Last night was my husband’s therapeutic sex addiction disclosure. Honestly, it feels like no big deal. I think there are enough horror stories on the internet and from the other people in our support groups about shock and grief, sitting in a therapist’s office finding out that we’ve been exposed to more STDs than we ever thought possible. So I’m sharing this in case there’s someone reading this who has been told as I was, that there’s always more to the story. It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe your partner’s disclosure, too, can be no big deal.

If the disclosure process was painful for you and you think it might trigger waves of resentment and anger toward your partner to read this, feel free to skip this post, and please know that you have my deepest sympathy.

Brace yourself, friends told me, when I caught my husband sexting with a stranger seven months ago. There’s always more.

So a few days after “D-Day,” I gave my husband an ultimatum. “I know there’s more, and I understand that you’re scared to tell me what it is. But I would rather find out anything than be lied to anymore. I can’t promise I’m going to stay with you or try to save our relationship in any case. But I can promise you that if you continue to lie to me about anything, it’s over. And the truth will eventually come out. Your best bet is to start being honest.”

Of course, my husband was a sex addict. So his response to me was a lie. “I swear, there’s nothing else!”

Bull.

“Don’t answer me right now! I know you’re lying to me,” I told him. “Think very carefully about this. You have two weeks. When you’re ready to be honest, let me know. As long as you make the decision to tell me the truth by the Saturday after next, I’ll listen calmly and keep an open mind. But if I find out there was more after that date, it’s over.”

That Saturday arrived, and when he came home from his second Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, he asked me to sit down. I felt extremely anxious and my hands and knees were shaking, but I just breathed deeply and didn’t say anything, as he told me various things he had done.

From age eleven to the present day: Masturbation, sexting, flirting, phone sex. “Soft porn” from Google images. Calling a prostitute once shortly after college, but cancelling. Going to a strip club once in college, but deciding not to go in. That was it. No in-person, physical sexual acting out that would carry the risk of disease or be an even higher layer of betrayal and infidelity, except for sex one time with a then-girlfriend, years before he met me. Most of his acting out was fantasy-based and took place alone or over the internet. The worst of it, to my mind, were the things he has done while married to me (flirting in a non-sexual way with a woman by facebook messenger; sexting and having phone sex with two women, also over the internet).

And he told me the exact same catalog of offenses last night at the formal therapeutic disclosure. His therapist believes he is being honest.

I’m not minimizing the pain of what he has done, and my reaction will always be anger and disgust that he used other human being as sex objects. But in the greater scheme of things, I guess it could have been worse.

So last night, I met his Certified Sex Addiction Therapist for the first time, and after checking that I was ready to listen, my husband pulled out a piece of paper and read the list above with dates and time periods. It took about two minutes.

I didn’t have any questions really, as I’ve had seven months to process everything already. I’ve asked innumerable questions, usually a few times over. We’ve had so, so many conversations about why he acted out, where all of this came from, and how it makes me feel.

For me, the things he’s done ceased to eat at my peace months ago, as soon as I understood the “why” of it all.

The rest of the forty-five minute session, we talked about the outlook for recovery, how to make sure the cycle doesn’t repeat with our children, how toxic his family of origin is and how they caused his mental health problems, what my husband needs to change to become trustworthy, and steps toward healing our relationship.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The therapist said that especially since my husband hasn’t had trouble maintaining sobriety for the past seven months, he doesn’t anticipate that he will ever act out sexually again. Maybe he says that to everybody, but it was encouraging to hear.

The therapist said that if he continues in therapy and recovery programs, my husband will likely be free of the underlying mental illnesses (depression, self-hatred, suicidal ideation, anxiety) and can be considered fully recovered by about the five-year mark. Again, very encouraging to hear.

I’m left feeling hopeful. Life goes on as usual today. All in all, the disclosure feels like no big deal. I have a therapy appointment for myself tomorrow, but I don’t even expect to talk too much about this, as other things going on in my life right now are on my mind more.

My husband still has a very, very long way to go in becoming healthy. He needs to develop integrity, practice self-care, continue to become assertive, exercise empathy and so on. But as I started to feel a few months ago (not sure when exactly), a sex addiction diagnosis really isn’t the end of the world.

 

9 thoughts on “Sex addiction disclosure was a positive experience with no surprises

  1. I’m very happy for you that it went so well! As you correctly note, there are so many horror stories out there that an uneventful disclosure seems unusual, but I doubt that it is.

    I am curious though, did you decide not to have a follow up polygraph test or did one of the therapists advise against it for some reason? Our CSAT will not do a therapeutic disclosure without one, nor will either of the other therapists my husband has seen. (Fortunately, I insisted on one very early on – within about two weeks of our second DDay – so we got that out of the way ahead of time.)

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    1. My husband’s CSAT doesn’t do polygraphs with the disclosure, but I have been planning one for some time soon to confirm. That’s really interesting that they insist on one. I am surprised. Around here, it seems to be the other way — therapists don’t seem to take them seriously. The jury seems out on whether they’re helpful and I had actually been reconsidering. My husband is totally willing to take it, so in a way that seems like an indication that he’s being honest. I’m glad you mentioned polygraphs; I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons.

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      1. I wrote about our experiences here: https://wp.me/p9DqJv-36
        and here:
        https://wp.me/p9DqJv-3e .

        I believe most of the therapists we’ve encountered insist on them because, frankly, addicts are highly accomplished liars. My husband had his therapist completely hoodwinked for two months before our second DDay.

        I wonder if maybe the therapists in your area just haven’t had much success with the polygraph examiners in the area or you don’t have accredited examiners nearby? Our city has a number of accredited former FBI, DOJ and state police examiners, so there is no shortage of qualified examiners. I know that isn’t the case everywhere and an unskilled examiner is useless.

        In retrospect, I’m glad I insisted on it. It gave me a confirmed starting point to trust again. It put an end to the “there is always more” mantra. Yes, there have been some new disclosures since, but mostly specifics that just fill in details. The big picture was confirmed by the test.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, I’ll definitely check out your posts! I have a lot of reading to do, catching up on other blogs.
        There are a number of certified examiners, as I live in a highly populated area of the East Coast.
        I really don’t know. The science of it seems up in the air.
        I ABSOLUTELY agree with you about their tendency to be chronic liars.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband’s disclosure was also fairly uneventful. I wasn’t even particularly concerned about it until he became increasingly agitated and anxious about it in the days before. When our therapist had asked if I wanted a disclosure I had even said no I didn’t need one. But after a few more weeks of recovery, my therapist suggested that I reconsider as he thought I had been fairly naive all along. He did reassure me though that there wasn’t anything shocking or surprising for me to hear. So when my husband was an emotional mess and barely functioning beforehand I was a little bewildered, more than worried or scared. And then after the disclosure in our therapist’s office, I had to stop myself from laughing because there really wasn’t anything new or horrific, and then I really was confused as to what had my husband in such a knot. I was asked at that time if I wanted him to take a polygraph. I declined.

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    1. My husband also became agitated in the week or so leading up to disclosure. He was unusually crabby and tense. I asked why and he said that even though I wouldn’t be hearing anything new, he was concerned that hearing everything at once would be overwhelming or cause flashbacks to when I initially found out and was so hurt and angry with him.
      So I think he was very afraid of my reaction. Afterward, he kept asking me how I was doing and by the next day, he was in a great mood, texting me that he’d been singing in the office at work he was feeling so happy. Of course, when I asked if that was because he felt relieved, he said he didn’t know. I think he needs to keep working on recognizing how he’s feeling, because to me it seemed pretty obvious. But that’s just me. 😉

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