Q. I discovered that my husband was having cybersex with other women two years ago. I’ve been married 9 years. I found out because he forgot to close an email that i didn’t even know existed and he was so sexually explicit with them. I felt disgusted. He was my world. We went to a marriage counselor and all he said was that I was boring in sex and it was the same thing every day. He gave me a 5 out 10. We worked things out afterwards and he promised me he wouldn’t do it again but it wasn’t true. I caught him this week trying to find sex buddies over the Internet. He said that he was depressed but my trust is over. I love him so much, it hurts when I think he shares his intimate moments with someone else. His profile said that he was looking to have fun and pleasure. He completely broke my heart. I told him it was over and that I was going to divorce him however he managed to convince me to stay and beg to be forgiven. He said “I don’t know what I would do without you, you mean the world to me…please don’t leave me. I promised i’ll not do it again. He complain that i’m not sexy at all. He wants to buy me my clothing and dress me as a super sexy. However I don’t feel like myself wearing short shorts. I feel there’s more to me than these clothes. Please advise.
A. As I read this question I am saddened by the pain and anguish that your husband’s pornography addiction has caused. I hope that I can offer some guidance and direction.
As the disease of addiction progresses, long before his wife discovers his pornography use, a husband will begin to slowly change into someone who becomes more self-centered, irritable, moody,dishonest and impatient. He will start to isolate from his family, he will devalue his marriage, become critical of his wife’s body and character, become spiritually empty, and have more internal stress. He will become easily bored with things that used to interest him. He will also become more secretive and blaming towards you if things don’t go his way.
It’s no wonder that pornography tears marriages apart. The continued use of explicit materials and breaking the trust of his wife is just one of the symptoms of his addiction. So therin lies the question; As a wife who is wrapped up in her husbands addiction and a victim of his disease what should you do?
1- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You have been traumatized by what he is doing to you. It is important that you take care of yourself. The fear, anger, and stress that you are feeling will lead to anxiety and depression. Get more sleep, excercise, take a warm bath, stretch, spend time outside, do whatever nurtures you physically. As you take care of yourself you will be able to think more clearly.
2-CONNECT TO OTHERS. Sadly there are plenty of woman going through similar experiences. Continue to connect with them and draw from thier strength for support. Where possible find an S-anon meeting and become involved in a 12-step support group.
3-SET BOUNDARIES. Whatever makes you feel safe emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, and socially. Set those boundaries and stick to them. Simplify your life and be willing to say no. As you’re starting out on your own recovery you have plenty on your plate. Don’t overload yourself. Do not do things sexually that you are uncomfortable with. An addict who blames you for his addiction and wants you to do more in the bedroom is just trying to use you to objectify and lust after. This is much different than love and sex between a husband and wife.
4- CONNECT WITH GOD. Who ever or what ever god is to you stay connected. Many woman feel betrayed by god because of the trial that they are going through. Spiritual healing can take time. As you heal spiritually you can come to a peace that whatever happens with your husband you know that things are good between you and God. When you get to that point it is much easier to make difficult decisions Pray, Meditate, Read uplifting material, Go to church, Journal, spend time in nature, whatever it takes to get connected.
5-EDUCATE YOURSELVES. Believe it or not there is quite a bit of literature about the disease of pornography addiction, and co-dependency. The more you know the more prepared you will be to deal with the rigors of recovery. I have a ton of books and websites that you could check out if you want to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I could go on an on with this list but I think starting with those 5 things will help you begin your path to recovery. As a spouse of an addict you need recovery as much as the addict. The things that I listed are short term answers, seek qualified counseling if needed. I hope that these things are helpful.