Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts

Porn Wife Shame

If your husband or partner has a problem with pornography, it is easy to look in the mirror and start picking yourself apart. You know that this is his problem and only he can be accountable for his actions but you beat yourself up anyway for having 'failed'. You may not be as youthful, fit, toned as you would like. Life's hectic pace may have put physical love on a back burner. You know that sexual images are everywhere and men are more visually-oriented than women. Nobody is perfect but if you had your life more together, you wonder if he would have become addicted. You may at some point or another feel embarrassment, guilt, humiliation and shame. Many of these emotions are used interchangeably but there are big differences. Take a closer look at guilt and shame.

When you know you have done something wrong you feel guilty. Shame makes you feel there is something wrong with you.
When you have made a mistake you feel guilty. Shame makes you feel as if you are a mistake.
When you know what you did wasn't good you feel guilty. Shame makes you feel as if you aren't good.

Guilt can be a very constructive emotion. When you feel guilt, you recognize that something you did was wrong and you may have caused someone else harm. Guilt is feeling sorry for your behavior and then taking positive, corrective action. Shame on the other hand can be one of the most destructive emotions we as humans can experience. Shame is about feeling like an outsider: self-loathing, fear of exposure and ridicule, rejection. It's intensely painful, and makes you feel like you're flawed and unworthy of acceptance. Shame is what fuels a porn addict to act out again and again. Shame is what traps a porn addict's wife or partner.

How does shame manifest itself in a porn addict?

There is a wide range of possibilities however some of the following actions may be familiar to you. Your husband or partner may hide their eyes, avoid eye contact, lower their gaze, blush, bite their lips, present a forced smile or fidget. They may respond to you with annoyance, defensiveness, minimize/exaggeration or denial. Because the affect of shame often interferes with the ability to think, he may experience confusion, being at a loss for words, or a completely blank mind.

How does shame manifest itself in a porn addict's wife or partner?

When you feel shame you believe a part of who you are is intrinsically bad. Your self-esteem plummets. You end up feeling sorry for who you are. There can be episodes of intense pain and humiliation. A shameful wife may not feel as though there is anything concrete that she can do to relieve her pain. She may engage in unproductive coping mechanisms (overeating, undereating, smoking, drinking, drug use) which can increase her level and intensity of shame. It can heighten the sense that you aren't good enough and not worthy to seek outside help. If you feel ashamed, you're more likely to continue the behaviors that cause shame and enter a negative downward spiral. Shame is often a central ingredient in experiences of feeling:

alienated   inadequate  helpless powerless  defenseless  weak    insecure     uncertain
ineffectual  inferior       flawed   exposed    unworthy     hurt     intimidated  defeated
umped       rebuffed     stupid   bizarre      odd            peculiar  different

Why is it that women are hesitant to seek help and find support for their pain? They want to protect where they are and what they have. What are they protecting? Their families, their reputation and their sanity.

This isn't rocket science here. Word travels quickly and sexual addiction isn't as socially accepted as drug or alcohol addiction. How much teasing will Michael get on his little league team if the kids find out his Dad is a 'pervert'? How many slumber parties will Emma have if it is known her Father is a porn addict? It is this type of downwind impact that makes a mother grit her teeth with anger. Mothers generally have the most responsibility for the kids' happiness and safety. Fathers are supposed to be able to provide a sense of security. There are more innocent lives than just yours affected by his selfish online activities.

Porn addiction can brand you. How many families move to a new city to escape the scandal of a publicized problem with porn? If it involves someone close to you (a neighbor or a co-worker) or involves something illegal (child porn or prostitutes), it is often too much for a family to manage if others are aware of the struggles.

You are more than your husband's problem with porn. If you choose to confide in a close friend or family member, they can hang on the topic longer than you wish to in conversation or bring it up more often than you would like. Well meant advice can also add to your pain. 'Try wearing new/naughty lingerie to bed' or 'Boys will be boys' isn't very helpful when you are in the midst of grieving for the loss of the relationship you thought you had.

>> How to Quit Porn Addiction Starting Now