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This weekend went well, meaning no drama.

I focused on doing things for myself and not look for my wife’s attentions.  I tend to get caught up in thinking about how to get her attention and affection.   I worked on things that make myself happy.

We did spend some good time together with a dinner & shopping.  No heavy discussions, just enjoying each other’s company.

On Sunday, we were in the car and she was on the phone.  A new call came in on call waiting and it displayed the number on the car screen.  She didn’t switch over to it and in fact ignored it.  My mind began racing and bad scenarios raced through my head.

Once home, I struggled to ask her about it.  I finally said, “That call that came in as call waiting that you didn’t answer, is that anything I should worry about?”  She said she didn’t really notice and looked on her phone.  Her phone showed the call and how it was missed, and that it was simply one of her girlfriends.  She said, “Oh, it’s just XXX.” and then promptly called her back and chatted for 10 minutes.

I am proud of myself for being honest about my concerns and I’m proud of my wife for not being defensive and being willing to explain things to me.  It’s a little step, but I’ll take it.

Hopefully you all had a good weekend too.

Last night, I got a chance to speak with another man dealing with his wife’s sex addiction.

He found me via this weblog.

We emailed a bit and spoke on the phone last night.  It was amazing how much our stories are similar.  We talked about a lot of things and it’s the first time that I didn’t feel as isolated in the S-Anon community.

Talking with the ladies I’ve meet at S-Anon and online is great, but there is a real gender difference in how men and women deal with sex addiction of a partner.  I know the ladies want to help, but there is a bit of distance between us as men and women.

Our culture has a lot of expectations of both men and women when it comes to sex and for the first time I was able to truly share my struggle with feelings of shame over my wife’s actions with someone that truly understood how I felt.

We also talked a bit about our codependent tendencies to try to fix everything.  Again, being a man and fighting codependancies goes against a lot of society’s expectations about men.

We probably could have talked for hours, but after about a half hour we wrapped up as I got home and had to help with getting the kids ready for bed.

I’m sure we’ll talk more soon.  It was a relief to hear that I wasn’t the only guy to have these fears and be dealing with these difficult thoughts and feelings.  We argeed that it helped us feel better to share what’s going, taking us out of the semi-isolation.

After the weekend’s fun, I went back to work, trying to deal with that nonsense as well.

Yesterday I was feeling very hurt.  I couldn’t get things out of my mind and I felt on the edge of tears all day.  I felt alone and unloved.  It came over me in a way that I hadn’t felt over the weekend.  A lot of self-pity and sadness.

I struggled with this all day and I may way home I was almost in tears just thinking about going home.  Brief chats with my wife during the day made me feel that she still had her guard up and was emotionally disconnected still.

She called to ask me to pick up some stuff at the supermarket and I felt unappreciated and sad even more of this request.

What was running through my mind were all kinds of ‘bombs’.  In the Pia Mellody book,  Facing Love Addiction, she writes about how people will drop ‘bombs’ to get the reaction they want out of their partner.  Sometimes it’s a seduction bomb, sometimes an anger bomb or a sadness bomb.  In my case, I wanted my wife to move toward me, toward more intimacy and empathy with my feelings.  My mind was racing with ways to get this behavior from her.  Various scenarios ran through my mind, from picking a fight to crying to demanding sex.  All kinds of crazy thoughts.

I realized what I was doing and knew I had to avoid it.  I was still hurting, but knew that dropping a bomb wouldn’t make me really feel better.

When I got home, I worked to be cordial but not overly happy or overly sad.  I was avoiding putting on a false face.  My stomach was upset, as it does when I’m emotionally hurt, and I said I wasn’t hungry.  She and the kids ate without me.

I went to the bedroom and watched some TV to get my mind off of things.  She came in a couple times to ask about dinner and what was wrong.  She could tell I was upset.  I simply said, “I’m not feeling good, and I had a bad day.”  She left me alone.

After a bit I started to feel better and less crushed.  We watched some TV together and the distance seemed to close a bit.

This morning things were better, I didn’t feel so hurt and she was trying to talk more and engage with me.  I did start to feel micro-bursts of anger over trivial things.  Like discussing if she needed cash today, her saying no, since she wasn’t doing anything, and in my head I heard myself popping with the words “because cheating on me doesn’t cost anything…”   I didn’t say that out loud, but it’s what ran through my head.

