Actress and country singer Jana Kramer and her husband, former NFL player Mike Caussin, seemed to have it all. Their social media accounts are filled with beaming photos of their loving and growing family.
But behind that public image was a deeply personal battle the couple is now sharing publicly for the first time.
"We're not #relationshipgoals, and in a way that everything is perfect because it's not," Kramer told "Nightline." "We've had more downs [and] lows than highs, but we're fighting through those things."
The most daunting of those lows is Caussin's struggle with sex addiction, the couple told “Nightline” in their first sit-down interview since sharing their story publicly.
"It manifests in different ways for different people," he said. "It doesn't come from me wanting to have sex -- it's me feeling a certain way and from my entire life looking back I just used sex as kind of my escape."
The couple first opened up about Caussin’s addiction last week on their iHeartMedia podcast “Whine Down with Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin” saying that what they were about to talk about was “pretty deep.”
"I sought treatment for sex addiction at an inpatient treatment facility," Caussin said.
Then over the weekend, Kramer, known for roles on TV's "One Tree Hill" and "90210" before focusing on a country music career, boasted about her husband in an emotional post on Instagram.
"I am so proud of his strength and willingness to be a better man for not only his family but for himself," she wrote.
The couple married in May 2015 and welcomed their first child, a daughter named Jolie, in January 2016. They separated in August 2016 but renewed their vows in December 2017. Kramer and Caussin then welcomed their second child, a son named Jace, in November 2018.
"I was so envious about a perfect relationship," Kramer said. "Now I love our relationship because we fought to stay together and we fought for each other and stayed together."
In speaking to "Nightline" on Monday night at iHeartMedia, where they record their podcast, the former Jaguars tight end spoke candidly about their relationship.
"We're honest with one another and said we haven't been perfect, let's be perfect for each other, or try to be," Caussin said.
View this post on Instagram
This past week has been so amazing but I need to do a post for this man here. On Monday he shared his story and his truth about addiction on the podcast which he didn't have to do by any means but did because he wants to help others. I just want to take a minute to say how proud of him that I am. Addiction is a very hard thing for both those going through it and those affected by it but I am so proud of his strength and willingness to be a better man for not only his family but for himself. And I truly can't wait to see all the people he is going to help on his journey through sobriety. Recovery should be celebrated. Happy one year my love. We got your back and are here for you. 📸 @ericamontgomeryphotography
The retired NFL player said he cheated on Kramer and would only say it had been more than once, preferring to keep those details between themselves.
"I can make any kind of excuse between me transitioning from the NFL to 'the normal world,' feeling like I lost my identity because I wasn't a football player anymore," he said. "I ran to women, I ran to sex, and that kind of flourished [into] what I later found out was an addiction."
Caussin revealed he had spent 60 days in a residential treatment facility near Nashville and has been in a 12-step program for the nearly three years since.
"Our worlds were just blowing up," he said. "I was just trying to stay afloat and take a breath and survive this … and I was going to do whatever it took."
Kramer said at first she never thought her husband had a sex addiction but has since "learned a lot" about what he's been struggling with.
"I didn't know what sex addiction was," she said. "Sex addiction is not a very socially accepted disease -- there's so much more shame around sex addiction."
Kramer continued, "I love that he's speaking out about it because I think people want to understand it more."
Kramer and Caussin certainly aren't the only celebrities to battle sex addiction publicly. Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods and Russell Brand are just a few of those who've come forward about their own struggles.
"Sex addiction is relatively common," said Dr. Drew Pinsky. "It is absolutely not just the high profile cases you hear about it can afflict anybody and it's particularly, increasingly common amongst young people."
Pinsky, best known for his TV talk show "Dr. Drew," is an internist and addiction medicine specialist who not only has a private practice but also has served as an expert on hit shows like "Celebrity Rehab."
"People come to treatments because they have run-ins with the law, their spouse, their employer, and they are brought into treatment, and they can't stop and they're in pain. And, fundamentally, underneath it, is a bid to regulate unregulated and painful emotions, and their addiction is just their way of dealing with that."
On their podcast, Caussin and Kramer have developed a reputation for being vocal about the highs and lows of their relationship, even Caussin's recent infidelity.
Kramer said she found out her husband had cheated on her after she said she noticed "a shift with him."
"He was shorter with me on things so I looked at some phone bills and -- I saw a lot of numbers that just didn't add up, and after some research, I found out more things," she said. The couple talked minutes before she was about to go on stage for a show and Kramer said "He told me things that had just completely rocked my world."
"I was sick to my stomach," Kramer continued. "I was just like, 'This can't be happening. There's no possible way that this is happening,' ... because I was like, 'He's my husband and we love each other. And we have a daughter and we have a happy life.'"
To hear her husband admit that he had cheated, she said, was "heartbreaking."
"It felt like a double life."
While Caussin was in treatment, Kramer turned to an unlikely place to hide her emotions. She appeared on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" in 2016.
"I needed an escape," Kramer said. "And it did help me kind of escape the world for a second and just kind of focus on me and my daughter. I didn't have a lot of contact with him, I wasn't ready to talk to him and when I did have contact I was very angry."
Kramer said that calls with her husband had to at times be disconnected "because I was screaming at him and that wasn't healthy for him."
Caussin admitted that since leaving rehab, he has had relapses.
"A big mantra in any 12-step program is 'progress not perfection,'" Caussin said. "I'm trying to learn a new way of living that I've never known existed that I didn't know how to do. I'm trying to ride a bike you know all over again without training wheels just trying to figure it out."
This week, Caussin said he hit a major milestone -- he says he is "a year sober" in his sex addiction recovery.
"It's hard, honestly to accept," he said. "Only because there still is so much pain and shame behind my actions that ... I don't want a kudos. I don't want a pat on the back for behaving the way I should behave. So it's still emotional -- I have a hard time."
Pinsky said there is a "tremendous amount of stigma" associated with sex addiction, which can make the recovery process a difficult one.
"For somebody to recover from sex addiction, usually they have to go to a 12-step program and identify as a sex addict. Underneath that is deep shame and oftentimes people are very resistant to experience that shame," he explained.
Kramer has turned to music to help with her healing process, releasing a new single last week called "Beautiful Lies." She also hopes that the song will provide hope for others.
"I want to explain how this made me feel when I first found out about the affairs and the cheating," she said. "Everyone's like, 'well why do you want to rehash it in song?' I'm like, 'Cause it's therapy for me.'"
"I want people to connect to my music. I want people to feel something and so I know I'm not the only person that has gone through this," the singer added.
This spring, Kramer and Caussin are taking their podcast on tour together, hoping that face-to-face transparency could inspire others dealing with their own imperfect love stories to keep fighting.
"We want to connect with everyone that we're connecting to on Instagram -- and we want to be able to just kind of shed how we've made it work," Kramer said. Caussin added that it can help them be vulnerable with their podcast listeners "in front of them and show them how we really are."
"I would just say have grace for yourself, have grace for the addict, and also give it time," Kramer said. "If the other person's showing up, give it a chance."
I said she knows "every single part of him, the good, bad and the ugly," and he knows hers. "We fought for our marriage."
"I'm glad I showed up to fight for our marriage," she continued. "Because I love our family and I love what we have together."