18 August 2015

In Case Your Partner is Addicted to Porn: How to Heal

Dear Readers,
This topic of porn addiction comes up so much.

And I say: where else is a better place to discuss it than here? This is one loving and smart community where we attempt to tackle life's problems in the best way. So let's do this.

First of all, love you. All of you. Those who are addicted to porn. Those who dabble in it. Those who love it. Those who hate it. Those who are married to a porn addict and want to learn how to remain whole. Those who don't think it's a big deal. Those who feel it's ruining their relationship or self worth.

I don't see this as an "us" against "you" situation. Porn is everywhere. It affects every. single. one. of us. We need to ALL be in this together. It will take all of us to be on the same team if those who need help, acceptance, love, and connection are going to receive it. Know that if anyone is struggling out there, you have my love and acceptance. I love and accept you just the way you are.

A few friends awhile back wanted to talk about porn. Their husbands are addicted and the men wish they weren't. The wives have a past of reacting with disgust, fear, anger, disappointment. The husbands feel immense shame.

And since this is a blog about personal empowerment (and also a blog about love :), this post is all about changing YOUR behavior and YOUR response. Because that's all anyone can do. Here is my advice to women and men in this situation. This is the GOODS:

Reset Your Pattern.

As in, reset your pattern of communicating, shaming, reacting, perceiving, judging, blaming, horriblizing. 

Because as we all should know, we cannot control another person. All we can do is control ourselves and try to be true to who we want to be...and try to provide an environment for healing. If healing is going to take place, it will have a better chance of happening in a healing, loving environment.

You see, when you react with disgust and disappointment, it strips someone of their humanity. It can lead to shame, dishonesty, hiding, defensiveness, self-hatred, avoiding, distance, and giving up.

It does not lead to an environment where healing and authentic connection can take place. And I think it's safe to say it doesn't lead to you being the kind of person you aspire to be.

When you react with fear and anger, it lets your spouse know that YOUR self worth and YOUR happiness are based on THEM; THEIR behavior determines your womanhood and sexuality; THEIR behavior determines your attractiveness; THEIR behavior determines your security and happiness.

When this is the cycle, you treat someone more like an object to satisfy you and less like a human being. 

Putting someone under that kind of pressure is like putting them in the biggest pressure cooker in the world.

Not fun.

And it will never, ever, ever end well.

It does NOT lead to the connection, openness, kindness, honesty, and oneness that you desire.

So, How To Get Started on Reseting A Pattern?

Ha. I have a lot to say on this. Our ENTIRE Retreats are dedicated to doing this very thing. I'll write just the tip of the iceberg here:

1. Recultivate your self worth. Own it. Release your spouse from being responsible for your self worth. This way your worth won't feel threatened if something goes wrong. Genius, right? It's life changing, let me tell you. You are enough just as you are! You MUST believe that! Your worth is not dependent on your spouse or your marriage. (I've written a ton about self worth. Read up HERE. Lots of tips and immediate applications available at our Retreats.)

2. Take the lesser identities of marriage, spouse, lover, and religious beliefs/rules OFF OF THE PEDESTAL. That's right, take your marriage and religion off of the pedestal. Do you want to be a wreck because these lesser identities are not working out and being fulfilled, or do you want to tap into your TRUEST identity and be a woman/man aligned with LOVE- in other words, someone who knows how to react to life with love, no matter what? It's possible to offer love because that's who you want to be. It's possible to teach your children how to react to life with love. This is the stuff that changes the world!!!  (Want more? Read this post about Identity. Identity is truly the key to EVERYTHING in this life.)

What Does A New Pattern Actually Look Like?

It looks like pursuing a hell of a lot of virtues, that's what.

But it is so worth working on this. No matter what happens to your relationship, by cultivating virtue YOU will be full of the light and liberation you desire.


LOVE - learning to offer and embody a love that is not conditioned on behavior will be one of the greatest gifts you'll give yourself and those you love and seek to help.

COMPASSION - is the feeling/virtue that arises when you see the suffering of another individual and feel motived to relieve that suffering. This will require you to look outside your own suffering and pain to see that your loved one is likely not doing too well themselves.

GRATITUDE - that you have a reason to show your partner that your love includes acceptance of their humanity, and that all challenges are an opportunity to bring the two of you closer together. This just might be the very challenge that inspires you to change your life, and to see your own worth, and worth of all human beings.

PATIENCE - with mistakes. We all make mistakes. Just as we hope people have mercy on us, may we have mercy on others.

THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE - "I believe in you. I love and honor you. I will not judge or condemn you. I thank you for all the good in you. I know you. And I love who you are." Spoken sincerely, this can lead to someone feeling like their humanity and worth has been remembered. Their connection with loved ones is intact.

Will Setting a New Pattern Lead to Healing?

It may not always help to heal another person, but it will always, always lead to healing YOU.

And if anything WILL help your spouse and your marriage by creating a more safe and authentic environment, it will be this new pattern that will do so. Though, of course, this will require some consistency against opposition. Because likely the old communication patterns are really ingrained in the two of you and old patterns will come up again and again. A new pattern likely needs to be in place for quite some time before another person will trust it.


Ok, that's it for the tip of the iceberg today. If any of this resonates with you or piques your interest, I cannot recommend our Retreats enough. Come this October you will learn and relearn and have the opportunity to actually practice skills that will help you to heal from situations just like this - and many, many more.

Sending love. Sending hope. Sending PEACE to each and every one.


Do any of you have any comments or thoughts to share? If you're experiencing porn in your marriage, let us know how you're doing. And have you found any successful ways or perspectives that are helping you to remain whole? 

Take a leap and register now for our Body+Soul Camp retreat in Ecuador Oct. 11-17. I *promise* you that you won't regret it and that it will be a week of a lifetime. I think it's safe to say that our guests would tell you to do anything you could to get there. Testimonials coming. 


  1. Hi Mara,
    It's me. Thank you for your words on my comment the other day. I wish I could reach out to you more. I want to share my story with you but I don't know if I can yet. I have wanted to go to one of your retreats with my husband...maybe next year. My thoughts are not as dangerously close to the next life as they were last week. Hope is trying to push it's way back into my mind and I can't let it in to much yet. I am allowing myself to read positive things like your blog and the dead inside is starting to melt a little. Oh , if you could just know.

    1. Sending LOVE to you. I'm so glad you wrote. I'm continuing to send my encouragement. You *can* get through whatever you are facing. You *can* rebuild your self worth. Even if you are starting from ground zero. I once did that. I know it's possible. And once you do it, it will be one of the most triumphant things you've ever done. So, carry forward and little by little - with a bit of elbow grease - things can improve. Reach out to friends or family or counselors. Get a support system if you can. And for now, I have some homework for you. :) Start a gratitude journal or gratitude list. Do this, k? Write down EVERY SINGLE THING that you are grateful for. Go ahead and make that list a long one. :) And then read it often and add to it often. Everyday if you can. And include things that you are grateful for about YOURSELF - your qualities, your character, your desires, your goodness. Adding this gratitude practice to your life is transformative. Let me know how the first bit goes. Lots of love! Mara

  2. Mara, these words are so powerful. As I read them I felt as if I was back at the retreat and feeling all the love you and Danny had for all of us. I'm grateful for the reminders that this is how I want to live my life and that I am in control and I want so much for my kids to grow up learning these tools as well. They help in any situation! Thank you so much for taking the time to write these posts! I've had a few real and empowering successes using these tools since the retreat but I needed the reminders again.

  3. Any thoughts for how to feel like I can be intimate again with my husband? (Found out 2 weeks ago, very painful, have turned to Christ and felt the beginnings of healing, trying to focus on the good and seek for healing). I had my own struggles as a youth, and I understand that this issue stems back from years of pain and struggle. I have tried not to be judgmental and also loving. But it also pains me that this has ever been a part of our marriage and our love life (I had no clue for these past 6 years). It hasn't been a constant pattern for him, but it still hurts deeply to think of these things he has seen. Our intimate relationship has been so sacred to me, and now it feels like somewhat of a sham. Any thoughts would be so appreciated!

    1. Thank you for opening the flood gates to this ever increasing and painful struggle many couples feel trapped in. Good news is that there is fantastic support available: POSA, SA, SCA, SAnon, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists, Yoga classes that also aid in recovery for both partners struggling with finding their identities- which often get lost in the pain. And it IS painful for both parties. When your primary relationship is threatened it is absolutely normal to feel hurt and angry. Honor those feelings (they are there for a reason), don't dwell on them but never shove them down. The most difficult part is getting out of the cycle of waiting for your spouse/partner to change first (bc you think... "Wait what did I do wrong? Why should I have to go get help when I did everything "right"') But what this post is suggesting is absolutely the key. Of course, it would be lovely to have both parties decide to get help at the same time/at the same level of commitment. But many times the porn addiction started wayyyy back before you even met your spouse, and it is the longest "relationship" many people have. Partners do have a voice, and when they find it again (whether or not their spouse gets help) it benefits not only themselves but every aspect of their lives. It is truly healing to be able to speak aloud with a group of people who share your specific pain and begin that healing process without the burden of keeping this a secret. The most important thing is to take care of yourself first, never ignore your innate feelings, and know that you are not alone.

