Your Husband is a Porn Addict, or Maybe Not, and Why That Matters

I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend lately. A jamming together of puzzles pieces that don’t necessarily belong together. The variations of “Help! I found pornography on the computer and don’t know how to deal with my partner’s porn addiction.” I understand the shock and heartache of discovering your partner’s porn usage. I really and truly know that pain well. What troubles me is the immediate assumption and leap that evidence of porn use indicates the presence of an addiction.

Discovering the existence of pornography in your relationship is definitely a cause for concern that needs to be addressed with the user. I am absolutely not minimizing or denying the damage that pornography use inflicts upon the user, the partner or their relationship, or encouraging anyone else to do so. But I am questioning the growing belief, particularly in the Christian community, that viewing pornography equals an addiction.

I believe using pornography is destructive. What it may or may not be though, is an addiction. And I think, as the devastated partner, it is important to determine where on the spectrum your husband or wife falls so you know what you are dealing with. It is not a measure of your pain. It is not an indication of where your feelings of betrayal should or should not be. Pain is pain is pain. But it seems to me that it is possible that assigning a predetermined label to the issue without knowing the facts can add another level of pain that may be totally unnecessary and unhelpful to your well-being and the situation.

Personally, my mind easily jumps to worst case scenarios. This leads to needless anxiety, distress and fear. In seconds, the images or internet searches that shocked my brain have morphed into flashing lights in my driveway as police officers come to arrest my husband. A pregnant stranger appears at my door searching for him. He loses his job. I become homeless. My community shuns him, me, us. My life and future destroyed. I am hopeless, defeated, filled with despair. And I haven’t even taken my eyes off the screen or talked to my husband yet.

Sadly, and awfully, those scenarios do happen. But not always. So, instead of being convinced that your partner is a full blown sex addict and your marriage and life is beyond repair, take a deep breath and begin the process of finding out what you together, and alone, are up against. A curiosity. A bad habit. An early stage addiction. Or yes, an outright, big, fat, ugly pornography addiction.

The computer history will not likely provide a clear answer. And quite possibly, neither will your partner. But accusing your partner of being a porn addict may simply magnify the problem for both of you. If you are prematurely and carelessly slapping a porn addict label on your spouse, you have also affixed one to yourself. And that may be self-defeating to the care you so desperately need. Your perspective will have a significant influence on your personal healing as much as it will on your partner and marriage.

It is important to know if you are fighting to defeat the devastating effects of pornography, or of pornography and an addiction. Overcoming and recovering from an addiction is possible. The battle is not insurmountable. But it is a different battle than unlearning a bad habit and replacing it with healthier behaviour. For both of you. And that matters.

Guilt over one’s bad behaviour may be a motivator for change. But shame seldom is. If condemnation fills either of your hearts, there is no room for transformation and freedom. If either of you believes the bondage is greater than it is, quite possibly an attitude of hopelessness and despair will prevail. The message you feed yourself and your partner matters. Will it be the truth, or a lie that continues to destroy?

The invasion of pornography’s heavy darkness into your souls and relationship is destructive whether the pieces are still being put into place for an addiction, or it has progressed to a compulsive need. That really makes no difference. Wherever on the spectrum your partner may be, the revealing of pornography use is good news. Light is shining through and illuminating a very real problem with very deep consequences. You are being given an opportunity for yourself and your marriage to be healed and restored from damage that you may not have even knew existed. Or why it did.

Your heart has been shattered. Your soul ravaged. And none of it is your fault. There is no blame or responsibility for you to bear when your partner chooses to indulge their lust or medicate their pain with pornography.

Calling pornography use a bad habit or an addiction doesn’t change the depth of your pain or your ability to heal from it. But mislabeling it may magnify or minimize the issue and affect the path that you, your partner and your marriage will need to navigate for healing. And it is your path. Of light, hope and promise to not just hurt anymore, but to thrive.

I know it is possible. I have seen it. And I am living it.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

27 thoughts on “Your Husband is a Porn Addict, or Maybe Not, and Why That Matters

  1. Labels are never helpful. Proper diagnosis is and we are currently living in an information age where we have just enough information online to label people but not enough experience to do it with wisdom.

