Q&A Time: Reader wonders about her husband’s lies around porn usage

QUESTION: I *KNOW* my husband is a pornography addict. He’s a landscaper and watches it on his phone at work. That browser history is full of dirty movies. At home, he likes to watch porn at night after I go to bed, but he says he doesn’t watch it every night because he also watches a lot of sports. I don’t know if I should be worried and I don’t think he’s telling me the truth about his use. Should I assume he’s lying to me about it?

ANSWER: Like every question about pornography use people seem to be sending me lately, there are multiple issues working at one time here. I think the most important thing to take a look at here is if he is an actual addict.

You say that you “KNOW” he’s an addict, but aside from a lot of watching, you don’t say specifically why you think he is. When he watches at work, is it on his lunch break in the truck, getting a laugh with his buddies, or is he neglecting his duties? When he’s watching at night, is that taking time away from something the two of you would be doing? I’m not going to disagree with you that he’s an addict, but I’m not going to agree with you either. This kind of plays to the point that at the end of the day, “Addict” is more a title than anything else.

You probably are safe to assume that he’s lying to you about it, but again, that doesn’t mean he’s a full-blown addict. Pornography is one of those things that I think 99% of people lie about. If you look at the studies that are coming out almost weekly now, porn consumption is at an all-time high. A recent study by a few Canadian researchers found that 98% of married men 18-35 years old looked at porn in the last 6 months. I would say that unless you have that seriously rare snowflake, any married woman reading this with a guy in that age group should assume he’s looking at porn. The number for women was 73%. Young married people are looking at porn. I don’t know if you’re young or not, and that’s really not the point. I think that almost everyone lies about their porn consumption and it’s a trickier red flag to spot than many other addictions since the majority who view it are not addicted.

I’m a little troubled by the fact you’re looking at his browser history on his phone. Are you looking only for porn are you going through his texts and his other personal information? If you are, that’s a serious trust issue that you have. Maybe your lack of trust is warranted, but invading his privacy should be an alert that something unhealthy is happening here. Whatever is causing you to snoop needs to be addressed. It may be his problem, it may be yours, or it may belong to both of you.

My advice to you would be to book a few marriage counseling sessions. You may just be at a bump in the road and in need of a little tune-up or you could have some serious issues. It’s hard to tell based on what you wrote. Getting the help of a professional is never a bad thing and they will probably help you be able to put your problems in perspective and help define what they really are in the first place.

 

If you’d like to read the most recent Q&A, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

 

 

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – April Edition

It’s been a month since I’ve written one of those rambling articles with a lot of little items that really don’t deserve their own posting but keep rattling around in my brain. Some are good, some are negative, but it’s time to clear some real estate in my head for other things having to do with porn addiction.

I did my first speaking gig at the Merrimack Public Library in Merrimack, NH, over the weekend. It has shown me that I can speak about this issue in front of people, despite my initial anxiety. It was a program called “Human Library” where an eclectic group of people gather and then library patrons bounce from one to another having 15-minute conversations. Some went better and smoother than others but it was great practice and gave me a fair amount of confidence that I can keep moving forward with this. If you ever see a “Human Library” event in your area, go check it out.

I’ve had three promised podcasts fall through the last couple weeks because the hosts had second thoughts or got busy doing something else. It’s frustrating because while I don’t sell a ton of books because of them, I still sell a few, get to introduce people to my website who didn’t know about it and continue in my recovery by sharing my story. Some of the excuses border on the illogical. One person, who specifically runs a porn recovery podcast worried that my book would be too triggering to his audience. I said that I didn’t think we would be reading from it, but he said he was afraid if they bought it that it would be too triggering. It’s a freakin’ porn recovery podcast. Everybody’s story is going to be triggering! It’s sometimes hard to separate my feelings of frustration, disappointment and rejection when somebody takes something back that they promised.

For some reason, my book has had a spike in sales over the last couple of weeks. If you’ve bought one, thank you, I appreciate it. I’m never going to get rich off it, but just having a handful of sales every week shows future agents and publishers that there is a market for this kind of book. Libraries have also been coming around, which is great. It’s exciting to not only know that it’s in 15 libraries in my home state of Maine, but also in at least another dozen at through the country and growing. If you haven’t bought my book, think of the money you spent on stupid crap last week. This is an interesting story of a guy whose head was too big getting his comeuppance and learning from it. Amazon has also been dropping the book in price here and there, so you can get it for a few dollars off if you’re paying attention. You can get it HERE.

I’ve had a couple of long conversations with my therapist about the time I’m spending working on porn addiction stuff. Like writing this blog, working on the next book, handling marketing and speaking gigs, etc. The thing taking most of my time in this area lately is talking to addicts one-on-one through email. My therapist (and two other people) have suggested to me creating a peer counseling business on the side. If I’m spending two hours a day helping people with their addiction, is it wrong to want to be paid for it, especially if it’s cutting into the time I’d be doing regular work? I’m avoiding paying work right now to write this. I’m on the fence with the idea right now.

