My name is Leah and my husband is a recovering porn addict.
I feel embarrassed when I say that. For a lot of reasons. I think mainstream society still doesn’t get how serious and damaging porn is to all parties involved and how serious a problem it is. I mean, a guy’s first Playboy is still a rite of passage. In some ways, I think it would be easier if my hubs was a recovering drug or alcohol addict. At least society views that as a legitimate addiction. I’m ashamed when I say my husband is a recovering porn addict because I feel like it is a reflection on me. I feel like it means I couldn’t do it for him. I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough.
I’ve been trying to remember when I first knew about my hubs’ porn problem, but I can’t. I just remember significant events that relate to it. It was around Valentine’s Day after we got engaged when I first discovered it was maybe a problem. He had been looking at stripper fails or something like that, but when I came across this little tidbit he was having a really bad migraine. I remember another time during our engagement we had a fight about porn. We almost broke up over it, but we made up and he said he would try harder. Then, a month before our wedding we were going on a trip to Chicago and he confessed to me that he was struggling with porn again. He thought it would go away once we got married.
The thing about the promise or line that says, “It will get better when…” or “It will change because…” is I don’t think it’s a lie most of the time. I think both parties honestly believe it will get better, things will change when a certain factor changes. My husband and I both believed marriage would get rid of his porn problem because we could have guilt-free sex. Imagine our (my) surprise when it didn’t change.
We were married in August 2008. My husband revealed to me that his porn problem hadn’t gotten better, but worse that October. He was in a lot of physical pain and it was a pain management tool- or so he said. It was a very, very challenging season for me. Being a newlywed isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. People make it seem like you have sex all the time and it’s so blissful. I think no one really wants to admit that being a newlywed kinda sucks a little bit, because that’s not very romantic or appealing, now is it? Having a husband in pornography’s choke hold just added to the suckage of being a newlywed.
I was deeply hurt by my husband’s actions, because no matter how much I was hurting he couldn’t stop. I did internet searches for support. I don’t remember if xxxchurch came up, but I do remember there was this message board. Message boards are not healthy places for me. Being on a message board with other women who are married to men battling sexual addiction didn’t really help me much, because many of them were married to men going beyond porn or they had a grim outlook for their marriages. I also ordered and read lots of books. Those just made me terrified that my husband’s porn problem would escalate beyond porn. Truthfully, I think a sexual addiction recovery group would have been the best approach to healing for us, but my husband is a music student so he wasn’t available for those and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable going alone. Who wants to sit in a cold, metal chair all alone with the weight of your spouse’s addiction when everyone else is spilling their guts as an addict or is the loyal spouse there to support their spouse? To me, going alone would have just piled on the shame.
For whatever reason, he was able to stop pretty much cold turkey that December/January when we moved half-way across the country. To my knowledge, he’s had only one relapse. That was not long after our son was born about two years ago. The baby and I had gone for a run, but we came back early because it began storming. That’s when I busted him. That offense should have cut so, so deeply because him turning to porn or someone prettier, thinner, sexier after our son was born was one of my biggest fears and I often expressed it. I acted hurt and angry, but I couldn’t feel those emotions. I was numb to the pain. In some ways, parts of my heart are no longer able to feel pain because I’ve dealt with so much rejection and hurt.
Even though we’re back in the recovery stage, we still struggle. Sex is a big issue in our marriage. For reasons I’m still trying to sort out, we’re heading towards a sexless marriage. I struggle with not feeling good enough and sexy enough. Those nasty lies that Satan feeds us “If you were sexier, your husband would have sex with you. If you were thinner, your husband would have a desire for you,” echo in my mind on a regular basis. I struggle with having my emotional needs met in an appropriate, moral way, because I’m just not on his radar at the moment. I’m struggling with finding sexual fulfillment while remaining faithful to my husband. I’m struggling with my bitterness and resentment towards the sexual part of our marriage. I’m struggling with maintaining appropriate boundaries with males outside of my husband because I so desperately need to have male validation that I’m pretty, that I’m sexy, that I’m good enough, because it’s not coming from my husband. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has kept me in line for the most part, but I fear that some day my hurt and anger will win and I’ll cross those boundaries and make a huge mistake.
A lot of times, in the midst of my pain, I can’t see God’s plan at work to redeem our brokenness and our marriage. But I know He is at work and He is bringing healing and restoration to our marriage. As I’ve grown closer to God in recent months, I’ve felt the Spirit giving me the strength to love my husband and treat him with love even when I don’t want to, giving me the strength to persevere. The Spirit has helped me be a more Christ-like wife. As I mentioned before, the Spirit has kept me faithful to my husband. David and I are still married today because of God and only God.
At a Women of Faith conference I recently attended, Sheila Walsh said that God will use your worst moments to help those that come behind us. I know God is going to use our struggles to help other couples fighting the fight against the Enemy who seeks to destroy us and our marriages. God is going to do something beautiful with the mess that is our lives and our marriages, because He is good and loves us too much to let us stay the disasters that we are.