Author Topic: Help me understand  (Read 2850 times)

Mayer

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Help me understand
« on: December 29, 2016, 07:07:47 PM »
I wrote this yesterday but my browser deleted it so here goes again. Me and my wife have had some pretty deep and negative talks lately. Being a recovering porn addict myself I wonder what is in it for the partners. After a porn addict has recovered with all the necessary coping skills etc.., although recovery will never be complete, can you as partners ever really trust them fully again, I know my wife has told me it is very unlikely. There is always the worry of a relapse. Also the sex and intimacy, my wife now thinks she is bottom of the list in the bedroom, undesirable, and not at all sexy, which is totally untrue. Will these feelings ever change, will partners fully heal too? If not then if you stay with a porn addict what do you think life will be after the addiction has been beaten.

aquarius25

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2016, 08:03:30 PM »
I think that is a great question and that the answer is different for each individual. Some partners I really think only stay because they financially can not leave. That is truly heartbreaking. Others I really think have hope for a good future together. For myself, right now I feel like I will never be able to trust him again, and I too right now feel like the bottom of his choice when it come to sexual attraction. But I think that maybe that is just where I am at right now. I have hope that over time and with his consistent effort to show me how much I really do mean to him that my feeling will change. For me I believe that as long as I live with my eyes fixed on the future then there is hope, it is when I focus on the past that I feel consumed by the rest.
I hope that helps at least a little.

malando

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2016, 08:37:01 PM »
It's hard to say, Mayer, because it so much depends on the specific emotions it has caused in the partner. My partner is fine with me because she was already aware that I had watched porn, so she didn't feel deceived by my addiction or use of it. She was just surprised that it had become a problem for me. She didn't realise that it could be distracting for me to have images pop into my mind when we were together. Fortunately for me, she wasn't upset at me for admitting that I had competing images in my mind. He anything I think she found it flattering that I had made a decision to return to her exclusively.

However my situation is very different from a lot of couples. In a situation like yours, as you say, the trust is extremely difficult to regain. When you ask, "what's in it for her?" is this a question you have asked her directly? Have you asked her specifically what her hopes are from your relationship? I don't mean just expectations, which are bare minimum standards for her to even stay with you for one more second. I mean how does she want to feel in her relationship with you? If you don't know the answer to this very clearly, you can't work towards it, and being a man, you are likely to focus on your own things like managing your pornography urges and doing the dishes more etc. But I think you need to be more attuned to her needs emotionally so that she doesn't feel lonely and misunderstood in your relationship. That will go some way to increasing trust in you. She needs to trust that you care about her and understand her - just as much as she needs you to make her your only priority in sexual matters.

I could say more but I'm on my way out to the playground with my family! I'll check in with you a bit later. Have a bit more of a think about it.

Gracie

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2016, 10:51:17 PM »
The personality change is something I think the wives notice.  You know your brain and you are who you are.  But we don't.  We see differences and ignore them or excuse them or accept them.  Then it continues and we suddenly wonder what happened.  The way you taok to us, look at us and make love to us changes.  That is your personality changing.  Then we find out you have had all these women in your mind.  We feel we are not what you want, or need because you have changed.  Will we trust again?  Probably not the way we did before.  After all we have years of deceit to sort through and figure out.  But we can as long as our partner is repentent and supportive of our recovery.

