Should I stay for the children?
Every time I hear a Sister say things like, ‘Should I stay with my sex addict for the children?’ or ‘I don’t want my child(ren) to grow up in a broken family’, or ‘I will stay x number of years until my child(ren) is out of high school (or college, or until they accomplish x, y and z) or, I don’t want to raise my child(ren) alone I heave a sigh of sadness.
Living WITH an abuser, a betrayer; someone that you KNOW doesn’t have your back, someone who may decide to leave you at the drop of a hat because he has found a shiny younger toy is not the type of environment conducive to raising happy, well adjusted children.
A very concise quote says, ‘It’s better to be from a broken home than to live in one’.
Think very carefully about that statement.
What are you teaching your children when you stay in a toxic environment?
Even if your sex addict husband has managed to stop acting out sexually, even if they are dad and husband of the year, YOU have been forever changed. YOU cannot un-know what you know.
Trust is the very basis of a relationship. We must have trust in order to feel safe and no one can feel safe with a man who has given you years or decades of lies and betrayal. All the counseling, praying, denial and resolutions will not change your new reality. No matter how much you deny it, you are not safe.
Living with the constant fear of what may happen is highly stressful. It eats away at your immune system, makes you sick and changes who you are and how you interact with others, including your children.
By staying you are allowing him to steal how many ever years you have left from you. You are giving up the peace and joy of a full life for one of walking on eggshells and repeated traumas when they ‘relapse’; which even the most extreme sex addiction proponents agree will happen.
You are also teaching your children to accept a less than full life for the ‘image’ of an intact family that is really just a facade. It is as much of a fake facade as the persona your husband presented to you. You are continuing the lie. And that’s what you are teaching your children.
And don’t think they don’t know. They know far more than you think and many women have painfully been made aware of how much their children know. And, these children have not shared that information with you or come to you with their fears and feelings because their mother has taught them, by example, to keep secrets in the guise of ‘protecting’ each other from the ‘truth’ .
Even if by some miracle these children don’t know what’s going on, they feel the tension. You cannot be present for them if you feel unsafe and on edge. You cannot truly enjoy their moments while you are on ‘alert’ for what you know will happen again.
You are forever changed by the discovery of Sex Addiction in your relationship.
Your life will not be secure. You cannot trust him. He has shown he is incapable of sharing his hopes and dreams and feelings with you (which you need to feel safe), so you never know what’s going on in his mind.
You may think he was/is only into porn but even the experts agree these behaviors always escalate. They have to. The same old, same old (you, porn, hookers, men, trannies, grannies, fetishes, etc) lose their ability to excite him and he will always need something newer and bigger and better to get him to orgasm.
He will leave you and the children in a nano second for a younger woman or man who makes him feel ‘special’, especially as he gets older. And trust me, there are thousands of young women and men in a sex addicts acquaintances who will say or do anything to get at his money and have an easy ‘meal ticket’.
He will spend college funds, retirement funds, run up secret credit card bills and remortgage everything you own without you even knowing it. He will lose his job and his pension for watching porn at work or sexually harassing affairs with co workers. If you think I am exaggerating, I am not. I have seen it happen over and over and over.
Your and your children’s life is not secure with a secretive abusive man no matter how wonderful he ‘acts’.
I have left the most important point for last. By staying in a toxic marriage ‘for the children’ you are denying them a very important lesson, one they will need all of their lives. You are denying them the ability to successfully learn to cope with adversity.
Happy people are not those who live a charmed life and got all the right breaks. Happy people are not born to a privileged life; who coast through life on their yachts and Porsche’s without a care in the world.
Happy people are those of us who have conquered all that life offers us and who feel the joy and positive reinforcement of success when we get through difficult times. Happy people are those who have learned to successfully navigate life’s waters and feel good about being alive. People who cannot cope with adversity are miserable people.
Clichés always have a basis, they are clichés because they happen in real life so often. Saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is not just a trite phrase, it’s true. Life experiences are what make us who we are.
So please, think through your decision and question the wisdom of staying for the children.