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Posted

Like so many spouses, I have had a roller coaster ride with my husband. He has been a porn addict for most of our 33 year marriage. He has hurt me more than I can bear. I became depressed and am still on anti-depressants. To cut a long story short, after much rowing, he finally sought help. But I don't want to talk about him. I want to talk about how I feel.

I am no longer depressed but I am not happy. I hate my husband for hurting me repeatedly, for making false promises, for ignoring me because he thought he would be better off on his own with free access to porn. At the same time, I still love him because in most other areas, he is my friend. But my hurt and hate dominate and the only way I can get free of it is to be indifferent to him. I tell myself "I don't care." and it makes me feel better. I do realise that this is not a good way for a marriage to continue. I read that indifference is the real killer in a relationship. I have a lovely family. I want this lovely family to continue. But I don't know how to make my marriage better. We went to Relate, but they said they could not work with us until he had been treated for his porn addiction. I went to see 2 counselors to help with my conflicting emotions and although they were very nice and empathic, I did not find it useful. Both of them suggested that I leave my husband.

The question is How do I stop hating my husband? How do I stop the Indifference?

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Posted

Hi WW

I am so sorry to hear of the damage his addiction has done to you and your marriage.  This addiction is so damaging.  I remember Paula saying to me that the best way marriages recover is if the couple can externalise the addiction, identifying it as something external to you both, so that you can image it as an object before you both - something that you both work in partnership to overcome.  

I think the road you probably need to explore so you that can lessen or even stop hating your husband is by forgiving him.  No one says it is easy and there is a lot of confusion around forgiveness.  As I understand it, it isn't about excusing or justifying his wrong doing in anyway.  Nor is it about minimising how serious and damaging it was.  I have personally found Desmond Tutu's book very helpful on the subject, but I am sure there are others that might help you along what will no doubt be a long road.

I hope you find a way through this.

 

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Posted

Thank you.

I have often thought about the Truth and Reconciliation process in S Africa and wondered in awe at their ability to forgive. I have forgiven him more times than I can remember but the last time was unforgivable. He agrees that it was unforgivable given all that had gone before. Part of the problem is that I would never have hurt him like that. I would have sought help if I was hurting my spouse so much. He admits he loved porn more than my happiness. He loved porn more than me or his family. He now agrees that the issue is not about porn but about honesty. None of us can have everything we want. We have to make choices. If he wanted porn, he should have been honest and taken the consequences. At last, 2 years after his last relapse, we are getting somewhere. There are no more excuses from him. Porn addiction does not mean you cheat. Porn addiction does not mean you lie repeatedly. Maybe if he continues to face the truth, I will hate him less.

BTW, I spent the first one and the half year after his last relapse pleading, cajoling, supporting him to seek help. Finally, he has sought help. Now, my feelings have come to the fore.  It seems as though at last I can look after myself and it is now my turn to work through my emotions. I am not dealing with his addiction any more. I have to deal with my conflicting emotions.

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Posted

Hi WW

Thanks for this.  I wonder if it might be helpful to say the forgiveness isn't the same as how you work through your marriage - at least as I understand it.  There is a common saying that 'Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die'.   In other words one forgives another as much for your self, maybe more, than for the other person. It is to escape the damaging effects that the hate and bitterness have on you.  If you don't forgive, his wrong doing has an ongoing damaging effect on you.  

As I understand it, forgiveness isn't:

  • Approval of the wrong
  • Excusing the wrong
  • Legally pardoning them
  • Reconciliation
  • Repressing the emotional impact
  • Forgetting
  • Pretending we aren't hurt

I think of it like a debt.  When someone has hurt us, they have taken something they shouldn't have.  Our self-respect, our reputation, something material etc.  Such a concept crops up in our language around this area e.g. "I'll make him pay for that" or "He owes me for that".   Forgiveness is simply cancelling the debt - deciding not to make him repay it. Making him repay, has of course the sense of punishment.  That's another way of seeing it - deciding not to punish him.

But forgiveness isn't reconciliation and it isn't trust.  They are different.  You can choose to forgive (not that it is easy or necessarily heart felt to begin with) but not to trust the person again (sometimes that is very wise!) or you can choose to forgive and yet walk away from the person.  Desmond Tutu talks about those two options v. well in his book.

I do hope that is helpful.  You are right to look after himself and as an addict I think it is extremely important that partners set boundaries and for you to look after yourself in all this crap.  Don't deny yourself.  Look after yourself.  Addicts in addiction are extremely selfish.  It is a mistake to collude with them in their selfishness.

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