Advice needed-Partner's Withdrawal symptoms from Porn addiction

Submitted by concerned_wife on
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Hi all,
Am new to this site and am really happy to find such an excellent website which I think and really hope,will help my husband's withdrawal from porn addiction..To tell a long story short, Me and My husband got married 4 years ago and we had known each other for around 5 years..Eventhough we were in love ,we waited till we got approval from our parents and then tied the knot.The Society from which we hail practices celibacy until marriage and we did it too.Eventhough we have been married for 4 years,we are childless so far because of my PCOS and am undergoing fertility treatment now.My next set of fertilty tablets are due to be started by mid week of september and we are expected to try for a baby for the 3 months starting from september.If this cycle fails,we have no other hope other than to go for IVF.Now about my Husband,He is 34 and am 27,He is such a wonderful person and I knew he had to look at porn sometimes when he feels bored.Being a health care professional, and with a lot of interest in Neurological studies ,I do know a little bit of Psychology/Psychiatry thing and thought I can de-addict him over a period of time.Initially,I got mad and even yelled at him to come out of that habit as our sex lives were not that existant and as we were trying for a baby,the results were devastating..It was really taking a toll..He was too willing to give up and would promise me that he will come out..He tried coming out,say a couple of times and even I lended him a helping hand by asking him to be open..and said will watch it with him if at all he gets any temptation.Days were fine,and even though I was expecting a relapse, and used to question him daily to make him aware of what he was doing,he used to reply me that he is preparing for his next career level certifications& examinations .. (he has the habit of watching porn by getting up early in the morning,when am asleep) and I believed him because he promised to be honest with me..Day before yesterday I found out that he is watching porn again,and when I expressed myself calmly to him and questioned him about watching porn, he lied but then accepted he was watching it,I was devastated.Its around 4 cycles now of addiction-deaddiction-relapse thing..I do love him and I felt I was being pushed to the brink that I may land up with a personality disorder of 'distrustfulness'.Anyways I'm trying to overcome it and wanted really to support him to come out of it..I have made him to read the entire article on porn addiction in this website..and now he seems to understand what it is all about..I really feel his listening,language skills and reasoning,judgement everything has gone down because of his addiction and I made him aware of his current situation.He is willing to try and I really want him to succeed.He is currently in his withdrawal period and have requested me to install parental control..I have installed k9 in both of our computers and even swapped his mobile to an ordinary one which doesnt support any internet.I need advice on how to deal with his withdrawal symptoms..So far he says he really feels heavy in his chest, and gets head ache and nausea ,and is aware of the changes..He even says he is talking more to people than usual and his mind urges him to eat sugary foods or just keeps singing giving him restlessness.I would really want to know if all this is normal..I want to try this cycle with him by giving him full care and support and if its not giving any fruit,I may wish to try counselling next time it relapses.I would be happy if I can get a list of withdrawal symptoms like ,what I can expect from him and how could I support him and bring him through this.What techniques could I try,What things I should be aware of,How do I track his progress (So far am encouraging him to do paintings or to hear relaxing calm music-his hobby, getting up with him,making him get atleast 7-8 hours of sleep,and I have asked him to write a 'honest' journal,whether he had watched it or overcame the urge and keep it to himself for privacy,(to avoid guilt and shame) and I would remind him to write the journal morning and evening-daily..He does that and feels comfortable..)How do I help him further?!!Sorry for such a long post,I seriously want some tips and would love to know what am currently trying is a right approach or a wrong one...Any help is highly appreciated..

Hi,

Sorry you two are struggling. My first thought, though, is that you are trying to "do it for him." That simply will not be as effective as him doing it for himself. Also, it's a funny thing with addiction...but addicts need other addicts to support them. If their only "confessor" is someone they love, whom they want to be perfect for, it can be very hard for them to get the kind of shame-free environment they need to support their healing - especially if a relapse occurs. Shame makes the need to self-medicate stronger, as I'm sure you can understand.

So my thought is that if he wants to heal, he should find a support group that works for him. And you should let him get on with it. The best thing you can do is daily bonding behaviors (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-laz...)...and perhaps experiment with karezza (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200908/another...). Show him you care with loving *actions* and stop questioning him. He will need months to return to equilibrium, so daily reports don't make sense.

Has he seen the videos at the end of this article? Your Brain on Porn
http://www.reuniting.info/node/3343

Most of your questions are answered here, by the way: http://www.reuniting.info/wiki#porn And his withdrawal symptoms are normal, although excruciating. See some of these: http://www.reuniting.info/node/1725

Also, forgive me, but I can't help but wonder why you want to bring a child into such an unstable situation. Perhaps healing the relationship should come first.

