Does COSA Help Or Hurt Spouses Of Sex Addicts?

supportgroupWell, I went to my first COSA meeting on Monday. It’s been over five years since I found out about my husband’s sex addiction, I’ve had three different counselors, but have never gone to a COSA meeting. For those of you who aren’t familiar with COSA, it is an organization for ‘Codependents of Sex Addicts’ and is based on the 12 step model.

Now, I could go on and on about my objections and issues with 12 step philosophies– that will be covered in the book and I also gave some thoughts in a previous post, but I will say that my experience with the women in the COSA meeting was very pleasant. They were warm, open, friendly and even fun at times. I expected that. When women get together they bond and share and connect because that’s just who we are and that’s what we do. It was very nice.

But, I still have major objections to the implication that a spouse or partner of a sex addict needs to accept the tenants of the 12 steps. You read them and tell me what you think. Are we sick? Do we need to ‘recover’ from our faulty ways? Do we need a god to remove our defects of character? Do we need to make amends? And, are we not strong enough to tackle our issues without totally giving those decisions over to some higher power? Are those who do not believe in a higher power excluded from recovery?

Horseshit I say!

There has got to be a better way. Yes, women supporting other women who have gone through or are going through a crisis is a good thing, making them somehow feel incapable, flawed or even indirectly responsible for their spouse’s bad behaviors is not good.

The 12 Steps of COSA

  1. We admitted we were powerless over compulsive sexual behavior — that our lives had become unmanageable. (the literature from the group I attended changed this first step to: ‘We admitted we were powerless over our sexual codependency–that our lives had become unmanageable.)
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives.

Whatever you are, be a good one. ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Responses

  1. The thing that made me angry about 12 Step groups for partners was that I felt that by admitting I had my own problems, I was admitting that I was some how to blame or held some responsibility (through “enabling” him) for my husband’s actions in his addiction. I’m not to blame for his stuff, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have separate issues of my own that contributed to me ending up with him (and being blind to his issues) in the first place. I don’t think that 12 Step is the only way to address that blind spot, but it is one way.

    1. Yesterday for what ever reason i decided to go to the first COSA day in London and apart from the usual so familiar to us i was horrified when during one of the pre ambles it was read out ” If someone is crying do not reach out to them do not touch them they may want to feel their pain !
      This just made me feel sick to think if i was a newcomer lost and confused how would i have been made to feel ? Well just awful is the answer. That was my last COSA meeting and what a freeing thought that is.Hugs to all on here.

    2. Maybe i have found a way. I went to a COSA meeting last week and said hi i’m Barbara recovering from the trauma inflicted on me my my prostitute visiting porn addict husband. No one commented but i was able to share my story and belief that once a sex addict always a sex addict & very few if any stay in recovery. What was good for me was the fact i could talk about things i cannot share with anyone else that would understand. Ladies came up to me afterwards and asked for my number. So the lesson from this is you don’t have to go along with the clap trap of i’m a recovering Co-Dependant ect and it’s good to share.

    3. I have been thinking about the “disclosure issue” partners are asked to partake in. If you had been raped would you be required to sit with the rapist and hear every detail of his past crimes ???? Well this is no different.We have been mentally raped as far as i am concerned and need to heal ourselves in peace with the correct trauma treatment.

  2. I totally agree with you about the 12 Step thing. It’s one thing to want to talk freely about your life married to a sex addict with other women experiencing the same thing. But quite another to have to buy into the whole 12 Step Program for yourself.

    It is total horseshit.

    My husband hid his addiction for 14 years of marriage, blaming our marriage problems on me. I spent 5 years going to weekly therapy. Guess what? I became a more enlightened, self-aware person, but the marriage did not improve. That’s because the source of the problem was his addiction, not me. I’m NOT buying it a second time around now that he is in a 12 step program. Addicts need to own their own problems and the rest of us need support in dealing with them. There has to be another way besides the COSA model.

    1. yes, Teri, we are the wives who in our ignorance tried to make the marriage a happy one, we were the ones who went to therapy to deal with our depression… sort out “our problems”. I lived for 39 years with a porn addict, and had no idea what was causing his anger, his loathing… yes, I was co-dependent, I was only 18 when I met him, and trusted his assurances he was a man of “integrity”. I have finally found the courage to leave. Guess what, I am NOT an addict. I am now happily making a decent life for myself, away from the misery. The only addiction I had was to my sacred marriage vows!! and ha ha to those.This “accepting our faults” is yes, horseshit.

  3. Thanks Teri and Mary. It’s nice to hear that I am not the only one who feels that way about COSA. I feel that it is highly inappropriate, in fact it’s downright insane and counterproductive, to tell a woman in crisis that she must give her control over the situation to some higher power and get to work on fixing her ‘defects of character’ and make amends to others she has hurt.

    No counselor would ever recommend this type of treatment, yet they recommend that we attend these meetings. Sorry, that just doesn’t make sense.

    I am considering forming a different type of support group based on the medical support groups (I am a Registered Nurse) that I have lead and attended. The basis being true ‘support’. Talking, sharing ideas, discussing what works and what doesn’t, utilizing research, professionals and common experiences to help each other solve the issues, get through the difficult times and, in many cases, to move on.

    That is my dream. What do you think?

    1. Hi JoAnn, I’m an RN as well and wondering if you ever implemented an alternative model to the 12 step, it’s definitely needed where I’m at and would prefer not to reinvent the wheel. Thanks!

      1. No I have no, because there are already treatment models for personality disorders and compulsive behaviors. Treating what is popularly called sex addiction as a primary diagnosis rather than a symptom of a much deeper disorder will never result in positive outcomes no matter what model is used.

  4. JoAnn, I think your idea about a support group based on medical support groups. You’d think that that would be obvious to anyone who supports the “disease model” for addiction. But even if you don’t buy into that model, I think what you described is much more what I would want in a group.

    You mentioned the SMART recovery program in an earlier post. Do they offer any kind of support group for families of addicts?

  5. I have a link to the SMART recovery page right here on my site, on the right under ‘Links’. It’s a huge site with lots of stuff, but, since it deals with all types of addiction it seems much too general. They do offer all sorts of online support groups, but I just didn’t find them specific enough for sex addiction. But, I really like and agree with their basic philosophy, which is very different from the 12 steps.

    Right now I am looking into software that will allow me to set up some sort of online group meetings. But, I never think small–I would also like to start a group here in my city, then, just as COSA does, offer the framework model and support to anyone else who would like to start a group in their area.

    This is my passion. If I can make just one woman’s journey through her crisis a little easier it will all be worth it; but I hope I can help many.

  6. It is interesting to hear the comments about the 12-step program, so as to avoid them. I have been married to my husband for 31 years, with him for 33 years, and he has probably been a sex addict for 40+ years. Yes, I have enabled him by covering for him and hanging with him throughout my own pain, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases.
    We are in counseling again, because I found a website he had accessed that indicated he was “looking for love” in a city where he was going on a business trip. I guess he got sloppy.

    It is extremely helpful for me to be able to talk with other women
    who are married to sex addicts. For many years I blamed my own inadequacies as contributing to my husband’s wanderlust, despite the fact that I never denied him anything sexually. It has kept me on my toes in terms of taking care of myself and preparing myself for the potential that I might be thrown out into the world of single life. At age 56, I believe I am attractive, in good physical shape, and almost done with my doctorate degree. He is 66.

    What has kept me in the marriage is our 2 daughters who know nothing of his inproprieties, as well as the knowledge that he does love me. I believe he is bipolar, although he has never been diagnosed. Both of us had previous marriages, so I have not wanted to go through another divorce. At this point, though, he does have an ultimatum…if there is another infraction, that is it. His children will learn the dirty details, and his grandchildren will learn that he is a dirty old man. I am serious about it and will not continue to live my life like I have. I might as well be having fun, too.

    Thanks for listening.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  7. I have been searching desperately for a website just like this. I am so relieved to have finally found it. I feel exactly the way that you do, JoAnn with regard to the 12 step program and COSA.

    I do not subscribe to any type of religion and consider my self an agnostic. This is not to say that I don’t have a spiritual side, it just means that I don’t agree with the idea of “putting things in God’s hands.” That means very little to me, like rolling the dice at a casino table.

    A second problem that I have with the 12 steps is that it turns the focus on what you are doing wrong. I hear the term “co-dependent” bandied about, but when I press for a definition of it no one seems to have an answer. So I looked it up and it means to have an unhealthy dependency. Is that a generic term or what? My point is that I don’t feel like I had an unhealthy dependency on my husband. I trusted that when he said something it was the truth. I was completely duped. No I supposed to work a program to ascertain how I was at fault for believing my husband.

    I just feel it is a blame the victim thing and you are right. I did not get the connection and conversation with other victims that I need. So, if you have this group meeting you are planning PLEASE, let me know when and where. A tele-meeting would be really darn cool.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this site. I really needed to find this. I have a therapist, and friends to talk too and they are all great, its just that similar stories help immensely. Thank you.

  8. I absolutely LOVE the Smart Recovery approach! It is exactly the empowered, self-directed, cognitive format I have been searching for! Thanks for sharing! I know so many people that could benefit from these tools. And the tools can be extrapolated for any kind of personal growth – not just for those coping with addiction!

  9. Hi Jennifer, I’m so glad you joined us and that you are sharing your story. I hope we can help you. Here is another link that has tons of free resources for spouses and partners of Sex Addicts:

    http://www.recoverynation.com/

    I have added this link to my ‘Favorite Links’. Good luck on your journey–you are not alone, we are all here to help lighten the burden.

  10. Thank you for this website. As a wife of a sex addict I have found many resources influenced by the co-dependency approach for the spouse–an approach which does not apply to me. I work with my therapist on my own stuff, but my husband’s addiction is his, not mine. I didn’t know that he had it until recently, and its roots are deep in the things that I did discover over our long marriage–that his mother was cruel, obsessive compulsive, incapable of human intimacy, and as my husband’s 12 step therapist described—an emotional incestuous monster (you gotta love that therapist!) The addiction to internet porn is fairly recent. As soon as I found out I made plans for our separation and we now live apart. I don’t call that co-dependent behaviour. I get enraged every time I think about the need for the spouse (usually a woman) to also be defined by the addict’s behaviour. And I’m a person of faith who can surrender to my higher power! But it is wrong to define someone by another’s problem and then demand surrender to yet another power! That, to me, is definition of co-dependent behaviour.
    Thanks for the chance to participate in a forum where I can be honest about the probem without being named for it.

  11. The thing about COSA that drove me nuts was the very beginning where you read the problem. We know what the problem is, we live it everyday. Plus there seems to no gray area: either leave your addict or stay sick with them. People stay for different reasons and they leave for different reasons. It’s not up to someone else to tell you what is right for you. I also noticed in my group, that the other members stayed stuck. They would carry on about how it was not their fault, yet they would complain/talk about the exact same things every week. I wanted to learn how to take care of myself amongest the chaos this addition leaves in it’s wake.
    I did much better with CODA and dealing with my own family of origin, abuse issues and control issues. Completely separate from my addicts problems. By taking care of me, I could better understand how I allowed myself to be blamed or shamed into believing his addiction was my fault and the ‘crazies’ that came with it.
    I really love this idea of a differnt approach to wellness for spouses of addicts.

  12. Whew, it’s not just me that is uncomfortable with COSA. I was wondering if something was wrong with me because I didn’t think there was much wrong with me. Thank you for this site and the links you’ve listed. Invaluable.

  13. The COSA meetings I attended only added to the “Trauma” I have endured being married to a “Sex Addict.” During the meetings, I refused to state that I was a “Co-Sex Addict!” It reminded me of the “Co-Pilot” flying an aircraft… An individual who engages in the same activity as the pilot! I met my husband in high school and have never had sex with anyone else, so I was deeply OFFENDED that this group encouraged by my husband’s therapist presumed that I needed a 12 step program as the deceived, emotionally abused, tormented trauma VICTIM that my husband created! I have no problem with turning to God to help resolve a problem, but this problem is NOT my creation. Patrick Carnes assumes that all wives of a Sex Addict are co-dependent and need to admit the “exact nature of our wrongs?”
    (“5.Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”)Ohhhh P-L-E-A-S-E !! I immediately thought, “Are You Kidding??!!” OK… The “exact nature of my wrongs” are that I believed a reflexive LIAR for over a decade before his DISGUSTING,SELF ABSORBED, SICK and LETHAL behavior came crashing down on our family which included a new baby and a 2 year old!! While I was wearing “swap meet” maternity dresses and working full time until I began labor(needed the $$), he was spending thousands on prostitutes. While I was healing from a 45 hour labor/crotch shredding and many months of recovery… He was doing prostitutes!! Of course I had no idea, until his arrest… Solicitation of a prostitute! Back to COSA… The therapist that encouraged this abusive group (nice women, but horrible message to those that are suffering the trauma from sex addict spouse)was LIED to by my husband and fell for his deceitful charm. When I told her that I didn’t agree with COSA and stated it was harmful, she told me to go anyway(no eye contact during that comment). When I finally had enough of the so-called therapist and COSA, I gave her a copy of Dr. Barbara Steffens’ PTSD slideshow that supports spouses of sex addicts, and told her I AGREE with Dr. Steffens… we are victims of TRAUMA (yes, VICTIMS!! With 2 sessions remaining (I attended every other due to husband’s lies)this therapist said NOTHING to me(how about thank you?). Later I discovered she made copies of the Steffens slide show and passed it out to a few of her favored ladies in the COSA group!! I’m thankful that I stood my ground and refused to be labeled by this horrible therapist or Patrick Carnes (SA Man perspective), or anyone at COSA. Sadly, I know PTSD intimately from a horror in my life that’s darker and more devastating than the utter abuse via my husband’s disgusting sex addiction. Yes, COSA should be a PTSD (Trauma)group therapy, NOT a 12 step program as if COSA women are boozing or drugging in self destructive behavior!! I thank God for Dr. Barbara Steffens and pray or healing for all who suffer the torment of being married to and/or in love with a sex addict!! It seems that if one lies and exposes another to AIDS, STDs or a slow death through the trauma/stress, it should be considered “Criminal Behavior!” That’s the only “WRONG” behavior I see in this entire pathetic and painful equation!

  14. I am more and more convinced that the COSA 12 step program is insulting to the people victimized by Sex Addicts.

    Dani I loved your post. My husband also acted out through my entire pregnancy and while our son was in the nicu for a month. It all just disgusts me the circumstances under which he did it. He started his acting out while I was caring for my dying mother. I believe it was about a year that he did it all in before getting caught or he would not have stopped. I have not been able to find any evidence that he did it any longer than that. The whole thing is just so sickening.

    The times I needed a loving husband the most, he was emotionally abusive and made trying times even harder..

    I digress.. Back to the subject at hand. Steps 4 and 5 just make me irrationally mad. I was really trying to be objective about the program after my initial visit left a bad taste in my mouth. After the second meeting I was convinced it was just wrong. It took everything in me not to just walk out in the middle of the meeting as I kept hearing the phrases like nature of our wrong doing…. Our Contribution.

    I actually had to refrain myself from blurting out and speaking when it was not my turn another thing I hate about the group. I felt so compelled to say this doesn’t make any sense!!! My Contribution? My wrong doings? When my chance to speak finally came I was very refrained, its actually a very good thing I had to wait through 5 more people before I could speak because it might have been inappropriate.

    What I did say is that I do not get the polarizing statement that you cannot cause cure or control an addict but you DO contribute. And I said that I was really struggling with the concept I need to evaluate MY character defects when HE is the one who destroyed our lives.

    It all just makes ZERO sense to me. I cannot for the life of me figure out just who it is I need to be making amends to.

    I would love a group where we could just talk to one another without a bajillion rules and where we could just have some open dialouge about what’s going on and what we are feeling.

  15. “I feel that it is highly inappropriate, in fact it’s downright insane and counterproductive, to tell a woman in crisis that she must give her control over the situation to some higher power and get to work on fixing her ‘defects of character’ and make amends to others she has hurt.

    No counselor would ever recommend this type of treatment, yet they recommend that we attend these meetings. Sorry, that just doesn’t make sense.”

