Dear Church, Stop Abusing Wives of Sex Addicts!

Dear Church,

Learn the facts and stop abusing the wives of “sex addicts”!

Every Sunday your pews and pulpits are filled with men harboring the dirty little secret of “sex addiction”. These men blame their wives for the marital problems, seek leadership roles in the church, emotionally and physically abandon their families, and  proclaim their love of Jesus while secretly wallowing in illicit and often illegal street sex. Greater hypocrisy is hard to find.

Thanks to ongoing research, we now know that the vast majority of women experience PTSD when they discover their partner’s sex addiction. These women’s pasts, presents, and futures are ripped away, leaving them disoriented and shaken to the core. In this vulnerable state, they are forced to endure your messages of forgiveness and reconciliation; messages born of enormous ignorance on your part.

In your church-sponsored meetings, these women learn absurdities from other women in horribly sick marriages to horribly sick men. They learn how to track their husbands, forgive  “slip ups”, and better perform sexually so he won’t be tempted to stray. This pure insanity is abusive! Your sick approach serves to further damage the wives, in essence blaming them for the problem. Worse yet, you are teaching them to become co-addicts – which, prior to disclosure, they by definition could not be.

This is all done under the banner of “God hates divorce”. I’ll tell you something God hates more – hypocrites who risk their wives’ lives and destroy their families when they stick their penises in any available hole, every chance they get.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize sex addicition for good reason. I have found “Sex Addiction” to be a label used mainly by churches and counseling services run by “sex addicts” themselves. In any other circle, a man who spends decades living a double life of lying, cheating, and stealing from the family while pretending to be something he’s not would be called a sociopath.

It’s time for the church to stop hiding behind the false label and face reality – these men, at best, are selfish little boys. At worst, and more likely, they are full-fledged personality disordered sociopaths. They are not the “great guys” that you think they are. They are practiced liars and a masters of self-promotion. The naiveté with which you believe these skilled liars is disgusting and possibly more damaging to their wives than the original insult. It takes a special kind of denial and hubris to take the side of a proven manipulative liar over his victims.

If you bother to look at the faces of these wives, you’ll see the fatigue and grief of betrayal, abuse, and lost dreams. These are women left to raise children under enormous difficulties while their husbands continue to disappear, this time under the guise of “getting help”. These are women who will be blamed by the those who choose to identify with the the ongoing lies set forth by these men; men who merely use the church and counselors to sharpen their tools of manipulation.

Sexual Addiction treatment centers boast of 90% “cure” rates, which is troubling and misleading. How long have they tracked these men? These centers haven’t been treating “sex addicts”  long enough to realize actual outcomes. Even worse, their statistics rely on the self reporting of known habitual liars. What constitutes failure vs cure? Is a “slip” counted as a failure? Not according to the well-known addiction authority, the National Institute of Drug Abuse. They answer the question: “Does relapse to drug abuse mean treatment has failed?” with “No.” If that doesn’t scare you, check yourself for a pulse.

These are men who have used and hidden inappropriate sex since childhood; we’re not talking about simple masturbation here. And yet, we are first asked to believe that this is an bonafide addiction. Then, we are asked  to magically leap to the stunning conclusion that this special addiction has a cure rate nearly twenty times that of all addictions combined. Is it just me, or is there a logic problem here?

Church, know this: By supporting these men while marginalizing their wives, you have on your hands the blood of families destroyed. If you believe that the iniquity of the fathers will be visited on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation, that’s a lot of blood. Your ignorance, abuse, and one-sided support of my husband left me with only one emotionally healthy option: leave the church. P.S: I took God with me when I left – I doubt you noticed.

My husband destroyed my well-being, health, trust in others, peace, faith, security, financial future, and more with his actions. If sin is to be arbitrarily weighed by mankind, perhaps the greatest measure of sin is the cost to others. Look in the mirror, church. You are guilty as charged.

Help Me!

“She had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, like when you’re swimming and you want to put your feet down on something solid, but the water’s deeper than you think and there’s nothing there”
― Julia Gregson, East of the Sun

As I went through discovery ten years ago, even Tiger Woods, who would make “sex addict” a household word, had not yet been outed.  Back then, we spouses were marginalized, labeled co-addicts, treated as if we were to blame, and taught to focus on the addict’s recovery needs – a model of treatment now known to further intensify and increase the trauma already heaped upon us. Not only did it not help, it was like handing a drowning man a life vest made of lead.

In keeping with this flawed model, within a few weeks of my husband’s very limited disclosure I was packed off to a weekend intensive group for partners of sex addicts (get this, it was run by a sex addict!) There, the moderators focused like laser beams on our faults and shortcomings, teaching us how we could and should support the addict and understand his pain.

Support him? I wanted to scream “He’s had a lifetime to get used to the idea of his secret little world and focus solely on his own needs. To hell with him and his needs! Somebody please look at me and see that I am drowning! Help ME!”

That weekend, we walking dead were actually taught that we should check our husband’s sheets and underwear every day for evidence of wet dreams, as that was a good indicator that he was no longer “acting out”. While I refused, many other wives seemed to think that was a valid suggestion.

To this day, it makes me sick for all of us. A sex addict promoting such advice to a defenseless and broken spouse at their most vulnerable time in life is unconscionable.

Please don’t misunderstand this as judgement. I made many, many other grave mistakes, but checking his underwear just didn’t happen to be one of mine. I have my share of shortcomings and faults  (you know, because I’m a human) – the type of faults these men are all too willing to point out so the focus never lands on them.

I’ve since learned that my faults had nothing to do with his hidden addiction. His deviancy began in childhood, and was well into it’s maturity long before I met him. Unbeknownst to me, I just happened to be the unlucky one he thought could rescue him out of his sickness.

Some might say he preyed upon my naiveté. In my defense, it must be said that  many sex addicts are personality disordered, gifted at deception and manipulation. They tend to focus like a laser beam on capable, competent, loyal, empathetic, trusting women. Apparently we’re magnets for liars.

Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means in their book “”Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal”, we now know that the discovery of a partner’s sex addiction causes deep trauma that needs immediate, appropriate treatment. If you don’t already have a copy of this book, I suggest you get a copy, read it, and make certain that any counselor you choose is familiar with the sex-addiction induced trauma model.

It could mean the difference between truly moving on and being stuck for years as your mental and physical health decline. The deep trauma caused by a sex addicted spouse is nothing to ignore, as the human body can tolerate only a limited amount of stress before it is forced to protect itself by shutting down functions.