From a Betrayed partner with an SSA spouse:
Q: As an LCPC I am very familiar with addiction. I have always seen a difference between ‘substance use addiction’ and others (gambling, video games sex porn). The biggest struggle I find I have is that I understand how alcohol and drugs effect the brain. People make the choice, to take that first drink or hit. Which leads to ‘impairment of judgement’ and thus they drink./use more…and also their behaviors change. The behaviors are secondary to the addiction.

For me, Porn is the first part of the addiction. There is no ‘impairment’ no lowering of inhibitions. It is a conscious choice to pick up your device, search, and start looking, then masturbating. With that being said, IF your partner knows that this behavior is harmful and hurtful to YOU, to YOUR relationship, WHY would they continue?

There is clearly a difference in our relationship, decreased emotional intimacy, decreased sexual intimacy. The foundation of our relationship, is crumbling, because of a behavior that my husband engages in and takes away those things from US. Does he just not ‘notice’ that we are growing farther apart? Sex is very transactional, and I don’t know how to get the intrusive thoughts out of my head, while I am working.
I need to be able to maintain my focus. Yet, I worry that my husband is looking up porn. I work from home, and he is downstairs watching the baby and our 10 yr old.

When I caught him, it was after a session, and our baby was playing in the kitchen and he was on the couch, masturbating He didn’t even see me.
How can I focus on work, when I know have trouble believing he is taking care of the kids and not looking up porn?

 

The Savvy Answer:

Being a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor gives you an advantage over those with no psychology background. It is true that drug/alcohol addicts become impaired and their decision making becomes impaired. It’s very obvious the way their brain becomes impaired, you can see them acting differently, slurring words, etc.

When a person first uses pornography, most are using between 9-12, and they have NO idea the consequences of that action. They use it, with no ill-intent, often using it out of curiosity, excitement, etc.

Chemical and Process addictions both impair decision making. Chemical addiction is obvious. Process addiction is not. It’s so easy whether you’re someone who drinks too much, drugs, cuts, uses porn, etc. to hear the addict voice “it isn’t so bad” or “it won’t hurt anyone” or “just this one time to take the edge off.”

It’s well known that addicts have impaired pre-frontal cortex functioning IN addiction. (read this article on how porn impairs the brain)

Addiction stunts the brain – emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. So, whenever your partner decided to look at porn, and pair it with masturbation, and chose to repeat those two acts together, that is when your partner became mentally stunted. (article in depth on what happens to the brain when you are using)

I’ve often joked about being married to a 12-year-old as that is when my husband became addicted. In early recovery he has no idea what emotions were, how to identify them, how to know what he was feeling, or how to cope with any level of stress or cognitive dissonance. He chose porn to deal with everything in life.

It wasn’t until my husband got clean – and I mean CLEAN – no porn, no masturbation, no social media, no TV rated over PG-13, etc. that he was able to fully develop as a person.

See, while porn addicts are not putting a drug into their body, they are hijacking chemicals that we naturally produce – dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin.

Porn addicts are constantly looking to self-soothe through porn.

 

Orgasms are 4x stronger than morphine!

That is why masturbation and porn are so addictive. Orgasms relax the entire body and destress quickly.

 

Your partner is high whenever he uses. Whether that is Ogling other women, scrolling scantily clad women on social, watching shows like Game of Thrones, or just going to straight up porn sites and paying for cam girls. He is chasing the high.

Addicts often live on autopilot and are numbed out. Porn addicts that are active in addiction pick up their phone without thinking because it’s what they’ve done every day of their life. Some addicts use every morning in the shower, or others every night before bed. They have trained their body and brain to expect the rush of dopamine and other chemicals at certain intervals and if they don’t get those “hits” you see what you would see in alcoholics/drug addicts in withdrawal. You’ll see the irritability and the anxiety and anger in time.

I told my husband when we met I couldn’t have porn in a relationship because I felt it was cheating and I knew it was a trigger for me to relapse into my anorexia. He swore it wouldn’t be an issue. He knew it would destroy me. He knew it would risk my health. And yet he used porn secretly for the first year of our relationship.

Why? Because it’s an addiction, it’s not rational, and addiction has power over those who do not see they have a problem.

My husband denied it was a problem, didn’t think it was cheating, and had a typical “guys will be guys” attitude about it – Why? Because it fed the denial of the problem.

You will see the denial, rationalizations, justifications, intellectualizations if you ask your partner to stop using and they don’t want to or aren’t ready to stop.

 

Porn addicts live in OBJECT REALITY where people are objects to feed the addiction.

We as betrayed partners live in RELATIONAL REALITY where we see people as humans with value.

 

You are seeing this from a relational standpoint, and that is healthy. He, however, is seeing this from an object perspective. Porn warps how you view people. Porn can make you see your partner as less attractive, it can encourage sexual violence, and it can teach men that porn is sex. (Which you and I know, porn is NOT sex. It’s transactional, often non-consensual, and often encourages violence against women).

Given you are a LCPC, it’s important that you are taking care of yourself – especially if you’re still actively seeing clients.

You and I both have jobs where we need to have the best mental health and self-care routines to maintain a good place and have space to help others.

It’s not uncommon for betrayed partners to either lose their jobs after D’Day because they cannot function or to be impaired while working (i.e. numbed out, not focused, making silly mistakes, etc.).

As a LCPC I would suggest making sure you are using Supervision if you find you have any clients that are triggering you. I would also suggest finding a therapist trained in betrayal trauma and sexual addiction (look for AASAT therapists over CSATs) as well as participate in the free programs you’ve chosen as your bonuses. Once you’re ready to take action and are out of processing the trauma, I’d be more than happy to help you as a coach to get you to your goals (whether you want to stay with your partner or not).

I also want to point out that this is unfortunately very common where the men who are addicted will neglect their children to engage in addiction. It’s like any other addict. They want their fix.

As a therapist you know the standards for reporting to DCF/CPS. If you ever feel your husband is engaging in child neglect that puts you in a very tough situation. From what you’ve shared, if he is just beginning to choose addiction over watching the kids, you can set a boundary with him and a consequence to encourage him to be present.

As you know, no one can make an addict want to get better. They must want to get better themselves.

You know your partner best and what motivates him. You also know your limits. If your partner doesn’t realize he is teetering the line of child neglect by letting your baby play in the kitchen while he is using in the other room, let alone getting close to the line of exposing children to pornography, which is illegal, I’m sure making that clear will be a wakeup call.

It’s sadly too common for active addicts to lose their career, marriage, and children to this addiction, and unfortunately at times do go to jail because they are breaking laws (i.e., child pornography, prostitutes, sex with a minor, voyeurism, etc.).

I say all this not to scare you, but to make you aware of where this addiction can take you guys if you or he ignore the issue. So, please do not ignore this (even if he is).

Addiction, any addiction, goes further down the rabbit hole until you completely lose yourself and everything you care about.

First things first, if you are nervous about your children being taken care of properly, get a babysitter or nanny so that you can work. If you are the only one working, it’s important as a parent to make sure you can do your best to provide for your family and keep you kids safe.

Even if your partner is in denial about porn being a problem, if you bring up how inappropriate it is to use porn in the next room from your kids while he is supposed to be watching them, it’s hard to fight that. He may still try to, as the addiction will want to preserve itself in any way that it can. But making a connection to his parenting ability might help him wake up even if for just a moment to see the light of day.
I hope this answers your question!

There is so much more to this, and should you feel you want more support, even at a lower level, I do have some coaching spots open should you ever want to pursue that.

 

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