Day: November 2, 2015
1. Physical self-care is probably the most overlooked aspect of early recovery for women. Trauma is mostly experienced in the body. The body is designed to protect us from danger. If an individual experiences a serious threat to their safety (emotional or physical), their body will become tense, flooded with adrenaline, and have difficulty calming down. To ignore the body is to ignore one of the greatest resources for healing. I have found that women who make physical self-care a priority heal much faster from the impact of their husband’s secretive behaviors. Many women find that getting more sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising, meditating, stretching, soaking in warm water, and slowing down to nurture their physical body can help them shift out of survival mode so they can think clearly.
2. Spiritual grounding provides feelings of peace, hope, and reassurance in the face of so much uncertainty. Meditation, prayer, seeking comfort and counsel from words of ancient and modern prophets, and counseling with church leaders allows women access to power and strength beyond their own. Seeking a priesthood blessing from a home teacher, family member, or church leader is another powerful source of comfort and strength for many partners. Some women feel forsaken by God when they’ve been betrayed by those closest to them. Spiritual healing is essential, even if it takes time. Some women find it hard to attend church and spend time with others when they feel so low and vulnerable. If this is difficult, remember that being around others can be healing even if you don’t reach out and share. Also, it can help to spend time where spiritual feelings are easier to access, such as visiting peaceful locations in nature or listening to uplifting music.
3. Emotional expression is critical throughout all stages of recovery, but especially in the early stages. Many women find it helpful to write their feelings in a new journal that they have the option of throwing away at a later date. Emotions can be so strong early in this process that some women worry about putting raw feelings in their regular journal. It’s important to have the freedom to express feelings in a healthy, non-aggressive way. Recognize that no feeling is inappropriate. Feelings come and go like the waves of sea, so it’s important to give them full expression and movement. Holding on to any strong emotion with the hope that it will disappear only keeps it stuck. Talking with others can also help, which is explained in the next item.
4. Connecting to others who can help is also difficult to do, but offers tremendous benefits. It’s not recommended that a woman who learns about her husband’s behavior broadcast her pain to just anyone who will listen. Instead, it’s important to identify a few key individuals who: 1) will keep confidences, 2) can provide a safe place to talk, 3) won’t negatively judge her or her husband, and 4) can offer some support and direction. It can be beneficial for the long-term stability of the relationship for a woman to inform her husband that she will be speaking to specific individuals about her struggles. Helpful individuals often include ecclesiastical leaders, therapists, parents or siblings, 12-Step support groups, therapy groups, and close friends.
5. Simplifying life is certainly a goal for most people, but this is an excellent reason to begin. This is the ideal opportunity to begin saying “no” to extra commitments, evaluating the schedule, and looking for things to cut out. Dealing with the trauma of betrayal is so physically and emotionally exhausting that everything that used to feel easy will suddenly feel impossible. It’s important to keep a simple structure in place so there is order and predictability in life. However, a frenzied pace only functions as a distraction and eventually catches up in the form of more hopelessness, feelings of failure, and powerlessness. Helping others can create a sense of purpose as well. It is better to slow down and prioritize those things that will bring the greatest peace, joy, and comfort.
6. Education is critical in the early stages of recovery. There are many good resources available to help women understand the scope of the problem. I maintain a readings list for partners available on my resources page of http://www.LifeSTARstgeorge.com. Education can help validate common feelings and clear up misconceptions about addiction and recovery. One of the best resources available to partners is the book “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means.
Healing from the effects of a husband’s pornography addiction is best compared to grief, loss, and bereavement. The discovery of a partner’s secret sexual behavior can cause a woman’s life (as she knew it) to flash before her eyes. Recovering from this loss is a process of understanding the shock and anger, processing the sadness of what was lost, and moving toward acceptance of the new life. The new life may or may not include a husband who is committed to long-term recovery. Regardless of that outcome, it’s still critical for women to do the long-term work of healing from the impact of secret pornography use.
This material is taken from the article The Effect of Pornography on the Spouse of an Addict by Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT
Another article I found online that needed to be shared. The original author is:
Fred Stoeker. Find out more about him at http://www.fredstoeker.com
When a wife discovers her husband is hooked on pornography, she’s instantly tossed into an unintended journey by a blistering sense of betrayal. My wife Brenda shares about a similar journey in The Healing Choice, co-written with Susan Allen:
Any wife who is enduring the pain of a husband’s porn addiction is experiencing the most shattering, deep kind of pain she may ever encounter. One day her marriage seems normal, and the next perversion seems to have broken out everywhere. She hasn’t a clue how to find her way out, and is likely unprepared for the crushing pain of betrayal that has her buried deep in an emotional wasteland. What happens if she doesn’t have what she needs to pull through and get her heart back?
