Finding out about your partner or spouse’s sex addiction is devastating.
Knowing that your spouse or partner is addicted to pornography, having affairs, or cheating on you can feel like being buried under a pile of bricks.
That knowledge leaves your spirit crushed, saps your energy, and darkens your sky on the brightest day.
You may be experiencing the effects of sex addiction in your relationship or know someone who has.
Many women know others who have husbands struggling with pornography, sex outside of marriage, sex with self, emotional affairs, social media affairs, etc. You ladies talk about this stuff, and it’s sad. Some of you are living with this in a secret way. You know what nobody else knows.
What are you supposed to do when you find out your husband has a sex addiction? Sex addiction is one of the biggest, fastest growing addictions in the world, and it’s not just confined to America. This is a huge issue.
The Sex Addiction Secret
It is hard to know about the sex addiction of someone you love. You probably thought you wouldn’t have to worry about this when married your man.
He might have come across as a good guy. You may have thought he was spiritual, or religious, or “clean” then, and you thought you wouldn’t have to worry about this type of thing.
You’re raising your kids together and you think, “He really loves me. He’s really into me.” Then you find out about the sex addiction months, years, or decades into your marriage. You discover that he is really into porn, or strip clubs, or sex with a certain type of person. All of a sudden, your world goes upside down in a big way.
You had no clue you would be blindsided by his addiction. Addictions are real. Sex addiction is real. This might have been going on for years.
I have a client who has been dealing with this for two decades. Something related to the sex addiction is revealed every few years. Something else about the addiction is discovered. Each time it is something different – some kind of affair, or porn thing, or strip club receipt, or stripper’s phone number. Can you imagine every few years getting punched like that?
What do you do? Today’s post is not only about what to do, but how to talk to a friend about this. What do you encourage them to do? Almost every woman knows another woman who’s struggling with this. They might not be talking about it, but they are struggling with it.
So, what do you do? Let me give you some tips here, because this is the real deal.
Do Not Blame Yourself
First, do not blame yourself.
You are not at all responsible for your husband’s sex addiction. It is not about you. It is not about him feeling you are not having enough sex, or you are not doing the right type of sex, or you don’t have the right body, or you’ve gained weight.
If you are doing sex right, it doesn’t matter what your body looks like. Your husband will be attaching to you.
When someone tells me, “You know my wife has gained some weight?” I go, “How much porn are you looking at?” They are always like, “What are you talking about?” I say, “Well, obviously you are having sex with something other than your wife, because if you were having sex with only your wife you’d be totally happy with what she is presenting.”
So, don’t blame yourself. It’s not about the kids, or how clean the house is, whether you don’t work or you are overworking. It’s not about that.
They are responsible for the addiction. I have done thousands of assessments on sex addicts. 98 percent of the time, the behavior started before marriage around 12, 13, or 14 years old. You weren’t there. You weren’t responsible for that, so please don’t take responsibility for someone else’s addiction.
They will love you for taking the responsibility because then they can give you guidelines of what it will require from you for them to stop. The “stopping” almost never happens.
You’ll be on a treadmill trying to fix yourself and not get any results as far as them stopping their addiction.
Second, get informed.
Information is power. The more you know about sex addiction, the more you can do to stop it. In my book “Final Freedom,” I explain what sex addiction is, how someone becomes addicted, and the six types of sex addicts. There is also a class on sexual freedom at DrDougWeis.com/class that shares principles on how to get better.
I would also encourage your husband to get the DVD “Helping Her Heal” so he knows what he has done to you. Also, take steps to be informed yourself. The effects of sex addiction on partners of sex addicts are huge. You can find information on partners and the effects of his addiction in this post here: Low Self Esteem In Partners.
If you are still looking for more information, check out my book, “Partners Healing from His Addiction.”
Third, find support.
Support is important, even if it’s a phone group. We have plenty of support opportunities for spouses of sex addicts. You can call my counseling office at 719-278-3708. This is what we specialize in.
If you talk to a counselor that’s been trained by me, you will be talking to someone who really understands the spouse’s issues. You want to get support, and I would say get support before you do the confronting.
Confront Problems – If You Want To
Fourth, if you want to confront this, you can confront this.
The sex addiction is often exposed by an event. Sometimes, it happens by a child finding porn on the computer. Other times, there’s a phone number that is found or a woman calls your house often. Even crazier things have happened, but one way or another the addiction comes out into the light.
