Living With a Sex Addict

START HERE 1: My World Is Your World

 

The purpose of this site is to talk to you in the manner in which I wish someone had spoken to me many years ago when I first discovered my husband was a sex addict. At that time I was a crying, tortured mess. I couldn’t imagine being happy again or even staying married. I needed help but just couldn’t find it. The articles on this site are all part of my forthcoming book, Living With Sex Addiction by The Wife, but it might be just as useful if you are the husband. Or if you are the addict, for that matter.

 

Of course, I am not the wife, but a wife. I can only relate my own story, one of thousands of similar stories from people all over the world who have discovered that their partners are sex addicts. I can talk about what it was like to find out, the grief and bewilderment we have all experienced, the question of whether there really is such a thing as sex addiction. I can help you imagine a future that includes your husband, if that is what you wish, one in which sex addiction no longer has to be the focal point of daily living.

 

Mostly, I hope I can convince you that sex addiction is not the unresolvable disaster it first appears. Right now, you may feel isolated, confused, incredibly hurt, even abandoned by your partner. You may have isolated yourself because you are just so ashamed. I know how you feel. I had few friends I could talk to about my situation. The ones I did speak to were mostly so shocked by the nutty, injurious behaviour of my husband they had little more to say than don’t put up with it. Some said to leave him.

 

I was fully aware of how awful it was, did not want to “put up with it” but also didn’t want to leave him. You may have heard the Dalai Lama’s quote, “When we run into real tragedy we can react in two ways—either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” I wanted to do the latter, but my husband’s declaration that he was a “sex addict,” a term that wasn’t quite as well known then, threw me. He insisted that what was wrong was an “illness”. I had no idea what he meant. All I knew was that everything about my marriage and my life seemed counterfeit. I didn’t know what to believe. I couldn’t trust the man I loved and if not him, then who?

 

On those few occasions I spoke to other women with husbands who were sex addicts (and what was a sex addict again exactly?), I got some warm empathy and understanding that served to make me feel less alienated and singularly cursed. However, I often heard all about their troubles with their own addict husbands and how impossible their situations were—or how disappointing and constricted their marriages had become over years, or how they’d finally left the marriage.

 

One woman told me she could not go shopping with her husband because the billboard advertisements were “triggers” for him. All she could think about as they walked down Oxford Street was what images were plastered on posters and storefronts. Another had no intimate life with her husband whatsoever because she didn’t trust him not to give her a sexually transmitted disease and had been told by her support group not to ask if he’d been with other partners. Asking him whether he was “acting out” his sex addiction (that is, engaging in sex or cybersex outside the marriage) was a sign of her own “codependence,” or “coaddiction”, an illness that she’d been told needed careful control. Many felt stuck in their marriages, either due to children or for financial reasons or because they believed that somewhere in the tangled mess of addiction was the man they married, and who they had always loved and loved now.

 

I was in the third group.

 

There was also a small sad fraction of partners who seemed to feel it was their duty to be caretaker for their addict husbands because they considered sex addiction a disease like any other disease. Some of them continued to engage in sexual relationships with their husbands, even though their husbands were having sex outside their marriage, relying on condoms so that they didn’t have to ask whether or not he’d acted out. Imagining using condoms with your husband just in case he’d been with someone else. Imagine fidelity being too far a reach for a married man. Those of us who are the wives of sex addicts live extraordinary lives.

 

I remember hearing a well known speaker on the subject of sex addiction boast to his audience that his wife had “never thrown sex addiction in my face,” as though she was honouring his sickness with her silence. I resented this speaker, an addict who tours the world talking about the addiction that once ruled his life. But I see now that his need to diminish the impact of his addiction may have been because it was otherwise too great a burden to him to know with real clarity the degree of pain he caused his family. It may be too painful for him to imagine a shadow of his wife’s trauma stretching into her life today, or that there are scars from it, or that she thinks about how things might have been.

 

There is no dignity in martyrdom here. And while self-sacrifice has its uses, one can eventually run out of self to sacrifice and start on others. It is difficult to know what to do in such trying circumstances and I shouldn’t have been so hard on any of the women (and men) who I watched endure the trials of early recovery by their spouse’s side. After all, I was doing the same.

 

I went to therapy. The word “therapy” sounds a little like an emotional spa for the mind. I thought I’d feel better from therapy and maybe I did—a little. Therapy is good if what you need is someone to listen to the uncensored truth of your life, which in the early stages is very important. Many partners of sex addicts are too ashamed to talk to anyone who isn’t bound by professional silence and they feel socially alienated. They’d like another person to think about the situation with them without judging them, and a therapist will do just that. In my case, I didn’t have too much trouble talking about sex addiction, or reading about it or asking questions about it. I was already able to articulate the problem, to reframe the problem, to describe and analyze and discuss the problem. I just wasn’t able to cure the problem. Because it was his problem.

 

However, I wanted to stop the ache I felt imagining him sizing up women on porn sites or groping for women he’d paid to have sex with him. I wanted to stop thoughts that my life—and every decision I’d made within it—had been grossly misdirected by an addiction about which I’d been unaware. Therapy could help a little with these issues, but not even “trauma therapy” (which is perhaps a good idea for many wives of sex addicts) could make any great impact. It is difficult to get over trauma as it is continuing and, like many addicts, my husband was “acting out” his sex addiction even after he’d been discovered and went “into recovery” as it is called. That is, he’d begun seeing a therapist and attending Sex Addicts Anonymous’s 12-Step program.

