Sex Addiction or Experimentation? Kari’s Story

This story includes a brutally honest reflection of Kari’s experimentation and participation in her husband’s sexual requests. I thought long and hard about whether or not to publish it. The reason I chose to share it with all of you is that I think it very clearly points out the difference between testing the sexual waters or having a Sexual Addiction. Thank you Kari for being so honest.

Experimentation may be necessary for some, but the end result is finally reaching a place of peace about who you are, what you like or dislike and what your sexual boundaries are. Conversely, Sexual Addiction has nothing to do with a path toward enlightenment. The escalating behaviors are only a salve for the inner pain.

Sexual Addiction is not about finding oneself, but about losing oneself.

I am really surprised to find myself doing this. I am officially divorced from this man and have been since May 2010, however, I continue to question myself, my reality, my experience. I question if I am crazy or overreacting to this day!

I guess most of that stems from the fact that I was married to this man for 20 years and we have 3 sons together. I choose to share for two reasons, for my own reality check, and to help others with theirs. I know how much it helps me to read others stories, to know that I am not alone in this struggle.

It’s hard to pinpoint when all of this started but it was about 6 years ago this winter when I was struggling with the sudden passing of my father and subsequent anger at God for taking him, that I expressed to my husband a need to “get away” from the religious way of life that we led. In other words was going through a “rebellious” stage in my grief process.

I knew all along that this was a phase and that soon it would run its course and I would be back on track to the way I was used to living my life, the way “we” were used to living “our” lives. I guess the first steps were drinking, and hanging out in bars, but quickly, TOO quickly it turned to a sexual nature. He told his buddies he wanted me to go to strip clubs with him. They told me, and being in the place I was, I was open to it.

We went to strip clubs, he loved watching me get lap dances, he thought I was so cool for being open to it, I obliged. His buddies came with us to the strip clubs; he liked to parade me in front of them, to show them how cool I was. One of them hit on me and began flirting with me. I ended up having a one night stand with him that now I suspect my husband knew about all along.

The requests increased in nature, frequency and intensity. He wanted to go out of town to a place like Hedo, Jamaica (we chose Desire in Mexico). Once we decided to do that he decided we better be open to the idea of other couples. He put us on swinging social sites. We went on the trip.

After that everything grew in intensity. We went out of town often and the entire getaway was sex-based activity. Strip clubs, swinging activities, even once a sex house where people just walked around and watched each other have sex. We started taking ecstasy, going to raves, partying harder and harder. Then there started to be a trend. We would go to a bar; he would want me to drink, a lot. Then he would want me to pick up on a girl and get her to come back to the room. I was never successful; I remember one time telling him to just hire a prostitute so that I didn’t have to try to pick someone up for him.

When I would play and was a willing participant, I was the best wife in the world. He treated me like a queen. When I didn’t come through, it was the opposite. I wasn’t talked to, or touched. I would apologize for letting him down.

Eventually I got sick of this, and tired of living a double life. I told him I was done with the wild life. You would have thought I robbed him of his soul. He moped around the house and acted depressed. He kept trying. When I asked what he wanted for his 40th birthday, he told me a double blow job. Once, when we went out overnight for what I thought was just a night for us to reconnect and get our marriage back on track, he was texting one of the swinging couples and telling the man how bad he wanted them to come to the room with us but that I was a “chicken shit”. The more he pushed me the more I backed up until I finally told him that all of this had to stop. PERIOD.

Our marriage and family were in grave danger. At that point he totally withdrew from me in every way. Emotionally, physically etc. I was dedicated to the cause and signed up for all kinds of help. Online programs, marriage fitness, self-help books etc. I went to counseling alone (I got him to go a few times after I caught him lying about being in his room at a hotel when he was out of town. He also called me from a bar). He never wanted to work on it.

