One of the questions you have been struggling with for a long time is why he does so well with his resolve, sometimes going for many months, only to fall again. Why does it seem like a vicious cycle from which he can’t extricate himself? The answer is that, contrary to popular notions amongst us and jokes by late night talk show hosts, having a sex addiction does not mean that your sex engine is always on and running in hyperdrive. Being a sex addict does not mean you always want to have sex and will have it with anyone or anything including animals, houseplants and redwood lumber.
Like the ocean’s tide, addiction ebbs and flow. Sometimes it’s far out on the horizon; at other times you’re up to your eyeballs in it. Nevertheless, like the tide, when it goes away, it always comes back. This is why your husband can seem to be doing so well at times, so well in fact that you and he and the bishop come to think that he’s cured—until he “slips up” yet again. Please remember this: like the tide, the addiction always comes back. This means that if your husband ever tells you that it’s no longer a problem, you can be assured that he’s either kidding himself or he’s lying. I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.
Let me suggest an analogy to help you better understand your husband’s addiction. You’ve seen those hi-tech windmills that generate electricity. If you look closely, you realize quickly that there’s more to these things than you first thought—unless you have an engineering degree, in which case you knew all this wind power stuff a long time ago. It turns out that these windmills don’t simply spin in the wind and generate electricity. The windmills’ blades are actually adjustable so their angles can be modified to avoid damage in heavy winds, or else opened fully in light wind to catch every bit of push from a gentle breeze. Also, the axis on which the blades spin rotates 360 degrees so it can be turned into the wind. These adjustments are important so the operator can harness the power of the wind. In addition, they are vital when repairs are necessary. If required, the operator can trim down the angle of the blades and rotate the axis out of the wind so that the blades don’t spin at all. Although the wind is blowing past the windmill, no electricity is generated because the operator chooses for this to be so.
Now let’s relate this to the human sex drive. In a normal person, the blades and axis of sexual urges can be adjusted. At the right times, the sex windmill can be faced into the wind with the blades open to catch the wind and spin like crazy. At other times, the windmill doesn’t spin at all even though there is a breeze. Addiction changes this.
When someone has a sex addiction, the operator of the windmill loses control of the motors that adjust the blades and axis. What’s worse, the windmill “adjusts” itself by always turning directly into the wind and opening the blades fully to catch all the wind. What this means for the sex addict is that when there’s not much wind, there’s not much of a problem. This is when he starts patting himself on the back about how strong and resolute and armored in spirituality he is. This time, he has conquered the beast! As we know, however, he really isn’t cured. When the wind finally picks up, look out! The operator quickly rediscovers that he has no control of the motors, the windmill proceeds to turn into the wind, blades spinning wildly, and a “slip up” occurs. Like the return of the ocean’s tide, the wind will always come back, and so there will always be “slip ups.”
I don’t like the term “slip up.” It suggests just a little problem, a minor setback in one’s progress to self-mastery. I prefer the term “acting out,” which means that the addict is engaging in behavior within the scope of his addiction. For an alcoholic, this would mean consuming alcohol. For a cocaine addict, this would mean ingesting cocaine. For a sex addict, acting out means engaging in any sexual behavior, act, or conduct with anyone other than his or her spouse. This includes self sex. Also, please don’t get hung up on the analogy of the windmill. It’s not perfect. It’s not meant to be. The same goes for the diabetes analogy. I am just trying to help you relate to the ebb-and-flow nature of addiction. There is no cure. The wind always returns. The windmill always turns into the wind. Always. Unless the addict gets himself into the solution…read on.
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