What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Samantha.
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My husband of 2 years struggles with pornography as an addiction. What I
want you to know, is that if you have a partner who struggles with this
addiction as well, you are not alone. You may feel alone – you may feel
the loneliest you could possibly imagine – but you’re not, and neither
am I.

I feel like I’m not beautiful. I feel like I’m worthless. I
feel like I’m the one who causes him to look at what he does, because,
well, why would he watch other people having sex if having sex with me
was enough? I feel not enough.

What I feel and what I know are
two very different things. I know that he loves me, and I know that his
addiction has – on a physical level and an emotional level – very little
to do with me and very much to do with personal issues that he
struggles with, like control, like confidence, like self-esteem.

But
what I know is sometimes overshadowed by the fact that the way he lies
and keeps secrets and tries to sort out this guilt on his own… and
that this makes me feel like I’m second best.

I feel alone in
this struggle. I feel like if I criticize him, or turn down sex with
him, or pretty well anything that harms his confidence, that I’ll be at
fault for the next “episode”.

I feel like there is no support
for people like me: there are very few people I can talk to openly about
the problem, because it’s not my problem to talk about, not mine to
expose.

I feel like I’m bombarded with messages that pornography is “normal”; that it’s expected in or out of marriage, that
watching and masturbating to pornography is a fun way for guys to relax
or “release their urges”. So if I’m the one who’s hurt, I’m the one at
fault.

I feel confused about how I’m supposed to react. I’ve
tried anger. I’ve tried accusations. I’ve tried seeing a counselor. I’ve tried being calm, supportive, hugging him,
loving him, forgiving him – and let me assure you, this is the most
successful approach – but there is always going to be an underlying
sense of sadness and shame in my own heart over this problem and it will
be there until time wipes it away. And time can only wipe it away if
there is a long enough period of time where he simply stops.

What
I want you to know – and my husband to know, and if I could, my family
and friends to know – is that pornography destroyed my marriage for
months. My husband’s addiction to pornography destroyed my confidence as
his partner in life, and it has been very difficult to recover in a
healthy way. My husband’s addiction to pornography destroys and tears
apart his own confidence.

I want you to know that the day he
made the choice to recover from his pornography addiction, he decided to
make a lasting, saving difference in the future of our marriage. He
still struggles, he still slips up, and I still get hurt – and so does
he. But a path EXISTS – and he is on it – to recover from this
addiction, and by making the decision to walk onto that path has saved
us.

What I want you to know is that if you are a husband who
struggles with porn, you can recover, you can overcome, but you need to
be honest – with yourself, your partner, and with whoever you choose to
hold you accountable. You, dear husband of someone wonderful, are
special, and can be confident in yourself, and you are worth loving. You
do not need to turn to this addiction to fill any void. God can and
will do that for you.

What I want you to know is that if you are a
wife who has a husband (or if you are a girlfriend who has a boyfriend)
with a pornography addiction, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

I have not had
the opportunity to hear this message from anyone else in my situation,
but if I could sit myself down 2 years ago today, I would tell myself:
You are lovable
You are precious
You are worth more than you could imagine
You are not at fault
You do not need to hold onto your anger or pain
You can forgive
You as a couple can and will overcome

And
if I could share a message with everyone who has the opportunity to
support a woman in my situation, I would say that there is hope. I would ask you to
please spread this message and help your friend to feel free from
isolation and loneliness, because the support of a few close friends has
helped me more than words can express.