Perspective: Husband on porn, wife on Prozac (Deseret News, 2023)

Husband on porn, wife on Prozac

Austin felt bad again. Every time he turned to pornography, it left him hollowed out and sad.    

But he didn’t know how to talk about it with Carrie. It devastated his wife the first time she found out, and whenever he or she would bring it up in a glancing way, it seemed to make things worse. 

So he’s been keeping things to himself and doing his best to be available to his family. Austin rationalizes his secrecy by telling himself, “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” even though the problem is becoming increasingly unmanageable — crescendoing since his first exposure in his youth. 

No matter what he does to “protect her feelings,” he notices in the days that follow there is a pattern. His wife is hit with a wave of painful emotion despite his efforts to keep his acting out a secret. Even though she isn’t fully aware of what’s happening, her body, heart and spirit seem to sense the truth. Her gut knows. 

Busy raising three young children, Carrie struggles to pay attention to anything extra, let alone vague gut jabs. Yet in quiet moments, she dreads what this dissonance could mean or reveal (again). So, she soldiers on. As her depression gets worse, she puts on a brave face and doesn’t tell anyone except her family physician.

Medication may soften the corners of her depression, but it can’t and won’t resolve it without deeper attention to the associated trauma. Carrie’s depression is a natural response to a larger problem. 

Austin simultaneously spirals into hopelessness, along with a strong desire to withdraw from everything. Distorted thoughts get amplified in this relative isolation: “Why can’t I stop this? What is wrong with me? No one would love me if they knew.” But he always reassures himself, “Tomorrow I will stop.”

But that doesn’t happen. The pattern continues, despite growing negative consequences for himself and his family. Austin even notices his children having nightmares on the evenings he acts out. Yet his secretiveness confuses more than just his spouse — it creates fertile ground for toxic accusations to take hold: “Carrie’s so depressed all the time. Maybe we’re just wrong for each other?” He forgets that Carrie was happy and outgoing prior to discovering his pornography use.

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