To Tell or Not To Tell

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by Meshuga, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    Any others, or is discovering your addiction and resolution to quit independent of your SO more rare than I thought?
  2. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    My husband had stopped looking at P for a couple of years before he met and married me and then relapsed sometime after we were married. I was clueless for 5 years.

    Yep. That was exactly me. He would go through cycles of relapsing, binging and then things would get better for a while and then it would start all over again. We lived together before we got married so, as a newlywed wife I was totally baffled by a husband that suddenly was much more interested in staying downstairs and "playing computer games" until 3, 4 or 5 in the morning, and then going to work at 8. I wanted sex daily. He would sit on the computer and I'd wait for him until I couldn't wait longer and then go to bed lonely. One time he told me I "needed a hobby." I was smothering him. I wanted too much from him. If we did have sex, he couldn't last long or finish. He refused to talk about it. I tried everything I could think of, give him space, ask for sex less often, yell, cry, be a better wife ... but I genuinely had no idea it was porn. Things eventually got slightly better (no PIED, although I didn't know that's what it was at the time) but I wasn't getting my needs for conversation, connection and love from him. I've thought many, many times about why I stayed, in a connectionless lonely marriage with a husband who didn't say much more than "I don't know" and "I'm tired" for five years. Five. Years. I don't know the answer. I guess it boils down to me not really seeing a great marriage modeled to me and not really knowing if more was possible (though I did crave it) and not really believing I deserved it.

    Yes, I blamed myself. I asked him many, many times what was wrong and the answer was always nothing. Everything is fine. So, I concluded that it must be me. I must not be enough. I must be crazy. I must be inventing these problems, yelling about them and therefore creating the problems. Yes, I knew something was wrong. But I didn't trust myself or value myself enough to realize I deserved better. Leaving never occurred to me. What would I tell my family? I left him because he won't talk to me and I don't get enough sex? He's not romantic or loving? He loves his "computer games" more than me? He has ED so I'm bailing? I was denied the information I needed to make the relationship work, before we got married and after.

    Finally, he was forced by circumstance to tell me. (I'm not going to go into details but I would have found out another way if he hadn't confessed.) I literally had no idea. I did "everything right." I told him I could not share him with anyone else. (He was into sex chat sites.) That if he continued down the P path, I could not go with him. I insisted he go to counseling (I went too, separately) and speak to a pastor. Then the crisis passed and life went back to "normal." He wasn't looking at P, but our root marital issues were not fixed. He continued to MO (I knew), fantasize (I guess I could have guessed that but I didn't) and objectify women (no clue) for seven more years. Our marriage was almost dead when he finally had a P flashback in a moment of stress and realized P still had a hold on him. He found NoFap and approached me with the idea of a reboot. It literally saved our marriage.

    So, as I said before, I can't give any great insights on how to get a PMO addict to realize they need to seek help. I can't tell SOs how to help their addicts hit rock bottom and seek help. I wish I could. What I can say is, if you are "hiding" a PMO addict from your SO, trust me, they know something is wrong. They are likely blaming themselves. I know this from my experience but also from hearing from so many other SOs here at NoFap. Yes, revealing this to them will bring them pain, but nothing compared to the pain of not knowing. Let me be clear. If you are hiding a PMO addiction from an SO, you may think you are doing it to protect them, but you aren't. You're protecting yourself. Ultimately, you are also protecting your addiction.

    I've had this same conversation here at NoFap. It's such a delicate line to walk because it's so very essential that the addict not continue to lie. The porn addiction did not hurt me nearly as much as the realization that he had been lying to me for so long. I told him, look, I get that you may relapse. That I can handle. What I cannot handle is you lying to me about it. So the addict does need to come clean and not lie, which includes lies of omission. A random example: Oh, I have a PMO addiction. But not mentioning this has escalated to escorts. I do not want someone to think that I am advising them to hold important information back.

    On the other hand, there were certain things I just wasn't emotionally ready to talk about yet. I asked very few questions until just recently, as our marriage was healing with the reboot. I could only handle what I could handle. I think sometimes for the addict, it is a relief to dump information and for the SO, especially like me, being in the total dark, it was just so overwhelming. Information overload.

