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Navigating Porn Addiction as a Couple

Join Josh and Kit as they discuss recovery and the hard work that must be done, and what that looks like within a marriage. Navigating Porn Addiction is hard work alone, let alone as a couple

Highlights:

…I think it’s in the heart of the man to be a hero for his wife, his kids…

..the addiction doesn’t go away from Tuesday, to Tuesday, how are you checking in in-between…

…what you are doing is NOT who you are…

Resources:

Dr. Patrick Carns
Rescue
Wives Group

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:04
One of the questions that we’ve heard from wives here and there over the years is go something like this, hey, you know, I’ve, I’ve joined your wives group, or I’m in a wives group in different state. And I’ve got this struggle bigger. And I’m starting with this because my husband is in recovery for porn addiction. And it seems like the other wives whose husbands are not getting better or still acting out are just kind of settled into Yeah, well, that’s just you have to get used to that. It’s just what they do. I don’t want to get used to it. I don’t, I want to hold out hope that he’s going to stop this someday. So today, we want to talk about this tension between accepting your husband on the journey where he is, while also holding on to hope that things can get better. And how do you live in between time? So kid Elmer, and Josh Glazer, here, let’s we’re gonna tackle that today. So you’ve heard that from from wives that say, say you’re on the phone to the wife today, he was just like, you know, I’m just I’m trying not to lose hope. But man, this is hard. And I don’t know, where the line is between hope and unreasonable expectation.

Kit 1:31
Well, and I think part of what happens is, you know, we all have a vision for our marriage. And it’s not this. And so part of its grieving, you know, just the unrealistic vision that we have. And then it’s also like, specifically, how do I deal with this? What’s the right thing? How do I think about it? And so, you know, one of the things that we talk about is, well, tell me about your husband, what is he doing? How is he behaving? What kinds of things is he doing to you know, to stay, you know, sober? And how is he treating you? And how’s your relationship in other areas? You know, trying to look at the big picture. And and it’s, but it’s complicated. So let me let me go back. Some

Josh 2:15
you said at the beginning, you said, you know, like grieving unreasonable expectations, and I think there probably some wives on the on the line, who would be like, Well, hold on, is it an unreasonable expectation that my husband would not look at pornography in our marriage? Like, that’s a reasonable expectation? What are you saying so Right,

Kit 2:28
right. Right. I think what I mean, is that all of us, you know, have a vision about marriage that we can’t possibly know, might be more ideal than than real marriage is that there are going to be issues. But yeah, it’s not like that’s unreasonable that you would expect your husband wouldn’t look at porn, it’s more that we have a vision for our marriage, that there’s not going to be problems, there’s not going to be issues. And when there are we have to be like, Okay, all right, well, that doesn’t mean this marriage has to end. It means that I have to readjust how I’m thinking about my marriage. How do I do that?

Josh 3:04
Yeah, I think the situate me the classic situation is, you know, we, we were doing great. And then we got married, and a couple years passed, or a year passed, or a couple months back, whatever it is, and all of a sudden, oh my gosh, this is a human being. This is not the happily ever after this was happily, two months after and now we’re really struggling. And and you talk about grieving the loss of kind of the Disney ending, we’re not there yet. We’re we are still growing each of us and and so for a husband who’s dealing with the porn addiction, one of the ways he’s still growing, hopefully, he’s growing in it is is learning how to walk in sobriety and chastity.

Kit 3:38
And then yes, and then the, you know, then the issue becomes, well, everything would be fine. If he would just stop doing that. And of course, him stopping doing that would be tremendously helpful. But it becomes hyper focused. And and then that can create, you know, all kinds of problems. Like if the wife begins to be like, you’re the problem. You’re the only problem. And you’re flawed, you know, versus we have a problem. And how are we going to get at it? I mean, you mentioned something about that.

Josh 4:14
So you’re you’re it’s not just that we have a problem. I mean, I guess there are two ways to look at it. One is we have a problem. And it’s pornography in our marriage, even though I’m not looking at it as the wife example, or if the if the situation is reversed and the wife is the one engaged in sexual sin, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s talk about the husband. So you know, as the wife, the wife might say, I’m not looking at pornography but but still view it as, hey, we have a problem in our marriage, and it’s, and it’s pornography, and hopefully the husband is owning that as a problem. Yeah. So you know, red alarms go off, big alarms go off when we the idea that the husband’s not owning it and saying, like, just what I do, I’m just going to get used to it. So you

Kit 4:50
guys know their situation. Yeah.

Josh 4:52
But we’re talking about a husband in recovery, who’s who’s actively working on some things and when a wife can can seek to cult In her a spirit of, he’s working on it. And it’s something that he is against just as much as I am against it, even though he’s struggling with a desire for it. And it’s a tough, it’s tough ground. But if she can get her mind around that was one of the one of the real gifts I think my wife gave to me early in our marriage. And I was still kind of on the tail end of trying to read the rest of my life with pornography. When I had some false, she like, she really worked hard at this. And it was and it was hard. But but over in the kind of the larger scope, I did have a sense that she was for me, and believe that I also did not want this. But I think you mentioned this earlier. So let’s talk about that. If your wife Listen, you’re like, I don’t know. I mean, I thought he wanted to stop this, but he’s still doing it. Yeah. How do I know if he really is serious about this? There are signs you can look for. So you know, even if sobriety doesn’t happen overnight, what can you look for on the road? say he’s doing the right things. And so we’re hoping for a harvest that’s coming later. So let’s talk about some of those right things. I’ve got some ideas.

Kit 6:04
Yes. What I’d actually like to hear from you about that, because, you know, one of the things that came to my mind was, well, he’s going to his groups, you know, he’s going to rescue us. In the end. Sometimes the wives will say, Well, he’s going, but I don’t really feel I think he’s just going through the motions. You know, I don’t know that he’s really doing his homework. I don’t know that he’s really. So I think you could just go to go and be checked out. Or you could be really going and working the the content. But I’d love to hear from you. Like what are some things in a word of encouragement? to women? Yeah, what what do they look for?

Josh 6:41
So if you’re a husband listening, and you’re stuck with pornography, I want you hear this list. Not as like, you know, I’m gonna offer some ideal like, hey, strive for these things. But do because I think they’ll really help build rebuild trust in your marriage, not just for, you know, so that your wife sees these things, but really try to work on these things, because I think it will give you more hope and give her more hope. Your wife listening, want you to hear these not as like, Hey, your husband should knock all these out of the park, or don’t trust him, but rather like, you know, can you check off some of these boxes? And how do these? How do these parents life? You mentioned to cat I think one is, is he involved in a recovery community? of his own freewill? Is he going you know, if you’re having to nag him, Hey, you go to your group or having a group? Like, that’s not a great sign, but he’s going on his own volition, that’s great. That’s a really positive sign. If he doesn’t have a group, is he seeing a sexual addiction therapist? Somebody who’s got some who’s down the road? Who can help him? Second is, is he doing the work? And that’s, that’s a big one in 12 step groups, like as a part of the module, they say to each other is, you know, works. If you work it, you can’t just show up, this is not a, you know, passenger kind of thing. This is not a spectator sport, like, recovery is something you’re actively engaged in. And so is he doing the work? Is he engaged? And here, I’m not saying you know, I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it’s helpful for a wife to kind of check over, you know, I look over your shoulder. I’m not suggesting that. But But do you see him? Is he Reading Recovery material? Does he have a place a journal or workbook or somewhere where he’s, he’s working stuff and writing it out? Even if you’re not aware of what’s inside, like, Hey, where are you doing this work? And you just, you know, give me some on my phone and keep a note on my phone? You know, right here, you know, and Oh, okay. It’s, you know, that’s between you and the Lord and you and your brothers. But think doing that work is really important. The other thing I think is, is he is he doing the work in between the meetings? And so one really big thing is, is he is he calling other people who are in his recovery community. Because, you know, this addiction doesn’t go away, in between, you know, from from Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday, or whenever his his group, his or his therapy point is, so what’s happening? How is he checking in and staying connected to other people and building relationships with other people in his recovery community, between those? That’s really big. So those are three kind of Top of Mind things that come? I think, some larger things that maybe that maybe some people wouldn’t think about, but I think are also really helpful to consider is, this is not everything about him. And so what else do you see in his life? Yeah. Is he? Is he? Is he is he pursuing the Lord? Does he pursue you? Yeah. Is he kind to you? Does he? Here’s a big one does. If whatever agreement you guys have about how you’re going to talk about this? Is it always you bringing it up? Or does he bring it up? You know, like, if it’s important for you to know that he’s getting to his recovery group, for example? Yeah. Is he is he is he the one telling you or do you always have to ask him Hey, are you going to group like, I think him initiating some of those harder conversations is is really, really good sign that he’s taking this seriously.

