Overcoming Pornography Addiction

Overcoming Pornography Addiction

Pornography is a true catastrophe, and it plagues our world each and every day. Here at The Dating Divas, we have tons of great articles on Why Porn Should Never Be a Part of Marriage, and How Pornography Affects Marriage. However, we recently realized that we’ve failed to answer one vital question: what do you do after you discover there is a pornography problem? How do you keep going? How do you continue to strengthen your marriage while it seems to be falling apart in so many ways? How can you potentially aid your partner in overcoming pornography addiction? To be honest, we didn’t really know where to start. Fortunately (very fortunately), not many of us have experience in this area of overcoming porn addiction, myself included. We aren’t experts and don’t claim to be. However, we have thousands of readers who courageously fight this battle every single day and are constantly learning how to get over porn addiction of a spouse.

GREAT tips on overcoming pornography addiction. Could not agree more! #howtoovercomepornaddiction #overcomingpornaddiction

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Overcoming Pornography Addiction Survey

We decided to tap into this fantastic resource at our fingertips and send out a survey on our Facebook page asking readers to anonymously answer 3 questions:

  • After the issue came to light, how did you move onward and upward in your marriage?
  • How do you strengthen trust in your marriage amidst fears of a relapse?
  • What tips would you give to someone who has recently found out their spouse has been participating in pornography?

The response we received was incredible! We have so many fantastic readers that struggle with a spouse overcoming porn addiction, and so many were willing to open up and share their victories (and occasional losses) with us. We couldn’t have put this post together without you, so we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Using their responses as a springboard, we researched, compiled, and researched some more on overcoming pornography addiction – and how to move past that in a marriage. It was more than just eye-opening; it was life-changing. It was hard to sift through hundreds of responses that were so full of heartache, but in almost all of them, there was a silver lining. And, happy news: most of them were inspiring success stories. So many of them ended with something along the lines of, “___ years sober, and couldn’t be happier!” There was hope in their messages. So let me tell you, there is hope for you and your marriage, too.

Overcoming Pornography Addiction Responses

Here are the best-of-the-best tips that we gleaned from the many respondents on overcoming pornography addiction:

  • Keep a level head – This is good advice for any relationship, but particularly with your spouse, and especially if they have a pornography addiction or are working on how to overcome porn addiction. If you explode when they build up the courage to tell you about their addiction, or that they had a relapse, it will only amplify their shame. It will discourage open communication. Why would they want to tell you when they are struggling if you are just going to freak out anyway? Do your best to be a safe space of non-judgment. Tackle the problem, not the person. Try your best to be loving, supportive, and honest. Root for them. Cheer them on in their daily battles, of which there are many. Rather than being disgusted, upset, or angry when they come to you needing help, show them that you are on their side… calmly! A fantastic way to reconnect and truly grow in your marriage is the Reclaim Your Marriage program.
  • It’s not your fault – This addiction has nothing to do with you. It seems like intimacy with you and pornography would be inherently connected, but they aren’t – so don’t blame yourself. Pornography addictions stem from a lot of causes; exposure to sexual materials too early, self-esteem issues, the need to escape, depression, and the inability to relax to name a few. We will mention a lot of great resources here in the article, but please understand that struggling with and overcoming pornography addiction has nothing to do with you. All of the thoughts of, “If only I were more attractive, then…” or “If only I could provide what they want sexually on my own, then…” or “If only I were more {insert every word you’re feeling}, then…” are simply not true. There is nothing on your end that could have “prevented” this by simply being “more” of anything. Your spouse loves you for who you are and their addiction to the screen is nothing compared to their connection with you! Trust us on this – while you may not see it yet, you’ll see it in time. This is not your fault!
  • Study overcoming porn addiction – Knowing how addiction truly works will completely change the way you view your spouse, as well as their problem. It will help you see that they, too, are completely capable of recovery and can indeed overcome porn addiction. There is some great information from Fight the New Drug on why pornography addiction is similar to drug addiction, and how pornography affects the brain. In fact, some doctors say overcoming pornography addiction can be harder to do than breaking a drug addiction. It’s vital to know how addictions work to help you both through the healing process and to support each other as you learn how to get over porn addiction. To further your reading, the respondents from our survey suggested these fantastic books from experts in the field:

