After you learn of your spouse's pornography addiction, you’ll probably experience a whole gamut of emotions including shock, anger, desperation, depression, and more. You may feel like distancing yourself from your spouse and marriage, but there are better things you can do for healing.
Follow these three tips to learn how you can slowly, but surely, improve your relationship and begin to move forward on the path of forgiveness.
1. Educate yourself on addiction. The first thing you can do when you learn about your spouse’s addiction is to educate yourself on what addiction is, how it starts, and why it’s so hard to stop. Learn about the symptoms of relational trauma you may be going through during this time, such as fear, obsession, the need for control, and the unhealthy actions that might go along with these emotions.
Speak to a professional therapist for answers to your questions and to get the support you need, which can include a support group, therapist, spiritual leader, or trusted friend, in order to move forward on the road to forgiveness and healing.
2. Distract yourself. At this time of struggle it’s easy to get into the trap of analyzing every last detail of your spouse’s sex addiction. Resist the urge. Dwelling on unpleasant details won’t help you and will probably make you feel even worse.
Instead of keeping yourself in misery, now is a good time to invest more energy in yourself. Here are a few productive ways you can build your spirits up during this difficult time:
By giving yourself a positive distraction from the struggles, you’ll replenish your soul and have more energy to effectively deal with your relationship.
3. Work to rebuild trust. The most important thing you can do for your spouse and your marriage is to encourage them to seek professional help from a marriage therapist (preferably who specializes in pornography and sexual addiction) to help them quit porn.
At the same time, the two of you can talk openly with your therapist for relationship guidance and healing. Set boundaries with your spouse to stop behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Once these are set and followed, trust can start to build up again.
Communicate openly and non-aggressively throughout the healing process. Have the hard conversations. Learn to use “I” and “me” to avoid sounding accusatory, such as “I’ve noticed that…” or “Lately, I’ve been feeling…” By formatting your sentences more around your feelings, your spouse will not go on the defensive and will, more likely, hear what you have to say.
This is not an easy time, so remember to practice patience with yourself and with your spouse. Each day is each of you must recommit towards healing and working together (and individually) to rebuild the trust, improve communication, and focusing on your future.
About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy (http://www.lifestartherapy.com/). She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.
About four and a half years ago (13 years after admitting my struggle with pornography), God convicted me of an anger issue I had never addressed. My brother-in-law (the same one who introduced me to Freedom Begins Here) gave me a book called Bo’s Cafe. The main character in the book had anger issues that I could relate to (once again the providence of God at work). However, I couldn’t figure out how I had become so angry because I came from a good, loving home with loving parents that did not have anger issues. Since then I began attending Celebrate Recovery. I started going initially to see if I could help others and possibly start something similar at the place I was volunteering, but I ended up having more of my own issues come to light. So through that, God revealed to me the source of my anger as well as why I was so attracted to porn.
When I was young and growing up, I was a very sensitive child. I was easily moved to tears by insensitive words, not only the ones directed at me but at others as well. I would cry when my younger sister cried from being hurt or punished.
On Christmas Day in 1965, my Dad said or did something that unintentionally hurt my feelings, so I went to my room to cry. As I did I heard someone say “What a crybaby.” From that moment on I was labeled a crybaby, so I vowed to never cry again. With that thought, I shut down, and that precious sensitive spirit died and I became somewhat emotionally detached. There were only two emotions that wouldn’t betray my resolve not to cry—they were laughter and anger. So I became a bit of a class clown and a tease.
I am non-confrontational by nature. I’m like “Casper the Friendly Ghost”—I just want to be friendly. Bullies take advantage of that. So as I grew older I grew tougher, even though I hated confrontation. If someone messed with my sister or my friends or another meek person, I was ready to defend them.
Because I had been crushed by the fickleness of young girls, I became very guarded. I never gave my whole self into a relationship for fear of being hurt. I had been introduced to pornography at a very young age and was smitten. It seemed very safe to me because I could enjoy the fantasy without fear of betrayal. In each of my first two marriages I stayed somewhat aloof for fear of the pain and never fully trusted them with my heart. I wore a mask of self-confidence to hide the fact I was a basket case inside and to disguise my vulnerability. When there was trouble in paradise or I was stressed or depressed I would revert back to porn for a season. Amazingly enough I never purchased porn, but it always miraculously showed up—either at work, or in a dumpster, or even the time somebody dumped about a dozen magazines in the back of my truck while I was in the grocery store.
