For some, pornography might not seem like a big deal—who doesn’t look at it?
But the truth is pornography is addictive and can lead to serious problems down the road.
Pornography and sexual addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationship.
Research has shown that 56% of divorce cases involved one partner having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
To learn of your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction can completely blindside you and leave you questioning your relationship and self-worth.
It is not uncommon for a spouse to question if they are “good enough” for their spouse, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with them.
Like any other addiction, people use pornography (or drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, etc.) as a way to self-medicate.
The first thing to remember is that your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is not your fault. Their turning away is not a reflection of a lack on your part, but on theirs.
As the spouse of an addict, many emotions may have risen from denial, hurt, anger, and guilt and has left you wondering what to do now.
There are no easy answers.
Take time to allow yourself to heal from the discovery. You cannot rush the healing process and will have to let your emotions out.
Many times a spouse won’t know where to turn, or who to talk to, and will struggle through the situation alone.
Instead seek outside help, either in a trusted friend or therapist, to help you navigate the twists and turns while you deal with the revelation.
As you move down this path, here are 5 things to do to help you move forward.
1. Map your recovery
When dealing with trauma (and yes, discovering your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is traumatic), you need to take time to acknowledge your feelings.
During this time, you may experience self-blame, outbursts of anger, depression, feelings of detachment, and many other emotions. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and create your own recovery plan.
2. Don’t isolate
During this time you may find your wanting to retreat into yourself especially when you feel your world is falling apart. Instead, find a trusted friend, spiritual leader, therapist, or support group you can talk openly with.
This experience is too difficult and traumatic to be dealing with all alone.
3. Seek understanding
You’ve probably heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and taking time to learn and understand compulsive and addictive behavior can help you on your path to recovery.
Pornography addiction, like any other addiction, is a disease and is a method of self medicating.
As you learn more about the addiction and the impact on the brain, you will have a better understanding of how their pornography addiction is not from a lack (those lies you tell yourself like, your not sexy enough, not smart enough, and so forth) on your part.
4. Practice self-care
As you move through the recovery process, self-care is vital to your healing.
This can be particularly difficult for women because, by nature, they tend to put their needs second to everyone else. When starting out, choose something to focus on from these 3 categories: personal, physical, and spiritual.
These could include keeping a journal (Julia Cameron has an excellent book, The Artist’s Way, that talks about morning pages), signing up for a zumba class, and meditating daily.
As you begin practicing the art of self-care, it may seem selfish but is essential for your own healing. Eleanor Brownn, inspirational life coach, once said, “Self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Taking time to recharge and take care of yourself will, in the long run, help you take care of those in your life.
5. Sense of community
Many great teachers have talked about the importance of “losing yourself in the service of others.”
When you are feeling overwhelmed, with emotions and life in general, take time to go out and perform an act of kindness for someone else. You can also volunteer at your local shelter, library, or community center.
What is wonderful about taking time to help someone else is that you forget about your problems for a while.
During this time it is so important to remember that you also need to take time to heal.
Through journalling new insights, feelings may arise and that can help you in your recovery.
Use this time to set boundaries, define your limits and write down what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. A therapist, spiritual teacher, or trusted friend can help you with this and help you to see things differently.
Remember to take the time to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The journey towards healing does not happen overnight and takes a lot of deep soul work.
It is also strongly recommended that you don’t make any major life decisions for a while about your relationship, unless abuse is involved.
About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.