Our Christian pastor gave sexist, misogynistic advice on sex addiction and infidelity that still has me fuming mad

My first step after I caught my husband sexting with a stranger was to confide in some friends, and I’m so glad I did.

Not only did they enlighten me about sex addiction — I had never heard of it before — but they also gave me other advice. Therapy with professionals was already on my must-do list, but these friends also suggested that husband and I should meet with our pastor as soon as possible.

I figured more helpers couldn’t hurt, so I scheduled the appointment right away. It was a horrible experience, and this week I am putting a letter in the mail to our pastor’s supervisor.

During our meeting with him, the pastor rambled about male sexual needs, told us that “all men masturbate,” that men need to orgasm approximately every 72-hours (yes, that infamous and completely outdated myth), and actually told me that my husband was unfaithful to me because I did not have sex with him often enough.

“Men need sex. Women don’t need sex,” pastor said.

The pastor repeatedly referenced Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus —  a pop psychology book from the 1990s, which I certainly don’t think qualifies as an acceptable pastoral guidebook.

It feels like you’re in the twilight zone when your unfaithful, barely-begun-treatment, sex addict husband has to explain to your Christian pastor that this is a load of nonsense.

My sex addict husband told the pastor that he was wrong; that I actually have a higher sex drive than he does and that we had sex plenty, but that this is irrelevant because sex addiction has nothing to do with sex drive; and that he — like other sex addicts — acted out sexually because he wanted to escape depression and self-hatred, and regulate his moods. He explained to the pastor that it wasn’t arousal or libido that would lead to sexual acting out. It was the other-way-round: negative emotional states would cause him to seek out arousal in order to avoid the negative emotional states.

I won’t be turning to this pastor for help, ever again. His victim-blaming and condoning of sexual infidelities could be so harmful to any couple that may come to him in the future for sex addiction or any type of infidelity, that I feel I have to let his supervisor know about this. I choose to forgive him, but I need to do something about this before another woman is hurt. I feel sick every time I see this pastor and have begun attending services on Sundays elsewhere so that I can spend my time at church thinking about God, instead of thinking about how hurtful this man’s words were. (We belong to a large denomination, so it’s easy for us to switch to a location in another town.)

So much harm can come from this type of misogynistic thinking, which is also quite insulting to men, of course, implying that they have no control over themselves while also insisting that women are to blame for men’s every sexual misdeed.

What if I didn’t know better? What if I was inclined to blame myself anyway, and this confirmed guilt and made me feel it was all my fault? What if my husband was emotionally abusing me by placing all the blame on me, and this pastor aided him in doing so? What if I did not have a clear idea of healthy human sexuality, and did not know my value as a person? What if I did not know that I am never a sex object for anyone’s use, including use by a spouse?

Sadly, I am certain that my experience is not an anomaly. I have seen enough so-called “Christian” advice columns and opinions to know that there is a prevailing belief that it is somehow divinely ordained that women exist to fill the sexual needs of men and that a holy marriage is one in which the wife is some sort of domestic servant and sex slave, never permitted to say no and obligated to appeal to the husband at all times in a frantic competition with the lurking dangers to the man, whose male sex drive is supposedly ever-ready to strip him of free will, force him to break his vows, violate his own integrity, and treat other human beings as objects.

I have heard horror stories of counselors, even professional, secular ones, advising women to have sex with their cheating partners more often in an attempt to control the situation.

If you were raised in an atmosphere that embraced this toxicity or a version of it, or if you have been confronted with this as a hurting adult, please, please know that you are a person in your own right. You don’t exist to be used by or to please any other human being. Your needs matter. You were right to say no when you wanted to say no, and to say yes when you wanted to say yes. And there is nothing you could have done differently that would have prevented your partner from being a sex addict. He was a sex addict long before you knew him, regardless of when his addiction escalated. This is not about you. This is not your fault. It’s not even about sex.

Have you had a bad experience with a pastor or other authority figure? If so, did you address it?

Sex addiction disclosure was a positive experience with no surprises

Last night was my husband’s therapeutic sex addiction disclosure. Honestly, it feels like no big deal. I think there are enough horror stories on the internet and from the other people in our support groups about shock and grief, sitting in a therapist’s office finding out that we’ve been exposed to more STDs than we ever thought possible. So I’m sharing this in case there’s someone reading this who has been told as I was, that there’s always more to the story. It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe your partner’s disclosure, too, can be no big deal.

If the disclosure process was painful for you and you think it might trigger waves of resentment and anger toward your partner to read this, feel free to skip this post, and please know that you have my deepest sympathy.

Brace yourself, friends told me, when I caught my husband sexting with a stranger seven months ago. There’s always more.

So a few days after “D-Day,” I gave my husband an ultimatum. “I know there’s more, and I understand that you’re scared to tell me what it is. But I would rather find out anything than be lied to anymore. I can’t promise I’m going to stay with you or try to save our relationship in any case. But I can promise you that if you continue to lie to me about anything, it’s over. And the truth will eventually come out. Your best bet is to start being honest.”

