“Dr. Weiss, my husband has a sex addiction.” I hear this all the time because it’s what I deal with on a daily basis in my office at Heart to Heart Counseling Center.
Sexual addiction is a big issue. Whether it’s porn, strip clubs, affairs, prostitutes, or online, sex addiction is a driving force that can be all-consuming. It’s an addiction after all!
If your spouse has an addiction, you may be asking, “Did I cause it?” That’s the question we will explore.
The Blame Game
Asking if you caused a thing like sex addiction to happen is very normal. However, you could have never caused someone to be addicted. Often, their addiction started years before meeting you. You’re involved with this person. You’re building a life with them. You really want to know!
You’re not alone. This is a question many women ask. These women have been married for ten, twenty, thirty years, or longer. Then they find out their husbands are secretly sex addicts.
It’s usually women who want to know if they caused the sex addiction. Men are different. When a man finds out his partner or spouse has a sex addiction, they rarely blame themselves. Men are different because they think differently. They see things differently, because everything isn’t so circularly connected in their minds. Men hardly ever place the blame on themselves for their women cheating, looking at pornography, or having affairs. On the other hand, women tend to turn it on themselves.
So, they always have this question, “Did I cause this?” Somehow women turn their husband’s behavior on themselves and say things like, “You know, I wasn’t giving him enough sex. I wasn’t doing what he likes. I stopped respecting him. I gained weight after the kids. I spend a lot of time doing other things with the house, the kids, volunteering, and I left him alone.” The reasons go on and on.
I want to make one thing very clear. His sex addiction isn’t your fault as a partner or spouse.
Before I explain myself, let me note of a couple things. I’ve worked with sex addicted men for almost my entire career as a counselor and psychologist – about thirty years. I was a sex addict myself during my young adult years. I learned how to win my battles against addiction, enter recovery, maintain my sobriety, and now I help others do the same.
I have heard and reviewed more sex addiction, sexual abuse, and masturbation histories than probably anyone else in the world. I help people fight their addictions by digging through their past and their histories.
I’ve never once heard a partner or spouse say, “my partner caused my sex addiction.” So, believe me when I say that his sex addiction isn’t your fault.You could have never caused someone's sex addiction. Often, their addiction started years before meeting you. Click To Tweet
Sex Addiction from A Historical Perspective
Sex addiction always has a history. That’s what I have learned from hearing thousands of people’s histories. I’ve also developed some baseline facts when it comes to understanding sex addiction from these histories.
Fact: Over 90% of men who were addicted to pornography or masturbation were addicted by the time they were 16 to 18 years old.
You, as a partner or spouse, had nothing to do with the neurological development and training of your husband. He hijacked his own neurological state into a fantasy or porn-triggering pattern way before he met you.
Fact: Over 80% of sex addicts were sexually abused.
The rates of sexual abuse among sex addicts is extremely high. I have found that around 80% of sex addicts were sexually abused. You had nothing to do with that either.
Now I can tell you, most men don’t talk about these things with their spouse. I’m often the first person they tell because I’ll ask them directly. Direct questions are good. They get answers. You have to be prepared though. If you ask hard questions, you need to be ready for answers you don’t want to hear.
Fact: 90% or more of sex addicts experienced emotional pain through childhood or adolescence.
They self-medicated through masturbation, pornography, or sex with others. Emotional pain drives addiction. You had nothing to do with the creation of their emotional pain.
Fact: 30% or more of sex addicts have a chemical imbalance: depression, bipolar, manic-depression, or similar disorders.
You had nothing to do with that chemical imbalance which they decided to medicate or balance through sexual behavior as a teenager or young adult.
You’re not responsible for any of these things. None of these have anything to do with you and all of these were done before you ever laid eyes on your husband or your long-term partner.
The State of The Sex Addict
You weren’t there when the addiction started. That is why you didn’t cause it, and sadly, you can’t cure it. Understand what I am saying when I say this. If a great wife could cure sex addiction, I’d be out of a job as a psychologist. Almost every one of the women I meet with are incredible wives, lovers, friends, helpmates, and teammates to their husbands.
They care enough about their husbands to get them help, and they need to understand he was addicted or broken before they got to him. The tumor was already there. It just grew malignant on their shift. Regardless of whom a sex addict married, they would’ve had a problem with sex addiction.
It wouldn’t matter if you were taller or shorter. It wouldn’t matter if you were having more sex or were more available for sex. It wouldn’t matter if your hair or skin were a different color. It wouldn’t matter if specific body parts were bigger or smaller. It wouldn’t matter if the house was cleaner.
