If a woman has been hurt by her husband’s pornography use, she feels a strong need for support from another person. Most women have a handful of people in their lives that they could reach out to. She could go to her mother when she finds herself feeling troubled, disheartened, or hurting. She could go to a sister or a close friend. She could seek help from a therapist. She could go to an ecclesiastical leader. Some men find it surprising, however, that their wives want most to come to them.
Of course, part of that is because her husband is the one who has been involved in pornography. It wouldn’t be as fruitful to ask a friend why he started, why he kept looking, and why he didn’t open up about the problem earlier. Also, it is her husband who, for his own good as well as hers, needs to know how she has been hurt by his pornography use. He needs to understand how his behavior has hurt her so that he can stay a better course in the future, make amends, and seek forgiveness from her.
However, there is another, even more important reason that she goes to him to talk about her pain. It’s because he is her husband. He is her one and only. He is the one she most wants and needs to turn to when she is hurting about anything—even including those hurts that he may play some role in. He is, in the words of relationship researchers, her primary attachment figure. It is her deepest instinct to go to him. Viscerally she senses that it is a response from him alone that she wants.
This is important to remember because often a man, after hurting his wife, will feel that he has lost that privileged status in her eyes. In fact, now he may even feel like the jerk it hurts her to be around. He pulls away to spare her the pain of closeness to the perpetrator who has created her trauma. However, all of the support and consoling and listening that a myriad of other supportive people can provide won’t hit the depths-of-her-soul sweet spot for her like a receptive, validating, compassionate response from him can.