Watching a loved one struggle through an addiction can be devastating. When a partner struggles with a pornography addiction, the spouse is often left with an array of emotions to deal with – perhaps you find yourself consumed by anger, paralyzed by a sense of helplessness, or deeply hurt by the feeling of betrayal you are experiencing.
If these experiences sound familiar, please consider the following suggestions in dealing with your partner’s addiction.
1) It’s not about you.
Often, when a spouse discovers their partner’s pornography addiction, he/she may look inward for an explanation. They tell themselves that if they were younger, more attractive, or in better shape, their spouse wouldn’t be struggling with a pornography addiction. As personal as it may seem, the addiction is actually about the addict, not the physical appearance of the spouse.
2) Focus on Yourself.
Remember to take time to take care of yourself. While the revelation of a pornography addiction can be devastating, resist the temptation to allow it to consume your life. Stay active in your hobbies and friendships outside of your romantic relationships. Taking time for you can help make the addiction seem more manageable. If you stay emotionally and physically healthy by taking time for yourself, you will be better able to help yourself and your partner deal with the addiction.
3) Establish healthy boundaries.
While your addicted partner needs support and understanding, you need to set some personal limits. Supporting your addicted spouse does not mean that you adopt an “anything goes” attitude. You are not obligated to condone the addiction. Set standards on how you will be treated by your spouse and determine personally what you will or will not tolerate with your spouse’s addiction.
4) Reframe the Addiction.
As difficult as it may be at times, look for the good in your partner. Often, people allow themselves to be defined by their addictions and struggles. People who fight depression label themselves depressed, those who feel anxious allow their interactions to be overpowered by it, and people struggling with an addiction can come to view their addiction as their defining feature. By looking for the positive qualities in your addicted spouse, you not only help him/her, but you can help yourself to keep a greater perspective and refuel your hope in your partner’s ability to fully recover.
5) Get Help.
Even though this situation is extremely personal, make an effort to find someone in whom you can confide. While being selective and cautious in choosing who to talk to, it is important to find someone you can trust and confide in. Perhaps someone else has been or is in your same position. Even if they haven’t, they can be a source of support and strength to you as you face this difficult situation. Reaching out to a few select people can provide you an objective perspective and offer a safe place to turn when you are having a hard time.
7) Use your spiritual resources.
Whatever your personal beliefs, take time to tap into your spiritual resources. You may talk to a higher power, walk through nature, or go on a serene drive. However you choose to experience spirituality, such experiences can help provide peace and perspective as you help yourself remember that you are not alone in your struggle.
We hope that these suggestions are helpful to you and those you know who may be in a relationship where a partner is struggling with a pornography (or any other) addiction. As with most problems in life, these pointers aren’t a cure-all, easy fix. Hopefully, though, they can offer some perspective and help you feel more at peace as you deal with this difficult situation.