I also caught him texting and talking with other women, most met out of town. He said nothing happened. Finally I demanded some communication. At that point he took me to lunch, sat me down and gave me a letter. The letter told me how miserable he was in our marriage because I made him feel confined. He told me he wasn’t free to be himself. He told me he was considering some options; staying and conforming, staying and doing whatever he wanted, separating and deciding what he wanted, or abandoning his marriage. This of course was devastating to me. I felt like he had me around the throat and I was so afraid of him leaving me that I lost all boundaries and sense of self. I was too worried about upsetting him. For a year he treated me like the plague. He wouldn’t take me out, talk with me or be intimate with me (he did want sex…without intimacy).

Then it was D-day. Thanksgiving 2007. I was using his laptop to book a trip for our family. I noticed he used Google as a homepage. Later I guessed his password and checked his history. He visited porn sites almost daily, usually morning and afternoon before he left the office. He travels occasionally, and I found that when he was gone he always looked up strip clubs, once an escort service. Then I uncovered the real humdinger. Craiglists personals. From each time he was out of town. He would actually shop before he left. Often while he was right here in the house, or while I had the kids at church. He would search for them in our area, several times. He had a secret yahoo email account.

I confronted him. He denied. Said he never went to the strip clubs, even though the history shows he mapquested the place. He said he was only curious and never contacted the Craigslist ads. He told me the email account was work related, even though he has a work specific email account. He said the porn was no big deal. The worst part? I believed him! He never even had to sleep in another bed. He said he was sorry. I just wanted him to love me! Be in to ME! He promised it would be different.

For another year we existed together. He was absent from our relationship. He was going to counseling on his own. He never shared with me what he was learning; he never asked how I was. We never worked on US. On our 20 year anniversary I hinted around that we should celebrate. He said he wished he felt like it. I planned and carried out the whole thing and said “see that wasn’t so bad was it??”

In the meantime I found myself envying other couples, wishing things were different, wondering what else was out there. I met someone who treated me like a queen; I fought the attraction because I knew it was wrong. We became emotionally connected. This man begged and pleaded with me to get out of this marriage, not for him, but for myself and for my kids. I wanted to, but then again, I didn’t. I was stuck. Eventually my husband found an email from this man on my phone and that was it. He claimed I cheated and he was out the door. Had another girlfriend within a few weeks.

Later he would approach me and ask to go to counseling. But of course he didn’t tell her that, or the other girl I knew he was hooking up with on a social networking sight (she worked with me!) He continues to trick me and play on my sanity and self-esteem. Example, two weeks ago he came to my sons football game, I could smell alcohol. He wanted to drive my son home. I told him no because he had been drinking. I even grabbed his fountain drink that had it in it and tasted it so I would have proof. He looked right at me and told me to stop making up stories.
Being married to a sex addict or any kind of addict it debilitating. I hope for recovery for him someday for my son’s sake. But I doubt it will even happen. I work on recovery for myself every day. I AM NOT CRAZY!
Kari

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Responses

  1. No, you are not crazy. And it isn’t shameful to have done what you thought was appropriate for your marriage, although afterward it can feel that way. There are couples who do not have addictions, who are able to have “exploratory” sexual experiences and remain healthy and intimate with one another. I was on the precipice of that myself. We posted an ad. We communicated with a few candidates. In the end, I couldn’t go through with it, and came to the understanding that while what I was doing was an attempt at salvaging our marriage and pleasing him so he wouldn’t look elsewhere, for him it was another symptom of his problem.

    You have to get to a place where you realize his sexuality and compulsions are not part of your self-worth. And they don’t have to be part of your life – you have definitely figured that last part out. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot take it personally; although I will take any slips or crossing of boundaries seriously, they do not reflect on me as a partner or a lover. Also, if he cannot recover and chooses to live a sexually free and unhealthy life, he can make that choice, and I can move on with the knowledge that I tried everything I could to work through it – but we are neither saviors nor superheroes and we do not have the ability to make them better. It is surprisingly freeing.

