For A While Life Was Good–A.L.’s Marriage To A Sex Addict

Hi JoAnn,

I thank God for you and for your website! I am brand new to this entire experience and right now, I think I’m still in shock. I’ve inhaled almost every woman’s story on this site to find answers to a problem I now know is Sex Addict.

My story is more the same…My husband T and I have been together for almost 22 years. We married in 2000 after a very rocky initial 10 years. We are both former Marines and fell in love in Thailand when we were 20 years old. It was so romantic! At the time, I was married to someone else, so it wasn’t a sexual relationship. And my marriage was a marriage of convenience, not for love. I’ve had a pretty traumatic childhood and had some serious abandonment issues, low self-esteem, etc. But I hid it from the world. I’m a pretty good actress I guess!

After returning from Thailand, I got pregnant by my first husband, who by the way, was an abusive jerk. When we married, I was a virgin or a “good girl” as he called me. He and his entire family were very religious. He thought he struck gold with a virgin. T and I became friends and he left to go to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.

I got pregnant after T left because I turned to my husband for comfort. T came back in April and I was 5 months pregnant and he was so disappointed. We corresponded the whole time he was over there. He wrote me the most beautiful letters…I long for those days. A few weeks after T’s return, my ex, who I was still married to at the time, pushed me and physically roughed me up and I went into early labor. T came to the hospital and declared his love for me and the baby. I never returned to my husband.

Fast forward, a couple years later, things started to just change. T was never a go getter. I thought it was cute how he was so charismatic and that everybody loved him, but he was a slacker. Always made excuses. Always looking for the short cuts in life. That’s him even today. If there is a short cut, T will find it.

After his honorable discharge, I helped him to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Prior to that, he was a security guard at night with no real plan. That’s where we are soooo different. I always have a plan A, B, and sometimes C. I accepted that I was the ambitious one and he was laid back. I thought it gave us balance.

For a while, life was good. Then I got pregnant unexpectedly with our 2nd daughter and I wasn’t ready to do it again. My first pregnancy was very difficult. I almost died, the baby almost died. It was horrible! Plus, I was in school and loving the life I was living. When I told him about the baby, he didn’t seem thrilled either. In fact, he asked me if I wanted to keep it. I was hurt and shocked! He told me he would support my decision.

That was a big red flag that set into motion they dynamics of our relationship. He never wanted to help make the hard decisions about anything in our life. That was a revelation that came to me a few months back. It was almost as if he would stand in the wings and wait for me to make the decisions about our kids, finances, cars, anything. That way, if it didn’t work out, he wasn’t the blame–I was.

Other things started to take shape too. Like he started to become emotionally distant in our relationship. So much so, that I would go days, weeks, even months without any intimacy or sex. It later turns out that he was sleeping with women at work. Various women would give him oral sex. He even got emotionally involved with someone.

But JoAnn, I’m not without sin or fault. I was an extremely controlling and hard young woman. I felt that I had to be, I had a tough life. Drug and alcoholic mother, who would eventually die of AIDS. A emotionally empty father, that was authoritative and controlling. A step mother that was weak and docile. My father had at least 11 kids outside the marriage and brought them all back to her. I mean I had my issues. I was determined not to let “any man” control me. But I was also supportive and loving, loyal and trust worthy, dedicated and committed.

I wanted him to return those things to me and I thought if I set the example, surely he would follow my lead. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know how. He did it in Thailand and early on in the relationship right? But when it didn’t happen, I too found solace in someone else. I thought I was justified because he left me first. I waited and waited. Tried and tried to get him to love me back, but it never came. Eventually though, it blew up in all our faces.

T was devastated because my “affair” was with his best friend. He to this day will say that that hurt him the most. But let me set the record straight, he was sleeping with multiple women and started a sexual and emotional relationship with someone else. I was left in the house for months and months with 2 kids, working to support the family, going to school full-time and he was completely absent. But he was good at putting on fronts.

