There are few things in a marriage that make a woman feel as ashamed and betrayed as a spouse’s affair, pornography addiction or abuse. Although the transgression is not ours, the feelings of shame and embarrassment are strong inside, oftentimes accompanied by an outward pressure to be seen as someone who “has it all together.” You wake up the next morning wishing this wasn’t your new reality, feeling unable to tell anyone else about it. These are the most difficult burdens for a wife to bear, made even more challenging because of the constant temptation to never share what’s going on with anyone else.
Perhaps you’ve known for years about your husband’s problem.
You may have even tried to ignore it and act like you don’t know about his stash of magazines in his closet or see the list of sites in his computer history. Perhaps he’s gone a step further spending money on phone sex or had his own Ashley Madison account. Maybe he’s apologized more times than you can recall and yet things continue without any lasting change. How are you to respond? What does a wife do with all that hurt and anger built up inside? How does a wife move from isolation to getting the trusted help she needs to heal?
First, tell someone
Many women try to deal with this on their own by ignoring the reality, hoping and praying that the pain will go away. Such a task is near impossible to do in isolation. In time, the seed of bitterness and hurt will grow, especially if there is no tangible change in behavior from the spouse. In order to begin the process of healing, you must tell someone. A safe person to tell could be your pastor, a mentor or other trusted friend. You may also reach out to a counselor for complete anonymity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen burdens substantially relieved by the simple act of reaching out to someone else, simply to let them in to your struggle.
I want to stress the importance of being sure you choose a confidant who is trusted and proven to be tight lipped in order to serve as a protection for your and your family. This prevents any spreading of gossip about you and your spouse and ensures that you will be free to share all that is on your heart and not hold back. Plus, the more trustworthy someone is, the more likely we are to continue sharing.
Second, seek counseling for yourself
Once you have entrusted this “secret” to a trusted friend, seek out counseling for yourself. If your husband is in counseling, you could meet with the same person, however, women often prefer to meet with another female counselor in this particular area. [I am assuming that your husband is meeting with a male counselor. It is my recommendation that men are counseled by other men regarding this topic].
Third, wait patiently
Once you are able to start meeting with a counselor regularly, you will be able to express your anger, bitterness and shame in an environment that is safe and brings release from all the secret struggles you’ve been carrying for so long and working so hard to hide. In time, you will be able to move from hurt to healing, from bitterness to forgiveness. Then, as God heals your brokenness, you will be able to further examine your own heart for possible ways you have sinned against your spouse in response to his sin. Who knows, you may have a future ministry helping other women who are experiencing the same thing.
Working through a spouse’s porn addiction and the accompanying emotional roller coaster is a tough process, but by God’s grace, it can be done. If you or your spouse is in need of counseling regarding pornography addiction, you may contact me. Your identity is completely confidential. You may also want to check out, the book When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart by Vicki Tiede or read my review of it here. May God grant you the courage to take that brave step toward getting the help you need.