Love ‘Em And Leave ‘Em

Sometimes we really can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been reminiscing today (wait–that’s too nice of a word, I think ‘mentally slumming’ fits better) about the dark years with Larry–he was living in denial, acting like a jerk and I felt as if the entire weight of the universe was crushing my spirit. I remember those long months before I finally decided to leave. I remember trying to make sense out of the nonsense. I remember being unable to decide what to eat for dinner, let alone decide what to do with the rest of my life.

But, I also remember a pervasive, underlying phrase that kept coming back to me, clouding my choices.

‘But, I love him.’

Four little words. Four words that can have so much influence. Four little words that seem to paralyze our common sense and force us to do stupid things.

So, I thought that now, today, when my mind is much more clear and my decisions have been made, that I would analyze ‘Love’. Okay, I know, philosophers have been trying to do that for centuries, but let’s just look at love from the perspective of a relationship in crisis over a spouse or partner’s Sexual Addiction.

I have no doubt that every woman on this site feels love for their partner. Most of you were blindsided by the discovery of the addiction and many of you are still grasping desperately for a lifeline. But, once the reality sets in, choices must be made.

I remember that every time I tried to be analytical and make my ‘pluses and minuses lists’ about the relationship that little ‘love’ phrase just kept nagging at me. Finally I just snapped, went a little crazy and decided that my ‘gut’ was telling me that I should stay with this man, whom I truly loved with all my being. After all, he was my ‘soul mate’.

Well, that little burst of insanity didn’t last very long (thank god!) and I had to face the reality that this love was not making me happy–in fact, it was killing me. I finally realized that the love I felt was uniquely my own emotion; it came from within myself. But, the behaviors that were making me unhappy were coming from without, from someone whom, although I loved him, I could not control, make him ‘see the light’, or change his ways. I loved him but he was not being loving toward me.

The light bulb went off when I finally realized that just because I loved him didn’t mean that I had to stay with him. I could keep my love. Keep the good things. Keep the memories that I chose to keep even if they were now tainted with deceit. I could make those choices. That love was my precious emotion, mine to do with as I pleased. Loving someone does not mean you have to stay with them.

Here is a list of what I think love is and what I think love isn’t:

Love Is:

  • An emotion we feel that we may or may not have any control over.
  • A joyful feeling that sharpens our sense of wonder and beauty.
  • An appreciation of personal and universal uniqueness.
  • A respect for others choices in life.
  • Compassion.
  • Empathy.

Love Is Not:

  • Unconditional.
  • Disrespectful.
  • Dishonest.
  • Deceitful.
  • Harmful.
  • Sex.
  • Lust.
  • Necessarily mutual.
  • At first sight.
  • The ties that bind.

We may continue to love our partners and spouses even though they do not love us, or even have the capacity to love us. I feel a deep sense of respect and love for my two ex husbands, but I don’t regret for a minute that I left them. And, leaving Larry was the single, most loving thing that I did for myself.

Loving your partner and staying in a bad relationship with them are two individual parts of your life; they are not bound together with cement. Each is separate. You can have one without the other.

You can love ’em AND leave ’em.

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Responses

  1. I would like to comment that love is different for everyone and is a very unique and personal feeling which might present and feel different to each of us and with different people, because of the very things which make us us. For me love is a feeling of togetherness and tenderness because of a mutual respect, appreciation attraction to and understanding of another’s feelings, outlook, ideas, and attraction to me as a person, emotionally and sexually. Love cannot really be described in mere words. It goes far deeper than that and these things and the fact that we don’t understand it completely makes it the loveliest and most exhilerating experience. To me. I couldn’t resist taking a peek and letting you know that I have met such a lovely man. Such a lovely lovely man. And I’m very very happy 🙂 with no doubt that I made the right decision when I left my SA. I see him sometimes and feel a great deal of pity for him because he will never understand the effect his actions had on me (and possibly others) and will never understand why he will always be so lonely. I am in a good place.

    1. Perfect time for this article. I’ve been thinking the last two days of calling off the divorce. I caught my husband 1.5 years ago but he has admitted to it going on back at least 7 years (our youngest was 2 yrs old). There were no bad times back then–no viable excuse. Only, when he was sick, depressed and in his addiction always on his iPad or desktop pretending to work. One person mention the business/financial success might have led to some of the Escorts with her husband. I agree, that may have been one of the main reasons mine was able to pay $500 for 2 hours many times in his dark, dirty world. But NOW, his career is about to change for the worse plus we are in the midst of a divorce. Mr. Big Shot with Escorts may now be without his career, kibbles (lovely kids, home, dog, wife). He still feels sorry for himself and has only apologized maybe once, no remorse. That’s the hard part because I do love him. Just cannot live with the craziness of a home with an addict. I moved him out 2 months ago. The hard part is sharing my girls with him (I miss them when they are at his place). I hope to recover from the deceit but it will take years. For the divorce, I had forensics done on his iPad, phone and hard drives–initial findings “The scope and frequency of Escort sites/rating sites and pornography is extensive & going back to 2009”. He even had the hookers at our second home!! Very risky. But yet neither of us have STDS, AIDS, HiP C!!! Don’t understand his fetish and what he was actually doing most of the time with these young 20 year old when he is 50 years old. Stay tuned…

  2. Nice. This is what I keep thinking-But I love him. Of course I do! I am worried about him. I struggle with the thought that love is a choice and sometimes really loving is a HARD choice. Love for me right now is letting go. My therapist shared with me recently that love can be unconditional but relationships ARE conditional. An eye opener for (blind)me. I may choose to love, but not to stay. Right now I am letting go of all my security, all my “things” and, despite my fear choosing to love by letting go. I hope this allows My husband some room to heal, let go and grow up. I suspect that whatever comes of our soon to be separation will be the last and best chance for us both to heal.

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. For Seren and anyone else. I know it is too early to be thinking about it, but I am human so I do. How did you learn to trust a new person? I mean, I came from a great loving family whom I trust, but now, in my life it is difficult to trust beyond that. How did you learn to love yourself enough to let someone else love you? I am afraid I will never be able to do that. I used to be a talented, lovely young lady HA!….now I wonder if I will ever find her again. How did or do you not worry about your SA (especially one who was your spouse and friend? So much guilt and fear.
    Thanks for indulging me. I in such a time of turmoil. My thoughts are all over the place.

    J

  4. Seren!

    How wonderful to hear from you–and with such good news. I am so happy for you, right now my heart is just bursting with joy!

    I think I should start a special page of honor for our distinguished alumni. Let me think on that so that I can do it justice. After it’s done I would like you to take your place of honor under your name plague or something of that sort, (I’m just thinking out loud about design ideas) and share a paragraph or two of inspiration for everyone here.

    You have brought hope to everyone here.

    All my best to you for a joyful future.

    JoAnn

  5. JoAnn,

    I really really LOVE this post!!!

    “Loving someone does not mean you have to stay with them.”

    That is just so so profound and beautiful.

    And to Seren! Wow! I came across an old post from you the other day and wondered how you were… Such wonderful news!!!

    All the best,

    Lorraine

  6. Thank you for this post JoAnn. It is exactly what I’m struggling with at this very time. We have been separated for a year and he just admitted that he’s had a major relapse. All the tools went out the window and once he started he went on a bender. I don’t even know if he’s stopped, but I told him we have to end because I couldn’t let his behavior continue to hurt me. Since I uttered the words I have been filled with the sadness that comes from the place of “but I love him”. I am glad to know that this is a response shared by many when confronted with this. You’re so right, it is the behaviors that I don’t love and can no longer have in my life.

    Thanks again,
    Kacy

  7. Hi To All,
    This post probably has gone threw all our heads and hearts! I Remember years ago after one of my trips to the er and being referred to the women’s shelter.When I went the woman I spoke to said to me love doesn’t hurt well little did I know than, I thought she meant hitting,beatings.I did finally leave my husband after 20 years I Didn’t realize until I fell in love with my SA just how much love can hurt.This pain far surpassed any pain that I have ever felt,this addiction effects,how I look at myself,its there every where I go,every woman I see is a reminder of what he does,his needs,his wants and that no matter how much I love he can not return it. He will tell me he loves me,and I believes on some level he just might,but hopefully the stronger I get and knowing I will not get what I truly need from him that I can let go and remember LOVE DOEST HURT. He has been trying, that’s something but I believe if he would put the effort into recovery that he did to protect the addiction he could do it. Only time will tell
    Best to all

  8. I don’t feel that “but I love him” feeling, not today, not for the last few days. This is new – weird, scary in a way. I’m not sure if I can trust it. All this time, through the lies and the discoveries of his PA and escort cruising and other falsehoods too numerous to mention -“but I love him” kept me signing up for more, so did the idea that love should be unconditional. I know there are deal breakers but I always second guess whether I’m too willing to bail, not able to get through the hard spots.

    I look at him now and I just feel like I don’t know him, like there isn’t even anybody really in there to know. From his childhood history to what he ate for lunch yesterday – so much is made up, he’s not real!

    He does wonderful things for me – he is regularly, sensitive, giving and helpful. But he’s a burden – he sexualizes every animal, vegetable and mineral – if he’s mad at some guy at work, he’s going to “sodomize him and show him what a real man is.” If he has morning breath, his breath smells like he’s been doing something I won’t mention to the cat.” His nicknames for everyone from his doctor to his neighbor to his boss are sexual or genitalia related. He grabs at me continually. He has an erection constantly. Before I knew about the sa, I thought he was just kind of locker-room in his aesthetic – now, I’m grossed out.

    I have one foot in and one foot out. Why stick it out with someone who is probably mentally ill and doesn’t even seem to be making a full effort at recovery? I have no kids with him, no house with him, no decades-long history, just the dreams we shared of making a future together and memories of good times when I was unaware of the sa. I suppose I need to get stronger and in time I’ll be able to do what I need to do. And, if I continue to feel “But I DON’T love him,” it will be clear what I need to do.

  9. I am extremely grateful for this site. I stumbled upon it the other day.
    Sadly, the effects of living with a sex addict have created permanent scars of my soul.
    For years – nearly 10 to be exact, I have worked a 12-step program and so did my SA. He would keep saying “I know what I want out of my marriage” total transparency, fidelity, compassion, intimacy, boundaries. It was what I wanted as well. Regretfully, in my sickness, I began to create that atmosphere with my actions. The reality is – that behavior is a huge element of my illness – as well as a “text-book” example of denial. I know that in order to stop living in denial, I have to leave my SA.
    Intellectually, I get it!!!! I can say it!!!! Emotionally I am wedged between those worlds.

  10. I am so happy for you, Seren! I wonder if I will ever have that kind of love. I once thought I did. I felt so tired today – just sad and empty. I will never understand how my
    husband (now ex), could throw away 37 years together in favor of this meaninless morass of fantasy and lust. He called tonight – guess he wants to make sure I’m not getting
    a life or maybe he’s lonely too and I was his best and only friend. Anyway, I’m so glad to have discovered this site. absolutely no one can comprehend what hell this is, except someone who has experienced it. Being thrown away by the one
    you love is unbearably painful. Yes, I was the one who actually filed for the divorce – he didn’t even bother to get an attorney – just used mine – but I had no choice. He
    had become a souljacker – it was leave or die.

  11. Hi Mayam,

    Yep, your guys sounds more than a little bazaar! The comment about showing the guy at work – scary! Mine would
    hole up in his den for whole weekends – barely coming up for food and air! Sounds funny but really a tragedy! Whole family under the bus, for this?

  12. Today I am feeling really sad because I am certain that I order for me to truly recover and find the dignity and peace I want, I have to divorce my SA. I have had similar feelings in the past few years, but this is different. In my meetings, we read how minimizing or denying the effects of sexaholism has brought us to the point of despair and we become emotionally numb. Well for me, that really sucks. I came from an emotionally starved family to begin with. We could be happy but that was about all. To share our feelings were basically unheard of. We could talk about details of our day, but it was more like “just the facts, ma”am”. The only reason why my husband is gong back to meetings again, 90/90 and agreeing to do intense marriage counseling – again is because he got caught! For nearly 10 years he has been working a program. But every slip, relapse etc, has been revealed by my discovery. Then he resets his sobriety date – AGAIN- and . . . . well you know the story.
    The sick me wants to stay and understand that he is sick, but the healthy person wants me to leave and learn to live in a healthy home.

