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Why Your Marriage May Never Heal From Sexual Addiction, pt.2

March 9, 2010

  On yesterday’s post I said:  Your marriage probably won’t heal from a sexual addiction until you get to the next layer.  Couples who are trying to work through a partner’s sexual addiction have to learn to talk together and work through the problems that are affecting their relationship and intimacy.

On yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that Layer #1 is when a couple starts talking about the sexual behaviors that have taken place.  These are the initial surface issues that get exposed or found out. 

But there are two more layers that couples must work through to find the deepest healing. 

Behaviors are important to talk about, but something is driving the behaviors.  Think inside-out.  Something is happening inside us (emotions and needs) and we begin acting out (behaviors).

It’s not long before the spouse starts to ask, “Why did you do this?”  Now you know your are starting to move into Layer Two. 

A common initial answer to the question, “Why?” is “I don’t know.”  This is not satisfactory, but it may be the truth at the moment.  A spouse may not know why they did the things they did.  It will take some time for the sexual addict to explore and crack open this layer.  This is a hard layer.  For a guy, it’s especially difficult.  He’s not used to exploring his motivations and feelings. 

We have God-given needs, but we try to meet them in unhealthy ways.  We have feelings that we have learned to medicate with sexual things.  We have emotions that we’ve spewed out in ungodly ways

To work through this layer, a couple has to find a way to talk about underlying emotions, unmet needs, disappointments, anger, and lack of trust.  This layer is a different type of reveal.  We risk a lot when we start sharing how we feel about our life, our marriage, and our spouse.  It hurts when the spouses see the damaged insides of one another. 

If you are talking to your spouse about your insides, you are making good progress.  This is a huge layer to be working through.   

Some couples will never get to Layer Three.  This is where we talk about the damage that’s been done to our life and how our background molds the way we think and act. 

I don’t think couples can get here easily.  In fact, some will not get here without a counselor.  Truth, intimacy, and a safe environment have to exist before we are talking openly about our damage.  Couples who can get here in their sexual addiction recovery can find a deep level of healing and rebonding. 

Couples hanging out at Level Three are trying to understand how far our issues go back.  We bring our baggage into


  • Our past
  • Our hurts
  • Our childhood
  • Our adolescent and developmental struggles
  • Our sexual experiences
  • Our family of origin. 

Most couples don’t know how to move safely from level to level.  They need skilled hands to help them navigate and work through these new reveals.  With each new level are new discoveries, new hurts, and new periods of adjustment.  We learn things about our spouse and their sexual addiction that we never knew.  Counselors can help couples deal with the shock and hurt of this.  Pastors, mentors, or more experienced couples can also be helpful working through the deeper levels of recovery. 

It was obvious to Marsha and me that the couple we were talking to were very intimidated.  There was a seriousness and a tension in the air.  And who wants to talk about their deep problems with people they’ve barely met? 

We started by sharing our story, our discoveries, and how God had been helping us along our own recovery process.  It seemed to help, and soon they were sharing their story. 

We noticed this “layer thing” beginning to happen.  It was all about reveals and behaviors, and every once in a while droplets of needs and emotions started being shared.  What a wonderful messy thing it was! 

We listened, encouraged, empathized, and tried to ask the right questions. 

Authenticity.  Openness.  Honesty.  Truth.  These are all virtues that must be in our marriages if we are to recover from a crisis of sexual sin. 

So talk through it, guys!  Get some skilled help.  Be honest.  Work on the layers together.  And let God bring the deep healing you and your marriage needs.

One Comment
  1. JeffTN62 permalink
    March 9, 2010 4:11 pm

    Most men, including me didn’t want to face the issues that caused us to act out with our drug of choice sex addiction. Being outed is what woke me up that I had a real problem and getting mad, hiding from it or being denial didn’t fix it. For me finding a counselor that understood sex addiction was the first step, then an accountability group to humble myself and then allowing God to change my character defects. Is it easy… NO, is it worth it …YES!

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