I'm a wife dealing with her husband's addiction to pornography. I hope to be a resource for wives (and family members) dealing with similar struggles. Please join in the conversation and leave comments--even if you are here for curiosity's sake and are just learning about this kind of struggle! You can read my story here and the 4 things I think every addict's wife should know here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

a glimpse of truth, a glimmer of trust

He came to me. For the first time in almost a decade of marriage, my husband came to me to tell me that he had had a setback in his progress.

I am grateful.

I am relieved.

It's good to know.

Here's to truth. Here's to trust. Here's to progress.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Does the porn even matter to you anymore?

I feel like we wives go through certain stages as we process and deal with addiction, much the same way people go through the 5 stages of grief. Granted, many of our stages are cyclical and occur in different orders depending on our situations, but I think many of us go through similar stages.

Pain
Anger
Self pity
Loss of confidence
Codependence
Trust issues
Shame
Anger (yes, again)
Surge of confidence (I am woman, hear me roar. And don't piss me off or I will bite your head off.)
Detachment
etc.

(Man, I love the surge of confidence days.)

I have talked to many people recently who mention that it's not even the porn that's the issue anymore.

Wait, what? Isn't that why we're all here?

Yes and no. Like I've said before, there are usually deeper problems going on in our marriage and damaging behavior that accompanies the porn.

Lying
Blaming
Manipulation
Apathy

How many times have you heard, "I don't even care about the pornography so much anymore. If only he would just stop manipulating the situation to make me look like the bad guy." "It's not even the pornography that gets to me now. It's the lying that goes along with it."

Sure. The pornography is bad. There is so much ugliness in that industry. But the behavior that accompanies the addiction is perhaps more damaging.

Do you find yourself in this stage?







Monday, October 29, 2012

is he a creep?

source
Where do you draw the line between nice guy with a problem and a creep?

Because my husband is not a creep. Granted, my husband is one of the milder cases of pornography addiction out there (in my opinion). But that doesn't mean people won't judge him for having an addiction to pornography. What a terribly humiliating thing to have to admit to yourself and others.

Let's look at society as a whole. I would say that the vast majority of men out there use pornography. And no one thinks twice about it. Imagine your stereotypical college male--straight out of the movies. Good looking, partier, the cool guy in the movies. He looks at porn. So do his friends. They joke about it when they hang out. Duh. That's totally normal. Isn't that what all single males that age do?

Now let's move to the more conservative (and often religious) circles who have been taught to stay away from pornography. Pornography = bad. So when you find out that the parallel good-looking, life-of-the-party young male (or even "perfect" husband) in your more conservative circle has an addiction to pornography, the mind starts to race. What else does he do? What else does he lie about? Has he hooked up with other girls? Is he addicted to sex? Oh my goodness, is he looking at child porn?? Has he molested anyone???

Do you see what we do? We demonize something that seems totally normal in the rest of society. I'm not saying that I think pornography is a good thing or even acceptable. I think it has implications that many people don't grasp. That addiction to it is easier (and more common) than people think. That it is an addictive substance that shouldn't be taken lightly.

But my point here is that we have to be careful in how we judge people who have gotten sucked into pornography. I wish I could tell the world to be careful how they judge my husband. Yes, it's true that anyone in porn addiction could end up going down that slippery slope into much worse territory, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will.

Why the double standard?

Why do we shrug our shoulders at the college frat boy yet pity and shame the nice LDS boy?

Is it because we hold him to a higher standard? We expect more of him?

Is the shame and secrecy only adding to the addiction?

I don't believe that the shame and secrecy are the only source of the addiction. To say that these men are addicted because their upbringing has told them "no, no, no" is a cop-out and just uses religion and conservative views as a scapegoat. (And provides no explanation for non-religious men who are addicted to pornography.) I think the college frat boy is just as likely to be addicted but less likely to recognize the addiction.

So is the porn addict a creep? He could be, depending on how deep into sex addiction he is.

But chances are he is not. Chances are he is the college frat boy who has actually recognized that he has a problem and is (hopefully) working to fix it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Should you be on my side bar?

I'm so behind. So so so far behind. My side bar is so terribly outdated. Should you be on it? If you are not on my side bar but are in this blogging community, please let me know and I will add you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I think about you often

Dali
I never intended to have a 3-month break from blogging. I don't actually like being "that" kind of blogger. Just so you all know--I think about you often.

I consider you my friends. My sisters. My very strong yet oh-so-fragile sisters. You share something so intensely personal with me.

A while back I was able to get together with some of my fellow bloggers. It was the most amazing experience. I don't know what their kids' names are. I don't know any of their birth stories. I don't know how they met their husbands. I'm not even sure of some of their last names. Take all that (often ridiculous and repetitive) small talk that goes on at every play date or park day or party and throw it out the window. There's no need for small talk when you can jump straight to conversation that normally hides in the deep corners of your soul.

That's how I feel with all of you here.

That's why I miss you.

Let me tell you where I have been. I may have mentioned my new job (which I LOVE). It keeps me very, very busy. On top of that, my husband and I are team-teaching early-morning seminary this year. Seminary in our religion is a weekday scripture study class for high-school age students. We teach every weekday at 6am. Yes--6am. And we spend every evening preparing for said 6am class. As if that wasn't enough, I also tutor a high-school student. And with two small kids at home, there really isn't much time to sit down and read blog posts let alone comment on them and/or write my own posts.

I have been reluctant to talk about this before because I feel it is one more clue in the mystery of who I am. That someone will come here and put the pieces together. My kids' ages. My pseudonym. That I teach seminary. That I tutor. My husband's endless job search.

Do you know what? WHO CARES?

If someone knows me well enough to put two and two together, then I'm probably okay with them knowing my story. The only reason I don't share who I am publicly is for my husband.  So if he ever decides to tell people about his struggles, I will let him. Until then, if you figure out who I am and you know me, feel free to email me.

And I will leave it at that tonight. To say that I think about you often is an understatement. Sending my love.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Does he like me?

I've touched on this before, but this seems to be the period in my life when I question how much my husband is into me (totally separate from the pornography issue, by the way). Blame it on the 7-year-itch. Or the 8-year-hate, as I like to call it. Interestingly, the 7-year-itch is becoming a thing of the past. 4 years is the new 7. Did you know that?

You see, I keep doubting that my husband really likes me. I think he's doing his best to show me that he does, but I keep second guessing it.

Note: Since I'm all about doing a self-reflection when discussing someone else's behavior, I'm not sure I am even doing anything obvious to show him that I really truly like him, so I'm not positive what I'm expecting in return. We have different love languages, so I'll bet I'm not communicating it in a way he understands either.

Mr. Mac has been hanging out with his coworkers recently, which is fine with me. I really like the idea of him going out and spending time with people. Being social. Love it. But this last time some of them invited their significant others. But Mr. Mac certainly didn't extend the invitation to me. Bringing me along to hang out probably wasn't even in his thought process. Or maybe it was.

Being the ever-so-logical person I am, let me step out of the situation and examine it from the outside. It is quite possible that inviting me crossed his mind but he figured he'd have more fun without me there. (No--this is not me feeling all sorry for myself. This is me looking at the situation impartially.) There is definitely a big chance he is feeling pressure to get a good job, to get his actions in check, to fix his dishonesty problems, to be a better dad, to spend his time more wisely, etc, etc. All those things are intricately woven into his relationship with me. To leave all those things behind and really relax, he may feel the need to leave me back home as well.

Okay. Stepping back in emotionally. . . That hurts. Not him actually leaving me home. It's the idea behind it that hurts. That I am so intertwined with the pressures in his life that spending time without me sounds more relaxing than bringing me along.

I would love to be the one who brings him calm and peace. The one who brings fun into his life.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case right now.

You see, I think I just want to know that he still likes me more than anything else in the world. I don't do mushy love letters and stuff. That's not my language of love. But I think these are my language of love: "You're fun." "I like spending time with you." "I like you." "I had fun with you today." "You make me smile." "I just love being near you." "Let's hang out just me and you."

