If I had a nickel for every time I’ve (we’ve) witnessed a Betrayed Partner ask this question, I could be trotting the globe in a state of blissful retirement right about now.
WHY DO THEY ASK?
When a Betrayed Partner becomes so distraught over their betrayal, their brain is so scrambled with thought processes like a multi-threaded operating system running on overdrive on an overclocked processor. It’s too much information to try and process in such a finite amount of time. It’s overwhelming until their internal programming just crashes and burns. It is often fraught with extremities of emotional duress from calm to rage, from happiness (if you can call it that) to sadness, from hope to despair. It is often referred and likened to a “roller coaster ride” with lots of peaks and valleys and a whole lot of jerking motions from side to side going on. In many cases, it is in a state of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and it is demoralizing, debilitating, and devastating.
So let’s see if we can put this into a proper perspective as we try to navigate this fundamental question that to be fair, isn’t very fair to ask of anyone. These are the questions you have to ask yourself.
Let’s face it. Nobody ever writes or delivers boundaries until what should otherwise be implied and understood as unwritten boundaries are crossed. Most of these are abundantly clear to us in spite of the fact that they are crossed anyway such as infidelity, lying, or illegal activities just to name a few. If you already have written boundaries, it’s generally because you had to sit down and write them due to past indiscretions. To coin an old phrase “this ain’t your first rodeo.”
Marriage ~ Are you married? This is actually bigger than you think. There are fundamental ties in a state of matrimony that simply do not exist in a state of cohabitation. One is legally bound. The other is not with exception to common law marriage. But beyond that, for many people, it is a religiously bound state of matrimony. As such, I put much more emphasis and stock into marriage than not when it comes to severing a relationship.
“Beware you don’t use sexual immorality as justification for severing your relationship on religious grounds and then turn around and fornicate with someone else. Either embrace all of the religion or none of it, lest that makes you a hypocrite.”
Even a long term relationship becomes much simpler to sever ties than one that is just married. Try to preserve the marriage.
Children ~ Do you have children? If so, how many and what are their ages? Consider this. From the moment your children are born, their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds are all watching yours. You set the stage. You set the tone. You determine the trajectory that they will live by for the rest of their lives. What an enormous responsibility. They will mimic you. If you act inappropriately, they too will react in kind as if you are “Pete[sic]” and they are “RePete[sic]”. Does that mean you should stay together at all costs? Hardly. But it is a consideration given that barring reconciliation, you should try to insure that your children have a prime example to live by. If they don’t, don’t blame them. If you can maintain the relationship in a positive role model for your children to live by, then by all means, do so. If you cannot, you’re doing your children more harm than you are good by staying together.
Assets & Liabilities
When couples talk about these, I have to shake my head and say “really”? Unless you subscribe to Madonna’s lyrics in “Material Girl”, forget about it.
“If money can fix it, it ain’t a problem.”
Money, interestingly enough, is the crux of so many marital arguments behind that of children. Also interestingly, when a couple is in sync with one another, and transparency exists, there are no arguments over money. But oftentimes, it’s the money sacrificed for family, at their expense, for the benefit and to support an addiction that becomes a problem. Do not allow assets and liabilities to stand in the way of your safety, security, and sanity in your environment. Let it go. It’s immaterial. Spending money on addiction is self-centered and selfish behavior. If you cannot get a handle on his malfeasance where you cannot uphold basic family financial responsibilities, you need to take appropriate measures, or countermeasures if you will, to protect yourself and the rest of your family.
One thing is certain. An overwhelming number of individuals have personal boundaries, even if they are unwritten (as if it were ever really necessary to put them in writing), that they simply cannot compromise on. We’ll categorize these on a higher level, and then you can decide for yourself where and how to break it down from there.
Lies, Deceit, and Cover-ups
The truth hurts. The lie hurts worse because when the truth comes out, it hurts again. I spoke about this in How Can I Gain Her (His) Trust Back. For every lie, it takes at least two to cover up the first one. For each of those, it takes two more and so forth and so on. By the time you’ve told ten lies, it takes at least 500 to cover up for those ten. It’s quite illogical when you think about it. But addicts lie because they perceive that the consequences are entirely too harsh either way, so better to take a chance on a lie and quite possibly likely get away with it than to come clean and tell the.truth. It’s an absurd fallacy I know, but that’s how the addicted mind works.
Cheating comes in all forms. Contrary to popular (addict) opinion, watching pornography is cheating too.
Electronic Contact ~ Webcams, Sexting, Hookup Apps, Porn Sites, and even Porn Subs (Substitutions), including, but not limited to, Imgur, Tumbler, Instagram, Facebook, et al, etc. are all electronic forms of cheating. A real simple test to determine whether or not it is appropriate conduct, your Partner should be willing to do it in front of you and not behind your back.
Physical Contact ~ Affair partners, One Night Stands, and any part of your body that makes sexual contact with another. Again, if they aren’t willing to do it in front of you, they shouldn’t do it behind your back.
Illegal Contact ~ Any sexual contact with a child, animal, or prostitute is illegal. For many, this crosses a line that many Partners simply cannot reconcile.
