How to Deal with a Spouse who is a Sex Addict

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How to Deal with a Spouse who is a Sex Addict

There is a divide on where sex addiction comes from among psychologists. Some believe it stems from a trauma endured during infancy or early childhood. This trauma creates an intimacy disorder. The disorder surfaces later in life in the form of an obsession with porn or taking part in infidelity and other high-risk behaviors. Another camp of psychologists believes sex addiction isn’t a compulsion at all but a coping mechanism. Just like with drugs or alcohol, it is taken part in to relieve pressure, pain or an emptiness felt deep inside. Drug addicts need a fix and, in this view, so do sex addicts. The fix here however is sex. No matter where it stems from, a spouse with a sex addiction takes a heavy toll on a marriage. The person should seek individual therapy with a counselor experienced in such matters. What’s more, they should also attend a support group in your area as part of their treatment plan. When they enter recovery, they will hopefully cease their destructive behaviors, and work through whatever trauma they’ve endured with the therapist. The marriage will also need significant work to get it back on track.

A remediation strategy is needed to address the pain, hurt and trauma the spouse of a sex addict has endured. The couple should then meet together with the therapist during periodic strategy meetings in order for the partner to assist in therapy. The spouse can be a valuable resource, helping the therapist to evaluate the addict’s recovery, provide other information on the spouse and help the spouse work through their problem. Trust at this point has been obliterated. It has to be rebuilt from the ground up. Still, the healing process has to be conducted in such a way whereas it heals both parties, rather than causing more harm. Usually, the recovering addict either wants to clam up, recoiling at the very thought of revealing details about their previous activities, or to show their sincere desire to change, blurting out their betrayals regardless of setting or present company. Neither one is helpful when trying to repair a marriage stretched to its limit. There are a few addicts who practice a strategy of “staggered disclosure.” This is letting out just enough information to dismay their partner, without getting to the heart of the questions the partner most wants answers to.

None of these patterns ensure a healthful recovery. Still, all therapists agree a certain amount of disclosure is required for the healing process to take place. One survey found that 93% of partners wanted full disclosure for intimacy to be rebuilt. Disclosure however must only be done in a very tightly controlled way. Usually, three to six months is the period where psychologists believe full disclosure can finally take place. One method often used is when the addict writes down all the lies and infidelities in a timeline. Then the spouse is asked to write down their “deal breakers” that would discontinue the marriage. The person in therapy is given this to work into their completed disclosure essay. When a sex addict is in the full throes of their addiction, they will do anything to cover up their trail. They may lie about where they were. They may erase texts, calls, emails. They will lie about the relationships they are involved in and the hookups they’ve had. But in the recovery period a spouse has a chance to talk about how they feel and elicit empathy and regret from the addict. If done correctly, this can be a powerful moment, lifting a tremendous weight off of each person’s shoulders. It is a good place to start from, in terms of rebuilding intimacy. If you are in a marriage with a sex addict, get them to seek treatment. For more on this topic pick up a copy of, Before the Dust Settles (Advice from a Sex Addict’s Wife): 8 Mistakes to Avoid Immediately after Discovering Your Partner’s Sex Addiction by Margaret Stone.

How to be Healthy throughout a Divorce

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How to be Healthy throughout a Divorce

It’s estimated that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce today. Though many are civil, they are all uncomfortable, draining and even painful. Then there are the problems of moving, adapting to a new financial situation, transitioning to being single again, and, for many, single parenthood. Helping children to get used to a new lifestyle is tumultuous as well. Depression, loneliness, misplaced anger, insecurity and anxiety can envelope you at this time. Lots of people let themselves go when they are going through a divorce, and wallow in these negative emotions. A recent Gallup poll found that those who are divorced scored lower on well-being measures including physical and emotional well-being. Keeping yourself healthy throughout a divorce and afterward can feel very challenging. This is especially true for women. Even after a divorce women have a higher risk of suffering from depression, making it crucial to know how to cope with negative emotions in a positive way. So how do you stay healthy throughout a divorce and in its aftermath? First, don’t wallow in isolation. Lots of people feel that they want to be alone. But then they spend too much time alone and this isolation begins to wear on them, or exacerbate their problems. Sometimes it has to do with pride. But there is no shame in reaching out for help and support. It takes a really strong person to do so actually.