 

The first two therapists I went to told me to leave my husband. He’d had affairs, been with whores, run up insanely high bills watching internet porn or hanging out on sex chat lines. While all of these behaviours were in a gradual decline, it was taking an awfully long time for him to stop them altogether. Anyway, this was some years ago and these therapists didn’t believe sex addiction was a true addiction. To them, sex addiction was an expression that attempted to medicalize a set of unhealthy, selfish patterns of social behaviour. It was a no-brainer. Leave him. When I stammered out a pathetic,“But I love him” they said, “Is that a good idea?”

 

I don’t blame them. In their position, I might have said the same.

 

There was one therapist who didn’t immediately tell me to leave him. Her world was one in which we narrate our troubles, working on understanding their origins and then, through this understanding, reduce them to intellectual pills that are a little easier to swallow. She was one of those people who thinks all forms of sex are wonderful and acceptable and beyond any definition of “normal”, changing with the vicissitudes of life. She was also my husband’s therapist. She’d make reasonable remarks like, “Can you separate the man from the addiction?” and I would think, I ought to separate the man from the addiction. She would say, “But in most respects you have a solid marriage, it would seem you could work from there” and I would think, I ought to work from there. I would run her comments by a few friends and they’d say something along the lines of “Tell her to go separate her own husband from his infidelity and see how it feels!” They’d say “How can you have a solid marriage if it has been steeped in lies?”

 

Or maybe it was me who was saying that.

 

Sometimes I’d try on my friends’ righteousness as one might try on another person’s shoes and I’d grow angry with indignation. Other times, I’d try to enlarge my detachment, focussing on the intellectual and psychodynamics of the situation to see if that helped. It helped get me through the day but only as a zombie gets through the day. Mindfulness? Well…yes, though I’d be standing in the kitchen with a mantra that went, “Here I am in the moment wiping down countertops and not thinking about my sex addict husband.” I didn’t achieve quite what I hoped with this either. Then someone would quote me an unassailable truth like, Anger cannot be overcome by anger… and I’d fly into a private rage.

 

Every time I talked about what was happening or had happened, I felt worse.

 

There was the “Anon” group. I will write much about Anon groups, but for now let me explain what they are. Anon groups are for people who are affected by an addict’s behaviour. Sex addiction “anon” groups are filled mostly with wives and girlfriends, though you will see men, too. I went to the Sex Anonymous Anon group and the people there were very nice to me. We sat around in a circle hugging our takeaway coffee cups and “Thought For Today” books, waiting for the next person to start crying. It wasn’t group therapy but the room was saturated with emotional need and terrible psychological scarring. I’d feel the collective pain of disappointment over who we’d become in the great trauma of our marriages and I’d think, oh my God, can we just leave all this shit behind? It was as though we carried suitcases of the worst sewage of our personal histories wherever we went. Couldn’t we leave it all outside and be ourselves?

 

No, we could not. And the impulse to suggest as much (had I dared) would have been most unwelcome. The Anon format, which is similar to that of Coaddicts Of Sex Addiction (COSA), was full of ritualized readings that included a part in which I was meant to state aloud that the problem was inside me— that I had a “very serious illness” simply because I loved a man who was a sex addict.

 

Going to the “anon” meetings didn’t help and not going didn’t help. Going to a therapist didn’t help and going to a second therapist didn’t help. Going to his therapist didn’t help. Nothing helped. I ended up thinking nothing could help. And I suffered, sometimes mildly, sometimes very badly. I’d read websites that told me that because I still allowed the man to live at home with me I was an “enabler.” I was a co-addict by virtue of his being an addict. I was codependent because my moods varied with the cycle of his addiction. I was condemned by the very people who claimed to be in the “helping professions.” And I was sad. There were times when just getting through the school run without tearing up was a trial.

 

The advice, such that it existed at all, was infuriating, degrading and depressing. It was also largely untrue.

 

Back then, I would have liked a site like this one. The blog isn’t perfect—I suspect I will be adding to and revising it for years to come, and that when I finally collect it into a book I’ll continue to revise it. One of the few luxuries of excluding my regular publishers (by profession, I am a writer) from its publication, is that updates are easy. I hope what I write reflects something of what it is like to cope when your partner is a sex addict. I hope it demonstrates some of the common feelings we wives and partners feel and may help you envisage a positive future, with or without your husband.

 

When a trauma of this magnitude hits, it is possible to live inside its aftermath so fully that life, itself, feels stolen away. It doesn’t have to be like that. But it’s hard at first to identify what “help” looks like. Is help a divorce lawyer or a family therapist or a sex therapist or a rehab center? Is help a 12-step group or a 12-step Anon group or a bunch of good friends or a new lover? It’s difficult to see how you might be able to feel better—and easy to get desperate in your attempts to do so. But things will get better. Whatever your husband may have done, and now regrets doing, will stop playing so heavily in your mind. Eventually, as he recovers from the addiction (a process you can do almost nothing to speed up or slow down) the past will become merely a source of information and not the terrible weight it feels now. You can be happy again—I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. It wasn’t easy or comfortable or quick, but it happened.

