You did nothing wrong. You probably were a good wife. It is an addiction, not a response. He was looking for the feeling he gets from the pursuit and the guilty pleasure. He is always looking for another fix, another high, just like a drug addict. As long as he is in the addiction, no one will be “good enough”.
You don’t need to compete. Remember that addiction is not the same as reality. This addiction has less to do with you, who you are, what you look like, or what you’re willing to do and more to do with an activity that leads to a feeling – the pursuit of guilty pleasure. Addicts always seek another high. Understanding this will free you to be yourself, and you are a 3-dimensional person who cares. The models in porn can’t compete with that.
Find comfort and hope in the great promises of God. “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Try to take it one day at a time and one prayer at a time. Allow yourself time for sadness – it clears the heart and mind. Find good counsel, whether it is with a loved one, a pastor, or a professional counselor. Go through the cycles of grief: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sorrow, and Acceptance. Anger can be justified, but it should not last months and should never be violent.
Let’s broaden the concept: if this addiction were alcohol, gambling, or drugs and you hadn’t known until now, would you also feel your marriage was a lie? Addiction controls addicts – they build up a tolerance and dive in further so they can feel satisfied again. Can an addict still love and feel love for family? Yes, they can. We strongly advise that you seek counsel using Conquerors through Christ’s resources and get help in personal recovery before you make any final decision on your marriage.
You do not have to lie, but neither should you be the one to share his problems. Take 30 minutes and write out some potential, hypothetical responses for different social situations. This way, you’ll be prepared if questions come up and avoid saying more than you intend to share. You may even want to practice these responses when you are alone.
Here are some samples:
- “We are having some difficulties right now.”
- “We have some issues to work through, so we’re separated for a while – until things are settled.”
- “We are seeking help as we work through some things.”
- You can even be very vague: “It’s hard, but we’re working.”
No one has the right to pressure you to say more than you are comfortable with at the time. Listen to your friend’s responses, and if you feel comfortable you can share more, but only when you are ready. Be aware that a group dynamic is different from a personal conversation.
You feel hurt. You feel damaged. Therefore, step 1 looks inward: you need to take real, personal care of yourself. You should seriously consider finding a counselor to help you through this tough stage. Whether or not you choose to connect with a counselor, there are good resources available. Conquerors through Christ is constantly producing new resources to encourage, equip, and inspire you. COSA (Codependents of Sexual Addiction) is a support program for spouses. If there is a chapter near you, you may want to start attending. These resources will give you a safe place to begin your recovery.