Overcoming Pornography Addiction Books

 

  • Strengthen your “inner” and “outer” filters – A key step in overcoming pornography addiction is to be discerning and strict about what you allow in your home. First, arm yourself with some physical (“outer”)  filters — we love Circle from Disney for limiting and ensuring safe screen-time, and VidAngel for filtering out harmful material from shows and movies. You can also utilize “self-checkouts” and “pay-at-the-pump” options to avoid seeing inappropriate material in passing. Also, be sure to utilize locks and restrictions in your cable settings. After you’ve set your home up for success, set your “inner” filters up, too. Raise your bar of acceptableness when it comes to sexual material in your home, as well as your other surroundings. Make sure though, that your spouse never feels like you are parenting them or that you flat out don’t trust them. Instead, help them to see that you are there to support them as they are overcoming porn addiction. If you set up any filters, convey absolute love and discuss what you are doing, together. Do not decide on your own what is or isn’t ok and how to address it – do it as a couple. Talk to your spouse to find what will work best for them. Would it be best if you alone have the passwords to all filters – or, does it upset them that you don’t trust them when you take that control? Some people simply need that one extra step of putting in a password to snap them out of their “need” and help them remember and recognize what they are about to do – Others need and want so they can succeed, very strict parameters that are maintained by you. As always, communication is key. Then, as a couple: Be. More. Strict. If you view it as slightly suggestive, don’t allow it. If you find anything remotely connected to pornography in your home, destroy it, immediately.
  • They need compassion and connection – not more shame – They are more than likely just as unhappy about it as you are. Many respondents said that their spouses had a sincere desire to truly overcome pornography addiction. Viewing pornography did not fulfill any needs for them. It didn’t add to their life, it took away, and they knew it. One response read, “I don’t remind my husband how repulsive I find pornography. He knows full well that it’s revolting. It doesn’t help, it just makes him feel worse. Instead, we just focus on trying to put it behind us, not on how damaging it is.” So avoid constant reminders and shaming. If they don’t sincerely want to let it go and have convinced themselves they are in complete control of the addiction, you will probably need some professional help in overcoming porn addiction and a completely different approach.

