Part of the Dealing With Pornography and Internet Addiction Series
The Pure Intimacy Web site is divided into an area for the person who struggles with on-line sexual temptation and another area for the concerned spouse. Surprisingly, at least 25 percent of those visiting the area for the concerned spouse identify themselves as men. The emails they write tell about their wive's on-line affairs or sometimes even problems with pornography. The saddest thing about these emails is that the men are really hurt and don't have a clue what to do about it all.
"Because of the incredible shame they face, men are not as eager to talk through their spouse's sexual problems as women often are," says Dr. Schneider, who believes many aren't getting the help they need. "Shame is greater for the husband of a sex addict, because their wife's actions go against cultural expectations," says Marnie Faree, a marriage and family therapist. She believes it causes men to question what their wife's addiction says about their masculinity and their marriage.
According to Faree, husbands of sex addicts typically respond in one of two ways: either they grow very controlling and angry and then refuse to take responsibility for their role in the problem or they become very passive and try to ignore the problem.
In your hurt and embarrassment, you have to find a balance between those extremes. You can't ignore the problem — you have to fight for your relationship, but you can't do it out of a sense of anger or control. You have to boldly share your concerns with your wife and then release her to God and often to professional help as well.
That's what Frank resolved to do when his wife left him for someone she met on-line. For a year, Frank prayed for his wife and continued to extend forgiveness and unconditional love as best as he could despite his hurt. That was exactly what his wife needed. "Frank just amazes me with his unconditional love and he says that … comes [only] from God," she says, now that they are back together. "I still can't believe God gave him the strength to forgive me and not let it eat away at him and our marriage."
Frank was also willing to take the difficult step of looking at his own life to see how he could help improve his marriage. Now he encourages other men to look at underlying relational problems that may be fueling their wive's struggle. "Find out why your wife is resorting to this type of behavior," he says, "See if it is out of loneliness or not enough communication in the marriage." Once Frank realized that he had not been communicating his feelings very well, he started sending his wife emails — a format that helped him to open up. "I couldn't believe they were from my husband," his wife says. "I was so moved by what he was saying. He could never say that in person. I started falling in love with him all over again. I saw a side of him I'd never seen before."