Wishing you all the best in this troubled time.

Dear CW, maybe your husband

Dear CW,
maybe your husband would enjoy chatting with others here on Reuniting. Chatting with guys who have gone thru it and have relapsed. If you look at many of the stories here you may see that many have gone thru the cycle like your husband emerging on the other side and then then getting back on the track again. Encourage him to start a profile and start sharing ( if he doesn't want to because you are here, he can at least ask questions.)

It is also my experience with addictive behaviors that the addict must be the driving force, or it will be too easy to relapse, as they have no real stake in the change. Marnia mentioned that too. It may require that you back off from 'prescribing' his "cure.' I know my husband normally does exactly the opposite of what I suggest. LOL. Would you back off from this site to get him to feel free to talk to others? He may be able to find a couple of guys willing to just talk to him in PM, if that makes him feel more secure. I have seen so many helpful people around here, I think he would feel comfortable being here .

Tell him we would love to have him,

Regards,
NP Hypnotist

Thank You for your suggestions..

First of all,I thank you,Marnia and NP Hypnotist for all your immensely helpful suggestions.Regarding trying for the baby,We have decided to wait for some more time till we are actually ready.Am consulting the GP regarding that soon.Also he does not know that am a forum member here, I registered myself here because I thought it might help me to get useful suggestions and might be a great support for me at times..and for your information I did encourage him to become a forum member here.He has registered himself yesterday as I thought what you both were suggesting is right.I dont even know his id and am comfortable with that.He said he wants to be active in this forum and thanked me for finding one like this.. but seems he feels comfortable writing his own journal than sitting in front of the computer,as he thinks it might be a trigger factor for him,in the initial days of withdrawal.To update you ,He poured out all his guilty(mostly sexual) things he had encountered since he was a teen,yesterday and said he feels really light,guilt free and comfortable after that.It was hard to digest all those things but am trying to be a little brave to come out of it.Also we have started that karezza technique and bonding behaviours a couple of days ago..and am finding it to be very comforting for both of us.As Marnia suggested,I have stopped questioning him and am trying to accept him as he is.Thank you very much for your immense timely support..Hope we come out of it soon.

*fingers crossed*

that karezza helps him get the hard work done and turn the corner. I'm convinced that it provides both the sexual touch and comfort that his brain was actually seeking in porn for all those years he was without a mate. Now we'll see if I'm right. Wink

In any case, it can't hurt, and the comforting contact may help you to realize you are loved, even if he's still struggling for a while. Remember, his problem predated you, and the Internet has caused a lot of vulnerable brains of truly wonderful men to drown in over-stimulation. (Who knows? It's also possible it has affected his sperm count, which means it may bounce back with time. Did you see this research? http://www.reproduction-online.org/cgi/content/abstract/6/2/269)

It is very hard to be in your situation. We understand, and empathize. You should feel free to PM anyone you like, too, if you need more support. PM's might be best, because he may stumble on your public posts if he does become a regular here at some point...and knowing you're in pain would only make it harder on him. But you do what you need to do, even if that's post publicly.

Also, I think that some "for pay" porn recovery programs offer a lot of support for spouses. Most have a slightly religious tinge, but maybe that won't matter too much. We liked this series by "Innergold." (See video links at the bottom of this page: http://www.reuniting.info/node/3343) I don't know if they have a spouse-support forum, but if you notice your anxiety building, you might want to check into that, or a site called "Candeo."

My husband was an addict when we met, as recounted in my book. Not to porn, but to alcohol. He was sober in about 4 months...but those 4 months had some hellish moments. I had no wish to be an enabler, which produced inner conflict. But for me the worst part was wondering...every time he was late...if he had decided to binge again. Most of the time he hadn't, but I found the constant uncertainty very stressful. Hopefully, you won't let it get to you. Smile

The good news is that a recovered addict is an especially wise, humble human being, who has had to sort out his/her priorities from the bottom up. My husband is a wonderful mate, and I suspect your husband will soon be, too.

*big hug*

Just an update..