  13. Dear Zachette,
    I understand.
    Sometimes we discover that sobriety changes one dynamic, but too many of the others remain.
    The necessary transformational work on the part of the SA may not be forthcoming, or even possible in this lifetime.

    This realization is made more difficult when the spouse/partner is subsumed into a therapeutic model that only works on sobriety and focuses primarily on spousal participation in addiction. The larger picture of the relational problems have no where to go. We are left choosing the devil or the deep blue sea. But it’s a false choice. There is more. You can step away, catch your breath, recover yourself, and then make healthy decisions about what you can and cannot be a part of—in his recovery, and in the renewing of a relationship.

    I know how each revealing of “how things are” is another loss, and my heart breaks with yours. But you are still a person who has life to live. Whether we are rich or poor in that life, there can be joy and laughter, meaning and grace. Turn your soul in that direction and trust yourself.

    lightbeams on the way,
    D.

  14. “What is Love?”
    I have come to the realization that I have had a very distorted view of what “love” is, based on having nothing even remotely close to a healthy model in my own family of origin, or in my early adult hood.My marriage, my relationship with my husband has felt *nothing* like “love”. I do fear my husband may have viewed me as an object, by the way he has treated me in other areas of our relationship, the same way an alcoholic looks at a bottle of Gin. I found this amazing essay on what love ISN’T on the Recovery Nation website. It made a lot of lightbulbs go on in my head…

    I really wanted to share this, so here it is:

    Exploring the Concept of Love

    Love is such an abstract and varied value, that it is difficult to summarize all that love is in a single lesson. There is the love that one feels for a romantic partner, the love that one experiences when a part of a family. The love that is associated with God. The love that is developed in relation to yourself. The love of a pet. The love of a friend…and on and on and on. Rather than discussing all that love can be, we will instead talk about what love isn’t.

    What love isn’t…

    Love is not attraction. One does not fall in love with a person based on their physical appearance. In other words, love at first site does not exist in a healthy reality. It may be a euphorically awesome experience, but it is not love. And that is not to say that you should avoid such a feeling. Quite the contrary. What else is life for if not to enjoy in such a magical way. Unfortunately, many people’s lives are seriously damaged when they label the overwhelmingly pleasurable feelings that they are experiencing as a result of such a strong attraction as love. When this happens, goals are changed, priorities are changed, values are changed…all based on a feeling. An emotion. Most often, this emotion fades rather quickly, or is not reciprocated…and the person feels the other end of the emotional spectrum. If you equate a physical attraction to someone, it will be important for you to realize that this is not love. Until you have come to know the person within that body; until that person comes to know you…what you are experiencing is not love. It may be admiration, affection, attraction, desire…heck, it may even be desperation…but attraction is certainly not love.

    Love is not stability. Though stability can and should play a big part in a long-term, committed relationship…remaining in that relationship for the sole sake of stability does not equate to love. For love to occur, there must be something more than merely maintaining the status quo of the relationship. There must be some interest in seeing the relationship and/or the individuals grow.

    Love is not a distraction, nor a shortcut. To often, rather than looking at one’s own chaotic life, a person seeks out “love” from others in an effort to distract them from having to deal with that life. Or to artificially produce the esteem that would otherwise require years to develop.

    Love is not selfish. For love to occur, it must be by choice. It must be through the desire to care for, nurture, share and experience certain parts of your life with that person…and for those feelings to be reciprocated. This isn’t to suggest that love cannot include selfish acts…it can and should. Individual boundaries that include clear expectations of the other’s behavior within the relationship are examples of this. Without these boundaries and “selfish expectations”, it would be too easy to be taken advantage of by a selfish partner.

    Love is not a guess. In love, it is the responsibility of each partner to share his or her true self with the other. Let’s repeat that. In love, it is the responsibility of EACH PARTNER to share his or her true self with the other. Without this, the experience of love can achieve nothing more than an illusion. Without honesty and the sharing of one’s inner self…any emotions experienced are based on projections and images. Additionally, love is never having to guess how your partner really feels. To trust that they are sharing their true selves with you.

    Love is not desperate. When feelings of love are not reciprocated, or when the target of your love does not treat you in a way that reflects the way that you want to be treated…then the relationship is not based in love. Most likely, when someone continues to pursue such a relationship, there are unresolved issues from one’s past, or emotional deficiencies (e.g. low self-esteem)…but the feelings that are being experienced are not love. Love does not have to be won. It does not have to be proven.

    Love is not a savior. Love should never be sought in an attempt to “rescue” your otherwise unsatisfying and/or chaotic life. Additionally, love should never be used as a bargaining tool after “rescuing” another person. Love is best experienced when you have first learned to love yourself. That is more than a cliché…it is absolutely true in terms of the fulfillment that love can bring.

    Love is not dangerous. In love, there should never be a worry that your vulnerabilities will ever be used against you. Or that something you share in complete sincerity is later taken out of context or used to judge you. Communication is open and instant. Even if that means to communicate that you are not in an emotional state to effectively communicate at a particular moment.

    How do you value love?
    Because love is a universal value that is sought by all healthy individuals, take some time now to explore your own feelings about love. Post your own understanding of what love is. The role that love plays in your life (or the role that you would like love to play in your life). Focus only on the positive aspects of love, and don’t forget to include the following areas: self-love; romantic love; familial love; unconditional love; spiritual love and any other “love topics” that you believe are important to you.

    -RecoveryNation.com

  15. Diane,
    I found your reply to Zachette, very interesting. I’ve been divorced a couple of months. I tried for so long to get my husband to “see the light”, and admit he had a sex addiction.
    I felt like if only he would go to a recovery program, we might have a chance. He refused to admit he had a problem – only blamed me. “If only I’d give him a perfect day”, etc.
    One time when he was being more honest than usual, he told me
    that he was getting older now and only had so much sexual energy and that was how he had to use it (fantasizing and masturating). He then said, “You’re not mad, are you?” so preposterous!! He is also a misogynist and was very mean and
    abusive for the last fifteen years. I guess I picked the devil and stayed waaaaay longer than I should have. Before the ink was dry on the divorce papers, he informed me he had had started to go to SA meetings – one – maybe two at he most a week. I know he is still in his addiction – after all these years I can tell. He lies and says he’s sober – NOT! He gave a big song and dance about learning he used the SA to deal with his problems. That’s the extent of it. Nothing about clearing up the wreckage of his past or owning anything, or making amends. I am coming to believe that he is one of those people they talk about in 12-step programs who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves and others. You’re right. Discovering “how things
    are”. is another loss – a total loss of hope. I have come to
    see that without some supernatural miracle, he will never be
    capable of being a real partner – not in this lifetime. What
    makes this so different from other addictions, Diane? Like
    alcoholism or eating disorders, where people really do recover? A therapist told me to get out of this marriage –
    actually every therapist I went to. This particular one said, these men rarely ever really get well. I want to know
    why. Thanks for anything you can tell me about this!!

  16. Dearest LeannaD,
    What can I tell you that you don’t already know in the core of your being?

    You are divorced, can talk about what happened to you, how you participated, how you got out, the proof of why you did, and yet you still live in some torment over what you experienced and the decision you had to make to stay sane. That’s a pretty good indicator of just how complex and damaging this has been.

    It is so surreal. The cruelty. The lying. The debasing of sexual intimacy. The denials. The infantile posturing. The irrational decisions. The financial ruin. The loneliness. The emotional abuse. I could go on and on and so could you. We weren’t just living with the sexual addiction, we were living with the mental illness behind it—the result of whatever terrible trauma our SA’s experienced as children.

    I am still learning like everyone else on this site. And like so many of you, I have learned some things the hard way—the heart-breaking way. I have learned that the addiction and the mental illness mean that most of us have NO IDEA who these people really are. We know who they want to be known as. I suspect they want to be normal like most mentally ill people, and having us around is what become a normalizing piece of their own terror.

    Oh Gosh, maybe that’s all horseshit. I don’t know sometimes. But I have a hunch that we know as much as the experts pitching various programs, faith stances, and diagnoses. For me, it’s Compassion yes. Tolerance no.

    I am recovering myself. I am not divorced. But I’m also afraid if I push any more toward healing our relationship I will lose what’s left of it that is still loving and good after 30 years. But I’ve said it before, if I was young I wouldn’t hesitate to walk, no run away, and get out of that relationship/marriage ASAP.

    LeannaD, find what you need in order to let it go. Create a ritual. Write words of gratitude, regret and release. Choose symbols that mean different things. Bury things. Burn things. Plant things. Put precious things in beautiful boxes. Light candles. Blow candles out. Just do what you need to do—not necessarily all at once.

    You have already revealed your strength. Keep on trusting that you have what need for an abundant life.

    not sure if that’s what you were looking for,
    with love,
    D.

  17. Dear Diane,

    Thank you so much for validating me. How rare that is! No one can possibly understand the pain of this who has not ecperienced it firsthand.

    I am not young. I have five g-kids and a 23yr. old son still
    at home who has Down Syndrome. I am still kind of blown away that I got the strength to extract myself from this
    nighmare. It is surreal. My ex (after 37 yrs. together, that
    will never sound natural), and I still spend time together.
    Probably too much time. It can be civilized but always
    seems to come undone – usually him thinking he can still
    insult me and then me telling him to, GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!
    The next day he might call – say he’s sorry and minimalize
    whatever happened. I am finding that I am having more good days. I don’t feel so desperate. So old and hopeless. Today,
    while waiting at Kaiser for my son’s meds, I looked through
    a magazine about European travel and cruises and got excited
    about the possibility of taking a trip with a friend. It’s so awesome to have something to look forward to!! Like so many others here, I can remember all the days – especially Sunday’s, when I would drive around by myself with no where to go and no one to do anything with, feeling like I was free-falling in space. Like I had a huge hole in my chest. All my friends were married to normal guys and were planning fun things for their retirement years. I finally joined a Divorce Care group at my church and through that, met a women
    (who it turned out, lives a block away from me)who was starting a group for women going through divorces, in her home. I am the oldest one there. All of us have been betrayed in one way or another. They gave me the backbone I needed to end this 15yr. struggle. I remember the day I actually initiated the divorce paper work. I felt like I was
    dazed on the way home. My friend poured me a huge glass of wine and we talked for hours.

    I too, have compassion for my husband. It’s heartbreaking to
    witness another human being – the person you loved so much –
    totally destroy themselves. He worked so hard his whole life,
    only to have lost most of what he worked for. He was fired form his job and at his age (60), will probably never get
    another like it. He’s gambled most of his money away in the
    stock market. He tries to put up a brave front. I actually
    worry at times that he may take his life. He probably needs the addiction in order to survive.

    I appreciate all your support and helpful suggestions. I like
    the idea of burying things and burning things. Of putting
    treasures in pretty boxes! I will keep you in my thoughts and
    prayers!!

  18. so here are some rambling thoughts . . .
    My husband has been successful in his addiction!!! He has never been fired, arrested, or contracted an STD. I have never left him.
    In fact, he just started his own company with a partner and they are “rocking” it. While I am grateful for his success, and might I tell you that I retired from a 20 year career 8 years ago, I often wonder if all that success has enabled him to practice his disease.
    We went to yet another therapist Tuesday, and I heard the same story coming out of his mouth. I want to get better, I love my wife, I am horrified of what I have done, bla bla bla. I feel like Forrest Gump when he decides to quit running. He just stops and goes back home. Well I am near the end of my run. I have exhausted every emotion in my body and have done more work on myself than I care to admit. I knew what to do years ago when he had his first affair 4 years into my marriage. But I was to stubborn and I was too young to really understand. However, I did know what was the right thing to do. My husband does not know any other way of life. He is identical to a person that is raised in a MOB family. They might have days, months even a year of clarity and making good moral decisions, but they always go back to a life of crime. Might sound really crazy, but you do bet a horse on its track record and this horse is a nag.

  19. Zachette and Everyone,
    I am reading your experiences and reflecting on my situation. It seems like many of the women here (except Lorraine) have been in very long term relationships with their sa. I’ve only been in for three years. If you could, would you turn back the clock and have left upon first discovering infidelity or porn or the affair? Do you wish you’d gotten out sooner?

    I knew what to do ten months in when I discovered he’d been contacting escorts throughout our nascent relationship. I forgave him, rationalized his behavior and completely believed he would never do it again. Three ddays later, my eyes are finally open – only now, we’re so wrapped up in each other’s lives, extricating myself is difficult. I believe that is what I’m moving towards.

