Excuse me, but I beg to differ.
Let me explain why I believe my marriage to a sex addict was probably the most healing relationship I've ever had. I purposely chose the subtitle, “An unusual love story” for a reason (here).
The misconception of an addict is that he/she is “bad” or “evil,” but I know differently. I married a brilliant, handsome, kind and attentive man whom I loved. He cried at our wedding, made beautiful babies with me, and kept me in stitches with his keen sense of humor. I sorely missed those parts of him (and thousands of others) when we parted ways.
Addicts are like the rest of us, only they are battling a horrid illness that—sooner or later, if left untreated—overtakes them. Whether their compulsion is for alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or shopping, the need to fill a deep, dark hole of emotional void with a substance/person/activity creates the personality of an addict. He learns to cover up his shame at having engaged in the behaviors he abhors by keeping more secrets and telling more lies. My ex-husband was no different.
But still, I wouldn't have stayed with him for ten years had it been an awful, “shitty” marriage. It never was, even though I often felt that there was something terribly amiss in our relationship. But there were many more weeks, months, and years that were chock-full of fun/precious memories, vacations, and laughter, and those moments allowed me to deny the sinking feeling that we were going downhill.
After the stunning discovery of his secret life (ten years into our life together), not only was I catapulted into an unfamiliar and scary world of sex addiction, but I was also thrown into a new world where healthier relating was a choice, and I could learn how to think and behave differently. Thus began a two-year odyssey that led me down the intricate and empowering road of healing.
First, I had to acknowledge the deep-seeded rage that had been churned up by my husband's disclosure. His behaviors certainly were a valid justification for my anger, but what I now know is that my rage, fear, and sadness were already there, lying dormant, and his betrayal merely threw them into hyper-drive. It was time for me to reboot the system and clean out and remove the debris that created the deep, dark emotions in the first place.
No, it wasn't easy, and yes, it lasted much longer than I'd expected, but I would not have taken any shortcuts just to alleviate my discomfort. It was necessary that I understand why I had married a sex addict, why I didn't see even the small signs that pointed to his dysfunction, and how I was going to move forward in my life, with or without him.
I found the answers when I stayed open to my own healing. I had to take apart each feeling—the anger, the sadness, the rage—then dissect it, grieve it, heal it, and let it go—one by one, and over and over and over again until I was free of the heartache.
So what was driving all of those emotions in the first place? Well, by asking the tough questions about my marriage, I also had to seek the tough answers about my past—that I'd been abused as a child. This, I now believe, skewed my filters for healthy relating, and drove my need to (unconsciously) hitch my wagon up to an addicts'. By choosing a man who could not emotionally connect deeply with me (or anyone else), I would be spared any heartache by not having to fully attach, either. We were two broken people stumbling around as best we could, never knowing we were on a slippery slope toward hell.
But you see, by marrying a sex addict, I was eventually made anew because I had to come to terms with all of it—the betrayals, the deceit, the rage, the sadness, the abuse. My marriage and history forced me to look at my life for what it was—a series of lessons to be overcome—without covering it up under lies and “looking great” to the world. My marriage also produced three amazing children, and freed me up to create one awesome future.
Was my marriage a success? You bet, it was!
So, you see, I was healed by loving a sex addict, and it could happen for you, too. Be brave, ask the tough questions, and have the courage to face the awful answers. Bit by tiny bit, you can release the past and find healing in a new future. I promise.
If you want to take my word for it, give me a holler (here) . You might just save your own life.