In the United States, this time of year fireworks light the skies to celebrate our country’s birthday. One of my favorite things is to watch fireworks burst against the night skies. Each colorful explosion ignites my childlike wonder. Aren’t you thankful the Chinese developed these wonders millennia ago? (Like many inventions, fireworks were discovered unintentionally.)
Sometimes fireworks erupt unintentionally in our homes.
And in our marriages.
The fireworks caused when your marriage struggles because of porn addiction aren’t fun or pretty at all! Though breathtaking eruptions occur, there isn’t a sense of childlike wonder, only deep soul-rending, connection-shattering pain.
When Dave and I first dealt with his porn addiction revelation, there were some quiet words—mostly shock—then no words. And then anger-filled words. As our recovery progressed, our real problems surfaced. Clearly, the porn addiction broke our sense of connection to each other. Before we could learn to hold normal, loving, and nurturing conversations with each other, we had to reconnect.
According to Steven Stosny, Ph.D., on Psychology Today, “communication in love relationships is a function of emotional connections.” Think about that for a moment.
When you and your husband dated, recall the emotional connection between the two of you.
Pause a few moments and think about or write down what it felt like to be dating. Have you forgotten? Remember the good.
Often, when in trauma, we forget the good things. So, start by jotting some notes and thoughts about your sense of connection while dating.
- What drew you to him?
- What always made you both laugh?
- How did you show your love back then?
- What inside jokes did you share?
- What was one of your favorite dates?
- Do you have a favorite memory from your wedding day?
Take the time to return to “the good life” and remember how you connected in the past.
Now, about your current reality.
How do you ignite those embers for emotional connection?
Wait. Hear me out.
You’re probably ready to jump off this page right now. Why would you want to reconnect or ignite embers with someone who’s ripped out your self-worth and heart and stomped them into a bloody pulp? Too dramatic or descriptive? Not for me. That’s exactly how I felt.
There’s a wall of noise between you. That noise directly ties to his pornography addiction and your wounded heart.
Before you can hope to communicate again, you must reconnect.
Igniting your emotional connection after porn addiction betrayal takes time and effort for both of you. You may be surprised at how much your role in repairing this relationship counts. It’s not just “his problem” and you wait for him to get his act together. You have control over important aspects of your relationship too.
It’s not a “get over it and move on” band-aid-type fix.
Before you can hope to experience fireworks (the good kind) again and rebuild your emotional connection a few things need to happen.
Admit the porn addiction.
Without a complete “coming clean” and the decision to stop this addiction, reconnection will not occur. Women like you ask me why I stayed with my husband after he admitted his porn addiction. It’s because I saw his genuine remorse and a willingness to do whatever necessary to restore our marriage.
And, oh, by the way, he needs to come clean about all of the addiction, not just enough to assuage his conscience. There’s nothing more damaging to your relationship than to hear bits and pieces come out in little dribbles. Doing so only gives the illusion that he’s protecting you by not telling you everything. That’s hogwash. He’s protecting himself. Get all the cards on the table.
Acknowledge your trust doesn’t exist nor will it return quickly.
How? It’s not by words.
Instead, trust builds every time his actions confirm to you his repentant heart. Every time he turns away from pornography by his actions and choices, his broken connection cord grows a millimeter toward yours.
This painful rebuilding takes time. No one can tell you how long. Don’t fall for that lie. Many times, the addict asks what they can do to help you trust them again. The answer is to live a sober life. A sober life means the addict understands the gravity of his situation and chooses instead to practice total abstinence from pornography. Dabbling a little only causes more damage.
Recently, I had a man ask me if I wasn’t being too narrow-minded about porn. After all my study and research, I believe the only way a marriage will heal is if porn is completely removed from both partners. There’s no such thing as lighting a small match near the fireworks and hoping they won’t ignite.
Your trust is in ashes. His changed behavior can begin to restore that trust.
Accept you both need help.
All the formulas and techniques in the world won’t help until you admit you have hit bottom. You need help. Both of you. Once you get to this place, you find hope. Because only when you get there are you humble enough to accept help.
I remember when I hit bottom. It wasn’t pretty. Nor were there parades and celebrations when Dave hit bottom. We found ourselves surrounded by the devastation we’d caused to each other and our marriage. But at that moment, we also felt Jesus right there waiting to show us the way out. Just like God promises, He wants to restore us after we mess up. That’s the best place to start—turn to God and admit you can’t reconnect without His help and intervention.
Meet with a professional.
Every marriage, especially one where trust has been broken, benefits from a neutral party, an outside professional. Until you discover what needs to change and how to move forward, you’ll remain disconnected. “He said. She said” ends when someone else helps you feel heard—each of you—and arms you with tools to heal and create a happy future.
You and your marriage are worth fighting for. When you both decide to address these four steps to rebuild your marriage, it helps to have an experienced guide to find your way up and out of the dark pit. We did and that help transformed our thoughts, connection, and marriage over time.
Without taking these four important initial steps, you cannot ignite that emotional connection with your husband.
If we had not been honest, recognized our broken trust, and reached out to others for help I don’t know if we’d be here today surrounded by our children, our grandchildren, and 38 years of marriage.
Let me say it again, your reconnection takes time. The broken cord has to mend one strand at a time. The walls between you from the years of porn addiction, lies, and betrayal have to be dismantled one piece at a time.
You won’t go from distrust to trust in a matter of days. Often your emotional reconnection feels like starting to date again. But this time, you start from a place of woundedness instead of newness, a place of honesty and gentle care. While your recovery can happen, navigating the snapping wires and sparking mistrust takes patience, humility, help, and God’s grace.