By momof5
1/7/2012 10:30:07 AM
I am on step two on the twelve step program. I am wanting to have hope. But most women I talk to say there husband has always relapsed. I personally don't want to be around if that happens.

Is there anyone out there that has been sober for more than two years? Or knows of someone with 20+ years of sobriety?
I know it is not my job to fix my husband but I could sure use some hope from somewhere that my whole married life that I will not be competing with porn:( Because if that is the case I would rather be a single mom of 5.

I hope that I can move forward and heal because I am sure sick of feeling the way that I do:(


Competing with Porn?    

As an addict myself, this is something I understand. If you are not an addict, you may not understand.

If you see this as a competition between you and porn, you are seeing it wrong. Your husband's addiction has nothing to do with how he sees you or how he loves you or how he values you.

I know that must sound like total hogwash, but it is true. The addiction was probably in his life before you were in his life. It had nothing to do with you then, and it has nothing to do with you now.


LETS SAY that when I was a kid, my parents abusively used food as rewards and punishments so that I sometimes went more than a day without being allowed to eat. Naturally, I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food. So when I grow up, I have all kinds of food issues and eating disorders -- does food make me feel good? Does it make me feel bad?

Does it make me feel loved?
it all depends.

Lets say that I am able to mask this pretty well, while I am in high school and college and while I am dating girls. I mask my eating issues because they are obviously a source of great shame for me and I blame myself for them (what's wrong with me? why do I keep doing this? why can't I control myself? why am I so weak??). They make me feel bad, which in turn makes me binge or makes me starve for a few days -- either way, I am just trying to feel better.

Eventually I get married. I can't hide my strange relationship with food forever from my wife. She eventually realizes that I have a very unusual relationship with food. Sometimes I don't eat what she cooks. Sometimes I stop on the way home from work and eat 4 Big Macs. Sometimes, I throw up after I eat. Sometimes I eat and get very depressed. Sometimes I throw all of the food in the house in the garbage. Sometimes I hoard food in 100 different hiding places throughout the house.

I want a normal relationship with food, but despite best efforts, I seem incapable of that.

This is all very confusing for my wife. Each one of the behaviors above can be SIMPLY misinterpreted as some kind of rejection of her cooking or something. Of course, this is devestating to her. When she was a little girl she believed that she would work hard and learn to be a good homemaker and her husband would love her good food and clean house and everything would be perfect.

So now, all dreams are broken because -- as she believes -- I "don't like her cooking". She can't understand why her husband keeps "choosing his food issues over her." She has told him "if you ever come home depressed and tell me you are not hungry after I have spent hours cooking and then I find McDonalds bags in your car again I will leave you and I will take our children."

This threat, of course, sends him into a spiraling depression. which triggers the same centers of pain, shame, lonliness, rejection, unworthiness, punishment, and fear that he associated with food issues when he was 5 years old and his mom sent him to his room without dinner for the 3d night in a row for leaving his toys out.

So what does he do?

He tries his best to drive by the McDonalds the next day. And he succeeds.
And the next day, he succeeds.
And then he loses a big account at work and his boss tells himi he didn't do a good job.
And his wife is still giving him the cold shoulder from the last episode.
He's driving home from work right now. He sees the arches in the distance.

I don't know how the story ends. None of us do. My point is that his eating issues have nothing to do with his wife. Maybe he should have told her about his issues so she could go into marriage with her eyes open, I'll grant that. Maybe he should be going to a 12 step meeting. Maybe he needs professional help. And maybe he does have the strength to white knuckle it for a few more days. All of that is probably true.

But maybe, JUST MAYBE, he is not choosing between "a big mac" and his wife's cooking or even between a big mac and his family -- even though that is the "choice" as she sees it. Maybe he is, to a certain degree, not really choosing at all. There comes a point in addiction when the choice to refrain from acting out is so diminished by ingrained patterns that it is virtually non-existent. At that point, you must BE saved. You cannot save yourself.

I know that many readers will flatly reject my opinion here. they will say that you ALWAYS have a choice and this is addict justification and lies. They will say that I am choosing to keep my addictions by telling myself I am a victim without a choice. They will say that there is a difference between the pain caused to a spouse by a rejection of cooking and the pain caused by a rejection of self and of intimacy (physical and emotional) and of trust and of unity that should define a marriage.

