Partners of Sex Addicts: Grieving the Betrayal
September 12, 2022
One of my areas of speciality is helping partners of sex addicts find hope and healing from the trauma caused by betrayal.
There are five main phases to this type of trauma work. My goal, and our goal as a therapy team, is to help you walk through each stage well so you can find true healing after experiencing such immense pain and heartbreak.
Stages of Betrayal Trauma
1. Suspicions – You may notice something doesn’t feel right to you and question if your partner could be hiding things from you. Perhaps timelines of events or phone/credit card charges don’t add up. Or, maybe your partner is showing up in the relationship differently than they have before. Trust your gut.
2. Shock – In this stage, your partner reveals their addiction and addictive behaviors, or you confront your partner with your suspicions. I refer to this as the ‘hit the fan’ stage. The aftermath can feel unbearable. There may be lies told or denial by your partner as a way to minimize the damage done to you. It’s common for addicts not to want to reveal everything to their partner out of fear you will choose to leave the relationship. You may experience feelings of anger, despair, fear and insecurity. A lot of focus is placed on the addict and their behavior as a way to try to find some control in such an overwhelming situation.
3. Grief and Ambivalence – This is when the grief settles in. You feel the rawness of the betrayal and you are keenly aware of what you’ve lost. Depression can be a concern during this phase, but introspection also comes. The focus is no longer fully on the addict, but on you – how you feel, what you want, and what you need to heal.
4. Repair – The crisis is not as overwhelming, and you begin to feel some emotional stability once again. In the Repair stage, the deeper introspection can lead to your healing around things not even directly related to your partner’s behavior. Perhaps there are other unhealthy patterns in the relationship you want to address. You will feel like you have the ability to look at those now. You’ve gained emotional strength and you’ve learned to set and uphold boundaries that help you feel good and safe, both in your relationship and other aspects of your life.
5. Growth – The final stage is the Growth stage. The pain has decreased significantly and the triggers occur much less often. You are able to place a greater focus on the good things in the relationship and your couple’s therapy no longer revolves around the addiction.
How We Help
If any of these stages resonate with you, let us help.
Our goal is to give you the space to heal where the focus is on YOU – your story, your pain, your struggles and your goals. YOUR healing.
We will walk you through each stage, providing support, therapeutic healing and practical tools to honor your grief and move you forward towards full healing and restoration. We provide individual therapy as well as group therapy that is specifically focused on you, the partner dealing with the betrayal that comes from sex addiction.
Since no two people grieve in the same way or for the same amount of time, we customize our work to best suit your needs and desires. The goal in walking through grief is not necessarily to move on, but to find a way to live with your new reality – whatever that may be.
If you find yourself in the midst of betrayal trauma or grief, my hope is that you will make today the day you reach out for help.
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The silent treatment is a pretty common response I see in couples therapy. It happens when you are so angry, disappointed, let down, and you don’t feel like you have any other way to let your partner know just how upset you really are.
A lot of the therapy work I do is helping couples and partners understand what their contributions to the relationship are, and how they can start making changes for the better, specifically with communication. Specifically, when communicating with your spouse, it’s important to make sure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.