I'm married to a sex-addict.
I know, right? Ben? Yeah right. Haha, me too. I almost couldn't believe it when he told me three years ago.
I'm not going to go into the details of our story. You can find that by reading my blog, if you so choose. I want to focus on WHY I'm telling you this. Because that is the important thing.
I know it may be shocking that I'm announcing this to "the world." Have faith in me that I've put a lot of thought and prayer into this decision.
I do also ask that you be respectful of the fact that I just invited you into my space, a space where only select individuals have been invited before. This is my place of healing. Most of the people who have been reading my blog previous to this moment are addicts or spouses of addicts. If you do choose to go read my story or previous blog posts, keep in mind that I'm on a journey of healing. There are ups and downs. Feel free to leave comments or ask me questions, but know I reserve the right to delete any comment I feel is inappropriate or discourteous of me and my journey.
Here we go.
Pornography in Society
Back when I thought Ben was perfect, I never would have suspected this. And I never would have understood or knew how to handle it if one of my friends came to me and said, "Hey, my husband is addicted to looking at porn and masturbation," or any of the other things I've heard my friends say about their sex-addict husbands (affairs, strip clubs, brothels, etc.). My eyes have been opened up to what is going on in the world in a major way since sex-addiction became a part of my life.
Let's talk about statistics. Here is a good resource. Here is another resource.
- At the time I am writing this post, porn has been searched over 867 million times since the beginning of 2014. (I started writing this last Thursday. That number has now become over 891 million as of Monday.)
- On mobile devices, one in five searches are for pornography.
- One quarter of smartphone users admit to having porn on their phone.
- 51% of pastors say pornography is a temptation.
- 50% of Christian men, and 20% of Christian women admit to being addicted to pornography.
- 51% of boys and 32% of girls view porn before age 12.
Pornography is plaguing society.
People don't want to talk about it. Pornography is gross. People who look at porn are gross. Well, guess what? If statistics are accurate, if your husband isn't addicted to porn, then your best friend's husband is (statistically speaking. I'm definitely not accusing anyone here--just making a point). Yeah. Is your husband gross? Is your best friend's husband gross? Is my husband gross?
The answer to those questions could be maybe, or even yes. But my point is, just because someone is addicted to pornography doesn't mean they should automatically be shunned. Nor does it mean the spouse is a fool for staying and should be shunned. It means this is big.
Sex-Addicts and Their Spouses Need Help
Sex-addicts need help. Some of them don't consider it an addiction--just a problem they are handling on their own. Some are in denial that it's even a problem. But research shows that pornography isn't just harmful because of Christian or moral values. Pornography is harmful for many reasons. For more info, click here.
Spouses of sex-addicts need help. We experience what is called Betrayal Trauma, which has symptoms similar to or the same as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This trauma is real. And it doesn't go away quickly.
Help is hard to find for the spouses. It is, however, becoming easier to find than it was a few years ago--thanks to people who are speaking up and taking action. Click here and here for a couple lists of resources.
Unfortunately, much of society doesn't like to talk about things that are uncomfortable. I've been told by multiple people that this is something we just don't talk about. And, sure, not everyone needs to announce this on their Facebook feed or to the whole "world." Here is why I am:
I want you to know about this part of my life because I lived in silence for so long.
Silence is a Killer
Addiction thrives in silence and secrecy. I'm learning that depression does too. I have to be fake around so many people because talking about my depression is uncomfortable (Maybe for me, maybe for them. Either way, being vulnerable is scary. People can react and have reacted in so many different ways). People don't know what to say. That's okay. I don't know what to say to myself half the time either. What's not okay is the fact that I, we--the other beautiful women I know who are in this situation as well--are told not to talk about it.
We are told not to talk about it by many people:
- Our addict husbands, who are embarrassed, full of shame, and pretending to be perfect to everyone around them.
- Church leaders, parents, and friends.
- Sometimes counselors.
- Ourselves--through negative self-talk.
Guess what? You probably know someone dealing with this (other than us). You just don't know they are dealing with it.
Guess what else? Everyone you know has a story. Whether it's this kind of story or not doesn't matter. We all have stories. We all suffer pain in some kind of way, but we don't talk about it because we live in a society that stifles vulnerability.
We need vulnerability. We need realness. We need compassion.
When that lady at the grocery store doesn't seem to be handling her two-year old very well, don't judge her. Show compassion. Maybe her husband just confessed his most recent relapse and she can barely even breathe.
If your friend stops shaving her legs. Or showering. Or she wears the same outfit every day for days on end. Show some compassion. Her mind might be reeling because her husband just disclosed something awful.
If you notice your friend feeding her kids cereal and ice cream for dinner on a regular basis. Her husband might be a sex-addict.
If your friend is wearing shoes that don't match. Or two bras. Or no bra. Her husband might be a sex-addict.
If your friend's house in a state of constant disarray. Or her kids put themselves to bed often. Or her kids eat crackers for dinner often. And she can't remember the last time the kids bathed. Her husband might be a sex-addict.
If your friend is starting to seclude herself from social activities and stops answering her phone or receiving house-calls. Her husband might be a sex-addict.
If your friend's kids miss way too much school. Or if they watch way too many movies during the day. Her husband might be a sex-addict.
Now, granted, none of those things mean that person is married to a sex-addict. Remember, I said might. But they could certainly be a red flag for some kind of life crisis. Each of those things have happened to me or someone I know who is married to a sex-addict. We, the wives of sex-addicts, know crisis. We know survival. We eat, breathe, sleep survival. Each item on the list above is a sign of survival-mode. We all need compassion to get through survival mode.
When I was stuck in my silence, I felt dead. Then, I found ways to reach out. Slowly, over the past three years, I have found more support. That support has come because I was brave enough to be vulnerable with people. That courage has helped both me and Ben progress in our healing. It has also allowed us to be a support to other people.
Ending the Silence
And now I want to say to you: If you or your spouse struggles with sex-addiction (masturbation/pornography/other sexual behaviors), you can get help. And you don't have to be alone. There is a tremendous community of support just waiting for you. There are hundreds of people to love and help take care of you. There are tons of resources that can help you. Books, counselors, therapy programs (even free ones), 12-step groups, websites with oodles of information. You don't have to be alone and shrouded in darkness anymore!
No one can overcome this on their own. We need each other.
If you need to find support, feel free to contact me. I have people. My people have people. We will take care of you.
Whoever you are, you are loved. You are loved by God. You are loved by me. You are loved by my friends and support people.
Maybe you've been going through hell. Me too. Hang in there. We want to help you.
Even if you think this does not apply to you, please share this post. You have no idea who might be struggling with this.
Ben and I are going to start talking about this more openly. Like I said, silence is a killer. We both need to be able to talk about it. There is a twofold goal with this. One is to find those in need of help and give them a place to go and reach out. Three years ago, had we had all the resources we have now, we would probably be in a much different place (though I wouldn't trade this journey/healing/learning process for anything). The other is to help ourselves so we can continue on our journey to healing. It's not over for us. Our recovery and healing will be a life-long journey. We are just opening up now so we can serve and heal more fully. Because this is an issue that needs to be talked about in society. Ideally, everyone should feel safe enough to open up.
And last, whatever your story is, I want to share this with you:
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do."
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."
Thanks for reading. You're welcome to continue following My Walk.