I realize that there was nothing wrong with what she said, but that it’s the leakage of my anger toward her coming out in strange ways.  I’m not sure of the right way to process this anger.  I need help with my anger…

As I think about things, I’m starting to see a pattern.  When something happens with my wife that is upsetting, I have been doing these things.

1) Protect myself – stick to boundaries, resist urge to enable/fix, focus on myself

2) Hurt – once the immediate crisis is over, I can let go enough to feel my hurt over what happened

3) Anger – after I’ve recognized the primary feeling of hurt, the secondary feelings of anger surface

4) Refocus on recovery behavior – get back to my good behaviors, reinforce my self-esteem, healthy engagement with my wife

I don’t know if it’s the right way, but it’s what’s happening.  I don’t feel so hopeless these days, I tend to see light at the end of the tunnel more quickly.

Progress not perfection, right? ;)

The long weekend got even longer.

Yesterday we went out for lunch together.  On the way, we talked about what had happened the night before.  I stressed that I want to work this out, but I can’t change things, she’s the only one that can do her recovery.  I have my own to do.  She said how hard it was and how lost she feels.  How she doesn’t know what to do.  We talked about a few things including discussing the boundaries.  She didn’t want it to be with the therapist and said she dreaded it.  I said, let’s do it today and get it over with.  She didn’t want to, but she said yes, OK.

I clearly feel her pain and horrible she feels about herself.  It ‘s eating her up inside.

We both talked about how much we love each other and want to stay together, but that making it past this is going to be hard.

As we walked into the restaurant for lunch we agreed not to talk about it inside.  We had a great lunch.  Talking and laughing.  It was amazing how quick we were able to switch gears.  It felt wonderful to both of us, just being together.

At one point, I turned to her and said, “It’s times like this that I feel so connected and perfect with you that I can’t imagine us not being together.”  She agreed and added that “there is nothing like it when we are in sync.”

When we got home, we were feeling good we started kissing in the kitchen.  Not just a peck, but the deep passionate kisses that make your toes tingle.  Hands all over each other, it would have lead to the bedroom if the kids weren’t in the other room.

A few hours later I knew I had to discuss the boundaries, even though it might wreck everything.  I asked her if she was ready, she said, “No, but let’s do it anyways.”

The list was short, only 8 things.  She hated every minute of it, turning away from me.  It was hard to read them out loud and I felt horrible too.   The first one was no having sex outside our marriage and I said that if she did that, I’d ask her to go to a treatment center.   She said “I won’t go to that” and I said, “I can’t make you do that, but if you act out, that’s what I’ll ask you to do.”

The rest of the list was mainly about not being in contact with old partners and not going online to look at personals, etc.

When it was done, she said, “Do I get some time to answer this?”, implying she might not agree to some of these.  I said that they aren’t questions, that they are my boundaries.  She doesn’t have to follow them, I can’t make her, but I owed it to myself to be clear with her exactly what I expect.  She was angry and told me so.  She also said that she has no grounds to be angry with me, but that it’s all overwhelming.  Again, she repeated how horrible she feels and how she just wants to escape.

There wasn’t much to say, so I left to give her some space.  The rest of the evening sucked.  I felt terrible and we didn’t talk much.  This morning was painful as well with more silence between us.

I’m sure we’ll get past this, hopefully quickly.

On the bad side, I was hurt terribly by her continued betrayal.  On the good side, I am speaking up for myself and confronting the reality of the situation with her and recovering much more rapidly than ever before.

My wife and I went out to a late lunch and were chatting when things got hard.

Things had been going well for us lately at home and when we were on vacation.  We were able to talk a lot.   I was able to keep a little distance from her, letting her have space when I knew she was feeling depressed or hemmed in without trying to ‘fix’ things.  She was reaching out to me more, wanting to do things together.  I felt we were turning a corner.

So I was surprised when she said that she wanted a space.  It’s something we’ve discussed in the past, getting her a space to do her art at.  Her work takes up some space and it’s not easy to do it all at home without taking over a room.  The idea wasn’t new to me, but in our current context, I immediately had a cold wave run over me.

