If You Are a Victim of Pornography, What Can You Do?
1. Cry out to God. Realize that your heavenly Father cares about how you have been affected by your spouse's addiction. Allow Him to share this burden with you.
2. Identify your feelings. In his book Questions Women Ask in Private, H. Norman Wright states, "Pornography is especially degrading to women and puts them in a state of being victimized." As a victim of pornography, you may experience a host of emotions, including shock, betrayal, anger and devastation. You will begin to heal when you can name and validate your feelings.
3. Eschew blame. Understand this: You are not to blame for your husband's behavior! Say this over and over until the Holy Spirit convicts you of the truth.
There are many factors that can contribute to your husband's addiction, including personality disorders and psychopathology. He may have become involved in temptation-filled situations or had esteem needs that were never met.
4. Seek support from your pastor, a trusted friend or a counselor. In his Guide for Sexual Addiction Recovery, Dr. Doug Weiss tells the sexual addict, "Your ... spouse has probably suffered in many ways from your addiction, possibly including your inability to be emotionally intimate, financial losses, humiliation and the list goes on." If you have suffered as Weiss describes, you may need help receiving healing in areas where you have been wounded.
5. If you have decided to participate in your husband's recovery, educate yourself. Books such as Now That I Know, What Should I Do? by Dr. Weiss answer some of the questions that wives ask. There is also some helpful information for spouses on communication and accountability in Weiss's guidebook, 101 Practical Exercises. Check in your area for churches with counseling ministries that offer support groups for families of loved ones who are addicted.
6. Forgive your husband. Forgiveness will probably be the most difficult yet most important step in the restoration of your marriage. Forgiveness precedes the rebuilding of trust.
Forgiving your husband does not mean that you accept his sinful behavior. It also does not mean that you deny your feelings or the hurts his addiction has caused. And it does not erase all the consequences of sin. It does, however, mean that you pardon him.
One very effective exercise is to make a list of all the ways your spouse has hurt you and identify the feelings you have experienced in each situation. Reading each offense out loud, choose to forgive your husband for every one.
When you have finished, throw the paper away. If you have been genuine in your intentions to forgive, you will feel a tremendous burden lift from your spirit.
7. Encourage your husband's efforts toward healing. Speak words of life (Prov. 18:21) to him, and praise every act toward wholeness and restoration. Develop a prayer list, and intercede for his healing. Thank God for your increasing understanding of Him as Healer and Deliverer.
Laurie Hall learned of her husband's addiction to pornography after 18 years of marriage. Since then, she has supported countless women in similar situations. She is the author of An Affair of the Mind (Tyndale) and The Cleavers Don't Live Here Anymore (Vine Books).
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