By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS
“I don’t want to be here,” said Amanda shaking her head slowly with tears running down her cheeks. “Three days ago, I was a care-free wife, and today I’m in a counseling office next to a man who supposedly is my loving and faithful husband, but instead I find out he looks at porn and has been with prostitutes. I didn’t sign up for this. This wasn’t the life I was promised by him!”
Unfortunately, with the rapid increase in the number of sexual and pornography addiction cases, more wives are waking up from what they thought was a dream marriage only to discover they have landed in the middle of a dark and ugly Grimms’ fairy-tale. The shock of having your safe and peaceful world collapse around you leaves a woman in a state of trauma as she discovers her husband’s sexual wrongdoings and deception.
“I don’t know my husband,” said Kaye, whose husband admitted to having countless one-night encounters with women he met on hookup apps. “Twenty-two years of a sham marriage. It meant nothing to him. It was all lies, and I was too naive to recognize it. Stupid me.”
To our wives, we’re no longer white knights, but instead, we look like ogres. So, what now?
Our goal is to work in helping our wives to one day experience a new sense of security and certainy. A security that is demonstrated in our ability to manage our sexual/porn addiction; and certainty that is shown in our commitment to become the “new guy,” who possesses a changed heart and priorities that focus on her and family.
So, how do we achieve this? Well, here are just four ideas to get you started.
- We practice honesty, honesty, honesty. Our wives should expect and deserve nothing less from us. But this new transparency reaches far beyond our openness with any sexual struggles and should cover all aspects of our lives. We hide nothing and share everything. There are no more secrets. And we don’t hold back information in fear of their response. We’re an open book.
- We become outwardly focus. For too long, most of us have been running through life with our heads down and trapped in our own heads. It’s now time to lift our heads high and become alert and focused on our surroundings and especially the needs and desires of those we love. After God, they become our most important commitment.
- We learn to express our emotions. Yikes! Yes, it’s the “e” word, but it’s one of the most critical aspects to recovery and helping our wives feel secure. Knowing how to identify and express our emotions – beyond anger, sadness, happiness, and fear – shows we are holding nothing back and that we genuinely want to be in a relationship rooted in emotional intimacy. Now we’re talking about real change.
- We’re willing to sit with her pain. Here is where too many guys fail to make the grade. I call it walking into the fire (see my previous article on this subject). During her recovery, you may see times where everything has calmed down, which may give you the impression that she’s healed. You couldn’t be more wrong. That is why it’s essential during these times to reach out and ask her about her healing process. Stop laughing. I’m serious. That’s why I call it walking into the fire because you probably are going to get burnt. But the risk is worth the reward because the underlining message you send her is, “I will sit here with you in your pain.” And believe me, that’s huge.
There’s no doubt we have crushed her world. We have disappointed and betrayed. However, we can’t stay stuck in feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, we must move forward by taking positive actions that over time, will once again provide her with a sense of security. And that takes time, hard work, and patience on our part. If we are committed to changing our heart, together we have the opportunity to live out the marriage she always dreamed of.
Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Marietta, GA. He is certified in the treatment of sexual and pornography addiction. He is the author of the book, Removing Your Shame Label: Learning to Break From Shame and Feel God’s Love. His latest book, “Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction” will be published February 2020.