Of course, they are right about most of that stuff. No analogy is perfect. Maybe my little story stacks the deck for addicts against spouses. But even if the analogy is not perfect, it makes my point -- addiction is not simple.

Listen, I KNOW that spouses of SA are hurt by the addiction. I am not trying to minimize that legitimate pain. On behalf of all the addicts in the world who have hurt their sweet, innocent spouses, I apologize. I am SO sorry that you have hurt. Don't you know that You are my love, my princess, my darling, and the last thing in the world I ever wanted was to hurt You? I know You don't believe it, but it is true. I am so sorry.

But please see this addiction for what it is. This addiction existed before you were part of my life. It may be the result of abuse or of some other pernicious input that has warped what was once an innocent mind and heart that had no desire to to wrong or to cause pain. We all started that way. This addiction runs so much deeper than what would appear to most people to be the "simple" choice between porn or a wife and 5 sweet children.

The fact is, if the choice were really that simple then he would never NEVER choose the porn.

But the choice is not that simple.

Now, about your question. Yes. People have recovered. They have been healed. They have been saved and cleaned and fixed. They have made it for 2 years, 10 years, a lifetime. They are out there.

I am less sure that anyone has healed as a result of their family leaving them."
posted at 13:17:46 on January 7, 2012 by Anonymous
Not fair.    
"That comment was not fair, and it was cruel.

You don't know what she has been through. You don't know what the nature of her husbands addictions are -- maybe they are relatively harmless, maybe not. You cant judge people like that. You basically told her that she has to stay with him no matter what he does to her. That is not fair because you don't know the situation.

Momof5, dont listen to every comment on this board. Everyone here is struggling with pain and shame. And it doesn't always let people think straight. Instead of taking advice from anonymous posters who don't know anything about you, you should take advice only from God who knows you perfectly."
posted at 13:25:04 on January 7, 2012 by Anonymous
to the second post    
"I wasn't saying she has to stay with him. I was only saying that it seemed that she was viewing the problem in a way that was doing her harm.

To view it as a choice between porn and the family shows a view that is overly simplified and overly personal.

In my experience, there is nothing about addiction that is simple or personal (at least in the sense of being a "personal" attack against someone else -- addiction is always personal in the sense that it is SELF destructive).

Don't get me wrong, addiction DOES have simple and personal consequences, but not necessarily simple and personal roots.

That said, your comment is well taken and I am sorry if my first post was offensive. I just worry about spouses that see this as a simple choice between them and the porn. There is such a high chance that they are setting themselves up for pain if they see it that way. And, while pain cannot be avoided completely in this life, THAT kind of pain can, the pain that comes from misunderstanding."
posted at 13:31:37 on January 7, 2012 by Anonymous
Yes, yes, yes    
"There are people (addicts, former addicts) with 2-10+ years of sobriety from pornography. There is absolutely, positively, unequivocally HOPE through the atonement of Jesus. NO doubt about it.

But HOPE means expectation, and expectations must be realistic.

MOST addicts don't go from terrible struggles to 10 years of complete sobriety overnight. It's a battle, and the battle is so much harder if the addict was dishonest about his problems for the first 10 or 20 years. Now he has 2 problems to overcome: dishonesty FIRST, and only THEN can he overcome his addiction. Both problems take years of GOOD input (a daily focus on the things of God) for the influence of the Spirit to knock them out.

I don't know your situation Momof5. You need to do whatever you are inspired to do.

But if you aren't receiving any particular direction or inspiration, allow me to comment. If your husband has been struggling with his problems for 20+ years, it is extremely unlikely he will stop in a day. Believe me, he has been trying to stop for 20 years! Why should today be different?

However, he CAN stop (over time) if he faithfully turns himself over to God through the twelve steps of applying the atonement, and you CAN overcome your own pain through the same twelve steps.

Dishonesty is simply the most natural tendency for addicts, because they don't want to hurt anyone, so they hide their addiction. Ironically, the dishonesty typically hurts more than the addiction itself.

If your husband has a history of being dishonest with you about these problems, then this struggle could be even harder. Personally, I am confident that no one can overcome this addiction without learning to become completely honest with their spouse (or parents, if they are at home) and bishop. Honesty is a very difficult attribute to obtain after years of dishonesty.

If you cannot ever see yourself trusting or supporting your husband through his struggle again, then there is something to be said for that.

