They mocked me on tv. For weeks, I couldn’t escape the news. One man made all of us look ridiculous. Every single one of us in this unfortunate group. One golfer made his sex life news and suddenly every talk-show host, every radio personality, even newspaper columnists became “experts” on what it meant to be married to a sex addict. Questions like, “How did she NOT know?” and accusations like, “She knew the whole time.” were common. And then, even worse, were the jokes that being married to a sex addict should be fun. Well, it’s not fun. And no, we don’t always know. There is a factor of manipulation that is involved with sex addicts. They control. They limit contact. I should know. I was married to one for 6 years.
I thought I was marrying a future pastor, but I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Within a few months, my first clues about his behavior surfaced. He assured me it was only on the internet and they’d never met in person. I was still bothered greatly, but he promised he’d cut off communication with her. And there’s more. This was the first time he condemned me… attacked me for looking at his things. He made me feel so terrible that *I* apologized to *him*. That’s when the cycle started. Every few months, I’d find more women he was contacting on Craigslist or dating sites. Every time I’d find something, he’d get angry with me until I apologized. You’d think my friends would clue me in to the irrationality of this cycle, but that’s just it. Whenever I’d start getting close to a new friend, he’d come up with a reason why I shouldn’t be friends with them and he’d end the friendship. By this point in our relationship, I was completely manipulated. I believed what he told me because I needed to believe what he told me.
Eventually, I started realizing that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’d stumble across women he was contacting while he was asking me to fix his computer. He’d get angry at me for stumbling across things, but I wouldn’t apologize. So, he wouldn’t talk to me until I pretended that nothing had happened. This went on for a few more years until I couldn’t pretend and kept insisting that he change. I couldn’t continue to share him with his internet temptations. That’s when he’d threaten to kill himself if I didn’t drop it. So, that worked for him for a bit longer. About five and a half years into our marriage, I discovered that it wasn’t just internet behavior. It had never “just” been internet behavior. My husband had been cheating on me the whole time we’d been together… even before we got married. What followed this discovery was about a month of him admitting to what I found, denying that there was more, me finding more, him admitting to what I found and denying there was more. It was a long cycle and it finally ended when I accepted the fact that I’d never know his “number” because HE couldn’t even keep track of all the women he’d been with while we were married.
So, we moved into the next phase… where to go from there. I found an online recovery program for sex addicts. It had a sister program for spouses/partners of sex addicts. It became my saving grace. God used that program to make me stronger and allow me to rebuild myself. I dropped from 130 to 98 pounds during this time. I didn’t feel a freedom to leave him, but he disgusted me. I wanted out, but I knew that if God could change him, it would be better for my kids, so I told him that I’d stay for now as long as he got help. I couldn’t guarantee that I’d stay forever, but I wanted him to get help. This is the point where people called me weak. They said I was just scared to leave. They said I had no self-respect. But they were wrong. I wasn’t weak. I was strong. If I hadn’t been strong, I’d have run away from him long before. About three months into this new discovery, things became very clear. I was on the phone with him, when he made this statement: “Okay, here’s the deal. I’ll stay with you IF you stop checking behind me to see if I’m cheating.”
And that’s when I knew. He WASN’T going to change. He had no desire to change. And I laughed. I actually laughed. On the phone. With my sex addict husband. I was finally free to leave. There were no regrets. I walked away free and clear with no doubts and no self-blame. And I walked away knowing I did everything I could. So the next time you hear about one of us… the wife of a sex addict, think twice before you joke, belittle and ridicule. Before you call us ignorant or stupid or weak. Think about the strength we have to find just to survive. Think about how hard it must have been for that wife to put on a happy face every day. And give her the respect she deserves.
Spouses of Sex Addicts are the strongest women I know. There are many that TRY to make the marriage work, taking the hard way trying to stay in the marriage, rather than the easy way of running away. In this story, this was not the case; the addict did not want to change. At least the spouse tried to make things work…..