By LDS Family Services
If you are in a position to provide emotional and spiritual help to a pornography user's spouse or other loved ones, please consider the following Do's and Don'ts:
- Don't tell me I need to forgive him or her. I'm not ready to begin to even think about forgiveness. Over time I can and will.
- Don't say it could be worse or compare my situation with someone else's situation. No two situations are the same. Comparisons usually hurt more than heal.
- Don't give my spouse all of the attention. I have needs and want to be able to talk and discuss my feelings, share my concerns, and deal with my emotions in a positive way.
- Don't tell me you know what it's like. If you haven't been there, you have no idea what it is like. Even if you have been there, no two situations are alike.
- Don't tell me how I should feel or how I should be responding to this situation.
- Don't tell me I'll get over it and everything will be back to normal again.
- Don't tell me how I should feel about my spouse's compulsive sexual behaviors. Quite often I don't even know how I feel. Sometimes I'm angry and resentful. I feel guilty for feeling this way, but please let me work through these very real feelings.
- Don't set a timetable for where I should be. I need to work through my feelings at my own pace.
The following statements or suggestions validate the loved one's pain and feelings.
- Do let me be angry, upset, and cry. I have only a few people I can open up with who know the whole situation.
- Do call and initiate an appointment with me. I need regular contact too.
- Do be attentive to my needs. Because of my guilt, shame, and embarrassment, I am not able right now to be assertive and ask for help.
- Do keep our situation confidential. Only those who absolutely need to know should know (please, no one else!).
- Do show me genuine love and concern.
- Do compliment me for the strengths and talents that I have.
- Do say, “It must be difficult.”
- Do say, “I can't imagine how hard this must be.”
- Do let me talk.
- Do listen to me.
- Do try to understand me.
- Do help me have a strong support system to help during my healing. The support group can consist of family members, friends, and Church leaders who provide a good influence. A strong support system will help me feel less isolated and alone.
Questions to Ask the Loved One
- “What can I do to be most helpful to you during your time of need?”
- “What needs do you have that are not being met right now?”
- “How can we help you to meet those needs?”
Remember, however, that loved ones might not know what they need. During these moments only the Spirit can guide and direct you to know what can be done to help.