However, if you still love him, and you are aching for him to become the man you want him to be, I recommend that you first work on honesty with him and later work on the addiction.

That is, instead of threatening to leave if he ever looks at porn again, threaten to leave only if he ever looks at porn and hides it. Tell him that if he looks at porn and tells you, you will be proud of him for his honesty--because it signals that he is trying to change and he feels terrible about what he has done--and you will do your best to be supportive and not angry in that moment; he is already angry at himself at hurting you again.

While you work on honesty with him, work on the twelve steps yourself, and encourage him to do the same. Work on your own daily worship, and encourage him to do the same. I guess what I'm saying is, if you still love him in the least, take the focus off of his terrible, destructive porn addiction, and put the focus on both of you growing closer to the Lord and being honest with each other. Focusing on honesty and your personal relationships with the Lord will do WAY, WAY much more to eliminate his porn addiction than focusing on his daily abstinence ever will. If you both seek to be honest, to work the twelve steps, and to put God first in your lives, the pornography could be drastically reduced in just a few months and all but completely gone in a few years. But if you simply focus on "You must stop viewing pornography now," he will not stop, and you will have to leave.

The added benefit of focusing on honesty and putting God first instead of focusing on "Never again" is that once he has achieved several years of sobriety, the temptation will surely come again, but he will be HONEST with you this time around about his temptations, and that may prevent him from falling too far. On the other hand, if "Never again" is the entire focus, and he manages to stay clean for a year or more, when the temptation comes again, he will not tell you, because he will be afraid of hurting and losing you.

Those are my thoughts from my own personal experience. Many will likely disagree. I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just telling you there IS HOPE. In my experience, that hope comes from honesty in the marriage and putting God first together."
posted at 17:29:47 on January 7, 2012 by BeClean
Another quick thought about honesty    
"I hope you wanted thoughts and input from addicts as well as spouses. If you just wanted spouses, perhaps you should comment on the spouses side of the site.

Anyway, I'm thinking about your children--and my children. How are you going to treat your son (or daughter, as this site clearly shows) when he comes to you honestly to tell you he "accidentally" saw some porn and "accidentally" kept looking? What if your daughter says she masturbated. Don't kid yourself that these things will never happen. Perhaps they already have. It's the world we live in combined with very, very natural and even appropriate urges.

When my kids come to me or my wife, we need to be prepared to respond the same way we try to respond whenever they do something wrong or tell us honestly about something they have done. "That's so sad," we say. And then, being on their team, we hug them for being honest, and we try to work with them on the consequences. If they consequences are natural, and they will come without our intervention, then we try to help our children THROUGH the natural consequences. If the consequences are fairly nonexistent, and our children need to be taught a lesson, then we enforce the consequences, always with the empathetic, "this is so sad."

I fear that if my wife or I blows up at our children for honestly tell us about their porn or masturbation experiences, we will instantly cause three very harmful effects. 1) They will never want to be honest with us about it again. 2) They will feel even worse about themselves than they already do; they may feel we don't love them--that they are "bad" children (for being normal?) and they will proceed to self-medicate and become addicted, if they weren't already--their addiction is NOT our fault, but we can certainly encourage it. 3) They will eventually learn that we, too, have done bad things in our life, so who are we to be getting so upset at them for slipping up? At that point, they will lose respect for us and many things we have taught them about honesty and love.

That's what I fear would happen in my own family if I became visibly upset at my children when they honestly reported their sexual temptations and failures to me.

Should dealing with an honest husband be very much different? Of course he's older and should know better. He is no longer a youth seeing new things and having new feelings for the first time. We can no longer say, "this is natural for young children to encounter this and not know how to handle it."

However, could it be that he never had the kind of understanding, helpful parents we all want to be for our children? Also, isn't it "natural" and "understandable" that he is dealing with this problem after years of addiction in the same way that it is "natural" and "understandable" for youth to deal with it for the first time?

We all have shortcomings and sins. My children will make terrible mistakes in their life. We all do. When my children are HONEST about their shortcomings and sins and show a genuine desire for help in changing, I count myself blessed to be the father of such GOOD kids.

I would think that any addict showing complete honesty and a genuine desire to change to his or her spouse would be worthy of the same treatment as these good kids.

