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Anon89

My husband is addicted to sex workers

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I have just experienced the worst two weeks of my life. 

My partner and I have been together for 6 years, married for a year and bought a house together earlier this year. I thought everything was going so well, we were so happy, or so I thought.

Two weeks ago I made the startling discovery that my husband has been sleeping with escorts. Throughout our whole relationship, not only that but I also discovered a whole load of debt (£4K!) on a credit card which I knew nothing about, and emails to an online doctor service asking for treatment for chlamydia. It has come as a huge shock to me, huge shock. It’s really affected me in so many ways. I asked him to leave and he’s gone to stay with his family but he is having to come back ‘home’ next week. 

I have literally felt every emotion under the sun. From anger to disgust to hatred to blaming myself to stress to upset. Just about every emotion. 

I have told close family and friends and they have all been very understanding. Well as much as they can be in this situation. It has come as such a shock to everyone. 

We have made progress, he has come clean to me, and his family and a close friend. He has gone to the GP, who have diagnosed him with depression and given him anti-depressants. I have been to relate for counselling for myself, and obviously got myself checked for STIs (still anxiously awaiting results!) and he has arranged to meet with a counsellor specialising in this on Weds. I have also downloaded the book for partners by Paula Hall and it is a very interesting, eye opening read which I can very much relate to. He has also purchased the other book by Paula Hall for him. 

So, he is ashamed of himself, he physically threw up as he told me. He wants help, we are making the right steps. I just fear there is no hope - I’m not sure if we’ll survive this. I’m not going to be someone who needs to check his phone, emails, bank accounts because that is absolutely no life for me either. It’s affected enough of my life already, I can’t let it consume anymore. 

I just feel so lost, so numb, so confused by it all. It’s just taken me by total surprise. Our sex life was okay, in recent months it’s hardly been anything but I put that down to myself being busy. I feel like I don’t know him anymore, that I’ve seen a side to him I really don’t like, I just don’t know what more we can do. Feel so sad, because underneath this all he is such a lovely kind caring man, he really is. I do love him - which some may find hard to believe after all of this, but I do. 

Is there anything more I can do? He can do? Anymore help or advice? 

Thank you so much for reading - I’m sorry it’s so long I just needed somewhere to vent.

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Hi Anon89

I have just read your post.  Such things are terrible to discover.  "Devastation" seems to be the word that comes closest to the experience of many partners.  My wife was so devastated that she suffered symptoms of PTSD.  Sex addiction is awful - awful for the addict (seriously) and awful for partners.  

There is definitely hope but one has to very uncompromising.  I can talk from my own experience and perhaps draw out some essentials.

1. I reached rock bottom.  I decided that the road I was on lead to destruction.  I wanted find a way out.  Your husband is the only one who can decide this.  It is up to him.  He has to be desperate to get out of addiction.  On my course, which I will tell you about, Paula said, 'your recovery has to be more important than your marriage' - I took that to mean it had to be more important than anything and everything.  It makes sense - if you don't recover, you won't have a marriage (in normal circumstances), and if you do, then you might have a marriage.

2. I contacted Paula and had some counselling.  That was good but she really sees the intensive recovery course as the most effective therapy, and I now see why.  In fact, just a few weeks before my intensive I saw two sex workers despite something like 8-10 sessions with Paula.  Since the intensive I haven't looked at porn, seen a sex worker etc etc.  I would recommend he/you get specialist counselling from Paula or one of her associates.

3 I did her 5 day recovery.  It was amazing - I had wanted to recover before, but on the course I finally had the tools to recover and I made the decision that I would recover at all costs.   I also decided to tell my wife of 20 years.   Paula's courses are advertised on her website.  

4. I told my wife some weeks later - it was awful.  It was a strange path we then took - I was feeling a whole load better because I was beginning to recover into a vaguely normal person, she was devastated, and that is an understatement.  She had specialist counselling with one of Paula's associates and went on the partners course a few months later.

5 My wife was amazing for a number of reasons.  Firstly she didn't pretend it wasn't important.  She didn't collude in any way.  Many partners of addicts are 'co-dependents' which means they collude and compensate.  My wife didn't.  If she could have done she would have thrown me out of house for some time but for various reasons that wasn't possible, but she did kick me out of the bedroom.  In other words she asserted boundaries, and I needed them.  You need to be uncompromising with him.  To do otherwise won't do him any favours.  

