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I'm a female in my late 20's, married to my husband for three years but together for ten. This past year has been a doozy. We're both addicts and our addictions significantly worsened. Our relationship became co-dependent, toxic, and we were both very unhappy. Sex was a point of contention. I was unfaithful three times, he found out, and it forced us both to take a real look at ourselves and what our relationship had become. I'm the CPOS. He could and maybe should have DTMF.

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I'm happy to say he gave me another chance. I'm now six months sober, continuing treatment, and in a much healthier and happier place. However, now I find myself at a crossroads. I want to be fair to myself but I also want to give our marriage a real shot. I was a shitty partner and hurt him in a terrible way, for which I'm deeply remorseful. He is working on himself and expresses a desire to get sober, but still has plenty of excuses why he can't quit right now, including the pain I caused by cheating on him. He has not been interested in sex since my infidelity was discovered. We've tried couples counseling, but the therapist felt there wasn't much point in continuing together until he sought individual help as well, which he has yet to do. We've broached the idea of a temporary separation, but our lives are so intertwined that that feels too difficult.

I love him, and with the exception of this past year, our relationship has been great. As the person who cheated, what can I do to help undo some of the damage I've caused? What's a reasonable expectation of me in this marriage? I'm also looking for advice on how to get our sex life back on track when it seems to be too painful for him to consider.

Conflicted Person Of Sobriety

As much as it pains me to say this...

If your husband is not only refusing to get help, CPOS, but also using your infidelity as an excuse to keep abusing whatever substance or substances he's abusing, then your husband has made a choice, CPOS. It's a choice he needs to take responsibility for and it's not a choice you can force him to unmake.

He's chosen drugs—those substances, whatever they are—over you.

As the person who cheated, CPOS, you can and should apologize and take responsibility. That includes taking responsibility for your partner's infidelity-related-and-adjacent pain and giving your partner time to work through it. You also need to be radically honest with yourself and your partner. If you can honestly say the sex you had outside the relationship was a mistake you're unlikely to repeat, you can recommit to monogamy. But if you don't think you're capable of honoring a monogamous commitment—if that's what you learned about yourself—then you shouldn't recommit to monogamy. That doesn't mean you can't recommit to your husband. It means you shouldn't make a promise you know you can't keep.

As for what's reasonable to expect of you, well, it's reasonable to expect you to apologize, make amends, be honest, etc. But if your partner can't accept your apology and/or can't let go of his anger and/or uses your infidelity as an excuse to abuse whatever-it-is-he-abuses, you can't reasonably be expected to remain married to him indefinitely.


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