 

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Copyright © 2016 by TheWife. All rights reserved.

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Elize
    September 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Love love love this article!!! I can so relate to every word and confusion you went through, the turmoil, the anger, the frustration, the “I don’t know who to turn or talk to”. You sit with your own thoughts all day long and all night long, you desperately try to separate the man from his addiction but it is so incredibly difficult. I am a christian woman so I battle to NOT separate the man from his actions, I know I must stand by him and be his anchor and soundboard…..if only he would start talking to me about it, but there is nothing!!! We cannot talk about this, it always ends up in a huge fight and denial from his side. I am hoping and praying that this will end one day. Your article and blog gives hope to me and I am sure so many out there! Thank you!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 26, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      I know how you feel, Elize. Does he talk to anyone about it? Is he totally in denial? Obviously, he’s never going to get any help if he doesn’t confront the problem, but we (the wives) cannot really get them to confront it if they don’t want to. Stay in touch with me, okay? I’m not far away, really. I will check my messages more often. 🙂

  • Reply
    Maggie
    January 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Dear Wife, I have just discovered your blog and I love it. I have read all the entries and will go back and reread. Approximately one year ago, I discovered my husband had been visiting prostitutes for the entire 27 years of our marriage. In fact, he had been doing this years before we met. Prior to that, I thought I had a happy marriage. I considered my husband my “rock” and my soulmate. I was devastated to learn this. I found out by accidentally reading a text message on his phone (I thought it was my phone) from a whore. When I confronted him, he confessed everything and said he thought he was a six addict. I am an attorney and immediately went to an attorney friend who is a divorce attorney. She suggested that while I could start the process for a legal separation, she wanted to talk to my husband about getting in recovery. One year later, my husband has been attending twelve step meetings every week day, has a sponsor and is working the steps. He also has a therapist. I have my own therapist and attend s-anon. However, the “slips” continue. My husband would tell you he has been sober because he has not had sex with anyone but me in that year. But he has been on chat lines, x-dating websites and approached a woman at the gym for a date. Each time one of these slips is discovered, he is remorseful, redoubles his commitment to me and recovery. Recently, he had a slip that shook me to my core. I discovered that he had put an ad on Craigslist Casual Encounters. In the ad he stated his sexual preferences and that he was married and couldn’t host. He had used his professional headshot picture! He also used his professional email. He had an email exchange going with a woman to meet that was very flirty and humorous. He wanted to spend the night at her place as it was a night I would be out of town for my work. All this with someone he had never even met! And after a year in “recovery.” I am shocked at the level of delusion. We had an agreement that anymore “slips” and he would have to leave the house for the night. Which he did. He met with his sponsor and came back the next day. Very remorseful, begging for another chance, etc. I feel I am at a point where I can only save myself. Clearly his program isn’t working. After a year of this, I am exhausted and ready to quit.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      January 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Hi, and thank you for sharing your story. It is one very familiar to me, and to many wives of sex addicts. One thing I can tell you is that until your husband understands that anything like a chat line or x-dating websites is DEFINITELY acting out, he’s not really embracing recovery in a way that is going to make a difference. I can’t possibly comment on his program or how he is managing it, but I can say that he hasn’t totally understood what he’s supposed to be doing. That, or he is in denial and really thinks underneath it all that he can manage this condition on his own. He can’t. You already know that. It may take him any number of years to “get” what he need to do to control his addiction (and I have no doubt it is an addiction). For my husband it took about 5 years before he even began to understand what it would require. He kept having “slips” as he called them and they were serious and ongoing ever three months or so as if on a cycle. I thought I’d die. Eventually, I made the decision to throw him out and he hollered a lot and cried a lot and begged a lot, but I’d been through it for so many years I thought I was now enabling him. He sobered up…eventually. It took him about another year. In the end, we repaired the marriage. He doesn’t “slip” any longer. He goes to meetings twice a week, has a sponsor, is a sponsor. He’s a wonderful husband–now. However, I remember exactly what it felt like to be you. If your husband can make a more sincere commitment to recovery you might stand a chance. I’m talking a meeting every night if that is what it takes! As it is, the he’s not really “working the program” as they say. By the way, I really don’t understand why the 12-step program works, but it does. I’m willing to call it the placebo effect, but the thing has results. You can choose to do whatever works for YOU. As for your husband, he needs this program desperately and I really hope he gives it his all.

      Please keep in touch. I am delighted the blog helps you. x

  • Reply
    Maggie
    January 19, 2017 at 3:04 am

    Thanks for your reply. I know that he has not really been working the program but sort of putting on a show. His slips or acting outs are in a cycle, about every 2 months. At least the ones I learn about. I had an addict who is in recovery recently tell me that “there’s always more with an addict.” My situation is complicated by the fact that he is 70 yrs old and has cancer. I truly feel so much compassion for him and I love him. And I do believe this is an addiction. Once you live with it, you know it is an addiction I don’t care what the experts say. We all agree with that in my s-anon group. But I can’t live this way another year. I feel I’m at a point where I have to save myself. Thanks for listening.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      January 19, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I absolutely understand, Maggie. What is that good advice the airlines give? Always apply your own oxygen mask before assisting others? You can’t stop him from acting out and your friend (the addict) is right that addicts have amazing work-arounds and cunning fall-back positions. The trust is almost never recovered in a relationship with an addict. I should write more about this: how I live with a man whose addiction means that I never 100% trust him. It’s a difficult one.