Once when his father, visited, T was the perfect partner and father. Cooking, cleaning, even doing the girls hair. His father was furious. He called me a bad mother and accused me of shackling his son for my own selfish gain. T never told them that I made more money than him. Or that I tried putting him through school and he flunked out twice. To this day, he still never tells anyone the whole truth about anything. Those half truths have been a major problem FOREVER! Selective memory is another.

So I’m sure you’re wondering at this point, “why did you get married?” Well, because I loved him and still do. He’s not a bad guy. He has his good points. He’s generous and funny. He’s smart and handsome. He’s a good father to our now teenage daughters, 19 and 16 respectively. He raised and adopted another man’s baby and loves her as his own. How can a man like that be so bad?

I put so many blinders on because that is the T that I fell in love with. It didn’t matter that over the years, I’ve caught him in so many lies about everything from finances (he wrote bad checks and got arrested) or his overly flirtatious behavior. Once a few years ago, we were on our last couple therapy session and I wanted to surprise him and take him to lunch afterward. Well I was the one surprised when I caught him rubbing on a female classmate’s thigh. I was furious and hurt. But I forgave him. The a few years later, he was caught sexting a coworker. I made him call her and act as if I was going to call her and that he was scared. I was listening on the line and heard her say that she knew he was only playing and that she didn’t take him seriously. So, I forgave him again.

Earlier this year, he was at it again with the sexting to a married coworker. I threatened to tell her husband and she admitted it was just a little harmless fun, but not worth her marriage and it ended. I forgave him again. Last Thursday, I discovered an email address that I didn’t recognize and asked him about it. He swore he didn’t know what I was talking about. But intuition told me to investigate and when I did, my whole world fell apart. I found graphic pictures of him getting oral sex. Pictures of his penis emailed to women. Multiple sex sites and dating sites with him trolling for women. Ass shots with is penis going into different women. It goes on and on!!!

Of course he lied and said he downloaded the pictures, that it wasn’t him. But after 22 years a woman knows her husbands hands and penis! After much questioning and investigating, I now know my husband masturbates at least 3 times a day, but only M-F. He rarely gets a chance to do it on the weekends because everyone is home. But if the kids and I leave, then he’ll do it. My computer has had multiple viruses because of all the downloading. He has hired prostitute after prostitute. He says only about 6 in the last 6 years. Did I mention, we’ve only been married for 10?!

He says he thought this was normal because we weren’t having sex. Well sex with him stopped. He tried to blame it on me. First he said that we only had sex 3 times this year, but when I challenged him, he said, ok then 5. That too is a lie. He started having ED issues a few years back and he went to the doctors. But now I know why. He is a SA. He’s risked employment as a private duty nurse to masturbate at a clients house. He masturbates at work. He goes on porn sites at his parents home. But he never thought it was a problem.

And don’t even get me started on the lack of accountability and blame. Never taking responsibility for his actions. He has an excuse for everything and an answer for nothing. His favorite line is I don’t know or that wasn’t my intention. I’ve heard this for years! I suffered emotionally trying to change my personality. I’ve mellowed so much, that this is the most excited and animated that I have been since finding all of this out.

He would use my past against me to justify his behavior. T constantly told me I was needy and wanted too much. I believed that I had impossible expectations of a husband. He would tell me time and time again, that I never needed him because I was too strong. I didn’t let him be a man. I changed for him. Now 22 years later, I feel that my relationship was a complete lie. I don’t know if I believe that he really loved me. He says that he does, but T has never been able to take me crying.

And speaking of crying, he is a robot. I’ve never seen him cry or even come close. He paces and runs to the bathroom. He wipes his head and talks to himself, but never cry. He says that it is not a requirement to prove he’s human. But I say that there should be some emotional release. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve lost loved ones and have had some trying times and joyous times. He believes that sex and intimacy is one in the same. Foreplay is what you do right before the act of intercourse. And now, we don’t even do it. He’s turned off if I initiate it and hates if I give him oral sex. He says that he knows I don’t like it, so he can’t enjoy it. But I never told him I didn’t like it. Maybe once 20 years ago when I wasn’t experienced. We used to have a pretty good sex life. It was never great, but I was content.