    Good read. Thanks Tears.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great insight! And then add overwhelming emotions to the mix and it becomes difficult to respond to an already tough situation with clarity and truth. A closed mind and heart is not conducive to anyone’s healing.

      The only time labels are helpful is when they tell you that raisins are hidden in an otherwise yummy baked product. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is why there is no blood test for addiction. It’s not like checking cholesterol. Too many platelets doesn’t equal narccisim.

        It takes trained professionals months to properly diagnose emotional and mental health issues. Yet too often I read someone confusing being hurt with being abused, being lied to as being gaslit, and boundaries as selfish entitlement.

        It is impossible to know what is happening inside someone else. Why we are doing something is hardly as important as what we are doing about something.

        Again, good post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. Your comments are a valuable contribution to what I was trying to say in my post. My rambling thoughts that didn’t quite make it out, but you grasped them and ran with it.

        Like you, I so often read the words of others that make me want to scream or shake them (ok, you didn’t say that exactly) with their distorted thinking. That is exactly what led to this post – a question and the following comments I read in a forum I follow that left me feeling uneasy, and well, sad, at how offtrack they were getting from the real issues.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You cannot see people if you cannot see past your own pain.

        Everything about these situations are full of pain…for everyone.

        It’s why defensiveness is so often the driver early on. We are defending ourselves from the pain.

        Like

      • And it is natural and normal to defend and protect ourselves. It is easy for me to say these things almost four years into my journey. Earlier on, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. All I knew was how much it hurt….. And then I was blessed to have a wise, solid support system of people and resources to guide me. Not everyone knows where or how to find that. Or that they need to. But hope is alive and real for all of us.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well-written piece. One of the best things I ever heard from a counselor I had years ago was something to the effect of, “I can label you bipolar, ADD, ADHD, depressed, manic, or whatever…you’re still the same guy walking out of here today.” While obviously diagnosis have their place and while there is a dictionary definition of addiction that provides for a bit of wiggle room with interpretation, I think you really drive home the point here that labels are of little significance…although they look good in big letters on a book cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yep, I get you with the book cover thing. I always squirm a bit when I affix The Porn Addict label to my husband in my blog post titles, but those are the ones that receive the traffic and take my voice a little farther. There is an element of unease with me every time I do that. But it is my hope that the positive message of hope and healing I can offer outweighs that negative aspect.

      Thanks for another meaningful comment.

      Like

  3. I reflect on life lessons and I am trying to reframe pain as my friend and not a foe. Everytime I hurt I try to remember pain loves me enough to tell me something is wrong and needs mended.

    It isn’t easy my lesson with pain has been it is something to be avoided, denied, and rejected. As such, I end up berating the thing trying to love me enough to let me know something needs attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perfectly said Cynthia! I agree with one 100 percent! Labels suck and hurt. I was a porn addict, but my friend who just had some Pornography found on his laptop by his wife is not one. Though she labled him as one. I told him he wasn’t, his counselor said he wasn’t…but his wife did. And in his mind her label stuck…sadly.

    But because it was found real early we were able to get him help and accountability.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this is exactly what I hope others will be more cautious of. It sounds like there was a lot of other painful and overwhelming emotions and challenges added into the mix in your friend’s situation that didn’t need to be there. I hope he is continuing to fight and claim victory over pornography and his marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, he has come a long way. He is doing good as of our talk last week. He has moved back in with his wife and she IS one of his accountability partners. I’m praying for their intimacy in and out of the bedroom.

        Like

  5. Reblogged this on Something to Stu Over and commented:
    Cynthia brings us another powerful message! One that is not meant to lessen the pain of discovery but to identify the problem. There ARE different levels of porn usage. They go from oh my gosh, what did I just see to the oh $&_# I just got busted at work…or worse. BUT, not all are an addict. Learn the difference…know the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s worse than an addiction. It’s destructive on so many ends and levels. Between the guilt, shame, and the way it messes with your mind to view every attractive woman (in my situation) as something that’s less than a human being but just a lust, it turns a person into something empty but can be dangerous. It’s truly a mental, physical and spiritual bondage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for so openly sharing your experience and struggle and providing your insight. As I truly cannot understand the mind of someone in bondage to lust and/or porn because it is not my experience, I appreciate hearing and learning other perspectives than just my husband’s. That word, bondage, sums it all up no matter what you call it. I hope you are finding freedom in living the life you desire and deserve.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really don’t have anything to hide. Porn is the same as drugs and alcohol. It’s a disgusting addiction.