    In the meantime, ignore his snarky comments and antics, and keep doing what you have to do to protect your kids – even if he derides you for it. He isn’t mentally healthy and you are well on your way to recovery and some sense of normalcy.

  2. Thank you Kari,
    for taking the risk of sharing this story. There is much shame that surrounds our sexuality and the way we express it. And yes, we do make some of our mistakes in life in this area, but we make mistakes in other areas as well.

    I believe we have some things in common here, because I think the BIG mistake of our many little mistakes is “losing ourself”. Here I mean the subtle but steady erosion of who we truly are, in our greatness. While I did not go down the sexual experimentation route, I did indulge myself in overwork and depressive tendencies. That’s where I went, Kari, as an expression of how I had lost any sense of who I was anymore. The trigger of a grief in your own life is no surprise to me. I think the grief of know at some level that I had lost my partner in life triggered my own acting out.

    Unfortunately for you, there is less shame associated with overwork or depressive tendencies than sexual experimentation. But now, from a fresh perspective, I do feel see my “acting out” for what it was.

    How wonderful it is Kari, that you were able to recover yourself enough to stop leaking your soul all over those with no capacity to receive it and treasure it. Keep gathering yourself back up. Don’t stop. I am living proof that you can pick up the pieces of who you were once—before all this bad stuff start eroding your life. Slow and steady, a few hiccups here and there, but this is what most faiths are all about—the possibility of renewal and restoration.

    A friend just wrote me an email that said “the only healing Diane is in charge of is her own”. I think that echoes your last remarks. May you have strength and grace for that greatest and most important task—learning how to be a good steward of your own greatness, as it returns to you on this healing journey.

    with love,
    D.

  3. Dear Kari,

    Your story is honest and thoughtful, and shows your journey to wellness. There is always such shame in any form of abuse, and no doubt, being in a relationship with sex addict is really a special type. I often struggle, feel embarassed around neighbors, etc. as if they all “know” my pain. There is freedom and guilt-lifting in sharing our experiences in a trusted environment, like this one. It is a healthy addiction for me, as I now check here daily, and learn something new: a new persepective, a reminder that no, we are not crazy it IS really happening and dangerous to our selves and families, etc. I am glad you are away from him. No more years of torment. continue on your journey to wellness…

  4. Hi Kari,

    I really related to your story— many aspects. Thank you for sharing it so bravely. I wish you all the best.

    Love,

    Lorraine

  5. HI Kari,
    Thanks for sharing and it sounds like you are on a healthier path. Like Pam said, and many others, I check here daily. It is a wonderful reminder that I am not alone or crazy either. Stay strong 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve had almost the same exact experience, down to his activities, and my attempt to hold it all together by joining in, for the sake of what we thought was right for all involved. You are so brave, and you are an example for the rest of us. Enjoy falling in love again – with yourself.

  7. @ Pamela…I am so sorry for you. And for anyone else who has walked this walk. It is already enough pain to be in a marriage that isn’t what we had hoped and dreamed, but then to add shame and embarrassment for our own choices..well, it makes it that much harder.
    I have found that since my story posted here, I have not been able to read it. It just hurts too bad and is too humiliating. I can only hope that by knowing you are not alone, that it will somehow help you and others.
    Be true to who you are. That’s the most important thing. All else will fall into place in time…I hope

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! You have just described my life. My husband and I are in marriage counseling now and I am trying to decide whether to stay or leave. I’m so hurt. He admits that he has a ‘hole’ that he can’t fill, but he’s still trying to put it into words. I know in my heart he has a sex addiction (as well as other addictive behaviors). He’s stopped the behaviors for now, but when will they start again? He’s also trying to convince me that I was ‘into’ this lifestyle as much as he was. That I wanted to. All of this is so hurtful and confusing.