I’m going back and forth on whether I should stay and give him another 20 years of my life or leave. What if he never gets better? What if he gets worse? What if this is my one shot at happiness? Life is too short and I just want to be happy. Nothing is perfect and I love him, but I’m exhausted from the relationship. But I’m not excited when I think about starting over, just sad.

I haven’t really eaten since last week. My stomach is always shaky and I’ve lost so much sleep. On top of that, my daughters say how distraught I was when I found out. They’ve been trying to remain neutral and yet supportive of me. I’m embarrassed and confused. No one knows about the SA, but I’ve told a small circle of friends about him cheating on me. I’m worried how this will look to my daughters and how it will impact their future relationships if I stay.

Does it send the wrong message that they can let the men they love cheat and all if forgiven? On the other hand, as Christians, if we are true believers surely God can fix our marriage. This could be a real example of forgiveness of one’s sins. I’m also worried about how it would look to my friends and sister. I know we shouldn’t worry about those things, but God help me, I do.

Thank you for allowing me to really vent. I know my thoughts are all over the place but that is how my brain is working right now. Any advice would be welcomed from everyone.

AL

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Responses

  1. Dear A.L.

    I’m exhausted just from reading your story, never mind living it. It sounds like both you and your husband have many issues. One of them is that he is an SA. But you seem to realize that you are bringing your own dysfunction into that problem as well.

    You both need professional help, for you own sakes and for the sake of children. Your family sounds pretty chaotic. CAn you ask him to leave? Can you afford life without him? If so, suggest even a temporary living apart so that you can start to think clearly and talk through your options with a therapist, and possibly a lawyer.

    also, you don’t need the abuse from his father. Get rid of that. It’s your house too.

    It all sounds overwhelming but if you can do one step towards wholeness each day, you will get there. And I’m really sorry for all the pain you are in right now. You are a precious life, and soon you will see that for yourself. But get the crap out of the way first.

    light to you,
    D.

  2. AL, I believe (after recently going through this experience) that the very FIRST thing you need to do is HEAL yourself. It took my a long time to get there because I was so busy healing my son and standing behind my husband of 30 years. You need to DEAL with the betrayal and the hurt first. I also believe that as Christian women we need to show forgiveness BUT at the same time BE SMART. As Jo Ann says “you can’t control the actions of others.”

    I am praying for you and all of my other sisters that are dealing with this terrible disease.

    Mary

  3. A.L.,
    Wow what a story. I must say I identify with you with the slacking husband who puts forth no effort. Mine is the same, and he is the same with his recovery. I also had my husband become a CNA about 1.5 years ago, as he was failing as a massage therapist (So that is a scarry thought about what he is up to at work- LOL). He has also completely failed financially and lacks contribution about the house. But when we go somewhere with his parents or around his parents he acts like the most stand-up guy. But when it comes to reality, there is nothing there. Its maddening.

    This is all very new to you, haveing been dealing with the major reveal since last week. Ya know there was a time about 2-3 years ago where I would think to myself that I wished he would go have an affair, I was just so fed up with him, but i did not know why at that point. So I waited. Looking inward, feeling that it must be me. That i needed to change, but did not change, but rather thought my feeling would return. I just wanted him to go. Thought of divorcing him and finding some else myself at that time as well. But in reality i was alone, like you. Alone, alhtough married, and felt I was to blame. I was exhausted and the only one contributing to this marriage and household. But I never could put my finger on what it was.

    So it was a combination of things. It was the lack of contribtion as well as the sex addiction (which he continueally lied about). So now in my relationship there are two issues. The sex addiction and lack of drive, he is very passive and waits for me to do everything. No dreams, no hopes. No plans, no nothing. He is a black hole. To me this is more troublesome than the addiction. But the addiction piles on a whole other layer, and it is all too much to deal with.