    I have to disagree slightly on this point. There are cases where a 12 step program would be inappropriate, but for the most part unwise choices and decisions have lead us to the relationship and kept us in it. We allowed our spouses to push at and often break boundaries with no consequences. That is defect. Healthy people have healthy boundaries. I would recommend a client to COSA if they were party to the destruction that took place in their life/marriage/relationship. I know people don’t like when I say this, but often BOTH partners are victims of the other. Another way to say that is there are no victims.

    That said a good counselor should know if CoSA is what you need or not. And if that is ALL they are recommending to you then they aren’t doing their job. AA, SA, NA and the like are only a piece of the puzzle for an addict and CoSA should only be a piece of the puzzle for you.

    Hmm.. perhaps I should write a post of my own on the subject since I feel I could go on for pages

  16. Not all of us have spent years in an unhealthy relationship.

    4 weeks before learning of my husbands activities we started counseling under my mandate that things will get better or I want a divorce. Things were not right in our relationship and I knew that (granted I had NO idea how not right they were and never considered he could be acting out like that) but I was working every avenue to get them better knowing if they didn’t improve I would not stay with him.

    Our D day occured because I eventually suspected he was hiding something from me and dug until I found what I feared. I never ever looked the other way.

    I would never stay in an unhealthy relationship but I would/will/am willing to work hard to create a healthy relationship for the sake of my two very young children.

    I dealth with my mom’s illness, her death, a difficult pregnancy, then my son’s illness and that kept me so preoccupied I didn’t have time to fix what was wrong in my marriage. Those preoccupations were also what allowed my husband to get away with what he did.

    I never allowed my spouse to break boundaries with no consequences. As soon as I learned he was a sex addict I made him move out. We are still separated 5 months later.

    I have never in my life put up with anyone’s crap and I’m not going to put up with his either.

    I was not then and am not now willing to stay in an unhealthy relationship.

    My husband’s counselor believes 100% of spouses of addcits need the 12 steps and pisses me off.

    The ONLY thing that has kept me in this relationship is that I have children with him. I firmly belive that my children are better off in a two parent home but only IF we have a healthy relationship. Since our D-Day I have seen tremendous changes in my husband. He on the path to being the man he needs to be in order for me to stay with him. BUT if that doesn’t continue I won’t stay with him.

    I can’t tell you how many times I said I wish I didn’t have children with him so I could be done with him and not have him in my life. Unfortunately, I do and so I will give him time to prove to me he can be who he needs in order to be a great husband and father. My children deserve a loving two parent home and if that is possible then I will do what it takes to give that to them. If a happy loving home is not possible with my husband then I will divorce him. It is very cut and dried in my mind. I do not need 12 steps to “recover” from anything. What I do need is good friends, my family, and a good counselor to help me through this clusterfuck my life has become.

    1. Hi Amy,
      I am just wondering whether your SAH came right and how your life is 6 years later? Are you still together?

      1. Hi Amy
        It doesn’t look like this site is Active anymore. If you are a Partner of a sex addictt as I am, perhaps we could chat?

        Of course this site is still active and has been for over 11 years. There is no way that anyone can connect with each other here, chat or otherwise. If you need support and interaction with other wives and partners of sex addicts please check out my other website: https://sisterhoodofsupport.org~ JoAnn

  17. Amy,

    Your husband’s counselor is wrong not 100% of spouses need the 12steps. “I didn’t have time to fix what was wrong in my marriage.” If you knew there was something wrong, but it wasn’t being dealt with or “fixed” then boundaries were being broken.

    Can I ask? What would you have done to prevent your husband from “getting away with it?”

  18. I didn’t say boundaries were not broken, I said I didn’t allow it without consequences.

    I could not have prevented him from “getting away with it” but the chaos in my life allowed it to happen without my knowledge.

  19. Hi Monica,
    First I want to say that I do believe there are some spouses/partners of SA’s who demonstrate codependent behaviours. That assessment needs to be made by a qualified and experienced therapist on a person by person basis.

    I don’t agreed with your statement “for the most part unwise choices and decisions have lead us to the relationship and kept us in it. We allowed our spouses to push at and often break boundaries with no consequences.That is defect.” So….Where are you getting this generalizing assessment from? And how do you understand marriage?

    I’ve been married for thirty years. There were always consequences to our marriage when one of us crossed boundaries deliberately or carelessly. But we gave each other second and sometimes third chances. That’s how marriage is. I give the other person another chance, because our vows are underneath us, and love is a well with no bottom. That’s not codependency. It is particularly unfair to characterize the ebb and flow of regret and forgiveness in a marriage as “unwise choices and decisions”, when in the case of sexual addiction—most of us didn’t even know that it existed until very recently. Also, many of us had no idea what our spouses or partners were actually doing.

    Thirty years ago I married the man I was in love with. I married him because I believed he was a good and honest person, his choices in life demonstrated integrity and care for others, he was intelligent and funny, he was good-looking (not drop dead hunky, but handsome to me), we had common interests, a shared faith, and a passion for life. Calling that and other choices “unwise” is off-base. How can it be unwise when I couldn’t possibly have known what was hidden even from his own consciousness?

    Everytime our marriage was stressed by his frailty beginning to come forth, we met that crisis with therapeutic intervention and support. He spent 7 years with a psychiatrist who never broached any subject close to sex addiction. It wasn’t in the general currency of therapeutic care. Was I unwise because I didn’t imagine it myself and diagnose it and see him treated? Other therapists called it depression or unhappiness is his career or mid-life crisis. Don’t tell me there weren’t consequences anytime there was something I knew!!!! And I read up on anything that was suggested about his problems. But consequences are sometimes appropriately compassion, forgiveness and working through the pain.

    ” Healthy people have healthy boundaries.” You seem to miss the point that the boundaries aren’t the same with every relationship. “healthy boundaries” does not necessarily mean that when your husband is unfaithful, you cut him off and end the marriage. It might mean that for one marriage, but not necessarily another. People have different capacities to keep at it, and different kinds of betrayals that trigger the cut off. I find the need to make these generalizing assessments about us very immature, facile, and, dare I say it, “unwise.”

    What is so terrifying about the notion that people who love each other often choose to believe in the power of that love to lead them through their troubles? Yes, sometimes they are wrong about it. And there are consequences. But they weren’t unwise. They knew what they knew, but what they didn’t know was more than they could have ever imagined.

    Personally, I’m grateful that I’m not “wise enough” to have imagined the emotional incest my husband lived through as a child and that haunted his adulthood, the terrible conflict he engaged trying to love me, the hideous secret life he created in order to manage the conflict and medicate his pain—particularly since no one would have know what I was talking about. And I prefer to be a steward of my Imagination not for nightmares, but gospel dreams.

    But now that I have knowledge I didn’t have before, there is wisdom in the decisions I have made—to live apart, to use a healing separation agreement, to get my own therapist, to reject the cavalier dismissal of my love over 30 years as codependency, to support his 12 step journey while insisting on a trauma framework for him to understand mine, to postpone a permanent “cut-off” of divorce until I know more about his recovery and my own needs, to act with love and respect for the person I fell in love with as well as being honest about my anger, to provide myself with a safe environment financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically etc.

    This whole experience was not about a defect in me. It was about a lot of things that happened outside my knowledge and my control. I take hold of what I have learned and use the power I have to keep safe, and will continue to love my husband in ways I could not imagine would be necessary until I no longer feel those vows underneath me. Then I will let go. And I will cry a long long time, and own a sadness that can’t be left at the curb. Because I know what marriage is, and what love means, and I have chosen for those things with my life. And when I am done here, there will be a deeper and wider and more wonderful wisdom that will interpret my life.

    And that wisdom will not be cavalier about love at all.

    Isn’t it good to work through the questions that help us know who we really are.
    D.

  20. Hey D,

    First to clarify, the unwise decisions we make are often small and insignificant, but we don’t realize there destructive potential until the hundreds of them we have made begin to pile up and get in the way of our life. And by “the relationship” I didn’t mean the marriage, or the partnership, or the friendship. “the relationship” refers to the state the relationship is currently in. You can have a different relationship with the same person.

    “”Soâ?¦.Where are you getting this generalizing assessment from?””

    – To answer your question, from my own experience. I have a degree in Addiction Studies. I just obtained my CACI (certified addiction Counselor I). I am currently working with the addiction recovery facility I work at to develop Sexual Addiction based treatment and evaluation programs. Right now we are strictly Alcohol and Drug. I personally see about 4 clients a day and supervise 2 groups a week. I have yet to meet a spouse of an addict who doesn’t demonstrate Co-Dependent behaviors. Many times these have developed as a tool for dealing with the chaos in their lives, or a way to protect their children from the chaos around them. I would recommend COSA to most clients but unlike other 12-step support groups I would never recommend COSA for life.

    I would say about 80% of the spouses that I see on a monthly basis are truly codependent. Obviously that leaves a large segment, 20%, of this particular population that are not Co-Dependent, but like I said, they always (in my personal experience) have unhealthy co-dependent behaviors.

    “” Healthy people have healthy boundaries.â?? You seem to miss the point that the boundaries arenâ??t the same with every relationship. â??healthy boundariesâ?? does not necessarily mean that when your husband is unfaithful, you cut him off and end the marriage.””

    – And I never said it did. My husband was unfaithful, and like you said I believe in the power of love (and in my case God) to see this through to the end. Your right in saying not all relationships have the SAME boundaries. But Healthy boundaries look the same in all relationships. Healthy boundaries are boundaries that are verbalized, respected, and flexible when appropriate. Your boundary may be no porn, another wife’s boundary may be no porn unless she is a participant in watching it. Those boundaries are not the Same, but if they are both verbalized and respected then they are both healthy.

    “”I give the other person another chance, because our vows are underneath us, and love is a well with no bottom. Thatâ??s not codependency.””

    – To end on a positive note, I have to agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I think the lack of God talk in CoSA pushes many Christian (and other religions) values into the label of “Co-Dependency” when in fact their is a HUGE difference between staying in a relationship because marriage is a sacrament and not to be taken lightly, and staying in a relationship because you are Co-Dependent. This is actually what my book is about.

  21. I just want to say the thing about COSA that you need to keep in mind is it is full of women just like you. It is not therapy, there is no governing body, and usually (not always) there are no professionals in the group. Keep that in mind when you go. I have been to VERY unhealthy CoSA meetings. CoSA is not about blaming or faulting the spouse. CoSA IS about examining and bettering yourself and empowering you to grab the reigns in your life and not let this disease and relationship define you. My CoSA meeting is pretty healthy, and maybe that’s the added benefit of having 3 professionals that are also spouses attend. I don’t know. But in a good meeting, no harm can be done by attending.

  22. Thank you, Monica
    for being forthcoming about your own educational and professional investment in the co-dependency model for spouses and partners of sex addicts. Those people who have been further abused by their experiences with that model appreciate your honesty on this site and about this issue in particular. Thank you, also, for letting us know that even with this therapeutic default setting for your practice, you count about 20 % of such clients as not co-dependent.

    I am wondering now how you respond to the trauma model put forth by Barbara Steffens and her co-author Marsha Means in the book well-publicized on this site. Does her research give you pause to think? Also, what is your response to the audio interviews? Can you see your 20% non-codependent spouse or partner number increasing if you have more than one possible theory to interpret the symptoms/indications observed or offered by your clients?

    I realize that it is much easier to only have one interpretation of behaviours on which hang a client’s assessment, but you kind of sound like someone with a greater therapeutic capacity than that. It’s very disconcerting for traumatized people to have their symptoms run through a therapeutic default setting and then have the resulting statistical concurrence used to back up the argument for the default setting. When I did my first graduate degree I’m pretty sure that kind of circular argument and data function would have been laughed out of the psychology department.

    What is more alarming is the need to judge decisions as “unwise”, particularly when you indicate that the decisions are “often small and insignificant” and only after hundreds of them have piled up, is there any kind of perspective on which they might judged “unwise”. I have to wonder how helpful or necessary is the judgment of those decisions as unwise. Well–I guess it’s helpful to the co-dependent model of “treatment”. Once again, there’s that circular reasoning! And how damaging it is to be told your decisions and choices were unwise, but at the time they were made that would not be evident. Then we are told this all a part of our defect. We are judged unwise and defective. I just really let that pass. It’s an arrogance that is not justified and I honestly don’t believe that your core vocation is arrogant at all. I believe that you want healing and freedom for your clients. But it is patronizing in the extreme for anyone to think we should lie down and let the certified addictions person tell us that basically “we asked for it” even though we had no way of knowing we were asking for it, and now we should confess this defect to a higher power in order to be healed.

    Taking responsibility for the direction of our lives may, in fact, be an important issue for many spouses and partners of SA’s. And you make that point about the COSA meeting at its best. That’s part of why I know your intentions for us and your clients are good. Taking responsibility for decisions that diminished our own value, and believing less about ourselves than God (or the higher power) does is certainly a slippery slope for women, in particular. But I just don’t think we have to get there (to the place of taking responsibility for the direction of our lives) through affirming a hermeneutic for our experience that is ultimately derivative of someone else’s life (the SA). I’m pretty sure my life, and every other person traumatized by their spouse or partner sex addiction deserves a non-derivative interpretative framework. I’m not a convenient part of a program. I am a human being. There are definitely co-dependents in the room, but I think they are whole lot of counsellors and therapists who drank the kool-aid in order to get the certificate.

    My question for professional co-dependent model co-dependents, is whether they can entertain another model to interpret the same symptoms and indications observed in or described by your clients. Can they break their own co-dependent practice and imagine trauma as a legitimate source for the behaviours and experiences of their clients. Perhaps as Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means work begins to break through the prevailing belief that the world is flat, we will see professional therapeutic changes for the better for all the spouses and partners of SA’s.

    In addressing this issue, I am well-aware that spouses and partners of SA’s risk being bullied, shamed and ultimately silenced by experts who need to be right (and I’m not talking about you, Monica–I’m sure you’ve known a few of those). After all, we are vulnerable and shattered by betrayal at the level of our deepest offerings to life. And it is good that some of us have a faith story in which betrayal as sacred wound is presented and explored. That is a big part of how I found my courage to speak of what I know is true, and what I know is “close but not quite”.

    There are many points, Monica, on which we agree. And those are very important for ongoing dialogue. We also disagree theoretically at a fundamental level. I have hunch that in the ripening of the ages will come a greater truth for both of us. And I have a hunch that you will agree with that, too.

    on the journey,
    Diane.

  23. I just wanted to update that I have now had the chance to speak with my own counselor about the 12 step program for spouses. She does not believe I need the program and that is such a relief to hear.

    Although I felt strongly that I did not need it, it’s really nice to have your feelings validated. Especially by a licensed Sex Addiction therapist.

    This really turned into a great discussion I’ve enjoyed reading through it all.

  24. To me, the saddest thing is that for the spouses of sex addicts, there are few places to turn, and groups like COSA and SA-Anon are center stage and available in most areas. When my husband and I started marriage counseling, I was convinced that his acting out was in response to our crappy marriage, my breadwinning vs. his inability to get a good job, and the hypersexuality aspect of his bipolar. The first book I read on sexual addiction was Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, given to me by our therapist. My first exposure to what is “normal” to be feeling was this book, and I am so thankful for that.

    As women, I feel like we are natural caretakers and to some extent, even martyrs. Groups like COSA and SA-Anon feed into our first-response desire to blame ourselves, even if only a little, for what we can’t control – the addict. True they might give coping mechanisms and the ability to let go of guilt later, but that works on the premise that there is some guilt we have to accept to start with.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. One of the classic sex addict personality quirks is a high moral ground about other people’s sexual behaviors. My husband openly scorned a friend of his who’d had an affair, talked about having an unfaithful ex who’d really hurt him, etc. What should I have done? Be suspicious and nosy based on no evidence of his addiction? Uh-uh, nope. We have to be able to live our lives trusting people, and we have to be able to keep ourselves safe.

    That said, where do we turn? What if you cannot tell your friends and family because you are trying to work through the addiction and you don’t want them to think badly of your spouse? What if you cannot afford for both your spouse and yourself to go to therapy? There is a need for groups based on the mental health and coping issues of the spouse, without assigning a title, or blame.

