FAQs for Women
Sex addiction is a means for people to medicate their feelings or attempt to deal with stress in their life or both. Their sexual behavior becomes the mechanism for coping with stress if their life. They are unable to discontinue the behavior for the most part and the pursuit of their sexual behavior often becomes as important as acting out the behavior. Some people will binge on sexual behavior or fantasy.
Your suspicions are most likely correct; I would trust your intuition. If you ignore the issue, it won’t go away and will only get worse. Confront your husband now; but before you do, be sure to have a plan. Think through what you are going to say and even write it down and read it to him if you need to. If you have a counselor, trusted pastor or friend that understands sexual addiction, you may want to go over your confrontation with them. Some women find it helpful to have a counselor with them when they confront their husband. When you formulate your plan, consider what you will do if he admits to a problem but refuses to seek recovery. The hardest part of all of this is following through with your plan. If he refuses to enter a recovery program, the worse thing you can do is nothing. Refuse to accept his denial, admitting that there is a problem is the first step to recovery. Learn everything that you can about the issues of sex addiction and co-addiction. Seek help for yourself even if he doesn’t at this point. Again, it is important for you to have a plan and follow through with it.
This is one of the most often asked questions. You are a co-addict just by your experience of being married to a sex addict. You have experienced enormous loss and sadness in your relationship. As a co-addict you need to learn to properly grieve those losses and deal with the hurt, anger and hopelessness that you may feel. A co-addict may also need support in dealing with their children, parents and in-laws. Often someone who has gone before them and has similar experiences can be a tremendous support. Some co-addicts experience an overwhelming sense of sadness and become depressed, feeling like they are caught in a whirlpool of darkness. A 12 step group can help a woman to stay focused on her goals for her life, marriage and family and will help to make right decisions during this difficult time.
Codependency is learned behavior that usually begins as a young child and grew with us. We have learned that we can avoid pain in our lives if we please others. Some women follow their husbands in the hope that they will “catch them.” Many women search their husbands things trying to find anything that will incriminate them. Even putting controls on a computer can be codependent if done for the reason of stopping his behavior. If you feel you need higher controls on the computer do it for the family – not in an attempt to stop him. So, in this way, our concern over our husband’s addiction becomes our own addiction. The only thing we can change is ourselves and let God lead us to trust ourselves and Him enough that He will guide us through this with what to do; we can't control our husband’s addiction,. So when you consider adding computer controls truly seek God to help you ascertain what your true, inner motives are for wanting one on there.
Most sex addicts have been struggling with pornography for many years. The desire for pornography usually manifests in a boy at a young age, more recently as young as 8 years old, but more commonly around 11 years of age.
Sex addiction, like all addictions, gets worse over time, which you may have seen in the lives of those addicted to alcohol or drugs. Sex addiction has been equated with a cocaine addiction because it triggers the same part of the brain. Addictions take on a life of their own and consume an individual. Your husband’s addiction has nothing to do with you. Nothing you were doing or not doing was making the addiction worse. Although you have seen the negative changes in his behavior, it doesn't make you responsible. He would struggle with pornography no matter whom he married.
While reading God’s word is an integral part of the Homecoming and Partners In Process programs and some have reported being freed of addictions by reading the Bible, it is not the norm. Sexual addictions have manifested themselves for many years and grown like mold and generally a life cannot be cleaned up in that way. It takes a major amount of work with a knowledgeable counselor and mentor.
Part of the problem with addictions is the secrecy that they foster. The only way a sex addict can seek help is to break the cycle of secrecy. He may even attempt to shift the blame to you, believing that he is not the problem, but you are. You need to stand firm in what you know is truth and insist on him seeking recovery. God uses many different circumstances to bring a man into recovery. God wants most of all for us to be in a right relationship with Him. He may use the loss of family, job or a financial loss. The best thing that you can do as a wife is to confront your husband in love. You need to decide what it is that you want and then make that very clear to your husband. It may be that if he doesn’t seek help and stick with it for a specified amount of time, then you will separate. It may be that you need to see positive change in specific areas of his life (relational, emotional, spiritual or financial) until he can move back in. You may need to ask him to move to another area of the house. Then, it is necessary for a wife to “let go.” Usually, it is the fear of loss that man will seek recovery. For most men the worse thing that can happen is the loss of his family.
