Married to a Sex Addict: Steps to Take back your life
Many people may jokingly toss around the word “sex addict” as a way to say that they really really really enjoy sex. True addiction is nothing to joke about, and sexual addiction can ruin marriages and lives. In Sexual addiction, the sexual behaviors become problematic and extreme within the relationship or for the individual. Sexual addiction can involve compulsive behaviors, such as the use internet pornography, online chat rooms, one night stands, massage parlors, fetishes, fantasy/role playing, compulsive money spending, and more.
There are hundreds of people out there suffering… married or committed to a partner struggling with a sexual addition. It can be a lonely place…with no one to talk to, a fear of others judging, or a feelings of shame about the relationship. Sex addicts often live “two lives”: the life that everyone sees is the active husband, the hard worker, the interactive father, and church-going man. However, the other life…the not talked about, has a dark and secretive side. The side that no-one sees, the side you might see once in a while, and worried about, thinking about, and fearful about when the next acting out behavior will be. If this is something you are living with…you aren’t alone.
Here are a few tips on getting your life back on track when in a relationship with a sex addict:
1. Remember, it has nothing to do with you! Being involved with a partner suffering with sexual addiction causes an emotional rollercoaster for the partner. You might feel ashamed or demoralized. You may have difficulty trusting and fear for the relationship. A common feeling for those in the relationship is feeling responsible, not good enough, and self evaluating. Asking “What is wrong with me? Am I not good enough for my partner?” Once again, it has nothing to do with you!
2. Seek professional help: Addiction is addiction. Start couples therapy to help learn how to build a healthier relationship and recover together. Individual counseling might help for you to decide what you want…and then stick to it. Also, get educated about what you can and cannot do to rebuild the relationship. Dr. Patrick Carnes is a prolific author who gives great advice for both the partner and for the addict.
3. Rebuild Sexuality: Learn what is healthy sex. Sex experiences can be extremely skewed when having an intimate relationship with someone who suffers from a sexual addiction. If you have become indoctrinated into sexual roles which seems abnormal, re-educate yourself as to your needs and desires.
4. Get educated on sexual addiction. There are many books on sexual addiction and how to handle having a partner with sexual addition. (Check out my sexual addiction resources page for specific tools to help you take back your life).
5. Set boundaries and follow through. Sex addicts have difficulty setting healthy boundaries. Teach your partner what is acceptable in the relationship and what is not. Then, it is your job to keep strong to what you say and follow through.