By Douglas Weiss, Executive Director, Heart to Heart Counseling Ctrs.
May 1995 –The age old debate about men wanting sex more than they want their wives may be old, but as of recently, we may now have a new answer to this dilemma. Many men, especially in our American culture, are sexually developed in a sinful, and to some extent, an abusive manner.
The sexual development of the American man begins all too often with friends and family members exposing him to pornographic material that is harmful and toxic. School teachers tell me this is common for 4th through 6th grade students today. This young boy, in his mind, takes these vivid pictures home and creates a fantasy world with this inappropriate material, and the trouble begins.
The trouble starts as he begins to connect his precious God-given sexuality to a world of deception (James 1:14). His mind goes to a place where women are objects, they have no feelings and the more he goes there and acts out sexually, the less able he is to be happy with a future mate. Research shows us in a college study where both men and women were exposed to pornography for one hour a week for six weeks, their level of sexual satisfaction with their partner drops very significantly. Remember, this was just a six-week study. You can just imagine that when someone exposes himself to fantasies or magazines and videos, how the enemy can create dissatisfaction in his sexual life with his mate.
This is why so many women come to my office crying about not being able “to be enough” for their husbands. They weep about the emptiness of their sexual experience and the depression some experience because of their many efforts to make a husband happy without success. The problem is not with the wife of the man who has become sexually compulsive, but rather with this unreal world of his. This fantasy world is often times his primary relationship, much like alcohol is to the alcoholic. The deception and pain in his life that caused him to medicate through false sex would have been there regardless of who he married, no matter what she looks like. Nothing she could have done could make him happy inside.
He’s not happy, because he opened a door to his spiritual and emotional life and even altered the way his brain made itself content. Only God and receiving His care can heal his whole person, including his sexuality. Just so I’m understood, I will repeat it – what he brought into the marriage made him not able to engage in or benefit from healthy relational sex. This had nothing to do with his wife. Having said this, while working with sexually compulsive men and their wives, I have observed many similarities between sex addicts and their partners. The list of characteristics I am about to share is from my book Women Who Love Sex Addicts, Help For Healing From a Sexually Addictive Relationship.
Many wives of sexually compulsive men come from families that were emotionally restrictive and sex was not talked about in open and healthy ways. They learned rules of not listening to the Spirit within (truth) but believed what they were told. If they questioned a parent, often they would receive anger or abandonment as a response. Other characteristics seem to be low self esteem, thinking in black and white extremes, being victims of sexual neglect or sexual abuse, problems with boundaries, and often a desire for a picture-perfect family that leads them to minimize or rationalize their husbands’ behavior.
Many of these women are godly, Christian women who love the Lord and have spent hours in prayer for their husbands. However, a husband has to come to a point where he wants help to heal himself, spirit, soul and body (I Thes. 5:23).
“What can I do?” I have heard this countless times in my practice at Heart to Heart Counseling Centers in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as when I lecture across the country. The pain and shame with this issue is overwhelming and few know what to do to help heal the sexual compulsive male along with his marriage and family. AFA OutReach is in the forefront with help for sexual addicts.
The first thing you can do is get informed. There are several good books you can read on sexual addiction. A good Christian book is The Secret Sin, by Mark Laaser. The next thing you can do is get support through Overcomers Outreach or a local support group. The church as a whole has not been current on having groups of this kind for Christians but some community groups are COSA (co-sex addicts anonymous) and S-Anon.
The next step is to arrange an appeal to your husband to get help. If he accepts, he can call a support group or go to a four-day workshop for sexual compulsivity sponsored by OutReach, a division of American Family Association. If he refuses, this is where it gets more difficult. We must realize many sexually compulsive people are much like the drunkard in Proverbs 23:30-35. They may not be totally aware of the damage they are doing while they are in their sexually medicated state. They may need encouragement from a spiritual leader or authority such as a cell group leader or the pastor of a church as well as possibly someone who has been through similar sexual compulsions.
In working with addicts of various types, my experience is that there may need to be firm boundaries from the wife to create a situation for the husband to seek help. There is professional Christian care available. Here I would caution you to make very sure the professional has specialized training and a minimum of two years’ experience with sexual compulsivity and a record of success. At Heart to Heart Counseling Centers, over 90% get through the healing process. We offer telephone counseling to help people throughout the country. Treatment weekends are available through AFA OutReach. Although it may appear bleak now, I have personally been in recovery for almost eight years with no slips and have received back from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ His precious gift of life and life more abundantly in my intimate relationship with my wife.
Heart to Heart Counseling Centers
6500 West Freeway, Suite 202
Fort Worth, TX 76116