When was the last time your husband looked at porn? And when was the time before that?
You know that feeling, when you're thinking that if you could just get your questions answered you would surely feel better about life? If I could just hear that other husbands were still relapsing, surely I would find acceptance and peace.
Fortunately I've made some progress and I don't obsess about Pete's addiction too often. But Pete is still relapsing. Sometimes he is sober for a few days, sometimes a few weeks, and other times he can go months without acting out.
And here I am, still learning lessons about how I am powerless over Pete's addiction. About how I can. not. make. him. change. No matter how subtle I get in my codependency. Last night I asked my therapist if I needed sobriety in my marriage. He told me that he couldn't answer that, I would have to decide for myself. To which I responded
"I think I'm going to decide I need it."
"Okay Jane. But just remember, that if you need sobriety in your marriage, you might have to leave your marriage. Because you are not getting it."
Immediately I saw what I was doing. I was giving myself another shot at changing Pete. I was thinking- If I tell Pete that I need sobriety in our marriage, then he'll have to get sober. By golly THAT will be the thing that will make him sober. But it won't.
In Al-Anon they teach that relationships can exist when the addict is still using. This is really difficult for me. But I'm exploring it. It looks like this:
Old boundary: If Pete acts out we don't have sex for one week.
New boundary: If I don't feel present and connected with Pete, I decline sexual advances.
Old boundary: If Pete is acting like an addict, I emotionally and physically detach.
New boundary: If Pete is unpleasant, unkind or grumpy, I don't need to be around him. I can make my own plans, do my own thing.
Old boundary: If Pete has a relapse, he sleeps in another room.
New boundary: If Pete has a relapse and I feel upset, I practice self-care.
This new way of having a relationship with Pete is terrifying and liberating at the same time. It's terrifying because I am relinquishing so much [artificial/percieved] control. But it's liberating because I don't have to analyze his behavior looking for signs of recovery or addiction. I just go with my gut, use my feelings to gauge how much I can trust and connect, and go with it.
It doesn't mean that I approve of Pete using porn. It doesn't mean that I'm in denial about his addiction. It just means that I'm accepting my reality. I'm making a deliberate choice about having a relationship with my husband that is vulnerable and has inherent risk. And I'm honest about how I can not manage his behavior.