The problem is that I'm not sure those phrases would be entirely true coming from him right now.

Maybe 60% true. Maybe 70? But not 100.

I wish I were wrong, but I think this is actually a pretty normal thing for people to go through.

Your thoughts? Have you felt this way? Do you think you are/were bring self-destructive and making it worse by mulling over it? Have you discussed it with your partner?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is he disrespecting you?

Caution: I think this discussion might be difficult for some people who are feeling very fragile right now. I'd love to hear from you, but please know that it might evoke some strong feelings.

Source
This past weekend I went on a long run with one of my favorite people. She is seriously the BEST conversationalist. If you ever need to run a ton of miles, take her along. In fact, maybe I'll rent her out. Any takers?

Among other topics, we talked about this blog community. We talked about it for probably 4 or 5 miles (when you're running, you track everything in miles). She brought up the topic of respect, or, more specifically, disrespect. The conversation was riveting, even after 12 miles of running.

So here is my question to you: Do you believe that your husband is disrespecting you through his actions?

Have you detached yourself so far from his problem that you don't believe it has anything to do with  you, therefore whether he is disrespecting you isn't even a factor in the equation?

Do you believe his actions disrespect you but that it is more of a side effect and not an intention?

Does the fact that he suffers from an addiction remove the discussion of disrespect?

Or do you believe that he is absolutely disrespecting you?

If so, how do you reconcile standing by someone's side as they blatantly disrespect you?

We talked a lot about trusting your gut when it comes to standing by someone with addiction. I've heard many women who have left their partners say that when it was time to leave, they KNEW it was time to leave. The question of when to stop fighting and throw in the towel has come up many times, and the response from those who know is that you trust your gut. If your gut says to stay, then you stay. If your gut says to leave, then it is time.

So do you think husbands who look at pornography/lie to their wives/have affairs/indulge in prostitution are disrespecting their wives? And, if so, is it ridiculous for women to stay and "work on their marriage" while being so disrespected? Are they just letting someone walk all over them?

I know this will evoke many "well, it depends on the situation" responses, and I completely agree, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

lifting the burden


Nugget of wisdom from a wonderful sister at my support group tonight:

It feels good to not carry someone else's life on our shoulders.

I just read Scabs' post about a similar thought. There is wisdom and freedom and healing in letting go. It's not our burden to carry. And do you know what? Good things come from letting them be in charge of their own addiction. No, they may not jump up and fix themselves, but I can promise you that you will be well on your way to fixing yourself. And trust me--that feels good. Really good.

How exactly do we stop carrying their addiction? Just stop. Stop. Stop tracking their every move. Stop trying to fix them. Stop trying to manage their recovery efforts. Stop. Live your life the way you want to live. Be the person you want to be. Concentrate on you. They may not be the person you want them to be. But you can be sure that you are the person you want to be. Their life isn't yours to carry. And it feels so good to stop.




Friday, July 13, 2012

Nuggets of Wisdom

source
I don't necessarily consider myself wise on this topic, but I feel I have acquired a few nuggets of wisdom along the way. These have been bouncing around in my head over the past few days as a result of conversations with Mr. Mac and other friends.

I've found that the farther I travel down this road, the less it becomes about me and the more it becomes about making sure other women know these things. Not just hear them, but know them, believe them, live them. Sometimes I feel like if I just close my eyes and concentrate hard enough...push all my thoughts and vibes in your directions...then maybe you will know the way I know. But that's not how it works. We have to figure these things out on our own. All I can do is tell you what I know for me.

1. He will change when he is ready to change. We want that to be now. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Trust me: His recovery efforts that come from you wanting them won't even compare to his recovery efforts that come from him wanting them. I've seen both. It's different when he wants to change for himself and not just to appease his unhappy wife.

2. Trust your gut. Your gut often knows a lot more than you do. In my life, my "gut" is promptings from my constant companion, the Holy Ghost. You can call it your guardian angel. You can call it your conscience. You can call it your gut. Whatever you call it, trust it.

3. You do what is right for your relationship. Set your own boundaries.* Set your own consequences.* I have so much respect and love for my fellow bloggers on this topic, but I don't always agree with their approach to the topic. You see, I don't have to. And they don't have to agree with me. We are all doing what is right for our own relationships. You* decide what is right for yours.

4. *Did you notice all the asterisks in #3? I'm opinionated about this. If you don't want your husband to look at porn, go ahead and set a boundary that you don't want him looking at it. Period. Then ask him his opinion on that boundary. Does he agree? If so, ask him to set a consequence for when he does. You can have your say on whether the consequence he chooses meets your expectations, but let this be something he takes charge of. He needs to be on board. If he's on board with the boundary, let him take responsibility for the consequences. If he's not on board with the boundary, you set the consequences, but chances are the behavior isn't going to stop if he's not even on board that it's a problem.

5. It sucks to accept that you may not be able to trust your spouse. It sucks. But it's a reality for many of us. I trust myself. I trust that I will be okay no matter what. I trust my Father in Heaven. But I'll whine and complain that I want to be able to trust my husband. I should be able to trust my husband. Unfortunately, that's not my reality right now. Maybe in the future, but for now I have to face the facts. Sometimes life just isn't how we wanted it to be. That's okay. In fact, I think that's the case for the vast majority of people on this earth. We'll be okay.

6. Nothing you fix about your looks could fix his problem. You're right: your body is not like a model's, you're cute but not drop-dead gorgeous, you've likely had kids and your lady parts are all stretched out, and you aren't all that kinky in the bedroom. Am I right? Of course I am. You're like me. You're normal. If you left your husband today and he started dating a gorgeous model who filled his every sexual fantasy, the porn problem would not go away. If he thinks you are the root of the problem or that he wouldn't look at porn if he were with someone else, he is in for a rude awakening. It's not you. The problem is between him and porn. It affects you, but it's not because of you. No, you aren't perfect. But you aren't the reason he looks at porn. Stop letting those thoughts into your head. They are a waste of your time and energy. (Besides, I have met some of the most stunningly beautiful women whose husbands have porn and sex addictions. They are living proof that the woman is not the problem.)

7. Find your self worth and hang onto it for dear life. Where do you find self worth? Inside yourself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Attacked from all angles

source

The last two days have been a struggle for me. I texted Jane today to vent, and she suggested that Satan's usual tricks aren't working on me so he had to come at me from a different angle. Ha! I love it. That girl keeps me sane.

So let me tell you about the last two days.

Monday morning: Pity party. (Yes. Even Mac has pity parties.) Let me share the thoughts that periodically run around in my head: Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Mac really likes me. Sure, he loves me--I'm his wife; the mother of his children. But does he like me? Does he think I'm fun? Does he like being around me? If we met right now, would he ask me out and pursue me like he did way back when? On Monday I happened to look back at the text messages on my phone and realized that of the 5 texts I had sent him in the previous 4 days (including 2 that morning), he had only responded to one. Nothing like big fat silence to make you feel loved during the day, huh? I wanted to send some rude comment like, "Feel free to respond to my texts once in a blue moon." Instead I took a deep breath, ranted a bit to Jane, and felt much better. (I later subtly asked if he received my texts and immediately he started responding to me and continued all day--even joking with me over text. Things aren't always as we make them out to be.)

Monday evening: Body images takes a crash. We watched a movie. The girl in the movie was gorgeous. Sexy? Yes. But not just sexy--all around adorable. Later that night we got a bit frisky, but all I could do in my mind was see the girl from the movie. All I could think about was my belly skin that used to be so tight before I had kids and was now hanging in strange directions. And my acne that I'm sure will never go away no matter how old I get. And that I hadn't shaved--neither legs nor whooha. (My tiny boobs didn't even cross my mind. Good thing, too, because that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.) My mind was racing. I could see this ending badly. Me bursting into tears in front of a husband who wasn't aware of the battle going on in my head and was just happy to be with me. But... BUT... I gave it everything I had (Mentally, people! Get your minds out of the gutter!) and pushed those thoughts out of my head. And I succeeded. That was a hard one, my friends. I've always had a decent self image, so this caught me off guard and took a lot of will power.

