It was helpful for us to take time as a couple every night (at the beginning) to study together. We both wanted to stay married, so we dedicated a lot of time learning to be open with each other and building our emotional bond. Remember, it’s better to have it real and be struggling, than to be pretending.
When we felt ready, we also rededicated our home. Through prayerful consideration we composed our dedication and have it where we can reference it. This has brought a lot of strength to us.
Listed are some of the resources we studied together:
Addiction and Intimacy by Kevin Skinner (PDF article)
Treating Pornography Addiction by Kevin Skinner
Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage (6 Audio CDs) by Geoff Steurer and Kevin Skinner
Letter from Wife to Husband (written by Dr. Shondell Knowlton to help husbands):
- Following Boundaries
When boundaries are kept, both of you will feel safety and protection. These feelings are the foundation of building trust. If boundaries are broken, make certain to follow through with the appointed consequences. This may be very difficult, but is critical to your husband’s recovery.
Husbands: when what you must say hurts your spouse and they respond emotionally, don’t leave them (unless asked to do so). You stand in that tough place with them. You don’t have to say anything, but it shows a lot about your resolve if you show your willingness to bear that burden with them. This will help them feel your concern and love for them.
- Being True to Words With Exactness
This may take some practice for the addicted spouse, because they are not used to every word they say carrying so much weight, but it is so vital. If you say you are going to be home by 6 pm, be home by 6 pm. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. Your wife is wondering what is truth when you communicate to her, so make every effort to be exact in your communications with her…little and big.
- Rigorous Honesty
Nothing can help build trust more than being honest with your spouse. This goes both directions, but especially crucial for the addicted spouse to be forthright with his wife…particularly when it’s difficult. Even when she doesn’t ask. No matter the consequences. No excuses. Do you know that more divorces happen because of dishonesty than any other reason? It’s true. I have seen it- women who are willing to work through pornography problems with their husbands; but cannot endure the lies, the deceit. Lying is harmful to the very core. Misleading, white lies, and half-truths have no place in your life if you want your marriage to succeed; and if you want true and lasting happiness. Yes, it hurts your wife when you tell her hard truths, but it will be so rewarding to both of you in the end to be rigorously honest. Love her enough to tell her.
My husband has a gift with analogies. I appreciate that gift because it really helps me to have something to visualize. It also brings hope. We have created and heard several analogies that have special meaning for us and where we want our marriage to go. Below are a few of those:
- As we took a walk in a hollow by our home we noticed a little waterfall and walked down to it. It was so pretty. Crystal clear water wandering over the speckled rocks. It was perfectly lined by bright green grass. We walked under the small overpass, following the stream, and as we emerged on the other side, just 15 feet away, the pretty stream turned into an ugly marsh, the water shooting off into little channels here and there, with weeds and cattails growing throughout. It lost all sense of beauty. We talked about this in connection with pornography addictions. When appetites are channeled and affection is focused on one person (the spouse), it is beautiful, inviting, and whole. When one allows themselves to become unchanneled, unbridled, and separate, their life grow ugly, out of control, and unfulfilling.
- He related our marriage to an apple. Not all of it was bad, but it did have a bad spot. The spot had grown during our years of marriage. Now we are cutting it out, and planting the rest of the apple, so the seeds might take root with the nourishment from the good part of the apple, and grow into a desirable tree.
- He said when he was out working on the roof and cleaning the gutters this morning that he was spraying them down and it was getting muddy water everywhere. It splashed down onto our beautiful white lilac bush. He tried to hose down the bush to make it look better, but that just sent blossoms flying. He said he had a conversation with the bush and that he compared the bush to me- I was the white, pure bush. He was the one who splashed mud on me and made me not feel as beautiful. It hurt the bush to have blossoms sprayed off. I was hurt. But we talked about how there would be another spring where I would come back in full bloom. Beautiful analogy.
- I told him how hard normal things are to accomplish. I told him how hard it is to not feel like a good Mom. I compare myself to the Mom I was before he disclosed his addiction, and it hurts. He said that if I had a physically fractured bone, like my arm, I would see that it inhibits me while it heals. Same with my fractured and shattered heart. I need to have patience with myself and realize that when I go to the grocery store and see something that hurts me, it’s as if I whacked my fractured arm on a corner. I need to give myself a minute, recognize why I am hurting, breath, and then allow myself to attend to my children again. It has really helped to focus on being patient with myself! That has allowed me to be more patient with my children. And you know something about broken bones? When a bone heals, it is actually stronger in the place it was broken than before! This can apply to our personal strength!
- In “My Story” Elizabeth shares an analogy: “Imagine you have a beautiful crystal vase. Then imagine that you accidentally knock it off the table and it shatters into pieces on the floor. We all understand it isn’t the vase’s fault that it was pushed off the table and shattered. But still, it is broken.” (pg. 48) This is what I felt like- broken. But the beautiful thing about it is that the Savior can piece back our vase not only as good as it was before, but even more beautiful than ever.
- While I was out weeding, I worked around several plants. Our yard has a morning glory infestation problem. I have tried many different tactics to get rid of it, and though it’s getting better, it still torments me. Around this one particular bush I saw no sign of morning glory. I was delightfully surprised! Then I bent down close to inspect the inner branches of the bush, and to my surprise, found it full of morning glory. The morning glory had done such a good job disguising itself and wrapping around the leaves in such a way that it looked just like the thriving bush. I feel this is how Satan works. Everything looks fine and dandy on the outside, but he starts inside of us until we are so infested, we cannot breath any longer.