When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage

Sexual AddictionOver 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 with Sexual Addiction

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 Sexual Addiction

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: Hope After Betrayal: 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:


Additionally, we recommend you read:


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140 responses to “When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage

  1. (USA) Approximately one month ago, I learned that my husband of 25 years had been carrying on a secret life for two years. Telling me he was attending photography classes twice per week in the evening, he instead attended BDSM “classes” and photos sessions of naked women. During the BDSM classes, he was “partnered” with a women I learned he had an affair with for 11 months–that is, until I discovered the affair through his text messaging. I learned that he had been having sex with me the same week as we celebrated our 25th anniversary.

    I am sexually naive, perhaps, but I did not recognize the BDSM symbol he placed on his smart phone screen, and he began to wear as a pendant around his neck. These were signs, I learned, of the BDSM community.

    Even as he claims to want to work on repairing our marriage, he still identifies himself as having “discovered” a part of his “true sexuality” in the BDSM community.

    I cannot accept this. I cannot accept the role of this BDSM community and what it stand for in our marriage. I am certain it has led my husband down a path away from me, our marriage, and God.

    Does anyone on this forum have helpful opinions, info, or advice on the effect of BDSM communities on marriages? Please help.

  2. Thank goodness I came across this blog! Thank you all so much for sharing your stories -you are all brave, courageous and strong people, and most of all you have found your faith…

    3 years ago I met this really great guy under extremely difficult circumstances (I was his witness in a homicide investigation of his)… I fell for him and thought he had for me too and we became quite close rather quickly (faster than I thought as due to the murder I had lost all my friends and my family and I got very withdrawn).

    6 months after we met I found him on an online adult dating site (the sex dating site, not relationship -my friend had set me up on it when it was just a normal dating site and I finally figured out how to get off it but before I did I just had a look and found him -men seeking everything). I am no prude but I was devastated. But because I’m pretty open minded, I decided to be upfront and honest with him -what I could and couldn’t handle. He wasn’t ready to talk but when the case was over we agreed to sit down if we were both single and talk things through.

    Cutting a long story short, the case caused a lot and I mean a lot of problems for me personally and professionally so he didn’t get to see the real me that much… and the case ended badly with the coroner throwing my evidence out of court and allowing 2 killers to walk free. Everybody who works with him and others on the case commented that they had never seen him like how he was with me -personally and professionally. I was devastated about the case and the outcome as there were parts of it that I was set up deliberately to get an outcome someone else wanted.

    He asked me out for dinner in front of his boss -so I thought yes, he does like me and does want to pursue this. That was a couple of months ago and I had to appeal the case to the coroner -that finding was sent to me on Friday. Anyhow, 3 weeks ago I gave up on anything with him and I -and I tried to say goodbye. I found out I had cervical cancer and I was scared the coroner would take forever and I wouldn’t see him again. He thought it was because he hadn’t organized drinks or dinner or said happy birthday to me and it wasn’t that -and everything I said came out wrong. He had given up that website for about 2 months before this and after that happened he has been on that site constantly.

    This has devastated me. I haven’t had much happiness in my life. I have been single for 19 yrs and in that time every time I liked a guy he always went for my friends or other girls. I always was okay being on my own -I always handed it over to God to take care of. But when I met him, it was the first time I really cared and wanted it to work out and I prayed to God every day for things to work out.

    He was abused as a child (he doesn’t know I know I found out accidentally) and he knows all of my past history of abuse. I honestly believed when I found this out, God was telling me why he was the way he is. So I have prayed and prayed and prayed to God to help him with his sex addiction. When I told him I found him on the sex dating site, he did tell me that I was the only person in his life that knew about it -knew him professionally, personally and his secret life -and if it ever got out he would be fired. I would never betray his trust like that.

