Porn Addiction Discovery: 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Done Differently

I ended a 9 year marriage.


Judging from the title you may assume that it was because my previous husband had a porn addiction. That's not why it ended. That's not why I left him.


I want to make that clear so that you feel comfortable knowing that this article is not how to divorce your husband after discovering he suffers from this addiction.

It actually has nothing to do with him and EVERYTHING to do with you.


Your survival guide.


Creating YOUR safety.


Lets dive right into this and see how relatable your story is to mine.


I grew up in a religious home. Sex wasn't really talked about too much. In fact I'm pretty sure that my sex talk happened the night before I got married. It's cool. They did the best they knew how and I'm sure one of my kids will be writing a blog post about how casually sex was talked about in our home and how odd they find it. What evs.


The other thing that was briefly talked about in our home was pornography. I didn't know exactly what it was until I was an adult but I knew it was bad. I knew it was disgusting. I knew it was evil. I knew it was gross. I knew it was icky. I knew it was perverted.


Fast forward to my adult life. I'm married and have a 1 year red headed baby girl. My husband at the time was in the psychiatric ward and had been there a few days. I went to visit him on the days I could find a babysitter. One of the last nights that he was there I stood in front of him with a giant pregnant belly (that I covered with a big coat so people in the hospital wouldn't look at me with sad eyes) and pleaded with him to let this be rock bottom. If there was anything he needed to get out, anything that he was holding in, to please do it now.


This needed to be the worst of it.


Well, it wasn't. He ended up losing his job.


Ok...THIS was rock bottom. Right?


Wrong. He took my advice. And, I'm thankful he did.


We were in bed and both exhausted. He had just been released from the hospital and we were both trying to navigate all the things.


He rolled over and said "I have to tell you something. I have a porn addiction."


I remember being numb. I responded with "We'll get through this" and cried myself to sleep.

I mean, this is what I asked him to do, right? I asked for this to be rock bottom and for him to get it all out and he listened.


The truth is I had known for a while. I had caught him on multiple occasions browsing, or looking, or lingering around it. Sneaking movies he denied seeing, or locking himself in the basement for days at a time. Each time, he lied. Gas-lighting was a technique used often in our marriage. After a certain amount of time it legitimately started working so I chalked it up to me being paranoid. At least this time he was finally admitting it to himself!


So what was I supposed to do with this information? I didn't know. But I did know that I asked him to stop. I was so nice about it too. I let him know how bad it hurt me that he looked at porn hoping that he would just CHOOSE to stop.


We didn't do therapy. We didn't do anything, really. He thought he would stop. I thought he would just stop. We didn't understand it.


Well, he didn't stop. And I knew it.


And then? I spiraled. I became obsessed with this addiction.


I was certain it was my fault. He openly admitted that he had come to terms that I wouldn't ever physically be what he wanted. That I was overweight and that probably wouldn't change. He "accepted" that about me. So? it was MY fault.


Because I was so repulsive physically to him that would also explain why we had such a underwhelming sex life. It wasn't ever something we figured out. And, I mean, I guess it makes sense. How could we have a good sex life if he wasn't physically attracted to me. Clearly that wasn't truly what was going on. But it certainly made sense in my head at the time.


"Man. I'm really messing everything up" I would think. I had to do something.


I became obsessed with looking how I thought he wanted me to. Like THOSE girls. The girls he was lusting after and looking up rather than connecting with me. I did some weird diet where you only eat 500 calories and put drops of who knows what under your tongue. In a matter of a month I lost 30 lbs. I started taking matters into my own hands and trying to sleep with him more and more


"Stay this way" is what I was told when I lost all of that weight.


The pressure was on...because finally...he wanted me, kind of.


Meanwhile, I thought he was disgusting. I thought he was a pervert. I thought that he was an out of control hormonal icky guy. I was repulsed by him. I didn't want him to touch me. I did NOT want to be intimate with him. Well, that's a lie. I wanted intimacy. That just wasn't part of what we had going on.



There is this weird dance that you go through when you find out that your partner has a porn addiction. You want to pull away and remove yourself from them physically but then at the same time you want dive into bed with them as often as you can to try and prevent them from relapsing if sobriety is even on the radar. And for MY husband it was. Why? Because I was going to force him into it. Yep! You heard me. I was going to get him a flip phone. I changed all of the passwords on every device and make it impossible for him to access it. Rated G movies only as to not spark a thought. Limiting our outings where I knew there wouldn't be tempting women around for him to lust after. You name it, I tried it.


I told you I became obsessed with it. With fixing him. With saving us.