Kit 9:47
Josh, how do you feel about check ins, you know, between a wife and a husband?

Josh 9:52
Yeah, got strong feelings. So by checking we mean like, just some type of regular time where the husband and wife are talking about how he Doing sexually like you can how he’s doing in recovery. And so I, I think it’s a really important thing. And it’s different than accountability. I am not a fan of a wife trying to be your husband’s accountability partner. I

Kit 10:12
think it sets up a stilted dynamic in the marriage. That’s not really healthy, where she’s actually watching over his shoulder. And you know, that’s not being helpful. Yeah, I

Josh 10:22
think I think too often that turns into her kind of playing a mothering role. Yeah. And I think I think she feels it, I think he feels it, I think long term, it’s not a it’s not a good setup for the health of the marriage. But I am all for honesty. I’m all for a husband being honest, and offering his his wife agreeing with his wife to give her enough information that she can have a good assessment of, how is he really doing today? I think I think sometimes husbands hear that, you know, you’re not supposed to my accountability partner, and they they Stonewall the wife, hey, you’re not supposed to ask about that, man. Take care of it. Don’t talk to me about it. That does not help cultivate trust. And so I think for for them to have some agreed upon parameters of like, Hey, you know, once a week, once a month, once every two weeks, we’re going to sit down and I’m going to share with you. Here’s how I’m doing, you know, and these since last time, we talked last week, or since two weeks ago, or since last month, I have really struggled with pornography. It’s been, you know, three times I watched porn online. And I’m really sorry that I did that. And I would ask you forgiveness. Anything else? You know, I mean, that kind of frank conversation. And it’s those are hard conversations to have. But I think they’re really important.

Kit 11:33
Because the wife then hat, if she’s asking for honesty, then she has to be willing to hear it. And that can be hard. So it’s a double edged sword. And on the one hand, you’re like, thank you for being honest. Now, what do I do with what I just heard?

Josh 11:45
So what does she do with the kid? What would you recommend? I mean, first of all, do you agree that’s a helpful thing? And

Kit 11:50
I do. And I think, you know, I think part of what what’s really helpful about it is, you know, so it’s that it’s every Sunday night, or every second Sunday, so you’re not like, bring it up in the middle of, you know, the week, you know, you know that there’s a time set apart. And I think it’s also really helpful to pray over that time, you know, like, Lord be with us, help us talk about this, this is this is hard, we need you. So, and I think for the wife to be able to, because otherwise, she’s just wondering, she’s just wondering, and she feels out of control and, you know, hopeless, and so to be able to be like, okay, we’re in this together. When you say these things that you when you’re admitting these things, to me, you’re being honest, it doesn’t mean that you’re purposely hurting me, or that there’s no hope. You know, this is actually a way for us to diffuse, you know, some of the secretiveness some of what has been doing during marriage and be in it together and talk through because I would imagine that for a man to admit that, and for the wife to say, thank you for sharing that would be huge.

Josh 12:59
Oh, man, I tell you, like, I think it’s in the heart of a man to want to be a hero for his wife, and for his kids. And so to be the one who’s not protecting her from from getting hurt, but who’s hurting her by telling her the truth about what you’ve done? Like, yeah, but I’ve walked through that with my wife. And yeah, our early marriage, and it was brutal. Yeah. But the my hope in it was, and my hope and offering it to couples in this podcast is, we’re not looking for just to feel good. Right now, we are looking to build a marriage that has really firm foundations of honesty and trust. And with the hope that this is going to get better and down the road, we’re gonna look back at this, and you’re gonna know that what I’m telling you is true, because I was willing to tell you the hard stuff when it was happening, which is so important in a marriage.

