Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can

Counselor and Author Tania Rochelle is my guest blogger this week while I do the 4000kms drive across the country with Marc and our 16 year old one-eyed rescue dog to Eastern Ontario. I’ll plant myself there for the next while, and hope to get some veggies planted, too! Meanwhile, Tania is the inspiration behind offering retreats for wives and partners and you can read more about that here She’s a brilliant writer, gifted counsellor and relentless advocate for wives and partners of men called sex addicts. Thank you, Tania.

One of the first clients I ever saw when I started practicing as a counselor in 2012 was a woman who was referred to me by her husband’s sex addiction therapist. After discovery, her husband had abandoned the family, rented a place at the lake, and bought a motorcycle, all the while claiming he wanted to reconcile and that he was working on his recovery. The wife—let’s call her Angela—was left to care for their two kids alone while Maverick cruised around on his hog or his jet ski. When she filed for divorce, he swore he’d ruin her. Six years later, he made good on that promise. He took everything, including the children. 

She is a good person. She followed the rules of marriage and parenting. He is not and did not. But he had more money. Like so many of us, she trusted him with her heart and their bank account. He’d done a lot of fancy financial footwork leading up to, and after, discovery. Remember, as good as these guys are at telling lies and keeping secrets, they are also smart enough to know there’s a chance they’ll get busted. So they’re always preparing.

She’s not the only client I’ve had who ended up with nothing. In fact, Angela was lucky in a sense. She is still relatively healthy. Susan, at Sweetwater Retreats, can tell you what it’s like to lose everything and end up in a wheelchair. Many of the wives and partners I know now suffer with autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, MS, and Lupus, as a result of the trauma and ongoing stress. The physical, mental, social, and spiritual damage experienced by partners is often catastrophic. 

To make matters much worse, the systems that are supposed to help and protect us don’t; they work against us. I know women whose children made the initial discoveries by finding videos on the home computer of dad at an orgy or dad naked-dancing with the neighbor. I know women whose husbands showed their sons porn to “calm them down” or “help them sleep.” It is beyond belief, but the courts DID NOT CARE.

We lose out in the social system as friends and relatives either make like Switzerland; hide from us at PTA; or blame us, believing that will inoculate them from our disease. The churches push us to forgive and ‘stand by our men’ no matter what, as though our own lives and spirits have no value. And the doctors, who see us stunned and distraught, often dismiss our symptoms as all in our heads unless a bone is sticking out or we’re covered in boils. 

As for the therapeutic community, I’ve already written plenty about my views where it’s concerned. You can catch up on that here (  and here ( 

As it all adds up, I’m clear about one thing: Wives and partners have to depend on each other. We must be allies to push against those systems, to get the treatment and support we need. We have to share information, share our stories, and share what works. Share the names of good doctors, lawyers, therapists, and spiritual guides. If you’re far enough along in your own healing, reach back to those who are new to discovery and help them navigate this treacherous path. We have to be for there for each other in ways the outdated and insufficient systems won’t be.

Diane at Your Story is Safe Here, Lili at POSARC, and Susan and I at Sweetwater Retreats, have joined forces—to increase support, provide more resources, demand better treatment, and connect more women. We’ll have more on all that soon.

In the meantime, we start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can. Every day, until things change.

Tania Rochelle, MFA MS LPC NCC

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