Dr. Steven Lytle from Sparrow House Counseling answers the question “Why should the spouse of an addict seek help?”

Pornography keeps the person suffering from the addiction in isolation, but it can also keep the spouse in isolation. Meeting with a counsellor will be helpful to identify that isolation. There are a lot of emotions that come up when someone first finds out that their partner has been viewing porn, including feelings of betrayal, or confusion with questions like “why was I not enough?” Frequently partners talk about how the thing that hurt the most was not the addictive behaviour but the lies that were used to cover it up.

There may also be issues where as a partner, you’ve tried to control your spouse to try to get them to stop viewing pornography which could be through yelling or begging and pleading.

A counsellor can also be helpful if you have acted as an enabler, covering for your spouse through lying, explaining away or ignoring. Ultimately a therapist will be able to help you understand how all of this has led to a loss of your own well-being. In the same way that an addict needs to admit they are powerless over their addiction, the spouse also needs to acknowledge that they are powerless over their partner’s addiction.

Understanding that powerlessness will then allow the therapist to work with the spouse to create healthy boundaries. Even though you might be powerless over your partner’s addiction, you are not powerless to setting boundaries for yourself, deciding what you are going to allow and not allow into your life.

You can find a listing of counsellors on our help page.

Dr. Steven Lytle is a Clinical Psychologist with Sparrow House Counseling in Dallas, Texas.