  9. Well yet again he is trying to put the focus on you (yet again meaning just as the rest of the SA’s which are talked about on this site), by saying that you also wanted it or liked it etc. But you have made it clear that you want nothing to do with this lifestyle anymore, and he is still stuck. For now he appears to be better, give it a year and then see what happens. But in reality the question is about him. He is trying to minimize the severity of the situation, by saying you wanted it as well. Thereby making him not such a bad person in his eyes, by making you partly to blame. Again rationalizing and minimizing. I feel that they will not be able to recover until they can see or admit to the nature of their wrongs. My SA is still minimizing and I do not want any part of it. If he can’t see the degree of the damage that he has caused, the big picture, then I would think it is really hard to make amends or prevent further acting out in the future. Also from what I have read the first 6 months are easy, after that its just tough, and many fall of the wagon at this point.

  10. He’s still in denial and our therapist wants us to physically separate (we’re separated in-house right now). He thinks he can make things right by simply cutting out the online affairs and moderating the rest of his behavior (impulsive spending, excessive drinking & drugs, frequent visits to strip clubs, inappropriate conversations with our 2 small boys).

    Our discussion last night was that I am fed up with taking responsibility for his actions. Ok… I admit I’m not perfect. But, there’s no way these issues in our marriage are 50/50! So, why is he making me feel guilty for where we’re at!!!! Sure, I enabled his behavior. Sometimes I participated. Sometimes I looked the other way (at least for the issues that I knew about). I’m working on that codependence issue.

    The fact that this issue is also affecting our children has me absolutely LIVID! How can he excuse the fact that he ‘STORED’ an open box of nude mags in our 6 year olds bedroom (for our children & all the neighborhood kids to peruse)! Also, he tells our boys that the nanny likes him to play with her breasts (not true… he just thought it was funny). UGH!

    Just a tip off the iceberg. Thanks for letting me vent…

  11. My opinion is that anytime the kids can or are exposed, there is no question about what you have to do. All of your decisions should be based upon what is best for the kids. Especially if you are not sure what to do for yourself, they matter most in a situation like this. He has proven to be irresponsible and in no way is acting appropriately for the children. You don;t want your boys to turn out like him. In my case I found that the SA had viewed porn while watching our daughter, and I know there is no way she was not in the room, for two days in a row for an hour and a half each time. It;s all lies and BS. And I have to admit that what i know is probaly the tip of the iceburg, as he will not tell on himself, none of them will. They will only tell you what they think you know. Maybe there are some but the slimy ones who are trying to weasel out and not come clean 100%, that mine. They are trying to keep there good thing going which is you and the kids, but he treats you like crap all along the way. Not worth it.

  12. Dear Kay,
    the situation you are describing with your sons is very serious. This is already imprinting images in their minds that will hurt their development as human beings capable of human intimacy.

    I cannot stay silent on this one. You need to get the SA out of the house, and get rid of the material he’s been leaving around. And his verbal messages are just as dangerous. These are your children’s lives—-you are the only one who can protect their precious hearts, minds and spirits. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth. Be the heroine, here, Kay. Please.

    May you have courage and clarity,
    D.

  13. wow… I must admit that in some ways I can’t relate to your story. My addict does everything he can to keep me out of his fantasy world. He doesn’t want me sullied by his “other world” and would never dream of asking me to participate. However even he would admit that the stupidity of keeping that kind of stuff in a 6 year olds room is asking for not only a call to DCFS, but permanent removal of his important parts! Your boys minds are so succeptible right now – most of the women here would agree that their addicts started their addictions between ages 6 and 10! And most of that came from discovering a magazine! There is nothing in this world that would help you more than a physical separation until he can prove for a year that he’s clean! And if you can manage it – demand supervised visitaion for your husband. YOu may have to file a legal separation to do that (and I know it’s scary, but you’ll be so happy in the long run you did it, I promise).
    Send a message to your addict… clean up, or suffer the consequences. You’re not going to let him walk all over you any more!