Thank you for your insightful reply Marnia,You are doing a great job by replying each and every post personally.It means so much to those people out there seeking for support and to de-addict.Of course,What you say is right.I should start PM but I do not know anyone here,as am new.My Husband does know how painful it is for me and is trying to help me at his best.For now,I just have some irritability,constant worry and mood swings,Wish I outgrow it soon.Regarding Bonding and Karezza, Yay,Its Day 3..and we both feel its very comforting.But I have a couple of doubts.Whenever we are trying the bonding behaviour it feels very nice and comforting but when we start cuddling and lie together or when we are slowly and gently kissing each other,my husband gets an erection immediately and is afraid whether he will have an orgasm if we remain like that.So I have to take care and move away for sometime to put off that 'trigger' to 'passion' cycle,which am not comfortable with,i.e It feels something like suddenly pushing/drifting away when we get all-cosier..How can I overcome this.Is this Normal?

Yesterday we went for an evening walk,and we sat near a fountain area,just to have a talk.I was very comfortable talking but when he wanted to gaze at my eyes,I seriously got shy and was suddenly aware of the surroundings and people and brushed it off (Yes,Shy after 5 years of togetherness...What does that even sound like??!!).I have never been like that though..He even opened up to me by telling what his brain makes him do,just to compulsively look at girls,even if its a child.Anyways the walk was comforting,until my husband saw some art work by a college student at the mall nearby showcasing addiction and betrayal with many words written such as 'Your words are like honey (in Bold) followed by a sentence written in smaller case 'or is it just a sticky trap'? He saw this,and got gloomy all the way back and even had a mind-fog for some time,that he dint even know what he was doing.Iam trying hard to keep him away from guilt and self remorse..and he feels guilt-free at most of the time..But unexpected situations like this is causing a havoc in his mind.He suddenly gets all the way silent and down,for which I dont want to question him but cant help getting too concerned,irritable and tensed till he is back to normal.How do I deal with it?

What are all the foods/drinks that we should really avoid or intake less,so that it helps him with his recovery.We never take any form of Junk foods,coke,pizzas,burgers,fries or anything.. and I do make our own traditional staple Vegetarian food at home along with lots of fruits and vegetables(We never drink/smoke and are Vegetarians from birth).Do dark chocolates,herbal/fruit teas help?If Yes,What kind of teas would be of help?He is taking multivitamins for his general health too.Also I would like to know if aromatherapy can be of any help,in reducing his stress,anxiety,and impulsive behaviour.Yesterday,I just wanted to try this and made him to smell some chamomile blended essential oil in his pillow before sleep and he felt his head ache lessened.Am not well versed in these things,But any advice on this would definitely help us.

Advanced Thanks for your support and replies..

In my limited experience...

There is definitely a learning curve to navigating between bonding behaviors and traditional "fertilization" sex. I've been experimenting some with a particular woman and there seems to be a point where a switch flips and we are off to the races getting all heated up for intercourse. We aren't even having sex yet...but our brains want us too. I'm sure it would be very steamy but it's also spurs habituation so I'm just sticking to the bonding behaviors for now.

As far as hubby's erection...well that's actually a good sign. If he's anything like the porn user I used to be it would take certain circumstances to get and maintain an erection, ones that usually followed a typical porn script. Anyway there will be erections with you or without you I get them all the time...as long as one doesn't succumb to masturbation there won't be any orgasm and there won't be a passion cycle. It goes down in a pretty short time now...I can will it away actually now. Something that is new to me...my conscious mind is in control instead of my limbic brain. That's a good thing.

So what I find works is to focus on the relaxation aspect of bonding behaviors. Stay clothed and focus on non-sexual touch. I read the exercises right out of the book. At first I thought I was being corny now I realize without a structure I would have never gotten anywhere and I feel I've gotten some results. Most important for your man is his willingness to do it. Porn is exceedingly hard to quit and it takes lots of self-discovery and changing of long established habits. Even if he wants to quit it can take some time to do it...but I did it without the help of a loving partner like yourself so he should have better, faster results with someone like you around.

Incidentally, I'm vegan and there's no shortage of terrific recipes I've been eating lately. I don't think there's anything specific to recommend except whatever it is you like the best. Wink Lavish yourself with your favorite foods. Be good to each other this way. One of the bonding behaviors is to prepare meals for your partner. If your work lives allow, have him cook for you one day and then switch. It's more the act of doing something nice without asking anything in return (especially sex) that acts as balm for the anxiety of withdrawal.

This way of life is about mutual giving...we are all inborn communitarians and with selfless giving we can wash away a lot of the pain and pressure that builds up from life. It's such a powerful and rewarding practice. I can't wait till I have a long term woman to share this with.