He figured out the passwords. Women are everywhere. He wouldn't agree to a flip phone. It just didn't work. None of it. All of my consuming work didn't make a difference. It just hurt me.


I'm sure you can imagine that didn't quite work out. It actually had the opposite effect. It drove him to it and messed me up even more. I started to develop controlling and paranoid behaviors. I wouldn't leave the house much when he was home. If either one of us went out of town I was a mess. Why? Because I couldn't make decisions for him. I couldn't watch him. I couldn't sneak into the room he was in and try and catch him. I would avoid confrontation at all cost because I KNEW he acted out when I wasn't on my best behavior. I knew if I made him mad the consequence would be for him to result to porn.


This hurt me. All of it. It scarred me. It scarred my soul. Why? Because I craved connection and intimacy. And well? He wasn't capable of it. So I was trapped. He woulds say things like "Come on...you know how hard this is for me when you don't this for me." And so, I would. And it did NO good.


As you can see I didn't handle it gracefully.


We attempted addiction therapy. I did the work...he didn't. His workbook was empty. He didn't try so we both stopped.


In me analyzing this its for my own benefit. Its for me to know how to respond to and love my current husband better with anything he wants to approach me with and vice versa. Neither of us are immune. We have to make sure we have safeguards up for us both.


This is for me to own what I did wrong in my previous marriage that would add to his pain. Not out of regret because I literally don't have a single regret when it comes to my marriage ending. Its awful, it was hard, and I hated going through it but I know for absolute surety that I did everything I possibly could to save my marriage with what I was dealt. Everything.


Ultimately I resorted to saving myself rather than our marriage.


So here it is. The 10 things I wish I'd have done different when I found out about my previous husband's porn addiction:


1. I would start seeing a therapist who specializes in betrayal trauma and sex addiction right away to work on myself through this journey. Even if he didn't see one at all. Although it was his choices and actions that brought me into that mess it was MY responsibly to get myself out of it.


I didn't start seeing one consistently until after my divorce. I wish I would have started sooner.


I enrolled into a program called Lifestar. It is specifically designed for couples who navigate through the mess of sex/porn addiction and make it out together. That's their goal. They also help with trauma, and PTSD caused from the whole situation.


You start out as a group with all the other married couples in your class. Except, I wasn't married. I felt out of place and wondered how in the world this would help me. After about 6 weeks we separated into a men's group and women's group.


This is where my healing started to happen.


I started to understand the brain. I started to understand addiction. I started to understand that his addiction had nothing to do with me. I started to hear my thoughts and fears come out of the mouths of every single woman in the group. They got it. They understood.


I learned a lot.


I learned I wasn't crazy.


Him watching porn didn't meant he knew a thing about having sex with his wife.


Him looking at porn had nothing to do with the fact that I was 10-20 lbs overweight.


Him looking at porn had nothing to do with what I looked like or DIDN'T look like.


Him looking at porn was NOT my responsibility to control.


Him looking at porn was NOT my issue to own or take on.


Him looking at porn was HIS battle to fight.HIS responsibility to learn how to control.


Him looking at porn had to do with him not having healthy coping mechanisms.


Him looking at porn started when he was 9. How in the world did I have anything to do with it?


Additional resources that I've heard to be helpful are Addo Recovery, and Safeline. There are plenty more but these are what come mind right now.


2. I would educate myself on addiction early on when I found out my husband had one that was hurting our family. You'll learn some of this in therapy for sure but I dove deep into it. What causes them? What behaviors are typical of someone in addict mode? What parts of the brain does it effect? What are the side effects of the specific addiction?


Hormones and endorphins are natural drugs. Our body likes them. They are good for us. Sex and intimacy are GOOD for us!


When someone watches porn they get an overload of those hormones and it starts to hurt their brain. It creates deeper and deeper neural pathways. These pathways get so big and SO overloaded that it can actually shut down the frontal lobe.The bigger they get the more endorphins they need to get the high. What doest that mean? It means they have to get aroused differently. They have to explore more hardcore porn to get aroused. Then when that doesn't do it for them anymore they have to experiment more. Some take it from the screen to real life to make it that much more of a high. Eventually it can lead to erectile disfunction and SO many other physical problems.


Also? Let me repeat something I mentioned earlier. The Frontal Lobe can actually shut down. Fried Remember that commercial of an egg being cracked and landing in a scorching hot frying pan? That. Fried.


Thats kind of an important part of the brain! It's responsible for things like emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behaviors. I'm not sure if you've ever tried to emotionally connect with someone who isn't actually capable of connection because that portion of their brain gradually shuts down but it's awful. In my mind I was never enough. I was never good enough. I was never ANYTHING enough.


He couldn't see me and it wasn't my fault.


3. I would study betrayal trauma and PTSD and understand what exactly I was going through. The different triggers I was experiencing. The controlling behaviors, the sleepless nights, the rage I felt that manifested with me yelling at my kids often, the detachment, the lack of motivation, all of that. I didn't know what was happening to me!


I've literally walked into a grocery store, grabbed a handful of groceries, gotten triggered, and had to just set everything down and walk away. I just didn't know what a trigger was so I felt crazy. WHY couldn't I just go up to the register and pay for these things? What was going on? I didn't know. But now I do.


4. I would set clearer boundaries on what was expected of him and what I needed in order to feel safe.

For example what is the definition of a relapse to us in our marriage and what are the consequences of crossing that line? Is a relapse a lie? Because lying leads to shame and shame leads to porn. Or is a relapse full blown looking up and watching porn? Is a consequence that he has to leave the house for 3 solid weeks if he relapses? Is it different if he gets caught vs him coming to you and telling you?


5. I wish I hadn't thought such harsh things about him.

Truly he was not good to me, or for me. But my opinion of him hurt me more than him. I was filled with so much hate. Feeling such horrible things about another human isn't healthy. I dragged around that negativity for a long time. Instead I wish that I could have seen that he was hurting. That he literally hadn't learned a different way to cope. He had a lot of mental and emotional battles he was experiencing and this was a very personal struggle that just happened to do damage to me while he struggled.


6. I wish that I could have stopped myself from going down the rabbit hole of "This must be my fault."

I still suffer from the behaviors I picked up after years and years of blaming myself. It didn't help that even his family pointed fingers at me for his addiction as well. But I knew better. I really did. It's so important to know your value and maintain love and grace for yourself in such a poisonous environment.


7. I wish that I could have released control earlier.

That I wouldn't have been so diligent in checking everything all the time. Peaking at his phone, trying to hack into email accounts, cross checking stories, watching his eyes every time a stunning women walked in the room. It was exhausting! Had I spent my time working on myself rather than trying to make sure he wasn't acting out I would be further along in this journey than I currently am.


8. I wish that I would have told someone and not suffered in silence. I didn't feel like I could talk about it. And, in fact, he forbade me to. I happily obliged because in my mind he was going to change, get better, and then nobody would even know what was going on! I'm not saying that I should have gone against my husbands desires...oh wait. Yes I am! I needed support. I needed a friend. The right kind of friend. I needed connection. But I hid instead. And that hurt me.


I'm definitely not suggesting that I should have called 10 of my closest friends and share the news. More like confiding in someone who wouldn't make matters worse by causing more drama or heartache for me but rather a sounding board and a community of support for me.


9. I wish that I would have known what healthy intimacy was. I literally just thought I was bad at sex and that my body was broken and that wasn't a part of my life that I couldn't enjoy. Boy, was I WRONG (Insert blushing emoji.) This is important. Had I understood that he was incapable of deeply connecting with me I wouldn't have walked around for 9 years thinking that I was broken and that it was ME that was incapable of having passion in a relationship.


I didn't understand that I was worthy of being touched intimately and not just sexually. I was objectified and thought it was my responsibility as a wife to be that for him.


This one is tricky because how in the world should I have know that?


10. I wish that I could have created a safer space for him to tell me when he was struggling. Calling and connecting with me first before he full blown relapsed. I was so hateful. Not understanding. I pulled my love away. I punished him. I acted out of pain and turned directly to how it was hurting me. Part of me wonders if this was even possible with how closed off he was...I'm not sure. But I see that it would have been helpful to not accuse and attack anytime we talked about it. It was SO personal to me because I felt it was directly related to how good of a wife I was.


Perhaps, when I found evidence, rather than coming at him in the moment I could process it for a day or week, or month. Gather myself together and approach him in a productive way rather than throwing it in his face and wanting to hurt him as much as he hurt me. That did nothing.


To end I want to say that I have seen MANY many wonderful couples experience this hardship and come out of it stronger. I have seen couples fight crazy hard to work through it. Both working on themselves individually so that together they could be stronger and not weigh each other down with their own traumas. It happens all the time.


So, if you are in it...maybe take the 10 things I wish I would have done differently and apply them to your life. Learn from my mistakes and help progress yourself as your fight your battle!


Or, maybe your marriage ended too. I'd say these things still pertain to you. Try them and see if they bring healing to you.


If you enjoyed this article go ahead and follow me on Instagram @hashtagfly_ and Facebook at Hashtag Fly because you'll find more info just like this to help you through life's crappy stuff!


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