    2. Dear Anonymous- you may never see this reply since this post is several weeks old but I'm writing in response that maybe someone searching with the same question will see this answer. Reading your post sounded exactly like me 4 years ago. After 10 years of marriage I found out my husband over our entire marriage had been viewing pornography. It was not a constant pattern for him either but was increasing in frequency until I found it on his computer. I was absolutely shocked at what I found. To say I was naive is an understatement. I had no idea the kinds of images and videos someone can find who is looking and when I saw what he had been seeing it completely changed my perception of him and our intimacy. I knew that I could love him and I knew that I could forgive him but I honestly never thought I could be intimate with him again. Every time I thought about it I was overwhelmed with thoughts of what I had seen and had absolutely no desire to be close to him in that way even though our relationship was healing as we were open and honest with each other and our needs. I knew this was my problem and went to see a therapist. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I did. I learned from her that I had a type of post traumatic stress disorder that was affecting me when I would think of being intimate. A workbook she gave me was called "The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety". It helped so much to see her for a few sessions and to do the workbook so that I had the skills to cope with those overwhelming emotions when they came. And now 4 years later I can honestly say that I am a better person at managing my emotions so I can do the key points Mara wrote about in all aspects of my life and our marriage is better because of that too. You are not alone- none of us are- and I'm grateful for a platform like this one that helps us all feel love.

  4. Oh my gosh I cannot reiterate what you have said enough! I have a husband who struggles with a pornography addiction and for the longest time I felt such hatred, disgust and confusion towards him and was so angry at him for making me miserable. But the moment I realized his "problems" are not necessarily mine and don't have to affect me in a negative way the communication opened up dramatically!!! I am a HUGE advocate for talking openly about pornography and what it can do to a relationship and how you can love and help those dealing with it. I'm definitely still learning though! :) We all have our "thing" that we wish we could change about ourselves. Some people's are just more visible to the outside world and that doesn't mean we should love them any less. Thank you so much for this post!

    1. It's wonderful to hear a voice with experience in this that can confirm just how important the above steps are. And I love your last part about "we all have our 'thing'". I totally agree, and the reality is this post could have a few words changed and be equally applicable to bad tempers, working too much, negative self talk, poor body image, video games, internet use, drugs, even one-time mistakes that are never repeated.

      We all have habits and or have made mistakes which have the potential to contribute to an internal shaming, a constant negative self talk that limits our ability and desire to connect vulnerably with other people, because we're afraid if they saw the real us, they wouldn't love us, only confirming what our negative self talk was all along.

      The vehicle for beginning that shaming process is different for all people, but it is in all people.

      The question is therefore how can we reestablish true vulnerability with people who seem to have offended us or taken something away from us? How can we talk more openly, without judgment and shaming? How can we love people?

      I think this post tries to answer that. It really does begin with your own identity and worth, in every single situation I could come up with, it always begins with someone realizing that at the deep heart of the matter, they are not actually less valuable, less worthy of love, less anything...simply because of the actions of another human being. It must begin with inherent and automatic and ever present worth. And we must do things to cultivate that.

      Only when worth is established separate from a partner, can we then truly love that person and help them in whatever ways they are ready to be helped. If we cannot separate our worth from their actions, we'll always be at the mercy of their actions and therefore never capable of the kind of healing love each person needs.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment. I know other readers would love to hear more about how you opened those lines of communication in a healthy and non-threatening way (non-threatening both for yourself, and for him). So if you get a chance, chime in again.

    2. Hi, I am coming from a very personal place here, it has taken a long time to heal, and the process is still going. My husband and I had an understanding, a very well communicated one, that porn, esp those around weddings was out of the question. We both agreed, got married and moved on. Coming up to our one year anniversary, my husband went away for his friends bachelor weekend, again discussing our view on said porn issues. On his return I discovered they had visited an establishment while away and I was horrified. I was ready to divorce him on the spot! What a betrayal of trust so early in our marriage. I didn't know what to do, he didn't know what to do. I screamed, he cried, we both cried. He wanted to mend the relationship, but he could do nothing. It had to come from me. Little by little I saw his trustworthy behaviour, little by little I felt I could trust him again. It is not at 100% where it was, but a lot better. He is so open about letting me take control of my behaviour and attitude to it all which helps a lot. Now TV shows haunt me. He likes to watch dramas like, game of thrones, while I feel the nudity in necessary and way too over the top that I cannot stand to watch it. But as a wife, I cannot control everything my husband watches or does. It is just a TV show, it has nudity, but he is not seeking it out and looking for it. So I have had to realign my views and attitudes towards him, my trust issues etc. he has proven to be the loving man I married and made mistakes. He is human, and so am I. I hope this helps so,done else out there who may be struggling. It can be a big concern and a big stress. It has given me many tears and fears, but once I took control of me, it got much better.
      And on the question of being intimate again after such an event, it takes time too. You'll know when the time is right. Just take is step by step. Don't force it.
      Remember you are worthy of love, acceptance and trust, from your spouse but most importantly from yourself. Trust in yourself!

