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johnsnowman

My experience so far

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I am happily married with children but have cheated in various ways throughout our marriage and even when my wife and i first met.  She has never found out about any of it and I am realistically the last man on earth you would expect this of.  I always behave appropriately around female friends and colleagues and don't even engage in harmless flirting.  

My addiction(?) started with chat rooms then visiting an adult cinema then dogging and swinging clubs.  Oddly, I never have penetrative sex and increasingly (but not always) i don't engage in any acts, just watch and masturbate.  I guess this is some sort of self justification that I am "not cheating" but obviously that is complete crap.  

I think one of my problems is I haven't hit rock bottom.  In fact there are really no consequences for me other than a feeling of guilt.  That said, I did think i had caught an STI a couple of years ago.  I found myself in my car crying and talking to The Samaritans.   After that, I stopped all activity for a while but gradually i slipped back into my old ways.  

In August of this year I reached a turning point of sorts with even more acute feelings of guilt and decided I had to stop.  Since that date 11th August (9 weeks ago) I have not done anything I (or more importantly my wife) would class as cheating.  All I allow myself is recorded pornography but no chat rooms or live sessions.  

I am hopeful but realistic about this.  I have managed to resist temptation in various scenarios where I would have looked to seek out sexual gratification.  Typically these are times when I am away with work, when I would seek out sex clubs or dogging meets.  Or at home alone when I would access swinging sites and arrange meets or engage in cybersex.  I am pleased with myself for this but also there has been an impact on my libido and sex life within my marriage.  It's not dramatic though and I suspect it will return to normal.

I have no intention of telling my wife any of this as I don't see what it would achieve and (provided I don't relapse) I know she wouldn't want to know.

I am considering telling my wife about some of my desires.  I don't believe any of them are inherently wrong.  To me it is the betrayal which is wrong and where i feel the guilt.  I am going to leave it a while before I decide whether to talk to her about these desires, though.  I need to make sure I am making a rational decision not acting through frustration at my abstinence.

Writing this is cathartic for me but I would like to hear anyone's thoughts on it.  It was interesting writing it.  Not least because I had to make a very determined effort not to go into detail as I don't want to re-ignite my desires or do the same for anyone reading.

Thanks for reading and good luck to anyone who is going through anything similar.

John

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Hello John,

I really appreciate your courage and honesty in laying everything out bare like this. It takes real strength face your past actions honestly. That's a tough thing to do.

It's also really positive that you've been able to stop. I am curious though what has changed recently for you to want to stop? Motivation is so critical because it's incredibly easy to slip back otherwise, as you've found out in the past. And also speaking from experience, slipping back is very common.

While you're turning over a new leaf, I'd like to encourage you to seek help outside and from other people to find something that works. Whether it's Paula's course, SLAA, books, groups, whatever helps. I do think finding and connecting with real people is key from my personal experience. Trying to fight this yourself can feel like trying to fight an 800 pound gorilla that's 20% smarter than you. Trying a different approach and getting help can make a lot of difference but it's not always easy or comfortable, which sex/porn addiction always is. Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone.

I posted a separate thread on here with online links that you might find useful.

The feelings of shame and guilt can and will pass and heal over time as you stay clean and build a better life. But it does take time and requires perseverance. I believe personally it is many months and years of effort. There are no quick fixes but that's actually a very good thing because spending the time rebuilding yourself into someone who doesn't need to lie or hide part of himself is a great reward for self respect in itself. And you are at the start of an amazing journey where you can realise that. 

Disclosing to your wife is an extremely difficult topic. There is no right answer. Therepuetic disclosure is one option and preparation is critical if you choose to do it. I think the most important thing is to heal yourself and get help for you. Once you are in a better place then perhaps you might change your mind about disclosure. But is will always be a difficult thing for your wife and she will need support too. 

Peace

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