Assisting in Overcoming Pornography Addiction

  • Commit to communicating – Communicate daily. Open communication gives your spouse the opportunity in a safe environment to talk about what they are doing and feeling. Communicate about how you will communicate to figure out what works best for both of you and will aid greatly in helping your spouse overcoming pornography addiction. Would it help your spouse if you check in? If so, hold them accountable and ask how things went that day – if there were any tempting thoughts or feelings, and how they handled them. Empower them and let them know how proud you are of them for their continued efforts in overcoming porn addiction. Spare no details. However, some people while in recovery feel you are constantly bringing the “shame of their past” to the surface when you check in. Instead, build a safe place where they can come to you with what is going on rather than you asking them. Remember that every situation is different so communication about these things is key! You also need to communicate with them how you are doing as your spouse works in overcoming pornography addiction. This is something you’re battling as a couple. Yes, they need your love, support, and help – but you need theirs as well. Victims of pornography often deal with lingering thoughts of self-doubt, self-hatred, and low self-image. Delicately, and lovingly, let your spouse know when you are feeling this way so that they can step up and make sure you feel wanted, loved, appreciated, and attractive!
  • Find a sounding board – One respondent said, “The most empowering moment for me was when I realized that I didn’t have to be his secret keeper – and that I shouldn’t be. We needed outside help.” As your spouse works and (and might even struggle) in overcoming pornography addiction, they need someone else to be accountable to, and you need someone to help you sort through this roller coaster of feelings. This is where professional help might be your best option, but a trusting, respectful, and kind-hearted friend might be a good answer as well – one who won’t judge you or your spouse and who won’t air your spouse’s sins to the world. Ecclesiastical leaders are also a fantastic resource as they often receive special training for this area of overcoming pornography addiction specifically. Just remember to find one for each of you; you both need support for different reasons.
  • Figure out their triggers – Why do they think they need to look at pornography? What goes on in their life that leads them to it? According to our respondents, the most common trigger was definitely stress – of work, school, family, and relationships, but there can be many other factors as well. One fascinating response came in from this reader: “We have come to realize that my bi-polar husband only wants to view pornography when he is in a manic state. When he is well, there is no desire whatsoever. We have since adjusted his medication, and he has been sober for a few years now.” There could be hundreds of reasons as to why this is happening to your spouse, and mental illness could be one of them. If you suspect that is the cause, please seek professional help. You can also find some sexual addiction professionals in your area here. Learning to combat triggers and handle them effectively will prove to be a difficult learning curve – but well worth the effort, as it will stop the problem in it’s tracks. An example would be: Is your spouse viewing pornography on their mobile device (where household filters can be bypassed by switching from Wi-Fi to 4G) at night when their control is inhibited by the late hour? Try getting up earlier as a couple (support!) so that your spouse isn’t awake at night when they have less control. You could also remove the temptation and put the phone on the other side of the room. Often, that one more step is enough to remind them of the commitments they’ve made. Have the background for that mobile device be a picture of you and/or your family – another small thing that can remind them of what they are risking when they decide to open a browser to uncensored material.

Overcoming Pornography Addiction Article

  • Learn and grow from where you are at – Relapses are very likely to happen, especially if your spouse has only just begun overcoming porn addiction. Pornography has re-wired their brain, and it takes time to rebuild the neuro-pathways. This response from a respondent really sums it all up well: “In the past, when he would relapse, I would be devastated and feel like we were starting over again, and again, and again. Now, we have learned what his triggers are, and are more prepared to handle a relapse. But, in the event that something does happen, we try to learn and grow from where we are at. We’ve realized, we’re not starting all the way over.” Be realistic, and celebrate their efforts. Realize that the love and strength you have as a couple is so much stronger than it ever was before you began this journey. See your own, personal growth and continue to grow.
  • Take time for yourself – Dealing with this is difficult; you need time to sort through your feelings, regenerate, and discover how to get over porn addiction of a spouse. Focus on doing things that bring you peace and joy in your down-time, whatever that may be. One respondent said, “When I make time for myself, I have more energy to deal with everything in a positive way. Filling my own tank helps me to fill the tanks of others. When my schedule gets too full and I get run-down, everyone suffers – especially my addicted spouse.” So cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary in your life and make (and take!) the time to focus on you, too.
  • Don’t give up – A respondent said this in their survey: “When something is broken, you fix it. You don’t just throw it away.” She went on to say that it will take work, and sweat, and tears, and some really, really, really hard times are ahead, but complete healing and overcoming pornography addiction is possible. The silver lining? Based on the responses we received, marriage is even better when you’ve made your way through it – together. Many people struggle with what you are struggling with, and you most certainly are not alone, so find a support group. Many of the respondents indicated they had good success with the free Addiction Recovery Program via the LDS Church, regardless if they were a member of the church or not. (Several were not members and still had very good things to say about the 12-step program.) It’s free, and meetings are held in many countries all over the world. You can also try talking to a medical professional to point you in the right direction for other local support. Take a look at this post with 10 ways you can be a good example of marriage to your children – each item in here is perfect for how to work through this (and anything, really) as a couple!
  • Have fun together – We’ve said it over, and over, and over, and over – and we are going to keep on saying it until we are blue in the face (and then keep going!) Don’t skip date night, even with these other issues going on. Our respondents also reiterated the importance of this over, and over, and over. Your spouse will be more likely to talk to you about where they are in overcoming porn addiction if you’ve built up a bond of love, trust, and yes – fun! It so easy to want to “pull away” when you feel betrayed by your spouse, but you have to lean in and allow yourselves to grow closer together! Pulling away is a knee-jerk response and will make recovery that much harder. Don’t let this tear you apart – hold on tight to your marriage, and to each other. We have no shortage of ideas, and you can check them all on this page. Try some of these ones out to start:

