Michelle Duggar, the matriarch of “19 Kids and Counting” fame recently released a statement about her son that left many people scratching their heads. We can never know what someone is truly thinking, but her statement appears to be blaming her daughter-in-law for the sex and porn addiction struggles her son Josh is currently going through.
While I don’t get too many calls from mothers-in-law, I do get calls from partners of sex addicts who are afraid of this very thing. They’re all wondering if they somehow caused this behavior to develop in their partner. Is their partner’s sex addiction their fault?
Let me come out right now and say “no!” It’s not up to you to stop addictive behavior. This didn’t come about because you didn’t have enough sex with your partner (something Michelle Duggar seems to be accusing her daughter-in-law of), nor is it because you weren’t adventurous enough. The problem lies with the addict — with the person I treat.
Josh has checked himself into a treatment facility, which is a positive turn for him, and he is likely dealing with many of the same problems all sex and porn addicts face. I would wonder if he was ever taught anything about intimacy and connection. I would wonder if he’s able to see women as people and not objects. If his family members are indeed actively trying to place blame on outside sources, then they are only serving to excuse, rationalize and normalize behavior that can harm others.
Men often come to me thinking that they need to have way more sex than we as humans actually need. Thanks to the 24/7 on-demand nature of porn sites, webcams or chat rooms, an addict begins to think of sex as something that should be happening all the time. Our society can foster the seeming need for instant gratification. For addicts, that’s a dangerous frame of reference. It can send their desires and behaviors into overdrive, and it may be a while before they realize anything’s wrong.
Assigning one specific fault to an addiction is a fruitless endeavor, because addictions are often the result of many different factors, all of which need to be unpacked and discussed in therapy.
You Can’t Cure Your Partner’s Addiction, But You Can Get Them Some Help
If you find that there’s a big difference in desire between you and your partner, your first instinct might be to assume it’s because of something you did, or didn’t do. I would urge you to get out of that mindset as quickly as possible. As soon as you begin to suspect that your partner may be a sex or porn addict, the best thing you can do for yourself, for your partner, and for your relationship is to seek help immediately.
What the addict is craving is intimacy — but what he’s chasing is sex. These are two different things, and it takes time for him to relearn that concept. Because his behavior isn’t fulfilling, he will keep chasing it in an effort to satisfy a need, never realizing that he’s going about it in the wrong way. He needs help from people who understand both human sexuality and addiction, because his behavior is only going to get more destructive as he searches for something he can’t have.
But most importantly, remember that you can’t cause anyone to be addicted to anything, and that includes sex. Because you didn’t cause it, you also can’t cure it. There is no point in the past where different behavior on your part would have prevented your partner’s addiction. Celebrities telling you otherwise doesn’t count as professional advice.
If you want professional advice, you have to see a professional. They can help.