Married to a Sex Addict: Should You Compare Timelines?

Immediately after discovery of my husband’s sex addiction, I sought out other wive’s timelines. In particular, I desperately sought out stories of success … and didn’t find any. After all, it was 2004 and we were only beginning to see the tip of this sinister iceberg called sex addiction.

Stories seemed to offer me some predictability in this whole disaster. Of course, the predictability I wanted was the happily-ever-after type, otherwise known as denial. While no two timelines will match, the one thing I’m relatively certain of 12 years later, is that these men will cheat again. All that energy I spent trying to rebuild the marriage was the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Attempts at recovery give these men new tools with which to abuse us.  The language of recovery is a powerful weapon. Ever been told to “stay on your own side of the street”? Or that mentioning their addiction is shaming, and thus out of bounds? Or my personal favorite, that you are “too angry”?

They now get to hide behind recovery words like “slip” vs “sex addiction” and we’re supposed to blindly accept that. You know, like accidentally having sex with someone else is just a little oopsie as opposed to the ongoing betrayal and abuse it really is.

So while it’s useful to compare timelines, perhaps it’s more important to compare endings. In my 14 years since discovery, I’ve been active in forums, met in groups, attended weekend retreats, talked with women on the phone til 4 am, and thus heard the stories of hundreds of spouses of sex addicts.

None of the husbands have remained “sober”.  Not a single one. Not even the ones who, for a decade or more, appeared to have conquered this demon. They ALL went back to their deprived double lives.

I’ve met just one wife who was glad she stayed and worked on her marriage. (PS: He kept cheating; she just learned to live with it) I’ve met MANY who stayed and are miserably trying to put the genie back in the bottle – just as I did for several years.

Those odds aren’t good, but somehow we all think we’ll be the one. We’re different. We’re stronger. Our man can do it with our support. Just one needle-in-a-haystack success story is enough to give us the hope we so desperately need.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of stories go something like this:

  • I found out I was married to a sex addict.
  • He promised to change.
  • Outwardly he did some right things.
  • Unbeknownst to me, he kept cheating.
  • I found out again. And again. And again.
  • After x  years, I finally had enough and left him. By then, my health, finances, and children were in ruins.
  • “I wish I’d have left when I first found out.”

Are you the one?  Are you willing to bet your children and your life against these impossible odds? I don’t ever discount what God can do, but it seems He’s not often in the business of changing sex addicts hearts. I suspect they are too far lost in delusion and left with untreatable, mostly undiagnosed personality disorders.

You see, while they’re still married to us, they have it all –  a marriage and family for a good cover story, and a secret world filled with all their sickest desires. Why would they change?

They’ve made it abundantly clear that we aren’t worthy of the smallest crumb of respect, let alone a cosmic shift in the depths of their souls. And we’ve shown them that we’re willing to put up with all of it …. over and over and over again.

2 thoughts on “Married to a Sex Addict: Should You Compare Timelines?

  1. I just wanted to let you know that how you have written hits so close to home for me. D-day was one year ago (on the way to the hospital to have my third baby no less) and for the last year, I’ve been doing so much recovery work. I noticed that he hadn’t so I had been kind of getting on his case and instead of trying to be better, he admitted to loving his addiction more than me and our three kids under three and walked out on us last week. I’m still reeling and spinning and in denial that this is really happening. He was supposed to be in recovery right?


    • Oh, KC. It breaks my heart every time I hear of another victim of these men. Just when I think the stories can’t get any worse, along comes one that stops me dead in my tracks. Your story is one of those. …. on the way to have your 3rd baby…. walked out on you and 3 under 3. My heart hurts just hearing all that.

      If you are still getting out of bed and breathing, you are a superstar! Never forget that. The fact that we keep going, and keep our families humming along after our worlds explode, is nothing short of a miracle.

      It WILL get better, and I believe it will get better faster if you find a competent trauma therapist. That alone is one of the main reasons I survived and found happiness again. Keep going toward the future, the one where you and your babies are at peace. It’s there, even if you can’t see it yet.

      I am so sorry this has happened to you.


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