Eddie Capparucci, PhD, LPC, C-CSAS
“I have not looked at porn in over two years,” said Timmy, who has been married for 23 years and has struggled with pornography since he was 14. “But my wife still pays very little attention to me and will not reconcile sexually. It’s frustrating, and I have no idea what to do.”
Listening to Timmy, many counselors may be sympathetic toward his situation. Here is a man who has done the recovery work to remain pure from porn, yet his wife remains disengaged. Based on Timmy‘s input, some clinicians would be sympathetic toward him while condemning his wife’s actions. However, I have seen this scenario far too many times to jump to that conclusion.
You see, Timmy is one of those men who believes if he is no longer engaging in destructive behaviors, the relationship between him and his wife should be restored. However, he could not be more wrong. No longer engaging in pornography alone will not make a large majority of betrayed mates feel safe. So why is that?
Because while men like Timmy may have eliminated their bad behaviors, good behaviors that build relationships and encourage closeness are usually not exhibited. Let’s go back to Timmy’s situation.
Speaking to his wife, Taylor, she says although Timmy reports no longer looking at pornography, he is still very defensive, continuously checking his cell phone and not engaging with her and the children the way she would like despite numerous requests. Therefore, She refuses to move toward him because she does not trust he has stopped looking at pornography.
“He told me he is no longer doing that, and therefore I should believe it,” she told me. “But none of his other behaviors, which were just as troubling, have changed. I don’t see him making any positive behavioral changes that would make me feel more secure. And if he is not changing in other areas, why should I believe he no longer looks at porn?”
Who could argue with that? I certainly could not. A man in recovery needs to understand no longer engaging in bad behaviors is not enough to restore his relationship. Instead, his mate is looking to see a transformed heart and new actions that demonstrate selflessness.
The most effective way to help someone who is betrayed is through consistent actions that show “I am invested in us”. Actions such as being outwardly focused, emotionally engaged, curious, mindful, and completely transparent, to name a few. The only way to demonstrate to your partner a commitment to being faithful moving forward is by showing her a renewed heart focused on loving and honoring her always.
In my upcoming book entitled Why Men Struggle To Love, you will learn why loving is difficult while understanding how to develop a transformed heart. It will be available in January 2022. To learn more or to be added to the waiting list, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.