Friday, January 11, 2013

A Basement Called Sex Addiction

One of my favorite bloggers wrote recently about marriage as a house and pointed out that the foundation of a house is often a basement.  And in the basement of marriages are the voices of two children who are desperately seeking connection and belonging.  He suggests that "the fights in the living room are almost always about what's going on in the basement."

Of course he is right, for the most part.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, he regularly works with couples who are struggling to make their relationships work.  Any romantic relationship consists of two individuals and their families of origin, other significant relationships and those two frightened children locked in the basement.  Its a crowded bed, this thing called marriage.

But when an addiction is present in the relationship, getting to the basement of the relational issues often becomes an impossibility.  As hard as the "sober" partner tries to pry open the door, the "addict" works even harder to board it up and secure it with multiple locks.  Allowing someone into the basement is too risky--getting too close to another is far too dangerous.  After all, secrets are shared in the intimacy of a close relationship and it is just too frightening for the addict to contemplate or risk.

Addiction thrives in the secrecy of a damp, mildew-infested basement.  No light penetrates the darkness and the "NO ADMITTANCE" sign is painted in neon red across the cellar door.  While upstairs, the fights continue about "communication" or "finances" or "time-management" or "Internet usage."  They are futile, really, and time-consuming and debilitating.  And the addict is quite adept at using just enough truth to manipulate his partner into believing his spin on the relationship, particularly about what is hidden in the basement.

The only hope for the partner, then, is to free her own inner child from the dark confines of the basement.  She can choose to bring the little girl that is her into the light and set her free to romp and play in the sunshine.  She cannot force her partner to join her anymore than she could force her way into his basement.  But she must not consign herself to the darkness and stale air of his addiction and fear of intimacy.  She must recognize that the fights that take place upstairs have everything to do with what is hidden in the basement and that gaining access is beyond her control. The only thing she can do is free herself.


  1. 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Hi brenda, I got directed here from @Dr. Kelly Flanagan's Untangled post & am astounded at the similarity between your line of thought & what has been going through my head. You get it out brilliantly. The thought running in my head is, do we all not have our own closets we have in the basements that we are trying to protect & hide. The addict, the god fearing partner, the engineer, the lawyer, each one of them?? I get back with clearer thought to you & Kelly on 'Untangled', right now I'm all shook up reading your words