How Does Sexual Addiction Impact A Marriage?

Exhibitionishm, pornography, cyber sex and your marriage

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According to Jerry Kennard, “sexual addiction is an overwhelming desire to have sex. Sexual behavior becomes a problem and is considered an addiction when it is repeated often enough to interfere with normal daily living. Addictive sexual behavior interferes with relationships, work, friendships, and lifestyle.”

Joan’s marriage was destroyed by her husband Darren’s sexual addiction. “He reacted to everyday stressful events by engaging in compulsive sexual behaviors and acts,” says Joan.

We have a teenage son who suffers from a mood disorder; my husband’s way of dealing with the emotional stress of the situation was to act out sexually.”

According to Joan, her husband, Darren, dealt with unpleasantness in life by visiting prostitutes, going to "swingers" parties and constantly asking her to engage in sexual behavior she felt was kinky and uncomfortable. 

At a time when Joan needed help giving her son support and making sure he had the medical treatment he needed for his disorder, Darren as hyper-focused on sex, sex, sex. To say that his sexual addiction was having a negative impact on his family life is an understatement. 

Addictive Sexual Behaviors:

Medical experts say that at least 16 million men and women suffer from some form of sexual addiction. Below are a few of the behaviors common to sexual addicts.

  • Habitual masturbation,
  • Serial Infidelity,
  • Exhibitionism,
  • Child molestation,
  • Pornography,
  • Telephone or cyber sex,
  • Prostitution,
  • Strip shows, even
  • Voyeurism and rape

What Impact Does Sexual Addiction Have on a Marriage?

Just as with any other addiction, sexual addiction is habitual behavior that rules the addict’s life. For the sexual addict sex is more important than marriage, family or career.

The addict is willing to forfeit what is most important to them in an attempt to protect and continue unhealthy sexual behavior. The addict can’t fully engage in his/her role as a spouse or parent because they are dominantly focused on and pursuing self-defeating sexual activities.

It is easy to understand how such behaviors can have a negative impact on a marriage. “Darren had expectations of me that I could not meet. He wanted to video tape our intimate moments, he wanted to bring other men into our bedroom and he once suggested I allow a strange man watch while I showered. And he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He seemed to be hell bent on dragging me into his addiction and when push came to shove the loss of our marriage made no difference to him.”

Joan was a victim of what many who are married to a sexual addict are. The addict can have an extreme emotional impact on their spouse by putting pressure on the spouse to engage in destructive, compulsive sexual behavior. What fulfills the normal spouse is not fulfilling to the sexually addicted spouse.

Can a Marriage Survive Sexual Addiction?

For a marriage to survive the couple will need to go through marital therapy and the addicted spouse will have to address the addiction separately with addiction counseling and recovery.

If a marriage was strong before the addictive behavior began the marriage has a better chance of surviving.

Such an addiction does not have to mean the end of a marriage but the majority of marriages touched by sexual addiction do fail. If you’ve been hurt by the behaviors of a sexual addict and don’t have the ability to see “things” from the perspective of the addict it can be hard to rebuild trust. The compulsive behaviors of the addict are invasive to the point of nearly total destruction of the foundation of the marriage.