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I was so touched by all the comments yesterday on my post about recovery from a porn addiction.

One comment in particular, by one of the Anonymous commenters (there were plenty for obvious reasons), I want to pick up next week and return to: namely, what if it’s women who are addicted to porn?

But today I’d like to share a wonderful comment left by another reader about her marriage and their journey to recovery from porn.

It tells a story of continuing healing, and also shows how friends can play a big role in supporting each other through this. So, without much more editorial comment, I’ll let the letter speak for itself:

I am writing this letter reluctantly. I have hope to offer those in the middle of despair, so I will write, but the heart that was broken wants nothing more than to hide the shame and fear and hurt in a corner.

For nine years, there was something between us. Our sex life was a disappointment. My husband could be cold and distant. There was a look that came over his face sometimes that I can’t explain. It wasn’t a loving look. My husband had a self-centeredness that left me stranded in the worst possible moments–in the labor and delivery room, in the hospital with a life threatening illness. I tried to reconcile this side of him with his good qualities and dismissed it as a possible biological quirk–a mild form of autism perhaps.

It was an uneasy marriage but it worked. We had children. We functioned. Then my husband went on a retreat.

From the first the retreat bore fruit–my husband began to initiate prayer. He discussed God and the church without hesitation for the first time. He began to take the lead in our spiritual life.

At the same time there was something ugly rising up under the surface. He started flirting outright. I knew he flirted when I wasn’t with him and resented it. I tried to dismiss this behavior as less than insulting, but it was getting worse. Finally, after a wink at a waitress sent her off to find another person to wait on our family, I pleaded with him to stop and show me more respect.

Our arguments became fights. Our sex life dried up completely, but before it did, I began to feel as if I were nothing but a tool for his masturbation. He wouldn’t even look at me.

Then last summer at a pool party, I had to leave my husband in the pool to supervise our two oldest children (ages 3 and 5) while I got the younger two warmed up. My husband stopped watching our children and engaged in (and probably instigated) an inappropriate teenage game that involved the boys putting the girls on their shoulders. He put our children at risk of death and other people’s children in the way of temptation. My heart was nearly stopped. The ensuing fight could have been epic, but I was so scared, so aghast, so much in shock at what could have happened to our babies, I prayed. I prayed desperately.

We discussed it seriously and quietly. That night, long into the night, he confessed everything: the porn, the opportunities he had availed himself of that stopped short of sex, but were a betrayal of our vows nonetheless. Within days of these revelations, we had plans to separate. When I called a friend to inform her, she stopped me dead with a question.

“He’s addicted to porn, isn’t he?”

She proceeded to describe things that were secret and wrong in my marriage–his selfishness, his disconnectedness, his immaturity, his indifference and disgust towards me–and I’d never shared any of this with anyone. How could she know? These are the things in common with men who have suffered long term pornography addictions. Like a drug addiction, it stunts their brains and warps their perceptions.

I will tell you what she told me: “This is not a fight YOU can win because this battle is not between you and your husband, but between good and evil. Satan is fighting for his soul. You let God wage this war. You pray, you fast, and even if you do wind up separating, remember that the job you signed up for on the altar when you said, ‘I do” is to get that man into heaven. Don’t ever stop praying.'” She is the best friend a woman could ask for. When I was sad, she comforted me. When I was petty, she rebuked me. When I couldn’t go on another step in the pain and humiliation, like Simon, she shared my burden and walked with me.

My marriage would not have survived without her and her husband mentoring us both.

Like most illnesses, physical or spiritual, it got worse before it got better. Although he gave up the porn, we were brought very low. We had nine years to resort and reshuffle and redo. For the most part, thanks to my friend and her husband and thanks be to God, I behaved well throughout all of this. My husband did as best he could. Then, at the end of my rope, these two friends practically signed us up for a Retrouvaille Weekend.

Days before the weekend, a miracle happened: my husband made a decision. He put God first in his life, and then he finally and for the first time, trusted me with his heart, too. That miracle was continued through the Weekend where another miracle occurred–I began to hope.

Nearly a year later, we are still struggling, of course. The difference being that now we are yoked and pulling side by side. The good qualities of my husband have come to the fore. He has become a prayerful man.

I’ll never know what instigated this healing in our marriage. I only know that the first steps were taken by my husband at that retreat he went on so many months before this wound in his soul festered and broke. He let God begin His work in him then. He is still working even now.

If any of this sounds familiar, hang in there. Pray. I will be praying, too.

Sincerely,
Your sister in Christ

What she shows is that you need God for healing. Porn addiction is such a huge problem that we cannot do it in our strength. And do note this sentence:

“Like a drug addiction, porn stunts their brains and warps their perceptions.”

Many of the emails that were sent to me were of heartbroken women whose marriages did not survive because their husbands couldn’t own up and couldn’t stop. The effects of porn were devastating.

I have other emails from women who say something like, “my husband is addicted to pornography but he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it and he won’t stop. What do I do?” That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? So I’d like to ask you: what should someone do in this circumstance? I’ll leave my comments for later, but I’d like to see what you all think first. So many people are walking through a porn addiction, praying that recovery from porn is possible, they feel like they’re alone, and they need help. What would you say? Leave a comment, and let’s see if we can help these readers!

UPDATE: Here’s my series on what to do if you discover your husband is using porn.

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