Latest update: April 2nd, 2012
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Back in February, you printed my letter to “Deeply Distressed” [Chronicles 2-8, Rooting for you]. I am the wife and mother currently going through counseling with my husband in order to help him work through his issues with sexual addiction.
After reading the letter by Feeling Betrayed (Chronicles 2-29), I felt compelled to write again. As I had written previously, I am a thin, attractive, relatively confident person whose husband was engaging in sexually addictive behaviors, including pornography and illicit activities with prostitutes.
Unlike F.B.’s experience, when my husband realized things were out of control, he came to me (with the encouragement of the person who is now guiding us through this process). Thankfully, I was spared the heart-wrenching experience of finding out on my own and having to confront him.
As my husband had already found a “therapist” with whom he felt comfortable, I was also spared what I am certain would have been (as is in F.B.’s case) many episodes of relapses and broken promises. Not because my husband didn’t want to stop, but because he did not have the tools to do so.
Dear Feeling Betrayed,
The so far, one and a half years of counseling that my husband and I have been going through (yes, it is a long and often difficult process; do not expect any quick fix) has taught me a great deal. First, I would like to reiterate what Rachel wrote – that although his behaviors are hurtful and painful, your husband’s addiction is not your fault. It is more likely than not that these behaviors began before he even met you and that it would occur no matter whom he was married to.
What you should also understand is that your husband has an addiction, which by definition means that he cannot completely control his behavior on his own. He wants to stop and each time truly believes that he will, but he cannot. He most likely feels worse about himself than you feel about him and is more than mortified every time he relapses and every time you catch him.
In spite of his lack of control, his actions are still his responsibility, and I agree with Rachel that you must stand firm in your assertion that your husband needs to get help. That being said, however, I would urge you to be understanding and supportive. Remind him that you love him and that you are willing to fight for your marriage and your relationship − and that you are willing to do what it takes to get through this and to get through it together.
Again, I would like to recommend the website “sexualcontrol.com.” Its creator is somewhat unconventional, but has been guiding us through this maze in a way that we feel is unmatched by other professionals. This has been of immense benefit to us.
Although we are still in the middle of what may well be a lifelong struggle and process, both my husband and I feel that our relationship, communication, interaction and overall experience have greatly benefited and deepened as a result of the counseling thus far.
I hope this gives you hope. I wish you and your husband clarity and success in finding your way.
Feeling for you both
Let me begin by saying I do not condone pornography or have any interest in it. Having said that, however, after reading the letter from the woman who is upset with her husband’s online porn habits, I am trying to understand the true reason for her complaints.
While she cries herself to sleep over this, she acknowledges that she loves him, that he is a good husband and that they have a good intimate relationship. What it really sounds like is that she just wants to control his activity and he is resisting. I could understand if she felt his habits were affecting their intimacy or the attention she gets from him. But that isn’t what the letter said.
I recall reading some time ago that the woman a man fantasizes about is not necessarily the type he wants as his wife. If that is true, she shouldn’t feel she is competing with a computer image. Perhaps, as I also read, the husband is using porn to enhance his intimacy, for whatever reason.
In any case, what would happen if she just ignored his online activity? Aside of her unhappiness over the fact that he does it, perhaps she should examine whether it is having a negative impact on their marriage otherwise. If so, let her try to be more strategic about things − like urging her husband to take her out, or join her when retiring for the night.
I am not a counselor, but I imagine there are creative ways she can help break his habit without appearing like a whining control freak.
Just my way of thinking
Surely you jest! Any woman who consciously chooses to ignore her husband’s “online activity” that involves indecent behavior and an obsessive interest in pornography and prostitution is in essence endorsing his fixation and can anticipate even more misery ahead for both of them.
The world just recently witnessed a high government office debased and an accomplished professional’s grand achievements instantly disintegrate as a result of an immoral addiction that festered for years without interference. You can bet that had his missus caught on to her hubby’s extraordinary extracurricular activity on the sly, she’d have done everything in her power to stop his self-destruction.
Life is not a free-for-all. A human being possesses the intelligence to rein in baser instincts and has a code of ethics to live by. Furthermore, a spouse has the obligation to set her/his partner straight. Readers can take a cue from Feeling for you both (above) − a wife who has taken the high road with dignity and diligence. With help from G-d Who reads all hearts and minds, she will prevail and be matzliach.
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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