    Really think about your relationship…… Is it enriching to you? Are you happy? Why do you want to stay with this man? Sounds like a rough road….even without the addiction. There is happiness out there, but do you think you can acheive it with this man? Marriage is work, but when is it too much work…when is it maybe just not the right man for you or right time?

    I have chose to seperate from my SA. D-Day was last February, seperation was in October and he moved out. If you are the strong one and towing him along, cut the rope. He can sink or swim. Now that he is gone I see with great clarity. I have come to realize that maybe I just don;t want him back the way he is. I want the guy that I thought i married, but his man does not exist. Now if somehow he did return or appear, i would be all over it. But thus far, that has not happened.

    I beleive that this life I am now creating is a better life for me. I am happy, calm, low to no stress (except kids). Our lives need not be difficult and taxing, and for what reason? No one deserved to be punished for past choices, we have choices in the now. You did not deserve this sex addiction and betrayerl because you cheated, you cheating was a sign of the greater probelm, you did not know existed. Your choices from now on should be for you and your children. You have the power to make the change and you can change your course or path. You are strong and you do have the power!

  4. A.L.,

    I completely understand what you are going through, I myself am currently married to a military man. Though are marriage has only for 2 1/2 years, I would say that 25 months of that my husband has continuously cheated and done so much more. And no it hasn’t stopped. I always question myself whether he really is a sex addict or just a man with a big head, but I think that so many of the things he has gotten himself involved with go far beyond just a cheating man. For us, it’s gotten to the point where he admits he has continued communicating through sites with other women and now uses any argument to walk out the door to give himself an excuse to go screw up again. Except this time, with me KNOWING!

    I too, reacted emotionally and tried to make him jealous with seeing another man, and it only resulted in more chaos. I realized it only gave him a reason to continue doing it more (enabled him). It even got to the point where he agreed to let me date other men – it doesn’t work – so I would not recommend. ha. It seems maybe with SA’s that they want to do what they want to do, but when it comes to the wife, they want that loving and committed wife and with them it’s a one way street. We have a 20 month old daughter. So much trust is gone, that it has gotten to the point to where I just do not understand the depth of this compulsive behavior and it scares the hell out of me. He also has left all the decision making up to me, everything in life about everything is left for me to decide on. I always use to think how I would like him just to step up and make a decision for me, and just say HEY this is where we are going or this is what WE are doing. But it has never been like that and we have been together for almost 10 years.

    In the 10 years I have known him, I have only seen him cry once. And it was a night he admitted to sleeping with and seeing another woman and had gotten her pregnant. He left the room and told me I could thank my mother for his confession. I was confused and thought he was being vicious, because my mother is now deceased, she passed a few years ago when I was 26. I followed him and asked why he would say such a thing. He told me that for the last year in a half, my mother had been had been appearing in his dreams telling him, “Tell her the truth!” he started bawling. The first time I had ever seen him cry. And it was because my deceased mother had been scolding him on a daily basis. Now, even today I am not sure about the truth she wanted him to tell me. But it has definitely made me think about things.
    He is charming. He is the last one anyone would ever suspect. He lacks empathy. Everyone likes him because he is witty. He’s handsome. All of the above. He is gone overnight till tomorrow – and I am fed up with everything. I myself have contacted to rent a room out to get some time away – I need myself back. The longer I have agreed to stay in the same home with home, the worse the cycle gets each time. This last blow up – he almost drove us 80mph into a wall. He scared the living crap out of me. And last night – he tried using the fear tactic with me and got his “crazy eyes” and started yelling. It’s different, everything is different – never in the 10 years have I seen him react like this.

    From other SA wife experiences?? Does each cycle get worse for you?? He keeps saying he will go to therapy and I leave it up to him (6 months and no result)- I too have leaned towards God and the church – but I think even God would understand that if you have lost all trust to the point of not even trusting your husband with your children – it just may not be worth it. I am going to try moving my bedroom out this afternoon – and he will come home to what he will hopefully realize that he has lost…..You can forgive – but that doesn’t mean to accept the crap and act like life is ok – feed into the BS. I realize that I can only help myself at this point – and there is only a limited time for me to spend my life as healthy as possible with those few precious years of my daughters life during toddler years. I hope to not get lost in all of the confusion and pray for strength for you, everyone and myself.

