3 thoughts on “Ask JoAnn”

  1. My husband recently had a series of massive strokes. While he was in the hospital for over a month I discovered that he had been visiting prostitutes. I had long suspected there was something amiss, but had never even considered that it was as severe as it was.
    He’s now home and going to outpatient rehab for the stroke. He’s not driving, and he doesn’t go anywhere without me.
    I know that stress is very detrimental to his recovery. I waited till he had been home almost a month before i even told him that I knew what was going on. I knew he was in no condition to fully deal with this issue at the time. But, I couldn’t keep pretending I didn’t know.
    I simply asked him if he was planning to continue what he had been doing. He played dumb and tried denying it, but I told him he couldn’t gaslight me any more and that I knew he’d been seeing hookers.
    He ended up admitting that he was a sex addict and t he agreed that once he was further along in his stroke recovery he would address the addiction.
    This was about a month ago.
    I have seen that his progress has slowed since he learned that I know. Added to this stress are issues with his job (he can’t yet return to work) and worrying about our financial security. He says he doesn’t have the mental strength to deal with this right now. I don’t think he’s lying. But, I don’t think I can continue to wait to start addressing this.
    I’m losing my ability to contain my worry. I’m seeing signs that make me doubt he’ll be willing to follow through on treatment for the addiction. I’ve been reading a great deal and everything makes it clear that recovery is very difficult even when the addict is fully committed to making it work.
    This has been the hardest time of my life. I love my husband dearly. I believe him when he says he loves me. But, I can’t continue to go through all this without some kind of clue that we have a future together. My continued worrying and bouts of tears aren’t helping his recovery at all.
    I really don’t know what to do at this point.
    Thank you for listening.

  2. Hi Alexandra,
    I am so sorry that you are going through such trauma and stress. You certainly have a lot on your plate right now, it’s no wonder that you are struggling with what to do.

    As I see it, you have had two major traumas back to back. Your husband became critically ill–a huge stress and burden, and then you discovered that he had also been leading a double life.

    Most of us have a nagging suspicion that something is off and we all, being normal people, attribute it to normal things like stress, money, children, boredom, maybe an affair at worst. None of us suspect that we are living with someone who is leading a double life and putting us at risk in so many ways.

    You have shown an amazing amount of constraint and self control as well as empathy and compassion by waiting to tell him. I’m sure that added to your stress along with the financial worries that you now have.

    You wrote He says he doesn’t have the mental strength to deal with this right now. Well, it’s time for him to put on his big boy pants and act like an adult. You have given him enough space to heal and consider the situation he has created. Adults can walk and chew gum and he doesn’t get a pass just because he had a medical condition.

    You have been dealing with all of this alone for months and now he doesn’t want to face the music, he doesn’t want to be accountable so he pulls the sick card.
    You also wrote he agreed that once he was further along in his stroke recovery he would address the addiction.

    This is typical of these men. He will stretch that excuse out for as long as you will let him. Step back and take a look at what is happening. He is expecting you to bear the burden of his illness, his care, the financial worries plus having your entire world shattered and he expects you to deal with that all by yourself until he is ‘ready’ to deal with it. And, I can promise you that he will never be ready.

    That’s not how relationships work.

    I know you love your husband very much, decades of being together is a really strong bond and it doesn’t go away easily. But things have changed for you and you need some answers and some clarity as well as some stability. He has always known what was going on, the only problem he is dealing with is that you found out.

    There is no way you can tell now what sort of future you have or whether your husband can change. The ability to lead a double life requires a disordered mind and personality disorders typically cannot be cured. Some men can stop acting out for a while, some for a long time, but they remain who they are. They lack empathy and lying and acting out is their ‘go to’ coping mechanism for any stressor and you will always have doubts about him.

    So, here’s what I think you should do. You need some support and possibly some therapy. Not couples therapy, neither of you are ready for that. I suggest that you find a good therapist who specializes in trauma and domestic abuse. The reason I suggest that is they will be able to deal with your trauma in the most efficient way.

    Your husband also needs therapy—NOT with a sex addiction therapist. The great majority of CSATs or sex addiction therapists are sex addicts themselves and will only enable and normalize his behaviors.

    As for the worry and bouts of tears, those are genuine and necessary reactions right now. Do not let him (or yourself) guilt you into thinking you should not express how you feel. It’s time to give yourself at least as much care and consideration as you are giving your husband. It sounds very one sided to me and that will only lead to burn out and will do nothing to help the situation.

    If you have not done so, please get a full panel STD testing. Please, do this with your personal family physician. She or he knows your history and can be a confidant that you need at this time.
    Find ways to lower your stress level as stress has serious physical effects and dramatically lowers your immune system response. Take time for yourself. Get out of the house and do things that require you to think, things that will take your mind off of the situation, even for just a little while. Your brain needs a break.

    Also, read through the blog and various articles on the sisterhoodofsupport.org and my other site marriedtoasexaddict.com

    You will find a lot of information, advice and stories from other women who have gone through what you are experiencing right now.

    I hope this helps. Please comment back and let us know how you are doing.

    Big hugs, JoAnn

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