The discovery of sex or porn addition wrecks trust in couple relationships. Partner’s often describe the shock of discovering the person they were living with was not who they thought they were and the relationship they had shared together was very different from what they had always believed. Most partners have endured years of lies and deceit. Some may have had suspicions that something was going on while others may have had no reason to think anything was different from how they had assumed.
Trust can be shattered in a second, but it may take years to rebuild it. Even when recovery is well established, partners will understandably have their doubts and insecurities and it is often frustrating for the addict to face ongoing accusations and suspicions. Furthermore, the addict finds themselves in an impossible situation of trying to prove that they have ‘not’ done something, when there is no evidence to prove their innocence.
There are three key elements in rebuilding trust - Honesty, Accountability and Empathy. People in recovery from addiction must learn to be honest in every aspect of their relationships - even if that honesty is going to cause conflict. When honesty is not prioritised, partners are left feeling nothing has changed and that whatever they hear will be ‘for an easy life’ rather than truth. Honesty must extend to every detail of life to demonstrate a change in attitude, not just a change in behaviours. Accountability is essential for rebuilding trust and when this is done collaboratively it can be a major asset for preventing insecurity and unwarranted accusations. Each couple must create their own personalised accountability contract suitable to their individual needs. Finally empathy allows partners to begin to believe that the addict genuinely understands how they are feeling and the changes in behaviour are coming from the heart rather than being governed by will power. Furthermore,, improving empathic communication begins to rebuild intimacy and heal the pain of betrayal.
Many people in recovery struggle with understanding their partner’s needs and rebuilding trust, that’s why we’ve developed a single stand-alone day for addicts in recovery who want to strengthen their couple relationship. See our services page for more details.