What Does It Feel Like?

I answered a question recently: ‘What does it feel like to be married to a porn addict? I would imagine I would feel inadequate.’

I answered:

Inadequate? Sometimes… but there’s so much more to it.  This is what I’ve seen in my 20+ years of looking at the issue. Because a man usually hides his porn use, she feels (not all the time, but usually):

  1. A Little Betrayed and Confused: Upon first learning of the issue, she feels somewhat betrayed and dazed by it all, the depth of which depends on how she found out.
  2. Hopeful, Early On: If it’s early in the process, she usually feels hopeful that he will be able to quit like he promises. She believes it will be easy for him to quit, because he thinks it will be easy for him to quit.
  3. Fear or Anger Creeps In: Usually he can’t quit using the typical methods, so when she becomes aware the porn use has continued, she begins to feel more alarmed (especially if he’s lied about it)… like “If he turns to digital women and hides it, what’s stopping him from turning to real women?  If he lies about this, what else is he hiding?”
  4. Shamed: Because she isn’t completely okay with his porn use, she feels shamed by society (and sometimes by those she turns to help) who think she should handle it differently.
  5. Confused/Alone: At this point, she usually feels even more confused. She can’t encourage his turning to other women, but she may not be receiving effective help. If this is the case, she feels completely alone—not just in her marriage, but in life.
  6. Pain => Anger/Depression: Because very few allow her pain, it leads to anger and depression.
  7. Shut Down: If she doesn’t receive adequate help, her pain will continue to be pushed down. But if this happens, then her joy is also being pushed down. She can stay in this shut down state for decades, leading to various symptoms she’ll have difficulty healing from alone. 

I hate seeing this process take women out, which is why I do what I do for a living.  (If this is what you’re going through right now–I’ve been there.  I get it.  And I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Keep reading my blog posts for ideas that will help.)