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the hell of being married to a sex addict for 30 years
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The hell of being married to a sex addict for 30 years

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Camera IconBeing married to a sex addict is not as funny as some people may think.Credit: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com The hell of being married to a sex addict for 30 years Marie WilliamsDaily Mail April 4, 2024 11:05AM Comments TopicsRelationshipsHealth Arriving home from work, my husband greeted me in the kitchen with a warm hug, before leading me to our bedroom. There, we had sex for the second time that day… and the umpteenth time that week. Considering we’d been married for 30 years, you might well be impressed that the flames of passion were still burning to such an extent. After all, the days of being unable to resist one another typically dwindle after the first few years. TheNightly Get in front of tomorrow’s news for FREE Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.READ NOW The truth is, however, Michael was a sex addict. Far from being exciting, fulfilling or flattering, his insatiable hunger for intimacy left me in physical pain and destroyed my self-esteem — and ultimately our marriage. Only now, two years after I finally summoned the courage to leave Michael, do I feel able to speak out about my experience, albeit under a different name to protect our three adult children. I’d felt so alone for so long, mistakenly thinking there was something wrong with me for not reciprocating Michael’s enthusiasm. Reading something like this would have helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault — and that there was a way out. It’s a topic, though, that has long triggered sniggers. Many celebrities have spoken out about their own sex addiction, with many people assuming the label is just a convenient excuse for repeated infidelity or reckless behaviour. But I can tell you it’s certainly a bona fide condition and, sadly, it’s no laughing matter. Relate, the largest provider of relationship support in the UK, defines sex addiction as any sexual behaviour that feels ‘out of control’ and compulsive. One and doneWhy should I have to defend my decision to have one child? Michael would want sex multiple times a day and would ignore my pleas of exhaustion, telling me he knew I enjoyed it. I didn’t dare confide in friends but when I sought the help of a counsellor early on, she said I was being repeatedly raped and coerced. As shocking as this was to hear, such was my determination not to put my children through an acrimonious divorce — like I’d experienced when my own parents split during my childhood — that I endured another two decades. When I first met Michael in a bar in Guildford in 1989, when I was 23 and he was 27, I thought he was introverted and shy. Handsome with striking blue eyes, we chatted about holidays and our jobs — he as a computer programmer and me as an insurance broker. We met at a country pub the following week for dinner and drinks. Our connection was so strong we ended up having sex that night, which was completely out of character for me. From then on the sex was constant — every time we saw each other and sometimes multiple times a day or night. A young couple in the first flush of love and lust, I remember thinking: ‘Gosh, he must really love me. He can’t keep his hands off me!’ Little did I know… Within a year we were engaged but it was another four years before we married. During the interim, there were several red flags that I ignored because I loved him. Namely when Michael’s suggestion that we use sex toys and I role-play as a nurse graduated to a request for him to watch me having sex with another man. I point blank refused and instead, he insisted we video our intercourse and me performing sex acts on him. Despite feeling deeply uncomfortable, I went along with many of these suggestions because I didn’t want to risk pushing him away. Unfortunately, the more I participated, the more he wanted. At the same time, I noticed that he didn’t welcome non-sexual physical contact — no brush of the hand or a kiss goodbye before work. He’d bypass all of that to get down to business. Over the past two years, I’ve spent thousands on over 100 counselling sessions to try to come to terms with the trauma. Although he’d often give me compliments, he was also quick to criticise, chastising me if I cooked potatoes for dinner two days on the trot, or made pasta sauce with what he deemed to be too many tomatoes. I cried as I walked down the aisle, telling myself it was just the emotion of the day. Now, though, I suspect it was doubt making itself known. Marriage certainly didn’t diminish his voracious appetite for sex. I couldn’t get off the sofa or load the dishwasher after dinner without him groping my boobs or fondling my private parts. It was all very much uninvited, unwelcome attention. He’d want sex in the morning, again when I walked in the door after work, or he’d pounce when I was dressed up to meet friends for the evening, then lay in wait for me when I arrived home. Worse still, soon after we married, I woke in the early hours to find him inside me. I pushed him away, disgusted. Yet he seemed oblivious to why I was upset; he was grumpy and defensive, and it happened repeatedly for the rest of the marriage. I lived in fear of falling asleep because I never knew what was going to happen to me. Technically, of course, this was rape — my being asleep meant it wasn’t consensual — but I didn’t want to believe that at the time. I tried to normalise it as being something that couples did. We went on to have three children, now in their 20s, within five years. I made sure to ask the midwife when I could have sex again in front of Michael so he could hear the response: “Many couples wait until the woman has had a post-birth check-up when baby is around six weeks old.” Away from the professionals, though, he told me there were other ways I could relieve him; it didn’t have to be penetration. Even when I was ill, had my period, or was visibly on my knees with exhaustion looking after our three children, his sexual appetite was relentless. I’d lose my temper and say: “For God’s sake, can’t you see I’m absolutely exhausted and all I want is a cuddle?” His response would always be along the lines of: “You know you love me and you know you love sex. You don’t understand that I need it and that I can’t cuddle without wanting to grope you.” At the time I’d never heard of sex addiction. Instead I convinced myself I was failing as a wife