By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Many of the men I work with struggle with how to best help their wives as they are working through an addiction to pornography. The battle with porn addiction is not quickly overcome. It takes time and patience. It takes proper education and guidance. And most of all, it takes hard work and persistence. So through your process of learning recovery, your wife is going to struggle with a variety of issues. Sometimes these will be confidence issues, other times it will be feelings of rejection or an overwhelming sense of betrayal.
So what can you do to best help your wife as you are learning solid recovery? The answer is simple: Be Honest! In other words, you have to stop lying or hiding anything that’s been going on. Learning how to be authentic and share your feelings with her will be an important part of your healing, and it also generates a sense of trust. Your honesty in recovery becomes more important than your slips. Typically, most wives would rather know what’s going on, than to find out later you’ve been struggling or slipping. In fact, discovering later that you were having problems actually makes her feel more insecure about your stability. As a result she will feel less connected and less safe with you, even if you are doing well.
If you have serious misbehaviors related to the addiction, you will be smart to consult with a professional counselor about the process of full disclosure. A wise therapist will want to help facilitate this process. You may need to generate a behavior timeline (inventory) so that you can get it all out at once. Disclosing small pieces of the story at different times is only upsetting to your wife. Additionally, she may need professional support to learn coping strategies for the pain or trauma she experiences when you do a full disclosure. Don’t rush into an experience that creates trauma due to your lack of preparation.
As you are reading this do you feel sick to your stomach? If so this is probably an indicator that it’s time to do it. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable because you haven’t even been honest with yourself. Admitting to yourself that the problem is actually an addiction, and that you need help, may feel crushing to your confidence. Coming out of denial about the problem leads you to recovery, but also leaves many men feeling weak. If this is your case, don’t despair. You are not alone, nor the first to feel this way.
It’s okay to admit you need help. Men who are honest can confidently stand together. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for support. In fact, to learn honesty, to share your emotions, and to seek support requires courage. You will be joining the ranks of real men who face their fears to become stronger.
If you’d like to consult with one of our therapists who specializes in pornography addiction as it relates to marriage give us a call. One of our LifeSTAR counselors can do a free 15-minute consultation with you by phone: (480) 668-8301.