    Plus, if I did ask questions, later on, after the initial revelation, I got pushback. Oh, you're never going to trust me. When will we be past this? He would withdraw from me further, which was the worst thing for me, already being so connection starved. Once we started the reboot, along with FANOS (see the link in my signature) it helped us work on our communication skills. Once I got to the point where I felt ready, we did have some hard conversations. And every time he was able to listen, answer questions and not withdraw from me, I healed, just a bit more.

    So I think the key is:
    1. Don't lie.
    2. Do give the SO time to process.
    3. Do continue communication, however. FANOS is great for this.
    4. Be ready to listen and answer questions.
    5. Understand that healing won't happen in a matter of weeks or even months. It's not a straight line.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  3. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    I love everything you are saying here, but I'm thinking like a terrified, ashamed addict who has not yet fully understood the extent of the damage he's caused and is trying to mitigate it as much as possible. It was only porn, after all. I didn't actually cheat, but she'll take it like I did, and she'll either overreact and divorce/break up with me or blame herself and maybe take some pills. So let's spare all of us from these possible scenarios, shall we?

    You knew there was a problem with the marriage even if you didn't know the specific cause, I hear you on that. So what if your husband educated himself, and addressed that cause, and made the problem go away? What if he changed back into the man you married, without having to force you to deal with his indiscretion? Wouldn't you prefer to be spared the rejection and the breach of trust, and just enjoy the benefit of a healed marriage without the trauma?

    And while fupornwife has given a comprehensive, quality argument for telling the SO, I'm also looking for quantity. I would like as many opinions as possible, in agreement or to the contrary, whatever you think.
    Marsbar likes this.
  4. zauvek

    zauvek Fapstronaut

    @Meshuga, here you go for some more quantity on people and reasons why you should share your addiction/story with your SO. I am not married to my SO, we have been together for two years.


    1. When we started dating, actually before, I told him all my sh*t. The good, the bad and the ugly. I hate that most people start dating not knowing whom they are dating. Sure, you have a great side, funny, smart, witty, charming. However, what I think is needed in a good relationship is a compatibility of flaws. Can you deal with your SOs bad sides? Can s/he with yours?

    I've dated an illusion before and I felt disconnected. He never loved me. He loved the image he had of me, never the real me.

    So what hurt me with my SO and his addiction was that for 18 months he wasn't honest with me. Sure, he wasn't honest with himself either, but I felt (and was) lied to.

    That is my first point: You cannot love or be loved if you don't know your partner IMO.

    2. Why do you think that you are entitled to decide for someone else, someone I assume you love and respect, if s/he wants to be with you? By withholding information you are making that decision for him/her.

    3. As already said, addiction thrives in shame and secrecy. As long as you don't know how your SO is going to react, you are going to assume the worst. This will only add to the feeling of shame and guilt and feed the addiction.

    4. Even if you make it out, you owe it to your partner to know what can come back. Just because you "rebooted", you are not cured. I had bulimia. I owe it to every new potential partner to tell them that. They are potentially entering a relationship with someone who might react badly to stress and start vomiting again. When can I say I'm cured? 90 days? One year? Two years? Ten years? I don't want a partner who, if it comes back, doesn't know it. I want them to be equipped with a) the knowledge that it might come back, b) coping mechanism, c) my story so that they know that I made it out once before and how. It is not up to me to make the decision if they want that risk.

    Even if you think you are cured, I humbly disagree that you can act like it never happened. It has an impact on your brain. It has an impact on your story, on the way you deal with things.

    5. As for the "bad moment": there never is a good moment. In January (during a tough exam phase) my two most important men started worrying me; My father got diagnosed with lymphoma/cancer and my SO is getting out of PMOing. Bad timing you say? Well should he have waited until the chemo finally works? That might take several more months... Or in the worst case: after my father dies? How about in a year when I'm writing my Master thesis? Or when I start looking for a job? There never is a good time. I found out because he escalated. I read stories of men who waited for the "good moment" that never came and where the wife realized he was addicted once the police showed up because his illegal porn use escalated. Is that a good time? No. Accept that there never will be a good time.

    It is up to you to show that all the pain s/he is going through is worth it. Show that you mean it (show NoFap, YBOP, that you found a counselor etc), accept that your SO will be hurting and deal with it. Don't just dump all your baggage and continue being an emotionless prick. Keep your SO updated about your recovery and how you move forward. That will make the timing not right, but good enough.

