Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sober Husband - Cold Wife

                I was recently on a panel at a marriage conference, answering questions posed by the audience.  There were about 100 attendees and more than 30 questions prepared in advance on 3x5 cards.  Needless to say, there is no way we could respond to all of the questions in the 45 minutes or so that we had.

                Two of the questions addressed lack of sex in their marriage.  One, signed by SAD HUSBAND, had been married 25 years and enjoyed sex about 10 times.  The other stated he had been sexually sober for 3 years, but his wife refused to have sex. 

                While there are several issues that need to be addressed, they both have similarities that can be tackled here.  If Sad Husband has been engaging in adultery or infidelity of any kind, either virtual or physical, he must get help through a counselor and possibly a 12 step group.  If there is infidelity, his wife is going to know that something is wrong and whether or not she knows of his betrayal, she is likely to be guarded in her relationship with him. 

                First of all let me congratulate the husband who has been sexually sober for 3 years.  You have obviously done immense and very difficult work.  I can only imagine the pain that you must be going through attempting to continue your sobriety when your wife is treating you as a roommate.   I would challenge you with some tasks that may help, but also consider seeing a marriage counselor who understands sex addiction.  She has probably endured the worst pain in her life as she has gone through your infidelity.  The disloyalty of her husband cuts at the very core of who God created her to be.  She has experienced many losses and if those losses remain unaddressed, she cannot heal.

                The process that helped me to deal with my husbands’ infidelity after he was well into recovery was that he pursued me.  He didn’t use only words to tell me that he loved me; he showed that he loved me.  Each week, he asked me out on dates, brought me flowers, cards and little gifts.  He continued his pursuit until I fell in love with him again.  To be fair, we still go out on dates, but I didn’t feel the need for cards, flowers and gifts any longer, I knew he love me and desired me.  At first his words didn’t mean anything, he had lied to me for 7 years why would I trust his words at that point?  By taking the time to spend with me, actually desiring to spend time with me, I was able to understand that he really did want me and not those airbrushed perfect figures on the computer screen.

                If there is sexual anorexia in either partner, that will need to be addressed.   Sexual anorexia is defined as a loss of desire for intimate, sexual interaction. It is depriving yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually from each other. Patrick Carnes defines it as:  "an obsessive state in which the physical, mental, and emotional task of avoiding sex dominates one's life. Like self-starvation with food or compulsive dieting or hoarding with money, deprivation with sex can make one feel powerful and defended against all hurts."  Carnes continues: in sexual anorexia the "preoccupation with the avoidance of sex can seem to obliterate one's life problems. The obsession can then become a way to cope with all stress and all life difficulties. Yet, as with other addictions and compulsions, the costs are great. In this case, sex becomes a furtive enemy to be continually kept at bay, even at the price of annihilating a part of oneself."  If a wife is experiencing this, she needs help from a counselor who can help her get to the source of her issues, whether it be with you as her husband specifically or with men in general.

Sexual anorexia is an issue that is more common in a sex addict husband, but occurs in women also. The fact that it is more common in sex addicts is difficult for most wives to understand.  We expect it would be the exact opposite and they would be hyper sexual.  But the key to the definition is the word intimate.  The aversion is not to sex, but rather the committed relationship. There is a real fear, often a true anxiety of an intimate, relational sexual interaction.  Dr, Douglas Weiss addresses sexual anorexia on his website, He states the following characteristics of sexual anorexia:  Withholding love, withholding praise, controlling with silence or anger, ongoing or ungrounded criticism, withholding sex, unwillingness or inability to share feelings, staying so busy you have no time for your partner and controlling or shaming partner with money issues. Weiss says if five or more of these signs apply to you, you're probably a sexual anorexic.

                When a woman is suffering from sexual anorexia, the reasons are usually very different than when men suffer from it.  Many of us were brought up in very legalistic, religious families and that background has been difficult when it came to sex in our marriage.  For other women, there may have been sexual trauma or abuse. Whatever the reasons, it is important to seek help from a counselor who understands these issues.

                "Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Self-Hatred”, by Patrick Carnes is an excellent text for further information on this topic.  

       – Patrick Carnes website.

Monday, March 28, 2011


The pain of infidelity pierces the heart of a wife like nothing else. It rips away at the core of who she believes she is and who she believes the man is that she married. Infidelity may consist of pornography (either print or internet), an affair, or prostitutes and everything in between. All of these activities are adultery according to Scripture. Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (ESV)

One of the first issues that women deal with after discovery is confrontation. Sometimes a husband will tell their wife what is going on with them, but more often a wife will discover her husband's unfaithfulness. Unfortunately, at times, a child discovers his or her dad's pornography history on the computer. If a wife refuses to find the courage for a confrontation, the situation will continue and the husband's dual life will become worse and the addiction more entrenched. Confronting your husband will empower you and give you a self-confidence that you forgot that you had. Confrontation will help you to begin healing from the pain that he has caused in your marriage. When a wife first discovers her husband's unfaithfulness, it is best to confront the situation as soon as possible and let him know that she will not stand for it. This is the time for her to decide what changes she wants to see in her husband and set boundaries around those changes. Those boundaries need to include whatever will make her feel safe. Sometimes, she needs her husband to move out of the house in order to heal, other times she may decide that moving out of their bedroom is enough to help her to feel safe. She may decide that he can stay in their bed, but she needs him to not touch her. This is not done out of anger and not to throw verbal bombs at him or otherwise hurt him, but rather for her safety and healing.
I advise women to write their plan out and even better, go over it with a counselor who specializes in sex addiction such as a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT). ( ) Along with voicing her needs, she shares her hurt and anger (in a controlled way) over his sin and helps him to understand how serious this sin is and prayerfully that will spur him on to choosing to find help. He needs to understand through this confrontation that he could lose everything of value to him, his wife, his children, his home, his reputation. I liken it to "pulling the rug" out from under him and helping him to fall. This time you are not providing the safety net for him, but let him know you will be there when he is sober from his unfaithfulness. You can also provide resources, not by calling a therapist for him, but by offering therapist names and recovery groups and phone numbers if he needs them.
Confrontation is a Biblical teaching as we see in Matthew 15-17, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (ESV)


Monday, September 14, 2009

PODCAST: Pornography's Impact on College Students

Pornography's Impact On College Students
A college minister shares his personal story about the impact pornography has had on his life and his steps toward recovery. He carries this message to other young men by helping them understand the impact of sexual brokenness, and how healing comes through accountability with other Christian men.

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Nick Hamilton, Campus Minister - The Navigators (University of Tennessee, Knoxville).
The Navigators is a campus ministry dedicated to helping students know Christ in a deep and transforming way and to share the love of Christ with their friends.
Navigators - University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Monday, September 7, 2009

PODCAST: Freedom from Sexual Addiction

Breaking Free - Finding Freedom from Sexual Addiction
Russell is the author of Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus. He oversees groups for men and women who struggle with relational brokenness, sexual addictions and homosexuality. He has worked extensively with Christian leaders (pastors, missionaries, etc.) dealing with sexual and relational brokenness as well.

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Russell Willingham - Executive Director New Creation Ministries, Fresno, California.

Monday, August 31, 2009

PODCAST: Support for Partners of Sexual Addicts

Partners In Process - Support for Partners of Sexual Addicts
Three women involved in a Prodigals International Partners In Process group share how they have experienced healing through this support program.

August 31, 2009 - Listen Now (or right click to download)

Dana, Heidi and Heather

Monday, August 24, 2009

PODCAST: Christian Addiction Recovery

Christian Recovery - Honesty, Hope, and Healing for Addictions

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Dr. Dale Ryan, M.Div - CEO of Christian Recovery International and Associate Professor of Recovery Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Monday, August 17, 2009

PODCAST: Prodigals International Mentorship

Prodigals International Mentorship - Accountability and Grace
Two Prodigals International Mentors and a Mentee share their experience, strength and hope about the Homecoming Mentorship program. Mentorship is a 1:1 program that helps men through the sexual addiction recovery process. This session discusses how the program works and the life change each man has experienced through the mentorship process.

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Steve, Dave and Justin