Tuesday (today): I had lunch with my coworkers (love those girls) and the topic turned to trusting your partner/husband. They oozed trust and confidence and love. I heard them saying things that used to come out of my mouth, "I don't care what he does. I trust him." "Why would I need to give him permission to go somewhere? When you trust each other, it's a non-issue." "It doesn't matter if we're halfway across the world from each other--we both know neither of us would do anything questionable." "I'm not worried about him going to Vegas. What? He'll go to a strip club with the guys? I don't care. I know him well enough to know that he's not going to take a girl home. We trust each other." I didn't feel the need to say something about how they should be careful because you just never know. Instead I wanted to start sobbing because I used to have that kind of trust in my husband. I used to have that. Now I wonder what he's doing with his time and I get nervous about his female coworkers. It's ridiculous. This is no way to live. I miss the trust.

When did I become this broken woman? Where did my confidence go? Where did the trust go? Who in the world wants to live this way? Not I, said the Mac. Not I. But this is where the road of life has taken me. And there are so many other lovely things along this road of life that I can handle these things.

Satan, if you were standing in front of me right now, I'd punch you in the face. Quit bugging me. I have better things to do in life and refuse to let you bring me down anymore this week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Secret to My Success

Source
I'm having a good laugh about the title of this post. Success? What does that even mean in this context? I am successfully happy. I guess that will have to do. And a secret? Oh, how I wish I had a secret for all of you. Instead I've been thinking about what has led me to how well I'm doing mentally. Let me try to put it in words for you:

Success tip #1: I practiced Step 1. I'm sure the other steps in the 12-step program are wonderful and all, but really, I can't even tell you what they are. I can, however, tell you what Step 1 is: admitting I'm powerless over the actions of others and letting go of control. How do you do this? You just start. Even if you don't believe it yet. Start with small things. Do you have the urge to check the history on the computer every other day? Stop. Let go. Do you ask your husband what he did every day in order to point out all the ways he could have better spent his time to maximize recovery? Stop. Put it in his hands. It's not your addiction. Let go. Does your mind race and race and race thinking about his addiction or what you'll say to him the next time it comes up? Stop. Clear your mind. Stop the racing thoughts. Let go.

Success tip #2: I will not let it ruin my day. Oh, this takes so much practice. SOOOO much practice! I loved this post by Faithfully Jaded in which she talks about breathing slowly and forcing herself to not become despondent when hard things hit. When my mind starts racing and my heart starts pounding and I want to become a raging codependent, I sit back and think, "What did my day look like before I started having these thoughts? What was I hoping to do today? What kind of a mood did I plan to have?" Chances are I was going to have a good day. I was going to do something fun. I was going to be happy. So I make a very deliberate decision that this will not ruin my day. I will not let one more day of my life be ruined by this. I want to look back on my life and see good memories. I do not want to look back and see that my life revolved around this ONE thing. My husband is so much more than this one thing. Our relationship is more than this one thing. My life is amazing and I will not let the rest be overshadowed by this one thing.

Success tip #3: I trusted my gut. No, I don't mean that I trusted my gut and knew he was lying to me. I was never sure if he was lying or telling the truth. I wish I could tell you how to know if he is lying or how to trust again. I don't have those answers. I'd like to know them myself. However, I trusted my gut when it came to reacting. You see, when I found out he had been lying, my gut told me not to freak out. My gut told me that things were okay. My gut told me to roll my eyes and have a little heart to heart talk with my husband. My gut told me to reassure my husband that I will support him if he will just come to me in honesty. From what I can tell, my husband really is doing much better, and my gut confirmed that quite clearly. He is making progress. I never expected him to stop cold turkey. I knew he would have relapses (and that always drove him crazy--like I didn't believe in him). My gut told me not to freak out over this. So I didn't. And I'm fine.

Success tip #4: Support. Oh, friends, this is such a huge player in my progress and well being. Are you still silent and doing this alone? Are you still lurking in the shadows here on the blogs? Come out of the shadows. Say Hi. We don't need to know your real name. Pick a name for yourself and start commenting. Connecting to others who know exactly how you feel helps more than I think any of us every realized. I can tell you with everything in me that having a support group has made me all the difference.

I really am doing well. I did not get to this point over night, and it may change in the future. But for now, I am happy. I am proud of how far I've come and hope that many of you are on this journey with me.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Consequences


I know you are all wondering how in the world I shrugged off this last "discovery." You'll have to wait a couple more days since I want to share something else first, but let me assure you that I am not pretending in the least. I am fine. I am happy. And, if you really want to know, we have been happy, we have been having fun together (and we have great sex twice since I dug up the truth on Wednesday). "HOW IN THE WORLD?" you ask? Stick around and I'll tell you in a couple of days.

In the meantime, I want to talk about consequences.


On Wednesday, I found out that my husband (dubbed Mr. Mac by some good friends) was once again, hmmm, how shall I put it? Lying to me? (Ugh. Those words are so ugly. But the truth is the truth.)

The night before Mr. Mac's lies were uncovered yet again, we briefly spoke about consequences. We didn't, however, set any that night. Of course.

You see, our biggest problem at this point is him being afraid (unwilling?) to tell my when he slips back into looking at pornography. So having some sort of pre-determined punishment is not going to encourage him to come to me in honesty. He already dreads my reaction. Additional punishment is not going to encourage honesty.

Instead, we talked the other night about implementing a consequence for lying. That made more sense to both of us.

When Mr. Mac got home from work on Wednesday, we talked about consequences. I've talked to girls about various consequences they have implemented, and I brought them up to my husband. (Please note that these consequences are very effective for many of the woman who use them--all create a safe place and help them heal and deal with things. You'll notice that I didn't choose any of them, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be right for you.)

  • Sleeping on the couch: Some couples decide that the husbands will sleep on the couch for a pre-determined number of nights. This creates a safe place for many women. You see, going to bed brings up anxieties about groping husbands and sex and associations with porn. That's a rough association for many women. I haven't felt this kind of anxiety in a long time, and my husband actually enjoys sleeping on the couch, so this choice didn't make any sense to us.
  • No sex: Some couples decide that there will be no sex or sexual advances for a pre-determined number of days. This also creates a safe place for women who are struggling with associations of sex with porn use. It encourages the strengthening of emotional relationships. If you can't have sex, you have to show affection in other ways. Safe place, non-sexual affection. I have craved this many times in the past, but right now in my life, it's not what I need. Besides--we have always been once-a-week-sexers, so this consequence wouldn't even make much difference for the first few weeks. (That and I've been wanting sex more, so I'm totally being selfish in which consequence I choose.)
  • Moving out: Some couples decide that the husband should find another place to stay for a pre-determined number of nights. This is obviously more extreme than the others, but it is something I would not hesitate to implement if it felt right. Once again, it creates a safe place for the woman, giving her time to heal and not feel pressured to show or accept emotional or physical advances. I didn't feel the need to have him move out, so this was off the table.
Where does that leave us? I asked Mr. Mac for suggestions. If you follow my blog, you know that I believe strongly in having the husband make many of the decisions in his recovery process. I planned to have a strong say in what was decided (since I am the one being lied to), but I wanted him to be the one coming up with the suggestions.

He thought for a few seconds and the first thing he said was, "No TV for two weeks." It was at this point that I started to cry. The crying caught me completely off guard.

You see, I have issues with the TV. Throughout our entire marriage I have gone through many periods of feeling like I was being replaced with the TV. He watches for hours each night. I go to bed by myself most nights, because he isn't tired, has shows to catch up on, and stays up watching TV. As soon as the kids are in bed, the TV goes on. There isn't much Mac time unless I want to sit on the couch and watch with him. This is hard for me. It always has been. He knows it.

