About the author, Coach Laura

Coach Laura is a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach, trained by The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS). Her interest in coaching Betrayal Trauma survivors began in the aftermath of her own traumatic betrayal when it became clear that many professionals “just didn’t get it.” Laura is familiar with the physical, emotional, and mental pain the accompanies betrayal trauma and she is passionate about walking this journey alongside others, in hopes that no woman ever again has to walk this path alone.

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Hope After Porn

Parenting the Internet Generation Ebook Cover

Porn use (and even adultery) doesn't always mean that a marriage is over. Get this free e-book to read how four betrayed wives found healing for themselves and for their marriages.

23 thoughts on “5 Characteristics of Men Who Help Their Wives Heal After Betrayal

  1. I’m curious to know how the recovery dynamic is different when the wife is the betrayer. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of discussion when the husband is the betrayer and the wife is the victim. Not much about the reverse. It leads me to wonder if this is some sort of feminist bias that puts women perpetually in the place of the victim, not only about porn, but about everything. It seems no one can write about it the same way when women are caught up in porn addiction. When that happens, the husband is not seen as a victim but often part of the problem. The lines between betrayer and victim suddenly get blurry and the clarity of not blaming the victim, only one spouse is truly to blame, trust cannot be taken for granted, etc. becomes less clear when the roles get reversed.

    I think this goes back to the view of the husband as the protector and the wife as the protected. When she fails in some way, whether it is porn, or something else, the urge becomes to diagnose her psychologically looking for why this wonderful sweet woman would do such a thing. The scolding and shaming directed at failed husbands are considered bad form when directed at the wife. “Slut shaming” has been stigmatized. “Player shaming” is not only okay but almost de rigueur.

    • I felt shamed for being the wife who hadn’t figured it out. Shame doesn’t help anyone on either side. I’m sorry that you’ve experienced this. I know that pure desire has a men’s support group for situations where the wife was addicted. Don’t feel alone.

    • Ricky- I am sorry for your pain & shame. You are right, in that many times men are ignored in this devastation. The people at Affair Recovery are amazing at understanding all perspectives! There isn’t anything they haven’t seen before!

    • Hi RickyB,

      I’m a wife of a sex/porn addict. I will say you’re very right, most information and aid is directed to wives and not husbands. My guess is that this is so because statistically more men view porn on a regular basis than women. The theory of porn addiction, recovery/therapy is relatively new so I don’t think the scope of it has been broadened to help victimized husband just yet.

      Praying for you brother. I’m here to tell you there is hope! God has given you everything you need to heal through this journey. If your wife is not able to offer her portion of healing, or you feel hurt by the lack of info the world offers on healing, God will surprise you and bring ultimate healing if you take all of these questions and conscerns directly to him.

      Now here’s a thought… maybe God is calling you to start a healing group for men. Pray about it if you haven’t.

      Research what you do have at your disposal rather than what you’re lacking… You’ll feel empowered. Regardless of your quandaries, what you do know is that this is a spiritual attack on your marriage… there are plenty of great books written about the spiritual battle and how to equip yourself with the Armor of God to fight the Real Enemy. (You are still “protector”/Warrior because your wife’s soul & your heart are under attack.) Also the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend is remarkable for setting limitations to reclaim a healthy environment for yourself. I read Captivating… you could read Wild at Heart. It was at this point my focus went from my spouse and my broken heart to God affirming me. It changed my life and my faith walk.

      I’m no expert but I hope something here helped. ;) Coming out of a 17yr relationship of betrayal and no remorse from my husband, I can firmly say that God and my submission to him in the storm has been the entire key to my healing!

  2. I appreciate the emphasis on:
    1. Complete Transparency
    2. Humility in addressing all questions patiently, repeatedly, consistently and non-defensively.
    These have always been the cards I have been so adept in using to defending my selfish ways when I was caught up in pornography or extramarital affairs.
    I am thankful to be in an sexaholic anonymous support group and working the 12 steps to recovery. It is changing my life by recognizing:
    1. I am powerless over my addiction and my unmanageability.
    2. I came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.
    3. Made a conscious decision to surrender my will and life to the care of God.
    This is an ongoing journey for my wife and I. I thank and praise God, that in spite of the harms and pain I brought to my wife, that she has chosen to stay with me and is willing to work with me. Pray for us as I am in the process to repair the damage I had done to her heart and my family.

  3. Biblically, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. As a healthcare professional, I can understand the science behind the addiction. Unfortunately, these did not stop me from being an addict. I would not view it at home, I chose to view at work, on a public workstation situated in a isolated area. Last May, I was confronted and terminated from my position (a nurse management position at one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers).

    I/we have been through counseling; I renounced my sin, claimed victory through the grace and blood of our Savior, and haven’t looked back. Professionally, I am still out of work. Intimacy has been difficult; I still feel guilt over the pain I inflicted on my wife of 30 years, who is a beautiful woman of God and a prayer warrior. If not for our Lord, I am sure we would be divorced and I may have fallen into chemical addictions or worse.

