In my 20 years of dealing with sex addiction and porn addiction, I have recently realized that the chances of success are exponentially improved if the partner of the addict is included in the therapy and recovery process. This is especially true if one or both of them get into 12 step recovery. The addicts that bring in there partner seems to be recovering at a ratio of 5 to one. There are also meetings where the couple can recover together. Those addicts that bring in their partner stay sober at a rate of 5 to 1.
Some of the reasons seem to be:
- The Partner shows great commitment to the relationship if they agree to be in conjoint therapy.
- They are able to hold their partner more accountable than the counselor or therapist.
- They are able to remind the addict that even though the addict is making changes, it will take a long time to regain trust.
The addict should not expect a lot acknowledgment for the first steps they take. The addict commonly says: I don’t understand why she/he is not accepting more, it has been a month.
It may be unconventional but I will treat both the addict and the partner, individually and/or together. Often each one needs a space to explore issues in more depth before they are able to bring it to the couples counseling. I often schedule a 2 hour bloc of time so that they can decide what they need for that day. Given the opportunity the couple does know how their treatment needs to proceed. I will not divulge secrets, but I make clear when I think that they have no choice but to let their partners know the full extent of the addiction. I allow this to happen in their own time. The addict is often surprised that their partner would rather know the full extent of the problems, rather than be kept in the dark. Not disclosing to the partner is one more lie. Partners have great intuition of when they are not being told the full truth.
I remember a particular case where the husband had told his wife almost everything he had done except the use of prostitutes. The wife was pregnant so he was afraid that the info would put her over the top. Though she was deeply hurt that this happened, and even warned that this would be the last straw, in the end she found some solace in finally knowing that she now knew the whole truth. The amazing end of this story is the child has a father: A dad that is totally involved in the mysterious gift of raising a child.