Wes and Marge, both in their mid-fifties, held hands as they shared their difficult tale of healing their relationship after porn. The parents of three grown children, they had been together for twenty-five years. Wes used porn for most of their marriage and lied about it throughout the relation­ship. He’d tell Marge he’d stopped when he hadn’t and lie about relapses. After discovering that he had never quit using porn as promised, Marge was devastated and lost all trust in him. She kicked him out of the house.

They each knew that with their youngest child leaving home for college, divorce was eminent.

WES: “We had been separated for two years. I thought Marge was so angry with me for having lied to her about porn throughout our mar­riage that getting back together was out of the question. One afternoon I woke from a nap and realized that what I really wanted was to be with Marge for the rest of my life. Pornography and other sexual acting out were no longer meaningful or important. They became things to give up to get Marge back. It’s hard to explain that moment of awareness. It felt like an epiphany, just a sudden ‘blip’ and it was different. I felt ready to do whatever I could to win back her trust and affection.”

MARGE: “Wes told me he had given porn up for good, and won­dered if I’d consider getting back together with him. I knew he was basi­cally a wonderful person with a lot of potential. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had fallen for Wes’s convincing lies for many, many years. Our breakup had been devastating. How could I justify ever trusting him again?”

WES: “Here I was, finally committed to staying away from porn, and with zero credibility. When my therapist suggested polygraph testing to prove my honesty to Marge, I thought, Wow, that’s a great idea! I had already determined that I wasn’t going to lie to her, and the lie detector test sounded like a great way to verify that, and it wouldn’t take fifteen years to win back her trust.”

MARGE: “I was impressed when Wes told me he wanted to do this. It reaffirmed that he meant what he said. When your partner has a porn problem and lies about it, you not only can’t trust him, you can’t trust what you think is true. You sense something is going on and you ask about it, but all you get back is a denial or an evasion. It was refreshing for me that now the burden of truth was on him. No longer was I expected to blindly trust him. He had decided to prove to me that he could be trusted.”

WES: “It was kind of exhilarating to say I’m going to do this and then to go through with it. I had a little apprehension about false negatives, but those are rare so I didn’t let it get in the way. My therapist recom­mended a polygraph examiner who was experienced administering the test as a marital trust-building aid for porn and sex addicts. The whole process took about three hours. First the examiner talked with Marge and me together, then he talked with Marge about what specific ques­tions to ask and how to word them. Then he gave me the test, which took about half an hour. While I was taking it, Marge went for a walk.”

MARGE: “The polygraph examiner made it really clear that he was my advocate. He told me: ‘The only reason we are here is because you have been lied to and because you have been hurt. I want you to come up with questions that will answer what you need to know.’ It was so validat­ing, but also brought up an incredible surge of emotion. It’s like, God, we’re here because I have been lied to for fifteen years. We’re doing this so that I can find out whether Wes can be an honest, reliable, sexual, and safe partner with me. It was really powerful.”

WES: “When I was strapped in the chair with all the ‘whiz bangs,’ it was a little bit tense at first. All the gadgetry and the procedures had been explained to me, and I knew that the chances of it reporting I had lied when I hadn’t were very rare, but still you can’t help being worried your first time. I knew what the test questions were beforehand so I just relaxed. When the examiner got to the question, ‘Have you viewed or possessed sexual imagery in the last six months for your sexual plea­sure?’ I simply told the truth and said, ‘No.’ ”

MARGE: “When I came back from my walk, I felt really on edge. The examiner greeted me with this big grin on his face and said, ‘Well, Wes really means business. He passed.’ Since he is the expert in determining if someone is telling the truth, his reaction gave me the confidence to trust Wes. I felt this huge sense of relief. I was happy and overwhelmed.”

WES: “I felt relieved too. Not just because I passed—I knew I was telling the truth—but because Marge was happy and able to believe me. We had a basis for a future together. We made arrangements to come back every six months for retesting and Marge has the option to re­quest a test at any time. Following the test, I moved back into the house with her. It’s been several years since that initial test and I’ve passed all my six-month follow-ups. It feels so good not having to conceal things, not having to watch what I say. When you lie about things you have to remember what you lied about. When you don’t, all you have to do is remember what happened.”

MARGE: “We have both felt freed up because of the testing. I don’t feel a need to question him about what he might be doing or doubt what he tells me. Whether or not he’s using porn has become a non-issue in our marriage. I really love and respect Wes for being committed to doing this. I don’t think we would be together today if it weren’t for the lie de­tector testing.”

WES: “Knowing that I will be tested every six months has changed the way I think and respond in terms of pornography. It’s like wearing a seat belt or having a security blanket. My mind just doesn’t spend time on the possibility of looking at porn, because I know that I’m not even going to go there. Even if I’m tired or feeling tense, I am not going to sit back and start fantasizing about that stuff. If it enters my mind, it’s gone in a second. I push it aside in a second. I just think the lie detector is great. I recommend it for anybody who wants his partner to know the truth.”

W

es and Marge’s story is a good example of how determined and courageous some people are in their quest to rid themselves and their relationship of the destructive influence of porn. It is also a testa­ment to the power of love and commitment to prevail even in the most challenging of circumstances. As we’ve seen from all the stories in this chapter, when you work together and persevere, recovery from porn addiction can lead to renewed trust, improved communication, and in­creased caring and affection.