Whether you are already aware of it or not, the reality is that the consumption of pornographic content has a significant impact on your marriage. For many, pornography is nothing more than “adult entertainment,” still, not only in studies but I must share with you, from meeting with every couple coming in to my office with this painful and addictive behavior wives are deeply affected by their husbands’ decision to watch pornography. Over a decade ago and maybe just recently this type of behavior was described as boys will be boys. Well, I have news for you from a direct practice of psychotherapy, this is emotionally traumatic and jolting to the soul of wives and every woman who is in a relationship with a man struggling with this behavior. Whether you are a girlfriend or a fiancee, this behavior will be intensified for your man as time goes by. I am stating that because you both need real professional help, for this is not about sex or intercourse at all. It is much, much deeper.
Whether you are a spouse who has caught their husband on pornography, or if you feel you have sexual addiction problems, you want to read further. If you want to learn more about how pornography affects wives, keep reading this article, where we put together all the essential information you should know about the emotional rollercoaster pornography has on your relationship.
For some women, discovering that their husband is a habitual consumer of pornographic content can result in a deep traumatic wound, referred to by many psychologists as Betrayal Emotional Trauma. In the scientific world, trauma is defined as the reaction of an individual’s experience of an event that put his or her life at risk, that caused physical or emotional insecurity, or even terror, fear, and helplessness.
In general, people suffering from trauma start questioning their perception of the world as secure and predictable and might feel confused and dissociated. There is a great deal of self-doubt and anger with you as a woman.
Discovering a husband’s use of pornography can cause a wife to suffer from Betrayal Trauma due to the disintegration of the safe and secure life she was so used to. In her mind, the man she was sure to know very well turns out to be a stranger. For this reason, men who choose to consume pornography must be aware of its consequences.
Psychotherapy and I must say the couples counseling with a psychotherapist or a licensed marriage therapist who knows how to treat and help you, will teach you what this is all about. When a wife discovers you watch pornography and she is not ready to hear the news, her world turns upside down, and she feels as if you’ve broken the marital vows she thought you were committed to. For many women, sexuality is sacred, something to share exclusively with their husbands and loved ones. Finding out their spouse is searching for new sources of sexuality is like desecrating love. A common comment I hear from wives is true, they find the pornography as the other woman, or the mistress, and later much more is revealed in terms of the pain in their marriage.
All of this, causes women to go through deep emotions while dealing with betrayal trauma. As a marriage therapist I often see in my office, it is quite common for women to switch from deep sadness to raving rage. Some may even have to deal with uncontrollable bursts of crying, many why questions, and much more as time goes by. Other wives also go through a phase of compassion for their husbands. For how contrasting all of these emotions might appear, be mindful: they are all part of the consequences of the trauma experienced by wives who find out their husband is looking for sexuality under forms that do not contemplate their wives’ presence.
For some wives, things might even turn worse. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia are not uncommon. Such emotions can impair the ability to lead a “normal” life and can be debilitating. In addition to the psychological consequences, betrayal trauma can also cause physical discomfort due to insomnia, headache, loss of appetite, overeating, muscle aches, chronic fatigue, dizziness, high blood pressure, and fibromyalgia. As a psychotherapist, without a doubt what I see is that the wife is experiencing PTSD, as a result of this emotional trauma – neither the wife nor the husband is aware of this reality, so they are stuck in this pain unless they get real help with a therapist who knows how to help them.
The Creation of New Beliefs
Finding out about the husband’s addiction to pornography has consequences on what a wife actually believes. She might start questioning her life, her husband, her marriage, and even herself. Some women in such situations come to think they are responsible for their husbands’ consumption of pornography. For instance, many convince themselves they are not pretty enough or no longer sexually desirable, which will intensify their feeling of rejection and damage their self-confidence. This situation leads many women to doubt their husbands’ love and to believe their marriage has always been a tale. It is no doubt that even if these reactions might sound irrational, they are popular among most women affected by their husbands’ addiction to pornography. The deep emotions sparked by such a situation make it hard even for the most rational woman not to feel depressed and hopeless.
Handling a feeling of betrayal is not easy. This is why you as a couple or as a wife, must make sure to get help from a therapist who knows and is experienced in how to treat sex-addition and the partners who are married to sex-addicts. While every woman might have her way to go around such a situation, it is not uncommon for many wives to ask themselves various questions, including:
- How is it possible I never noticed it before?