Kit 13:46
What did those check ins do for you, Josh, that you could say, you know, to encourage a woman or man to do this, like what did it do to help you reach sobriety and help your marriage navigate?

Josh 14:01
I think so one of the according to Dr. Patrick Collins, who’s who’s still one of the kind of foundational researchers around the whole topic of sexual addiction. He says one of the core beliefs of somebody dealing sexual addiction is, if anybody really knew me, they’d reject me. And so I think that for a man who struggle with a pornography addiction, who’s married, if his wife doesn’t know what’s happening for him, I think it feeds that lie. If he’s, you know, she says, she loves me, but if she knew what I did, she wouldn’t love me. And so I think having a wife who is willing to walk through that painful season together with me, and not view it as like the sum total of who I was still hold out hope, I think was just a huge, huge gift. Now, that didn’t mean that I could share those things with her and she’d be like, Hey, I still think you’re fantastic. I mean, honestly, you know, there were times I’d share some with her and she’s like, That really sucks. That really hurts. And I think I want to be alone. And, and again, you know, just I mean, I even feel tears as I say it, I remember those times. They’re really hard. Yeah. But my hope was one of the one of the questions I asked guys today, as I say, look, if if the shoe were under the foot, if this is a woman you loved, and you knew her spouse was struggling with pornography, and he wasn’t telling her, what would you tell him? You know? So in other words, like, you didn’t, when you looked at the pornography, you weren’t acting as the man that you want to be the God created you to be. But now that you did look at pornography, what’s the man that you want to be the man that God created you to be? What does he do next? And I think that’s, I tell the truth, in the context of what I

Kit 15:34
teach is true with any addiction, right? We have to be honest, and I think you maybe you can talk a little bit about this, but as you’re talking, I can just hear the, the shame that you carried. And, and so it’s not the wife’s job to alleviate that shame, but it is part of what she can do, to not feed into it, you know, to, to be able to see that, you know, what you’re doing isn’t who you are, and to believe in him. And that’s hard, but that’s powerful, as powerful for any one of us, you know, in our, in our marriage, that someone would, that they would see us apart from our behavior and believe about our true self and want to call that forth in us.

Josh 16:23
This is why the we call it a fight of faith is not a you know, a stroll down. Lily, you know, Lily lined, plane or row down and easy. It’s a fight of faith because what we’re doing is we’re really is we’re really saying, geez, I believe the gospel is true. I believe that even though I don’t see it yet, maybe I only see first fruits of your Spirit working in this area of his life. I’m going to trust you that you’re going to bring to completion when you start in his life. And these are the very places aren’t they,

Kit 16:57
they’re the very places you know, when Jesus suffered and died and rose again, like he showed us like that, you know, he was willing to do that. He did it. And then there was this new life. And that’s our spiritual journey to you know, we suffer we die to things that have hold of us. And we get new life. And there’s there’s this is a really powerful example of, of what that can look that can be like if we allow got into it.

Josh 17:28
Yeah, yeah. So let me let me come back to the initial question kid i want i want you just respond if you if you think there’s anything kind of remaining for first mover wife who’s listening. So for wife who’s listening, who’s who’s feeling discouraged that her husband is continuing to act out. And she’s kind of struggling with, you know, I, I don’t want to kind of slide into just, this is just the way it is. I want to hold out hope that things are going to be different. But I also don’t want to keep getting hurt, because I’m holding on to unrealistic, unrealistic expectations about how quickly this is going to happen. What else does she need? I mean, both to assess kind of where she is and where he is. Or for her own soul in that time.

Kit 18:07
Yeah, I mean, the thing that really comes to me is how are you? How are you? And God doing? Are you going to God? Are you getting what you need from him, you know, we can’t get this the we can get, of course, love and support from our spouse, but we can’t get that deep sense of wholeness and well being from them, we have to get that from God. And so while your husband’s on this journey, you’re you also know are on a journey. And so how are you taking care of yourself? How are you nurturing that relationship with God? What kind of support system do you have? What are you doing that gives you life that you can nurture and you know, take your maybe your focus off of? If only my husband would do this? Then I’ll be fine. And focus it on Jesus, you’re my lifeline, how do I nurture that? You know, and that can happen in many different ways. You know, like learning how to spend time with God coming and talking to somebody, you know, whether it’s a mentor a friend or or a coach or a therapist or really taking care of yourself.

