So, if your friend comes to you with the heartbreaking news that her husband is addicted to pornography, what should you do or say? What should you not do or say? How can you be a good friend in this situation?
These 5 tips will help you:
1. Remember: you are not a therapist
Whenever I speak to the spouse of an addict, I always suggest they go and talk to a therapist. A therapist can give them advice, listen to their issues with a professional ear, and give them information that I cannot. Be very wary of giving advice of how to deal with their husband's addiction. If you aren't qualified to give advice, don't.
2. Never say "Well, can't they just get over it?"
Your friend is going through a really rough time right now- greatly due to their spouse's actions. It sounds a little crass to suggest that their husband could have easily deflected all of the pain they caused. Addiction cycles are a nightmare and are not easily exited.
Your friend might know by now that pornography addiction relapse rates are extremely high. Asking if he can "just get over it" is making light of a very serious situation.
3. Your friend may have a lot of pain and embarrassment
"When a spouse learns that her husband or loved one is involved in pornography and related compulsive sexual behaviors, she is flooded with distressing emotions. These include feelings of shock, anger, disgust, deep hurt and confusion." - lifestarnetwork.com
Having a spouse that goes elsewhere for sexual gratification can hurt you at your core. Your friend may feel like she has been thrown into the depths of hell on earth, and it is important that you understand this. The trauma that she is experiencing is very real and flustering.
Plus, it is hard to talk to your friends about a family member's addiction. It can be embarrassing and can bring up all of the emotions that she has been dealing with.
You can be supportive without telling her to put up with it, divorce him, or kick him out of the house. You are not in her shoes, and if I had to guess she has probably not told you all of the details of her husband's addiction. There are things that addicts do or say that their spouse may never, ever want to repeat. Simply said- you just don't have all of the facts.
Down the road, you don't want to be responsible for your friend's actions.
That being said, I never advocate someone stay in an abusive situation. If this is the case, your friend may need to go and speak with a lawyer, counselor, women's shelter, etc. No one should stay in a dangerous situation.
5. Be supportive- ask her how she is doing
Like with any other situation, it helps that your friend knows that you are willing and ready to listen. If your friend thinks that you don't want to hear about their issues, she may not talk to you about it again. Spouses of addicts need to have a good support system, and you may be helping your friend more than you can understand if you let her know that she has your support.
In addition, make sure that you are not part of the "grapevine." Your friend has trusted you with this information so don't turn around and spread gossip about her family.
You can contact Jenelle at writejenelle (AT) gmail.com . She also blogs about fighting pornography, dealing with your spouse's sexual addiction, dealing with addiction in general and other related content at Get2theGist.blogspot.com