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Cowslip last won the day on March 26

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  1. I though you might want to hear about my experience, but this is just what I found useful, and it may not be helpful for you. We all have different experiences and are in different places. I found our first anniversary after discovery very difficult, too - I'm sure everyone must share that feeling. However, we had already decided to stay together and that we would work together to deal with his addiction (you may not be at that stage, or may be thinking of separating). I have to say that with him, there wasn't a 'just once' discovery - there were several minor discoveries and partial confessions on his part before the big one. So when we got to our anniversary, we had already been through a few cycles of discovery, confession and starting over. At first, I thought I wanted to ignore the anniversary, but realised that family and friends would be sending us cards etc, so it would be hard just to pretend it did not exist. Having decided to stay in the relationship, I decided I would put some time and effort into looking back over our time together and identifying all the good times we had enjoyed and the good things we still shared. I found it hard to do, but at the end of the process, I realised that we had a lot that was worth celebrating and a lot that was worth saving. We kept the anniversary fairly low key (just the two of us at home with a nice meal and a bottle of wine), but used it as an additional opportunity to talk honestly about what had happened and how we would go forward. We both shed a lot of tears. We've had a few bumps in the road since then, but my partner has kept moving forward and has continued to work to leave his addiction behind him. Anniversaries are different now - they used to be just a celebration, but now they are a chance to take stock of where we are, what we are doing well and what needs more work. Life after discovery is never the same as life before, so it is not surprising that celebrations now are different to how they were in the past (just different, not necessarily better or worse). If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to accept that this anniversary and future anniversaries will be different. What they look like is down should be whatever feels right to you. If you want to ignore the day, or spend the day in bed, or go out and give yourself a treat just for you, or do something with you partner, then just do it. Just make sure you take care of yourself and get through the day in one piece.
  2. Cowslip


    Hi Pippa. I am in a similar position to you - I have been married for more than 40 years. I was aware of my partner's interest in porn from when we first met as teenagers, but all the boys I knew were the same, so I really just dismissed it. There were several times early in our marriage when I asked him to get rid of magazines, and later videos, but I never checked that he did it (naively, I guess), and we never had a serious conversation about it. Things first came to a head when our children were young and we had our first big confrontation, when I insisted that all porn was removed from the house. He did not argue about this, and again, I just put the whole thing out of my mind (I wish I had known then what I know now!) Things changed a few years ago, when I realised that he was using the internet to look at porn, and that the material he was watching was much more extreme than I could have imagined. He was looking at anything and everything (luckily, nothing illegal - I say luckily, because I think he no longer had any idea of right and wrong when it came to porn). We had one big discussion, when he said he would stop, but 6 months later I found out he had relapsed. We are now nearly two years into recovery, and I hope, believe and trust that he is honest when he says he no longer looks at porn. We have had a huge number of discussions about this, and he has also said that often he was not aroused by what he saw. His explanation is that he searched for porn whenever he was angry, worried or frustrated by work, and that it just took his mind off his concerns and stopped him thinking about things. Like you, I asked why he didn't watch some sport or something similar, but he said that didn't occupy his mind the way that porn did. He needed the extreme images to fill his mind and stop him thinking. We have worked hard to find alternative activities he can use when he feels stressed, so that he doesn't turn back to porn. He works from home, and is often away on business for several days at a time, so I have had to learn to trust him (which has not been easy, and which still causes me sleepless nights and many tears). This is an awful thing to be facing after so many years, and my heart goes out to you and to all other women dealing with this terrible experience.
