Living With a Sex Addict

3: The Life You Have Been Living

 

Your husband has been a sex addict for some time. Whatever event occurred that made you aware of his addiction, it is only one in a long stream of others. Did you find out because he’s been having an affair? If he’s a sex addict, this means one of many flings, longer affairs, or paid sex workers. Did you catch him watching pornography? He’s been carving out hours of his day or binging on it when you were out of the house—and he’s been doing it for so many years he’s probably bored with it himself.

 

What has changed in your life is not the substance of your marriage, but new information about it. Pornography, prostitutes, other women (or men) have already been occupying the fringes your life—you just didn’t know it. If you are in shock from whatever discovery you’ve just made  (what some people call “D-Day”), prepare for further shock. But understand also that there has been no sudden shift. Your knowledge of what is going on has changed, but what has been going on remains the same. You are now aware of what was true all along.

 

I make this point because there are tragic shifts in our lives that are of a very different nature. For example, if a person is suddenly in a car accident she can go from perfectly healthy to very injured or worse in a moment. She doesn’t come to understand that she has been injured but experiences it in real time. She is a person who can say, “Everything in my life was fine until…” We are not. Our married lives have not been fine, at least not for a good many years.

 

At the time of discovery you may experience the same thoughts I did about the state of your marriage, and even use the same language. For example, I decided that I’d been deceived and my marriage was a sham, that none of the closeness or intimacy and love that I’d thought I was feeling during the eighteen years marriage was “real.” From the moment I discovered the affair it was though our lives had been dissolved, then reassembled, and everything looked how it had before, except it wasn’t.  Our home didn’t feel like our home anymore, but like a place where we used to live. The flower beds, the little stacks of post and books, the kitchen calendar and potted plants and laundry folded into baskets, were instantly counterfeit and vile, transformed through oath and curse as though this Other Woman was standing in a witch’s hat, casting spells.

 

Suddenly, all the years we’d been together—even our most treasured days of walking hills in Cumbria, climbing mountains in Scotland, the Christmases and birthdays, the nights we dressed up and walked through lighted streets, or nights we stayed in, wrapped in blankets by the fire before sharing a bath—were photographs from another age. Even our children seemed distant from me, as though I was looking at them through a pane of glass. To feel disconnected to the world was hard. Feeling disconnected to my own children was agony.

 

He’d been play-acting; I’d been duped. I got really into the role of being the deceived one, the oblivious little fool. I was indignant, outraged, and so sorry for myself  that I couldn’t see the marriage clearly at all anymore.  Later, I came to understand that, while there had been a lot of deception and pretense sprinkled throughout our union, it was a disservice to call the marriage a “sham.” We were still ourselves, our genuine loving selves; whatever had happened because of addiction did not take that away.

 

Non-addicts have difficulty imagining this, but for the most part sex addicts love their wives. I’ve spoken to or heard of too many sexually addicted men speaking with enormous depth of emotion and commitment about their wives to believe otherwise.  These men are deeply fearful that their wives will divorce them, and will do anything to keep their marriages intact while they recover from addiction. One of the many things they will do is lie—which we rightly despise—but the positive intention of the lying is often to hold onto us, to their families, and to their jobs.

 

My husband compartmentalized sex addiction; he knew it was marginal to his real life, that it was repetitive and fruitless and worrying. He’d been addicted for so many years he’d grown to hate it but was unable to stop.  The progression of his addiction meant he’d become increasingly self-centered, self-absorbed, consumed by his own troubles and imagination. Maybe this is because his imagination was consuming him. At the same time, he also seemed increasingly dependent upon me, on my approval and my love. I believe that much of what we might observe as selfishness in the addict is actually emotional isolation. His self-involvement drove him further into himself. His pursuit of sex was probably a means of relieving his loneliness and fear—for almost every sex addict I’ve ever known is intensely fearful. The sex distracted him for a short while before plummeting him further into it.

 

Did I see any signs of trouble? If I’d taken inventory I might have concluded that over the years he’d become more self-obsessed and anxious. But like the story of the frog placed in tepid water that gradually rises in temperature until the poor animal is boiled alive, I didn’t notice such gradual change.

 

I thought he was over-worked. I thought he was a bit stressy. I’d occasionally receive phone calls from him in which he needed to hear my voice even though I’d only said goodbye to him a few hours ago as he left for the office. I later worked out that these phone calls took place just after he’d acted out, or had nearly acted out, and were a means of anchoring him back to his real life, his real family, his real wife.  It wasn’t so much that he acted out because he didn’t care for me, but that the momentum of his addiction was so intractable that he engaged in sexual fantasy or actual sex with someone else in spite of  how he felt about me.

 

Having said this, I don’t for a minute downplay the degree of hurt and destruction that sex addicts bestow upon their lives, their marriages and their spouses. And I don’t feel it can be explained away as “an addiction like any other.” Sex addiction is a disease and it is a real addiction. However, in most other cases of addiction the increased dependency on a substance is fairly obvious to the spouse. A spouse can often see signs of drug use. They see signs of alcohol abuse. I doubt very much I’d have overlooked it if my husband were an alcoholic, for example. He’d have been drunk, for one thing. I’d have seen the progression of the disease from the start and been able to make decisions in full awareness of the situation. But the nature of sex addiction means that unless you find evidence of it on one or other electronic device or catch him with another person, you are unlikely to have any idea. Years can pass, your whole life even, as you remain cocooned in oblivion wondering why he is so anxious, so dissatisfied with himself, even though he has what appears to be a perfectly lovely life.

 

So, while sex addiction is an addiction, it is not just like “any other addiction.” And sex addiction is not like “any other disease” either. You may hear someone say that sex addiction is a disease like diabetes. I really don’t know what therapist started this notion that sex addiction is like diabetes or why addicts try this one on. The analogy is probably due to the necessity that a sex addict take daily actions in order to prevent “acting out” in the same way that a diabetic may take daily insulin to prevent a diabetic coma.

 

Whatever the reason, the analogy never made any sense to me. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving insulin resistance. It is a physiological symptom with no premeditated agenda to its symptomatology. By contrast, acting out a sexual addiction requires deviousness, deliberate deception, and intense covering up. You may explain this to your husband who is telling you sex addiction is like diabetes. He may become angry but you are right—whatever we think about sex addiction it is not like diabetes. Don’t be surprised if he storms off or sulks while you shake your head in despair that he could ever have been duped into the diabetes analogy.

