Do you want your man to suffer for the pain he’s caused? Read why this isn’t a healthy long term solution.

[EDIT: Written by Coach Michelle]sex addict wife

“I want him to suffer for what he’s done.” “His sex addiction and porn addiction hurt me and I want him to know what this pain feels like.” “He has to pay for what he’s done.”

Do these sound familiar?

I want to share a very interesting question that’s come up a lot lately. It involves making someone else “pay”, feel “bad” or be “punished” when their actions hurt us, the spouses and significant others.

We are hurting so bad and therefore we need them to truly feel like shit after what they have done to us!  RIGHT?  I’m sure many women out there are nodding their heads in agreement with that statement right now! Let me know if you connect with this in the comments below.

This is a very common feeling and I believe that in the long run these feelings are not healthy. It really is confusing the concept of EMPATHY with SHAMEFULNESS.I believe that emotion of wanting someone to feel shameful, or be hurt, when we are hurting is because when we get hurt it feels good to us to have the other person hurt as well.  If we feel like shit, so they should feel even shittier.  It’s actually a place where we perceive that we are in control. We feel like they took our power away by hurting us and THEREFORE if he can understand how it feels to be hurt and feel horrible about it … well then we THINK we have gained control back! And we believe that is the way for them to learn how it feels to be hurt, to learn our hurt and to make sure they NEVER, EVER do it again!  We learn our lessons through punishments, right???

Unfortunately, that just doesn’t work long term. The truth is that most of us want our men to have EMPATHY for our pain….. We want them to understand and truly feel how we have been hurt.  Understanding our pain and feeling a connection to our pain and that they were a part of creating that is the piece of empathy to focus on. Connecting to our pain and understanding that they CAN do something about it changes the perspective to an empowering one. Bringing feelings of shame into it creates a lot of negativity … and feelings of shame make them feel sorry for themselves. This is the piece (shame, I’m a piece of shit, etc.) that truly feeds addictive behaviors and not positive change.

That does nothing to help us move forward and learn from our mistakes.  It maintains the feeling of shameful, not being good enough, sucking as a human being, etc. Instead, it’s better to understand what happens, how the other person was affected by it and when you can connect to that without feeling bad for yourself you start putting yourself in the other person shoes and understanding the situation a lot better.  Empathy is connecting to how another person feels ….. It’s better to empower someone to change because they can truly understand how something has hurt you and they recognize that they can positively CHOOSE another behavior …. instead of feeding their shame cycle …. Shame just never works long-term.

So, when Craig does something that hurts my feelings or hurts me (and yes, shockingly it does happen occasionally) I focus on communicating with him in a way where I am able to explain my side and hopefully get him to understand and connect with how I’m feeling, why I am feeling that way.  That brings me closer to my ultimate goal of having him change his behavior and ultimately get what I want.  Bringing shame into it feeds negativity; and I want to empower him, my relationship and myself towards positivity.  That is the path toward working together as a team and respecting each other’s emotions. It’s the path to true long term love.

Do you want your man to suffer? I know this feeling well. Share it in the comments below. What do you think of this approach? It’s more empowering isn’t it?


Call (916)259-3827 For Professional Help

P.S. Recommended Resources:

  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
    I cannot imagine my recovery without this program.
  • Mindful Habit Course by Coach Craig
    Great advice from a great person.
  • Free Podcast and Mini Course from Candeo Can
    I owe my first 90 days of continuous sobriety to this program and highly recommend it.
  • Internet Accountability Software
    Using this software allowed me to get truly honest with my internet usage for the first time in my life. For some reason knowing that my every step was being observed and reported on, made it really easy to use internet only in a healthy way.
  • Treating Pornography Addiction by Kevin B. Skinner Ph.D.
    I have read over 15 books on Pornography and Sexual addiction and this truly is one of the best books on the subject. The reason is I recommend this particular book is because it is full of excellent actionable steps. Other books do a good job describing the problem, but don’t really offer a realistic solution.
  • Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Barbara Steffens Ph.D.
    I know that about half of visitors to our site are spouses of people who might be suffering with pornography and sex addiction. To the best of my knowledge this book is one of the most helpful books for the partners.
  • Free Consultation from Coach Craig
    Coach Craig has been a good friend and supporter of this site since January 2013. He has worked with people from all over the world, including famous musicians and other high profile individuals. Yet, he is only a phone call away and would be glad to give you a free consultation. Call him anytime, with any question you might have, and I am know he will be extremely happy to help in any way he can.

