Thanks to our guest poster, ElizabethH, for submitting this post. We are continuing our series this week for wives of those struggling with pornography/sexual addiction. The hope is to reach out to those who are struggling with a loved one in addiction, and to also let these wives share some of what they are learning — both for the sake of other wives in their situation, but also for those who may know a WoPA. WoPAs need support as much as the ones in addiction do. Becoming educated about how addiction impacts a spouse can help those who want to help wives heal. Here are a couple of articles that might be worth a read, one by Dr. Jill Manning and the other by Geoff Steurer, both sex addiction experts. There is also a great and free PDF book by SA Lifeline called Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction.
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This Addiction Isn’t About You
I wish that it was easy to believe the people who say that my husband’s porn addiction “isn’t about you.” But I struggle to believe them because, of course, it is about me. Isn’t it? If he loved me enough or valued our marriage enough or valued my feelings enough he would never have started looking at porn. Let alone watched enough enough porn to become addicted to it! So it must be about how skinny I am, or how I look, or because I stay home with our kids rather than pursuing an impressive career. How could his porn use not be about me or about our relationship not being enough?
What I mourn most about my marriage is the damage it caused to my inner voice. The voice I ignored when it told me “that’s a lie,” or “you’re worth more than that.” How do you recover a voice that you can’t even hear anymore because you’ve refused to listen to it and numbed your feelings for years?
When I told someone last night that “It isn’t about you!” I meant it. I knew it was true. It’s true because her husband is a sex addict and a liar who convinced her, and perhaps himself, that his addiction was about her. But my inner voice surfaced to call that belief a lie and know it was a lie. Part of my recovery is to learn how to apply that compassionate part of my inner voice to myself. To allow my inner voice to drown out the toxic shame that threatens to overwhelm me. To allow my voice to be compassionate to myself; because I can not control my husband’s addiction I can only control myself and my voice.
Sister, nothing you did caused him to do that, even if you have extra fat on you. Pornography is a cause of lack of self worth. people who have these feelings look for an outlet. It acts as a drug or as alcohol, though is a mental and physical stimulant. Even if you had the most beautiful marriage it’s possible for either person to have that addiction due to past experiences. People revert to these things because of a lack of emotional standing. When you don’t have proper support, loving friends/family, you look to these things to find some sort of relief. It’s not your fault he does that, he just doesn’t know any better. If he is placing blame on you it’s because he doesn’t want to feel guilt and he doesn’t know how to handle the shame/guilt of it. give it time and be patient with him. Show him love and affection and eventually he will want to give it up. The guilt/blame placing is the cause of rebellion.
Charles, thanks for your comment. I would like to add to it given what I have seen in the patterns for wives. In reality, the wives also need their own support networks. Men in addiction need to seek their own recovery and have their own network and allow their wives the space to do the same. Over time, as they each seek their own healing, they are more able to support each other. Often, too, it is healthy boundaries, not necessarily just more love and affection, that can make a difference — not with guilt or shaming, but with clarity and a firmness to say “This is not healthy and not ok and you can get help but you need to make that choice” kind of a way.