I've been emailing with a fellow WoPA who has been dealing with this much longer than I have, which probably means more questions, more frustration, etc. She raised an interesting point that really had me thinking. I'll post her question here, and then my response but I'm interested in other opinions too, so speak up if it speaks to you.
"If one of the major keys to recovery for the addict is improving the relationship with the spouse, than this would imply that in some way a poor relationship was responsible for fueling the addiction in the first place. That just doesn’t seemto ring true."
The best I could come up with:
After doing a 4th step inventory, and evaluating my own past and present choices, attitudes, weaknesses and strengths I've realized this. And I'm going to have to try really hard to get this to sound right.
My shortcomings in our relationship did contribute to the resentments my husband felt about our marriage. But he had a choice how to cope with/handle those resentments. He chose to go against his conscience, the teachings of the gospel and he experimented with pornography. Was I partly to blame for the issues in our sex life? Yes. Was I at ALL to blame for the choice he made to induldge in an addictive behavior? NO.
Does that make any sense? I know it's hard to make the distinction, but I think it's there. I truly believe that improving the relationship is helpful in my husband's healing, but the choice still remains his. Just like he chose his way into addiction, he has to be the one to choose his way out.
I want to take it one step further here, something else to chew on. Like I said, these are new ideas for me and I'm still sorting through them.
Over the course of our marriage there have been times I have mistreated my husband. Undoubtedly. I'm not perfect. His way of coping with the way I mistreated him was to act out in addiction. I'm not sure he ever justified his behavior by pointing out to himself how I mistreated him, but it would definitely be a possibility.
His addictive behaviors were definitely a way he mistreated me. And how did I respond? I got angry, I was cruel, I guilted and shamed. I mistreated him. Was I justified in mistreating him because he mistreated me?
I mistreat him, he acts out in pornography addiction and by doing so mistreats me. I act out by being hurtful and unkind. (Talk about a vicious cycle!) Are either of us justified? I'll grant you that addiction is probably a greater sin than the ways I have hurt him, but the principle remains the same.
He is no more to blame for my response to his behavior than I am to blame for his response to my behavior.
If I believe (and I absolutely do!) that he is responsible for the choices he makes when he is hurt or resentful, then it must follow that I am responsible for the chocies I make when I am hurt or betrayed. It seems reasonable to assume that if I expect him to control his thoughts and behaviors after being hurt, I ought to be able to control mine.
Right? Or no?