 

He’s not deluded. He’s just stuck. He is stuck because sex addiction is a disease and he is suffering. Because the burden of having caused such pain to those he loves overwhelms him. Because of the intense shame. He wants relief from whatever poison he feels inside himself and wouldn’t it be great to say it was like diabetes or some other common, chronic condition?

 

I feel sorry for today’s sex addicts because, while the condition is not uncommon, it is relatively new to the scene in psychology. Men and women who are sex addicts are at the hands of professionals with little understanding of the problem, spouses who are shocked and bewildered by the problem, and a media that loves to poke fun at the problem.

 

Even so, wishing sex addiction to be a disease like any other does not make it so. I cannot think of any physiological disease for which the best known treatment is what the 12-Step programs call “a spiritual solution.” You might now ask who cares what the 12-Step programs call it? Why are we talking about them anyway?  We are talking about them because so far their programs have had the best results. I don’t claim to thoroughly understand the 12 Steps, I don’t understand why programs centered around the 12 Steps have done so well with men and women with addictive disorders, but it is clear this is the case.

So, sex addiction is not a physiological disease. Is it, therefore, a mental illness? In a way, yes. But even if we call sex addiction a mental illness, it is not one in which the person is delusional. That is, the problem does not manifest itself across all of the addicts’s interactions. It is not easily detected by those with whom the addict lives, let alone work colleagues or the like. So, while it might be a mental illness like anxiety, it is not a mental illness like schizophrenia.

 

Before I understood much about sex addiction, I believed it grew out of what could be called “ordinary cheating.”  That is, I thought my husband had enjoyed casual sexual so much he repeated the action until it became a habit he found difficult to stop. I used to point out this out to my husband, telling him that he didn’t start out as an addict, but as a regular guy who cheated on me for years before the behavior became an addiction.

 

This thought kept me miserable for a long time. Only recently have psychologists established that it wouldn’t have been like that at all. He didn’t make a practice of cheating and then turn into an addict. He was an addict looking for a fix, and eventually alighted upon sex. He found the fix and settled on sex addiction as opposed to some other addiction. Sex was simply the drug of choice.

 

There may be a number of ways in which it seeds itself in an individual. Almost everyone suffering an addictive disorder has suffered a childhood trauma. In the case of sex addiction, there is often a history of childhood sexual abuse.  Recent studies tell us that early exposure to pornography can create an experience of abuse even in children who are not physically abused, which makes me think that sex addiction will continue to grow in years to come as the porn industry expands its reach to our children. Also, that we will see an increase in women with sex addiction.

 

Experts in sex addiction often say that the addiction burgeons early in life, probably during puberty when the future addict first discovers his response to sex as not exactly like that of his more typical peers. He may ignite an active relationship with fantasy years before he has any thoughts of marriage. The fantasy can be powerful enough to blank out some of the other more challenging conditions of his life and he then begins to rely on it. Can we blame the addict for resorting to what he learned as an adolescent or a very young man? By fantasizing about women (or men) through pornography or some other means he has discovered how to relieve himself of what feels like intolerable stress, perhaps due to a history of family problems, parental abuse, sexual abuse or similar. His addiction is in the making before we even arrive on the scene.

 

When I first found out about my husband’s sex addiction, I was in way too much agony to have sympathy for him, for his condition, or for what may have caused it in his early history. Even reading a paragraph like the one above might have annoyed me. I didn’t like it when addicts and therapists called sex addiction a “disease”. I felt like I was being told that I did not have sufficient sympathy for the poor man, who was the real victim in all this. Also, that I was an unsympathetic wife just for challenging the notion of whether he was really an “addict” in the first place.

 

I was supposed to be calm and supportive. I was supposed to be patient about whether or not he stayed “sober” so early in his recovery program. Being understanding about infidelity—even on medical grounds—was an untenable position for me as a wife. And who was asking this of me? Oh yes, by my husband, a sex addict. Sex addicts are notoriously good at moralizing while failing to follow their own principles. He was advising me on my behaviour? This only further inflamed me. It seemed absurd that there was a recommended way of responding to what felt like an assault on myself, my family, my marriage or what might be called the memory of my marriage. And yet, it wasn’t an assault on any of that. He was ill. I was not.

 

I realize I can sound critical, especially considering that I am happily married to a sex addict, but I only became happy after years of frustration with my situation and it would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge that. Like any wife, I felt enormous pain associated with my husband’s addiction. I have been in turns frightened, angry, hurt, bewildered, baffled, dysfunctional and broken-hearted—and this went on for years.

 

I’ve heard a few addicts state flatly that a woman should stand by her sexually addicted spouse in the same manner she might had he been diagnosed with cancer, because after all sex addiction and cancer are both diseases. I’ve been told a woman should stand by her addicted spouse “until he is ready” for treatment or until he achieves sexual sobriety. Such advice (often from recovered addicts) downplays the painful emotions, the exhaustion, the despair and loneliness, not to mention the utter shock and horror, experienced by spouses of sexually addicted people. Many addicts take years to gain sobriety and are completely absorbed either or in their addiction or in their recovery programs during that time. Standing by your man can feel very lonely and you have no guarantee he will ever get better, nor that you will ever be able to relax, trust, or feel happy with him again. There are psychological risks to sticking with him, time and opportunity costs, as well as physical risks of sexually transmitted diseases.

 

Having said all this, I am also going to tell you that I am very glad to be with my husband, whose recovery was slow, frustrating, not always obvious, and something he still has to work at every day of his life.

 

We’re going to get to the part where I show you how that happened, but meanwhile it is worth saying that nothing I describe is meant to persuade you one way or the other about your future with your partner. I just want to reassure those who are hoping to stay with their partners that while the past can be ugly, the future can be better. Did you love your husband or partner before you found out about the acting out (by “acting out” I do, of course, mean the pornography, affairs, chat rooms, phone sex, prostitutes and sex websites)? If so, you love him now. And don’t believe anyone who tells you that you love a man you who you have “invented.” I used to hear that all the time. You say you love him, but you didn’t know him. You say you love him but you’ve only made him up in your head.

