Your relationship with your spouse has grown increasingly distant through time. You find weird expenditures that your spouse can’t explain. Your partner disappears without explanation or locks themselves in a private room for hours. If you experience any of this, you may ask, “Are you married to a sex addict?”
As the partner of a sex addict, you experience trauma that comes with the discovery and recovery process. Know that your feelings and experience are valid. You, too, deserve support and recovery. If you’re both willing, you can rebuild your relationship as well.
Discovering You’re Married to a Sex Addict
Your world feels shattered when you find out you are married to a sex addict. Experts refer to the moment you learn your partner is an addict as “discovery trauma.”
The discovery may shatter your perception of reality, like a baseball through a window. Or it may occur slowly, over time, like filling a glass with a dripping faucet.
The trauma will spread through your relationship and your life, causing you emotional and psychological pain. The pain is trauma. Experiencing a distressing or disturbing event is traumatic. It can lead to feeling like your sense of reality and self are shattering.
Learning you are married to someone with a sex or porn addiction brings its own trauma experience. And your partner will learn through recovery that their addiction likely results from trauma. Meaning you now both have trauma to work through.
Emotions Related to Being Married to a Sex Addict
Discovering that you’re married to someone with a sexual addiction is jarring. You probably feel like your feelings are “all over the place.” It’s not unusual to have this type of response to a traumatic stressor. Below are some of the emotions you may feel after learning this news.
You may have frequent, unwelcome thoughts about your partner and their activities. Experience flashes of visions from the things they’ve disclosed. You also may find yourself repeatedly triggered into a traumatized state.
Unstable Emotional Regulation
Lashing out and difficulty regulating emotions is a common symptom of Sex Addiction Induced Trauma. One of the foundational structures in your life shifted. Your marriage has gone from strength and unity to something unstable that could fall apart.
You may find yourself unexpectedly crying or experiencing intense anger and frustration. You feel shame, guilt, and full of self-blame for something that isn’t your fault or within your control.
Loss of Focus
Your sense of reality and self shifted or shattered. You may find it challenging to focus on a single activity or complete tasks. Your trauma causes your mind to wander and discover new traumatic cues and triggers. You have intrusive thoughts from the discovery. And feel compelled to want to ask more questions or ignore your spouse’s behaviors from before.
You leave tasks unfinished. You also blame yourself for the difficulty focusing when it’s the trauma causing it.
Impact of Trauma on the Body
It may surprise you how you feel physically after discovering your partner is addicted to sex. Trauma is stored in the body. It can lead to many physical manifestations.
Aches and Pains
Feeling aches, pains, and headaches are common for trauma survivors. Previous medical concerns could impact these physical symptoms. They also could be new and manifested from the trauma.
Sleep disturbances and shaking may cause muscle stiffness. Stiffness also could come out of nowhere. The trauma causes your body to stiffen and experience random muscle contractions. This stiffening leads to intense discomfort or pain.
There are a lot of reasons you may not be able to sleep after discovering your spouse’s addiction. Nightmares, reliving the trauma, or feeling like you need to monitor your partner can cause insomnia. Regardless, the impacting nature of insomnia will leave you exhausted and overwhelmed.
Loss of Appetite
You may experience body image issues as a result of your spouse’s addiction. Or feel as if their addiction relates to your appearance. You also may lose your appetite, resulting in losing hair or experiencing digestive problems.
Panic attacks may come on with a trigger, or they may seem random. Moments of hyperventilation, increased heart rate, and intense feelings of fear accompany panic attacks. These may prevent you from driving or leaving your partner’s side for fear that they will stray back into their sex addiction.
Applying a Multi-Dimensional Partner Trauma Model
At the Begin Again Institute, we operate based on a Multi-Dimensional Partner Trauma model. This model recognizes the impact of a spouse’s sex addiction on their partner.
Being married to someone with a sex addiction is difficult. At BAI, we understand the complexities of the impact this realization can have on a person. You’re experiencing real trauma as a result of your spouse’s addiction. You need support and treatment as well. To move through trauma, you need the tools and techniques just as much as your partner does.
Betrayal trauma caused by sex addiction can lead to life-long mental, emotional, and physical issues if left untreated. You’ve lost your trust in your partner and possibly your sense of self. You need support in repairing yourself so that you can heal.
Being married to someone with a sex addiction may force you to put yourself on the back burner during their healing. But, reaching out for help during this time is a sign of strength. Trauma-trained therapists can help you both heal.
BAI’s Approach to Supporting Partners of Sex Addicts
At BAI, we offer a Partner Support Program with our Men’s 14-Day Sex and Pornography Addiction Intensive.
Laurie Hall RScP, CPC, PSAP, facilitates this 10-hour program. Hall is president of the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists. She will help you gain clarity, regain a sense of safety, and create a plan for your future.
For those who want additional healing and support, we offer our Partner Intensive. This intensive is a two-day program focused on you, your spouse, and your recovery from sexual betrayal.
These programs offer a range of therapies to help you recover from trauma, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. People living with PTSD have debilitating trauma symptoms for more than four weeks. Your team of specialists will lead you through the long-term recovery of this disorder and help you rebuild your life.
Encouraging an Impact Letter
If you are married to a sex addict, an essential part of the healing process is writing an impact letter. At our partner support programs, you’ll learn how to write an impact letter that expresses your feelings. You will be able to tell your side of the story, process your trauma, and ask for what you need from your partner.
A relationship cannot grow and thrive without trust. Rebuilding trust will be a significant part of your recovery but know that it is possible. At BAI, you can express and release your anger, recommit to your relationship, and rebuild trust. Through forgiveness, self-growth, and sharing your feelings, you’ll rediscover your strength.
Restoring a Sense of Safety
Restoring a sense of safety while being married to a sex addict will take time, patience, and work. Our team of specialists will help you learn how to ask for what you need from your partner. This clarity will help rebuild the sense of safety you once had and potentially make it even stronger.
Are You Married to a Sex Addict? BAI Can Help!
Discovering your partner has a sexual addiction is traumatizing. That means both of you need help. Your partner needs help identifying the trauma that caused the addiction and healing from it. You need help dealing with the trauma of their addiction. Begin Again Institute is equipped to help both of you heal. Contact us today to learn more about our sex addiction treatment and partner programs.