Were You Cheated in the Romance Department?

Romance is a big deal for most women. Whether it’s with candles and elegance or spontaneity and surprises, it makes us feel special and feeds our deep yearning to be chosen, pursued and cherished. For anyone married to a sex addict, however, daring to hope for romance generally provides nothing but intense pain and disappointment. Being romantic is usually a difficult, if not impossible, concept for their husbands to grasp.

I still remember the year my husband and I realized that Valentine’s Day was going to fall on the regular meeting night of our men’s sexual addiction recovery group. The week before “the big day” we started out by asking whether attending the next meeting would be a problem for any of them.

The question was met with a lot of confused looks. After a few moments one brave soul asked “why?” We responded, “Since next week is Valentine’s Day, we thought you might have plans with your wives or girlfriends.” The only reaction we got was from a fellow that said, “Oh, yeah . . . Valentine’s Day . . . I just don’t get that holiday.” The emphatic nods from the others in the room verified that he was not alone in his sentiment.


It reminded us why sexual addiction is often caused an intimacy disorder. True intimacy requires letting another person see the deep parts of our soul, as we, in turn, are allowed to see their hopes, fears and desires. The thought of being that vulnerable and open scares the majority of sex addicts. They’re convinced that if they let anyone really get to know them, they will be rejected. This belief keeps them from having truly intimate relationships.

Since most of these addicts have a long history of substituting sexual behaviors for the true intimacy God intended for us to enjoy, it is only natural for them to attempt to substitute images and objects that have been programmed into their minds as “sexy” for the totally alien concept of romance. It’s not unusual for a wife to suggest that her husband plan a romantic evening, only to have him present her with a sleazy nightgown or rent some disgusting x-rated video. It feels like a slap in the face to a woman who just wants to enjoy a special time with her husband. The hurt she feels goes deep and heals very slowly.


If this, or something similar, has happened to you, please understand that your husband is not trying to disappoint you or degrade you with his actions. He truly doesn’t understand what you want, because he has likely never experienced it. It’s as if you’re talking a foreign language, because that is exactly what these concepts are for him. He has no point of reference. He cannot do what he does not know. If he acts totally clueless when you are critical of his attempts, it is seldom an act. He IS clueless.

Try putting yourself in his shoes. If you were suddenly thrust into an operating room and expected to intuitively know what help and tools the doctor needed to complete a complicated surgery, you would, most likely, be at a total loss. Even if the physician asked for a specific tool by name you might not know what he was talking about. If he asked you to go ahead and “close up” for him, you would probably freeze. So it is for your husband when he is faced with choosing and using the instruments, techniques and knowledge required to show romantic love to his wife.


As disheartening as it is, it will most likely be well into your husband’s recovery before he can begin to see and understand what you need. The first part of sexual addiction recovery is to stop the unwanted behavior; the second is to increasingly move toward true emotional intimacy and healthy sexuality.

Be encouraged that many couples who thought it was an absolute impossibility for them, are enjoying a new depth and freedom in their relationship today, because of the restoration of God’s healing power.


In the meantime, being patient about his current inabilities can be excruciatingly difficult because they touch your core issues, longings and feelings of self worth. It’s important to admit to God and yourself that this is a very painful situation. Allow yourself to take the time to grieve the fact that your desires will not be met as you would like them to be, at least for now. Surround yourself with other women who understand and can empathize with you as you wait. Although they won’t change your current situation, these steps will help give you the added support you need to navigate this time of deep disappointment.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

TODAY’S CHAT: What healthy ways have you found to deal with the pain of your husband’s inability to show love in the ways that are most important to you? Sharing your insights in the comment box may help encourage and empower the other blog readers.

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