Week 3: Analysing the strength of your relationship

We are now on to our third week of our mini blog series on helping couples navigate through the discovery of sex addiction in their relationship.  The series runs alongside the launch of Paula Hall’s new book “Sex Addiction – a guide for couples” which was released on 28th February 2019.

Week 1 focused on the importance of the addicted partner prioritising their recovery, through therapy and group work, and the partner focusing on surviving the trauma or relationship betrayal.  Week 2 focused on understanding ‘therapeutic disclosure’ and how to conduct one.  With this work underway, now is the time to look at what is left of your relationship so you can consider if there’s enough left to build a future together.

Each relationship is unique.  Each partner has their own way of communicating, expressing emotion and viewpoints on how to live.  Each partner brings their own family history, value system and hopes for the future into the relationship.  Discovering how each of you think and see life is part of the fun of being in a relationship.  It can also bring challenges to the relationship, with opportunities to negotiate, bend, compromise and forgive.  Each couple has a different way of communicating these differences and working things out.

Discovering sex addiction or porn addiction has a devastating effect on the core of the relationship, but if the core components are still in tact, then you may decide to work at rebuilding it.  In Paula Hall’s book : Sex Addiction – a guide for couples, she explains that there are 4 broad components that make up every couple relationship.  Analysing each component may allow you to have a clearer idea of how your relationship is made up.  What your strengths were before the discovery and what your strengths are now.  Each component is described in more detail in Paula’s book, but here are some questions to get you started in analysing the strength of your relationship:

Compatibility

  • How do you communicate with one another?
  • What happens when you have different viewpoints?
  • Do you have different interests / hobbies?
  • Do you have similar values on how to live life?
  • What personal goals in life do you have?
  • How would you describe your personality?

Intimacy

  • Do you express your emotions in a similar way to your partner?
  • Are you in tune with your partners emotions?
  • Would you say you are on the same wavelength as your partner?
  • How often do you share your thoughts and ideas with your partner?
  • How do you show physical affection to your partner?
  • How much time to you spend together relaxing and having fun?
  • Do you have similar interests or passions? e.g. politics, religion, protecting the environment, charity work etc

Lifestyle

Before the discovery of sex addiction in your relationship, how satisfied were you in the following areas:

  • Home
  • Parenting
  • Friends
  • Hobbies and pastimes
  • In-laws
  • Money
  • Work

Communication

  • How comfortable are you in updating your partner throughout the day? e.g. what time you will be home, can you get a pint of milk, swimming lesson has been cancelled.
  • How comfortable are you with small talk? e.g. general chit chat about how your day has been, what has happened in the news, what the neighbours have been up to
  • How comfortable are you in chatting with your partner? e.g. sharing personal thoughts and feelings about yourself and your life.
  • How comfortable are you in sharing intimate details with your partner? e.g. being vulnerable by sharing deeply personal thoughts, feelings and past hurts.
  • How comfortable are you in dealing with conflict? e.g. can you as a couple discuss difference of opinion (big or small) in a healthy, respectful way.

Each of these components are important for a relationship to thrive.  You can look more closely at each of these components in Paula’s book : Sex Addiction : a guide for couples.  Alternatively, you can focus on each component with a trained Sex Addiction couples counsellor.

Next week : Making the decision to stay or leave

This blog will guide the couple on making the decision to stay in the relationship or if it is time to end the relationship.  We will give guidance on how to ‘end well’ and how to inform children and family of your decision.