 

You haven’t invented him at all. He wasn’t always hiding himself, nor could he have done. Sex addiction is progressive—he wasn’t always quite as selfish or mercurial or deceptive or deep into addiction. If you love him, it is the genuine love for a real person, not a misguided projection of love onto an invented man.  It will take years, not days, to dismantle that love, if this is what you choose to do. But you don’t have to leave him; he can get better. And as impossible as this may sound at the moment, you can forgive him. Loving him doesn’t mean living with him will be any easier. That you love the man so much may intensify the pain of his unfaithfulness and dishonesty, making it almost unbearable. He has disrupted what you believed at your very core, about your life, about your marriage, and about yourself.

 

Like the rest of the world, you thought good people did good things and bad people did bad things.  But your husband, who is a good person, has not only done something bad but has done it at your expense. If you feel crazy, don’t worry. You should feel crazy. You learned something unspeakable about the man upon whom you’ve hung every hope. Moreover, your entire worldview is being challenged. If a man you love can do such wrong, what about all the other “bad guys” out there who you may once have comfortably separated into a different part of humanity? Are there “good people” in prison? Is it possible, as Thomas Aquinas says, that nobody intentionally does evil?

 

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Copyright © 2016 by TheWife. All rights reserved.

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    CLJ
    July 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Looking for wife support! Help!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      July 13, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Can you perhaps put her in contact with me through the site? I’d be happy to help. 🙂

      • Reply
        JangledChick
        July 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        I need wife support too please!

    • Reply
      Annie
      July 23, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      I need support too

  • Reply
    Cathy
    August 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I need support. Please!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      August 17, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Cathy, I wonder if you’ve found http://www.posarc.com? It has some good articles. I am not associated with that group so don’t think I am trying to push my agenda on you (or anyone else!). If you’ve just found out your husband or partner is a sex addict you are right you need support! I know all too well. Hugs to you.

  • Reply
    Adam Gallacher
    August 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I need help. I deceived my wife by watching pornography. I have watched for years and tried to stop but failed. My wife is going to leave me and I only have myself to blame. She has given me second chances before but she’s had enough. I feel bad for her and my 3 little children. I don’t want them to be in a broken home. If I’m being honest, yes I watch porn but actually grown tired of it and I don’t understand why I feel the need to watch it. I wouldn’t say my Sex life is terrible but I guess I would like it more often. We have just moved into a new house which we put alot of work in. The kids have a room each. We have a lovely dog and a nice family car. Our jobs are stable. There really isn’t any reason for my betrayal. I hate myself and selfishly think of suicide but that’s no good at all for anyone. I just want my wife to take me back. I am such an idiot.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      August 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Hi, and thank you for writing to me. I’m going to email you from another account as this is in the comments section of the website and I think it might me more helpful for me to email you privately. However, I want to say just quickly that if you feel compelled to watch pornography and you cannot seem to stop it, there are a lot of options for getting help and you DEFINITELY can get better.

      As for your wife forgiving you, she may very well forgive you and accept you and love you as ever. However, even if she does so, you still need to work on the addiction that brought you to this place to begin with.

      And don’t hate yourself. There is no need to do so. There is tremendous hope and a good future ahead of you. It will just take some time.

      🙂

      • Reply
        Adam Gallacher
        August 29, 2017 at 7:55 am

        Thank you so much for the reply. I’m happy to have any advice you can give.

  • Reply
    Pam
    September 13, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    All I can say is wow! This was the best article I have read to date. It’s been 1 year since I discovered my husbands sex addiction. It all started with a screen name he was using on a gameing site. It brought me back in time to when we were dating (18 years ago) and found him chatting on AOL with people. At the time I confronted him and didn’t think much of it because we were very young and I attributed it to him being 21 and playing a stupid game. Last we went to marriage counseling while I was under the impression that he was only watching porn and chatting on sites. It wasn’t until I took the home computer and had forensics done that I found out what a serious sex addict he was. Our lives before his discovery were very much like yours. The perfect couple… He has since been diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication that is helping control himself and is in therapy and is practicing mindfulness. So much of this addiction is played out without the addict being present. He has acted out with both men and women and had MMF threesomes. How many people I don’t know. The majority was fantasy on his computer. He did the majority of this while at work. He doesn’t recall a lot of what he did and has blurred fantasy with reality. He feels shameful and discussed with himself and when we fight about it with the result of him becoming very angry and eventually breaking down and crying. I have become a bit numb and don’t know what to believe anymore. Is he lying? Does he really not recall what he did? Does he have a disassociative disorder as well? He has always been a bit of an extremist and lived on the edge. Most of this was before we were married. The stories I was told were of him drinking to excess jumping off a moving vehicle for fun/rush. Sexually promiscuous etc… Since I have found out I still have felt the urge to search. Looking from things he’s done in the past and I’m still so consumed by it all. He says he’s better and the medication has helped quiet his brain down and his dopamine levels are better and he doesn’t feel the urge to do any of this anymore. I know he truly loves me and his children and doesn’t want to destroy what we have. God this is hard for me to talk about and is the first post I have done. If the author would contact me via email id appreciate it. I don’t need any comments saying run from others. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking to heal.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 14, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Hi, I will certainly contact you by email. I am just so sorry to hear of this problem and the extent of his addiction. He has a pretty complex set of problems that will need a lot of work. As for you….well. I know how you feel. It is awful but it *can* get better. I’ll email you soon.

  • Reply
    Pam
    September 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks so much for your reply!

  • Reply
    Sophie
    September 14, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Please can you contact me, I’m in the depths of despair as I’ve just found out my partner is a chronic sex addict.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 15, 2017 at 7:09 am

      Hi, I am so sorry to hear this. When you find out your partner is a sex addict it is like finding out he’s cheated but at an exponential, pathological scale. It’s devastating. I’ll email you.

  • Reply
    Sheila jeffreys
    September 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Please help me I’m desperate

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 15, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I’m sorry…tell me how I can help.

  • Reply
    Iris
    September 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Hi there. I can’t believe I have found this article. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree with an earlier comment about this being the most helpful l have found and it is so recent. You have described so much of how i am feeling. I discovered my husband had been seeing prostitutes for the last 2 1/2 years. Found out just over 2 weeks ago. I’m trying to keep a sensible head and carry on as I have 3 young children (they keep me going!) I know I am in shock still and experiencing all the classic symptoms. But I know it is still very early days and hope with the correct help I can deal with this situation and heal properly. One minute I’m coping, the next i can’t stop crying. I think about supporting him getting help (he has already started professional help and put things into place like restrictions on laptops, phones etc) and the next I want to move away with the kids and start a new life for us without him. The pain is excruciating and would really love some support if possible please. Thank you so much for your time. Ps. I have never posted on any site before…this just feels like someone else’s life!!!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 18, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Iris, I know so well all the feelings you are going through. One minute I wanted nothing more than my husband even with all his flaws, and the next I wanted to run away. In the end, I couldn’t do either. I couldn’t have the man I wanted and I couldn’t entirely leaving him either.

