Common Factors in Christian Women’s Preferences for Support

Manning J. C., Watson W. L. (2008). Common Factors in Christian Women’s Preferences for Support When Dealing with a Spouse’s Sexually Addictive or Compulsive Behaviors: The C.A.V.E.D. Theory. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1071-0162.

DOI: 10.1080/10720160802288886

Study type: A qualitative study involving in-person interviews with the primary researcher. 

Sample size: 22

Demographics: All participants were married females and had a minimum age of 25. All participants had sought therapy as a result of a spouse’s sexually addictive or compulsive behavior. Participants lived and were interviewed in: Utah (11), Minnesota (6), and Alberta, Canada (5). Ages ranged from 25 to 56 years (M = 35.40, S.D. = 9.28); Length of marriage ranged from 1 to 28 years (M = 11.64, S.D. = 7.83); Number of children ranged from 0-8 (M = 2.86, S.D. = 2.55); Years aware of addiction ranged from .33 to 28 (M = 7.07, S.D. = 6.94). 

Key findings & quotes: 
  • The study examined the types of support that were most beneficial for wives with sexually addictive or compulsive husbands. 
  • Two forms of support were beneficial: Coping Supports (used to maintain a level of personal and interpersonal equilibrium while processing the next steps) and Change-Oriented Supports (strategies to change, correct, heal or improve circumstances).
  • “Coping supports were understood to be a necessary phase of support while women identified the changes that were needed, wanted or possible, as well as how to go about enacting them.” (p. 239)
  • “Within this sample alone, 68% of the women experienced some type of isolation in the wake of the disclosure or discovery of problematic sexual behavior in their marriage” (p. 242).
  • Five common factors were identified as beneficial: (a) Connection, (b) Advocacy, (c) Validation, (d) Education, and (e) Direction. 
  • Connection to family members, friends, God, and others with similar experiences helps the individual feel less isolated and can have a normalizing effect
  • Advocacy “helps [women] remobilize their resources and empower them to eventually make decisions or deliver an ultimatum with confidence—a decision they may know they need to make or want to make, but do not feel they are in a frame of mind to enact” (p. 243).
  • Validation provides reassurance, and “help[s] her re-enter the realm of being okay and counterweights the tide of self-doubt, insecurity, and self-blame” (p. 244).
  • Education has been shown to be an integral aspect of depersonalizing the problem and clarifying next steps.
  • Direction is a necessary aspect to being able to know the steps that need to be taken, providing the confidence to continue through the process 
  • “Women who are high-functioning and well supported in other areas of life may still be at risk for isolation, delayed help-seeking behavior and/or prolonged psychological struggle due to the nature of problematic sexual behavior and the relative infancy of public awareness and clinical approaches regarding it” (p. 246).

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