By Dr. Robert Huizenga
I outline 7 kinds of affairs in my E-book, “Break Free From the Affair.” One affair, “I Can’t Say NO!” is characterized by addictive tendencies. Infidelity (as well as pornography, strip clubs, online chatting, compulsive masturbation, etc.) may be a part of the adultery as sexual addiction.
Often the spouse or partner of a sexually addicted person intuitively knows of the addiction and the struggle his/her partner has with the behavior.
The partner often “feels for” his/her partner and is in a great quandary about staying in the marriage or leaving the marriage.
If you are a person facing this dilemma of adultery as sexual addiction or know of someone who is, here are some pointed questions to help move more quickly through the decision making process:
1. Do you really want to save the marriage or are you just plain worn out? Does it seem that it would be much easier to just put up and tolerate the crazy kind of behavior you bump into with him? Are you emotionally fried and think of confronting him with your feelings and thoughts of ending the marriage as jumping into more emotional turmoil?
2. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you think you should hang in there for religious, moral or other “should” reasons? Most spouses who partner with those who can’t say no are very conscientious people. Is that you? Do you want to do the right thing? Are you willing to continue feeling the humiliation of the adultery as sexual addiction, facing the dangers because you believe you should stay in the marriage? Do convictions rather than practical and personal concerns dictate your decisions?
3. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you believe you should stay to protect the children? Do you think you are the only spouse who can care for the children? (You may be.) Or maybe your spouse cares deeply for the children and is a good parent. (That may be also.) Do you think that ending the marriage would make life immeasurably worse for your children? Do you fear for their welfare if you confront his behavior?
4. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you see absolutely no way out and are resigned to this marriage? You may experience a powerful pervasive feeling of being stuck. You may believe that you have tried everything and that it is in the best interest of everyone to stay where you are, regardless of the adultery as sexual addiction. Couple your weariness with your sense of being stuck and you may tolerate a great deal of disappointment and pain for the sake of the marriage.
5. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you see yourself as incapable of getting out? Your self-esteem may be at rock bottom. You may think of yourself as incapable of starting over, incapable of starting a new relationship, incapable of making the transition to a new life and incapable of making decisions on your own. It is not unusual for the spouse of someone who can’t say no to lose her sense of dignity and self-respect as he attempts to control, intimidate and dictate.
6. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you need to protect him from his adultery as sexual addiction? Do you see beyond what is there to him basic emptiness and fear? It’s there and you know it? Perhaps you fear what might happen to him if you do indeed leave? Will he be able to cope? What destructive path might he take next? So you hang in there, aware of his underlying pain and hope some day it will be addressed.
7. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you live in the fear that if you talk about leaving you will face danger? Perhaps you might face violence? You might face the emotional game playing at a new level of intensity? Does it seem wiser to hold back, not confront, not move toward change for fear of what he might say or do? Do you sometimes feel frozen with fear?
8. Do you really want to save the marriage or have you given no thought to how you might start over? This is a little different than the fear of starting over. Perhaps your life has been so wrapped around his or the care of your children that you have given little, if any, thought to you. Have you thought of your desires, your skills, your dreams, your hopes and your future apart from him? Or, apart from your children?
So, what should I do about my suspicions of adultery as sexual addiction?
Take some time to seriously and thoughtfully address these questions. Once you do, you may experience a new found freedom to act and move in new ways, and away from the adultery as sexual addiction.