6 Your husband will only recover if he is honest, brutally honest with himself (and in my view with you).  Eventually I came to tell some of my friends and my employer - they were all great but I could have lost my job (I didn't and that was a miracle).  I did this to recover my integrity - to become the same person on the outside as the inside.  I would be very surprised if your husband wasn't also addicted to porn.  He needs to be honest about this - indeed about everything.  Paula/her associates can help him and you to go through a full disclosure of everything.  For us that was critical - to recover honesty and transparency.  

7. This addiction isn't about sex and it isn't about you or your sex life.  It is about deeper stuff in your husbands mind/soul, pain etc. that it is eased by the sex.  It could have sought solace in alcohol, drugs or gambling it.  It is important for you to hear that.  It isn't about you or your sex life.

8. I abstained from masturbation/sex etc for 90 days (recommended by people in this line of business).  When I told wife about my addiction, she then asserted a 90 day period of abstinence.  Addicts think they can't live without their hit, but the truth is they can, they won't die.  They refer to this 90 days as a reboot - it worked very effectively for me.  It was like a system reboot.  Weird.

9.  I have continued in my recovery using a local Sex Addicts Anonymous group (SAA) - this is recommended after an intensive recovery course although Paula now runs post course groups too now.

9 I am 2.5 years in - I haven't masturbated, looked at porn or visited a sex worker since.  For me, intrigue is a big enemy - they talk about it quite a lot in SAA.   I still have cravings, and sometimes I watch stuff on terrestrial tv that comes close to porn but haven't gone any further.    I have discovered that I need to pursue serenity as much as anything else. (c.f. serenity prayer of the 12 step movement), if I do that then my cravings diminish.

I hope that helps.  I wish you and your husband well.  

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Anon89, I could have written your post.

I am 3 weeks post discovery - been with my husband for 6 years, married for 3, we have a house together and a 1.5 year old daughter.

I don't think anybody would ever have dreamed that me and my husband would have problems - we have always had such a solid relationship, open and trusting (so I thought!), he is a good man, has been so supportive to me as a husband and is a brilliant dad.

And yet I have discovered that all the way through our relationship (though it has racked up particularly in the last 6 months), he has... been texting/sexting exes for attention, flirted with a couple of girls I know, paid for pornography, lap dances, joined adult dating websites and messaged women on there, been on online sex chat rooms and met up with/slept with girls from there, been with prostitutes and he has also racked up 4k of debt from all of this acting out plus gambling to try and solve his debt problem.

Are the books good/useful? I haven't been to any counselling yet but am looking into it now, I've not really been in a fit state to go anywhere to be honest as my anxiety/stress levels have been through the roof and I've been having a lot of physical symptoms.

Like you I don't know where to go from here. If we work things out and stay together am I now doomed to a trustless marriage, having to monitor his every move and set parental controls? Is that the kind of life I want to live? And if I leave him, I'll have to share my daughter with him. Either way I don't think I will be happy, so I feel like I am facing an incredibly hopeless future.

He also lost his job the week after I found out about his problem - unrelated but bad timing. Everything is broken, I feel completely devastated and yet I have to try and hold it together for our daughter - and I can't even have a proper break from him as she still needs to see her daddy and I need help with her occasionally.

He is doing everything he can to recover - been to the doctors, is on antidepressants (all sounds very similar to your situation!), is attending Sex Addicts Anonymous groups. He/we need some specific counselling but how can we afford it when he's now got 4.5k debts and no job and we have a daughter to provide for?!

Sorry that this doesn't really help in terms of advice, but I'm just in a very similar position to you and also feeling lost. 

Edited by Eliza

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Eliza,

I’m so sad to hear that you’re going through this as well. It’s such a shocking time on so many levels. It really really is, it’s not just the lies and betrayal, it’s the debt, the health implications, the future. It’s everything. 

I’ll PM you, we can support each other through this. Xx

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Anon89 - that would be great. I feel like I really need to talk to other people going through the same thing. I have a good network of close friends and family but it's so difficult for them to really "get it" - whether that's because they don't understand what sex addiction is but also because I don't think anyone can quite understand the trauma that these levels of betrayal can cause.

 

Big hugs to you too xxx

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Hello Anon89 and Eliza,

I can totally relate to you both. I found out about my my husband's sex addiction about 10 weeks ago. I agree it is hard to talk to other people about it and I too am looking to talk to people who are going thtough the same trauma. I will PM you both, if that's ok? It would be great to have some support.

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I too have been devastated by the henious discovery of my partners sa. As well as some Skype sessions with a counsellor to talk to I have found the book 'Living and Loving after Betrayal', how to heal from emotional abuse, deceit, infidelity and chronic resentment by Steven Stosny excellent. I also read Paula's book for partners which is helpful to get a grip on the confusion and chaos experienced amid initial discovery. 

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