    6. And my last point: Stop lying. To yourself and others. I said it once or twice in the SOS group: I wasn't able to handle an intimate relationship while I was kicking my eating disorder. Therapy helped me on the long run but sometimes all the pain, all the emotions coming up where to much and I had huge relapses. Usually, a few weeks before I realized something important about myself, I got really "depressed". I needed a lot of sleep, was somehow agitated and at the same time lethargic with many relapses, sometimes daily, sometimes worse, sometimes less. Then somehow another puzzle piece of my life fit and I was feeling and acting fine again until the next breakthrough. Some people have an easy ride through therapy. I didn't. The relationship I had when I started therapy was doomed to fail anyway beforehand (personalities didn't fit and never mix friendship, flatmates and sex). When it ended (2 months into my therapy) I decided to not date until I'm sure I'm emotionally able. I did have flings but that is not the same as a relationship.

    What do you do when you go through an emotionally unstable time, when you get irritated by everything because rebooting is tough, because you realized something that has been bothering you for decades or because you realized how dysfunctional you / your mother / father / best friend / someone was over the years? Lying to a fling in order to cancel an evening out is not great, but ok. Lying to your SO, trying to hide difficult times,... well that is draining and that won't help you.

    In short: I needed to know that I could fall deep during therapy, that I could let go and that I wouldn't hurt anybody but myself.

    If I hadn't felt that way, I would have been slower in recovery, I think. I have a couple of acquaintances that started therapy before me and are still in it after 5+ years, still bulimic, still with the same partner, still trying to hide it / only telling part of the story.

    So if you cannot handle being with someone: tell them and set them and yourself free. They cannot handle it? Set them free. I have huge respect for all the addicts here that are dealing wonderfully with their SOs. Sure, it's not an easy ride, sometimes it's hell, but they are dealing with it in a way that I wasn't able to (I was 21, maybe that is also something?). I have huge respect for my SO for going through it with me and dealing with my pain. He knows that I wasn't able to do that. So I am not judging if someone isn't able to deal with his or her SO. But please, don't take away your chance for a real recovery. If you have to use a lot of energy in order to hide your recovery process, you won't have that energy to put into your recovery and (healing) your relationship with yourself or your partner.
  5. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    Nope. First off, it would have left me feeling like a crazy person that was imagining the problems and/or causing them herself. This is huge. Even after he told me of the PMO addiction, to this day, I'm still finding sneaky ways to blame myself. Even after years of therapy and being able to, finally, say, it's not my fault. That sounds easy but it was literally a sentence I could not say without tears, freaking out and repeating the belief that it WAS my fault. (Even though logically, I knew that was not true, it felt emotionally true.) In the last several months I've finally been able to put the nail in the, it's my fault, I somehow caused this/made it worse/wasn't good enough to fix it, coffin. It only took me seven years.

    Secondly, I don't consider that a healthy relationship in the least. How can someone keep a secret this huge and not have it have a negative effect on the relationship?

    Thirdly, I think it would hamper healing in a big way. In order to keep the secret the addict would have to continue business as usual, things like watching sex scenes in movies, taking his/her cell phone with them everywhere. It would raise more and more questions. See above.

    Finally, it would hamper healing for the SO and the relationship. In my husband's case he could not have done the healing we've done without the two of us working on this problem together. After 12 years of marriage I had a lot of anger built up. I'm having to learn new patterns too. It's not just about stopping PMO, it's about healing as a person and as a unit. For us, that has required FANOS, nonsexual cuddling, karezza, journaling and lots and lots of communication in general.

    Plus, let's just examine what happened. Five years of him trying to quit, unsuccessfully on his own. (Granted, NoFap didn't even exist until 4 years after I finally found out, and we only found it this year.) Then he tells me, and he's able to quit PMO, with only a handful of short-term relapses in 7 years. But it WAS NOT enough to heal him totally and our relationship was nearly dead. It wasn't until he found NoFap and stopped MO, fantasizing and objectifying that he was able to come out of the brain fog enough to start really healing our relationship. And here's the key. Even that would not have been enough if we hadn't been able to be totally honest with each other and work on our communication skills and bonding through things like FANOS and karezza. None of those tools work if you're still lying and holding back a huge secret.

    Basically, what I'm saying is, at least in our case, stopping PMO was NOT enough. And, in order to heal as individuals and change our relationship patterns, pull it out of the shitter into where it is today (much improved but still needs more work), we needed to work on this together, with total honesty.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  6. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    Yes, yes, and yes. All this.
    zauvek likes this.
  7. i_wanna_get_better1

    i_wanna_get_better1 Fapstronaut

    I'll add part of my story for the quantity part.

