When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage

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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. Up is down and down is up when sexual addiction invades your marriage.

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.”

Firsthand Experience

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. 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.

Disclosure Results

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.

Confession and Questioning

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. It was also the real beginning of healing.

Pain from the Disclosure

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.

Healing Can Start

I’ve encountered many wives who’ve had to deal with this same heartache of sexual betrayal. But I’ve repeatedly witnessed that once the whole truth has been revealed, even by accident, healing can start. This is true 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.

Discovery is the First Step to Freedom

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.

This 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 minister through her own personal experience, she also gives insight into the lives of several women. She also tells of 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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131 responses to “When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage

  1. 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/

    1. 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: http://leslievernick.com/my-husbands-sexual-addiction-is-killing-me/. Find health… find a good counselor and a church that will give good counsel. (mybeatuifullybrokenlife.com)

  2. I have known for over 3 yrs that something just wasn’t right with our relationship. There seems to be no spark no passion, no intimacy; something was definitely missing. For yrs I wondered if I could live like this forever without feeling attractive to my husband and that he just wasn’t into me. We had sex fairly often but no kissing or intimacy at all. I found out he had been using porn on a daily basis. Usually about three times a day at work he would watch porn and masturbate.

    When I confronted him he got very angry and defensive he tried to minimize and make it seem like it only happened a few times when I was out of town or on my period when he was actually doing it several times daily.

    I wonder if our relationship will ever feel right again. I’ve never been hurt this bad in a relationship ever; it made me feel like I was lacking something, like I wasn’t good enough ,like I wasn’t attractive like I was ugly etc. The feelings of betrayal and hurt are overwhelming. He’s promised to stop but I don’t know if I’ll ever feel good enough or beautiful ever again. When he compliments me I feel like he’s just trying to make up for hurting me and not being sincere. I’m so confused. I love him and hate him. How can I make this hurt go away?

    I’ve become so depressed I’ve lost 40 lbs and am so thin I look like I’m really terminally ill. I’m so skinny I look gross and unattractive so it’s very hard for me to recover from these feelings or try to look pretty when I look like this. I’m 43 yrs old and can’t compare to the 18 year olds he watches masturbating in porn videos. Why is he infatuated with watching other women masturbate but if I do it he gets upset at me??? HELP!!

  3. I got married 2011 and me and my husband signed onto facebook in 2012. I didn’t know what Facebook was all about because I’m not so computer knowledgeable. So, what happened was one of my family members asked me was my husband on Facebook and I said yes. They said someone must of stole his page because of some of the because of the comments that were made by viewing some young ladies; that’s how I first found out. Now that it’s 2016 and I have found out that my husband has a sexual addiction we are seeing a marriage counselor and now I know it’s an addiction.

    I’ve never been married before; his first wife left him because of this problem he has stepped out on his first wife so now with me he just uses the computer and goes on different sites. I feel so hurt and so betrayed. A part of me just wants to leave but it’s not for me to judge him. I’m his wife and I took the vow in front of God, family and friends to love and respect my husband. I’m there to support him, he just doesn’t see how serious this affects me and our marriage. I ask God to strengthen me and to guide me and to lead me because I don’t know what to do. I just pray for my husband and ask God to help them to see and just for him to call on the name of the Lord. I’m going to try and get out the way and let God fix it.

  4. My husband told me the “whole truth” of strippers, girlfriends, drugs etc. We went to counseling and he assured me I knew it all and he was a different man. I was so hopeful, but when I was still and alone, my gut bothered me. I prayed with my nose to the ground for months for truth, strength, love and direction.

    I decided spy on him and found out a lot of stuff he’d hidden, and discovered he was still in contact with ‘exes’. He wasn’t willing to excavate his life and do the real work in any attempt to restore our relationship and family unit. He was putting me and our children at risk with flittering about with prostitutes and not using condoms with people. I begged for truth so I could close this chapter and move on with my life. He made a deal with me that he would tell me something big if I swore I wouldn’t repeat what he was to tell me. He has decided not to disclose what he’s done as he would lose all his (cheating and lying) friends.

    Some men do not want to change. Some will pretend they have, but don’t. It’s too nice for some men to have a woman at home trying to please them with as much dinner and sex and clean house that they can, and then have a dozen girlfriends on the side. I think everyone has the ability to change, but most decide not to.

    I used to believe in the preservation of marriage at all costs. If marriage is to be an example and reflection between the believer and God, then we shouldn’t push only for reconciliation in our community of faith. As a Christian, I have found there’s a big push for us women to forgive and forget and run back to our husbands. There is enormous guilt placed on us wives to ‘make it work’, which I believe is wrong. I’m not responsible for my husband or his choices. It did not ‘take two’ to make our marriage fail, despite what I’ve been told over and over again. Jesus doesn’t force us to stay with him, we have free will, so why should we try to force wayward husbands to stay with us? Why does our Christian community only focus on this subject when it’s fixable, but is so quiet on the issue of what to do when our husbands won’t change?

