Recovery from my porn addiction was what finally motivated us to deal with the underlying problems in our marriage and become the couple we’d always wanted to be.

—Logan

W

hen Debbie’s husband, Roger, lost his job because of a seri­ous porn problem, she considered divorcing him. “I was so mad,” she said. “I told him, ‘This is the deal. If you want to stay married to me, you’ll have to get professional help and quit porn for good. I don’t trust you anymore.’ ” Determined not to lose Debbie and see his twenty-year marriage come to an end, Roger agreed and began attending a weekly sexual addiction recovery group. He also started seeing an individual therapist.

For months Roger and Debbie were estranged from each other while still living in the same house, both feeling insecure and waiting to see what would happen next with their relationship. “I felt so hurt and angry.” Debbie said. “The only positive thing was that I knew he was in a recovery program.”

It was a difficult time for Roger as well. He struggled with giving up porn and missed feeling close to Debbie, missed the fun they used to have together. “Finally, one night I sat down with Debbie,” he said. “I looked her in the eye and told her, ‘I just don’t know what to do anymore. I have done everything you asked me to do and I’ve been making prog­ress. It seems like you’re angry with me all the time and nothing I do is going to make you happy. In the beginning I understood your reactions

because I betrayed you, but now I feel you’re punishing me and things aren’t getting any better between us.’ ”

Debbie remembers that night clearly. “I listened to Roger and saw the truth in what he was saying. If we were going to have a healthy mar­riage some day I had to be willing to let go of my anger and forgive him.” Inspired by their conversation, Debbie got started on her own healing. She read books on sexual addiction, codependency and relationship healing, and got counseling for herself. “With both of us working on getting whole and healthy, it made such a difference,” Debbie explained. “We started understanding each other better and talking more about how we really felt. It was a big turnaround and enabled us to get the help we needed to rebuild our relationship.”

Roger and Debbie’s experience shows just how profound the con­sequences of a porn problem can be on a relationship. Even when the recovering user makes a sincere effort to quit, there are usually many other issues that need to be dealt with in order to fully heal the damage to intimacy in the partnership. True healing only happens when both partners take steps to reestablish honesty, trust, communication, and af­fection in the relationship.

In this chapter we explore how couples heal from the aftermath of porn. We’ll present stories of couples who have successfully worked through the negative repercussions of porn and ultimately improved their intimate relationship. We provide specific steps you and your partner can take to transform your own problems into opportunities to begin heal­ing the deeper wounds, and eventually create a relationship that is more nurturing, mutually satisfying, and deeply fulfilling than ever before.

There are four important steps couples should take to mend the damage porn has had on their relationship:

1. Restore trust

2. Understand your partner’s experience

3. Move from anger to forgiveness

4. Improve communication to build intimacy

While we have arranged these steps in a logical order, they often overlap and complement each other. Let’s explore each of these steps in detail.