THE GOOD WIFE?
A Cautionary Tale
Ever since I’ve started looking into porn addiction, it has been apparent that for whatever comments someone makes about porn, for or against, there will be not a small amount of people responding to those comments in a derogatory, derisive and insulting way.
Since I’ve started my blog, website and book, I’ve had my own fair share of pro-porn people respond with their usual knee jerk reaction against what I am saying, often times, without really hearing the message I’m attempting to make.
On occasion, some of those comments have come from porn addicts themselves; which is not so surprising as I am on the side of the partner working toward her well-being and putting herself before her partner and his addiction (as a rule, women tend to put others before themselves – that is how we show our love – which is not necessarily a bad thing – with someone who warrants it).
One porn addict proclaimed that he couldn’t recognise himself in the way I had described addicts; even though he stared at young (underage?) girls when they were out in public, thought of the porn he watched in order to make love to his wife (which is hugely painful and humiliating for the partner),… oh and having unprotected sex with prostitutes. In his eyes, there was no reason his long suffering wife shouldn’t stand by him.
Sometimes – and I entirely understand and respect this – I get recovering porn addicts who can see what my aim Is and why my style is the way it is – but they find that the images on my site act as a trigger for them, so although they will no longer follow me, they wish me well on my quest.
I have learned from Robert Jensen and Gail Dines, that it is best to ignore comments that personally attack one’s work or persona, simply because the time wasted on the angry detractor is detrimental to one’s well-being and the time spent arguing with them would be better spent on productive work.
I agree with this entirely and have learned the hard way that what they say is entirely accurate.
It is not often then that I do respond to these people and even less often that I am driven to not writing in my usual humorous style. However, I was made aware of a woman on the fantastic blog site Feed the Right Wolf, who had launched into an attack on me and my site.
I have added her comments in a hyperlink at the bottom of this piece (or here) and my response that followed in order that I do not misquote her (as she does with me) and to give the reader a background of what I am referring to. I have even included her final response to me which sounds like the ranting of a mad woman (meandering about ‘the laughing primate on Craig’s List’ – huh?) and made so little sense that I chose to walk away from the discourse. I am sure my feelings of pity for her would only anger her further.
Now, this isn’t about this woman in particular, more what she represents: and that is: a very sad, misguided person who has lost her life to her husband’s addiction.
She indicates that she is a good wife, because she has stood by her husband who has been a porn addict (and I suspect a sex addict – which means he’s cheated on her and exposed her to the risk of STD’s and AIDS, on numerous occasions) for over twenty years.
This woman comments on the thousands of hours she has spent going to COSA, CODA, SA, SAA, et al, reading books, seeking out sites and learning all she can about her husband’s porn addiction. For twenty years (I believe that is the time scale she is referring to, she is a little ambiguous) she has sacrificed her own life and happiness and become as obsessed with porn as her husband is.
She attacked me on many points including; in terms of what she had done, my three-something years spent with a porn addict meant I was ‘only a baby’ in terms of understanding the addiction and suffering through it.
In fact the opposite is true – I saw the reality of the situation, that my particular porn addicted partner, who had been addicted for nearly thirty years – was never going to be free of his addiction and instead of continuing to ruin my physical and emotional well-being by staying with him and putting up with his half-assed attempts at recovery, his Denial, Anger, Lies, Defensiveness and Evasion, (I’d become seriously underweight due to the stress) I was wise enough to know when I was fighting a losing battle and, despite my love for him, I chose to walk away.
I did not walk away at the first hurdle, but after giving him chance after chance. I spent over three years effectively banging my head against a brick wall, trying every way I could think of to ‘help’ him, in my determination to ‘be a good, strong and supportive partner’. The third time I left him, was the last time. It was by no means an easy decision and I will say that far from it showing strength to stay with the partner, it takes more strength to leave.
My friends, seeing the affects his addiction on me, wondered why the hell I stayed so long.
This woman also attacked my style and humour saying that it was dangerous and insulting to the addict – I will certainly agree it’s insulting to the addict who cannot or will not change (a category I suspect her husband falls under, which this poor deluded woman is so patently blind to).
Much as this is entirely not what this lady intended I would like to hold up her words as a prime example of a cautionary tale for any woman who decides to stand next to her partner and get him all the help he needs, with no real progress and/or commitment on his part.
It does not take strength to stay – all it takes is an unhealthy dose of Denial.
It does take strength to leave in order to give your partner the kick up the ass he needs to let him know – you will not ENABLE him.
I have no doubt that her husband may be a lovely, decent, hard-working partner and father (?) but that does not lessen the pain the partner feels. The bottom line is, his addiction has ruined their marriage and therefore, both their lives.
Porn is a powerful addiction and the path ahead for both of you can be long and hard – it can be a lot longer and harder if you hold his hand instead of using Tough Love and telling him in no uncertain terms that you will not be a victim of his addiction.
If this woman had done all the research she claims to have done – and I have no doubt she has – then she is proof of what living in Denial is; because she should have well learned by now that:
You CANNOT do this for him.
Quite the opposite.
The more you do to ‘help’ the less he will do to help himself.
If he TRULY wants to be rid of the addiction – he will seek out help, not more porn – which her partner has obviously been doing. If he CAN’T beat his addiction, despite his best efforts – then what is the point in remaining with him? What exactly do you expect to happen, other than, more of the same?
If this sad woman had said eighteen years ago – ‘look pal, I’ve done all I can. I’m through. Get your ass out of here and take your porn with you. When you can show me BY YOUR ACTIONS that you are getting help, then we can talk about getting back together’ then maybe she would have given him the impetus to heal. Or, he would have carried on with his addiction and be in exactly the same place as he is now.
