SIGNS YOUR SPOUSE MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH PORNOGRAPHY (part 1)

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I realize this is a very sensitive topic, but it’s a topic that’s plaguing the minds of the men we love. I think it’s more important now than ever for spouses to be up front and open with each other

about this issue.  Many sweet women, (especially in the church) have the tendency to think…it will never happen to my husband.  He is wonderful and loyal.  He loves me. He is strong. He knows that that stuff is harmful.  While all of these are most likely true, men unfortunately don’t always  have control over what crosses in front of their eyes or in today’s world is thrown in their face. Be it what pop ups may appear on their screen, or what they might innocently glance at the office or on the street.  It doesn’t matter your age or how long you’ve been together.  It doesn’t matter how strong they are, pornography WILL effect them on some degree.  Some may shun it right away, others may let it linger in their thoughts, others may go back for more.  Whatever the case, it’s so healthy for spouses to be honest and open, so that they can help and support each other.

A few years ago my very close friend confided in me that she was going through a difficult time in her marriage.  She didn’t even need to say anything.  It showed in the way she carried herself, the sad look constantly in her eyes, and her once energetic, happy and confident demeanor seemed to be shaken.  It wasn’t until a couple years later that she told me their struggles were due to her husband’s struggle with pornography.  It was heartbreaking listening to her. Fortunately they have worked through his problem, and are closer and stronger now.  But the pain that was a result still haunts her.  Not long before he told her about his problem, she already knew in her heart, but she would push those thoughts aside, refusing that her husband, her hero could have viewed pornography, not when they were so happy in their marriage, not when they had a healthy intimate life.  She said there were signs that she ignored, and now she realizes that there were even more.  She’s asked me to share a bit of her story, because it is her hope that all women could be made aware of just how easy and likely it is that their husband may have this same struggle.  Because the truth is, your husband loves you.  He doesn’t want to hurt you.  He knows that by him viewing pornography it will break your heart.  So he hides it. Tells himself he won’t do it again. Then in another moment of weakness he has another look.  This makes him even more ashamed of himself.  This guilt starts to numb his emotions. Because he doesn’t want those he loves to be disgusted with him.  It becomes a vicious cycle until it consumes him, and he stops showing affection and love towards his wife.
Now if a man views pornography it is in NO WAY! Repeat NO WAY the wife’s fault.  However, my friend mentioned that if she had been able to connect some of the dots/signs she might have been able to help him come clean sooner, and less damage would have been done because of it.
**Some may argue that porn is a ‘natural thing that men just need to do’  This is a lie!  Nothing good comes from porn.  There is no real relationship or intimate relationship present.  No love.  And it destroys a man’s self esteem. And the self esteem of their spouse.   If that’s not convincing enough read Camille’s story

CAMILLE’S STORY

During the entire year of 2012 I constantly felt this growing wedge between me and Trevor.  I couldn’t tell what it was.  Other than I felt he was getting disinterested in me, or we possibly had no more in common, and that he didn’t want or care if our relationship improved or got worse.  Earlier that summer he told me that he wasn’t sure if the church was true.  I’d never had any idea he felt this way. I felt super betrayed that he’d never mentioned this before we decided to spend eternity together.  Maybe he did believe it at the time, but he didn’t now, so he wasn’t going to come to church with me anymore, or at least not as often…. But the worse part was feeling a tangible distance between us.  We were expecting our second child, and once again I had severe morning sickness.  Sometimes I would feel so nauseous that I could hardly think. He’d want to be intimate but I couldn’t even hold my head up.  So he would just shut down, act hurt and offended and stop talking.  I would try to get him to please not be upset and he’d just curtly say “no I understand.  But if we can’t do anything, then I need to not be touching you”  So he wouldn’t hold my hand, or play with my hair (which was one of the few things that helped me relax during my nauseous nights.)  So either I would fall asleep feeling lonely and as if I’d done something wrong.  Or I’d allow myself to be manipulated into giving him what he wanted.  Neither felt good.

We had our second baby and had recently moved to a new city, far from my family, so while I was able to keep working with just the one, it became difficult with two, and no family nearby to help.  Naturally things were tight.  Our finances started to plummet and rather than work harder, Trevor would get frustrated and call in sick most days. When I would try to talk to him about it he’d get defensive and say I don’t understand how exhausting it is, and that he needs these extra days off.  He’d spend hours upon hours on the computer, tuning our financial stresses and me (it seemed) out.  He wouldn’t go places or do things with me and the kids.  Trevor is not an unkind person by nature, but he starting to be short tempered with me and the kids, and would sometimes say rude and critical things.  He’d be un-affectionate around me when  my family came to visit….I felt so embarrassed, like I had become that daughter/sibling who the family felt so sorry and sad for.  There was one night I invited my brother to come down to hang out and watch a movie with us.  Then after 15 minutes Trevor went into the room and said he was going to bed.  It wasn’t even 8:00.  When I asked him to please come out he said no, because he didn’t want to watch that movie, he hated the actor in it, and that it looked stupid and he’d rather go to bed.  I tried to put on a happy face so that my brother wouldn’t see how hurt and humiliated I was.

