‘What is my porn-addicted husband thinking?’

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I participate in an online support forum primarily intended for people addicted to sex or pornography (mostly the latter). However, we also get many posts from the wives of pornography addicts trying to decide what to do about their husbands’ addictions. A question these wives frequently ask is, “What is he thinking?”

These wives understandably feel hurt,betrayed and angry, and they wonder if there is any hope for their marriages. They wonder how their husbands could have lied to them for so long when they had expressed their suspicions long ago, and how their husbands could have chosen porn over them.

Sometimes even after a husband has admitted his addiction to his wife and promised to change, he falls back into his old ways, and his wife eventually finds out. The wife feels doubly betrayed she stood by him, and yet he continues to lie to her. Why would he do that? Does he think that little of her?

In my experience, it may be himself of whom he think that little. The above quote from Henry David Thoreau sums it up he is living a life of quiet desperation. He may have promised himself to quit using pornography on many occasions. He knows it is bad for him and bad for his marriage, and yet every time he tries to give it up, the impulse seems to overcome his will to change. He sees his destiny being determined by videos and images made by people who care nothing about him. He has resigned himself to his addiction.

Meanwhile, his biggest fear may well be that of disappointing his wife. She may be one of the few things in his life that brings him any joy at all, but he believes he will lose her if she sees him for what he truly is. He would love to give up the pornography, but he doesn’t believe he can. His only hope, in his mind, is to do everything he can to convince her that he is not really that person.

I can’t speak for every husband out there who uses pornography or has a porn addiction, of course. There are some men who seem to see nothing wrong with using pornography and who seem to think that the problem is the petty jealousy of their wives. But, from my own experience and from my conversations with other addicts, I know that many hate their addictions but have simply lost hope.

I don’t know if this really helps the wives who are struggling with a husband who has a pornography addiction. I hope it at least sheds some light on where the husband may be coming from.

Thankfully, more and more men are now learning that there are ways to break the addictive cycle. I know of several sites that offer practical steps for recovery, and I’ve shared with dozens of men who’ve made real changes in their lives. Those who are successful seem to undergo a process parallel to something else Thoreau describes in Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

It is when they overcome their addictions that these men truly come alive, pursuing forgotten passions, discovering hidden talents, and experiencing all the joy that life has to offer. They become better husbands, better fathers and better at their chose occupations. They are more confident and more hopeful. They begin to “suck out all the marrow of life.” They “live deliberately.”

My hope is that every husband with a pornography addiction will rise up against his desperation and find the man hidden within. This will be the greatest gift he can give his wife and everyone else he loves, and himself.

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About Cimachol

A Catholic revert who struggles with depression and wrestled with pornography addiction for decades before overcoming it. I try to help other people do the same.
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