Open honesty and hurt

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by kropo82, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    I have had an issue over the last few days about honesty & openness and hurt. I know lots of the porn addicts and partners of porn addicts think that honesty and openness are supremely important in a relationship and in recovery.

    Over the last few weeks I have experienced strong urges. They brought me face-to-face with the side of myself that does not want to give up pornography at all. On Tuesday night my wife asked me if I could go back with all I know now and visit my younger self would I warn the young me to avoid pornography? I couldn't honestly say yes. She didn't notice it at the time, but it struck me as odd, so we discussed it more on Wednesday.

    What has happened, I think, is that my recent urges have suddenly revealed the side of myself that is desperately clinging to porn. That's the side of me that stops me giving my wife the obviously right answer "yes, I would tell the young me to avoid porn". Because part of me values the pleasure and reward I have received from porn over the years. I need to look hard at that side of myself and either kill it, retrain it, or learn how to subjugate it going forward. But right now I can see it.

    All well and good. But if you ask your porn addict husband the question "if you could go back with all you know now and visit your younger self would you warn him to avoid pornography?" then there is only one acceptable answer: "yes". The fact that my answer was that I was not 100% sure yet, and that part of me still clings to the pleasure years of pornography use gave me was the wrong answer. But it was the honest answer. For my wife it reminded her of other times I have been honest but hurtful. Once, a few years into our relationship (years before we married) I told her that I was not certain that I loved her. At the time I wasn't. I was worried that I was playing a part. Then again, in 2008, I admitted to her that I wanted to visit prostitutes. I have never used a prostitute, and I never would, but it is an urge I have to deal with. Soon after that disclosure we went off on holiday and I now know that my wife spent time in the bathroom each day crying. Yesterday, because of my inability to give a simple "yes" answer she spent much of the day crying.

    What have I done? It seems clear that she needs honesty but that she also needs a man who can give her the right answers, not the answers I can give. I can be an honest bastard or a good husband, who keeps some of his darker thoughts to himself. I need to be better, I need to be the source of my wife's happiness and success, not the cause of her pain. I just cannot see how full disclosure and honesty enables me to do that. I am the wrong husband.

    (N.B. This is copied from my journal post here.)
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  2. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

    I think this is a important post for people to read.
    It's amazing you can put your inner most thoughts to page so articulatly.
    I admire the strength it took to admit this so far into recovery.
    I think this is what we are all afraid of.
    Me and my SO have had lots of deep discussions reading your journal.
    I'm proud of you for being so upfront about your addiction.
    This is incredibly difficult.
    I think you should feel pride in your productiveness to try to work through it all.
    I hope you have a great day @kropo82 and thank you, for sharing
    Rachie, Numb, Jennica and 3 others like this.
  3. I understand the intention of your post -- to be openly, brutally honest or not.

    But I have to take exception with the specific example you are using. If you are at a point where you could not 100% want to tell your younger self to avoid did you arrive there??

    I know you say you remember the joys of engaging in porn -- but your rationale mind .. doesn't it see the utter chaos and pain you have caused your wife, yourself, your relationship?? How is all of that combined pain to 10x / 100x the memories of pleasure? THAT pain is not enough for you to 100% honestly want to tell your younger self to avoid porn?? What, you feel like you would be depriving your middle-age'd self some pleasure??? Really?


    Maybe you have been in the middle of this longer than I have .. maybe the pain and confusion has worn off enough for you to not be 100% confident that porn should have NEVER been in your life, regardless of the moments of pleasure it brought.


    I hope I am not coming down too hard -- I just don't understand. I would absolutely LOVE to tell my younger self to avoid the pit of porn....I want to tell every young person! (starting with my kids)
  4. WantsToBelieve

    WantsToBelieve Fapstronaut

    I applaud you very much for being able to share this thought. You have a strength that many do not.
    Psychologically, it makes sense. P is a crutch, and one that many, many people have leaned on, myself included. (Though my use never developed into an addiction.)
    Do I think I would have developed a healthy sexuality without it? I'll never know.
    You had no way of knowing it would go this far.
    I also think that hypotheticals are dangerous. None of us can go back and change the past.
    Would it be great to think about if we would? Sure.
    Would I go back and be with my fiance at all, knowing that this pain would happen?
    I'm not sure I'd be able to give him an honest answer to that, either.
    Not the one he'd be looking for.
    Don't be too hard on yourself. You are still growing and learning, and changing.
    You are the right husband. And a wonderful person.
    Rachie, Hopefulgirl, Jennica and 3 others like this.
  5. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    By realising that part of me does not want to give up.

