WARNING: This post is full of potential triggers for the spouse.
Finding out that your spouse is a pornography/sex addict messes with your entire life.
For starters, many feel like they loose the "safe place" that they thought their marriage was. Physical safety is complicated, since your spouse is going outside of your marriage for sexual activity. Yes, that is what viewing pornography is. Many people just don't understand the whole pornography-sexual gratification connection. But, in blunt words, the whole point of pornography viewing is to get your system going and experience a perverted version of the reaction that many feel should be kept within a marriage. This is not simply looking at pictures. If that were the case, we'd have Picasso addicts.
And we haven't even started talking about the side effects of affairs.
How is the wife or husband supposed to react to that? That their spouse, for whatever reason, is going outside of their relationship.
It's hard. Seriously hard.
Mental Safety is out the window. Addiction is greatly made up of lies. Lies that grow as the addiction grows. How do you trust your spouse that has been lying to you for months, years, decades? How do you confide in them when you know that they have a very serious second life? There are addicts that view pornography, go to massage parlors, chat rooms, strippers, hookers, sex phone lines, "work wives," etc. etc. etc. And how do they generally do all of this? Through lies. And it makes their spouse question everything in the past. They question happy memories, family pictures, vacations. Because these things now symbolize mementos from a time when they didn't know they were being lied to. "At the time this picture was taken, he was actually seeing this other woman..." that kind of thing.
And, speaking of mental safety, there is nothing like a porn addiction to make a wife feel like she is inadequate. Intimately, physically, she questions her looks and body figure. Lots of women start thinking "If only I was a better..." Housekeeper, wife, listener, mother, etc. etc. etc. Your self esteem plummets. Strong, strong women get pummeled under the crushing blows of a partner's pornography and sex addiction, and it is all they can do to not grimace at themselves when they walk past a mirror. Sometimes a woman will feel that their reflection symbolizes what their husband rejected, what they feel their husband thought wasn't good enough. Because that is how they feel. Rejected. Not good enough.
And then you get the addicts who outright tell their spouses that the addiction is their fault. That they aren't good enough. That they aren't satisfying. That if they could only give them what they want then there wouldn't be an issue.
Not all addicts are like that. But lots of them are.
They don't get that they could be having intercourse with a different woman every day and they would STILL have the addiction. Because the addiction is NOT about the spouse. It's about the addict being caught up in this never ending, addictive cycle where the addict has to keep climbing the steps and trying to find "the next best thing."
Addictions are a cycle. They go round and round, up and down, up and down. It's tiring. Lies, followed by lies, followed by admission (sometimes), followed by lies. The addict's anger, followed by moodiness, followed by a brief moment of peace, followed by anger, followed by moodiness, followed by a brief moment of peace.
And addiction builds upon itself. Once one kind of pornography doesn't work for an addict anymore, he or she will move on to another, worse type of pornography. Before long, the addict is into some really disturbing, unnerving things to be able to get his or her fix. These kinds of addictions lead to acting out, going deeper into the addiction, etc.
And then, at some point, it may all stop working. These stories of addicts who have to watch porn while they are having intercourse with their spouse to be able to get roused are unfortunately very common. Addicts often lose their sense of empathy. They lose their ability to see humans as humans. People become un-unique, dis-enchanting, things.
Pornography is a crash course in learning how to view people as objects.
And then you get the addicts who want their spouses to reenact what the addict saw in the porn.
The whole 50 shades thing... people have died from those types of addictive relationships.
Pedophelia? From what I have been told, you don't come back from that. It isn't the same type of addiction. There are some lines that, once crossed, cannot be crossed back over.
There are different levels of sex addiction. Pray that no one in your family ever has to experience them. From either the side of the spouse or the side of the addict or the side of the kids.
There was a visitor at my church who once described the addict's admission as throwing up. The addict tells all of these details, things they are into, and then after they throw it all up they feel better. But all of that throw up has to go somewhere, and it ends up all over the wife.
Some addicts are really bad about things. They can be aggressive, abusive, mean. And some addicts seem to hit a point where they turn a new leaf. Not that they can let down their guard. Addicts can relapse after years of sobriety.
There are so many things I can write here. So many things I haven't even touched base on. But lots of people just don't get and understand all of this until they've gone through it or been close enough to watch someone else go through it.
And, I know this was a post of doom and gloom, but there really is hope for many marriages. Lots of marriages come back stronger for working through this. And some REALLY great guys and girls have this awful addiction. The addict is in pain, too. They aren't happy, they aren't fulfilled, they aren't getting anywhere good. I feel for them. Luckily there are places, therapists, church leaders who can help them figure it out.
But don't forget these spouses. One thing I tell any spouse of an addict that I meet is that they are very strong. Even if I don't know them I know that they must be a strong, super-hero type person. Because no one can go through the Hell (literally applied here) of a partner's sex addiction and retain even the smallest ounce of normalcy without them being anything less than a warrior.
Lots of spouses hide their addict spouse's activities. They are embarrassed, afraid of it reflecting on them. But really they need support. Support from people who understand what the spouse goes through.
A while back I wrote an article called,
"Your spouse has a pornography addiction, now what?"
check it out here on KSL.com: http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=32810176&nid=1010&title=your-spouse-has-a-pornography-addiction-now-what
It goes into this topic a little bit more.
I also wrote a sister piece for the addict, which you can find here: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=32628307&nid=1010&title=you-have-a-pornography-addiction-now-what&s_cid=queue-1