The massive Ashley Madison data hack, which released identifying information of more than 30 million subscribers seeking extramarital partners, is severely testing countless marriages. The site\u2019s motto is \u201cLife is short. Have an affair,\u201d but it could just as easily be \u201cLife is short. Implode your marriage.\u201d Men and women who thought they were in a monogamous relationship are suddenly struggling with a tangle of emotions and asking wrenching questions about their partners and their marriage. Shall we divorce? Does my spouse have a sex addiction? Will therapy help? Most mental health professionals caution against making rash decisions after discovery of infidelity. \u201cEven though you might be overwhelmed by the deceit and betrayal you\u2019ve discovered, you\u2019ve experienced trauma and it\u2019s very important to step back before making any decisions,\u201d says Karen Brownd, MA, program director for the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch, in Nunnelly, Tennessee. Brownd is certified as both a sex addiction therapist and as a supervisor of sex addiction therapists. Here are some of her suggestions: Get Support The first thing you need to do is get support, ideally from a mental health professional and perhaps from nonjudgmental friends or loved ones. \u201cYou will need to prepare for this as you would prepare for a journey into the unknown,\u201d Brownd says. \u201cBefore making any decisions, you will likely need to look into your spouse\u2019s past behavior, but you don\u2019t know what you\u2019re going to find, and the information you unearth could be as traumatic as the Ashley Madison revelation.\u201d In short, you will need support as the information comes out. Gather Information You need to determine whether your spouse\u2019s participation on the site was just curiosity, a limited one-time occurrence, or a pattern of behavior that points to sexual addition. If you have evidence that your spouse cheated, and he or she strongly denies it, you may be tempted to look into his or her Internet use, bank statements, credit card expenses and phone use. But if you do this, plan it out. Seek support beforehand and have someone lined up that you can call if you find something disturbing. Most important, only do it when you\u2019re calm and prepared for what you might discover. If you find that your spouse has been living a secret life, your spouse most likely has a sexual addiction, and it\u2019s time to bring in professional help. Confronting Your Spouse or Partner It\u2019s important to keep in mind that some individuals suffering from sex addiction tend to respond to questions or accusations in ways similar to individuals suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. When confronted, the sexually addicted spouse\u2019s first reaction is often denial and anger. \u201cOften they\u2019ll say, \u2018Oh you\u2019re crazy,\u2019 no matter how clear the evidence is,\u201d says Brownd. \u201cIt\u2019s important to have someone work with them who won\u2019t be easily brushed off.\u201d Learn About Sexual Addiction Sexual addiction is similar to alcohol or drug addiction in that it tends to escalate over time; individuals suffering from sexual addiction are nearly always seeking intensity rather than intimacy. \u201cAs soon as they have the intensity, they need a bigger rush,\u201d says Brownd. Sexual addiction often includes a loss of control and a pattern of continuing the behavior at the expense of one\u2019s job and family. In addition, similar to alcohol or drug addiction, sex addicts, when pressed, nearly always report a history of childhood trauma, such as physical or emotional abuse. \u201cWe try to dig into the past to see how they got here, because that\u2019s usually the fundamental problem fueling the sexual addiction,\u201d says Brownd. \u201cOur goal is to help get to truth out, so that they don\u2019t have to medicate the trauma by having affairs, one-night stands and hookups on sites like Ashley Madison.\u201d Treatment for Sexual Addiction Treatment for sexual addiction usually involves a mix of group and individual psychotherapy, couples therapy, education, and 12-step support or some other form of supportive group. Healing from sexual addiction is an ongoing process. \u201cIndividuals suffering from sexual addiction have to learn how to heal and how to stay in a supportive sobriety group, because acting out sexually is their drug of choice,\u201d says Brownd. \u201cWe also provide extensive support for the partner or spouse.\u201d Can This Marriage Be Saved? An individual who is capable of intimacy tends to fare better at saving a broken marriage than someone who is not, says Brownd. \u201cTwo people can be very compatible, but if they don\u2019t share what they think, or who they really are \u2014 usually because early trauma taught them to hide emotionally and to not use their voice \u2014 then it\u2019s harder to make a marriage work,\u201d she says. \u201cIf you want to stay in the marriage, you have to begin by sharing what you\u2019re thinking and feeling.\u201d Will Life Ever Be Normal Again? Yes and no, says Brownd. Although experiencing betrayal can be intensely traumatic, there\u2019s a benefit in getting the secrets out. \u201cThe hurt may never go away,\u201d she says, \u201cbut seeking support and help does make you stronger and may help you rebuild trust and intimacy.\u201d In fact, she says, \u201cAfter therapy, many will come back and say, \u2018I want you to know that it was very rough in the beginning, but now we talk in a completely different way, because there\u2019s nothing to hide anymore.\u2019 I see a lot of hope,\u201d she says.