    I know he’ll return to this and i honestly believe that may be the only way he can function and if so, he’s best to start over with someone new and try keeping his secret from her. I know too much to bet on him again.

  20. Well, this is a great discussion. thank you all for your thoughts.

    Mayam,
    Yes, if I discovered my SA in the early years I would leave and never look back.

    Zachette,
    Thank you for that great image of Forrest Gump. That’s me exactly. And I’m done. As far as your guy, his success and you are just part of the normalizing props for his double life. He thinks: How can there be anything wrong with me when he has a good business and a good wife?

    LeannaD,
    So he still comes around to make you feel bad every now and then? That’s a good indicator of how much of a role you played in his addiction and mental illness. He still needs you every now and then. Thank God you saved yourself. Thank you for sharing about your special needs adult child. There are a number of women on this site who also have special needs children. I am in awe of your ability to make good decisions for yourself when you genuinely have others depending on you in this special way. You really are amazing, LeannaD, and to top it all off you went out to join those other support groups too.

    Listen you three fabulous women—-you are stars—bright shining stars for others reading this site. And I just know your lives will get better and better because you are finding the way. And it helps me to know my will, as well.

    thanks for the lift this morning,
    D.

  21. In reply to Mayam, for me, I was not ready to leave my addicted spouse when I first learned about the disease.
    I guess I was not ready. I wanted to believe he could recover. However, I never knew just how sick he was until recently.
    Like I said, we have been working our programs for nearly 10 years, I thought he was being honest. Sure, he would tell me that he was having some triggering days etc, but he defined his own sobriety and only worked his program 99%.
    What I am realizing is that I have also been working my program only 99%. Unfortunately the 1% that I have to work is divorcing him. I have been avoiding this by keeping my nose clean, not snooping, praying, doing gods will, sponsoring s-anons, being loving to my husband. I will continue to do all of these things and more but I can no longer share my life with him.
    You will know when you have hit your wall. The only advice I can give is to let some of the anger, pain and sadness simmer before you make any decision- regardless if you leave the marriage or stay.

  22. Thank you Diane! You made my day! I think we’ll all a very special group of women – the fact that we’re still breathing is a miracle of sorts. Zachette, you’re so right – you know when you have hit your wall. We may stick around for awhile
    (sex addicts can make that easy – you usually have to force them out – there like gum on your shoe) – but eventually we
    get the courage to say ENOUGH – and when we wash our hands of these guys – there clean! It took alot of crap for me.
    I realize now that ex started this stuff years ago – he just
    had enough sexual energy in those days to throw me a bone, LOL, now and again. He cheated on me when I was pregnant with
    my daughter, who is now 35. I literally caught him with his
    pants down. He swore they didn’t actually do it but when I didn’t buy that, he swore it was that one and only time. I forgave him – I was young and in love and like I said, young.
    Probably most of us did stuff that we didn’t want to do to appease their persersions – keep them happy. I can’t believe
    I actually let him spread Playboy Magazine centerfolds all over our bed, so he could look at them while he did me – yuck. Got no one but myself to blame for that – but I have forgiven myself – let’s all forgive ourselves. It takes what it takes. Oh, and about my boy with Down’s – he’s awesome!!
    A true gentleman. He has a girlfriend and treats her like a
    queen. He said he would never be mean to her like his dad!

  23. Thanks Diane – you’re very kind!

    Leanna, your son sounds lovely! I too have a son with special needs and he’s a sweetie. I’m doing my best to teach him to be a gentleman – I hope it works!

    Zachette, my fear is exactly your reality – that if he’s working a program and going through the motions, I’ll trust him or I won’t – and either way he’ll be up to his old tricks. He told me stories of some of the flirtations and near-misses that supposedly happened when he was married and I’m not interested in any of that. I think his idea of right and wrong in regards to sexual conduct is very nuanced to say the least.

  24. Mayan,

    Re: Would I have left earlier.

    I know without a shadow of a doubt, if I had known the truth, I would have ended the relationship immediately, in fact there would not have been a relationship. (Homosexual who married for cover).

    Life is too short to tolerate this demeaning crap! Who wants their life infected with lies, manipulations, betrayals and garbage that has no value what-so-ever.

    There is nothing of value that can be derived from being involved with SA situations. We do not become “a better person by this exposure”. If you call sadness, grief, heartbreak, despair, betrayal, “better”, please let me give it away to anyone who wants it. It is so useless to waste our love, support, faithfulness, tenderness and energy to this.

    I would have been out – in a heartbeat! I want to be engaged in life not deadened by living this SA saga.

    Can you tell that I am pissed off? Not at anyone here, I just want to feel human again.

    – Exhausted –

  25. There is hope, there is love, when both people CAN love.
    Some can’t….they want to, but can’t.
    Bo and I married a few days ago. He can love. Am I as pure and complete as what I was before I found out about how bad a man can be to a woman? No. The SA I was married to and gave everything to, had a family with, for sure his actions changed me. Once you step inside their worlds, you change. Bo loves me and keeps showing me that a man can love a woman, even if this woman as trauma residue. Love can do good things too, like break down the walls of defense, nurture, bring back what you were before the holocaust. Or love can hurt….depends on who you let love you. Does an SA really love? I could never wrap my mind around lying, cheating, and abuse as a product of love.

  26. Mozel Tov Lynn!!! That is such wonderful news and I am so, so happy for you!!!!!!!! This is such a wonderful encouraging and inspiring story of how a woman can get out from under and find real happiness and real love in the wake of such devastation.

  27. Thanks everyone for being here! I’m at the beach with my son for the weekend. It was 108 where I live and I am wearing a jacket right now! Bless all of you!! XO, Leanna

  28. I could use some experience about how to tell my husband I am terminating our marriage.
    I have an appointment with my doc on Wednesday and I am going to ask her for some help as well.
    I have already talked with an attorney so I am good there as it relates to domestic law.
    My husband and I have an appointment (this will be our second appt) with a CSAT doc on Thursday. My thought was to tell him in that meeting. I feel I need to have someone with me and I do not want to ask a family member. Nor to I want to get a Sheriff coming to the door with a notice.
    What do you all think from your experience. And remember, this is a sex addict I am dealing with.
    Oye!

  29. Zachette, I recently asked my husband for a divorce. I actually did it over the phone as my husband is out of state. A SA is extremely manipulative and able to turn a divorce discussion in person into a “let’s try harder” discussion and make you feel bad that you want out. In the absence of being able to use a phone, I think that having a third party present, or due to arrive at a certain time, would be helpful as until you get a certain amount of space from the relationship, you will not realize how easy it is to be manipulated.

    I used the words “I don’t love you anymore. This relationship is too much work for the benefits and I don’t want to have to work all day long fixing problems, then come home and work all evening long fixing you. I’m tired of working. We are both unhappy and I see no sense continuing to be that way.”

    That seemed to do the trick for me. SA’s often really are just as tired of trying to be normal as you are of trying to make it work – so use the angle of “everyone trying too hard” and you might find him realizing it is the best thing for both of you.

  30. The “last straw” came for me on July 18th of this year, when my husband told me about additional sex-capades outside of our marriage. Turns out he was on Craigslit and AdultFirendFinders trolling for sex hook-ups. He actually did find someone as gross as himself and had unprotected sex with her ( never telling her his real name and using a disposable cell phone for contact). He had unprotected sexual relations with me after this, never telling me, never having enough love, never have enough deceny or respect to give me the information I neeed to protect myself from any sexually transmitted disease. He’s already given me a STD in the past.
    That was “it” for me.He has been consistently agnry and defensive and BLAMES ME for his actions. No real hope there.
    This past Saturdau I sat him down and calmly asked for a divorce. I sat for a few weeks on making a decision, even went to a couples counseling session with him, talked with a trusted friend and a fmaily member to get their input. I made a very deliberate, conscious, informed and realistic choice.
    He looked more angry than sad. He accidentally dropped his cell phone in a seat cushion and I found it after he left. It is now Monday and that cell phone has not rung once. Not once. He is a chatterbox and cannot go more than anhour or two without talking to someone. What does that tell you?
    It tells me ( thougj I knewit already) that I made the right decision. The choice I made was a healthy life for *me*.

  31. I haven’t broken off with my sa – yet – but I have ended a marriage to an abusive man and I think there are certain similarities. I did it in the marriage counselor’s office. That worked well in terms of him not manipulating me but he did sob like a baby – putting on a lovely act for the counselor.

    I also, had my divorce papers already drawn up and ready to file, which I did afterwards and I let a sheriff serve him because it was safer. They are very discreet. You could bring divorce papers to your meeting. Maybe he’ll sign off on service and then if not you can go to plan B.

    Good luck and batten down the hatches afterwards – if he’s like my sa, he might relentlessly contact you afterwards to try to talk you out of it.

  32. Yesterday my daughter invited me over for coffee. While there, her dad, my ex, the SA, called and invited himself over to her house for dinner. She lives around the corner from me. She feels sorry for him cuz he comes over and sheds
    tears about his life. She knows the hell I’ve been through but he is her dad. I try to stay completely out of her relationship with him and not lay guilt trips on her but I have to tell you it’s so painful to know that he’s around the corner, spending time with her and my g-kids and I’m home
    by myself. I cannot believe my life turned out this way.
    We were a family. I was part of that family. This morning
    I woke up super early. I’m exhausted and feeling so despondent. I just want to go back to bed and escape into sleep but I’ve had coffee, so that’s not going to work.
    God, does the pain of this ever end? I’ve been officially divorced since July 1. I was with this man for 37 years, the
    last 15 of which, have been pure hell. I am the target for
    his rage, disappointment, guilt, shame and hatred toward his
    mother – in addition to him having a raging – out of control-sex addiction. I’m gonna force myself to get dressed
    and go for a walk. Well….my daughter just called and asked
    if I can take my G-daughter to a football game tonight – not actually go-God forbid she should be seen with gram, LOL, but
    just drop off. Anyway, I made plans to take her and her friend and my g-son and my son to dinner first, so now I have something to look forward to and feel so much better than when I started this rant. I guess this is how it’s gonna go – at least for a season – emotional elevator. I have
    to say though, that anythings better than living in the
    presence of a lying, cheating, mean, secretive, abusive,
    SA monster!!! This is a huge improvement over that!!

  33. To all the awesome ladies here,

    The pearls of wisdom that i find here could beat anything that all the therapists of the world put together could ever say.

    Love is unconditional but relationships are conditional.

    So true, so very true.

    And the article from recovery nation on love.

    What a beautiful piece of writing.

    Thanks for bringing it here.

    And ,BetteroffNow , you absolutely hit it on the head when you said our SAs too are tired of pretending to be normal for us.

    I have concluded that the reason for their resentment and anger towards is that we come in the way of their addiction.Trying to put a face of normalcy and going about their lives with us puts a tremendous strain on them which is why they blame their partners for everything.In a way , i see their logic, howsoever warped it may be, in this.

    Its we who think that they are tortured souls but i guess they are happy in their world.

    They are wired differently and want different things from life.

    Who are we to insist that they change and conform to the ways of our world?

    We are citizens of a world very distinct from theirs so its best that we live in ours and leave them in theirs. We know we are extremely unhappy when we get sucked and suckered into living in their crazy world.Could it be that they are equally unhappy when we beg, cajole or force them to live in ours?

    If they want to crossover , they will find a way.We just have to say goodbye to their world and come back to ours.We just have to let them be.

    WE have to let every soul find his or her own path to salvation.

    Love and peace to all.

    1. Easier said than done, when you have a son, that he is susposed to be a role model for. I agree, leaving them is best, as I do not think there are enough years in life to ever change one of them, people need to want to change, they do not want to, with the exception of a few, I suspose. Also, I never hear it talked about much on here, but my therapist says almost all of these so called sex addicts(which, I am not even sure is the correct terminology) asss… might be a better way of saying it,have major personality disorders as well, my god, mine is 52 years old, and has been living this lie for 18 years, with me, I do not think the universe has time to treat him, and by the way, most therapists feel, only 5% ever become sober and stay sober, I am in the planning stages of leaving mine, ( I am forced to stay longer than I would like due to finances)I am choosing to see him as sick, not evil, as that is easier for me to accept. And oh, one other comment, yes, my dear, I am quite sure there are tons more acting out you will discover, on top of what you already know, as the saying goes, see one flea, there are 100.I was reading in a book my therapist gave me, says that denial is not a conscious choice, not understanding that overly well.

