6: Relationship Recovery: The Usual Milestones that Lead to Repair and Growth Together

There are three distinct, and separate yet connected recoveries where sex addiction and betrayal trauma exist in a relationship:

  • The betrayed spouse
  • The sexually addicted person
  • The relationship

This is often called, “The Three Legged-Stool”.  If one leg of the stool is shaky, the stool cannot stand and will fall over.

In literal terms, unless the first two recoveries happen, (the addicted person and the betrayed spouse) the third, the relationship has little chance of surviving in a healthy way, and even less of a chance to thrive.

As betrayed spouses, this means we have to look first to our own recovery from the wounds of betrayal, and make our own recovery the top priority – before the relationship itself.  This seems counter-intuitive because we value our relationships very much and want to do everything in our power to make the relationship safe again —  but stay with us. The two can be ongoing at the same time, but the priority has to be on the you, the betrayed spouse. The betrayed sets the conditions for re-entry into relationship with her. She has all the power over whether or not the relationship continues. By setting boundaries around our own emotional and physical well being and safety, and not trying to make the relationship itself the basis for our personal recovery, we set the tone and standards for good mental and emotional health.

In this unit, we focus on the resources and methods of recovering the relationship.

There are 5 key therapeutic milestones that must happen to begin relationship recovery:

  • All wounding behavior must stop from the sexually addicted person in recovery: No acting out, no relational abuse such as deception, gaslighting, denial, blame, justification of acting out, etc.
  • Full Therapeutic Disclosure of all deception and acting out, first to a compassionate therapist, then to the betrayed spouse.
  • Impact  or Losses Letter (by the betrayed partner),
  • Restitution letter (by recovering addict),
  • Response to restitution.
  • From there, attachment injuries caused by the acting out may be healed and the journey of restoring emotional intimacy and trust may continue.This section provides resources for this process, and for creating a new, more safe and secure relationship, should that be your choice.

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