  25. Can I also echo my relief? And where have I been the past almost three years since I discovered my husband was living a secret sex addict life?! I should’ve started reading this blog whenever it was first put up. Sorry for being so behind!!!

    I think in some ways I was running away from COSA and feeling like I was the one with “issues” I needed to work on – that somehow I’m the one that is “stuck” because I’m not going to 12-step meetings or have a sponsor… Or else that is what it feels like from the message my recovering husband relays to me (per his sponsor and his therapist “I need to find my program and until I do I just won’t get it”).

    I dutifully attended COSA meetings for several months after the initial uncovering of my husband’s secrets… and not that the people in the group weren’t welcoming or nice, but I just didn’t feel a connection or felt I had similar experiences. There was no click. I heard lots of shared stories of people who were traumatized as kids, sexually abused, always drawn to sex addicts, etc. but that wasn’t my story.

    I thought I had married my soul mate, and two years and a newborn baby into the marriage, I discovered his fastidiously-kept checkbook when he went away for a work trip – hundreds of dollars at a time, sometimes up to $1000 a week (I tallied up one 10-month spree of $25K in sex with prostitutes)… ATM withdrawals around town in locations he shouldn’t be at times of the day when he said he was elsewhere… I mapped it all out on a calendar and wrote down each location… Here and there during our first year of marriage… And then those special occasions such as the day before my 30th birthday and when he threw me a huge bash and proclaimed I was the love of his life, a few days before our daughter was born, then shortly thereafter (was he trying to celebrate?). Yes, I’m sure the reaction was like most of yours when you found out. Shock. Disbelief. That terrible knot in your stomach and you feel like you are about to throw up and faint at the same time because your world has just come crashing down because you are staring at the cold, hard evidence and there is no disputing something is utterly wrong with the safety and security and honesty of this person you pledged to spend the rest of your life with who said he would honor and cherish you. The cold sweat and shaking… Didn’t know then this was ongoing for him 10+ years and he was in denial he even had a problem…

    But back to COSA meetings… So I stopped going because I couldn’t relate to most of the people there. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t stop reading, or seeing my own therapist. Or crying to my close-knit friends, who know so much more of me than this one life experience. I don’t want to just feel like the “partner of a sex addict” or be defined only by it. I’m still me, pre-August 2007… But now older, wiser, more vulnerable in some ways, and stronger in others!

    Anyways, just wanted to say thank you – it’s good to know I am not the only one that feels this way about COSA. 😉

  26. I recently found a group called Recovering Couples Anonymous. They have meetings all over the country and by phone. It is a 12 step program to get rid of codependency and develop healthy intimacy with your partner. It is something we are going to consider if my husband makes progress in his own therapy. I like the idea of focusing on this aspect of our relationship – the communication, intimacy, trust – because what little of those things we had have been completely eroded by what he’s done.

    Although this does require me to take some responsibility for the problems in our relationship, it does not require me to take responsibility for his deceit, lies, and sexual acting out, or insist that I was drawn to that (hidden) perversity in him.

  27. When I first found out about my husband, I went to the local meeting for COSA for a number of weeks. (He went to the Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting next door, which he still attends.) I went, I listened, and I shared. I learned a number of interesting things, but I knew early on that I wouldn’t keep attending.

    The big issue: I was the only person at the meeting who had made a decision to stay with my husband. Most were divorcees trying to make sense of their failed marriages. They could never answer my two primary questions: “Is it possible for a marriage to work after this has been revealed?” and “What does a healthy marriage look like?”

  28. Hi SamW,
    I’m new just had my d-day in July. You have come to a wonderful site these woman are fantastic,what I do know is you need to find a counselor for yourself and take care of yourself. Your partner needs to do this on his own we can not do this for them at all. I joined recovery nation online they have a partners workshop they are a health based recovery for addicts,partners, and also couples. Please take care of your self and you will be heard and have people here for you
    katt

  29. I am so glad to find this post. I find the co-addiction model in Co-SLAA which I went to was harming. I get that my spouse and I came together for a reason but the idea that we are co-addicts in sex addiction is the result of a handful of experts treating sex addicts and making assumptions about their distraught and traumatized spouses sitting next to them at meetings.

    Who would ask any other victim of trauma to sit next to the person who inflicted the trauma, exposure to a fatal disease, theft of thousands spent for phone sex, etc. to listen to the pain of the person who did this things to “explain” that these trauma causing behaviors are not acts of violence or cruelty but “acting out” side effects of addiction?

    I’m sorry but I believe EVERY addict deserves treatment. I understand that we ALL have issues and baggage and many spouses of addicts share a trauma history. However, I am not “Co” responsible for his choices not was he “Co” responsbile for mine. He lied, deceived and actively manipulated. I understand it was because he had a disease and he perpetuated the cycle of trauma and abuse rather than break it or face his own inner demons. He caused pain to me and to our child. He is responsible for his choices and behaviors. I can understand the causes of behavior but still not choose to live with and love somoene who I no longer trust for actively deceiving and betraying me.

    I don’t think I am in denial or acting out. Do I have issues? You bet. But I didn’t hide them, lie about them, rationalize and compartmentalize them to justify doing things that hurt my self, my spouse and others. He made a choice to protect his addiction and he chose secrecy and deception because on some level he knew what he was doing was hurtful not only because he felt shame. That’s what I think and I would love to meet with other women to share what the experience of having heart and family altered and learning to recover, see what lessons are there, make meaning, etc. but not with a, “We’re all just diseased together” framework.

    I DO believe child trauma creates most of the damage and wounds in people. Some, though not all, go on to re-enact that trauma by hurting others and others get help to make sure they don’t inflict their unresolved pain on and in their loved ones. It’s traumatic and tragic to be deceived by someone living a double life even if one understands, intellectually, the nature of addiction.

    Sorry to vent but the lack of accountability for sex addicts because all choices and behaviors are due to disease makes me angry. If it were men, hurting others not mainly spouses, would the experts in the treatment community take the trauma caused by sex addicts more seriously instead of assuming the entire family is “sick” and in need of the same type of treatment protocols?

  30. Welcome, “c”, to a safe place for wives and partners of SA’s.

    I was greatly encouraged by the strength of character and clear thinking in your posting. It’s amazing to me, still, that in the midst of such terrible shock and pain, we are able to “say no” to the nonsense of the supposed recovery program for us. I don’t know how we do it, but it is so fantastic every time I read about another woman who declares the emperor has no clothes.

    I hope you have found good therapeutic support to work through the issues that are you own. I have been with a wonderful therapist for a year now, and I can truly say I have found myself again, and am making a life that is full. It’s not perfect, and I still wish someone loved me—but I accept that as my main job now. I must love myself. No one else can do that on my behalf. So, there is growth and change—but not because I let the 12 step program tell me who I am. Good God, when I think of what I’d be doing right now if I’d submitted to that normalizing of insanity, I get ill.

    Like you, I believe every addict deserves treatment, and also compassion for the childhood trauma that created this problem. But I can’t live with the truth of my SA’s lying, denial, elaborate secret life, scapegoating of me, that was conducted in an atmosphere of love and support given freely to him and only him for 30 years. So I can’t live with him anymore.

    I hope you will find joy again in your life, and that your heart will be renewed for love.
    thanks for posting,
    D.

  31. I’ve been fighting a battle with myself over this whole COSA / SANON thing. Am I fighting against it because I am not admitting the truth to myself or are my feelings justified?
    I just read an email from a “recovery site” and have decided that my feelings are justified and its a load of shit. This is what I just read:
    “STEP SIX- “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
    What are some of the defects that you have seen in your past? ”
    Then you are susposed to list 5 defects for each of the following age groups: Ages 1-12, 13-20,21-30,31-40,41 to present

    Up till now I thought maybe, just maybe some of this stuff might help me a bit. However, if I start buying into this bullshit I’m headed for a life of misery I think.
    Ages 1-12 ??? Excuse me, but does Starry killing a worm at age 5 count? How about putting my love and trust into my parents who only returned critism and abuse? How about crying myself to sleep because I was miserable at age 11?

    I know I am being slightly over the top here, but where do these people get off? I have had it with people telling me how defective I am. If I actually listened to these people, I’d start thinking I was a horrible person, all sick and defective.

    I AM NOT.

    I am a beautiful person who is loving and caring for her fellow humans and animals. I live by the motto “treat others as I want to be treated”. If me being like this makes me defective, then so be it and I’ll be rpoud to have it tattooed across my forehead.

    Sorry about the rant .. this is the only place I feel anyone will even “get” what I mean.

    Be well

  32. Starry,
    I agree. My therapist keeps trying to put me in the co-dependent category, because that is all she knows. She has heavy training and history with alchohalism. I have showed her Barbara’s book I have mentioned this website, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I have been going to her for over half a year, not much has changed. I have changed, but not due to being told I am a co-dependent or by working 12 steps. It is on most part due to this site, Barbara’s book, JoAnne’s ebooks and several other books on betrayel, lying etc. I have incorporated a healthier lifestyle, where I take time for me, and the kids here an there. Tough with three kids. But it seems to have helped. But in no way am I to focus on myself and not the addict. You can do both at once.

    Also the term recovery. For us I think the term recovery means “recovering from a life altering event, trauma and relationship betrayel”. That is what we are recovering from. And to be told that you played a part in this?? That you contributed to something you never even knew existed?? That we are partly to blame?? Come on… Get Real. Would not appear that the 12 steps of cosa were written by women or someone who in fact was in a relationship with an addict for disoclosure day. So I /we are to be blamed because we have a kind heart and believe in others?? That we don’t assume the worst of someone who appears kind an loving? My SA is an excellent liar. Really scary. Wish he were not. My mom thinks it is because he grew up catholic, trained to lie early because of confession.

    I am with you Starry! Hang in there. I tried to buy into it for a while, made me feel week and miserable. Like I had no voice or choices. Being called and treated like a co-dependent was the worst couple months for me over the course of the past year.

  33. Also not knowing what was going on over the course of 4 years in our marriage and three years of dating. Nothing I/we did was deliberate, if it would appear co-dependent. The SA on the other hand has deliberately lied, played and betrayed us. All on purpose, hiding their secret life at all costs.

  34. Thats exactly it Flora!
    I just cannot understand how these people can so quickly stand up and tell us that we are partly to blame.
    As if we haven’t endured enough insanity in our lives.

    As I told my counsellor last week: If I had found he had slept with another woman (my SA didn’t go there..was into porn and fantasy), I’d have left immediatly. Sadly I was confused and not knowing what was going on, and being told nothing was going on.
    Looking back, ok, I let a few things go that I shouldn’t have, but goodness, this isn’t the dark ages. Was I meant to up and divorce him after the first time I found porn???

    My head is melted today…

  35. Starry,
    Mine too. Years and years, hours and days of porn. But over the course of that time he hid it and lied when found. I knew it was him. Who else could it be? I did the three strikes you are out. He would minimize and say it was that one time. I know that men look, it’s not that out of the ordinary (or as society would have us beleive). So like you said Are we to divroce them because we found it once (out of many hours and years). No that would appear unreasonable in a normal relationship. Which is what we thought we had. We asked repeadetly and we thought we were getting straight answers. It took many years to discover my SA was bold straight faced liar. Which I did not ever imagine because he seemed like such a kind and caring person. Which is why I fell for him. Never thought he would be the one to lie to me.

    Over the years he has lacked in contribution to financial, family and household obligations and chores. I was already ready to give him the boot because of this. I had asked several times for him to help out, get a fully functioning job, contribute to the marriage and household. It either did not happen or he changed so little it was worthless. It was at this time that I discovered the addiction. Everything came full circle and made sense. He did not move in to our home that we had purchased together until we were married. And even then he would go to his parents house during the day to look at porn while I was working, they both worked. He spent his days looking at porn when we were not home. Then when the internet was not available he went DVD’s. Thats all I know, because that is all I found. I do very much worry that there could be more, I just don’t have evidence. All I would and did find is the random chances (about 1 a year) when he did not erase the browser, or some other freak chance.

    I have realized that my decision to marry my SA was made and based on only half truths, I was not given the full disclosure. He had stolen my choice from me, by not being honest. And he never had been.

  36. I too would have left immediatley if I found out he slept with another women. I feel the porn issue is harder to determine what is right or wrong… Its more of a middle ground. Tons of money is made every year on the porn. Does that make it right, i think not. I think it is degrading and disrepectful to women. But that is just my thoughts. And now seeing what it has done to our relationship and him it can be very destructive to a person and/or a relationship. Nothing good comes out of heavy porn use.

    But I can see in the other scenario. Where if found out that the relations out side of the marriage are part of an addiction to give them a chance. If they can work it through and make amends.

    But my SA can barely try or attempt to make amends for porn addiction. I hope yours is doing better. My SA is very very passive. Takes almost no responsibility for anything.

  37. Hi Flora,
    In regards to contributing, mine was not lacking. He worked, paid the bills, took care of the things that needed taking care of. Wasn’t terribly great at housework, but I did not mind so much as I was home about an hour earlier than him most days and with just the two of us, not a lot of housework generally. Plus he paid everything, and my paychecks were mine to spend as I wished, so I did not mind cooking the dinner most nights. We were able to afford to travel, socialize, and go out and have nice evenings.
    Through it all, this did not change.
    Even though I “knew” something was wrong, and he did not seem to be “with” me all the time, there was no fighting,no screaming matches, no him coming home late, no odd numbers in his phone, ect ect.
    When he wasn’t “absent”, things were good. He told he loved me regularily, that i was beautiful, was attentive, bought me small presents, and genuinley wanted to be in my company.
    When he was “absent” he was moody, withdrawn, grumpy, ect.
    Turns out he has a fairly long acting out cycle. Which possibly made it harder for me to see what was going on. As I said to my counsellor, when he’s fine for a month, then grumpy for a couple days, well, its hardly grounds for kicking him out.
    The counsellor seems to be under the illusion that I put up with all manner of abuse, humiliation, and control. I am co-dependant apparently, because I believed the man i loved, who for the first 5 years treated me with utmost respect. Apparently, by not divorcing him the first (and ONLY) time I found porn, I enabled his addiction to escalate. Apparently because I engaged in occasional sex with my husband, I am sick, because I was accepting sex when i really wanted love. I could go on for hours about the bullshit that I have been told.

    I think this weeks appointment is going to be very different. I might just tell the counsellor what he can do with himself.

  38. Yes the porn issue is a bit more fuzzy. Not to sound pathetic or anything, but I only found porn the once. He said he would stop, and I never found any more again. So.. in that position, what am i to think? If I had found it time and time again, I would likly have took the 3 strikes approach as well. In 5 years I’ve only found things 5 times, and the fifth time was the bombshell that had me handing him my rings and calmly asing him to leave.

    My SA seems to be making amends. He seems to be doing well in his 12 step program. He has taken responsiility for absolutly everything. Only time will tell I guess. He seems genuinely sorry, but I understand that this is an addiction, and that if he starts acting out again, he WILL lie to me. I take it one day at a time right now.
    I can see huge changes in him, good changes, and it gives me hope.

  39. Starry,
    If you don’t mind me asking… how long has it been since d-day, now and when you started seeing changes in your SA??

  40. Flora,
    Of course I don’t mind you asking 🙂

    D-day, Sunday May 2, 2010

    When I asked him to leave, I think he was in shock. He went to a hotel nearby. He called the next morning, asking if he could come by to pick up some things. When he did, he looked aweful. We talked, I ranted and raved, told him in my eyes we were not married and we were both free and single and we could do what we wanted. I do believe with all my heart he was devastated. He denied nothing and took repsonsibility right there and then. I emailed him a link for a website with addiction counsellors. Purely a random act on my part as i knew nothing about SA, but I thought “if you would do this even though you knew I would leave you…then you’ve got some problems”. He actually took the initiative and called and got himself an appt that week. The next week he started attending the 12 step group.
    He even went so far as to say that I was to live in the house for as long as I wanted or needed, and he would pay all the costs.

    After a while, we went for coffee a couple times. He was so different. We had some very serious talks, and he did not try to worm his way out of anything.

    We kept in contact, and I could see some changes in him. (about the 6 week mark). I was not about to accept this though, as how many times does this happen, things change for a few weeks and then back to the same ole thing?

    Every week, I could see a bit more spark in his eyes. They were so dead before..now they were alive. He looked at me when he spoke to me. He showed emotion. (this guy hadn’t shown emotion in years). It was small things..but the small things add up.

    In August he moved back in. Seperate rooms though.
    Not saying its been easy. Some very emotional days for both of us. We’ve been working through a “communication” book for couples. I enjoy that time with him, as for once, he is open and honest, and can look at his own behaviour and own it.

    He still does his counselling once a week, and 3 meetings a week.
    He does not push me in any way shape or form. He accepts that I need to heal, and that trusting him is something that will take a long long time.

    I’m not saying things are fixed, but I have hope that our marriage may be able to find a new beggining. If he hadn’t “changed”, I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of staying with him. So many years wasted already..I do not want to lose any more years to this.

    1. Hi Starry,
      Just wondering whether you and your SA are still together and what your life looks like 6 years after this post?

  41. Thank you Starry. How long had he been engaging in his addiction? Mine had been since age 11 or 12, along with several other addictions along the way smoking, and pot.

  42. HI Flora and Starry,
    so, I’m eaversdropping on your conversation.

    And now I’m going throw in a few thoughts

    Starry, I think your counsellor sounds like an asshole. Why don’t you ask him why he needs to believe these things about you that aren’t true. Why can’t he listen to what you’re saying before he labels you? If necessary, write stuff down before the appt so that you don’t have to try and remember your questions and issues. And I also think you should dump him if he can’t do better than this. He’s like a one trick pony. You’ve seen the trick. Now move on.

    Flora, I so get your feelings about marrying your SA based on half truths, and that he stole your chance. After 30 years of deception, I really feel that sometimes. I feel it when I look ahead and realize there will be no one to call the ambulance if I get ill in my fast-approaching “golden Years”, no one to enjoy retirement with, no one to hold me when my own mother finally dies, no one to celebrate the small victories in my remaining work years. It sounds maudlin, I know, but it’s a real loss of the life I thought I was building towards. All that hard work, and nothing to show for it in end. BUT, it is also true that I am building a new life. I have no idea how it will look or who will be in it. So there’s what’s important. Losing the years you lost does not mean you give them your future too. We have to engage the present so that a future is created that has what we want in it. We can’t overlook the power we do have to build a life that we want.

    Blessings on you both. You are great inspirations in your honesty and your efforts to understand this horrible thing.
    xo
    D

  43. Hi Diane,

    Yes I am beginning to see this is also my future as well. Starry’s husband really seems to be putting forth the effort. Makes mine look lazy, what a surprise!?! (based on his history).

    I so much wanted to give him a chance, and hope for the bright side. But I have been hoping for the bright side since I met him. Always waiting for him to get a good job etc. Don’t get me wrong he is kind and seems to be a good father on the outside. And getting his act together seemed to be in the cards when we got married, but it never happened. Now I have to figure out how to deal with the mess to follow. The inlaws, the kids, the house, finances etc. He will run home to mommy and daddy which will be good financially (anyway), although this is where it all started at age 11 or 12. No good will come of it for him, but thats not for me to decide. He can keep giving excuses to himself and not look inward as to why his life is the way it is.

    I had been considering a seperation, but with the view point that we would work on our issues and see where it takes us. Not sure if that will work. Maybe just seperating is the answer until I can obtain a better job to finance the house in my name only and pay off debt.

  44. Hi Flora,

    He had been engaging in the behaviour since his teens. He said its hard to pinpoint the time when it moved from simple curiosity, to a problem. He says when he got a computer and the internet things quickly got out of control. So many new things at his fingertips, he didn’t have to seek it out, it was just there 24/7. He did stop when I came into the picture. We actaully spoke last night for a bit, and he again assured me that for the first 4 years or so, he was not acting out in any way at all. I get the sense that he thought now that he had me, he didn’t need it and was able to stay away from it. Then he got triggered somehow and everything escalated very quickly, as if he had never stopped.

    Like everything else, it comes in three’s doesn’t it? His counsellor had him go off coffee immediatly. The guy drank mugs of expresso strength,packed with sugar all day. Counsellor said that much caffeine in the system keeps you keyed up and restless, perfect environment to be triggered. He also smokes, and that is his next hurdle. I believe his quit date is in a couple weeks. I must admit I am nervous about it. I know what its like to quit and i am scared he will act out to ease the tension. 🙁

    I yearn for simpler days..but I know those are behind me now. By choosing to stay with him (for now) I know we’ve a long road ahead of us.

  45. Hi Dianne,

    In regards to my counsellor, I have come to the same conclusion 🙂
    I was speaking (ranting) with a friend last night, and he said the same thing, write down what I want to say. So I will do so tonight. I see him on Thursday, and it wil be the last time. I’ve been seeing him for a few months, and he wasn’t like this at first. Oh he dropped the odd thing here and there, but moved on quick enough when I expressed my displeasure. The past 3 or 4 sessions he’s been very aggressive. My last appt 2 weeks ago was a nightmare. I spent the whole time attempting to defend myself and my actions. When I got home I cried for hours. My SA was quite distressed when he got home and I told him about it. Now, I’m not trying to exhault my SA, but he was very supportive, and seemed quite “protective” of me. I mean that in the way he spoke to me, saying that “how was i to know everything, because he lied and hid things, and if the counsellor was making me question my sanity, then maybe it was time to find someone who was a bit gentler, or would let me speak my mind without being told how co-dependant I was”.

    I think I’m actually going to give the counselling a break for a bit. I been attending since Feb, this is my second counsellor. The first was just for me, before most this shit came to light. AFter d-day I moved to the current one, because he’s an addiction counsellor who also does general counselling. He has taught me a lot, but I think I’ve just outgrown him. I don’t conform to his textbook. I’ve joined Recovery Nation, and I think from what I’ve seen so far, it seems like a much more practical and sensible way to proceed. Rather than telling me how sick I AM, it seems to give practical advice and activities for actually DOING something. Not just sitting around aruguing abotu how I ignored my “gut feeling” 10 years ago, when in actuall fact there was NO gut feeling 10 years ago.

    Bah .. I’m sick of the whole cycle to be honest. Need a break from people telling me what I should be doing and thinking. Surely the goal is to think for yourself and lift yourself up to a position where you are a stronger person. Not putting on a frilly apron, baking cupcakes 3 times a week and letting God take care of me and he will decide whats best for me (my personal opinion of the SANON package). I was always told “god helps those who help themselves”. Well, I’m going to help myself now 🙂

  46. After I submit, I always have more thoughts!

    Half truths. As I have said to my counsellor and my SA. If I knew the things then, that I know now, I wouldn’t have dated him, never mind marry him.
    I feel like I have had so many years stolen from me. Even though the first 5 years were good, it was still a lie, and it makes me sick to think that our life started with dishonesty and he did not give himself to me as i gave myself to him. Even though things were good, our emotional intamacy was not great (as i see now). I feel like the past 5 years has been such a waste. So much time lost that I can never ever get back.

  47. Dear Starry,
    It’s all just so hard and hurtful. So much ugly truth to have to learn how to carry, and every time we shut out eyes for a just a moment and catch our breath, we come back to more implications to consider. It’s like always trying to find your balance, no matter where you turn.

    You know, I don’t think I ever got anywhere useful looking back and trying to figure out what I should have done when. Starry, we had no idea we were looking at these kind of realities!!!
    So please, no more beating yourself up (and no more letting counsellors beat you up either). There is no way on earth we could have imagined the addiction and what it meant. We can hardly imagine it now.

    I remember using some of the same words and phrases in the early months—thoughts about having wasted my life, my love etc. I don’t do that anymore Starry. Whatever my life has been, for better or worse, it’s been my life–and I need to cherish it, even in its hardest times. I think it’s a trap to fall down the “wasted my life” hole. Can you try and hold even the ugliest part of your life story, and learn to cherish it–not becuase it was good or nice, but because it is and will always be a part of your story. I just think it’s an important part of learning to value yourself, and take your life seriously. Many months ago, I posted on some of the rituals I’m using to help carry these hard parts of my life.

    For example, little things that represented the life I thought I had with my husband—ticket stubs to a concert, a gift he gave me, a photo of our 25th anniversary trip (the only trip we could afford in 25 years), a piece of jewelry etc.–I put them in a special place—like a pretty box I decorated or purchased. I put them there to remember that while something was wrong on the other side of the relationship, what I was investing was good and ture, and that’s an important aspect of my life that I shouldn’t call a waste—it’s the kind of person I am and will always be. Other things that symbolized dishonesty I burned in the fireplace of the house we had to sell. Things like a scarf his mother gave me for Christmas—but she hated me, and is the one who abused him, and cards she send when my dad died that I know she didn’t mean.

    Anyway, don’t flush YOUR life away because of how he lived his. Celebrate the greatness of who you have been. Flush the crap that was not truth. Learn to carry the whole of your life with dignity and compassion for yourself. You are never a waste. Everything can become the ingredients to growth and healing, if you take your own power back, for good purpose.

    I’m really sorry and I know how it feels. And I still, after over a year, have some really bad days, but I no longer think I wasted my life. Because of what I chose to do with this part of my story. You can get there—not all at once, but you can get there too.

    Your life is the most precious gift that you have to offer yourself and the world. Treat it as if every part has greatness within it. I hope for that inner strength to overtake your grief and lead you forward to meet yourself again, and find that you are an amazing, caring, and positive person. Because I know that is who you really are. And that is who will lead you home.

    with every good wish for today and tomorrow,
    D.

    1. Hello I just found this online— it is refreshing to hear what you have to say—- I was looking into cosa–but not sure where to turn now— I do have a councler and a group on the phone we meet weekly and it’s helping but I feel like I would do better with a group local to be with people who have same experiences face to face.

  48. Starry,
    Thank you for sharing your story. Just trying to gauge my SA and recovery. I have been in this a couple months longer and do have to say that I see much less hope than you. My SA is making a much smaller effort, and you have put that into perspective. Thank You for sharing. So I had a sad day yesterday, trying to pick it up today. Thought I had seen a glimmer of hope, but I think the most hope is now moving on. The glimmer of hope was that I felt better, rather than any acutal changes from the SA. It seems the best chances are when seperated. This would be nice. It would take away the worry of the exposure to the kids and them growing in a toxic household. But them brings all the hard stuff, money, household, inlaws. But a year is up in February and that is my cut off. So its time to start implementing a plan.

    Its funny you talk about coffee. My SA has started heavy drinking of coffee in the past couple months. Uh Oh….. So his therapist is weaning him off? My SA is ramping up!

    My SA also never stopped porn. Started at age 11 or 12 and never stopped. He always felt it was acceptable and was what he wanted and needed. Never got past thoughts of anyone but himslef. I have never known him not on porn, with the exception of the past 6 months, if he is truely sober, which he maintains that he is. To me so far, it does not look any different. If anything he is more withdrawn and in his own world than ever before.

    As for the counselar I agree, kick them to the curb. If they are not helping and are instead hurting, I do not see any other choice. You are better of reading this site.

    Once again Thank You Starry.
    Thank you to Diane as well.

  49. Dear Diane,

    Even though I am sitting here crying my eyes out, I thank you. Thats the kindest thing that has been said to me since my ordeal began, and in truth, probably the kindest thing that has ever been said to me.

    I know what you say is true. When I am not stuck in grief, I firmly believe that things happen for a reason, and the people in our lives have a purpose. It sometimes takes a long while to see the reasons and the purpose, and I suspect this one will take a good long while to reveal itself.

    I have always valued my experiences, the good and the bad, as they make me who I am. The past few months I seem to lose sight of these things though. I forget these values I have and get lost in the pain.

    Thanks for kicking me up the rear and reminding me 🙂

    I am feeling a bit better now that I’ve decided to tell my counsellor what I think of his “help”, and next week, I am going to take the money that I pay him, and treat msyelf to something. I think it will be of much more benifit to me.

    Thanks Diane.

  50. Hi Flora,

    I’m giving you a virtual hug right now dear.
    I am so sorry to hear that things are not going well.
    I don’t mean to paint a rosy picture of my SA. I know full well at any stage he could go back to the way he was. I hope that he won’t, because despite it all, he is a good man, and he deserves to have a decent life. I can’t imagine living the secret life he was living. When we separated I told him I wanted him to get help, not for me, but for himself, so he could live a life and enjoy his time here on this earth. Despite everything, I still wish this for him regardless if we are together or not.

    It may turn out that he is simply the most amazing liar on the face of the earth, if so, I will deal with that when it comes.

    Be strong, and put your plans in place in case you need them.

    I wish I was geographically closer to you guys.. I am across the pond, and support is thin on the ground here.

  51. D,
    I like your term flush out the crap. I am working on cleaning up the house, and in doing so flushing out the crap. It is so true.

    Get rid of all the disorganization and mess!! Feels really good. I like to have a clean house, but all has been lost over the years in trying to figure out what the hell is going on! Now I know and can move on. I know what has happened. It’s a good feeling. It’s gonna take time, because there is a lot of crap. Can’t wait to get it all cleaned up! In that I mean my life and my house!!

  52. Flora,

    I did the same thing! When he left the house I deep cleaned 🙂
    Threw out loads of stuff, tidied everything, washed everything.
    I like a neat orderly home where I am not tripping over crap all the time. Hmmm.. I guess I would like my life to be like that, not tripping over crap all the time.

  53. To be corny: Today is the first day of the rest of my life!!

    I had a good think about Diane’s wise words last night. This morning I spent some time on Recovery Nation, and have been deep in thought. I read one of the lessons in the couples area “seeing addiction through your partners eyes” (for the SA to read) and I cried and cried. It said so many things that I could not begin to put words to, so many feelings I could not verbalise.

    I realise everyone is differnet and Sanon and Cosa have thier place for some, but not for others. I am one of the others. I refuse to be told I am sick, that I enabled, and that I am co-dependant. I am staying STOP. So, tonight will be my last Sanon meeting. I will go as I agreed to chair and I always keep my word. We are only a group of about 4 so far, as the group is in its infancy here. I will repsectfully let them know I won’t be attending anymore, and I will leave them the liturature I have purchased, to be given to someone else who maybe is short on funds and can’t afford the books at this time.
    Tomorrow will be my final counselling session with my current counsellor. I have printed a few things for him, to look at if he wishes. I have written a page of my thoughts so far, things I want to inform him of, and any questions I have regarding his attitude towards compassion and empathy for those of us finding ourselves in this horrible situation. I will likely not recieve what I seek, but no matter. I will be happy knowing I spoke my mind.
    I have spoken to my SA about Recovery Nation, and he is willing to work on the lessons as well.

    I am feeling better than I have in years. I am finally standing up and taking control of my life, not letting others judge me and decide what is best for me. I refuse to be a square peg hammered into a round hole, and I REFUSE to be taken to the “*second location”

    I WILL be given the respect, compassion, and consideration that I freely give to all others in my life, as a human being, I am entitled to it. No longer will I worry about how co-dependant I am (or IF I am at all). No longer will I puzzle over how I could not see the signs. I have a life to live, and I deserve to be happy, I deserve to love, and deserve to be loved.

    Damn its great to be alive today!

    *copywrite held by Diane 🙂

  54. Starry, Good For You!! I am glad to hear it and that you are doing so well.

    I know we all learn from others on here no matter the post. But it is all important even the little things as well as the Big things. And this is a Big one.

    Hugs to you as well.

  55. On a side note.

    How long was it before your SA had a written plan? This is directed to anyone. My SA has been going to counseling for 6 months. No plan completed yet, he said they are working on it. I know when you leave a treatment center you leave with a plan, over a course of one week…

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated by all.

    Thank You.

  56. Dear Starry,

    I am glad that you are feeling stronger, and are starting to think about your life in a positive way, your self, not him (i am doing that too). Recovery for us as partners I guess will always be a work in progress. I was inspired by Diane’s words as well. I also had a rough week last week, and this place helped get me back on my feet and point me into the direction I needed. I am glad you are feeling more in your own space and gaining clarity.

