Laya’s Story–Should I Force Him To Deal With His Past Trauma?

Dear JoAnn and Friends

Thank you for being my daily dose of anti-crazy for the past 2 weeks. You have helped me to maintain my sanity, and for that, I am hugely grateful. I feel so lucky to have found this group of phenomenal ladies – you have all given me the strength to cope with this.

Please forgive the length of my story – it’s just a wonderful feeling to be able to share this with (sadly) so many people who’ve been through various versions of the same thing. And I would like to tell you as much as I can, to get your advice on something (which I will ask at the end).

The history:
My husband and I have been together for 5 years and married for just under a year, and I love him very, very much. In addition to a potential sex addiction, our relationship hasn’t been easy. We live in a fairly traditional country with a history of racial inequalities, and with him and I coming from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds, my extended family did not initially accept him. (I call it my Romeo and Juliette story – because I have the naivety of a 13 year old and his emotional maturity is nothing over 15 .) However, with the support of my parents and sister, things have gotten better. With regards to the addiction, over the past 18 months I have found many unsettling things on his computer (which I will describe a bit later). He has never actively disclosed any of these activities, and only admits to some of them after I have found evidence. During our first and only joint therapy session, the therapist alluded to him having a sex addiction / dependency, but he refuses to agree with that – he feels that he just has an increased libido.

The things I know he’s done:

It all started when I found sexually explicit conversations with an ex-girlfriend (- who was initially described by him to me as the love of his life). Following that, I had seen sexual conversations and naked pictures exchanged with a female friend (- who subsequently attended out wedding). I have also found evidence of cybersex and the exchange of explicit pictures with strangers; and some e-mail contact with a prostitute. And most recently, I found out that he has had “actual” sex with a 19 year old (- he’s 37).

The things I suspect he’s done:

I’ve found out that he’s lied to me a few times, mainly through omission, and I suspect that he’s lied to me / avoided the truth many, many more times. I do suspect “actual” sex with many women / prostitutes – and have no idea whether he used protection or not. A few weeks ago, I found my fairly unique name-surname combination being linked to an adult site, after he used my computer, (which is registered to my name) – it seems too connected for it to just be a co-incidence. I am starting my career in research and everything thus far linked to my name (through Google search), had been my publications. His response to this was: “It’s not such a big deal”. I’ve belabored this last point because, strangely, it pisses me off the most.

The reasons why it took me so long to react – i.e. in my defense:

My fragile self-esteem and need to rescue people makes me the perfect target / play-dough for any cluster B personality. I was convinced in our relationship that I really was very sensitive, did over-react and was somewhat paranoid. Also, with the guilt of my family situation, I allowed many criticisms, bad moods and temper tantrums. (I’m working on all my issues in therapy.) And the other factor was, whenever I confronted him with some evidence, he would do the whole shameful-injured-puppy routine, and I would fall for it / be irritated by it enough to do what I could to make it stop. For a few months, I even took on the classic co-dependent role, which included: sexy lingerie, increased sexual activities and even some involvement in the cybersex – though I did protect my identity.

Please forgive my following judgmental rant and inexpert opinion: The good thing with being part of the cybersex stuff is that I got to see how sad and superficial the whole thing is, which makes me feel so much better about myself. It seems tragic that so many people around the world feel that they are “connecting” with each other through internet sex, when (in my opinion,) they’re just desperately trying to feel / experience something, which they probably never will.

Where we are now:

He says that he only had sex because I was distant and a “paranoid emotional vampire”. He’s promised to never have “actual” sex with anyone else (- he refuses to call it an affair -) but says that he might still have cybersex intermittently. He’s been for 4 sessions of therapy, but said it was too expensive and a waste of his time. He has very little family support, (as they live over-seas,) and feels that he doesn’t have many close friends. Therefore, I am his only support / available family / close friend. I have wonderful friends and family – I just don’t tell them the full story because they would never forgive him. I have been attending therapy for a year now with a somewhat over-protective, but nevertheless amazing psychologist. My STD tests thus far have been negative and I am awaiting the final results. Through much persistence, I have finally removed the smut associated with my name on the internet. I am (fortunately) financially independent and we (very fortunately) have no children. I have moved out into a place of my own and will probably, within the next year, file for a divorce.

The good things that have come out from this:
I am far stronger and more confident that I have ever been. My extended family has accepted someone into their lives, whom they normally would never have, because of their prejudices. Once the pain subsides, I will have wonderful memories or our times together. And I am just a spring-chicken, turning 30 this year – I know that I still have the best years of my life ahead.

