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Hello

Last New Year's Day (2017) I found out my husband had a porn addiction, had always had this issue. 

I found out because I was putting washing away in his cupboard and he had bought some used ladies knickers, which included a photo of the woman. 

Its fair to say the bottom dropped out of my world, my daughter (second child) was 10 months old and my son was 4. I had just returned to work. It was a dreadful and stressful time. My husband had just started a new job. I can see how this was all a contributing factor. 

We started marriage counselling, I saw a counsellor and he saw a counsellor about his issues. He completely engaged in the process. She told me she had never seen anyone engage as well in treatment. He knows and understands his triggers, he has lapsed a couple of times and we have dealt with it by adding restrictions to his phone. He did tell me about the time he lapsed. It sets me back in how I am coping with the problem. 

I know he loves me and that he's in recovery, we have a great relationship on the whole, make each other laugh, enjoy each other's company, still enjoy our sex life (after some work) but I have so much anger. Particularly in the run up to the anniversary of finding out. Which if I'm honest has ruined Christmas and new year. I worry that I'll never fully trust him again.

He kissed a woman at his work do before we were married, I am not sure I ever forgave him. But it was under similar circumstances, after his work do, when he was drunk. 

He has only had one relationship, with me. I was his first and I think he has disappointment that he never had his chance to sow wild oats. He says not, but I think a lot of this is to do with this issue. I understand that addiction is complex rooted in all sorts of family relationship issues. i think it's a little bit about his lack of experience too. Particularly given his preferences. 

What worries me is that, how can he ever really be happy with me. How will I ever be enough? How do I really work through this? Will it ever go away? The boundaries are set and he knows that another serious issue would be the end for us. But I don't know if I could ever go through with it, he's a wonderful father, I have come from a divorced family and I so did not want that for myself or my children. 

The waiting...the waiting for the next mistake is killing me and I don't know if I can ever trust him again. 

I am not sleeping, I am angry a lot, with him and it has affected all my relationships. My ability to trust people has also been affected. 

There are times when it is easier, but I feel like Christmas and the run up to the new year will always be like this. 

Thanks for reading 

 

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Dear Judith, I know how you feel. It is exhausting being vigilant all the time. The mistrust and hurt leads to anger. All these negative emotions take the joy out of the relationship. I am in the same place and don't know how to get better. 

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WW- it's nice to hear someone else feels the same. It's a lonely business working on your relationship and trying to put things right and help someone in recovery. Talking about it with him makes it worse as this makes him feel bad.

We had a big talk a couple of nights ago and have agreed that this year we will schedule a monthly chat to discuss how things are going. For his recovery and for me to move forward. But also to air the other irritations which seem harder to ignore since he revealed his secret. 

Good luck with your relationship- I hope things improve for you and also for me this year. I don't believe it has to be the end of a relationship but all relationships require a lot of work to sustain them. I hope I'm right. 

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Hi Judith, I understand how you feel completely. It can be very difficult to keep the resentment and anger in check. It's very difficult to apply the 'theory' of sex addiction to the situation when it stirs up such raw emotions. I've been dealing with my partner's addiction for 18 months now and I'm coping much better but sometimes I go right back to square 1. I know that sex addiction has very little to do with sex and everything to do with addiction but my sexual jealousy still gets the better of me. I know this is because of my insecurities and I need to focus on me and my recovery - not on his recovery. We are  working on our relationship to see if it can be salvaged. My partner seems to be in a sustained healthy recovery, so his life and associated mental health has improved beyond recognition. But the horror of the addiction has burdened me in a way I never imagined possible. I think it's really important to actively participate in your own recovery. I will have to 'forgive' BUT I don't see that as something I give him - it's something I give myself - the ability to abandon all hope of having a better past and to accept what's happened in my life and to move on ( with or without him). I want to move from being a partner in recovery to being a recovered partner.

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Wow. Thanks Worthyhope- that’s really helped put things in perspective for me. I do need to focus on my recovery, on me. 