      What helped? His becoming sober helped. Without that there is no “line in the sand” you can draw, no finishing point, nothing that will serve as a stop. Once be became sober, he also made a lot of progress emotionally so that I could actually talk to him without him going crazy. He began (slowly) to see things from my side, to see thing more fairly. His empathy deepened. Was he perfect? No, not at all. And he must attend a 12-step program twice weekly to stay sane and sober. But he does!

      I know all that excruciating pain and the constant crying. It is all so exhausting but so natural and necessary. I do hope that there will be better days for you soon.

  • Reply
    Baldoria
    September 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Hello there:
    You can probably guess why I am here. I just found out two weeks ago that my husband has had several emotional/sexual affairs. After the affairs stopped, although he kept in touch with them, he got addicted to Porn…. I feel like I have been cut off from the knees. looking for some guidance
    – Thank you

  • Reply
    Ali
    September 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Please can you help me too.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 18, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Are you okay? Tell me what is going on. 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie
    September 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    THANK YOU! I can’t tell you how relieved I am to finally read something from someone who describes exactly what I’ve felt for far too many years.
    I discovered my husbands indiscretions, well, let’s just say, many many years ago. It started off with ‘sensual massage’; and after I presented the evidence I found, we landed in therapy. After many tears, and hours in therapy, things were ‘seemingly’ better. Not. 2 years went by, and it popped up again and again. In 2013 while I was moving his daughter (I’m his 2nd wife) into her college dorm in another state, along with his 1st wife, and his other younger daughter (he couldn’t make it .. he was ‘too busy’); I found out that he was at a very romantic hotel for the weekend with a hooker that he had been ‘dating’ for months, yet paying the entire time. The devastation was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. The lies, deception and betrayal were so mind-blowing, and made me question everything about my life, and reality. I didn’t want to live anymore. The pain was overwhelming. How could someone do this to another?
    It was at this point he went to see a ‘sex-addiction’ therapist. Well that only lasted as long as getting to the ‘disclosure statement’. When he read his statement to me, and he saw the pain that ripped through me, he burst into tears, and within moments his tears stopped (like shutting off a faucet) and it was as if his feelings had been stripped from his body. He literally shut down (emotionally). I never saw an ounce of empathy, remorse or compassion since that day (vis-a-vis his addiction). We’ve struggled, separated multiple times, got back together, therapy, etc. He’s gone to the other side where I am to blame for any cheating that he does. To my knowledge, he’s been involved with hookers, sensual massage, public dates with paid sex workers, endless porn, flew someone to the US from a foreign country that he ‘met’ on some website. I even found (okay, I’ve become the greatest PI in the world) a piece of paper from a local court for the dismissal of his violation of ‘soliciting prostitution’. I found out he was on some website where he advertised himself as a ‘Sugar Daddy’; and the only reason I knew was because one of the young girls that he completed duped (after she discovered his ‘real name’ and did some research other own), decided to contact me directly via facebook and tell me around my scoundrel husband. She went so far as to write a horrific article on some trashy website that can’t even be removed about him. She released his real name, address, mentioned me, and all of what she did with him. Each time a google search is/was done with his name, it’s the first thing that would come up. He spent nearly $20k with Reputation.com, a company that specializes in ‘squashing’ unflattering stories on the internet. He works in financial services, and he’s even lost several clients because of the story, and was contacted by many people who saw it.
    I know my husband truly loves me, and I’ve tried to help him, but as we know I can’t help him, he needs to help himself. He’s such a lost soul, and it’s heart wrenching. His pain and loneliness is endless.
    I threw him out of our home almost 1 year ago, but he continues to try and reconcile, but is in complete denial of his disease even after all of the discoveries. Unfortunately he gets to deny, because I’m one directly impacted by his disease. How do I stop loving and walk away from someone who is in so much pain and lost? I know it’s not my job, but the man I feel in love with so many years ago still lives within.
    Just as a side note, I have done everything to help myself, I’m in weekly therapy (sometimes twice a week) for sometime; I go to group meetings, read, and talk to my friends about it. I get the support I need because otherwise I’d be in a straight jacket 🙁
    Any advice you can offer me, would be most welcomed.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 18, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Wow. That is one heck of a life you are living over there. I know the stuff that happened is shocking. I am very aware of the “sensual massage” (read: prostitute) or the young women who are listed on “dating sites” from faraway lands (read: prositute) and all the other ways our husbands convince themselves that they are not actually having sex with prostitutes. Heck, mine used to bring a bottle of wine when he ‘visited’ a prostitute because that made it seem more like a date. In fact, guys can even have a “GFE” (girlfriend experience) if they are willing to pay.

      Of course, the point is that they are not paying — WE are paying. With our lives, our families, our emotional health, our physical health and our actual money (half of what they pay is ours, you see). So, they are making decisions on our behalf whenever they “visit” a prostitute and we are understandably intolerant of that. On the other hand, we can see that these men we love are very sick, that they need help, that they are desperate. It’s hard to turn them away.

      There is no way to reason with an active addict. If I have any advice for you it would be to convince your husband that therapy is part of his recovery process but that he needs to get into a 12-step program ASAP. It’s the only thing that really worked for my husband, who used to pay hundreds an hour to experts who didn’t really do much to help him stop acting out. I mean, therapy is good generally but if you want to recover the serious 12-step programs seem to have a good reputation. That’s my only advice. Other than that, I only wish you were around the corner and we could sit and talk, because you sound as though you could use a friend right now and I do totally understand what you are going through! I was separated from my husband for a long time…I think it was about 15 months. I couldn’t live with an active addict. Who can?

  • Reply
    Cathy
    September 22, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I feel lost due to my husbands sex addiction. This has gone on for 23 years. We are in counseling. He goes to Sa meetings. Babysitting him is tiring. He travels so I only see him on the weekends. How do we heal when we are hardly together. Says he doesn’t want to give up on us. But after years of a sexless marriage and years of all of his porn and affairs I’m afraid I may catch something. He has been tested but I feel like he should be tested every time he comes home. So overwhelmed!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 22, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Hi, and thank you for being in touch. Your situation sounds familiar and untenable and exhausting. I am sorry you’re going through all this.

      I think I felt overwhelmed for years in my own marriage for much the same reasons. Perhaps I was a little different in that I didn’t really try to look after my husband. I understood that his addiction was nothing I could really influence or prevent. I did have to get away from him, however, when he was still an active addict. It is just too much to bear and, as you rightly point out, there is the physical risk aspect of it all.

      It’s good your husband is going to SA meetings. I hope he’s got a sponsor and is moving through the steps. SA was the best thing my husband did and he did a LOT of interventions, including regular counselling.

      I wish I could wave a magic wand and relieve you of the worry and sadness you are going through. My only suggestion is that you read Barbara Steffans book on being the partner of an addict and that you glance through the various topics covered in my blog just so you know you are NOT alone!

      Hugs to you.

  • Reply
    Cathy
    September 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you so much. Just ordered the book you suggested. Praying it helps!

  • Reply
    Belinda
    October 3, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Please I need help too !!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 4, 2017 at 7:19 am

      Are you okay? If you’ve recently found out your partner is a sex addict you might want to look into resources like http://www.posarc.com, for example. Also, Barbara Steffan’s excellent books. The articles on this sight might help. 🙂

  • Reply
    Robin
    October 11, 2017 at 3:17 am

    I’m glad I found this site. My husband and I have been married 37 years and only 10 of those years he was faithfull. I have been going through this for so long that I feel like my head is unraveling. It started on porn sites, magazines then to sites to hook up . My 2 children found out and told me he is saying nasty things about me to other woman. He then started paying for sex. I thought he was working really hard and seeing a therapist but when I was asked to go he lied to the therapist changed therapist many times. Fast forward we are in therapy plus he is going by himself do I trust him no! I feel like maybe he won’t ever stop because we renewed our vows at 25 years and much to my surprise he was still going strong . I have a terminal illness and thought we could make memories but not to sure anymore I’ve never see any remorse we need to look foward he says I can’t be looking back. My shoulders and neck are so tense because I never feel relaxed. Sorry so long but thanks for letting me vent

  • Reply
    JoAnne
    October 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    I have so many questions for you. I wish I could pick up the phone and call you. I’ve been married for 34 years and just found out (4 months ago) that my husband is a sex addict. I swing from having compassion and forgiveness to anger and feelings of hatred. I’ve known from our early years of marriage that he had deep hurts from his childhood — not being accepted by his father and never feeling like he had any close friends. I encouraged him to seek help through spiritual direction, counseling, etc. He would go to one or two sessions, present everything as being wonderful in his conversations and then determine that no further sessions were needed. I grew up in a large family and both of my parents were addicts. I was determined to raise my children differently and worked hard at personal work, reading lots of books on child rearing, etc. I figured my husband needed to work on his childhood trauma just like me. I also knew that I couldn’t force him to get help so I focused on myself and my work and prayed he would eventually get to the point of being ready to work on his stuff. He is now 61 years old and is attending 2 SAA meetings a week and working with a therapist. I want our marriage to work but I’m afraid this may be too little too late. He is truly remorseful but has been living a double life for over 20 years. The last 8 years have been the worst as his disease truly did progress.

    Thank you for this website. It is very comforting to know / read about someone who has experienced something very similar to me and has worked through it and is happy in your marriage. I’ve been in therapy for over 5 years and attending Alanon meetings for over 2 years – all this to help me recover from my experience of growing up in a very dysfunctional home. I’m thankful for all the work I’ve done. I know I’m able to care for myself so much better now and I’m sure handling this news far better than I would have 5 years ago. I went to one 12-step meeting for partners of a sex addict and found it very discouraging. It seemed to be much more of a gripe session than a place where people shared their experience, strength, and hope. I live in a large metropolitan area and am amazed there is only one such group as this. Any other suggestions or tips you can provide?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 12, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Hi JoAnne, this is a quick reply because I’m squeezed for time. I completely understand where you are coming from! My husband was an addict for 15 years before I found out and still wasn’t “sober” for 7 years after that…so yes, it’s a hard and awful road.

      Have you read Barbara Steffan’s book? I like that one. Also, Dr. Rob Weiss is very good. Look for his videos on youtube. Sometimes, he seems like an apologist for sex addicts but actually he truly has a heart for the partners and understands our anger!

      More soon…. 🙂

  • Reply
    JoAnne
    October 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you. I love your website — beautiful design and so easy to navigate. I love your very balanced approach and sensitivity. I love your commitment to share your story to help others. Your intelligence and gift for writing shine through! My husband and I have found Dr. Weiss’ website and have been reading some and watching some of his videos. I plan to purchase Barbara Steffan’s book. It helps to know you recommend it. My husband and I are also reading each of your articles together and stopping and discussing various points you make. Do you plan to write about the part of your story when you started to heal, trust, and feel joy/happiness again? I long to hear this part of your story. Hugs to you and all of the other partners that have written in and are suffering.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 12, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you so much, JoAnne! I am so glad you find the website useful (as well as Dr. Weiss’s website and Dr. Steffan’s work). Yes, I am writing a manuscript that I’ll eventually have available for cheap on-line. Meanwhile, when I can I write another blog! 🙂

  • Reply
    Iris
    October 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Hi everyone on here.

    I posted a few weeks back after discovering what you have all discovered….husband is a sex addict. I just wondered where everyone is based? USA, uk????? I’m in london. If anyone is near London and would like to meet up please let me know. I was meant to start a partners group last week but they have delayed it as not enough people! I would really love to have a chat / meet up with someone who knows exactly what I’m going through (and I know there thusounds of women and men going through this). Anyway, if any of you are near and fancy a coffee and a chat please please let me know. Ps I’m coming up to 7 weeks post discovery. Thanks. Ps To the Wife / author of this website…I really hope you don’t mind me posting this here!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 12, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      I think it’s great you are posting this here! And wow, you are certainly taking a lot of positive action, especially for someone only 7 weeks post-discovery! I think I was still too upset to string words together at that point! 🙂

    • Reply
      S
      October 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Whereabouts in London are you? I am 3 weeks post discovery, I’m in SW London/Surrey and I think I really need some support from other partners/spouses. I talk to close family and a couple of friends but it is difficult for them to really “get it”.

