As many of you know, I have a side business where I counsel pornography addicts or the loved one of addicts. You can learn more about it HERE. One of the people I help, who I told I would be writing this, said to me the other day, “He’s not like you, he’s not just going to accept he has a problem.” Wait, what?
That blew me away. I feel like I was dragged kicking and screaming over a long period of time into recovery and accept myself as an addict. Maybe because I’m writing this 4.5 years after I started I appear like I had it all together in the beginning, but I didn’t.
If you’re the partner of a loved one who you think is an addict, be prepared for a long road that is especially bumpy in the beginning. Sometimes, all you can do is plant a seed, stand back and hope it germinates.
It’s not like there’s a blood test or urine test you can force a porn addict to take that will reveal it. If you’re not willing to be patient, you may have to talk to him in a different way and not use classic terms like “addiction” when it comes to his use.
I think there are two ways to go with this:
First, you can agree with him that he’s not an addict if it’s going to help the situation get resolved. Saying something like, “I respect the fact you don’t think you have an addiction and you would probably know better than me, but I don’t want pornography in this house and I don’t want my husband looking at pornography. I don’t want you to get to the point where you think you are an addict, because either way, I feel like it disrespects me. If you continue to look at pornography, it will be hurting me and our marriage/relationship. I won’t stand around and let that happen. If you don’t think you can do that, either because you don’t want to or you’re unable, there are a lot of places that will help, but that’s your decision.
Second, go the scholarly route. This is more for the person who thinks they are smart and needs facts about porn. Figure out why you think he has an addiction beyond, “He looks at a lot of porn.” What negative effects has his pornography had on his life or your life together. Take a look at the definition of addiction. It may feel like you’re building a PowerPoint presentation for work, but if he’s anything like me, he’ll accept he has an addiction once presented with the science and data.
It took me about eight days of listening to hard data regarding alcoholism at a rehab before I accepted that I had a problem with drinking. It was another six months and hundreds of hours of therapy before I was able to wrap my arms around the idea I was a pornography addict and was another six months before I finally accepted that addiction is a disease.
Yes, 4.5 years later I may appear to be fully active in my recovery, but the first year of my recovery was a slow, slow build. I had to get there on my time regardless of what the experts, therapists and family members said around me. I got there, but it wasn’t on their timetable. If you told me in that first year I’d be a pornography addiction expert by this point, I would have laughed in your face.
You’re not going to be able to force you partner into rehab or know that he’ll walk through the front door of a 12-step meeting just because you tell him it’s best. Even if he accepts the fact he is an addict the moment the words come out of his mouth, there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.
You plant the seeds, you water them, you hope for sun.