Dealing with a spouse's pornography addiction can be an emotional roller coaster for the injured partner. Often this partner's needs go unmet as efforts are focused on the person with the problem. Church leaders and counselors may overlook the pain and suffering of the wife* as they attempt to help the husband control and overcome his problem. Wives are left with a variety of emotions and feelings to deal with. They may experience feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger, fear, guilt, shame, abandonment, and so forth.
Research indicates better success rates when spouses work together in overcoming pornography addiction. In order for wives to be supportive and helpful in the recovery process, they may need help and support in managing their own feelings. For many women, their spouse's use of pornography is a form of infidelity, leaving serious emotional and spiritual wounds. In addition to support from Church leaders, individual counseling from a trained professional may be necessary.
Seeking professional help should be considered if any of the above-mentioned issues are interfering with one's ability to function or fulfill daily responsibilities. If feelings of depression, worthlessness, aggression, or hostility are persistent, seek help.
Spouses of pornography users should keep the following in mind:
- This is not your fault.
- It's not your responsibility to fix.
- It's not your job to police his behavior.
- It's okay to be upset and struggling.
- It's okay to seek help.
- It's okay to set boundaries.
- It's okay to care for yourself.
*(“Wife” was used for simplicity, but the situation could be reversed if a wife has the pornography addiction.)
For additional information, see “Confronting Your Spouse's Pornography Problem,” by Rory C. Reid, LCSW, and Dan Gray, LCSW.