How Much to Tell & When, Part 4: What to Do When Your Partner Asks about Your Sex Addiction

This post is the fourth in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. Click here to read part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3.

 

One of the most common questions I get from clients struggling with sex or porn addiction is how to respond to their partners when they’re hurting and asking for more details about their previous acting out. “What do I say when she comes at me like that?”

 

As we’ve seen, the answer isn’t so simple. In part 1, we discussed spontaneous disclosure and a little about how this traumatizes partners. In part 2, we saw how waiting to tell her about all acting out behaviors via formal disclosure can actually be healing to both partners in the long run. In part 3, though, we established that waiting until formal disclosure often sucks. Big time.

 

All of that was necessary to answer one of the most common questions in early recovery: How should you, a sex addict in recovery, respond to your partner when she asks for more information about your acting out?

How Much to Tell & When, Part 3: The Tension Before Formal Disclosure

This post is the third in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses the tension between the initial and partial discovery of sexually compulsive behaviors and formal, full disclosure of those behaviors. Click here to read part 1 on spontaneous disclosure, here to read part 2 about formal therapeutic disclosure, and here to read part 4 on what a sex addict should tell his or her partner when asked about acting out.

 

Sometimes Christians talk about living in “the already and not yet.” While it’s not a perfect analogy, it captures well what it’s like in between the initial discovery and the formal disclosure for sex addicts and their partners.

 

“The already and not yet” is a way of referring to the idea that the culmination of time and history began in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus brought in the kingdom of God in his ministry such that it’s presently among us, but that it will only be realized in its fullness when Jesus returns in the future.

 

So God’s rule in the kingdom is already present and partially realized, and it is not yet fully manifest. Christians call this present age “the already and the not yet” for this reason.

 

It can be an excruciating era to live in, as sex addicts in recovery and their partners know well.

How Much to Tell & When, Part 2: Formal Disclosure

This post is the second in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses formal disclosure and its benefits. Click here to read part 1, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

“How much do I tell her?” In part 1 of this series, we considered spontaneous disclosure, which happens when the sex addict’s behaviors are either discovered, about to be discovered, or when there is partial disclosure of the addict’s acting out behaviors after the initial discovery.

 

Oftentimes, spontaneous disclosure occurs as a couple is preparing for formal disclosure. Although holding off for a few months on formal disclosure can give both sex addict and his partner time to prepare for the traumatic formal disclosure date, waiting can be excruciating, especially for the partner.

 

But what is formal disclosure? And as painful as it is, why is it worth waiting around for?

How Much to Tell & When, Part 1: Spontaneous Disclosure

This post is the first in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses spontaneous disclosure and the benefits of delaying formal disclosure. Click here for part 2, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

“How much do I tell her?”

 

When spouse initially finds out about your sexually compulsive behaviors, there’s enormous pressure on you to disclose details about your acting out. It’s completely understandable to struggle with what to say in response.

 

Whether she confronted you after an initial discovery or you confessed to her some or all of your behaviors, you’re facing some tough questions. If she hasn’t already, she’s going to press you hard for details. The more she finds out, the more she’s likely to grill you.

 

So what do you do?