The post I did last week with the Q&A had a ton of hits and I got a few questions from people. I answered them immediately, but I’ll be picking one to post later this week or early next week. If you have a question or need advice, drop me a line through the comments, contact page or email me directly.

OK, we’re at 675 words and while I could probably write another dozen of these paragraphs, I feel like I’m a little emptier in the head, which is never a bad thing.

 

Your alarming new pornography statistic of the week

In order to sound like I know what I’m talking about, I have to read a lot, and it’s only in the last 5-6 years that anybody in the science community has been studying pornography addiction, so information is always changing, especially among younger adults who make the Internet a constant part of their lives.

Psychology Today recently reported about a study conducted regarding the use of pornography within a relationship conducted by several Canadian and American college professors.

Just over 1,000 people, mostly between 18 and 35, evenly split among men and women were interviewed.  About 70% were either married or living together for more than a year with their partner.

Get these stats:

In the last six months, 98% of men and 73% of women used the Internet for pornography. Taking it down to just the last month, it was 80% of men and 26% of women. The margin of error could have brought the male use number over 100%! Think about that.

If you have 100 men and 100 women aged 18-35, in a relationship in a room together…only 29 haven’t looked at porn online in the last six months.

Still don’t think this might be a big problem on the horizon?

Q&A Time: Reader asks question about husband’s pornography addiction

Note: I was asked to post about this question based on something else I wrote. If you’d like to have a question answered, contact information is at the end of the answer.

QUESTION: Could you please post about how a wife should focus and respond when her husband is addicted to pornography and will not admit it is an issue at all but blames her? I would love to know what to do. He apparently has been addicted since a quite young age but now prefers that to me. I fight to keep forgiving but do because God forgives me for things I do wrong. This just affects us and I want to hear your thoughts and maybe advice. His long-held denial is way too deep to see a counselor.

ANSWER: First, the sad fact about addiction you need to internalize is that it’s totally up to him at the end of the day if recovery is possible. You can threaten to leave, and you can even go ahead and leave, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s up to him, and I know what a powerless feeling that can be. The power you have in this situation is the ability to gather knowledge and the ability to understand he can’t MAKE you feel any certain way. You choose to feel that way.

You’ve got a lot going on here, so let’s break it down:

His addiction is NOT YOUR FAULT! In fact, IT HAS NOTHING DO WITH YOU. You could invite two sexy cheerleaders into the bedroom with you and it’s not going to cure him. He has the brain disease of addiction and it’s simply manifesting itself with pornography instead of alcohol, gambling, food, etc. You did not create his addiction, you’re not the reason he continues to be addicted, but you’re also not going to be able to do anything but be supportive if he tries to tame the beast. His addiction is a medical condition.

There may be other marital issues at play here that you didn’t delve into. It sounds like he’s blaming you for something he says he doesn’t have. It’s important for you to be able to put your marital issues into one column and his addiction issues into another. Some may indeed overlap, but these are two different problems.

Your husband may claim to prefer pornography to you, but what he prefers is having a proven no-maintenance outlet for stress and anxiety release. It’s easy to confuse the no-strings-attached release one gets when utilizing pornography as a surrogate for the intimacy one has with a partner. They are actually very different things that meet very different needs and I think both the addict and the partner confuse them because both scenarios usually end in orgasm. The porn doesn’t nag, the porn doesn’t say no, the porn doesn’t judge. Real-life partners do all of those things. Real life partners cause stress. His coping mechanism to deal with stress is porn, but that’s only one of the surface reasons he uses. His real issues probably run deeper than he even he can understand at this point. I made some of my biggest breakthroughs years into counseling, so if he says that there’s nothing wrong or thinks he understands why he’s addicted, he probably doesn’t have anything close to the full story.

You say that his denial is too deep to see a counselor. It sounds like he’d refuse, and you can’t legally make him go, but I caution you of jumping to that conclusion. Unless you’ve been to medical school or have been in counseling your entire life, you’ve reached a conclusion here that I don’t think you’re qualified to reach. How did you reach this conclusion? That may reveal a lot about how you view this situation, and perhaps life…but that’s another discussion for another time.

What can you do? First, take care of yourself. If that means church, great. But you need to release guilt and a sense that you have anything to do with his addiction. You don’t. You could be a horrible wife or a great wife…but the addiction isn’t your fault or responsibility.

Second, figure out your limits. How much are you willing to live with, really? I’m guessing you’ll fall back on the God thing as to why you should stay with him, and that’s fine, and a point I can’t argue, because debating God or religion is pointless since real debate comes from a point of logic and God/religion doesn’t. If you HAVE to stay because of your beliefs, try to take care of yourself and find a comfortable chair because you’re in for a bumpy ride. He will do what he wants because there will be no consequences coming from you. There’s not much more to say.

