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Sexual addiction killing my marriage . . . .
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michael3210 posted:
Alright, I don't even know where to start. My wife suffers from depression & anxiety and is on Zoloft and Provigil. She grew up in a verbally and I & her sister believe, a sexually abusive household. She has been to counseling but refuses to go any further as she says she is afraid of what she may remember or find out. She doesn't want to risk hurting her mother or other family if something comes out about her father. This is truly a very complicated situation but the bottom line is the only thing that seems to lift her depression is sex. Sex with 28-40 year old men, who are attractive, and she feels could have their pick of girls more their age, but they choose her over them. She IS very attractive, well-built and we exercise and work hard to stay in shape. I'm 55 and she is 47....she can easily pass for 37. Our sex life is fulfilling, active and quite rewarding, but it is the attention, compliments and sexual high of being attractive to men who could be her son that she craves. I am a great husband (if I do say so) working 2 jobs but I still find time to sweep, do laundry, cook and share all our household chores except paying the bills, and that is hers. She puts an ad on "hook-up sites" and then texts/chats/emails back & forth until she is comfortable enough to exchange pictures or meet face-to-face. I have warned her about the dangers of this also, but she said she "is a very good judge of peoples' character and really gets to understand someone before meeting....and is very choosy". She has probably had 10-14 different partners over the course of our 12-year marriage, but this didn't start until about 6 years ago. She said she has always had the urge, but never could act on it. We are open about most of this, but it hasn't always been that way. I caught proof of her "affairs" with a computer program after getting the feeling something just wasn't right. Still, she will not share all of her conversations and keeps several email accounts which I cannot see. It is causing what I call H U G E issues with our marriage. She is quite strong in the fact that she loves me with all her heart, and would never want to leave me, or cause me to leave her. She insists there is NO romantic interest with anyone and never has been....she maintains that the sex just is so rewarding because it lifts her depression the way medicine cannot. We currently have "agreed on an arrangement" that she is allowed to see one of 4 guys she's met occasionally. By this I mean it could be 3 - 6 times this month, then maybe not again for 2 months...schedules are difficult. I have tried insisting that she quit, and the last time she laid on the couch for 2 1/2 days, couldn't go to work, couldn't eat, wouldn't shower, etc. Finally the guilt that I had caused this by "shutting her off" became too much for me, and we worked out this "arrangement". Yes - I know I am enabling her, but i cannot express how much I love her. Angry with what she does??? OF COURSE, but I love HER more than I can explain. Our marriage is rock solid in every other aspect but this. What hurts the most I think, is that she KNOWS how much it hurts me that she does this, yet she makes the choice to do it anyway. I am truly sorry this is sooo long, but it's become a terribly complicated issue, and I need help in the worst way.......please.
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Demons2011 responded:
michael3210
Sorry you're way out of my league or experience. Only thing I could even suggest is getting counseling yourself and perhaps later both.
 
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Jeune1 responded:
Hi and thanks for posting. My first thought was this: If instead of sex it was heroin, would you feel the same about agreeing to letting her shoot up on a set schedule? Don't get me wrong, I have friends in open relationships and it works for them. But I've also seen it not work and that's what I'm seeing here. It really just depends on the people involved and it doesn't mean the person who objects is wrong.

My second thought is this (and I recommend it for anyone who has a family member/loved one with mental health problems): Have you considered seeing a therapist? I'm reading this is very upsetting for you and you're very stressed as a result. If you don't want to see a therapist, consider Al-Anon meetings. Even though Al-Anon is "technically" for family of alcoholics, anyone living with any kind of addict goes to them. In my unfortunately broad experience addicts tend to follow certain behavior patterns, so it might help just to be in a room full of people who live with someone who has ... control problems?

If you get some sort of outside help, it might also help her see that it REALLY bothers you and you're not just being possessive or controlling or whatever. It might be the first step towards couples counseling, if that's what you all want.

Sorry to babble. Hope that helped.
 
