By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Finding support when your husband is addicted to porn might feel much more daunting than simple communication issues. Some women’s hurt and trauma can easily move them from venting into toxic anger and blame. Additionally, other women who are hurt or traumatized can unknowingly increase the toxicity of the situation. But be careful men. If you’re hanging out with other men to rant about your wife then you are doing the same thing. Rather than offering healthy support, the venting and feedback becomes what some have nicknamed “bashing.” What’s the difference? See if any of the following rings true. Remember that you DO NEED support, and that your feelings ARE IMPORTANT. You just want to make sure you have healthy people and healthy places for healing communication.
Bashing & Unhealthy Support
1. Does the interaction leave you feeling worse? If the visit ends and you feel more triggered, more upset, more anxious, or more panicked… it’s very possible the interaction was not healthy.
2. Does your support person spur on the anger and frustration? If so, you may be seeking support from someone who is stuck in their own trauma. Or who in some cases, does not wish to let go of the anger. Sometimes the communication becomes increasingly harsh or aggressive in its tone. Continued interaction of this sort will hamper the healing process.
Suggestions for Healing Support
1. Is the person you choose to vent with “safe?” An ability to maintain confidentiality is essential for healthy support. Someone who gossips or shares private information about you, your spouse, or your situation, is not safe. Find someone safe. Also, remember that support from the same gender will typically be less triggering for your spouse, and provide important perspective.
2. Does this person offer encouragement for your healing and also the healing of your marriage? Those who can uplift and encourage you during moments of crisis or turmoil are very helpful. Advice is unnecessary when you want encouragement. Likewise, good support offers words of hope to difficulties in the marriage.
3. Does this person listen without judging or criticizing? This requires maturity. It’s a person who can stay grounded when emotions are high. Similarly, it’s a person who doesn’t get wrapped up in your situation or create more drama. They can stay level-headed yet empathetic. They can avoid giving you advice when it is unnecessary.
4. Does it feel that your feelings were important and recognized? Most women who experience relational-trauma learn to stuff their feelings and ignore their own needs. You need someone to hear your feelings and validate that what you’re experiencing isn’t ‘crazy.’
5. Do you leave the interaction with new personal insights? Visits that help you increase your personal awareness provide peace and direction. This also improves motivation for self-care.
6. Did the interaction help you to release or let go of any pent up emotions or shame? Venting is okay… as you learn to release the emotion, let go of it, and move on. If the interaction keeps you feeling stuck in the anger, or feeling worse about yourself, then chances are the interaction was not healthy.
If you are struggling to find support when your husband is addicted to pornography, give us a call for a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist who specializes in these delicate issues: (480) 668-8301.