“Why does this hurt so badly?” This is the question you may be asking yourself in the midst of suspicions or evidence of your husband or wife’s sex addiction. Your feelings of betrayal, anger, and hopelessness all add up to relational trauma in the marriage.
Your trust has been violated at the discovery of your partner’s secret life and sex addiction, and a deep wounding has occurred.
Sex addicts leave damage on the battlefield of compulsion
However, sex addiction profoundly injuries primary relationships. Spouses, partners, children, and friends may feel intensely stung by the lies, deceptions, and questionable actions made by the addict.
The sense of loyalty developed in marriage relationships is unlike any other. Discovering that your partner has had numerous affairs, engaged with prostitutes, availed themselves of internet sex, or participated in compulsive sexual acts is painful.
When we develop intimate relationships, trust is built, and safety is expected. We desire closeness and a secure foundation is built out of our shared affection. This loving bond formed in the intimate attachment is a healthy, natural occurrence that we learn early in life.
When those bonds are exposed, trauma occurs in the wake of the betrayal and fear washes over.
The effects of sex addiction on the spouse being cheated on are extremely debilitating.
The emotions the spouses of sex addicts feel may include rage, hopelessness, and despair.
“What will happen next? Am I strong enough to cope?”
This trauma hurts the partners of sex addicts even as they continue living with a sex-addicted spouse.
You need hope, healing and a way of making sense to recover.
Sex addiction and marriage
To overcome the aftermath of sex addiction, healthy boundaries must be learned and established. Your fears about the future are real, and you need some hope. It is a daily struggle but can be both managed and overcome with useful advice and the right help for partners of sex addicts.
Before we deep-dive into help for spouses of sex addicts with tips on how to overcome sex addiction, it is important to understand what is sexual addiction and symptoms of sexual addiction.
Being addicted to sex translates into having an uncontrollable and irrepressible urge to carry out sexual acts in the form of intercourse, masturbation, engaging in acts of voyeurism, acting infidel in committed relationships or even pornography addiction.
Sex addicts symptoms
Sex addiction can come in different forms. For those living with a sex-addicted spouse, here are a few signs that are indicative of a person having a sex addiction.
- Uncontrolled sexual urges or sexual fantasies
- Fixation with sexual thoughts during most part of the day
- The compulsion to indulge in pornographic material
- Obsessive engagement in sexting or cybersex
- Lying to the partner to hide sexual escapades
- Engaging in promiscuity or seeking multiple partners to give vent to chronic sexual impulses
- Guilt-ridden after sexual encounters
- Jeopardizing personal well being as well as partner’s mental and physical health
- Going on a sex spree despite understanding the aftermaths of such indiscretions
- Sidelining all fruitful activities and other interests due to energies revolving around sex
- Considering sex as a tool for self-pleasure and overstepping the boundaries, by compromising their partner’s integrity.
- Seeking for a masochistic relationship, which involves seeking sexual gratification from acts involving receipt or infliction of humiliation or pain.
A word on women sex addicts
Any kind of addiction affects both men and women. This begs the question, are women sex addicts any different from men addicted to sex?
For the starters, women are as likely to be afflicted with sex addiction as men.
Women sex addicts often tend to use sex to gain power, exercise control and grab eyeballs.
They engage in unrestrained fantasy sex, seductive role-playing during a sexual act, trading sex voluntarily, and masochism. As women sex addicts, they have the uncanny proclivity to manipulate relationships in order to have sex.
For some women, resorting to sex is a way to turn codependency in relationships on its head, and eliminate weakness and vulnerability in their personality.
Such women often act proactively by taking the initiative to act out sexually as an uninhibited man would.
Tips on how to overcome sex addiction
Sex addiction entails a unique set of challenges. If you or a loved one is experiencing sexual addiction, it is best to reach out to a certified sex therapist.
It is crucial for the spouse afflicted with sex addiction, to realize that overcoming sex addiction is in their best interest. Therapy can be a great tool in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual addiction.
A licensed therapist can teach the sex addict effective ways to alter their sexually compulsive behavior, provide the right course of drug therapy and support.
Sex addiction can take a toll on relationships. There is a lot of shame, guilt, grief and eroded sense of self-confidence that can impair a relationship permanently.
It would also be helpful for the spouse of a sex addict to seek professional help to process and overcome the debilitating effects of being in a relationship with a self addict. Equally important is to follow self-care tips for the married partner of a sex addict. Please remember that it is not your fault and don’t wallow in self-pity or blaming yourself for some perceived inadequacy.
Go easy on yourself and refrain from self-criticism. Do not block your feelings. It is absolutely normal to feel grief, anger, dejection, fear, repulsion, anxiety and confusion. You deserve to be loved and respected, so love yourself unconditionally. Lastly, if you have decided to revive your marriage despite your spouse’s sexual addiction, learn to forgive your partner and allow you to heal yourself from the pain.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Amanda Chinchilla