The Porn Addict’s Wife Wears Lingerie (or tries to)

I was innocently walking through the mall last week. Christmas shopping. Making my list and checking it twice. When in front of me appeared the store that cleverly beckons me. The one that stirs a longing within my heart at the same time it brings a knot to my stomach. Enticing me while rousing my insecurity, fears and loss. A store filled with both hope and grief.

The lingerie store. Filled with intriguing pyjamas, bras, panties, and other attire.

Now, if you are one of my children, this is where you might want to stop reading. But if you are the partner of a sex or porn addict, or have lived with the rejection of a sexless marriage or any type of sexual abuse, you may very well understand the conflicting emotions of wearing lingerie. Or of even buying lingerie.

In my case, I want to wear lingerie. It makes me feel pretty and sexy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But it also makes me very sad. And a little bit angry. Because I can’t. My sexuality has been damaged. Sex and porn addiction stole my husband’s healthy sexuality. It has also taken mine even though I was not the one viewing it.

I have read articles on the harmful effects of pornography on the addict’s sexuality. I have witnessed those effects in my husband. And I have experienced them on a very deep, personal and painful level. And yet, there is little information on the harmful effects of porn on the partner’s sexuality. But I, the partner, have suffered immensely too.

When my husband chose pornography and masturbation over sexual intimacy in our marriage, my sexuality eroded. I fought to regain it. I read the magazine articles on how to please a man and drive him crazy in bed. I tried it all. Problem was, he was not interested in any of it. My sexual needs and desires were shamed and ridiculed. I finally gave up and did my best not to have them. I stuffed them. I buried them. I accepted a sexless marriage.

And now, almost three years into our recovery programs, I am still struggling in my attempts to accept myself as a sexual being with needs and desires. Even with my husband’s tremendous healing and recovery from his sex addiction, it continues to feel like he holds the power in our sexual relationship. His addiction and recovery influence every choice I make in expressing myself sexually. There is little freedom, fun or lightness when every move I make, every word I speak, every article I wear is funnelled through the lens of porn addiction and the possibility of relapse.

I want to feel pretty and sexy in what I wear to bed. I want my husband to think I look pretty and sexy in what I wear to bed. I do not feel the need to dress provocatively to get his attention, but I do want to clothe myself in ways that please him. That also adds to my pleasure and helps me mentally prepare for sex.

But therein lies the conflict. I want my husband to desire me and my body. I need to be assured that after twenty years of sexual rejection he is attracted to and aroused by what is underneath the lingerie. It is necessary for my mind to avoid any connection to the world of pornography so that I do not unfairly compare myself to the thousands of naked women that have aroused my husband.

The first time I walked into a lingerie store after we began our recoveries, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t expected that reaction. Approaching the store, I had been filled with nervous anticipation. Feeling excited and bold with this new sexuality that was emerging from deep within me. As my eyes scanned the merchandise, my heart leapt enthusiastically at the possibility of being daring with my sexuality.  And then I froze. Bewildered. Closely followed by my mind screaming “Nooooo. What are you thinking?!”, and an urge to flee from the store. But I stayed, took a deep breath and swallowed the teary lump in my throat.

I soon realized that neither myself or my marriage was emotionally ready for any of the overtly sexual lingerie options on display. But I also knew that with careful consideration I could find something that would make me feel both sexy and comfortable. My focus was not on what my husband would find sexy, but on what would enhance and help me embrace my sexual healing.

I intentionally avoided certain colours, fabrics, and styles. But then I found something that kindled a spark in my soul. And I left the store with more than a new little nightie. I had hope.

That little nightie spent several months in my dresser drawer before I gathered the courage to wear it for my husband. It was a promise and gift to myself as much as it was to him.

I’ve returned to the lingerie store a few times since then. But like my first purchase, the items often stay unworn until I feel safe enough to reveal the growing acceptance of my own sexuality. It is vulnerable exposing not only my body, but also my soul.

