Sunday September 21st 2014

Sex addiction: marriage or divorce?

Sex addiction or sexual compulsive behaviors can be treated.  In fact, sex addicts who can’t stop fantasizing can come to reality and live in an intimate, committed relationship.  But when you do know that your marriage is over? We weigh in here, and invite your questions, comments and feedback about sex addiction in marriage here.

Why sex addiction isn’t so bad

I’ve been reading the recently published book A Couple’s Guide to Sex Addiction: A Step-By-Step Plan To Rebuild Trust And Restore Intimacy. I love it (I’ll tell you why later). But the key point to the work is that sex addicts do not know how to limit or stop sexual behaviors, and that they use sex to avoid or cope with life stresses. Just like any other addiction. But some time or another, the sex just isn’t enough – it leaves them empty, needing more, and never feeling satisfied. This is why sex addicts repeat compulsive sexual behaviors. And underlying sexual addiction is a fear of intimacy with a real partner.

So why isn’t sex addiction so bad? Because it is definitely treat-able. And if your husband or marriage partner is willing to work on the deeper issues that compel sexual compulsion, you can grow together and experience a marital connection that is deep and satisfying. Although it may take time, and you will need to build trust again, a sex addict who is ready to change CAN CHANGE. And there is hope for a marriage in which both partners support one another in personal growth. Although you may not ever forget infidelity, it is possible to forgive it.

So what is the key to staying together?

Action.

Sex addiction and marriage

If you are just finding out that your husband act out sexually online, with porn, or with other partners, you may not feel compassionate just yet for him. You probably feel a range of thing, but compassion is not one of them.

But if you are both committed to working through infidelity and sex issues and emerging as new people, your marriage can survive. Your connection needs to be strong enough, and you may need a determination to continue with him despite setbacks. But the good news is that sex addiction treatment options are out there.  If you work to understand sex addiction as well as your own personal issues, you can grow. If your husband works to do the same and ALSO commits to limit or stop his sex actions, you can emerge as a different, more intimate couple. How can you do this? I’d suggest you check out A couple’s guide to sex addiction.

A couple’s guide to sex addiction

If you are looking for true guidance for repairing and healing your relationship after sex addiction, I highly recommend the book A Couple’s Guide to Sex Addiction. The authors (who are married, one a former sex addict) have a clinical background in treating couples with marriage problems. In fact, it turns out that sex addiction is not as taboo as you might think. The book is very easy to read is FULL of couples’ stories that you can relate to. This helps you accept the sexual behavior as a symptom of larger issues.

Plus, the book informs and guides you through the shock of finding out your partner is a sex addict. There are multiple MINDFUL exercises that you can do together (and that can help anyone interested in self-growth) that help process the pain and hurt of addiction, as well as identify issues that drive sexually compulsive behavior. Written to HIM and HER, this guide is truly an essential tool in repairing relationships that are damaged by the suffering that sex addiction causes. I will not hesitate to purchase a copy for friends (I know of a couple) who suspect infidelity from their partners or who commit infidelity and want to stop.

Sex addiction and divorce

There are cases, of course, when divorce occurs after sex addiction is found out. Your decision to support a husband who soothes himself with sexual behavior will be based on the strength of your overall relationship. And on his commitment to REAL CHANGE. Some reasons that you may want to end a marriage and get divorced from a sex addict are if:

  • you are unable to forgive betrayal or accept the sexual addiction
  • your husband is unwilling to stop sexually compulsive behavior
  • your relationship lacks a strong foundation or commitment

It is perfectly understandable if you do not want to continue a partnership with a sex addict. In fact, this decision is yours to make. Only you can really know what your tolerance is for others and when it is time to throw in the towel.

Sex addiction, marriage, and divorce questions

Do you have a question about sex addiction and marriage? Please ask it here. We welcome all comments, questions and experiences from married couples who are facing sex addiction. And we will do our best to answer you promptly or refer you to someone who can help.