      Even if you leave (and I fully support your decision in either direction!) you will need to give yourself time to heal. It’s painful, all of it. The addiction, the finding out, the trying this and that, the giving up the marriage or not giving up the marriage, the walking away or not walking away. If there were an easy solution, this sort of website wouldn’t exist.

  • Reply
    Maggie
    January 19, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks. It helps so much that someone recognizes the difficulty. My best friend can’t understand why I don’t just kick him out. She keeps saying “His life hasn’t changed” and until the pain of acting out is more than that of being sober he will act out. As if once he was kicked out he would suddenly say “Gee, this is no fun. I miss my wife and family. ” and get sober. I guess I just don’t buy that logic. But again, thanks for your understanding.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      January 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Hi Maggie, This is the “consequence” argument. If you don’t give him consequences he will repeat his behaviour. There is some merit to the argument, I suspect, as often addicts (drugs, alcohol, sex…) don’t “get sober” until they lose everything and I do mean everything. However, there are many addicts I’ve known personally who DO get sober without having lost their jobs, families, etc. So, really, there is no data to prove or disprove the consequence argument. Anyway, you can’t leave (or stay) in order to help another person with an addiction. You have to leave or stay because it is what you feel most comfortable with. Notice I didn’t say “happy with”. Because happiness is right out of the equation for now. However, I have seen many couples whose marriages have survived addiction and recovery. I know of many whose marriages did not. The key is recovery. That’s a must. And it’s him, not you, who is in control of that. You know all this–I can tell by how you communicate. You could probably be typing these very words! Thinking of you this frosty Saturday morning and hope you are okay wherever you are.

  • Reply
    Maggie
    January 23, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Thank you. I can’t make separation a game, so to speak. If I decide to separate it will be for myself, not to make my husband come to his senses so to speak. My CSAT therapist has suggested that my husband take a lie detector test every six months. I’m giving it serious consideration. My husband is willing. One thing about sex addiction, it’s never dull.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      January 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

      “One thing about sex addiction, it’s never dull.” LOL!!!! 🙂

      Sadly, this is true….

  • Reply
    Tamara Burdeny
    March 9, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Coming across this makes me feel like I am not alone with having my boyfriend struggle with sex addiction. I am stuck with how to keep his electronics at a minimum with him being in school getting his masters.. he needs his laptop for studying. I’ve put porn blockers on his laptop but he can still google images…. Any suggestions on how to further this blocking???? There are always loopholes and I HATE how his stupid laptop is setting him back. I can’t take it away from him until he is done school 🙁

    • Reply
      The Wife
      March 9, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Tamara, thank you so much for stopping by the website. You are FAR from alone. Sex addiction is incredibly common, especially among those who have grown up with porn-on-demand through their electronic devices.

      Truly, you can’t stop your BF doing whatever he is going to do. I know that is really hard to believe. I also know you are going to try anyway (I did!). Eventually, you’ll get tired and he will (or won’t) seek some serious help.

      It’s difficult, maybe even impossible, for a real addict to recover without a support group. I’d recommend he try going to Sex Addicts Anonymous, a 12step program that will address some of his needs.

      As for you, you may find http://www.posarc.com helpful. If you are anywhere near a POSA meeting, try to get to meet some of the other women who are facing or have faced the same situation.

      Stay safe physically! And stay in touch, okay?

  • Reply
    Meg
    July 19, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Hi, how do I speak to you privately via email? I’m in need of your help.

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    August 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    This article inspires me so much! Thank you. Last October, I found out my husband of 20 years has been using backpage to meet up with girls. He was searching every week for at least 2 years. I am devastated. He is an amazing husband in so many other ways. I do not know what to do. He is remorseful. He wants to save the marriage. Unfortunately all that is on hold right now because he is in jail. The last time he tried to meet up with a hooker, it was a sting operation and he was arrested. He will be in jail for 4.5 months, until late November. Everything you have written in this article rings true for me. I have been to therapy too (and I am a counselor myself). It helped at first, but I don’t think it is doing much good anymore. I feel lost daily.
    I will continue to read your blog. I wish I could meet you in person

    • Reply
      The Wife
      August 21, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Hi, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. The pain of his infidelity is terrible, I know. Even though his actions are driven by addiction, they are still actions that hurt the same. And now he’s in…jail! Well, I can tell you the only reason my husband isn’t in jail is because he was lucky, not because he was any “better.” Like your husband, he was always so lovely in so many other ways. I am so sorry for you both. This must be unbelievably stressful for you.

      What country are you in? I hope to start a support group near me (in London) and would be only too delighted to meet you!

      • Reply
        Cheryl
        August 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        Thank you for your reply. Sometimes I feel so alone. Unfortunately I live in the US. I was also thinking of starting a support group, not sure tho. I am certainly qualified as I have a Master’s degree in Counseling. I just don’t have much experience in group work. I think it might be beneficial for me to work through my stuff first, before trying to help others.
        Yes, I am very stressed. I don’t feel like I can make any decisions until he is out of jail and I can see if he truly wants help and is willing to change. I will keep you posted. Thank you!

