One of my Clinical Team members at the Center for Relational Recovery told me the other day that in her betrayed partner’s group the women were talking and one of them said, “There is just no hope…I mean, even Michelle is divorced…there is just no hope with this addiction.”
When I heard this, the thought that popped into my head was, “She’s missing the whole point!” I want very much for marriages to heal and couples to stay together and we work very hard and for the most part quite effectively in helping couples to do this at the Center.
However, and this is a big however, the most important thing we are doing with people, the most important thing that underlies our beliefs and guides our relationship with our clients is that we believe there is hope for them period. Whether the relationship works out or not. Regardless of the level of betrayal that has been experienced. Despite all the hurt and wreckage that may presently be in their path.
Betrayed partners are in a position they did not volunteer for. They did not get into their relationships thinking they would be betrayed and lied to and have their hearts crushed. They have found themselves in the middle of an unwanted journey and there is no good way out for them. They can either lose the relationship, life and future that they have worked so hard to build and start over. Or they can work to heal the relationship and stay together. These are both incredibly hard roads and for partners there is no way to parachute out. They must go down one of these paths, both with very uncertain outcomes.
So, like the partner in the women’s group, you might be asking, where is the hope? The hope lies in the journey. No matter which path you go down, you are going to face new experiences and challenges that are going to ask you to grow. You are going to be asked to take leaps of faith, lean into your support system or build new ones, grapple with your understanding of God and how and why suffering takes place, take risks toward new opportunities, learn how to grieve losses, and learn new skills.
In this process, if you will keep your heart open and allow the new experiences to come in, you are going to find out who you are. You are going to build a relationship with yourself that is like nothing you ever had before. You are going to end up liking yourself, trusting yourself, knowing how to care for yourself and bringing yourself into relationships with others differently.
What you get as you go through the journey of recovery as a betrayed partner is pure emotional gold. You will have these new skills and this new sense of yourself for the rest of your life. No one will ever be able to take it away from you. It will change you and as a result it will change your future.
I would not be who I am today, doing what I do, enjoying the rich friendships and lovely life that I have if I had not gone through the experience of being the partner of a sex addict.
So here is my recommendation to you if you are a partner who is looking at your spouse and wondering where the hope is. Lift up your eyes and look out past him. Hopefully he will be in your future and part of the bigger picture that you see. But don’t forget to look out past him and see what life might be able to be like for you. Don’t forget to open yourself up to the possibility that all this pain may end up changing you, not in bad ways but in profoundly unexpected and beautiful ones.
This blog post was originally published on January 30, 2017 and updated on February 25, 2021.