Dear James–Sam W’s Letter To Her Sexually Addicted Husband

Hi, Joann,

I am really enjoying your site. I have a piece of writing I would love to submit. I posted it on my blog today, and if you’re not opposed to having something that has already been posted somewhere else, I would love to share it with the community you have built.(If not, I totally understand…)

I am really enjoying your site, and I’m honored that you took the time to look over mine.

Thanks,

Sam W

This is a letter that I wrote to my husband about 9 months after I discovered his sex addiction problem…

Dear James,

It should come as no surprise to you that I have been deeply affected by your outside sexual activities throughout the course of our relationship and the way you deliberately and systematically hid them from me. The past nine months have been a nightmare as I have come to grips with the severity of your problems and, by extension, the problems in our relationship.

Everyone knows me as one of the kindest and most generous people around. I gave you so much over the past 11 years, and I didn’t ask much in return. I asked you to be honest with me; to protect me and our family from harm; and to think about my needs in addition to your own. I never held you to some high and lofty ideal for what a partner should be. I wanted you to have your dreams as much as I wanted to have my own. I believed we both could have anything we wanted.

So when you admitted to me that you had perhaps as many as 100 sexual affairs; that you lied to me throughout the course of our relationship; and that you had put both of our lives in danger multiple times, I was devastated. I can recall the physical feelings clearly. My chest felt tight for days. My hands shook, and I had frequent stomach cramps. For months I had that eerie feeling you get in a haunted house, as if something terrible is lurking behind you, ready to strike.

You may remember the day a few weeks after your admission that I went to the health clinic to get tested for a battery of STDs. I was the worst day of my life. I felt like just another idiot who didn’t use protection because they assumed their husband was clean. I felt so small.

Then the nurse began asking me the required questions from the health department, I started sobbing in the exam room. Here I was, in a brand new city with a brand new house and a brand new job. And the nurse was the only person I could tell about this.

In the early weeks, I remember having all these compulsions I felt like I couldn’t control. As you know, I would break into your e-mail and check your phone logs several times per day. I would check your MySpace and Facebook pages for any clues of misconduct, and I would read anything and everything personal that I could get my hands on. Part of me felt so stupid, naïve and foolish for not picking up on what you were doing for the first 10 years of our relationship. I was determined never to be fooled again. Another part of me was sick about how I had become a spy; that kind of behavior was never part of my value system.

But that was what this whole experience was like — watching my value system, the core of who I was, erode before my very eyes. During the two years we lived by the ocean, I had developed a lot as a person. I ran my own business, lost all that weight and became involved in a spiritual community. I had gained self-confidence beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

After your truth came out, it became so easy to slide back into bad habits, negative thoughts and a dreary, ho-hum existence. At one point, I blamed myself for all of your problems. I actually thought that maybe I had spent too much time at the gym or that my success in other areas had “scared” you away. Always willing to blame myself for your problems, I kept punishing myself over and over. I felt empty and depleted most of the time.

But the worst part is what happened to my dreams for the future. One of the reasons I was so excited to move to a new city was that I thought this would be a nice place to settle down for the rest of my life. I imagined we would spend our first year here getting the lay of the land, fixing up the house and thinking about children. I didn’t think I’d spend my first year head bouncing around between counseling appointments and support group meetings. I never imagined I could feel this miserable for this long.

When we were moving here, I believed that our best years were ahead of us. With both of our careers taking off, all of the sacrifices of the past 11 years — the crummy entry-level jobs, the debts, the crappy apartments, grad school — would finally pay off in a big way.

Now I know that relationships can be fleeting, and the our “relationship house,” which I thought was built on a strong foundation of love, was full of illusions, a house of cards. So it’ s both difficult and terrifying to commit to rebuilding a relationship with you, even a new kind of relationship like the one our therapist has proposed.

I know that I will always love you, and I believe that someday I will actually forgive you (even if forgiveness, as our therapist says, isn’t exactly the goal). But from where I am standing, the risks of entering a new relationship with you seem to outweigh the benefits.

I remain undecided.

I am grateful to you for listening to me.

Sam

P.S. from JoAnn: Sorry about the ‘comments are closed’ that showed here for a while. My mistake. It has been corrected and you can comment on this article now.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for posting your letter. I share the situation and it helped me to read your story, I just left him last night.