There’s no variable you could bring to the table that would have prevented or stopped his addiction. It’s like saying, “I’m married to someone who has blonde hair, but if I love them enough, their hair color will change and they will become a brunette.” Their sex addiction is that much a part of who they were before they met you.
Actual Case Studies
I’ve even worked with beauty queens and winners of state beauty pageants in my office over the years. They were Miss of this or that state, beautiful, and unwanted. It’s not about beauty.
I once had a group of ladies fly in to do intensives at my office. One of them looked like a Barbie. She was proportioned like a Barbie. She was stunningly beautiful – one of those women you would look at and go, “Oh my gosh, you are off-the-charts gorgeous, like magazine gorgeous.”
When the other ladies saw her in the group, they were like, “This woman is physically amazing and her husband doesn’t want to have sex with her. Why? Why would he rather masturbate and do pornography?” It was because her husband was struggling with intimacy anorexia and sex addiction.
This goes back to my point that your appearance or actions do not matter when it comes to sex addiction. They have no beneficial or adverse effect on the addiction! It may seem like I am beating this point to death, because I am really trying to get this information across.
All of those ladies I saw that week were able to see that their husband’s addiction wasn’t about them. They were able to say, “It’s not about me. It’s not about being perfect, or better looking, or younger, or having bigger or smaller this or that. Oh my gosh! A woman can be totally perfect, and the guy can still be a sex addict. He can be totally out of control to the point where he doesn’t even want sex with a real, beautiful woman.”A woman can be totally perfect, and her guy can still be a sex addict looking at pornography. Click To Tweet
Responsibility for Sex Addiction
So once again ladies, you didn’t cause this. The sex addiction was caused by things like family of origin issues, abuse, abandonment, neglect, and early sexual encounters that traumatized and crippled your husband.
He’s responsible for his choices now even if those other factors are influences. He is 100% responsible every time he chooses to look at pornography, to go online, to flirt, to groom, or to go outside the relationship. Addiction doesn’t rob him of responsibility, it just highlights what influence is driving the behavior. That influence can be changed.
Getting Help to Change
I help men recover and get better every single week. I see couples restored. I see boys become men because they’re very immature as addicts. The addiction stopped them from developing spiritually, emotionally, morally, and sexually.
If you’re married to one of these guys, it’s like having another child. I’ve heard that hundreds and hundreds of times. “Dr. Weiss, it feels like I have a fourth child.” You kind of do until they get sober. If you feel like this, I encourage you to watch my When You Marry A Child… Don’t Expect A Man DVD.
Sobriety is possible. Having a sex addiction isn’t the problem – staying sexually addicted becomes the problem.
If you have a husband who is addicted, please get informed. I have a book called “Partners: Healing From His Addiction” that will help you. I also recommend phone support groups, counseling sessions, and intensives.
If your husband wants to get better, intensives are the best option. These are complete recovery solutions for both you as a partner and your addicted partner or spouse. It is important to address both sides of the situation you are in as a couple because the sex addiction affects everyone in the relationship.
We do intensives every week at our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado for things like sex addiction, intimacy anorexia, marriage recovery, divorce intervention, and more. Reach out to us if you need help, and call 719-278-3708.
Breaking free of sex addiction is worth it. I know what it’s like to be free, have a great sex life, have a great marriage, and raise a great family. I now know how to grow spiritually, emotionally, morally, and financially. All those areas in my life are fully developed because I took responsibility for my addiction a long time ago.
If he won’t take responsibility, then you take responsibility. Take your first steps. Get some of the materials we offer and become informed. Talk to a counselor I’ve trained at our office. Some counselors don’t know what to do with sex addiction and don’t also treat the partners of sex addicts.
Make sure whichever counselor or therapist you see is trained, licensed, and competent. Hopefully they will be trained by an established sex addiction training association like the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy.
I want you to heal. I know what you are experiencing. I remember how it feels. Before I got married, I lived with a sex addict. She about broke my heart, crushed my spirit, drove me crazy, and caused me tremendous pain. I really do empathize with what you are feeling and want what’s best for you.
You’re an amazing person. You’re the hero in the story if you’re working through the pain and the consequences of your partner’s addiction. These consequences of sex addiction can range from low self-esteem, to depression, to weight-gain, to anger, and waves of grief. Those are normal side effects triggered by the addiction. They happen because he chose to stay addicted. He can make better choices and so can you.
Remember you’re free from any responsibility from him being a sex addict. You’re free from causality and from taking his blame. You’re free from trying to be perfect and fix things. No matter how hard you try, he would be a sex addict. Focus your energy on healing from the consequences of his addiction instead of the impossible.
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 The Final Freedom. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.