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  1. DoormantNoMore says

    Is this thread still active? Does anyone who’s replied to this article have any updates or long term things that have worked for them. If so please share. Because as much as I’d like to believe this article, it just isn’t reality. Yes, in the head, this intent and idea sounds logical and healthy. BUT there is nothing logical or healthy for anyone who’s been in a situation like this. If the head ruled the day, then no one would be in this situation.

    On one hand, if this reasoning is helpful to the author and her path, then I really hate to disagree. It sounds like she has been through the wringer and is doing her best to make sense of “nonsense”, just like all of us.

    On the other hand, one point I find dangerous; it seemed like the author was implying that if I make the offending partner feel shame, it in turn feeds their addictive behavior that hurt me in the first place, thereby making me scared to share my true feelings for fear that they’ll hurt me again, due to MY actions. Really, I feel that’s similar to the logic of, “if you’d only give me more blo*j*bs, then I wouldn’t want to look at porn.” Although, it may not help, my action or lack of action does not force you (aka offending partner) to make any bad decisions. The action of the offending partner is not the fault of the offended.

    To answer your question, yes, I want my partner to suffer. When I see him suffer, it instigates my compassion. I am not a saint, just as he is not a saint. Believe me, I have tried turning the other cheek, and all that got me were two slapped cheeks, metaphorically speaking.

    When he continually says he doesn’t understand my pain, that he wouldn’t have been as sensitive as I, it drives a person to craziness. I feel broken. And the hurt person in me wants the other person to hurt, to also break. I’m starting to believe that the only way to heal a relationship after something like this, is only if both people are broken, then you can heal together and rebuild together, understanding each others pain and brokenness. And if your saying that you felt pain doesn’t get the point across, then how do your help them understand???

    I have more to say, I just don’t have the energy to write it right now. I am sad, disheartened, not hopeful.

    • June says

      I 100000% agree with you! I came across this page because I too am going through something similar. I want this guy to suffer. I want him to feel my pain that he caused. I want him to know that he can’t just go around breaking girls’ hearts all for his own pleasure.
      I’ve tried to understand why he had done what he had done, and the only conclusion I have is the simple fact that he can’t keep his you-know-what in his pants and will offer it to any girl who will take it. It makes me gross to my stomach. I mean, who does that? Especially to someone who has been loyal to you for 2 years! I definitely don’t want him back, but I do want him to realize it’s not okay to do that AND because he doesn’t seem to care, I want him to feel it too! When I brought it up to him he made it like I was the crazy one and up to this day has shown no remorse at all! He has a callous attitude about the fact that I know about his promiscuous ways and just simply does not care that it’s hurting me! He should and needs to pay for this!!!!! It’s not fair!!!!

    • Tia says

      To fix something that is broken requires both parties to actually give a shit. In my experience the fact that the other person does not truly care enough to put in the effort hurts more than what they did to begin with. While I agree with you totally, don’t waste your time trying to make him pay because for that to be effective the person also needs to care and it will just cause you more frustration. The best revenge is moving on and being happy.

  2. Deborah says

    The lies….over and over to my face. Looking into my eyes and lying. It’s 17 months since I walked in on him and discovered why he was different toward me. He got a diagnosis of ED but had no trouble masturbating and ejaculating to his porn whores. I thought he adored me, we had sex all the time for 23 years. It was explosive great sex, not mediocre. It has left me feeling lonely, empty, unattractive ( which I never felt) and just bewildered that I gave him everything, was a wonderful loving loyal wife, and this is my gift at the age of 65. BTW, I look 45 but none of that matters. He is a sick and damaged man, and he cannot really love anyone but himself . He has supposedly stopped watching, has a therapist and says its me he loves. He should have thought of that before he sat down and clicked ” free porn”. I hate him, but hate myself more for believing in ” us”.