        Like

      • Well, it certainly isn’t a pretty addiction. But “disgusting” carries a lot of guilt and shame with it. Please know that as awful as the behaviour may be, that is what is disgusting and not the person – you, or any other porn addict or user.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Cynthia. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I read this over my holiday and needed to stew on it a bit. We might all think that porn is bad (and many don’t), but mere possession isn’t evidence of an addiction. Might it lead to an addiction? Sure, but my glass of wine with dinner may also lead to alcoholism if I lack the ability or willingness to self-regulate.

    It hits home for me because of the trend to label every cheating guy (or sexual harasser) a sex addict. It just adds confusion and skepticism to an already sensitive issue. While labels can bring comfort via applying some semblance of logic to an otherwise illogical scenario, they can also do a lot of harm to all parties involved. Take Stuart’s friend, mentioned in his comment. It can’t be helpful to have a label slapped on you when that label is inaccurate. It isn’t helpful to the actor, because treatment is likely focused on a different issue, and it isn’t helpful for the spouse who is putting her eggs in a basket that may not exist.

    If we could all agree to leave the art of diagnosing someone to mental health professionals, I think we’d all be better off.
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there’s just enough information floating around to fill many people with misinformation. And that can be dangerous and harmful too. That is really what got this all stirring in my mind. Reading a question and the comments on a closed Facebook group I belong to that made me want to scream and cry at the well meaning but misdirected responses. The alarms were just dinging in my mind. And still are. I can’t stop thinking about those women.

      There’s another interesting phenomena I see that you made mention of here too. Just like porn use doesn’t immediately make the person a porn addict, a sexual harasser or adulterer is not necessarily a sex addict. But that mislabeling is becoming more popular too. But….I don’t find the women who are quickly labeling their husbands as porn addicts taking that same logical leap to labeling him a sex addict. And yet, for the most part porn addiction is a subset of sex addiction. Kind of weird how the brains of those women can readily establish a porn addiction but avoid the compulsive masturbation and sexual release aspect of it that may make it a sex addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you thank you thank you for this. When we first started into our process, the word porn addict never crossed my mind. In fact, when I had heard it talked about on the news it seemed to be the “cool new way” for celebs to justify immoral practices and infidelities. I didn’t REALLY think it was a real thing. Neither did my husband. Until we got him into therapy and how he was going about it, how often, the feelings around it, and the insanity that consumed him into making SUCH irrational decisions and doing so much damage came to light – the doctor diagnosed him with the addiction. How we started to go about healing shifted a bit. And honestly, it made it *slightly* easier for me to accept some of this (my father is a drug/alcohol addict so I’m familiar with the cycle of addicts).

    But, it does get hard when you hear someone say they think their spouse is an addict because he watches porn. That’s like saying anyone who has a couple drinks a week is automatically an alcoholic. Its not the same. At all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like the diagnosis made it a little easier for you to understand what got your husband and marriage to that place. Your pain is the same either way. That doesn’t change, which is what I want to be careful not to minimize for anyone. For me, what has become more difficult in hearing other’s label their spouse as a porn addict just because they have become aware of porn use is the additional damage, confusion and hurt it can layer on the women whose husbands are addicts. Although well meaning, so much false hope, misinformation and bad advice (especially in Christian circles – just pray, God healed my husband from his addiction!) is bandied about. There most definitely is real hope for healing and freedom from addiction, but it is not nearly as simple as some would make it out to be. That is when I question the presence of an actual addiction. I kind of feel like I could start writing a whole other blog post in this comment. Perhaps there is more to come….

      Many blessings to you, my friend. xo

      Like

    • I think this is a helpful plumb line. If the person keeps going back to it, even after vowing to themselves that they won’t touch it again, then there is at least a dependency. It might not be an addiction at the moment but it should sound warning bells. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you’re maybe living in denial.

      Like

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