Book Review – “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Steffens and Means

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

It was one of my Go-To Girls, Jill, that came across this book last year.  She told me finally, a book that really gets where I’m at.  I had never heard of the book and Jill insisted on sending it to me via her Amazon Prime account.

This was post-breakdown and I was reticent to engage in any books that weren’t uplifting and funny.  I think it sat in my queue for a while and toward the end of 2014, I gave it a whirl.  And boy, am I ever glad that I did.  So here goes the book review…

Name of the book:  Your Sexually Addicted Spouse:  How partners can cope and heal by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means


Trigger Level:  Overall – Low.  You can read a little bit more as to why I include the trigger level here.  I do recall this book triggering me more because it didn’t take much to trigger the fear I was feeling last summer.  HOWEVER, there is so much truth and wisdom packed into this book so I’d say press on and read on.

What I liked about this book:

  • One of the things I really appreciated in this book was a little of the back story in Chapter 2 as to how wives of sex addicts came to be labeled as co-addicts and/or co-dependent.  The authors go on to propose a new model for wives.  Namely, that we have been traumatized.  (Pause here while I stand, clap my hands, and say thank you to Marsha and Barbara.  Thank you.)  This is what the authors say, “We believe that the partner’s emotional and behavioral responses to living with a sex addict are better framed and understood as attempts to find safety and security following the most devastating of all traumas:  the betrayal of trust.” (p26)
  • There is a ton of validation in this book.  Here are a couple of things:
    • “Nothing about living with a sex addict proves easy.” (p59)
    • “70 percent of women met the symptomatic criteria for PTSD in the response to the disclosure of sexual addiction.”  (p62)  This was from a research study that Steffens performed.
    • “healing cannot begin until everyone is operating from a foundation of truth.” (p71)  It’s called a full disclosure, people.  How can we pursue whole healing and whole forgiveness if we don’t know what we are forgiving or what our husband has chosen to do outside our marriage?!
  • Chapter 5 takes a sobering look what trauma can do to our mental health and physical health.  This chapter was a little hard for me to read (see Trigger level above) – probably partly because I could relate so much to what the authors described.  If anything, it reminded me the importance of working through trauma.
  • And that’s just the first half of the book.  The second half takes the reader through some of the important pieces of the “healing journey.”  It gives parameters for working through a full disclosure and describes what it might look like to love yourself well as you pursue healing.
  • And probably my most favorite quote of the entire book:  “It is important to note that ignoring the trauma or determining you will not think about the past or talk about it only results in creating an incubator that allows the wound to fester to the point of becoming debilitating.”  Amen.



What I didn’t like about this book:  For myself, the book felt a little too clinical.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I’d just much rather feel like I’m sitting across the table chatting with an old friend versus sitting in a lecture hall listening to a really wise presenter.  As I contemplate this a little bit more, I recognize that the book felt heavy.  It brought me back to a place that I’d sometimes prefer not to revisit.  It put to words what I felt.  I never thought my story would be one of trauma.  Simply labeling what I went through as trauma is difficult to swallow.  I never thought that would be me.

To that end – I wonder, where is the balance between recognizing our trauma (and healing from that) versus sitting in our trauma, labeling ourselves as traumatized, and using that as a crutch to prevent further healing?

This I see as a very difficult balance.

Additional Thoughts:  I think this book is another one of the must read’s.  I’d suggest purchasing your own copy and keeping it in your library to refer to as time goes on.

Alright, now it’s your turn.  Any thoughts on this book?  Anything that you loved?  Anything that didn’t sit well with you?


10 thoughts on “Book Review – “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Steffens and Means

  1. Beth W

    August 22, 2015  |  11:33 pm

    I read the book too and thought it was so valuable. Being presented the trauma model was so validating. Knowing we aren’t “crazy” and everything is normal on this roller coaster of emotions. I can’t count how many things I underlined and pages I flagged. The validation of my PTSD symptoms helped my understanding of what this has done to me. It also gives valuable suggestions for healing. An excellent book for the partners of sex addicts.

    • rlforwomen

      August 31, 2015  |  04:58 pm

      Beth, thanks for your comment. It’s good for the readers to hear from you and others as to your thoughts on some of these books. Thanks for speaking up! xoxo

  2. caroline

    September 3, 2015  |  07:02 pm

    What I don’t like like is the cover…and the title for that matter.

    This is another one I’ve been hearing about for a long time and really been wanting to read, but that damned cover is so blatant…and why does it have to be YOUR sexually addicted spouse, like he’s my problem? Why couldn’t it be called, oh I don’t know, your mother-in-law’s rotten son, or God’s wayward child, or your church’s terrible minister…

    I’m kidding of course but it is my shame/pride that keeps it out of my cart. Thanks for giving a peek inside. I have read articles and seen interviews with one of the authors and I embraced their take on the trauma aspect early on, I hope I am not using it as excuse not to grow…thats a scary thought.

    I am reading a book on anxiety and panic right now that is not so SEXUAL if you know what I mean.

    • rlforwomen

      September 4, 2015  |  10:30 pm

      Caroline, you make me laugh. It’s always a nice thing to hear from you. I completely see your point. The cover could benefit from some creative love. If you decide to read it, I’d love for you to come back and share with us as to what you thought.

      Now, about that book on anxiety and panic….is this a book I should be reading?


      • caroline

        September 8, 2015  |  07:58 am

        Nah, totally not worth it. But I would be happy to review it for you and send the highlights your way. I have gleaned some pretty important insights from it, even though I reject most of the author’s conclusions and suggested “cures”.

        Even better is Brad Hambrick’s latest blog series on PTSD in preparation for an upcoming seminar. The last post I received was about grieving the losses due to trauma, very good.

        • rlforwomen

          September 9, 2015  |  05:49 pm

          I’d love to hear the highlights from the book. Only if you get time, no pressure. Who is Brad Hambrick? Would the post be worth linking to here?

          • caroline

            September 12, 2015  |  12:28 am


            He is a Christian counselor at Summit Church in NC , and his website carries free seminars with down loadable workbooks. The one for the wife is called True Betrayal and one for the cheating husband called False Love.

            They are really good, he seems to follow the trauma model for the wife’s experience and is so very gentle. At one point in the first session he is addressing the feelings of responsibility for your husbands’s infidelity because of a lack in you. He actually addresses the group says if you are here as a people helper and you’ve ever tried to insinuate that the wife was somehow to blame, you need to go find that person and apologize.

          • rlforwomen

            September 29, 2015  |  03:53 am

            I love this guy already. 🙂

  3. Stehanie

    November 14, 2015  |  12:57 am

    I read this book shortly after discovering my husband’s double life. It was one of the most helpful books I read when I was trying to wrap my brain around the tornado that struck my life.

    Yes, the cover is pretty blatant and Caroline’s comment made me smile! That’s why I love to download stuff like that to my Kindle. Then I can read in peace wherever I wish!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      November 16, 2015  |  10:25 pm

      Smart Stephanie! I like this idea of downloading such books to a kindle. I’m not a kindle user because I want to feel the book and make notes throughout – but now I see why a kindle might be appealing! 🙂 Thanks for posting to the blog. xo-Shelley

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