    It does. That is why I am giving up pornography forever. But part of myself resents that. I could pretend to just be the good bit of me, and lie about the existence of my darker side. The darker side of me doesn't give a shit about the pain, it just values the pleasure. It is a part of myself that I am deliberately not acting on, but denying its existence would be dishonest. If it did not exist I would not be struggling.

    Not at all, I am deliberately depriving myself of pleasure because it is the right thing to do. But the years I spent watching porn are part of me, and I am not ready to let that go.

    But that's not really what I am asking about here. @TryingHard2Change, try ignoring most of my post and just looking at this sentence:
    What are your thought on that? Is that a dilemma you have ever faced or thought about? What did you decide?
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
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  6. TryingToHeal

    TryingToHeal Fapstronaut

    If you weren't married, would you still give up P?
    That's an important question to me that I've asked my husband. Just curious where you stand on that to see how it fits in the rest of what you are feeling.
    I commend you greatly for being honest. I would rather my husband tell the truth to me knowing it will hurt me than lie to me to try to "protect" me. I want the truth, so I appreciate that you are being honest so much.
  7. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Thank you @WantsToBelieve. I like your point about hypotheticals. But there are so many non-hypothetical questions she could ask about my darker thoughts where an honest answer would be hurtful.

    Would I still try to? I hope so. But her ultimatum did two things, it provided the catalyst I needed to start trying in earnest and it provided the motivation I needed to start to succeed. I have always known porn was wrong, but until she told me it was porn or her I had never put any effort into giving it up. So the short answer is yes, I would still try to give up porn if I she wasn't in my life, but I doubt I would be able to.

    Thanks @TryingToHeal, I hope she feels the same but I fear not. I fear that there are a few key moments in our relationship where my honesty has hurt her deeply, moments where I should have lied.
  8. WantsToBelieve

    WantsToBelieve Fapstronaut

    That is very true. I am sure you have seen this acronym before but I think it would be useful here. Typically it's used for children but I feel it's appropriate here.
    And I have a theory about it.
    Before you speak, THINK -
    T - Is it True?
    H - Is it Helpful?
    I - Is it Inspiring?
    N - Is it Necessary?
    K - Is it Kind?

    My theory - Nothing you say in this situation can be all five of these things. However, I feel in relationship issues and in order to work it out, you should at least have three of the five. In this case, these things that you say are true (honest), helpful (in some aspects, helpful for processing her pain), inspiring (perhaps it will inspire thoughts in her that would not otherwise process on their own), and necessary (for your relationship to move forward). Are they kind? No. But you have four out of five, from a certain point of view. My point of view, anyway.
    Hope it helps.
    Rachie, Jennica and kropo82 like this.
  9. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

    I feel like more people should use THINK in general
    It is a good recovery tool
  10. Queenie%Bee

    Queenie%Bee Fapstronaut

    I look at things a little differently than some of the SO here . During recovery over the last year I did NOT want to know how long the fantasies took to go away , I DO NOT want him to tell me every female he notices . I Do Not want to know if he had a favorite. I Do not want to know if he was less attracted to me during . However I do want honesty and integrity NOW . I want to know that it won’t happen again . I want to know if he’s urging . I want him to communicate the things he regretted for sure . Regarding privacy with feelings , I’ve granted him SOME of that . And I’ve been private with some of mine to not hurt HIM . If it doesn’t help recovery for him and healing for me , I don’t want to effing know . This is hard enough . This is NOT a bump in the road to quickly get over , I know that . It’s like a fucking sinkhole and we both fell in , BOTH trying to get out TOGETHER. ( just to be clear , I did get full disclosure so I don’t want anyone to think I’m naive )
    Hopefulgirl, Numb, Jennica and 2 others like this.
  11. GG2002

    GG2002 Fapstronaut

    I think you need to be honest with your wife and tell her that you are not fully ready to give up porn and reading what you wrote I agree you are not. She may leave you but she has the right to make her decision based on the truth. The reason she gets upset is she is working with the understanding that you are clean and that you want to be there. Some of the things you say don’t reveal that goal to her.