Last week the winter and Christmas themed pieces on display reignited the yearning in my heart for sexual lightness and fun in my marriage. I walked into the store with a twinkle in my eye that soon faded with the realization that this could easily be a triggering problem for either my husband, myself or both of us. The sense of loss washed over me once again. I dejectedly wondered if my sexuality and healthy fantasies would be forever tainted by my husband’s past pornography addiction.

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know that I wasn’t emotionally ready to find out this year. I don’t believe it has anything to do with me being scared, or insecure, or not brave enough. Simply, God is laying a foundation and rebuilding a healthy sexuality in both myself and my husband so that one day we will be blessed with holy sex in our marriage as He designed, created and intended it to be. That will be a gift delivered from God, not Santa.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25

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25 thoughts on “The Porn Addict’s Wife Wears Lingerie (or tries to)

  1. This one statement said it all “Sex and porn addiction stole my husband’s healthy sexuality. It has also taken mine even though I was not the one viewing it.”.

    This is just so beautiful written and with such heart. Your transparency will help other women, whose spouses struggle with porn, realize they are not alone in their thoughts and fears.

    Powerful! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging and affirming words. Although I have been on an amazing journey of healing with incredible people and resources, the one area I personally found lacking was the openness to talk about and work through the partner’s broken sexuality. Articles refer to the addict, and also how porn affects sex within the marriage, but I have come across little info about the damaged sexuality of the partner within that marriage. It somehow seems assumed that when the addict recovers, stops viewing porn and lusting, that the marriage has recovered and sex will naturally and wonderfully occur. That is a terrible pressure for the damaged partner who also needs healing of his/her sexuality. It causes a lot of shame, which I suspect may be why so few partners openly talk about it. It helps so much to know we are not alone, and in this situation our thoughts and emotions are “normal.”

      Liked by 2 people

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  3. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. ❤ I am not in your situation but my own (former) alcohol addiction and former sexual abuse have disturbed my natural sexuality. Reading how you experience this and how you deal helps me greatly. Thank you. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are very welcome. This was a difficult post for me to write, to try to grasp the right thoughts and emotions to convey my heart. I appreciate your feedback, although I am sorry that you understand this hidden pain. Living in a highly sexualized society when your own sexuality has been damaged and distorted is so painful and difficult. And when no one talks about it, the isolation just adds to the shame. I am trying to break that cycle…..Blessings to you as you continue to heal.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so brave to share this! And you’ve put words to something I’ve experienced but never understood or talked about. Thank you so much for your vulnerable, heartfelt words! Praying for continued healing for both you and your husband.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your affirming, supportive words. I’m not sure if I was brave or foolish. But what I do know is that I have felt alone in my broken sexuality, even within my recovery group, because no one seems willing to talk about it. But I need to break that shame to find healing. I am sorry that you are in a situation where you can understand and feel the pain of my words, but glad that they may have helped you. Sending you prayers and blessings as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are definitely a brave and strong woman, endowed with the gift of being able to express complex emotions and difficult situations with such wisdom, vulnerability, and clarity. I know your transparency and honesty is helping so many people. Blessings to you and your husband as you and your marriage continue to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my friend. Your encouraging, supportive words are always a warm embrace for me. You have the wonderful ability to chase away the doubts and insecurities I have about my writing. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, yes, yes!! The very first of my triggers I discovered was because I looked up lingerie online. Our anniversary was this week, so I got online to shop for something modest (like you, I wanted to avoid anything too overtly sexual) that would make me feel sexy. But instead, I slammed my computer shut and bawled. It was the fact that the models in the lingerie have such perfectly shaped and airbrushed bodies, the fact that my husband had spent years pouring over far more exposed bodies than that, and the realization that while I have always loved lingerie, I no longer felt the confidence to wear it. I did end up trying a second time and finding something pretty and modest, but I nearly threw up before I walked into the bedroom wearing it.