Overcoming Pornography Addiction Activities

 

  • Remember that this is their journey – As much as you may want to micro-manage their every move online, don’t. Respondents said over and over that, at the end of the day, it is not their journey; it is that of their spouse and that helping them learn how to overcome porn addiction without feeling criticized or scrutinized. Yes, protect them, and keep them (and your home) safe as much as possible. Also, be sure that you feel supported and loved as well. But you can’t change their heart (or their brain) for them. It will take time and love, effort and patience. Your job is to walk hand-in-hand with them on this path, not drag them down it. One inspiring response from a reader said: “I found a quote from Galileo that really helped me. ‘You cannot teach a person anything. You can only help them find it within themselves.’ It’s helped me realize that this is {my spouse’s} journey, not mine.”

Overcoming Pornography Addiction Post

  • Look toward your children – If you have children in your life, you have an incredible opportunity to train the next generation on the dangers of pornography addiction and the difficulty in overcoming porn addiction. Raise them, teach them, and empower them with everything that you have; teach them what pornography can really do to you. Teach them what to do when they come across it, because it’s not “if” anymore, it’s “when.” It’s so hard to think about your sweet children being subject to something so vile and degrading, but empowering them to make good decisions regarding media is something we cannot take lightly as parents. We highly suggest Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. It is an incredible book.

This is going to be a difficult journey, but it is possible. Just don’t forget that; even in the midst of the relapses, teary nights, and broken hearts – it is possible, and it is worth it. For even more great resources on overcoming pornography addiction, be sure and check out How Pornography Affects Marriage and 80 of the Best Resources for Overcoming Pornography in the Home.

About the Author: Catharine

The first time my husband saw me, I had whipped cream all over my face, and chocolate smothered all over my chef whites. He asked me out right then and there, and he didn't even know my name! Five beautiful years, two incredible kids, four teensy apartments, and a darling home later...he still sweeps me off my feet everyday! I am a true lover of travel, music, vintage fashion, classic literature, teaching, my faith, and midnight baking.

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8 Responses to Overcoming Pornography Addiction

  1. WOW! Such amazing advice in here! I love that it comes from those who have been there and are still fighting “the new drug.” If only all people could understood how destructive pornography can be! Having a few of my friends open up to me about this, it breaks my heart! I’m so glad there is hope and resources out there for those determined to move past it.

  2. Great tips! I really love the way you presented each point here. Porn addictions is a growing problem among teenagers and adults. am not addicted to anything, but my husband was an addict of internet games and pornography. He had to fight about 2 years to get rid of his addictions. Here is an article about porn addiction which is written by a sex addiction therapist. Very useful for people for everyone: https://edgewoodhealthnetwork.com/porn-addiction-a-growing-problem/

  3. This looks like it might be really good, but it’s hard to read on a phone screen and with older eyes. I would recommend black print on a white background. I wish you the best

  4. This is way too sugarcoated. Who is supporting the betrayed person? Who are they leaning on? When your spouse chooses to look at porn instead of making a life with you it takes away all trust and communication is gone. When they know you don’t like it and they continue, it hurts you down to the core of your soul. Overcoming it is possible but it is not as easy as your article wants to make it seem. Your marriage will never, ever be the same and your life will never, ever be what it should have been.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and feedback. While we do wish to be a great resource for married couples on all topics relating to marriage, we also recognize that we are not experts in this particular field. We are hoping to be able to provide more resources on pornography/sex addition soon and your comment will help us know what topics to address and focus on. Thanks again.