When your spouse is addicted to porn

One woman shares her story of her husband's addiction to pornography.

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  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on Kim Blackham's blog. It has been republished here with permission.

  • Finding out that your spouse has a porn addiction is often devastating and overwhelming. In recent studies of wives whose husbands are addicted to porn, researchers have found that woman describe their experience in the same way women describe finding out about an affair. The deceit, betrayal, secrecy, shame, and feelings of inadequacy are the same. Because of the stigma associated with pornography, the addicts, and their spouses often suffer in silence and feel utterly hopeless and alone.

  • One woman has courageously shared her story of struggle as she and her husband have spent years fighting his addiction. She explained to me that she wished there was someone to have told her these things when she was going through it, and she wants to offer that support and encouragement to others.

  • Dearest Sister,

  • I'm so sorry that you're reading this letter. My heart goes out to you and your spouse. I know you and your spouse are both suffering because of an addiction to pornography. This is such a difficult and heart wrenching trial and one that I wish wasn't so prevalent today. I am not a professional counselor, and I don't claim to have all the answers. I am writing this from my own experience. I have been where you are now and my only intention is to help.

  • You may have just found out that your spouse has an addiction to pornography or maybe you've known for years. As I've gone down this road with my spouse the thing I wanted most was someone to talk to about it. I wanted to talk to other wives who were going through the same thing. I wanted to know how I could help myself and my husband.

  • I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many of us fighting this battle. I know what it's like trying to be the strong one. It's difficult putting on a happy face and pretending like everything is fine, even though it's not. This secret of your spouse's addiction can weigh heavily on you.

  • In the beginning when I found out about my husband's addiction I was shocked. I thought maybe his addiction wasn't as bad. I thought, "It will be OK, we can work though this and it will be gone." I had no idea the pain and suffering we were going to go through, both as a couple and on a personal level. I don't tell you this to take away your hope, I tell you this because this addiction is not easy.

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  • I still wanted to be a good mother and wife. I wanted to be supportive and understanding to my husband and all that he was going through, but it was difficult. I often felt like I was the one holding the family together. This addiction not only consumed his thoughts, it consumed mine. It was very emotionally and physically draining. I had to take things one day at a time. I had good days and bad days. I prayed a lot, and cried a lot.

  • I have experienced anger, frustration, sadness, and even hopelessness. I didn't understand why my spouse couldn't control himself better. I felt like if he really loved me, he would stop doing this. I became extremely self-conscious about my outward appearance and thought maybe I wasn't attractive enough for him. I started to wonder if there really was a way to beat this addiction. I'm sure you've felt one or more of these emotions too.

  • Let me share a big secret with you. THIS ADDICTION IS NOT YOUR FAULT! It has nothing to do with your appearance. It has nothing to do with you not being the woman he wants. This addiction is not about you. Your spouse LOVES you and wishes he could stop putting you through this. He's ashamed and often doesn't feel worthy to be with you and the family. He may be withdrawn from life in general, feeling completely lost.

  • Be sensitive and careful about how you react to your spouse's addiction. If you verbally get angry with him, if you put him down, if you're not supportive of him, you're feeding this addiction. It took me a long time to realize I was feeding the addiction by choosing to feel sad or angry. I played the role of a victim well. Sometimes I wanted my spouse to see how hurt I was. I wanted him to see how much I missed the "real" him. This behavior won't help either of you, and it will not fix the problem. It will only make it worse. Please don't feel like you need to discipline your husband. I know you want to help him and you want there to be change. This can only happen through your patience, love, and support. Your husband is still a good man, he's just suffering from an addiction. Don't give the addiction more attention than it needs. Focus on who your husband really is and help him look past this addiction. I know this is a very difficult trial for both of you, but you can get through it.

  • Something important that I've learned about this addiction is there is no black and white thinking. Your spouse will not be able to overcome pornography cold turkey. He will have relapses, but these are a part of recovery. These lapses will become fewer and farther between as things get better. I know this is difficult because you want your husband to stop right now, but that's not the way this addiction works. Don't let the little bumps in the road become boulders. Work through these lapses and move forward.

