After my last post, It All Starts with Self-Care, a blog follower wanted to know whether a one-time affair is the same as sex addiction, and what to do when you’re facing an affair — what are the steps to take both individually and as a couple?
I get questions like these all the time. Here are just a few from the blog:
- How do you make requests that your partner agrees to with no intention of honoring?
- Do you think that is unrealistic for us [husband and wife] to believe he could make it through with no slip up?
- So I wondered what your opinion was of me giving over the Impact Statement before the FTD [Formal Therapeutic Disclosure]?
- If the affair has to do with their work and co worker and no one is willing to leave their position what can the betrayed spouse do or what is a healthy way a betrayed spouse should deal with this?
These are the types of questions you would ordinarily expect to hear only in a therapy session. But there are so many betrayed partners who are desperately seeking answers and solutions that are often difficult to find.
When you, as a betrayed partner, are armed with the right information, tools, skills, support, and guidance you will:
- Emerge from the crazy-making fog of deception and addiction more quickly.
- Feel stronger, clearer, and more in control of your situation.
- Feel less dependent on what your unfaithful spouse does, and more focused on solutions that you have power over.
- Experience far fewer, and less intense, triggers.
- Know, in your heart, that you are not at fault for the deception and betrayal you’ve endured.
When I started working with betrayed partners in 2007, there were no books and very little information available online for partners of sex addicts.
Even today, because of the shame and stigma surrounding sex addiction and chronic betrayal, many partners either aren’t aware of the resources available, or they don’t realize that getting support for themselves and learning the essentials for healing from betrayal can exponentially speed up their healing process.
I want to change all that.
And that’s why I created a roadmap for you to follow out of the darkness and into clarity and resolution — whether or not your unfaithful spouse chooses to get help or restore your relationship.
Here are the 5 components of the roadmap I call the Survive & Thrive Blueprint:
- Specialized information
- Individualized guidance
- A community of support
In my last post I covered the first two components of the roadmap — self-care and specialized information — and in this post we’ll do a deeper dive into the final 3 essentials: Individualized Guidance, a Community of Support, and Boundaries.
Although there are many patterns and similarities in the ways betrayed partners, unfaithful spouses, and couples are impacted and heal after chronic sexual betrayal, every couple, every betrayed partner, and every unfaithful spouse are unique. And that’s why you need individualized guidance.
What does individualized guidance mean?
Some unfaithful spouses respond quickly and decisively to the urgency of the revelation of their secret sexual life. It’s almost as though they were waiting to be caught.
Spouses like these embrace therapy, 12-step recovery, and sometimes go to 6 weeks or more of in-patient treatment in order to heal, recover, and restore their relationship.
Although spouses like these are more the exception than the norm, a betrayed partner’s journey will be much different when her spouse is reluctant, defiant, or downright unwilling to engage in any actions to heal or rebuild trust.
Unfortunately, this is the more common scenario.
A betrayed partner who finds herself in a situation of waiting weeks, months, years, or even decades for something to change or believing that change was happening only to find out she had been deceived yet again, needs very different guidance than one whose spouse is highly engaged in recovery.
This is just one of many reasons why you need to have someone — preferably many “someones” — who know your story and can give you solid information, feedback, and guidance.
And when you’re dealing with sex addiction, you will save time, resources, and heartache by seeking out a therapist, counselor or clergy person who is knowledgable about and trained to work with betrayed partners.
Getting guidance, feedback, and resources specific to your situation and circumstances is crucial.
A Community of Support
Communities of support — whether online, psychotherapy groups, 12-step, or faith-based — are vital to a betrayed partner’s healing, growth, and empowerment.
Because of the stigma and shame surrounding sexual betrayal and addiction, you may be severely isolated — often with no one in your immediate circle of friends or family that you feel comfortable talking to.
Belonging to a community of support will help you:
- End isolation and loneliness.
- Provide connection with other partners traveling the same path.
- Get the validation you need, so that you know you’re not crazy, and that your needs, wants, or requests are normal and reasonable.
- Get much-needed empathy for your feelings and experience — a quality that is often in short supply from your unfaithful spouse.
High quality communities will accept you where you are, will validate your reality, will be more interested in what you think and feel than giving you advice or telling you what to do, and will tell you the truth when they think you’re off-base or headed in a dangerous direction.
And last, but by no means least, you need boundaries.
Although boundaries are the last component of the Survive & Thrive Blueprint, learning good boundary work is one of the most crucial skills you can learn as a betrayed partner.
I placed boundaries last on the Blueprint because it can often be difficult to understand or practice boundaries without a foundation of self-care, good information and guidance, and a community of support.
Here is the 5-Step Boundary Solution process I created for identifying, creating, and maintaining healthy boundaries:
- Define your current problem(s) through knowing your reality.
- Identify the needs that aren’t being met and create a vision for the future.
- Identify where you have power.
- Take action where you have the power to effect change.
- Evaluate the results to determine if your goal has been accomplished or further boundary work is needed.
With the tools of the 5-SBS, you will regain your ability to identify and trust your own reality. You will learn how to reclaim your personal power by taking action to get your needs met rather than waiting, wishing, or hoping for your unfaithful spouse to stop his behaviors so that you can get on with your life and feel better.
And if you don’t already have one, I highly recommend downloading a copy of the 5-Step Boundary Solution Clarifier, a downloadable fillable PDF worksheet that will walk you through the 5 steps of the process. Get your free copy here.
There is so much to learn and process.
You may be feeling overwhelmed. You may be feeling hopeless or just plain exhausted. You may think, “what’s the point?” or “what difference will it make?”
That’s how betrayal feels when it gets the best of you.
Don’t let it defeat you.
My wish for you is that you recognize your inherent worth, and care for yourself as if you were your most prized possession. Because you are.
My vision is for every betrayed partner who wants and needs this vital information to have it. And that’s why, starting March 1, I’ll be offering a 5-part live online course for you to learn even more about how you can use these 5 essentials for healing to create the life you envision for yourself.
CLICK HERE for Survive & Thrive Blueprint Live Online Mini-Course*
*This opportunity will be time-limited and I don’t want you to miss it.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2019)