Of course, my husband was a sex addict. So his response to me was a lie. “I swear, there’s nothing else!”

Bull.

“Don’t answer me right now! I know you’re lying to me,” I told him. “Think very carefully about this. You have two weeks. When you’re ready to be honest, let me know. As long as you make the decision to tell me the truth by the Saturday after next, I’ll listen calmly and keep an open mind. But if I find out there was more after that date, it’s over.”

That Saturday arrived, and when he came home from his second Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, he asked me to sit down. I felt extremely anxious and my hands and knees were shaking, but I just breathed deeply and didn’t say anything, as he told me various things he had done.

From age eleven to the present day: Masturbation, sexting, flirting, phone sex. “Soft porn” from Google images. Calling a prostitute once shortly after college, but cancelling. Going to a strip club once in college, but deciding not to go in. That was it. No in-person, physical sexual acting out that would carry the risk of disease or be an even higher layer of betrayal and infidelity, except for sex one time with a then-girlfriend, years before he met me. Most of his acting out was fantasy-based and took place alone or over the internet. The worst of it, to my mind, were the things he has done while married to me (flirting in a non-sexual way with a woman by facebook messenger; sexting and having phone sex with two women, also over the internet).

And he told me the exact same catalog of offenses last night at the formal therapeutic disclosure. His therapist believes he is being honest.

I’m not minimizing the pain of what he has done, and my reaction will always be anger and disgust that he used other human being as sex objects. But in the greater scheme of things, I guess it could have been worse.

So last night, I met his Certified Sex Addiction Therapist for the first time, and after checking that I was ready to listen, my husband pulled out a piece of paper and read the list above with dates and time periods. It took about two minutes.

I didn’t have any questions really, as I’ve had seven months to process everything already. I’ve asked innumerable questions, usually a few times over. We’ve had so, so many conversations about why he acted out, where all of this came from, and how it makes me feel.

For me, the things he’s done ceased to eat at my peace months ago, as soon as I understood the “why” of it all.

The rest of the forty-five minute session, we talked about the outlook for recovery, how to make sure the cycle doesn’t repeat with our children, how toxic his family of origin is and how they caused his mental health problems, what my husband needs to change to become trustworthy, and steps toward healing our relationship.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The therapist said that especially since my husband hasn’t had trouble maintaining sobriety for the past seven months, he doesn’t anticipate that he will ever act out sexually again. Maybe he says that to everybody, but it was encouraging to hear.

The therapist said that if he continues in therapy and recovery programs, my husband will likely be free of the underlying mental illnesses (depression, self-hatred, suicidal ideation, anxiety) and can be considered fully recovered by about the five-year mark. Again, very encouraging to hear.

I’m left feeling hopeful. Life goes on as usual today. All in all, the disclosure feels like no big deal. I have a therapy appointment for myself tomorrow, but I don’t even expect to talk too much about this, as other things going on in my life right now are on my mind more.

My husband still has a very, very long way to go in becoming healthy. He needs to develop integrity, practice self-care, continue to become assertive, exercise empathy and so on. But as I started to feel a few months ago (not sure when exactly), a sex addiction diagnosis really isn’t the end of the world.

 

You are not alone.

I am so, so sorry that you have found this site. I am sorry that you had to type those horrible words, “my husband is a sex addict,” into the search engine and be directed here. I am sorry for you and I am sorry for myself.

In the days after discovering my husband’s infidelity and friends telling me that the reasons he gave, the excuses he tried to make, all sounded like something called “sex addiction,” I typed numerous terms like the name of this website into Google, trying to find out what sex addiction even was, and wanting someone — anyone — to tell me what this meant for me and for my children.

I had so many questions.

Was my husband a sociopath? When I first realized he had been unfaithful yet again — even though he knew how much it hurt me the first time, even though he swore any type of “cheating” was totally, totally contrary to his values — I thought he must be a sociopath. I couldn’t think of any other possibility. Then I heard about sex addiction.

So what is sex addiction?

Should I throw him out of the house?

What about my children?

Can my husband ever change?

Do I even want to see if he can change?

Am I going to be cheated on every few years for the rest of my life?

How could he do this?

Why did he do this?

What else has he done?

How will I ever know whether he’s telling the truth or not?

As I type this, it’s June 12, 2018. I caught my husband sexting with a stranger in February 2018. It’s too soon for me to have answers to my questions. But I have started to find those answers, and I’d like to update this website as my story continues in the hope that it will be a resource for other partners of sex addicts — both women and men — who are following on this horrible path.

Please keep in mind that I am not a therapist or a mental health professional. I may very well not know what I’m talking about half the time. This is my personal experience and any opinions I express are my own, very raw, lay opinions.