      • Reply
        S
        October 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        PS. I work in London (near Waterloo) so there is always the option of a meetup after work one day if I can get a babysitter.

      • Reply
        Iris
        October 22, 2017 at 7:45 am

        Hi S.

        I am in west London. I’m sure you must be feeling exactly the same as me and all the other partners on here. I think about the whole situation all the time. I’m not sure the best way to exchange emails, numbers without making it public!? TO THE AUTHOR ‘The wife’ have you any suggestions? Is there anyway you can forward my email to S? Would love to meet up. I am the same as you. I can talk to family and close friends but would be great to meet someone who fully understands. Hopefully we can organise a meet up. Big hugs x

        • Reply
          S
          October 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm

          That would be amazing. Fingers crossed ‘The Wife’ can arrange for us to contact each other privately. And if there are any others local to London too, the more peer support the merrier x

        • Reply
          The Wife
          October 22, 2017 at 5:41 pm

          I can do that, Iris….don’t worry. 🙂

          • The Wife
            October 22, 2017 at 5:45 pm

            Let me know if you guys got my email and could connect. 🙂

  • Reply
    Another wife
    October 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I can’t believe I have found this. I could have written that myself. Have felt so alone. Thank you.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      “Another wife”, you are most welcome… 🙂

  • Reply
    Katherine
    October 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I found out sbout my husband’s sex addiction over 7 years ago after 7 years of marriage. I left him immediately, even moved to another city where my grown children live, however, we have continued an on and off relationship. I have discovered a ‘crazy’ person inside of myself that erupts into rage and sinks to depths of despair. Your article is the first thing I’ve read in the hundreds of pages I’ve gleaned that presents a perspective that may offer me an avenue toward relief. I hope to read more of your view.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

      I am so sorry that you find ourself in the same situation as so many who have been on this website. I know exactly the kind of “crazy” you mean and I can promise you that you aren’t crazy. You’re perfectly normal but you were put in a crazy situation. I really feel for you.

  • Reply
    S
    October 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you so much for this website. I am 3 weeks into the mess following D-Day, yours was the first website I came to when I was looking for something to help me make sense of all this. I have gradually uncovered my husband’s lies over this period, he says he has told me everything now but obviously I can’t trust this to be true. I just feel so utterly lost, I can’t say what the future holds – for us, for our daughter (1.5 years old). Everything feels like it has shattered. I guess I am writing this as I feel like I need to connect with more people that have been through this and understand what it is like. I haven’t yet made it to a COSA meeting, I would like to but am a bit worried about the co-addict angle. Are there any good online groups / forums you would suggest?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      Hi and so sorry you find yourself here. As you’ll know from my blogs on the subject I don’t go for the co-addict model. I think that for many of us it is not only incorrect but damaging. However, there are some people who probably are co-addicts and for them it is important to see what they are doing. Also, the COSA people are incredibly nice and you can usually find a meeting. So, even if you don’t go for the co-addict angle (and I do not!) it is worth considering going to a meeting or two and seeing if it helps. I think it may, at least for a little while.

      Meanwhile, yes, you can find a little support on-line! You can go to https://bloomforwomen.com and have a look around there. Another excellent resource is POSARC.com. Let me know how you find these resources and come back and talk to me and others who comment on here anytime. 🙂

  • Reply
    Nina
    October 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    I am so glad I came across your Blog! I can relate to this so much. I recently discovered pornography on my husband’s cell phone and also that he had been seeking encounters with prostitutes and hookers. After talking with him about all of this he finally admitted to cheating on me with Prostitutes and being addicted to pornography. All of this has come a huge Shock! You see we have been married for 14.5 years and have 2 children and a dog. We live in a nice home and both are college educated. I keep asking myself how did this happen?
    When did it start and how did I not see the red flags? Currently, we are separated and he is starting Therapy with a Psychologist who specializes in Sexual Addiction. Plus, he is renewing his heart to God. What is so crazy is that he pretty much lived 2 lives: his sexual fantasy life and our family life. I am so very hurt and devastated, but I still Love him. I feel like as his wife I should at least try to get him help. He seems to want to change and get better. He does have lots of Shame and Guilt. I don’t know that things will ever be the same between us? I am still trying to understand Sexual Addiction,but I do feel he has some type of emotional isolation problem too. It’s only been 2 weeks and I am starting to feel a little better and more in control. I do feel like even though he has his own apartment he still wants to be around the kids & I. It’s really hard to set boundaries that protect me emotionally. How did you set healthy boundaries? Does treatment work is there Hope?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Hi! I was sorry to hear that you had that same awful D-day discovery that the rest of us had. I have to say you sound a lot like I was — I’d been married 15 years and had 2 children and would have staked my life on my husband’s fidelity. Yes, they seem to live 2 lives. They compartmentalise their addiction, feel great shame, but carry on. I don’t think you would have seen any “red flags” because you wouldn’t have been looking for them (why should you have? You trusted him!) and because he’d have hidden them anyway.

      If you read through the blog you’ll find lots of stuff about therapy and lack thereof. As for boundaries…well. That is a problem for all of us. How can you be both married to someone and have great walls and boundaries? Well, you’ve separated, however temporarily or permanently I don’t know. Depending on what happens going forward you’ll know a lot more about what you want. Right now, it is very early. Have you read Barbara Steffan’s book for partners? Have a look if you haven’t. And poke around the website, ask questions. Sometimes other women come on and answer questions or share their lives just within the comments section.

      Hugs to you!

  • Reply
    Stay strong
    October 28, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Wow! What a great read. Makes me feel like I’m not alone. Thank you. It has been 8 days since finding out about my husbands addiction and this gives me hope!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Eight days…I really feel for you. You are at the worst of the worst time. It will get better, although slowly. Hugs to you..

  • Reply
    A man
    November 8, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    All of you must hate men and frankly I don’t know what’s wrong with us. What is surprising to me is that how every wife is the same in this situation. How every husband is living two lives. I have yet to come across a couple in this situation that are different from this sickening stereo type of sex addict and clueless wife.

    Why am I here? Well I too am like your disgusting husbands. The only difference is maybe I come from a very sheltered family environment so have grown up seeing sex as something evil.