  34. You wonderful, awesome women, thank you for sharing. I am working on the courage to Divorce my SA. He is a “slick willie” and has never been caught or had to take responsibility for his actions. We together will be going for our first therapy secion with a qualified therapist. Because he has never been caught I expect denial, denial, denial. He has made me feel like I am crazy and if it hadn’t been for my witnessing his acting out and “trance” I still wouldn’t know what exactly has been going on with him. If it wasn’t for the hidden life, his lack of friends and the inability to bond with our youngest son, he might almost seem normal. He does all the things that every women would love, brings me tea in the morning, fixes all broken things (except my heart). He exercises with me, and says he wants the best for me, but I know he has, is now, and will continure to cheat on me. Acting out whenever I’m not around or their to see it. He has been doing this since the first year of our 34 year marriage. My self-esteem is almost gone and at the same time I am in a rage. If I had known I would have left him years ago. I guess I want someone out there to say there is a possibility that he can be cured or at least learn to have boundries and say no. If this is not possible, my other thought is that I could stay married, but live apart from him. I guess a lot of couples are doing this. Please write with your insites I value everything you say. Sincerely, Lost

  35. Hi All,
    I am just finding out about my SA’s addiction. I discovered his pornography habit a couple of weeks ago – live chat sex rooms. Since then, I’ve also gotten him to admit that he went to strip clubs for private backroom dances (although he swears only four times – ya right), and that he has been taking pictures of women in public places – primarily their covered body parts for the past 4-5 years. This last piece I learned just the other day and am terribly creeped out by it because it is such perpetrating behavior. He is swearing up and down this is the end of the bad news – we have not had a “full disclosure” therapy session, and I have not gotten him to take a lie detector test yet, but I intend to, because from all I’ve read about this addiction, his story is just not adding up to me.

    We have been together only three years, married three months. He partook in his cyber porn business two days before our wedding, and though yet to be disclosed, I’m pretty confident on the day we actually walked down the aisle and said all those vows. I asked him tonight how he could have walked down the aisle – why in the world didn’t he just back out? He said, because I love you. I said, you don’t know what that is. True love wouldn’t have walked down the aisle. True love would have known better than to bring me into this nightmare.

    So that’s all the horribleness. I am full of fury, despair, and dumfoundedness. I knew our sex life wasn’t great, but I never dreamed it was because of all this. I’m also certain that there are more to be revealed.

    So, I have a few questions after reading these incredibly helpful posts, and hope someone will still see this post even though the last message was in September:
    1) It is highly likely there is more to be revealed, isn’t it?;
    2) For those of you who’ve said you would’ve run for the hills if you had found out earlier on in the relationship, is your answer the same if you discovered early, but the person was immediately open to his problem and seeking help (he’s attending meetings, going to therapy, and starting a sexual health treatment program)?; and
    3) Do you say you would have run for the hills because you are so certain there would be more heartache and lies to come via relapse, or because the recovery process is just so difficult, and if you’re without kids/houseownership,etc. it’s just not worth walking down that road together?

    I’m so freshly hurt I know I’ll take some time to make a decision, but my instincts are saying GET OUT – if not just because I’m sure he’ll have more to reveal, and I doubt recovery will be 100% sober for the rest of eternity, but also just because even a totally sober road seems so darn daunting, and we’re so brand new…I know I have to work on myself and heal regardless of my choices with him, but I am terribly intrigued by your thoughts of just running now, and not turning back. Today, my therapist said: “there’s still a lot of hope here.” What? Our entire relationship was based on lies in my mind…am I crazy or is she?

    I found all of your above posts really illuminating, helpful, and so refreshing, and would LOVE any thoughts on my questions.

    Thank you all for your strength and wisdom.

  36. Hi Seren,
    Thank you for joining in the discussion with your story, hard as we know it is to live it and tell it. YOu sound like you are a healthy person, and for that reason I would lean into your instincts on this one. Your questions get to the heart of the matter, so let’s start there.

    1. Yes, Almost certainly more to be told about his acting out. They let a little truth out when they are caught, and wait to see what happens. If things look good for us sticking around, they bury the rest of the story. If they move ahead with recovery, full disclosure is usually necessary for a relationship to recover and rebuild. MIne choked at this point. We are not together now.

    2. I think there are many things that can influence this decision. For example, if the SA is young, there is a better chance for recovery because the patterns aren’t deeply entrenched of 30 years, for example, but there is often less commitment to recovery in a young person who still thinks they have all the time in the world, and they have the world by the tail. The presence of children is a deal-breaker for me—Children should not be subjected to living with an addict and being exposed to the “drug”. The damage done to children is very very serious. All those things considered, I have to say if I knew then what I know now, leaving would have been the best thing for me to do. But yes, I have two sons now that I cherish, and I do not regret any part of my life, because it is my life and I am making something of all of it–even the shit becomes fertilizer. Listen, this is a terrible terrible addiction that destroys your soul and makes you live in its tyranny, all by yourself. Because your partner isn’t any use at all when he falls down the hole and tries to take you with him.

    3. So, I think I answered that question that way because I deserve joy in my life and I deserve to be loved. I don’t deserve to be used and abused, and that is what happens when you stay. My health is so much better since I got out from under his big black cloud. I enjoy my little townhouse and feel perfectly at home in it. When people visit me there, they tell me how as soon as they walk in the door they feel at home too. I do not miss the unbelievable arrogance, the cruelty in blaming and criticizing, the withdrawal of affection, the mechanical sex act in which I am incidental. I miss the shared family memories and the shared inventory of inside jokes, the partnership in projects and goals. I miss someone saying my name. (When I get home for the day, I don’t hear my name again until sometime the next day at work). But I have changed to because of my own healing journey. And I would have stayed the same without this decision to live apart. And I am recovering myself—lots of good things that drained out of me over 30 years of his addiction dance. I enjoy being a woman again. I could use a lover, though. But hey, I believe that will come too. I wouldn’t give myself up again for anything in this world (except to save my children). I have learned to value and cherish my own life, Seren. Is there anything else that matters?

    Seren, you are younger than I am. But ask yourself what is best for you. YOu and you alone are the steward of your life.

    lots of light and love for the path you’ve yet to walk,
    Diane
    ps, we had another Seren on this site who “graduated” and occasionally checks in. Why don’t you change up your name just so long term folks here know its you and not the other one. Beautiful name, though. xo

  37. Hi Seren,
    For those of us who have been through this and have the advantage of looking back, It is really not possible to believe that your husband has told you even close to the whole truth. He has admitted to the things you already know or could easily find out or told you the part of it that he thinks you will find the least abhorrent and possibly forgive him for and get past. And the fact that he seems to be invested in recovery, doesn’t mean that he is.Time will tell. Often at the time of discovery, SA’s do the bare minimum that is required to get us to stay with them and then only until things are comfortable and we are content again, and then it stops. That is manipulation, not recovery. If you stay with him, define your boundaries and don’t let him persuade you to change them. They are your boundaries and they are for you, not him.
    I agree with Diane completely that I would not have my four really great kids without my time with my SA, and therefore, it’s a moot point to look back. I know that if I knew before we had children together the things I know now, I would have walked away and not looked back and not regretted it.

    Even if our SA’s are truly in recovery, we have so many things to deal with that are so difficult, and this is in an ideal world:
    1) Trust….none of us can ever trust our SA’s in the way that we used to, can can we live like that? Should we live like that?
    2) Addiction is a disease that never goes away, once an addict, always an addict. It can be managed with a lot of hard work…forever…., and we call that recovery. That is a pretty daunting thought for me.
    3) Even if our recovering SA loves us to the best of their ability, it may never be the kind of love that we need or want or deserve. They all have intimacy issues. And none of us should settle for less than we need and want.

    I think you are wise to take your time and not make any decisions right now…but work on those boundaries, you will need them:)

    I have a husband ( 30 years together) in real recovery for a year ( fake recovery was a year and a half prior to that) and he has changed so much. And so have I over the last 2 and a half years, but the three things on that list don’t change if we stay with our recovering SA’s.

  38. It seems that divorcing or staying with a SAH results in no “winners.” I am always amazed that women who have divorced their SAH still visit and post on this site. It must be the trama. One can divorced the SAH but is still looking for freedom from the left behind trama.

  39. Lou,
    I have four friends who are not married to SA’s. They are women in their 50’s who have just separated, or have recently divorced. Most were married 25 or more years and their marriages looked very solid from the outside. These are couples that “played together” in the outdoors for years. I know they would truly tell you that if they stayed in their marriages there would still be no “winners.” Three are recovering from adultry and abandonment by their spouse’s. The other one divorced after years of emotional abuse. They have also been traumatized as has their children. I would like to say here that I think the only “winners” are those women that have been in their relationships for only a few years and find the strength after taking in the heartfelt wisdom from this site, to leave their SA’s. Hopefully,this in the longrun will minimize the hurt that they, their children, and families of origin go through.

    1. Lanette’s comment “The only winners are those women that have been in their relationships for only a few years and find the strength after taking in the heartfelt wisdom from this site to leave their SA’s” is what gave me the strength to leave and stay gone. Thank you Lanette. You saved me a lifetime of pain and heartache.

  40. I agree with you Lanette that there are no “winners.” I am so glad that we now have the trauma model to look to for treatment and explanation. I also agree that younger women need to really get serious help in deciding to stay in a marriage with a SAH. I know that I would not stay as long as I have stayed if I were younger. I am staying mainly for finances and I never allow myself to be caught up in the hope that is recovery. I have had too many disappointments. If recovery happens, I will revisit that issue. I am glad for this site.

  41. HI Lou,
    Some of the women who have made decisions to not return to a life with their husbands (divorced or not) actually stay on this site because of how much it helped them, and they want to be there for the women coming online now. They bring a perspective on their own lives that may helpful to recently traumatized women who have lost their “centre” and can’t find that perspective right now. Also, it takes a while for “newbies” to catch on to the urgent need to welcome those who join after them. So some of the “crones” (wise women) do that so that people don’t get left behind.

    But—I think your point about the effects of trauma are probably right on. There are layers to it. Just when you think you’re done, you discover you’re not. That’s where I am, anyway. Mostly good days now—and I think people need to hear they can get their life back if they keep working at it—but still a few bad days. I’ve taken 10 days to recover from our meeting with our young adult sons in which my SA told them of his addiction. I was blindsided by information I didn’t know and heard for the first time in front of my sons. I’m still putting myself back together, and I’ve needed to overhear the conversations and remember the patterns etc. So your intuition is right, Lou. Even after you make the decision to not live with your SA anymore, there is still trauma.

    But there is also laughter, self-love, truly relaxing, and lots of hope for an abundant life.

    love to all the great ones who carry me along this journey,
    D.

  42. ((( Diane)))

    “I’m still putting myself back together”

    Oh, those words HURT.
    I wish I had wise words to help you up, but I know I don’t. You’re waaaay ahead of me on this strange ride. I can only try and comfort you in a very small way and let you know that someone here cares and is trying to send some good Karma to you, your sons, and yes, even the man who finally found the courage to speak to his sons.

  43. I read this today and its so true “There was no ceremony for the death of my marriage. There was no casket in which to place the dreams and ideals I had held so close for so long. There were no mourners to shed tears with me as I said goodbye to the last of my hope. There was no ritual way of asking for forgiveness, for experiencing forgiveness, for being released from my vows. Nor was there much attention paid to the process of divorce?and all of the pain and anger and humiliation it added to the weight of my soul. There was no ceremony when my marriage was buried.

    There was only pain and loss and anger and grief. It wasn’t my intent to be divorced. Almost no one gets married expecting they will get divorced. No matter what the circumstances, divorce tears through layers of trust, community and security in ways that can reshape the very core of our faith and of our sense of who we are”
    I am still with him yet in many ways its a death all the same!!!!

  44. Thank you sisters,
    for several postings of good thoughts and love.

    This journey still includes a few valleys, and I guess it always will. I’m enjoying k.d. lang’s version of “the Valley” ( a song written by another Cdn., Jane Siberry), with the chorus “You will walk in good company”, and Mary Chapin Carpenter, “We traveled so far to be here” from her recent Age of Miracles CD. Both songs are great soulful pieces that capture the effort, the challenge, and the victory of getting through it all with some sense of joy.

    I find the demon I’m fighting these days is the “i’m not beautiful anymore” one, and the “I’m going to be alone now forever” one. I’m sure some of you have met these ones, too. So a bit of a pity party going on here, but I’ll pull out of it again.