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  • The feelings of anger, frustration, and hopelessness that you're experiencing are real, but they all come from the adversary. The adversary knows this addiction hurts. He wants you to feel insecure. This addiction can break up marriages and families. Don't let the negative feelings consume you. As difficult as it may be, get down on your knees and pray for help. Pray for angels to be with you and your spouse during these difficult times. I promise as you do this, the angels will come.

  • This addiction has really tested my faith. I had no doubt that Heavenly Father still loved me, but I didn't understand why we both had to go through so much pain. I wanted so badly for things to get better. As time went by I wondered if we would ever beat this. I'm here to tell you things can change and get better. You can find peace and happiness. This is a battle worth fighting.

  • I know there isn't one answer or one solution that will work for everyone, otherwise this addiction wouldn't be so difficult to overcome. I can only tell you what helped me, and in turn, helped my husband.

  • For a long time I didn't tell anyone, but after much thought and prayer I told my family and a few of my closer friends which helped a lot. Just be selective if you choose to tell someone. You want someone who will be supportive of both you and your spouse.

  • I sought advice and help from my church leaders, professional counselors, and a life coach. I started to focus on myself instead of my spouse's addiction. I read a book called "The Best Year of Your Life." I made goals and followed through on those goals. I made time for myself. I tried to better myself physically and spiritually.

  • One of the things that was difficult but helped me a lot was to keep a gratitude journal. Each day I would write down three things I was grateful for. Realizing that I still had so much to be grateful for helped me and softened my heart. I started to focus on the positive instead of the negative. I verbally told my spouse "Thank you" for all the things that he was doing for me and for our family. I was quicker to give compliments. I allowed myself to open up my heart and completely love him again.

  • I stopped letting the addiction consume my thoughts. The less I thought about the addiction, the less power it had over me. I became a happier person in general. I started to realize that even though we had to work through this horrible addiction, I didn't have to be miserable all the time. I became more and more hopeful and knew that somehow the Lord would help us through this. I knew my sweetheart was in there somewhere and we just needed to work together to get through this.

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  • I noticed as I started to slowly change, my spouse also started to slowly change. We started to reconnect and we started to work together. Instead of taking this personally, I felt like I had the power to help him. I knew we would make it. I wasn't about to let this addiction tear our eternal family apart.

  • As I continued on this new path of gratitude, compassion, and love, I truly changed. I received an even greater testimony of the Atonement as the Lord took away my pain, my hurt, and my suffering. I was left with renewed hope about the future and a perfect love for my husband. I knew with the Lord's help everything would be OK. My husband and I have grown so much closer as we've worked through this addiction together. We realized that if we could get through this addiction, we could get through almost anything.

  • This has not been an easy or fast road. There have been many bumps along the way, but together we beat this horrible addiction. I have my husband back, and we're both stronger from going through this together. In the beginning we didn't think this was possible, but it is. Don't give up!

  • Here's a quick summary of the things I've learned:

    • Remember this addiction is not about you, and it's not your fault.

    • Be sensitive about how you react/respond to your husband's addiction.

    • Lapses are a part of recovery.

    • Don't let this addiction consume your thoughts.

    • Focus on the positive.

    • Pray for angels, they will come.

    • Find someone to talk to, but be selective in who you confide in.

    • Keep a gratitude journal.

    • Focus on you, set goals, and find things that make you happy and allow you to have the spirit.

    • Give your pain and struggles to the Lord. He will lift your burdens.

    • Don't give up!

  • My hope in writing this letter is to bring hope, comfort, and maybe some understanding to the addiction of pornography. The Lord loves you, and He loves your spouse. With His help, you can get through this together. You're going to make it!

  • With much love,

  • Your Fellow Sister

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Kim Blackham is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist. She has extensive training in sex therapy and sexual addition therapy and is a frequent contributor to both online and print media. As the wife of a surgeon, she is passionate about and uniquely qualified to help couples in medical marriages.

Website: http://www.kimblackham.com

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