Marriage Missions International

When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage

Over the past few years I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories from wives who have learned about their husband’s secret sexual lives. This discovery, or its disclosure, is what I refer to as blackout. It’s like sitting in a friendly, familiar room and suddenly having all the lights go out. The familiar surroundings take an unfamiliar form. Well-known objects become obstacles that trip us up. Fear shrouds us as we grope in the dark, searching for something to orient ourselves by.

Some would say the above descriptions are overstated. You may have family or friends who say that you’re overreacting. After all, looking at pornography is “harmless” adult entertainment. Fantasy doesn’t harm anyone. Such opinions, though, are made out of ignorance and denial. Sexual addiction typically begins with the habitual use of porn combined with masturbation. This self-gratification conditions men to experience sex in isolation, moving them into what I call “the world of me.”

I’ve experienced firsthand the devastation a wife feels when she realizes the most intimate area of her heart has been betrayed. I’ve seen over and over the same pain in others, and only those who have been there truly understand it. But well-meaning onlookers, because they lack this understanding often make comments that create additional wounds.

Blackout occurs in different ways and at different levels. Sometimes disclosure is quick, and it seems like someone flipped the off switch. More often, a bit of information starts a dimming process that, over time, ends in complete darkness. One reason for the slower progression is the way many men are discovered. Often, they’re caught —a bill, note, or Web site gives them away —which leads to a partial confession. Even husband who desire to come clean leave out information in the face of fear. Add to that an angry and hurting wife, and to many men, complete disclosure seems impossible.

The result for the wife is like candle flames being snuffed out one at a time, as he discloses or she discovers more and more information. But, in a diabolic twist of irony, a partial confession turns out to be worse than none at all. Husbands must confess everything in order for real healing to begin. Lies of omission are still dishonest even if well intentioned. Anything left in the darkness leaves a noose the Enemy can tighten at the opportune moment. Inevitably the rest of the story comes out later, increasing the wife’s pain and making blackout complete.

…I suggest you use great caution in demanding too much detail from your husband. Morbid curiosity has left many a woman with too many images that are difficult to erase. The best thing is to get only the general facts needed, not the gory details.

When my husband got tired of running from the truth —and from God —he finally confessed everything. I took advantage of his desire to be completely honest. Looking back, I realize I asked some questions that crossed over the line of what I needed to know. Plagued by images I didn’t need, the war raged in my head every time those images came up. Thanks to the teaching in my husband’s men’s group, there were times I’d ask questions and he would say, “I’ll answer that question, but are you sure you want me to?” This was a good check. Realizing I had all the information I needed, I stopped asking for unnecessary details.

You may cringe at this next statement: If your husband has come to you and confessed all, you will eventually come to see that as fortunate. I was one of the fortunate few —my husband did come to me, though at the time I couldn’t see how anything good could come out of it. Eventually, though, I recognized my husband’s coming completely clean was the first truly positive step even though the further disclosure caused more pain for me. It was God’s way of giving me a fresh perspective, and it was the real beginning of healing.

Dave’s disclosure caused more pain for me. It was God’s way of giving me a fresh perspective, and it was the real beginning of healing. Dave’s complete disclosure helped me to realize I wasn’t the only one hurting. It began to sink in that God was showing me Dave’s years of pain. He was a broken man and God had let him hit bottom.

My anger cooled. Dave wasn’t having fun. On the contrary, he’d been living a double life and battling demons since he was eleven years old. In addition, with his full confession he had to be willing to accept all of the potential consequences, including losing his marriage. He realized nothing could be worse than remaining where he was —in spiritual bondage.

I’ve encountered many wives who’ve had to deal with this same heartache of sexual betrayal, and I’ve repeatedly witnessed that once the whole truth has been revealed, even by accident, healing can start —for the husband, or wife, or both. Most men want help out of their bondage but are too ashamed to ask. Many have cried out to God in agony asking Him to release them from it. Every man believes, however, that if others knew fully what he has done, they wouldn’t forgive him. This lie keeps him in hiding and away from healing.

His being discovered, then, can be a husband’s first step on the road to freedom. But just as important, his being discovered can be a catalyst for the wife to get help —if shame doesn’t keep her in hiding. Yes, I hated what I’d learned from Dave, but finding and dealing with the truth, though painful, was still healthier than living a lie.

The above article comes from the book Hope After Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage, written by Meg Wilson, published by Kregel Publications. This is a TERRIFIC book for women who need to experience healing after finding out that adulterous sexual addiction has invaded their marriage. Not only does Meg, herself, greatly minister through her own personal experience, she also gives insight into the lives of several women and the journey they took to healing after finding out about their husband’s addiction and adulterous situations.

