Addiction | Focus on the Family Australia
How To Tell Your Spouse About Your Porn Problem
By M.T. Willliams
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It’s time to move toward healing and freedom. You’ve realised your porn addiction isn’t going to disappear on its own and you know one of the first steps in the journey toward restoration is to come clean with your spouse. But starting this conversation is difficult. It’s a complicated issue, affecting the deepest parts of a marriage.

So, how do you tell your spouse the whole story in a way that is honouring and safe for you both? Below are the steps a professional counsellor might use to guide a couple toward full disclosure and open honesty. While there are no guarantees in these steps, they have proven helpful to numerous couples seeking reconciliation.

More often than not, the best choice for you as a couple is to meet together with a professional and let him or her walk you through this process from the beginning. A trained counsellor, pastor or other professional who has experience in dealing with marriage problems, infidelity and sexual addiction will help you avoid mistakes that might cause further harm to your relationship. You can expect to go through a process similar to these eight steps:

1. Start by telling your spouse the general category of your problem
You can say something like, “I’ve got a problem and I need help. My problem is related to (pornography, affairs, masturbation, etc.).” Explain that the best way forward will be to meet with a professional who can help you disclose everything at one time so that neither of you has to repeat this painful process. Often, more damage is done in a marriage by sharing the truth in fits and starts rather than in a methodical and complete manner.

2. Resist the urge to have a prolonged conversation or answer lots of questions
Assure your spouse that all his or her questions are valid and deserve thorough answers in time. Reiterate the importance of working with a professional who can help you tell the whole truth at one time.

3.Offer your spouse options for getting support
These might include a knowledgeable Christian counsellor, a specialised support group (local, online or by telephone), or a close and trusted friend. Spouses need safe places outside the relationship to share their emotions, explore their deepest values, and work through decisions about responding and moving forward. Leaving your spouse alone in his or her experience is not a healthy situation and will only exacerbate a difficult issue. Thoughtfully write down your entire history of pornography use and any related unhealthy patterns. This is a key part of owning your story, explaining it thoroughly to your husband or wife and laying the groundwork for healing.

4. Share your written history with a professional
This will help you explore and clarify the truth and ensure nothing of significance is omitted, forgotten or misconstrued.

5. Based on your conversation with the professional, condense your history into a shareable form suitable for your spouse
A full yet relatively succinct admission letter.

6. Draft a working recovery plan
One that has visible points of success that your spouse can observe. This highly valuable tool can help rebuild spousal trust moving forward.

7. Schedule a counselling session with your spouse and allow the professional to facilitate the conversation.
Share with your husband or wife the condensed history, the recovery plan and anything else he or she should know. Disclosing your whole story at one point in time may seem overwhelming, but the previous steps will help make this doable for you and your spouse. And in the long run, this is the safest path toward healing and complete restoration. Also, most importantly, plan to follow through on your recovery plan in visible and accountable ways.

8. Invite your spouse to ask questions.
Be patient and give him or her time to process the information you shared. When he or she poses a question, do your best to answer directly and honestly, especially any questions that you may not have naturally covered in your written history.

If you've been hiding your pornography use, the state of your marriage is similar to a condemned building—the foundation of secrecy is cracking and the trust between you and your spouse is falling apart. In a sense, these steps walk you through the process of tearing down that condemned building and laying a new foundation of honesty, vulnerability and forgiveness.

The task is challenging. But with support, honesty and patience, this rewarding work can help you and your spouse build a vibrant, holy marriage.

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