Sunday, November 4, 2012

Loyal Bulldog

My husband is loyal.

He's stayed with jobs that have sunk him financially because he wanted to stand by his boss (pre-wife and kids).  He's stood by friends, family, you-name-its.

When I was hospitalized with an infection, he hardly left my side.  He fought the doctors for me.  It made the nursing staff swoony, and they often complimented me on him.
"You don't know how lucky you are," they would say when they checked my vitals, "You would be surprised how many husbands aren't anything like that."
Yes, yes.
Very lucky.

So why?  Why is my loyal husband so... not loyal?
It's something that has plagued me all of my marriage.
"He is so loyal," his mother would say to me so very often.
"Yes, yes," I'd say.
"Very loyal," I'd say.
And then my mind would race.  If he's so bloody loyal, where the heck do I rank?  Beneath financially bankrupt bosses that take advantage of free labor?

For the past week, this question has been on my mind... only this time it's a little different.  Usually I replay the question in my mind, and then I bask in The Land o' Victims.
I'm not worth being loyal to.
He's loyal to HIMSELF alone... always looking out for #1 (eye roll).
Men (spit!)...
And then I would eat cookie dough.

This time I didn't sail to the Land.  I just... thought a thought.  I mulled it over in my brain.
Why?  WHY?  He's so loyal...
He IS loyal.  HOW is he loyal?

He doesn't flirt with other women.  He doesn't have a facebook account.  He doesn't reconnect with old girlfriends.  He doesn't fantasize about other women.
His phone is never hidden from me.  He leaves it out, lets me answer it, lets me text from it and read texts on it if I really want to.  Which I usually don't because I have once or twice and it's a huge yawn-fest.
He won't even spend a few dollars without asking me first, and he's the one who is primarily in charge of the finances.
I dwelt on all of this, and then my thoughts branched beyond the realms of sexuality.
I thought of my hospital stay, how he'd been right there.
I thought of the little boy in Primary who had disrespected me without me even knowing it... I had been teaching sharing time.  My husband is a Primary teacher.  He heard a kid being disrespectful toward me (I didn't hear it because I'm not awesome enough to be that aware), and he immediately brought the disrespect to a screeching halt.
And then there was his sister... she'd spent an entire evening texting him about how I'd done him wrong over something I wrote on facebook (I know, I know.  I thought we were grown ups too...) and while she was poking her nose in to DEFEND her brother's honor, he made his stance very clear: he's with me.  And then he insisted she oughta be with me too.
He almost got into a fight with a gaggle of boys who asked me via cardboard sign to flash them.
You should see him when I get cut off in traffic or when the sandwich I order isn't quite up to snuff...

He is, people, my loyal bull dog.

So what's the DEAL with this PORN thing? My thoughts took a turn.  And then it dawned on me.  I mean, I already knew it, but I didn't KNOW it, know it.  You know?

He isn't doing this to me.

He's trapped -his agency has been compromised to some extent.
"It's like something takes a hold of me," he told me once in a revealing conversation, "I can physically FEEL it inside -it pulls me and it makes me feel powerless."

He isn't doing this to me.
He was doing this BEFORE me.
This has nothing to do with me.

Does it hurt me?  Oh, more than anyone who hasn't gone through it would know.  But he doesn't MEAN to. He doesn't WANT to.

For so many years, it felt like he was doing this TO me.  It did.  It still does on some days, but as I detach and I work on recovery, the easier it is to feel the truth of that statement:

My husband is loyal.  He isn't doing this to me.  Not really, really.  Even though it may FEEL like he is, I need to keep a corner pocket in my brain for this week's thoughts...
No matter how much it hurts, no matter the pain, the tears, the heart break:
I can take it personally, or I can choose freedom from being a victim.
Most days I'm safely home.  But some days, I still set up camp in the Land o' Victims.  And when I do, I need to remember the truth that has been taught to me this week.
It doesn't excuse him.  It doesn't excuse his behavior.  It isn't a free pass.
But it's a free pass for me -a free pass out of the Land.

I can type that.  I can write that.  Living it is a different story entirely -one that I'm learning very slowly.  This week, I'm so grateful for the lesson I've been taught.
How many times have we learned something we already "knew?"
I'll be honest: I'm not super excited to APPLY this principle -I'd much rather he stay sober.
But I'm grateful for truth.
I'm grateful for his loyalty in all it's forms.
I'm most sincerely grateful that my Savior is the perfect model of loyalty, and that He's always there for me, in hospitals, on facebook, in the middle of the night, in fits of tears, and smiles of glee...
He's here.  Always here.


  1. This is interesting. But it is still all so confusing to me. I know it isn't about all, really. But at the same time, I feel that porn use and masturbation and fantasizing about other women (which my husband has admitted to doing) are all breaking his marriage covenants that he has made to me. So, although it isn't about me, it still feels like in some ways he is doing it to me, by not being willing to put his covenants and our marriage above himself. If that makes sense. I don't really know how to explain what I am thinking.

    1. I understand you -I hear you. Seriously! You explained yourself perfectly.
      There's such a thin line between feeling like they've hurt us and being able to detach completely. I think the line also varies on where we are in recovery.
      As Wives of Porn Addicts, we have so much in common and yet each situation is different.
      Maybe we should change our name to Wives of Lust Addicts. My husband acts out on his lust addiction through porn. Some husbands act out by browsing women online (dating sites, facebook...) and some look at women in real life.
      It's all the same thing. But different means of acting out.
      You're right -it's confusing. I'm learning different lessons that go along with my situation, and I'm so grateful for that because I've been so confused for so long. I'm grateful for every little shred of personal clarity that comes my way.

  2. You are so right Alicia! Thank you for this excellent post.

    I have been wanting to detach for so long and now I feel like I am getting some where. Thank you for your words of motivation to jump of the addiction band wagon. To realize that it is not my fault, it's his weakness, and I can choose how it will ultimately effect me.

    I also love this question, "How many times have we learned something we already "knew?"

    I am going to ponder on this one some more. Thanks:)

    1. Detaching is so HARD. Thank goodness we have the Savior (and each other!)

  3. This is such a great post. And MM - I totally hear what you're saying too. My husband and I were just talking about this a few days ago and I was telling him how for me, it would be different if he had a different addiction. The lies and betrayal would still be there if say I found out he was addicted to prescription pain killers. I would still have to recover and forgive and he would have many of the same steps in recovery ahead of him as well, if that's what he chose to do. And I can't say for certain because I've never been in that spot - but to me it seems like it would just be a little bit of a different aspect of recovery, because of the personal nature of sex. Him having sex with other women, fantasizing about other women, viewing porn, etc. misuse something that is supposed to be sacred and completely alone between he and I. I described it to him that it's similar to the way I feel differently about my husband and my brother, who also has a porn addiction. I love my brother very much and am saddened by some of his life choices, but his addiction does not affect me the way my husband's does. My brother did not make covenants with me, whereas my husband did.

    BUT -- the root of the addiction, the underlying cause has NOTHING to do with me. He didn't set out to try to find a way to betray me and hurt me and porn was the best thing he could find that would accomplish that. He had it long before he married me, although that doesn't diminish how much it hurts me because of the sacred nature of intimacy.

    Alicia - it's interesting how you talk about loyalty. It reminds me of my husband's desire to "be a hero" as he calls it. I am fairly independent and we have spent much of our marriage apart for different job trainings, etc. We're talking like a total of 2 years of the 8 1/2 we've been married. So naturally, I have needed to be able to take care of things myself. When I first discovered my husband's affair, one of his reasons for being attracted to the other woman was that he could be a knight in shining armor to her. She was a single mom and working hard to make ends meet, etc. He wanted so much to be able to help her and take care of her, because he didn't feel like he could do that for me. When we talked to our therapist the first time, she helped him to see the ridiculousness of that - because by doing that for someone else, he was completely abandoning me and being unfaithful - even before there was ever any sort of physical contact. He was looking for someone else to help him feel validated and loved, without even looking to his wife.

    So - even though he wanted to be a hero, he was choosing the wrong way to go about that. (And I don't mean to sound co-dependent like I need a hero to help me or make me happy, but you see what I mean).

    Sorry this got so long - I'm not even sure if I made the point I was trying to make.

    1. I ache for you, woman!
      Isn't it CRAZY how they can believe the most obvious lies? There's been so many times that my husband has said things to me and I've repeated them back slowly to him... just to make sure he actually HEARD what he was saying. He did hear himself, and he totally bought into it and was so blind about it all.
      It was heartbreaking.

      I used to follow a blog written by a women whose husband had cheated on her (no sex involved) with his x-girlfriend. Before the affair went to far, he came back home to his family. He confessed to his wife, "I feel like I'm coming out of a fog."

      Satan has tricked me so many times in similar ways. I spout off stuff to my husband about my weight or abilities (or lack of, haha) and he just shakes his head.
      "It's not true, Alicia," he says, "You need to differentiate between Satan and the truth."

      I can't even imagine all of the hurt you may be experiencing, Bec. You're an amazing woman, and I'm so glad to know you.

      PS: there's a woman that recently joined the forum who is experiencing infertility, and she was wondering if anyone else had dealt (or is dealing) with infertility and their husband's addiction. I can't remember her forum name, but I did think you would have some grounded insights to share.

  4. Ok, it's over 4 months later and this post has been on my mind a lot recently - the whole "He isn't doing this to me." I also like what you said about "It doesn't excuse him. It doesn't excuse his behavior. It isn't a free pass. But it's a free pass for me -a free pass out of the Land." I think that is the key.

    This is all starting to sink in. Slowly.