Mayer

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2016, 01:43:53 AM »
Thanks for the responses guys, I know my wife is heart broken and I know I can't stop hurting her, none of it is intentional, I have really been trying to say the right things and do the right things and feel the right things, it has been hard and not natural for me, I have had to face a lot of insecurities about myself. I'm not naturally a romantic man, i don't give or receive complements easily, and I find it very difficult to express my emotions. I do want to be like that, it is going to take me time to change. The unintentional hurt is when we have honest conversations and I say how I am truly feeling. The problem is I have said the opposite time and time again, each time I believe what I am saying but the belief doesn't seem to last. I don't push myself hard enough through recovery, I know I don't, I have always been lazy. In order to push myself I have to truly believe in my addiction and how it has affected me. I have been very pensive today, I have been recalling things I have done to view porn, they are not the actions of a man with any sort of morals or feelings, I hate myself right now. I hope that my recovery is going to be enough for her and that any changes I make are real and permanent. At the moment I feel like I am trying to change without believing it. But I feel like today I have taken a bigger step towards belief, belief that I can change, and belief that I am an addict. It truly hurts thinking about it, and normally I would try to block those thoughts or ignore them, today I am trying to accept myself for what I have become at least then I will have a starting point.

stillme

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2016, 06:14:27 AM »
My counselor has told me (and it is backed by books I have read on the subject), that it takes on average three to five years for trust to be rebuilt following recovery. And that is three to five years of consistent trust building behavior with no major setbacks. Major setbacks cause the clock to go back to day one.

My husband has hit the seven months mark for abstinence from porn and porn substitutes. We have had therapeutic disclosure (meaning full disclosure with a polygraph and is counselor and my counselor present). He is working hard at recovery and we are both working hard at recovering the relationship. However, there is a harsh reality that comes with this and that is just how much damage porn addiction does.

Like you, my husband tries to say and do the right thing. What has been heartbreaking is that porn addiction seems to have completely stunted his emotional maturity to the point where what he says is often not what I need to hear. We are in our forties, and yet he seems to relate to me as a woman the way I would expect a guy in his twenties to relate to women - very immature, very little deep understanding. This wasn't always the case and I can see that the damage to the brain is a real thing. It seems that my husband completely stopped maturing (and in some ways regressing) over the years in which his addiction was growing. So now we are standing here looking at each other and there seems to be a twenty year difference in our views when it comes to relationships. That makes it incredibly difficult when it comes to my husband doing things that build my confidence in him.

There are things I really need to hear from him, but he just doesn't have the words. If I tell  him what I need to hear - he says it. If I tell him what I need to see - he does it. But, who wants to live their life directing their husband in things that should just come automatically? Those beautiful, spontaneous moments where my husband would say just the right thing - gone, and I don't know if they will ever return. I didn't just 'lose' my husband, he was also my best friend. I would laugh and joke together, tease each other, play games together, just have fun hanging out with each other as people. Now, our time together feels awkward and strained.

He lost all ability to read me. Now, I get that men never feel they understand women, but my husband has no ability to read me. The only emotion he can correctly decipher is anger. For instance, he can't read when I am sexually attracted to him. So, if I want sex there is no way to be subtle - I have to outright ask or if it wasn't on his mind at the time it won't happen. If I am feeling a bit down - he can't pick up on that. For example, one day I was feeling 'off', like a bit of depression was trying to creep in (I never dealt with depression before d-day), my husband was 100% clueless. We went to the gym to workout and three different people (two guys, one girl) asked if things were good. "You don't seem like your normal cheery self, is everything okay?" I blamed it on the weather and being tired, but I was floored that people I am with only a couple hours a week could notice a change in me, while my husband was completely clueless. I asked him outright if he could tell me the last time I was genuinely happy rather than faking it for the kids. It actually wasn't that long ago that I had had a genuinely happy experience and he was with me at the time. He admitted that he had no clue and couldn't say with any confidence. This was a man who used to come home with flowers because he could sense I was having a bad day, tell me I was the most beautiful woman in the world if I felt a bit fat/bloated (I am only about three-five pounds over weight). It is like porn completely severed that emotional connection and bond we used to have. It just isn't there for him. It's not that he doesn't love me, he does; it appears he doesn't know me anyone. He actually purchased a book of questions the other day, thinking it would be a great way for us to get to 'know each other better'. Talk about my heart breaking in a million pieces. We have been married for thirteen years and he feels like he needs to rely on a book of questions to get to know his wife. That is what I mean by 'maturity'. That is a very logical thing for a twenty-something man to do with his new wife of a few months. Absolutely the wrong thing for a forty-something man to do for his wife of more than a decade. We have almost fifteen years of shared history if you count the time that we were dating. We have experienced the birth of our kids, surviving a natural disaster, surviving me getting into a bad car accident, traveled to fifteen or more countries, lived in three houses over two states, and all these other memories - and he needs to rely on some random book with questions like, "what is your favorite ice cream flavor" to get to know me?