In 1976 I became an apprentice cement mason, and within two years was promoted to a foreman position. Controlling a crew of rowdy cement masons required me to act like a mean son-of-a- gun ready to kick butt (which was against my Casper the Friendly Ghost nature), so I began drinking a half pint of VO every day on my way home so I could relax to be with my family. Jesus revealed Himself to me in January of 1980, and within a couple of months I started my own owner/operator landscape and concrete business. If all that had not transpired and the Lord had not intervened, I was on my way into alcoholism and drug abuse.
By God revealing to me how I got so messed up, I’ve been able to forgive myself and love myself in spite of all my many flaws, and I’ve experienced the vastness of His grace (where sin abounds grace does much more abound), mercy, and love.
My name is Jeff and on a side note, if you feel led, pray for me to break my dry spell because I haven’t really cried since Christmas day 1965—that’s just over 50 years. Every time I feel I might have a breakthrough, I hear the words “what a crybaby” in my head and it stops. I need to be broken of that pride that still holds me hostage.
Thanks for letting me share.
Below, is a message from my friend Matt!
I have always been a church going person; emphasis on CHURCH GOING. I went through the motions but really didn’t understand the reasoning behind Jesus Christ or what it really meant to be a Christian. I was born and raised into the Methodist faith. I loved going on youth trips and helping others out. Our youth group even help start up a soup kitchen in Springdale which is still going on today. I think part of that “helping others” out wanted me to become a Police Officer.
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Police Officer. Well there was a time where I wanted to be an artist like my dad. One art class later, I realized that I would not be good in that field so I decided to go back to wanting being a Police Officer, I mean come on; who doesn’t want to drive fast, shoot guns, and eat donuts. I always walked the straight and narrow and for the most part stayed out of trouble. I wasn’t perfect but I wanted to do and did the right thing.
Almost 10 years ago I got to fulfill my career dream of becoming a police officer. I graduated from the academy and began my career doing what I wanted to do. When we get hired on as Rookie Officers they give us all sorts of equipment to keep us safe. We get a bulletproof vest, a handgun, a taser, pepper spray, a baton, etc. etc. These tools are “cool” and have evolved over the years and some are fairly new to Law Enforcement. The one tool that has been used since the inception of Law Enforcement and the concept has been around long before then has been handcuffs. We use these tools on a daily basis; like a builder uses a hammer or a mechanic uses a wrench, this tool is on our belt and we know where it is at all times. Most everyone knows by just seeing a pair of handcuffs early in their life what they are used for. Once handcuffs are on, our movements and freedom is limited or gone and we are at the mercy at the Officer who has placed the handcuffs on us. Physical handcuffs usually lead us to a place that is cold, lonely and dark, then onto a path of uncertainty.
When we started Freedom Begins Here several years ago, our primary goal was to help men and women who struggled with pornography. After thousands of conversations about this subject, we discovered a much larger issue facing the Christians today. The issue of pornography is just one of many things holding us back from true intimacy with Jesus. We all have struggles--some are just easier to confess and talk about than others. So we began thinking about how to tackle this much larger issue of Christ followers not revealing who they really are.
In late 2010, we created a non-profit called Transparent Ministries. "We" is a group of people, some from Freedom Begins Here and some not, who are passionate about tackling difficult issues and seeing people live authentic lives.
Since porn is one of the most difficult issues facing the Church, Transparent Ministries decided to purchase Freedom Begins Here in October 2011. This gave us the ability to immediately begin supporting people with resources to address the issue of pornography.
One of our main goals is to provide resources that teach churches how to create safe places where people can find help without fear of condemnation.
In short, we want people to be real--real with themselves and real with others.
Transparent Ministries wants help people live in total transparency with each other, become free from their most hurtful issues, and deepen their walk with Christ so they can impact the world around them.
Our Mission is to provide resources, video content and presentations that help people address real issues that bring about true intimacy with Christ.
Transparent Ministries’ goal is to provoke discussion to address issues that the church is not talking about. We want to bring resources together for individuals, pastors, church leaders and counselors.