Helping Spouses of Sex/Pornography Addicts In The Process of Healing
So I began my private counseling practice with much enthusiasm, after having conquered my own sexual addiction and desiring to help other men get free from this awful bondage. I did a great amount of marketing outreaches focused on reaching struggling men, and surprisingly, 80% to 90% of my inquires have come from women who have been directly injured as a spouse of a sexually addicted man.
I recently heard an analogy of a husband's sexual addiction similiar to crashing a car with the spouse sitting in the passenger seat. The spouse wasn't the one driving, but she was nevertheless wounded and devastated probably just as much as the driver!
Below are five very important principles that are frequently addressed in my counseling work with spouses of sex/pornography addicts:
1) This is not your fault! - Your husband's sexual addiction has little to do with you. If your husband has the most common features of sexual addiction, he's caught in the snare of seeking his validation as a man through fantasy. There are usually psychological, spiritual and neurological features that reinforce his addictive behavior as well.
Spouses of sex addicts might question themselves and say, "Maybe my spouse wouldn't view porn if only I ... (e.g.'s 'was thinner', 'gave him more sex', 'didn't nag him so much', fill in the blank)". Not true whatsoever! You may also be in a situation where your sexually addicted spouse might justify his behavior by blaming you.
2) This problem *DOES* matter. Sex and pornography addiction is real! - Society will tell you "men are just being men" with viewing pornography, masturbating or engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. Yet consider this: If one is viewing or imagining erotic images and masturbating, is he not committing adultery in his mind and heart? A female spouse typically wants to be pursued as the sole object of a husband's desire, but sexually addiction harms that special sense of intimacy in a marriage relationship.
3) Get out of denial - Think clearly. You will also need to "sober up" to courageously accept the extent of your spouse's problem. It's common for spouses to subconscieously enable the addicted spouse, or put themselves in a state of denial to protect themselves from any potential shock, grief or pain.
4) You're also in your own recovery - Spouses of sex addicts typically face feelings such as shock, bitterness, betrayal, pain and sadness. Trust, intimacy and genuine communication are often significantly compromised. As as sexually addcited man works towards his own journey of healing, it's quite common for the female spouse to ironically go into a "tailspin", as she processes the implications of her husband's sexually addictive behavior. While the sexually addicted spouse is typically the "direct offender" and needs to overcome his addiction, the spouse also must courageously take steps towards healing, which leads to...
5) You are going to need support! - It is critical that spouses of sex addicts connect with others who have similiar experiences and are walking on the same journey. Today, there are many therapy-based and community-based groups for female spouses of sex addicts to meet and work through these very important issues. Simply put, you will not be able to restore yourself to sanity on your own.