(Where we went moments after getting engaged in 1994.)
I’ve been married to a porn user for over 20 years, but all this started a long time prior when I found my purpose in life: To have a great marriage and to help others do the same.
Then I got married and I saw that having a great marriage wasn’t so simple. (But then again, even without porn relationships are rarely simple.)
We fought about porn from day one. Our first six months were horrible, but we found a rut and stayed in it for the next fifteen years. Even though his online activity became a hot topic, I still wanted to be closer, so every once in a while I’d bring it up, thinking, “I hope we can have a good conversation about it this time.”
Doing his best to look happy.
Doing my best to believe him.
Well, we still couldn’t get through a good conversation about it, so we went to a therapist a few times but it didn’t help. In fact, it seemed to do more harm than good, and we grew further apart.
The distance was excruciating, but because he didn’t want to have the hard conversations, I eventually just buried my pain and tried to pretend I didn’t feel it anymore.
About ten years into our marriage, my husband decided to get serious about not using porn. He put accountability software on his phone. He made a commitment to me every morning. He checked in with me every night about how he did that day.
And he did really well–for about six years.
Then he returned to it again.
But I was clueless.
I was so clueless I even started telling him, “You’ve been clean for so long, I don’t think you have to refer to it as your ‘problem’ anymore. You seem to be past it.”
(Wow! Was I wrong.)
A few months passed, and I began having suspicions. A couple days later something felt very strange, so it didn’t take long for me to confront him (using two awesome tools I found: Tool 1 and Tool 2.).
He confessed to four years of porn use and nightly lying. Even though I thought he’d have something to confess, the reality was devastating.
I thought it was just a few recent stumbles. I never thought it had been going on for four years.
I felt so small. He wanted other women, women I could never compare to. That felt horrible on its own. But what really tore me apart was that for four years,
he’d looked me–in the eye–and lied to me
Something in me changed the night of that confession. Something in me broke. He’d lied so often, how could I help him rebuild the trust? And why would I want to?
(Difficult to find my smile back in 2010.)
It took a while, but when the dust settled I knew I had to try.
If I didn’t, I’d be haunted by questions like, “If I had stayed and did everything I could to help rebuild it, could we have made it? Did I give up too quickly?” I didn’t want to throw away fifteen years of marriage, so I decided to ‘go again.’
BUT this time I couldn’t do it like I did before.
I’d tried to be the good little wife who never said much.
The wife who met his needs and didn’t ask for much in return.
The wife who’d been silenced by labels.
The wife who tried her best to do this the way everyone said I should.
I was no longer that wife.
I had to do things differently.
Gone were the days of staying quiet.
Gone were the days of allowing labels to shame me into smallness.
Not talking about these things gave us a relationship neither one of us wanted.
So I asked myself, “Do I have a say in what happens to me in this marriage?”
I answered with a resounding, “Yes!” and I went for it.
The next five years weren’t easy. Not at all.
But I got tough where I needed to get tough and I softened where I needed to soften.
I gave it everything I had.
After a while, so did he. And it paid off.
Over time, I will blog on some of the things that helped, but for now
just know we are doing much better.
(It kinda feels like we’re newlyweds sometimes.)
He’s been clean since 2010.
And the cool thing is: he hasn’t been “white-knuckling” his sobriety.
He’s found freedom, yes, but it’s more than that.
The techniques we found help him remain truly free
and keep us happy and connected and attracted to each other
…and only each other.
He’s my hero, and I’m his one-and-only.
And I can say
I actually trust him again.
And even if he returns to porn and lying, I don’t fear that possibility as much anymore. This time I know I’m going to be okay, because I’ve seen it time and time again over the last six years.
I feel really good about my future for the first time in our marriage.
Now I want to help you have the same thing.
It is possible, but the choice is yours.
(We’re doing much better now.)