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michael3210 replied to Jeune1's response:
Hi guys.....thanks for your replies. Jeune1 ~ i approached her that way by saying "if I was the one with the addiction, and lets' say it was crack or LSD, would you try to make me get help? I also said, "what if this was our daughter, or out son's wife and you could see what it was doing to them? Would your heart not BREAK for them and you'd try to help them??" Of course, being under the influence of the addiction, she can form a response in her head that makes perfectly good sense to her. You can NOT win a logical battle of common sense with her about this.....it is truly a vicious circle. I do NOT want an open relationship, and she would be fine with it. She refuses to look past the first step to beating the addiction, and that step is to QUIT doing this ! She doesn't even want to hear what step 2 is, because she knows in her heart that if she doesn't have the sex, it will be over-spending or gambling (we can't afford that) ~ over-eating (and she has put on 20-30 lbs in the past trying to quit) and that is bad for her health as there is diabetes in her family. I believe acting out like this is definitely covering up something in her childhood . . . a good father does NOT spank 13-14 year-old daughters on a bare bottom with a belt for punishment, or tell 5 & 6 year-old girls to "hide in the trunk of the car under a blanket" so they can sneak into an adult drive-in movie. A young girl on a family camping trip should NEVER wake up in the middle of the night and find her father "spooning" behind her with his arm around her with an erection! I KNOW THERE ARE ISSUES HERE and she wont' consider counseling but I think it's needed so, so badly. Her AND her sister grew up with things like this happening, so I know it's not something she's making up. Her sister is going to counseling and is having mixed results.
More than anything, I want to save this marriage ~ and I'm craving for support and have no friends that I can share this with. I would truly like to have a convincing approach to get her back to counseling, but she wont' listen to me . . . .
 
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ffltat replied to michael3210's response:
I read your post and really feel for you. My husband has a sexual addiction. He has stopped sometimes and traded the addiction for other narcotics. It is very hard to live with someone that has an addiction. Any addiction.

But it is you that is in pain. I agree with what June said. You should look into help for you. Whether that is therapy or Al-anon or Nar-anon. Your focus should be in making your life better and pain free for you. And siting in a room with other people that share your situation is so very comforting.

Your healing begins when you make the focus not on how you can change her behavior but on how you can make your life better.
Fight For Life Today and Tomorrow
 
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Jeune1 replied to michael3210's response:
Well. I hear you. Like I said, I've been in relationships with addicts who weren't in recovery and no, logic won't do you any good. And yes, acting out (I sometimes call it "Getting back at you") is part of the problem. I have no doubt what she says happened did happen and yes counseling of some sort would do her good.

I'll say one of the hardest things for me to learn (and I didn't learn it until I dated someone in recovery) is that the addiction rules everything. It is more important than anything or anyone in the addict's life. How could than this be? Especially since (in my experience) practicing addicts are very passionate. Tell you they love you dozens of times a day. But that's how it works and I found I couldn't argue, shout or cry it away. And unless the person breaks the law or poses a clear danger to themselves or others, you can't make them change.

BUT (and it's a big one): Let's take the worse case scenario and say she continues to do this, doesn't go to counseling, doesn't change. How are you going to deal with it? I mean, is this situation sustainable for the next ten years for you?

I think it's great that you're coming here but for me at least, when someone has a problem with a relative, my natural concern is the person posting, not the person being posted about. So, I'll hope you'll keep posting. This is a great group of people. But that's also why I recommended seeing a therapist or going to Al-Anon. I guarantee you, you won't be the only one in the room in your situation. But at the end of the day, you have to deal with this, right? And really even if she snaps out of it today and starts doing the "right" things, you're probably still going to be pretty upset and maybe nervous that she'll start again? It is going to take you a while to recover your equilibrium. And trust.

In the meantime here's another question: If a good friend came to you and said he was going through exactly what you told us, what would your advice to him be?

Just something to think about.
 
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michael3210 replied to Jeune1's response:
You guys ALL make sense. . . .and what a comfort to hear an impartial voice of reason to help me see that maybe I'm not as NUTZ as I feel right now. We've been battling this for about 6 years ~ and through everything, one thing I have always promised is that I would stand by her, no matter what she faced. But yes....it's eating me alive from the inside out. I never in all my wildest dreams thought I would face a situation like this. I am a reasonable, educated, sensible and caring man. At some point I just want to be enough to make her happy. Just me. By myself. I KNOW there has to be a woman out there that I would be enough for....and I thought I had found her. Maybe I've been TOO stable, TOO reliable and TOO unshakable through all this, and she feels that there are no real negative consequences for her, no matter what she does? I'm tired. Honestly, this about has the best of me, and I find myself starting to wonder what would happen if I told her to choose. Them . . . .or me. Period. But I"m scared. Scared to be without her, because to me, she IS my other half...my best friend. But I"m also scared of what might happen to her if I did tell her to leave? She's fought depression for so, so long and everyone in her family has fought this demon. It seems hereditary....but she's done better than the rest of them, if you can believe that! I know people would tell me to just deliver the news and don't waste another day.....but it's easy to say when your emotions aren't at stake. She is my heart and soul....but she's pushing me harder than anything in my life EVER has. It's getting so hard to keep fighting when I feel like I'm fighting by myself.......I don't know how to make her want help??? You can 't force a desire to change on anyone without planting seeds of resentment so deep that the relationship NEVER recovers.......
 