Your husband’s behavior is affecting your life deeply and you have the right to discuss anything that is going on in your life. You need to be able to share with a trusted friend or counselor the fear, betrayal, loss, shame and hopelessness that you feel. At the very least, be sure to contact a counselor. They are trained professionals and will not betray you.
If you have any thoughts that your husband would abuse you in any way, it is necessary for you to have a plan to get away. You may want to contact a friend or community resources so that you have options for your safety. You may need to seek a legal separation for physical and financial safety.
While you desire to know everything today, tomorrow you may not. Or, you may receive details that you wish you hadn’t heard. But the most damaging reason is that you will never be able to purge the details from your brain and your recovery will take much longer and be more difficult.
Addictions often occur in two’s or three’s. One young woman thought all her husband was dealing with was alcohol. As he began recovery through AA, she was devastated to find out that he was also having an affair. Another woman was lead to believe that her husband only dealt with internet soft-core pornography (i.e. swimsuits or wet t-shirts). When he made amends to her she found out he was involved much deeper. Still later, she found the investment statements and discovered he was basically gambling in the stock market and leveraging so much that he lost thousands and thousands of dollars.
It is good to be asking this at this point. This is a question you should be asking. He has lied to you, betrayed you, you have lost intimacy and lost years, experienced financial losses and maybe even have health issues have arisen out of your husband or partners’ infidelity. Trust takes time; sometimes a long time, to rebuild; trust can never be regained until there is a change in his behavior.
Yes, IF he is willing to do the work that is required to recover. It has been my experience that he can become even more emotionally intimate with you than either of you have ever experienced. It is impossible to have close and healthy intimacy when one partner is living a secret life or living a fantasy life. This is another reason to attend a healthy group where recovery is evident. There is great power in listening to the stories of women whose husband’s are succeeding in recovery.
You also have to do the work necessary to recover. You have been damaged, betrayed, lied to and hurt over the years. You are going to need to heal too. This is your personal responsibility. You cannot blame him if you do not heal.
Christ desires for us to have an abundant life (John 10:10.) We can choose to lay those feelings at His feet and in time we will learn to deal with those feelings. God will turn your sorrows into joy, but it takes work from us by growing in Him and becoming more Christ-like. He can take that intense pain that is very normal and us it for His glory and cause growth in His daughters. The Prodigals Partners In Process Twelve Step program will do just that. Someone once said that we can choose to become bitter or better. We have a responsibility in the situation. We can choose to do the hard work and become better than we were before our husband’s actions were revealed. Many women have said after going through the Partners In Process Twelve Step program that they are glad they went through what they did with their husbands because of the place that they are in now.
While this is a fear of most co-addicts, most sex addicts do not sexually abuse their children or other children. It is important to listen to your children and if they show any signs of being abused bring them to a counselor immediately so they can be protected and obtain the help that they need. If necessary, you may need to consider a safe house for you and your children.
Their father probably did not receive adequate sexual development information as a young teen. In fact, his father was likely a sex addict. Get informed as much as possible, read the God’s design for Sex series with your young children and watch the Sex and Young America video, available from the National Coalition for the Protection of Children at 513.521.6227 or www.nationalcoalition.org. Both mom and dad need to talk to their kids about sex and give them a proper sexual point of view. Parents also need to be very open about discussing these difficult issues when kids bring up things they saw or heard at school. Pornographic exposure is often as young as 8 years old and kids this young don’t know what to do with the images that they see.
Unfortunately, the percentage of women sex addicts is growing tremendously. While their behaviors tend to be more relational than men’s secretive, impersonal behaviors, their use of internet pornography and anonymous relationships is increasing. Prodigals International does not have a program for women sex addicts at this time, but participating in a Partners In Process Twelve Step group will help. In addition it is strongly recommended to seek a counselor with someone experienced with female sex addiction.