through. These partners were my lifeline in the early weeks and 4 of us (3 women and 1 man) are still in touch and meet up regularly. After the course, because I felt I still needed an outlet but had not told any close friends or family, I attended individual therapy sessions for a few more months.
If I could do things differently, I would have confided in someone close to me. The only person I could discuss my feelings with was my husband, which was difficult because he was the one who had caused me all the pain! There was no one safe to vent my hurt and anger to, so my anger did not get vented often enough in the early stages of discovery. My anger can still bubble up. We went through a full therapeutic disclosure a year after I found the email and 5 months after full discovery) and with hindsight I wished we had done this sooner, so I would have had the full story much earlier on.
As a couple, we put the following rules into place:
- Created a shared online diary - so I would know his work schedule
- Inform me immediately of any changes to his work plans
- I had full access to his laptop and his mobile phone
- Activated ‘find my phone’ on his mobile phone – so if I felt anxious, I could check to see where he was.
- Each evening we sat down and discussed our day – how we were coping, if there had been any triggers, what we had done in the day etc
- On a monthly basis we go through our family finances
- Parental controls onto the Wi-Fi (to help with the porn watching)
The above provided a framework for me to help restore trust in my husband. To help rebuild the relationship, we made time for each other and listened to each other. We took more interest in what the other was doing, we had more empathy for each other, we went on date nights and planned new activities and holidays together.
If I could give advice to a partner who has just found out that their partner has a sex addiction and/or porn addiction, then I suggest the following:
- Seek professional help in the area of sex addiction and porn addiction.
- Confide in someone you trust, who can hold your anger and pain, but not tell you what to do or judge your actions (either a friend or family member)
- Be kind to yourself – your whole life has fallen apart. You may not want to eat, you might not be able to sleep, you might want to isolate yourself, or not get out of bed in the morning. It is important to look after yourself physically and mentally.
There are still times when I struggle and question why I stayed in the relationship. However, my husband and I have a much better relationship today, and this would not have happened without the discovery of his addiction.