Spouses of porn addicts (and the lies we tell them)

I'm in love with a recovering porn addict. And if the stats are right (and my guess is they err on the side of being too low), at least 1 out of 2 of the married people reading this blog are in a similar boat. 

And I'd be guessing again, but I imagine that, if you're anything like me, as hard as the finding out-confession-pain of betrayal-saga was, the emotional work really began once your spouse crossed into that "recovery" zone. There are so many questions... How do you support someone who WANTS to do the right thing but has biologically programmed her or himself to DO the wrong thing? How do you separate choices & willpower from the trappings of neurochemistry? How do you define relapse? Do you even want to know how the recovery is going? Conversely, do you really want to keep secrets? Isn't that how this all started in the first place? And in that secret part of your soul, if... or when... your love relapses... what does that say about YOU?

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This is what 548 days of his hard work looks like.

My hard work looks a little different, but it's no less worth talking about.

I'm so blessed to be fighting this battle along side a warrior who understands his brain chemistry, knows his triggers, is honest to a fault, and desires my healing as much as his own. He got his 18 month chip earlier this week, and I couldn't be prouder. 18 months clean and sober. And, before that, 6 months of fighting hard daily to eradicate this addiction from his life, with a couple relapses along the way. In that time, I've learned a few things, things I want to share with you today.

But before I even get started, I know not all of you reading this are in recovery processes that are going well. I remember those times. Really well. This isn't the first time my husband has tried to get clean - just the only successful time. If you're struggling, please know I'd love to talk with you. You can call, Facebook message, email, whatever. Don't sit in that pain and those dark questions alone.  

1. Porn is not infidelity.

One of the biggest lies I think the enemy speaks over couples struggling with porn addiction is that porn isn't really "all that bad - everybody uses it." At least he didn't have an affair. Porn isn't really real - it's just on a screen!

And if our effort to remove ourselves from painful situations, we tend to accept that. I know I did. We might go so far as to help him cover it up, or write it off. It's easy to try and forgive real quick and just move on. But dear one, that does your heart no good; adding a lie on top of a sin only magnifies the pain. 

Jesus uses sexual intimacy to knit two souls together, and any type of sexual experience outside of the marriage bed starts a rip in that fabric. Repeated attempts to find intimacy outside of each other, at the hands, or in the eyes, of another tears that fabric right in two. That might sound a little harsh, but it's the reality. And real healing can only happen once we realize what is really real. 

2. Spouses of addicts don't require a recovery process.

Even once we recognize that porn use is a betrayal of trust and intimacy, Satan can whisper the lie that "it's just his problem - it doesn't really have anything to do with you." 

And this lie is tricky, because it's half right. No porn addict repeatedly uses pornography because of their spouse. The realest real, in the heart of his heart, there is a pain, or a lie, or a brokenness causing him to feed his addiction. It's really not about you. But, unfortunately, you do have to experience the fallout of it. 

When the fabric of a marriage is ripped apart, both parts of the fabric wind up with jagged edges. He is going to have to work hard at recovery and trust building to trim off the jagged edges of his fabric. But you're also going to have some recovery and trust building to trim up your piece of fabric. 

I could write a whole article on this process, but, in short, if you've encountered the pain of betrayal, you need to seek help for yourself. For me, this looked like talking with trusted friends, some counseling, and lots of time spent pouring my heart out to Jesus. 

3. Recovery is as simple as a one-time decision.

I really think the last lie the enemy hurls our way is the deadliest. If you've gained any ground, been able to forgive, restore some intimacy, and these painful thoughts and emotions come up again "you're obviously broken - unable to get past this - something is wrong with you." 

The truth is, our minds are so complex. Ladies, I'm going to speak directly to you for a moment. We, as females, tend to have lots of little connections. One thought is tied to fourteen other thoughts, which in turn are tied to their own set of thoughts, until our mind is laid out like a web. This is not brokenness, this is biology. You won't know how far the doubt and pain stretch until you get there. 

This happened to me just the other night. After nearly two years of rebuilt trust, of true, holy intimacy, Paul and I had a conversation and I couldn't get it out of my heart. My mind was fine - I heard what he had to share, understood it, moved on. But as we started to get snuggly in bed and clothes started to come off, I felt so grossly vulnerable. I wrote it off as being tired, and pushed through. But several days later, it happened again. And, in tears, I had to say, "What you said hurt. Even though I know it's done. It's forgiven. I still just doubt if you really want me." My body knew what my heart didn't want to admit: that sometimes, I still need to be reassured. And my amazing husband held my face in his hands and said, "I see you, and you're all I want. Forever. I see the left over baby pudge, and I don't care. I want you. I see that tooth that bugs you, and I don't care. I want you. I see you freak out over spiders and dishes piling up, and I don't care. I still want you."

And in that dark little place in my heart where the enemy was trying to build himself a home of pain and fear, the Holy Spirit shone the light of His truth and my husband's sweet words of intimacy dusted out the cobwebs and I could see the stitching in the fabric. The place Jesus carefully sewed our souls back together, each stitch of the thread a little trust we gave each other, a trigger turned away from, a sin forgiven. And my emotions, my need to be seen, didn't change that binding one little bit. 

 

 

Carly MoralesComment