Want Porn Out? Let Wife In!

by Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D.

Psychologist and Author of Confronting Pornography, and founder of the new blog (and upcoming book) Love You, Hate the Porn

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Want Porn Out? Let Wife In!

reprinted from “Love You, Hate the Porn” Blog

Here’s how it went in the wild West: the Sheriff faced down the outlaw: “There ain’t room in this town for the both of us.” Always, by the end of the movie, only one of them would remain. Most often, of course, it was the good guy.

Most of our wives feel the same way about porn. “There ain’t room in your life for the both of us.”

Shuddering at the thought of losing our wives, too many of us take the wrong approach to this problem. We hide from our wives the fact that porn’s still in town. We try to avoid porn and are quite ashamed that we’re not doing a perfect job of that. So, tragically, we avoid our wives.

We still live in the same house, eat at the same table, raise the same kids, and even sleep in the same bed. However, we avoid eye contact, avoid talking about how we’re feeling, avoid too much closeness. All out of fear that she’ll see deep into my soul and find me repulsive. The fear of losing her can keep me from really letting her in. How ironic.

There is another way. I see men do it all the time. They stay close to their wives. They open up and talk about what’s really going on, keeping her informed about emotional highs and lows. Here’s the hard part: this kind of closeness includes a very intimidating prospect. If we’re going to really commit to a life of openness and emotional intimacy, we have to disclose when we slip back to a porn-seeking mentality. It’s a very tough thing to do, but it’s a sure way stay in recovery. Keep communicating with your wife about exactly what’s going on, and the sexy, seductive voice of porn gets hoarse and starts to crack. Let her in on the struggle, especially in its early stages, and the sprouting seeds of relapse wither in the searing sunlight of your honesty and her awareness.

“Honey, I’m on my way back to the office after grabbing some lunch in town. I just walked out of Barnes & Noble. I thought I’d just browse for a few minutes, but I saw a suggestive image on a book cover and then decided to head over to the magazine section. I got that tunnel vision, searching for something to look at. My chest felt tight. I grabbed one of the racier magazines and started thumbing through it. Five minutes later I was standing there with an erection reading an article. I tore myself away at that point, but I feel ashamed that I let it go that far. I don’t want to continue down this path. I knew that if I didn’t call you I’d probably go looking for stuff online this afternoon. So, as embarrassing as this is, I wanted to let you know how it’s going.”

At this point it’s tempting for a woman to say, “Why do you go into Barnes & Noble in the first place if you’ve had problems there before?” Or perhaps even, “Are you ever going to be over this problem?” But she wants to keep her finger on the pulse of how he’s really doing. She wants to be a resource so that he can keep reaching out. If he’s been addicted, this is the kind of struggle he’s had to deal with on his own. That hasn’t gone very well for him. They both want him to be able to keep coming to her and opening up. So she says instead, “Thanks for telling me. Let’s stay in touch.”

Ahhh. Staying in touch. That’s it. His connection with her, if he refuses to break it when he struggles, is the very thing that will keep loosening the grip of this other, self-destructive attachment.

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Mark Chamberlain-Nov2010Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. is a psychologist and clinical director of the ARCH, Addiction Resource Center for Healing. He’s the author of several books, including Confronting Pornography, Willpower Is Not Enough and the upcoming Love You, Hate the Porn. To learn more, visit Mark’s blog Love You, Hate the Porn — healing relationships damaged by virtual infidelity.



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