Do you really want to know how to help your spouse the most during his or her recovery from porn addiction?
Work on your OWN recovery.
Sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. In fact, it is the exact thing that you need to do at this exact moment in your life.
The more you hover over your spouse’s recovery, the more you are going to spiral out of control with them. Quite honestly, the less recovery you are going to see from them. And the more you are going to go insane.
Time and time again I have seen spouses, including myself, get crazy involved in too many aspects of their spouse’s recovery. I have heard women talk about not wanting to leave their house to do things they enjoy because they were afraid of what would happen once they are gone.
But the reality is, your partner will do what they want to do if you’re in the house or not.
You have no control over that. You can choose when and where to set boundaries and act on them, but you have no control over what your spouse will and will not do when it comes down to it.
Helicopter monitoring only leads to hurt feelings, even less trust, more trauma, and failed recovery because your spouse is not taking responsibility for their own recovery. That is why it is VITAL to focus on your own recovery while they focus on theirs.
What does your recovery look like?
Everyone is different, but here are three things that we all must do:
First, come to the realization that your spouse’s addiction is not because of you, is not your fault, and you have no power to change their actions.
Once you start to realize that your spouse’s addiction has nothing to do with you and there is very little that you can do to force recovery, you have the freedom to start realizing God’s path for you.
Seriously, guys, I was in over my head trying to figure out why my husband was addicted to pornography. I went through all the thought processes of “maybe I am not having enough sex with him,” “maybe I need to lose weight,” “maybe I should try the stuff that he looks at.”
None of those thoughts are valid. In fact, that kind of thinking only led me to believe that I had control over the situation and created more layers of trauma.
It did not matter if I did any of those things to try to appease him. He still chose pornography.
I continued to spiral down into depression. It wasn’t until I became aware that his addiction was a direct result of his own baggage from his own past that I was able to move forward.
But, I also knew that this addiction wasn’t good for me, him, or our marriage. That is when I told him to choose our marriage and get help or choose his addiction. He got help. I got help.
Which brings us to another important step in recovery: counseling.
Our story didn’t magically become wonderful because I realized I wasn’t at fault. In fact, that revelation opened the door to know that we both desperately needed help. We couldn’t do this alone.
He sought counseling with our pastor, which helped him to begin the long journey of recovery. But, it wasn’t until years later that I found I needed individual help too.
I was traumatized by the betrayal.
I ended up going to counseling myself. I worked on all the layers that needed to be peeled away. I even did EMDR with my counselor because betrayal trauma looks a whole heck of a lot like PTSD or CPTSD.
But listen, it all needs to start with God. Trying to do anything on our own only causes disaster upon disaster.
I could have gone all day frantically trying to reclaim who I once was before all of this, but instead, I have allowed God to create a new person. Through Him, counseling, and community.
If possible, try to see a counselor that is not only qualified in sexual addiction and betrayal trauma but is also a Jesus follower.
Your counselor should help you uncover the deep-rooted hurt and walk through all that muck. It is going to be incredibly difficult. But it is worth it.
One thing your counselor should absolutely do is teach you how to have healthy boundaries in your marriage.
Boundaries are a NONNEGOTIABLE part of recovery.
Setting boundaries is all about protecting your marriage, yourself, and your spouse. Often boundaries are deemed as negatives because people view them or have used them as punishments or controlling behavior. But, in reality, it is the exact opposite.
Setting a boundary isn’t about controlling another person, it is about taking responsibility and allowing other people to do the same. When a person starts to do that, the people closest to them are forced to follow suit.
In the Live Free Wives community, we often have women listen to the Pure Desire podcast episode on boundaries. There is a ton of great information in that episode and a downloadable PDF that helps to start the process of setting healthy boundaries.
Setting boundaries allows you to feel safe even if your spouse doesn’t choose recovery.
Bottom line, if you want healing and recovery, you must not enable and get caught in the cycle of addiction but instead, start your own healing process.
If you have not quite reached out for help, join Live Free Wives. It is free and it is safe. There are a ton of resources available to you that can help you take those first steps to healing.
As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else we talk about in these blogs check out Office Hours and ask!