Once that storm crashes in and she realizes she doesn’t have the knowledge she needs about her husband’s sin, or the connection with God that she requires to handle this kind of trauma, she must immediately begin to learn and to build up her own intimacy with God, just like I did in the middle of my grief. She must choose to move in to God with all of her heart. That’s the key.
Steps to Recovery
Perhaps you’ve begun a similar journey. If so, what immediate actions can you take to move in closer to God? Obviously, you must dive deeply into prayer and into the Word. On my wife Brenda’s journey, she began praying at the top of every hour for five minutes, transforming her spirit. She found the stress made it difficult for her to remember the Scripture she needed for support, so she wrote out the verses on sticky notes and posted them all over the house to keep his Word alive throughout her day. Get creative and run to him with all of your heart. As you run, be careful to do these three things as well:
1. Get Knowledgeable About Male Sexuality
When your husband turns to porn for sexual pleasure, it’s common to blame yourself for it all. Don’t. At its root, it isn’t about sex at all, so it isn’t about your attractiveness or the extra 20 pounds you’re carrying since the baby, or what you do or don’t do in bed. Trust me. You have what it takes sexually, so don’t worry. He’s the issue—not you.
Of course, you must believe this inside and out, so get knowledgeable. Start by reading Brenda’s book, Every Heart Restored, which includes nine chapters on male sexuality. You’ll soon recognize that your husband’s sexual sin likely spawned from past wounds inflicted upon him long before he ever met you—wounds that taught him to use his sexuality as a crutch to medicate the emotional pain in his life. Such knowledge changes everything, freeing your heart to move more quickly from judgment to mercy, which is exactly where God wants it to be.
Don’t get me wrong. Your frustration and anger at the betrayal are natural, and you needn’t feel guilty about it. In action, porn and masturbation are betrayal, stabbing at the female heart and crushing marital oneness. It must stop. But in motive, it’s rarely betrayal. Let me explain.
When I engaged my battle for purity as a young husband, I soon had my eyes retrained to bounce away from the sensual imagery around me, and quickly learned to take lustful thoughts captive. I figured these victories would eliminate all traces of sexual sin, but the masturbation habit retained its grip on me. I couldn’t understand it.
At the time I was in full-commission sales, which meant that if I sold nothing, my kids ate nothing. That’s pressure, so on many nights I tucked my kids into bed, gave Brenda a kiss and headed off late to my office to prepare for the next day. That’s where the masturbation occurred.
Why was this happening? I loved Brenda, and our sex life was wonderful. My actions surely betrayed her, but my motives were pure. I wasn’t chasing sexual betrayal.
When I looked more closely at those late nights, I noticed a pattern. I always felt lonely and disconnected, and as the hours wore on, my sense of stress would multiply. I hadn’t yet learned to trust God with financial pressure, or to lean on him as a son. I could only hear the haunting cries of my childhood, sneering that I just didn’t have what it takes to succeed out there or to stand at my dad’s side in the world of men. I just didn’t measure up in his eyes, and because of my job stress, I seriously doubted whether I’d ever measure up in my own eyes, either.
That’s where the masturbation came in. Somewhere along the way, I’d “learned” that masturbation provides a very real sense of intimacy and connection, and that orgasm gives a guy a strong sense of manhood, dominance, and control, even though it’s fleeting. That’s a pretty strong draw for a frightened man who feels like a loser night after lonely night.
In truth, I didn’t have a sexual sin issue after all. I had a financial trust issue, and a desire to reassert some control over my stressful life. The masturbation was only a symptom, something I used to medicate my pain instead of allowing God to heal it. When I changed my focus from the masturbation to my lack of my intimacy with God, I soon began turning to him in prayer during those moments of fear and temptation instead. The masturbation soon vanished on its own.
2. Relish Your Role as Helpmate
Your role is to lift your husband to Christian greatness and oneness with God, whatever that may entail. Of course, your motives are everything. If your motives are love, you’ll remember his wounds and speak from an encouraging perspective instead of harshly speaking in ways that tear and destroy. Memorize 1 Corinthians 13, and continually assess your motives from this foundation of love.
As you approach your role, what behaviors can you expect to see in your husband if he is truly committed to change? First of all, he’ll be open and honest about his sin, and will share any level of detail necessary to help you heal. If he stumbles again, he won’t wait for your interrogation to reveal it. He will immediately come to you to tell you. All lying will stop.
Second, he’ll be very patient as you heal, which is a sign of deep repentance. He’ll know that since he created the mess, he’s the one who must clean up the mess, no matter how long it takes.
Third, he’ll perform trustworthy acts regularly. He’ll eagerly read the books you give him, like Every Man’s Battle. He won’t wait for you to place the computer in a high-traffic area and purchase the filters. He’ll seek out accountability relationships with other men, and will regularly ask you for other ways he might help rebuild your trust.
If these aren’t happening, bring them up to him. Your voice is critical in his life. Refuse to be muzzled.
