How Do I Forgive My Mate for Past Porn Use?

Printer-friendly version

Would you rather be right...or happy?

You discovered your mate was using porn. All hell broke loose, and your mate cleaned up his act and isn't using it anymore. But when you think about this episode, you're still feeling resentful and self-righteous. You regard his past behavior as infidelity, and it makes you angry every time you think of it.

Here's a note from a recovered husband:

I can say with my hand on my heart that the vision of sexual action between couples on the computer screen certainly stimulated my primitive brain, but any transference to reality, i.e., wanting to be in on the action was not an option in my mind. I have never strayed. I have never had the urge or desire to connect with anybody other than my wife for sexual or emotional union. I loved my wife for who and what she was, but my "secret world" of masturbation, and latterly in conjunction with pornographic material, needed to be personal to heighten gratification.

Watching other couples having sex fed my primitive brain with an "abstract" stimulus to give me a better high. I quickly moved on to an internet porn site and purchased a number of DVDs.

Three years ago I was "discovered" and my wife has suffered a severe traumatic breakdown over what I had been doing. She saw it as a total betrayal of her trust and is of the opinion that I was mentally cheating and lusting after naked women and their genitalia. I can understand her extreme hurt and I must appear to be a complete and utterly inconsiderate waster.

We have sought counseling, both together and individually, discovering how people work, and how relationships work and are affected by how individuals have developed in their formative years and through life's journey. My "lonely" existence as a younger man, and a general inability to connect emotionally with members of the opposite sex, played a role. However, this does not excuse my conscious decision to use pornography to heighten my masturbation experiences or the disrespect I showed to my wife.

The events of the past three years have been a massive wake up call to me. Hidden and suppressed emotions and feelings for my wife have been released with a force that I cannot begin to describe. My wife puts it down to guilt, and yes I do feel guilt. But this is far outweighed by feelings of absolute remorse and regret over the emotional and psychological damage I have have caused her.

I have tried to explain, and I have searched my soul in the process. The fact is, I was uninterested in who was on the screen. I never had any desire to participate. If the actors had walked into the room or jumped out of the screen, I would have run fast. Nothing would have enticed me to join in. Neither did I seek to diversify my porn viewing. I stayed with what I met my "reward circuit's requirements". I was lost in my little world of masturbation and I simply let nothing invade that, until....

I am struggling to come to terms with the reality that I was a masturbation addict, it has ruined our relationship, and has severely affected my wife's emotional state of mind. I have "come out" as a serial masturbator, and it still does, and always will, affect me emotionally. I have stopped for some time now and porn viewing is no more.

However, trying to recover my relationship is a major mountain I am desperately trying to climb. I love my wife with a passion, and proclaim it to her constantly. We have resumed a sexual relationship but not as it should be. Her repulsion over what I have done has affected her feeling towards me.

HELP. I am desperate to move forward, but my wife is holding back and is unforgiving. What more can I do to win back her confidence? My withdrawal from porn has been a success, but my frustration at losing my partner's confidence is agonizingly depressing and is severely affecting our progress forward.

What advice would you give this wife? Her husband has stepped out of his porn trance. His brain is healing, and his capacity for deeper attachment and the joys of intimacy have naturally returned.

Meanwhile, she is stuck. This is hurting her, too, by making her relationship less nurturing and satisfying than it might be.

How can she move past her hurt feelings? Please add your thoughts.

How many of us women can honestly say that if we had been men, we would never have become hooked on today's unnaturally arousing Internet pornography? Who knew that it could exploit old programming deep in the mammalian brain, such that users can easily end up on autopilot, doing stupid stuff?

It's easy to fall into the error of porn use, but it takes a lot of effort and courage to climb out. As one of the men who visited once said of his porn addiction: "in like a needle; out like a barbed arrow." Men who make this strenuous effort are wiser, better mates as a consequence of their learning experience. Having turned from an artificial stimulus, they are now ready for the interdependence of healthy relationship. That can go nowhere, however, without the loving affection of their mates.

Forgiveness is vital...but letting go of "victimhood" can be as tough as letting go of porn addiction. Wink

Perhaps couples could heal their wounds with a few weeks of bonding behaviors, without orgasm. See The Lazy Way to Stay in Love A period of mutual, genuinely selfless bonding behaviors can help to reset the nervous system and dissolve old defenses.

I'm a husband. My wife sees my use of porn as personal and deliberate rejection of her. She "cannot understand" how a heterosexual man can look at porn and not consciously lust after the women. Yet my lust was for the orgasmic high, and nothing more. I wish she could understand that the reaction to porn is almost uncontrollable for neurological reasons rather than due to a conscious desire to seek out alternative companionship. There was no desire for actual infidelity.

Since we have tried to re establish our sex life I can say truthfully say that my orgasmic experience with her has surpassed any orgasm I experienced using Porn.