Co-addicted Spouses of Sexually Addicted Partners

Sexual Addiction (SA) groups offer Christ-centered support for men and women seeking recovery from lust and compulsive sexual behaviors. The cornerstone for our recovery is the power and love of Jesus Christ. It is built upon the fellowship of the group, having a safe place to share our struggles, pain, and victories, with the accountability and the mutual support of the group throughout the week.

How do you know if the SA group is for you? We offer the following observations of what is true for us:

We share a common experience of engaging in sexual behaviors, which are demoralizing and demeaning to another, or ourselves. We feel unable to stop these behaviors, in spite of the adverse consequences to our lives. We have sacrificed relationships, jobs, or our humanity, and yet we continued to engage in these damaging and compulsive behaviors.

Many of us share a common history of some type of childhood abuse. We yelled at or told we were worthless or stupid or ugly. Today we recognize this as emotional abuse. We were neglected, knocked down, or struck with objects. Today we know this to be physical abuse. Lastly, we were touched, pawed, coerced or forced into sexual activities. Today we call this sexual abuse. Whatever abuses we suffered, we learned that to survive we had to find a way to stop feeling the overwhelming and unbearable pain.

Instinctively we built walls around our hearts. Lust is a magical wall in that it give the illusion of connection. So we feel safe, but we remain alone inside our prison. Unconsciously we felt we were somehow broken, that we were different from others and not normal. Sex with ourselves or with others gave us the illusion of acceptance and thus the cure to our worthlessness. We needed a constant supply of sexual activity to stay cured. To lust is to live. Lust had become the most important thing in our lives. Some of us were willing to risk and lost everything to get and keep it. Only when we came face to face with the truth that lust was a liar did we become willing to let it go. Lust promises to connect us with others and make us whole. But it never does!

Our hope
We have accepted that we cannot control our lustful thoughts and behaviors in our own strength. We have learned that through the power of Jesus Christ we can live sober lives, one minute at a time and one day at a time. If you identify with these issues, and if you are weary from your struggle, then we invite you to fellowship with us as we daily seek the Lord’s guidance on our journey of recovery from sexual addiction.

As women, sexual addiction is unique. Our behavior ranged from sex with self, phone sex, cyber sex, and pornography. We engaged in promiscuity, illicit relationships, and adultery. Some of us participated in exotic dancing, escort services and prostitution. We used our bodies, intentionally dressed provocatively and performed for others, creating an illusion that gave us a false sense of self worth. We were addicted to the intrigue, the tease, and the forbidden. We jeopardized our relationships, jobs, morals and values; we even neglected our children. All the while, we rationalized our sexual behaviors. As we lived a double-life, we became disconnected from reality, making true intimacy with another impossible. We carried this behavior from relationship to relationship and even into our marriages.

Why? We ran from pain: the pain of shame, self-hate, and multiple forms of abuse. We lacked self worth and feared intimacy. We tried to connect; we tried to escape. We felt abandoned. We had a need to be in control and have power over others. We had a void that could not be filled with fantasy, sex, or lust. We learned to numb our feelings and to cope with our inadequacies by reaching out for a cure that would ultimately destroy us. This defined our belief system in a way that was not in line with God’s plan for sexuality. Spiritually, we were bankrupt.

How did we get here? Sexual addiction is progressive. What started as a little flirtation or a “curiosity”, the line we chose to cross, set us into motion for the next line we chose to cross. We told ourselves that the next sexual act would be better and more lasting, but it never was. Eventually, our behaviors resulted in losing relationships, our marriages, jobs, material possessions, and, in some cases, our children. For many, the risks of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are now a reality. And finally, we hit a bottom.

By working through the Christ-centered 12 Steps and 8 Recovery Principles with Jesus Christ as our Higher Power, we can and will change. We experience the true peace and serenity we have been seeking when we admit that we are powerless and when we give our lives and our wills over to the care of God. We begin to replace old behaviors with healthy ones. We learn to avoid triggers and crossover addictions by recognizing them and turning them over to our Higher Power. We commit to sexual sobriety one day at a time. We find true freedom as we accept God’s standards for our sexuality, allow God access to our thought life, and cooperate with Him as He changes our belief system.