    I feel similar to your shoes, as hope has diminished for my SA because of the whole non recovery/brazil business, I am taking little pieces of myself back. Trying best not to wallow, time wasted etc. Perhaps its never a waste when we have beautiful children. They ours forever and to be cherished. This disease does not cherish us, it does not respect anything, and it endangers our children by putting a marriage on the brink, and risking our health. Well there are hope for some, I think I have one of the worst, damaged individuals. All I can do is manage, maintain some order in parenting and finances, and be done with relationship. He will try, try and try to get me back. Only for history to repeat itself. Seperation, is our friend in many ways. Time is also a friend, once we are in the “know.” It is an enemy, when living a lie. At least we have time on our side going forward, because we can deal with the painful truth, whatever that may be. May today bring you joy in full, and everyday after.

    1. This a reply to Pam’s post (even though it is almost 5 yrs ago). This thought helped me move a bit more beyond the past and let the thought of ‘what a waste of 20 yrs.’ go…just a little – lol. I realized today that I still have a lot of grieving to do:

      Perhaps it’s never a waste when we have beautiful children. They’re ours forever and to be cherished.

      My two children are grown and gone, living in different states, so perhaps I am grieving over the loss of them not being in my life on a regular basis as well…

  57. Horse shit, indeed. I never attended a COSA meeting, but I did attend S-anon. I object to each of the 12-steps:

    1. We admitted we were powerless over sexaholism – that our lives had become unmanageable.

    Bull shit. I am not powerless. My life is not unmanageable. The only person I can change is me. My life is only unmanageable because I hitched my wagon to a sex addict. I can unhitch it and I will if I ultimately determine it is in my best interest to do so. That is not “unmanageable.” It’s a clear-cut choice I must make.

    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Bull Shit. I’m an earthly, mortal woman, with earthly, mortal needs that have not been met for 25 years. No “higher power” is going to satisfy those needs. No “higher power” is going to keep my husband from being a lying, manipulative son of a bitch. If I need to separate my self from the lying, manipulative son of a bitch to restore my sanity, then that’s what I’ll do. No “higher power” is going to do that for me.

    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

    Ok, and howz that working out for you? I think I have to assess and do what is best for me. I can’t wait for God to do that for me.

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    Ok. I’m done. I’ve done nothing wrong. Next stupid step.

    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    Not applicable. I’ve done nothing wrong.

    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    What defects of character? Why are we presumed to have defects of character? BULL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    What shortcomings? Why are we presumed to have shortcomings? MORE BULL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    Why the presumption that I’ve harmed anyone? Wasn’t I the one who held it all together for the kids while my husband was lost in lustland? NOW HEAR THIS: I HAVEN’T HARMED ANYONE AND I RESENT THE SUGGESTION THAT I HAVE.

    BULL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!

    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    Not Aplicable. More BULL SHIT.

    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    I’ve been basically dead on in my assessments throughout this nightmare. Inventory this: I’m not accepting any blame for his addiction. None. I am blameless. Who ever wrote this crap can just kiss my ass.

    1. Well said Betty. I have always struggled with the 12 steps for partners of sex addicts. I do not feel I have ANYTHING to do with my husband’s addiction nor did I cause it. I just live with the broken heart that I don’t seem to be able to mend.

  58. Wooosh!
    I think Betty just blew in!

    I agree with you, and I’m a person of faith. This makes me puke when people take therapeutic garbage and hang religion around it because its own truth just doesn’t stand up.

    Dealing with our spiritual life is important–IMO–but in this case God is being used to get us to take responsibility for what we didn’t do. Very bad and shame on them.

    D.

  59. Woosh……I’m on a roll today!!!!!!!!! It’s a new year…….and a new day for me.

    Thank you Diane for stating so eloquently what I feel……they hung religion on their “therapy” for wives of sex addicts. I’m not buying it either. BULL SHIT!

    Love to all my sisters………

  60. I can’t resist adding fuel to this fire …
    COSA’s 12 Steps were derived from AA’s — the Alcoholics Anonymous as founded by “Bill W.” back @ 1930. And I’ve lost count how many times I have read that Bill W. was an infamous “womanizer.”
    So here’s a cheer for Bill W. who admitted his addiction to alcohol but conveniently forgot to mention his compulsive sexual behavior — what a man!

    Betty, here’s a high-five for ya!

  61. Betty
    Preach it to the choir, Totally Agree,
    You have said everything I have had thoughts about in the past. Exactly what have I done wrong and what do I fix within myself. I realize I am not perfect, but I don;t deserve this… and never felt any of this applied. What have I done to hurt or wrong to others. No more than any other human being!?! I feel I am a good person, and good mother, and was good wife (hope to be ex-wife soon). So how does it help me to accept blame and wrong doing in this? My part in the blame game is not seeing the signs soon enough, not getting out soon enough, not putting my foot down soon enough.

    Yes god helps us and will looks out for us. But I am in control of basic things. He decides if the door will open or if i get that job. It is up to me to try to open the door and make a job application etc. We choose our options and make our plan…whether it happens or not is up to god, but we have to put in the footwork and time.

    Just as with a marriage with a sex addict. You can follow these steps, turn it over to god?? But where is our part?? We have to realize that we have our basic choice in this to stay or go, god will not just take care of the addiction…what life is that for us, sit around and cross your fingers..endless life on hold.

    Like you said. I would assume that he has already been looking out for me…and where has that got me. I had faith that my husband was not a liar and a cheater? Again what has that done? We have to accept our part in this as our choices.

    So just as the addict says they are powerless, god will not just take away the addiction. They must make the effort and do the work. God will help them if they do the work.

    I do see the postives in all of this. I have read so many books, and I am so much more enlightened on this topic than I ever would have imagined. In addition I have read so many other books on emotional unavailability and behavioral disorders I am wise to this all now. I have turned this into an awakening for me and in my life. I have turned this into good, and hope that I will not repeat this again.

    Sorry twelve steps, but your crap. I am not blindly turning my life over to god in a relationship with a sex addict. What purpose does staying with an addict do for us if we are not happy (assumeing all will get better)? What purpose does trusting a person blindly who has been proven untrustworthy in the past do for us ( by turning this over to god)?? Dangerous territory if you ask me, and just not smart.

    My SA has not displayed trustworthy reasons for me to stay as many of you have. My marriage is not perfect less the addiction. Actually when I was in my so called “marriage” the only area i was cared for in was sex. Hence sex addict. There was no intimacy in any other area. So to stay in this situation for me is to sell my soul. Like fingernails on a chalk board.

  62. Oh my goodness. I totally agree. I am actually heading to divorce court next week. I only wish I had left sooner. We have been married for 8 years and I found out almost 4 years ago that he is a sex addict.

    I went to S-Anon for a couple of years and met some really great ladies, some that I remain close with. It never really “felt right” for me to go in there and be told that I’m so screwed up. I mean, my husband has been telling me that for years and I believed him because our marriage was so horrible. Then I found out and felt relieved like “it’s not me that is the crazy one!” I suppose there is something in him that I was attracted to, but I sure don’t think it was his sex addict.

    We have 2 small children, 6 and 7 years old and they are why we stayed together. After moving out of state for a job that he got fired from after 5 months, I want to go home and may not be able to. He keeps blaming everyone (“mean people” in his words, including me, the meanest of them all!) for his problems. The straw breaker for me is that he keeps on insisting that if I weren’t such a bitch, he never would have cheated on me. Yeah that’s why he has slept with 50-100 men and woman during our time together. Sorry, but no one is that much of a bitch! lol

    Finally being on the outside and having some clarity is wonderful. I can’t wait to get out of the disfunction, away from him telling me I’m a pathetic woman, my family is screwed up and on and on. I am the one with friends and family support and he has cut every single friend and family member out of his life.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I hope that you ladies have the courage to stand up for yourselves. I am sorry it took me this long, but I know God has a reason for taking me down this road and I trust HIM.

  63. I never attended COSA, though I read the Patrick Carnes Books. I am a member of a 12 step group. I have been, since before I married my husband. My addiction is mine. No one made me do it. My mother was an alcoholic as was her mother. Both swore they’d never drink and both died of chronic alcoholism.

    I made the choice to surrender and take steps to conform my will to what God would have me do (which probably doesn’t include self-destruction). So I had to get down to causes and conditions-the reason I ever picked up, for if I never had, it would all be academic.

    To transfer the logic of COSA onto the spouse, hmmmm. Maybe not so logical, unless of course the spouse acctively participates. I didn’t even know what was going on! So maybe I had my head in the sand, but I wasn’t participating. Who wants to believe their loving husband’s new RAGE has to do with a sex addiction? Who knew?

    I wasn’t really sure there was such a thing. I though maybe my husband’s rx was causing it, I really did! I looked for every reason-but sex? Really? Then he started disappearing for days on end. OK- my eyes opened, something’s amiss here!

    I want to know what TO DO and what NOT TO DO in getting my husband to treatment? I mean, you can’t just haul a drunk in after a binge unless the drunk had experienced something awful and really wants to stop.

    I guess I just need to divorce him and make his life as difficult financially as possible. He’s caused so much strife with the children, I think he’s a bad influence. My God, I hope he’s near HIS bottom floor.

    Really, it’s the ugliest thing I have ever seen besides my mother’s death. His soul has been carved-out hollow by this addiction. It is definitely a malady of SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY. But I WAS NOT the one making all the overdrafts!

    Ya’ll’s thoughts???

  64. His problem. Before you. Nothing you can do for it or against it. He lives for his own wants. not his family’s needs.
    My ex hit bottom….he has lost wife, family, job. credit, respect….and he has not slowed down one bit.
    I drew my line, he laughed at it.
    He did not care……..until they just even care, there is absolutely nothing that will help.
    Don’t they all know (we all know) the consequences of lying, mean words and actions, or infidelity…..this is no secret.
    Could we ever do as them and be given another chance…NEVER.
    Entitlement, narcs, abusers……..how sad we gave them us. But, if you can find any real caring, anthing human, there may be a chance…….but how to detect real caring from BS? What a mess they make, of everyone.
    I second guess everyone now, now that I know this other world.

  65. gnlmom,
    I to have known about my husband but for at least 15 years- I also stayed for the children and for the hope that he would get better. He is doing better now after years (with his treatment of us) but I am finally done. He says he is sober (I don’t know) is very humble and pitiful and has treated us like a real family for a couple of months now. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe things calmed down enough, that I was able to become unfrozen enough to say I’m done. I have never considered going to a COSA meeting. I did buy into the religous belief of standing with my husband for years ( I am a Christian) but I am even past that. (though I do feel some guilt about seperating) I will forgive him at some point I believe, I have too. I feel like it was more of a trauma bond then a co addict type of situation. I was aware of his problem but he would always say he was fine, sober, etc until he got caught again. He has no real emotion but anger or feeling sorry for himself.

  66. Fatchance, it almost sounds poetic when you say “his soul has been carved-out hollow by this addiction” but this life aint poetry — us partners are living a NIGHTMARE!

    I’ll borrow an analogy I heard from a woman in a support group: It feels like the addict at disclosure took his garbage truck full of s*** and dumped it all on me. He feels better now but now I am drowning in HIS s***.

    I would like to believe my husband CARES about the trauma to me, but it feels like it’s just words to him — no real empathy. And I’m slow to accept (as FinallyWakingUp says) “He has no real emotion but anger or feeling sorry for himself.” … It feels like a fulltime job to take care of myself these days, so I’m hardly trying to “work on” the marriage (the relationship comes second) …

  67. Betty,

    You are HILARIOUS!! I am a woman of faith, and I don’t have a problem with the 12 step program for booze/drug addicts, etc. BUT… Spouses of Sex Addicts??? What the #$%^! ?? It’s appalling and offensive!! It’s also interesting to consider the dynamics within the SA meetings for the sex addicts. Wouldn’t it be similar to going to an AA meeting with numerous giant bottles of wine or cases of beer sitting with you in the circle?? Where is the LOGIC in putting a group of mostly men and some women together with the guise of helping each other, when they now have numerous target individuals that are known to have out of control sexual compulsions?? There are “mixed” groups where women have been known to come dressed like prostitutes, according to many women that I met in the COSA (destructive) meetings. My husband stated that there are mostly homosexual men in his meeting… OK. Anyone who believes that there are not some people hooking up after these meetings is in denial. I would imagine that some attend specifically in order to find others with a like mind. What other type of 12 step meeting has the addiction desire warming up chairs in the same room?? It has often been said that many straight men will engage in homosexual experiences when they are sex addicts in order to get their “fix.” Patrick Carnes and anyone else responsible for setting up the COSA meetings, is also behind the SA meetings? It’s absurd stupidity all around within the scope of a sex addition. We are dealing with emotionally immature, void, shallow, and dishonest spouses… Nothing surprises or shocks me anymore.

  68. Hi all,

    I just had a creative thought after reading your last comment fatchance. You mentioned you wanting to know how to get your husband for treatment and that you just cant haul in a drunk after a binge for treatment-there has to be a good reason why to go. Well I know DUIs send alot of drinkers to treatment, how about a SA-DUI! It sounds a little “out there” but in may be the beginng of a model of accountability. I think I need a vacation.

  69. Dear NAP,
    You are such a joy….creative, funny, concise, empathetic, open, etc:)……until your husband is really in recovery, he doesn’t even BEGIN to deserve you. I am sorry for your recent trauma.
    Marie

  70. Marie,

    Thank you for your kind words…I really needed them at this point in my life. Im just beginning to realize he doesnt deserve me-its taken me some time but Im getting there. I know when I leave, I did my best. Youre a sweet sister!

    Your friend, NAP

  71. Wow. I’m so relieved to have found a group of women who seem to be finding strength and independence in the midst of dealing with sex addiction. My partner and I have been struggling with his sex/porn addiction for several years and the pain is now more than I can stand. I feel torn in half…I want to hate him for all he’s done, leave him and never look back (that rat!) and yet I love him dearly and want to support him as he’s supported me when I was walking through my own addictions.
    That being said, I find this post extremely interesting mostly because both my partner and I are recovering alcoholics (8 years sober each) and may not be where we are today without them. HOWEVER, I too feel that the 12 step approach is not well suited to the partners of SA’s. Where a codependent can be deemed an ‘enabler’ – bailing their husbands out of trouble, lying/covering up on their behalf or care taking when the alcoholic was still using-I’ve been in the dark about his behavior and resent the idea that I’m responsible in any way, shape or form.
    Still, I DO see value in receiving support, learning about healthy boundaries when dealing with SA and, perhaps most importantly, letting go of resentments that eat me alive and do little to change my situation or the addict’s behavior. That last part is the aim of steps 4 & 5, yet the AA approach is from a mostly male-perspective and I’ve found the Al Anon approach to these steps more fitting for me. Even though I accept no responsibility for the addict’s behavior it has had a deep and profound impact on me that has transformed how I see and interact with the world. The term used in the 4th step is ‘character defects’, which I find to be highly offensive, and I rather ‘character defenses’. For example, I realized now how emotionally closed off I’ve become in order to protect myself from harm. This is a rational response to a traumatic event (or series of events) but a pattern of thinking/acting that no longer serves to protect me. I want to let go of these responses and begin taking care of myself again.
    Long before I learned of my partner’s addiction I knew something was wrong and I want to understand my own patterns so that I’m better able to live a life free of the painful ones that have defined my relationship. I want to detach, identify my own needs and begin finding ways to meet them with or without my partner. After so long in 12 step programs I realize that I can take what I want, or what feels right to me, and leave the rest (for example, responsibility for my partner’s actions).
    I am in no way trying to defend the COSA approach to the 12 steps as I have never been to a meeting. I only wish there were a clear path to healing. Perhaps in the right context some aspects of the steps could be helpful.

    1. Sara-

      I think this is a good word you brought. I’ve been a COSA member for 7yrs now and have gained a great deal of healing from he intimate connections with other women I formed there as well as working the steps. I have recently become aware of the movement in addiction circles to debunk the labels and validate trauma which interests me a great deal. I am about to start working with women under this model but also want to offer the 12 steps because I think just about anyone can benefit from them. I like your term ‘Character defenses’ as well as some others I’ve seen coined here.