    I kept my habit a secret from my wife while we were dating. I thought it would go away once we got married. I was disappointed when it didn't and tried to keep it a secret. All the little things I was able to hide from her while we were dating became glaringly obvious when we got married. Things got so bad that we started seeing a marriage counselor but I was determined not to disclose my secret. Of course, we made no progress. Five years into our marriage I started seeing a therapist and shortly thereafter I disclosed my secret to my wife. But I relapsed completely and turned the subjects into an "Off Limits" topic. Twelve years later (present time) my wife had enough and threatened to move out with our children. That was my wake up call I needed to try again.

    Initially, my wife saw there was problems in our marriage but couldn't figure out what it was. I was literally driving her crazy. Disclosing my secret the first time was actually a relief to her! In the absence of information she was guessing what the problem was. She thought she had married someone who was gay because I didn't desire sex very often. I accused her of being a nymphomaniac for wanting sex so often. I was willing to do or say anything to keep my secret and preserve my way of life. I couldn't see it then, but I loved porn more than I loved my wife.

    My wife has had bouts of depression over the years. Now this was a situation that she couldn't fix, address, or talk about. She was from the west coast and we were living on the east coast. She didn't have a support system to help her. She was going on stronger and stronger forms of medication. She maxed out on several doses. One of her therapists said they couldn't medicate her any more because I was the one who needed help.

    Along the way we were having financial difficulties. The credit card bill would come every month and it was just getting bigger and bigger and I couldn't understand why she was spending so much money. She later admitted to me that she was trying to hurt me because I cared more about the finances than I did our marriage. She found comfort in shopping and collecting things. I was turning her into a compulsive shopper and hoarder. I did not recognize it at the time that I was the cause of all of this.

    I mistakenly thought I could keep my secret locked in a box that only I could see and not have it affect anyone else around me. I was wrong. I was wrong. I WAS WRONG.

    This time around I included my wife in my recovery. What has been the positives? She knows who I am now. She knows what I'm thinking and what I'm feeling and why I am acting the way I do. We are finally comfortable talking about things close to our hearts. We are healing together. We are growing closer as we heal each others wounds. I am becoming the husband I should have been 17 years ago. We are bonding in a way that we never did before. We are sharing the victories together. We have a long way to go but the dark days are behind us.

    When we got married we were supposed to become 'one flesh'. I couldn't keep acting the way I did without hurting her. And even if by some miracle I did get myself clean, how long could I have kept what I did a secret? Forever? Was I going to keep that subject off limits forever? Not talking about it was like slamming the door in her face over and over again. All she wanted to do was come in, see what was going on in the little room in my head, and help me. Every time I did that she loved me a little less. And then there were days that she hated me. And then there were days when she wished I would die at work. Keeping my secret caused her to think and feel malicious thoughts towards me. I thought I could hang my hat on the fact that I was a good father and a lousy husband. That wasn't good enough. I had to do better.

    Why did I try to keep things a secret? Fear... plus a lot of shame, embarrassment, and self-loathing. Fear of discovery. Fear of being judged. Fear of being seen as a pervert. Fear of being seen as weak. Fear of being viewed as irredeemable. Fear of losing something I loved - porn. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of consequences. Fear of the unknown.

    Whatever you decide, do not let fear be the deciding force. I mistakenly viewed myself as the martyr for my family and that as long as I provided in other ways then it was ok to fall short in this way. We may say we are protecting our SO, and in some cases that might be true, but that can be part of the delusional thinking we surround ourselves with. Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith into the unknown and trust that the other person is resilient enough to handle the truth. Disclosing our secret is one way we have to take responsibility for our actions. To keep a secret for selfish reasons will hinder your recovery... you will have to continue to act in a secretive and deceptive way... a way that is not normal or free. An addict cannot be completely free of guilt, shame, and embarrassment if they are still holding onto their secret.

    There are books that talk about how to disclose the secret. There are plenty of stories here on how people disclosed. If you choose to reveal your secret you can control how that conversation goes instead of the situation blowing up later on. Remember what all the SO's here say... it's not so much the secret, it's the LIES. Could delaying with good intentions backfire on you? How would you respond if she ever asked you 'Why didn't you tell me sooner?'