So to have him suggest that the consequence of lying to me is to lose TV privileges for two weeks was quite significant. It was probably the most endearing thing he could have offered to me: his time.

The verdict is in: no TV or internet at home for one week this time. Next time it will be two weeks. Perhaps the next it will be three. I'm not sure he could have come up with anything better.

Have you and your husband determined consequences for relapses or lying? I'd love to hear what they are.




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Or not. Spoke too soon.

Source
Oh, the irony. OOHHHH, the irony! I spoke too soon, friends.

But at the same time, I didn't. It really does get better. YOU get better.

Let me explain. For the past 8 months, I've been using phrases like "as far as I know" and "Could he still be lying? Yes." I'm no fool. Or maybe I should say it this way: my gut is no fool. I did a little snooping. The record isn't 100% clean. I'm not actually surprised. Disappointed? Sure. Angry? Only a teeny bit. Sad? Nope. Crazy? Oh thank goodness--no!

You see, I'm finding the names of web sites and laughing out loud. I'm not even kidding. How do they come up with these cheesy names? I think you know you're on the healing path when the reaction in your mind moves from life shattering to recognizing that it's all ridiculously absurd and pitiful. It's the dishonesty that hurts. The porn itself is just absurd.

I actually do think that my husband is doing better. But the honesty is not there yet.

Regardless of his recovery successes or failures, I have gotten better. And YOU can get better. When you work on healing yourself, what they do just doesn't matter as much any more. Yes, it still sucks. Yes, it still makes you question the future. But I know I'll be fine. And knowing that is HUGE. It's huge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Does it every really get better for anyone?



This next week is going to be very busy, but I’m committed to blogging more after this crazy week ends. I miss you guys. Here are my latest thoughts:

I think these are often the biggest questions on all of our minds: Is this going to get better? Will this ever go away? Will I still be dealing with this in 2 years? 5 years? 10? 30? Not gonna lie--these questions kind of make me sick.

We wonder where the success stories are. Do any marriages actually survive sex addiction? Sometimes it seems like we’re all here suffering together but the success stories are few and far between. Or maybe even absent.

So I want to share our progress with you. I don’t know what’s going to happen with us. I don’t know if things will keep going in the right direction, but this is where we are:

I am happy. Things are good.

My husband has been doing well for about 8 months. He goes to group meetings faithfully. He initiates prayer with me every evening. (Have I told you how we structure our prayers at night? If not, I will.) We pray as a family with our boys almost every morning.

He listens to spiritual talks on his way to work. He talks to me openly about his addiction (answers questions I have about his past, how he’s doing, if he has felt tempted). Is the communication perfect? Of course not. But it is getting better.

He is okay with me telling people about his addiction. He’s not exactly thrilled about it, but he understands that it is important for my healing to have a support group. And he is starting to also see that I am now reaching out to other people not necessarily for my own healing, but to bring them into the fold as well. He understands that my telling people has nothing to do with him; it’s about the women connecting and supporting each other.

I am starting to trust him. Our sex life is getting better. I am less codependent. I am letting him take charge of his life. His career. His addiction. His responsibilities.

I am happy.

Are things perfect? No. Is the addiction gone? No. Do I react perfectly to everything he does and treat him with perfect love? Heck no. I’m not perfect, people.

But things are good right now. They are moving in the right direction.

This hasn’t been a fast process. This is 8 years in the making. And it’s a work in progress. But I want you to know that it’s possible. We’re not a success story yet and things can change any time, but it can get better.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Does your husband hate talking about it?

Sonny Rollins by Jimmy Katz  (Source)

Of course they hate talking about it. Do you like owning up to something stupid you did and then having someone bring it up over and over? Of course not.

BUT the communication needs to be there. Heck, the key to ANYTHING being healthy in a relationship is communication. (Honesty being an integral part of communication.) Wouldn't you agree?

I know I have mentioned this before, but I want to put it out there again for anyone who missed it.

I think a SUPER easy tip for improving communication about pornography addiction is designating a time and place to discuss it each week.

Here is how it works at my house.

Together we designated 8pm on Sunday evenings (after the kids were in bed) to talk about things. The understanding was that we would talk about the following things:

  • How his week went in terms of the addiction (temptation, urges, slips, etc.). 
  • How he is doing emotionally (in general in life).
  • How I am doing emotionally (in terms of my healing as well as in general in life).
And these are the things that have made it so successful:
  • He is in charge of starting the conversation and he knows it. Because he knows it is his responsibility, he has only forgotten once in the past few months since we started.
  • I go into the conversation with an open, loving, and non-judgmental mind. No animosity allowed. It needs to be a safe place for both of us. Expect the worst to come out, be prepared (and committed!) to be okay with it and react in a kind way, and then be pleasantly surprised if it's nothing but good news.
  • Both people share how they are doing emotionally in general. It's a good time to really check in with each other. (It was in one of these conversations that I admitted that my testimony of our religion was seriously wavering. It doesn't all have to be about pornography. There is so much more to life that needs to be discussed between husband and wife.)
  • I tried not to bring it up the rest of the week. A wonderful friend of mine pointed out that we tend to stew over things in our minds and then bring them up to our unsuspecting spouses. It seems normal since we were "talking" about it in our own minds first, but to our spouse it comes from left field. My husband's personality is not one that switches gears at the drop of a hat. He needs to be mentally prepared for a conversation. He needs to be in the midset. Expecting him to suddenly be able to talk about it when two seconds earlier you were asking him to pass you the salt is putting a lot of pressure on him. For the first few weeks, try not to bring it up during the week. Once he becomes more comfortable discussing the addiction and his emotions during your weekly chats, he will naturally become more comfortable discussing it at other times.
  • Keep it relatively short. After a month or two my husband admitted that I always draw these conversations out longer than he wants. I remind him that I have to push the envelope a little until he's truly comfortable talking about it, but I also admit that I don't want to make him dread these conversations. Don't make them last all night.
This has really improved our communication in our marriage in general. Really. If your husband thinks having designated talk time sounds strange, ask him to come read this blog post. Talking about it once a week in a "safe" conversation will be SO much of a relief if he's constantly on edge that you're going to bring it up and "beat a dead horse," as Faithfully Jaded's husband called it.

Dear Men: Trust me. Your life will get better if you learn to talk about it. And I don't just mean your addiction will get better. I mean your every day interactions with your wife will get better. Learn to talk about it for the sake of your own happiness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I've Learned: Part 7

Source
Sorry I've been completely MIA, friends. I have a new job and am quickly realizing how much time I had on my hands at my old job! It has been much more difficult to blog and respond to email, but I want you all to know that I'm still here.

So on with the "What I've Learned" series. I'm convinced these posts will go on for a very long time since this is a life-long learning process. Isn't that just life in general? I think it is.

I have learned that healing takes work. Actual work. Carving out time during the day to work through our 12-step workbooks from our Support Groups. (Haven't been to a loved-ones-of-addicts support group yet? Let me know and I'll help you look up one in your area or send you a PDF of the manual. Trust me. You need them. Even if your loved one's addiction is "mild." And they aren't scary. Really. They aren't. And it won't matter if you run in to someone you know. Remember? If they are there, they are going through the same thing.)

So how do I know that healing takes daily work?

Because I haven't been doing it.

You were expecting me to say that I know because I've been there and worked hard every day and healed, weren't you? I'm sorry to say that just isn't the case. I go to Group once a week. I pray with my husband. We have weekly talks about his progress (and my progress). But I do not do my "homework" outside the support group meetings. I only open the manual once a week during the group meeting.

The other day one of my group members shared the parable of the two monks.  The story goes that two monks were walking and came to a river that they needed to cross. A woman was also at the river and needed help crossing. The problem, you see, was that the monks had sworn an oath not to touch women. Regardless, the elder monk picked up the woman and carried her across. All the way back to the monastery, the younger monk seethed at the fact that the elder had broken his oath. When he couldn't hold it in any longer, he confronted the elder monk, who responded, "Yes. I picked her up and carried her across. Then I put her down. You, my friend, are still carrying her around." (You can find a list of variations on the parable here.)