— ALSO —

Another article you might find helpful is written by Vicki Tiede, and is posted on the Family Life Today web site. Because Vicki had first-hand experience in dealing with the grief and subsequent choices she had to make because of her husband’s sexual addiction, you may find it helpful, because of your situation, to read:



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124 Responses to “When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage”
  1. Cathy from South Africa says:

    Hi there. Thank you first of all for the article. So encouraging ! I have been married almost 4 years to an amazing husband that loves me and our 2 little babies so so much. Our marriage is struggling a lot since I had my last baby. It was a horrible pregnancy and a even worse recovery. I denied my husband physical intimacy during this time and we hardly had any sex!

    I would find myself going to bed really early and he would still be awake till long hours of the night! It did not take a long time for me to figure out that he was getting involved into sex chat rooms. As soon as I figured it out I confronted it and he confessed that he was having conversations with other woman. I was deeply hurt but figured out that I had to forgive him. We prayed about it and we moved on and I kept checking up on him and we continued in prayer.

    I realised after a couple of months that my husband started again and he was just better at hiding it! So I confronted him again…He seemed to stop after that but I saw this weekend that he has done it again. For the first time since this started I am so so heartbroken and lost! I don’t know what to do. Now I feel so self-conscious and don’t want to be touched by my own husband!! :(

    I did not confront him this time. I don’t have the energy anymore. I just feel that the Holy Spirit is working in me and he has done so for over a week now. I feel to ashamed to talk to anyone around us, I am ashamed of how our own friends will unintentionally judge my husband! He is too good of a man to be judged too badly.

    How do I stop this and how can I fix this? I feel responsible and guilty because I have denied him what is his. I feel ashamed because I finds myself looking at the same websites trying to figure out what he likes. But it’s not me! I have tried very hard from my side to make since more exciting but nothing seems to help. Prayer prayer prayer has been my only hope. Much love c.

    • Jana from United States says:

      This is almost an identical reflection of my current situations. Except maybe worse. About 4 years ago, my husband lost his job after being warned repeatedly to stop texting the younger women at his work. He ignored it. The firing came after a woman complained that he had sent a graphic picture of himself to her that was unsolicited. Of course, he then had to disclose to me that he had been “approaching” many woman… some as young as 18… across several years. Even our daughter’s friends! It was horrible and I was mortified.

      My husband was very sorry and God spoke to me about forgiveness. He immediately deleted Facebook and provided his phone to me any time I asked to appease my anxiety. I don’t believe that he ever had physical contact with anyone but I’ll never know. I do believe that his activities stopped for almost two years because his texting dropped from several thousand a month to almost nothing. Unfortunately, about 4 months ago he reopened his Facebook account again. Soon after, I immediately noticed an increase in drinking alcohol, becoming distant, not initiating sexual intimacy, and moody outbursts. He remained, however, very loving and affectionate and we enjoyed every minute together. In almost every way, it felt like a normal happy marriage.

      Then the bomb dropped. 2 days ago, one of those 18 year old girls blackmailed him. She stated she would plaster their conversations and a nude picture he sent unless he paid her. He would lose his job, his marriage, his respect in our community, and his relationship with our adult daughters. He paid this girl our hard-earned money and now prays she stays silent. I left him immediately. I had previously told him I would if this happen again.

      He now admits he has an addiction that he doesn’t understand and cannot control. He states he will start seeing a Christian counselor this week.

      I text him Bible verses daily and provide encouragement to heal and do what he needs to do. I do this because, despite all of this, I love him and want him to get better. I also can’t ignore that he experienced a horrible childhood of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Worse than any movie you could watch. A childhood he won’t discuss for more than 2 minutes without falling apart.

      So, I’ve prayed about it and have an inner peace about doing whatever I can to help him heal. Strangely, I’m not experiencing anger. I’m not sure if it’s a healthy thing or the Holy Spirit! But now what? Do I stay away and live out of a suitcase with friends and family? Or do I return and encourage him through this journey?

  2. B from United States says:

    I am emotionally in an alone place due to the betrayal and disappointment from him.

    • Tara from United States says:

      Hi B, Just saw your comment and wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you. I know personally, that even when marriages are in a very dark place that healing can happen. I don’t know what the road ahead of you looks like, but know that your struggle matters and you are not alone.

  3. Jes from Australia says:

    Oh my goodness. A light just went on. Thank you for what I just read. Yes, the pain and shock of what I discovered. The damage of the information. But the one thing you said, changes things for me. The pain you felt, helped you to realize the pain your husband was living with.