    Thanks for letting me be honest with you all,
    D.
    xo

  45. Wow all of you… how many more of us are there out in the world? I have only been with my RECOVERING SA for 8 years and have known about this for about 6. Why then did I have a child with him and marry him? Still, perhaps for a while I felt it was my punishment for my wayward, promiscuity when I was younger, but then, I felt myself dragged down. In so many ways, I can forgive the sex, the porn, the prostitutes – its the making me believe I was crazy that I struggle with, and that is the bit that tells me he doesnt love me in spite of his protests. I actually was convinced to the point that I have lost 2 jobs and spent a total of 18 months in therapy of somesort or another, trying to get to the bottom of the pit – what the hell is wrong with me? We came to the conclusion that I had Premenstrual Dysphoria Disorder and I even had zoladex injections to shut down my ovaries as well as 150mg a day of antidepressant… and all the while – my suspicions were right. He would get angry and distant and create arguments – either to cover up the acting out or to justify doing it that night. He estimates he has spent nearly £20,000 in the last 3 years and i have had chlamydia and our children are on the brink of break down.
    I asked him to leave in September when he said our future was bleak because we couldnt pay oiur mortgage off in 5 years as he had planned and money was leaking out of his account… no bloody wonder if you are seeing a prostitute twice a week darling – do the math! I have now moved out with the children and am still trying to decide whether or not to divorce. He is working his programme and I am going to church and praying a lot, but I just dont know. Half of me feels that now I am safe, I will know what to do and when to do it.

    From September to now the disclosures come. I discovered his pseudonym on a marital affair website only the other evening. Why do I still look?

    I know I have to forgive him. I have to accept it as an illness – the thought of him having done this for any other reason is unbearable. I just dont know if I can have him back. As you say – I do love him. It does pain me to see the pain and anguish but then the other half of me thinks he should get an oscar for the acting!

    I have to let go and let god. I have to forgive and move on. I don’t have to forget what he has done, for self-preservation. I just wish I could remove surgically the burning images in my brain that I see so often of his actng out. ITs the dreams that haunt me most at the moment. And seeing him now in recovery – doing all the stuff I asked time and time again that he denied until I asked him to leave and I finally left. That seems unfair.

    Still, as each of you who has gone before me says, we will find our path through this. I know now thanks to JoAnn that I can live my life and he will live his. I also know that our marriage vows were tainted as he spoke them. He had no intention of honoring them. And as I have found salvation and forgiveness and redemption in the Lord Jesus, I hope he finds his.

    God bless you all, may our recovery BE!

  46. I’ve just found this site. The thing I have been struggling with the most is my “but I love him”. Thank you thank you thank you.

    My husband and I have been together since I was 16. I’m now 32. I’m lucky I’m young but it’s still half my life. We have a 14 month old girl and 3.5 year old son.

    My reason for leaving is many fold a) I don’t trust him and I don’t believe what’s he has told me is the truth or the whole truth at any rate.
    B) I don’t want my daughter particularly normalising this. And I don’t want my son repeating this.
    C) I am now questioning everything
    D) I’m beginning to look at our relationship and wonder why he never prioritised me the way I did him
    E) I’d rather leave now than be too scared to do it later

    My husband has yet to be diagnosed. However of the 40questions to ask yourself to diagnose I found online he only said no to 7. The rest were yeses.

    I found out 1 month and 2 weeks ago he had fathered a child with someone else. A co worker.
    She was a mutual friend. She was married too.

    I was going to stay. I was going to pay child support.

    He swore there was nothing else.

    Then I got suspicious. I found plans to meet up with strangers in person. I found online websites he was a member to(paid membership). And it’s throughout our entire relationship.

    He agrees he needs help. But I am certain he’s lying that the one time he had sex outside a marriage he just had the bad luck to get her pregnant.

    I knew he was bisexual at 16 when we got together.

    I thought he was non-practicing. Now I don’t believe him.

    I’m lucky. I have a great job and can afford to support myself and my kids.

    Luckily I have a wonderful mother who is willing to lend me “buffer money” that is need to feel secure going it on my own.

    And now I find out my family has always suspected he cheated throughout our marriage but had no proof. And I had no idea of what’s normal. I had one partner (still have) ever.

    Turns out most married men don’t carry condoms in their wallets in case they randomly need to masturbate. Lol

    Anyway – I’m coming to terms.

    I blame myself for being actively blind but I really didn’t see any of this comng. I was totally stunned.

    He hasn’t paid for sex to the best of my knowledge but he works in it and knows how to find people for free.

    It’s the beginning of my recovery. And I still love him. But I’m not staying.

    I can’t. For me. I would go insane.

    Maybe we will stay friends. We have kids together so that would be for the best.

    Did I mention I’m a divorce lawyer??? Yep I totally should’ve been less naive.

    Sorry for my rant/vent.

    Thank you fr the article.

    Much love and support to those who stay. I think you are stronger than me. I just couldn’t.
    Melissa x

  47. I think your name was Lanette,you posted about women in their fifties In Sa,that are divorced because of this I would love to have someone to talk to I am 61 been married 31 years and am facing divorce because of lies and sexual addictions,even some Incest.Broken hearted ,tired really need friends that understand!!!

  48. I have known for years that the man I love was a sex addict but I kept going back. He would sleep with at least 2 women a week an got worse when he started bringing them home . At one stage a neighbour moved in and I had no idea he was sleeping with her, I would cook her dinner, allow her to shower there etc. I would argue with him about a women being in the house but he would say we are helping her. I would be so manipulated by him that I was thinking maybe he was right. I left him many times and found myself coming back as soon as I knew he would be with someone. I was trying to get self respect back or dignity . I lost my self-worth. I neglected my daughter for I was to busy chasing him to make it all ok. I neglected my friends, family and was always upset .I lost my life ..I was trying to save him but I couldn’t. The finally straw for me when he brought a prostitute home an I walked in. I ws totally numb and knew then he didn’t want help and he wanted that life. Its only been 1 week I have walked out again but this time im not answering his calls or texts.The words I love him always brought me back. But that is not love .He took my love and destroyed it. He destroyed me . He took all the love and energy from me . I will struggle to not go back but I pray from the depth of my soul that I don’t return . I am now getting help and reading about sex addicts .Its a major problem and a disease. I hope I can get through this.

  49. I am comforted to know there are more like me. I have filed for divorce after over 20 years of marriage. I don’t believe in divorce. I tried to stay for the kids. I can’t do it anymore. I am lost. Here is my story.

    2 years ago I found out. Slowly for about 4 weeks when the worst came out…. that he met many women for sex for years. The usual porn, adult websites, hook ups, thee domes…. I am sure he never even told me the whole story. So I learned about this sex addiction thing. I felt incredibly stupid. I had no idea. I thought he was depressed. I trusted him completely. What kind of idiot doesn’t find out for years???? Anyway, he was very sneaky and I traveled for work every week so it was easy. Then we went to therapy and he said he would stop. He said he would be the 5% that stopped. Just give him a chance. I DID. Now 2 years later here I am. This time I had a plan. I told him if he ever did it again I would kick him out and I did.

    I don’t know why I am so sad. I had a plan and I followed it, yet I am weepy all the time. Pathetic really. I feel lost. Is there anyone out there that can fast forward me a year? I want to know if there are better things to come. I am in my late forties and feel like I don’t want to start over. I am trying to be done with this and get over him. I don’t know why I can’t shake it and move on. I feel like I am suffocating.

    Help

    1. It gets better, and much better! I am 51 yrs. old, and am separated now since 1.5 years, and I am doing well! I would suggest you to read Patrick Carnes book “betrayal bond”, it will have answers for you. Another suggestion is a “no contact” rule for yourself with your spouse! Melanie Tonia Evans has a good site for this issue! Also, look up narcisism, that”s what these guys are ailing from, they are mental, I know mine had mental issues, let”s face it, no one with a sound mind would or could do these things. They are “nuts” ! They are sickos, and I am saying this with great empathy for my ex,I do not hate him, as I know he is sick, and very sick! I was like you, could not get over it at first, but you will, it gets easier, but keep working on you! Good luck!

      1. Thanks…. I will get the books. I need some peace and I agree that they are sick. Sick and selfish but sick. I appreciate the advice. I don’t do well when I see him so I also agree with the no contact rule. I have kids though so will have to be modified. When I see him and we talk I can’t help but strike out. I am so angry! I want to not have it get to me anymore. This has taken all my power and I want it back.

        Thanks again. Will get the books this weekend.

      2. You are welcome, Melanie Tonia Evans is free, google her and you will find the info. Patrick Carnes book is worth every dollar. Try the used book stores…cheaper, that is where I got mine. Also try find a good therapist, I think I would have died without mine. Some of them will reduce their fee, if you cannot afford their service! Mine did, from 100.00 per hour to 30.00. Good luck!

    2. Cede, notice the amount of times you shamed yourself in this post!!! There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you!!!! HE has the problem! We as women are so caring and loving that we unfortunately don’t see things for what they are sometimes! And that does not make you, me or any other women pathetic!!! I’ve been with my husband 17 years and married for 14 and there were red flags, and I doubted and questioned myself. They are good at lying and manipulating and making us think we are crazy!! The best thing you can do, is go to a S-anon group – every woman there will know EXACTLY what you are feeling and going through! See a therapist if you can as well and break yourself down to your core and rebuild to be the confident, beautiful person that’s inside that crushed soul right now!!!! <3<3

  50. Cede,

    It WILL get better, I promise you. It does take a while, however, with good days and then some bad ones too, but eventually, the bad days will be fewer as you gain more strength. The anger is completely normal and I am not one to talk, but try not to let him have it. Its not that he doesn’t deserve it. He deserves to be strung up by his toe nails while hot pokers are stuck up his not-very-sorry ass. But, unfortunately, he won’t get it. (like explaining to a blind man what the colors of the rainbow look like) A better way to deal with it, is to blog about it. Share it all there; roll play, if you like and if you find others with like blogs, they will be very supportive. Or, you can also get on SOS and/or find a good shrink if you don’t already have one. What helped me more than anything was to focus on the work that I love and am good at. Focusing on making a positive change for ME really helps with the depression, like nothing else does. Little by little, I’m carving out a new life for myself and it’s a life full of hope. The other one, no. I was drowning in dysfunction because life with one of these idiots can only go in one direction and it’s not the right one. best wishes, Kim

    1. Well said Kimberly! I have done so much work , and am carving out a nice little life for myself as well. It takes time, but time alone is not enough, you must use your time to get well, to regain back the self esteem that was robbed from us! It takes us being kind to ourselves , so that we come out of this nightmare, healthier, wiser and stronger. At this point in my recovery, I would not have wished this to not have happened, he did me a huge favor, for without this, I would not have done all the work on myself that I did. You are right Kimberly, blogging is a great stress reliever, and makes us feel good that we are helping other women come out of this life affliction, stronger! So happy for you Kimberly, and I just know that Cede will recover fully too!

    2. Thanks I also appreciate your ideas/advice. Even having you validate me helps. I need to keep moving forward. Joining a support group with other women in this situation – thinking that will help. I feel like it is hard for my family/friends to relate.
      thx again

      1. It is wonderful that you see it is hard for your friends and family to relate, as you are right, no one knows the pain unless it happens to them. A support group is a fabulous idea, my town is too small for that! Enjoy your recovery!

  51. That’s why we’re here, Cede. 🙂 yeah… the friends and especially “the family,” will see what they want and NEED to see— Dr. Jeckyl (the nice guy) and refuse to even begin to entertain the notion that there *might* be a Mr. Hyde. (soul crushing, abusive, womanizing prick). After all…their “reality” is also at stake, here AND then come the inevitable hurtful, hackneyed phrases we all hear time and again…ie: “well, I don’t want to get involved,” (but, I need your love and support more than ever now!) “I love you both too much to take *sides*” (errrmmm WHAT fucking sides? the truth has no “sides.”) “he’s SUCH a nice guy,” (except when he’s not) “it takes two,” (NO, IT DOES NOT!) “you never know what goes on *inside* a marriage.” (well, that one is correct; I didn’t know what was going on inside our marriage.) Never mind the garbage he’s feeding them, full of half-truths at best and out and out lies at worst. Best to steer clear even though we are so desperate to set the record straight. It almost invariably backfires, only creating more and more pain. Take the highest road possible, otherwise, they WILL deem you to be the crazy one. OH, you have a right to be crazy. In fact, if you weren’t crazy, you’d really be crazy! Just let your crazies out somewhere else. In time, they will dissipate like a puff of boiling steam going high up in the dry air and then you won’t give a rat’s ass what they think. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this, but it will get better— in time. xo

    1. It is so incredibly helpful to hear from you and others. I did good today. I saw him and was nice/ distant but nice. You are right, talking and listening in this space helps “get it out” so I don’t need to react all the time. I am remembering how tough I used to be. It is so useful to know others have had the same story and the stories are all the same it seems. Yet on the other hand so sad that we all had to experience this. I refuse to be a victim. I was taken advantage of, but I am not going to be anyone’s victim.

