This question comes up with almost every client when I’m working with someone with sexual addiction or pornography addiction. The answer is two-fold and both areas are more complex than we can address here, but let’s at least get started…
If your spouse or partner knows about your addiction he or she has probably expressed feelings of shame, embarrassment, not being good enough or sexy enough, not understanding, etc. Once your partner knows about your addiction, involving him or her in your journey is critical. Should you tell him/her everything on your mind, everything you think about, everything discussed in therapy?
This might meet with some debate, but my opinion is “no”. Your partner needs to be involved, but how involved and how much you share is up to you. More is better, but everything doesn’t need to be shared. Some things are better shared with your partner in session, with your therapist present. Some things are personal and are “in process” – until you understand it yourself, it’s hard to explain and share with clarity.
Most people who struggle with sexual addiction or pornography addiction on their own, while in a committed relationship, struggle more than those who share. Keeping the secret while you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, for example, simply confuses your partner about the behavior they witness. At the same time, if your partner doesn’t understand your addiction, sharing your journal will create confusion and problems.
In this situation, your partner needs to know what is going on and be involved. It is critical that he/she understand the addiction and what you’re experiencing.
Telling them can be scary. “Will he/she leave me?” “Will they understand?” “Will they think I’m strange, weird, perverted, sick?” “Will they still one me?” These are difficult emotions to deal with and the possible outcomes are hard to imagine.
If your partner doesn’t know, it’s important to talk with your counselor to make a plan to talk with your partner. Individual, group and family (couples) therapy combine for the most successful outcomes when dealing with an addiction to sex or pornography.
For your future, it’s important that your partner is involved and knows what’s going on.