    Thanks so much for sharing from your heart, too. It’s such a tough journey, and I’m so thankful to not have to journey it alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “I no longer felt the confidence to wear it.” That’s it, right there, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your experience too. It is so beneficial to know we aren’t alone, even in these things that should be simple and positive events (shopping, celebrating an anniversary) but have become painful and overwhelming and now require courage to do. You are beautiful and brave!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your story is a vital read for husbands addicted to porn. The tired cliché of “I’m not hurting anyone” is an ugly lie the addict tells himself to ward off guilt. What he doesn’t realize is the damage he’s doing to the wife who vowed to stay with him through thick and thin. The scars from the emotional abuse I caused my spouse because of my adulterous ogling of filth still lingers and adversely affects our love life almost a decade after God began to heal me. I have to live with the fact that I brought it upon myself. Thank you for being transparent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really appreciate your comment, and particularly your honesty in sharing how your love life continues to be adversely affected years later. I am sorry that is still the case for you after so much time. That is discouraging for me to hear, but admittedly, I found it reassuring that there is another couple with this painful struggle. I have read many blogs and such that declare how amazing their sex life has become with their healing from porn and/or sex addictions, and how wonderful the intimacy is. And those words stab me so deeply and make me want to cry. Because three years into our healing and recovery, and beginning sexual intimacy after twenty years of the rejection and neglect of a sexless marriage, I am still greatly distressed by our inability to achieve a mutually fulfilling sex life. The damage to the sexuality of both of us runs deep. It is so, so hard to even believe in the existence of sacred sex. It just hurts too much.

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  8. Thank you for capturing this pain and putting it into words. I discovered my husband’s secret sexual addiction to porn 4 months ago. We have been married 38 years. I am 60. The years of lack of intimacy, rejection and loneliness I have felt now have a reason. I love my husband but I also hate him for allowing his lust and daily need for gratification with pornography to steal my healthy sexuality. A short while after finding out his addiction I needed to go to the lingerie department. Looking around at the sexy nighties, knowing the images of young women he prefers and pursued, and then thinking of my own aging body literally made me break down and run out of the store. I was once a very attractive woman. Some say I still am. But I grieve that I faithfully gave myself to a man who never was satisfied or valued by my gift. Now I look back over the years and feel so cheated. He has entered into recovery and wants to work at our marriage. I have committed to try as well. But I know I will never completely heal from this trauma. My only hope is that over time it will be less painful.

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    • Oh Deb, my heart breaks for you and with you. As you know, I understand your pain and the soul crushing rawness you are experiencing so early in the discovery and recovery process.

      You have been cheated. And it’s unfair and undeserved and has nothing to do with you or your beauty or your body or not being enough. With a porn user/addict it really has nothing to do with anything we have done or not done. And yet the consequences are devastating to us. It absolutely is a trauma, and it is necessary to grieve.

      It is also necessary to find your own healing. I am glad to hear that your husband has entered into recovery and wants to work on your marriage. You mentioned that you have committed to trying to work on your marriage as well. Have you begun your own recovery program, apart from his, and marriage recovery? If you have read any of my other posts, you will see that I strongly encourage other women to work on their own recovery process and not expect or depend upon their husband’s healing to heal them.

      It is possible to heal from the trauma. I have. I am a healthier woman, and my marriage is better than it ever was. But yes, the healing of my sexuality has been a very long, slow, discouraging, frustrating process. I don’t know if it will ever be what anyone, including me, would consider completely healed. But I am getting to a place where it will be healed enough. And I think that is a great place to be. Healed enough that it doesn’t hurt so much, but also that I stay intentional and mindful of my recovery and continually moving forward.

      I thank you so much for sharing a part of your story and precious heart with me. (((Hugs))) and blessings to you beautiful lady on your journey to wholeness.

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  9. Cynthia, I so appreciate your caring response. I have felt so alone in this pain but know that I’m not. Sadly I have come to understand there are far too many of us who have been blindsided and left wondering why our marriages have been brought to the brink of destruction by porn. My husband and I have had some very hard conversations and are asking God to guide our steps forward. But I will no longer tolerate future acting out—if he ultimately chooses porn over me—I am trusting the Lord to bring me through to wholeness.

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  10. Pingback: The Lingerie Store Revisited | Tears in a Bottle

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