How Do I Confront my Spouse & Suggest Sex Addiction Rehab?

Couple in sunset discussing sex addiction rehab

You’ve had a Band-Aid, right? When it is time to remove it, are you a ripper or a peeler? It hurts when you whip it off fast, but it’s done. If you peel, it might pull less, but it drags and lasts.

So what do you do with pain? Rush in and get it done, or scope the best way forward and take it slow? You must grow your awareness if you wish to have any hope of successfully confronting your spouse and helping them consider sexual addiction treatment.

Sunspire Health


Understanding What You are Going Through

The question for you to consider is this: “How well am I paying attention to what I am paying attention to [1]?”

If you are the wife or husband of a sex addict, you are likely in pain, betrayed or traumatized. This is a painful and disorienting position to be in. So ask yourself, “How well am I attending to things?”

Am I seeing things through my pain, my trauma, or am I clearly paying attention to the things that matter most and seeing clearly? Of course, you may need a lot of help to discern this. Self-care is vital if you are affected by a husband or wife who is a sex addict.

So what should I be clear about to confront my spouse? And how should I do it? These are big questions but I hope to give you some solid guides to pay attention to, and then you can also consider if you are likely to dive right in, or take it slowly, for the most successful confrontation.

Understand Why You Suspect a Sexual Addiction

You need to know what reason you have for suspecting a sex addiction. This can include any of the following:

  • Physical evidence (porn sites, another’s clothing),
  • A personal experience of sex being depersonalized between you
  • Information from others
  • Lying and unresolvable facts
  • And your own sense that your spouse values sex and/or its particular expression in an abnormally high way.

Couple struggling with sex addiction in spouseOf course, there are other explanations for these than simply sexual addiction, but you can pay attention, slow down and carefully consider the information before you.

If you discern that you want to confront your spouse, you must be prepared for it to go poorly, for them to deny any problem, and for the following process to be painful.

Addicts of all kinds are prone to lying, denial and resistance—this is largely in response to shame and not wanting to expose problems that may be hard to deal with. Of course, we can hope it will go well! Yet in my experience, this is not the norm with initial confrontation.

Planning a Sex Addiction Confrontation

Here are specific pointers to consider when planning a confrontation [2]:

  1. Take time to clarify your position and what is important to you:
    • What makes me angry
    • What is the real issue here
    • Where do I stand
    • What do I want to accomplish
    • Who is responsible for what
    • What specific change do I want to see
    • What will I do and not do?
  2. Don’t use unkind tactics like blaming, labeling, ordering, warning, ridiculing.
  3. Speak in “I” language: “I think… feel… fear… want…”
  4. Be clear! Be specific.
  5. Don’t participate in intellectual arguments that don’t go anywhere. Simply respond with, “It seems to me we have left the important topic I wanted to address, I would like to go back to it…” (and then go back to it).
  6. Don’t tell your spouse what he or she “should” feel or think. Rather, ask them to share that with you kindly.
  7. Hit-and-run confrontations do not bring change. Lasting engagement does.

How to Suggest Sex Addiction Rehab

As with the guide above, you want to be specific about your experience and clear about what you hope for.

This can include both a statement about your relationship: “I hope that we can rebuild trust and I can enjoy you again,” and a statement about sexual addiction treatment: “To trust you and feel safe, I need you to stop what I perceive to be an addiction, and I know treatment is very helpful in this instance. I truly care for you and want the best for you, and for me.

The key to suggesting rehab and activating a recovery is to allow your wife or husband to own their own recovery, whilst supporting them in practical needs they may have to enter treatment.

This doesn’t mean taking on too much, or doing it all, it simply means maintaining appropriate support, without becoming the leader. It is helpful to think of two people walking side-by-side.

Addressing Your Own Needs as the Wife or Husband of a Sex Addict

Couple on beach

Whether you are the wife of a sex addict or the husband of a sex addict, you will experience a range of painful—and often conflicting—emotions. It is important to plan and prepare for your own emotional and relational recovery [3].

After a confrontation, you will likely feel tired and overwhelmed, or relieved. Be prepared to gain the support and care you need from outside of this relationship.


Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of where you can find his guide, or contact him.


[1]: Thompson, C. (2010). Anatomy of the soul: surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices that can transform your life and relationships. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House , Inc.
[2]: Lerner, H. G. (2014). The dance of anger: a womans guide to changing the patterns of intimate relationships. New York: William Morrow & Co, an imprint of HarperCollins
[3]: Steffens, B. A., & Means, M. (2009). Your sexually addicted spouse: how partners can cope and heal. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on July 8, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 8, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.