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Chris_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Michael and welcome,

I'm sorry you are going through so miuch. You may want to ask this question on our Relationships and Coping Community.
I hope you find support on that community as well, but reaching offline for help as far as therapy goes may help you a lot too.
It is complicated for sure.
Chrissy~

When the world says, Give up,
Hope whispers, Try it one more time.
~Author Unknown
 
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Jeune1 replied to michael3210's response:
Before I say anything else I want to say I'm not trying to suggest at all that you even THINK about breaking up the marriage. I've been coming at this like you're in it for the long haul. But I'm still focused on what that haul will be like for you.

Maybe I've been TOO stable, TOO reliable and TOO unshakable through all this, and she feels that there are no real negative consequences
for her, no matter what she does?

Well. Yes, unfortunately. That's part of enabling. If the alcoholic gets drunk and messes up the house, the stable, reliable person cleans up after them. The drug addict can't pay his or her bills because she spent all of her money on smack, the stable, reliable person covers for her. The sex addict hooks up with strangers and then gets to come back to a nice safe house and a stable, reliable person who loves them very much.

Sooner or later the stable, reliable person will feel this arrangement stinks. But as long as the stable reliable person continues to clean up the mess and pay the bills, and be there when the addict comes back home, that's what's going to happen. Really, it's a sweet deal for the addict, why should they want it to change? Now that isn't to say you should (or even can) become less stable and reliable. Those are excellent traits. But it sounds they're being turned against you in this situation.

You can 't force a desire to change on anyone without planting seeds of resentment so deep that the relationship NEVER recovers......

Right, exactly. But I'd ask if she is trying to force you to change? I mean, you don't like this, you've made it clear you don't like this (and I'm sure that was very hard), but you're expected to just deal with it. Does that work for you? Might you be forming some resentments?
 
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Anon_15024 responded:
Hi Michael, welcome.
I have been following your post throughout the day, its good to see you are getting responses.
I would like to share my personal experience with you. I have gone through a similar situation as you, not quite as obvious and in my face but sure I had suspected a lot of what in my opinion wasn't acceptable behaviour, however given that the behaviour had been displayed and carried out by my husband I had to rethink what was/n't acceptable.
Anyway, for many years my husband and I had what I thought was a quite normal sex life, at times loving and caring and others more spiced up and exciting! I thought it suited us both, until I started to find out about different email accounts, or his name registered on "swingers" accounts, personal messages from god knows how many females, when asked about it he always had answers, not necessarily reasonable answers but sure enough to keep me going. I suppose I knew I didn't like it but thought its all online, or from a distance what was the real harm and convinced myself he was just exploring different outlets. Meanwhile our sex life remained good, not fantastic but not the worst.
Then a couple of years ago I discovered that he had been seeing someone else, I don't really want to go to much into that but when questioned about it he protested that there was nothing in it, she was just someone to speak to, someone who would listen to him, he maintained there was nothing sexual in it (not sure that actually made it any better and nor did I believe him). At that time, through a lot of personal debate, a major bout of depression and I have to say support from this forum I decided to stay with my husband because I loved him and thoughtour relationship was worth fighting for. Well since then, sex stopped, not as a result of my behaviour or request, he appeared to loose interest, it was like I had made him stop seeing her, and the internet and whatever so he could see no point in any physical relationship.. This has ticked along without too much disruption until now when once again I am unwell and I am questioning what is good enough for me, I am actually not making any head way with it at the moment but thought as you had written I would share with you, not necessarily in hope that it would help you but just to let you know that you are not alone, this kind of situation does happen to other people.
I want to say to you, please take good care of yourself, be kind to you, consider counselling for yourself and try and be as open and honest with your wife about how you feel.
 
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alaska_mommy responded:
Maybe this is a harsh view but in any normal relationship (meaning if depression was not an excuse as for why this behavior is going on), wouldn't it be expected that the spouse that is "transgressing" either clean up their act or get out? I mean if you're married, isn't that what wedding vows are about? Forsaking all others, and clinging to your spouse? Faithfulness...cherishing the other person...till death do us part?
@ michael3210, it seems like your wife has the "excuse" or a loophole in that well, she has to have this or else she will be a mess because of the depression. So why can't she go and get help, at least take a pill to help herself feel better, if she won't get therapy? If she's not trying anything at all, then she's not valuing your marriage or you the way she is supposed to be doing. So at what point do you tell your spouse that either they go and get help or there will be consequences? I think they need to see that there are indeed consequences for their behavior, they need to see the hurt they are causing, and they need to face the aftermath of the mess they've created. I don't think it's your job to cushion that harsh reality.
Again, this is just my opinion...but if they refuse to even take an antidepressant or read a self-help book, then they have decided that the addiction is worth more to them than their spouse. They have effectively chosen who they are going to pursue---their spouse, or another man (or woman, as is your case, Anon_15024). I think the faithful spouse, if they don't see that their husband/wife has any plan at all to try to get better, that they need to then take action based on that being the way things will be indefinitely. The faithful spouse needs to put himself/herself first, because the other is not going to do that, they are only going to seek to feed their addiction. I think there needs to be some natural consequences for their behavior.