Non-Contact ~ This generally includes any and all pornography. Depending on the depth of the addiction, this could lead to interests in some pretty radical, outrageous, or otherwise viewed as disgusting, actions and behaviors. I always try to steer away from utilizing terms like “vile”, “disgusting”, “repulsive”, etc. because addicts have enough embarrassment, guilt, and shame to last a lifetime already. If one has ever thought of the idea, it’s on the internet.
There are many factors that determines one’s sexuality. I’m not interested in a discussion or debate about what’s right, wrong, or indifferent when it comes to one’s sexuality. That is a discussion that is totally outside the scope of this message. But it is a very important consideration from a relationship standpoint. For example, homosexuality isn’t going to work where the Partner has a reasonable expectation of a heterosexual relationship. Conversely, a heterosexual relationship isn’t going to work where the Partner has a reasonable expectation of a homosexual relationship. If you expect your Partner to be in a committed heterosexual relationship with you, and he engages in a homosexual or bisexual relationship, that presents a problem and may very well be a boundary you cannot cross. Only you can decide if you can accept the idea that he has, or continues to, engage in homosexual or bisexual activities.
Let’s face it. A lot of the ideas people learned about sexuality, they learned it from pornography. I assure you, the idea of a man sticking his penis in a woman’s vagina never would have occurred to him had he not learned it somewhere. It is a learned response. If you were to take a newborn child, and that child was never exposed to sexuality at all, not even watching animals, do you think that child would think “I think it would be a good idea for me to stick my penis in her vagina” or “I think it would be a good idea for him to stick his penis in my vagina”? Barring the natural instinct to reproduce, the likelihood would be almost nonexistent.
Normalization generally occurs by consistent persistent exposure to vast numbers of people. It wasn’t but a few decades ago that anal sex was quite the taboo and a very rare occurrence. Now statistics reveal that it is prevalent in many relationships. Consider the acts, and apply them to your own comfort zone to help you determine if these are things that you are ready, willing, and able to live with. And as a reminder, just because he looks or has looked at it doesn’t necessarily mean he actually wants to engage in it. If all of us were to be judged for our thoughts and not our actions like Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) in the movie “Minority Report”, we’d all be persecuted and found guilty for one reason or another never ever having actually committed the crime.
This is a major sticking point. There are many ways to define it; such as “white knuckling”, “brute force”, and “indifference.” I think that “indifference” is the real key here that results in his loss of motivation that has evolved into full blown apathy. In reality, indifference is the single biggest obstacle to success; even above lies and deceit. It generally starts out as a genuine interest in recovery. But for the addict, unless fundamental changes are implemented, it is destined for failure before it ever gets off the ground. Addicts, upon discovery, want to fix it, not tomorrow, not today, but yesterday. Only the addiction has been years in the making. Just as it wasn’t started on a moments notice, it’s not going to be fixed on a moments notice. Often times, the addict, because they want it fixed yesterday, will implement so many countermeasures to combat the addiction at once, their attempts to recover far outpace their capacity to do so. The brain is dysfunctional, and requires quite a bit of neuroplasticity over time to heal it. Failure is generally almost always certain. Does it mean the end of the world? No! But there is a method to the madness, and an understanding of what’s going on in the mind, in the brain of an addict, to figure out how to navigate the obstacles they’ve managed to program into place over years if not decades.
“You will never get anyone to fix anything unless and until they want to fix it any more than you can make someone understand something when their addiction depends on them not understanding it.”
In short, all of it is shrouded in secrecy. And contrary to popular (addict) opinion, privacy and secrecy are not one and the same either. Secrecy is “lying by omission”, so let’s just call it what it is. If he isn’t willing to engage in the activity in front of you, then in all probability, it is something he shouldn’t be engaging in at all. Privacy is going to the toilet to relieve your bowels or bladder. Secrecy is going to the toilet to relieve your testicles. In spite of all the ridiculous arguments to the contrary, transparency is paramount to a successful recovery and reconstruction.
Then we have “We’re Getting Married!” How exciting. “But?!?!, I have an addiction to pornography and masturbation” or “my fiancee’ has an addiction to pornography and masturbation”. So I’m going to answer your question with a question. If your dearest friend were to ask you this very same question, what would your response be to her? There ya go! Here’s the problem. Marriage won’t fix the addiction problem. A baby won’t fix the addiction problem. If anything, it exacerbates it. So, if you are intent on getting married in spite of all the evidence before you to the contrary, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment and disaster.
Wait A Year
Every reputable treatment program, facility, and therapist will tell you:
“Don’t make any major life decisions for a full year post discovery.”
There are many sound reasons for that, especially being emotionally compromised. Don’t make any hard decisions in an emotionally compromised state. It tends to override, or overrule, what is in your own best interest. You want to follow a very logical methodical thought process for determining whether to stay or whether to go. Either way, don’t ask anyone else. Only you can make that decision. In our mind, we can tell you exactly what to do. In our hearts, we haven’t the faintest idea. I hope this gives you the necessary tools and information to make that determination and decision for yourself. But for this question, you’re on your own.
If you’ve just discovered your partner’s pornography addiction, know that you are not alone. You can get help and support today. Join our free private Facebook group for support from other partner’s in your shoes and schedule a free Path to Recovery session with Savannah to see your options for getting help.