Dear Anne - Thank you for your Website. Have you or anyone you've coached dealt with a husband who has hired prostitutes? My husband has been cheating for 7 years. He still will not answer questions, except that he has "hired prostitutes". It has been a very long crisis that never seems to go away for me.
Dear Anne - My husband had 2 affairs 2 years ago (both at the same time). I left. He has spent most of the past year begging me to let him move back in…… telling me “all the right things” about what our marriage should/could be………and I find out 2 weeks ago that he was a customer in a Craigslist prostitution ring. I’ve filed for divorce…….I need to know how to get past all of this and move on with my life…………
Yes. We have assisted couples where the infidelity took place with prostitutes, massage parlors, pornography, phone sex, online affairs, same sex relationships and other sexually deviant behaviors.
While many of the things people go through on the healing journey, whether you’re healing your marriage (Question #1), or going through divorce (Question #2), are the same as traditional affairs. There are also differences.
A traditional affair refers to the kind of affair where your spouse is taking emotional or physical intimacy (usually both) and sharing it with another person, violating a mutually understood agreement to monogamy.
(There are those couples that mutually agree to have sex with other people. That’s called an open marriage, a completely different issue, and one we do not address.)
Hiring prostitutes, using massage parlors, pornography, and related behaviors are also forms of extramarital affairs.
There is a difference between the two, yet many of the issues related to healing remain the same regardless of which type of infidelity you are dealing with. Common factors include the Need …
- To end the affair/s
- To disclose properly to the injured partner
- For accountability
- To understand WHY this happened, and what will be different to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Those healing alone need to understand why in order to put it to rest, so they can move on.
- To increase communication skills, and learn to be open and honest
- For understanding, and to create a safe environment for the truth to be told.
- For the betrayed spouse to have support in going through the stages of grief (this is like a death, death of your marriage as you’ve known it).
- To rebuild trust
- For changed behavior
- For forgiveness
- To re-establish a sexual connection (for those healing a marriage)
For the hurt spouse the betrayal is just as painful whether it was a physical affair with one person, or an affair with nameless, faceless prostitutes or pornography. Some women whose husbands affair was with pornography have expressed that they feel it would be easier if they had a physical other woman to “hate” for a while. Those whose spouses cheated with that one person feel that it would be easier if they didn’t have a physical person “pursuing” their spouse, or the tangible risk of STD’s.
It’s best not to compare pain, unless looking at someone else’s situation makes you feel better about your own. Ultimately pain is pain, and betrayal is betrayal. Both types of affairs are bad. Either type deteriorates the marriage.
In traditional affairs the offending spouse generally feels
That they are “in love” with that one other person
That this one other person is their soul mate
They usually say, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
When your spouse is dealing with prostitutes, massage parlors and/or pornography, sexual addiction is often involved. That said, not everyone who views pornography is a sex addict.
During our Healing From Affairs Intensive weekend, we spend about an hour addressing some of the key factors involved with sexual addiction. (Everyone needs to be informed on this topic.)
An addiction is any behavior you can’t stop. When you try to stop it you find the behavior getting progressively worse. Addictions have their own chemical reward system or high to keep the addiction going. Interestingly enough whether you are dealing with pornography or a traditional affair, the chemical high is still present. So you can also be addicted to traditional affair/s.
Sexual addiction can take many forms including self-sex to porn or fantasy, traditional affairs, prostitutes, one night stands, escort services, massage parlors, homosexual encounters, acting out with your spouse, fetishes and criminal behaviors.
When it comes to sexually deviant behaviors, we’ve seen and heard a lot of things that most of the world would label “perverted.” There is always hope if the offending partner WANTS to change, and is willing to get the right help, and be held accountable.
It takes about 90 days of clean behavior to get beyond the initial addiction, and 6 – 8 months to “thaw out.” During this period of time it’s important that “recovery behaviors” replace the addictive behaviors, in other words, healthy behaviors need to fulfill genuine human needs so the person in recovery is not left with the same void, which they chose the unhealthy behavior to fill in the first place.
In relationships where pornography and prostitutes define the betrayal; the betrayed spouse is on their own healing journey, along side their spouse who is in “rehab” recovering from their harmful sexual behavior. So two separate healings are taking place side by side.
Complicating factors that often lead to a person’s sexual addiction include growing up in a dysfunctional family, past trauma or abuse, bipolar disorder, depression, a spiritual void, or “intimacy avoidance.”
During the period of recovery it’s important that the person stays clean, gets educated, and deals with the roots, the complicating factors that often led to the unhealthy behavior in the first place.
We can help couples recover and restore their marriages that are dealing with unfaithfulness through prostitutes, massage parlors, and pornography, since all of what we do is applicable to either kind of extramarital affair. For those who are genuinely dealing with a sex addiction we may suggest additional support from those who specialize in treating sexual addiction such as:
FACING HEALING ALONE
It’s important to realize that not every marriage is salvageable after an affair, whether traditional affair, or an affair involving prostitutes, pornography etc.
If you are a betrayed wife moving on alone, I cannot overemphasize the importance and value of attending the “Take Your Life Back” retreat for betrayed women only. If you are a betrayed husband, our Man of Honor weekend is designed to help you take your life back. Everything is kept strictly confidential, including your identity.
You’ll get past it all by getting answers to your questions, so you can understand, and “put the crime to rest.”
You’ll get past it by allowing yourself the time to go through all of the stages of grief; denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and eventually acceptance (not necessarily in that order, and sometimes around and around in repeating circles).
Many betrayed spouses have lost themselves (so to speak) in the marriage. So healing involves, asking the right questions such as:
Who am I? (Without my spouse)
What do I want my life to stand for?
How do I want people to remember me?
What is my purpose in life?
Healing alone you’ll need to get answers, understanding and perspective. You’re going to need to cry, and get mad. There is no quick fix to get better. In the end, your final stages of healing, will involve “taking your life back,” or embracing the "Man of Honor" you are, looking forward and not behind, turning your tragedy into a triumph, and choosing to live as a victor and not as a victim.
©Copyright 2011 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.