    3. Does your husband know that him watching Game of Thrones is a bother to you? I used to watch the TV show and then my wife pointed out that she didn't like the amount of nudity etc.
      At first I basically made the argument of "Well, it's not really pornography..." but then realized it wasn't about that; it was about hearing her and understanding her concern. Since then I haven't watched it and whenever I want to know what is going on I read the books.

      I'm sorry to read about your feelings of betrayal and I hope that you and your husband are able to heal together.

      God bless!

    4. I think what finally spurred the open communication is that my husband kind of went through a faith crisis. He came to me very open and raw about it. I think him being brave enough to come to me about that and me staying calm and supportive about it helped us to open the communication about the addiction as well. Now granted it didn't just make everything better overnight. There are still days when he is really struggling or I am really struggling and I just know I have to be brave and talk about how I'm feeling. My husband is an excellent communicator. As for me, that has been something I've had to practice and learn. It was such a freeing experience to just let everything out in the open though! Through our many deep conversations I have learned so much about my husband and have realized that I have so much more to learn from him. Things like being less judgmental of others, realizing life doesn't always go as planned and that's ok, realizing that it's ok to be yourself and not worry about what others think of you, learning to be blunt and honest and raw about your feelings is so good and so healthy! I think definitely learning your self worth and what makes you you and what makes you truly happy will help you in learning to love others more genuinely. Also, serving others helps you to see them for what they really are and gets you out of the mind frame of "It's all about me, or poor me." I think the communication process is different for everyone! But, the first step is definitely being willing.

  5. So true that you need to heal YOU. A huge problem is that the spouse of the porn addicted often doesn't receive any help in the healing and feels so alone. It's not openly discussed and the addict doesn't want anyone to know. This makes it hard as healing comes from sharing and connecting with others. Anyone dealing with a spouse's porn addiction needs to know that you are not alone. There is help out there and it's possible to heal despite what your spouse chooses.

    One huge problem is that it's not always just porn. It's the lying and lack of communication and then the escalating behaviors that kill the love. Porn kills love. It ruins relationships and ruins families and causes such heartache. Change can happen, but it's hard and the person needs to want to change, which often isn't the case. Despite all that healing for the spouse can happen and there is happiness. It just takes time.

    Thanks for talking about this. The more it's talked about and shared the more people can heal and help each other.


  6. I think I found this blog right around the time I started figuring out how to cope with my husband's relationship with porn, sex and lust. I think all these things are true, although terribly difficult to apply.

    I feel like I'm still learning and struggling but I know that I've made some progress in being more compassionate and loving, and detaching from his behaviors in a healthy way. I also know that the information or people or friendships I need always seems to come along, and that's what I would say to anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation. Trust in God or fate or the universe to bring you what you need to cope.

    Thanks for talking about this Mara.

  7. After reading your latest post on being "enough", I came back to this past post on self-worth. I am struggling in my relationship mainly due to my feelings of not being "enough". My partner occasionally looks at porn and if he stays up late at night, I find myself awake and in almost immediate and constant anxiety. Is he looking at porn? Am I not sexy enough? Why doesn't he desire me? I appreciate your two posts on centering the focus from what "he" thinks to what "I" think. I realize that I might have been too hard not only on my partner but especially on myself too. Despite the fact that I know that it is "his" problems, I can not help but be affected. And it is so true, I don't necessarily have anybody to talk to about this so after a sleepless night, I write here. I truly appreciate all the good energy that both of you and all the others who have posted comments on this blog. I am a psychologist by profession so I feel all that much more "less" in thinking I should be able to help myself instead of feeling so helpless. If I could (financially) I would hop on the plane and attend your Mind and Body retreat. I do hope that you continue with the organization of these retreats, and hopefully I will be able to attend!
    I feel silly writing this but thanks for providing the place where I can.


We love hearing from you! We read each and every comment. Any topics you’d like us to write about? Let us know.

Hostgator Promo Code