I’m going to try to remember that when I’m angry and disillusioned. 

Forgiveness is somethinng I give myself not him. 

Powerful stuff. Thank you. 

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Aww Judith, I can really hear where you're coming from about the family unit.  I am the same background and this tears me apart. My partner was in my mind perfect father until all this has turned our family apart.  The strain of going through this with kids at all never mind really young kids makes it all the more heartbreaking and also difficult to find the time to meet your needs for recovery. It's hard to not get angry as well when your so exhausted. I would have liked to have done the course for partners but my youngest is just a baby and it would have meant leaving her for days to attend.  I would have loved to have met real people going through the same torment like my partner has been able to. I really struggle with anniversaries and birthdays, any annual events that we would naturally reflect on that are tainted with painful memories. I try to push on and enjoy them though as much as possible because this horrible thing has taken so much already.  We definitely need to try and let go of the stuff that after all wasn't our doing and strive to make life as good as we can for ourselves. Wishing you well. 

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What worries me is that, how can he ever really be happy with me. How will I ever be enough? How do I really work through this? Will it ever go away? The boundaries are set and he knows that another serious issue would be the end for us”

Oh, Judith, I understand that feeling so well. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it  I’m over 2 years into recovery but what I can pass on to you is that you are competing with a ‘thing’, a substance, an object. No one person can ‘compete’ with that thing, that entity that is at the core of the addiction. Not that lady in the picture  No individual woman can. Not even that lady can compete with the chemical soup in the brain of a porn/sex addict. They are chasing the high. 

Judith, you ARE enough  It took me a lot of time to get past this mindset but I did. Learning about porn addiction was an enormous help. There is a website called YourBrainOnPorn.com where there is a video that explains what’s going on in the brain of a porn addict. It’s about seeking and novelty, dopamine, creating pathways in the brain, the hijacking of the brain’s reward system and sensitisation to the ‘thing’ they’ve become addicted to. They appear to be people that the addict is seeking out, but it’s not really. They’re just the ‘substance’ that’s needed to get the high.

Obviously, the way to feel OK about yourself takes a lot more than understanding what goes on in men’s brains when they look at porn or similar, but it explains what people mean when they say it’s not about the us, that we weren’t the cause of it or that we weren’t good enough. 

A bit about me. My husband was an internet porn addict for 15 years and before that he was buying magazines and videos from seedy sex shops although I only ever found two magazines on one occasion. He also went to strip bars, which I was never supposed to find out about. In truth, I don’t really know how far it goes back, but as soon as he was online at home I lost him to porn addiction. Eventually we had no sex life whatsover. Zero. Nothing. No interest in me. Never looked at me. Never complimented me. I could have been stark naked and he’d just keep his nose in his book. Eventually I got dressed and undressed in the bathroom. I knew full well about the porn but after if caught him in the first days and weeks of getting online he had all these cleanup apps installed. 

It really hurt. Deep down I felt rejected because I was over 30 (oh, hahaha, seems so young now) and then I was over 40... and so on. So I thought it was all over. I only managed because I was in denial. I ended up feeling totally rejected and lonely and depressed. Nobody ever touched me or kissed me. I had to ask for a goodnight peck, otherwise he would just turn over and go to sleep. So, did I feel not good enough? In my mind I BELIEVED I was not good enough, never would be, never could be. I didn’t see the depression coming. I developed a sort of adult onset midlife anorexia. I didn’t know it could happen. But it did and it happened to me. I developed body dysmorphia. I was shrinking away to nothing because I believed I had no right to take up space. Hiding my ‘hideous’ body from my husband was so easy because it would never occur to him to look. Privately I could see I was emaciated. And then one day I saw myself in the mirror and had a depressive breakdown. My only thought at the time was “he’ll never want me now. Everything I once was has gone forevermore”. That was how far it had to go before he quit porn, and even then it was only the beginning of all the pain of discovering the extent of this habit and all the lying. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. 