- How could he betray me like this?
- I thought he loved me!
- How often does he watch pornography, and when does he do it?
- What kind of pornography is of his interest
- Does he have any illegal behavior I am not aware of? (like child pornography)
- Is he watching pornography because women there are more beautiful than me?
- Does he fantasize about pornography even when we are having sex?
Some women will not be satisfied by asking themselves such questions but may also interrogate their husbands to find answers to such deep doubts. Because of the feeling of betrayal, it might be challenging for a husband to make his point, as chances are his wife will have a difficult time believing him. Some husbands react violently or with anger, but what they do not understand is that asking such questions is a way to cope with their trauma. According to counseling psychology, women might feel like they fully understand what happened and may believe they gained control over the situation when they start putting the puzzle together. In turn, this makes them feel safe again. Furthermore, getting some answers might help some to let go of some of the self-blame they place on themselves because of their husbands’ behaviors.
We mentioned that many wives might ask their husbands questions to regain a sense of safety and control. Some women do not stop there. Because of a strong desire to learn the truth, some wives will become “private detectives.” They will search for all clues of past and present infidelity. Some will look at phone bills, bank statements, and your phone’s and computer’s chronology. The idea is that by looking at whether you spend money in hotels, restaurants, and clubs, they might be able to identify past infidelities, which will allow them to “fill the gaps.”
Some wives might even become suspicious of all of their husbands’ activities and may come to track husbands’ movement through GPS apps or by asking about their whereabouts. From their perspective, all they are doing is protecting themselves from future hurt and betrayal. However, as you might know already, instead of making them feel better and safer, most of the time, such behaviors only intensify fear, hurt women’s self-worth, and might deepen the feeling of depression.
Besides all this, another behavior for women suffering from betrayal trauma, according to psychotherapy, is hyper control. Women that found out their husbands are looking for alternative ways of sexual satisfaction tend to seek to control all aspects of their spouse’s life. For instance, they might want to know where their husbands go and who they spend time with, and determine how they spend money and how much time they spend at work or on the internet. Having control over their husbands’ life gives the appearance of safety and might ease up some wife’s mood for a while. The idea is that by knowing what’s going on, the probability of getting hurt again will considerably lower.
Many spouses that have caught their husbands on pornography are familiar with all of such feelings. Most are aware of how irrational their behavior might be, especially when it comes to “detective work,” hyper control, and cycling emotions. However, the overwhelming emotions following a betrayal trauma cause most of them to feel crazy. After all, most women are aware of the fact that such behaviors will not solve anything. Yet, they can’t help but act like that.
The Bottom Line
Instead of falling into depression, anxiety, and overly controlled behaviors, the best way to deal with such traumas is to seek professional help. A psychotherapist trained to treat these kinds of traumas can help with the recovery from the experience. Specialists will be able to restore a wife’s faith in herself and her marriage.
If your wife is going through all this, contacting a counseling psychologist or a psychotherapist might be your best solution. A good therapist can be of enormous help, even to a depressed and uncertain wife.
On the other hand, if you are struggling with pornography, you might also want to speak to a therapist certified in the treatment of sexual addiction. As you might have noticed by now, it can have disastrous consequences on your marriage, and unless you do something about it, only suffering might come out of it.
All in all, no matter what kind of situation you are in, it is always best to contact a professional when dealing with trauma or when looking to treat certain types of addictions. People experiencing trauma are often hard to deal with and challenging to understand. They might behave so irrationally they won’t hear reasons from anyone, not even from their spouse.
As a psychotherapist, I have nearly 22 years of counseling experience helping couples and individuals attain emotional stability, improve their relationships, enhance their communication, and their emotional connection. I have met and helped with many couples, husbands alone, or wives alone at times, treating them for this particular issue. A large part of my practice contains this, because of the reality of our times and society. Many many couples are quietly suffering alone with this issue and don’t know how to get help.
Call me today, I am confident that together we can repair and restore your relationship after a painful betrayal, overcome the trauma, and feel like yourselves again. The only question for you is are you ready to do the real work and commit yourself to it? I always say pain is the precursor for change, so it’s all up to you. How are you going to respond to your pain today or even in this new year?