This parable really touched my heart. You see, my husband has been doing very well with his recovery. But each time he shares this with me in our weekly chats, I can't even bring myself to be happy for him. Instead I say something like, "I wish I could believe you, and I want to, but I still have trust issues."

Do I actually think he has gone 7 months without a problem? Yeah. I do. Things have been very different this time around on many different levels. I'm proud of him.

Do I think it's okay to hold back a tiny bit and not trust him 100%? Yeah. I do. I'm okay with the fact that it will take a long time for my trust to come back fully.

However, what really hit me about this parable is that I'm not helping him or celebrating his progress in any way, because I am clinging to the fact that it will take a long time for me to heal, but I'm not doing anything to work toward my own healing! I am still carrying around the woman that he is trying so hard to put down. And I'm throwing it in his face every week that I'm still carrying her around because he picked her up in the first place.

Sure, healing may take a long time, but healing will never take place if I don't put my own work into it.

If I want to put the "woman" down, I need to do the work. I need to take some quiet time to myself every day to really work through my steps.

How about you? Do you work on your steps outside of your group meeting?



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Men Don't Cry

I think it is no coincidence that this topic showed up on three different blogs today.

I was struck by this post on A Cup of Joe today. Judging by the 250-and-counting comments, it looks like a popular topic in general, but what really struck me about the post was the conversation she had with her husband about men not crying. That they are taught from a very young age (through comments and teasing from other kids) that boys do not cry. Boys do not show weakness. Boys do not show "mushy" emotion.

Fast forward 10, 15, 20 years. Boys do not know how to express themselves.

Am I making a generalization? Sure. Is this true of all boys? No. But is it true of many? Yes.

I have seen my husband cry about 3 or 4 times in almost a decade that we've known each other. (I wrote about that here.) However, not once has my husband let himself cry in front of me when he admits his mistakes. The only time he did was after the fact in expressing relief that I didn't blow up at him. Otherwise he is stoic. Does not break down. Does not show any remorse emotionally. In fact, he barely even shows any emotion. Says the minimal words necessary in those conversations and then moves on. It makes me hurt for him.

Made me think of Scabs' post today. Even as her husband was cracking inside and about to burst, he gives a 5-word response and then silence.

Even Leo over at Master Myself Master the World mentioned today that he was uncomfortable blogging (i.e. sharing his emotions in writing, even anonymously), referring to it as a "woman thing." And that makes sense. I don't blame him for thinking that way. We teach boys (through our actions, our movies, our culture, our words) that emotional matters are women stuff. That showing emotion is effeminate.

Why are we raising our boys and men to hold it all in? Why are we teaching them that to be a man you can't cry? Can't release your emotion? Can't show others that you are hurting? Gender roles make me so angry sometimes. So angry.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is There a Reason?

Shiro Kuramata, Revolving Cabinet, 1970  
Source
I have said it before, and I'll say it again--I don't believe there's a reason for everything that happens. However, there are times when you can look at a situation and see that there may have been a reason. Right now I'm struggling with that possibility.

Lately I have been feeling down about my husband's employment situation again. I feel like I am on a pendulum that swings between feeling surprisingly positive about our future and feeling like he is going to struggle in his career for the rest of our lives. When am on the latter swing, I get this terrible pit in my stomach and want to give up.

Especially when I look realistically at why things may not be working out the way we had hoped.

You see, my husband has always wanted to work on the international side of things. That involves travel. Often lots of it. Travel involves being away from us for long periods of time.

Sometimes I worry that God knows better. Maybe He knows that our marriage wouldn't stand up to that test.

As if unemployment and difficulty pursuing a career and him feeling like a failure and me not being able to be home with our kids weren't hard enough, the possibility that this could all lead back to the addiction makes me sick.

Sick.

Waiting for the pendulum to swing back to the other side. I could use some positive thinking right now. I will be patient.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Men

Alabama Tenant Farmer, 1936, Walker Evans  Source

I'm glad the women are here finding a safe place and supporting each other. Most of our husbands (or ex-husbands) are quiet and secretive about their struggles because they don't want anyone to know. They are ashamed (and some are in denial). They don't even want us to know. My husband talks to me about it every Sunday evening (since that is a decision we made together), and while he has been wonderful about talking each week, he has also admitted that he still dislikes it. He'd still rather not talk about it at all. Bury it. Pretend it doesn't exist outside his group meetings. Unfortunately, this desire to sweep it under the rug has been the root of our problems for years.

Although it is very hard for most men to talk about their struggles with pornography and sex addiction, there are some out there who are sharing their stories. 

Some of you already know about Master Myself, Master the World. I don't know these men, but I have come across their blog a couple of times. They are two men who are supporting each other through blogging about their struggles and their triumphs. You can read their blog here

And let me introduce you to Warrior. Warrior has a different situation than many of the men we are...um...supporting (...loving, forgiving, helping, hating, forgetting, enduring...?). Warrior has never been married. He knows he has a problem. He has sought counseling. He is fighting very hard to rid himself of this problem, and is struggling internally with reconciling wanting love and a marriage with his very realistic understanding of the problems his addiction could bring into a young woman's life. I think Warrior is brave. He gets it. He knows this is a problem. And he's blogging about it. You can read his thoughts here

If you are going to read their blogs, be sensitive. This is their safe place, too. Do not criticize them. Learn from them. Learn how this affects people on the other end of the addiction.Sometimes I wish my husband would write like this. I think there is a clarity and honesty in writing that doesn't always come out in conversation. The more my husband opens up to me and explains what is going on in his head, the more I understand him and can relate. (We all have addictions. ALL OF US. Theirs are just on a greater scale and have bigger consequences.)

A special thank you to these men for writing.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Your'e Down and Out

Walker Evans, 'Truck and Sign' (1928-30) Source
My go-to remedy when I'm down and out is to pray for comfort. Nothing comforts like Heavenly Father. It's true. What's funny is that it usually takes me being really down and practically sobbing to remember to pray for comfort. And when I do, it comes. My problems aren't solved. I'm not suddenly Miss cheerful and happy. But I'm calm.

I wish I could remember to pray for that comfort on a regular basis instead of waiting until I'm a wreck.

I was reading in my 12-step manual the other week and came across this scripture: "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you" (3 Nephi 18:20, Book of Mormon). My first thought was, "Yeah right. How many times have these women prayed that this could be taken from their lives?" But then I started thinking about the phrase "which is right," and it suddenly clicked. It's all about what we are asking. One of the concepts that has stood out most throughout all this recovery stuff is that we cannot control others. We cannot take away their agency. God gave us all the ability to choose for ourselves. He believes in this principle more than almost anything else. Asking him to force our loved ones to do the right thing goes against the concept of agency.

So instead, I try to pray for that "which is right." For those things that align with the concept of agency. Please comfort me. Please help me to be happy. Please give my husband the strength he needs to make good decisions.

 But mostly I pray for comfort. Because I know it will come.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pomegranate Jam

My mother-in-law makes the BEST pomegranate jam. Or jelly. Whatever. Only the handwritten label on the top says "Pom" and the date. Pom looks just like Porn. It drives me insane. Every time I get out the absolutely amazing jam, I look at it and think "Porn."

Dear Porn: Do you really have to ruin my jam, too? Really?? Piss off.

Rant over. I'm seriously considering covering the label with a new one that says the entire word: Pomegranate.

However, I am very grateful that the worst thing porn has done to me today is ruin my jam. Counting my blessings. One by one.

where are the men?

Hi everyone. Someone used to have a link on their blogroll to a blog written by two guys who are helping each other overcome their pornography addictions. But I can't find the link anymore. Anyone know what I'm talking about? (Thank you, Angel, for sending me the link! http://familyprestige.blogspot.com/)

And why aren't more men who are winning this battle blogging about their experiences? Don't they realize that their wisdom is needed??