    I believe that is true. I’ve been crying out to God for so long “WHY do I have to live with so much pain?” But now I realize my husband has pain too.
    Regrettably he is still denying he needs help. My prayer is that I won’t completely perish as his wife while waiting (and trusting) for healing.

  4. Gayle from United States says:

    Me too, B. I can’t get my husband to sever contact with his “good friend” that he’s offered sex to. They meet when she comes to our state and who knows what they do. I found out in stages and am having a very hard time with this affair. He planned our vacation in her town so he could see her in May. In July I found a letter where he told her he wants her and loves her too much to cause her pain and offered sex. He told her he does not kiss and tell and he has only admitted to seeing her July 3rd and that she called him to come see her.

    He lied to me about where he was going that night. I don’t think that’s the only meeting. There are so many lies! That may be harder to forgive than the betrayal. He told me 3 times he was leaving me. After I found the letter I’ve told him 3 times to leave and he refuses. He said he would get marriage counseling but it has not helped. He has continued to talk to this woman. I caught them again August 19th. There’s no remorse. He shuffles blame. I’m talking Paxil, Xanax, and drinking. I have suicidal thoughts but I have a daughter with autism that needs me. He keeps wanting one more chance. He’s up to four now. (I never drank and did not take anything but aspirin occasionally before July.) I shake every morning until I’ve taken enough stuff. He explained he was talking to the woman to help her with her daughter who had a drug problem. His first wife had a drug problem. Ironic.

  5. Rod from United States says:

    Two weeks ago I confessed completely, that I had been looking at pornography to my wife. I’ve asked God for forgiveness and I’ve asked her for forgiveness through prayer, in front of her. I had been hiding my sin from her for three years. She’s crushed because I’ve broken her trust. There is no excuse for what I’ve done, other than my own selfishness. I’m owning it and have installed filters on all my electronics with accountability partners and have been seeking counseling with a counselor that specializes in men’s issues.

    I got caught up in it after having a severe knee injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. I was not only broken physically, mentally and emotionally but I fell susceptible to Satans lies. I could not get upstairs to our bedroom and was confined to sleeping in the guest room, downstairs. I felt I had no one to talk to and express my anger, anguish and brokenness. I got zero empathy.

    I hated myself every time I used it. I knew it was wrong but due to feelings of rejection and abandonment, I became weak spiritually. I allowed it to affect how I treated my wife and children, how I viewed intimacy with my wife and God’s design for it.

    My wife told me that she is seeking advice from her counselor on a divorce. She’s been in counseling due to childhood issues of abandonment, abuse and parental suicide. This has caused intimacy issues throughout our 11 yrs of marriage. But up until nine months ago, she had not sought counseling.

    Just prior to that she had been chatting on Facebook with her employer at all times of the day and night and had completely shut me out emotionally, mentally and physically. She told me she didn’t think she wanted to be married anymore. It rocked my world. She’s since severed that employment and has no contact with that man. I felt betrayed also.

    I came to the conclusion that I must confess when it dawned on me that my viewing pornography was some of the root of our problems. I always knew I was hurting myself but had no idea what I was doing to my wife even though she was completely in the dark about what I was doing. I’m in repentance and would give everything I have to undo what I’ve done. Please keep us in your prayers.

  6. ALW from United States says:

    What bothers me the most: I don’t dare talk about what I have discovered. I don’t want the marriage of 25+ years to end. At the same time, I don’t want to be married to a man who cannot be honest. I do not see how we can possibly move forward as long as he neither fully admits to what he has done and continues to lie and deceive. It’s been a long and painful journey for me to finally reach this point of acknowledgment. I feel like a crazy person and know that my responses have been/are normal. I’m grieving, conflicted, angry, sad, and scared silly. I don’t know my legal rights, I don’t know his, I don’t know how much damage will be inflicted on my future, on relationships with our children, with legal repercussions. What bothers me the most is everything, and not knowing, and fear, and this sense of powerlessness. /end confession/

    • Leslie from United States says:

      It is so difficult. It’s not just a black out… it’s a nuclear bomb… to have your husband’s sexual addiction come to light in a completely public way… or even a completely innocent discovery. It’s devastating. When he’s repentant and totally comes clean… when he’s broken and wants and desires to make amends and face the consequences… I can see that possibly there’s a chance for healing. But when he’s only “sorry” when he got caught and only partially confesses and partial comes out of it… it’s the MOST painful thing I’ve ever experienced. Leslie Vernick says it best in this article: Find health… find a good counselor and a church that will give good counsel. (

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