    This is really the only answer I can see. If she stays it has to be with the understanding that you are not sure if you want to stop and live with whatever honesty that brings up.

    As SOs it’s hard because when we ask for total honesty we need to accept total honesty which is often very painful. But it’s not fair to tell her a lie. Every hear the saying hurt me with the truth but please don’t comfort me with a lie? She deserved the truth.

    And you MUST be quitting for yourself. Otherwise this is a waste of both of your times. What will be enough for you to quit and open your eyes I just don’t know. It may be losing your wife.
  12. NF4L

    NF4L Fapstronaut

    The fact that you post this and realize the “right” answers mean you can be the honest and good husband. Even though you have given up P long before most of us could admit we’ve had a problem, it still sounds like you are struggling with improving yourself and recognizing the selfish bastard inside. It is a constant battle to correct and retrain the addict inside, to not give an inch. It really surprises me the amount of self preservation a PA, like myself, still attempts when struggling with the harder conversations, the depth of our addictions and the actions or choices we’ve made. We justified the behaviors in the past, and we somehow still attempt to justify those behaviors even now. It’s incredibly difficult to admit that we are wrong, but we have to humble ourselves sometimes and swallow that pride and admit that our behaviors aren’t right. Getting out those honest answers even if they are honest at the time allows us to really reflect on them to see the hold our addiction and bad behaviors still have hold on us. The hard part is separating from that person we were, to not let it bring us down to the depth and depravity it wants to hold us to. Unshackle yourself, cut the cord, let it go and admit you are or were wrong.

    This makes me think about my reply in thread about levels of cheating/betrayal.

    The “honest bastard” side of me basically calls bullshit on the concept of an emotional affair. At the same time the “good husband” goes on to describe and admit to an emotional affair. Self preservation of the addict at its finest I would say. There are plenty of imprints that side of me has left in my beliefs that are hard to admit to and realize. I see it as part of the recovery and retraining the brain. As a PA we devolve, justify and make choices of aberrant behavior. They leave traces and stains all over the place, I have to take the time to get it out through honesty, and question it when it does come out, and then make the effort clean it up the mess that was left behind. My SO helps with this, I sometimes (rarely) let her question or open the compartmentalizations where I’ve put my horrible transgressions I don’t want to think or talk about because of the shame, guilt and pain associated with them. Those are the difficult conversations I don’t want to have, I don’t want to realize, where I don’t want the honest bastard to come out and play or justify or preserve its hold. She will stay strong through it, and patiently tell me how wrong it is, even while I attempt to soften the blow, or try to be defensive and pretend it wasn’t as bad as as she says it really is, even go so far as to say it could have been worse to make it seem like my behavior was somehow acceptable, when it never was. I appreciate her for doing that. I appreciate that we can come back to it and talk about it as well. I appreciate she gives me to opportunity to reflect, and make the realizations that she communicates to me that I won’t admit to at the time.

    It’s not too late for you to take the time, and tell your wife the right answer, if you really believe it. You know you probably want to, but you should take the time and clean house in your mind and work on remove those stains left behind from your former abuse, so you can be the honest and good husband both of you want and deserve.
    Rachie, Hopefulgirl, Torn and 4 others like this.
  13. Wow @NF4L...just WOW!!!

    Please don't ever stop giving us / giving me good counseling advice like that!
  14. PaleAle76

    PaleAle76 Fapstronaut

    “Because part of me values the pleasure and reward I have received from porn over the years.”

