On Monday, John was able to end his secrecy, as he was willing to take a polygraph test. I would estimate that 95 percent of couples we work with use this tool. Approximately 80 percent of the time, new information or clarification of existing information comes out. The remaining 20 percent are able to validate and verify that full disclosure has occurred, and the partner can begin to heal.
Rebecca was relieved to verify that John had not been having a physical affair but was hurt that he was in an emotional affair with a woman at work. During the week, they were able to process this and set up some boundaries around this issue. They have received numerous tools this week to help manage the opportunities.
Do You See Yourself or Your Situation?
If you have been following the series, John and Rebecca’s Story, there may be descriptions of John and Rebecca that relate to you or your situation. Many individuals struggle with sexual addiction or intimacy anorexia, and many marriages are in crisis because of them. Underlying both are secrets.
In all the years I have been doing this work, I can say in every case without fail the reason a couple’s relationship doesn’t improve is because there are still secrets. Now, it is not always the addict who has secrets. Sometimes, it is the partner, as they were sexually abused and never told anyone. Secrets keep you and the relationship sick.
The Deeper Addiction
Over the years, I have learned that there is a deeper addiction that not only the addict struggles with but also the partner – an addiction to being offended. In fact, I believe it to be the core of any, if not all, addictions, especially for those struggling with intimacy anorexia. As we have learned, the anorexic likes to accuse, blame, and criticize. As long as they believe others have hurt them, then they do not have to change, and everyone else does.
When one believes and feels they have been offended (whether real or imagined), there is a great payoff, as they believe they do not need to change. They are right, and others are wrong. Take the following assessment to see how you score. If the statement accurately describes you more often than not, answer yes.
- You find yourself thinking and believing your qualities are better than those of others, or you find yourself thinking and believing the qualities of others are worse than yours.
- You find yourself in judge, jury, and executioner thinking. You role play, fantasize and think about getting even with those you believe have hurt, disrespected, or offended you, winning your case every time.
- You are quick to accuse, blame or criticize others for your problems in your thoughts and actions.
- You find yourself unable to sleep or once awakened at night are unable to fall back asleep due to racing thoughts about those you believe have “done you wrong”.
- You are easily angered or become defensive when asked to change or are confronted about your behaviors.
- You believe if only others would change, then your relationships with them would be better.
- You lose track of time or are unaware of the amount of time that has passed because you have been thinking about how others have “hurt” you.
- You do not believe there is any way to make lemonade out of the lemons life has given you.
- You usually assume something negative when there is no evidence to support it. You stay in your head, not sharing your thoughts with others, thinking you know the true intentions of others, which you believe is to harm you or take advantage of you.
- You allow your emotions to dictate how you act.
- Others see you as arrogant, unwilling to learn from your mistakes and make changes, or entitled based on behaviors they have seen from you, but you might disagree.
I’m Here Because of Him
Many partners of addicts believe they are only in counseling or recovery because of the addict. They believe they are recovering from “his addiction” or “his anorexia.” I assure them they are misguided, as sex addiction exposes the things in a woman’s heart like no other addiction. Frequently, it is not pretty! Most often, she is healing from her issues of anger, codependency, bitterness from past abuses, or seeing herself as better than her husband. All this stems from the self-righteous attitudes attached to being offended.
Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t or can’t be offended, because it will happen. However, it is foolish to remain there. You see God’s plan has not only been to heal John… it has always been to heal… both of them. His addiction is just the catalyst.
John and Rebecca are beginning to understand. They now have a plan in place, new tools, an overwhelming amount of information and resources in their hands. We scheduled some followup telephone appointments in the weeks to come. With a great deal of hope and a new foundation to restore trust, we wrapped it up. Before heading home, they planned to spend some time to enjoy the beautiful area of Colorado Springs.
Open to Healing
Throughout this series, I have chronicled one couple’s struggles – from pain and priorities through plans for healing themselves and their marriage. If you believe that there may be sexual addiction or intimacy anorexia issues in your marriage or relationship, there is hope for you just as there was for John and Rebecca. If you believe there may be sexual addiction or intimacy anorexia in your marriage, I encourage you to make a call us at Transformed Hearts.
Cory’s original article, Part 5: Addicted to Being Offended, was posted on TopAddictionsNetwork.com.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.