  3. Hello Ruby. I am not in the same position as you, and can only begin to imagine what you must be going through, but I thought sharing my experience may be helpful for you. I discovered just over three years ago that my partner's interest in porn (which I had known about since we were first together as teenagers) had grown to the point where it was an addiction. I also found out that many of the sites he was visiting involved gay porn, violence and incest. We have been together for more than 40 years, and I would never have believed that he would find any of those things appealing or arousing. As I say, this is quite different to finding out that your partner has been meeting men. But I have spent a lot of time thinking about how much I need or want to know about my partner's addiction, and you might find that useful. Vava is right that once your partner has told you something, you're stuck wth it, and you have to find a way of living with that knowledge. It is also true that (in my case at least) the things you imagine can be worse than the reality. What worked for me was: 1. To take my time and to think clearly and as calmly as possible about what I needed to know in order to feel safe and in control. I tried to make it about information I needed, and not about making him suffer by having to 'reveal all' (although that was a tempting thought). 2. When I decided there was something I needed to ask my partner, I rehearsed what I wanted to ask, and chose a time when I felt strong enough to have the conversation (I tried not to ask difficult questions when I was upset or tired or just plain pissed off with the whole situation). 3. I gave myself time to think about his answers - if they didn't ring true, or if I felt or thought he was dodging a question, or fudging the truth, then I asked again and again until I thought I'd got a genuine answer. Often his answers made me uncontrollably angry or incredibly sad, but I always tried to walk away from him to process all of that on my own. Early on, I decided that I had the right to honest answers to all my questions, and that our marriage would not survive if I didn't get that honesty. 4. If you can, find someone to talk to about what your partner tells you - maybe a counsellor, or a very close and trusted friend. We have all found ourselves in an incredibly lonely place and it is easy to end up replaying every conversation and every disclosure over and over again in your head until you can't think about anything else. I found I needed to get it out of my head, either by talking to someone else, or sometimes just be writing it all down. I also agree with Vava that it just isn't possible to 'stop looking backwards' - we can't rewrite the past, so we have to find a way of living with it. That's a tough one, and one I am still struggling with. But many people are able to move on and rebuild their relationship together (if that's what you decide to do); others decide to call it a day and move on alone. My partner and I have stayed together, and I am (after three years) beginning to feel confident and in control again. It took a lot of tears and a lot of misery, but we are getting there! Whatever you decide to do, I wish you well. Stay strong!
  4. First of all - everyone on this forum will understand just how you are feeling right now, and I am sure we would all say that you have made the first and important step in coming on to this forum and sharing what has happened to you. It is not an easy or comfortable thing to do, and I hope that you will find the support you get here useful. Many of us (including myself) have had the experience of knowing about our partner's porn use but not knowing how to raise the subject with them, or what to say. From my own experience I found that the longer I kept it bottled up inside, the worse I felt, and the more my imagination and fears ran away with me. What I did was to spend a little time working out exactly what I wanted to say and making sure I covered everything that I needed to tell him, including questions I needed to ask him. Once I was clear in my own head, I actually set myself a date and a time when I would start the conversation. I made it a time when I knew we would not be disturbed, and I told him in advance that I needed to talk to him and told him when we would be having the conversation. On that first occasion, I told him he had to just listen to me, and to answer my questions as honestly as he could. Confronting him was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and even though I had prepared myself, I found there were some things I just could not say. My partner's initial response was to tell me he loved me, that it was 'just' porn, that it didn't mean anything to him. That first conversation didn't take us very far, but it did open the door, and the conversations we had later, and which we are still having, several years later, were more useful and more meaningful. I have had to initiate every conversation (except once, early on, when he decided to come clean about some of his porn use). I don't mind that, as long as he really listens to me and answers my questions truthfully. It took time for my partner to open up and to be completely honest with me. It also took time for me to work up the courage to ask him the really difficult, and scary, questions, and to tell him honestly how I felt. Those conversations are still hard, but we are both now in a much better place than we were a few years ago. I understand you don't want to bring your daughter into this, and I think you are right about that. I never told my partner how I found out about his porn use, and he has never asked me. Basically, over a number of years I developed a sixth sense about when he was using porn, and when I did, I went looking for it on his computer and phone. Yes, I was snooping on him and checking up on him, but I don't feel I need to apologise for that - he should not have brought that stuff into our home! You may find that your partner won't ask how you know, but if he does, make sure you have a reply ready (this may be a time when a white lie is justified in order to protect your daughter). None of this is meant as advice - we are all in very different situations, and we all need to find our own ways to get through this. I am only sharing with you my own experience. One thing I would say is that you must take care of yourself, and put your own mental and physical health first. Let us know how you get on, and stay strong!
