Partner Of A Porn Addict? Some Advice

Partner of a Porn Addict

I recently received a mail from a woman (we’ll call her “Jennifer”) asking me for advice about her husband’s porn addiction.  I don’t normally answer personal emails asking for advice — I get too many of them to answer and also would prefer questions answered on the blog, where other people can learn – but I empathized with her situation and thought I’d help her out. Also, she said it was okay to post it on the blog.

Here is the email she sent. If you want just the questions and my answers scroll down or click here.

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Hi Brian,

I am writing with a question I am struggling with. My husband and I have been married for 7 years and have a nice marriage. I actually “caught” him watching porn and masturbating while on our honeymoon. We had a lot of major conversations but he assured me this would stop and was not a problem. I have always suspected this might still be happening at times and recently discovered that is still visiting endless porn sites everyday. He knows he has a problem and says he is almost relieved for it to be out.

I do truly believe he wants to change. Although I am so angry at him I love him and believe he wants to stop this. The question is will he be able to? Can you please answer the following quick questions for me so I can plan my next step to regaining trust? I appreciate it.

1. In your opinion is it ok for him to continue to have sex with me? His addiction was limited to pornography and didn’t involve straying sexually. In some ways I feel he has to abstain to reboot, but at the same time in this vulnerable time it is a perfect opportunity for sincere deep intimacy in our rebuilding. I long for that.

2. Is it imperative to stop viewing porn cold turkey altogether. He says this is his strategy; I just want to make sure this doesn’t set him up for failure because it is too drastic. Do you recommend the cold turkey or the weaning approach?

3. How much should I ask him about his addiction? All trust has been broken and I feel to start to heal I need a firm grasp of what was going on. Or do I? It feels so intrusive to ask him down and dirty questions.

Thank you for your time. I know it is valuable. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge so others may relate and be helped along their journey. I am hopefully ours will be a successful recovery story as well.

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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Here’s my response to Jennifer’s questions:

1. In your opinion is it ok for him to continue to have sex with me?

This really depends on one major thing:  is your husband simply addicted to pornography? Or is he also experiencing porn-induced erectile dysfunction (i.e. has difficulty getting or staying hard for real sex).  In the case of porn-induced ED, I would recommend no touching/masturbation/anything for the first phase of the reboot to help rewire the brain to normal levels of stimulation. After the first phase of the reboot (when erections start occurring naturally again) then slowly introducing sex and sexual play — without any pressure to have erections.  If it is kept low-pressure and fun, things will continue to get better until you forget what the problem ever was.

If your husband is simply addicted and has no erectile difficulties, then I think it’s definitely okay to have sex while he’s quitting. The idea is for him (and you too!) to get back to pleasure from real sex, not artificial stimulation. In fact, one of the things that helped me the most when I was quitting, was to explore things sexually with my girlfriend at the time — trading sensual massages, trying new positions, role playing, etc.

This could be a great opportunity for you two to reconnect and explore things sexually.  Maybe buy a few instructional books and experiment in (or outside) the bedroom. The Guide to Getting It On! is a great book to start with.

2. Do you recommend the cold turkey or the weaning approach?

I would recommend coming up with ways to make it easier on him to quit — like installing porn blockers on the computers, downgrading to a “dumb” phone if possible, and keeping busy with other activities. When someone quits something cold turkey without anything to replace it with (like for instance going to the gym), it makes it that much harder. Without something new in your life, you end up with all this free time — and boredom leads to porn use.

As for the question of weaning off vs. cold turkey, I would say cold turkey — and let him chose the date to stop. But be aware that cold turkey will be tough and there will likely be relapses.  You have to be understanding of that and not take it to heart. My friend Mari wrote an article that covers some of this: http://rebootblueprint.com/category/partner-of-a-porn-addict/

And also, I would recommend that he have some strategies to deal with cravings.  You can read more about that here:

http://rebootblueprint.com/recover-from-porn-induced-ed/

http://rebootblueprint.com/7-healthy-no-fap-replacement-habits/

3. How much should I ask him about his addiction?

This is the toughest question to answer, because I don’t know you and your husband and every situation is different. My gut tells me that it’s better if you can talk openly and help him with it, but he may not want this. In my experience (and that of Mark Queppet, a great blogger on the topic of porn addiction– see the video below), it was incredibly healing to be able to talk to my girlfriend about it and work together.  I had been hiding things for so long, it was good to get everything into the open. Ultimately, you’ll have to be the judge of whether you think he is ready to talk about it.  Also, there is no shame in getting help (a therapist) to work and help you two move forward.

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If anyone reading has a question that you would like answered, you can leave me a comment below or on this page.  I’ll do my best to answer it.

 

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    About Brian

    Brian overcame a long-standing addiction to Internet porn and fully recovered from serious porn-induced erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety. For more about Brian, see my story.

    Comments

    1. Great post Brian! I’m honored that you linked to my vlog of my fiancee and I. The one thing I’d like to add is in regards to the question of whether the couple should have sex.

      I’m not sure exactly the depths of Jennifer’s hurt are surrounding this issue, but I would just want to mention that it’s completely understandable if she does NOT want to have sex simply because she feels betrayed or disconnected on an intimate level.

      Women feel differently about this sort of issue, and I know some women feel that it is almost as hurtful as cheating. If this leads to feelings of wanting to avoid sex I think that this is understandable in the short run. Obviously I believe that steps should be taken on both sides to repair this (the woman forgiving and the man quitting) but this isn’t something that can be rushed.

    2. I just need some advice on how to bring this issue up to my boyfriend, the right way. We’ve dating only a few months, but have dated seriously before. We both love each other dearly and things are mostly amazing. I’ve been having intuition if you will and having a bad feeling in my gut. Out of curiosity, I checked my boyfriends ‘history’ on google search and found days and numerous hours of porn searching. It makes me sick to my stomach and I need to deal with this as soon as possible. How do I get him to open up, admit and be honest? Do I tell him that I found that stuff(and more) or ask about it and see what he’s willing to share and be honest about? Please if you could write back with a few pointers, I’d be so great full. Thank you!

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