Hello: Thank you JoAnn for this website and thank you to all who share your familiar stories of pain, turmoil and sadness!! J
My SA and I have been together for 9 years, married for 3 years with two children 3 1/2 yrs old and 9 months old. My husband works out of town for 2 weeks at a time and is home for 1 week at a time and this is the way our relationship has been since the beginning.
I found out that my husband is a true 100% full blown sex addict 1 month ago. Thanks to watching an Oprah show about recovering sex addicts, he admitted to paying for sex and masturbating to pornography before and during our entire relationship. This time I DIDN’T CATCH HIM he actually admitted this on his own. It maybe has sunk in that his life has become unmanageable due to this. He was powerless over his addiction despite the consequences. However, I do give him kudos as he was brave and courageous enough to admit to his dirty, disturbing, embarrassing and unhealthy sexual behaviour.
Please note that I do not forgive him and don’t know if I can at this point of my own recovery.
I have caught him several times in the past seeking out prostitutes through internet history, emails, pieces of paper in the back of his jeans with a girl’s name, hotel room and phone number. I was always outraged but he has always said it was a masturbation tool (the act of seeking out escorts that aroused him) but he never went through with it. I thought to myself, “well I guess I will never know.”
I wanted to believe him, so I naively did but only see this now as a major red flag. I now feel somewhat trapped because he is a great father and the only financial provider for our family at present. Since we have been dating we have had some good times, but now looking back I was scared due to my own insecurities to be alone. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I guess at the end of the day, nobody wants to live their lives all alone.
Our relationship was mostly with lack of true intimacy. He often wanted me to dress up in a sexy outfit and he would get off on the predetermined thoughts of pornographic type sex even with me. There were times we even watched porno. I found this was exciting for me at the time because he made me feel sexy, though I could have used more cuddling and kissing. He wanted to do it in odd areas of the house as well like in the dark furnace room or in the garage. I was usually objectified, but wanted to please him thinking it would distract him enough to not want to seek out escorts.
I was pregnant with my youngest son last August /09 when I found he was looking yet again on local escort websites. When I confronted him with verbal abuse and sobbing tears he went in deep denial and lied to say he never went through with it. He broke his work laptop in half and lied to his boss explaining it fell off the back of his truck.
I told him that I thought he had a problem and that he needed to see a therapist, so he promised to go. He lied to the therapist he went to and never went back. He also continued to lie to himself and our family. I have been unhappy for years in this marriage due to the constant reminders that my husband might like to *#@* prostitutes for pleasure, little did I know he was indulging in his secret pleasure alright. It always creeps into my thoughts, I visualise him with these porno type whores. I am in a very angry stage right now.
Since he admitted his sex addiction to me he has displayed a mountain of shame. While he is at work he does a lot of reading but cannot attend all SA meetings and there are a lot of triggers where he works. We also have decided to stay living together and share our bed at present. Unfortunately we don’t have enough finances to move into our own places unless we sell this house.
He has been to two individual counselling sessions with a sex addiction specialist. we have been to some couples counselling too. He has attended eight SA groups and has found himself a sponsor and says he will continue to go to help himself and others for many moons to come. He reads cognitive behavioural therapy books for sex addiction and works in the work books provided.
He seems very committed to recovery from this addiction because he wants to salvage himself, our marriage, and his only chance to show his children how a real man should behave. He has a net nanny internet blocking software installed on his computer so I can see what websites he goes to and to avoid the temptation of going to these sites. He gives me every receipt when he purchases something and told me I can look through his cell phone history. I have attended three individual therapy sessions and two couple sessions which brought some happy feelings back towards him. The therapist had us holding hands and brought me to a greater understanding of the complexity of sexual addiction.
My emotions are constantly back and forth. One minute my guard is up and I don’t want him near me. The next I think he is committed to his recovery, and want to hug him. When I see him play with his kids, I feel love for him. When I see him look ashamed I feel hate for him. I have no answers. This addiction has sucked the souls out of both of us. I am a 33 year old attractive, intelligent, vibrant, outgoing women with a lot of self healing to do. I do not want to be a slave of his addiction. What I do know is I want to work on myself and not make any rash decisions right now.
Thank you for reading, it helps me so much to release these emotions through words.
With love to all!! xo
thanks for telling us what’s been happening in your life, and I’m really sorry this is happening to you and your family.
It’s really hard to regulate or even understand the range of feelings that wash through you during this time. One moment you could push him down the stairs, and the next you feel sorry for him, and the next you can’t stop crying, and the next you want him to wrap his arms around you. it’s just really crazy, because the truths you are facing warrant all those feelings.
That’s why it’s really hard to sort out what you want to do. Good grief, I’m 14 months along and I still get confused by my feelings and still second guess what I think I want!!
But things do become slightly more manageable as we take steps to find safety for ourselves and our children. It was very hard on me when we still lived in the same house. His energy was awful and upsetting. I got a lot better when he took some basement rooms in a house. Then we sold our house to ease finances and I bought a little townhouse in my name. That gave me a sense of safety and control over security. But my children are away at university and college, and I do have a job. So some decisions were probably easier to make and see through.
You need your OWN counsellor. Honestly, I would forget the couples counsellor for now–. IMO, YOu need to attend to your needs as top priority, so that you can function for your interests and the interests of the children. The needs of the relationship with your husband is not the most important thing, and I think you will bog down in his nightmare and continue to suffer because his journey is long and complicated. Your own counsellor will help you focus on the immediate concerns of children and you. Pornography in the house is not incidental. It’s images imprint on young minds and create havoc. Is it possible for him to stay with family?
It is also important that you feel cared for. This is such a blow to us in so many ways. The betrayal, the coldness, the objectivizing, the alienation, the loss of self-esteem, the loss of trust, the loss of being loved, the loss of being desired for yourself etc. It is torture and more torture to see the man you loved in this new tragic and terrible way. You can’t help but feel sorry for his torment, but please do not be seduced back into. It is a torment with that takes no prisoners. You will be destroyed by it.
Early days for his recovery, and no real signs of commitment to a program. And I have a bad feeling about your couple’s counsellor. Please look after yourself andyour children. if there is time to deal with the marriage then, you can. But please list out what is most important and make decisions accordingly.
Meanwhile, please stay around and read the stuff on this site. You will find your story here, and how different women have managed it, and how the process goes along. We want to support you so that you can have joy in life, and mother your children in the best way possible. It all seems impossible, I know, but we know it’s not impossible. It’s just damn hard.
Sending you lots of light for your journey
Dear Diane: Thank you for your kind words of wisdom. All of you ladies contributing your support and stories are an inspiration and a comfort to me. It seems to be coming clearer to me that this issue is his own to deal with and my issue are mine. I am standing on the top of the fence and wondering which way eventually I will jump. Which brings me back to my motto, “Only time will tell.” It excites me to know that I dont have to live in this bull *#@* one day.
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.”
Thanks for sharing. It was a little unnerving to read because I share some things in common with you. I have caught my partner visiting escort ads and websites throughout our three year relationship and he also has sworn he’s never gone through with it. I have no way of knowing at this point. Sometimes I believe he must have and other times, I believe he hasn’t. Unlike your husband, I doubt I will ever hear any spontaneous admissions.
But even if I did – even if my partner was as committed to recovery as yours seems to be, like you, I doubt I would sign on for a lifetime with a sex addict. I don’t want to monitor him, worry about what he’s up to, worry he’s being triggered, worry, worry, worry. I don’t want someone who has to be eternally vigilant to simply stay faithful to me.
If the cure rate is so low for this addiction, maybe they really aren’t meant to be cured – maybe they’re (and we’re) better off admitting to what they are and being that openly and honestly in the world, rather than treating it like a shameful character flaw or disease to be hidden, suppressed or treated or with mostly unsuccessful results. Just be a non-monogamous, whore-mongering and porn obsessed. Find others like yourself to share your life with – leave those of us who want truth and monogamy alone!
They can’t let go of their fantasy of a normal life and they can’t seem to stop their compulsion, so they lie to us as a way to have both. The sneak and cheat and risk our health, sanity, finances, etc.
Sounds like you are going through what I went through before my husband admitted. It was a relief to know the truth, it was a spiritual awakening for me. I understand that you want to believe he has never gone through with actually seeking out prostitutes, I wanted to believe too. You are right, you will never know, which is extremely unnerving. Are you still with your partner? Do you have children together? Are you spending too much of your time worrying and wondering?? I first caught my SA searching escort websites before we had our children. If I knew then what I know now (thanks to JoAnn and this website, and other resources) I would have packed my bags and ran with the wind!!
I think it would be a huge relief to know the truth. My partner has never, ever admitted to anything he wasn’t caught red-handed doing, so I don’t expect this to be any different.
Well, I’ve only been with my partner for three years. I first caught him emailing escorts about a year into our relationship. He also claimed he got a thrill from simply that act and would not have gone through with it. Of course, it seemed preposterous to me but so did the idea of him having sex with anyone else. Our relationship was new and so exciting and fulfilling. We traveled to exotic places, had amazing adventures, passionate sex, laughter and so much compatibility. How could anyone need more?
We don’t have kids together thankfully. I don’t spend much time wondering – occasionally, but not like I used to before I learned about SA. I think if I knew for sure he’d been with escorts, I would be able to end the relationship without ever second guessing myself. I suppose not knowing for sure keeps me able to continue.
We don’t live together thankfully though he still sleeps here every night. I am working on getting my self back, to feeling separate and safe and able to be with or without him. After all I learned about SA from JoAnn and other sites, I feel certain I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with him. My stategy is to get back on my feet emotionally and financially.
It’s odd because I feel a lot of distance from him emotionally even though he’s with me a lot. I don’t feel the same bond or fear of losing him. As a result, I don’t care as much what he does. It’s not that I would tolerate chasing escorts or anything else – it’s just that I feel removed from his behavior. I don’t think I’m going to trust him or continue to want to be around him no matter what he does – even if he gets into serious recovery.
Every time I read someones post for the first time of their discovery, my heart aches. I am so sorry you are going through this.
I found out about 10 years ago that my husband of 17 years (at that time) was a sex addict. I really did not understand the depths of the disease, but at that time I was relieved that there was a name for his sexual behavior.
We did individial therapy, and that is a must. It is nearly impossible to work on a marriage when feelings of hatred, resentment, and pain are surrounding.
If there are 12-step meetings in your area, attend them. It took me years to grasp the concept of the 12-step, because I thought everyone of the women in that room were idiots. Later on, I realized that I was also an idiot well not really, but I was sick in the head.
The meetings saved my life. I cannot say the same for my sex addict.
He also attended SA meetings and sadly, he continued to have sex with other woman including prostitutes.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you, that I wished I had done was set boundaries.
If you can get him out of your bedroom, have him shower and dress in another room, do so. I never did that and I do regret it today.
I don’t know where this fits but I am so appreciative for this website. In fact, if any of you have not done so, please make a donation to JoAnn’s site. JoAnn has made such an impact on my life with this site and I am grateful like I cannot even express.
Also, I am going to be so bold as to add one more opinion……maybe, just maybe, if the sex addicted spouses were as honest as we are and they had a site like this, they might have a greater chance to recover.
That is all for now!
Thank you so much zachette, words like yours make it all worthwhile.
Again, great minds think alike (and we are all great minds here), Larry and I have talked about doing an eBook together for the Sex Addict, but I think your idea is so much better (and a whole hell of a lot more work!)
I can do all the techie, development stuff for a website like this for Sex Addicts and then turn it over to Larry. I think you are right, a safe place to anonymously express your real thoughts, fears and feelings, and a place to find like-minded support might be helpful for any Sex Addict who is truly committed to getting better.
What do all of you think?
zachette- “If you can get him out of your bedroom, have him shower and dress in another room, do so. I never did that and I do regret it today.” What is the goal of that? What do you think it accomplished?
I’d like to jump in on the boundary question–made specific in Zachette’s 20/20 hindsight.
While my answer to Bogtorn’s question may be different than Zachettes—as the old commercial said “there’s always room for jello”!
What I accomplished by setting a separate bedroom and bathroom boundary included several things. I created a safe place for me to rest–away from his awlful energy and away from the realization that he would wait for me to go to sleep, get out of bed and go online and masturbate. (This happened regardless of whether we had sex, and regardless of how good it was—-his own words here). Dealing with the disclosure, the many changes in my life, the newly discovered threats to our financial well-being, the choices in front of me, etc. was exhausting. I was already losing sleep because I was upset. I needed peace. I needed to be away from his presence in order to feel safe. And I needed to still get up in the morning and do my full time job, which provided some kind of financial security. So I created a safe place for me to rest.
A second thing was to help my SA spouse understand at a concrete level that he had created a breach in our relationship. In his case, as with most SA’s (though perhaps not all) denial is an essential dynamic of his life. He gave every indication that although he was “found out” he expected things to remain the same for him. No consequences. This is not so much about punishment as it is the overwhelming self-centred approach to life in the SA personality. They demonstrate limited capacity to think of anyone else’s feelings except to create their own guilt dramas, which are also a part of their cycle. It is necessary to have something concrete happen in order to jump start any consideration that what they have done will actually have consequences that are concrete. That is why the “quick fix trap” that JoAnn discusses elsewhere is important to understand. Forgiving the SA does little at this stage. They have little or no understanding of what devastation has occurred. Separate bedrooms and bathrooms have to do with the breach of intimacy they made concrete in sexual acting out, and you have made concrete in living arrangements.
The third thing I might add now, is that it is difficult to think clearly without a safe place to do it. The presence of the SA in the house creates energetic chaos because of their own confusion, compulsive lying, insensitive words and actions, etc. Having your own space is important to think through options, factors that must be considered, advice received, feelings that arise. After all, we have lost the person who we thought created that space with us by creating a home. So we have to create our own space to do that hard work that is only ours to do.
Finally– physcial proximity. I couldn’t stand his physical presence for quite a while. I wanted to vomit everytime I thought about his sexual and emotional betrayals. I didn’t want him that close to me, it just made me puke. So perhaps that is the most practical thing I accomplished. Less puking. That alone was worth it.
lots of light to all, whether recovering as an SA, or recovering as the collateral damage of an SA,
Jode- I can relate to those fluctuating feelings…from hate to pity. I first found out when my second child was an infant too. It sounds so cliche but it is soooo hard when kids are involved.
Diane and Zachette- wow….I hadn’t even thought of boundries for this issue. The last boundry I gave was 11 years ago when I said, “If you do this again, I am gone”. I did that for my own sanity because I couldn’t stand the pressure of policing him anymore. Here I am now and since so much time has passed and so many things have changed my ultimatum isn’t holding up.
I have let him sleep in my bed and my thoughts go from anger, sadness, shame and pity. I think I may have messed up by sharing the same bed. A glass of wine and sheer mental exhaustion is my excuse for caving to sex. I am telling myself it was for selfish reasons (on my part) but a part of me thinks it was wrong and now I have so me added shame. I can’t believe I am sharing this.
We’ve been together for almost 20 years and I am just starting to wonder how much he has “played” me over the years and how much is denial. Boundries…serious food for thought…His issue is so weird I am not sure where to start.
As always…thanks 🙂
This made my heart STOP “he has always said it was a masturbation tool (the act of seeking out escorts that aroused him) but he never went through with it.” Do they all say that???? I have heard those exact words, usually followed by being “too scared” to go through with it. The lack of real intimacy is something I am familiar with too, although I am sure I never would have called it that before. I considered his childhood and his bipolar and imagined it was something he was dealing with, and just part of who he was.
Alas, I am too new at this, still in the thick of it, to give you any advice except to be honest with yourself – which it sounds like you are doing – and take care of yourself. The fact that he came clean without being caught could be a good sign that he is wanting to move forward, but now its up to him to keep it up and up to you whether or not you even want to move forward.
I’m so sorry that you have to go through this.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Nothing was fair about the situation you were in or the decisions you had to make. Elsewhere we have said that spouses often feel they aren’t allowed to make any mistakes at all. That’s just crazy. Stop giving yourself ultimatums! You didn’t do anything wrong!!!
We can learn along the way, though. I have changed my position several times on things that I didn’t fully understand the first time I made a decision around it. That’s just the way it is. You know you are a fair person, but sometimes circumstances catch us off guard.
Around the ultimatum that if your SA did it one more time you would leave etc.—Now’s the time to think about what you really want. Do you want him around or not? Can you ask him to leave while you think about your options? Can you leave? Do you want to stay and try again? Does he want to try again? What is different about this “try”?
It is important that you stop trying to pick up blame and shame for yourself. It’s not yours. And it doesn’t SOLVE anything. Please find a good therapist and talk through your feelings with that person. You need support and an experienced therapeutic ear.
Sometimes we look for things that we can blame on ourselves because that’s something we have control over, and for a moment, we like to believe that if we change ourselves, the situation will improve. It won’t. Because you’re not the problem no matter what little mistakes you made along the way. You aren’t an addict. You aren’t a liar. You aren’t a betrayer. You aren’t unfaithful. You aren’t self-centred. You aren’t unreliable. You aren’t untrustworthy etc.
And yes, I know what it is to think about the 30 year of my marriage and wonder how much of that was real, and asking when was he “playing” me?—trusting my trust, counting on my love, and depending on my dependability, so that he could betray me comfortably. It hurts.
I’m sorry Annie. You deserve a better life. We all do. Let’s make one for ourselves.
hi! i can relate to you because my husband acts like that. at first im just ignoring it but as time goes by it become worst,to the point that even me i feel ashamed… but we still together now because like your situation he’s the provider. he is a good father too.its hard to admit at first that i have an SA husband but now i’m learning to accept it.all i can say to you is if you can still manage to be w/ him, put extra patience and understanding,i know you still love him but now your heart filled w/ hatred…encourage him to seek professional help and lot’s of prayer b’coz with God nothing is impossible.
Sleeping seperately is something I have decided to do while we are going through our own recovery. He will sleep in the basement while he is home from work. Thanks to Zachette and Diane’s healthy advise. He is respectful of this boundary and thinks it is a good idea. Before I decided on my “sleeping seperately boundary” we both thought that sex with me was ok and healthy because I am his wife. Looking within my emotions, I realize I am not stable enough to feel comfortable doing this. Thinking afterwards, “Why am I giving a sex addict sex??” “How are we going to recover if we are constantly living within a cloud of confusion”. (What is wrong with me). I did notice patterns and objectification when we did have sex. The process of me understanding what is right and wrong for me are coming clear. I am making the steps to reclaiming my life on my own path to recovery and my husband has a long road to recondition his sexual and emotional mind in a healthy way. I am not interested in fatasizing or sexuallizing sex with a sex addict anymore. When I notice some sort of paradigm shift, and feel my recovery is well on it’s way, then my friends, is when I will make the decision to start couples therapy. If there is no change in his behavior then bye bye baby bye bye, your turn to cry, I’m gunna have to say goodbye!!
interesting perspective Eva,
I’m not sure my heart was ever filled with hatred. I have been angry and enraged, but never hated my SA husband. I still don’t, even after continual disappointment, hurt and deception. I am angry and express that anger so that it never hardens to hatred.
Women have certainly been socialized to deny their own anger, and have their anger denied by others. Perhaps this is what leads some of us to hatred. How much healthier in the long run for wives and husbands, if appropriate anger is acknowledged and expressed. In my own faith journey, which is Christian, I am very grateful for the Hebrew book of Psalms—in which the depth and breath of human emotion is expressed, and God seems quite up to handling all of it.
Anger that is appropriate but denied will eventually lead us to passive aggressive behaviours—which are profoundly dishonest and damaging. Men are particularly adept at driving women into this corner by acting as if our anger is unreasonable and unacceptable. Often the sick SA’s who post here comment on the presence of anger in some posts as if that is something we should be ashamed of, or something that denotes “we are bad women”.
anger yes. hatred no. It’s a choice I have made, and I hope others will make theirs.
lots of light to all
On the angry note, here something that I think goes un – addressed and makes any woman in this type of situation angry: beyond the betrayal, hurt, health risks, etc, how about just becoming non – sexual, or in therapy language, sexual anorexia. I have to say, even before SA confessed, I found myself not wanting to be intimate with him because his behavior was so off the wall to me. When around otherwise “normal, hetero sexual male friends, or coworkers” I often found myself really attracted to them. I would feel bad. While never acting upon it, I will tell you, a couple of times it would have taken a feather for something to happen. After SA;s confession, it made so much sense, in a duh sort of way. Like hello, no wonder I am feeling attraction for other men, 1. they are straight and probably do not engage in deviant sick behavior 2. they act normal and are pleasant to be around 3. they like women. simple. 4. they like women. I think there is a degree of just not liking women too much in these SA husbands. Mine in particular, since same sex has been part of his acting out. Whole seperate issue entirely. However, even those who look at porn and constantly masturbate, or sleep with strippers, whatever. Perhaps they just dont respect or like women enough to love or be married to them and have real relationships with them. How awful.
I work in a male dominated industry. I work well with them. I know many an executive, business person who well, likes the company of women and genuinly likes to be with them and see them succeed, not fail. MY SA, does not have this quality.
Any insight on the topic of sexual anorexia, for partners of addicts? I think I have been experiencing it for some time.
There have been bouts of this – this sick feeling about touching someone who has violated you so completely, the feeling of self-righteousness that goes along with understanding the SA and making it clear that you are not responsible for their ejaculation if they are now not allowed to get it elsewhere – in my marriage. There have been times also when I am angry, resentful or just tired and I don’t want to give him what he wants. What? What about what I want? What about my own sexual needs and desires. With SA sex is so often not about our sexual needs, even if on the surface it seems like it is. And desire for intimacy with a person who has so blatantly destroyed any sense of security you had is hard to come by.
That said, I’ve also engaged or talked about engaging in, over the course of discovery and “working through it”, sexual behaviors that I told myself were open-minded but really just made me uncomfortable or felt degrading either during or after, thinking I could over-compensate and give him what he needed so I could feel safe. Boy, what I didn’t know about SA back then…
Right on, what we didn’t know..boy could that hurt us. Sorry for your pain. Horrible to think in efforts to please someone we love, the “pleasing” of them isn’t even about being with us. In response to not being there with me in intimate moments, from a man whose idea of foreplay (because you know, he’s sooo sexual and all) is “are you ready?”. I do the following in my mind. I hope you will find this with humor to a serious matter:
so far hubby has been, Matt Damon on a regular basis thank you very much, not too mention Vin Diesel (don’t ask), cute men at office, a waiter at favorite restaurant, etc. I have had all of them during my few as of late, intimate moments w the hubby and will continue to as a matter of survival and way to stroke my own ego and be with a dream machine. and not be with an SA who has almost ruined my life. I actually think this may be healthy for the time being. All followed by a ,yeah babe, you were great. 🙂 It is one way that i can actually enjoy myself without feeling to icky about him. My non sexual feeling is attached to him, not sex in general. Thank God!
Pam, you made me laugh. thanks for being honest.
And you know that all the sex experts always insist that for women “it’s all in their head anyway”!
Seriously, though—there isn’t anything yuckier that having sex and realizing you are incidental to the whole penis event. So, let’s all go to our “happy place”. But when it comes to that, isn’t it time to get out of bed–or the shower–or wherever?
You are too funny, Pam. I say if it works for you…enjoy 🙂 (I can think of a few I wouldn’t mind visiting me either!)
Diane- Its funny how you say we are incidental to the penis event. I always thought my husband was a generous lover because often he would please me and we would finish with out him having an orgasm. I always thought that was weird but figured I was just lucky LOL! The sick irony…it’s good to laugh at some things.
I also agree about the anger…I am very angry but I don’t hate my weirdo husband either. I still don’t know what I am going to do and expect I won’t know for a while but thank you for excellent food for thought. I don’t want to leave him…I have enjoyed his company and when I am not angry I feel for him. But I often wonder what a relationship with a normal man would feel like. I want to be with a one-woman man (don’t we all).
I did find a therapist for me that has worked with offenders and their families and she seems on target. I have only seen her once but am hoping to gain more insight on how I can best deal with this if I choose to deal at all.