A husband’s compulsive pornography use is rarely disclosed voluntarily. Most men addicted to pornography experience deep shame and hide their choices, but despite well-crafted, guilt-ridden lies that mask their behavior, the truth emerges. Regardless how the wife finds out about the pornography addiction, the discovery is devastating for everyone involved.

After this discovery, wives often feel caught in a whirlwind of disillusionment, distress, and relational damage. In the bewildering moments that follow such a traumatic event, women rightfully ask themselves, what do I do now?

Here are 3 guidelines for moving forward:

1. Get Support. Wives in this situation often feel isolated and alone. Some of them may have a trustworthy friend, but their husband may resent them for sharing such personal information. Finding a supportive group in a confidential setting is fundamental. Finding a group that sees the wives’ experience as “trauma,” not a “codependency” issue, will be essential.

2. Avoid Minimizing. Many people in our culture shrug off the use of pornography as “normal” male behavior. While the “temptation” to view pornography is normal, its excessive use is not. Regardless of moral reasons to avoid pornography, porn is highly addictive and excessive viewing has negative effects on the brain.

Recovery from pornography addiction can be more difficult than from drug or alcohol addictions. Pornography addiction is serious. The trauma that wives experience is also serious. 

Practicing self-compassion through self-care is essential for women suffering from such betrayal.

3. Seek Knowledgeable Help. Depending on the depth and duration of the addiction, men can find help from a support group (like Small Groups Online), therapy with a skilled clinician, or even in-patient or outpatient programs.

Wives often want their husbands to “get fixed,” while neglecting their own relational wounds. Finding help that is knowledgeable in both addiction and trauma is necessary in order for both partners to heal.

While these 4 guidelines won’t solve everything, they will provide a framework to help you move forward as you recover from the devastating discovery. Also, check out Recover.org for more resources.