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Pornography and the Gym

37wallflower73 posted 6/12/2019 12:17 PM

Hi everyone, I am hoping for some advice/insight on an issue we are dealing with on our road to Reconciliation.

So part of what WS could do for me after dday #2 was to stop watching pornography. We discussed it in depth and with our psychologist, and he agreed that this is something he is willing to do for me, that I will no longer compromise on. It has been 3 months since the agreement, however he hasn't watched porn for closer to 9 months. Our solution has been that he has pictures of me that he can use. A recurring worry I have is that it wont be enough, and today that fear was almost realized.

WS was at the gym while I was at work, and saw an attractive lady and noticed her ass. He didn't stare, or try to contact her, anything that would raise red flags. He continued on with his workout and thought no more of it until he was home hours later, and when she came to mind, it put him in the mood to watch porn. He tried jerking off to my pictures...except he couldn't come this time. He was hating himself so much he decided to cut after waiting an hour and a half (IC told us to try increasing the time between the urge to self harm and when we actually do it in hopes the urge will lessen).

Anyway, he told me that night, and I was very happy, I saw this as openness and honesty and rebuilding of trust that he was choosing not to keep this from me.

After a fight, I said some things I regret in my pain and anger, and he is filled with shame at the idea of him continuing to go to the gym now.

We are worried and have questions.

Is he a porn addict? Is this a red flag? What happens if my pictures aren't enough, what are some solutions that have worked for others? Should he refrain from going to the gym?

He will see attractive women elsewhere, it's a fact we can't escape from and we are both struggling to come to terms with.

rugswept posted 6/12/2019 12:36 PM

he sounds like he's doing his best. he's not dead, so he notices attractive women.

it was a moment of weakness and he had great urges to do things he shouldn't. consider it a relapse. the fact he brought it up is a sign he knew this wasn't good and he's trying to be truthful about it.

keep an eye on him to see if he's falling back into that very destructive pattern.

ugca36 posted 6/12/2019 12:51 PM

I commend your Husband for being able to go 9 months before a slip. This, and the fact he talked to you about the slip, both give me the impression that this is not the behavior of an addict.

I'm not a professional though, and this is just the opinion of someone going through their own struggles eliminating vices from daily life.

37wallflower73 posted 6/12/2019 14:12 PM

Thank you so much for your comments, they are very reinforcing to us that he is normal and doing everything he can to not hurt me again.

Unfortunately, I was a bit unclear in my post. He has not watched pornography or googled pictures in 9 months, however, he still struggles with the urge occasionally. Since puberty, it has been years of it being his 'go-to', so we are at a loss for how to replace it. Also, how does one differentiate between 'feeling horny' and 'wanting to watch porn' when they were synonymous for so long?

Is this still considered a relapse, if he had the urge but didn't watch anything?

I am glad to know others do not think that he is a porn addict, our therapist said the same thing....I believe I just scarred us when the first book I tried reading in recovery was A Couple's Guide to Sexual Addiction

ugca36 posted 6/12/2019 15:04 PM

Is this still considered a relapse, if he had the urge but didn't watch anything?

My non-professional opinion: No.

Our bodies are laced with hormones that give us extremely strong urges to go out and reproduce. Our body chemistries are all different so you may not feel the same thing as someone else, and that makes it hard to understand.

If your husband was able to have an urge and not act on it, I would call that a win. If he did act on it and didn't tell you, it would be a warning sign that he could be relapsing, and I don't think that is what happened here.

You explained that there are years of habit being unwound. His body has been conditioned for decades to receive satisfaction when urges are felt. I sympathize on how hard it must be to try and stop cold turkey. Once again - I have huge respect for him being able to be as successful as he has been so far.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/12/2019 15:47 PM

Is this still considered a relapse, if he had the urge but didn't watch anything?

No. Consider an alcoholic or drug addict. They get urges constantly. As long as they don't act on those urges, they have not relapsed.

I'm concerned that he cut himself. How is that being addressed?

37wallflower73 posted 6/12/2019 16:15 PM

Thank you ugca, I wanted to call it a win as well, but due to my trauma I reacted well at first and then badly, and scared him. Always always, I scare him with my emotions.

