I’m so glad to have found this website. My story is about how my husband has successfully managed his recovery from Sex Addiction, but the deep wounds that his addiction caused still remain.
I have been married 8 years. Four years ago, my husband admitted to sleeping with prostitutes and strippers, as well as an enormous porn and sex chat addiction, during the first four years of our marriage, including during both of my pregnancies.
It has been an incredible rollercoaster. At the time, we were living in North Carolina so that he could go to graduate school; we had no friends or family or community, and we had a toddler and a newborn.
He confessed “everything” after I caught him trying to send a photo of his penis to some stranger via email. I look back and realize that my calm, fairly together response was, in reality, shock and trauma. It did not compute.
I felt that way for a long time. At worst, I concluded that my initial reaction of calm and of, say, not throwing him out of the house and immediately filing for divorce was a sign of hope, of being able to overcome this, of my love for him, of commitment, etc. I think really, it was just absolutely shock.
My husband did take responsibility and showed great willingness to recover. While, in the past 4 years, there have been some porn-related slips, there has been no more cheating, so far as I can tell.
My reason for believing him is the difference in reaction he has had over the years – he’s not defensive, doesn’t fight my accusations, is calmly open to my questions, feels I have the right to my feelings, etc. He acts like someone with nothing to hide.
We have been in counseling for 4 years. We’ve had ups and downs, but have been generally successful in recovering this marriage. Still, we recently separated for a few months because I had to face the fact that, while things are better, stable, peaceful, even good… to say the magic is gone is an understatement, at least for me.
I had to face the fact that while we both shared a pain about all of this, he has the privilege of still being madly in love with me, of seeing me intact and good and worthy, and I remain…broken.
I needed space to just focus on me, think about alternatives, etc. He moved out for a few months, we co-parented our boys (now ages 4 and 6), we drafted a legal separation agreement. We were able to experience, and imagine, what divorce and a two-home family would be like.
Separation was painful, but overall okay. Everyone would be okay no matter what direction we ultimately took. I saw that I didn’t have to stay for any fear, but I did see what life would be like if we really did divorce. I saw the big picture, and it was complicated, sobering.
We reconciled in June 2011. At first, the relief of reconciling was wonderful and I thought that the separation was really the last ingredient of moving past all this, and being happy again. Its been two months and I’m back to trying to wrap my head around this marriage.
On the one hand, things are good. They really are. And he’s a better man, father, and spouse for all that we have struggled together. The man he is today is a kind, loving, generous, sweet, intelligent, successful man. Our home is peaceful. And he is the father of my children, and a good father. Our boys are happy. We don’t have to sell the house, our home remains intact. These are all good things.
On the other hand, I see the marriages of my friends and family members and, while they are not perfect and while I know that I can never really know what goes on in other marriages, there is a sort of… lack of utter brokenness that I miss, that I know I can never regain with my husband, and that makes me so sad.
I do love my husband. I have gained a new respect for him because of these years of hard work. But I am sad. I am just sad at the whole thing. You know that feeling like, if you could do it all over again, of course you’d marry him? That, despite his flaws, he’s “The One”? That you just accept him for all he is, and he accepts you, and that is what love is? I feel like I will never quite have that.
Would I marry him all over again? Ummm, no. No I would not. I would have married my ex-boyfriend if I knew then what I know now. Is he the love of my life, the One? Well, my “the One” certainly wouldn’t have spent 4 years screwing hookers. Is my life better because of him?
Well, I’d have to qualify that. Given reality, given our children and our family and our professional dreams and so on, my life, as it is today, is better/easier/more supported with him than without him. And, in truth, I see him for who he is TODAY and I don’t want to lose that man. I don’t want someone else to enjoy a life with this recovered/recovering, stable, matured version of him.
Isn’t this all so sad? But its like being between a rock and a hard place. Its either accepting this sadness and moving forward with what is otherwise good, or going through the pain, complication, and destruction of a divorce, a two-home co-parenting relationship, of introducing (eventually) new people, new family systems, into this increasingly complicated situation, a greater financial burden… and no less sadness.
I don’t want that either. I don’t even want to lose him.
Anyway, that is where I am at. And I don’t know what more to expect, or how to think about all of this. I think I am at a place where I do believe a marriage can survive. I do believe a sex addict can recover. I do believe there is life, together, beyond D-day and that the two people can even grow stronger, more real, than before.
But that the sadness never goes away. That you accept a life of peace and contentment, but not happiness. Am I just not out of the process yet? Is happiness still possible? I thought we were out of the woods.
I am fairly crushed to realize that, after all of this, even after risking separation and reconciling, the brokenness remains, perhaps for always.