I wasn’t his porn type. I soon discovered that. I had gone through my early adult life with this enviable physique and I’d pretty much stayed the same shape but I wasn’t some 36GG painted Barbie. I didn’t have a negative body image at all. But somehow, in midlife I ended up painfully thin and frail with body dysmorphia disorder, and that was before I had any idea about what he sought out in porn. 

I stopped neglecting my appearance. I treated myself to some new clothes. I coloured my hair. I bought some nail varnish. I started eating more. I was clinically underweight and it took some time to gain weight. I didn’t want to eat junk either.

I bought some self help books. Gael Lindenfield does some good ones on building self esteem. I tried to get back to my previous interests and hobbies though this was hard because I was so distressed and preoccupied as the reality of my husband’s addiction behaviours slowly tricked out, and I was traumatised over and over with new discoveries followed by lying and denial. It was hell.

I bought myself some cheap exercise books and biros and I wrote and wrote and wrote to get it all out of my system. My anger, my hatred for porn, and the industries that make money from this misery, the difficult emotions about my husband. I journalled a lot. 

I saw my GP who arranged counsellor. Not brilliant but it was support for me. Not for us as a couple but just for me. I couldn’t deal with it along. 

My husband began to appreciate me physically after d day but to be honest this was more of a honeymoon period. As soon as I raised an awkward issue or when I discovered more evidence of his acting out which he would deny, this would create rifts which he did not have the skills and maturity to deal with. So I noticed the compliments were not so forthcoming. And then one day something lit up in my mind — I don’t need his compliments to feel worthwhile. If he doesn’t notice, then so what? I notice! I can see who’s looking back at me in the mirror, and she’s an impressive lady. He’s a man with a problem, he’s a porn addict, and I’m not going to let his behaviour that caused so many problems for me decide whether or not I’m going to feel good about myself. 

So so that’s how it began. That was my turning point. Of course it’s not that easy. There are many difficult and upsetting moments, but the important thing is to uncouple yourself from his ‘approval’. It’s late and I’ve been writing for ages so i’ll stop. I hope this helps. I still get upset about it all. I still feel like an ugly nobody at times. I still feel wretched when I have my doubts and suspicions. Our ‘recovery’ is far from ideal. But I know that where he is lacking, I must continue to work on my own personal healing. 

Edited by Hannah
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Hi Hannah

What an encouraging (I want to say 'brilliant'!) post.  You are a legend!

Can I suggest you repost this as a post in the section of 'Success Stories'?   I think we consider success only for the addicts, but yours is very much a partner's success story (despite the addict's recovery or lack of it).

Wow.  Keep going!

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There's nothing wrong,  I don't think, for expecting to be appreciated by your partner though. Valuing and looking after your own selfesteem is essential but it's normal to want to be appreciated and respected by your partner - Is it not?  Isn't that a human requirement in a healthy relationship.  It's something that also needs to be addressed by the recovering addict as well if the relationship is to continue.  I think it is a issue depending on whether you assume blame for the SA or not.  I don't think being hurt/angry or sad because you've discovered the reality that your partner is a SA is a reflection on who you really are. And that is an unfortunate consequence for BOTH addict and partner to realise and take responsibility for if you are to recover as a couple. 

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As a partner of a SA Hannah s post has given me  so much encouragement and  strength to keep going -all of  her words are familiar territory for me 

it is difficult to assume responsibility for you own recovery when you feel so bad  and it's so hard to share with the problem with anyone else  when you feel so ashamed about the situation you find yourself in.

I have found it has taken a  me  a long time to realise that the problem he struggles with is not about me  and not something I can control and feel this is getting a bit easier to accept.

 I try to understand  his  mindset and what he struggles with  and  try not blame myself  for this nightmare but  sadly I  often slip back into feelings of not being good enough; that it's all an excuse for risky behaviour which is not helpful.

