Hi JoAnn,

I came across your website and found it really inspirational. It took a lot, but it encouraged me to write down my story. I’ve shared it with you in the hopes that maybe it can help someone else going through this.

Thank you for the website. It is a wonderful resource for spouses.


I knew almost instantly when I started dating my husband that he was the one. I know it sounds cliche, but I really did have this feeling. We’d known each other our whole lives- our families being friends and old neighbors. I put him on a pedestal. He was the kind of guy that would never hurt me or cheat. He came from a good family. He was “safe.”

Three months into our relationship we had problems. Fighting over irrational things. He would freeze and shut down, I would desperately try to get him to open up. Hours after awful fights we’d be apologizing, telling each other that we loved one another and that the name calling, yelling and overreacting would stop. It felt like love. Now I’m not sure that it was. After 6 months of dating we moved in together. After 10 months, we were engaged.

We maintained an image of being a happy couple, but in our apartment we would fight, scream and sleep apart. Someone would storm out, then come back to fight some more. Behaviors we had learned early in our life, some that I had watched in my parents’ relationship manifested themselves in ours. We would confide in our close friends that we weren’t sure; we couldn’t understand the others behavior. I always felt like something was missing, or just didn’t add up. We clung to each other and the relationship, but I’ve never felt more alone with another person than I did with my husband.

While we were engaged, he took an EMT class and started to become friendly with a girl he used to know. But it was more than friendly, it was flirtatious and sexually charged. He would comment on pictures of her in a bikini and exchange flirty comments with her on social networking sites. I was devastated. I would look at the pictures of her and feel that I didn’t measure up. She was blond, I’m a brunette. It felt like he was rejecting every essence of who I was. The behavior escalated to the point that I threatened to leave. He said he would stop, but then days later was back at it.

At the time I asked myself, “if he knows he could lose the relationship and won’t stop, why is he doing it?” Now I realize that it was symptomatic of larger issues I would soon discover. At the time I blamed myself and felt unloved. We went to relationship counseling and as well-meaning as our therapist was, she couldn’t recognize the symptoms of sex addiction that my husband exhibited- or my own codependency for that matter.

Things, I believed, got better for a few months and we continued planning our wedding. Occasionally I would find in his web history links to pornographic sites and flirty conversations with girls he claimed were just friends. Lying about everything continued to be a problem and made me feel paranoid, constantly suspicious and emotionally drained. I realize now that we were sinking into an addict co-addict relationship that was unhealthy, painful and devastating to us both. I would tell myself that the porn sites or e-mails I discovered were just what all men do and I couldn’t relate because I’m a woman. The thing was, my husband wasn’t very sexual with me. I was typically the one to initiate our intimacy and often felt inadequate and unattractive because he would rather view these sites than be with me. I would be so angry when I would find these pictures, but hours later I would tell myself that it was because I wasn’t sexual enough or, not the right kind of sexy. One day I remember sending him pictures of myself in a desperate attempt to replace his pornography viewing. I was ashamed and felt hopeless. And of course, it didn’t work.

The marriage happened anyway, and it was the one day in the last year that I can actually say was 100% happy. It reassures me that we are in love on our darkest days because on the day we exchanged those vows it was just us. No porn, no fighting, no other women. Just us. I felt beautiful, happy and confident in our relationship. Our honeymoon was more of the same and I returned feeling confident and hopeful that we were on a different, better path from now on.

A month into our marriage I discovered that he had communicated with his ex girlfriend while we were together. That put my very competent investigative skills to work. I logged into an email account he didn’t know I knew he had and found conversations and pictures. So many. I learned that he had been going on Craigslist to communicate and exchange pictures with people, including members of the same sex which confused and devastated me. There were conversations about meeting up over lunch to engage in sexual acts. The porn sites had been just the tip of the iceberg that was his sex addiction. It felt surreal- this couldn’t be my husband, the one who was never really that sexual with me. My mind raced with questions of “Is he gay?” “Did he meet up with these people?” I left the apartment and moved in with my parents. We all reeled from the shock of what we learned about the person we thought we knew and loved.

That was the darkest period of my life. I sunk into a depression, that only through meetings, therapy and anti-depressants I was able to pull myself out of. My behavior was erratic, crazy, dark and frightening for me. I didn’t recognize who I was. I lost my appetite, began losing weight and not sleeping through the night. I would scream and cry for hours on the phone with my husband. Slowly I began to work my way up from the bottom. It has been 6 months and I still have my days. My husband is in recovery with 3 months of sobriety. I am also going to meetings and therapy to work on my stuff. The relationship will never be the same, but hopefully it can be better. We are both committed to working on ourselves and the relationship. I don’t know what’s in store for us.

I want women who go through this to know that it’s really not about them. I still struggle with that from time to time. It has nothing to do with how attractive, sexual, available, or good you are in the relationship. I compromised myself because I thought I could change his behavior, never realizing that it had nothing to do with me or the relationship. It’s an illness- an addiction that with help and willingness they can pull themselves out of.

And there’s hope for us, too. I’m learning that who I am is good enough; that I can be myself and that’s enough; that I’m not a model, but I’m still attractive and loving and worthwhile. Some people in recovery get to the point when they can express gratitude for the discovery or disclosure of their spouse’s sex addiction. I’m not there yet, but I can see that it happened for a reason, even as difficult as the timing was. My husband and I never had a honeymoon stage or got to enjoy being newlyweds. I still have a hard time looking at wedding pictures and have not ordered our album yet. That day seems like a dream, and everything before and after it a nightmare that now I find painful to think about.

Still, it happened when it did so that we could get help. We’re still young and able to become the people we’re meant to be. Thank God, we have no children and can address these problems before we start our family, so that we can be better for them and they won’t live with the pain of addiction and codependency like we have.

If you would like to know more about the Sisterhood of Support website please click here.

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8 Responses

  1. Your right, the fault is not in your hands. sorry for that im a wife too and i can feel the pain that you’re going through. take a space and breath, you need that space for you to think clearly. i hope everything went well. God Bless you!

  2. Please know that you ARE NOT a “co dependent” but suffering from PTSD you need to read the book “YOUR SEXUALLY ADDICTED SPOUSE..HOW TO COPE AND HEAL” I refuse to be told I am a co dependent I never knew, encouraged, enabled, or accepted my husbands sexual addiction. YOU ARE NOT A CO-DEPENDENT OR CO-ADDICT YOU ARE A TRAUMA SURVIVOR!!! NONE OF US WOULD BE IN THE EXCRUCIATING AMOUNT OF PAIN WE ARE IN IF WE ARE CO DEPENDENTS! ITS THERE DISEASE AND THEIR ADDICTION NOT OURS!!!!!

  3. I am going through this right now. Only we are 13 years into the marriage with 2 young children. I want to leave so bad. I am here solely because I feel like a separation would tear my children apart. I have begun thinking of the process of divorce. He doesn’t think he needs help. It is all so overwhelming. I told him tonight that I don’t ever feel like he is mine…someone/something is always lurking in the inbox…Good for you two for fighting this battle..it is a noble one…my best wishes to you both.

    1. Heidi, some of have to stay even when we don’t want to stay. I am staying because of money…my SAH spent most of our life savings (we are nearing retirement age) on an escort. You need to get into counseling for yourself. IF your SAH doesn’t believe he needs help, then he REALLY needs help. I am so glad you found this site.

  4. Katie,

    I’m so sorry that you are going through this! It is so strange to read another person’s story and realize how much it echos your own. I am new to this site and have yet to tell my story but I need to do that soon. I am desperate for support and advice from others going through similar circumstances. I found this site a few weeks ago and scroll around and read a little each night during my alone time. It truly feels like “home” to me here. I have seen my family doctor and am looking for the RIGHT therapist now. I took my first anti-depressant today. Still not sure how I feel about THAT. 🙁 I know a little pill can’t take my problems away but my doctor assured me it will help with how I cope with them. I am clinging on to anything that someone (especially my trusted MD) is suggesting. Best of luck to you and I hope you get all the good things you deserve! XO!

    1. Hi ladies, I can’t believe that I posted this so long ago. Reading your own story after some time has passed feels so surreal. The last several months have been such a roller coaster. Unfortunately, I have felt retraumatized as a result of my husband’s slip a couple of months ago that he withheld from me. Sadly this seems like just more of the same. Loss of trust:betrayal; heartache– all the pain you all know so well. I wanted to share a book title- that was given to me by a woman after this post and a friend in a support group – Your Sexually Addicted Spouse. It has been so comforting to read after so much literature out there labeled spouses of sex addicts as “co-addicted.” While I still attend those meetings, I know longer accept that label. Now I am just focused on my own healing and realize that when my husband reveals new information to me it is traumatic and painful, but that I am not a co-addict because of my responses to it. Hope you all have peace in your lives and wish everyone the best!

  5. I am in the midst myself. Totally consumed right now. Same story … More or less… As all of you. Years. Crags list. Lies. Ugh. Makes me sick, sad… We have 3 kids. And crazy as it seems aside from this… He is a great guy. He is headed to an inpatient clinic. But even then are the success rates only 5 percent. Appreciate you all for sharing. Don’t know why but it really does make me feel comforted somehow.

  6. It takes us a long time to understand that the addiction has nothing to do with us. For whatever reason sex placated their inability to commit to intimacy. My husband has been at this for over 40 years……and I discovered this only 3 years ago. I, like the rest of us,
    blamed myself all these years. I thought he was the cats ass so to speak. Now since he exposed – he attends private therapy weekly and meditates daily. He avoids any contact with SA groups and thus has no sponsor to support him. He still lies – a life long habit that he says he is trying to break. In other words, girls, he is not there yet. I on the other hand have distanced myself from the abyss. I do things to please myself and to build up my self esteem which I lost to the disease.
    I wish for us to stay strong and plow through and understand how important it is to take care of ourselves first. The SA has to take charge of their commitment to heal..You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
    thank you for listening.

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