Whether to Stay Married or Divorce a Partner with Sex Addiction

Whether to Stay Married or Divorce a Partner with Sex Addiction

When a partner or spouse discovers sexual addiction whether it is by accident or admission by the person with addiction, it can create a challenging dynamic. It makes for a conundrum by the partner who must decide whether to stay with the person or divorce an individual with this type of addiction. Learn some ways to know whether divorce is the right course of action.

One-Year Rule

The discovery of a partner’s infidelity and sexual compulsivity is a wake-up call. If a child’s safety is threatened, sex addiction therapists recommend partners spend a year in treatment prior to deciding whether to stay or go.

Person With Addiction

The person with addiction can try some of the following steps to get help for addiction after it is discovered or admitted:

Commit to treatment: typically involves 12-step programs, treatment, individual therapy or inpatient or outpatient programs

Be accountable: people with addiction make the choice to cheat. The first step is to own up to the issue which harms others then take ownership of the behaviors.

Identify and abstain from behavioral issues: affairs, prostitutes, massage parlors, etc are all behaviors which need to be abstained from to help the person with addiction move forward.

Disclosure: disclosures are facilitated by therapists in couples counseling. The person with addiction reads out loud sexual history of behaviors and the therapist helps individuals process boundaries of acceptable behavior moving forward.

Partner of Loved One

The partner has a choice to make about taking best next steps. Here are some ways to get started:

Commit to recovery: partners tend to be caretakers who structure lives around person with addiction. Needs, wants and values are obscured by years of self-neglect to focus on the person with addiction. The partner must shift focus to their own mental, emotional and physical health.

Get treatment: individual therapy, 12-step groups for partners and co-addicts are available. People who are partners are never responsible for the other’s actions but must learn to understand why that person was chosen and how it might have impacted their life.

Manage treatment, not addiction: Snooping, calling, checking in and seeing where the person is can be re-traumatizing and time consuming. The person must learn to control only their behavior not that of the person with addiction.

Rebuild lifestyle: if the person stays, he or she needs to set personal goals to enhance life from that moment onward. This might mean taking charge of finances, seeking paid work or developing a self-care program and getting into nurturing relationships with friends and family who may have gotten overlooked for the individual’s addiction.

When to Leave

If the individual partner with addiction is not committed to change after a year of therapy and support while continuing to act out sexually it may be time to consider leaving. When a person has a plan, it is easier to leave (squaring away finances to support a transition and making other arrangements prior to leaving). Leaving a marriage is never easy but give it a year and then decide if things are going to change for the better before making the final decision.

Blueprints is committed to supporting young adults in recovery from addiction. Client-staff ratio is very low which allows individuals the ability to give attention to recovery for young people that will help focus on long term growth and positive change. Call us to find out how to get started.


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