  5. did any of your guys hear about net nanny its a download to block all sex related sites. you can even block chat rooms, match.com etc… my husband is in therapy currently for his SA and his counselor suggested we put this on the computer or get rid of it completely! Atleast you will be stopping this from going on in your own home i think you guys need to take steps for yourself first & foremost! i am also in counseling myself, my own separate councelor, not the one he is seeing! i need strength & guidance in making my decision and this is something very hard to go through and you shouldn’t try to do it alone. i think if you can find your own therapist you need to do so! at this point idk if my husband & i will stay together but he still needs to work to change for himself & our kids (we have 3) & i have to work on me to make me stronger & to change me for myself & my kids. so i know this is not okay & if we would divorce i don’t want to attract the same kind of person. change yourself & you gives others a map & permission to do the same! maybe you need to take the first steps & hope they follow if they don’t that should be a big red flag they are not willing to change! just remember you have no power or responsibility to change someone else, they have too, all you can do is work on you! just be as strong as you can, try your hardest not to sit & mope, get out do things w/ friends, clean your house, cook do things with your kids just try & keep yourself going force yourself no matter how hard it is because trust me that’s what i’m having to do but it feels alot better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself! i’m not saying don’t take time to vent or cry please do i know i do i’ve been journaling,crying in the tub, etc… but i’ve also been living my life the best i can too!

  6. also theres two books out there i’m in the process of reading hope after betrayel & to good to leave too bad to stay i hope they help me maybe they can help you guys it helped for me to read you all’s post too so thanks

  7. Dear hurting,

    Just word of support and encouragement to you as you grab hold of life and shake the goodness out of it, in the midst of this rotten SA thing.

    You are amazing. Look after yourself. Don’t work too hard. Congrats on getting your OWN counsellor and knowing you needed support. Lots of decisions ahead, and I know you will make the best decisions you can. And listen, if some don’t work out, just try something else. Sometimes we are afraid that if our decisions don’t work out so well, that we’re doomed. We aren’t. We just work with what we have.

    thank you for coming forward to share yourself and how it’s going.

    lots of light for you,
    D.

  8. thanks for the words of support! your right i have alot of tough decisions ahead and it has not been easy just thought i would share some things i’m learning along the way! and trust me my husband has only stop because he got caught he didn’t tell me on his own! i have a long road ahead of me!

  9. Thank you all for your comments. I’ve been in a fog for weeks now. Your words have given me some perspective, but I have to say, I’m numb. The few people that I’ve share this with believe that I need to “let it go” and move on. Others use God and religion as the cure all for how I’m feeling. Believe me, I do know God can heal and change people and all that, but what about how I’m feeling right now. What about the fact that I don’t even know if I want to stay. I love my husband. I love who he is…most days. But I don’t love what he is and what SA has done to my security.

    As for counseling, I’ve tried to get help for years. In fact, I’ve been on Effexor for close to 12 years because that’s what therapist do. They write scripts for powerful drugs. I want resolution but seem to only get a pill. This is tough. Probably the hardest thing that I’ve had to endure. Im sure this too shall pass…

  10. Dear al,

    Yes, you are conflicted and you do need help to work through this. Please try to find a counselor, someone who specializes in spousal abuse or PTSD. Counselors cannot and do not prescribe medications. Only Psychiatrists with a Medical Doctor degree are licensed to do that.

    I think if you took a little different approach and tried to find a counselor who would help you work through your trauma and your pain the decisions would become clear and you would find the help and support you need.

    You are in my thoughts my dear. Stay strong.

  11. AL, what you’re going through is so much to ask of a human being. It would break anybody. Like JoAnn says, I hope you’ll have some talk therapy. You can forgive your husband one day, sure, but it must be next to impossible when you’re still in the middle of all of this without professional support. Know that everybody here understands. Take care.