I have heard both first-hand and second-hand statements from countless women who ask themselves what they could have done differently so their husbands wouldn’t look at porn. They even blame themselves when their husband has an affair or is caught seeing prostitutes. “Should I have given him more sex?” “Did I love him enough?” “Should I have given in to more of the bedroom games he wanted?”
But underneath all of the self doubt, you feel betrayed, rejected, used, discarded, and simply disgusted. You likely bounce from being angry and resentful to feeling humiliated and hurt. You may even want to run, thinking it will erase the source of pain. You feel like you don’t know who this person is anymore. How could you ever trust him again?
All of these feelings and reactions are expected and justified. In reality, these underlying feelings tell the true story. Bottom line: you have been the unfair victim of a serious problem that has nothing to do with you.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
While I have not personally experienced the feelings that you have, I have been where your male partner, husband, or boyfriend is now.
The most important thing I can tell you is that while his actions drastically affect and have critically wounded you and your relationship, his behavior is not about you. It is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this, nor is there anything you did to cause this. It’s not because you didn’t love him enough, not because you didn’t give him enough sex, not because he wanted to hurt you, and not because he doesn’t love you.
It is about him, his wounds, and ultimately his selfishness—a selfishness that is out of control. He is trying to fill a void in his heart that cannot be filled with things of this world. Even your love, as great as it has been, cannot fill this void he carries.
This is entirely his problem and his responsibility to fix. As an addict, he cannot control it out of sheer willpower. And he cannot recover from his problem alone. He needs counseling, support groups, and most of all, a relationship with God.
His Deepest Healing
If you choose to move forward with him, your relationship and trust needs to be re-established and healed. It’s important that you understand, too, that while preventative actions such as imposing Internet filters or TV blocks can help, they will not solve the problem—just like taking the drink away will not solve the underlying problem for an alcoholic.
An addict is craving intimate, unconditional love, a love that no human can supply. All of us desire this, but for some, that the desire consumes us. Most of the time, we don’t even know it. Only by him doing the work to discover why he acts out, why the insatiable craving exists, and giving those cravings to God can he begin to heal and develop a healthy understanding of what sex is all about. When this happens, he will be a better husband and a better man in many ways.
Your Deepest Healing
Whatever you do, do not downplay your pain and, most of all, do not bury or ignore it. You have been seriously wounded and that wound needs attention. Whether you continue in the relationship or not, it’s important that you work through your feelings about his sex addiction and the damage it has caused. These feelings need to be resolved. You do not deserve to be stuck with the anger and bitterness that you likely have. It will destroy your life.
Seek specialized counseling to work through what he has done to you. Even if you choose to leave the relationship, counseling can provide healing that is critical for you to live a life without resentment and anger, which will destroy your happiness and ultimately take a toll on you physically. Although only a small number currently exist, women’s support groups can also be very helpful.
In time, when are ready, the ultimate gift to yourself is forgiving him. Forgiving him does not excuse the behavior; it does not sweep it under the rug; it does not mean you turn your back on what he does from now on; and it does not give him permission to repeat the addictive acts. He still needs to be accountable for what he has done, both to you and to God.
When you forgive him, you are in essence releasing him from having power over you and thus causing your pain. Forgiving frees you.
With the proper help, a lot of work, and serious changes in his life, he can change. Even if he doesn’t, you can heal.
She Forgave Me
In my book, From One Addict to Another, I share my candid story of where I came from and how I found freedom. I published it with my real name as I felt it necessary to be honest and upfront with fellow addicts. It’s the hiding in this addiction that creates the power over us. Blunt honesty is part of my own path to healing and freedom.
I am not a licensed counselor nor an educated professional in the field, but am willing to be a guide and a coach as best as I can for anyone truly seeking to break the chains of this addiction.
As a bit of hope, I will tell you that I and my wife of 25 years are still together. We don’t have the perfect marriage, but it is better than it has ever been. I love her for the woman God made her to be, the gift and the angel He gave to me.
Photo credit: rankingfuuta
Dann Aungst is a recovering sex addict and the author of the book From One Addict to Another. Dann is passionately involved in educating and helping others become free from porn and sex addiction in faith based recovery. Dann has spoken at men’s conferences and provides online resources for men seeking sex addiction recovery. Dann has been an entrepreneur for over 25 years and currently runs co-op fundraising programs for several charities. He lives in Colorado and is a member of a local Catholic church.