My Husband's Point of View


 
Over the years many of you have read that I feel it's important to have a boundary agreement when in a relationship with a sex addict but I’ve yet to share how Devin feels about it. So, today I’m going to share a post he wrote on Candeo for the addict’s and their partners. This is a bit longer than my usual posts, but I feel it’s well worth the read. With his permission, I'm sharing it here:

 

I am the SA of the couple and have been in recovery for 6 years now. I debated on which part of the forum to post this and thought maybe both sides could benefit from my experience so I decided here would be best.

As the SA and a man, the first boundary agreement was the hardest, for both of us. For my wife, trying to figure out what was realistic, acceptable and fair, and for me, because initially I felt emasculated; like a child where my mother was imposing all these strict rules.

It wasn't until I understood that my actions and behaviors showed that I did not have, or understood, boundaries, and that this document was to let me know what was and wasn't acceptable behavior. These were the things I needed to do to help my wife work through this traumatic experience and start to rebuild her trust and faith in me and our marriage.

Checking in was the hardest. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted. To feel I had to check in hurt my ego. But part of my acting out comprised of doing whatever, whenever, and wherever I wanted. If I didn't check in to help put her mind at ease, the wounds could never start to heal. When I understood the trauma I caused, I also suggested an app, so I could also “show” here where I was. We use the Life360 app, and to make things easier, she also checked in, too. It became a mutual action.

I also had to learn there was no such thing as “just friends” at the workplace. In fact, after reading the book, “Not Just Friends”, I realized how wrong my thinking was. There was a section in the book that discussed “walls and windows”. In a normal relationship, my wife should have been inside the walls with me looking out the window at the world. Instead, she was outside looking in, where I was sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with female co-workers instead of her.

The boundary agreement laid out what was and wasn't acceptable in the work place. Keeping things professional was something I had to learn. Sharing what problems my wife and I were having with others was not acceptable and would have repercussions if I overstepped that boundary.

The first boundary agreement was rough. I knew no bounds and she needed some kind of reassurance to help start the healing process. Other boundaries included working on my recovery, checking in, especially if I was going to be late from work, or if I planned on stopping somewhere on the way home. Being honest, which was hard, but I am fortunate that she has made it easy to be honest by not over-reacting when I tell her I had a slip. If I wasn't honest, there were repercussions, which for me, was sleeping in the spare bedroom for a few nights.

I have heard of the SA's coming up with boundaries of their own. Folks, this isn't a tit-for-tat. Just because your spouse comes up with a boundary agreement doesn't mean you have to as well to get back at her. Remember, you were the one who didn't have any boundaries. Your spouse thought life was going along just fine and you were everything they dreamed of, until they learned of your “secret” life…then everything came crumbling down. This is for your spouse's reassurance that somewhere, deep inside, is the person they knew they married. Let them have this without the retort.

“So what, as SA's we don't get to have any boundaries?” Yes, we do, because for whatever reason, something most likely happened in the past that lead us to have some kind of trust issue. This kept us in that secret life and we also need a place to feel safe.

As a couple, there should be reasonable boundaries to encourage us to be honest when we slip. There should also be limitations on language so it's a safe environment for everyone.

My wife and I set aside a time in the evening to share about our day. We share, one on one, our feelings, needs, and progress or slips in our recovery. This is the safe zone where we can be open and honest (an even show our vulnerable side) with each other.

I hope this helps couples who are struggling with boundaries. I apologize if I rambled as it is easier to talk about than write it out.

I love my wife and realized how special she is for staying with me after the pain I caused her and I want every couple to have that same chance.


In response to a question my husband wrote:


In my time in recovery I have learned that this is the most difficult, yet most important piece of the puzzle for a couple's relationship to survive. 

Before recovery, I was that wild stallion who lived for the moment roaming the plains, untamed.  I think it's safe to say that most, if not all, SAs are the same.  The boundary agreement is the corral, and if you have any experience with horses, you know how that goes.

The SA needs to understand that the boundary agreement is like an amendment to their wedding vows, because, well, as an SA, we didn't fully understand nor follow those vows.  This boundary agreement isn't made to tie us down nor emasculate us, but to explain to us what is and isn't acceptable, and just because the spouse comes up with the agreement, doesn't mean the SA has to as well.  If the spouse wishes to check your cell phone at any given moment, it doesn't mean you have to have the right to do the same out of spite.  Remember, if your marriage is important, you will do WHATEVER you can to ease their fears and concerns.

To the hurt spouse, the reality of us coming to the realization that we have an addiction can be somewhat traumatic all in itself.  I'm not trying to excuse my actions, not at all, but learning that I have an addiction, was like learning I had some other incurable disease...and yes, it is incurable.  There is no magic pill to make this disappear.  There is no training to make it go away.  There is only recovery programs like Candeo and 12 Steps to help us understand, adapt, and live with this condition.  Also know this, recovery isn't just for the SA.  As the hurt spouse, you have suffered a traumatic experience as well and need to work on your own recovery.  In my groups, I have seen firsthand relationships suffer because only one is working on recovery.  It's a 3-part process; your recovery, the SA's recovery, and the couple's recovery. 

