When I first realized, or better yet, was told I had an addiction to pornography I really didn’t think too much of it. I thought that I needed to stop but I didn’t feel it was something I needed to stop immediately. I really felt that it wasn’t a big problem and it would just go away when I got married. By the way, I was married twice. Anyway, I had the porn addiction right up until the day I got married and then it wasn’t a problem for awhile, maybe a few months.
After a few months of being married the addiction came back. The truth is it never went anywhere. I had a computer and internet access and an internet connection and before I knew it I once again had an overwhleming urge to look at filth. I didn’t understand why this was happening since I was so convinced I would not need to look at this stuff when I got married. My addiction actually got worse, especailly as access to free pornography on the internet increased. About one year into my marriage I broke down and admitted to my wife that I had a serious problem. She was shocked, confused, and hurt but she wanted to understand and help me. I felt relieved that she knew the truth and thought that everything would be better from now on.
My wife was so sweet and patient and tried her best to help me but really didn’t understand the addiction and didn’t know there such thing as a pornography addiction. Her first thoughts understandably were, “Am I not beautiful enough for him” and “Why don’t you just stop?” She purchased a book for me titled, “Pornography; The Drug of the New Mellenium”, which to this date has been the most comprehensive read on the subject for me. I read it and learned about SAA 12 Step programs. I started attending those but that didn’t last very long since it felt very akward to me.
Unfortunately I needed celibacy for a period of time but that was not possible with the sexual appetite that I had created. It was virtually impossible for me to not have sex with my wife because I could not even control those urges before marriage. My wife needed to feel wanted more than the pornography and so stopping intamacy was out of the question. I would have periods of success of not looking at pornography but my sexual urges were being satisfied with my wife instead of being controlled. I did not know this at the time. The only time I had success was when I was depending on my marriage to satisfy my addictive urges. This wouldn’t last long though, maybe a week or two, then I was no longer satisfied and needed something more stimulating. My wife was a beautiful woman but she could not compete with an ever increasing addictive appetite for constantly new images of other women. She shouldn’t have had to compete. I should have been strong before our marriage but instead I was unfaithful and ended the marriage.
After our divorce I decided to stop my addiction and get strong before ever getting married again. I spent a couple years doing just the opposite. Not to say I didn’t try but I tried the wrong way. I didn’t have the right knowledge or tools to have any long term success. So continued to repeat my one to two week cycles of success and failure, sometimes completely giving up and going on a binge. I eventually started drinking as well to dull the pain of my mistakes. Then I finally started to make some serious progress. I started running and started writing a journal. However I was still drinking. I didn’t care so much about that though since pornography had led me to drink. I just knew that if I stopped looking at pornography I could stop anything. There was some truth to that but I once again missed an important factor. I had about a month or two of success but I was drinking during that time and the alcohol was compensating somewhat for what the pornography wasn’t doing. Not only that, but alcohol decreases the body’s ability to be aroused and so I was only temporarily dampening the urges. I was depending on alcohol for my success. I didn’t know this fact at the time though and became very confident from my month or two of success. So confident in fact, that I felt ready to get married again. However, I stopped drinking before I got married. This combined with kissing too passionately during courtship caused me to turn to my addictions again.
This time was worse. I got married and once again the pornography addiction went dorment for only a few months before I started again. This time I not only looked at pornography but I started drinking again. This marriage ended quickly as we both felt we would not progress in love. I knew I could not overcome my addictions while being married and she was very unhappy and unmotivated around me.
As soon as we were separated I started to become sober from my addictions again. One day I went to a friends house to talk and began to vent about my frustrations from my divorces and addictions. He, being a former alcoholic himself, said, “There’s something unwritten in the 12 Step program called the 13th Step. Have you heard of it?” I said, “No, what is it?” He said, “When you are becoming sober and start to have success you need to give yourself some time, like 6 to 12 months, before you get into a relationship and start having sex in place of the good feelings you were having during your addiction.” I was definitely intrigued and decided to look up this so called 13th Step and see what it was all about. The main definition I got from my searches was that it is a period of time for the recovering addict to gain independant strength before depending on someone else for their strength. This was it! This was one of the things that was keeping me back! I could not understand at the time but that’s exactly what I was feeling when I was married. This was definitely not the core of my problems but it was definitely something that was delaying my progress.
So after my second divorce I made a firm decision to not repeat the same mistake again but instead make sure I was independantly strong before I got married again. Now that I had taken the codependency factor out of my addictions I could concentrate on the all the other factors.
I do not mean to say that if you are married you need to get a divorce and get strong. No, I’m not saying that at all. That’s the way it happened for me. I’ve know people who were still married but decided to take a break from sex to give themselves time to get strong. Whatever you decide is between you and your spouse. If you feel you can overcome your addiction while still having sex then that is up to you. Not everyone is the same in this process.
I will say that I firmly believe that those who are unmarried at this time should get strong before marriage otherwise the outcome can easily be predicted. This is especially true if you have both a pornography and masturbation addiction. You don’t have to be perfect, just not addicted.