If you’ve found this post you’re either the spouse of a sex or pornography addict (or you suspect something), or you’re battling an addiction and are reading this to gain a perspective on what your spouse is going through. I hope it’s one of those – this post will be helpful.
The spouse of any addict is in a very difficult position. The position that the spouse of a sex addict is put in is particularly difficult because the intimacy and vulnerability that is associated with sex is very different from other addictions such as drug or alcohol abuse. Those addictions often feel like the addict is “doing it to themselves” whereas with sexual addiction, one overwhelming feeling of the spouse or partner is “he is doing this to me” (or, “he is doing this to us”).
The spouse (I’ll use spouse and partner interchangeably) will often start playing detective, trying to piece together in her mind what she thinks is happening – either trying to prove it or disprove it. This may not seem like a big deal to the addict – but this is an all consuming, every-waking-moment thought. Nothing else matters when suspicion is present. Work, kids, friends, family all take a back seat to “figuring this out.”
The spouse becomes isolated. Maybe not physically, but definitely emotionally. She feels like she has a secret that she can’t share. A secret too shameful and too damning of herself, her relationship or her choice of partner. She may be with friends, but she can’t be 100% honest or real. No one can know.
A partner will struggle with beliefs such as, “I’m not sexy enough” or “I didn’t give it to him enough” or “I should try harder.” All of these are some form of “I’m not enough.” This is NOT true. No matter how many times you think this is your fault or you could have done something to stop it, it is NOT your fault.
Playing detective, trying to put the pieces together, wondering what he’s doing when you’re not in the room with him, wondering where he is, trying to keep the secret and put on a happy face – this is no way to live.
Seek advice or guidance from a trained professional counselor who specializes in sexual addiction. Ask how to approach your spouse and how to get out from under the stress, pressure and double life you’ve probably adopted.
A member of one of my groups said it best, “I’m not the first person to have this addiction. Recovery is a known path. If I do what I’m supposed to do, I’ll get better.”
It’s the same for the partner. This is a known path. Find someone who can help you navigate it and your life can be better – whether you choose to stay or leave.