If you or your spouse is battling sex addiction, you, without a doubt, need all the help you can get for defeating this beast.
Sex addiction is real, and it’s a more than a real threat to every relationship. It can be and usually is, a lifelong struggle. It’s also one of the hardest obstacles a marriage can face, given that it brings a twofold threat.
It’s an addiction, and it comes hand in hand with the prospect of infidelities. In other words, it is a two-out-of-three potentially detrimental problems for married couples.
Sex addiction and official psychiatry
Although the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not include hypersexuality as an official disorder, not all experts agree with this call.
Up until 2013, it was diagnosed and treated under the diagnosis of an unspecified sexual disorder. When a person felt distressed over a succession of lovers who were intimately felt merely as objects, they were considered a sex addict.
As with other scientific disciplines, it’s not always about science. It’s sometimes political too.
This is why many psychotherapists disagree with the decision not to include sex addiction into official approach to this issue. In practice, therapists see people and couples affected by the excessive and shallow need for sexual stimuli. It can be pornography, masturbation, or real-life sexual encounters. But the fact is, it has the potential of wrecking a marriage.
Sex addiction in a nutshell
Sex addiction usually starts during adolescence and gradually increases in severity. It can also start as a result of trauma later in life, or as a very unsuccessful way of coping with life stressors. Although there are accounts of female sex addiction, it is still an issue that almost exclusively affects men.
Or, at least, men are those who seek counseling for it.
What makes the difference between an increased libido in an open-minded person who simply prefers not getting into serious relationships and sex addiction is its function.
Unlike sex in general, sexual addiction is not about sex at all. Which is also one of the most widespread misconceptions about the disorder.
Sex in sex addiction is about getting away from emotions and inner conflicts a person fails to resolve in other ways. Through compulsive sexual behavior, the addict runs away from unpleasant feelings. This continues regardless of the accompanying feeling of shame and of other consequences, such as jeopardized interpersonal relationships and health hazard.
If your spouse suffers from sex addiction
It can be the most devastating experience.
As with other addictions, sex addicts suffer from a hazardous loss of self-control when it comes to the object of their addiction. Addictions can, and often do, destroy otherwise healthy marriages because of the lying, loss of trust, and the effects a substance or the behavior has on the addict and their loved ones.
And when the addictive behavior is sex, it’s that much trickier.
A spouse of a sex addict has to deal with twice the hurt. The issues we mentioned above, and the fact that the addiction most often involves another (extremely hard to deal with) transgression – infidelity.
If your spouse strays outside of marriage and keeps doing it, you will inevitably end up losing your cool every time they get outside of the house. Which is a horrible way to live.
Nonetheless, if you are in that spot, remember that sex addiction is about trying to self-medicate. It’s about trying to gain control over overwhelming feelings and stress. It sometimes comes as a reaction to a trauma one cannot overcome. It’s not about liking other people.
Quite the opposite – they’re seen merely as objects.
Therefore, although difficult, your spouse is in need of some professional sex addiction help plus your support and reconnecting, rather than your judgment and resentment.
Self-addiction help for sex addiction
Married or not, a sex addict has a serious problem at their hands. It can be a long and bumpy road to healing. The very first step toward sex addiction help is seeking help. Ideally, search for a sex addiction specialist with experience in helping people like yourself in defeating the addiction and the demons that caused it.
However, there are also other things you can do.
First of all, open up to your spouse about everything that you’re going through. You will need all the support you can get. Then, you can also learn about ways to help yourself using some of the books published to do just that – assist sex addicts in making the first step and to follow them on their path to a complete healing and a fulfilled life.