I found your website a couple of days ago and am so glad I found it. I just found out about my husband’s secret earlier this week. I am emotionally drained, but I am hoping that by sharing my story, I will feel at least a little better.
Well, to say that I have just found out about it is wrong. I found out about it 3 years ago, and now the Sex Addiction has reared it’s ugly head.
I have been with my husband for 5 1/2 years and we met while I was in university. He is 12 years older than me. He had moved to the USA from a different country.
About 2 years ago, I moved to his home country with him and now we are married, no kids, a house and 2 great jobs. He is extremely successful, handsome and charming. I would say that I am attractive, smart and successful myself. Together, from the outside, we must look like the perfect couple. But we are far from it.
3 years ago, while we still lived in the US, I found out something extremely shocking.
I just happened to be on the computer in the home that he owns in the US (he was back living in his home country at this point – I was to join him in 6 months. He left early to start his new job, the original reason to move back). I had found HUNDREDS of emails from complete strangers on Craiglist – ALL SEXUAL in nature and that he had even been sending his picture to some women (just his picture of himself, not his genitals). I continued to look at the emails – to see how long he had been doing this and found that it went back to when we first started dating.
I confronted him right away on the phone and he was hysterical and apologized and begged me to stay. Long story short, we never sought therapy for it and I forgave him because I didn’t think he had any kind of addiction – I had never even heard of a sex addict. That was this episode done.
A year ago, I was visiting the US for 2 weeks and came back and was on the computer when I saw the history of web pages, I saw that he was on a pornography website. I confronted him again and he swore that he was just looking and he doesn’t do this regularly. I stupidly believed, as I genuinely thought that this man had the heart of a saint – warm, kind, just a dream, really. He spoils me in every way and I love him very much.
We got married this summer. Then earlier this week I was on the computer again and his work email was up. I had to look and I’m so glad that I did. 99.9% was work, but there was 3 email exchanges that he had had with a brief girlfriend back in the states that I opened – he had just written them day before. I was sick. She had originally contacted him, asking him how he was. He started to bring up history – most shockingly, he told her that HE WAS NOT MARRIED, but he “lived with a girl”. He also brought up very inappropriate innuendos including their “old bedroom” and “how great it was” – he questioned how she was, what her life is like, etc. The email was flirtatious and inappropriate, and I’m confident that had I never caught it, he would go right back to what he was doing with craigslist.
He came home about 15 minutes later and I flipped out. I have never been so close in my life to hitting someone with intentions to create immense bodily harm. I wanted to kill him. He was hysterical as well. I called him every name in the book. I told him that he had a problem and he denied that he has a problem because he doesn’t do it very often. A few days have gone by and I’m convinced he has a sex addiction.
I immediately told him that he is to go to treatment and I will set boundaries, and it he does not seek treatment or abide by my boundaries, I will leave an divorce him. He has since admitted that he has a problem and broke down in tears saying that he is so torn inside and feels that he has a “Bad” self and a “good” self – but doesn’t know what the problem is and has agreed very willingly to seek treatment and help right away. He has accepted every one of my boundaries. I have attached that document, if you would like to see it.
JoAnn, I am so confused. Every bone in my body is telling me to divorce and never look back. I am self-sustainable, still young (turning 27 in February). But I love him and we are married. He isvery kind and funny, and smart and successful, and I believe him when he says that he wants treatment and that this marriage is the most important thing in his life. The reason that I believe him is that he agreed to all of my boundaries and has even signed the document. I told him that I will keep this document in a safe place.
I have read so many stories on your site, so may so eerily similar to mind and I am haunted by the possibility that this thing will begin to unravel more. I am scared that he is not telling me the truth, so I have to assume the worst – though he claims he never physically cheated on me, I don’t believe him. I am going to get tested for all STDs next week to make sure that I’m safe.
JoAnn, please give me some advice. You seem to give hope to so many women. I want hope. I want hope that I can move on either by myself (if I divorce) or with him (if I decide to stay). I don’t know what to do…….
Sorry this is so long. If you do read this, thank you so much for listening (or reading?), and god bless you for being so strong and creating such a wonderful site.
Here are the boundaries that I wrote.
I do not trust or believe anything that comes out of your mouth. All I have in my head are awful scenarios of you. You have given me no choice but to not trust you. You have completely lost my trust and we have to start from scratch, basically. I do not believe that you believe that you have a problem. I hope that counseling and time will help you see that you do have a problem and you can begin the healing process. Most importantly, the number one reason that you should start treatment and healing is FOR YOURSELF. Our marriage and relationship is a bonus and also can be reasons for seeking help, but you cannot live like this forever, and that’s the reason you need help.That being said:
These are boundaries/conditions that I will put in place for the foreseeable future: These are absolute conditionals for us to start working on our marriage and for me to start trusting you again. If I do not see significant improvement in 6 months starting from today 10 November, then I will move out of the house and initiate a divorce.
You are a married man. That means that any communication you have, be that to a stranger or someone you know needs to convey that you’re a married man. You have to set boundaries with people. Anything that you do that you would not do with me knowing IS SHADY and you should not be doing it. If I even suspect that you are doing something shady, then I will move out and initiate a divorce.
