Dear Aunt Babz,
I found this via a link on the "Room of Mama's Own"
website and I hope I can have an honest answer from a
smart lady (or ladies) who knows firsthand about
having a sex addict as a partner.
I've just discovered that my fiance has been
sleeping with prostitutes since we've been engaged. I
am so devastated. I knew he had a porn addiction,
which has always caused tension in the relationship,
and this was always what I feared would eventually
happen. The funny thing is, I can't decide whether or
not to call off the wedding. I thought I would
instantly if he ever betrayed me like this. I feel
something must be wrong with me. We are supposed to
get married in 6 months, and due to visa requirements,
whatever decision I make is really going to have to be
final - no "postponing" the wedding, no canceling the
visa application then changing my mind.
I guess what I really need to know is, from ladies
who stayed to work things out, is the roller-coaster
of recovery, relapse, lies that I worry I will be in
for should we marry REALLY worth it. Is there
something wrong with me if I don't leave him? If your
partners' revelations had come in the countdown to
your wedding instead of years later once
kids/home/happy memories were in the picture, would
you have gone ahead? Knowing what you know now, would
you have walked down the aisle, or looked for another
I love my fiance so much. I don't think I will ever
find anyone else I will love as much as him. I
understand this is an addiction and he's not evil, but
I'm in excruciating pain, and I never want to feel
this way again. I've been trying to do the COSA thing
since i learned about the porn addiction 2 years ago,
but it doesn't speak to me. All of these women, and
those I met through my fiance's old therapist, seem
either sad and drained, spending as much energy
'detaching' as they would "controlling", or bitter
and, having left their partners, feeling that that is
what everyone should do. My fiance's therapist says
his prognosis is good, but this is a massive gamble to
take. I can't talk to anyone I know about this. I'd
appreciate any insight you could give me.
Since you found your way to Ask Aunt B through a link from my blog, A Room of Mama's Own, you already know that my husband, like your fiancé, is a sex addict. You are facing such a difficult decision already. I'm sorry the visa situation is adding pressure to that.
A good friend of mine taught me that when I'm asking for advice, I should listen to myself and ask the question "What answer do I want to hear?" The answer to that question tells you which path you feel ready to follow.
If you wrote here wanting me to tell you that you're not crazy and it's ok to marry him, then marry him: it's possible that marriage to a recovering sex addict can work and be loving and fulfilling. If you wrote here wanting me to convince you that you really shouldn't, then don't: marriage to a sex addict, even one in recovery, is difficult and painful. If you really aren't sure what you wanted, don't make a decision now. You still have some time. Wait and be still, Listen to Yourself and you'll know what to do. I can't guarantee that the choice you make will lead to happiness. I can't guarantee that you won't kick yourself down the road for choosing either way. But I believe you'll be making the choice you need to.
I truly believe that all choices are good choices. They don't all bring happiness, but since happiness is transitory, that doesn't matter. They all lead us a little further on our journey, a little closer to ourselves, a little closer to the divine. Whether you marry this man or not, it will be the right thing for you, right now, and that's what really matters.
You also had some specific questions, and I'll do the best I can to answer those:
Is the roller-coaster of recovery, relapse, lies that I worry I will be in for should we marry REALLY worth it?
It has been for me, but for many, many other people, it's not. There will be more lies and there will be more pain. Only you can know whether it's worth it to you.
Is there something wrong with me if I don't leave him?
Maybe. But that same thing will still be wrong even if you do leave.
If your partners' revelations had come in the countdown to your wedding instead of years later once
kids/home/happy memories were in the picture, would you have gone ahead?
I certainly would have gone ahead with it if I had the outlook on life then that I do now, but if I were still the person I was then... I don't know. I always said I'd leave if he cheated, and I really did believe I'd do it, even with kids, but when the time came, I didn't. There were certainly inklings I'd gotten and things he'd done to hurt me before the marriage, but I went ahead anyway.
Knowing what you know now, would you have walked down the aisle, or looked for another partner?
Knowing what I know now -- the totality of what I know now -- I would marry my husband again a thousand times. I have seen my husband show over and over what a good man he is, in spite of the pain of addiction. And while I know the pain, I also know there was no way for me to avoid the pain. Because of my own distorted way of seeing the world, any partner I would have picked would just have had different problems, and those problems would eventually have brought me pain like what I faced anyway.
I've been trying to do the COSA thing since i learned about the porn addiction 2 years ago, but it doesn't speak to me.
Ok, I know that wasn't actually a question, but I just wanted to give you my sympathy. I had similar problems with S-Anon, which is one of the reasons I don't go to meetings anymore. There were so many women in the program who were so hurt that they couldn't move beyond their anger and bitterness, so I didn't see many models for where I wanted to be in my life and my marriage.
It's a hard, hard choice you face. I can't tell you which one to make. I can't tell you which path will lead you to greatest happiness or greatest pain or greatest knowledge. But I believe that if you try to do things the way you think you "should" rather than accept the place you're in, those decisions will just come back to kick you over and over again until you learn the lessons they were trying to teach you. Whatever decision you make, your life will be moving forward just the way it should.
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if it would help you to talk more.
My best to you,
at A Room of Mama's Own