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Does my husband have a porn addiction?

Updated: May 11


Porn addiction in relationships
Does my husband have a porn addiction?

It was a day like any other; I kissed my husband goodbye when he went to work and dropped the kids off at school. I returned home and to do my chores and looked through our bank statements - I regularly do this to


make sure we are on track with our finances. On this particular day, I found an online payment for a site that I didn’t recognize. I looked it up and found that someone had bought a $200 gift voucher for a lingerie store – I was stunned.


Had my husband bought this for me? But seeing as he hadn’t given me a gift voucher or lingerie, I knew something was off.


Until that moment, I had been under the impression that we were a happily married couple with two beautiful children and a comfortable life-style. My husband worked long hours and travelled for work regularly so the fact that we hardly ever had sex seemed normal.


My brain spiraled and I lost control. That evening I looked through my husband’s phone and found conversations between him and a young girl who was sending him explicit videos and pictures – apparently in exchange for expensive lingerie. His browsing history also revealed the disturbing amount of porn he was watching. I was furious! I confronted my husband immediately and seeing as he had no way of denying or hiding it any longer, he broke down and told me the whole truth.


Turns out, it had all started with him watching porn while he was travelling for work. He told me he felt lonely and the smiling girls on the websites he visited made him feel a sense of connection, a sense of being wanted. Over time, the videos he was watching no longer satisfied him so he turned to more and more extreme content and eventually started speaking to ‘real’ women over the Internet.


I was crushed. I felt like I didn’t know my own husband anymore; I couldn’t look at him, I didn’t want to be in the same space as him and I wanted run away - as far as I possible could. What about everything we’ve built to


gether? What about our children? Does he not care about us? Do I not satisfy him? Does he not find me attractive anymore? I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know where to turn.


Lisa’s story is painful but unfortunately very common. If you find yourself relating to it, it’s likely that your partner has an addiction to porn or sex; but remember, you are not alone and there is help available.


You may have discovered your husband watches porn and when you confronted him about it, he may have dismissed you by saying ‘it’s normal’ and ‘all men watch porn’. It can make you feel like your husband is having a virtual affair and unfortunately it is the case that porn addiction can lead to real-life infidelity. Women often feel betrayed, humiliated, rejected, and even disgusted. At the same time you might be made to feel like you are overreacting and your feelings are not valid.


Partner’s often feel responsible for their husband’s addiction and believe that by changing themselves they can stop the behavior and regain control - not because they are controlling but because they deeply love their husband and don’t want to lose their family. However, addiction can never be satisfied; even if you would lose weight, have plastic surgery or have sex with your husband more often the addiction will persist because the problem lies with them, not you.


Some men even ask their spouses to participate in viewing pornographic material and women feel pressured or again, like doing this might give them more control over their husband’s behavior. But, in reality, it will allow something into your marriage that will destroy your emotional and spiritual health as well as your relationship. Just because something is common, does not make it normal or healthy.


In fact, some wives of porn addicts experience symptoms of ‘betrayal trauma’ and even Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition characterized by feelings of powerlessness, invasive thoughts and memories of the trauma and being triggered by certain situations or conversations. Being confronted by a loved one’s porn addiction and helping them through their recovery can have a significant emotional toll and it might be helpful or necessary for you to seek therapeutic support yourself.


First, it’s important to remember that it is not your fault (you are not deficient in any way) and that the problem lies with the addict. Your husband or partner was most likely addicted before he or she met you and that addiction has prevented them from being able to find satisfaction in their relationship with you. Your husband did not become addicted because you were not there for him. In the addiction, he has lost the ability to choose; resulting in his compulsively seeking out and viewing pornographic material. Watching porn develops tolerance over time, meaning an individual will consume increasing amounts as well as more explicit content in order to maintain the sexual highs. If your husband or partner is like most people, they became addicted to the pornography when they were still children, before they could fully understand the consequences of what they were doing.


Once a person starts using porn, they lose the ability to control their behavior as they become biochemically tolerant to viewing the pornography and become addicted to the dopamine high. Their habit develops from a biochemical addiction (to sex hormones), which has a negative impact on their life and relationships; interfering with functioning in multiple life domains like family, work, interpersonal relationships, and social, emotional and spiritual functioning.


So how do you know that your partner or husband might have an addiction to porn or other sexual behaviors? Thinking about that person, consider the following questions:


- Have they become increasingly vague, dishonest or avoidant?

- Do they seem emotionally detached or uninterested in you? Or do they show unusual emotions like irritability or bursts of anger?

- Do they often view pornographic material?

- Is your partner masturbating regularly?

- Is it difficult for your partner to become aroused by normal sexual contact?

