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Planning for Falls When Recovering from Porn

Bob came to me feeling very discouraged.  He had slipped again into viewing pornography.  He wanted to be completely honest about it and tell his wife; however, he didn’t know how to do it.  He knew she would be very angry and disappointed.  He didn’t want to hurt her, but he knew he had to come clean.  

In recovery, slips are inevitable.  When one enters recovery, one often doesn’t immediately stop using pornography forever.  Often recovery comes in the form of a gradual decrease in pornography use until it is completely eliminated from one’s life.  Thus, in the process of recovery, there will be slips.  Slip stands for “short  lapse in progress.”  What’s important is having a plan to effectively handle slips, which includes confessing them to spouses.

People in recovery want to be honest about any “slips” but are too afraid (and ashamed) to admit them. Here is a plan that I recommend to my clients when there is a slip:

  1. Your spouse needs to be told within 24 hours of the slip.
  2. Before telling your spouse, contact your therapist, sponsor, coach, and/or accountability partner(s).  Discuss the slip with them to determine how and why it happened.  Then develop a plan to ensure that such a slip doesn’t happen again.  
  3. Confess to your spouse the slip, explain how and why it happened, and what you are doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  

Following this plan, your spouse may still be angry and disappointed with you; however, she will be glad that you discussed this with your therapist, sponsor, coach, and/or accountability partner(s).  She will be glad that you analyzed the problem and have developed a plan to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  Remember, it’s one thing to say, “honey I slipped again.”  It’s another thing to say, “honey I slipped again, here’s how and  why it happened, and here’s what I’m doing about it.”  The latter shows you are being proactive and are committed to your recovery.  This can help restore trust in your marriage.

In recovery, slips may occur frequently at first; however, as one perseveres with their program, the slips become fewer and fewer until one is finally free of porn.  Still, each one needs to be taken seriously.  Being cavalier about slips can lead to a complete relapse.  This is where one gives up on recovery and returns to a life of regular porn use.  This must be avoided at all costs.  

Bob’s wife was angry and disappointed about his slip; however, she was able to recover from this quickly because Bob had analyzed it and had a plan to avoid such a slip in the future.  She even commented that she was proud of the work he did.  

If you are in recovery for pornography addiction, I urge you to speak to your therapist, sponsor, coach, and/or accountability partner(s).  Develop a plan to handle slips and then share it with your spouse.  This will help you with your recovery and avoid a lot of pain and heartache in the future.  For more information on pornography addiction recovery, go to www.PeterKleponis.com


Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D., SATP-C is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, PA. Dr. Kleponis has over 18 years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and organizations. He specializes in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, and pornography/sexual addiction recovery. He works with individuals and couples from around the United States and internationally in-person, by phone, and by Skype. For more information see his website, www.peterkleponis.com

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3 People Replies to “Planning for Falls When Recovering from Porn”

  1. CC

    The above advice is absolutely wrong. By telling your spouse of your transgression, you are stealing their peace of mind in an attempt to assuage your guilt. No one has that right.

    This situation is better handled as a two-pronged approach: first, confess the sin to your priest and accept their feedback. Second, get some counseling from someone who understands the issue and can provide useful tools.

  2. Mat A

    Making you spouse your accountability partner is a poor choice, subjecting them to continued abuse. The spouse doesn’t understand the problem, and rarely provide constructive feedback. I recommend that an addict looking to get sober get an SA sponsor, got to meetings and work the 12 steps. Sharing slips with the fellowship and sponsor gives an addict useful support, and prevents the spouse from being re-injured each slip.

    Frankly, addicts confuse dumping with disclosure. Dumping is a shame-based response, where disclosure seeks healing. It takes coaching to help an addict make proper disclosure.


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