I recently conducted some rather extensive research on the signs and symptoms that can help women tell whether or not their husbands are sex addicts, the results of which you can see here.
But, the signs and symptoms of sex addiction isn’t all I uncovered during this research. I also confirmed:
- Every aspect of our lives is touched by our partners’ and spouses’ sex addiction. Whether we’re aware of their addiction or not, we pay a high price emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially… A price that erodes the relationship and life of each couple, all on a nonverbal level.
- The amount of time we spend wondering and worrying about our spouses’ and partners’ behaviors, creates thoughts and feelings that consume large amounts of our precious time in exhausting speculation.
These thoughts and feelings often develop slowly and subtly, and most of us don’t realize they’ve become a fulltime job!
And, to make matters worse, these secret thoughts and feelings go unshared and are never validated, leaving us feeling isolated and full of self-doubt that numbs our intuition and instincts.
I compiled the list of signs and symptoms of sex addiction to help people easily assess their spouses’ behaviors. But, although the list is both accurate and relevant, it focuses entirely on our partners’ behaviors rather than on our own.
But isn’t there another, all-too-seldom considered component to the discovery of our partners’ secret lives?
It became apparent to me that we partners and spouses of sex addicts play a crucial role in our partners’ and spouses’ addiction by consciously or unconsciously quietly acquiescing, denying there’s a problem, and stuffing our feelings!
When we first discover our partners’ addiction, we’re easily blindsided by our findings. We feel hurt and angry and are understandably ready to blame our partners for these emotions. Our loudest demand is, “What did I do to deserve this?!”
It, therefore, comes as little surprise that it cannot yet occur to us that we’ve contributed to or have been involved in any way in this unbearable deception. But, make no mistake about it… If you’ve been suffering in silence, that silence has unconsciously given your partner or spouse permission to continue sneaking around.
Fortunately, as the proverbial dust settles and you read up on the topic of sex addiction, invest in professional help, and cobble together something to soothe that fractured ego, you CAN attempt the introspection that’s so vital for compassion, autonomy, and healing.
Towards that end, I’ve prepared 19 questions for you to ask yourself that can help you begin to see your role in this relationship…
Every question below relates to thoughts and feelings you may have kept hidden (possibly even from yourself) lingering in a limbo of anxiety or fear that became a way of life.
And, believe me, our thoughts dramatically affect our feelings. This is a topic I will be covering many times over in future blogs and in every online class.
How do our thoughts affect the quality of our feelings and lives?
I invite you to ponder the 19 questions below and jot down in your journal any thoughts you have about the ones that hit home. Even comment on those that you want to gloss over…
- Did you ever catch yourself protecting or lying about your partner’s or spouse’s sexual proclivities?
- Have your partner’s or spouse’s sexual behaviors caused you pain or humiliation?
- How much time have you spent rifling for clues to your partner’s or spouse’s sexual activities?
- How many times, or for how long now, have you felt deceived or rejected by the person you cherish and trust?
- Have you attempted to restrict your partner’s or spouse’s sexual thoughts and activities? For instance, tossed his porno stash, tapped a phone or computer, peeked at a phone or internet history, dressed or acted provocatively to manipulate them away from sex with others?
- Have you used sex to ameliorate problems in your relationship?
- Do your partner’s or spouse’s sexual thoughts and behaviors bother you?
- Do you fear abandonment if something you say or do upsets your partner or spouse?
- Have you questioned your feelings, your desirability, or your sanity?
- Have you felt accountable for the sexual actions of your partner or spouse?
- How often have you become enraged or felt stupid because you did not know about your spouse’s other sex life?
- Does suicide ever enter your thoughts as a means of escaping the pain of your partner’s or spouse’s betrayals?
- Which relationships with family, work, kids or friends, are affected by your obsession with the sexual thoughts and activities of your partner or spouse?
- Is sex the sole role in your relationship?
- Do you ignore your physical, spiritual, or mental health because of your relationship?
- Have you attributed your spouse’s sexual behaviors to others, such as family of origin, a church or a religion, people such as friends, workmates, or sex partners they pick up?
- Have you doubted the veracity of your partner’s talks about sexual thoughts and behaviors?
- How do you numb pain and emotions? Do you use drugs, food, alcohol, or stay too busy?
- Have you ever felt alone or too embarrassed to ask for help?
If you’ve been unconsciously enabling a sex addict and have grown accustomed to keeping your thoughts, pain, and suspicions to yourself, it may well take several days of journaling, or even several weeks, for this new perspective to surface.
Please Do Not Beat Yourself Up! You don’t need to create more doubt by asking yourself how you didn’t see these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors previously or how you could have let your partner or spouse intimidate or use you like this… It’s not helpful. It’s not healthy. And, it’s definitely not the point of this exercise!
You simply didn’t know what to do with your instincts, nagging doubts, and pain, or you wouldn’t be reading this page…
The point of these questions is not to point a finger or blame, but rather to give hope and introduce a paradigm shift into our thinking.
By recognizing and acknowledging your role in your relationship with a sex addict, you can reclaim the power that’s been yours all along. Much, if not all, of the pain you’ve been experiencing is not caused by our partners and spouses, it comes from inside ourselves… Our own thoughts and feelings!
If this is a lot to grasp right now, don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense or seem “fair” after all you’ve been through. We’ll cover this topic more in future posts and in all of the online classes I offer. Just know that it always takes two to be in a relationship and, as you move forward, acknowledging your role in your relationship with a sex addict is a vital step on the road to reclaiming your power and self-respect.
And, don’t forget to share your thoughts and feelings in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you!