Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
My Spouse Cheated On Me In His Addiction. Is He Addicted To Sex?
When substance abusers are actively using they create a lot of damage. Not only for themselves but for all those who love them. Addiction is an impulsive, selfish, ‘me, me and me’ disease.
Family members witnessing this deterioration are exposed to traumatic and chaotic events that impact their lives greatly. They are the ones picking up the broken pieces and caring for their sick loved ones. The family wants nothing more than for the addicted person to get clean and sober.
One woman recently got her wish. Shannon – not her real name – had been through a difficult time with her husband. When he was using he would disappear, sometimes for days. Shannon says she was lucky. Her husband sought help. But after getting clean, Shannon’s husband confided in her that he had cheated on her multiple times. Shannon’s husband wanted her forgiveness. But Shannon was confused and hurt.
Shannon says her husband is three months clean and sober. He is recovering from his addiction to crystal meth. Shannon’s husband was a binger. During those times, he slept with many women who shared his interest in drugs. He even got one pregnant. Shannon’s family and friends have told her she should leave him. But Shannon wonders if her husband cheated on her because he has a sex addiction. Now that he’s on the road to recovery she asks, should I forgive him?
Shannon isn’t the first person to wonder if their spouse has a sex addiction. Many spouses have wondered the same thing. Most are too ashamed to talk about it. There is also some confusion around what sex addiction really is.
To clear matters up, I asked Chris Ziebarth, MC CSAT RCC, a certified sex addiction therapist in Nanaimo, Canada to explain sex addiction to us.
Chris explains; Sex addiction is like any other behavioral addiction in that the addict has developed a pathological relationship to sexually addictive behaviors. As is typical, the behaviors by themselves are not addictive but the secondary gains that every addict experiences certainly are; the addict gets to numb out, escape, feel special, safe, powerful, and connected. In an attempt to establish and maintain Intimacy, which is so elusive to any addicted person, sex addicts seek gratification through Isolated fantasizing and masturbation, pornography use, anonymous sex, cruising and conquest behavior, paying for sex, exploitation, voyeurism and exhibitionism to name a few. I often see a latent pattern of sexual compulsivity wherein people enter rehab or begin their healing journey of recovery and then discover that they are unable to control sexually compulsive behavior. The main indicators are a preoccupation, loss of control, and continued use despite negative life consequences. With the explosion of the Internet, sex has become more available, affordable and anonymous, 3 classic set-ups for addiction.
Some (but not all) people who cheat on their partners are sexually addicted. For them, infidelity is part of a larger pattern of sexually compulsive behavior that they will continue to engage in despite negative and mounting consequences. This is hard to hear if you have been betrayed in a relationship but stopping these behaviors is not likely to occur without assistance. Just as alcoholics and drug addicts go to treatment centers and/ or 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, sex addicts can get help from certified sex addiction therapists (CSAT) and various S-fellowships such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous. There is a real help for the betrayed partners of sex addicts as well and there is a fast-growing body of evidence-based information, treatment, and support for this issue.
For more information on sex addiction and treatment email Chris at [email protected]
It’s not unusual to come clean when you get clean.
It’s not unusual to come clean when you get clean. Recovery demands honesty. But telling all isn’t always in the best interest of everyone involved. If you’re familiar with The Rooms, you’ve probably heard step 8 and step 9.
Step 8 says – Made a list of all the people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9 says – Made direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
If you’re newly clean and sober and feeling remorseful for cheating on your spouse, talk to your counselor, sponsor or therapist before talking with your spouse or partner. The best way to say I’m sorry is to stay clean and sober and not repeat the behavior. If your therapist feels it is therapeutic, he or she can mediate a conversation between the two of you. Expect your spouse to feel hurt and angry. Expect they will not trust you again for a very long time. Let them feel upset. You’ve hurt them badly with your behavior. Do not demand that they ‘get over it.’ Your actions will bring back their trust, not your words.
If you can relate to Shannon’s story all is not lost. Once a cheater, always a cheater, does not have to apply here. Alcohol and/or drugs remove inhibitions. They give one a false sense of courage and impair reasoning and judgment. Sex addiction, like addiction to anything, is treatable. With the right help, effort and support Shannon and her husband can live a happy, healthy life and maintain a monogamous relationship.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-888-614-2379