When it comes to sexual addiction, the spouse often feels alone, ignored, and neglected by the community — even by those they turn to for help.
It’s true even in religious communities where the focus tends to fall on the sins of the husband sex addict, and not enough attention is given to the effects on spouses and families.
It’s extremely challenging for a wife to deal with a husband’s porn addiction. You may spend your days wondering if he’s looking at porn again and are full of worry, fear, insecurity, and sadness. You might even feel responsible in some way for his addiction – but you are not.
Emotions Wives Experience Because of Their Husband’s Sex or Porn Addiction
Although you may feel overwhelmed and powerless, there is hope and help. If your husband has a sex or pornography addiction, you’re likely experiencing a wide array of emotions.
Emotions associated with a spouse’s addiction include:
“Infidelity trauma or betrayal trauma is a form of trauma experienced when there is infidelity or loss of trust between spouses or those in committed relationships,” said Matt Wenger, Clinical Director at Boulder Recovery. “This trauma can be due to physical adultery, an emotional affair, pornography use, or other sexual behavior outside the relationship.”
“Relationships and marriages can offer the deepest forms of emotional intimacy. But when a wife discovers her husband betrayed her through affairs or excessive pornography use, this intimacy is broken, and the wound is deep.”
When you discover the wounds sex addiction leaves in your relationship and marriage, it can feel like you’re personally responsible. Realizing that your husband’s addiction is not your fault likely leaves you with many more questions you must address. You may find it difficult to understand why you aren’t responsible without exploring these feelings.
Why You Aren’t Responsible for Your Husband’s Sex Addiction
Sex addiction is also known as compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexuality, or hypersexuality disorder. It’s an excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors that a person can’t control. It causes them severe emotional distress and can negatively affect their mental and physical health, job, and relationships. It essentially seeps into every part of their lives.
A person with sex addiction likely repeatedly tries to stop their sexual behaviors but finds they can’t.
Unresolved trauma is often the root cause of sex addiction. Trauma is an event that causes a person a great deal of distress, even years after it occurs. To help make themselves feel better or relieve emotional stress, a person may turn to an activity like sex that releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical that helps them feel at ease. Over time, they become dependent on sexual release to cope with negative emotions and form an addiction.
Without knowing the psychology behind how addiction develops, it’s easy to see why a spouse might think addiction is their fault.
“The wounds of betrayal trauma can be deep and disrupt a person’s sense of themselves,” Matt said. “They often think they did something to cause the addiction.”
In reality, this is not the case at all. Addiction forms because of unresolved trauma, It’s not about you. It certainly impacts you and your relationship, but addiction does not result from your actions. Sex addiction is not about the sex act itself. It’s about the underlying issues causing the person to behave in such a way.
Things to Know About Your Husband’s Sex or Porn Addiction
Having a husband sex addict can cause you to experience betrayal trauma. It can make you question everything you thought you knew about your relationship and the person you love. It also can make you question whether something about you led to these behaviors.
“Discovering that your partner is a sex addict is profoundly traumatic,” Matt said. “Many partners I’ve spoken to report reliving in their minds the moment they discovered the addiction. Any event or circumstance that reminds them of that moment causes them to be triggered and experience survival responses.”
You must seek help and heal yourself before making any marriage decisions.
“People who experience infidelity trauma deserve emotional health and safety,” Matt stated. “But they are often burdened with decisions about the future of their relationships and families while reeling from the traumatic discovery of unfaithfulness. This burden is profoundly unfair. While the betrayal occurred through no fault of their own, they deserve support and healing.”
If you’re in a relationship with someone with a sex or pornography addiction, it can be difficult to know how to help yourself. Taking care of your needs is vital to ensure healing for your relationship and your spouse. Be honest with yourself about what you need and want in this situation.
Confront your partner and tell them how their behavior impacts you. They must understand how it affects you, so they can make changes that will benefit both of you.
Set boundaries with your partner and stick to them — this will help keep the lines of communication open between the two of you and prevent any further damage from occurring while they work on getting better.
Find support outside of your relationship — whether talking to friends or family members, attending support groups, or speaking with a professional counselor — and use it as much as possible so that you don’t feel like everything has to be dealt with alone.
Getting Help at Boulder Recovery
The person responsible for the addiction is the individual experiencing it, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make coping with addiction easier for those who love that person. As the wife of a husband sex addict, you deserve help healing from his actions.
Boulder Recovery treats men who have sex, pornography, and relationship issues. Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive helps men face these issues and deal with the root causes, including unresolved trauma.
Boulder’s Partner Support Program gives wives tools to help them positively and effectively address their concerns related to sex addiction.
Boulder Recovery’s trained counselors take the appropriate approaches to address each individual’s needs, including group meetings and individual counseling sessions.
Boulder Recovery has counselors ready to help you work through sex, porn, and relationship issues. Get in touch with us to start your journey to recovery.