Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Remember; You're Doing Nothing Wrong...

Guest Advisory from;

A Room of Mama's Own

Mary answers this rather poignant question on Sexual Addiction...

Dear Aunt Babz,

I've been married for 10 months. Things were great up until about the 6 month mark, when I found porn on my computer's browse history. I was calm, and when I asked my husband if he knew anything about it, he became angry and yelled at me saying I was "accusing" him. After that, bedroom activity slacked off. It's continued to decline, and now our sex life is almost non-exist ant. I keep finding recurring porn sites, and I've only brought it up with him twice. Both times, he turns the tables on me with the "Why are you accusing me?" speech and lies to my face about the porn.
Until now, I've never had a problem with porn. I've even watched some myself, but I have not since getting married. It bothers me that it's now interfering with our time spent together, and it's becoming more frequent, especially while I am in bed asleep next to him (computers are next to the bed on each side). I've tried initiating sex, and he continues to reject me. When we do have sex, it's always missionary. No variations, no exploration, no desire from him to "change it up", though I would very much like to (and he knows this). I've actually SEEN him masturbating & watching porn while he thought I was asleep. I was too sick & horrified to even say anything then. This is destroying me emotionally. My self esteem is getting lower and lower. Anytime I see any pornographic images now, I feel sick to my stomach. I'm becoming jealous, and paranoid. I know this is NOT a good thing. I've tried discussing it with him, and have told him while in tears how much this hurts me and how uncomfortable it's making me... He will slack off watching the porn for a few days to a week, at best...then it's back to square one. Please help me. I don't know what to do, or how to approach him. He's always on the defensive side. The porn itself does not anger's the fact that I honestly feel like he has chosen the porn over me, his wife. I love him, that's why I married him. I'm open-minded & willing to do anything to gain his attention again. How do you talk to the guy who is "always innocent" about porn in marriage? -Depressed & Hurt Wife.

Dear Depressed & Hurt Wife,

If I could reach through the computer screen and give you a big
tearful hug, as one injured woman to another, believe me I would. I
have been where you have been: waiting for my husband to come to bed
to me while he stayed up later and later looking at porn (and in my
case, more, it turned out), wondering what I was doing wrong and how I
could be sexier, yelling and crying and pleading with him to tell me
what was wrong.

It turns out that what was wrong didn't have anything
to do with me. And this doesn't have anything to do with you.
Your husband's behavior is not about you. You're not doing anything
wrong. He's not using porn or refusing to have sex with you because
you're not sexy or because he doesn't love you or because you're not
exciting and attractive. He's using porn because he can't stop: he's
an addict. My husband is too.

I know the idea of being addicted to porn may sound crazy. After all,
porn isn't a substance like alcohol or heroin or crack, right? But
the brain chemicals released when engaging with porn can provide their
own kind of high. And for some people (possibly your husband), the
high provided by porn and masturbation can be greater than the high of
actual sex.

The behavior you've described is all the behavior of an
addict: needing greater amounts of porn to satisfy his need for a
"high," denying and trying to hide his behavior, having his behavior
interfere with his relationship and above all, being unable to stop.

The good news is that doctors and mental health professionals, as well
as society at large, are gaining a better understanding of sexual
addictions every day. There are many more resources available to help
you than there ever have been before. There are a number of excellent
books on the subject, as well as a variety of 12 Step programs for
addicts and their partners, along with in- and out-patient treatment
centers (yes, rehab for porn addiction).

The bad news is that your husband does not sound like he is willing to
admit that he has a problem yet. Unfortunately, he cannot change his
behavior without treatment, and the old saying is absolutely true, the
first step to recovery is admitting there's a problem.

You can, and should, speak with your husband about his addiction (it often helps to do this together with a mental health professional or a spiritual
leader), but there is no guarantee that you will be able to break through his denial.

