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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husband suffers from pornography/online sex addiction and

Resolved Question:

My husband suffers from pornography/online sex addiction and I've known about it for the last 7 years of our 20 year marriage. While he claims to no longer use pornography, our marriage is a disaster. We have both been in individual counseling for over three years. I've learned that my husband's addiction is not my fault and I can't help him. The problem is this, my husband constantly wants to focus on my behaviors throughout his addiction. He tells me I handle it/him badly. When I cry, he gets angry, when I get angry he starts blaming. He does not seem capable of handling my emotions in relation to his addiction and the impact it has had on our relationship. If I bring up my feelings about what he's done or behaviors he is currently doing, he always responds, "Well what about YOU and YOUR behaviors through all of us? I think you have handled this badly!" My response is, "I'm sorry but I wasn't aware I was dealing with an addict! And then when I found out, I'm sorry but I'm not a therapist and I'm angry and hurt by what you've done! I'm sorry I didn't handle it the "right" way!" He keeps his cell phone on him at all times and refuses to allow me to see it or his bill. He claims this is because when I did have access to this information, I grilled him endlessly about every single number I didn't recognize. I personally feel that my paranoia was justified due to not trusting him. He not tells me, "Too bad. I gave you access to those records, you handled the information badly. Now you don't get to see my cell phone records anymore. Blame yourself." My question is this, does it sound like he's still behaving as an addict although he's not "using"? Where does my responsibility begin/end here? Do I have a right to still be angry?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

 

You do have a right to be angry because your husband is blaming you for his behavior. By telling you that you handled the addiction poorly, he is trying to transfer blame to avoid feeling ashamed and insecure about what he did.

 

You are not responsible for what he did. Anytime someone goes outside the marriage for satisfaction, it undermines the trust of the relationship. And without trust, there cannot be a relationship. Trust is slow to rebuild and in order to do so, the person who had the problem needs to be sorry for what they did and be willing to accept full responsibility. That does not mean they need to grovel for forgiveness every day, which is what some people who are at fault believe, but instead they need to be sincere when they apologize and need to work to make amends, including accepting their spouses feelings about the incident.

 

Some people try to blame the incident on their spouses. They try to say that they were unhappy in the marriage and therefore they had to do something to feel better. But addictions and/or sexual straying is never the other persons fault. There are many ways to address issues in a relationship, but addiction to sex and pornography is not one. It only makes matters worse.

 

Your only responsibility in this siltation is to accept your husband's apology (if he offers a genuine one) and to make an effort to put the marriage back together, if that is what you want. It is his responsibility to regain your trust, even if that means you get to look at his phone, computer and know where he is all day every day until you feel trust is reestablished (within reason. If it takes longer, therapy may be needed to get to the root of the problem).

 

Your husband needs to stop blaming you and begin working on this issue to rebuild your marriage. Talk to him about how you feel and ask him to get help if he cannot stop blaming you. He may have issues he has not dealt with yet that are preventing him from working through this problem normally.

 

I hope this has helped you,
Kate

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