    • Jessie Hughes says

      I know how you feel. It has only been 7 months for me – and I am currently in the midst of a very deep depression. I had no idea (before my husband’s porn addiction came to light) just how so many repeated and ongoing lies can destroy a wife’s spirit. I feel like the walking dead and I pray each night that I will feel happy when I wake up – but I never do. I have lost all trust and I truly wonder how anyone can regain trust after so many lies has caused such unbelievable, excruciating daily emotional pain and suffering.

  3. H.C. says

    I used to be a wife who was destroyed by her husbands pornography use and masturbation. I would yell, scream, threaten, belittle, cry, tell people, make snide remarks and rude jokes. Anything I could think of that might hurt him into changing. I somehow believed that my reactions would motivate him to stop but it actually did the opposite. He felt justified after awhile and it made me even less attractive and desirable to him, perpetuating the cycle. I decided one day to try something new. I had nothing to loose. I chose to dive head first into working on controlling my reactions, my emotions and giving forgiveness a fighting chance. It was a little bit harder initially than the pain I had been experiencing for the previous 7 years but I believed it would eventually make my life better. And I knew it would make his better. Addicts do what they do for many different reasons but shame and guilt are extremely defeating. My rage and belittling tore him down and made him feel so rejected by me that he didn’t feel safe to approach me to get his needs met and he felt an even deeper need to self sooth with masturbation. He decided on his own after that that he was going to stop. The message I was sending him was that he was valued and loved and he began to see me as a value to his life and someone who’s feelings he cared enough about to try to stop doing what he knew hurt them. It hasn’t been smooth and simple. There have been relapses but there has been progress and healing as well. I have learned a lot about self pity, resentments, positive self talk and edifying him as well. We take it one day at a time, we fail forward together and we know where we stand, together. I choose this fight. I want to do it right.

  4. soo says

    i think this article sucks. it is the kind of high-horse empathy crap that an addict dishes out to make themselves feel better (or minimize the feedback for what he/she has done). the last line, especially, “It’s more empowering isn’t it?,” makes me want to punch someone (namely craig). it’s tone reminds me of something my nine year old tells my six year old after she takes her iPad and gives her a ball in return. the other commentators and i are trying to say that someone needs to empathize with OUR pain and let us feel what we feel and take it out on the people responsible without somehow feeling guilty for exacerbating the damage. i think you need to trade in your JD for an actual degree in psychology and stop touting the “training” you’ve had in your self-aggrandizing bio.

    • lE says

      Hi Soo, so what wolf are you feeding here? Your anger and exasperation is understandable, I get that. But wanting to punch Craig must make it clear to you how irrational, futile and self-contradictory this this way of thinking is. Craig has devoted time and energy and free resources to help men break free from this addiction, that says to me that he also understands how you feel and he is on your side too. By remaining bitter you feed the evil wolf and fall victim to the same cycle that angers you. Behind every great man is a fantastic woman, I believe you can be that woman.

  5. AM says

    I am hurting. I am hurting to the point of being suicidal. I fight the pain every day. Writing isn’t enough. Therapy isn’t enough. I don’t want this horror and pain to fester and end up being dumped on someone else in my future the way he was OK with dumping his horror and abuse on me. So, I give it back. I take out my pain on him rather than someone else. Give it to the crows, leave it behind, let it go, whatever. Maybe someday, but not yet. I want someone to know how much I hurt when I believe they will care enough to not keep hurting me. I know he doesn’t care enough to stop. He only cares about getting his needs met and if I died, well, just adds something else he could hate about his life.

    • Anonymous says

      I truely understand your feelings because I am totally there myself… I have been medicating myself with alcohol, watching the porn too to see what it does for him, to only find myself wanting to look different, act different so that he may crave me as he does the porn. Im so lost I dont know how to get out and know that he is good man with a BIG problem that HURTS me. I want him to feel the pain I carry with me and he wants to know why i dont trust when he hides and deceives me daily with this addiction. I dont get it why cant the focus that much energy into who they say they love and want around.

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