Does something feel off in your marriage? Have there been repeated suspicious events or outright discovery of unfaithfulness or pornography use? Does the pain of a lack of intimacy and emotional starvation feel overwhelming? It can be hard to think about, but there’s something that makes you wonder, “Do I have a sex addict husband?”
The signs of sex addiction are not always easy to spot. Like any addiction, people with sex or pornography addictions try to keep their behaviors hidden from their loved ones.
There are some common red flags to look for that could indicate your husband is a sex addict and that he may need help.
What is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction may be present when a person compulsively engages in sexual behaviors, even at significant personal or professional risk. Experts describe this behavior as “compulsivity, escalation, and consequences.”
- Compulsivity. The person with the addiction feels an overwhelming need to act out sexually in the face of emotional distress.
- Escalation. The behaviors increase in quantity (a growing list of behaviors), frequency (doing it more often and for longer periods of time), and risk.
- Consequences. The behaviors persist despite consequences and/or a desire to stop. Consequences are always present within addictive behaviors, but felt consequences are those that the addict is aware of and are distressing to them. These consequences may include job loss, threat to a marriage, loss of significant resources, or health concerns.
Unresolved emotional trauma often drives addiction. Suppose your husband experienced trauma as a child, such as emotional neglect, the loss of a parent, or physical or sexual abuse. In that case, he could be more prone to develop a sexual addiction. Men with unresolved childhood trauma and early introduction to sex and sexual behavior often turn to sex or pornography as a coping mechanism. This coping usually begins at a young age and, if left untreated, can continue into adulthood.
Sexual behavior is a common method of coping because when people engage in sexual behavior, their brains release dopamine — the “feel good” neurochemical. Dopamine is responsible for boosting mood and feeling pleasure and satisfaction. A young person who is experiencing or has experienced trauma may find themselves in deep emotional pain. In this context, initial exposure to high amounts of dopamine associated with sexual behavior may cause them to feel high levels of pleasure or relief. This flood of dopamine can leave a lasting impression on the brain. The young person may be drawn to the behavior, or behaviors like it, to repeatedly seek the same relief. As the young person develops this initially wanted behavior can become needed to feel normal or deal with life stressors. This is how a sex addiction can form.
Overtime, as their bodies adjust to the increased dopamine levels, they have to intensify their sexual behaviors and encounters to get the same pleasurable feeling.
Signs You Have a Sex Addict Husband
You can look for certain signs if you think your husband has an addiction to sex. The presence of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your husband has an addiction. But they indicate that it’s time to discuss your concerns with your husband and perhaps a professional.
Signs of sexual addiction include:
- Preoccupation with Sex. Does it seem like your husband is obsessive about sex? Is it all he wants to talk about? Does he pressure you to have sex after you decline? Does he pout, hold resentment, or behave passive aggressively when you decline?
- Changes in Sexual Behavior. Does your husband seem less interested in sex, or is he suddenly more demanding or aggressive about sex? Does he seem distant or disconnected during sex?
- Financial Red Flags. Have you noticed your husband displaying unusual spending habits? Is there a sudden increase in cash withdrawals? Unexplained hotel charges are another sign.
- Secretive and Possessive about Digital Devices. Does your husband constantly clear his internet history? Has he changed his phone or email passwords without telling you? Even in a marriage, each partner has a right to some privacy. But you’ve noticed a sudden increase in what your husband considers private. Does he refrain from leaving his phone out, or its screen visible/face up?
- Excessive Time Spent Online. Is your husband spending more time online or looking at his phone? Are there new or hidden social apps on his phone? Is he frequently found out of bed, on his phone or computer in the night?
- Increased Time Away or At Home. Is your husband spending more time away from home? Is he encouraging you to spend time away from the house? Or does he no longer join you for social events? Are there frequent excuses for why he can’t join you or the family for events.
- Emotional Changes. Is your husband more irritable or angry than usual? Does he seem emotionally detached? Does he seem to lie frequently, even about little things?
- Increasingly Unreachable. Does your husband not respond to your calls or texts for long periods? When asked, does he offer the same excuses, such as lacking cell reception, a dead phone battery, or he forgot his phone somewhere?
- Losing Time. Does your partner frequently come home late or seem to lose track of time when he’s by himself? Do his errands appear to take more time and are more frequent than necessary?
Treatment for Sex Addiction
At Boulder Recovery, we take a scientific and faith-based approach to helping men with sexual addictions restore their authentic selves to the man God designed them to be.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
By helping treat the sickness of sexual addiction, we hope to restore men’s connection with themselves, God, and their families.
Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive treatment program leverages the truths of the Gospel and Christian community with the latest research and science on trauma-induced sexual addiction. We created a customized program to help men work through their unresolved trauma.
In addition to the TINSA model, our program integrates:
- Effective trauma reprocessing using Brainspotting (BSP)
- Internal Family Systems (IFS)
- Emotional connectivity and vulnerability
- Group therapy
- Cohort model treatment
- Prayer and Meditation
Support for Partners of Sex Addicts
The secrecy and betrayal of sex addiction often lead to emotional trauma for partners. Processing infidelity trauma is the focus of our Partner Support Program.
A betrayal trauma specialist facilitates the program. It is a private group that meets virtually every evening while the husbands are away at our live-in 14-day program.
Wives of men with sexual addictions often wonder if they can trust their spouse again or how they could repair their marriage? Questions and doubts are a natural part of processing your emotions. Our partner support program is here to give you a safe space to talk through these issues with a community of women facing the same challenges.
Getting Help for Your Sex Addict Husband
If you think your husband has a sexual addiction, contact us today to learn about availability for our upcoming 14-Day intensives or to learn more about treatment options.