  2. I too share this situation, but right now i am not sure if my husband is a sexual addict or just plain selfish. The only person he is hurting is me, although now he claims that he is a sex addict because he has gotten caught for the second time this year having an affair. How does one know that it is just selfishness or an addiction? I am leaving him as well, at least for now. Can’t go on living one lie after another. It seems that anyone can now pick up a book or read online the characteristics of an addict and then say, oops- must be my problem! I want to know how you really know if he is or not.

  3. alirph96,

    I think it is both in some ways. I am not an expert. It is a selfish act, not considering others. Are they out of control, not all of them. Have they made promises they cannot keep? You are the judge of that.

    But lets face the facts…addiction or not, there are no excuses. As far as the medical community is concerned it is not currently and addiction. Does it have reason that it should be considered, yes.. as JoAnn has posted the medical reasonings as to why and you can find it online as well and in several books. At the present time the medical community says it is more of an impulse, and I guess they lack the control to manage it.

    Everything that he has done in regards to the addiction is hurtfull, addiction or not. Either way it stinks.

    He may very well be a selfish jerk with an addiction!!! for whatever that is worth. But this is not your addiction nor your battle.

  4. I too am so sorry to read this story. It is heartbreaking. But If I may, I would make one request, please don’t blame yourself. This guy’s character was set on a course of deceit long before you ever met him. He is exactly who his family raised him to be. And, he isn’t special at all. He’s just like my husband and the next sexually addicted husband and the next, and the next. The only thing that distinguishes him is that he is involved with you. These guys aren’t special. They aren’t unique. They are run of the mill, poorly reared men who lack emotional maturity and integrity. It is not all their fault, but ain’t nuthin’ special about any of them.

  5. Dear alirph96,

    You ask “is he a sex addict or just seflish?” Why can’t he be both?

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that if its an addiction, he’s not responsible. Not giving in to an addiction is incredibly difficult, but entirely doable. They just don’t.

    I’m sick of the 12 step nurturing of adolescent maturity levels. what was so great about junior high anyway that they choose to stay there?

    d.

  6. Arrested development! Yep!
    If you look back, at least with mine, his junior high years are what molded him to be him…..he still holds grudges on how we was picked on so much….to the point of looking up and confronting the now grown children that joked him.
    Problems, issues, everywhere!!!
    He gets in fights constantly………even in his 50’s! The immaturity is astounding!

  7. Diane,

    The whole 12 step thing is a bit suspect, however, I think it all depends on how the individual approaches it.
    My SA came home from a meeting a few days back and we were talking and he said it wasn’t a very good meeting. He took very little from it and was upset that a few of the guys that have been there a good while were talking about the “powerlessness” and how “they are powerles” ( i think he kinda looks up to these guys who have been clean for a good while) My SA seems to have the appraoch that yes, before he opened his eyes to what was going on, he was powerless, but now that he knows, and he has been given tools to beat this thing, that he is NO LONGER powerless. He has a choice.

    I think the 12 step meetings depend on so much. The particular meeting, the particular attendies, the particular message which is handed down from addict to addict. I get a feeling that the message is being corrupted and interpreted to suit the addicts needs and sadly that a whole new breed of addicts are going down the wrong path. Lets face it, due to thier immaturity, they need to be handheld and led for a bit by others in thier group. If the people they look up to are giving the wrong message, then they are never going to recover.

  8. Yes, you are right on.
    the 12 step meetings depend on who is leading that meeting, how the mix of people falls out, whether they are co-ed, and how they all self-regulate.

    My SA told me one night they listened to a guy who sat and blamed his wife for everything, his addiction, his inability to “recover” because she wouldn’t go to SANON and say she was co-dependent and enabling his addiciton, his lot in life etc. And no one called him on it, including my SA. Let’s face it, it’s group of men who don’t self-regulate with any concern for anybody but themselves. How good can the meeting ever be?

    It’s doomed to the junior high posture “i am the centre of the universe and my needs must be met and ultimate value is as stake if this changes”

    Actually some junior high kids are way more mature than these guys. My apologies to the junior high students who are.

    D.