      I noticed your post is over a year old and wonder if you have found any helpful 12 step models or resources in integrating the steps into this aspect of your life. Would be interested to hear about it if so.

      Thanks!

  72. I totally agree and have been resentful that our counselor gave me a book to read as well as sa. The difference is that I actually read mine and the parts that talk about what I need to change, my sa husband focused on and ignored anything else that could possible apply to him.

  73. I have been in this nightmare for one year now (since I discovered) I married a sex addict 18 years ago.He has never disclosed his behavior, only what I had proof of, and shows absolutely no remorse whatsoever!He says he is clean now, and wants help, but he is not very convincing. We went to coupled councilling, what a joke, trying to fix a marriage, before fixing the addict, I told the therapist no more joint councilling, as I do not know what he has done.Cannot repair the unknown. I think the 12 step is a joke for the spouses of sex addicts, I never knew this about him, till one year ago, and am dam well not taking ANY blame whatsoever!

  74. In these posts, I see a lot of anger and pain. The COSA program has helped me deal with both. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly has helped many people. I think what makes sex addiction so insidious is that it hits the partner of the addict in a very deeply personal way. Many of us believe it has something to do with our own sexual inadequacy, and so it’s really hard to talk about and uncover all the layers.

    My husband has been addicted to pornography for many many years. Eventually, it became clear he had a problem, even though I couldn’t name it, I said as much. He got help both in group counseling and with SAA. The beauty of the group is that I don’t have to be his support network, especially at a time when I am hurting.

    I didn’t seek a program myself, and much like you, I resented the COSA name — how is it that I’m sexually co-dependent?! But I hit my own bottom when I had an uncontrolled rage one night. I was disgusted with my own behavior and realized that I needed help, and therapy wasn’t cutting it. I went to COSA and after working the first step, I know I’m very clearly not and never will be responsible for my husband’s behavior. Yet, I do play a part in the dance of his addiction. I would play a part, whether he were in AA, NA, DA, GA or OA. That’s because I came to the relationship with my own baggage that causes me to disengage from our relationship at times, have low self-esteem and want to control situations. My stuff meshes with and triggers his baggage, and his coping mechanism is porn, while mine often was often either rage or food therapy (I’m not overweight, but I am desperate for chocolate when I get anxious). Working COSA has been very illuminating for me in terms of what I bring to our relationship, and because I want to be a better person, I am continuing. I struggle with the god-speak, but have found that the groups I went to were not churchy or preachy. Everyone gets to define their own god, and I’ve decided that mine, for now, is a couple things: the tools the program gives me to heal and be sane, the group itself and my own higher consciousness.

    1. Responding to JD: Did you ever get full disclosure from your husband? It seems if I am being asked to work on a problem, with my husband, and only have part of the story, and or lies, we can call it.

  75. Update: My sex addict spouse moved out last year, purchased a new porn-top computer, has access to all porn on “Direct TV,” has stolen our business/money (whore & stripper galore), stopped paying the mortgage (whores must have increased rates along with increased encounters), stopped going to SA meetings… And wants to stay married. The catch? Married as a mistress to have sex when he desires!!! I filed for divorce earlier this year, and wish I was smart enough to have started planning a few years ago after his diagnosis. It took me months to find a lawyer I could afford, since financial starvation is the norm for me now. He yelled at me that he didn’t want to be my friend, but wants me to stay his lover. Oh sure, sounds wonderful… My God. His pattern… No sex, no money. Well, poverty… Here I come. At least until I finally secure the alimony he will surely ignore. Plan B? Civil litigation with anyone who helped him hide our assets and financially destroy me. He’s in charge of the money and we are now in foreclosure, the IRS is unpaid, my credit is ruined, and I’m living on poverty income now. Who do you think wrote our contracts, price lists, sales, marketing, PR, negotiating for 20 years? Not the dishonest, lying, cheating creep who has 3 man part packages. One beats in his chest, one thinks for him and the other urinates. I never imagined life could get this horrifying, stressful and devastating. My nightmares are now more pleasant than reality when I wake up. Ladies, plan ahead and leave as soon as possible. COSA = “Cowards Offering Sick Advice”

    1. Yes, I have to agree that my nightmares became more palatable than my reality. My daily life was a living nightmare. Never, ever did I imagine how the marriage would devolve. I have come to believe that he would have stopped at nothing to protect his addiction and remnants of social standing. Destroying and blaming me was his way, alternately with high praise of me. CRAZY MAKING!!!!!

      COSA also wanted to blame me. This has got to stop.This is hurting< NOT helping people. I'm not supposed to mention the sex addict or what he did to me in meetings? I am just supposed to work on my part? My part???? I was tricked, lied to, manipulated and deceived – actively – for 20 years! All this, while he was in treatment and lied to professionals. He didn't care who he lied to. MY GOD!!!! I am not supposed to have feelings? Well, I do. And,I have PTSD and am unable to function normally. In the end, I became disabled in ways that no one can see from the outside.

      Now, I am divorced – finally, after 3 years of terror, taking on all the work of various business ventures and fighting a legal system that protects men more than women and children. I barely came out with any sanity or financial protection. But I have emerged. I am going to be OK. How, why, I have no idea. Except that loving, caring, understanding people who dared to believe me even when they couldn't imagine how a husband could be so good and so awful. Well, I might not have believed it either, but unfortunately, I lived the nightmare. Sleep was easier except when i would awaken a bit, I thought death was better than morning. Thanks god I didn't act on my thoughts.

      Yes, poverty, here I come and willingly too. I have my freedom and peace. Finally, I have peace. Now that I have peace, I can never, ever let anyone take it from me. It is mine to keep for the rest of my life.

      1. You are safe now this person can not hurt u only you not moving forward and realizing that ptsd does not have to be permanent is a hindrance. Try a book called Back to life. It may help. Don’t let them win by giving up your time energy or love. Love your self you are worth it!

  76. Hello 12 steps… You are wonderful for relief from any addiction. How do you apply to me? Who do I make amends to and for what? All that comes to mind is a potential crime of passion and pain. Since I don’t fit the prison address profile, I’ll maintain my current status outside of jail. Should I make amends for the minimal occasions I declined sex? Yes, I declined after my 9 pound baby shredded my parts during childbirth. A few times I declined when spouse jumped out of bed yelling he was bored at 2:00am if I didn’t jump him, and a few more occasions at 5:00am when he woke me up from a deep sleep for sex. Oh, and the episodes of flu or illness over many years, which were rare. Otherwise, he got lucky 4-5 times a week or more. Yes, and he still found the energy for whores and strippers. OK, I’ll make amends to spouse for needing sleep, for delivering his two children, for occasionally getting sick and having any of my own thoughts, needs and desires. AFTER I filed for divorce, he said it bothers him that I have declined to have sex… As if I were a car he purchased and should be able to drive forever. Did he ever make amends that he doesn’t see me as a woman with emotions, but as a possession to own? No. How about never providing full disclosure? No For lying to sex addiction therapist? No ~ Last year it was revealed that his whores did not end 20 years ago… A lie that was told over and over. We all deserve peace, TRUST, laughter, joy, emotional intimacy and REAL love. My rear view mirror clearly shows an enormous waste of time and money trying to encourage healing of this disgusting addiction. All that therapy that he lied in would pay for my divorce lawyer with cash to spare. Run while you can, and never look back. PS… I was married over 25 years.

  77. Hello ladies, I do attend cosa, and can totally relate to what you are saying. The reality of all of the 12step programs is that there will always be people who are not truly there for the right reasons. I find in cosa, the women there are terrified – paralyzed even, by the thought of being abandoned. Which is probably why we hooked up with an addict in the first place, same family dynamics we came from. From what understand from my cosa work so far, I am there to learn about my behavior. Which will help me detach from the SA, because there are reasons I have stayed. How many of us have been consumed with checking up on or snooping to find out if we were right? For some of us, that’s becomes an addiction – a thrill almost. That’s one example, but my point is, some of us in cosa are addicted to things we need help with, for me it is an addiction to the relationship. If I left without doing the work / steps, i would just end up with another addict. Now saying all that, there are women in my group that drive me crazy, because I see how afraid they are and how they make excuses to keep the old familiar patterns going. They are not truly working the program.

  78. First, I want to thank JoAnn for this website and her phenomenal work in this area. I have purchased some of her e-books, and they were extremely helpful. I had searched for material or content that provided not only a critical analysis of COSA, but healthy alternatives not rooted in a 12-Step foundation, and an open forum with free exchange of ideas where people can disagree within limits of respect and appropriateness. I’d like to introduce a few perspectives to this thread of conversation. I have absolutely no idea how they will be received. I spent approximately 18 months in COSA, had two different sponsors, and “worked the Steps” 1 through 3.

    At Step 4 (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves), I had an awful experience with my sponsor. The word ‘moral’ should have been my first warning sign. For a program that espouses healthy boundaries and not “taking someone’s inventory” (the slogans are endless) — which means making character judgments of others — my sponsor crossed explicit boundaries I had drawn, and the sponsor/sponsee relationship seemed all about the very “taking of my inventory.” This was about a month ago. I have since left COSA. For the most part, I’m glad I participated in the program … but only to a point. I am thankful I remained clear-headed and an independent thinker with the self-will to know when to get out.

    I got what I needed out of COSA. I left my sex addict partner, moved out, and I’m beginning a new life. Returning to COSA meetings at this point feels like (and was, for me) not simply dwelling on my past pain, but a routinized, intentional triggering of PTSD from the trauma of loving a sex addict. I have many criticisms of 12-Step models, and this is one of them: “Once a ______ (insert addict/co-addict, whatever here), *always* a _______. ” Others in COSA would make references to “our disease,” which COSA literature medicalizes by legitimizing it as “just like cancer.” Sorry, I’m not going to surgically carve out parts of my mind, poison my thoughts with psycho-chemotherapy, or allow others to biopsy my life experience to diagnose me. Nor will I live in fear that remission is only temporary.

    This is the COSA trap, which keeps members coming back for more: the belief that this is a life-long condition, for which there is no cure, and the only option is to seek pain management from a group of like-minded others on at least a weekly basis. Now that’s what I call codependence. It also embodies many of the same traits as cults: spoken repetition of statements until you internalize them as absolute truths, references to a work such as “The Big Book” literally proclaiming to hold the answers to all of life’s problems, holding hands in a group circle and chanting prayers, demonizing or pitying those who leave the group as a lost member of the flock.

    One of the other many pithy slogans of ‘The ‘Program’ is “Take what works for you, and leave the rest.” That’s exactly what I did. There is a self-contradiction of hypocrisy that inevitably emerges, however: To get better, you must “work the steps” with a directive sponsor. Working the steps means just that … progressive conformity, subordination, and compliance to a particular recovery dogma. Steps lead you somewhere, and in this case, they are numbered to lead you “up.” The Steps are not a salad bar from which one can pick and choose. To reach Step 5, one must complete Step 4, as dictated by a sponsor who declares I have graduated and can ascend accordingly. So I took what worked for me, and I’d like to share a few positive things I got out of COSA, before I got out of COSA. This is not an endorsement, and I do not believe one needs COSA to accomplish them:

    program calls — The ability to call someone at any time, someone who understands from experience exactly what you are going through, who does not give advice, who listens with true empathy, does not charge by the hour, reminds you that you are not crazy but rather reacting normally to extremely abnormal circumstances, knowing you are not alone or unique in your pain, and more. That was invaluable during the darkest of times.

    Step One — helped me realize I could never fully control my partner. In the end, he would do whatever he wanted, and I was powerless to change or cure his sexually compulsive behavior. It helped me identify the time and exertion I wasted in futile attempts to make him what I wanted him to be. This was the “powerless over the sexually compulsive behavior of another.” It means you can’t force someone to change, and your energy is better spent on self-care, an escape plan for leaving the relationship, etc. A major part of Step One is writing out your life story within a context of addiction and codependence. This was life-changing for me. I had so many epiphanies:
    * that my father had been a sex addict,
    * how I had a past romantic relationship with a recovering alcoholic that was healthy and untainted by the specter of addiction, (this was not so popular with my sponsor)
    * how my sex addict partner and others had convinced me to seek psychiatric treatment, trying endless prescription drugs to resolve my anxiety, depression and moodiness. I realized I had complied and suffered endless side-effects, not for my own well-being, but to alleviate the discomfort of others in having to witness the anguish and damage being inflicted upon me
    * how my father had gaslighted my mother into believing she was crazy. When my partner (who is a therapist, by the way, with formal training in psychological coercion) used the same tactics, almost identical wording of statements, it triggered an angry awareness of exactly what he was doing
    * how I exhibited unproductive, needless codependent behavior — If I worked out more, he would prefer me sexually over others. If I cooked dinners including all his favorite meals each night, it would provide structured time for his full attention, foster connection, and he would value my devotion. If I planned elaborate date nights, it would create intimacy that would magically keep his addictive behavior at bay.

    Step Four I began but quickly abandoned. Despite the formal, sparse wording of the step, it involves making lists of one’s own (often irrelevant) ‘character defects.’ More importantly, it also includes making a list of ‘character assets.’ Again, I committed acts of heresy in changing the terminology used. Defective means broken, not functional, inherently flawed, a mistake of creation. In comparative alignment with my “assets,” I insisted on making a list of “character deficits” rather than defects, meaning areas in which I was lacking strength, conviction, honesty, and so on. In other words, areas for self-growth and improvement. I already beat myself up, all on my own, thank you very much. I don’t need encouragement from others to document it in writing.

    Despite being a COSA heretic, I received the support I needed at a time when I was ready to harm myself just to make the pain stop. COSA was the only game in town for finding peers. I used it as a support group and a kind of workbook with exercises for my own healing. I also knew when it was time to leave. Something tells me I am not terribly missed.

    1. Michael, thanks for your input here. That stinks you had such and intrusive sponsor. I am so grateful to have had only the mostly good experiences you mention here in my time in COSA. I know I have found so much healing just in the forming of the relationships I have found there. I actually got a lot out of working the steps. I did it in a codependency workbook in a group alongside other women working it (no leader) and found it very healing as well.

      I have recently become aware of this movement to debunk labels and validate trauma for partners (and the research that has been done) among the sexual addiction experts and am very excited to see it. I am about to start working with women under this new trauma healing model but want to continue offering 12 step work as I think most people can benefit. There are programs that changes things around a bit to offer help to victims of abuse and the like and that reworking seems to be a more appropriate way to handle partners. Do you have any further thoughts specifically regarding the steps and what you might have found more useful such as your ‘character deficits’ term? Would love it hear it if so.

      Thanks!

  79. Personally, I find CODA to be much better fitting. I am powerless over others. It is much more focused on me and not sex addiction. I didn’t compromise myself sexually for my SA husband. I knew when I found out that it was wrong and he was addicted. He immediately had to move out. Where I was codependent was in allowing him to give so little to the relationship. Not in accepting his behavior as anywhere near normal or acceptable, once I found out.

  80. Missy,

    I agree with what you said. After 26 years of marriage and only being with my husband all my life, the co-sex addict label was offensive to me. CODA makes more sense… My divorce was final in November 2012. It was a long and horrific process, but I’m so thankful that I followed through. I stayed far too long and believed endless lies, which stole my youth. Of course, in the divorce he left me financially bankrupt because he has no conscience or moral compass, and could due to self employment that I created for him. I am still far better off destitute and free from the chaos and insanity. If you believe in God, pray that He shows you the magnitude of deceit by your spouse… The true reality is shocking. I’ve also been stalked and my car tampered with through the process. That is what I was married to and dedicated my life and reproductive years to… Thank God I discovered the TRUTH.

    1. Trauma Mama,

      I think having a nurse refer me to COSA back in 2003 and ‘the group’ advising me to stay for a year did great damage to my soul. It really is so very confusing to have outsiders and ‘Christian’ women and counselors, professionals, family, well-meaning friends, pastors, and others to encourage me to stay.