Reach out to friends, family, mentors and other people who are close to you during this period. They will be there for you with open arms, advice, and comfort. Sometimes we just need someone to listen and validate how we are feeling. Let them know what form the comfort should take and they will be more than happy to oblige. It can also be beneficial to reach out to divorce support groups in your area. DivorceCare is one such group, but there are many others. When you get divorced it seems that so many priorities get in the way that your needs settle way down at the bottom of the list and hardly ever get addressed. Getting enough sleep should be a priority however. Preparing and eating healthy meals, getting enough exercise and making sure your emotional needs are met should also be on the docket and not at the bottom of the list, but near the top. You, your children, your coworkers and your family and friends are counting on you to be the best you you can be. They can’t make it without you. You are an essential part of their lives. But don’t just do it for them, do it for yourself. The healthier the lifestyle you commit to, especially during a divorce, the better off you will be and feel in the long run. Lastly, don’t perpetuate the feeling bad cycle. Everyone needs a chance to mourn. But if you are going to be sullen all the time people at first will be sympathetic, but if too much time has passed they will begin to put space between you and them. Find the positives in your life. Look for moments of joy. Laugh. Be lighthearted and find the positives in situations. Choose to be happy. It won’t be easy but it will be right. For more help with divorce recovery read, The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith by John W. James and Russell Friedman.

Divorce Support Groups

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Divorce Support Groups

A divorce can be one of the most overwhelming times emotionally in a person’s life. Grief, anger, and confusion can inhabit your mind. It can be difficult to make financial decisions and one’s concerning the children. Talking to friends and family can help. It’s good to have a strong support system to help you through this difficult time. But they may not be divorced themselves. You may feel you need advice and support from someone or even a group of people who have been through the same experiences and know firsthand how it feels. They may have more informed advice that can help you navigate all the questions and decisions that creep up. Why not consider a divorce support group? There are definitely some in or near your area. A divorce support group can help you feel not so alone. They will be going through or have gone through the same thing and can offer their experiences as a template for what you may be seeing down the road. Lots of people even make lifelong friends after attending meetings with such a group. See what kind are out there and which one is a best fit for you. You can bring up specific questions or issues you have, feel a part of a community and be confident enough to take charge of your divorce, rather than be a victim of it.

First determine which type of group is right for you. Do you want something like a 12 step program? Are you attracted to a group with a particular religious bend? Or is it more group therapy you are seeking? Is co-ed beneficial or do you feel more comfortable if the group is same-sex? Next, select your method of finding what’s out there specific to your parameters. There are many methods in which you can find out what kind of divorce support groups are in your area. A quick Google search will turn up what’s available. Ask your divorce attorney what support groups he or she is aware of. You can inquire at the community center, or call the town or county clerk’s office and find out what is available. The local YMCA may be helpful as well. There may also be a self-help clearing house in your area. Your Google search should bring this up. The phone book is a good resource. Look under therapy, divorce or mental health services. Are you a member of an organized religion? If so perhaps speak with someone at your house of worship. Towns or community groups may run a program as well. If you are seeing a therapist, bring up your desire to go to a support group and get their opinion. Third, think about how often you want to attend the group. What is your schedule like and where does it fit in? Make sure the commute isn’t overly oppressive or else you may not stick with it. Remember that divorce is just a really serious breakup. For more help on getting over it read, Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott.

Higher Suicide Rate Among Divorced

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Higher Suicide Rate Among Divorced

Evidence is mounting from several studies that show that the divorced and separated suffer higher suicide rates. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health recently published a study that showed that the separated and divorced were 2.4 times more apt to commit suicide than those who were married. Critics say however that the study did not enlighten us on whether or not there was a differentiation between genders. A University of California study piggybacking on this earlier study occurred to see if there was a difference between the suicide rate of divorced men from divorced women, using data of non-Hispanic white men and women culled from the US National Longitudinal Mortality Study between the years 1979-1989. This study found that, “divorced men were over eight times more likely to commit suicide than women.” Men were 9.7 times more likely to kill themselves than divorced women who had gone through a similar circumstance. That means there are nine divorced men who kill themselves for every divorced woman. The plight of the divorced man in America is difficult indeed. But why is the suicide rate for divorced men so much higher? Some researchers believe society has ignored this phenomenon and has failed to search for reasons. A summary for this study states that two leading psychologists in the field believe that, while social, psychological, and even personal problems facing women are readily denounced, societal institutions tend to ignore or minimize male problems as evident in suicide statistics.

Another issue is the natural estrangement due to the supposition in many parts of the U.S. where it is thought that the bond between a mother and child is stronger than that of a father and child. The wife is therefore far more likely to gain custody of the children during the divorce settlement. So now he has not only lost his wife, perhaps his house but his children as well. This is a dramatic shift in the man’s lifestyle and can feel like a terrible loss. Men may feel betrayed by the ex-wife or the court system. This will begin to be a heavy emotional burden and he may feel intense anxiety, or suffer from depression. Depression and suicide often go hand-in-hand. There is a societal difference too between the genders. While women are expected to deal with psychological and social problems while going through a divorce and therefore are extended sympathy, men in our society are supposed to “man up” or control their emotions. It may be this lack of an emotional outlet that creates a situation where men let the pain of a divorce build up inside and with no outlet, the raging torrent within him turns him toward suicide. Still, researchers say that this topic needs more research and more targeted studies to gain more results.

