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My Spouse Is Using Pornography, What Do I Do?
If you have ever said to yourself – my spouse is using pornography, what do I do? You have come to the right place to learn about it. You are not alone in this world. Many other women ask the same question. Most marriages have experience with one partner using pornography at some point.
Even though it’s common, it certainly isn’t healthy. It needs to be addressed and won’t go away on its own. Waiting to see if it will ‘get better’ usually results in more of the same. Listening to him when he says that he can handle it on its own isn’t a good idea. Because what you see is what you get. What has happened in the past is typically what will happen moving forward. That is, without intervention. Pornography counseling can be a place of healing and progress.
Here are three areas to consider when you find yourself saying, ‘my spouse is using pornography’.
You Are Not Responsible For His Pornography Use
Let’s make one thing clear – his use is not your fault. As a marriage therapist, I hear women often say that their spouse tells them that if they would just have sex more that he wouldn’t have to use pornography. Not true. Pornography is not a sex issue. It’s not a sexual addiction. But rather, it’s an avoidance addiction (Related Article: Pornography Counseling: Find Recovery And Healing). He doesn’t use based on how much sex you are having as a couple. He uses because he is struggling to deal with discomfort in life and pornography gives him a way to numb.
You Can Be Part Of His Recovery
You can be part of his recovery, you are not responsible for it. He is. You can be included, however, in his progress or struggles. There is a healthy and proper way to do this and there is an unhealthy and improper way. It’s important to know the difference between them.
The healthy way to be involved in his recovery is to know you are not responsible for him using. It also involves you being present and vulnerable to the degree that you want to be. It isn’t all about how he is struggling and what pornography is doing to him. It is also about how it impacts you. What you feel and think matters. Sharing this with each other is crucial as you grow together during this struggle (Related Article: Couples Counseling – Pornography Problem).
The unhealthy way to be involved would be trying to run his recovery for him. How you go about trying to be with and communicate with him matters (Related Article: How To Communicate Effectively). You can’t take responsibility for his progress or lack thereof. Also, it isn’t helpful to not share or be present. Your experience matters as much as his experiences matter. He needs to be able to hear you and create emotional safety for you as you share. This leads us to the third area of consideration when your spouse is using pornography.
Your Emotions Matter
I often see couples who get in to the habit of just talking about what the using spouse is feeling. When doing couples therapy for pornography issues, we often work on helping him recognize his emotions. This leads to him becoming more aware and willing to share. It also leads to you being more able to hear him because he is actually sharing his emotions. The temptation, however, is to not share what you are feeling because you don’t want to make him more uncomfortable which could lead to him using more. I see this often. And it ends up hurting you and your relationship.
Being able to share what you are feeling, even if it’s uncomfortable for you and him, can actually bring you closer together (Related Article: Marriage Counseling).
Recognize Possible Betrayal Trauma
Betrayal trauma comes from your spouse’s pornography use or other infidelities. You might have a traumatic response to it just as you would a car wreck. you develop symptoms of trauma such as triggers, flashbacks, nightmares, emotional discomforts, just to name a few.
Learn to recognize his pornography use’s impact on you so that if you do develop betrayal trauma that you are able to get help. This is something that likely isn’t just going to disappear with time It will need specific attention and care to heal.
If you are saying to yourself or others – my spouse is using pornography, what do I do? Then know that there is hope. Apply these three principles to be more healthy and move in the right direction.
A caring Utah couples therapist can help you and your spouse deal with pornography problems.