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September 23, 2014

Ask Me Anything: A Husband’s Porn Habit & A Bipolar Sibling. {Weekly Advice Column}

 

 Porn

Eleditor’s note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. For serious.

 

Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this weeks Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds.

To submit questions for next week, email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica,

I am a 30 something wife, mom and yogi. I pride myself on being open minded and nonjudgmental towards others. I feel we all need room to grow and experience life the way we want.

My problem is my husband. He watches a ton of porn.

Before I say anything else, I want to assure you that our sex life is healthy. We have sex at least twice a week and I am still really attracted to my husband and he is to me– I assume. (Though it’s getting harder and harder to feel that way when he constantly wants to look at other women.)

When we first got together, he watched some porn, but it has definitely escalated. Also, he used to be pretty open about it, but now he hides it, and has started lying about it too.

I feel like there is this elephant in the room all the time– in the shape of hundreds of anonymous other women. The lying and the obvious attraction to people other than me is chipping away at my self esteem.

I have tried to talk to him about it so many times, so many times!! He just says he’s always watched porn and nothing has changed, and I used to be okay with it so what’s my problem now. I honestly don’t know how to answer that. I’m afraid if I keep talking about it, he’ll just go deeper underground and we’ll never have any resolution.

I feel really angry and isolated. Am I wrong for feeling so bad?

Not A Porn Lover

Dear Not,

You feel what you feel, there is no right or wrong—so start there.

The problem with porn is not so much the porn itself, but how it can affect relationships.

If both people in a relationship have a similar attitude toward porn and are open and accepting of those attitudes, then it’s not so worrisome. If, however, one partner feels one way and the other feels another, or if one partner is lying about their use of porn, an insidious dynamic of doubt and mistrust begins to evolve.

At the start of your relationship, you both had a tacit understanding that worked in terms of your husband’s porn viewing. Now, things have changed. He watches more and lies about it, you feel insecure and guilty.

This is not healthy for either of you.

You need to sit down in a non-angry moment and ask your husband if you can talk about this. Stress that you will not be accusatory, you just need to be heard and would like to listen. If he responds well, do just that– talk and listen non-judegementally. See if you can come to a new work-able compromise. It might take a long process of discovery—many conversations—that’s okay.

Just stay calm and open to the process.

If he responds poorly, you have a much bigger problem. In that case, the issue probably goes deeper than the porn itself and it might be time to try therapy, either together or, if your husband won’t join you, on your own.

~

Dear Erica,

My sister is bipolar and also a drug addict.

She has been in and out of mental hospitals and rehab facilities for over a decade. She’ll do well for a while, but then have an “episode” and just mess everything up— she loses jobs as soon as she gets them, she drives drunk, and she crashes at my parents house when she has no place to live—which is most of the time.

My parents have no idea what to do, and when she stays with them, she screams and yells and is verbally abusive to them, in addition to doing drugs in their home and stealing from them.

They have called the police on her in the past, but have refused to press charges, and so she continues to torture them.

It’s seriously like an episode of Intervention, without the intervention.

I really want to help my parents deal with this. Selfishly I’m sick of all the drama and I’m sick of giving advice they just don’t take, but I am also worried about them. I really don’t think my sister will ever change.

What can I do to change this awful situation?

Sick and Tired Sister

Dear Sister,

You are in a really tough position.

Your life is a being negatively affected by three people you love, who are trapped in tornado of addiction and enabling. You feel—justifiably—helpless, frightened and angry.

Unfortunately, unless your parents understand and accept their role in this dynamic, you are unlikely to help them affect any change.

As I see it, you have two options. The first is to take a cue from your own letter, and try to help your parents enact a real intervention. Call your local AA or NA chapter to find resources to make this happen. Don’t attempt to intervene without non-biased professional help.

If your parents are unable or unwilling to join you in turning the tide of your sister’s illness with strength and intention, you will have to take ten steps back and protect yourself.

Prepare yourself to be the target of everyone’s anger. You will no doubt be called selfish, mean and much worse. Maintain a position of detached love. Explain that you are on deck to assist if anyone ever wants to make some real changes.

In the meantime, forgive yourself for not being able to fix this, and fill your life with healthy people who love and cherish you.

 

 

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: elephant archives

 

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