Quantcast
National Edition

Trauma and recovery: 2 couples claw back from porn addiction

Published: Tuesday, July 9 2013 11:40 p.m. MDT

Couples can develop cognitive tools for the addiction and relationship tools for creating safety.

Shutterstock

Enlarge photo»

Editor's note: The following story deals with sexually-themed subject matter that will not be appropriate for some readers. Discretion is advised.

This is part four in a four-part series. Read part one: "Ubiquitous assailant: The dangerous unasked questions surrounding pornography." Read part two: "Second-hand porn: the spreading circle of damage." Read part 3: "Why laws to fight pornography aren't being used."

The worst moment for Megan was not the initial discovery of Tom’s porn habit. That had been tough but she handled it. Fourteen years later, though, Tom was still hooked on pornography, with no end in sight.

Then Megan learned about the strip clubs.

Megan (names have been changed) had developed strong intuition about Tom’s porn use.

“I can tell,” she told Tom. “It’s your temper, short fuse, frustration level with the kids, general irritability. I know that is not your real self. When I see that, I think you are acting out.”

After that, Tom worked at controlling his temper to hide his porn binges, but no deception is perfect.

He was on a business trip in 2010 when she challenged him on the phone from their home in the Salt Lake City area, asking point-blank whether he had ever been to strip clubs. Tom had, but he hadn't visited one in six years. He confessed that he had gone more than once, but less than several and that he had quit after getting a lap dance, which he saw as a dangerous step toward further infidelity.

“That was very scary to me,” Tom says. “It became real.”

So he drew a line against strip clubs and held it. But the hotel room porn and Internet indulgence continued, as did the guilt and irritability. Still, even though the strip club indiscretion was six years old, Megan had asked the question.

"Do you really want to discuss this on the phone?" Tom answered. “I think we better do this face to face.”

“I came home from that trip, and the next day, which happened to be my birthday, we sat down,” Tom said. “The strip clubs were obviously a sucker punch for her.”

Megan was through hoping and waiting.

First discovery

Megan had discovered his porn habit two years after they got married.

Their marriage to that point had been solid — no grounds for mistrust. Then one day Megan, upon returning from a weekend trip, asked Tom what he had done while she was gone. “I totally knew he was lying,” she said. Called on it, Tom admitted that he had looked at pornography.

The habit had begun two years ealier, he explained, when he had chanced on a soft core pornographic magazine while picking up trash in the neighborhood. He snuck it home, and he had been looking at pornography ever since.

With the truth on the table, the couple talked to their Mormon bishop. He encouraged Tom to “try harder” or exercise more.

“Ecclesiastical leaders didn’t really have the tools back then," Megan said.

But Tom tried nonetheless. “They call it ‘white knuckling,’ ” Megan said. Tom would gut out his addiction for six months, or a year, then slip up again. Meanwhile, the anger and resentment built up in Megan.

“At one point, I was so angry with him that I wanted him to die,” Megan said. “I thought, please God, just take him off the face of the earth. It hurt so bad.” A natural optimist, Megan found herself at times wanting to “curl up in the closet and cry all day.”

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS