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.

Best,
Katie

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.