Picture with me for a moment that you come home one night to find your partner engaging sexually with another person. Shock and rage consume you, yet there is no one but them to hear your cries. They are the only person in the room. This other person?? They are on the computer screen, completely oblivious to your presence. Your partner completely oblivious to your presence, this is the person you pledged your love, commitment, and fidelity to all those months and years ago, and now you feel like you’re competing with pornography for their love, attention, and affection. Where do you possibly go from here? While a portion of you wants to help him rid his life of this addiction, another part of you is reeling with hurt, anger, and betrayal. I know because I see these situations unfold in my office everyday, and yes it is extremely startling on the unset to find your partner deeply entrenched in the graphic nature of pornography. Although there is hope…
If you’ve just discovered your partner’s or a family members porn habit, you are probably angry and hurt. If, despite that, you are wondering how to help your loved one overcome and understand the habit and move forward, here are some steps you can take.
STEP 1: START WITH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
There are a few things you can do in this situation and a lot of things you can’t do, because most of what needs to be done is up to your partner.
Point out to your spouse that his or her pornography use is unhealthy and unfaithful.
Express your feelings about your partner’s porn.
Recommend resources like this site, and suggest counseling and recovery programs.
Ask your spouse to stop.
Provide support and encouragement during the recovery process.
Make your partner quit.
Fix, heal, or otherwise change your spouse.
Serve as your partner’s only counselor, listener, or source of guidance.
Hold yourself responsible for your spouse’s struggles, setbacks, or relapses.
STEP 2: EDUCATE AND UNDERSTAND YOURSELF
As with any chronic illness affecting family members, you should try to develop a working understanding of the person’s situation and its treatment options. This is were I come into the picture. I strive to untangle the web and clarify the true nature of the situation. This will help you be a more knowledgeable, savvy source of support and give you some basis for evaluating what your partner tells you. Empathetically understanding how addiction works may also help you in processing your own feelings about the actions. Knowledge about the implications of this addiction can also empower you to make informed decisions about your own well-being if necessary. As a support system you must remember it’s not just about the act, their brain, their desires all are being affected.