Either way, at least she wouldn’t have spent the last twenty years of HER life, attending countless meetings and spending every waking hour obsessing over SOMEONE ELSE’S ADDICTION.
She at least would have been able to move on with her life and have a happy marriage with someone who is MORE FAITHFUL TO HER THAN HE IS TO PORN (and sex with strangers if he is a Sex Addict as well).
It is patently obvious that her staying has not helped him in any way. He is still an addict. She is still a victim of his addiction. You have to ask yourself what she is getting out of this. Does she get a kick out of being a martyr? Of being the righteous one? Of being somehow better than her partner and using his addiction as a club with which to beat him?
What angers me about this woman and what she represents, is the claim to be ‘a good wife’ because she has stood by her husband despite his obvious lack of recovery.
This idea leads partners of addicts to stay in a bad relationship that is damaging to them.
Partners of porn addicts often suffer from PTSD – in which case, this lady is expecting those who are traumatised by their husband’s addiction to stay with him anyway – perhaps until they end up having a nervous break-down or taking their own life, because ‘standing by your man’ is what constitutes ‘a good wife.’
This thinking is dangerously misguided.
Being a good wife has nothing to do with staying in a physically, spiritually or emotionally abusive relationship. I have no doubt that this woman would be the first to say that the husband of a wife, who cheats on him constantly, should banish her and leave her to her own misery. For some reason though – it should be expected of a wife to stand by a husband who does the same thing.
With all due respect: this woman is still with her husband because she refuses to admit defeat. Refuses to see when she is fighting a losing battle. Refuses to let go and get on with regaining her own health and happiness. The result is a very bitter, uptight, self-righteous and angry person. In the meantime her husband – committed to his own recovery or not – is secure in the knowledge that no matter how many times he ‘slips up’ and returns to porn; no matter how many times he cheats on her – she is going to put up with it. She is going to continue therefore, to enable him.
HIS PORN ADDICTION HAS DESTROYED TWO LIVES, which she wears like a medal of honour.
This lady also says that my words shame the addict, which is not good for him.
Guilt she claims, is ok for him to feel, but not shame.
To me, the ‘Guilt’ thing is as unhealthy as Shame.
I don’t want the addict to feel either Guilt or Shame.
What he should feel is RESPONSIBILITY.
He is Responsible for his porn addiction. He is Responsible for his actions. He – and HE ALONE is Responsible for his healing. He is Responsible for the consequences of his actions – including losing his partner (no consequences = little incentive to change).
The partner is IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE for her spouse becoming an addict and WILL DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD if she does not recognise that she is NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS HEALING.
The partner IS Responsible for her own life, happiness and well-being and that of her children. If she chooses to stay with a man who is more committed to his addiction than he is to her – then she only has herself to blame for the misery in which she will live.
Even the addict who is truly committed to his own healing has a hell of a battle ahead of him. The partner has to be realistic about what is ahead of her and that she could be facing a life time of relapses.
He could be the best man in the world and you may love him with all of your heart. As we mature though, one of the hardest and most eye opening lessons we learn is: love isn’t always enough.
This is something a Love Addict can find the most difficult thing to come to terms with. It is an unfortunate truth that we don’t always fall for someone with whom it is healthy to be in love with. Sometimes we can be in love with someone who it is downright unhealthy to be in love with.
Therefore, I would urge any partner of a porn addict to read this piece, this lady’s attack on me and my response.
If you choose to stay and take on his recovery instead of telling him to shape up or ship out, you make a decision, with your eyes wide open, of what’s ahead of you. If you choose to stay then great, but take a REALITY CHECK before you make the decision.
I will leave the last words to Dr Phil, who has said that anyone who chooses to be in a relationship with a porn addict is opening themselves up to…
‘a world of pain.’
© Lindsay McKinnon July 2012
If you would like to read the original comments that inspired this article click here
Make sure you download my free eBook ‘Overcoming addiction to porn’
The Good Wife.is also T.V show about a woman who stands by her sex addicted corrupt husband and how it affects her life.
Alex here. I want to apologize. I was gone for a while, while this debate has unfolded. I was dealing with graduation, moving, my wedding, my grand mother’s funeral, and honeymoon all one after another and had not time, energy, or internet connection to stay up to date with feedtherightwolf.
I’ve looked over the DontRewardBadBehaviour and I can see why it would be offensive/triggering to our readers.
That being said, I don’t think that the site was made with bad intentions. I just don’t think it is properly suited for our audience.
I command you for trying to raise awareness. I’ve tried to do that in the past, and found it extremely hard to do. That is why I decided to concentrate on helping those who already know they have a problem, and let the others figure out things on their own. In many cases people need to hit bottom, before they are ready to listen.
I do believe we are on the same side of the equation, and we are both striving to make this world a better place, a less pornography infected place. But I also realize that we do have some differences.
I would encourage us to respect each other as much as possible.
I am leaving most of your comments on this site, because I do think that you are fighting for good, and I do want to help your effort.
Where I do cross the line is when you begin to go after our long term readers and attack them personally. Anon and her husband have been through a lot, and I know them very well on here. Yes staying in a relationship with a porn addict is tough decision and not for everybody. But I sure am happy that my wife decided to stay with me. And yes, like all the other sex and porn addicts I am not perfect, but we strive to make things work.
Please be advised that all of the comments aimed at targeting our loyal readers or of the links that could be triggering to our readers will be removed.
Once again, I do believe you are fighting the same battle as we do, but I also do ask you to be respectful of our community if you want to participate in our discussion.