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Wife of a pornography/sex addict who blogs about her relationship & road to recovery.
Esther reached out to us as an Ever Accountable customer and agreed to share some of her experiences as the wife of a self-described pornography addict.
Good morning, Esther! Thank you for taking time to reach out to us with your story. Sure, thanks for inviting me to contribute!
Tell us a little about yourself. Because I am an anonymous blogger, I will be a little vague on this one. I grew up mostly in the mid-west. When I was very young, my parents were missionaries abroad, but we moved back to the United States while I was in elementary school. I love to write, cook, spend time with my family, hike, (especially in national parks) and travel.
Tell us about your relationship with your husband: When and where did you two meet? How did you know he was the one? How long have you been together? My husband and I met when we were teenagers at the church we attended. He says it was love at first sight for him. I took a little longer, but once I fell, I fell hard! We dated through high school and then married a few years later. We've been married for almost 17 years. I knew he was the one because we just fit together like puzzle pieces. We're best friends. There is no one in the world I would rather spend a day with!
So, how did pornography come into your life? Unfortunately, my husband became addicted to pornography, masturbation, and inappropriate sexual behaviors long before he met me. He was exposed to pornography and masturbation by an older cousin before he even hit puberty. However, he was very good at keeping this part of himself secret. I began to learn bits and pieces of the story after about 3 years of marriage, but the real scope of the problem didn't become clear to me until many many years later...probably only really in the past year have I truly gotten the whole picture.
What is it like being the partner of someone who struggles with pornography? It's devastating! This is an ever-escalating addiction with an appetite that can't ever be satisfied. It will grow and grow as long as it is allowed to stay hidden. As a result, the betrayals to the spouse just keep coming in wave after wave - each more crippling than the last. After a while you begin to lose all sense of self-worth. Anxiety and depression become inevitable and many spouses actually present with symptoms that look a lot like PTSD!As I've already said, this addiction is one that is always escalating. If it isn't being actively dealt with and brought into the open it is escalating. Many people with a porn problem started out just looking at the lingerie page in department store ads when they were kids - often out of curiosity, not out of a desire to meet a sexual need. But before long that lost it's thrill and they started looking for soft porn - nudity. Many find that before they even know what's happening they're seeking out stimulation that disturbs even them when they let themselves think about it. So they don't let themselves think about it. They hide and they escalate. Often, we (the spouses of porn/sex addicts) know nothing of the problem when we marry. It will likely be many years into marriage before bits and pieces of the truth slowly begin to find their way into the open. So we spend years believing that the fidelity of the marriage is intact. That the intimacy between us is as sacred to the addict as it is to us. Then that first revelation comes to light. Maybe we find some porn on a computer. It comes as a complete shock, and often it is quite traumatizing because it shakes the very foundation of our marriages! But, when confronted, the issue is often minimized and, wanting to believe that the relationship is still secure, we are often quick to believe whatever story the addict tries to sell. Life moves on and then another revelation happens and the cycle repeats itself. Each revelation is often more disturbing than the last and we are left trying to figure out what is real and what isn't. We are forced to play detective in order to try to figure out what's really going on. We are left questioning every memory, wondering if the marriage was ever what we thought it was. Often, the answer is no. It wasn't. On top of that, we are left feeling completely helpless to do anything about the situation. Because the revelations often happen so slowly, it can be so easy to think it's not really as big of a deal as it seems at first. Then, by the time we've realized what a big deal it really is we're so paralyzed by the trauma of it all that we don't even know what to do. It's devastating! That's why it's so important that the spouse seek help. Don't try to do it alone. I recommend people start by reading "Your Sexually Addicted Spouse." It will help you understand what's happening to you and give you practical, sound advise about how to go forward and how to find help.
As a partner of someone who uses pornography, how has Ever Accountable helped you? Well, Ever Accountable was the tool God used to show me what I needed to see (texts and emails) to know that he was having and affair. This information coming out was how we finally got to a place of full disclosure about his behaviors. Without a full disclosure it is almost impossible to move forward or heal, so I am so thankful to Ever Accountable for that. It is terrible information that no one WANTS to have to deal with, but if it's what is true then it is always better to know. The only way forward is with all the cards on the table.The wonderful thing about my husband is that he desperately wants to be free of this terrible addiction. One way we came up with to help him do that was to put accountability software on his phone and computer. The problem is, my husband is a very smart man and he could always find a way around everything we had ever tried. What he liked about Ever Accountable is that it doesn't block anything the way most of the available programs do, instead it just reports everything that is done on the devise. Everything. Every app. If a new app is installed it reports that! Even incognito mode gets reported! And he doesn't have access to the report in any way, so he can't delete stuff. This makes it much more difficult to get around. Also, it still puts the responsibility in his hands to stay away from the things he knows he should stay away from. He can get to them whenever he wants. They're not blocked. BUT, I'm going to see whatever he does so he can choose.
On another note, we also have Ever Accountable on all of our teenage son's devices. It has been invaluable in allowing us to see exactly what he's doing and has given us the opportunity to deal with issues while they are still very very minor. We are very hopeful that we can capitalize on these opportunities and teach him to flee the terrible trap of pornography! I can't say enough how much I appreciate this software.
Are there any products or services you would like to see Ever Accountable add to specifically help you, the partner of someone who has struggled with pornography? Nothing comes to mind in the way of products or services. I would like to see a bit of a stronger warning. Your site says, "pornography damages relationships..." But what people need to know is that not only does it damage relationships, it damages individuals. Everyone knows that doing drugs leads to addiction and everyone knows that drugs damage the addict. But it seems that so few people really understand that pornography is exactly like a drug. It leads to addiction and it damages the addict. And just like drugs, you will need more and more to get your "fix" and before you know what has happened, it will ruin your life!
What advice would you give other women whose partners struggle with a pornography problem? Well, my personal opinion, is that a loving and very direct approach is best. Pornography use, just like any other infidelity, is a violation of the marriage vows and is not okay. It kills love. It creates intimacy disorders and alters brain chemistry in such a way that healthy sexual relationships between husband and wife become impossible. You have the right to expect that the vows you made be honored. At the same time, when this has been a long-standing issue it is not going to be easy to overcome and if your spouse is trying and is doing the work to overcome the problem, then you're going to need to become a very good and patient cheerleader! After all, you made vows too and they said something about, "for better or worse."*To learn more about our story and the very difficult road to recovery that we are walking right now visit http://www.hisdearlyloveddaughter.com/I believe that women dealing with porn/sexually addicted husbands need the encouragement of knowing that there are others on the same journey. They're not alone.
Thank you, Esther, for sharing your deeply personal experience with our readers. We are humbled by your story and wish you and your husband peace, love, and recovery.