    I get so angry and frustrated with God. I know I shouldn’t but every day I see him give miracles to everyone around me and this is the one time I have asked God for help. I’ve always had unquestionable faith in him but this time I need some happiness. I have never asked God of anything for me -only for others… until him. I pray to God every day many times every day to help him overcome his sex and alcohol addiction. I’m sad because God doesn’t ever seem to answer me with this… and I know that God can’t make him do anything, but I also know God grants miracles. I have seen it so many times with so many people. I know evil/satan can make a very strong hold in someone’s lives but I also know God can help people overcome…

    I do love this man -and I will continue to pray. Even my mum has started to pray for him to overcome these addictions. I know that he is the only one that can change his life, but I do hope God opens his heart, eyes, soul, emotions etc so that he does want to overcome these addictions and we can find our way back to each other. I’d also like to ask if you could please pray for him too – just call him manfriend lol God will know exactly who you are talking about.

    There have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up praying to God about him, but talking to my mum tonight she said if that if I really do love him then not to give up praying to God for a miracle. I tried to see either a priest, reverend or pastor today as I have been a complete mess as to why I have gone through so much to be so sad still… and to try and find some answers in this -and I think my mum finally gave me it tonight. God will only be able to heal him if there are underlying issues and problems -not because he’s enjoying a lifestyle but if there are underlying issues to why he is like this -so I let go and let God do his work -and maybe it wont happen immediately, or even in the next few months -but God can give miracles. It’s up to use to follow it up and not give up on God even if sometimes we feel God has given up on us. I also got sent here -to find this blog/forum God sent me here to show me that with his grace, love and mercy it can be overcome. It is hard work, I totally get that – and I’m prepared for the long haul -and maybe just maybe he will be given a miracle and me too. Thank you for letting me share. xxoo

  3. (South Africa) Hi, I’d like to know…. my step dad is an addict to porn, chat rooms and cyber sex. Unfortunately my mom and him are married inside community and my mom is so afraid of losing her business etc. What are her rights? Can he claim from the business and her money? She is so broken and he keeps making promises and just never stops doing this. My little brother even accidentally saw some of this horrific porn pictures which other woman sent him. What to do???

  4. My husband and I will have been married for 3 years this April. He had disclosed this to me while we were dating but did nothing about it until I threatened to leave. He has had a pornography addiction since he was 13 and is now 27. He is working with our pastor to try and sort things out, and states that soon he and I’ll sit down to discuss it (where I’ll ask questions and we’ll set some rules for him). I read what you wrote about you asking things you didn’t like the answer to. I’m curious what those questions were. All through our marriage my mind would run wild with what I thought he was doing. I know that he never physically cheated on me, but I am curious as to whether or not he participated in sex chat rooms or online video sex. The thought of him visually or verbally being intimate with someone makes my stomach turn. I was planning on asking him this question, but maybe some counsel from you would be wise?

  5. I have just joined. I’m the wife of a man in a very dark, sleazy place. If he could just admit.

  6. Suddenly my wife is into masturbating when she never used to! It has my head spinning to why all of a sudden?

  7. Married 29 years… the last few I noted a wall going up and my husbands drinking became horrible… then I found the tex, which led me to the prostitute, which led to my meeting her, paying her, and getting info that they met 5-6 yrs prior when he picked her up…

    Many ugly crying so and phone smashing number changing …moments later confession half-hearted… and counseling began. Now I’m in high level or paying attention and I know he masterbates and I think he does it in his truck on his way to work. I tape recorded his vehicle… and after committing to each other blah freaking blah I caught a random pick up 3 months later…and on our wedding anniversary. Ok, that’s a sign he has a freakin problem… denied, denied, denied… then finally admitted… same crap. It meant nothing; I got nothing from it… really.

    SELFISH is the word that comes to mind whether it been a problem since teen years what ever. I have dedicated to what is now a SECOND chance… and I keep getting the vibe we have this masterbation problem. I have to tread lightly… since I really think it’s emotional… he had a horrible childhood… NO excuse MEN!! This leaves a wife feeling like the roses palm means more than she does. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t any friends I would tell to save me the embarrassment and him as well… how do I get help to live thru this? I feel so freakin broken… and this has closed and broke down the walls. We hug daily, kiss more, hold hands, text call etc… spend every moment together, other than work, and the drinking problem diminished when he came clean.

    Do I turn the other cheek about the self masterbation as long as he isn’t seeing hookers? I should be ok, right? I don’t know… I’m a strong strong person and it still hurts so much I toy between giving up and loving him so much… Anyone else out there living this. Ugh tamer??

