I am so glad you are here. I realize pulling a blog up on a computer is easier than walking through a support group door or spilling your heart to someone who might not understand. But this takes courage too. It takes a strong person to admit that pornography is hurting someone you love. It takes strength to look for help. I am not a therapist. Or an expert. But I have been where you are.
It was 8 years ago when my husband, Pete, admitted to me that he had a problem with pornography. I should have known. It wasn’t like we hadn’t talked about it before. I was just naive. Very naive. I didn’t get it. Now I was being forced to understand. I needed to. To save my marriage. Maybe to even save my husband.
I started looking for help. It wasn’t easy. I don’t think there was quite as many people blogging back then. Maybe I just didn’t know about them. I felt so alone.
There were books I could read. I remember the day I went to buy one of them. I ran into a woman who I had gone to school with and had known quite well. She didn’t stop to chat that day. I am sure she saw my grief, my anguish displayed on my face. It was not a good day.
I also had a woman from our church who had gone through something similar with her husband. They had made their fight very public and she had lots of advice. Rules.
- Don’t leave your husband at home alone.
- Don’t go out in the evening.
- Don’t give him any opportunities to feed his addiction.
- Cancel the cable.
- Don’t bring any magazines into the house.
I had to take control. I was now the spiritual head of the family. I had to fight to keep my husband sober.
I tried to follow the rules. I became a prisoner in my own home. A prisoner to porn. I censored all the media entering my home. I drove the poor employees at the video store by my relentless questions about nudity, language, and sexual content. I took over all the passwords on the computer. I installed accountability software on all our electronics and made myself the accountability partner. I would receive an email if our computers were used in to solicit inappropriate material. I had the list of questions to ask my husband periodically to see if he was stuggling again.
Months passed. And then it happened. He admitted that he had given in again. And the device he used? A “toy” that I had brought into the home. I felt responsible. It was my fault. I had failed.
I understand what the rules were intended to do. I honestly do. But my husband’s fight with pornography was just that. It was HIS. While I could stand by him, I couldn’t do anything to force him to stay sober. It wasn’t my job.
My life changed for the better when I made this realization. That Pete’s soberity did not depend on me. He had started this addiction alone and it would ultimately be a battle he would have to win on his own. While I could be his biggest cheerleader, I had to let him work through it on his own.
That didn’t make me feel any better when he fell. When our daughter died, a pastor we knew came to us and told us that losing Arlynne would be the turning point that would break porn’s hold on Pete. I was guardly optimistic. But he did use again. Even Arlynne’s death wasn’t enough.
What I have learned is that I can’t control the situation. It is impossible. Trying, sacrificing, following the rules, and having him fail will plunge me down to the depths of despair again. And it isn’t about me anyways.
So I did the only thing I could do with the control. I lay it at Jesus my Saviour’s feet. He sees my despair. My grief. He understands. He is wholly God but also wholly man. He had to face His fleshly struggles and He didn’t sin. But He knows. He remembers. He sees Pete. He sees his desire to walk in freedom. He sees his struggle. He sees his pain. And Jesus forgives him at the same time that He soothes me.
I had to respect Pete. He may have sinned but trying to remove his authority as head of our family just brought him shame when he had more than his fair share already. It was like the story in John 8:1-11 in the Bible where a group of men were going to stone a woman for adultery. Jesus invited the man without sin to throw the first stone. That woman’s life was spared that day. My struggle with sin might not involve pornography but I sin too. It is not my job to condemn my husband. He is working hard to honour God by abandonning his addiction.
I have abandonned those rules. The rules to keep Pete sober. They were only bondage to me. I gave the job of accountability partner to one of Pete’s guy friends. I don’t want to keep tabs on him. And I started praying, really praying, for my husband. I hope and pray that he keeps those demons at bay but I won’t be devasted if he sometimes falls. I will be there to pick him up, dust him off and link my arm in his again as we continue down the path we before us. The path God has called us to walk. Together.
Pete doesn’t claim the status of “Former” Addict yet. He never may. He still has battles. But with Jesus he is winning more than losing.
If you are the spouse of a porn addict please know that you are not alone. There is hope. His name is Jesus. He is there for you. All you have to do is ask.