        • Reply
          The Wife
          August 26, 2017 at 9:57 pm

          Hi again. One day soon — even now — you will be hugely important and helpful for people in your position. I’m sure I’ve mentioned posarc.com before…see if they have some materials that may help you. Have you read Barbara Steffan’s book? I am excited that you want to help others. I am so, so sorry that your husband is in jail right now. That’s just awful and could easily have happened to any of us whose husbands are sexy addicts.

    • Reply
      Iguana
      October 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Cheryl

      I am so sorry for what you have to go through… I think all the addicted husbands at some point are either lucky or unlucky… that was a hard pill to swallow for mine… for a long time I was hearing how due to his ” planning and not taking risk” he ” didn’t loose his job, wasn’t arrested, etc.
      It’s beyond believe that he was not able to see the reality… std free , no arrest…. I told him that both options were just a matter of time… he was going down fast… 13 years started as meeting girls online, looking for a gf, and ended up paying ts for an oral in the public park(!), hooking up with whores through Craigslist, backpage and who knows where else… looking at the sites during thanksgiving break, while sitting in the living room with the whole family entertaining each other in the house… his mother, my mother, kids … yet, they believe they are SMARTER then others, they are invincible….they are witty ….
      I hope you are doing a bit better…. if you want to talk to me ( I also don’t talk to any regular people without sa issue) send me an email
      Fightingiguana@gmail.com

      • Reply
        The Wife
        October 12, 2017 at 7:51 pm

        It’s typical that addicts think that they can control or can somehow navigate their lives to avoid consequences. Also, that their situation is unique. There’s even a term for that. It’s called “exceptionalism” and has to do with the addict’s notion that somehow his/her situation is unique and harder than all others. Typically, they think they have a bigger sex drive than other people!

  • Reply
    JewelT
    September 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

    I’m thankful I found your blog. I’m spending another sleepless night trying to sort out the myriad of emotions flipping through my brain. For the first time in 9 months I feel like I’ve found someone to which I can connect. I’ve identified with most everything you’ve written. I can’t even put into words how I feel at the moment. I’ve been trying, the words just won’t come.I’ve been dealing with my husband’s sex addiction all our 40 years of marriage. 40 years without knowing, 9 months in the new reality that is my life now. 9 months ago I found out my husband has a sex addiction. I should have seen it when he had an affair 13 years ago. We somehow worked through the affair, or maybe we just went on with life without really dealing with the real issues. Probably the latter sprinkled with the former. I’ve seen it now. I became his victim 9 months ago. Are there others out there that unwittingly become part of the sick, twisted world of the sex addict? I’ve not found another spouse who has found out they are being secretly recorded. It adds a whole new level of chaotic emotion to the mix. So, 9 mos have passed. 9 months of therapy (both), 12 steps, Celebrate Recovery, and living at church 4 nights a week only to find out 2 weeks ago that he’s not even in recovery. I discovered that he’s lied about it all, even lying about details of the affair 13 years ago that he supposedly told me the truth about. I also found more plans to invade my privacy. And here I still sit. Still married, still living with him (but separate bedrooms), and I have no idea what to do.
    You’re blog has put my emotions into words like nothing else. Tonight I might actually get some sleep. I finally feel understood. You get it. Thank you for writing this blog.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      September 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

      I am completely speechless, first due to the extraordinary pain you are going through, and also for the kindness in every sentence of your comment. I cannot thank you enough for that. However, let’s talk about you, and how you are feeling. You are married to someone totally consumed with the addiction and who (almost certainly) hates his own addiction and yet (as the 12-step mantra tells us) is powerless against it.

      Eventually, he has to decide if he wants to live his life in enslavement to a drive that will never be satisfied and for which there is no antidote except hard work and determination to recover. Nobody can make that decision for him. If he want to reach out to me I will try to put him in touch with recovered addicts but it sounds as though he has been given this opportunity locally and is not yet able to bring himself to live without the addiction. And that’s just it: he probably thinks he cannot live without the addiction. What will he do with all that self-loathing and shame if he has no place to escape to? He’s probably terrified, even if he doesn’t seem so.

      As for you, I just want to give you a huge hug and tell you that none of this is your fault, none of this is your doing. You didn’t contribute to it and you haven’t done anything wrong. You aren’t wrong for living with him. You wouldn’t be wrong for leaving him. You weren’t wrong for all those years. Nine months is very little time. This thing is going to be a very big part of every day for you for quite some time to come. You don’t need to make any decisions right now, or at least not any long-lasting ones. However, living with an active addict (as I have done) will eventually get to you. It will feel like you are Charlie Brown being set up to kick the football and (eventually) you will end up with that ball pulled away and you, flat on your back.

      Living with a recovering addict or a recovered (this can happen!) addict is a whole other thing. It is possible. But at the moment you don’t know what you are living with exactly and I feel your pain, your confusion, your great love and the tremendous disorientation.

      You keep getting help regardless of what he is doing. You really cannot make him do anything. God knows, I tried every way I could to pressure my husband into being sober. Didn’t work. But eventually he became sober. It took 7 years. I don’t know if someone had told me I’d go through all this if I’d have bailed day 1. I might have. However, it worked out in my case. I sure hope you get a better outcome than you’ve had up to now, and fast too.