      Maybe for others it isn’t abuse but truly comes across as just an addiction that needs to be managed but for me, I believe that staying in the marriage only ‘fed’ the addiction and allowed the abuse to continue. For me, it WAS a cycle of abuse that went on and on and on. Deciding to stay in that situation – even with clear boundaries didn’t make the irrational behavior become rational. It didn’t remove the abuser. I think another poster had referred to his dad having gaslighted his mom which made her out to think she was crazy. Oh how I can relate to that! I had a book called ‘The Power of a Praying Wife’ and in it I remember one of the things was to pray to ask God to shed light on things that were in the dark with my husband (this was in the late 90’s). I had NO IDEA what I really was asking God for!!!!

      But oh how I wish (and my heart breaks remembering how alone, betrayed, and abandoned I was) I had someone like you tell me to pray that He would show me the magnitude of deceit by my spouse because I surely would have embraced it! It has been a very dark time for me over this past decade. I have PTSD and will always struggle with depression and anxiety but I’m so glad I did not give up last week as I would not have encountered this site and had the abuse validated. So you all have really given me hope…hope that I will heal from those 20 yrs. of my life that I felt like I wasted.

  81. I can totally relate to all the comments about being angry with the thinking that something is wrong with the spouse. However, if you stick with it long enough you will totally see why you need help. I’ve attended SANON for just under a year and many spouses come in saying they were totally blindsided upon discovering a particular event, but if they continue talking about all their experiences with their sex addict, you can often identify a trail of breadcrumbs that dates back to the beginning of the relationship! The partner usually misses the signs early on because they trusted what the addict said more than they trusted their own gut! Addicts are experts at manipulation, so it’s not surprising that they can talk the person they love into trusting them. I’ve been married to my addict for over 30 years and on the surface I would have never guessed he was addicted to anything because he’s always been a good provider and involved in church. However, when I think about all of my suspicions, they date back to our engagement! My addict was excellent at hiding things from me, so I probably would have never figured out what he was doing if it weren’t for the fact that we started counseling because he started pressuring me to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with. Looking back now, I can see that my suspicions about him acting out weren’t the only telltale signs that I was in a relationship with an addict. Addictions often come in pairs and two very common partners of sex addictions are food and spending addictions. My addict had them both! While I didn’t have much proof of the sex addiction, I had plenty of proof of the other issues! I was the responsible one making sure he didn’t spend all our money! I was the responsible one taking care of the kids and the house and the bills while he was off “working” all the time. He was also a rage and control freak so I could have added that to the list of things going wrong in our marriage but I didn’t see any of it. We were always great friends, so I thought we had a good marriage until the last couple of years! My contribution to the problem was that I never made a big deal about any of those things because I didn’t think it was the Christian thing to do. As a result, I totally enabled him to become more and more entrenched in his addiction! I just went to a Bethesda workshop for spouses of addicts and what they helped me see is that the reason I never challenged him about all the telltale signs that were obvious was because I had developed unhealthy thoughts about myself growing up. One of my unhealthy thoughts about myself was that everyone else was more important than I was. When I put that together with JOY = Jesus, Others, and You last and that wives should be submissive to their husbands, it’s no wonder I had a train wreck. I found out that my addict can change his behavior, but there is NOTHING he can do to fix those messages in my head that prevented me from standing up for myself. I also had to learn that the only thing an addict learns from is consequences. I could stand up to others in many circumstances, but when it came to my family I was an absolute pushover, so I’ve had to get over feeling false guilt for enforcing my boundaries with consequences. I totally understand how you can think you are SO perfect compared to your addict because you are, but truth be told NO ONE IS PERFECT! We can all use help becoming a better woman! Ignoring that you have things to work on may make you feel better, but it will also keep you stuck in the very place that you don’t want to be! One lesson I learned very quickly is that my addict was NOT going to change anything willingly because my denial worked for him! So if you don’t like your circumstances, there is only one thing you can do……change yourself! When you change yourself, your addict will have to compensate – just like the other characters on a baby’s carousel compensate when you pull on one of them!

  82. Actually, there was nothing “going on in my gut”. I was NOT in denial. I was simply living my life without the hermeneutics of suspicion driving my every waking thought. Why would I have imagined ANYTHING as rotten as what was going on? I was conned by someone who also conned his congregations, his family, his friends, and me. He was really really good at lying. And he lied from the beginning so I didn’t have a shift in behaviours to consider. He was my first love and first lover. I had nothing with which to compare our sexual life.

    If you are codependent I am glad you have found some way to address your problems. The vast majority of us aren’t codependents or co-addicts. The rug was pulled out from under our lives, traumatized to the core of our being, and then our symptoms of that trauma were used to label us as something we are not, while he clicked his heels and ran into the waiting arms of therapists full of compassion and willing to believe everything he told them—lies after lies after lies.

    I did nothing to enable him. NOTHING. I lived my life honestly, transparently, faithfully, and with integrity. Since when does believing your husband tell you he’s late because of a last minute phone call become “enabling”. Give us a break. If I hadn’t believed him and hired a PI, then these idiot groups would tell me I was trying to Control the situation because of my codependency. Do you get it? In this model, NOTHING YOU DO IS RIGHT!!!!!!!! You believe him, you are enabling him. You don’t believe him and try to prove he’s lying, you’re trying to control things.

    This isn’t about healing—it’s about the cash cow built on misogynist therapy. The work we have to do is about refusing to be abused anymore by anybody.

    1. Thanks Diane, and I would like to add my thoughts here for Emily.

      What research ever showed that the only thing an addict learns from is consequences? I set very firm boundaries with well defined consequences in writing. Larry went and violated each boundary with escalating consequences and the last consequence was that he would have to move out. He blew through that one too. We are now permanently separated and living apart.

      Consequences only make them better at hiding what they do. I would not have known what he was doing if the police had not shown up at my door. I have no doubt that there was much more I knew nothing about. No red flags, we had been dealing with this for ten years. He was well into his ‘recovery’ thanks to years of 12 step meetings, counseling, psychiatrists, psychologists and medication. He lied to everyone.

      Change ourselves and they will compensate? We cannot change in ways that will satisfy their insatiable need for fantasy women (and for many, men and transsexuals) and a fantasy relationship. A relationship where all of their needs are met by a flawless body, orchestrated sexual responses and never having to cope with normal everyday issues.

      These men choose the very best of the best of women to compensate for their inadequacies. No, we are not perfect, but we are not inherently flawed like these men are either.

      There is nothing normal about a man who can lead a double life and lie and deceive the woman they claim to love. No therapy in the world can fix that. The acting out is merely a symptom of their disordered personality. Simply put, these men are not relationship material.

      When I look at the exceptional women on the Sisterhood site I am just in awe of their physical beauty, intelligence, compassion, understanding, empathy, ability to communicate, cope and problem solve under the worst of circumstances. To imply that they need to take responsibility for the chaos that these men have caused or to say that if they changed then their Sex Addict husband would change for the better is an insult of the very worst kind. ~ JoAnn

      1. Thanks, JoAnn and Diane. You said everything I wanted to say but didn’t have the energy.

      2. Your words help to make sense of my life right now. It brings tears to my eyes, but it’s good to read this truthfulness! Thank you!

      3. Your messages resinate with me like nothing anyone has said to me yet. Thank you, Diane & Joan. There are thousands of us dealing with this situation. Every story a bit different but all of them are betrayal, lies, deceit and destruction.

    2. These are my thoughts in response to the post of the wife who was very dissatisfied with being told she also has issues. She had just attended her first COSA meeting Monday and stated it had been 5 years since she had been informed she was in a marriage with a sex addict.
      I accept that you are probably correct in your assessments of the program. Not everyone needs nor is suited to a guided journey to spiritual connection through introspection which is essentially the goal of 12-step fellowships when they are based on the 1934 book written by Bill Wilson. It has worked immeasurably for me. Sorry it is not a path to what you need. May you find your way now.
      I was, in contrast to the post description, an enabler of a very effected spouse. I denied reality mentally to “fix” emotion and issues I feared or was too pained to face. My former spouse used sex/sexuality to alter feelings and internal conditions just like an alcoholic would use alcohol and a drug addict their recipe of drugs to alter their internal states.
      The relationship was very toxic. My real needs were not met whatsoever in the marriage: I was not cherished, nurtured nor helped to heal from a very abusive upbringing — an upbringing I used my spouse to cover over in the hopes that my version at that time of “love” would ease my inner aches and my issues. Nothing helped: Not therapy, divorces nor struggling through in the hopes that maturing and matriculation (school)would bring us closer.
      I enabled by staying. That sent the message that this behavior was acceptable and appropriate — lies; lies I repeatedly conveyed covertly. My self-esteem was so shattered and non-existent by the time I got married that I had little to give and few tools with which to handle all of this which for me were overwhelming issues.
      I have seen couples work through their issues, but it does take 2 honest, open-minded and willing spirits to come close to that mark. I was a love-addict of the SLAA group. I have yet to see a couple who did not couple their dysfunctions in some dramatic way.

      You sound older than I was at the time in my life when I was going through my troubled marriage. However, there is no way to compare people from their insides to others outside behavior. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses.
      I can tell you though that today I do not let others spray their versions of their problems on me and my life. Maybe there is a relationship that works for this kind of person. It is not, however, a relationship that works for me on any level. So, I steer clear! Everyone must grow and deal with their own emotions and perceptions with their own tools — not by preying on others.
      Allowing myself to be preyed on to “help” another was my twisted thinking. That’s the bad news. The good news is that since I decided I never would feel that way again I have learned to act differently which has lead me to think and to feel differently. My addictive response to people has been replaced by matured choices. The 12-step approach has done much for me in this quest and brought the sunshine of the mystery into my spirit.

      1. Thank you Denker for your thoughtful comment. So glad you have found strength and healing after all the challenges you experienced as a child and living with an SA.

        Like others in this post, I resented the term “co-dependent” as a label that blamed and shamed those of us married to sex addicts. I wasn’t guilty of anything…I was the victim of his lying and damaging behaviors.

        Just three days ago, I discovered my husband who is in recovery recently acted out again. This most recent discovery has made me realize how sick and tired I am of being a victim. As a child, I endured emotional abuse and continue to be resented by a sibling for being the glue that kept my parents’ unhappy marriage together. I learned as a child that to survive and succeed, I would need to tend to the needs of others. Discovering my husband’s addiction when our twins were only a few months old confirmed that erroneous belief. I spent the next twelve years doing all I could to help my husband heal, salvage the marriage and keep my family together.

        I realize now, I don’t ever want to be someone’s victim again. However, I also don’t want to lose my marriage or break my family apart. I want to be strong enough to recognize that I don’t have the ability to control my husband’s journey, but I have the right and must assert my needs in order to become healthy. I have no idea if I will begin to trust my husband again or if I will stay married to him. I do know that I must commit to rebuilding trust in myself, learn to value myself and my needs and ask for what I need. I need to grow out of my victimhood (which really is how I see co-dependency) and choose my path.

        I see COSA, this sisterhood, my non-religious support group as sacred communities where women who have experienced the same pain and yes–are victims–but also are surviving and thriving to the best of our abilities share their journeys. I wish all women married to sex addicts find these types of communities.

    3. You go Diane! I was cracking up at your post.. and it is so true! How did I know that every time my SAH worked late he was or could be acting out? I have four children at home.. I am / was taking care of them and our house.. none of this is my fault.. I agree with you..

      1. I was just thinking the same thing! 2 years old but I’m reading it sitting here in tears.

  83. I’ve read that wives are treated by COSA as codependants
    We are not
    We share no blame for what our husbands have done

  84. I divorced the sex-addict. I am very glad I did. There is still trauma to be resolved in our family. My psychiatrist whom treats me for chronic ptsd and depression has advised me to stay away from 12 step groups. Based on my ex’s other behaviors, my doctor guesses he is a psychopath and our former marriage counselor alluded to that strongly. I met that psycho at a 12 step meeting.
    I firmly believe that one should cut their losses and remove themselves from the path of the sex-addict to the greatest degree possible. COSA is a load of sh*t.
    Good luck!

  85. Hi all.
    Its a devastating and difficult world and I am sorry you are all involved in this world as I am too. I found out about my SA husband in September 2014. We have had talks about his SA but he refused to go for help, says he can do it on his own YEH!!!
    I did use COSA but have now moved to Alanon and SLAA because I need to get my heart massaged after the devastation this has caused me. I differ from day to day as one day I want my own life the next I want my husband back. He did start to reconnect then I worked with him , he disconnected, I pulled away he reconnected…a merry dance He said a 5 weeks ago he should get his own place, I said it was his choice he said good as you never let me make decisions. Last week he got jealous as I was out a lot, I thought we were moving forward he said he did not think he should go to his flat, I said I think he should. Nothing was said till night before last when I told him not to use internet in house, he agreed but next morning I unplugged it before I went out for the day. He phoned using a private number so I answered asking why I had unplugged it – I gave same reply. When I got home he had packed and took his case to his flat. he has just popped in to collect something, lots of his stuff still here. I told him to take everything he said he will..then left with a few work clothes…he will be back. What I understand is that I love the man he was (or thought he was) NOT the addict and he is playing games. I now have to let him go to hit his rock bottom buy looking at this site I am also realising that we dont like the 12 steps so why should they? I did go to COSA and have met some nice women, two have become good friend and that is my main benefit but now I realise I wanted more form a support group for partners. Yes I wanted help to move me through the pain but I also wanted tools to deal with him…. I found this other site for his addiction rational.org/recover.htm ..dont know how good it is or if it works but it sems to support my husbands point of view that its drug of choice and only the user can stop him/herself. I would be interested to know if anyone of you ever get your partners to undertake…there is a specific section for sex addicts. I also know a lady who worked with her husband on Addo recovery, she says they now have a better marriage. For now I need to work on me and if he gets to his rock bottom maybe he will try these. I believe every little thing helps. However who knows what the future holds for us all

  86. I was traumatized by discovering my ex-husband ‘s secret life of lies and manipulation by a story he had written for his men’s group but would never share it with me nor disclose it in a setting with our counselor. Like a good co-dependent I took his ‘story’ out of his briefcase and read it under a street light one night shortly after we both were in recovery groups and in therapy. I went into shock for almost a year. It was actually a woman in COSA that wondered if I had PTSD. I was finally diagnosed with it a year later by professionals, I had already gone through the emergency phase of flashbacks, nightmares, memories, depression/anxiety symptoms, and suicidal tendencies. The abandonment of my 16 yr marriage triggered the abandonment I experienced falling out of a car at the tender age of 2 yrs. old. Hence, I had a double-whammy. To try and heal in that environment while he would not even take his own recovery seriously was insane! I have struggled to heal from my past childhood abuse but now tomorrow I begin a different phase of recovery and will begin working with a trauma specialist using EMDR to process through all the grief and loss of my marriage of 20 yrs. My life just has never been the same, and I want to be freed from this pain. I had read a book called Faithful and True where it mentioned that it could take 3-5 years for the sex addict to come out of denial. I stayed in the marriage, worked on myself and went to couples counseling for 4 yrs but the day the addict said, “I had to lie to you or you wouldn’t accept me!” is the day I told him that I don’t want to be married to you anymore. That is when all hell broke loose, and he put my two children and I through hell the past 8 yrs. I no longer am my family of origin’s scapegoat nor my ex-husband’s. We are all a broken people…

  87. That’s what ticks me off the most is when SAs make us scapegoats. It’s like we have enough trauma already from the SA & then they dump extra crap on top. He used the stupidest little things against me as excuses to act out. Reading all this makes me wonder if he progressed beyond porn & I was just too trusting. I went to a local SMART recovery & it was a hodge podge of stuff & only one SA. I also went to COSA & yes we all have codependent tendencies but when I found out about the SA I asked to go to therapy. What are we to do when kids, mortgages and basically our whole lives are involved? I have a career,friends/interests but most women want to work on things & give SAs time to change. I don’t consider myself an enabler for wanting to keep our family together. He was the one that left us which is weird when SAs dislike being alone. His last words before filing for divorce “I’m not afraid to be alone anymore.” I’m still trying to figure that one out……

  88. I was looking up places to go to a COSA mtg but after reading all the posts in afraid I’m just wasting my time. I have been so confused on the whole sex addict thing. What are the stats on a sex addict stopping? Can one forgive and stay with that person? I’m so frustrated. I want to just throw my hands up. I’ve only been with my man for 2yrs and I’m goin through this. I can’t imagine those of you who have for several years. He has been going to mtgs,even got saved at church and claims he is untainted that it was all just for the game of attention. My heart Eames to believe but my mind days run girl run! I even bought a book today call Codependent No More. It’s only been 2yrs and I’m so different my heart really goes out to those who have suffered longer than I.