because I didn’t welcome his constant advances. Increasingly I felt like a piece of meat and was frequently sore in intimate places; my joints would ache from him insisting on manoeuvring me into different positions. By the time our youngest was at nursery, when I was in my early 30s, I felt unable to cope with it any longer. This is when I confided in a counsellor. Her view that I was being repeatedly raped and coerced made me feel numb. How could somebody I loved — and who supposedly loved me — do such a thing? After much inner turmoil, however, I decided to stay with Michael. Perhaps I was naive, but I’d never considered that he may need this kind of activity outside our marriage as well. My parents’ divorce had left me feeling deeply insecure and vulnerable; I didn’t want that for our kids. And despite everything, I still loved him. He would be moody and difficult with me if I refused sex but he could also be sweet, kind and chivalrous. He always opened doors and carried shopping bags for me, cooked meals and was a hands-on dad. During my six months of counselling, I had dinner with a small group of friends and, after a few glasses of champagne, told them that Michael wanted sex all the time. Before I had a chance to elaborate I was met with comments of, “Oh, you lucky thing” and “I wish my husband felt like that about me”. So I didn’t say anything further. Instead I stopped making an effort with my appearance in the hope that would deter Michael. I went for days without washing my hair, swapped tailored trousers, blouses and feminine dresses for shapeless tracksuit bottoms and sweatshirts. Yet still Michael’s need for sex continued unabated, even as he reached his late 50s. In 2019 I had a breakdown triggered by a health scare and was signed off work for six months. Michael showed fleeting concern and sympathy, but inevitably tried to convince me sex would make me feel better. I wanted to scream at the walls. But still I found myself unable to tell Michael how utterly exasperated I was with him. How tired my body was. How sore I was externally and internally. How crushed I was mentally. Increasingly I’d refuse sex — but would then pay the price when I’d wake to him groping me during the night. Unbeknownst to me, my younger sister had long harboured suspicions that something was amiss. Seeing me at such a low ebb, she said: “Something’s not right with your marriage.” She and two of my closest friends had discovered that Michael was following more than 1000 women on social media, presumably to satisfy his urges. It was a complete shock. I’d often noticed him looking at other women and harboured suspicions he fancied his friend’s wife. Perhaps I was naive, but I’d never considered that he may need this kind of activity outside our marriage as well. I had once wished he would just go and find someone else and leave me in peace. But it was a fleeting thought. Devastated, I told my sister everything. She was wonderful, encouraging me to think about seeking professional support. I did finally confront Michael, telling him I was at breaking point with his total lack of respect for my body and my feelings. He told me I was the one with the problem because I didn’t understand that sex was a basic human need. He agreed to five marriage counselling sessions. When the therapist said that Michael was a sex addict, he didn’t flinch or deny it. But afterwards he told me his behaviour was perfectly normal. During one of the counselling sessions he protested that he’d be “happy with sex once a week”, but I called out his lie, telling him: “That’s not true, you know that when we finish having sex, you want it again straight away.” Counselling gave me the strength to move into the spare room. Then one spring morning in 2022, I woke to find him in the spare bed with me and I snapped. I asked him what the hell he was doing and he responded: “I could tell last night that you wanted me,” which was a total lie. I ended the marriage right then and there. He finally admitted he’d hurt me but it was too little too late. Two of our children had already left home and the youngest wasn’t in so I went to stay with my sister. As soon as I could get them together, I sat the children down and told them everything. It was awkward for all of us, but I never want my two daughters to be treated like that by a man, or for my son to think it’s OK to do what his father did to me. They were devastated and in shock. Nobody wants to think about their parents’ sex lives and this was another level they really struggled with, though they were also grateful I’d been honest with them. They are still hurting now. Reassuring them how much their dad loves them, however, I insisted they maintain a relationship with him. Michael and I maintained brief contact for the year it took to sell the family home, buy new properties of our own and finalise the divorce. But we don’t talk now, which is a relief. Over the past two years, I’ve spent thousands on over 100 counselling sessions to try to come to terms with the trauma. I’ve also had hypnosis to help reprogram my brain so that I can lose the fear of falling asleep at night. The kindest words I received from one of my therapists were that it wasn’t my fault and that I wasn’t lacking as a wife — which is what I’d always thought. She explained that with a sex addict, whatever I’d done would never have been enough. I also went to a sexual health clinic because I had no idea whether Michael had indulged his sex addiction with other women or even prostitutes. I’d often noticed him looking at other women and harboured suspicions he fancied his friend’s wife. Though he admitted he did indeed find her very attractive, he was adamant nothing had ever happened between them. Thankfully I discovered I have a clean bill of health. My sister and friends have been incredibly supportive. As for dating, it’s not something I can contemplate. I don’t know if I’ll ever want sex again. Rather, I crave cuddles, kisses, being held, feeling loved and safe. Something that never happened during my marriage. Now I’m finally able to talk about what I went through without crying. And sharing my story has given me a renewed sense of purpose. Dare I say, I’m even starting to enjoy life now that my body is mine again. 1800 RESPECT — 1800 737 732 Marie Williams is a pseudonym. All names have been changed. As told to Sadie Nicholas Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email Us Copy the Link Register and have your say. Register to comment Already have an account? Log in Find out moreVisit AGWA for Pulsefest opening weekend. 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