  5. For the last eighteen months, I have been occasionally posting on this forum, and have read all the posts by other partners and by the addicts themselves. It has been an absolute lifeline for me, giving me the chance to share my experiences, to vent about how I feel, and to get a great deal of insight from other forum users. I truly believe that my partner is finally committed to staying clean, and is working hard to stay that way. We are talking more, and being more honest with each other, than ever before in our more than 40 year relationship. There is more affection between us than for a very long time. I am finally starting to come out from under the cloud of misery and despair that has hung over me for the last eighteen months, and beginning to see that there might be a better future for the two of us. A lot of that is thanks to the wise words and support I have received from partners on this forum. But I am now beginning to wonder if I am reaching the point where coming to this forum is actually making things more difficult for me. Reading the posts by other partners and addicts seems to be acting as a trigger for me, and although I want to read what is posted here, I feel my anxiety levels rising each time I log on. Just like looking up symptoms in Google - each time I read about a behaviour, I immediately begin to wonder if my partner did that (even when there is absolutely no evidence that he did, and even if I had never previously suspected him of it). Reading about other people's experiences sometimes make me feel that I am being stupidly optmistic about the future, and that I may just be deceiving myself (again, with no evidence that that is the case). What do other people think? Can coming to a forum like this actually be holding me back from healing? Should I just take a break for a while? Or is this just part of the process? Feeling confused, and would find it very helpful to know what other people think.
  6. It was 18 months ago that I found out that my partner had returned to porn addiction, despite two previous 'discoveries' - after each of those previous events, he had promised to stop, but then gone back to it. So I understand what betrayal feels like. The difference the last time was that he finally realised that he had an addiction, and that he needed to do more than just hope that he could give up. Until then, he said, he just thought he was 'made that way' or 'nasty piece of work'. The worst thing is that I could see how his porn use changed and escalated over the years, and I just wish I had known back in 1992 what I know now, and done more to make him stop the first time I confronted him. Then he was just buying relatively soft videos and magazines - once he got on the internet, it all became much more graphic, more extreme and more disturbing. As he says himself, he was just looking at anything and everything, mainly out of curiousity. I understand what you mean about him giving up for you and not for himself. My partner would not have given up (had not been able to give up) until I basically broke down and told him that our marriage was over unless his porn use stopped immediately. From that point of view, he gave up for me. But later, when we were able to talk things over more calmly, he told me he had tried to stop several times before, because using porn just made him feel bad about himself, but had not been able to, and that seeing my reaction to his habit had give him the impetus he needed to look at the problem properly. I know what you mean about feeling all the hurt and lack of trust some days. In the main I am able to keep positive, but there are days when I feel I am back at square one, and all I can do is cry (yesterday was an awful day, for no apparent reason), and all I want from my partner is reassurance that, yes, he has stopped, no, he won't start again, and yes, he does recognise how much he has hurt me. I still need to hear that from him. I am lucky that he gives me the time to sob and rant and shout, and never tries to close me down or shut me up. I think we need to feel that we have a safe space to do that, and also that we have the right to do that when we need to. Physical closeness is important to me, too, and I find that helps immensely (although I realise that may well not be the case for everyone - I can understand anyone who feels that they don't want to share their bed or their body with their partner at a time like this). I don't know if or when I will get to the point where the pain disappears - I can only hope that for all of us there will be a day when this nightmare is just a memory from the past. And never say you are 'not good enough' - no-one in this world is perfect, and there are days when I look like the back end of a bus on a wet Sunday in Whitby - but we are tough and strong and resilient. If we weren't, we wouldn't have the strength to stay with and support our partners through this mess, and we wouldn't have the courage to write so openly and so truthfully on this forum. Hope you and I have better times ahead.