There are many things you can do if you suffer from post-divorce depression. Know that there is help via support groups for men, women, and anyone suffering the pain and loss that is divorce. Counseling with a mental health professional that you trust and can gain a rapport with can also help through this trying time. There are many things you can do on your own besides going to counseling. Taking up an exercise program can help lift the fog of depression. Exercise is one of nature’s most potent anti-depressants. Reach out to friends and family and vent, let them know how you feel. Get hugs. It sounds silly but it helps quite a bit. Watch funny movies. Keep a journal. Write a goodbye letter saying all the things you want to say and letting it all out.  You can write essentially a “Good riddance” letter about all the things you will no longer have to deal with. Make a dream board. Practice yoga. Take up a musical instrument or an artistic hobby. Start playing a sport. Take a road trip with an old friend. Travel to a country you’ve never been to before but always wanted to go to. Practice transcendental meditation. Go back to school. Get a second job to save up for something. Keep yourself busy. Allow yourself to grieve. But don’t wallow there. When the time is right, step out of the darkness and into the light. For more on this read, Divorce Is Not The End But A New Beginning: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Help You Deal With Your Feelings and Move On by Kate Foster.

How to Avoid OCD Related Divorce

OCD

How to Avoid OCD Related Divorce

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can seem like a stranger getting between you and your spouse. Of course a spouse with OCD can limit your comfort level in your own house, play with the balance of power and limit your lifestyle. OCD rules can seem confining, even smothering. So how do you avoid OCD ripping your marriage apart? How do you avoid OCD related divorce? The first thing to do is to learn all you can about your spouse’s condition. OCD is a brain disorder that distresses and can even disable the sufferer. According to the World Health Organization OCD is one of the topmost causes of disability across the globe. OCD doesn’t just affect your spouse, it affects everyone around them. 60% of family members get involved to some degree in the rituals of someone with OCD. Often slowly an OCD person’s habits, rituals and opinions will take over your life. It can start to feel as though you are being criticized constantly, or as your spouse might see it, re-corrected. Further, they could make you late to engagements say making you go a certain route to avoid potholes. They may curb your good time out by refusing to let you use a public restroom. Of course, making any marriage work can be difficult. But OCD can look like a boulder size stumbling block, especially if the condition has worsened over time.

One way to put things into perspective before you call the divorce lawyer is to see things from your spouse’s point of view. How hard is it for them to live with OCD? Though they do these habits compulsively they may secretly feel guilty about say driving friends away with their difficult behavior, making outings less interesting by interjecting their needs or demands and so on. They may struggle between trying to control their behaviors in order to make you happier and being compelled to fulfill their compulsion or compulsions. OCD sufferers usually take part in these rituals because they are scared of what might happen if they don’t go through them.

They believe deep in their hearts that these rituals keep themselves and the ones they love most, namely you, safe and protected from harm. Now it’s time to do some research. Look on the internet and find local support groups in your area. There are some great books out there about OCD. Contact the International OCD Foundation for more information and see if they have any workshops, symposiums or other resources or events in your area. Be sure to discuss the problems you are having with your spouse. Convince them to go to therapy with you. Tell them the truth. Don’t sugar coat it. If there behavior is driving you to think about seeking out a divorce attorney, maybe this information will provide them with the wakeup call they need to get a handle on their condition.

Offer to help them find a counselor and to go to counseling with them. Make sure this is a therapist they can connect with and that has some experience or background in dealing with OCD conditions. Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville Monnica Williams, Ph.D. writes in an article for Psychology Today, “Ask yourself, Am I going to let my spouse’s rituals ruin our marriage, or am I going to find strength to be supportive and compassionate so that we can have the marriage that we have always wanted?’” A supportive therapist may be required to help keep the relationship together and cope with the situation depending upon how serious your spouse’s symptoms are. If your spouse is going to therapy, it’s a good idea to go with them so you can get a new perspective on the issue, how to handle them, get knowledge you didn’t have before, and perhaps you can even ask the counselor for some strategies to help you cope with your spouse’s behavior. Being married to someone with OCD isn’t easy. There may be many times you want to throw in the towel. But if you truly love this person and think you can support them through this difficult time you and your spouse should come out better and stronger than ever before. For more, read Loving Someone with OCD: Help for You and Your Family by Karen J. Landsman, Kathleen M. Rupertus and Cherry Pedrick.