We have kids (all tweens) and even they notice the change. They go to him for fun and play, they go to me when they need real support. He used to be their protector - from bad dreams or if a movie got too scary or they were dealing with a bully. Nope, it seems they don't trust his judgement. I have never said an unkind word about my husband to the kids. We don't 'argue' (although they have witnessed things we call debates), they know that we are having some issues but we explained to them this is a normal part of adult relationships and we are working through things and no one is the bad person. Their love hasn't changed for him, they love him with every bit of their heart, but we have both noticed that something has absolutely changed in how they see him. It might have to do with him missing some really important aspects of their own development when he was involved with porn. His use got so bad that he was missing things or rushing things to get to porn. For instance, he would try to rush them to bed and to sleep so he could sneak off to view porn. He wanted to tuck them in, but what he really wanted was a few hours to himself at night to view porn. That caused him to miss out on a lot of those small, little things that kids share right before they go to sleep. His mind was consumed with porn and while he 'thought' he was being great dad, he is only now starting to realize that he wasn't as focused or conscience of them when he was focused on porn. He has definitely dialed back into them in the seven months he has been clean from porn, but he will admit that this has just shown him what he missed - real life was passing him by and he had no idea. And he knows he can't get that time back, he can't get back those little moments. Like not hearing them wake up with a nightmare because he was in his own world jacking off - so it was mommy to the rescue. After a while, mommy because the default rescuer and you just get used to daddy being in his own world.

I guess what I am trying to say is - sometimes recovering addicts get so focused on starting over, they don't spend enough time first acknowledging, then mourning the damage they have done. If you step back and see, truly see, how much damage your porn use did to the relationship - you will see just how much there is to fix. I can totally understand it feeling overwhelming, but there are a lot of pieces to pick up. It seems like to the porn addict, you just "told some lies". To the partner, every lie was another wound. It is like death of the relationship by thousands of tiny paper cuts. Every single one of those cuts needs to heal. It wasn't just a universal "I rejected my wife for porn.", your partner needs to heal from each and every night you were looking at some other woman and not appreciating her. She needs to heal from every porn session you had.

It's like - the recovering porn addict wants to start over, but the partner first needs to heal. It would be wonderful if the recovering addict were there to put the salve on the wounds, but instead - if feels more like they are trying to not look, not see the damage they did. The trust isn't there because it doesn't feel like you realize just how much you hurt your partner. I need to know my husband feels so horrified by the damage he did that he would never even think to look at porn or a port substitute. I want to feel like he would rather gouge his eyes out than to do something that would break me again the way his porn use broke me. I know he feels bad, I know he is 'committed' to recovery, but I still don't think my husband truly understands the harm he did - not just to our relationship, but to me as his partner, his wife, his friend. Until he really, truly gets it, I won't be able to trust that he would never do it again.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2016, 06:20:27 AM by stillme »