  7. Hi Nanook1975, It's not 'silly' to be worried (even if it is just a game). If you are uncomfortable about this, you do need to talk to your partner about it. He should be able to understand your worries, and perhaps together you can find a way to manage this. What you should not be doing is fretting over this on your own. Listen to your instincts - if it feels wrong, then it needs to be addressed, and not ignored. It is immensely difficult to trust someone again when your trust has been broken, but for a relationship to work and flourish, then it is absolutely essential. We laid down some ground rules early on - we now have shared passwords, we both keep the door open when on the internet (no shutting himself away with the computer). But my partner travels a lot of the time, and I know he can use private browsing if he wants to keep something secret. So I either have to trust him, or drive myself nuts with worrying. I have chosen to trust him - but for my own mental health and wellbeing, and not to benefit him (if that sounds selfish - well, I think we all need to be a bit selfish in this situation). You will have read the line - you didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it. It is easy to say, but difficult to believe and very hard to live by. But if you can really take it on board it becomes almost liberating. At the end of the day, I can't control my partner's behaviour, but I can decide how I will respond to it. And at the moment, I choose to trust that he is doing, and will continue to do, the right thing. I say 'at the moment', because if the situation were to change then I may choose to respond differently. As for loving them again - you are right, it is not possible to love again in exactly the same way. We are sadder and wiser now, but I've found that I can love my partner in a different, but still real way - with my eyes wide open this time. And sometimes I am hurtful towards him, and that's part of being honest, too (and I try to be honest enough to apologise if I feel I was unfair). Take care of yourself, trust YOURSELF and let us all know how you get on!
  8. I know that I find it very difficult to have confidence in my partner's recovery, and, like you, I have found myself worrying that something apparently innocent is either a cover for renewed porn use, or a symptom of a new addiction which would lead on to a return to porn use. I think this is a fairly normal response, under the circumstances. There is a lot of debate over whether there is such a thing as an addictive personality. If it exists, then it would not be unusual for someone with a tendency to addiction to develop an overwhelming interest in something like an on-line game. Whether that is dangerous or not is a question for a psychologist. There is also the fact that a lot of people would describe themselves as being 'addicted' to the internet. I know my partner still spends a lot of time on the internet - the difference now is that he spends his time hunting for bargains relating to his hobbies rather than looking at porn. Interestlngly, he buys very little - it seems to be the act of searching for things that grabs his attention. I guess this is very like what he did when searching on-line for porn. He also spends a lot more time on his hobbies, and has explained that they are vital for keeping him mentally and physically 'busy', and as a de-stressor (stress was a major prompt for him to use porn). Might your partner be doing the same thing with this game? But at the end of the day, the thing that matters is how it all makes you feel. My view is that if the behaviour seems risky or unhealthy to you, then you need to raise it with him. Maybe you can reach an agreement about how often he will check the game, or when and under what circumstances he would look at it. I read that one of the after-effects of finding out that your partner is addicted to porn is 'hyper-vigilance' - basically expecting danger to lurk round every corner. I know that is something I have struggled with. It's hard to let go of the feeling of needing to be on guard all the time, but it isn't a healthy way to live. I hope we can all get to a place where we can let go of these feelings. It's a tough thing to do.
  9. I think part of the recovery process for me has been learning to trust my own instincts and my own judgement again. My confidence hit rock bottom after 'D' day - I could not believe I had been so blind as to not realise what was happening with my partner, and I spent quite a lot of time beating myself up for allowing myself to be deceived (as I saw it at the time). It took me a year to get past that point. I am luckier than many partners on this site in that my partner's addiction was 'only' to porn (I am not sure we would be where we are today if sex workers or chat rooms had been part of the problem), and he had come to the decision that he needed to quit (and tried to quit) long before I became aware of how severe his addiction had become. I am hoping that he continues to be able to defeat this, and that we can continue to move forwards, but I realise that a relapse is always possible, and I am prepared for that, and now feel that, if it happens, we will face it together. I can see a difference in my partner now - he is happier, his mood is more even, and I can only think this is because the addiction is no longer dominating his life. Through this whole process, I have found the words of other partners on this site to be so helpful, so encouraging and so supportive. Long may it continue!