    I pray every day that the scars that are healing will at least fade a bit. Our prayer life is stronger, and not a day goes by that I do not tell her how much I love her. I wish I had realized this sooner, before destroying my career and inflicting the trauma of betrayal on the soulmate the Lord provided me.

  4. It’s clear you are highly trained, qualified, and accredited to counsel and provide therapy resources in this area. I don’t doubt that in the least. But, Laura, the extent to which you choose words that continue steering the topic in the direction of this being a “mainly men’s” issue is the same extent to which you make the shame and pain worse for the women who experience porn addiction.

    I’m sure you do not intend to do convey this message, but you are. Women get a hold of writings like this and it makes it even worse for them. The historical pattern that “more numbers of men” experience porn addiction may hold water statistically, but allowing that historical generalization to inform one’s writings on the topic are continuing to have negative consequences.

    Please apply your passion, insights, and help in a manner that articulates equally to both sexes. The coming years will manifest the ramifications for not doing so.

  5. My husband did amazing in helping me heal. I tried to hide my pain and not “react” so I didn’t shame him but a counselling told me that I had to tell him how things had affected me. How I felt a weight of ugliness and worthlessness. My husband heard me and bought a book called “Earning back her trust” or something like that – and it was good. He heard me – and never blamed me or shamed me for my tears. I was embarrassed of my own grief, embarrassed of my stupidity and how I had trusted him when I thought I should’ve figured it out. My husband would see me sitting quietly and came over to just be with me. He told me that he wanted to make it safe for me to have tears. I was surprised at the triggers that would come up for me – but he stayed close and encouraged me to let the tears out. Later he said it was really hard for him – to see me crying and knowing that he had broke my trust and sense of security. Sometimes anger came up too, but he just was relentlessly safe and it helped me heal so much easier than would’ve been the case if I had to burry my grief. And he took the initiative to sign up for a men’s group and be serious about doing the work – that also helped rebuild trust. There were so many tears at first (and I’m not a person prone to having tears) it was literally harder than the death of close family members that I had also recently experienced. But I feel a deeper connection and trust, and confidence in myself to be assertive in a healthy way now. Find a safe place to grieve and process your trauma ladies (I used the Betrayal and Beyond course) and guys, there is so much waiting for you on the other side, be courageous and take a stand against porn, don’t minimize the “little things” and get a good group to walk with you through your own healing. It’s worth it! You’re never alone!

  6. Is it really worth going through all the recovery process on an already damaged relationship? After reading the post I don’t see an upside to it. I am a recovering sex addict and a repentant sinner and I am interested in seeing my wife healed. But I don’t see an upside for either of us in continuing with the relationship.

    • “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

      The upside is that continuing, healing and restoring the marriage is what the Lord wants you to do. If you want to live your life in the center of God’s will for you, you MUST do all you can to restore your marriage.

  7. I appreciate your article.
    My wife and I have been married for 27 years. I came into the marriage with the chains of bondage to pornography hidden deep in my soul.
    I was too ashamed to open up that part of my life. Pornography is the drug I have been addicted for far too long. Pornography is the drug that fed my root cause – LUST. Lust is the cancer of my soul that has killed relationship with God, My wife, my family, church, coworkers and professionally.
    I have repented to God for repeatedly betraying and traumatizing my wife. I claim the blood of Christ to cover my sin of lust and The power of His resurrection to keep me from ever going back to the sinful life I once lived.
    I am grateful and praise God that my wife chose to work with me instead of leaving the marriage. For all I have put her through, I don’t deserve her.
    I am also thankful for a good core support group I found in sexaholic anonymous. The steps I have worked bring me each day closer to God and His power is keeping me sober from acting out. Instead of reaching for the drug of pornography, I reach out to His Power to keep me sober one day at a time. I also have a chance to daily share with my wife what God is working daily in my recovery. Sharing with her and allowing her to share her heart is a way to rebuild the trust I broke.

  8. I really appreciated this article. As one who was bound to my sexual sins, while in ministry, I have been astounded by the grace and forgiveness my wife has demonstrated during these past two years of recovery. Two thoughts:
    1) While I’m open about my recovery activities, I’m always hesitant to share about discussions that might “trigger” certain emotions in her. Do we still strive for complete transparency, even if that means triggering these emotions in my wife?
    2) I was encouraged about the topic of “Humility,” especially in relation to my own milestones in recovery. I would wonder why she wouldn’t have the same level of joy when I brought home my 1-year coin or gave testimony on my 2-year anniversary of recovery on social media. “This process was never supposed to be part of [my] relationship with her.” Very true.
    Thankful for the work of redemption God is doing in our lives and marriage, and recognizing the lifelong process of being restored back together. Thanks, CovenantEyes, for being a part of that process!