I tried to get my husband to respond to an email I received since I figured he would have more wisdom for that particular person than I, but he just stared at the computer for 20 minutes and declared that he didn't know what to write. I wish he could share what he has learned, but I have to accept that it's not my decision to make or push.

Where are the men in this discussion?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

codependent

Do you know the name of this Dali painting? Let me know and I'll find a good source to link here.
Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Life has been quite busy, and I started recognizing some codependent tendencies.

Do you know what codependency is? Essentially it's when your thoughts, emotions, and actions start revolving too much about your loved one's addiction. The fact that the addiction has taken over their life takes over your life. You spend all your time thinking about it and addressing it. Mrs. A put it perfectly the other day; take a minute to go read her post here. Codependency is exhausting.

I also realized that this blog, though a HUGE part of my own recovery and a HUGE support and blessing in my life through the women I have met, was taking over my thoughts. I was posting all the time and neglecting my family blog. As I began to focus on myself and less on the addiction, I've pursued some new things and am taking care of myself. I've taken a little step back. Not too big of a step, because you guys are my lifeline! But, I have spent a little more time reading what you have been writing and a little less time writing my own posts. Don't worry, I plan to start posting more regularly again soon, but I needed to focus more attention on non-addiction aspects of my life for a bit.

In the meantime, I love this post by Jane yesterday. She sure knows how to calm a troubled heart!

Not to mention I made Scabs' (aka April) chocolate chip cookies tonight. So so so yummy.

And for the single ladies out there who have had your families torn apart by this addiction: A brother from our church gave the most WONDERFUL talk during our semi-annual worldwide broadcast conference today. I don't know his name, but he was the bald one with the cool glasses, and he spoke in the first half hour of the afternoon session. He addressed the women who are going it alone. It made me cry. You are so so so strong. We all are. We can handle so much. As soon as the talks are posted (they will eventually have it as audio, video, and text), I will post a link here.

I hope you are all doing well. Sending all my love.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When You Just Can't Choose to be Happy

{Note to readers: I just realized that my settings were configured in a way that didn't allow anonymous comments. I'm so sorry! I just fixed it. Anonymous comments are absolutely welcome!}

This topic of choosing our attitude has been on my mind a lot recently. It's something I've grown up with in my religion--the idea that oftentimes you don't have any control over what happens to you in life, but you have control over how you react.

This does not mean that we have to be jumping  up and down laughing in our hard times. Just that we can learn and grow and choose to use our experiences for our good.

However, I think it is so so so important to remember that sometimes we are not in the right mental health to choose to our attitude. I think that sometimes (in our church but also in many other groups) so much emphasis is put on praying and holding our head up high and focusing on the positive to get through our troubles that we feel like failures when we can't do it.

I have a couple of family members who have gone through very rough periods in their lives, and both were diagnosed with depression.

One had people tell her over and over for years, "You'll be fine. You'll pull out of it. Keep praying. Focus on the positive." Etc, etc. She tried to tell people she was depressed and these were the responses given to her. When she told me, I took her to a depression class that my hospital offers where she was diagnosed as being severely to clinically depressed. She finally went to a doctor and got medicine. It took her a couple tries to find the right medicine and dosage, but she finally got the help she needed.


The other family member had just gone through a painful and abrupt divorce. The problems in her life were piling up before her eyes and she couldn't deal with them. She shut down. The problems got worse. It was a downward cycle. After a year of not being herself, I encouraged her to go see a doctor about depression. She was only on medication for a very very short period of time, but she is herself again now. She is still dealing with hard things, but the depression is no longer impeding her ability to address her problems and move forward with her life.

When someone is depressed (either situationally or clinically), the depression takes over their ability to effectively deal with life. It's a cycle--a downward spiral. Life becomes overwhelming, which sparks the depression, which leads to wanting to shut down mentally and not deal with the problems that are piling up in front of you, which makes life even more overwhelming, which makes you even more depressed... The counselor at the meeting pointed out that the point of depression medication is to bring you up to a mental state that allows you to address the things in your life that are causing the depression. It takes the depression out of the picture and stops the cycle. It makes it so you can deal with your life problems while in a healthy state of mind. Then you are weaned off the medication. The plan is never for you to be on medication the rest of your life.

My point is this: depression impedes your ability to choose how you approach life. Telling a person who is suffering from depression that they will be fine if they just prayed more is like telling someone who is dealing with cancer that they will be healed if they just prayed more. Heavenly Father didn't give us doctors and medicine and research for nothing. They are here for our use and just might be the answer to your prayers. Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor if you think you are depressed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Welcome

To my readers: In case you didn't see, I guest posted on A Blog About Love today. If you don't follow that blog, I highly recommend you start.

To those who followed the link here from Mara and Danny's post: Welcome! I'm quite open to conversations (even from people who don't see things the same way I do or who don't really understand much about addiction or those who don't think pornography is even a bad thing), so chime in if you have any questions or comments.

To the women who are struggling with this or similar situations in your marriages: I'm so glad you're here. We understand how you are feeling. Sending you my love. Be sure to check out the links in my side bar. These are the women who inspired me to write, and I consider them my friends even though we have never met.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is everything a lie?

The message in this post was hard for me to put in words, and I'm still not satisfied with it, but I pray that you will understand what I am trying to say.

I've heard this sentiment expressed by many women: once they find out about their husband's addiction and lies, they feel like their entire relationship was built on lies. That everything was fake. That he never loved her. That she was stupid to have ever believed in him. That it was all a lie.

It's not true.

I can say this, because I have come to know this. I know what it's like to wonder if your husband is lying to you about everything. I do not claim to know what it is like to have my husband cheat on me, but I do know what it is like to have him lie to my face and to look back and wonder how many times he lied to me. So, please, open your heart for a minute to what I am about to say.

My husband's addiction does not invalidate everything else about our relationship.

He married me because he loved me. Has he made some bad decisions since then? Sure. Does that mean he didn't actually love me when he married me? No, it does not.

We have laughed together millions of times since we have been together. Has he looked at pornography behind my back and lied about it? Yes. Does that mean he faked all the laughs he shared with me? No, it does not.

People make mistakes. They make bad decisions. They even fall out of love. But that does not mean that everything that came before or the life they led with you was fake or a lie? No, it does not. Am I excusing their lying and cheating? No. Not at all. But please remember that the lying and cheating does not automatically mean that everything else about your relationship was a lie.

In fact, many times an addict is afraid to tell their loved ones about the addiction for fear of abandonment. Think about that for a little while. They are afraid to tell you for fear that they will lose you. They know what they are doing is wrong, but that doesn't mean they want to lose you. I know it is selfish and flawed thinking on their part, but it means that their feelings for you were real even as they were making bad decisions.

It is your decision whether you stay with this person or not (and often a very difficult decision at that), but whether you end up staying together or going your separate ways, please PLEASE do not convince yourself that everything in your life was a lie.

I am grateful to have gained this perspective now. I hope that if my husband and I ever separate in the future, I can look back on the good times we had and know that they were good times. His joy was real. My joy was real. Our love for our kids was real. Let good memories be good memories. Separate them from the addiction and the lies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

on letting go: need your advice

Source

Last night at our women's support group meeting (which I highly recommend you all attend--see if you have one in your area), we talked about being powerless against our loved ones' addictions. Interestingly, this had been on my mind all week without knowing the upcoming topic of our group meeting.

Only it's not even the pornography that I'm worried about right now. (Note: I am still worried about it and briefly thought my husband was lying to me last night, but it's not my main concern at the moment.) You see, I have been pushing my husband for as long as we have been together. He has commented at times that he probably needed me here pushing him beyond his borders in order to accomplish more than he might have otherwise. But I'm coming to resent it now.