    Just a few thoughts for you to consider.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  8. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    YES! At last I had the information I had been denied!
    Yes. I was angry all the time. Even after he told me, but didn't fully let me in his life, I was so angry. I tried to be a good wife. To be patient and loving. But the anger leaked out sideways in all kinds of crazy ways. The only thing that stopped the anger was to let me into that room in his head. To communicate with me.
    Yes. With the reboot, leaving MO, fantasizing and objectifying women behind, only now is my husband starting to feel like a normal person. Someone without a terrible secret to hide. It's made him more willing to go out with friends, talk to people, not isolate himself. Meanwhile, I'm happy to see him doing this and, even when I need to be at home with the kid, I'm encouraging him to go, have fun. Before, when I wasn't getting my needs met, I had a very hard time with that. Now, my needs are met and I'm happy to have him go have fun. And he does the same for me and we try to find times we can go have fun together, without the kid too.
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  9. WifeInTheDark

    WifeInTheDark Fapstronaut

    Oh my goodness! Every single point. Every truth. Right on the money! SO. GOOD. YES! Yes. Exactly. Yes!
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  10. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but we have @SeekingSolace, @fupornwife, @zauvek, and @WifeInTheDark as former unwitting SOs to addicts, and @noexcuses, @i_wanna_get_better1, and myself as addicts who told their SOs, all having positive experiences after admissions were made. If there are others who fall into this category, please feel free to add your vote and spill your guts, or simply quote some of the points previously made.

    Are there any who had a bad reaction? An SO who would rather have not known, or one who immediately quit the relationship when their addict freely confessed the addiction? How about an addict who has successfully handled their problem and healed their relationship without divulging their struggle?
    LizzyBlanca likes this.
  11. TheWife

    TheWife Distinguished Fapstronaut

    I love this thread!

    I fall into the other category as well. I was the one to confront my husband and get him to see he had a problem. I'm sure there are things he hasn't devulged to me. But he answers any question I have. It is tough. If he hadn't admitted it when I confronted him, we wouldn't be together.

    Interested to see if any one has successfully rebooted without their partner knowing.
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  12. True-Self

    True-Self Fapstronaut

    Hey @Meshuga I meant to respond to this earlier. I was actually not expecting the outcome that you assumed because I knew that my wife did not have strong feelings against P. She was of the common (?) opinion that "all men use P". She was also aware that I used P and had told me it was "OK".

    In my case after finding NoFap, and learning more about how P impacts people and relationships I was changed. I "knew too much" and could no longer blindly accept my P use. Through reading the stories of others (and writing down my own) I was able to better see how some of my own actions were negatively effecting our relationship.

    Disclosing to my wife my desire to "leave P behind" was still very positive as it created greater accountability and removed the secrecy that P can create.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
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  13. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

    Reading your post makes me tear up. I can relate so much to many of the elements of your story and it provides insights to how my actions in the addiction made my wife feel. I hurt her on so many different levels. More and more ways are being revealed as I get healthy and as she is working on recovery too. It's like peeling back the layers of an onion. As each new layer is revealed it brings more remorse for what I did. I take ownership though for my actions and this allows us to talk about it all which slowly over time is bringing healing and reconciliation. And a new marriage that is built on a stronger foundation. As evidence, my wife not long ago told me that she loves me more now than she did on her wedding day and that she is finally getting the marriage she always dreamed of. There is hope. Good can come from all the filth and perversion. :)
  14. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    This is true for me as well! And it could not have happened without my husband doing what you did, taking ownership and being willing to listen to me talk about how much his actions hurt me. Every time he's able to change his patterns, not withdraw and not get defensive, I heal a little bit more. Not that our healing journey is focused on me raging at him, far from it. We are also building up positive experiences, cuddling, sex, happy conversations. But letting me get out my true feelings is an element of it.

    Which is why I don't believe an addict and his or her SO will heal, individually as well as together as a couple, without disclosure. The other pathway is the relationship ending and the two people healing individually.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
  15. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    I'm sure there are many examples of this. However, I would venture to guess that the relationship wasn't in the stage or of the quality that the SO was willing to fight for. I was willing to fight for my husband and my marriage because I loved him, despite the problems. And now that I'm getting my needs met, including honesty, communication and willingness to listen to my hurts, I love him even more!