      I have some practical questions for you ladies:
      – It is weird having to tell people. How did you or do you recommend I share. I have kids so full sharing is no option, so far I have told folks that my husband cheated on me before and I told him if he did it again I would kick him out and I did. We told our children (12 and 17) Daddy hurt mommy so she asked him to leave. (that was on the advise of a therapist)
      – how did your men react to kicking them out? Mine didn’t get it at first. Just kept hanging out at the house and I had to kick him out at night. Sweet texts ect… I did not recipricate (I am pissed), Then after 3-4 days he totally cut me off. Went to a local bar and I think picked up someone (huge step up from craigslist in different cities in my state all far away) , but now out in the open in our small town) ??? Now he is getting goofy about the “things” and taking things that are mine…. Any advice on how to handle? Seems like once he saw I wasn’t gonna take him back now he is pissed at ME!
      -I feel embarrassed about the whole thing…. not sure why as I was faithful and really gave him a chance that I shouldn’t have. It is hard to tell people.

      Thanks again this is very helpful. You are wonderful!

    2. I’m sorry ladies, but I once again must repeat that this website is NOT a forum. The comment area is for discussions about the article. Back and forth advice and discussions are not supported as the bandwidth is just too expensive for a free website. If the site reaches the bandwidth limit it will automatically shut down for the rest of the month.

      If you want open discussions and support please consider joining the Sisterhood.

      Thanks. ~ JoAnn

    3. I am extremely happy I found this site. I have just left my SA boyfriend of 2 years. He told me about it early on, but said he just needed a good woman to show him not all women are the same – what girl doesn’t wanna be that… big mistake. So many red flags but I chose to ignore them – I stupidly trusted him. He would switch for no reason. Manipulate me. Everything was my fault – no matter what. Never any apologises for the tears I cried. He would stop seeing me for a week or two at a time, then magically come back happy as anything. He never cared about anything to make me happy. Countless talks. He would drive by my house adamant I was sleeping around. No trust In me. I never felt good enough. I have 3 daughters, luckily not with him. And he has 2 daughters. His ex warned me early in, but I didn’t listen. Just a crazy ex – so he said. We watched porn together, had 3sums. I did it to accommodate his needs and urges – foolishly to “stop him cheating” cause he got everything he needed from me right? No. Recently, I found out for the last 8 months he’s had another girlfriend. Whenever he wasn’t with me, he was with her. He lived a double life, and I know that there will be many more than us. I have been trying to leave for a year because I was so unhappy but I loved him. So many red flags but never any proof. He always managed to get his way, and I never actually left the relationship. Even this time, after 4 days of begging we met up to talk – my way of ending it. But again it didn’t end. He promised to change. Said he wanted a good life, with me. Go to counselling together and move forward together. I didn’t leave. But it didn’t last long – 4 days later he started accusing me of going with other men and I found the courage to leave. After everything he’s put me through – the light went off. We haven’t spoken in a week, but I know this is not the end. He will be back shortly to try and find his way back in. I’m not even going to reply, I need to be strong when it happens, because it will. I need this to end and move on so I can be my happy bubbly fun self again and not this emotionally/mentally broken woman. Even in this week I am happy. Feel lost, used, betrayed and foolish – but happy. Happy that I know longer have to deal with this man for what he really is – and not what he portrayed himself. He is what they call a “sexual narcissist”. And he will never change. But I can. And this time I have. 6 days since I left my sex addict boyfriend – I’m a strong smart woman, how can this man fool me? I need to learn to forgive myself for letting this happen to me…

  52. Wow! I opened this the other night after another detached, absent experience with my husband. So many of you have voiced my own experience in your shares. I will be married 30 years in May of 2015. I am hoping to either be on my own or able to put all the freaking lies behind me and find a way to grow past this.
    As I look back on my marriage and pretend I am an outsider looking in, the disease was present when we were dating. I was primed to meet and marry my SA. During our courtship he cheated on me with a woman from his job. I thought something was going on but pushed the thought away until I contracted an STD, thankfully an easily cured one. When I asked he told the truth. We broke up, but I eventually missed him so much I called him and we went out again. He told me he broke up with the other woman. A few months went by and on Valentine’s Day he said he was going to visit his brother with his folks for the weekend and could I watch his cat. We went to his folks house for lunch and his mother was home. She said to him “Please don’t forget to feed the cat while we are away.” We left and he told me he was going to visit L because he owed it to her because he broke up so suddenly. I was so angry but he still went. And I still stayed with him. I really wanted to believe he loved me. So to cement our dysfunctional relationship we married in 1985, after I was told he didn’t know he could be faithful, because he didn’t know what might come down the road. But I think he did.
    So we’re married maybe a month and I find an enormous stash of magazines in a closet. I tell him they have to go because I have a young son and don’t want him to see that trash and think it’s normal.He can’t throw it out, he has to find a friend to bequeath it too, he values it so much. So stupid me I am still believing his lies, I don’t understand sex addiction at all.A month later I open the desk draw to get a pen and right in front of me is a topless pic of the girl he cheated on me with. I freak out but choose to believe his lie that he forgot he had it.
    WE, at least I thought it was we, made a decision to not have any porn be a part of our marriage because of a spiritual awakening he had.
    I’m thrilled, because I still think if I’m thin enough, sexy enough etc he will love me best.
    Repeat this over and over again over 30 years. Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, all meaningless and unimportant to him. Special events ruined by his poor choice of timing.
    In 1993 I found another stash of movies. I had just had a surprise baby and boy did I feel trapped. He went to SA I went to S-Anon, reluctantly as I was in another recovery program 10 years by then. But I did. We went to couples meetings, counseling etc. Then I went back to college so we could maybe have some financial stability. I stopped going to SAnon so he stopped going too. He pretended really well for a long time that he was doing great. Over active in church etc. So for the past 4 years I had so many reasons to believe he was acting out and of course he denied it. Our intimate relationship deteriorated into a detached horrible mess. He became non-functional for the first time in our marriage. He could care less that it upset me. Said it was because he was getting older blah, blah blah. We went for counseling again and I watched him lie blatantly to a woman we were paying a fortune to to help us. I knew he was in his disease again. I left to go to my sisters for a while. All he could do was rage at me because I broke the rules and was taking care of myself instead of making everything easier for him.
    SO I come home and he says he want to work on our marriage, not on him but our marriage.
    On our wedding anniversary we went to friends for a fire and music. I sang him a love song and he had the most horrified expression on his face. I didn’t know what it was. We went home and had half effort sex which was terrible because he could not function.
    The next morning he wakes me up and say ” I have something to tell you. I have been acting out and looking at porn on line and it’s gotten out of hand. My computer was shut down by an FBI message. I really scared and I’m so sorry I have deceived you like this.” SO I was pretty proud because I said “Just what are you looking at that the FBI shut you down. The sick, I want to vomit feeling that always accompanies his disclosures was overwhelming. I just calmly went outside and called my sponsor. I found out it was a virus, but didn’t tell him.
    I asked him what he was going to do about his addiction. Back to SA he goes. 4 months into it he relapses, but he wouldn’t have told me if I hadn’t been on the computer and seen the site on my history. He blamed it on me being detached from him. ARGH! Unbelievable.
    SO know he supposedly has almost a year of sobriety, but I think he’s back into it because of very familiar patterns I’m seeing.
    What I have learned is that no-one can really know if they would leave if they found out earlier in the relationship. The lies and deception are blanketed over by acts of kindness, boyish charm, the blame game, denial, I could go on and on. I do know that I came into this marriage a sober, happy, energetic woman that wasn’t on anti-depressants to allow herself to tolerate the intolerable.
    I also know I love my husband. I don’t like him most days. I find myself saying out loud “I can’t do this anymore. I’m allowing him to hurt me. I will never have the joy of living I’m promised in my recovery nor any serenity.” Still stuck on the fence. I don’t know what I am so afraid of.

  53. Last week I discovered that the man I was married to for 20 years is a Sex Addict. Our marriage ended 6 years ago. I never knew. I never even suspected.

    I married my first husband, the love of my life, at 20. At 22 I was a pregnant widow; my husband had been shot in the car on the way home from work one day. I spent the next 5 years getting my life together; having my baby, finishing my degree, even buying a little house for us. After 5 years I was exhausted – mentally, emotionally and physically. Burnt out. That’s when I started seeing this guy from work. He was intelligent, funny, articulate, had a good job, everyone said he was the one Going Places. I was so lonely. I missed being married. He flirted with me; he made me laugh; he seemed to like my little girl. I thought I would get my life back. So we got married.

    I think what saved me was that I wasn’t ‘in love’ with him. That had been my first husband; that part of me was gone. But I gave him everything that was left of my heart.

    My marriage was characterized by his attempts to isolate me from friends and family; his sabotaging my attempts to re-start my career;and my completely futile attempts to recover the intimacy I thought we were losing. Silly me.

    Eventually it was the total lack of any intimacy and the loneliness that made me give up. I nearly had a breakdown. I thought i was going mad. I could sense this shadow in my marriage and i never knew what it was. He told me I didn’t love him as much as he loved me. He kept me so busy chasing my tail agonising over whether that was true, I never saw what was in front of me. I never caught him. I never found a stash of porn. We didn’t have cellphones then, or internet. So how do i know then?

    I don’t live in America; I live in Africa. In Zimbabwe, actually. As is normal where I live, most households have one to two servants. You have a maid and a gardener. My maid started to work for me just after i got married the second time. Before that, her mother worked for me. Apparently, I am a ‘good madam’. When the divorce came, my maid stayed with me. I have moved to a neighbouring country. She has just joined me here.

    Last week, she told me. Chapter and verse. And it all fell into place. He was so clever. I never suspected. He was so upright; so moral; his career really took off after we moved to the new town; he was the CEO of a major major business – of national importance in our little country; and people looked up to him; his opinion was sought; he was respected and admired.

    But the maids and gardeners see and hear everything. They all knew. In the beginning, he brought one or two women home when I was convalescing at my mother’s; they spent the night. Then, when he would go out cycling, he would pick them off on the side of the road, make a time, and come back later in the car and pick them up, take them into the bush. Maids see everything.

    Then the internet arrived. Once, he crashed the network at work downloading porn photos. He didn’t really understand how networks work, and didn’t think he would get caught. He got such a fright he told me. But he was a bigwig, all they did was give him a slap on the wrist at work and told him as long as he got help it was ok. He did go to a therapist as he admitted he was a porn addict, but flatly refused to discuss anything with me; i was told he was dealing with it and i had no right to know about his therapy.

    Time passed. Once when we were at our holiday flat at the coast, I surprised him having a very strange phone conversation on his cellphone. It was the tone of his voice that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck – soft, warm, intimate. He fobbed it off with some lame excuse; at the time i was dealing with the aftermath of a crashing migraine and not able to think straight.

    Through it all, I kept remembering my first husband and how he’d loved me, and I knew that this marriage wasn’t love.

    When I eventually called it quits, he threatened suicide. So I just told him I hoped he wouldn’t do that, but if he did it was his choice and I wasn’t responsible for his choices. Shortly after we separated, by sheer good luck I reconnected with my very first boyfriend from high school, and we started seeing each other. Get this – My soon to be ex husband told my younger daughter Id been having an affair on him. It has taken YEARS to repair that damage and get her back.

    So this i what I’ve learned about love, and it’s very simple:
    LOVE IS WHEN THE OTHER PERSON’S HAPPINESS IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN YOUR OWN.

    So if your happiness is not more important to him than his own, he doesn’t love you. If he doesn’t love you, value you, cherish you, and honour you, make plans to leave.

    I have spent the last few days having the realisation that that entire marriage was a lie, and I wasted 20 years of my life on a man who couldn’t love me because he couldn’t love himself.