It all started when we were dating. Perhaps I should have seen the signs (of both my and his weaknesses). He didn't have car insurance, and although I kept reminding him, he kept not signing up. So one day I looked up an insurance agency and made an appointment for him and went with him to get it done. I felt such relief.

Then there was the pornography issue. I felt like I was having conversations with myself. I was looking up information online. Trying to find solutions. Asking him to go to group meetings. Reminding him that he should talk to the bishop. Pushing, pushing, pushing. He is doing really well right now, but I still feel the need to push. Last time we relaxed in our efforts, it all came back.

Then there was school. I guess I had assumed that he would really step it up and go gung-ho on school when we got married. You know, once he had the pressure of providing for a family. But that didn't really happen. He didn't grow up in an education-focused family and he never stepped up and took it on himself to push hard for his education. So I pushed him. I made sure he remembered to sign up for classes on the right day. I constantly asked him about his graduation requirements. I was so relieved when he finally finished. Push, push push.

Then there was the job search. By then we had a child and I was pregnant with a second, and he had been laid off from his full-time job a year before his college graduation. I thought for sure having a child would kick him into gear and he would put all his effort into doing well in school and getting a good job. Granted, we're in a terrible economy and jobs are hard to come by (and competition is fierce), but it still didn't happen as I had imagined. I pushed and pushed (and still push). In my mind there is an obvious list of things you should do to increase your chances of finding a position, getting in the door for an interview, acing the interview, and then doing everything else in your power to get the position. And when I don't see him doing these things, I push and I push and I push. I'm not so concerned with the lack of job offers. I'm concerned with the quality of effort being put into the search.

I'm tired. I'm tired of pushing. I'm tired of feeling like I have to manage his life.

And I'm scared to death that if I completely let go of that control, it will never happen. And I know this is something I need to work out in my own mind. As someone who has a history of working hard (and on my own) to get what I want, it's hard for me let go.

I know that what he accomplishes in this life directly affects me, because we are married and we have children. I do not expect him to be rich. In fact, I don't have any desire to be rich. I'd like to stay home with my kids at least part time. I'd like to save up for retirement. I'd like to save up for my kids' education. And I'd like our marriage to survive. No, not just survive. THRIVE.

So I feel like giving up control and letting my husband take the reins on his own is accepting that these things may never happen.

How do you do that? How do you let go? How do you trust in the Lord's will and accept that you can't control everything?

Especially when that means potentially giving up what you want?

I want so badly to have faith in my husband. I want to think, "Well if I would just back off and stop pushing him, it will give him a chance to step up and show what he's capable of." I want to badly to believe that that will happen. And maybe it will. But I'm scared to let go and take that chance.

(Not to mention it SUCKS to come to the realization that you're a control freak and probably making your husband feel terrible and worthless and incapable in the process.)

How do you do it?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I don't owe you anything

Source

Tonight was a struggle for me. I've been thinking a lot about the women who fought this battle for years only to have it get worse and end in divorce. I'll be honest--this scares me. I'm realistic enough to know that we could end up in the same boat if things take a turn for the worse. While we seem to be doing really well right now, it still is quite sobering to remember this possibility.

While I tried to fight it, these thoughts crept into my mind and put me in quite the somber mood.

At one point in the evening, my husband was joking around about something and said, "Well, you know you owe me." I was quiet for a minute and said, "I don't owe you anything." And for a few minutes, I meant it. I owe him? It should be the other way around. I have endured a lot because of his actions. I've supported him. I've pushed him through school. I've worked full time to support our family. I've written and re-written countless resumes and cover letters for him. I've grown kids inside me and my body is forever changed as a result. I've forgiven him time and time again for seeking sexual pleasure in porn and for lying to me. I gave myself to him and only him and have never lied to him.

So, yes, I meant it when I said, "I don't owe you anything."

I felt this anger inside me, and it was ugly. It lingers in me hours later, and it's still ugly.

I know my husband is a good person. I know he loves me. He does way more to contribute at home and with our kids than most men I know. He always tells me how attractive and kind I am. He hugs me. He wants to support our family so I can stay home and is working hard to find the right opportunity. He is consciously working to change his attitude and be a happier and more dedicated person. Through those ugly thoughts I convince myself that I am the only one contributing in this relationship, and that I owe him nothing and he owes me everything. In reality, that's no the case. He contributes as much as I do. We just contribute in different ways.

Neither of us owes the other anything. I know he was joking, but it struck a very sensitive chord in me. Just another thing I need to work through in order to leave the resentment behind.

Do you have these same kinds of thoughts?


first group meeting

Last night I attended my first women's support group meeting. It is run by our church and is for women who need to heal from addiction (either from their own or from the effects of a loved one's addiction). We haven't had a group like this in our area before, so it is a pilot group. On the way there it felt so strange. How in the world was I on my way to this meeting? I never thought I'd be someone who would need to go to such a meeting. I was worried I was going to be the only one to show up. Or maybe one of a few.

There were 20 women there. Twenty.

It was amazing. Just being in a room with so many strong women was hard to describe. We all had different stories. Some shared, some didn't. Many of us cried. I was worried that it would be heart wrenching and difficult to take in since I feel like my husband and I are doing quite well right now. But the most amazing thing was that no matter what the circumstances of each woman who shared, I found myself nodding with tears in my eyes, because I understood. The words coming out of their mouths could have come out of mine. We understood each other. I no longer thought about how I became someone who "needed to go to such a meeting." I felt like a regular person. I beautiful strong woman who is living her life just like everyone else. And happy to be there.

I am looking forward to going back next week, and I am looking forward to working through my own healing and growth.
 
Also, please remember that Shamed only has just over a week left to get enough pledges to move forward with production. If you have not yet offered your help, please visit the web site and pledge your donation. http://shamedthemovie.com


 

Friday, February 3, 2012

What I've Learned: Part 6


I've learned that we often use our marriages and spouses as scapegoats. And this doesn't just apply to people who are dealing with pornography addictions. I mean in general. When things aren't right in our lives, it's often a natural tendency to start focusing on all the things that are wrong with our marriages and our spouses.

I've thought a lot about why this is, and I think it boils down to this: we chose our partner and we chose to get married. We had control over that. So it's a little too easy to look at those choices in hard times and wonder if maybe we made the wrong choice. Blame the marriage. Blame the spouse. Second guess our decision to marry that person. Wonder what our lives would have been. Wonder what our lives might be if we were no longer together...


The grass over on the other side seems to get brighter and brighter as our trials pile up. And the marriage and partner standing right in front of us pales in comparison. And the criticism gets easier and easier. Especially when we feel like our spouse isn't living up to his/her side of the bargain. "I didn't sign up for this." How many times has that phrase crossed your mind (or your lips)?


On a similar note, we treat the pornography as the scapegoat, too. While we didn't choose this necessarily, it's an easy target. We tend to blame everything on it. "If the pornography problem weren't a part of our lives, then X, Y, and Z wouldn't be issues in our marriage." Lately I've been trying to concentrate less on the pornography and more on the X, Y, and Z. Tackling it all from the opposite direction. Strengthen our marriage from the bottom up and use that strength to battle the pornography problem. Not the other way around.

I know this is hard to do since we see the pornography as the only problem. In my marriage, I think it's communication, honesty, self-doubt, selfishness, and not seeing eye to eye (or rather just not understanding what the other person needs) that are underlying problems as well. And those things aren't pointed at my husband. We both have our weaknesses. Sure, I can blame my trust issues on his lack of honesty regarding the pornography, but just throwing around blame isn't doing any good unless we are also concentrating on why he doesn't feel comfortable coming to me and being honest with me. Pornography has not ruined the communication in our marriage. It has actually strengthened it as we've gone out of our comfort zones and worked together on this. Pornography is one of the problems in our marriage, but not necessarily the source of all our problems. My focus now is on what we can do to strengthen our relationship regardless of the pornography. I am convinced that will lead us in the right direction.


