Behind Closed Doors: I Married a Sex Addict
While I realize that not everyone is facing this issue, and while the topic may not have the usual “mass appeal,” it is quietly going on behind closed doors in many homes around the world. Today, I wanted to crush the shame, and help those who might be suffering.
By Guest Blogger Paldrom Collins
When I first met the man who is now my husband and he told me that his work was counseling men with sexual addiction, I remember clearly the feeling of wanting to stick my fingers in my ears while loudly shouting “la-la-la-la.” That was quickly followed by the immediate conclusion that this man was not someone I would want to talk with ever again. But life as a jokester led me to want to get to know this man, even with a career that was initially oh-so-embarrassing to hear about. And it didn’t end there. I soon learned that not only did George counsel sex addicts; he was a recovering sex addict himself.
Sexual addiction is a compulsive sexual behavior that dominates an addict’s life, taking priority over work, friends, and even family.
After we were married, I found my skills as a teacher, counselor, and coach were calling me to join my husband in his work. I now support and guide the wives and partners of individuals who are suffering from what I had considered to be such an unmentionable and embarrassing problem. I have discovered that these men and women are ordinary people who just happen to have a problem with how sex and sexuality manifests in their lives.
If you are reading these words, you may be wondering if your partner is a sex addict. You may know that something is wrong with your intimate sexual connection. It’s possible that your partner is looking at a lot of pornography on the Internet and masturbating, or he may have escalated his online activities. He may be frequenting prostitutes, engaging in multiple affairs, or participating in other sexual encounters that are outside of his relationship with you. If he is engaging in sexual behaviors that are destructive to the relationship and he wants to stop but doesn’t seem to be able to, then it is wise for you to suspect sexual compulsivity or addiction.
You cannot make your partner (or anyone else) see what they do not want to recognize or are not ready to face. Successfully dealing with sexual addiction or compulsivity generally requires outside support from someone who understands and works with this issue — or, at the very least, the partner who is sexually compulsive needs to receive support by joining a group that focuses on this problem. The most important point for you to remember is to trust yourself and your intuition. You can be true to yourself and honor your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
“At times, men begin using porn because the sexual connection inside their relationship has temporarily lessened – for example when children arrive on the scene or maybe when their partner has become engrossed in work or in a project. The portrayal of sex as a matter of power and domination is a common theme in much of porn. This can create a distortion and confusion about sexual impulses and what is actually desirable for women. Those who have viewed a lot of pornography can start to imagine that women in real life are like the women portrayed in pornography. This is one way that sexual compulsion can damage a relationship. In their practice, porn addiction profoundly affects women in their relationships, triggering stress due to the lack of physical and emotional connection with their husbands.” (George and Paldrom).
If you suspect your partner has an issue with sexual compulsivity, in order for you to attempt to continue your relationship, three factors need to be in place:
- He needs to realize he has a problem and have the desire and willingness to stop sexually acting out. He needs to find support in stopping the behavior.
- You need to have the desire and willingness to go through the process of investigation with your partner.
- You both need to be willing to begin to look into the dynamics within your relationship system that are not working.
If sexual compulsion or addiction is a part of your relationship, it is helpful to keep in mind:
- You are not responsible for your partner’s sexually addictive behaviors. His choices about how he deals with his irritations and stimulations are his alone, as are yours.
- Your partner’s sexually addictive actions are not an indication that he does not love you.
- Your relationship is not hopeless or doomed because your partner has a problem with sexual compulsivity.
- You are not weak or damaged because you want to stay with your partner and rebuild your relationship.
- You don’t have to force yourself to trust your partner right now. It is normal to feel angry, upset, and mistrusting.
- You don’t need to go through this time alone. Reach out to friends, family, and other support systems.
All relationships can be difficult at times. The challenges of relating openly with an intimate partner can be like a master class in human interaction. But when you have two people who have the willingness to work with the painful feelings and emotions that arise in dealing with a difficult passage, there is an opportunity for growth, awareness, freedom and ultimately for deeper love and intimate connection.
This goes for anything in life.
About Paldrom Collins…
Formerly a Tibetan Buddhist nun, Paldrom Collins works with her husband, George Collins, counseling individuals and couples across the country by phone and in Walnut Creek, California at Compulsion Solutions, which was founded by George in 1995. They have written the book “A Couple’s Guide to Sexual Addiction: A Step-by-Step Plan to Rebuild Trust & Restore Intimacy,” focusing on what happens to relationships once addiction is exposed and how they can be repaired which, happily, they often are.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Some researchers claim there is “no such a thing as sex addiction.” Have you encountered this in any of your relationships, and perhaps have some advice you can share with our readers? Were you able to move past the infidelity? Feel free to comment anonymously.