Spouses of Sex Addicts – Good News: we’re all alike!

This is a must-see video by my new favorite, Diane Strickland, MA, of Your Story is Safe Here. If you don’t have a lot of time, skip to 6:17 to hear how amazing we are, and why that made us a target for sex addicts. They chose us, we didn’t chose them!

In the video, this is how Diane describes wives of sex addicts:

  • “antithesis of co-dependent”
  • “strong”
  • “incredibly intelligent”
  • “capable”
  • “huge capacity for commitment”
  • “loving”
  • “many interests”
  • “lots of relationships”
  • “successful careers”
  • “good at managing families with passion and creativity”
  • “competent”
  • “independent”
  • “dependable”
  • “honest”
  • “loyal”

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear that. Diane helped me to remember who I truly am at my core – who I was before being systematically abused by a very sick man for so many years.

It’s pathetic that they chose us for these wonderful characteristics, then spent years tearing us down to keep us confused and off their dirty trail. It takes a very sick person to do that to a woman. Very sick, indeed.

“I Never Lied to You” – and other lies told by sex addicts

With sex addicts, we don’t ever get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Of all the lies told by my sex addicted husband, these have to be my three favorites:

1.  “I never took off my wedding ring”

– has to be right up there in the top three. Let me get this straight: You stuck your penis in innumerable (hundreds?) living things, but I’m to believe you are a great family man because you kept your wedding ring on your finger? How about you keep your penis in your pants? Did that ever occur to you as a better idea?

– did leaving the ring on your finger seriously make your cheating feel less cheat-y?

2.  “I never lied to you”

– my definite all-time favorite. Let me wrap my brain around this: you sincerely believe, to your core, that you never lied because you never said “I screw men and women on the side” (or any other sick variation)? You sincerely believes that living a lie doesn’t count as lying?

-That’s some scary, pathological stuff.

3.  “I love you”

– really? Cause the last time I checked, love doesn’t abuse, lie, cheat, steal, deny, control, manipulate, or screw everything he can get his hands on east of the Mississippi.

– If you think that’s love, I’d hate to see what you do when you hate….. oh wait, I have seen it. I’m living it as you play the victim, blame shift, lie to my children, assassinate my character, and drag me back to court.

The Exact Moment I Knew I’d Had Enough

The Story of the Walmart Bag

The one single thing that pushes wives of sex addicts over the edge and into divorce is not what you’d think.

  • it isn’t the hookers, the gay bars, or the happy endings at massage parlors.
  • it isn’t the nudist colonies, the drug use, or the phone sex.
  • it isn’t the family dog, the hotel clerks, or the strangers on airplanes.
  • it isn’t the transvestites, the strip clubs, or the lying.
  • it isn’t emotional, financial, or spiritual abuse.
  • it isn’t the lack of participation in the family, the complete emotional vacuum, or the lack of sex in the marriage.
  • it isn’t the counselors, family, or friends urging us to run and not look back.

These things are incomprehensible and justified under the tidy little diagnosis of “sex addict”. We’re told our sex addicts can be cured and we believe it. We are told that it’s only sex. Our longstanding histories of abuse at the hands of our husbands are ignored. Personality disorders, which go hand in hand with sex addiction, are dismissed.

Is it any wonder then, that it’s often a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing that pushes us over the edge? For me, it was a Walmart bag.

He stormed into the living room with the full Walmart bag in hand. He stood over me, angrily grilling me for answers: Where did you get this? When? Why? What year? What month? I had long ago stuck the bag and it’s contents in the attic and forgot about it, so I really didn’t remember when I’d gotten it. In an effort to back him off, I guessed. Wrong move.

Turns out he had taken the bag to Walmart to determine when that particular logo was used on bags. He had then returned home to try to catch me in a lie. So when I guessed at a date, he pounced. He had his “proof” that I was a liar.

This man, who’d lived a twisted double life for decades, was trying to prove I was a liar by using a logo on a bag. This was a man who was so good at covering his tracks that he thought of every tiny detail, right down to when logos were used on bags. That level of deception doesn’t occur to normal people.

And that’s the exact moment I knew who I was dealing with, and it terrified me. I finally understood that he really was pathological, and I knew it was time to go.

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.

Is He a Narcissist? It Doesn’t Matter.

“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.” ~ Jonathan Franzen, Freedom”

Ten years ago, when I found out my husband was a sex addict, the word “narcissist” was just beginning to surge. Now, divorce attorneys joke that every woman who files for divorce is fleeing a narcissist (and every man, a crazy woman – but that’s another post). The word is tossed about with reckless abandon, but for those who’ve fallen victim to a bonafide personality disordered individual, it’s not a laughing matter.

In a relentless pursuit to regain some equilibrium after the complete upheaval in my life, I poured over magazine articles, consulted research on PubMed, scoured Google, hauled evidence before my counselor, and completed online questionnaires in search of the answer to my most pressing question: Is he a narcissist?

I just knew if I answered the narcissist question, I could wrap the devastation in a neat little box and get back to my life. I didn’t yet comprehend that my life as I knew it was gone forever – slashed violently into two fragments: before and after.

More than all that, I deeply hoped that an answer would provide me with some rules and predictability so I could steer my children away from any more pain or, worse yet, similar fates. I naively thought I would finally understand why he did what he did, and why he did it to me. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. What matters is what he did and what he didn’t do. What matters is the lack of respect he showed me. It matters that my needs, desires, hopes, dreams, and fears were ridiculed and treated as inconveniences. It matters that he misrepresented himself before and after entering the marriage, and in doing so, repeatedly risked my very life.

That’s not love. It’s not even friendship. It’s the systematic devaluation of a human being you’ve promised to love and protect for life.

The answer, it turns out, was not “Yes”. It was, officially, “Yes, somewhere on the spectrum of Sociopath and Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. I have my answer …… and I still don’t understand.