  • Reply
    JewelT
    September 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Yes! Yes. oh my goodness, yes. The Charlie Brown analogy is spot on. And I’m soaking up your encouragement. Thank you! And somehow you’ve managed to describe what I see with him to a T. I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to hear from someone who is not only in my shoes, but who has blazed a trail before me. Once again, I have no words…… Thank you. Receiving your hug and sending one back.

  • Reply
    Mary
    October 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Dear Wife,
    I only found out about my husbands porn addiction five days ago. I won’t get into the details of how, but I will say that I feel the way that seems to be common. Since then, I have vacillated between exhaustion, massive anger, shock, confusion and despair. I knew we had problems, but I thought they were just the typical man-woman communication problems. We were in therapy, and I thought we could work it out together. We just got married in June. 95% of our life together was blissfully happy, except for the 5% where he would shut down to become just a body during disagreements. Over the past two years, this has become completely triggering to me and my reactions to him shutting down emotionally have become more and emotional. Tomorrow I attend my first S-anon meeting. But the question that keeps running through my mind is, is it worth it? I love him with my entire heart, but even if we repair our relationship, I’m not sure I have faith in the word “repair.” I will never have complete faith in him with all of my emotional and physical self. We had what I found to be an incredibly healthy sex life that was loving, fulfilling, and full of trust. Until Sunday, I was completely confident in his love and adoration of me. I believe him that he still loves and adores me and I believe his remorse. I can tell he is glad to be out of the shadows, though he hates himself for the pain he has caused me. I’m just scared to stay and go through this painful process of attempting forgiveness, only to end up with something that isn’t close to what he destroyed. I’m only 31. I want a partner to build a healthy, happy family with. I want a baby. I’m scared to stay. But I also know that there is no option that is pain-free. Divorce would be just as horrible. And I can’t imagine ever trusting another man. I would have literally bet my life on the supposed fact that our relationship was happy and honest. Is staying worth it? Or is the relationship always going to be a shadowy fragment of what it once was?

    • Reply
      The Wife
      October 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Hi, I am so sorry about your situation. I know it only too well. You could be me writing — I’d have staked my life on my husband’s fidelity and commitment. Good thing I didn’t!

      I don’t know how to answer your question. I want to tell you that all is possible — because I think that is true — but also that there are great obstacles to you finding the kind of trust and happiness you hope for. No, it’s never going to be the same with your husband or any other man. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean it will be worse (or better). It is different. You’ve been through a major life event that should never have transpired. It isn’t possible for me to imagine my life had this never happened — would it have been better or worse? Would I be as happy now or not? Would I be as grateful? Would my husband have become so much better a man had he not nearly killed our marriage and any hope for happiness in his own life? I can’t say.

      If your husband recovers there is every reason you can have a lovely marriage…albeit a different marriage. Will that be acceptable to you or not? I can’t tell. Frankly, neither can you right now. My suggestion, which is only a suggestion, is make a decision not to do anything “big” for a period of time. That takes this should I?/shouldn’t I? aspect of it off the table for a little while. Get grounded, get settled, learn a lot. It is never too late to divorce someone, after all (Ridiculous attempt at humor here).

      Let me know how your SA meeting goes. You will probably hate the format but love the people. This, too, is what happened to me.

