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.

Predicting the Future with a Sex Addict


When I discovered my husband’s sex addiction, the questions began immediately.

Over the next several months, I googled and cried my way through hundreds of questions about sex addiction. Then something unexpected happened: the more answers I found, the more unsettled and angry I became. It was all too much.

Now, all these years (and mistakes) later, I know the 2 questions I was really trying to answer:

“How do I return to my “before” life?”

I wanted to go back to “before” and forget all about this sex addiction crap. In the fog of pain and confusion, I thought I could find my way back.

Here’s the hell of it – I couldn’t ever go back. I could never un-see or un-know what I had discovered. My marriage was dead, and so was a part of me. When I cried and told my counselor what my marriage should be like, she told me flatly, “You didn’t get that.”

It was like cold water in my face, but it was true. I didn’t get the happily ever after. Not with my then husband. It was now up to me to create a different story, and to do so while confused, lonely, exhausted, and trying to raise 2 children in the fallout.

“What is my future with this sex addict” (i.e. Should I stay or should I go?)

Later, as began to grasp the gravity and depth of my husband’s sex addiction and the abuse it entailed, this question was at the core of all my searching. I obsessively sought out detailed stories of those who went before me.

  • Did he cheat again?
  • How long until he cheated again?
  • What did real recovery sound like?
  • Did his recovery “stick”?
  • What are the statistics for sex addiction recovery?
  • If I divorced him, what if I had paid the ultimate price and his next wife got to reap the benefits of his recovery?

I falsely believed that if I could get enough information I could predict my future and make a sound decision about divorce. Or, better yet, I could somehow control the outcome of things that were never mine to control.

In the end, he kept cheating and lying and gaslighting and abusing. I had my answers. Looking back, I realize that I knew the answers all along. I just doubted myself and was afraid of facing the truth. Years of having your reality jacked by a sex addict will do that to a person.

5 More Things to Get When Your Spouse is a Sex Addict

Continued from yesterday. See 1 – 5 here.

6. Get your spouse to admit his addiction to the children during the small window of opportunity! 

The truth is VERY painful for the children of sex addicts. If they hear it from only you, they may begin to doubt it over time as the addict usually crafts a(nother)  false reality to present to the children. It’s the old “repeat something often enough and people will eventually believe it”. If your children are too young, get it in writing to share with them at an appropriate time/age. All of this is, of course, with appropriate professional help.

7. Get One or Two Trustworthy Confidants.

There’s a huge difference between curiosity and concern. Many people will ask you questions. Few will actually care. Most will be looking for tidbits that make them feel better about their own situations or, worse yet, provide a good laugh at their next girls’ night out. You would do well to keep the curiosity seekers at bay.

8. Get a New Friend Who Has Walked this Path Before You.

Don’t expect those who’ve never lived through a spouse’s sex addiction to understand your battle or accept that you really didn’t know . You will have to rest in the knowledge that many of us have gone before you, survived, and tell the same story: I. Didn’t. Know! We fell victims to gifted deceivers – because we were trusting.

9.  Get Tested for STD’s

Tell your doctor the truth. Get tested. Enough said.

10. Get Back in Touch with Your True Self.

You will never be the same – but consider who you were: You were an abused woman living in darkness and confusion. If you’re anything like me, you also became someone you neither recognized nor liked as you navigated your way through the hell of total upheaval after discovery.

On the other side of all this mess, you get to be who you really are; who you were before an abuser systematically dismantled you in a sick attempt to make himself whole. He will likely never be whole. But you will. You always were.

5 Things to Get When Your Spouse is a Sex Addict

1. Get the Facts about Sex Addiction – it’s NOT your fault!

A sex addict’s behavior usually starts when something “twists” his* sexuality as a child. No 8 year old just magically decides to perform sexual acts because it seems like a good idea. Something warped that kid, long before you ever met. According to studies of sex addicts, it was most likely sexual abuse and/or a father with the same addiction.

2. Get a Counselor who is Comfortable with Anger.

Anger is an appropriate and predictable response to finding out the depth of deception that affects every aspect of your life. Sex addiction is way beyond simple betrayal. Of COURSE you are angry! You can either express that anger or it will go underground to destroy you from the inside out – depression is a given and illness can often result.

3. Get Comfortable with the Word “Abuse”.

Sex addiction includes insidious, willful, premeditated abuse. No matter how deeply you wish “I could go back to the way it was before”, you can never go back…. and that reality sucks. Coming to grips with abuse takes time as your blinders slowly melt away.

4. Get a Witness.

As the sex addict desperately tries to stuff everything back into his sick little compartmentalized life, he will make vows, swear promises, and even declare complete honesty – sometimes with a list of “all” his infractions. Make no mistake: this honesty will be short lived, incomplete, and there will be no record of it unless you create one! Trust me on this: you’ll need a record!

5. Get a Bulldog Attorney (even if you plan to stay!)

These men are gifted liars who specialize in false realities. If you think you won’t be discredited and further abused in the divorce process, think again. A man who risks your life and the wellbeing of you and your children will think nothing of lying and blaming you in order to keep “his” money and things. If you plan to stay, get a post-nuptial agreement.

Continued tomorrow. See 6-10 here. 


How Much More Validation Do You Need?


Someone asked me a tough question that proved to be a turning point in my recovery from divorcing a sociopathic sex addict:

“How much more validation do you need?”

Early in the discovery phase, I developed some predictable coping mechanisms. A call from my divorce attorney could result in hours of me Googling things about sex addiction. An intrusive thought about my ex would leave me rehashing all the evils he had committed. Startling awake from a nightmare meant I would frantically go down the rabbit hole on YouTube, watching films about sociopaths.

The triggers came almost non-stop, and with each one I went searching for more truth, understanding, and information. For a time, this was appropriate as I came to grips with what had happened to me. I felt my story was so extreme that no one could comprehend it. I felt utterly alone.

Then came the day when those coping mechanism turned on me. I was no longer actually seeking truth, understanding, and information. I was really on a mission to get validation. I just didn’t know that yet.

I lived like that for too long … and then came my answer to the question, “How much more validation do you need?”:

There will never be “enough” validation if I’m waiting to hear it from my ex. He is not capable; he never was and never will be. There is nothing I can say to him that will make him suddenly see the damage he caused and beg for my forgiveness. Never. It matters not what he does from this point forward – the damage was real, it was horrific, and it is over.

Armed with that flash of insight, I finally checked the box marked “Validation”. I know the truth. My family knows the truth. My close friends know the truth. And God knows the truth. That’s enough for me. That’s finally enough for me. At long last, I am looking to the future rather than the past.