    I was terrified to leave. I was terrified of divorce. I’d lost one husband already, remember, i didn’t want to lose another if i could help it.I was very afraid of being a woman alone in a politically volatile, economically unstable country going through a financial meltdown. It was a dark, frightening time, and many times i wondered if i had made a mistake, was just being silly, and should go back to him.

    I am so glad i didn’t. Hearing these revelations now just prove i was right to leave him. I am not as well off as i was when i was married to him, I was pretty much ostracized by our social circle and labelled as delusional for wanting to end things, but in the end it was the right thing to do.

    and ps – I’m still with the high school boyfriend, 5 years later, and very very happy.

  54. I am happy to find this blog and read all of yur stories. I’ve been married for 27 years and found out 3 months ago that my husband is a SA, using porn and acting out with it for the past 20 years (or at least that’s what he’s willing to fess up to). I had caught him 2 other times in 27 years with porn and he just asked for forgiveness, said it was a guy thing that got the better of him for the moment,”that’s not who I am”. After the 3rd time 3 months ago he finally confessed. i moved out immediately. I value marriage and committment and fidelity and honesty. he is doing a program and wants to lead one in our area when he’s done to further his recovery and keep active in it. I’m just now getting over the shock of surprise. I had no idea. As much as I don’t want to call it quits I am not encouraged by those that stay and seem to live such a sad life. They say they’er happy but when you ask about trust and intimacy they seem to be the one giving all in the relationship and the results are not great. I just watched the movie “Thanks for Sharing”. That was a bit of realization. Wow! I don’t want sex and deceit or fear of to play such a big part of my life as I see it would if we stay together. The only way I got through the last year which was #2 was to just ask God to nail him to the wall if he’s got an issue. WEll, He did. I am fairly dedicated to waiting the 1 year that is recommended before making divorce decision. Thanks for all of your sharing and encouragement. It would be quite a change to be single when I’ve been married longer than I was ever single. Thankfully my sons are grown and understand and I am financially independent. Blessings to all of you.

  55. I am unfortunately faced with this decision myself. I will be 30 in October, so I am one of those “fortunate” young women. Only married for 2 years (July 13, 2013). However, I can not call myself “fortunate.” My husband was able to hide his double life for our entire 5 1/2 year relationship. I did not discover his use of internet chat room sex until I was 4 months pregnant, last August. I found a statement from the website in his email. He had spent $1,000 on the site in less than a year. He had been treating me terribly since I had gotten pregnant, abandoning me every chance he got to hang out with his friends and his parents. This is what led me to his email because I just had a bad feeling in my gut. (Our pregnancy was quite deliberate might I add. We tried to get pregnant and at the end of the first month of trying I was pregnant. His response when I told him joyfully- “S***. Already?”) Here I was pregnant and, in my opinion, discovered my husband had been cheating on me for a long time. I confronted him, took his credit card, and we began marriage counseling. BIG WASTE OF TIME! He treated me worse than ever. He was angry and got on my case about everything. “Is this hormones or is this just your real personality?” “Are you ever going to get off the couch and do the laundry?” (This was my first trimester marked by 24 hour intense nausea). “You’re always so negative.” “You’re too anxious. Can’t you try to control your anxiety?” “Blah blah blah!” As my due date approached, he turned me down for intimate relations every time. Our sexual relationship had always been I initiate or we don’t have sex. If we go for a period without sex, it’s my fault and he would make inconsiderate jokes about how deprived he is in front of friends and family (including mine). Finally I went into labor. For the first time in a LONG time, we had intimacy. He was a champ and a great supporter in the delivery room and the days after coming home. Then the silent treatments began. He was so “exhausted.” Then one Sunday he fell asleep on the couch while the baby was sleeping and I took the opportunity to shower since I hadn’t had one in 2 days. Oops the baby woke up while I was in the shower (he had already been sleep 45 minutes before I went upstairs). I came down and he was ANGRY! I asked what was wrong and he said “You couldn’t have let me nap? You couldn’t have waited for me to wake up to take a shower?” SO SELFISH! I said “what if I had been napping too? Would you say it was my responsibility to take care of the baby and you should continue to nap?!?” Anyway. The week before I returned to work, I found he was searching porn again. 100+ sites nightly. I confronted him that I saw some of them were the live sex chat sites and he said he hasn’t been paying or interacting. Just looking. In therapy I said he needed help and real treatment. He said he could stop on his own. Our joke of a therapist let him get away with this. Then at the end of June, I looked closely at his email again. He had been soliciting women on Craigslist, Adult Friend Finder, other adult hook up sites, and created a secret email address. I got on the secret email address…. He had actually met a woman… He met her on a Sunday at Panera (MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT!), went to her house on Wednesday (he was supposed to be at class), and I gave birth Sunday. YEP! He met a woman a week and again a few days before I gave birth. They had another scheduled meeting for the day after my due date. I moved out July 7th with our 5 month old daughter and am staying at my parents. He just had his first evaluation with a sex therapist personally trained by Dr. Carnes. And I am now left with THE decision. Do I stay and see if therapy works? Do I proceed with a divorce while I am still young enough for a second chance? IF I stay, there are no more children in my future (I can’t do this to another child). Can I live with that? I have no idea who my husband really is. He’s been masturbating since he was 6 years old and has been addicted long before he met me- again I just found this out at the end of June. I’m terrified of divorce. His parents are nuts. He and his parents are manipulative and spiteful. They will make my life a living hell over custody. And I just don’t feel like she is safe if he’s meeting strangers online. Young and fortunate are not synonymous…

  56. Leave him…. He lied to you again and basically cheated while you were having the baby… Literally. I have been here … A little secret is that typically when it seems like they are “better” they are acting out again. I am so sorry — but you need to pull every ounce of strength you have and leave him forever. No contact is best.( except for child) I would love to tell you that on the other side things are roses but I am there and they are not BUT they are better than hitching your life to a man that cannot love you in a true sense. I love that man (my ex) but I will never go back. Join sos they will help you. Make sure you watch the videos … It will help you! You will get stronger and stronger the further you move away from this sad sick life of addiction.
    If I could jump thru this internet and hug you I would.

  57. Oh and you are not fortunate … You are unfortunate. Just don’t donate any more of your life to him. You gave him enough

  58. Amy
    You’re right. Young and fortunate are not synonymous.
    This kind of discovery is hell whichever way you slice it and at whatever age. The level of betrayal is out of this world, the way it devours and kills your sense of self and understanding of who you are and what your life is worth is outrageous. Your anger and intense pain are not being devalued. Anyone who has lived through this knows the level of trauma, isolation, disorientation, floor crawling sick, dismemberment of self that you are feeling. No one will minimise what you are feeling.
    Your youth however does give you the opportunity to rebuild from the groynd up. To love yourself and prioritise you and your baby. Nothing else matters. He will or won’t find recovery. Nothing you do can influence that. You didn’t cause this, you can’t cure it, you can’t control it. You can only care for and influence yourself.
    I hope you find a good trauma counsellor, and recommend ignoring any carnesian therapists. They will do more damage than good.

  59. Thank you for your support. I needed to tell my story to find some inner peace. I think I will join the sisterhood. My husband is being really good at the promises, swearing to be the man I deserve, and he could never do this to me again. However more and more secrets come out each week. We are up to two women he met for anonymous sex now… It’s the lying that is truly making staying not an option. I just pray leaving her father truly is what’s best for my daughter! Thank you again!

    1. Amy…your story is almost exactly like mine. I was with my ex for 6yrs…I found out I was pregnant 3weeks after our wedding. The pregnancy and first year of my daughters life were horrible. I didn’t know who he was. He never helped with the baby. And never got up at night with her. In the morning he would go into the washroom without talking to anyone and spend 45 mins in there before I had a chance to even pee!!! Would come out expecting breakfast. When I told him that I would be holding myself for 45mins he told me to ask. I had to ask to use the washroom. Things got bad. We went to therapy but he wouldn’t go anymore because “everything was his fault”. He worked out of town weeks at a time. I was getting suspicious…snooped and came across his web cam chats this past January. That was it. The emotional abuse that I had gone through for 2 yrs made sense. And I wanted out. I read some disturbing things in those chat rooms. Our entire relationship was a lie. I don’t think twice about not wanting to be with him. I don’t know him. He begs me to take him back but he lies and says he has stopped…but I still pay the mobile phone bill and I see that he texts, sends photo and video messages and talks with girls daily. This disease is not one that I see standing by your partner as it directly involves trust in fedelity. I’m seeking custody and it is incredibly hard to prove this addiction. I do not see him a fit parent especially having a daughter!!! Women are a bag of body parts to him and I can not help but be worried for my daughters future if he has this disease. She already grabbed his cell phone with 2 messages from his prostitutes. Had they been dirty photos I don’t know what I would have done.

      I really feel that you and I have the same story. It is good to know that someone out there is living this as I am! It is a lonely road.

  60. just found this site and what a help all the comments have been. i’m 57 and have been married 33 years to a porn addict. been through the ringer. finding magazines in the early days and then becoming a computer forensics expert in the later years. he’s been verbally abusive, raging, threatening and gas lighting after each confrontation. i feel so ashamed for staying. i feel lazy. the last couple of years i have caught him again. he plays cry baby, “i have a problem and i need you to help me” and i just can’t make him do any of the work. he thinks he is above most people and can fix this himself. well, today i just felt compelled to check his computer and got an eye full. i have no reason to believe he is going to change, despite all his talk. i’m making my plans to finally get off this sickening roller coaster. the family won’t understand and they will feel sorry for him.

  61. I have been married to an sa for 4years. I am 57 and found out about it 2years ago. He was very good at hiding everything but all the symptoms added up. Strip clubs every night mags, videos, god knows what’s on the computer i never wanted to look. At the beginning he denied it know says nothing. He will not go to therapy. I’m done today I put a deposit on an apt out in two weeks told him this morning.he ruined me never any intimacy never any sex never any closeness. I do not trust him one bit.

  62. Where to begin….so much hurt right now. Been with my SA for almost 8 yrs, not married been dating and gonback and forth to each others house almost every night. I knew he watched porn and didn’t care much, seemed harmless enough at the time. Caught him cheating last year and comfronted him, he blamed it on stress and the need to escape reality. Just caught him again last week cheating. Stumbled on his text messages on an iPad that we use for our TV and found out he was having ongoing conversations that we far more than just friendly with at least 8 other women and evidence of sex hookups with at least another three. Found out that he a regular cruiser of craigslist for sex with couples and single females on a daily basis. The dirty laundry list goes on and on but suffice it to say he is juggling at least 8-10 women at any given time on top of the random craigslist hookups. He finally confessed that he was a full on SA and has know it for over 20 years. He likes it when he gets women to like him and has sex with them then he likes to move on. He says it makes him feel good when he gets them to like him, he’s says he’s highly insecure and the flirty, reeling them in, naughty, danger of getting caught part as well as the sex is his addiction. He likes the constant conversations/sexting . He now tells me that he is ready to get help and the only way is how he did it uears ago which was through his church. He was HIGHLY religious years ago when he was married. He left his marriage because his wife didn’t like sex. He did cheat on her towards the end as well. And GET THIS…..the church is telling him the only way to beat his addiction is to enter back in to the church (non-denominational christian church) bu re-marrying his ex-wife and turning himself over to god. He cannot come back to the church unless he remarries because first of all god says you only have one wife and second of all they would not accept him back as a single because he would be considered an adulterer….hence the re-marry his ex! He is convinced that he is under a demonic takeover and that only god can get rid of the demon he has, his addiction. I have tried to talk to him about seeing a sex therapist and he said they cannot help him with getting rid of the demon, only god can?! He said he would never be the same if he took the god route because he trulyoves me and would end up praying his addiction AND praying away me on a daily basis! He said he is very confused on how to fix himself right now and life without me seems unfathomable. He has gone back to the state where his children (ages 18, 27 and 29) are for his regular monthly visits. Also the place where some of his other girlfriends reside and he has cheated on me with. I am so racked with emotion right now I can’t think straight. We had an entire life mapped out, plans when we retire, he is on my insurance, we own property together not to mention my 12 year old daughter thinks of him as her father. He is excellent with her and a great dad to his children which was a big draw for me. I am incredibly attached to him. I am paralyzed with the thought of not having him in my life but sane enough to know I’m on a sinking ship. It’s hell, total torture. I don’t feel like I can get over this one. No one wins in this life. I feel like I’m dying a slow death…….all while trying keep my job, raise my daughter and not let my famy and friends know any of this. Every second hurts.

