It is both a devastating and painful time when you discover or come to the realization that your husband or wife is a sex addict.
You can be left completely broken and caught off guard by discovering the sex addiction in your spouse, or you may have sensed it for some time but are finally confronting it.
Being a married partner of a sex addict is not only detrimental to the relationship but is a more damaging affair for the victim’s emotions. Married to a sex addict can impact the victim in countless negative ways like loss of self-esteem, anxiety, stress, depression, self-doubt, inability to trust, fear to enjoy sex and romance, etc.
The trauma of being a married partner of a sex addict can leave you mortified to an extent that you feel enormous amounts of anger, getting pent up, mixed with a lot of confusion regarding how to tackle your partner and what to do next.
Apart from all these factors, spouses of sex addicts will bear the brunt of traumatizing emotions like that of deception and deep betrayal to the most important characteristic of a marital relationship, which is trust.
But how do we identify a sex addict?
For example, if your partner hasn’t reached orgasm by the time you have, do we label them to be a sex addict? Of course not!
It will take a lot of time to assess your partner before you jump to the conclusion of being in a relationship with a sex addict. When you love your partner, you definitely would not like to be judgmental and ruin your relationship based on your prejudices and misconceptions.
Before we answer the question, ‘how to overcome sexual addiction’, let us have a look at some of the most perceptible sex addict symptoms to get clarity in our thought process.
Sex addict symptoms
- Uncontrolled or abnormal sexual urges
- Perennially obsessed with sexual fantasies and thoughts
- Compulsive desire to indulge in pornographic material
- Excessive engagement in sexting or cybersex
- Lying to the partner owing to sexual transgression
- Engaging in promiscuity or seeking multiple partners to give vent to chronic sexual impulses
- Feeling guilty after sexual encounters
- Sabotaging personal well being as well as partner’s mental and physical health
- Going on a sex spree despite understanding the adverse repercussions
- Sidelining all productive activities and other interests due to energies revolving around sex
- Considering sex as a tool for self-pleasure and overstepping the boundaries, by scarring their partner’s integrity
- Seeking for a sadomasochistic relationship, which involves seeking sexual gratification from acts involving receipt or infliction of humiliation or pain
Now, that we know some of the most overt symptoms of a sex addict person and if you are sure of being the married partner of a sex addict, the next most obvious question would be ‘how to deal with sex addiction in a relationship?’
A lot of questions can throng your mind regarding how to overcome sexual addiction or how to seek sexual addiction help or if it is a good idea to become a part of some ‘spouses of sex addicts support group’.
Despite having the most wonderful person as your partner, if they are a sex addict, your life can become a nightmare and a lot of crazy questions can torment you day and night, like ‘can a sex addict be faithful’ or ‘can a sex addict have a real relationship’ and other endless questions that can take you far away from sanity.
Self-care tips for the married partner of a sex addict
- The foremost thing to remember if you are a partner of sex addict is to not blame yourself. Please remember that it is not your fault and you don’t have to falter or ruin your entire life owing to your sexually addicted spouse.
- Don’t become overly self-critical. Your weight, hair, looks or even sexual competency has nothing to do with your partner’s relentless desire for sexual gratification. Please remember that it’s just not about ‘you’!
- Remember that you can’t fix them! Accountability tactics can never be extended to sex addicts. Trying to alter their behavior will do no good to them, on the contrary, it would harm your self-worth and self-esteem.
- Give way to your feelings! Remember that you are a human and not a humanoid or a robot. You have all rights in the world to feel grief, anger, dejection, fear, repulsion, anxiety and confusion. Let your feelings not crumble and let them out freely which is very important for your mental and emotional well-being.
- Love yourself unconditionally, because you are worth it. Your spouse’s sexual values or any marital discord do not define your value. Never underestimate yourself and remember that no matter what, you deserve to be loved and respected.
- Lastly, learn to forgive. Forgiving your spouse does not imply that you have to forego all your grieving and sufferings, instead, it will free you from the lingering bitterness and allow you to heal yourself from the niggling pain. Also, if your partner is undergoing sex addiction recovery, they deserve a second chance to revive your relationship with them.
A word for the married partners of sex addicts
I, along with Amanda Chinchilla, LMFT discuss the treatment steps needed to help marital partners of sex addicts heal from the trauma of the addiction. In this short three-part series, we go through the stages of treatment for spouses of sex addicts and what to expect along the journey of healing.
Sexual addiction recovery is possible and it is the primary responsibility of partners of sex addicts to not shy away from seeking professional help when needed.
Please let us know if you have any questions like ‘ how to overcome sex addiction’ or ‘how to deal with a sex addict husband’ or about dating a sex addict or any such questions. Just ask in the comments below and we will try to answer them as best as possible.
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 Duane Osterlind