By Melissa Ruff
Do you really want to know how to help your spouse the most during his or her recovery from porn addiction? Work on your own recovery.
Sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. In fact, it is the exact thing that you need to do at this exact moment in your life.
The more you hover over your spouse’s recovery, the more you are going to spiral out of control with them. Quite honestly, the less recovery you are going to see from them.
Time and time again I have seen spouses, including myself, get crazy involved in too many aspects of their loved one’s recovery. I have heard women talk about not wanting to leave their house to do things they enjoy because they were so afraid of what would happen once they are gone.
But the reality is, your partner will do what they want to do if you’re in the house or not. You have no control over that. You can choose when and where to set boundaries and act on them, but you have no control over what your spouse will and will not do when it comes down to it.
Helicopter monitoring only leads to hurt feelings, even less trust, and failed recovery because you are not allowing your spouse to take responsibility over their own recovery. That is why it is VITAL to focus on your own recovery while they focus on their recovery.
What does your recovery look like? Everyone’s is different, but there are a few things that we all must do.
First, come to realization that your spouse’s addiction is not because of you, is not your fault, and you have no power to change their actions. Once you start to realize that your spouse’s addiction has nothing to do with you and there is very little that you can do to force recovery, you have the freedom to start realizing God’s path for you.
Seriously, guys, I was in over my head trying to figure out why my husband was addicted to pornography. I went through all the thought processes of “maybe I am not having enough sex with him,” “maybe I need to lose weight,” “maybe I should try the stuff that he looks at.” None of those thoughts are valid. In fact, that kind of thinking only led me to believe that I had control over the situation. Which, I found I didn’t.
It did not matter if I did any of those things to appease him (or so I thought I was doing). He still chose pornography.
I continued to spiral down into depression. It wasn’t until I became aware that his addiction was a direct result of his own baggage from his own past. Not a single thing about me. But, I also knew that this addiction wasn’t good for our marriage. That is when I told him to choose our marriage and get help or choose his addiction. He got help. I got help.
Next up, finding myself again. After truly knowing that his addiction was not about me, I could do nada to force his recovery, and he was actively seeking recovery, I concluded that I lost myself. I put so many years into his addiction; from trying to be okay with it to trying to fix it that I lost sight of myself. Side note: we had three kids in between there, too, so talk about a huge hot mess of losing myself!
Where did I begin? God. Where should you begin? God.
Listen, it all needs to start with God. Trying to do anything on our own only causes disaster upon disaster. I could have gone all day frantically trying to reclaim who I once was before all of this, but instead I have allowed God to create a new person. I mean, this whole porn addiction thing changed me, A LOT. There was no reason to try to pretend it never happened. In doing so, God has worked through me and my husband in many ways to help other people through this issue.
I prayed. Allowed myself to do things for me. And prayed. Allowed God to continue working on my heart. And prayed. Allowed myself grace in the process. And prayed.
Through all those things, I have come to be where I am today: not quite “there” yet but well on my way. I have found that I love writing again, working out again, worshiping (though not great at singing!), and, the best of all, I actually enjoy being with my husband again. I want you to get there too. You are worth it.
I want to make sure you understand me here. I am in no way telling you to stand by and allow an abusive relationship to continue. I am telling you that, if your spouse is actively seeking recovery (that looks different for everyone), you should be actively recovering as well. If that is not your situation, please pray about your next step, talk to someone trusted, and then take that next step.
If your spouse is in recovery and you have not quite reached out for help, try our Recover program. It has been such a blessing for so many spouses, myself included. Recover gives you community that urges you towards a healthier you and understands all that you are going through with love and grace.