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.
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.