Avoidance can be positive or negative when it comes to dealing with addiction.
If we look at the first definition of avoidance in Merriam-Webster, it confirms the dual-sidedness of avoidance:
“The act or means of getting or keeping away from something undesirable.”
When dealing with a pornography addiction or any other serious stress in a marriage, the average couple waits six years to seek help. That’s a long time to avoid something. In effect, a synonym for avoidance that fits this scenario is dodging.
Think about the last time you sensed your husband might have a porn addiction. Did you face it head-on to get to a quick resolution (healthy boundaries), or did you walk away, hoping that the issue would go away (dodging)?
There’s an interesting correlation between addiction and avoidance—they feed each other. And when we adopt the negative side of avoidance, we find multiple ways to medicate our chronic pain.
What are the negative ways to avoid things in your marriage, like pornography addiction?
- Excess shopping. This type of shopping isn’t your typical run to the grocery store to get enough food to feed your family for a week. It is the continual shopping for items you don’t need because it gets you out of the house and away from your husband. You mistakenly believe that a new outfit will lift your spirits or boost your self-esteem. But, blowing the budget repeatedly and creating new credit card debt increases the stress within your marriage.
- Exercise. We need exercise because our bodies need to move. But, when you can’t deal with your husband’s pornography addiction, you choose to believe if you get fit and trim, your husband will quit looking at porn. Plus, you think this will boost your self-image. The addiction has nothing to do with your body size, shape, or tone.
- Have more sex. While you and your husband may enjoy the uptick in your sexual encounters, you aren’t dealing with the underlying addiction. This decision lowers your self-esteem. You wonder who your husband is having sex with—you or an imagined person he met online. Why would you do this to yourself?
- Work longer hours. Becoming a workaholic won’t resolve the issue between you and your spouse. Instead, you create more distance by limiting the amount of contact between the two of you. Work also creates a false sense of personal worth. Or, it could add stress that weakens your self-image.
- Accept abusive behavior. Whether it’s verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, it’s wrong. And this is a tough one because an abused person deals with more than just avoiding the addictive behavior. Often, an abused woman believes she has no choice but to continue in the abuse. Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT, explains it like this, “The dominant reason is dependency: Control by the abuser, shame about the abuse, and the dysfunctional nature of the relationship lowers the victim’s self-esteem and confidence and often causes the victim to withdraw from friends and family, creating even more fear and dependency on the abuser.” If this describes you, reach out for help.
In healthy circumstances, the above behaviors may not be harmful. But, when you use them to medicate or avoid confronting the addiction and pain, they increase your stress level and divide you and your husband more.
What if, instead, you choose positive things to avoid in your marriage?
- Quit looking the other way. Acknowledge the addiction. You cannot change what you won’t admit. Therefore, before you can confront your husband about your suspicions, you have to acknowledge them. If you haven’t downloaded the free e-book, 10 Warning Signs Your Gut Already Knows, please complete the information below.
- Challenge your fear. Talk with your husband about your suspicions. Do your best to be calm and clear. Screaming hysterically at your husband only increases the tension and puts him on the defensive. I understand sometimes that’s the way it is. But, if at all possible, try to handle the confrontation in a constructive manner. Then, listen to what he tells you. I hope he’s ready to be honest about his addiction. But you can’t control him. You can, however, honestly address your feelings and concerns. How he responds is not within your control.
- Turn off unhealthy behaviors. Establish healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not about your husband; they are about you. And healthy boundaries come from love, not punishment. Therefore, positive avoidance involves establishing and holding to boundaries that protect your marriage. For an in-depth understanding of boundaries, I highly recommend Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s book, Boundaries in Marriage.
- Quit sabotaging. Do you want to save your marriage? In some cases, this may not be possible, especially when one person abuses the other. But, if you can salvage your marriage because your husband wants to overcome his pornography addiction, then do your part. When we reached out for help, it made all the difference in our marriage. The lessons we learned through coaching and counseling changed us individually and relationally.
- Remove temptations. Look around your home, your habits, your lifestyle, and your desires. Where do you allow the enemy of our souls to tempt you? What books do you read? Do your friends encourage you to grow? Who do you listen to regularly? Where do you spend your time? Are you flirting with someone other than your husband? What movies do you watch? Does the message encourage you toward healthy boundary-filled living or something else? God promises to provide a way out of temptation. But, that doesn’t give you and me a license to swim in the sewage continually. Practice healthy avoidance with temptation.
- Break out of your isolation. Predators seek those who are weak or alone. The enemy of your soul knows this well. He encourages you to remain alone with lies such as, “No one can know about porn addiction. If they find out, you’ll face rejection. Besides, your husband’s addiction proves you aren’t enough to keep him satisfied. At least, that’s what your friends will think when they find out.” Don’t listen to these slithering, slimy lies. The truth? Find someone you trust and tell them what’s going on.
The best thing you can avoid in your marriage is self-neglect.
Whether your husband is ready to overcome his addiction or not, you can care for your needs.
- Spend time daily with God. Read His Word, the Bible, daily. Saturate yourself in His presence.
- Surround yourself with people who you trust to speak God’s truth to you.
- Develop deep friendships with those of the same sex. Your husband, even without a pornography addiction, will never meet all your needs. You need female friends as well.
Not sure you have anyone you could trust with your story (I wasn’t because of my isolation!), then click the free consultation button. I’ve been where you are and would love to help you begin your journey toward healing.