  89. Hi, Thank you for your posts. Found COSA very offensive. Contradictory even. I do not believe I need help from codependent behaviors because I am not codependent. It’s a word used to describe someone who is sick and somehow knowingly supported these behaviors. I married and have 3 beautiful children. My husband has the problem and as they say I didn’t cause it. I felt horrible after these meetings listening to others talk about the horrible things they go through and almost blame themselves. The only way to fix yourself is to get away from that sick person but what about your children. Who protects them ? Who stops the cycle for them? How are they made safe? I disagree that the 12 steps are meant for this purpose. A support group would be great for partners and kids.

    1. I agree with every word . Please try Alanon you may find it helpful and not so triggering. Happy New Year make it the best for yourself X

    2. There’s a new program that the Mormons have, about fixing our own lives through God. and really, it’s time. Simply using the co-dependent formula does NOT apply to spouses of sex addicts. WE ARE NOT CO-DEPENDENT. Our status is more of PTSD/Betrayal Trauma.

      This is a very serious difference–sex addicts are the most secretive, most closely guarded of addicts. They don’t blow a .08 on a breathalyzer, they don’t have a runny nose from cocaine sniffing, and most of the time, they are adept at concealing from the time they were little kids. No normal woman can understand, no normal woman would become a co-dependent! Not to this.

      And their abnormality is devastating to our health, our sanity, and our emotional well-being.

      They KNOW that we are suffering, but they do not care. They do not love. They can go through 12-step and treatment, but with the drug of choice right there, and the lifetime of fantasy women fighting for their attention, most of them devastate everyone they touch.

      If you are told that you are co-dependent of an alcoholic, that’s absolutely possible. But if your husband is a serial cheater, a pornography addict, (it’s not Great Grandpa’s dirty pictures anymore) or God help you, a sex-offender, you are PTSD. You have Betrayal trauma, and a counselor who tries to treat something you don’t have, will devastate you on every level.

      Get treated for the PTSD/Betrayal trauma FIRST. Then, when you’re into the healing, you may find some additional help with minor co-dependency issues. But save yourself first, and let him drown instead of taking more abuse from his insanity, narcissism, criminal behavior, sociopathy, or whatever else he’s vomiting into your life.

      1. Rita here again–And being married to this crazy-making self-serving, pathologically lying–can make a normal woman into a clinically depressed, hopeless, suicidal woman. That’s what happens to a normal woman who finds to her shock that she’s married to the tip of the iceberg–and there’s what she can’t ever see, but it’s down there!

      2. Your words really hit home for me. I’m just starting to understand about sexual addiction and narcissistic personality disorder, of which my husband falls into both categories. After 30 years of marriage, I recently learned my husband has been seeing prostitutes for a number of years and I believe is addicted to porn. Unfortunately eighteen years ago, he cheated on me, (with a stripper)
        I gave him a second chance and tried to heal our marriage. Now I feel I have no choice but to divorce him, I can’t stay in a marriage with this kind of betrayal and lack of trust. He is showing me almost no emotion or remorse, except to say he didn’t mean to hurt me and he does love me. This is still beyond my comprehension. The words don’t mean anything to me.
        I’d appreciate any words of enlightenment or encouragement.

  90. I am struggling with leave or not leave. I went through Alateen to help deal with an alcoholic parent. Now I find myself back in the situation of finding a support group that is not faith based to deal with my husband’s addictive behavior. I am lucky enough to have friends that are professionals in the PTSD arena. Now that I am on a more stable footing I am faced with the reality of what my retirement years will be like. I had planned on having my husband’s pension to support me. Even with half I could not live a comfortable life. I was hoping a good support group would help me through this difficult process. Ending a nearly 40 year marriage is frightening.

    1. Hi Erin, that’s exactly like me. Alcoholic father, addicted husband. 40 years of struggling to “understand”, and forgiving the unforgivable, trying to maintain the charade for my children’s sake… yesterday I served my divorce petition, after 14 months of blissful separation. The agony is over. We can be happy again – even if we have to live in a cardboard box. There is no “recovery” for him at this stage. I was terrified too, but I encourage you to leave and find some authenticity, the most liberating feeling in the world. I found “The Betrayal Bond” explained my fears. We weren’t born to spend our lives in pain.

  91. Although I had my faults, I attempted so many times to make myself better for him and it never was enough. I attempted for 15 years to repair my marriage. Totally agree. Why would I ever say I did something wrong to cause behavior that existed long before we even knew each other.? The steps are as if you are the freekin addict.

  92. Did you knoww COSA was affiliated with SAA? I didn’t know that.

    I was doing research on SAA and came across the info. Considering the shadiness of SAA, I’m not too surprised!

    Unhealthy breeds unhealthy.

    Isn’t it funny how COSA now states C.O.S.A. no longer stands for Codependents of Sex Addicts? Haha

    They can back track all they want, it doesn’t change their codependent model approach.

    1. I’ve been attending Cosa for 5 years and have found it really helpful.
      I also had my doubts about it but kept going back.
      Maybe Cosa isn’t for everyone but it works for me.
      It helped me get out of my husbands head and stopped the craziness of obsession over his disease.
      I can now detach with love and make healthy decisions for me.
      My part in our relationship had been my obsession with his acting out and blaming myself for it.
      Cosa helped me to realise his addiction wasn’t about me. I had become co dependant in his addiction.

      So happy to be free of it!!!

  93. Please don’t let this website be inactive. I read through enough to know that you all understand we are not co-dependent. I thought I was alone in this because I was non-religious. Is there a meeting for women from this website? We need each other’s support. The 12-step program tells us to follow their steps because they don’t know how to help us. They only know how to help an addict. I went to a COSA meeting in Orange County and respectfully expressed my concerns and they told me it would be better for me to go to another location. They want to remain in their own world where they are the addicts of addicts. The SA program for spouses is creating a second generation of victims of this disgusting disease. Blaming us for “choosing” addicts is hilarious. They deceive us. We choose the gentlemen they pretend to be, not the addict they hide from us. Anyone who blames the spouse hasn’t met an addict or is in denial with their addict.
    Ladies, lets get together, we need support and somewhere to talk to others who know what its like to live with a pathological liar who looks us in the eyes and tells us its over all the while continuing their “quest”. It doesn’t take live sex to be a full-blown addict and it doesn’t take physical connection with women to feed the disease. Sex addicts get a high from the emotional connection they get from other women. I watched my husband pretend to be the most loving, kind, affectional, understanding man any woman has ever met to every other woman he is around but me. Sometimes right in front of me. I am standing there watching a man and woman connect on the emotional level and I am his wife. Its all done subtly and passed off as being a “gentlemen”. The ones you need to worry about the most are not the ones who sell cheap lines in a bar. They pose as a women’s best friend who doesn’t want sex. of course, his interpretation of this is that I am jealous and insecure. I’m not. I address these issues like an adult. He addresses these issues like an addict. Years ago he admitted all of it, to this day he yo-yo’s back and forth-he takes it all back and says he does nothing wrong and becomes a victim when I question him.

    1. I am in this same boat right now. I am attempting the 12 steps and so far can’t find a sponsor because all the cosa people seem to be “dependent”. I am not dependent and want our relationship fixed. I have no one to make amends to. I read contrary to love by Patrick Carnes and think I want to work on a program to help the relationship. I realize my wife has an illness and has to fix herself but we also have an us that is not codependent but a real relationship to fix.

      1. Hi Angie,
        I’m still married and happy to help.
        Cosa has worked really well for me.
        I stick with the saying ‘take what I need and leave the rest’
        I’ve been in cosa recovery for over 5 years and our marriage is getting stronger everyday.

      2. I am brand new to this crisis. I appreciate the wisdom here. Thank you

    2. I went to a few COSA meetings recently. I didn’t feel they did much good. Grant it, I was still in a state of shock when I attended. The women were not exactly warm and friendly. Some were nicer than others. I listened to them as they talked about how they are dealing with their sex addict husband’s behaviors. I did not feel hopeful about my situation when I got home from the meetings.

      Indeed my husband’s sexual acting out has changed me for the worst but I do not feel responsible for his behavior at all. I do not have the power to turn a man into lying, deceptive pervert. Even when he wasn’t acting out, he treated me poorly. I do not have the power to turn a man into a bad husband. The reasons I stayed are complicated. Because this was my second marriage, I did not want another divorce/broken home. I did not earn a lot of money and on some level I actually loved this man. But mostly I believed that some day he would change and be the loving husband I thought he would be the day I married him.

    3. This website is very important. When I had just found out about my husband’s addiction this website was great for me to see that I am not alone. I have been in a marriage with my SA husband for many years and for the last two I have known about his addiction. I don’t think that shaming myself or blaming myself is a good path. I have found a great group of supportive people in Al-Anon, but not in every group of Al-Anon. My home group has a number people but I like to listen to. I tried SAnon, at first. That worked for a while but many of the frustrations that I read in your comments were also my frustrations. I have learned that not all support groups are the same. The name of the support group is not as important as if the people in that group seem to speak to me. I do not know if my marriage to work out and I am staying in it for now of my own choice, and with some risk. The risk that comes with being with an addict. The 12 steps helped me enormously. If you find a good group there is no blaming. Belief in God is irrelevant because I get to make my own understanding of a higher power. I think many people and 12 step groups are very rigid. The bottom line is that I do take the suggestions that make sense and leave the rest. I would never suggest that any one solution is perfect. But I would say that in my experience it is about connecting with people who I can relate to and be encouraged by.

    4. Angela I don’t know if a year later you still read your messages but if you are in Orange County, California I’ve been to the COSA mtg and I don’t know yet how I would take blame so if you still need someone to bond with I am in orange county too.

  94. Reading the comments from you all has helped me more than anything. Our stories are the same. Broken families. Broken hearts. November of 2016 was my emancipation month. Free from the hurt, depression, worry, anxiety, etc. that 7 years of an addict’s excuses has caused. I am taking my life back. I will no longer allow anybody to be in control my happiness, my mental health nor my self worth. The only thing I learned in al anon is that it is NOT my fault. He chose his behaviors regardless if I had been the best wife or the worst wife. Alcohol, drugs, sex… he chose behaviors to self medicate.
    I have never been more than a size 6. I am successful. I have been on multiple boards, including school boards. I have four adult children who independent and fabulous. I hike, travel and love people. I share this because the past 7 years has left me feeling ugly, inadequate, worthless, thrown-away, ineffective, and any other degrading adjectives you can think of.
    It will take time for me to recover BUT I WILL! I am worth it.. always was… always will be!

    1. Em..Same situation as a lot of you. Husband of 33 years is a chronic cheater. Found out in Nov 2015 and have been fighting the battle of treachery and betrayal ever since. He keeps saying he wants to make it work, but is lacking in effort. I am not sure even counseling is helping. Do you know if it helps for the cheater to attend SAA or SA meeting?

      1. I feel your pain. Every situation is unique.

        I tried for 7 years. I know I did everything I could.

        Please take care of your mental health NOW. I wish I had found help sooner. I am now strong and consider myself a survivor rather than a victim.

        Addicts are 2 people in 1. They are the loving people that we once knew and they are also manipulating, selfish liars.

        Please seek help for yourself.

    2. I have almost 15 years in the COSA program, and I have walked a rich life full of gifts and imperfections. For me, COSA has handed me back to myself, the self I was before I made my entire being and life revolve around the man I married who turned out to be a sex addict. When the Steps ask us to make amends, the first person on a COSA’s list is her or himself. My first and only concern for many years was to do whatever it took to keep my qualifier happy and attracted to me. I lost any interests I had had before, I thought compulsively about how I could make him love me, or what was wrong with me. In working Step 9, I had plenty of folks to make amends to beginning with myself and continuing with my daughter and folks I loved but let go of in pursuit of my compulsive need to be loved by my qualifier. and I could do so from a place of healing, not shame. COSA for me has been a way to talk about what feels unmentionable and shameful in an accepting circle of women and men who understand well. When we focus on ourselves, we are able to break the loop of thinking about our “substance” – the sex addict. I’d encourage anyone going through the trauma of dealing with the discovery that your partner is a sex addict to come to COSA and give the program and those of us who work it a chance. It is about passing on the healing.

  95. Having spent the greater part of an hour reading your comments, I would just like to add my thoughts. I too am married to a sex addict. I am a very independent woman who married a very broken man. When I first found out in 2009 that he had had “an” affair, we did our best to heal from this. We sought counseling and attended groups. There was so much more to his “affair” that wasn’t disclosed to me in 2009. Even though all our therapists said that a sex addict will never be able to heal until he is no longer hiding any secrets, my husband chose to not disclose everything to me. In the years following our 2009 “affair”, my husband became complacent in his recovery and in 2014 he relapsed in a big way. Our marriage was hanging on by a thin thread and he disclosed to me all that wasn’t disclosed in 2009 and should have been. In addition to that disclosure he disclosed the multiple partners of 2014 relapse. I attended a COSA group not because I believe in the 12 steps outline for COSA but only because I needed to be around women who understood this pain. I got to know them and I made some amazing friendships with a couple of them. I realized in the early days post relapse that I really needed a trauma recovery group. I was suffering from trauma betrayal and all my COSA called co dependent behaviors were really safety seeking from the pain of the trauma. After a ton of research I found a great site that met that need. POSA Partners of Sex Addicts and it is a trauma based group. We didn’t have one in our area so I started one and we have grown from a small number of 2 to nearly 15. I am amazed at how few resources there are out there for spouses who marry a man living two different lives. I am still married to my husband, I have boundaries and one of those is that he will be in active recovery for the remainder of our marriage. When recovery is no longer important to him then our marriage will no longer be important to me. He has been in recovery for almost 2 years now, he took his first polygraph on the eve of the 2nd disclosure and wants to take one each year thereafter. He leads men’s groups, he is spiritually transformed into the man God wanted him to be all along. He and I both have work ahead of us but we both believe we are better people and have a better marriage in spite of all this. There is hope and yes there is recovery. I know too many who have struggled with this and have found grace and forgiveness building towards a better life. It does take two. If a spouse or addict is not willing to do the work of recovery (the spouse in her healing recovery and the addict for his addiction) then I believe the road ahead to be more difficult. I now lead a POSA group and I have witnessed first hand amazing growth and healing for the spouses. I am humbled to walk along side them on this journey and they are finding joy again! I do have a strong faith life and honestly that got me through the worst of it. I continue on my own journey of faith, growth and recovery and probably always will. Like any addiction, the possibility of relapse is always possible. I strongly encourage spouses to find a trauma support group for this.

  96. I came into my relationship well healed from a prior marriage to an addict. Did the work on family of origin, did work on myself. Vowed to never marry an addict and my husband never touched drink, never smoked, didn’t gamble, didn’t have any of the tell-tale signs of an addict. But he was a sex addict and true to form, hid it well.

    No my “flaws” didn’t contribute to the addiction he had before I met him.

    But the addiction itself injured me, his lies, gaslighting, crazy making, manipulation, etc, were insidious. I didn’t see them coming. But those addict behaviors created injuries to me, that led to flaws in me alright, that kept me from appropriately seeing the enemy in my own bed. No one gets out of married to a sex addict without inheriting some flaws from the addict.

    The 12 step program didn’t make me think I was responsible in any way. In fact, it helped me to see that I wasn’t. I never copped to the “co-dependant” label, but by the nature of marriage itself I was depending on my husband to be there for me. So I had some thoughts, beliefs and actions that could fit the co-dependant model, but I wasn’t entirely co-dependant and refused the label (but am glad the therapeutic community now understands the “trauma model”.

    My “higher power”? My own belief that somewhere inside of me, there was the ability to “rise higher” than the pain and injury I was feeling.

    The program itself says, “take what you need, and leave the rest”. I saw no reason to throw the baby out, with the bathwater. My 12 step group sisters were my lifeline from isolation.