Enabling active/unrecovered behavior with a sexually addicted person

“Providing relationship comforts to an active sexually addicted person, even sober, but not in recovery is protecting their addiction and standing in the way of their recovery.”

Also known as enabling. Enabling the sexually addicted person to feel like everything is ok, and normal, when it's not. Enabling the sexually addicted person to continue on with life as normal, when it's not normal. Enabling the addict to escape the natural consequences of their wounding, self involved,  unhealthy, damaging behavior.

Let's talk about what “relationship comforts” are.

  • Sleeping the same bed.
  • Allowing you to touch my body.
  • Allowing you see me unclothed.
  • Shopping for food you like and making meals for you.
  • Sharing meals with you at the same table.
  • Checking in with you before I leave the house, letting you know where I'm going and when I'll be back.
  • Letting you know that I'll always be there for you, unconditionally, no matter what.
  • Making doctor appointments for you
  • Pouring your coffee for you in the morning
  • Doing your laundry for you
  • Sending your family birthday/holiday cards and signing your name to them too
  • Cleaning up after you
  • Doing your dishes
  • Paying for your memberships that only benefit you, when I pay the bills
  • Providing companionship to you (watching movies/tv together, listening to you complain about your day
  • Speaking to you about anything other than parenting, finances and home maintenance

What else do you do, that provides comfort to your spouse, that could be standing in the way of his recovery?

Stopping them  can be boundary enforcements.

To my sexually addicted friends out there – if you want to be treated like a king, by your queen – get into real recovery so you can become one.

Need help developing empathy for your Queen?
Read HELP.HER.HEAL – an excellent workbook written for sexually addicted men who have betrayed their wives, become heroes. 

Boundaries support group. Master Boundaries, get support for boundaries to guard against gaslighting, blame, denial, minimization, manipulation and isolation.

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Pam B.

I'm a spouse recovering from betrayal trauma, with more experience dealing with betrayal trauma than any individual should ever have (28+ years. I went on to complete training in the APSATS Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model. I'm a certified Life Coach and NLP practitioner, and completed the Door of Hope trauma informed peer facilitation training. Currently experiencing post-traumatic growth and trying to help others not make the same mistakes I did, and help others find recovery, healing, restoration, redemption and peace. Turning tragedies into triumphs is my main goal in life. Faithful follower of Jesus, wife to a husband in good recovery, and mom to her favorite college student.


  1. Ferris on July 4, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    I agree with all of this but how do we attempt to develop the emotional intimacy you listed in the Partner in Recovery list if we aren’t speakign to them about anything other than “finances and family” stuff?

    I have felt the need to remove myself from our bedroom couple of months ago due to breaches in boundaries and deceptions of acting out. From what I’ve read the professionals advise the following during a TS: engaging in couples healing materials, daily/weekly checkins, date nights and work on building the emotional connection.

    Now I’m confused… please advise

    • Pam B. on July 10, 2021 at 8:11 am

      Ferris, thank you for your comment and question. I understand it can be confusing – I’m here to help.

      The key here, is this article refers to “active addiction”. According to experts at APSATS.org, couple’s work isn’t possible under three scenarios: Active affairs, active abuse(physical, verbal, sexual, psychological and profound neglect) and active addiction (including slips and relapses). This is to protect the betrayed partner. It sounds like his behavior fits this criteria.

      How can you be expected to be vulnerable and open with your feelings when he’s recently broke a boundary? You need to feel emotionally safe, in order to benefit from any couple’s work, and if he hasn’t demonstrated emotional sobriety, the ability to honor your boundaries and honesty, how can you feel safe?

      The couple’s work you describe is phased in, only after he can show a consistent commitment to changed behavior (not just completing recovery tasks) over a period of time. He may have slips, but own it immediately and get right back on track. Even if he does, you need to see that happening over and over, less and less, until he shows himself to be safe person over a long period of time. You can reassure him by telling him that you’re choosing the healthy relationship you hope it becomes, but until you see he’s, “all in” with prolonged behavior changes, you’re not “all in” yet.

      As you see changes, you can phase in dates: coffee. If that works well, go a full lunch. Then dinner, then a whole date night.

      I know it’s a gray area, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear map. Every situation is different. If you’d like coaching on this type of coupleship goal, feel free to schedule a free 30 minute session with me, so I can explain how to set boundaries, communicate care and concern, during therapeutic separation, and set goals together for reuniting after some healing and growth has happened.


  2. CHRISTINE on September 7, 2022 at 1:37 am

    I am also confused about this. I definitely don’t want to enable my husband. He has been going to Celebrate Recovery and signed up for the step study (12 step program), he found 2 marriage counselors for us to go to until we choose the right one, he has found a SA therapist for himself, he has installed covenant eyes on his cell phone and laptop, he has purchased and is reading a book called “your brain on porn” and he is being diligent about getting closer to God. He has done all this without my pressuring or even asking him to. So should I still not be providing him these relational comforts? Please give me some insight because I’m really confused. I’m also VERY grateful to have found your website!

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