My friend is suffering from her husband's sex addiction. He has been caught cheating on his wife with three women over the last 13 years. He even purchased an additional home to house his secret life of addiction. My friend is no longer living with him, but they are not divorced. He insists that she is his one true love. The entire family, including their two adult children, are regular church attenders, highly educated and successful. Although they don’t admit the problem outwardly. They are deeply hurting on the inside. What advice would you give in this difficult situation?
I am deeply sorry to hear about this situation. This obviously is causing a great deal of pain and serious consequences for his wife, his family, and friends, as well as himself. Here are four things that I would recommend:
Your friend needs to protect herself physically, as her husband could quite possibly have a sexually transmitted disease. She should schedule an appoint with her family doctor for medical testing to make sure she isn’t infected, and then use protection if she is ever sexually intimate with him.
Such addictions are only able to be "cured" when the person takes full responsibility for his actions, i.e., admits his sin to himself, to God, to his pastor, counselor, wife, family, and mentors in the church. His healing will begin only at this time, and it will be a long, difficult process, a journey he must take between himself and God, with the others as support.
His wife must share this with someone else such as her pastor, a trained therapist and/or trusted friend who will hold her accountable as well. She must be strong, set boundaries with him, and find a support group of women who have also experienced a similar situation. As her friend, you can encourage her to seek help from others who are going through the same thing.
It is going to be a long, hard process, one that requires her husband to have a contrite and broken heart. Pray for him to truly feel broken over his sin. Yet, both husband and wife need to know that with this and every other sin, God still remains faithful, forgiving and patient with us. He is a God of restoration, redemption, and healing.
You can help your friend first and foremost by praying for both her and her husband. Continue to be a trusted friend who knows how to hold her confidence and not share anything about her situation with others without her permission. And finally, continue to encourage her steadfastly along this tremendously difficult journey. She is truly blessed to have a friend like you who loves her and cares for her as so well.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.