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He’s addicted to porn

My husband just confessed that he has a porn addiction, even though he knows it’s the one thing I won’t tolerate.

Your feelings are natural, says our elder, but try to see things another way. Your husband, like all addicts, needs help.

Dear EWC

I don’t have a good support system outside my husband and very young children. My husband just relayed the news that for the past five years of our marriage he’s had a porn addiction. When we first started to date I told him that I won’t tolerate porn use and that it would end things if he were to continue. I’ve been lied to repeatedly on this issue and made to feel as if I were crazy. We are about to buy our first home together. I’m unsure of how to deal. I still love him but this is so hurtful I can’t eat or sleep. He’s agreed to go along with whatever I want. He’s assured me he’s quitting for himself. I feel like I’ve been cheated on extensively. Virtually cheated on. He cried, and said sorry. Says it has nothing to do with me. Can’t give me a reason why except he felt he had to. I don’t know if he could possibly love me. I love him so much. I didn’t have a complaint beyond morning breath before yesterday. I’m unsure of what I should be focusing on. I also don’t like playing a fool either.

Nick replies

I understand that you feel betrayed, hurt and distrusting of your husband. These are natural feelings given the circumstances and I am not here to tell you to deny your feelings.
I do want you to consider what has unfolded from a different angle and perhaps in doing so, your feelings might change.

Let’s suppose that before you married, your husband told you that the one thing he could not tolerate in a potential wife, would be any type of drug addiction. Let’s pretend he made that perfectly clear to you. Then during your first year of marriage you had a terrible auto accident. The doctor prescribed pain killers because you were writhing in pain. Your husband was supportive and understanding. But then, like millions of Americans who were prescribed painkillers for chronic pain, let’s pretend you became addicted to them. But you knew your husband had already said this was something he would never, ever tolerate. So in fear of his breaking the marriage apart and of losing him and of disappointing him and of being disgusted with yourself. you hid this from him as long as you could.

Then, when you no longer could do so, you exploded with the truth. You would do so hoping that he would not just forgive you, but love you enough to help you kick this habit no matter how hard or how long it might take. You would be hoping he would not reject you, doubt you, or focus on how much this was hurting him. You would hope he would still love you enough to understand that his ‘red line” of no drug addiction (which prompted you to hide this from him to begin with when you felt your addiction getting worse), would no longer be operable but replaced by his unconditional love for you.

Now let’s set aside this make-believe opioid addiction scenario I just created for you and look at your real life situation.
Your husband has an addiction. He wasn’t “cheating” on you; you weren’t being “cheated on”. To cheat or be unfaithful and dishonest, requires willfulness. An addiction strips away that willfulness. The addiction alters the chemical receptors in the brain and strips away one’s ability to control it. It, in other words, controls the victim. It creates a craving.

Chemical addictions (nicotine, drugs, alcohol) affect the brain, obviously and create a craving for more and more and more. But so too do non-chemical addictions like porn and sex addictions. They release endorphins (the pleasure hormones) in the brain causing the brain to want more and more and more. They, in other words, become addictive and take over. At that point even though your husband doesn’t want to look at porn, his brain is now demanding he does so. It’s now in control demanding to be fed. That is an addiction.

The sadness in all this is that the very one he should have been able to reach out to for help, support and understanding (his wife) had already declared that porn was your red line. So he felt he had to hide it and try to deal with it alone. In reality, very, very rarely can someone deal with an addiction alone. This is why there are nicotine patches for smokers and AA chapters for alcoholics. Your husband was not cheating on you or betraying you. He was trying to save his marriage by dealing with this alone because he felt he would jeopardize everything if he shared this with you.

Your love for him and his for you, has to be unconditional if it’s a true love affair. He felt that your love for him was slightly conditional — the condition being the very thing he was now addicted to, if it happened, was your “red line”. But it was occurring and he felt unbelievably trapped, as most addicts do.

He now could no longer keep this from you. He must have reached the point where it was unhealthy and untenable to continue doing so. So he told you. You are now feeling towards him the exact way he feared you would. You are focusing on yourself and your feelings. He needs you to be his partner and focus on him and his addiction. He needs to know that your love is unconditional for him, that his addiction does not define him as a man and as a husband, and that you will now live up to the “for worse” part of “for better and worse” which you pledged to him when you married.

I hope this helps you see things differently and I hope you will be the partner he now needs to kick this addiction and make the first house you are buying together a true home where unconditional love reigns supreme.

Letter #: 455272
Category: Marriage

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