I'm really not trying to be a home-wrecker here! This is all just my opinion and I've never been in this situation myself. But I think you can only roll over and take it for so long before something's gotta give.
 
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michael3210 replied to alaska_mommy's response:
anon_15024.......I truly feel for you and there are similarities in our situations. The main difference here though appears to be that your husband is also seeking "someone to listen to, someone to talk with," and he claimed he was not looking so much for a sexual connection. Actually I would tend to worry more about your situation than mine, because once people start connecting on an emotional level, sharing stories, comparing and consoling eachother's problems, in my opinion that opens the door to potentially dangerous romantic involvement. My wife however, is looking for the "wham-bam - Mr Right now" connection and has no interest in building a "relationship" with her sexual partners. I had a REALLY hard time understanding that, because to me, the emotional side has to come before I'm even interested in sex. Most of them are already married, one or two not, but none seem interested in changing their home situation....only looking for extra sex. Once I processed that through my head, (which was NOT easy) it became easier to consider her activity to almost be like "medication" rather than someone seeking an emotional connection to replace what might not be happening in her marriage. I know some may see this as me making an excuse to allow me to accept her behavior and avoid an unpleasant situation. But it does also play into the fact that this could indeed be her way of "self- medicating" something that happened long ago. I"m not making excuses to dull the sting that her activity has on my feelings, but just want you to know i can relate to the heartache you must deal with.

~ alaska mommy ~ Thank you...it's good to hear the "non-sugar-coated" version coming from someone else, rather than my own self talk for a change. Believe me, I have rehearsed the "get-your-@$$-outta-here" speech in my head several times. But as yet, I still haven't delivered it. She is on medication (see my first post - Zoloft, Provigil, Effexor) and has battled depression for most of her adult life, and with her Dr in tow, has tried nearly every combination of anit-depressants possible in an effort to "bring her up". In spite of all this, her depression does intensify at times, bringing with it panic attacks, anxiety and "skin picking" especially around her fingernails/cuticles and fingers, as well as any other small skin bump, which she rubs and digs at until it's bleeding. We did try therapy, but again she stops short of really getting into the meat of it, out of fear of involving her mother (who is a Saint by the way for putting up with my wife's father). I know she is afraid she will uncover more abuse, most likely at the hands of her father, and this is why she refuses to go back to counseling until her parents have both died. So what does this mean for me? No matter what I do, it seems I always end up back at the same point . . .either accept her activity and learn to work around it, or ask her to leave and divorce her. I'm afraid I simply love her too much to split. Partially because deep down, I do believe her love for me is true, and I have no idea what losing me might do to her. We have been through a ton of stuff, including her auto accident which nearly cost her her life 12 years ago. (30 days in ICU, 6 months off work, and postponed our wedding by 2 years) She has enough books on depression, anxiety, sexual addiction and healing (Healing Your Inner Child, Healing the Child Within, etc) to start her own clinic....and she DOES read them and not let them sit on the shelf. Again, I don't mean to look like I"m creating excuses to accept her behavior....but she exhibits enough signs of wanting to quit this, that I can't leave her hanging. Add to this that she is simply the most amazing woman and mother in every other way. I consider her my true soulmate. (and that word is over-used) She just doesn't seem to be strong enough to help herself quit, and that's why I'm looking for help....
 
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alaska_mommy replied to michael3210's response:
I hear you, michael--I wasn't aware she was on any medication or trying anything to get better. Sounds like she really is trying. And for that I commend her. I think when someone is trying, that if it's possible, to offer them encouragement and support. I still think you do need to put yourself first, and make sure your needs aren't getting lost in the great chasm of depression.
One thing that comes to mind is for you to use protection if your wife is sleeping with other men. No matter if she says she always uses it or not, you should make sure you are safe, and probably both of you (but her especially) should get tested regularly.
And I second all the other posters who said for you to get counseling for yourself, perhaps attend some AA meetings, and get support so that you can stay strong through this.


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