3. Develop Close Friends on Your Journey
You may find it difficult to talk to other wives about your husband’s sin, but it’s urgent to develop friendships for support on this confusing journey. Push through these feelings until you’ve found true Christian community, that life-giving connection that’s part of healthy support groups.
After learning of her husband Clay’s addiction to porn, Susan Allen restored her heart in this kind of community through the help of other hurting sisters in Christ. Before long, Susan began leading her own groups and soon created a nonprofit organization called Avenue that distributes support group curricula and provides mentoring help to group leaders through their volunteer staff in California. If you can’t find friends locally, join a small group community via 800-number. Simply contact Susan’s volunteer staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fred Stoeker is founder of Living True Ministries and author of best-selling books Every Man’s Battle and Every Young Man’s Battle.
This is an article I found online, but the content was good enough to share here, on my blog.
The author of the article below is: Jill C. Manning, PhD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
As a marriage and family therapist who works with women directly impacted by pornography, I am continually struck by the profound damage it causes.
Although downplayed and dismissed by many, pornography consumption by a spouse is devastating and should not be underestimated in terms of the far-reaching consequences it has on trust, intimacy, family life, children, finances, the marital friendship, and, in a growing number of cases, the existence of the marriage itself. Aside from abuse, I know of no other marital issue that affects the very soul of women more than pornography consumption by a spouse.
Too often, the discovery or disclosure of a pornography problem in marriage causes women to slip into unhealthy comparisons; to engage in inappropriate behavior themselves; or to spiral downward into depression, self-doubt, and in some cases, even suicidal thinking. These responses, although unhelpful, are understandable when the magnitude of damage, betrayal, and hurt are understood. Pornography, by nature and name, diminishes virtue, love, creativity, healthy sexuality, personal and relational growth, and honesty. Consequently, responding to pornography problems in marriage requires that we be exceptionally honest and clear about what pornography is, what it is not, how it has impacted our relationship and self-concept, and what is the best way to respond.
The following three concepts, among many others, have been helpful for women to incorporate into their healing and decision-making process:
- Clarify the Motivation. In many cases, pornography use is more about seeking an escape or mood-altering effect than it is about sex itself. Although pornography use often starts out as a youthful curiosity about sex, in most cases it develops into a way of escaping certain emotions and stressors. Looking at pornography can even be used to self-medicate depression and anxiety and to self-soothe loneliness or poor self-esteem. Understanding this can help cut through the faulty belief that being more sexual with a pornography user will reduce consumption, or that if someone is using pornography, his or her spouse must not be sexually available or attractive. In addition, understanding the non-sexual motivations behind pornography use can help a woman understand that her partner would have likely turned to pornography regardless of whom he married and that his pornography use is not a commentary on her attractiveness (even though it feels like an attack). Erroneous assumptions about the motivations around pornography use not only promote misplaced blame and shame, but also detract from holding the consumer responsible for choosing to deal with life’s problems in maladaptive and harmful ways.
- Beware of Comparing Reality to Fantasy. Many women will tell me they feel insecure and intimidated when they compare themselves to the pornography stars their husband lusts after. There are two issues here: (1) the destabilizing hurt caused by a husband’s infidelity and (2) the dynamic of comparing oneself to someone who has prostituted herself in a pornographic scene. Let’s look at the second part of this assumption. Many women believe they don’t measure up to what their husband is neurotically and narcissistically seeking out because they think the porn stars represent a sexual ideal. This is one of the biggest lies pornography invites women to believe. Most pornography stars have histories of sexual abuse, drug use or addiction, mental health problems, failed relationships, cosmetic surgery, and/or sexually transmitted diseases. In short, the only thing that is modeled in pornography is sexual brokenness and spiritual disconnection. Men who recover from a pornography habit also come to this realization and ironically begin to “see” the beauty of their spouse as what they desire and need.
- Ignore Comments That Invalidate the Seriousness of This Problem, and Seek Out People Who Understand the Issue.When a woman takes the risk to share this marital problem with a trusted friend or family member, it is not uncommon for her to encounter statements such as, “Boys will be boys,” “All guys are into porn,” or “At least he isn’t cheating on you.” Comments such as these not only demoralize and invalidate, but they also reflect a lack of understanding about the addictive potential this habit has and the impact pornography use has on relationships. Pornography use represents a serious breach of the marital bond and pulls sexual energy away from an intimate relationship. It is important to ignore comments that dismiss or invalidate the seriousness of this issue and to actively seek out the opinions and support of individuals who understand this issue well. As a woman sifts through the constraining and erroneous beliefs that compound the pain associated with a spouse’s pornography use, she is better able to make healthy decisions and take steps that will facilitate healing. Although it is troubling to consider that an increasing number of women are facing this issue in their marriage, it is reassuring to know there are also a growing number of resources to support women and families dealing with this issue. With our continued support, the Lighted Candle Society will not only be able to help women get the support they need, but also be able to continue its unique fight against the pornography industry at large.