Encourage and reward honesty--and be much cooler towards dishonesty--in your children and in your spouse. Even if the action hurts you as a parent or spouse, try hard to see the honest offender for what he is--someone truly trying to change, even though that change appears to be hurting you."
posted at 18:06:49 on January 7, 2012 by BeClean
I have no more than 150 days of sobriety.    
"But there is hope because I'm getting better and better. Don't measure your husband's days. Measure his effort. Measure the love between you two. Pray about it. Pray for hope. It is going to be okay. I am a college girl. So there are many differences between your husband's addiction and my own but essentially I am suffering from the same thing. It's true that addiction does not always have anything to do with the people you love. Hang in there. You are an incredibly strong woman and your children are extremely lucky to have you. So just pray. Pray for help."
posted at 19:24:33 on January 7, 2012 by Iamstrong
SA not in activve recover may worsen    
"SA is the most difficult of all addictions to overcome. The addiction is to the body's own neuropathological chemical reward system. SA can and do progress beyond porn and mb. These are the basics of SA. Once these behaviors no longer achieve the same "high"-may digress into more and more evil and forbidden areas they would have never even imagined for themselves. Worrying if they may or have harmed our children or others is a real concern. Most who have been sexually abuse were not injuried where others could know."
posted at 13:01:42 on January 8, 2012 by Anonymous
Hope to have hope…    
"Sometimes that’s all I have. I know the frustration that comes with being the wife of a SA. It’s ridiculously hard. It’s hard to love someone, and show it with your actions (ie being faithful to them). Only to have them show quite the opposite and still say they love’s confusing for us loved ones.
Relapse is so hard to go through, I’m still bleeding from my last discovery. Will relapse happen to your husband? I don’t know, and I really hope for your sake and his that he never relapses. Is your husband honest with you when he messes up? Beclean said “dishonesty typically hurts more than the addiction itself.” So so so true!!!!!!!!!, For me anyway. Going to quote beclean again, “However, if you still love him, and you are aching for him to become the man you want him to be, I recommend that you first work on honesty with him and later work on the addiction.” This is where I am…I love my man!, and boy do I ache for him to be the man I know he can be... he has 2 big problems SA and honesty. I totally understand when beclean says to focus on the honesty first. I never want my husband to relapse. Never ever!...But I did the whole “if you look at porn I’m gone”. He called my bluff (I didn’t know I was bluffing) looked anyway, and got addicted. My counselor asked me the next time he cheats are you going to leave…I told him I can only speak for the moment today, and today I am not ready to give up. I hope my husband doesn’t read into that and think that I want to be cheated on and walked all over. My counselor then told me that I have to get used to a new normal…one I didn’t dream of, but one that I will have to embrace.
Momof5, I am not suggesting you adopt a new normal and accept betrayal from your husband. You deserve to have your spouse be faithful to you. Maybe find the hope that you can work on for you. I hope to be strong enough for my trials, even if it’s just strong enough for one day.
I too would love to hear some experiences of long term sobriety from Porn. Also anyone ever been a compulsive liar?...any long term sobriety there. It seems as though if a person is dishonest that the SA addiction will creep up. "
posted at 17:18:31 on January 8, 2012 by summer
Dishonesty comes from shame    
""I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself."

When we are ashamed, we hide. When we can't hide ourselves, we try to hide our sins.

If you want your husband to hide his porn addiction (in the dark, where it can grow worse), just make sure he feels all the shame he deserves to feel for cheating your sacred trust.

If, on the other hand, you agree that sunshine is the best antiseptic, you have to find some way of communicating that, while you disapprove of the sin and it is harmful to him and hurtful to you, he is not a bad person unworthy of love.

If you can walk that delicate line, your husbands will have a much better shot at not hiding. This doesn't mean they will never look at porn again, but if they can tell you that they slipped, that is often a powerful cycle-breaker. It gives the chance to start fresh."
posted at 19:41:37 on January 8, 2012 by Anonymous
Sweet Mom    
"Remember that your hope is in God and that he will make all things right in his timing. That is the part that is so hard for us to get.

Set your boundaries. What do you need to feel safe? What do you need to keep your children safe? Can you feel the Lord move in your life? Can you hear his answers yet?

If you are safe, and your kids are safe from abuse, maybe you can ask him to move into another room so that you can feel a little bit of peace. Try not to make it about him. Let him know that you need the space to work on you. You must work your steps for you and so that you can restore sanity in your own heart before making such lifetime decisions.

Sobriety is not an event, and truly there are no guarantees in this life. We are here to be tested. The real test in any situation is, will I turn to Christ? I wish the question could be, will my husband turn to Christ? but I have no control over that. In the beginning of my journey of out of control freakism, I couldn't understand what turning to Christ meant. I thought that if God heard my prayers, well then he would make my husband stop. Wrong! Even though my husband is sober for 15 or so months now, we on still on our own separate paths. He works his stuff and I work mine. We feel blessed that we are aiming for the same detestation, but I know that I am going with God whether he shows up or not. Many times on the path he was not as dedicated, or maybe I was not as dedicated. That is the ebb and flow of life. I have my boundaries and he has his. I am there to help him, but I am not here to be his Savior. And I am learning that he is not there to be mine.

I can say so much about my experience, but no two couples are alike. I know that prayer and trusting in God are the key. I know that when you know God's will, it often takes courage to carry it through. Either decision will be a hard path, but it is your path to choose and to walk and we can support you whatever decision you make. It is not for me to know what the right answer would be for you.

Just know that you are in my heart and prayers and I believe that you are courageous and that you are stronger than you think.

When will you know if he is sober? You will just know, but even if he is, it will not solve the problems you are having with him. You really have to shift the focus off of him and onto the only person you know be in charge of, you.

You have the power inside you to do whatever the Lord expects. Just be willing to accept his will and follow through.

Big hugs to you,

posted at 20:11:22 on January 8, 2012 by angelmom
I know people at my SAA groups with lots of sobriety    
"Hi momof5,

I feel only compassion for you. It's a sucky place to be to not know and wondering if you are going to get hit in the gut again. I mourn daily that my wife has to face that too. I hate what I was and the tough position Ive put her in. I hate that I can give no guarantees to my future behavior.. of course who can?

In my SAA program -
I know many, many men with 10-20 years of sobriety. They are now old men. they still attend weekly meetings and recovery is part of who they are.

I also know many men that have 5 years of sobriety and then have a slip with masterbation/porn then another 10 years of sobriety. These men struggled before with escorts, affairs, anonymous sex, porn, etc. They usually would have a slip with masturbation/porn. They were able to to let their mistake only be a slip instead of a full relapse by working their recovery, admiting thier error to spouse and sponsor, figuring out where they let their defense down and moving forward.

My therapist believes that spouses that are healthy will be able to spot when their addict is starting to get in dangerous territory.

I guess the questions that every partner has to answer to themself is what level of slips are you willing to have? What are your boundaries and consquences.. I think those need to be pretty clear cut so all sides knows the rules moving forward.

I wish the best for you. Im rooting for you as I am for all addicts and partners. The upside potential is awesome."
posted at 09:10:03 on January 9, 2012 by Hurtallover
"Hey Momof5,

I've been wondering how you've been doing. I am glad you posted.

I guess my simple answer for myself is that Step 2 isn't about hope that the addict will is hope in the Atonement.

I wish that my husband would change his ways, but I am trying my very hardest to tell myself that it doesn't matter either way. The only thing that matters is that I follow Christ's plan for me. That's it. It isn't the answer I wanted and it sucks to break my will enough let my dreams/expectations go, but I honestly am starting to believe it is the only way.

I really liked BeClean's comment about kids...I will not go into details but my son and I just went through a D-day a while ago and I really shocked myself. I just kept telling him I loved him and he'd never get in trouble from me over what had happened. We talked as honestly as he was comfortable with. His dad had the chance to go and talk to him and felt it appropriate to disclose his own struggles to our son.

It made me wonder why I could respond so totally calmly and lovingly to my son but not my husband...In He Restoreth My Soul he talks about how for a parent commitment and the relationship is unconditional while in marriage it is not. Marriage exists with conditions. I actually believe that this is appropriate. But while the relationship has should not. I have to love my husband as a child of God, even if I don't choose to have him as a husband.

I know you've struggled with whether to stay or not for a very, very long time. Me too. I almost left in Dec, but then had to double check my intentions. It was all based in fear and pain. When I've tried to make that decision based on whether or not he will change....well, it doesn't work out too well. It just leads to misery. I think when/if God tells me to divorce him, I'll know it. Till then....well, I am just working on me."
posted at 19:27:16 on January 9, 2012 by maddy

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