Many women who are in relationship with a sex addict or a porn addict have asked me “Was our entire life a lie?” or “Why have I stayed in this relationship as long as I have?” I believe that a crucial part of recovery and self-growth is understanding what you are working toward. Feeling some sense of positivity is crucial for your own survival in the mess of your partner’s recovery.
The fact is that if you have chosen to stay in your relationship (or you have at least chosen to give it a chance) then you have another choice to make: you can swirl forevermore in the toilet bowl of negativity or you can empower yourself to move forward.
One way to move forward is to remember the things about your partner that you do love, the reasons why you fell in love in the first place, the great times that you have had. If something other than finances is keeping you around, focus on what it is that is keeping you in the relationship. It is so important to be able to see what it is that you are working toward! This can serve as a powerful motivating tool.
You don’t have to try to rebuild the old relationship with all its warts. You don’t want to! As you remember what has happened and the terrible pain you’ve suffered, you can use it to learn and grow, and to build a new relationship. This new relationship can be deeper and more loving than you ever had. Sounds crazy, huh?
Here is a simple exercise that we teach couples that we work with:
Take an empty jar and fill it up with pieces of paper describing the fun, awesome, or just memorable moments that you have had together over the years. Now, I know in the early stages of recovery it can be hard to even remember any good times … they all seem so tainted, not real, all a lie. But they were real and it is important to try and remember some moments when your brain wasn’t consumed by all of this. Those days seemed so less complicated, didn’t they?
Each piece of paper has a different memory on it. Every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed, pick one, read it, close your eyes and visualize that memory … really try to bring yourself back to that place and embrace what it was that kept you here together. Do this exercise together, both of you …. talk about that time, relive it, if only for a few moments. It helps to start the day and end the day on a happy memory. It opens some communication and helps put your mind in a more positive direction, reminding you what you are working toward. This helps you to not stay focused on all the chaos that has literally been splattered all over your life.
In a world filled with so much emotion, anger, fear, sadness, resentment … you get the idea … this exercise helps … it truly does. Just remember to NOT use the positivity to run away from your negative emotions. It is so important to fully feel all the craziness that you are going through, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It just helps to have some happiness thrown in there … it makes navigating the tough spots much more bearable.
Many women wonder if staying in their marriage and trying to make it work is a smart idea. That is such a personal decision, but it is one that many couples have embraced. And if this is your choice, (at least for now) no matter what happens as you move forward, you will know that you tried and gave your relationship a real chance, a real fighting chance —a chance for it to become a new relationship full of trust and intimacy and love.
If your spouse does let you down in the end … well, you will grow stronger during your OWN self-discovery. You can know that if the worst happens that you CAN and will SURVIVE on your own two feet. You can create the life that YOU want to live.
So either way … THAT IS POWERFUL.