  10. Hi Florrie, First of all - I am sorry that you are one of the many women who are having to deal with this. There are so many of us, and we each have a different story to tell, and are finding different ways to cope with this situation. I also have adult children, a few years older than yours, who are no longer living at home. My partner's addiction has been present, to a greater of lesser extent, throughout our marriage, and so throughout our children's lives, but the extent of his addiction had been hidden until the last couple of years. These are my thoughts, and are in NO WAY meant to be advice - this is just to share what I have decided to do in my own life. I decided at the beginning that the children should be told if I ever suspected that either of them had ever been exposed to, or harmed by, his addiction. As far as I can tell, this is not the case. They are both extremely loving towards their father, and he has been (and still is) a great and devoted Dad to both of them. I know how agonising I have found this whole situation, and I see no reason to put them through the same misery. I am not sure how either of them would react, but I know that they would find it devastating. We all keep some things from our kids (as they keep things from us) - in this situation, I think that disclosure would only cause harm. I have also spent a lot of time getting to a place where I truly understand that this is my partner's problem, and it is his responsibility to fix it, and to put right the damage he has caused. If I ever felt that the children should know, then it would be up to him to tell them, and not up to me. I am not going to be an intermediary in this; I am not going to apologise for or excuse what he has done; and I am not going to put myself through the agony of telling my children. That may sound selfish, but I think when we are coming though this situation, we need to be putting ourselves and our recovery first. Finally, 18 months on from 'D' day, I am getting into a better, happier place, and my relationship with my partner is beginning to heal. If I had told my children early on, I am not sure I would then have been able to stay with my partner - I suspect once the information was out there, it would have pulled us all apart. These are just my own thoughts, but I hope you may find them useful. Thinking of you and hoping you get some good advice and find the right way through this for yourself and for your children.
  11. A really useful contribution, Rob! I think the idea of seeing the addict as 'a good person who has done bad things' is really positive, and sums up how I try to view my partner. He has been, for much of our marriage, a loving, kind and considerate husband, and we have shared many wonderful times. That is the 'good person' who I have chosen to stay with. The 'bad things' have, at times, taken over and dominated our relationship, and that makes me sad and angry. Increasingly, as time goes on and my partner prove his commitment to beating this addiction, my anger is directed towards the pornography industry which drew him in as a teenager, and which, in one way or another, has had its hooks in him ever since. I have grandchildren, and I fear for what they may be exposed to as they get older.
  12. Rob's perspective and experience will probably be more useful here, but it sounds as though you and your partner are both really hurting now. I read somewhere that one of the hardest things about this situation is that the person you would otherwise turn to for support and comfort when you are in pain, is the one who has caused the hurt. It takes a great deal of courage to reach out to each other, but if you feel you want to stay in the relationship (or if you feel that at the moment you are not ready to make the decision whether to stay or leave) then I think that may be what you need to do. Something I wrote on another post is that (although I am an atheist) I found the idea of 'hating the sin and not the sinner' was very helpful. Has your partner done anything other than banned himself from the internet? I think it would be reasonable for you to ask him what he is doing to help himself get clean and beat this. From my partner's past experience, it seems that just going 'cold turkey' and hoping that guilt and willpower will get you through is not likely to be successful. This is just from my own experience, and is not meant to be advice! Everyone is very different.
  13. So much of what you have written, Nanook75, echoes my own situation - the differences being that over our more than 40 year relationship I had been aware on a number of occasions that my partner was using pornography, and on each occasion he had promised to stop. I think that each time he made that promise he meant it, but did not have any understanding of the fact that he had an addiction. It was only on the last occasion (also 18 months ago now) that I basically broke down and told him our relationship was over that he seemed to wake up to the situation. I got him to read a number of websites and articles and I think it was then the light finally dawned on him. He has told me that until then he thought he was just 'made that way' or 'a nasty piece of work'. Now he understands how porn addiction develops and what it does to the brain, he seems much more able to combat it. Because of our work situation, we need to keep our internet connection, and so I decided early on that I would have to choose to trust that he would not use the internet for porn. This has been very difficult, but part of my personal journey has been learning to stop trying to control or police his actions - this is his responsibility. What he has found to be helpful has been: Keeping talking, no matter what, and always demanding and offering honesty (even when that was painful to both of us)Recognising what made him turn to porn (stress, boredom, anxiety - there was quite a long list), and finding alternative ways of dealing with it (running, music, dog walking)Having plans in place for times when he could weaken (if he is alone in the house or away on a business trip, he plans activities which keep him busy and away from the computer and his laptop, which can be as simple as hoovering the house, or cutting the grass, or could be heading off to the cinema or meeting friends for a drink)If he is tempted, then using the RUN mantra he found in Paula's self-help guide (Remove yourself from the situation; Undistort your thinking; Never forget what you have to lose)Simplest of all - he keeps a card I sent him ages ago on his desk, right by his computer, as a reminder that this is NOT something which is unconnected to our life together (like your partner, his earlier responses were that this was somehow something separate to us as a couple). It is a reminder that everything he does impacts on me too.Dealing with the emotional anguish, the loneliness and the overwhelming sadness of this situation is exhausting and difficult, and sometimes feels just too bloody hard, but 18 months on I am beginning to feel that there may be a future for us, and that this may be something he can beat. I do hope that you and your partner will find a way through this that works for both of you. Please take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. Let yourself cry when you need to and scream when you want to!
