Porn Doc Is In … Dealing With Sexual Scenes on TV

Dear PornDoc,

Couple Watching Tv.Q: I’m a married man in recovery from sexual addiction and pornography. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been in treatment, I get very uncomfortable watching any kind of nudity in movies and TV programs with my wife. I sort of sit there and hold my breath and hope she doesn’t get upset. How do I best deal with this?

 

A: This is a common theme with the men and couples I treat. If you consider that your addiction to sex and porn is likely quite private for you, it makes sense that you are not comfortable in discussing it—or in this case having it revealed to you via nudity and sexual acts on movies. Like most men too, you sound averse to conflict. Seeing sexual scenes in movies may make your partner upset and bring up bad memories.

 

I recently had a client with a similar experience. He and his wife used to enjoy the TV show, The Sopranos before his addiction was revealed. Further into treatment, he and his wife were watching the program again for the first time in a long while. Of course there was a long scene filmed in the strip club and a collection of nude dancers gyrating in the background. My client told me the same story—that he was uptight and worried the entire time and hoped his wife would not mention any bad memories.

 

I told him what I will tell you—that you missed out on an opportunity. How different it could have been for him—and you—if you could have shared what you were feeling at that moment with your spouse. For example, “I’m not sure how you feel about this but I am really anxious about watching this with you. Not because I’m triggered by it but more worried about you and any bad memories you may be having.” My client did address this with his partner and she too found it difficult and it got them talking about a touchy subject.

 

I invite you to investigate what feelings you are having around this—journaling is a great help, by the way. Try to share your feelings and observations with your wife if you feel safe doing that.

 

 

Q: My wife thinks I have a porn addiction. I do not. I took one of the online quizzes to determine whether I am or not and I scored right in the middle. How can I tell if I do have a problem?

 

A: Well, you do have a problem if you and your spouse are upset around this issue. If you’re asking whether or not you have an addiction, well that depends. In it’s simplest terms, an addiction represents an activity or behavior that you want to stop and you can’t. Over time that behavior gets more and more intense and less manageable.

 

You can try to set some goals for yourself and not look at porn for a determined amount of time. See if you can do it and watch what comes up for you. See if you experience withdrawal (irritability, restlessness, physical symptoms, etc.) Regardless of whether you fall in the “range” of addiction or not, an upset exists between you and your wife and needs to be explored.

 

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