She showed me a picture of the small office and asked what I thought.  I stalled for a bit while I tried to decide what to do.  The codependant part of me wanted to say, “Yes, whatever will make you happy.”  the more honest side of me said, “I think you want a place to go act out”.

I finally said “When will you go there? and How much time are you planning to spend there?”.  She immediately shut  down and said, “Fine, we’ll talk about it in six months.”  We went back and forth a bit trying to discuss how to move forward.  She said she ‘couldn’t discuss things like this’ and completely walled up.  I told her that we needed to be able to say the tough things to each other.  She referred to the formal settings of boundaries that we still haven’t done.

I got overwhelmed at this point and was barely keeping the tears in.  We left the restaurant and went home.  We continued talking there.  We were dancing around the real issue.

After an agonizing time, I finally said, “I want to know that you aren’t going to have sex with other people”.   She said, “I can’t promise you that.  I could lie and promise that, but it’s not so simple.”  I was stunned.  For all I wanted her honesty, I didn’t want this.

We talked a lot about her feelings and compulsions.  About how she can’t associate sex with love and that’s why it’s hard for us to be together sexually for her.  She was trying to make me understand what she’s dealing with.  It’s hard to really grasp it.

Needless to say, I felt terrible.  Hurt that she can’t promise me this and fear that she could act out again.  I was glad we talked honestly, but I slept terribly and woke still upset.  We spoke a little in the morning before getting ready for our busy day and I was still on the edge of tears.

Finally toward the late afternoon, I was feeling better.  I was able to keep things in perspective and realize that it was ‘progress not perfection’ that we were able to talk about these things in a way we never could have back at discovery.  She and I talked briefly about it.  I even told her I was proud of her for her honestly.

Cut to the evening after everyone but me has gone to sleep.

I noticed her phone out of place in the kitchen and picked it up.  I flipped it over and saw a text that said, “I am HARD” from a number I didn’t recognize.  Even then, my codependant self debating whether I should look further.  I looked and it took me only a second to realize that she had been texting with her acting out partner from before, the one I discovered way back in September.

Crushed, I read back and saw that her side of the conversation was non-sexual, but that fact that she was still communicating with him was huge.

She had been texting him that day, even while I was praising for her honesty with me.

I went and woke her up and confronted her with I saw.  It wasn’t easy.  She admitted right away that she had kept open “lines of communication” with him.  That she wanted to stop, but couldn’t.  That there was something in her that was filled by this kind of action.  She said she wasn’t having sex, but had been texting.  I told her how betrayed I feel.

She tried again to explain how much she wants to stop but how out of control she feels.

I said that I can’t make her do anything or fix the problem, only she can make that decision and do the hard work, but the toll on me is huge.  I asked some tough questions about other things and nothing new surfaced.

She told me how horrible she feels about herself and how her reaction is to run away.  The discussion went in circles a bit about me saying it’s up to her to do the work and her saying how sorry she was, but how hard it is to change.

With nothing more to say, I told her to go to sleep, I was going to watch a movie.  After about 10 minutes, she came up to watch a bit with me looking devastated, she had nothing to say and I guess this was her way of showing that I’m important to her, and we finally went to bed after about a half hour.

This morning was awkward.  I woke before 5, unable to get things out of my mind, and went up front to watch TV.  She came up soon after to get ready for her exercise.  We didn’t talk much as there wasn’t much to say.

I need to get back to some serenity.  I knew I should have expected this at some point in recovery, but it still hurts a lot.

The thing is, that the ‘hard discussions’ get harder, but the dark feelings go away sooner.   I’m able to feel better about myself and not so codependantly pathetic, but I still hurt.  I am finding it easier to recover from these events.  Notice I said ‘eaiser’ and not ‘easy’.  There is nothing easy about this.

Today I need to write up my boundaries and formally give them to her tonight.  I stupidly thought that waiting would be better.

In the past, I would wonder if it really was sex addiction and whether it was just a cover-up for an affair.  I now know it is truly an addiction.  I have to be strong and do the right by myself and my family to deal with it.

I hope you had a better weekend.