Actually, it sounds like

you're doing as well as can be expected. There will be ups and downs. Things will trigger him. This is normal. It seems to take a while for the brain circuits that porn has connected with sexual arousal to weaken, and the others (loving contact with you) to strengthen. He may always be somewhat sensitive to some types of images. Tell him to think of them as cartoons. Because, honestly, the part of his brain that is driving this kind of circuit formation honestly doesn't *care* about the content. It's just looking for a drug fix. Smile

Traditionally spicy food has been thought to make it more difficult to control sexual urges, so you may want to cut back on that. My theory (I always have one...ask my husband Wink ) is that chilis can slightly irritate the urinary tract, mimicking the "heat" of sexual arousal, causing erotic dreams, etc.

I'm no herbal tea expert, but verbena has also been recommended here: http://www.ageless.co.za/lemon_verbena.htm I occasionally use chamomile now and then, so that makes sense to me.

Yes, eye-gazing can be VERY intimate. I bet many couples would have the same experience you did. But it can help you bond deeply, so keep it up...especially while he's doubting his worth. Think of all the behaviors that bond mother and child, and freely use "lover" versions of them. He'll soon be feeling stronger, but remember, it took him a long time to re-wire his brain, so be patient.

Dano is right that you want to avoid deliberate arousal, but actually there's one form of sexual touch that can really help ease sexual frustration. Hold his penis, even through his clothes, when he has an erection. Continue until his erection fades, although you can then keep your hand on his penis gently if you like. Don't squeeze tight, but make sure he can feel the connection. Being "received" by a partner can be very soothing, especially by men in an overheated state. My theory is that they sometimes feel like a loose electrical wire sparking on the ground...and completing the "circuit" is comforting. Orgasm isn't necessary, but feeling connected and received is. Let me know if you try it.

Just for the record, when I said recovered addicts are wise and humble, I didn't mean they are "weak." They are lovely, strong men, often with a great sense of humor. Human folly (our own or others') can be good for some laughs once we no longer feel trapped by our own.

OMG-It works

First of all,thank you Dano and Marnia..Dano your reply was so informative,especially about that *SWITCH* which is very true.Marnia,Your solution for the erection during bonding behaviour definitely works..and atleast it helps me not to drift away when we get cosier..Infact,I feel it strengthens the bond more as we tend to stay closer..It did work all the 5 times from yesterday..My hubby got his erection whenever we bonded or if I hugged him without saying 'lets try those bonding behaviours' lol..but then voila,when I did as you said ,Its gone..But sometimes he feels so calm he dozes off.. Offlate,he sleeps really well and was happy about people complementing his bright happy face and clear eyes..He proudly says, its because he is in de-addiction mode without any guilt or shame-which is a welcome factor!I really feel motivated..Its Day 4 today without porn or orgasm .In fact, He hasnt gone online much other than to post in this forum..Hope this continues.I did download few self-tracking tools for him 3 days ago and he says he is regularly updating them.He even avoids watching Television or anything thats animated.Took him out yesterday to watch some of the events in our town and am planning to take him to even more,as there is a festival going on,in and around our town to promote the place.He really enjoys it and is helping us to bond.Will try lemon verbena..Right now he prefers chamomile..Let me update you as it happens... FYI:He has started to clean our house more than usual...and again and again..He never does it much unless I ask him to..Is this normal? :) (Sorry to sound silly :( )

It doesn't sound silly

It all sounds wonderful. It's great that he's feeling happy and proud, and that you are so loving and optimistic.

I'm also happy the penis-holding technique helps. Several men have independently told me to recommend it to people for years. I even added it to the list of bonding behaviors in my book.

He's lucky to be sleeping so well. Your loving presence is probably a major reason. Insomnia is one of the toughest withdrawal symptoms for single guys. They know orgasm would knock them out, but they also want to return to equilibrium so they don't need to medicate. But too little sleep creates stress...and stress increases the urge to seek relief.

Anyway, sounds like you're managing to enjoy yourself, too, which is lovely. It's such a good feeling to know that our loving energy can comfort a partner, isn't it?

Just keep in mind that this will take time, and ups and downs are normal. Usually the first two weeks are the toughest, and another turning point for the better comes around 6 weeks.

I had a story in my first book (The second one is more up to date and better all around.) that would make you laugh out loud. A woman tried non-orgasmic sex with her sweetheart, and the next day he woke up and said, "I think I'd like to mow your grass for you today." (Up to then, with normal sex, he just wanted to bolt as soon as possible. *grin*) The fact is that when either sex is feeling a sense of wholeness (rather than feeling depleted from low dopamine receptors, or whatever), loving attention is *normal.* It's true for women, too. This is one of the major gifts for us from karezza. We always feel like "doing that extra little something" for each other...so it usually doesn't feel like a chore at all. Smile