The porn problem is impacting lives literally all over the world. The state of Utah recently identified pornography as a public health crisis. Whether you or someone you know has been impacted by the problem of pornography, we believe that there are three things you need to hear and three things you need to do in order to begin to address the problem in a healthy way.
THE PORN PROBLEM – 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO HEAR:
1. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
The first thing you need to know about the pornography habit of someone you love is that it’s not about you. It’s a normal reaction to feel like your loved one is going to pornography because there is something he can get there that he can’t get from you. That is absolutely not the case. It’s not about having more sex, wearing sexier underwear, or being more adventurous in the bedroom. He (or she) goes to porn because of what he lacks, not because of anything that you lack. Most habitual pornography users have deficits in their ability to cope with negative emotions and connect emotionally with other people. They also tend to have brokenness in their core belief system. This is all about their own internal brokenness, not yours.
2. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY
The second thing you need to hear today is that you are not crazy! When one of the partners in an intimate relationship is involved with pornography, it can make the other partner get to a point where they start to question their own handle on reality. The partner of the user will see warning signs or notice things that don’t add up. Usually, the user will deny, lie and cover up their behavior and shift the blame in order to minimize the damage of their actions. This repeated denial can make you feel you are losing your mind. Listen to your gut! Trust your hunches!
Discovery of pornography use by an intimate partner is one of the deepest forms of betrayal that can be experienced in relationships. This level of betrayal creates symptoms in the betrayed person that are very similar to veterans with PTSD and sexual abuse victims with PTSD. So partners of porn users need to know that they can trust their gut. If something feels wrong or “off” in the relationship, there’s a good chance that they are right. If you can identify with this, you are not crazy. It’s OK to stand up for yourself and say something.
3. IT’S OK TO GRIEVE
The third thing you need to know is that it’s OK to grieve your losses. Realizing that your partner has a problem with pornography can create a wave of different emotions. It can feel like being absolutely sucker punched. Partners in this situation usually feel shocked and betrayed. They usually go through waves of denial and bargaining and anger. This is all part of a healthy grieving process. Allow yourself to feel these emotions.
Give yourself the time, grace and space to be upset. You don’t have to fix this overnight. You don’t have to brush it under the carpet and ignore your feelings. You don’t have to quickly forgive and move on. In fact if anyone tells you that you should forgive quickly, simply thank them for their time and then quickly turn and run the opposite direction! They likely mean well but they are not equipped to help. Don’t deny how deeply you are hurt. Give God time to work in you and in your relationship.
THE PORN PROBLEM – 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO:
1. BE OPEN ABOUT THE ISSUE
The first thing you can and should do is to be open about it – Porn use thrives in secrecy. The more hidden this is, the faster it can and will grow into something deeper and darker. You cannot fix a problem that you don’t name. So be open. Pull it out into the light. Name the problem to another human being. Start by talking to your partner. If he or she doesn’t listen don’t let them off the hook. You will need to find someone that will listen and support you.
Now, this does NOT mean that you go and share your business with just anyone and everyone. Sharing means being vulnerable. You should probably be prepared for the fact that when you share your struggles with others, sometimes they will distance themselves from you. If that happens, don’t take it personal. They are probably distancing themselves from you because of something in their own life that you have just poked by sharing your story. You must keep searching for safe people to be real with.
2. CREATE BOUNDARIES
The second thing you should do is to create healthy boundaries. Remember that a lot of the problems that are associated with pornography use begin with boundary failure. Deciding on and asserting healthy boundaries is a non-negotiable step. You will need to circle back and re-visit what is and is not appropriate in terms of sexual behavior, relational interactions, media consumption, entertainment, social media, Internet use etc. You can use the free Family Media Standard from Fight the New Drug as a starting point for your family boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries is not about controlling the pornography user. You can only control you and set healthy boundaries to define what is acceptable behavior in your marriage.
3. PURSUE HELP AND SUPPORT
Practice good self-care. Eat right, get plenty of sleep and exercise daily. Spend time with God every day, and allow Him to minister to you. Meet weekly with a close, safe friend you can trust, or a counselor so you can express your feelings to someone outside of the marriage and get support. Don’t allow yourself to get isolated. A support group can also be very integral to your healing heart. Don’t try to go this alone; stuffing your feelings is one of the worst things you can do.
Finding a good counselor who specializes in this area is essential. Depending on your situation, it might be good to have an individual counselor for you and your partner as well as a counselor for you to do couples work together.
Remember that real change takes time. There aren’t any shortcuts. If you are at the point where you are ready to begin working on the porn problem in your own life, please feel free to contact us. We’d love to help!
Photo Credit – “Thom” via: https://unsplash.com/photos/XyNi3rUEReE