    Do you feel like you can’t get that pleasure and reward from your wife?
    Hopefulgirl, Torn, Jennica and 3 others like this.
  15. GG2002

    GG2002 Fapstronaut

    I think it’s more than sexual pleasure being transferred to his wife. Pmo is not really about sex it’s more about failure of coping skills like any other addiction. So often just physically stopping pmo does not fix it all. Addicts need to develop coping mechanisms that are healthy. If he transfers that to his wife he would want sex with her when he was sad, bored, mad etc. He could try speaking with his wife about how he feels instead of PMO.
    Hopefulgirl and Torn like this.
  16. PaleAle76

    PaleAle76 Fapstronaut

    "I think it’s more than sexual pleasure being transferred to his wife. Pmo is not really about sex it’s more about failure of coping skills like any other addiction."

    That is exactly what I am trying to get at. We use porn to try fill a void that it can never really fill. If you're not honest about why you PMO and your true motivations for using it as an outlet, I think its harder to 'devalue' it in your mind. Until I really took stock of how much damage it has done to my relationships over the years, and I how I used it as an escape, I wasn't able to see it for the destructive force that it is.
    Hopefulgirl, Torn and GG2002 like this.
  17. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    What an odd post. It's written as if you are talking about me when I am not there but I am, I started this thread! How unsettling. You are not among doctors discussing my case, please stop writing as if you are.
  18. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Or not! Thanks @Kenzi but from the replies it looks like I chose the wrong words, half the people posting seem to be ignoring the point entirely!

    What I had hoped to do was ask people about the conflict between open honesty and hurt. It is hard to talk about that because so many porn addicts use the excuse of not hurting their partner to hide their behaviour. So I gave three examples from my own life to show that was not what I meant.

    I am really grateful to those who got my meaning and gave me their experiences and ideas. I started this thread (only the day before yesterday!) when my wife and I were in the middle of some painful conversations and I needed help understanding my way forward. It's important for me to see both sides of this, SOs like @TryingToHeal who need to know the truth and SOs like @Qnb42078 who want to focus on that which helps recovery.

    Several of the posts on this thread seem to miss the point and instead focus on one of the examples I gave; and even then the example is misunderstood. I will not try and explain it further as I do not want to derail this thread more.

    For me the trouble-points with honesty are not about my current feelings, or my commitment going forward, they are questions my wife asks about the past. Conversations where she tries to probe when my love for her grew and what shape it took are a nightmare. I want to be open and honest, but I do not want to hurt her.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
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  19. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    To add to the testimony from SOs here I want to include two things my wife said yesterday. I think they help me see better where she sits of the line between wanting full honesty and wanting to be protected from pain.
    (It is interesting that her words echo the technique @WantsToBelieve suggested I use.)

    I will always find this difficult. The key moments in our talks where I say the wrong thing are not clearly signposted. I do not get the time to carefully think through what I am going to say. I just suddenly find myself faced with the option of being open and honest and hurtful or being kind and lying. It's OK for my wife, she can open the darkest recesses of her psyche and she still sounds like an angel to me. I cannot do that.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  20. @kropo82: please know that I love your posts...your perspectives are good for me and many other people I'm sure.

    About pure and utter honesty: yes, you need to be 100% honest / all of the time / every time. But with wisdom. And, SO's asking difficult questions also need to wrestle with: "Do I need to ask this question?"


    I would be remiss though..not to restate my first response to you---to challenge you about the hypothetical that was so difficult to answer "correctly":
    * would you tell your 14 year old son (if you had one) to avoid porn at all cost?
    * would you go back in time and yell your 14 year old self that?

    To honestly and with all transparency hold on to the idea that the pleasure of porn was so would hesitate to not tell your younger self to avoid porn....yes, it's almost a silly hypothetical! But I think it points to something not 100% right still...which I think you know--so great..continue to work on it.

    Whether or not to tell your wife? Be honest..but make sure you follow truth-telling up with the truth that you know you WANT to get to the point where those memories of pleasure pale in comparison to the reality of the harm of porn so much so that you wouldn't hesitate to warn your younger self OR anyone else to Avoid. Porn. At. All. Cost.
    Rachie, Jennica, Kenzi and 3 others like this.

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