Being married to a porn or sex addict is at once infuriating and devastating. No matter which side of the marriage you’re on, this is a profoundly hard time.
If you are in addiction recovery and it’s your goal to redeem your marriage, there is a lot of hard work ahead of you.
But don’t be afraid.
Other couples, far more than you can imagine, have been in exactly your place before and survived. Marriages can survive porn and sex addiction. The key is that both partners need to be fully invested in:
- Repairing the relationship
- Rebuilding trust
- And making it work, no matter what.
So how do you get back to happiness?
Perhaps the hardest part of salvaging a marriage after addiction is:
- Rebuilding broken trust
- Reestablishing real intimacy
The only balm for broken trust is time and consistency. Once you’ve put strong boundaries in place to protect yourself and your marriage from your addiction, you need to build a good track record over months and years of integrity. Only then can trust begin to flower.
Take it back to the start.
Take the time to go back and remember why you got together in the first place. What was it that first sparked your interest in one another? What was it that drove you crazy? How did you feel when you first got engaged? On your wedding day? On your honeymoon? Odds are, your marriage was originally built on something really good. Something really beautiful. You are both hopelessly flawed individuals. You knew that going in, at least we hope you did. Marriage is just two flawed people doing their absolute best to be a loving partner to another human being for the rest of their life. A good marriage always takes hard work, no matter your circumstances.
Avoid “grass is always greener” syndrome.
Another couple’s problems are likely just as challenging or far worse than your own. The grass is greener where you water and fertilize it. It doesn’t just happen. It takes work. And if you are willing to put in the hard labor of rebuilding something beautiful thing in your marriage, you will be rewarded profoundly. In fact, the brokenness might lead to even more beauty than was there before. And sometimes, the grass may be greener because it’s fake. You don’t need any more false beliefs in your life.
“Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life.” -My Modern Met.
Personally, we love the analogy of Kintsugi. We think it really applies to marriages that have been redeemed from a place of brokenness. No, your marriage will never be the same after you go through this struggle. But that does not mean it will not be good. That it will not be beautiful. Or that it will not be perhaps even more beautiful than it ever was before.
“There’s an old story about a broken teacup that we would like to tell in our own way to illustrate this portion of your journey. It is a story about a beautiful bone china teacup that has been passed down from generation to generation. This teacup is displayed carefully on a special shelf above the fireplace. One day when the wife is carefully placing the teacup on the shelf, it drops on the floor and shatters. Heartsick, the wife gathers the pieces together and carefully, over many weeks, reassembles the teacup, gluing it together piece after piece. When she is finished, she is still heartbroken because the beautiful pristine china is no longer as it was. It has been put back together, but to her it appears to be a monstrosity. As in many good stories, a wise old woman comes to visit, and the wife cries, telling the old woman she no longer has a beautiful teacup in which to serve tea to her guests. The wise old woman points out the beauty of the mended teacup. The teacup is now stronger in each place the glue has bonded piece to piece and the lines of the bonding form a beautiful and elegant pattern showing the immense care with which the teacup has been reassembled. She points out that it is not the same teacup as it was originally, but it is now a stronger cup reflective of the love and care that has been put into it.” Paldrom Collins and George N. Collins, MA, A Couple’s Guide to Sexual Addiction
Have hope. Hang in there. Be on each other’s team. You may have a long road ahead, a route that involves a lot of vulnerability and sadness and anger. But it is possible to come out on the other side with something even more beautiful than what you started with.