Sexual addiction is appearing often in media stories, including major news publications and big-screen films. While the progression of the addiction and its complexity may be portrayed in some of these environments, one element may be often overlooked: the ways sex addiction affects a spouse.
A recent article on Psychology Today addresses the ways a spouse’s life changes when a marriage partner has a sexual addiction. Feelings of shame, humiliation and shock are common, many therapists report, as they work with spouses whose partners have a sexual addiction.
Some spouses may blame themselves for the sexual addiction. In many cases, the spouse may be unaware that the addiction has brain and biological connections and can occur in any type of marriage, even if the spouse doesn’t seem “the type.” The reality for sexual addiction is that there is no set type; the addiction can occur across all demographics, genders and age groups.
Denial is also another comment element related to spouses working through their partner’s sexual addiction. The person with the addiction may deny to themselves and others that they are unable to control their sexual behaviors for years. A spouse who suspects the problem exists may also deny the truth, fearing shame or ridicule if others learn of the problem.
Sexual addiction treatment professionals agree that serious and long-lasting harm occurs to the spouse’s sense of self-worth when sexual addiction is present, and children living in the home can also experience serious emotional disturbances and be neglected due to a partner’s untreated sexual addiction.
Spouses may also turn to activities to make themselves appear more attractive, falsely believing the sexual addiction may be related to the way they look, dress, act or perform sexually. In many cases, sexual addiction can be connected to a person’s deep-seated and long-held problems with emotional intimacy.
The highest success rates related to sexual addiction recovery in marriages occur when both partners seek professional help for the feelings of shame, guilt, anger and sadness that accompany the addiction.