The pain became not only emotional, but physical

During these months I would constantly shut myself in the bathroom or closet and silently bawl my eyes out, and cry myself to sleep every night.  I felt that I was drowning in trying to create a happy home, take care of a toddler and a newborn, I didn’t know anyone in our new city yet, and my “best friend” was never emotionally present.  He would be on the computer playing games online with strangers while I was trying to cook dinner, keep the toddler entertained and the baby would be screaming.  I’d get so frustrated that I would even need to ask him to help.  When he’d say “just a sec” I would lose it and tell him to “get off the computer NOW” he would, but he’d get angry and tell me I was in the wrong.  Why was my husband leaving me alone?  Why was he losing interest in me?  What did I do?
We used to talk about our days while falling asleep every night and I loved it.  But now Trevor wouldn’t come to bed when I did, I’d lay awake waiting for him, and when he’d get in he’d say something like “I’m too tired to talk.  I just want to go to bed”  Or other times I would stay up late because he was watching TV or playing Nintendo, I’d be exhausted by the time we’d go to bed and he’d get upset or act hurt and offended when I  was too tired to be intimate.  It got so emotionally painful that there were times when I would punch or hit my head against the wall to try to transfer some of my pain. I remember one day hitting the wall so hard that my hand felt bruised for a week.  For the first time in my life I started to ask if I got married too soon, if I made the wrong choice in my companion, if and when I should just leave.  So many times I was tempted to just drive away for a little while to escape things.  But then what would happen to the kids?  I couldn’t just run away with them, and I couldn’t leave them.  But there was also the growing fear of my oldest sensing the pain and tension in our marriage.  I felt myself becoming depressed, and at times I didn’t have the energy to be affectionate towards my children.  So I’d pray, and somehow was able to make it through the days with a smile.

All the while we were going more and more into debt, because our income was decreasing with Trevor staying home from work so often and our bills staying the same.

All made clear….

But finally the source and reason for the cause of all my pain came out.  Trevor came and got me out of Sunday School one week, said to grab all my stuff because we needed to talk.  We went on a drive and he told me how he hadn’t gone to some work meeting he was supposed to, then lied about it, and his boss found out (and just called him right before he came and got me out of class) so now he was on probation and without work.  He told me how he’d  he’d lied to me about going to church meetings, how he’d made up lies to not go to church with me and the kids.  Then he said he just wanted to stop telling lies and if there was anything I wanted to ask him I could.  I instantly thought pornography but told myself that’s ridiculous.  I asked him something I don’t even remember.  He asked me again if there was anything I wanted to ask him.  I got the impression pornography once again.  So I asked him, expecting the answer to be “no, no, of course not”  So when he said “yes”  I didn’t know how I felt.  I didn’t cry then.  I think I was so numb with shock.  So we went back to church and I sat in Relief Society.  I stayed in the back corner and then a few tears came.  I got some impressions there to help me forgive and love Trevor.
That evening was the first time in over a year that I felt close to my husband.  He told me how sorry he was.  And that shocked he was that I wasn’t angrier with him.  He told me how there were so many times that he almost told me, but he was so afraid that I would leave him. We were able to talk things through openly (finally) and be honest and start the healing the process.
We met with the bishop, and things started to improve in our marriage once again. Forgiving Trevor came surprisingly easy, but trust has taken much longer.
We praying together and as a family every night again, the wedge started to disappear, and even though for months and months later I struggled with trust, self esteem, and would still occasionally cry in secret, we were getting back to our former, happy selves.
Now 2 years later we are closer and stronger than before. We’ve worked to form a more open and honest line of communication with each other.  I will lovingly ask him (every few weeks or so) “how are you doing with porn?”  And likewise he communicates the moments he feels he might be tempted. Trevor has had one relapse when I went on a long trip.  But we were able to sort it out quickly because I could sense something was off when he picked me up from the airport.  I knew to ask him directly.  He got it sorted out with the bishop right away, and that was that.  As it turns out, Trevor started looking at pornography when I was pregnant with our second child, and too sick to be intimate.  During that time we had let the filters on our devices expire, and felt comfortable and confident that we didn’t bother to think twice about it.  Now I’m half way along with our third and we have a plan to have frequent check ups, Trevor also schedules regular meetings or phone calls with the bishop so that he has someone he’s being accountable to (his idea not mine 🙂 )

I want to share a wonderfully comforting article that I turned to upon first learning of my husband’s behavior.  Also, have filters on ALL of your devices!

Next time (part 2) How Camille came closer to the Savior, advice for how to help a loved one struggling, how to find healing for yourself.

 

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BEHAVIORAL SIGNS THAT YOUR LOVED ONE MAY BEVIEWING PORNOGRAPHY

These are the signs that Camille caught before and after Trevor told her.

Controlling

Less affectionate

Lazy

Avoid social gatherings, don’t like being around other people

Become more critical of the way you do things: This could be how you take care of the children, care for the house, talk etc.

More negative

Short tempered or irritable

Helps around the house less or not at all

Pornography numbs the soul, so they may try to fill the void with mindless activities like more time playing video games, more time watching TV, more time on the computer or playing games on their cell phone.

Won’t look at you in the eyes

Is bored during church related meetings/activities

Less interested in things you would like to do

Sleeps more/sleeps less

Puts less effort into their work

Neglects responsibilities

Weight gain

Becomes manipulative

Guilt trips you into intimacy.

isolates themselves from family

Your conversations seem lackluster

Telling frequent white lies to others (and you)

 

Thank you for reading everyone.  I know this is not the happiest of topics, but it’s something I feel very emotional and passionate about.  I’ve seen more than Camille go through a similar experience.  Once again I’m not trying to inflict trust issues, or cause paranoia in anyone’s relationship.  Quite the contrary.  It’s good to be knowledgeable, and not naive.  Just look around at the world we live in.  If marriages are to stay strong we NEED to ask hard questions, and not turn a blind eye to reality.  And for girls who aren’t yet married, I hope you learn that you MUST have good, open, honest communication with the person you choose to marry.

Until next time.

XOXO

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