Photo credit: [ pixo ]

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5 Responses to “Sex addiction: marriage or divorce?
Jeanne
2:35 am August 24th, 2012

After finding out that my husband had been watching porn, going to strip clubs (for 5 – 10 years)and having an affair with a stripper, I tried to understand that he had a problem. Said he loved me. Everything is finished with that part of his life We went to counseling. He started to move back in after about 11 months. Then I find that out he is still cheating a going to strip clubs. Now he Says he still loves me. Again everything is over but he didn’t have a sex addiction and he just needed attention. To top this off, he is going to counseling groups that are attended by mostly young women. I don’t think he wants to change and feel I have no choice but to divorce. His kids had intervention and they say he showed no emotion. What is going on with him. Can anyone identify and explain ?

9:54 am August 24th, 2012

Hi Jeanne. While I cannot relate personally to the issue of sex addiction, I can relate to you as the loved one of an addict. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that some people seem to constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves – they are not at fault, they seem to be born that way. I remind myself of this and then ACCEPT my loved one’s behavior, but he is in my family, not a chosen mate.

If your husband is truly not willing for change, and I put myself in your shoes, I would probably consider moving on, as you seem to be doing.

Does this help at all?

Anthony R.
1:52 pm August 30th, 2012

If I may respond to Jeanne. I facilitate at a support group specifically for people with sexual addictions. We use a book called Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing. I highly recommend it. It’s the program guide for our spiritually-based recovery meetings.

Unfortunately, I have some idea of what’s going on in your husbands head. Put briefly, it’s pride… and shame.

The essence of pride is putting your will before somebody else’s will. It’s competitive in nature. Most people stuck in this addiction start out a victim and end up a perpetrator.

The shame that he’s feeling will be overshadowed by the angry thought of, “Why can’t they accept me for who I am?” or “They know nothing about my life and how hard it is!” However, I can promise you that there is a fair amount of shame, even if it’s deeply buried. This isn’t the kind of shame that leads to humility, but the kind that leads to further pride.

I don’t know what I recommend you do as far as stick with it or get a divorce. I do recommend daily scripture reading (you probably already do that) and getting the book I mentioned above.

I have a blog about spiritually-based addiction recovery and healing. Check it out at pasgonline[dot]blogspot[dot]com.

Addiction Blog, this post was great to read. I really enjoyed it.

Deborah
7:58 am February 19th, 2014

My husband started obsessing over a married co worker last June, he asked for a seperation to ” work on himself” during the seperation he dated and and had sex with 3 other woman then called me and told me he wanted a divorce. He needs treatment, but his counselor told him he would be better off divorcing me and starting over with someone with no baggage. We are in the middle of divorcing now and I so not want the divorce! He clames he is happy and healthy and has never felt so alive and not broken and working on his steps! He says I am the one with the problem. That his dating was to see if he would end up alone . And that he is and was sober? We have been married for 31 years. I am in recovery with Sanon! His reasons for the divorce now are all bs! Help!!!!

AM
8:35 pm June 9th, 2014

Wow, this article felt very judgmental against the betrayed spouse for divorcing. ‘If you work to understand sex addiction as well as your own personal issues, you can grow.’ Grow? Sounds like the woman is being expected to be understanding, take the burden of the relationship, no matter the man’s role or expecting him to be responsible for his own actions. ‘In fact, it turns out that sex addiction is not as taboo as you might think.’ Taboo? No, deeply traumatic and potentially life threatening. ‘Only you can really know what your tolerance is for others and when it is time to throw in the towel.’ Language about being tolerant, manipulative words for women who have been trained to tolerate the subtle signifiers of such behavior in the first place, and an insinuation that the woman isn’t properly tolerant of others. Women are expected to be forgiving, and this shows just how unwomanly she is if she is so intolerant. ‘Although it may take time, and you will need to build trust again, a sex addict who is ready to change CAN CHANGE.’ So, if you don’t stay by him, it is your intolerance and unwillingness to stand by another who can change. Even if the change rate is about 5%, hey, it is your issue if you weren’t willing. Sure, if you are willing to chance STD’s, more and more lies, and the highly unlikely event of real recovery while you continue to be dealt blows of lies and new discoveries, hey, stay married. Or, choose health.

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