Josh 19:10
I think I think that second thing is not it’s not an optional You know, when that’d be nice. It’s I think it’s a it’s a lifeline is needed. I think you need God, you do need other people. Yeah, and I think I mean, both the husband wife thing is one of the things that was a real gift to both Jamie and may was this was the presence of others who could walk with us. Yeah, as we were walking through this and so you know, I mentioned that her sometimes saying I need to go be alone. Sometimes that was I need to go call Kristen. Or I need to go call my girlfriend you know, like, because she needed someone else to pray for her and help hold her up because I wasn’t the guy to do it. Right. I mean, I was willing I wanted to but I you know, I was also the bad guy. Yeah. And then likewise, I needed guys I could go to ahead of time to say hey, you know, it’s time for that weekly check in or monthly check in. Here’s what I’m remembering for the last month. You know me? Well, you know what I’ve been doing? Well, because I’m talking Can you on a regular basis? Does that sound accurate? Does it sound like I’m giving the big bucket items without getting into too much detail that, you know, hurt or unnecessarily to sound like I’m shading the truth, anything you helped me with there, and then afterwards to say, Hey, guys, I, you know, so hard. I feel like a jerk, you know, helped me remember who I am, would you pray for me? Because I, all I want to do is walk around my head, you know about kind of not being the guy that God called me to be. But

Kit 20:24
if you can find a couple, right? I mean, because this is part of what we talk about, right? It’s like, let’s get real about this stuff. Let’s talk about let’s not hide in shame, let’s not pretend it’s not happening. We’ve got issues have we got, you know, problems, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about it in with hope that God’s in it, and he’s going to do something and we don’t have to pretend and hide. I think that’s really important. Let the light come into it with another person with God. And that just I think nothing good happens in the darkness in the secret. So good things can happen, you know, when it comes to light,

Josh 21:02
so we just dipped into a huge topic. And for some of you listening, it might feel like you know, we just throw a stone at a hornet’s nest. Now they’re just, you know, he’s these stinging creatures flying around your head in your heart and you’re like, wait, you can’t leave now usually, I’m in so much pain, I’m so confused. If that’s you, we have more resources on our website, you can check out our show notes. For those. We also for the for you, man, if you’re not involved, we’ve got the Tuesday night group called rescue which is specifically for guys. So you can overcome this stuff. It’s great group of guys. For both husbands and wives, we have one to one coaching. And then also we have a wives group specifically for wives whose husbands are wrestling with sexual sin. And it’s a great support group that happens. The second and fourth, Monday, first and third, first. And third, I should know the first and third Monday of every month in Towson. But, again, if you’re not local, check out our show notes and for more, and our website for more and then also there is an increasing number of resources online and elsewhere. For husbands and wives walking through this you are not alone a lot of couples are going through this. So take advantage of those things. So Lord, you know the husbands listening and, and you know, the wives listening. And so kitten I just we sit here in solidarity, saying that you Lord are good. And you love them so much you haven’t forgotten about them. You’re not ignorant to their pain, or their difficulty, or the frustration. Or your you are well acquainted with this long road. And we also sit here knowing there’s great hope. Because of your resurrection you you do bring new life you do make all things new. And so we pray over them right now, Lord, that You would grant them an increase in hope. And pray you shine your light, or does any any darkness that just needs to be exposed. Any any way that that a husband or wife has been living kind of, you know, accepting that, you know, things aren’t getting better. I’m not doing the work or he’s not doing the work or whatever, that they just need to face. Lord, is there any unforgiveness that’s still sitting out there? Whether it’s unfriending failing to receive your forgiveness after a fall or for failing to forgive a husband after a fall? Or you know better than than we do how difficult that is. So come into that, Lord. Lord, all the we prayed, all that Elif left and prayed, which command to your hands now. Pray all these things down with hoping you and you alone, Jesus. Amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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