Whatever happens, this will be a long journey for you. Here are a few
things that may help you:
  • Talk to a therapist or counselor. Try to find one who understands addictions, preferably sexual/porn addictions.
  • If you are religious, talk to a trusted spiritual leader

  • Find an S-Anon or
  • COSA Meeting. (Meeting information is available on their websites.) These are groups for partners of people addicted to sex and pornography. You will meet
    other people here who will understand your pain and who can help you
    work through it.

  • Start learn about sex addiction. S-Anon and COSA have resources
  • on their websites. In addition, Patrick Carnes, PhD is an expert on sexual
    addiction and has written several books, including ;
    In the Shadows of the Net, which deals with online pornography and sexual

  • Remember that you cannot change your husband and focus on doing
  • what you need to take care of your own physical, mental and spiritual

  • Remember that you're not alone.
  • You should be really proud of yourself. You knew that something was
    wrong, even if you didn't know quite what it was, and you trusted that
    feeling and reached out for help. So many women in your situation
    doubt themselves and suffer in silence for years and years. I know,
    as well as anyone can, how much you are hurting now. But I also know
    that you are taking the first step toward healing.

    If it would help you, please feel free to e-mail me at
    All the best to you and your husband,
    Mary (MPJ)
    Blogging about sex addiction (among other things) at

    A Room of Mama's Own

    Dear Depressed & Hurt Wife,

    I will offer one more thing here, get the computers out of the bedroom!! I mean that is just begging for neglect. A bedroom should be a place of solitude and for a couple to rejuvenate. Not a place to have all sorts of distractions around. Or at least that is my personal opinion.

    Maybe the porn isn't something that you can accept, but it also isn't something evil. So make sure that you aren't coming across as being accusatory. The only reason I say this, is that sometimes this isn't an addiction. Sometimes, it is a guy being a guy and having to defend or out right lie about his preferences because he feels ashamed. There is nothing wrong with looking at porn, or enjoying it. There is something wrong with letting porn interfere with your real life relationships.

    I would definitely recommend talking to a third party about this if you can. Seeing as though it seems that you cannot have this conversation without someone feeling hurt (and it is a touchy subject).

    But the point here is that you are recognizing something that you are having a problem with, "the porn," and you need to address that too. You want to be "open minded" but really it feels like a slight. And I get that. Truly I do. But it won't help you to solve this particular problem if you are not 100% honest with how you feel and what you can deal with.

    Not all guys who watch porn are addicts. Not all women who watch porn do it for their satisfaction. Not all relationships are the same. And in those three sentences you need to figure out where you two sit. And you need to be comfortable with what you decide.

    Hope you do well with your talks, and hope you can get the romance back in your room where it belongs!!


    Some Additional Helpful Links

    Dateline NBC;
    Battling Sexual Addiction

    Sex; Sexual Addiction Screening Test

    Recovery Connection (Sexual Addiction Helpline)

    Sex Addicts Anonymous


    LadyBugCrossing said...

    Mary is right. It's not you. It's him.

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    Sophie in the Moonlight said...

    Dear Depressed and Hurt Wife,

    I am SO sorry that this detour has been placed in your journey. That detour was in my journey too. Two months after our wedding I found out my husband had over 2,000 jpgs of porn on our computer. Our sex life was in the toilet, trust was non-existent, I was suicidal over the betrayal. I chose to stay with him if he would and could admit to an addiction and get into treatment. He did acknowledged he had a problem he could not control and sought help.
    Interestingly, the constant daily recovery work in his addiction has made him a better person. He knows himself better, he is deeper and more spiritual, he steadily works at Mary's frequent observation of "progress, not perfection". I really like who he is now! Much more caring and humble. He still falls off the wagon sometimes, it still hurts like hell, but after 8 1/2 years of marriage and recovery I can depersonalize it more.
    IT"S NOT YOU. You are quite obviously a magnificent, insightful, caring human being. His illness is making him act like a schmuck and he flips the accusation to you because he is defending his "Precious", like Golem in Lord of the Rings.
    You can leave if you want, and if he won't take giant steps towards wellness you might want to consider it, but you will need therapy of the group or individual variety to heal your psyche no matter what. If you do stay, be prepared for some bumps, work with a therapist to come up with a clear set of boundaries and consequences for his addictive behaviours to protect yourself and let him know where you stand in support for him and support for yourself. I wish you the very best. MPJ has my email address if you need anything else. (I hope that's o.k. Mary- I can't remember my password for my account.)

    Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

    Sophie, thanks so much for sharing. Yes, I can pass on your e-mail if I'm contacted, and ahem, my apologies for not yet having finished the e-mail to you that has been stuck in my draft folder for weeks. I have been thinking of you!

    Anonymous said...

    I totally disagree with XMichra. If her husband can't handle the porn, get away from it. It has become "Evil" because it's making his wife feel slighted and it has put him in bondage. The dude can't stop!! That isn't good.

    I say keep the computer in the room. And the next time your husband is looking at porn, sit up in bed and say "Gotcha! Now let's find you some help." Or...just leave him until he admits and commits to get help.

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting & mostly good advice...BUT LOTS of folks believe that viewing porn/watching other people have sex, etc. IS wrong & immoral.

    Xmichra said...

    the advice to get the computers out of the bedroom , hell i would do that anyways regardless of the pornography issues. It's simply begging for a neglectful evening. What possible thing could be more important in your bedroom then alone time??? What possible reason would you require msn messenger, facebook, e-mail, whatever that heck you do on-line near your bed? You don't. And putting a computer by the bed is just another distraction. I personally feel the same about tv's and the like. But to each thier own. I would take them out though, especially if there is already a problem.

    And Of course some people view porn as being immoral and wrong. That is where half a battle begins without uttering a word. Hense the dirrection to be careful of the tone of a conversation. Just because you think that something is vile, doesn't mean that another person thinks it's totally acceptable. And when you are with another person... this can get tricky. The difference of opinion can make or break a realationship if you are not careful of your accusations.

    Which is what the question was. "How do you talk to the guy who is "always innocent" about porn in marriage?". It wasn't about our personal views on pornography. It was that this particular woman didn't think that porn was the problem, but the use by her husband is and it is becoming an issue to her relationship.

    So making sure that the problem is actually this, and not that she actually doesn't like porn at all for any reason is an important one. Because if you go into a conversation with a hidden agenda (even one you may not know at the time) things get ugly. You need to know what is upsetting you, and know what you want out of a conversation. You need to know what you want as a resolve.

    So many things can be going on here.. so many many things. And jumping on the sex addict train isn't where i would go on this one. I'm not saying that there might be a chance that this guy is addicted to porn. I am just saying, that there are plenty of reasons why people do things, and you don't know his side, or the whole of hers.

    The only thing that is clear is that this is hurting this woman. And that she needs to talk to her husband in an atmosphere that is non-judgemental so that they can resolve the issue. That is not going to happen if you are "busting him" masterbating, or telling him he's an addict, kicking him to the curb or telling him what's right or wrong. Which is why a third party can help with this sort of mediation. It can help to get into the thick of things without being judgemental and flying off the handle. Which is pretty evident that this woman wants to not go down this road.

    Anonymous said...

    I'd like to clarify that I do not believe that porn is "evil" or "wrong." I am open to watching it with him, it just makes me feel like sh*t when he does it behind my back and lies about it if I catch him. I'm not TRYING to catch my husband masturbating to porn, believe me; it just causes World War III and I'm sick of trying to validate my feelings to him on the subject. What bothers me the most is that our sex life has been slacking in quantity and quality for over a year now, and any time I try to initiate something different, new positions, etc. I get shot down...and the things that I've been wanting to do since we got married are things that he watches online but STILL has never done with me. Yes, I am jealous of the porn itself because he would rather watch strangers do these things than do them with me. My body has not changed, I look exactly the same as I did the day we met. He is not like other guys I dated before, that's why I married him... but at the same time, there is no possible way to win an argument with him because he deals with EVERYTHING with ultimatums. It's his way or no way, and I'm almost ready to give up.