Usually, it gets exposed because rarely does the sex addict say, “Honey, I need to tell you something.” Now if that’s the case, that’s good news, but it’s not usually what happens. If you found out and you are just burning to confront him, wait. I would really consider having a place in mind to send him to get help or having the recovery information in your hands and say, “Read this” when you do confront him.
Where to Go For Treatment
I can’t tell you how many people have come to a three and five-day counseling intensive here in Colorado Springs with me, or one of the therapists I train, because they found out about sex addiction and Googled sex addiction help. Dr. Phil says we are the best place in the world for sexual addiction help.
We have seen thousands of men and women break free from sex addiction and enter recovery. They have restored their relationships. Their families are still together and it’s a wonderful thing. You need a place to go and seek help. If not our place, then find a place.
It’s better to go to a place that specializes in this type of addiction than to go to some person who says they treat “sex addiction.” I really caution you, most people that you look up in your city who say they treat sex addiction, have no certification.
If they are certified by The American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy, or some organization like that, then you have someone who has some training in this area. You really want someone who knows what they are doing.
The last thing you need is to have a sex-addicted husband and go to a therapist who says, “Well just have more sex together.” You don’t need that experience. There are also a lot of sex addicts who are therapists.
You don’t want to go to one of those. In my office, all our therapists take a polygraph test to verify they are clean. I’ve interviewed many therapists in my office, and asked them about their masturbation and pornography habits and history, and I was hugely disappointed at how many of them had a sex addiction and were unwilling to get better.
So please, you need to be in good hands when you are looking for professional help.
You can learn more about sex addiction treatment options on our treatment options and resource page.
Next, you want to create boundaries.
Boundaries tell him what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. If you set a boundary, be able to maintain it. You can do that if you have support and you’ve done the steps, been informed, and then found support in a group.
I want to stress the importance of groups here. These groups are made up of women who have been there, fought this battle, and won. It’s up to the addict to get better. You can’t make someone get better. If you could, wow I would love that. I would be totally out of a job, but I would love that if women had the power to make their husbands not be addicted.
Make sure part of the boundaries is he gets help. He needs to get in a support group of some kind. Addictions do not get better by, “Honey I promise I won’t.” That promise will be broken if their plan is just to fix things themselves. Do not accept that as the plan.Boundaries tell him what's acceptable and what's not acceptable. Click To Tweet
Now the other thing, allow yourself to feel.
The first feeling is going to be shock and everything that goes with it. I encourage you to go through the grief. Feel the anger, the betrayal, and the sadness. Go through your own grief about this. This is not what you signed up for.
You might be a hero and be able to work through this if your spouse is willing to look at their life and get help. You have a life together, maybe children, and you are going to fight for that.
I’m currently working with a client and part of the reason she is staying in her marriage is because she doesn’t want to give the children to the husband every other weekend, while he’s dating prostitutes. So, she is staying and trying to fight, just because she wants to give their children a few more years before they have to address this issue.
That is where she’s at, but she has to work with where she’s at. I would strongly encourage you to walk through this with other women.
You really are going to need some support friends. It’s not going to be your girlfriends. It’s not going to be the girls at the club. It’s not going to be your Sunday school class. It’s not going to be your neighbors.
You need to find some women who are going through this themselves or who have gone through this. This is a really big deal. Sex addiction doesn’t usually go easy. It needs to be addressed. So, I encourage you, this has nothing to do with you. I’m a professional. I’m an expert. I’m the person Oprah and Dr. Phil call.
I’m telling you, it’s not about you. Don’t make it about you, because if you do, you will be fixing the wrong person.
The side effects and the residual of living with a sex-addicted partner are real, and those are something you might need to address, and heal yourself. The depression, the weight gain, the low self-esteem, are very significant things that could happen. The addiction is not yours to fix, it’s theirs to fix.
Please share this article if you know a girlfriend who just found out her husband is dealing with sex addiction, pornography, affairs, prostitutes, strip clubs, or similar things. Be a good a friend and send her a link to this.
Let her know it’s not about her. She’s going to hear that better from an expert than any person on the planet. I can’t tell you how many beautiful and talented women I’ve sat across from in my office, who are blaming themselves.
I have to look at them and say listen, “I am an international expert. I’m telling you it has nothing to do with you,” and when they look back at me, I can tell they believe me. It’s like hundreds of pounds go off their shoulders, so be a friend and share this with someone who needs it today and remember to always have great love.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including Lust Free Living. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.