Mayer

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2016, 09:04:06 PM »
I think for me and probably for most porn addicts that are in a relationship the porn and the relationship were completely seperate. There was no intentional hurt going on, just self gratification. For me I had/have many insecurities that made me not want to be intimate in the bedroom, none of them were to do with my wife, all of them to do with me. So for me stopping creates one life instead of 2 seperate, it actually makes life easier where as for you partners suddenly you have 2 lives that have become horribly entangled. So for the PA it is much easier, if the emotional devastation was as strong on the PA the surely we would 'get it' straight away. The hardest part for me has been empathy for my wife, oh and also acceptance of my addiction and how it has affected my family. I wish I could have discussed all my personal problems with my wife years ago, but as time went on it just became harder and harder to bring these problems to her. Now she has them all at once.
It's a shame it works out this way, I feel I should be the one taking all the pain, and I should be. Whereas she should not have to be put through the wringer like she has. This is the thing that surprises me about my original question of why partners stay, you have done absolutely nothing wrong, you have to go through all this unexpected pain and at the end you will not have the relationship you once did. There is a hope for a better relationship long term, but that is a lot of hard work for both. I suppose I have always looked for the easiest most efficient way to do things, it's part of my livelihood to do this too, and from a partners point of view it seems to hard. Maybe it is just love after all, the old saying 'love conquers all' always seemed very much a cop out in any story line, but maybe in this one it is true.

aquarius25

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2016, 01:24:08 PM »
Mayer, I would like to pose a different perspective. This is something I have thought about in extended detail. I also want to note that it is just something that I have thought over through the months. I am not speaking for every partner here, as they can speak for themselves.

I know that it is hard for an addict to understand why a partner stays. Finding the quickest and easiest way out is a coping mechanism (or at least I think so). As a partner we have a larger realization that I don't think you are realizing and factoring into your thinking. On D day we not only have the hurt and realization that your partner and best friend is not who we thought they were. The betrayal of the lie. But as we slowly uncover the layers of realization about this massive epidemic of an addiction there is another realization. Say we do decide its too much hurt and we want to leave? What are the odds that the next man we meet isn't using porn and possible addicted? How can we trust that person knowing that we have just left a relationship that we were deceived in for in some cases decades? How can we trust our own ability to discern and find a good partner in the future? I thought I was good at reading people and I thought I had married a good man. To find out that I was being manipulated, lied to, and deceived for over a decade was a blow not just to our relationship but to my ability to trust myself and my own decision making. When you factor that in with the house, and the kids, and the income staying becomes a lot better option that leaving. Especially if you still have love for your partner.

Now I know that this sounds very callous but it is the truth, at least for me. And I will also admit that for a few months right after d day this realization was the only thing keeping me in my marriage. I am glad I stuck it out. It still hurts a lot but we are slowing healing and getting there baby steps at a time. Certainly a lot better to keep the family together than try to start a new relationship only to be right back in the same place 20 yrs form now.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 01:26:45 PM by aquarius25 »

Mayer

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2016, 04:52:14 PM »
I understand, family is the most important thing here, I have seen and heard of many family break ups, they are never good stories and always a lot of hatred and animosity involved. Kids need both parents to be there for them. I always thought too that I would never be one of those, as most probably did you. So as the addiction fades from my brain and realisation of what I have done creeps in, I hope to change for the better and re engage with my family. Then hopefully the original question of why partners stay will be answered, even if the trust doesn't come back completely, and really why should it? Maybe a better family life is worth staying in it for.

stillme

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2016, 06:19:03 PM »
Partners stay because they believe in their vows. Partners stay because even though they married a liar, someone that chose porn over true intimacy, someone that chose selfishness over living a life of partnership and caring, they are forgiving, giving, and many ways selfless.

Partners stay because they have hope that there will be some reward, some cosmic justice for their commitment.

Partners stay because they don't want to lose the life, the love, the relationship they spent so much time investing in to something as stupid as porn.

Partners stay because even though their recovering porn addict partner is a shell of the person they used to be, they can still see that little bit of who they were before porn damaged their brain - and they hope to see that person one day again.

Partners stay because the vows said, "In sickness and in health", and they see that porn addiction, although a choice, is also an illness.

Partners stay because they hope that deep down inside, their porn addict spouse will remember the love that used to be there. They are holding on to hope that not everything in the marriage was a lie, that maybe there is a little love left that they can hold on to.

