The Beyond Betrayal Couples' Guide is aimed at couples who are engaging recovery/healing from (his) sex addiction together.
The study guide includes exercises, devotional material and pointers to more healing resources for the couple. It serves as a companion to the award-winning, Beyond Betrayal: How God is Healing Women (and Couples) from Infidelity, offering an even deeper look at sex addiction/trauma recovery, and trust- and intimacy-building.
The guide is available in epub format (U.S. English) for $10 NZD.
Print versions are available in NZ-English and U.S.-English from Amazon and other booksellers.
Chapter 1: Betrayal and Trauma
Taking it Further… for men
Meditate on the statements in the Taking it Further section of this chapter. Change each statement to, “it’s normal for my wife to…” end the last statement with, “…because of my betrayal of her.” Note that the addition of this last statement is for the purpose of building determination to help with these issues — not to discourage and shame you.
For Discussion: Sex Addiction — Multi-Dimensional Issue
Chapter 1 tells us that sexual addiction is a multi-dimensional problem. Treatment, therefore, involves a multi-dimensional approach addressing:
- Physical changes in the brain and body
Questions for Him: Which of these areas are you putting the most focus on right now? Is this the area which you believe needs the most attention currently? Why? Which is getting the least attention? Are any of these areas getting no attention at present? If so, why? Does this need to change?
Questions for Her: Which of these areas do you see your husband focusing on right now? Which do you feel is getting the least attention? Are any being outright neglected? Which area do you feel is the number one priority? Why?
To Consider: If you have different ideas about which area requires the most attention right now, discuss this with each other. Layout your reasons as to why you feel a given area needs more focus.
Men: many Christian men have had their relationship with God severely damaged by their sex addiction — which obviously falls in Christian doctrine under the category of sin. The issue isn’t that God can’t forgive and accept us, so much as that shame makes us feel unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. It also colors our view of God. As our empathy begins to shut down (a natural effect of compulsive behaviors and sin) God begins to look less empathetic… more demanding and stern.
Can you think back to the time before you began sexual acting out? In what way were you different than you are today? In what way is your view of God different? Of people? Is there anything from that time you would like to have back? Ask God to begin restoring these things.
Women: What does it do to your perception of God to know that He loves the person who has broken your heart and made a shambles of your life? Do you understand that you can express anger and frustration directly to God if this thought wounds you? What would it do to your trust in your husband if he began to really “get” and engage God?
For Discussion: Multi-Dimensional Partner Trauma Model
The results of a survey by Dr. Kevin Skinner, published recently in Psychology Today, tell us that even when we add male partners of sex addicts to the mix, more than half of partners experience “intense fear” around their spouse/partner acting out. My own study on “wives of sex addicts” (2014/2015) showed that 98% of women experienced trauma symptoms — with various types of fears ranking high (e.g. distrust of people, 61%, intrusive thoughts, 84%).
Questions for Her: Does it help you to know that your new, and difficult circumstances are very common to women in your position?
Questions for Him: Are you familiar with the term post-traumatic stress disorder? If so, what kinds of images does it conger up for you? Can you see where some of what you’re witnessing fits that picture. If you’re not familiar with this term, you can read this short article.
Men: When an addict begins to come into the light and get help, he often finds himself feeling better than he has in many years. What can be difficult to grasp, is that your wife may very well be feeling worse than she ever has in her life. Worse includes, less safe, less able to cope, angrier, more withdrawn, hypervigilant, etc. Does it help you to understand that your wife’s new, and (from your position) unpleasant behaviors, are actually completely normal? Next time you are frustrated by her actions, remind yourself that what you’re seeing/hearing isn’t your wife, it’s her pain and trauma. As we go along, we’ll be discussing strategies the two of you can employ for helping her heal and move past these traumatic reactions.
Women: The healing process from trauma is in no way linear. Don’t be discouraged that some days are worse than others. This is a time to give yourself a lot of grace… and to explore with God just how much grace He has for you, and others who are brokenhearted (Isaiah 61).
Next Steps for the Husband
Spend at least 5-10 minutes every day this week reflecting on what it means to have God call you “Beloved.” (Song of Solomon). Read this article on our identity.
Next Steps for the Wife
If your trust in God (or church) has been damaged by what is happening in your life, please know that this is a very normal response to trauma. In fact, it’s so normal, the bible records people’s spiritual crises (read Psalm 88, 89, 43). If this is where you are at, in time, I hope you will consider laying out your grievances to God at some point, as you feel ready. For now, take a look at the Part 2 of the Compassion series.
Another day this week, read the series of articles on spiritual crisis at the Beyond Betrayal Community website. Even if you are unaware of any distrust or anger toward God/other Christians, read the latter stories in the series. These stories are on spiritual growth.
Steps for Both
Either individually, or together, listen to this short soaking prayer by Graham Cooke on the nature of God. Listen to this prayer at least three times this week. Even though these are incredibly tough days, be on the lookout for God’s goodness each day this week. Before you go to bed each night, review what you witnessed that day, let it soak into your heart and express your gratitude.