When you, the hurt spouse, creates and presents the boundary agreement, presentation is key to acceptance.  First your SA spouse needs to understand why you're presenting the BA.  With us, it's because my wife loved me, wanted our marriage to work, and knew that somewhere, deep down, was the man she married.  That I broke boundaries and went outside my marriage and needed to understand what was and wasn't acceptable behavior.  As hurt as you've been, please try to be gentle and nurturing.  I know it's asking a lot after what you've been through.  

 
I had to learn how to present my boundary agreement properly. At first I was a hellion. Now, it's a team effort, a calm and more relaxed conversation than it was six years ago. What about you? Do you have problems communicating difficult topics? 

 

"U" is for Unique: A-Z Challenge

U is for Unique

Unique may not be a unique word for the A-Z Challenge.  I’ll bet by the time I’m done writing this post I’ll be tired of the word unique. 

But I think unique applies very well to my situation.  Seriously, how many people have you come across in the A-Z Challenge that are writing about sex addiction?  I think it’s a safe bet I’m the only one.  Making me, well, unique.

Devin and I are also unusual (sorry, I needed a break from the word unique) as a couple.  Not because of how we met.  We met online.  Thousands of partners meet that way. We are exceptional because we stayed together despite his addiction.  Most end up divorced after disclosure.  We are the rare couple that stuck together.

He also found a unique online recovery program immediately after his addiction was diagnosed.  He credits his initial success to Candeo.  It’s dedicated to breaking the cycle of addiction by replacing bad habits with good ones. 

But wait.  There’s more.

It’s unique in theory too.

Why?

Because Candeo believes addiction to porn works the same as addiction to narcotics and alcohol. Dopamine and endorphins rush through the body and create a high when someone views porn. Perceptions become skewed and eventually, intimacy is distorted.  Candeo teaches the addict how to retrain their brain to emotionally connect again.  How to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones.

If you want to learn how Candeo explains the brain-chemical addiction, click the link.  It’s quite fascinating.

They don’t limit themselves to porn addiction either.  They are also helping people living with anxiety and depression.  A great and unique program.  Just like Devin and I..well, we're not a program.  We're in a program.  You know what I mean!

What makes you unique?

 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




Face It, Replace It, Connect

From where else? Bing!

A few years ago life threw me a curve ball.

I learned my marriage wasn’t a Disney fairytale, after all.

I found out my prince charming had some rather large kinks in his armor.

I discovered the truth about my marriage.

I learned my husband is a sex addict.

Not exactly the way to spend our wedding anniversary, but that’s exactly what happened. As we celebrate our anniversary this week, I can look back at the few years and honestly say, I’m glad it happened.

Yep, you read that correctly.

I’m at a point in my recovery where I can say, I’m grateful I found out about the sexting, the emails to other women, and the physical affairs he had in the middle of our marriage.

If I hadn’t found out about

all

of it, I never would have had the desire to change things in our marriage.

I wouldn’t have taken a closer look at myself, and thought, “Elsie, you need to make some major changes in yourself.

He’s not the only one who needs some work.”

I needed to experience that pain to get to the joy I feel now.

At the time Devin reached his sex addiction rock bottom, I hit my emotional rock bottom.

If that hadn’t happened, I think we’d be divorced or very unhappily married right now.

His addiction gave us each an opportunity to improve our relationship and ourselves.

That is why I can look back with gratitude rather than resentment.

Even now, I use the tools I learned early on in my recovery. I still journal things out when necessary (aren’t you glad I don’t do them here anymore and removed them to avoid pain mining?), I do daily readings, I yoga, I practice deep breathing and I use FRC.

What is FRC?

It stands for Face It, Replace It, Connect.

It’s a valuable tool to help calm my nerves when I feel anxious.

I was taught FRC during an online class I took called

Candeo

. (I confess I resisted using what I learned in the beginning because of the trauma (and bull-headedness) but eventually realized just how helpful it would be not just for him but for me too.)

Devin used Candeo for a year and it really helped him with his recovery.

I highly recommend it. Worth every penny we paid.

The idea behind FRC is to

face

the negative emotions (i.e. the trigger or acting out temptation) you are feeling.

Acknowledge it’s there rather than ignore it.

Replace

the negativity with what you really want for your life.

Than,

connect

with someone or something in a positive way. If you can, talk to someone in person.

If not, you can do an act of kindness.

 If you can't do an act of kindness, try yoga or deep breathing. Just do something positive.

It’s goes something like this:

I have anxiety about Devin running late.

Rather than allow the negative emotions to overtake me, I identify they occurred.

To stop the downward spiral of hypervigilance, I

face

the feelings of anxiety.

Next, I

replace

the trigger with something positive.

Perhaps a memory of a special date night or long talk we’ve shared.

I can even imagine us on the beach together, walking hand in hand.

The idea is to no longer be focused on what caused the trigger.

Finally, I connect with someone in a healthy way.

I can call a friend, hop on my blog or even play with my dogs.

Then, I do something kind for somebody.

I don’t just use FRC for my triggers.

I also use it to stay calm when someone or something is frustrating me.

It’s a valuable tool that I’m grateful I learned.

 ~~~@   ~~~@

Free mini course for Candeo