If you truly believe that this marriage is the most important thing in your life, then you will think about the repercussions of all your actions to the marriage. YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO SET BOUNDARIES AND ABIDE BY THOSE BOUNDARIES.
COUNSELING: You have to accept right now that counseling may have to be a part of your life for a very long time, and by long time, I mean years. For the immediate/foreseeable future: You will go to counseling once a week for a period of 6 weeks (however, if your counselor feels that you should be going more, then you will), and I will go to counseling individually as well. We will go to one initial session together, then you will have your 6 sessions by yourself, then we will meet the counselor together again after your 6 sessions. We can assess after how many times you need to go to counseling thereafter.
If after 6 weeks, I feel the same way I do now and that I do not see ANY hope that you and I can go on in a marriage that is built on trust, respect and dignity, I will move out and initiate a divorce.
LIVING SITUATION: You can stay in the house. You will sleep in a separate room until I feel that it is right to sleep in a room together – this can be months. For the next week (or even longer if I feel it is appropriate), we will live in separate living rooms. However, if you feel the urge to feel a connection or to talk about how you are feeling, DO NOT SIT BY YOURSELF AND SULK OR KEEP IT INSIDE. Talking about your feelings will be the only way to get you out of turmoil or despair. I will talk to you and be supportive, as I want you to get better. However, I will not live in a pretend situation and talk to you to “amuse you” or “to take your mind off of things.” Things will not go back to “how they were”(if ever they do go back to that).
THERAPY AT HOME: I have ordered some books online about addictions that are sexual in nature and ways to recognize and work on those addictions. You and I will be reading these books. This is a way for us to spend time together in the evenings after work that is constructive and will help us understand what this problem is about. I want to get away from watching TV for the immediate future, as this is a far better way to be spending our free time and to face a problem rather than ignore it.
DAY-TO-DAY LIVING: I will continue to clean the house, and maintain it, and I will also make you dinners. For the immediate future, I will not eat my dinners with you.
FOOTBALL AND SATURDAYS: For the immediate future: You can continue to train on Mondays or Tuesdays, and play on Saturdays. However, you need to come home after every game immediately after showering – NO STAYING IN THE CLUB TO DRINK.
DRINKING: You can drink during this while process, but you will not get drunk at any time during this process. I do not want you to turn to another vice to numb your pain or sorrows. You will only drink on the weekends – and like I said, no getting drunk.
COMPUTER: For the immediate/ foreseeable future : ABSOLUTELY ZERO Computer use: If you need to use the computer for emergencies, then you have to let me know exactly what it’s for and I need to be present and watching everything that you do. Football and news and stuff do not count as emergencies. If you need to do anything for work, I will need to be watching over you. If I am not home and you need to do something for work, you will go to work. I will booby-trap the computer and change the password.
MOBILE PHONE: You can keep your mobile phone. I know this is a work mobile. Keep in mind that anything you do over the phone in your work mobile is company property and that you can get fired for doing anything shady. Same goes for your computer at work. You need to realize that if you are doing anything shady at work in relation to internet use, this puts your job in jeopardy. When you are at home, you will not be on the mobile checking websites.
WORK EMAIL: You received contact to and were communicating from your work email. I already have your email to your ex as proof against you and will keep that in a safe spot and if it comes down to a divorce, I will get legal authorities and your work involved to access your work email. Keep in mind that your work backs up everything you erase and all that content can be recovered. I want you to write to your ex to let you know that you have lied to her and that you are in fact, a married man and that you do not want her to contact you anymore. I want to see the email that you send, from your sent inbox, live from your Outlook – a print-out of the email will not do.
FINANCES: For the immediate foreseeable future: Bank receipts: You will give me access to your online banking (all accounts that you have) so that I can monitor everything that you buy and do. This is to make sure that you do not find some other way to feed your addiction. When you take cash out, you can only take $100/transaction, unless you let me know explicitly what you are buying that’s over $100. You will show me the receipts for your purchases when you take cash out so that I can make sure that what you’re buying matches how much you’re taking out.
Know that during this process, I will never judge you, that being said, it is your choice and responsibility to be vulnerable with me and to let me know how you feel inside OPEN YOUR HEART TO ME AND TELL ME EVERYTHING. What you’re feeling, what you’re fearing, what you hate, what you love, what you long for, everything. I do not care if you cry. Crying shows me that you’re human and you feel things. I do not expect you to be perfect and strong, but I do expect you to own up to mistakes and admit to things you never thought about yourself. This is a path of self-discovery and healing for years of torment and most of all, denial and repression. I do not think you are a bad person. I think you are a person with an addiction and a problem, and I am going to try my best to support you while you deal with this addiction.
However, I have to think about myself in this situation as well. If I feel this is not going to work and I won’t ever be able to completely trust you, I will leave and initiate a divorce. My promise to you is that during this discovery and healing phase, I will keep an open heart and mind and not close either.
When I say that I will leave and divorce you, trust me. I am completely self-sustainable and you know that when I put my mind to something, I’ll do it.
There are two potential outcomes to the end of this situation:
1. We go our separate ways. If this is the case, then I hope for your own sake that you continue therapy and seek treatment.
2. We stay together. If this is the case, then we will have a completely different relationship, with similar understandings and boundaries and a relationship which I imagine will be stronger and 100% open.