My husband retired last year from a long and successful career. As part of his job he spent hours in front of the computer at the office and then at home as well. I never really thought anything about it as he had a demanding position. However, now he spends 12-16 hours a day in his home office looking at the computer, and is fully retired. The e-mails he sends are “one liners”, so it is not as if he is drafting lengthy correspondence. If I come into his office unannounced he “jumps” as if caught off guard. He now says I should call out to him as I walk down the hallway towards his office so I don’t startle him. The computer is facing away from the entrance to the office. I really think he is addicted to pornography, but don’t know how to approach him about this…… When I discussed my concerns with one of his good friends he said, “I am sure your husband as well as your teenage son are watching porn on the Internet”. Yikes!! What should I do ????
Dear Worried Wife,
It sounds like at minimum your spouse is abusing technology. He is outside the limits of healthy. Bring your factual observations to him in an objective, non-judgmental manner. Avoid assumptions. Resist searching his things or “spying” in order to “catch him.” These behaviors will only increase your anxiety, stress your marriage, create a power struggle and feed co-dependency. Addiction is progressive and leads to un-manageability and consequences that will eventually bring light to them.
Your spouse may deny the behaviors you report. If that ends up being the case (which is highly likely,) you will have to un-glue your reality from his reality. He may not be motivated to make any changes and you will have to accept you are powerless over him.
You are not powerless over you. Set personal boundaries. Boundaries are important to protect you from his compulsive behaviors. Focus on your own self-care physically and emotionally. Consider attending a Codependents Anonymous meeting if you find yourself struggling with doing those things. A licensed mental health practitioner can also provide tremendous support as you navigate what may be a challenging road.
Take Good Care,
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Tatiana Matthews, LPC