Spouse of Porn / Sex Addict

As more and more people have gotten caught in the web of pornography and other sexual addictions, more and more marriages of those individuals become troubled.   Recently it has been recognized that a healing and recovery process is useful for spouses, as well as for the addicts themselves.  The resources provided here can help provide direction and support for this healing process.

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These are our favorite books to help spouses of those struggling with a porn/sex addiction:

  1. Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity, by Mark Chamberlain and Jeff Steurer  
  2. Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal, by Barbara Stephens, PhD, Marsha Means, MA 
  3. Lord I Believe, Help Thou Mine Unbelief, by Rod Jeppson (LDS)
  4. Journey to Healing and Joy: A Workbook for Partners of Sexual Addicts, by Marsha Means 

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For more books on additional topics, please visit our Best Books Catalog.

 When a couple seeks help for dealing with the impact of pornography or other forms of sexual addiction, frequently the wife will say something like this:

"WomanLookingAtComputerI feel so isolated.   He has his 12 step group, his therapist, his church leader to support and assist him.   I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this.   I don't want to embarrass him - and I don't want to embarrass myself.   So I don't talk to anyone.  But I don't know how to deal with all this pain alone.  Are there resources out there to help me?"

For a long time, the answer to that question was no.   The major effort tended to go into helping the addict heal.  Only recently has it been recognized that spouses carry their own weight of pain, and need their own supports to help them recover and rebuild. 

The resources on this page were gathered and created to help those who bear the pain of a spouse's sexual addiction.   You are not alone!  And your own growth and recovery can do much to hasten his.  Browse these materials, and be assured that there are resources for you, as well as for him, and that as you work together through this, your relationship can become stronger than ever.

One of the saddest and increasingly common problems women in our time face is discovering that her husband has been looking at pornography, or has become addicted to it. Sometimes, this terrible discovery comes as a result of his direct confession to her. Far more often, she stumbles unexpectedly into evidence of his porn use – on their home computer, on his cell phone, or elsewhere. Other times, she has had preparatory feelings – "something just feels wrong." Sometimes, she is utterly blindsided by the discovery. However, and whenever it occurs, learning of her husband's porn problem can create waves of intense pain, disillusionment, anger, fear, and devastation for her.

Learning Of BetrayalMany women describe this situation in terms reflecting severe trauma and betrayal: "The world as I knew it just blew up." "It's like he had an affair. No, it's worse than an affair because there are so many women involved, in endless supply." "Suddenly, nothing in our life together feels real anymore." "My trust in him is utterly destroyed."

Women also describe the devastating impact this has on their sense of themselves, and of basic safety within their marriage: "This means – I'm not good enough, I'm not attractive enough, I'm not... enough." "I can't even leave the house anymore without wondering if he's going to do it again.""I wonder now if it's safe to leave him alone with our children." "I worry that our sons will find his porn, and develop similar problems." "I'll never be able to trust him, again." "Maybe I need to end this marriage."


icon-pdf-(All in PDF format)

1) Checklist - Identifying the Impact of Spouse Porn Use.   A checklist identifying the specific impacts of a spouse's porn, and how these can change over time. 

2) Forgiveness - What It Is, and What It Isn't.  Providing 6 specific steps to follow in the process of forgiveness and moving on. 

 

Women learning of a partner's porn use and/or infidelity online describe a wide range of feelings and responses.  Use the list below to identify which reactions have affected you.  Circle the appropriate number to rate the intensity of each reaction.

          0-None   1-Mild    2-Occasional    3-Moderate   4-Strong   5-Overwhelming 

 0  1  2  3  4  5     Intense feelings of fear
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feelings of helplessness
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Concern about contracting a sexually transmitted disease
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Inability to look at your spouse without being reminded of his sexual behavior
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Disturbing dreams about your partner's sexual behavior
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Worrying that your partner thinks about other experiences and images when you are together
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Tendency to be suspicious and accusing
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Flashbacks in which you relive the worst parts of the experience
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Being reminded of your partner's behavior by entertainment and news media stories
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Have a hard time being in public places with your partner
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Physical symptoms, (eg.headache, nausea) when you see things reminding you of the behavior
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Spending a lot of energy trying to avoid thoughts about the behavior
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Trying to act like everything is fine in your relationship when you're around others
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Behaviors to distract you from thinking about it (excessive sleep, reading, media, eating, etc.)
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Holding back from people who used to be close to you
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Avoiding sexual contact with your partner
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Getting distracted easily
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Having a hard time participating in things you used to enjoy
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Having difficulty performing important roles (such as employee or parent)
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feeling like you are different from everyone else
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feeling like you don't belong anymore, when you are in social settings
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feeling ashamed and embarrassed when you are in public
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Using a lot of energy pretending to feel things you think you should
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Having difficulty falling asleep
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Becoming increasingly angry in response to your partner
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Being more critical in conversations with your partner
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feeling more emotionally on edge than you used to
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Find it hard to focus on what is going on around you
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Feeling the need to monitor your partner's behavior
 0  1  2  3  4  5  Constantly trying to read your partner's emotions

 

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Phone: 801-598-4175

Email:  carrie@counselinglibrary.org
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