  8. Hi there, So the man I married, who I thought was just quiet and shy, has turned out to be a very sick individual. I know when we were dating I felt uncomfortable the way he was around his little sister, who by then was 16. He would always say, “you have to get to know her because she’s my favorite.” I wasn’t always a Christian and used to lead quite a different life, so I was thinking that maybe it was just me, and dismissed this super closeness of them. I had become a Christian only the year before, and here was this family who were generations of devout Christians.

    After my wedding night, I confessed to him that I thought maybe something wierd was going on between the two of them, and wanted to apologize for my thoughts. Well he put his head down and began sobbing, yes, he had molested her, they didn’t have intercourse but he certainly did enough to shame her. The sad part is he waited until he was an adult and moved away from home to go back and do this act. He groomed her for a long time, or as he said, he had desired her for a long time and had maturbated over this. I married him a year after this act.

    I think because I had grown up in hell as it were and had been molested myself, I immediately went into regression and comforted him and told him we would get through it together. That same morning at the gift opening, she came up and hugged me and told me she forgives me for taking him away from her. I told her I forgive you for what you two did!! She was immediately in shock and started crying.

    It gets sicker, I made an attempt after a month or so to help them both by having an open discussion, totally stupid conversation. He told her had been curious and that was why he did that. So we went on with our new lives. I then found out he has a porn addiction, which he never seemed overly sorry for, at least he would not really apologize or try to make up for it. I dragged him to counseling at our church over and over for years, and he would just hide it. I would even have him start our day with prayer so God would be on his mind to help.

    Now 11 years later, I found out he had an affair with a girl from work. They didn’t have intercourse, but they did other things. I spoke to her, and she said she always knew when I was home because it was the only time he wouldn’t text her. I had to pull teeth to get everything out of him as he is not forthcoming about anything. Back to church to figure this out, although he did not complete the act, they pointed out that according to God’s standards he had committed adultry, and it was up to me if I wanted to leave, or keep working on it.

    Long story short, he refuses to go for counseling, has said he hit bottom, and wants me to come home. It has been since February that we’ve lived apart, and I barely hear from him, it will be for something like, “hey do you want to see the dogs new trick”? Or, it’s time to change your oil. He did send a letter that said what he was sorry for, Munich was nice, but he’s living in our home with our dogs and his $ because I figured I didn’t want to make him suffer more by kicking him out, he is the breadwinner after all. But I said counseling was a must, and he seems to be digging his heels in.

    I don’t have romantic love for him, but I care for him, and I know God hates divorce, and that is my primary concern. I know I have to make a decision soon, but I have to say this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. He’s so pitiful, but so very stubborn. He has caused so much pain to so many. Did I mention he also confessed that when he was younger, teenager, he hated his one sister so much, he would make her strip down naked and lock her in a shed outside? He used to get physical with his mom and other siblings as well. He hides everything, mom had no clue, it’s like he has this secret world in his head. The church is trying to help him but I think they too are at a loss. I am his only friend, because he has a problem making friends, won’t communicate or reciprocate. Help… should I go home or move on? Nice way to start 50.

  9. I am 23 years old and had been dating a guy on and off in high school who is now my husband! We have four children together and just been going through a rough time in life as we all go through; but things were looking a little better and I just have this feeling as if he’s hiding something. And then I had found out his code to his phone and he has an app that secures your photos so no one can see them. I used same password and it unlocked to show naked pictures of 2 girls. You could tell they were from a site showing a picture of his “manhood” and two pictures of a girl who was sending him a video and photos last Christmas.

    I found out while pregnant with our fourth and just adopted our third babe :-/ it was heart wrenching…we worked things out and he swore nothing went further than that and might I add he works in same place as her! So he told her I saw the photos. He said she said she appolgized up and down for the trouble it caused us. But now I’m sitting here seeing her in two more different pictures!!! The other naked pic was a girl he’s been good friends with for awhile and I know her from school. She and I have talked few times back and forth – just never expected to see her photo in my husbands phone and the other two pics was one of that girls good friend and I knew her too through friends.

  10. 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.

    1. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.