Can I resurrect this marriage?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


Q: I have been married for 14 years. I have had sexual obsessive thoughts and behaviours since I was an adolescent. My marriage was a difficult one and sexual intimacy vanished very early one. After about 7/8 years of lonliness and frustration I started to venture outside the marriage, starting with pornography/internet and ending up with extra marital sex.
Last year I recognised having a sexual addiction went for treatment and admitted my wrong doings to my wife. I am now separated and sexually abstinent since six months. I am desparately trying to revive marriage by being as helpful and loving as possible; however my wife wants no part of me.
Is it a better option to continue to try to resurrect the marriage on a long term basis or is it a better strategy to just move on.
I love my wife and kids and would nothing more for us to be together.
Please advise.

A: I wish I could be more helpful but I can’t really advise you on this without talking with your wife. It takes two to make a marriage. I really, really wish you had sought help for your marriage early on when inimacy vanished. My guess is that you both felt lonely and helpless to change the situation. Your tactic for maintaining the marriage, staying in physically but leaving in every other way, not only didn’t help but hurt you both. You ended up in the grip of an addiction and ashamed. She ended up feeling betrayed and rejected. It’s all very sad, especially since it could have been prevented.

Once people get this far apart, it is very, very difficult to put a marriage back together. Once sexually betrayed for so long, it takes an exceptional woman indeed to want to make herself vulnerable enough to try again. And a 7 year addiction is not going to be easy for you to break. Some people do find a way to try. You’ve made a good start by facing your problem and working on being helpful and loving. Six months may seem like a long time to you but it may not be long enough to balance the depth of the hurt your wife has experienced. Remember. You knew what you were up to and had lots of time to think about it. Your wife has had less than a half year to try to make sense of what has happened to her life.

I do think you are more likely to be successful in resurrecting something between you if you find an experienced marriage counselor to help you. Even if you don’t save your marriage, you need to find a way to relate to each other that supports healthy emotional growth in your children in the wake of this mess. Please don’t make the same mistake twice. Get professional help this time.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jan 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). Can I resurrect this marriage?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/01/03/can-i-resurrect-this-marriage/