    That's why I think @zauvek's input on this was so valuable. Coming from the perspective of someone who was in a relationship when she started treatment for bulimia, but that relationship didn't weather the storms. I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to guess that that was due to the relationship not being at the stage that either person was willing to do the work to save it. Perhaps it wasn't the type of relationship that seemed headed to marriage or perhaps they were too young to be thinking of marriage. Is that about right, @zauvek? The other examples she provided were of women with bulimia that didn't fully disclose their condition and their relationships are struggling due to that. I'm sure there are examples of women who did disclose fully and the SO was willing to stick around, but I'm going to guess that those relationships were long-term serious relationships.
    Ted Martin likes this.
  16. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

    Couldn't agree more with all you said. Thanks for speaking truth and sharing your unique perspective!
  17. zauvek

    zauvek Fapstronaut

    @fupornwife, yes, that is about right! Both partners have to be willing to put in the work and we were both young, naive and not heading in a very serious direction.

    @Ted Martin, thank you for your comment!
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  18. There are sins which are beyond earthly redemption.

    I'm a porn addict that has successfully hid his addiction from his wife for decades. She knew before we married that I "had" viewed porn, but didn't know I was still actively indulging in it. I had a brief reprieve our first year of marriage when I was trying to get my act together, which in a way was perfect timing because my wife was going through her own negative, personal issues on being married again which lasted for the bulk of that year. I was not recovering for good reasons, nor was I doing anything positive to replace the hole the addiction had left, so I relapsed. I experience PIED for relatively brief periods early on, but that eventually went away. About a year ago I confessed to viewing porn, but it was a pathetic dribble of a confession. I did not reveal the extent of my usage or the fact that I had fully acknowledged and realized what I had suspected for many years, that I was a porn addict.

    I believe I've managed to dig myself into a deeper hole with the half-hearted, minimal confession than if I had just not confessed. Even with the little that I had told her, the effects were traumatizing for my wife. I believe this added to my stubbornness in not telling her more, and my porn use continued. The problems for me stem from the fact that I also acted out. I can't provide details, but suffice it to say I didn't step out on my wife, and I didn't do anything that would warrant my inclusion on a sex offender registry should my actions come to light, but that doesn't minimize the severity of what I had done.

    I agree with everything I've read on this thread, and I see the wisdom and sense of it all. I understand Ted Martin and his arguments very well. I don't believe I'm attempting a recovery on my own. I know NoFap will never be a fully adequate replacement for a knowledgeable and loving SO who's helping in an addict's recovery. I envy that, I truly do, but there are some things that I believe would be nearly impossible for a marriage to recover from. Where does one draw the line? At full and complete disclosure at the risk of destroying innocent lives? I do not believe continuing in an addiction while the SO is kept suffering in the dark is acceptable on any level, but I also do not think going to the other side of the scale is appropriate for every circumstance. There have been references to the exception, to the 1 in 10:
    Absolutely, and I do believe that time will come for me. On the flip side, there are those in this thread who believe that this requires full disclosure. That hiding even a small part of the addiction is perhaps continuing a relationship built on secrecy and lies. Perhaps, and it isn't my intention to win over anyone to my way of thinking or to change minds. For the 90%, I would say that's true. I would say the full support of an SO is critical to recovery, but not every situation is the same. There is a fraction of us that would do more harm in full disclosure than good. How do I reconcile this? By overcoming my addiction. By never doing the unforgivable again. By taking steps every day to improve myself and my marriage. I'm at the start, and I still have hope it can be done. Perhaps in 1 year or 10 I'll have a different mindset, but this is where I am now.
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  19. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    Ok, so it's no secret how I feel about this. For me, those five years when I was clueless were much more painful for me than finding out. On the other hand, I'm finally at a point in my healing journey where I realize it's not my job to convince every addict to tell their SO, in a twisted attempt to save myself from the pain of not knowing. (An impossible task, but I realized recently that's what I was doing.) I'm still gonna shout it from the mountain tops, but with a healtheir mindset for myself.

    I also recognize that, in a post populated with multiple people with strong beliefs on the other side, it took guts to tell your story. And it was thought provoking for me. (Although I still have my strongly held beliefs.)

    So, not in an effort to push you, but out of curiosity and perhaps to prompt some deep thinking, @zathura can I ask you some questions? Anyone else in his position, with an SO in the dark, is welcome to answer the same.