I am doing my best to offer empathy and understanding, he has watched porn for years, and I believe he confuses his sexual urges with the desire to watch pornography, when really he just wants that release. It is hard sometimes for me to be that understanding, when I am also hurt by his desire for other women.

Coco, we are both in IC and MC. I have struggled with self-harm for years, and when dday#1 happened, I cut myself badly. They are scars now, and my WH is struggling with self-hatred, and his need to also show his pain on his skin. He opens up his wounds when he thinks they are fading.

It's hard for me to understand, because my motivations behind self-harm are different, I needed the pain. And now I am worried that I have fucked him up and he has picked up my bad habits, and I don't know how to help him or what would make him stop...I dont even know how *I* can stop. I considered dday a relapse, and there have been a few since then.

[This message edited by 37wallflower73 at 4:49 PM, June 12th (Wednesday)]

secondtime posted 6/12/2019 18:31 PM

Self-Injurer here. Married to diagnosed SA. Porn and compulsive masturbation is his MO.

What are you doing both individually to heal yourselves?

Your fears that you are not enough, combined with the active self-injuring behavior tells me that you have not done your work.

I would ditch the joint therapist for now and work on yourselves, individually.

You MUST bring your most healthy, A-game selves to the table to work on the marriage. Not the other way around.

secondtime posted 6/12/2019 18:36 PM

I would not call your husband's behavior a relapse. I would call it a slip. There's a difference. A relapse is a full return to the addictive behavior.

My husband doesn't really desire other women. It just happens to be his drug of choice. He USES them to get high and escape. He uses fantasy, porn and masturbation to avoid any real emotional intimacy. He uses to manage his feelings. There is a difference between desire and using.

And by that token, I would never allow my husband to use me to manage his feelings, either.

No. I don't like it. But, again. It's not a reflection on me. It's reflection on the fact that my husband is emotionally stunted. Massively. Like 5 years sober/doing the work and no empathy in sight stunted.

37wallflower73 posted 6/13/2019 03:57 AM

What are you doing both individually to heal yourselves?

It has been a long year, but we have been to many counselling sessions (We see the same lady) and tried methods to stop self-harming, using ice cubes in my case and time for his. We struggle. I confess that I may have allowed myself to stop being quite so vigilant with our recovery, we haven't fully finished reading Brene Brown and have yet to do yoga together. Life and work have taken over. I don"t really know where to go from here.

I am sorry to hear you have been dealing with 5 years of no empathy, that must be extremely painful for you What have been some helpful things that you have tried, as a self-injurer as well? I am open to any and all suggestions right now.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/13/2019 17:06 PM

I am worried that I have fucked him up and he has picked up my bad habits, and I don't know how to help him or what would make him stop

First, you did not fuck him up. His behavior is his responsibility, as yours is yours. Second, you can't do anything to make him stop.

I agree that each of you focusing on yourselves right now is probably best. You have to heal yourself before you can even consider helping anyone else.

You seem to be taking on a lot of responsibility for him. Stop. Take care of yourself.

BTW, people find other people attractive all the time. I'm sure my fch gets turned on by other women. I know I get turned on by other men. It's normal and natural. It's what you do with that desire that matters. He did the right thing.

secondtime posted 6/13/2019 17:13 PM

For me, the self-injury stemmed from dealing with an untreated mentally ill parent and the other parent enabling behavior.

Once I consciously stopped being codependent and started putting healthy boundaries in place..That helped a ton. A little bit of self-talk and cultivating mindfulness also helped. I don't have time for yoga. Fiber arts makes me zen. I can fit that in nicely with everything else.

I finally stopped hitting myself in my mid 30s. I'm 44 now, and I've hit myself like twice now in the past decade.

When I get the urge..it's because my husband isn't listening or validating me...but rather choosing to go on the defensive when I chose to be vulnerable with him. It pretty much triggers me back to my childhood.

Even simply voicing the fact that I'm getting the urge does remind me I have some choices and that I need to figure out what the real issue behind my emotions.

I'm still wondering why you both are doing all these things together. You need to be taking care of yourselves first. You can't do individual work together. And you can't be unhealthy while working to make your marriage a healthy one.

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