      Hugs to you. x

  • Reply
    Another Wife
    November 24, 2017 at 2:09 am

    I think my husband has been a Sex Addict but appears to have recovered, is this possible? Our marriage was going through a bad time due to a number of outside pressures and my husband was probably depressed. His personality changed from being a loving, caring, considerate husband to someone who was critical, mean and angry. I tried to be patient but over time became bitter myself so that we became like strangers. I longed to find my loving husband again, but found it difficult to relate to him in a caring way because of his moods. This came to a head when I finally said I wanted a divorce. I was stunned that he didn’t seem to care. I later discovered this was because he had been seeing another woman who was happy for him to move in with her. I discovered the relationship when he started to visit her without an explanation for his whereabouts. I asked if he had found someone new and he said he thought so. I was worried about my financial situation at the end of my marriage but not desperate about the loss of my husband because he was no longer the man I had married. Then, out of the blue he started to say some warm things about me, and I saw something of my former partner. I asked him about the relationship he was having, and what he was going to do. He then said he did not want to leave. Wanting to know more about this affair I asked for his phone, which he did not want to give me, but I insisted. It was then I found out that the affair had not been going on for six months since I had asked for a divorce, as he had told me, but for 5 years, and in that five years there had been prostitutes, lots of them. Slowly I realised he had had unprotected sex with some of them. He had a spent money on their services and buying them presents, but we had debts and the children and I had been going without holidays and family outings or other luxuries, and he had sent them love letters declaring his undying love for them. I felt I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to a wonderful husband, or so I had thought, and that lasted for over 10 years, but then for the last five I had been married to a complete monster who seemed not to care about me or my health, or the wellbeing of our children. How could I have been so stupid and how could I not have known what was going on. I had also thought of myself previously as someone who liked sex a lot, and believed we had a good relationship. Sex had been less than satisfactory for me before my husband went off the rails. I hit menopause at the same time as he was depressed and angry, and he also started to suffer some erectile problems which impacted on our love life. He complained about it, but in ways that seemed to put all the responsibility on me for not making more of an effort. I told him I needed more affection but he did not respond to that. I had not wanted my marriage to end and I had hoped that asking for a divorce might make him think he did not want to lose me. I felt he no longer saw me as the woman he loved and I could not reach him other than to use shock tactics. I was heartbroken when I realised he did not care if we parted, but that appeared to confirm it was the only thing to do. However, over the next few weeks I saw again a caring partner who seemed to be genuinely full of remorse and shame both for himself and for the way he had treated me, this came in little bursts at first, but has steadily grown over the last year. He says he wants to do all that he can to make my life better and for a year there has been no one else. I track his phone, with his knowledge, so that I know where he is when we are not together. I have always been a trusting person, so this behaviour is not in my nature, but I need to know what he is doing because I am not sure I can ever trust him again. I just could not believe the man I loved could have behaved in this way. We have had some marriage guidance counselling but it did not mention sex addiction. I talk to my husband endlessly to try and make sense of all this. He tells me he felt unloved. Sex became overly important to him. Because it was “difficult between us” he looked at adultery websites and started texting people and looking at pornography. He had always worked long hours so when he stayed up late on the computer I assumed he was working but obviously not. He found it hard to find sex partners but then realised he could pay for it. He says he usually felt bad afterwards and always told himself he would stop but felt compelled. I find it so hard to believe he would keep all these secrets from me, especially as although things had been less good between us, in the past I had always been keen on sex and quite open minded. I always wanted us to be faithful to each other though and see that as such an important part of a marriage. I feel insulted that he has painted a picture of me as some who is not good enough in bed so that he had to go elsewhere. We are having sex and have been tested for STIs. He did give me a minor STI although I did not know it at the time, but it is one that becomes dormant and I am free of anything else, as is he. I cannot believe that he would have ever run the risk of infecting me with HIV. He states he did not believe that to be an issue, but admits now that his behaviour was reckless. I think as the time he truly believed these women would only do that with him. I hate the fact that there are women out there who have been intimate with and possess expensive presents and love letters from my husband. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by it, and actually feel as if I am suffocating because I cannot stand the fact that this has happened. He now says he thought he loved them, because he wanted to feel wanted. I have been traumatised by all of this for over a year. I had one appointment with the Depression and Anxiety Service, but they said I am not depressed or anxious, just dealing with relationship problems. I have been traumatised by all of this, and felt totally isolated. I have left my job because I am not capable of working. I am beginning to feel a bit better but I swing between feeling I can stay married and love my husband, and then thinking I am mad to stay with a man who has treated me like this. I can’t help thinking that with so many people signed up to adultery websites I am probably a tip of an iceberg. There are probably many wives, or even husbands, who have no idea of the double life their partner is living – why is no one making more of an issue about this, and why do we allow adultery websites to make money out of the destruction of families? As I have said already, I don’t even know if my husband fits the SA criteria, but I personally believe he became a Sex Addict due to depression. I believe as he has been shocked out of that depression he has recovered. I think it took him a while to realise he did not want to lose his family. However, reading your stories and others I wonder if this is something that will always be there, ready to strike when least expected? I am sorry to hear of so many other wives going through this nightmare, but thank you all because I am comforted to know I am not totally alone in my suffering. Also, if my husband has been suffering from SA, he did so for five years to the very best of my knowledge, that is a relatively short time within our entire relationship, so perhaps SA is caused by underlying issues, and if resolved perhaps people can recover. I hope so for all the other ladies on here. I know how difficult it is to walk away because the man you are now seeing is not the man you fell in love with and trusted to be there for you, but he is still the man you fell in love with. It is sad beyond words and I warmly thank you for listening to my story. I have produced this in a hurry so please forgive my errors. It has been cathartic to write this, but you will understand I have problems with focusing properly on anything I do.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      November 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Hi Another Wife, I just had a read through your extraordinary story. I’m going to answer soon but wanted you to know that I’m not ignoring this important message. I am so sorry for you and for your husband. In short, he’s probably an addict but that is NOT enough of an answer. I’ll come back… 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristin
    December 16, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Wow! I am so thankful to have found your site/blog. I learned that my husband is a sex addict about two years ago and to say life has been a roller coaster since discovery is a huge understatement. So much of what you articulate in your story really resonates with me. Especially how sex addiction is so widely misunderstood…even by professional therapists. I’ve been working on educating myself for the last couple years and I feel like I’m finally starting to have a stronger understanding of this illness. It can be frustrating because even when people seem to offer well meaning support and/or advice, it is often misguided. I appreciate your insight and look forward to your book!

