If you just recently found out about your spouse/partner’s secret life, not only are you likely experiencing unprecedented levels of pain and fear, your world may feel like it is spinning so fast that you have no idea how to answer the question: “So what do I do now?” More than anything, there are three things you should know and three things you need. If you are able to read just a little further, we hope that you will feel the ground under your feet starting to feel at least a little bit more stable.
One look at Tiger Wood’s ex-wife – flawlessly beautiful by most people’s standards, and the mother of their two children- should tell you that people with secret sex lives would have secret sex lives no matter who they ended up with. This may take a while for you to understand and believe, but for now we encourage you to at least consider that what you found out is much more about your spouse / partner than you.
You have more questions than you know what to do with right now. While you understandably want answers to everything from “How this could have happened?” to “What else is there that I don’t know about?” to “Should stay or should I go?” it is unlikely that those answers will clarify until later in your healing process. For now, we suggest making room for all of your questions and the feelings that accompany them. More than anything, give yourself grace when you find yourself feeling like you should have more figured out or understood than you do.
You may be familiar with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is most widely associated with soldiers returning from combat and bringing their battlefield horrors home with them. Symptoms include hyper vigilance (always on guard), flashbacks (unwanted thoughts and images), elevated anxiety, reactivity, insomnia, nightmares, etc. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because you have suffered your own trauma. It is very real and well-documented that people in your position- having recently discovered your spouse’s or partner’s secret sex life- often meet criteria for PTSD. You are NOT going crazy, it IS that serious, you are NOT alone, and there ARE things you can do to help yourself.
More than anything, you need support and it comes in the form of knowledge, support, and healing. All of these are available to you, but it’s up to you to go after them. Here’s how:
Here are three books we highly recommend to meet you where you are at in the recent aftermath of discovery:
Here are two outstanding resources that are workbooks and better suited for working through with the aid of a therapist once you are little further along in your healing.
Meet people who know what you are dealing with who can support you: 12-step fellowships, therapist-led treatment groups for spouses and partners and church support groups are available to you – more exist now than ever before.
Even if you live in a remote area, fellowships like S-Anon and COSA have phone meetings. We encourage you to download our free resource that will point you in the right direction.
We are Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs) and would welcome your call/email. We literally wrote the book on couple’s recovery and have helped many, many individuals and couples through their greatest time of need. Because of the shortage of properly trained therapists in this specialized area of treatment, we offer coaching via Skype and phone. If you would like to work with someone in your area, the www.ittap.com and www.sexhelp.com websites have national CSAT Directories. It is critically important that you trust your care ONLY to a therapist who has the specialized training required to understand what you are dealing with and what the treatment protocols are for recovering.