    The thing is there is definitely something powerful in sex. If done the right way it freaking brings a human into the world. So there’s definitely some spiritual or other power connected to it.

    Back to the point I want sex, I want it from literally every woman I see. I don’t actually want it, but that’s the thought that pops into my head, “oh what about her”. I don’t have a history of sexual trauma or anything of that sort. But like every single human male alive right now, I have watched porn. A lot of it.

    I had just watched a little porn and had no idea I would ever be in a hotel room with two prostitutes on a working day at some later point in my life.

    When I was 21 I started dating. By the way I’m Muslim so that’s a big no no. This to me was the turning point I believe. When you treat something in that way, like it cannot be talked about. It doesn’t make me or any other addict think well I should stop now. It blends into the background of our sexual desire. That is one of the reasons sex with your wife becomes less interesting to addicts, the whole background is wrong. At least that’s what I think. Anyway if you’re still reading I started dating a girl and thought I was the luckiest person on earth. For 3 years I was in heaven then, her parents found a guy for her who was much better off financially and that was that. We can still be friends. Sure. I should mention for 3 years I never had sexual intercourse with her, just dry humping and the sort.

    Anyway I was at rock bottom. First love, first breakup I’m sure you girls can relate to this probably the only thing you can relate to. Please remember for 3 years my relationship was a secret, so I was sad alone. Crying in the car etc. As I said earlier when you hide and sex (hide from society and seek sexual gratification) it becomes a part of your sexual desire. For 3 years I used to hide and sex with my girlfriend. So yea I was done for.

    I wanted to get back at her. Anyone, anyhow, I guess you can see where I’m going with this. So I installed dating apps on my phone. Girls did not respond, maybe I’m not a looker whatever. Then there were some girls on these apps that just straight up had put up their number online with description like “call me if you want to know me”. Well I called and I was shocked. I felt weird inside, I had just spoken to a prostitute. Quick delete the call log restart your phone and go to your mother you sick man. Well that was exciting, remember how you deleted the call log? That was smart, you’re smart and that’s so weird she will have sex with you just like that. She will have sex with you just like that. That girl in the app will have sex with you. Just like that.

    So I went to her and oh my god what a sight, she must have been at least 40 and if she’s in this business she has had so many genitals in her mouth. She maybe needed just a minute of makeup to play a starring role in a conjuring movie. Hideous absolutely hideous. You know what just go with it. I remember every detail of that 30 minutes. Oh no I don’t last that long, I remember the phone call under her building, I remember looking for parking, I remember the security guard looking at me, I remember her teeth hurting my thing. But guess what this was just the beginning. And like every other addict I had my completely rational justification, I’m not having sex, just blow jobs and the sort. Bravo moron.

    I’m not proud of this, I don’t have a number of how many followed. I used my I don’t want to have sex with you line with every one of them and they loved it. Everything you do is added to the sexual desire and so this was part of it to. Before going to these women I would imagine how they would react when I would tell them I’m not going to have sex with them.

    Pathetic and disgusting.

    Fast forward to 2015, I’m seeing these girls fairly regularly and then I meet another girl. I get those same feelings from back in the day I’m not imagining giving money to her, I’m imagining having breakfast together. So I got engaged to her and we decided to get married in early 2017. This girl, like all of you is smart, beautiful, loving and downright an angel. So do you tell angel what’s wrong with you? No I’ll tell her after we get married we’ll be closer then and she will accept me.

    Ok so I stopped? Happy ever after? Obviously not. We’re both Muslims so our parents decided it’s not good to meet before marriage. So we met in secret and that my friends rekindled some old emotions in me. For this I can give you a number. 7 girls, on 5 separate occasions. You know what my genius mind had come up with? This is the last, let’s go out with a bang. As I’m typing this I’m considering it again.

    So anyway since the day we have been living together I have thankfully not touched another woman. I never thought myself as a cheater and I will never forget what I did while we were engaged. But I want it to be a thing in the past. Something I vaguely remember like a bully stealing your lunch at school. A bad distant memory.

    But it’s not a memory, it’s my every morning. And my wife is super religious, she will never ever trust me again. I’m trying so hard to fight it. I have sex almost daily with my wife and it’s awesome. I’ve never had sex before but my past sexual experiences have ruined these pure feelings I should be enjoying with my wife.

    Since our marriage I have gone to the hotel of 3 different girls. (sidenote: in my country these girls get a lot of customers contacting them through WhatsApp so customers will ask them to send pictures, tell them they’ll be there in 15 minutes and never show up). So I have gone to their hotels, told them I’m there and prayed to God that they think I’m just fooling around and block me. One did, one I requested to block me and one I actually met. Went into her room, thank god she was dressed in the most stereotypical hooker get up because what that did was remind me of my first ever encounter so I apologised to her for wasting her time and left. This was the last girl a month ago.

    I need help.

    Why am I here? Not just for some guidance but also to show you how it eats you from the inside. I am the same boy that cried in the car because a girl left me and I’m the same boy that once ejaculated on the chest of two girls. So your sex addict husbands have some decency in them. But it’s behind a lot of I don’t know what to call it. It’s not sex, it’s something entirely different. How do I tell my wife? She was so angry at me for being a bad Muslim when I told her I had a girlfriend.

    At this point I don’t even want to go to the girls I enjoyed texting them. I was under her building she told me to come up I said I’m not sure send me your picture, she blocked me and I was rock hard. Why? I love my wife, I don’t want to go to these girls, I don’t want to lie. I’m not even that rich, I can’t even waste a lot of money. What do I do? Every time I’m alone I think about it. I goddamn have a girls number memorised.

    But hey I’m still sort of safe for the following reasons. God and religion. I don’t care if you’re an atheist or whatever, you need some hope, god is just a hope that there is something out there and you need all the hope you can get. No passwords. When I told my wife about my ex girlfriend she was really disappointed in me (wait till I blurt out that massage girls number in my sleep and she saves it, yes this is a fear I sleep with). So what I did was cleaned my filthy online life and gave her the password to everything I thought it would keep me away from the whores and to a certain extent it does. If there was a way for her to have access to my WhatsApp all the time I would be a happy man. Ok so religion, no passwords and staying busy.

    So I don’t know if this helped anyone but I feel good that this out there. I hope my wife finds it and accepts me.

    As for you poor girls, your husbands are morons like me, they don’t know why they put their things where they put them. They really don’t. They’re not selfish people, accept them and lock them up in a cage for a month.