    • Reply
      The Wife
      December 16, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you so much, Kristin! I am so sorry you and your husband have had to go through (and continue to go through) all of the chaos and hurt this addiction brings. It is a very difficult situation and one that very few people can understand, so we can end up feeling quite isolated. I think just about any other addiction would be okay to talk about except this one! So glad you’ve found the site and that it has been helpful to you. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mariana
    December 31, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Hi, I am happy I found this blog, it is helping me make sense of the turmoil that has taken over my life. My story is particularly complicated. My husband was diagnosed with a serious form of brain cancer 14 months ago. Until then I would describe our life as blissful, and him as a lovely, caring husband. Two months on the already terrible ordeal of the diagnosis and treatment, I receive a message from a work colleague of his telling me about his infidelities, in particular one, for which she had a number of pictures to share. The message was strange though; this work colleague just sounded too invested emotionally herself, saying for example that she was also ‘hurt’ by his behaviour. I confronted my husband, who denied, and after torturous discussions with family members and friends, I tried to think that this work colleague was mentally disturbed and obsessed with him (who is handsome and charming) and had made this up to hurt both of us, after an altercation with him. However, his explanations still didn’t stick together and I kept wondering. Months later he accidentaly left his computer open, and I decided to snoop. I found pictures downloaded from his I-phone that confirmed at least a one-night stand with the woman mentioned in the colleague’s message, and other disturbing pictures which I could not put my finger on. Also lots of images of naked women from the Internet. Finally, some message threads on Facebook with two other women, which made crystal clear that he had slept with them. He was doing quite poorly then due to his illness, but I still decided to confront him. He showed remorse, said that he would like to rebuild trust, and went on to delete the pictures and messages. In the next few months he was a bit better I would insist in getting more details about his extra-marital activity, but he said he had shared all, no more to say. He denied having had anything with the work colleague that had opened the doors to hell. More recently his condition got seriously worse and he forgot the passwords to his computer and I-phone. I was able to regain access and at times I wish I hadn’t. I found out more, and more, and more. Worse and worse and worse. He had had something with the crazy work colleague. He had had a 4 year affair with another, going on a number of trips to luxury resorts with her. And then there are a hard to count number of women from Skout and Craig list he engaged with, total strangers. In some of the messages there were descriptions of what they had done together. He brought at least two of these women home. So here I am, with a now moribund husband, who can barely speak, and having all of this crap left at my doorstep. My heart bleeds. I will start counselling, but as you say, it will be of limited help. There is no time or maybe even a way for him to make any amends. It is like the dream of our marriage has become the worst type of nightmare.

    • Reply
      The Wife
      December 31, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Mariana, I am so sorry. I have been given the privilege of hearing many very private stories of peoples’ lives who have been affected by sex addiction but this one has to be one of the worst. It isn’t just the depth of his addiction (no matter how entrenched the addiction is, it can be resolved eventually and with much effort). It is that, as you say, he has no time and perhaps no way of making amends, of putting it right, of being the husband he undoubtedly meant to be when he began his marriage with you.

      I hope it is a comfort to know that he is truly an addict, a very sick man from a mental health point of view, and that his behavior was never deliberately destructive (while of course being the of the most destructive variety it could be). Also, that however awful he was in many ways, he was also this other person — the man you love. If he had time, he might have been able to become more fully the latter, but his physical health precludes that. For this, and for so many things, I am so sorry for you both.

      You sound like a strong, intelligent woman. You have been dealt many awful blows. I wish there was a magic wand I could waft over you and your husband to give you the time you need in order to at least come to terms with all of this. You will be in my thoughts. x

      • Reply
        Mariana
        January 1, 2018 at 5:22 am

        Thank you for this very kind and understanding note. It touches my heart. I do hope he is able to recover a bit so that we can have some closure. Thank you again for this enlightening blog. It is very well written as well. All the best to you x

  • Reply
    zen
    January 12, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Please can we private chat

    • Reply
      The Wife
      January 12, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Sadly, I don’t have time for private chats as I get a lot of requests! But I’d be happy to respond to you here if you want to share something. It remains anonymous unless you write in your personal details, so don’t do that. I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shalyn
    April 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Hello. I am the wife and I AM the sex/love addict. No, the love part is not real love, it is fantasy but that is the main part of my addiction. I could care less about the sex. My husband wants this label on me, however, and I will wear it because there are parts that fit. I wish there were more husbands of sex addicted wives who would chime in. My husband feels so alone because all of these sites are geared toward wives of sex addicts. Nevertheless, reading your blog helps me with empathy. We are 18 months out from his discovery of my year long affair(s). Some were physical, some were emotional. It was a sick and twisted time but we are healing and learning much about what triggered me into such behavior. He has finally forgiven me but that doesn’t make his pain go away. I belong to 12 step groups, read all kinds of books, talk with a counselor, and meet with other recovery partners. It all helps but no one thing is the answer. It’s a combination. I long for the day when he puts his wedding ring on again and re-commits to our marriage. But slowly, as I heal, he heals. There is hope for healing. Your husbands must be committed to doing recovery work, being accountable, and being open and honest with you (intimacy). You can take away their computers, put blockers on their phones, track them everywhere they go. But THEY have to want it, too, or when you stop controlling their recovery, they will stop working on it. God bless you all and I pray for healing and redemption for all of you.

  • Reply
    Heartbroken
    July 2, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Hello,
    Your website has given me just a little peace this morning. I have peace in knowing that I am not alone in this nightmare. I am struggling very badly with the discovery that my husband is sex addict. My story was similar to yours in discovering a text and it spiraling out of control from there with the discovery that he would meet strangers on Craig’s list and have sex with them in his car. That was last august. It has almost been a year and it seems to continue to get worse every day still. The back and forth is exhausting and I don’t see the end. He leaves only to come right back and the process repeats. I can not accept that this happened. I have been with my husband my whole life- 23 plus years and my heart is broken, shattered. I am so confused and so alone.

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