I do believe that  self care is the key. when I'm  feeling in a good place having worked on self care and positivity  it has been possible to pursue  more rational and calm conversations with him regarding our recovery which gives a sense of hope for the future but it seems a long long road  and I still want to know how long does it take...

work in progress

hurrah for this forum 

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I think the posts that have been added are amazing and I’m so pleased people shared their stories about their own recovery. It’s helped me to share this with people who understand. 

I am working on myself and my own self esteem. Exercising, loosing weight, putting the time into making the best of myself, feeling confident . I do feel differently since new year- I am hoping every new year won’t feel the same as this year. The build up to the big events are always harder than the actual event. 

Things are largely better with my husband- we try to talk things through every month so I don’t have to feel like I’m checking up on him and it gives us a chance to check in with how I am feeling and how he is feeling. I’m still so proud of how much he has engaged in therapy and moved forward with changing his life, even if this pride is tinged with worry that he’ll throw everything away and ruin our life but I can’t do anything to change the course of his choices. They are for him to make not me. All I can do is concentrate on myself and try to trust him again. 

Good luck with your recoveries and relationships ladies. Xxx

 

 

 

 

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Judith, it’s great that you’re doing much better now. I don’t feel that I’m any example of a  success story, it’s more a case of trying to make my way through an unfamiliar territory. My husband has quit his porn habit successfully but the effects on our relationship and on each of us as individuals goes very deep. 

There’s no doubt that our hypersexualised porn culture has consequences on us as individual women and of course it’s a huge influence on the thoughts and behaviours of our partners, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Every day, we - as women - receive toxic cultural messages: be young, be hot, be sexy, be thin, be busty, be sexually available, be compliant, be a temptress, etc. On the other hand, men are served up hundreds of images of “sexy” women for their titilation, their arousal, their entertainment. They almost always fit into a narrowly defined set of physical characteristics. For those of us married to porn addicts, we lose our life partners to nothing more than pixels. Suddenly all the images in the magazines and advertising hoardings etc are triggers. If they hadn’t had the disastrous effects they did on my relationship they wouldn’t be these triggers. And that’s what’s hard about it. This stuff is everywhere, in publications and entertainment aimed at women too.

It doesn’t matter if I’m slim. It doesn’t matter if I eat enough and eat well. It doesn’t matter if I wear nice clothes. Even if it’s not a trigger, there’s always a message that tells me — and you — that I’m not enough. That no woman is ever enough. Just look at the magazine covers. It’s all about weight loss, beauty products and how to please your man in bed. Once you add to this negative brainwashing all the sexually objectifying imagery aimed at men, whether it’s magazines aimed at men featuring women barely dressed, music videos  with near naked women dancing provocatively or the explicit porn sites — what does all that do to us when we’re married to a man who’d rather masturbate to this than have “real” sex? Who can’t leave it alone? Who has it on his phone, his USB sticks, hard drives or even stored online?

Just how straightforward is it to be a real, living, sentient woman in the midst of this hypersexualised culture that is running your partner’s sexuality? That has left you isolated, body shamed, or body dysmorphic even, hiding your shape with shapeless dowdy clothes, you have low self esteem, your eating is disordered, you’re depressed, and so on. 

It’s not a good place to be, but I’m fighting back. And I’m not buying into this commercialised definition of what female sexuality “should” be. Because that’s all wrong. It’s not a healthy message at all. 

What works for me and what has really helped me are the women activists, authors and podcasters who take a stance against all these harmful messages aimed at us, day after day. I’m not here to indoctrinate people but there are alternative voices who are critical of porn culture, diet culture, and the unhealthy aspects of the beauty and fashion industries. Now, I love dressing and adorning myself, I enjoy food and cooking, I like nice bags and scarves, etc, but I’m choosing these things for positive reasons, not to try and live up to these false ideals imposed on us. I’m resisting these “not good enough” messages. 

So where am I at now? Im working on body acceptance, im learning about intuitive eating, I’m actively resisting our toxic hypersexualised culture. Im trying to work out a better way. It’s part of MY healing. Maybe not for everyone, but being my own one-woman resistance movement is helping me heal. At lesson for now. 

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Hi All, I'm also looking for help. I feel like reading this has gave me some hope and i wonder if any if you can help? My partner of 3 years has recently opened up to me admitting he has a sex addiction. Our relationship has been rocky to say the least for the past few months and I feel like a lot of that is now making sense to me. He would like to get help and i have assured him i will help him in getting the help he wants and needs. What would you recommend or where to go for help first? He says he does want this help as it is affecting both his and my life now. I am shaken with anxiety and sure he is too, I feel this has come from blocking out other emotions but admitting this to me when he felt embarrassed before is a start. Any help would be appreciated. Tia.

Edited by GH200291

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Hello GH!!!

I think it sounds great that he’s willing to engage in getting help. All too often therapy is frowned upon and people feel they couldn’t deal with talking about their feelings. 

I heartily recommend finding a therapist who is a specialist in SA. You can find private therapists through online listings for counsellors. 

We used a therapist for his SA, and she was a couples counsellor, I also saw her for my own recovery. 

I hope you have found some support and things are moving on positively. 

Xxx

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Hello GH!!!

I think it sounds great that he’s willing to engage in getting help. All too often therapy is frowned upon and people feel they couldn’t deal with talking about their feelings. 

I heartily recommend finding a therapist who is a specialist in SA. You can find private therapists through online listings for counsellors. 

We used a therapist for his SA, and she was a couples counsellor, I also saw her for my own recovery. 

I hope you have found some support and things are moving on positively. 

Xxx

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On 4/13/2018 at 12:53 AM, Alys said:

 

Just how straightforward is it to be a real, living, sentient woman in the midst of this hypersexualised culture that is running your partner’s sexuality? That has left you isolated, body shamed, or body dysmorphic even, hiding your shape with shapeless dowdy clothes, you have low self esteem, your eating is disordered, you’re depressed, and so on. 

It’s not a good place to be, but I’m fighting back. And I’m not buying into this commercialised definition of what female sexuality “should” be. Because that’s all wrong. It’s not a healthy message at all. 

Alys- I completely agree. The whole #metoo movement is very timely. I think all the images and internet bullshit about image and sexuality is ruining us all. 

I still find myself having odd conversations with my husband. His mind and his thinking has been altered in ways he doesn’t fully understand yet. The whole sexbot debate was raised recently in an article written after that ‘incel’ rage related terrorist incident in Canada. Some fool journalist was arguing that everyone deserves the right to have sex. (Not sure I agree with that) and that sexbots provided the answer to avoid incidents like this from happening again. Which is of course- nonsense. That was not a ‘redistribution of sex’ issue, clearly it was a mental health issue. This was the article. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/opinion/incels-sex-robots-redistribution.html

my immidate reaction to this was not oh yes, sexbots that will make all men happy. Conversely- my husband thought it was a great idea- allowing all men the opportunity to have sex. 

He didn’t see the issues at all. He reacted as he was his old self- like he would have liked that. Not like - that kind of behaviour is wrong, passive, disassociating and plain frightening. Which of course frightened me as I thought I’m just trying to muzzle the beast. What’s the point- I might as well give up??

I think the idea of sexbots is so desperately wrong, let’s let people loose on robots, what could possibly go wrong? Practising their worst and most wild and strange fantasies out on a robot- that will work well for relationships and the safety of women. Let’s dehumanise women/men some more. That will really help. 

He hadn’t seen that way. At all. 

We are still working on things- him on the long reaching ever decreasing circles of his SA. Me on feeling happy, healthy and confident in myself. 

Alys- the fact that you are here, talking and thinking about these things, is a success story. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Recovery for everyone is different. Success doesn’t automatically mean your relationship survived. It’s that you and your partner did. In whatever way that ends up. 

Xxx

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