Over the last few weeks I've been answering the question: what are the top 10 questions you've heard from wives/partners of porn and sex addicts and how would you answer these? Ted Shimer of Freedom Fight, has now created a handout with these questions and some succinct answers that will become a resource for his organization going forward. Today I address the final questions... however, I'd love to run another "ask the experts" series again soon, so please feel free to email me other questions, which will be submitted anonymously to sex addiction counseling experts at APSATS and C-SASI (formerly IACSAS).
I’ve been lied to so often, how will I ever be able to trust my husband again?
Because your husband’s sin (sexual acting out, lying) broke the trust, it’s now up to him to fix it. A good guide on how he can go about this is the book Worthy of her Trust. In the meantime, because you are more aware of the addiction, you are not as likely to be deceived a second time. That doesn’t mean your husband will never lie again, but that you can learn to watch for the overall patterns that show whether or not he is becoming a man of integrity worth trusting. If defensiveness, blame-shifting and denial continue to be part of his communications with you, you can probably assume that it’s not yet time to consider trust. When his actions consistently match his words, check in with God about “if,” and “how,” to begin to open yourself up again.
How can I help my teenaged/young adult children heal from the pain of finding out their dad has a porn/sex addiction?
Discovery/disclosure of a parent’s sex addiction can cause trauma in older children, as well as spouses. Helpful things you (and your husband, if he’s in the right place) can do for your children are listen to how they are feeling, and allow them to ask questions—though use discernment about how much detail to give them about the acting out. Children often have concerns for your safety, their own/others’ safety and need time and space to grieve the loss of their former happy (or happier) vision of the family. They may also need someone to talk to as they “put the pieces together”— because for many, learning about the addiction explains other patterns they have witnessed in their father/in the family for years. Some of this work is best done with a qualified sex addiction specialist, or other trusted professional. Keep in mind that there are some definite benefits to children knowing about the addiction. Some find a determination to stop the family pattern of addiction. Others feel more empowered to use boundaries with the parent with the addiction if he continues to behave in unhealthy ways. If your children do not yet know about their father’s addiction, a specialist can help guide you in the process of disclosing to them.
I'd like to add that even very young children (toddlers and babies) can be negatively impacted by porn/sex addiction in the home. However, God has plans to redeem these losses to them and to you. Action will be required, however. One of the best steps you can take is to start expressing your concerns to safe people, including a qualified counsellor. Some of the many amazing counselors at APSATS, have recently done some studying around how to help your children, as well as you, through this.