My first husband left me for a younger woman, leaving me with a sense of personal failure. I decided that my mistake had been marrying a man with “poor values” — alcoholism, materialism, and bizarre sexual preferences. So I decided to find someone who shared my moral values: my second husband was a minister who seemed to be smart, fun, honest, thoughtful, and kind.
Four years into our marriage I became painfully aware of a passionate affair he was having. I asked myself, “How could this be? He is so different from my first husband.” I was sure somehow I was wrong, so I rationalized and made it a practice to trust — and not to look for things I didn’t want to see. I tried to make things better, to focus on the kids, to stick with it and try to work things out. I channeled my discomfort about my marriage into resentment, anger and criticism of issues at work, in my community and in politics. That approach worked fairly well for the next four years or so. One day, it stopped working.
There were too many suspicious lunches, notes, telephone calls, night meetings and an eerie absence even when we seemed to be most intimate. Finally my jealousy and a sense that I was competing for affection against an elusive other lover burst through my facade. I was tired of always having to keep my guard up, of competing and always losing. It was eating away at my sense of who I was, depleting what little I had left. I finally gave up. I knew that to save myself, he had to go. So I confronted him, and when I saw panic cloud his face, I knew I had been right all along. I raged and told him to get out. I couldn’t live this way any more. I was screaming and throwing rocks in the middle of the night in our front yard. The unmanageability of my life lay in our rock-strewn lawn.
In the morning he asked that we make an appointment with a marriage counselor, just to help us through the separation process and to protect our son from unnecessary pain. I agreed, looking forward to the end of the madness. At that appointment the counselor confronted my husband with his sexaholism. She also confirmed my powerlessness, saying that he had to choose to get better; there was nothing I could do to change him. She suggested that he attend SA and I attend S-Anon, and I am forever grateful for that suggestion. My husband clung to his new program and I immediately grabbed hold of mine. It was a confirmation of all I had experienced — I wasn’t crazy. The lasting gift of this program for me, though, has been my renewed sense of purpose and joy in myself, the knowledge that I can not only survive, but joyfully live with or without my husband. Today I use the program to live, not just live with sexaholism, and for that I am grateful.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 3-4.