  14. Hope you felt able to spend some time with your friend, and that her support helped you. We've all been through those awful mood swings - one moment ready to fight and take on the world, and the next just frightened and lonely and desperately, unbelievably sad and hurt. Whatever you choose to do, and however you choose to deal with this, believe me things do get easier, and although it is a cliche, time does help to heal the wounds. This situation makes us vulnerable, so be kind to yourself and keep yourself safe. Thinking of you tonight - let us know how you get on this week xxxx
  15. I read the postings above with tears in my eyes, Victoria and Janey. Thank you for your honesty and clarity! It breaks my heart to think that so many women are having to deal with this trauma in their lives (I recently read an article which described what we are going through as 'betrayal trauma', and that certainly made sense to me). As I have said before, there is no right and no wrong way to respond to this kind of life event. We all have to find our own paths. My partner and I have been together since we were teenagers and have children and grandchildren, and a whole web of friends built up over more than 40 years, and so walking away (or uncoupling, as Gwyneth Paltrow puts it) is both more difficult and more complex. I also suspect that I am luckier than many other women - my partner's addiction has been only to porn (and free porn at that). If he had been seeing escorts or paying for sex then I think my reaction would have been very different. The length of our relationship also means, I think, that I find it easier to take the long view and to accept that no genuine recovery from addiction can be quick - we are in this for the long haul. I am also perhaps a little further down the road than you - there had been a number of times when I had become aware that my partner was using porn in the past, and called him out on it, but only in the last 18 months have I really understood the extent of his porn use and had the courage to properly confront him over it, and he has had the courage to accept that he has an addiction and take the steps to deal with it. I am a staunch atheist, but in trying to understand the situation I find myself in, I have read a number of 'faith based' articles, and what I have taken from them is a message about 'hating the sin and not the sinner'. It has taken me some time to get to this point, where I can begin to detach the act (the porn addiction) from the man, and see them separately. I understand what Janey says about past memories being 'tainted'. Again, it has taken me time to give myself permission to look back on the good times with pleasure, and to face the bad memories head on. Trust will take time to be rebuilt, but I am willing to give myself the time to see if that can happen. I have also prepared myself for the fact that it is possible that my partner will relapse, and I have discussed with him what must happen if that occurs. None of this is meant to suggest that anyone should stay with their partner if that is not right for them. I have complete and utter sympathy (and admiration) for anyone who walks away from their partner in this situation. I absolutely feel that I am not in a position to give anyone advice! I think that recovery from this type of trauma is always a work in progress - there are good days and bad days; days when I want to scream at the world; days when I want to lie in bed and sob; days when I want to see my partner really suffer for what he has done to us. And there are days when my partner and I laugh, talk and have fun, and I am full of optimism for the future. And with each month there are fewer bad days, and more good days. All this is only possible because my partner has taken responsibility for his actions and his addiction - without that, there would have been no hope. I also wanted to thank this forum for giving us all a safe space to share our experiences, to try and make sense of what we are feeling, and to share with other people in the same situation. This forum, and others like it, have been a lifeline for me, and I hope it will be there for me and others like me for a long time to come.
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