- Has your sex life changed? For example, has your partner become more dominant or aggressive during sex? Or become more withdrawn?

- Do they expect unusual or weird things from you during sex with them?

- Have their attempts to resist pornography repeatedly failed?

- Despite wanting to stop, reduce or control their addiction, have their efforts failed?

- Have they become increasingly neglectful of their responsibilities, like children, work, hobbies or family time?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, your husband or partner may be experiencing a sex or porn addiction. Remember, not just men, but also women can struggle with a porn or sex addiction. But what can you do about it?


Watching porn may start with personal choice, feelings of loneliness, unresolved trauma, and repressed emotions, but addiction develops because porn – like drugs – produces a rush of endorphins. Watching porn releases an overload of dopamine in the brain and this causes the natural production of this chemical to be reduced to the point that the person ‘needs’ porn in order to feel normal again. The brain becomes desensitized to the content and needs increasingly extreme porn in order to experience the same high.


The addict becomes obsessed and trying to abstain from their behavior can feel overwhelming and unbearable. The addict is often good at hiding and denying the severity of the problem and can make their partner feel like the issue lies with them. Denial is a very frustrating aspect of addiction and is a major barrier to getting treatment and starting the journey of recovery.


Healing from porn addiction requires the person to accept their problem, understand where and why it started and achieve abstinence. Without dealing with the underlying issues, your partner will be trapped in a cycle of addiction; promising to stop but being unable to and relapsing over and over again. Real change takes time, faith and courage from both you and your partner and that includes seeking help.


Psychotherapy or “talk” therapy is an effective treatment for porn/ sex addiction. It helps to identify and process what is underlying the addiction and what led to the problematic behavior in the first place. The addict learns how to heal from addiction by understanding their addiction, obtaining abstinence, experiencing a mind transformation where they become free from the ruminating thoughts and visualizations of porn in their head, and experience the establishment of healthy relationships with their spouse (if the spouse chooses to reconcile) and with a supportive community. The supportive community allows the addict to experience fulfillment in life free of addiction. In order to heal, the addict must develop a healthy self and learn to be in healthy relationships with others.


What about you in all of this?


In the aftermath of finding out about your husband’s porn consumption and potential addiction, you will be grieving the loss of the idea of the relationship you thought you had. You will feel betrayed and you may wonder if it is worth fighting for your marriage. I believe in saving marriages and helping couples stay together and I want you to know that if you fight for your relationship and your partner recovers from their addiction, you can have a relationship that is a thousand times better than it ever was, because the relationship you have known with your partner up to this point has been one mired in addiction and relational disfunction; poisoned by the pornography and sex addiction.


You need to talk to your partner and see if they are willing to seek help for their addiction and fight for your relationship with you. You also need to know that neither of you can handle this recovery journey alone. You both need a community of support and care around you to help you through this time. Each of you need your own trustworthy and wise friends to walk this journey of recovery with you. You need friends that believe in what you are fighting for and that will be there for you.


Take some time to think about how this discovery makes you feel and it might even be helpful to write those things down. Consider your own feelings, your fears and how it has impacted you; think or write about your experience rather than making it about him. For example, you should write ‘it makes me feel like you find those women more attractive’ rather than ‘you find those women more attractive than me!’ Once you find a good time to talk to your partner about it, this will lower the chances of him shutting down the conversation.


Avoiding accusatory statements, using open-ended questions and sharing how you feel will encourage your partner to open up and talk. Be confident, calm and honest about how you are feeling and what it is doing to your relationship – that’s why it’s a good idea to take some time to think about and write down your thoughts beforehand.


The aim of the conversation should be to find a resolution. You want him to stop lying about his habit and to stop watching porn completely and for good. But be aware of the power of addiction and realize that stopping will not be possible for your partner without the right help and community of support around him. If you cannot reach an agreement together, it might be a good idea to seek help from a relationship or family therapist. They can help you to communicate effectively and establish a route to recovery – for you, your partner and your relationship.


If you don’t take action, your relationship will suffer and the happiness and trust you should experience in a healthy relationship will be destroyed. We are relational beings; we need connection in order to thrive. When we have community and healthy relationships, we can heal from addiction. Overcoming addiction together will create a solid bond and rebuild the trust and love between you, and your relationship can be happier and healthier than ever before.


If you are worried about your partner’s addiction, contact us today to discuss your concerns.


References:

https://www.allaboutinterventions.com/2018/11/14/how-to-talk-to-your-partner-about-their-porn-addiction/

https://www.verywellmind.com/healthy-sexual-intimacy-22457

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/loving-bravely/202005/how-couples-can-talk-about-porn-and-why-they-should


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