    Research shows that children of cheaters in the home adopt the attitudes demonstrated in the relationship before them and have a high chance of becoming a cheater as well, even if they’re unaware of the unfaithful parent’s infidelities. Because it’s often natural that cheating accompanies these poor attitudes. I don’t deserve to be emotionally abused through my husband’s sex addiction where I am stonewalled if I don’t comply whenever he demands it, where I’m told that my sexuality is boring, where I feel like an object and have a husband that doesn’t use condoms with others and could literally kill me with a disease.

    My children were suffering in a home where their mother was being treated so poorly. How can I live a life God desires for me when my daily living is controlled by a moody, sex-obsessed, emotionally abuse and unfaithful husband? I felt immense relief for both myself and my children when I decided to leave my selfish, ‘changed’ husband for good (who hasn’t changed, just appears to have, but if you’re a fly on the wall, you will find out the real truth. He is an excellent, seasoned liar).

    I’m not recommending to divorce, but rather I want everyone else to know how damaging it can be to us abused women who are told to stay and honor and respect our cheating, lying husbands, and that we are to stick it out at all costs. I should never have to share my husband with dozens of people. I should never have to accept and live in this damage that has been done to my spirit and sexuality when, upon surveilling my husband, I’ve discovered that my ‘changed’ husband has only buried his secrets and problems deeper.

    To all who have truly restored relationships: good for you! I wish you all the best. But to those who come from situations similar to mine, we should not have to stay out of guilt. We have an opportunity to live a life of goodness to honor our God above… I think at some point, staying with a sex-addicted and unfaithful husband is simply throwing pearls to swine.

  5. I need help. I don’t know what to do; I’ve been married for two years and we dated for about 9. I found out my husband is texting escorts and going on porn sites and hides his phone. I also found out he was sending nasty pics. Also found out he cheated on me with some girl. I don’t know if she was an escort or not. I forgave him and he said he wouldn’t do it again; then a few months later I caught him again. Please help. I need to find help for him – what he is doing is hurting so bad.

  6. I’ve made a few discoveries about my guy that are very hurtful. I found sick sexual items hidden in the trunk of his car. He’s taken overnights away from me, using the excuses that he’s staying with a friend who needs help because his wife is very ill. I found an envelope with his name on it, but no note was in it. I assume he read it and either tossed it for safety or destroyed it? Or hid it somewhere? I wish I had it so badly. I’ve had them all, it seems. Because I love him, I’ve been forgiving him, but wondering why he’s become so cold towards me. Both sexually and day to day things. Like kissing, holding hands, talking with me. He kisses me, but he looks away. Every time. And I have told him he does this to me too. Seems he’s trying to do it right, but hasn’t been able to yet. It hurts!! Lots of stuff. I’ve wondered if it’s all from guilt, but I don’t see it ending. I don’t know what to do. Should I confront him with everything I’ve found? I know there’s more. But do I really want to know? I also know that he doesn’t disclose everything to me. But I’ve seen him watching some really sick porn, that he knows I see him doing. I let him watch the porn. He needs it to be able to have sex with me!! I don’t know if I’m hurt more than confused. Should I leave? Should I look for a new guy? Should I try to find a “normal” guy? Oh yeah, my guy also has ADHD. Or at least that’s what his therapist has told him. Everything is a total mess!! And I don’t know where to begin again? Do I act like things are status quo? Do I confront him and with how much? Do I insist that he disclose all of his private stuff to me. Like his credit card bills, bank accounts, etc.? How can I stop this from happening? Am I dealing just with ADHD or also sexual addiction? How can I know?

    1. Hi not 2b4gotten, Porn of any kind is a serious addiction which is very hard to break, and most likely needs professional help. Perhaps you need to decide first for yourself what you want and what you are not willing to tolerate… and then have a serious talk with him. This clearly CANNOT go on! He is showing no respect for you or your feelings at all, and it doesn’t look like he is interested in changing this behavior from what you have said here above.

      You do not mentioned whether you are married to him, nor have you mentioned children. You deserve far better than this. If you do nothing at all, this will only get worse.

      If you are a praying and believing person, then by all means pray and believe!! God can and will hear your prayers and works miracles today! My wife and I have seen this for ourselves. I define a “miracle” as a “supernatual event which cannot be explained by scientific analysis nor predicted via the scientific method.” I am a husband married 36 years with 2 adult children. :)) WP (Work in Progress)