By Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D., LPC. C-CSAS
Vince has been a client for nearly 17 months and has done excellent work in connecting with his Inner Child, managing his porn/masturbation problem, and learning to become emotionally developed. So, he was troubled when his wife, Michelle, recently told him she believes her betrayal pain does not impact him as often as it troubles her. She wasn’t upset but only wished to express how she felt.
During his next session, Vince explained how her comments hurt him. “I am not that guy any longer,” he protested. “I am more outwardly focused and connected to what she needs. But I want to put this entire nightmare behind us, so I spend my time looking forward instead of backward at the pain I caused her. Is there anything wrong with that?”
While there is nothing wrong with looking toward the future and dreaming of the new relationship that awaits them, Vince is like most betrayers, and he wants to rush away from the emotional distress of the past 17 months.
“She wants me to initiate conversations about how my porn use hurt her. But I don’t want to bring the subject up and remind her of what I had done,” he continued. “I don’t want her to start thinking about it and becoming sad. It seems counterproductive.”
This is where I had to tell Vince his reasoning was incorrect. It’s not that he didn’t want to bring up Michelle’s pain. Instead, he didn’t want to acknowledge it was there.
To run away from the guilt and shame of his betrayal, Vince took Michelle’s ability to self-soothe to mean she was no longer suffering from his infidelity. Instead, he preferred to believe she was in the same recovery place as he was – moving forward to start their new relationship. And while she desires that, she’s not there at this time.
Like other men who invested 100% in their recovery work, Vince was far ahead in the healing process. He had gained confidence by staying sober and being emotionally attuned with his wife. And this is not uncommon. Men who believe they have made significant changes seek their spouses’ affirmation and approval. But except for a few cases, they do not receive it. Why? Because while he is proud of becoming a new man, she is still bleeding from the wounds of betrayal.
The solution? Vince needs to slow down and back up. This starts by walking side-by-side with Michelle during their recovery healing. He can no longer try to drag her through the process. Vince also should regularly Walk into the Fire and proactively seek to determine how she manages the pain he caused her. I call this Walking Into the Fire because there is a chance he will get burnt. But it’s worth it for many reasons. To find out more, read my article Walk Into the Fire here https://sexuallypuremen.com/2018/03/01/help-her-heal-walk-into-the-fire.
Dr. Capparucci is a licensed-professional counselor who works with men struggling with Problematic Sexual Behaviors and emotional deficiencies. He is the creator of the Inner Child Model for treating sex/porn addiction and the author of Why Men Struggle to Love: Overcoming Relational Blind Spots and Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction.