Although I started to recognize that I was really being influenced by his behaviors, I didn’t know how to deal with that information. At first, 25-years ago, I was fairly young and pretty naive as to what it means to have your husband have a porn addiction and a sexual addiction. In actuality, I didn’t even know those terms existed, and so I tried “Forgive and Forget.” When he disclosed the second time, years later, I began to feel like I had something to do with it. I thought that I had to fix it or help him fix it.
Now as I look back, I recognize how much education he and I were both lacking. If I had just found out within this last week about my husband’s porn addiction, I would do things a lot differently than I did then.
I would first get some support. I would need a therapist, for ME, who understands what a sexual addiction is and who understands that I, as the wife of a sex addict, am going through trauma. Next, I would look for a 12-step group for ME. There are women who have dealt with this and women who have successfully worked through their own feelings and are continuing to work through their own feelings. I would look to these women to support me. I would also need plenty of education. I would search for that education in books, videos, and articles from trusted sources.
I think for me, my first big “ah-hah” moment was when someone said, “it is not you fault, you can’t control it, and you can’t fix it.” That information was foreign to me because, like I said earlier, I thought that I could do something about it. I thought that I could control his addiction to lust because I was a strong woman, a strong mother, a strong wife, and a strong community leader. In all of those contexts, I had been able to control the outcome of my life before, but this situation left me totally dumbfounded. I kept trying to control and fix, and the more I did, the more I was left feeling crazier and crazier. Having support people tell me, “this is not yours to control and this is not your fault” on a daily basis was essential for my own healing.
Beyond gaining support (which is key), my final tips would be- slow your life down, take care of yourself today, look for resources, and go to God. Ask for help, plead for help. After you turn over the things you cannot change to Him, get up off of your knees and go where He directs.
Although we cannot control other people’s actions, including our husband's, we can find peace in our lives right now. We can slow down, and choose not to make any knee-jerk reactions, and we can reach out to support so that we can have a safe place to feel the trauma that we are and have been experiencing.
This journey is long and can be painful at times, but with support from people who understand the journey and our higher power, we can make it through stronger and, more importantly, healthier than we ever thought possible.
Rhyll graduated from Brigham Young University at the relatively young age of 58, where she earned a BS degree in Family Life.
A piano and music teacher from the time she was 16, she still loves to use her talents and education in piano and choral instruction as often as possible.
Rhyll has been married to Steven Croshaw for 40 years and is the proud mother of 7 children and 16 grandchildren. Rhyll and Steven offer their personal, firsthand account and learning experiences that have shaped and refined their shared recovery.