Third, if you’re not 100% tied to staying, it gives you a little leverage. You need to create some non-negotiables and boundaries…inform him about them and then follow them. If you say “I will X if you Y” but then you don’t Y, you’ve just lost all of your control. He will do what he wants because again, no consequences. Are you willing to leave if he doesn’t go to counseling or rehab? Are you ready to give some ultimatums? It doesn’t have to be that severe. Can you refuse to participate in any more fights about whose fault the porn is? Tell him you will walk away the next time he wants to engage in an argument about it. This may also be the opportunity to work on your other marriage issues.

It’s hard to tell you what the boundaries and ultimatums or the consequences should be in your case because I’m not living it, but you must be willing to follow through. Don’t make idle threats. Make promises.

The best thing you can do is to live the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve. He is not preventing you from doing that. YOU are preventing YOU from doing that. He is just causing a problem. You need to try to solve the problem, and if it’s unsolvable, you need to know you gave it your best shot and move forward. That could mean going. That could mean staying. You need to mentally move forward either way.

I would urge you to also talk to other women in your position and get support from them. If you go to the Resources site on this page, check out the two discussion forums that are mentioned along with the link to the Betrayal Trauma Recovery site. You’ll find women in all stages of the situation you find yourself in and I’m sure they can offer perspective I don’t have.

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page.

A Tale of Two Interview Experiences

Call me crazy, but I have come to believe that one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to talk about pornography addiction. With every interview I give, it becomes a little clearer to me that I’m supposed to create awareness for those have none and be a voice of hope for those who are dealing with it. I know it sounds simultaneously spiritual, egotistical and insane, but it feels more genuine and authentic than few things I’ve done in my life prior.

I rarely say no to interviews because my feeling is I should be flattered and honored if somebody wants to give me a few moments on their radio show or podcast. They have worked to cultivate an audience that neither my book nor message may reach if I don’t take the opportunity.

Sometimes this leads to what the Ancient Egyptians called clusterf*cks. And sometimes it leads to a great exchange that I walk away re-energized from, ready to continue spreading the message. I had both happen to me over the last week.

About a month ago, someone sent an email identifying himself from a radio show and asked if I’d appear a few weeks down the road. I did a Google search to confirm it was a real show and a real radio station, then said OK.

I followed the call-in instructions. Aside from guest booker, I have no idea what role he plays in the show. I was put on the air with a very religious evangelical preacher lady.

The first couple minutes went OK as she “mmm-hmmm”ed and “Amen”ed her way through my story. I started to push the conversation toward the public health part of my message, sharing statistics and she started making up her own truths. I tried to be polite, while saying I couldn’t confirm her information. She then launched into a judgmental piece on pornography itself…how the content is disgusting.

Internally, I don’t disagree, but I also know my battle isn’t against pornography itself. It’s not against the industry and it’s not against what material specifically “does it” for you. My message is it doesn’t matter what the pornography specifically is, it’s all about the addiction and I think judging people on what they like is part of the problem of secrecy. When you condemn someone’s tastes, they’re not going to confide when they decide to look for help.

We moved on from this and she started asking me to quote Scripture. Those of you who read my site regularly know I’m spiritual, but have many issues with the religion I was raised in. I tried to be polite and decline for fear of misquoting, but by this point, I felt backed into a corner. I said I think spirituality plays a role in recovery for most, but the few verses I can quote have more to do with reading prayer cards and signs at sports events.

She ended the interview casting out the demons of addiction in all of her listeners. Suffice to say, we’re all cured now.

I thanked her and went on my way, but for most of the day, I wondered if it was my fault for not doing a deeper due diligence about the show and I should have known what I was getting myself into, or if this guy was intentionally vague about the show, both being the host and the subject matter.

Maybe it helped somebody. Maybe it was the most effective interview I’ve done. But, geez, it left me feeling like something just didn’t click and it’s not like on live radio I can say stop and have a discussion.

On the flip side of the coin, there are those that I do and feel like I want the world to listen because we hit every beat and delivered the message in an easy-to-understand and hopefully entertaining format.

I recorded a video podcast with a pair of doctors last week that was posted over the weekend and while I rarely listen to the podcasts I appear on except to hear the quality, I was actually sucked into this one and listened.

The show was called The Mental Breakdown and unlike many interviewers (probably 95%), they had read the book, so they could ask questions about my story that were interesting. I’ll answer the prompt, “Tell me about your book…” all day long, but when the host can tell me about my book, it’s a much better interview for the listeners. The host should be a guide for the audience, who knows nothing about me, not just another member of the audience learning everything for the first time. That’s part of the reason I try to send materials in advance. Even if they don’t read the book, they can know some information.

I guess it felt more like a conversation than a question-and-answer session. I’m including the links below, both the video and the audio. If you have any time, or you’ve been looking for one thing I’ve done to listen to, this is it.

The book has seen an uptick in sales over the last two weeks. Thank you to anybody who purchased it. As of writing this, Amazon is offering it at 11% off. Random, huh? Click HERE to buy.

Audio Only from ITunes