    1. What is your greatest fear of what would happen if you came clean?
    2. Who are you protecting by not telling, you or your SO? Perhaps it's a split. Can you apply a percentage? 50% you, 50% her?
    3. If children are involved, how much does that play into your motivation to keep the secret in order to continue the marriage? Does that change the percentage split in the question above?
    4. You said you gave a minimal confession previously, do you think now that if you were able to go back and confess the whole thing at that time, it would have been better?
    5. Is not telling her what's going on hampering your recovery in any way? Like, are there things you're hesitant to do, such as start leaving your cell phone in another room, or installing blockers, in case your SO asks questions?
    6. Are you making better communication, connection and a stronger marriage part of your reboot or are you focusing on quitting PMO only?
    7. Has your SO noticed and commented on any changes? Perhaps more time to spend with family? On the other side, perhaps withdrawl symptoms such as moodiness or flatline?
    8. When did you start your current serious effort to recover? Have you relapsed since then? What was your longest clean streak?

    I recognize these are probing questions and a lot of them. If you're not comfortable answering or only comfortable answering some, I understand. I guess I wouldn't have asked except that you stepped forward in this thread.
    Marsbar and WifeInTheDark like this.
  20. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

    You raise a great point or question. Most as you have seen so far are advocating for disclosure. However, what does disclosure look like? I know in our support group we wrestle with that question quite a bit and it's one that guys bring up a lot. Not so much to tell or not to tell, but how much detail to give exactly. As you can see from above, I believe that you should tell your SO everything. However, I don't advocate (nor would my counselor or other guys in my group advocate) for giving carte blanche full details of what all transpired. There is likely others on here that might have a different opinion which points to the fact that it probably varies depending on the couple and the what all transpired in situation. What do I mean by that? If you were involved in an affair I believe you should disclose that. If the SO's health might be at risk as a result she needs to know that. If your actions could now put your SO or kids (if you have them) in danger she needs to know that. She has a right to know how their finances might have been impacted as a result of the addiction. However, I don't feel it is helpful or productive to go to the level of details where you recount exactly how many times you met with a person, where you met, what specific sexual acts you engaged in, what she looks like, etc. If you are looking at porn, I don't feel it's critical that you recount exactly what specific sites you went to, what types of genres of porn you were looking (unless it's lead to something that now has you struggling with criminal activity such child porn, incest, etc.). I do think it is helpful to talk about it in general terms and to let them know that you have been engaging in it for extended periods of time if that is case and that you feel you have a problem or can't stop, etc.

    While the SO might want to know a lot of details initially as a way to grasp what happened and why and could be coming from a point of feeling helpless and not in control of the situation. Wanting to know those kinds of details can be a way for the SO to try to regain some sense of control in a situation where they feel they have none or it was taken away from them. However, I personally don't feel that it is helpful and can potentially make matters worse to give full details. I think it's a delicate balancing act for the addict to navigate.

    Some advice that I've heard expressed in our support group is that if the SO asks for a detail that the recovering addict feels isn't helpful, to ask if they can take a timeout and put the request on hold for 24 hours. Then to come back to the SO's request and see if she still feels she really wants that information. Sometimes a slight delay might allow her to see that even though she asked for that detail that perhaps she really doesn't want to know the answer. My wife many times would ask those kinds of details and then immediately follow it up with. "No, don't tell me...I don't want to know." If she persists on wanting the details though, then it should be given but do so treading very carefully in how it expressed. Disclosing over time ends up hurting the spouse like death through a thousand paper cuts.

    Another suggestion that comes up a lot in our group is to have those kinds of conversations in a safe setting such as in the presence of a trained counselor that has dealt with those kinds of specific situations and can help the couple navigate through those tough waters. If the SO is asking for details, it's helpful if the addict has permission from the SO ask if they can call a time out and address the question in a counseling session provided that they are actively involved in counseling. (It can't be a deflection that is said and then they never get to a counselor and it's left by the wayside.) A counselor who knows the situation and both parties might be able to help ascertain what details are helpful for the SO and what details might not be beneficial.

    Now, obviously this is from the perspective of the addict. There might be very different opinions from the SO's side. I'd be curious to hear what some of the SO's on this thread might think about this topic because it is a very delicate one. Again, I feel this is one that is going to vary greatly based on the couple and the situation as to where on the spectrum of giving details in the disclosure they might fall.
    Marsbar, zauvek and noexcuses like this.

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