  63. Oh and by the way……he has stopped communicating with me and took the iPad where I found all of the evidence with him or hid it somewhere. He says he is racked with guilt and shame doesn’t deserve to be with anyone. He is trying to find out the best way to “fix the demon”. When he left for his monthly trip he said that could commit to “controlling himself” for the next 2 weeks while he is gone. But without the iPad I have no way of monitoring him nor do I think I want to. The silence is torture enough let alone I am still freshly in shock from finding out about ALL of other women less than a week ago. I am pretty sure when he returns it will be to say he is going back to his church life and his other family. I will be left with 8 years of living a lie and alone, totally wrecked. Like I said, every second hurts.

  64. I don’t know much to say but I am in the same boat as everyone else. My husband is a SA and I’m guessing has been for years I have been married for a year and just found out that he’s been doing this our whole relationship. We been rebaptized went to a spiritual counselors the whole works and though he says he was changing I know deep down inside he wasn’t. He was bringing women in my house and skyping,calling, and seeing women behind my back. I found pictures, website, messages everything so many times and kept trying to convince myself that GOD would help us. Instead I truly believe GOD has been trying to show me all evidence to leave. I feel so alone and so depressed that he would choose this life over our life together. We financially have everything combined and I’m very scared he will ruin my credit. He is a lier and unreliable. I should have known when his ex wife’s have issues and multiple times has said he’s a cheater. He has done this to every relationship. I am completely in love with him but I know it is no where near healthy what he has done to me mentally. He’s constantly blaming it on me.. I have just left him but have the feeling of always running back.. This is the toughest thing I have had to do….

    1. Dear Kristina,

      After reading your post I want to say how lucky you are, yes lucky!! You have only been in this relationship for a year, try 40 years, yes 40!! I just found a new website that I would like to share with anyone who reads this, http://www.narcissistsupport.com. Many of these men would come under a subheading of Covert Narcissists. It is a great website written by a Psychiatric Nurse, who herself, has been targeted by people with this personality disorder. It is my personal viewpoint (professionals may disagree) that a true SA is someone who has the addiction, but is using it to relieve stress through sex, as they never learned to process emotions in a healthy way as a child. Narcissists on the other hand lie, cheat and manipulate their victim’s, to control and keep their narcissistic supply. Look under “Red Flags of a Narcissist” where it talks about blaming. Narcissists can not be helped, and will not change, but feel blessed that you don’t have children together and immediately work to get your finances separated.

      1. I could not agree more. At the core of this addiction, is a narcissist who is all too ready to blame others rather than admit he has a problem and ask for help. I left my SA husband of 26 years after discovering his “secret”. No amount of pleading that he seek help made any difference, for he kept coming up with excuses why he didn’t like the therapist. The blame game continued to be his excuse for not seeking further counseling. That is when it became painfully obvious that we were done. Does it hurt? YES! But in the end, an SA must acknowledge they have a problem, and they must be the one to be willing to step up and do the work to make the changes that need to be done to overcome the addiction.

    2. I’ve Read this post a few times in my attempts to help myself get through my own personal version of this.. I am 36 and a mother to a 8 month, 2 year and 5 year old. My husbands most recent indiscretion almost gave me an STD. SO I left after 6 years of marriage and 5 years of dating.. needless to say I am beyond devastated and grasping for any life line i can find.. intialy when i left he was understanding but kept telling me he loved me and this was the worse decision for our family, for us to seperate. But now hes becoming mean and verbally abusive and i realize that my decision to leave was one that saved my life..I realize that down the line i will feel better about leaving him. I realize I will get over the hurt and pain. I realize eventually my kids will settle into our new life in which daddy just visits but does’nt stay. I deeply desire to be happy and not depressed for the sake of my kids and for me..

      1. I read your post twice as it hits too close to home, however you are one step ahead of me on making the actual decision to leave. I am sorry you are going through this and I think your decision is brave and I admire your strength and independence.

  65. Thank you for writing this post, Joanne.

    I know we’re all unwilling participants in this sisterhood, but I’m so glad to meet women like you and the others on this site.

    My story is so similar to many of the other women on here and I left my SA one month ago after 4 years of fighting to keep this relationship alive. I’m a lawyer. He was a soldier. We met on an online dating site in 4 years ago. He was never overly emotional but I chalked it up to him being in the military. After dating for 6 months, we moved in together. 7 months later my world caved in when I saw his phone lying around and wondered what his mom had texted about my christmas present. Lewd text messages with his private parts sent to other women. First, it was “it’ just 2 women I’m sexting”. I took him to a therapist, and 2 soon turned into 12 women he was sexting but he never slept with anyone. A few months later, the truth came out that he slept with one of these women 2 months after moving in together. He had some level of sobriety for a few years minus a few flirting incidents. Then in February of this year, 3 weeks before our wedding day, he told me only 50% of him wanted to get married. I called off the wedding and a few weeks later, I discovered he was having an emotional affair with his coworker. We fought endlessly until one day he sexted an ex-gf and asked her to come see him so they could sleep together.

    Everyone told me to walk but I was devastated that this man I was about to marry who I had fought through so much with who I loved with my whole being was someone I could never see again. So, I demanded sex addition rehab and attending church. In July of this year, he did both as I went away to a professional development program for a few months. We fought a lot as I was still angry about the cancelled wedding and emotional affair. He refused to provide phone records to prove he was clean and one day, before I came back, his ex-gf messaged me and told me he had been in contact with her and was planning to come see her. This was all while he promised me he was going to therapy and church and was independent and doing well. My world crashed again and I realized that there was no way to have trust with this person. I had asked God for a sign and though it is not the answer I wanted, it was the answer nevertheless.

    The holidays are heartbreaking this year, but I guess I just want to let every woman out there know that it doesn’t matter how accomplished or intelligent or beautiful you are. If you show empathy to an SA who is not willing to change, they will destroy your life. I keep needing to read Joann’s article in my weak moments too just to remind myself that is enough is enough. And it is time to move on…without him.

    1. I’m struggling with the same emotional roller coaster. After 31 years of marriage I am exhausted from living with a man who could never show me love. The first time I found out about his sex addict behaviors, I was married for about two and half years. I had an 18 month toddler and I was pregnant. The discovery devastated me in every way possible. I separated from my husband only to reunite with him about a year later- with promises to be a good husband and father. The promises never materialized. He kept his emotional distance and continued to criticize me, brow beat me and ignore/belittle my needs. I kept my focus on raising the children and developing job skills to support them- in case my husband blew my world apart again. I stopped looking for pornography and deviant sexual behaviors. I did not ignore them. Because of the way my husband blamed me for everything and treated me like a burden, I knew they were there swirling all around me like an invisible cloud of pain. Even so, speaking to my husband about my feelings meant getting into an argument- sometimes a violent one.

      I was right. My husband’s sex addiction was there all along. Trying to talk about it did not good. My husband would angrily deny any sexual acting out. My job was to forgive him and never speak of his sexual behaviors. Over the years I developed severe anxiety and depression. My self esteem was shot and I could not make decisions. From dealing with so many lies and deceitful behaviors, my sense of reality became skewed. I got the “funny feeling” something was wrong over and over again but I felt powerless to do anything about it. Our children grew up in a home with a depressed mother and a critical father who was unable to connect with them. Now grown, both of my children struggle with self esteem issues and depression. For the past few years I felt a sense of impending doom and a fear of my husband.

      I was right. The fragile coping system I built to survive in my marriage came crashing down this past November. My husband’s vast collection of
      pornography, hook up sites, web cams, sex chat rooms as well as voyeurism/exhibitionism (and God knows what else)- slapped me right in the face. I am still in shock about about the discovery. I had no idea his addiction was that deep and that wide. After checking the credit card bills and the phone records, I found that he was sexting women in the very same room with me as we sat across from each other. He said the texting was from work but that never added up. A few times, I jumped up to see who was texting- but he quickly turned his phone off. That’s when I knew. I scrambled for an exit plan but I was financially dependent on my husband. I thought I would quietly wait it out with him until I found a job and saved some escape money. When my husband sent unwanted lewd texts to my neighbor (while masturbating in the yard while looking in her window). He sent my neighbor 42 lewd unwanted sext messages. She and her husband were preparing to press charges against him. They decided against it because of the embarrassment it would have caused for them. However, they did warn him that will press charges if he ever calls or texts their home again. I decided to see an attorney to protect myself.

      The damage this man did to me, our children, and even our neighbors is indescribable. I wish I could have gotten help 30 years ago. Back then, Christian counselors placed the focus on “forgiving him” (forgiveness meant never to speak of it again). Secular counselors focused on my childhood- which had nothing to do with my husband’s sexual acting out. Some secular counselors picked up on how I unhappy I was about the marriage- but they went know further. One counselor thought that if I participated in watching pornography with my husband, my marriage would improve. My husband never attended counseling because he believed I was the problem- not him. In the mean time, I was suffering from flash backs, nightmares, anxiety and depression and I did not know why. I thought I was just crazy, worthless, ugly and stupid. I have been praying my heart out for a way out of this nightmare of a marriage- once and for all.

      After the discovery in November, I have been physically sick to my stomach (vomiting, diarrhea). My nerves are shot and I am in a fog. My emotions are flopping all over the place from anger to pain, sorrow and shame. I have found a COSA group, but it hasn’t helped much. I feel alone and frightened. I was advised to get STD testing, but I feel embarrassed to so. How could I have loved a man who did all this to me? Maybe I am stupid, worthless and crazy?

  66. Someone below posted this: “A little secret is that typically when it seems like they are “better” they are acting out again.”

    I’m very interested to hear if others have found that to be true.

    I just left an on-again-off-again relationship with someone I finally realized was a SA. It’s really hard right now, but I’m hoping brighter days are ahead and that I can learn to trust another man.

    1. Help! Left 1.5 years ago, do I go back!
      I am very confused found my ex husband with SA after only being married 1.5. He joined adult forum rating and referring prostitutes, actually found him arranging date with one. He says he never acted on it, I had three month old baby stayed until she was 3, out relationship failed. He disgusted me, he said he would go counselling ended up doing one week phone counselling. Now have been separated 1.5 and I think it is cuz of our kid together, I feel like I should go back, still don’t trust, but he swears he is better, changed man, I am so confused!

      1. Omg, validation, I thought I was crazy! I would get very very anxious, my stomach would hurt, I felt sick and I would find out he was at it again. I just put him out of the home after 28 yrs of marriage. I can’t do this any longer , he always goes back to his old way and refuses to get help. I gonna let him go for my Peace of mind .

    2. Just poked into the site for the first time. I’m out now a year and a half later after d day. This thought rang clear as I read the posts.. we have it backwards their true love isn’t us you know we are actually the mistress his true love is the whore. Never ever forget that .i left for good 2 weeks ago.

  67. I have been married to a SA for 43years. I caught him with a video
    20 years ago, he threw it out and promised he would never use porn again. Four years ago, I caught him on the computer watching porn (more hardcore now) and masturbating.
    He started an online therapy courses but dropped out after a month. I was very understanding as I have worked with people with addictions and I know judgement does not help. I asked him to tell me if he was temptedabd we would work through it together. He lied and lied and told me he was doing just fine.
    Eight weeks ago I caught him using porn again and I was enraged at all the years of lying and sneaking. I told him to move into the spare bedroom. He is in a 12 step program and seeking a counsellor every three weeks. We have hardly any money because we were injured in 3 car accidents in 3 years and cannot work.
    I don’t trust him and I don’t know what to do. We have to pool what little money we have to live, I have nowhere to go and I can’t work.
    I am seeing a psychologist for PTSD after the 3 car accidents (I have brain injury) and he told me about in house separation.
    Can anyone help me with boundaries for an in house separation? I don’t want to date and I don’t want him to date, we have shared bank accounts and my name is not on title of our condo.
    He has an accountability partner and installed covenant eyes software on the computer
    Any advice or suggestions would be very helpful. I’m completely devastated and now we have a new neighbour who is similar to the women in the porn videos. She has enormous breasts and perfect legs (which I do not) I feel inferior and hate my body. The one thing I have going for me is that I am very good looking. I just haven’t got the in shape body that the neighbour has. My husband invited her and her husband into our home to look at some work he was doing without asking me. He was over at their place for “only 10 minutes” and thought they were very friendly.
    I am so triggered and upset I cry all the time.