My question:

After my very extensive reading (- books, articles and most of this site), I feel that I have a better insight into sex addiction than my husband does. I don’t know what childhood trauma caused him to develop these maladaptive coping skills, but I imagine it must have been significant. And so my question is: Should I try to force him to deal with all that past trauma in order to heal and live a fulfilling life, or should I just give up on this man, whom I truly love?

Please help me answer that question, with the following in mind.

He bought me a print a few months ago. It reads: “I wish my heart was bigger, so I could love you even more”.

Thank you for listening,
-Laya

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Responses

  1. Hi laya,

    I’m so sorry that you have to endure the pain of loving a Sex Addict, but, from reading your story I can tell that you are very strong and well on your way toward healing.

    Unfortunately your husband does not seem ready to even admit his problem, let alone work on recovery. His print shows such a tiny bit of remorse, certainly not enough to be encouraged about. I know it touches your heart, but that tiny bit is no where near enough to carry him through the difficult tasks of recovery. Hoping that it will will only break your heart even more.

    As for your question, the answer is really quite simple. YOU cannot force, coerce or in any way direct him toward change. Only he can do that. I know your heart is in the right place, but trying to convince someone, especially an addict, to do something that is in their best interest when they are not ready is an exercise in futility.

    He will not make any effort to get better until and unless HE is ready. Don’t waste your precious energy and hope on that. Keep that energy and hope for yourself.

    You are in my thoughts and I will be sending you all of my best energy. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. My internet connection is not great and if I am posting twice, please bear with me.

    Hi JoAnn,

    Thank you for your response. What you’ve said makes perfect sense – that there really is nothing that I can do to make him change / see things differently. I guess what I have to do right now is work on letting go. I know it’s far easier said than done, but THAT’S what I will focus on and try to do – let go and move on.

    Much love,
    Laya

  3. Dear Laya,

    This is becoming a very familiar story. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m so sorry you find yourself in this situation. I agree wholeheartedly with JoAnn….If your sex addict won’t even admit that he is an addict, then I see no hope. I would advise a young woman (and if you were my daughter I’d give you the same advice) who has her whole life ahead of her to LEAVE, RUN, NEVER LOOK BACK. He’s 12, at most. He will never begin to mature until he acknowledges the problem and seeks treatment and recovery with all of his heart. Doesn’t sound like he is anywhere close to that.

    He will never be your emotional equal, never a real father to his children, never a real husband to you. Separate yourself from this situation before there are children involved. He will never be able to parent a child if he is but a child himself.

    Continue on in your own therapy to see why you have a need to rescue people. It’s a tough thing to overcome. Work on you.

    My best to you, Betty

  4. Thank you, Betty. If that’s the advice that you would give to your daughter, then it would be foolish of me not to listen. And I must say that one of the good things which has come out of this, is that I am going to therapy (- which I probably wouldn’t have had things been different -) and I’m learning so much more about myself.

  5. Laya, I too am saddened that you find yourself in this position. I sense you are a kind, compassionate and brilliant woman! You have published research before turning 30, and THAT is a good thing. From my experience, I will say that recovery is difficult when the addict desires to change, impossible when the addict has little interest in change. You could decide to wait for him to arrive at the point where there is no option but to change. Or, you could decide to wish the best for him as he continues traveling down this path to desolation and destruction and move on to craft the best life possible for you.

    I advise the latter. Younger sex addicts, like your husband are sad creatures with whom many can sympathize. As they age and devolve deeper into their sexual fantasy, they become somewhat twisted, dark characters. They begin to inspire less sympathy and more fear and repulsion. Now, he seems a somewhat charming, lost soul, but without treatment , he will become someone you realy don’t want in your life.

  6. Hi An Honest Wife,

    Thank you for all your positive affirmation – it really helps to rebuild my shredded self-esteem. I appreciate your advice and have definitely planned for a divorce, but I’m a bit stuck right now. I think JoAnn mentioned that most people and animals have a fight or flight response to danger, but some small animals just tend to freeze – I think that’s me. But I really feel that with all the support I’ve received from all of you (who are, unfortunately, experts in this), I’m slowly gaining the strength to do what I have to.

    And thanks for the link to the dissertation. I’m a bit of a nerd and do actually enjoy reading psychology papers. I haven’t gone through all 100 pages as yet, but thus far it seems very interesting and apt.

    Thank you again for your wisdom.

    Much love,
    Laya