I understand that there are plenty of husbands out there who have a long way to go with the pornography addiction. Who don't think they have a problem. Who can't see that their actions affect their wives. Who aren't willing to put in the effort to overcome the temptation. Who blame their wives. Who blame everything but themselves. Yes. There is a long road ahead. If you have decided to stay in your marriage, then it is up to you and your husband to stop blaming your marriage or the pornography or each other and start strengthening your marriage. Maybe make an agreement to only talk about the pornography problem once a week and spend the rest of the week concentrating on serving each other, spending time together, serving others together, going on dates. Strengthening our marriages from the bottom up.

What do we do if our husbands aren't willing to put in any effort in any aspect of our marriages? I'm not sure. I wish I had an answer, but I don't. How long do you work on a marriage by yourself with no reciprocation? I don't know. I guess that's something each of us has to decide on our own. If any of you have insight on this, please do share.



Monday, January 30, 2012

On masturbation


My opinions on this topic have been all over the board in my life. I've become quite accustomed to being "all over the board" on a lot of topics as I work through things. I've decided that's just fine and probably healthy.

When I was young I stumbled upon masturbation somewhat by accident, as I'm sure many young people do. I had an understanding that it wasn't right and I avoided it for the most part, but still did it every once in a while. I never really felt like it was a terrible thing, but I also didn't feel great about it. I'm sure this stems from the idea of sexual purity as taught in my religion. As I've gotten older, I've realized that I am actually glad I had those experiences when I was younger. I have heard my fair share of stories from women who don't love sex in part because they don't usually get much pleasure from it. I would hate sex, too, if that were the case. However, I learned quite young how to please myself, so unless I'm just having a really bad day, I normally climax during sex. This may sound like way too much information for you, but my point is this--I think that knowing our own bodies is important and okay and healthy. In fact, I think young married women who have not explored this should get to know their bodies in order to enhance their intimacy with their husbands. People tend to like sex more when it's something they enjoy. It's hard to enjoy it if you aren't ever getting pleasure out of it.

Now let's venture to the other end of the spectrum. I also have an intense "hate" relationship with masturbation because I associate it with pornography and dishonesty. I want to acknowledge that I use the words "masturbation" and "self pleasure," but you will never see me refer to it as "Mr. M." (If you read Maurice Harker's blog--in my side bar--you will see that some of his patients use this term in therapy sessions, likely because they are not yet comfortable using the word "masturbation.") I have a dear friend who went through chemotherapy for breast cancer. She told me that she refused to call it "chemo." She said, "We are not friends. It's not cute. It does not deserve a nickname." This is how I felt about masturbation. It did not deserve a nickname. If I was going to talk about it, I was going to face it for the ugly thing it was in all its horrific glory. It made me mad. It was a dirty word.

Then one day I had a great conversation with some friends during a girls' weekend. One of my friends mentioned that she and her husband are totally okay with self pleasure. If she or her husband found themselves aroused when the other was not around, he or she would go ahead and please him/herself and send a text to the other with something short and sweet like, "Just had myself a good time! ;)"

At that moment, the light bulb went on in my head.

This is what a healthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife looked like. Open. Honest. Trusting. Playful.

I've heard many times (from my church leaders and others) that what married couples do in terms of intimacy is totally up to them as long as both partners are comfortable with it. And that makes perfect sense to me. Regardless of what the world thinks about pornography and regardless of what my church preaches about pornography, I do not feel comfortable with it. And if my husband respects that, it does not belong in our relationship. Unfortunately, the self pleasure that was going on in our home was so interconnected with the pornography and the hiding and lying that I viewed it as a terrible thing. And because I've known about the pornography since before we were married, it never occurred to me to explore self pleasure as a positive and useful tool in our relationship.

As soon as I separated the two in my mind, I realized that I was really opposed to one but not the other.

My husband and I have discussed this a few times, but it is still hard for him. He still has trouble separating the two in his mind, but I think it's a work in progress. The bottom line is that I wish I had realized a long time ago that self pleasure can be a healthy part of a healthy sexual relationship.

Jane asked me in my last post how I plan to address this with my own children. To be honest, I have no idea. I would like to be open with them. I'd like to have conversations with them about what is healthy and what is not. I'd like to encourage them to see that "what is healthy and what is not" is driven by how those things will affect their relationships with their future partners. To ask themselves, "Will this be a positive influence in my future?" I'd like to think that exploring and understanding their own sexuality is healthy. I think that masturbating uncontrollably is neither healthy nor productive. I think that gaining a skewed understanding of sexual relationships through pornography is not healthy, especially since pornography tends to be addictive, and being addicted to pornography will not be good for their future relationships. Having a clear understanding of sex as a good thing that should be cultivated in an honest, loving environment is healthy. This is what I hope to teach my children.

Like I said, how I see things is a work in progress. I feel like I'm figuring things out in a way that works for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shamed: and my opinions

I know some of you have seen the posts about the upcoming film project called Shamed, but for any of my readers who have not, I want to share it here. Shamed is a documentary about the hush hush nature of sin in conservative Christian communities, particularly with regard to pornography addiction. I've posted the trailer below. Please read all the way down to the trailer.

I have mixed opinions on this topic, but I don't feel pressured to resolve my mixed opinions any time soon. They will likely just simmer on my mind for years, which is actually okay with me. Here are some of my opinions, even if they contradict each other:
  • We need to be more open about sex with our children and teenagers: about the joys of sex, about the dangers of sex, about the realities of sex.
  • I believe that sex is sacred, but that it does not need to be secret. By never talking about sex, we are teaching many of our youth to either be afraid of it or ashamed of it or experimental in unhealthy ways.
  • I don't think airing our sins before everyone around us is necessary. If this were a perfect world and everyone were accepting and understanding, I think we could talk openly about our vices and weaknesses. Unfortunately, too many of us judge people according to their weaknesses and tend to remember only that about them long after the "sin" has been overcome. Regardless of whether they are part of the conservative Christian community.
  • At the same time, I think we should be able to talk about it openly. I'd love to convince myself that I don't care what anyone else thinks.
  • I've said this before, but I don't think the naked human body is bad and it bothers me that the exploitation of the human body in addictive pornography makes nude or semi-nude art a problem in our homes.
  • I don't actually think masturbation is bad but it crosses a line with addiction that makes it a problem, and I think we need to talk to our youth about this.
  • I do think we need to have more open communication with the people we trust and love. I'm afraid to tell my family members (who are my best friends) about my husband's pornography addiction out of fear that the conservative ones will judge him and the liberal ones will try to tell me that porn is no big deal. How sad that this is keeping me from seeking their support in my struggle.
  • I think stern warnings against the dangers of pornography addiction from our church leaders are glossed over by most of our youth, so I think what we really need are brave men who will sit down with a group of youth at church on Sunday, look them straight in the eye, and tell them how addiction has ruined their life. I will always remember the sister in our ward who came into our youth class and told us how incredibly difficult it had been for her to give up her baby for adoption as a teenager. Real people sitting in front of you telling real life stories have the most effect.
  • I wish I were strong enough to be one of those real people telling my real-life story. Maybe some day I will be.
The people in this documentary are brave enough to tell their real-life story. I think this is an important project that will spur more open communication.

In order for the project to move forward, they have to raise $40,000 in pledges by February 15th. I don't have much money, but I pledged what I could. It's an all or nothing project. If they raise $40,000 in pledges by the 15th, then your credit card will be charged with your pledge amount and the project will move forward. If the $40,000 is not met, your card will not be charged and the documentary will not be completed. Please watch the video below and, if you are able, pledge your support here. People don't know how much of a problem pornography addiction is until they are in the throes of it. Let's help raise awareness before that.



Shamed Teaser - V2 from Girl with a Curl on Vimeo.

What are your thoughts on this project? Is it something you want to support? As Jane put it for those of us who are not yet ready to talk openly about our experiences, are we willing to put our money where our mouths should be so that someone else can?

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