If they are struggling with Intimacy Anorexia, please go get Dr. Doug Weiss’s program on Intimacy Anorexia and Married & Alone as well as his book Emotional Fitness! Those will set you up for success with the IA side of things!
But, back to sexual addiction and betrayal trauma…
There is a dynamic of “needing to be safe first” which is a false approach. If you have a relationship with anyone in this world you are never 100% safe, because you cannot control another person and their reactions and actions.
Being connected to any other human being is accepting that there is uncertainty.
With that said, the addict does need some sense that when they get honest they won’t be verbally abused and steamrolled.
Yes, they are sharing painful realities.
Yes, you are hurting as a betrayed.
You have every right to your feelings.
At The Mod, I always tell my clients, “All feelings are valid, but not all feelings are facts.”
In fact, I tell my clients to tack that up on the wall for the next time a tough conversation occurs. They can look at it and remind themselves to validate the feelings and then later address facts.
However, how you choose to react is your responsibility and your choice.
Yes there is a part that is trauma reaction (hence why getting a really good betrayal trauma therapist is a must!), but at some point you can’t say 5 years down the line the verbal abuse is a trauma reaction. At that point it’s a choice. I know, not a fun truth, but it’s a truth you must face if you want the marriage to survive.
For the one struggling with addiction,
She is going to want a level of safety before letting her guard down… and that is 100% valid and needed.
That is very important to respect. You’ve been hiding this secret for 1,5,10, 15, 20, 25 years, and you’ve crushed her entire world.
Respect the pain she is in.
However, if you’ve been doing everything and committing and you’ve shown true remorse consistently, and she still is rebuffing all efforts to reconcile, then there needs to be a conversation had.
Does she want to be in this marriage?
If not, it’s time to think about parting ways so neither of you are abusing one another in any form.
Just because you had an addiction, doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you get to be abused because of your choices.
Each of you has the responsability to commit to your own recoveries, so you can succeed in marital recovery.
How Do We Get Out Of This Pitfall?
By each respecting each other’s limits, and knowing when avoidance is happening.
Is there a level of safety present?
Are you both committing to individual work?
Are you both attempting to lay the foundations to a marriage recovery?
If so, it’s time to engage the process instead of avoiding it.