Even as I write this my story is still unfolding. Unlike many women who visit your site I knew about my husbands sex addiction when I married him. He is not only a sex addict but a convicted felon and registered sex offender who spent 10 years in the penal system serving a 0-5 sentence because of his obsession with sex. Yes, that’s right, if you do the math it took him a decade to get through a maximum 5 year sentence. That is what this kind of addiction does to you.
Why in the world, you say, would I choose to marry a man like this? There are many reasons… most of them complicated. Just know that I entered this relationship with my eyes open and with an accepting heart. That’s not to say that every day isn’t a struggle… but as long as my addict is working on recovery I choose to be with him.
My addict like many out there began his addiction at age 8 with magazines he found stashed in a field by older boys. His father was a truck driver and rarely home, and his mother worked hard to support 6 kids. He was unpopular in school and bullied by neighbor kids. His views of intimacy and normal human bonding were skewed from an early age. By 14 he was acting out. By 16 he was in juvenile detention and was removed from his home for a time.
At age 19 he went too far with his 14 year old girlfriend and was sentenced to an addiction recovery program. When that failed because of his inability to control his desires and follow the program he ended up in and out of prison and halfway houses as he repeatedly violated his probation rules over the next few years. He spent all of his 20’s in the system.
As a consequence he didn’t have the opportunity to “grow up” or learn the life skills that most of us take for granted. He didn’t get to go to college, run a house, pay bills, go to parties or travel. He didn’t develop friendships or trust. The therapy he was in twisted his mind to the point where he second guesses every decision he makes, and the environment he was in only reinforced his selfish actions and the cycle of addiction. Exposure to other convicts also taught him things he never would have dreamed of otherwise. He still had a good heart, but it was getting buried by the consequences of his actions. He has paid dearly for his stupid choices.
About two years after he was released he met me. He had a girlfriend at the time and I was trying to put my life back together after a divorce. We dated for over 3 years before I accepted his proposal of marriage. During that time I learned a ton about addiction – mostly by talking with and watching him. 7 years ago when we met there was literally one book out there on the subject of pornography addiction – and it was out of print. I know because I searched for a long time.
There were a few marriage counselors that dedicated a few pages of their websites or books to articles dealing with sex addictions, a few community programs that didn’t really advertise their presence well. Nobody was talking about it. Nothing. I did read a couple of my addicts textbooks from the 3 different programs he had attended over the years and his journals… but there was no support in them for me. Only clinical analysis of the behaviors and things the addict could “try” to find recovery. It is amazing with all of the celebrity cheaters that make the news these days how the information available about sex addictions, the evil porn industry, and support for the addict and those around the addict has exploded – in a good way.
As I watch my addict struggle on a daily basis to overcome this obsession, that he readily admits has ruined so much of his life, it is painful for me too. I know how much he wants to be rid of it… but that is the addiction. He always has the tools available to act out. The lure is literally everywhere. Computer, phone, tv, stores, ads, billboards, movies, even the people walking down the street. He has tried program after program to no avail. It’s like watching a crash dieter go through diet after diet and never loose any weight, or worse gain more. I’ve sat and watched him both lost in the obsession of his addiction and then so contrite over his actions that he cries. Most of the time it feels like I’m married to two different men.
There are ways we’ve found to stay sane in this madhouse. Every computer in our home has either a content filter or a password that he doesn’t know. The filter sends me emails and reports detailing what he’s doing online. We combined phone accounts into a family plan so that I have full access to his records and texts. We also pay a fee every month to block web access and phone numbers. We’ve recently decided to have a joint bank account so that there is full financial transparency for his budget. We are working toward total honesty in our marriage which includes him confessing slip ups and me not over reacting, and me not snooping but having full access to his phone and computer with permission.
And the most important part… I have had to learn to distance myself from his addiction while still loving him for the good person he is. “It’s not about me” has become my permanent mantra. When I find out something that he’s done I confront him with it so that the secrecy and allure of the thing is diminished. I’ve set consequences for his actions and enforce the boundaries as best as I can. I let him know that his actions are not acceptable to me and don’t belong in our relationship.
I try to find times when he is sober and reasonable to talk through issues rather than attacking him when he’s in his cycle and impossible to reach. We are trying to work together as a team to get him “sober”. Some days I still want to kill the man, but there are a lot of good times too. I hope that someday my husband will become a success story. I hope that he will eventually be able to become an advocate for the young boys in our area to try to knock it into their heads how bad porn and addiction can be. How it’s so important to respect women and their own bodies.
I would like to be able to share my story more openly with others as well. As I attend local support groups for women with addicted husbands my heart breaks every time I hear yet another woman who has just discovered her husbands addiction and was just thrown down the “rabbit hole”. I’d like to hug them and tell them that it’s going to be ok and that they will work through this—but it’s true that for some men there is no hope of recovery. They are going to continue to get farther and farther down a path of filth that their loved ones just can’t follow. Yet there are others who really have a desire to be free from addiction. There is some hope for them. As long as they are moving forward and upward, it is possible to work things out.