Recovery check-ins are a vital component of the repair and trust-building process in relationships impacted by sex addiction.
If you’ve asked for check-ins in the past and the addict said some version of, “it feels like you’re my mother (or the principal) and I have to answer to you,” he’s made himself a victim of his own distorted thinking.
The truth is, recovery check-ins are an opportunity for:
- You to get the information you want and deserve.
- The two of you to connect as a couple.
- The addict to be accountable.
- The addict to repair the extensive damage done by addiction.
Partners often want regular recovery check-ins but don’t request them. Some partners want too much information from the addict about middle circle behaviors, or detailed accounts about his thoughts or fantasies. Neither of these extremes is healthy for you or your relationship. (By the way, if you’re wondering whether you ask for too little or too much, read my post about it here.)
Below are the suggested recovery check-in items I recommend for sex addicts and their partners, along with five “dos and don’ts” for the recovery check-in process.
Except for sobriety date, addict and partner may both check in regarding the following:
- Sobriety date from inner circle behaviors (this should be the first item on any couples’ recovery check-in)
- Feelings/How I’m feeling now (anger, pain, guilt, love, joy, shame, fear, passion)
- Recovery activities since last check in (12-step meetings, group therapy, individual and/or couples’ therapy, reading, homework, step-work)
Triggers addict experienced and tools used to deal with triggers. For example, “This week I was triggered several times and when that happened, I said the serenity prayer/called a program person, sponsor/redirected my attention (or whatever tool was used).” Emphasis is on tools used rather than details of triggers. For example, if addict was triggered by a particular person the focus is on the tools used to deal with the trigger rather than what the person looked like, what they were wearing, etc. Addict may rate the intensity of the trigger on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest.
Couples Check-in (optional – each person answers the following):
- What you (your partner) did that helped the relationship.
- What I did that harmed the relationship.
- Express an appreciation for the other person.
5 Check-in Dos & Don’ts
- Addict should take responsibility to initiate check-ins.
- DO make sobriety date the first item on any recovery check-in. Partners are often anxious waiting to hear this information.
- DO schedule regular check-ins; for example, every Sunday night or every Wednesday morning. Check-ins should occur at least once a week.
- DON’T share middle circle behaviors (specifically objectification, euphoric recall, fantasy, etc.) unless the incident feels like a secret to the addict, or has significantly impacted the addict’s recovery or the couples connection.
- DO (for the partner) listen to the check-in without interrupting and thank the addict when complete.
If you’re not having regular recovery check-ins with the addict in your life, I encourage you to make a request. If the addict agrees, make the agreement clear and specific, including the day of the week and time.
If you are having regular check-ins, how are they going? Share your experience, or any questions in the comments section below.
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2015)
p.s. If you’d like a copy of my Suggested Recovery Check-In Items for Sex Addicts & Partners handout, download one here.
All submitted comments are subject to editing to protect confidentiality and maintain anonymity.