Sex addiction, pornography, and associated behaviors can threaten even the most solid marriages. Even when a spouse admits the problem and it’s out in the open, it can rattle the foundation of your relationship. The fear, pain, and sense of betrayal sex addiction creates for the affected spouse is profound.
For the purpose of this article, let’s assume your spouse has been struggling with sex addiction, has admitted it, and is willing to get help. Maybe they’re already seeing a therapist or attending a support group. You may feel a sense of relief that they’re getting help, but you’re also feeling fearful and hurt.
So what can you do? And most importantly, is there any hope for your marriage?
Own and Process Your Grief
It’s perfectly normal that you still feel wounded, no matter how much time has passed since you learned about your spouse’s sex addiction. Betrayal cuts deep, especially when it comes from the person you trust most in the world. Own your grief and any emotional trauma you’ve experienced as a result of this situation.
Even though your spouse is in treatment, you might still be afraid of relapse. That’s normal, too. Addictions of all kinds are powerful, and it will take long-term effort from your spouse–in addition to professional help–to stay clean.
Build Your Own Support System
As you’re working through your own grief and trauma, build a support system outside your spouse. If you want to give them the best chance of healing, you’ll need people you trust who can help you as you work to reestablish trust in your marriage. Being honest with yourself and your spouse is going to be important, but you also don’t want to overwhelm your spouse as they’re on their own path to healing and reconciliation.
You will need to keep an open line of communication with your spouse as they go through treatment. After all, a key part of recovery is accountability. Still, your spouse doesn’t need to be the only person you go to for support during this time.
Consider seeking out a professional therapist, in addition to a few trusted friends or mentors. You’ll need a shoulder to lean on, as well as a professional who can give you tools to help you process your grief and come to terms with what has happened. Sex addiction not only creates a breach of trust and sense of betrayal, but it can also damage your own sense of self-worth. You’ll need plenty of time and space to explore the issues that come up for you.
Yes, There’s Hope for Your Marriage
Because your spouse is in treatment, they’ve already taken the hardest step toward recovery. While this process won’t be easy, know that there is absolutely hope for your marriage. We’ve seen countless couples in similar situations, and it’s incredibly common.
You can get to the other side of sex addiction–or any addiction–as long as you’re both willing to do the work to get there. You’ll need to build more transparency, accountability, and healthy boundaries into your life to facilitate healing. Both of you will also need to be willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild trust and keep that hope alive.
Making time for daily connection could help the two of you regain the closeness you need. Our One Year Love Talk Devotional provides you with daily readings to help you grow spiritually while healing and reconnecting in the wake of grief. Get your copy here.
Have you or your spouse experienced addiction? How did you get to the other side of it to find healing? Leave us a comment below to share your story.
This has been the hardest thing to face in marriage. At 30 years in, he finally admitted that he views porn. Of course, he claims it’s only occasionally, but if I learned one thing about porn addicts in all my research, is the one thing they do best, is LIE! He’s angry any time I bring it up, which I do gently. At first, he was remorseful, but that only lasted a short time. Then he became resentful that I had a tracking app on his phone. I BEGGED him to find a guy to be the one who had access to this info, but he was too shame-filled to even think of telling someone else what he’s done. I cherish my marriage and love my husband despite the hurt he’s caused me in the past 7 years (an emotional affair with a subordinate at the office, and he refused to quit). I’m not sure what to do or where to turn, as he seems to be wanting out of our marriage, and is seemingly unwilling to work to make it better. I have spent the past 7 years buying countless books and listening to more podcasts than I care to remember trying to figure out what to do. I have changed my behavior for the better, admitted MY past mistakes (behavior towards him & lack of helping with chores) and asked for forgiveness (to which he always quickly answers that he forgives me). He holds onto grudges VERY tightly (as I’ve witnessed with other people in his life), so I don’t truly believe he’s actually forgiven me, but just says so in order to be done with it. My heart weeps for him, as I know he struggled as a child/teen with self esteem issues and had only one friend. Today he has a few male “friends” (using the term loosely) at church, but I don’t believe that he confides in any of them. He recently started seeing a “regular” counselor so I’m hopeful that will help with his anger. Not sure why I’m posting here, except maybe you have some advice I haven’t heard yet. Thanks and God bless!
Have you or your husband heard of Pure Desire Ministries? This may be a great resource and help if there is a willingness on the part of your husband to seek help. https://puredesire.org
At our church we use resources from Pure Desire and host a ministry for men throughout the year that are struggling with porn and sex addiction. We also have a ministry for women who’s husbands are addicted using their book called “Betrayal and Beyond. Through the Pure Desire website you can find if there are any groups available in your area. Praying!
I can identify with what you’re going through. I finally was able to confront my husband about his porn addiction after 30 years. I often suspected it, but was finally able to catch him red-handed. It took a long time for us to recover. And then he had a relapse after 4 years of being clean. Addiction is a horrible thing. I will be praying for you and your husband.