    I’m not a bad person I’ve always wanted to have sex with slutty women since I was a kid I think. Every movie introduces the female character starting from her heels up and ends on her chest sometimes they don’t even show the face. Every successful man in the media has women all over him. I don’t know where it started but it’s deep inside me. I love my wife. But I’m damaged goods I believed and when I read some husband here started at 60 I thought oh great that’s me. I’ll hold out for so long and ruin everything at the end.

    I have been reading many such articles to try and control myself better. This was one of the best.

    Thank you for reading and hopefully I can love my wife without having a clause

    • Reply
      The Wife
      November 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Hi “A Man”…thanks for dropping by and for being so honest about your situation. 🙂 You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? That you can’t beat this addiction without some help. You have to really want to do so and you have to work at it every day, sometimes every hour of the day in the beginning. The best advice I can give you is try a 12-step program. And when I say “try”, I mean dive into it 100%, go to every meeting you can for SA and then as many “open” meetings as you can for other addiction (like narcotics or alcoholism). Get a sponsor. Don’t think you can just attend meetings for the fellowship — it won’t be enough. Get a sponsor and work the steps and transform yourself into the man you were always meant to be, and that you can be.

      You don’t have to give into this addiction or have such despair, anxiety and unhappiness. You can recover. I really mean it when I say that my husband is the best husband in the world — now. He was deep into his addiction and felt hopeless many times. But there is hope and there is sobriety and recovery. I’ve seen it right before my eyes. I really want it for you.

      • Reply
        A man
        November 9, 2017 at 6:31 am

        No thank you really

        I’ll do whatever I have to

  • Reply
    Tameeka's Man
    November 15, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I have recently sought treatment for sex addiction via therapy and a 12 step program. Ultimately, while I would love to save my marriage (she’s mentioned divorce), I have to do this for me for it to be effective. My issue currently is that she doesn’t think sex addiction is real. I fear that everything I am doing will be seen as an act to further my lies of the past as opposed to it being a solution. As I mentioned, I need to do this for me… but I wish there was some way for her to understand what is going through my mind as I begin this journey to recovery. Can you offer any advice/help?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      November 16, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Well, I completely understand where you are coming from as I have had many people incorrectly tell me that sex addiction isn’t real. There is a lot on my blog about it, in fact. Could you convince her to look at the blog? Or to watch the youtube videos on the subject by Dr. Rob Weiss, for example, who has a couple of very good videos that talk about this very issue.

      I am so happy you are getting the help you need. Sex addiction really is an addiction and it ruins lives. However, it can be overcome. I’ve seen it be overcome in my own husband’s life. And I am so glad I stuck it out. It wasn’t easy. I was often angry or hurt or confused or just exhausted, so be easy on your wife. I was a little ball of fury for quite some time. She may be, too. All the best to you!

  • Reply
    Marie
    November 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I am 2 years and 5 months past D-day. For the most part I am stable as my husband stopped all acting out/porn from D-day because he thought he had AIDS from a sex worker. He did not but it scared him and we have come far. My biggest challenge now is figuring out how to acknowledge our 39 year anniversary since he has not really been faithful since 1982 or so. I do feel like my marriage to him is a lie and a sham. Our adult kids know nothing. I love him but it is not the same as it was before discovery. How does anyone pretend to celebrate all these years together knowing that one’s spouse paid for sex and jerked off to porn for years and years while pretending to be Mr. Moral Guy and Mr. Perfect? I’ll accept any and all suggestions because as of now, I made him take off his wedding band because I did not want it touching me after he fondled whores with it on. I got a whole new wedding band set with diamonds that I purchased so I did not have to wear the ones he bought for me. He feels crushed because he wanted to “rebuild” and the rings we had were purchased by him and meant something “special”. Well not for me. Not anymore. Everything you wrote above makes sense but my body will not allow me to even acknowledge my marriage anniversary anymore. It just shuts down and I want to puke. Perhaps EMDR?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      November 17, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Oh wow, Marie, this is awful. I’ve been married for 26 years so I know what a long-term marriage means, or can mean. I know what it is like to live with history that is checkered with lies. I know what it is like to know that the man I trusted with everything was with other women. I even know what it is like to refuse to wear a ring (in fact, I lost my engagement ring, the ring I loved and which meant so much to me). I don’t know where it is…it just seemed to have disappeared along with so many other things I cherished. But here is where we are different: I understand that my husband was (is) an addict. So, even though he is no longer acting out, he is an addict. Though he had sex with hundreds of women during our marriage, and did all the awful things that your husband did, he did it because he is an addict. Not because he hates me, not because he wished I were younger, prettier or more sexy, but because he is to sex what an alcoholic is to alcohol. Cheating is a major issue that goes straight to the heart of a marriage and I am not trivializing it. However, I see it in a different context. My husband didn’t love any of these women. Half the time I doubt he was all that attracted to them. But he was attracted to the whole weird world of it all. Have you looked at Dr. Rob Weiss’s videos on Youtube about sex addiction? I’d take a look. There was nothing personal in your husband’s awful behavior. He’d have done it anyway…he couldn’t stop himself.

      I don’t think it will ever be the way it was before you found out. And yes, you’ve been totally, completely traumatised. You have every ounce of my sympathy and compassion. I feel terrible for you. You don’t have to do anything — you don’t have to “move on” or forgive him or work on the marriage or anything. It is your choice (though even there it isn’t your choice because your choice isn’t among the options anymore, is it? the choice to have had a faithful non-addict of a husband, that is!). However, you say you love him. So, you do. That’s no crime. He wants to be a different man than he’s been. He wants to be sober. How long has be been sober? Is he going to 12-steps? What is he doing with his recovery? Because if he isn’t working at it like a dog he’s not going to maintain it, in all likelihood, and then you will be further traumatised.

      I’ve not tried EMDR. I’ve heard good things about it from my husband who did do it, however. Can you “get over” all this. Well, yes. If by “get over” you feel happy again in your life and in your marriage. It takes an awful lot of time. I wasn’t anywhere near where I am now at 2 years 5 months. I hate to say it, but it takes longer and a lot depends on what you really want and, also, whether he is working on his recovery and sobriety all the darn time. Because if he isn’t, you guys won’t move forward.

      Hugs to you…I am so glad you reached out. See if any of my blogs help…buy Barbara Steffans book, perhaps?

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