Mary has been married more than 10 years and she and her husband are in their early 40s. They have two children together, and nearly five years ago she realized her husband was a sex addict.
ML: When did everything start to come to light?
Mary: After we had been married for six years, I found out. When I was seven months pregnant with my daughter and cleaning up the house in preparation for her birth, I came across an old disk with e-mail messages that dated back from around the time we got married. The messages were between Mark and a woman named Laurie, and they were explicit and sexual.
I sat down with Mark that night and questioned him relentlessly. He finally admitted that he had been leading a double life filled with sexual behavior that I had no clue about.
ML: Can you explain what the addiction consisted of?
Mary: My husband's addiction included porn (both Internet and traditional media), adult online chats, strip clubs and affairs. It's hard to say how many hours he spent on his sexual addiction. At the height of his addiction and during times of stress, it was definitely consuming several hours each day. He would spend work time (especially on business trips) on his addiction, and at home I would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning to find him still on the computer, when I'd gone to bed five or six hours earlier.
ML: As a wife, how did you handle his addiction?
Mary: I have been to a few joint therapy sessions with my husband, but I don't do much therapy. I always joke that I need to overcome my trust issues before I can go to therapy to work on my trust issues.
I have been to 12-Step groups for partners of sex addicts, although I'm no longer active in them. I connect with others in recovery primarily online now, through my blog, and online forums. I'm currently working the 12 steps with an online group. I also do yoga, meditate and write.
ML: How has this addiction affected your marriage?
Mary: This has nearly destroyed our marriage. The first year after I learned of his addiction was just hell. It turned my entire world upside down and made me question everything. I had no idea what was real anymore and what was not.
It's hard to adequately describe to someone who hasn't been through it just how sex addiction tears at the fabric of a marriage. But we would both agree that our bond is much stronger now than it was before. He has been attending therapy and 12-Step meetings for sexual addiction for the past 5 years, and the difference between then and now is just incredible.
ML: What advice do you have for other wives and mothers out there who suspect their spouses are sex addicts?
Mary: If you find that your partner is a sex addict, do what you need to do to take care of yourself and keep your children safe.
- Remember that your partner's behavior is not your responsibility and that the addiction is not about you. It is not about how sexy or smart or loving you are. It is not about whether or not you are a good wife and mother.
- Your partner was acting out sexually long before you came into the picture and will continue to do so until he receives treatment, regardless of what you do.
- You can't stop sex addicts from acting out, even if you are as talented and sexy as Halle Berry, as lovely and witty as Tea Leoni, as beautiful and glamorous as Christie Brinkley and as smart and successful as Hillary Clinton. It's not your fault, you're not alone and there are people out there who understand and can help.
For the top four signs of sex addiction, go to 'I've Slept with Over 2000 Women': Page 3.
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