Addictive behavior of Sexual Addiction Multiple adultery – Illicit relationships – Sex with self (masturbation) – Sexual Fantasy – Pornography – Promiscuity – Internet Chat Rooms – Phone sex – Exhibitionist – Exotic dancing – Serve as an escort/prostitution – Swapping (couples) – Intentional provocative dress – Sexual encounters/Sexual relationships with women – Secret double life – High-risk situations – Predator

Characteristics that fuel Sexual Addiction
Lust – Being lusted after – Control, power over others – Rebelliousness – Selfishness – Extreme justification – Blame game – Resentful – Revengeful – Self centered – Self-destructive – Pride – Jealousy – Female competition – Non-committal in relationships – Isolation

Core issues of Sexual Addiction
The need to be nurtured – Fear of Intimacy – False Intimacy – Lack of self worth The need to be in control – Rage – Self hate – Escape – Loneliness – Shame – Inability to make commitments – Spiritual bankruptcy

Sexual abuse
Emotional abuse
Verbal abuse
Physical abuse

If you answer “yes” to at least 10 of these questions, you might consider exploring this area of recovery. If you answer “yes” to at least 10 of these questions, you might consider exploring this area of recovery.

1. _____ Have you ever thought you need help for your sexual thinking or behavior?

2. _____ That you’d be better off if you didn’t keep “giving in”?

3. _____ That sex or stimuli are controlling you?

4. _____ Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?

5. _____ Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can’t cope?

6. _____ Do you feel guilt, remorse, or depressions afterward?

7. _____ Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive?

8. _____ Does it interfere with relations with your spouse?

9. _____ Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex?

10. _____ Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes sexual overtures or sex is offered?

11. _____ Do you keep going from one relationship or lover to another?

12. _____ Do you feel the right relationship would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous?

13. _____ Do you have a destructive need – a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone?

14. _____ Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others?

15. _____ Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive?

16. _____ Do you lose time from work for it?

17. _____ Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex?

18. _____ Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act?

19. _____ Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others?

20. _____ Have you ever been arrested for a sex-related offense?


Co-addicts may share the following experiences:

  • Having a spouse who has continually called “900” sex numbers
  • Having a spouse who is currently having or has had an affair
  • They, themselves, are having an affair
  • Issues dealing with molestation and abuse from spouse
  • Their spouse having homosexual affairs
  • Their spouse watching adult sex videos and buying pornography (magazines)
  • Their spouse having sex with prostitutes

Through a Christ-centered recovery group, the Co-addict can achieve the following:

  • Allow the co-addict to hear the struggles of other co-addicts.
  • Learn healthy, Christian values for family roles and rules.
  • Gain information about healthy sexuality and relationships
  • Break through denial and other family patterns
  • Encouragement from the group to find peace, strength and grace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Build healthy relationships by finding love and acceptance in a “safe” place to share

The term co-addict refers to codependent behaviors. In essence, co-addicts are addicted to their spouse’s or significant other’s behaviors. We either give in to them or try to control them or make them stop. All books and materials refer to the spouse of a sex addict as a “co-addict”. As co-addicts we recognize that we need the recovery process to heal ourselves and grown in our relationship with God.

Many of us blame ourselves for the addict’s behavior:

  • “If only I were prettier”
  • “If only I were thinner”
  • “If only I were taller or shorter”
  • “If only I were more sexual”

We give in to them, only to lose ourselves in the process. Sometimes we have even participated in their sexual fantasies, or joined in by buying pornography or renting videos, leaving us feeling used and abused. Some of us ignored or did not recognize the signs that the addict was living a secret life.

Many of us blame the addict and his behavior for every problem in our relationship. We believe that if they would only change, everything would be fine.

We have tried to control the addict’s behavior, thinking that as long as they follow our directions or suggestions, they will stop being a sex addict. We have sometimes pretended to family, friends, and co-workers that everything is “wonderful”. We have been unforgiving and sometimes punishing toward the addict.

We came to realize that we could not control the addict or the behavior. We understand that our problems are emotional and spiritual. We have become ready to face our denial and accept the truth about our lives and our pas issues. We realize that blaming ourselves, trying to control the addict and/or ignoring the behavior, refusing to set and uphold our own personal boundaries, are all signs of co-addiction.

We are ready to accept responsibility for our own actions and make Jesus the Lord of our lives. We are dedicated to learning about sexual addiction and co-addiction and becoming partners with our spouse or significant other in recovery. We realize we are not responsible for their addiction or recovery. It is not our job to “cure” them. We are willing to find healthy ways to release our fear and anger and refuse to use anger inappropriately towards the addict.

We realize our group provides a safe place to share our fears, hurt or anger and also is a place to rejoice in victories. We have become willing to face our own defects and work through these feeling in our group. We are willing to take the focus off of the addict and focus on God and our own thoughts and feelings.