    • I think the problem with the coin is, what woman wants to be married to a man who has to go to meetings to stay faithful to her? It is demeaning to her soul and self-esteem. It is not a marriage in any sense of the word. If she thought she was the love of your life and you spent hours looking at other unclothed women, why should she feel happy that you made it a year fighting off the urge to not cheat on her? It is hard to see your spouse going to meetings every day to try to be faithful. To her it is just more time away from what should have been your life together.

    • Yes, there’s SO MUCH MORE to true recovery than white-knuckling it through “not looking at porn.” It’s like basing a marriage on the fact that I haven’t eated french fries in a year. When you only avoid certain behavior (even though it’s harmful behavior that you need to avoid!), you’re missing out on the emotional trust of the relationship. Here’s an article on behavioral and emotional trust, citing research from marriage expert John Gottman.

  9. Thank you for this. Unfortunately, my wife’s sense of betrayal was so very intense she just wanted out. I was not discovered, but I did confess. She was already seeking divorce, so the weight of that betrayal was to much for her and she was done, period. Even apart from her and with divorce virtually certain, I appreciate this because I can still live it toward her from a distance in prayer. I’m so glad for daily victory in Christ. I have to hold onto that because the weight of my failure as a husband is crushing without Him. without God, that sense of complete failure would destroy me. I would love a chance to be for my beautiful wife, what Sarah’s husband has been for her. Absent that, hopefully God can make use of me to help be a voice for other family’s even if it is just a warning sign of what not to touch.

  10. This is validating even to me, the wife of a man who refuses to take these steps. He calls me “demanding”, “impossible” and says he’s already apologized, so there’s nothing more to do. It’s validating because it shows that wanting those things is not “demanding.” It’s just reasonable and appropriate after betrayal.

    • Yes, the “I’ve apologized, what else do you want me to do” game is really just gaslighting, in my opinion. Gaslighting is a great technique to use in a situation like this, because if he denies there’s a problem, he doesn’t have to do anything about it. Of course there is more work to do when it comes to restoring trust! Of course there is, and you know it–he does too, he just doesn’t want to do the work. Don’t let the gaslighting get you down! Here’s an article on what it looks like when trust is truly being restored. Here, here, and here are some articles on boundaries in the meantime. Kay

  11. I’m really grateful for your article here and many others. I’m a sex addict. Early in recovery – about 5 months. It’s been a painfully public ordeal that has resulted in so, very much loss. I’m working hard at my recovery and to understand the unimaginable trauma and hurt I’ve caused my wife. Certainly, I’m not perfect (keen grasp on the obvious…check!) I struggle, I guess with the humility to let my wife lead in the recovery of our marriage.

    I’m very eager to participate in her healing. To listen. To care for her. To understand how I’ve wounded her and accompany her on her healing journey. Right now, I’m counseling with a sex addiction specialist. My wife is with another therapist.

    My wife does not want a divorce. Wants and believes our marriage can be restored. But is currently not willing to entertain any counsel together, isn’t really willing to share much with me and is keeping me at an emotional/relational distance.

    I want to be sensitive and help her heal. To give her what she needs. My concern is that she’s talking about a year or more before engaging together. I’m concerned that this time period may do more damage to our relationship and make it more difficult to recover.

    I’d love some perspective!

    • I think your wife is wise to hold off on the couples’ therapy until you are firmly established in your recovery. It’s my opinion as a therapist that the addict needs to do his own work in therapy, groups, radical honesty with family and friends, etc. The wife needs help and support as well, with her own therapist, her own groups, and with online resources like Bloom for Women. Many women in marriage betrayal will meet the clinical criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She may not want to sit in therapy with the person who has caused such trauma to her life. She may need other help and support first. The wife’s recovery is just as necessary as the husband’s. The relationship will only recover when the individuals within the relationship are recovering well also. One of the things you could do to demonstrate your sincerity is be invested in learning about what makes up a healthy marriage relationship–work that is usually left to women. John Gottman is the foremost marriage researcher on earth, and his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is full of great ideas to build a healthy relationship. You could certainly be invested in those behaviors even if your wife is unable to attend therapy with you just yet. Here’s a short video from Dr. Gottman about building trust in relationship, which I’m sure is a major concern of your wife’s at this point. Peace to you, Kay

  12. I NEEDED THIS NOW! Today was really high and really low. I’m a recovering porn addict. Today was 1 year of sobriety!! I came home for work desperate for a big hug and a “I’m so proud of you!” (from my wife).
    We guit in a big fight! I realize the deep pain I feel when she can’t celebrate my victories with me! I need this article so much to get what she’s feeling. I didn’t mean to be selfish today! But I was. I fantasized about going out for supper and celebrating…. and all I got from her is “I didn’t choose this, .you did!”
    Yes I’m in pain and really want healing. I have a support group of men. My wife heals lately alone. I wish she had a group to share with. I don’t even think she sees that as a need.
    I need to do the work and stay faithful through this valley. It’s great to be sober!
    I just want to see results in our marriage! I’m really struggling with staying patient and seeing hope.

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