Creative Communication

I cannot think of much that will break down communication quicker than losing trust. When I first learned of Wayne’s secret life our conversations got a little ‘strained,’ to put it lightly. One minute I didn’t want to talk to him at all. The next I had a half a dozen questions that I wanted answers to. During the first month or so of our separation he would send me a text at night that would say something like, ‘If you want to talk tonight, call me. Otherwise goodnight.’ I appreciated this because it let me know that he was open to talking, but not being pushy about it. This left me free to talk or not, depending on where I was emotionally.

After we were a couple of months into recovery I began to worry about him relapsing into his old lifestyle. When I would ask him how he was doing he would tell me what he was struggling with that day and how he was overcoming it, but my fears would only be quieted for a short time before they would come right back again. I had the most trouble when we were not with each other because that was when the ‘what ifs’ would start rolling around in my mind. On one hand I knew that I could just ask him about it, but on the other I didn’t want to become the constant nag with my list of twenty questions.

So we began a number game. My number was on a scale of one to ten, showing where my focus was in that moment. If my focus was on the Voice of Truth, on His promises and on who He says I am in Him, then my number was a ten. But if I was giving air time to the Liar and listening to his accusations and negative predictions then I was a one. I would simply text that number to Wayne. He would then text his number to me. His scale was a little different than mine. His ten meant he was sailing through the day with no distracting temptations, and his one meant he was giving in to them. The number game became a powerful tool for us. It was a safe way to let each other know where we were at, and it generally became a conversation opener when we were back together later in the day.

What are some ways you have learned to communicate? Even if you’re not open to communicating with your spouse yet, everyone needs a trusted advisor to walk through recovery. What makes it easy to communicate with that person? Could you see using this technique to communicate with your spouse? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.

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How did you handle it if he said his number was one?


Good question! As I recall, most of the time his number was between a three and a seven. I always felt pretty comfortable on the days he was at a seven, and more anxious as it got closer to a three. When his number got below 5 I would ask him what was going on, or what specifically he was struggling with. After he told me we would pray together. After we prayed together his temptations would lessen and my fears would ease. I don't remember him ever texting a one... not because he never relapsed, but because the few times he did weren't times when I sent him my number. I have been thinking that I should blog on how I handled his relapses... For now, let me just say that it took a lot of tears and a long heart -to- heart talk. Those were hard battles, but it helped to view them as battles that we fought together against our unseen enemy (the one who comes in to destroy our marriage) rather than against each other.


What were some of the temptations that he confessed to dealing with?  Beyond the tears, how did you feel about that level of intimate communication?

intimate communication

Thank you for your questions. A lot of what he was tempted with by the time we began doing the number game was less hurtful than what he was doing when I discovered his secrets. Mostly at that point his battles were in his heart and mind rather than in physical actions. (IE, dwelling on memories of past acting out or struggling with a desire for porn...) As far as the level of intimacy in our conversation... if we had stopped with the numbers and never came back to talk face to face about what they were about, I would have felt very disconnected. But really the numbers were simply a starting point. If they showed that we had something specific to talk about, we made sure to do it face to face before the day was over.

Can you write something about

Can you write something about how you handled the relapse? I am so afraid of that day, but I hear from so many others that it's just a matter of time. If his 'relapse' is with another woman, I know I cannot stay with him. This is what scares me...

Did you ever wonder

When he gave you a low number, did you ever think "I am not the one he wants. He is tempted because he doesn't think I can meet his needs." As a woman, I want to meet all my husband's sexual desires, but he looks elsewhere. What do you do about that?


Yes, the thought that I was unable to meet his needs was one that I wrestled with a lot early on in our recovery season.  The lie I heard was that it was somehow my fault, or due to a lacking of some kind that he was "forced" to look elsewhere to get his needs met. I found this to be a particularly painfull lie. When I asked Wayne about it, he told me that he was happy with me. What he was dealing with was a sexual addiction that had nothing to do with our relationship at all. While I was able to hear this with my head, my heart had a harder time accepting it. As I watched him battle his way out of his secret lifestyle it became easier to understand. So, in answer to your question, there was nothing I could do about being more able to meet his needs. My part of the process was finding healing for my heart. His part was learning how to victoriously battle the temptation to take his desires outside of our marriage.

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