Does Your Heart Matter Too? Being the Partner of a Sex Addict…
Often it is the wife of the sex addict who recognizes his addiction first, but in her codependence she has learned not to believe in her perceptions about intimacy in their relationship. Often she has learned to ignore what she needs and wants in the relationship. It is like the proverbial story of the frog who is placed on the stove in cold water. As the water begins to heat up, the frog adapts to the temperature until it is boiled to death. Sex addicts are experts in deception and blame shifting. The shifts in relationship are often subtle, but over time begin to kill the relationship and the heart of their spouse. She may become accustomed to the lack of connection during sex. He may suggest ways to spice up their sex life, which may include pornography or doing things that are against her value system- having sex in ways she is uncomfortable or in places she would never have dreamed. But she does it in order to make the marriage work. She learns to ignore that he doesn’t go to bed with her at the same time unless they are planning to be sexual. She learns to ignore the distance she feels from him. She learns to ignore the gnawing reality that her feelings don’t seem to matter to him.
She continues to trust in his verbal reality if he is caught viewing or masturbating to pornography or doing some other objectionable behavior. He tells her it was only this one time, or he is never going to do this again, and she believes him- but nothing really changes. Or even worse, he says, “You’re just insecure. All men do it.” She may talk to her friends or family members and hear this is normal and to be expected of men. She has heard two lies from him, but she begins to think it must be okay. Her response may be to try to get his attention by dressing sexier or initiating sex more often. Eventually she may become angry, depressed or hopeless.
Another scenario may be that she has noticed nothing different from the days when they were dating only to find out one day that he has been living a secret life. Maybe he has been fired from work because he has been caught looking at porn while on the job. Maybe he has been accused of sexual harassment. Maybe he has confessed to a pastor or a friend that he has been seeing prostitutes or going to massage parlors while on business trips, and they encourage him to get help and to tell her. Regardless, the betrayal she feels kills her inside. She may not understand her new husband. He tells her he has never loved her so much; however, she may have never felt so unloved or so little love for her husband. He may express joy because he has finally confessed his secrets and finally feels clean, while she may never have felt so dirty or betrayed by his lies. She may even understand the elements of his addiction, but the presence of her pain or anger overwhelm her. Regardless the grief in her heart is devastating.
WE BELIEVE THAT MOST SPOUSES RESPOND TO THE NEWS THAT HER HUSBAND IS A SEX ADDICT BY
• Leave: separate or divorce
• Stay and do not desire to change and grow… hide their head in the sand
• Stay and be uninvolved because it is his problem
• Stay and be over-involved… doing his recovery for him
• Stay by stating and setting boundaries and conditions for the relationship and separate if these are not kept
• Stay and both work a recovery plan, both have support, boundaries and therapy
We at Heart Matters LLC believe that the last option is clearly the best opportunity for healing, regardless of the outcome of the marriage, because it gives the partner of a sex addict a path of empowerment, healing, restoration and person growth. We offer a unique structured process that includes both individual and group therapy, workshops, and intensives for the partner, both in person and over the phone, to help her heal and find a renewed since of hope. Many of our group opportunities are either free or at a very low cost to our clients. Please contact us today if you feel we can aide in your path to recovery.