Rebuilding your relationships may be one of the most difficult parts of addiction recovery. Sex addiction and porn addiction are uniquely able to damage trust in your closest relationships, particularly with your romantic partner or spouse. But while it can be a challenging journey, it is possible for trust to be rebuilt after addiction if both partners are committed to making the relationship work. Here are just a few ways to get started on the road of earning back trust in your most intimate relationships.
Commit to total transparency.
Institute a “no secrets” policy with your spouse. Give them all of your passwords and codes. Allow them unfettered and no-questions-asked access to your phone, your computer, and your social media accounts. Getting into a habit of total transparency helps your spouse to build confidence in the fact that you no longer have anything to hide.
Foster non-sexual intimacy.
“After our separation, Michael initiated a 90-day abstinence period in order to work on building emotional and spiritual intimacy back into our marriage. That time was both fulfilling and draining. It was draining because issues surfaced that we couldn’t gloss over with sex. We had to deal with them. But it was fulfilling because it took the pressure of physical intimacy off the table. It allowed us to actively pursue rebuilding our relationship with physical intimacy as the overflow of our emotional and spiritual intimacy. It also helped to “reset” his brain chemically, and prove to us both that sex was no longer going to be an idol in his life.” -Micah Horner, wife of an addict.
Some great ways to build non-sexual intimacy include:
- Long talk
- Date nights
- Holding hands
- Communicating with each other throughout your day
- Laughing together
- Writing notes and letters
Cultivating non-sexual intimacy takes a little more effort, but it’s so worthwhile for your relationship.
Set up common-sense boundaries.
Take the initiative to willingly put common-sense boundaries in place to protect your relationship and prevent relapse. Here’s a good place to start:
- Establish accountability relationships with other healthy men
- Commit to counseling as a couple and as an individual
- Install internet protection software on all of your computers
- Make your smartphone a “dumb phone”
- Go to bed at the same time as your spouse
- Stop spending any time alone with someone of the opposite gender
- Completely cut off contact with people who encourage addictive behavior
You can’t overcome sex and/or porn addiction on your own. Reach out for help today. Effective treatment is the first step toward a long-term recovery.