Partners stay out of fear. Fear of losing a relationship that might have been redeemable. A fear of jumping out of the pan and into the fire in a world filed with a bunch of other porn addicts and not trusting there is anyone left that is undamaged by porn.

Partners stay because of the kids. Because being a lousy spouse doesn't mean they are also a lousy parent and even if they have to suffer for years with a useless spouse, at least maybe the kids will get a good parent.

Partners stay because they are broken. Their porn addict partners use damaged their self esteem, sense of self worth, confidence, pride, and self respect. They don't even have enough strength to fight for themselves and what they what know they deserve.

Partners stay because they have suffered enough embarrassment, and having to tell the world that you left your spouse because they would rather jack off to porn than come to bed with you at night makes you feel all kinds of stupid.

Partners stay because divorce is expensive and they have lost enough to porn. Living on one income is harder that living on two and ending the marriage often times means having to make it through life at a lower socioeconomic status, so everything gets harder. So, porn will have literally taken everything from them.

The point is, there are a lot of reasons partners stay, and very few are because it benefits them. The sad reality is, we don't get anything truly good out of this deal. My husband's choice, your choice, the choice of every porn addict with a partner has a cost, and the person to bare the brunt of that cost is the partner. Every choice we have it a bad choice - every single one. I have read every book I can get my hands on, read every blog, watched every video, and I have yet to see one partner of a porn addict that truly felt they came out better in the end. Doesn't matter if they stay or if they leave - the choices of the partner does nothing but damage the innocent spouse. It is really the recovering addict that determines how much hurt, how much burden, just how bad that damage will be.

chickaboomski

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Re: Help me understand
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 08:07:33 PM »
For me, I know I can trust my partner fully to have my back in life, I know I can trust him with my life and my childrens; however porn is seperate. I have come to terms with the fact for a  porn addict the porn and the relationship is seperate and purely self gratification, so hurting from the thought that he is intentionally hurting me is not something I deal with anymore. Now it more a frustration at the addiction and the grip it has on him and his failure to recognize it for what it is and how much power it has over his brain and body. I have the power over what I allow to hurt me and my heart and that is something that I have had to deal with in my own time at my own pace within my own insecurities. I stayed because he is worth it, because we are worth it, what we have is worth it without the porn. I can not say that I will ever trust him again, but I can't say I won't either. My partner and I have extremely criptic converstions about the issue because we are both passive aggressive and poor communicators. While we have worked on that and are getting better at it, it is a taboo subject that we avoid because at it's worst we both hurt each other with our words when we exploded. But we do have love, a powerful love. Hopefully this one day will be only a bump in the road into a developing relationship of openess that we both want to have. Hopefully one day he will come to the relization of exactly the power and control porn has had on him. As Gracie said, it is the personality change. After 9 months of my partner abstaining through no home internet and a dumb phone, I could tell a relapse was looming from his attitude and personality change. The second he bought a pre paid internet modem I knew I couldn't trust him. And the first thing he looked up of course was pornhub. I didn't trust him because we never talked about it after the stay or go weekend. He abstained. Not recovered. He didn't look into anything. He just did his idea of not doing it rexovery which I knew in my heart was a ticking time bomb. I know he is dealing with it now. I know he will eventually realize. And I know it is not peraonal. Finally. If your wife is still hurting she will need time to heal and that is at her pace, at her time, in her way. You can help her by allowing her the time, any amount of time she needs. Months, years even. She didn't do this and that is what she is struggling with. That is the hardest thing. We don't ask for any of it yet we have to deal with it. And not take it personal. The not taking it personal is actually the hardest part, because it attacks the most intimate part of a relationship. And like I said to my partner, without intimacy we are merely best friends and house mates. That hurt him to the core. But was the truth. Work on the compliments. Work on the intimacy. Not just sex wise. Hold her hand in public, show her you are proud to have her as your woman. Hug on the couch. Little things. Give it time.