There are so many myths surrounding recovery and the pursuit of real freedom. These things are said not only to the person struggling but also to their spouse.
A major component of recovery that is shared with betrayed partners is the timeframe it can take for their spouse to recover from sexual addiction. Specifically, how long it can take for REAL recovery.
The dreaded iconic, infamous answer that everyone healing from betrayal trauma has heard is “three to five years”.
The problem with giving that timeframe is there is no one size fits all guarantee. The road that leads to the “three to five years” for recovery can not always be quantifiable, let alone the same for everyone.
The heart of recovery lies squarely on the shoulders of the individual needing to recover. This means that the motivation to heal and change depends on each unique person.
This blanket statement is harmful, not helpful. It gives the illusion that everything will be taken care of by, at the most, five years of recovery. To put it simply, not any one person will have the same experience in recovery and that includes the time it takes to truly have freedom.
It also gives spouses an unrealistic expectation. Whether the person struggling heals in a shorter amount of time or a longer amount of time, the spouse will likely not accept anything before the three-year mark and be extremely frustrated after the five-year mark.
Not to mention, along the road to recovery, there may be slip-ups. While that may not sound like a huge deal, the harsh reality of being in a relationship with a spouse that has a “lapse” a “slip” or a “relapse” is devastating.
The confusion only compounds when a betrayed partner wants to find a safe place to land. Unfortunately, the places that are meant to be safe prove to be anything but.
The unexpected betrayal that partners experience on the road to their spouse’s recovery consists of various myths in addition to the dreaded three to five years in those unsafe spaces. Some of them are as follows:
- Just have more sex.
- Be whatever your spouse needs you to be.
- Try not to think about the addiction.
- Stop nagging your spouse.
- All you need to do is pray.
- Maybe there is something you’ve done.
- Stop being codependent.
- Just be more loving.
Ugh I digress…Are you confused yet?
The problem with these statements is that it moves responsibility away from the person struggling and lays the entire recovery process in the hands of the spouse. This always creates an impossible goal that is not attainable.
Recovery is only the beginning. Therefore a three to five-year timeframe and, other myths, become a hindrance and harmful for a betrayed partner.
As you start on, or continue, your journey free from unhealthy myths, I’d like to encourage you.
You can do it!
You have what it takes!
You are worth it!
My hope for all betrayed partners is to just be a little kinder to yourselves. There is more time to grow and discover wholeness and healing.