Partners of Sex Addicts: When Sex Becomes another Chore on the “To-Do” List
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX. Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS, LPC-S
You may be feeling embarrassed to admit that you have started viewing sex with your spouse as an additional chore that needs to be marked off the” To-Do” list. Well, you are not alone. You may not have thought of it this way and you probably would not say to your spouse that having sex with him is as boring as completing a chore on the “To-Do” List. Many of the wives of sex addicts that I counsel report that sex has become boring, empty and lacks the emotional connection.
Chores and sex become equals when there is a disconnection from emotional intimacy in the relationship. If you are a partner of a sex addict in the early phase of discovery, you are probably not feeling safe enough to share openly with your spouse what you are truly feeling. Your conversations are most likely about what you have been doing and few emotional connections take place. You have probably sensed that something was not quite right in your relationship. If you are totally honest with yourself, you have probably not been truly happy in your marriage for quite some time.
Your relationship may be plagued by intimacy anorexia, unresolved conflicts, sex addiction or all of the above. If your spouse is a sex addict, you probably think that sex has become demanding, routine and empty. That is because your sex addicted spouse most likely engages in objectifying sex. Your sexually addicted spouse probably cannot “see” you. Your spouse may be off in his head fantasizing and may view you as an object; therefore, sex will not be intimately connecting. In fact, many Partners of sex addicts often report feeling used and resentful.
In order to move forward in your relationship and reach towards
relational sex, there needs to be an emotional connection- deep emotional intimacy needs to be developed. Any active addiction will block these efforts. In order to develop a deeper connection with your spouse, you need to be able to be vulnerable with your spouse, share feelings, appreciations, and most importantly, feel safe with your spouse. This cannot happen if your spouse is active in an addiction. Sobriety in the addiction must be targeted first. Emotional intimacy is difficult, if not impossible, to reach unless trust has been rebuilt.
Your feelings of emptiness will not go away magically overnight. It will not all of a sudden become less of an issue. You have the power to change and determine what you are willing to accept or not accept in a relationship. In counseling, you decide what the goals are; you decide how deep you want to explore and you choose the issues that you want to address. Your therapist assists you with learning new coping skills, aids in boundary planning and suggests techniques and exercises to help you connect with your spouse.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist