I’m a recent convert to Catholicism, and having had to move away from my home parish where I was comfortable, I’m turning to the anonymity of the internet for a little bit of help. My wife and I moved to a new city three months ago, and we only just found a parish we like enough to join. I’ve only just become comfortable enough there to start going to confession. So I need some solid advice, preferably backed by some solid Catholic teaching.
I am addicted to sex. I started struggling with pornography (mostly internet) and masturbation when I was about 13 or 14 years old, and it has remained an issue for me off and on to this day. I’m now 28. I’ve been married for coming up on two years now, and my wife has been very patient with me on this problem, but it’s getting worse (again) instead of better. Back when I first started dating my wife, I managed to stall the addiction. I kept off the internet and stayed away from porn for well over a year. However, after only three months of being clean, my not-then wife and I started having sex, and so in retrospect, I see myself only haven traded off one problem for another. About six months into our marriage, the frustrations and anger of our first year of marriage made me weak enough to start in on the internet porn and masturbation again. It’s been a constant struggle the last year and a half. Due to very prolonged exposure to objectified women, my sexual relationship with my wife has always been strained by my skewed views on sex. I’ve had to work very hard to start coming around to a “normal” outlook on sex in a marriage, but it hasn’t been easy.
Earlier this summer, we had to move to a new city. My wife’s a doctor, and with having a new baby, we agreed it would be best both for the family and for our finances if I became a stay-at-home dad. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, I believe the saying goes. Although I’ve been keeping somewhat active with managing our small apartment and taking care of our baby, the mass amounts of down-time are really exacerbating the issue. Along with becoming Catholic, we’ve also taken up NFP as part of our attempts to be better in line with God’s views on life, which has become another factor compounding the problem.
I’ve become distracted from my new duties as a father and a homemaker, and I don’t know what to do. I went to reconciliation last weekend, and my priest was encouraging to keep working on improving myself and to turn to God, but I know I need more help than just a weekly confession can offer (though I intend to try to continue to go for my own spiritual health).
I’ve considered a lot of different options. For one thing, I’ve tried several times to convince my wife that we should cancel our internet subscription. However, she’s a very “connected” young woman, and uses the internet to keep up with her out of state family. It took almost a year to convince her we didn’t need cable tv, as she was never home to watch it, and I don’t actually watch tv (just an occasional show on DVD). In fact, my father-in-law just bought us a brand new Macbook laptop so that we can do video chatting a couple of times a week with the in-laws and the new baby. Canceling the internet doesn’t seem to be on the table as an option, much to my chagrin.
I’ve considered trying to find a therapist. I suffered from depression in high-school and into college, and have spent a number of years in counseling. My wife and I even picked it up last year to help deal with our newly-wed issues. However, I have a hard time sitting in counseling sessions because, after having had several different therapists, I’ve really run the gamut of what there is to hear. Also, I’m a bit of a brain, and I think I just get bored very easily, even with my own problems. I don’t know if that sounds weird, but it’s true.
I’ve considered trying some kind of group therapy, like Sexaholics Anonymous. I just don’t know if I’m at a level where that’s appropriate or not. My addiction bounces between willful stubbornness and blind compulsion, but I’m honestly perfectly normal 80% of the day, with no feelings of compunction to fulfill a lustful urge. I even go days or weeks without issues, but then fall flat on my face again. I know I have a problem, but I think I’m just hesitant/fearful to start going to an AA-type setting. I don’t want to admit to needing that level of help.
Lastly, I’ve considered trying to start a kind-of devoted life. Daily mass, daily prayer, and spending a good deal of time focusing on others. Tricky part is, I’m really undisciplined. It took me six years to get through college and earn a bachelors, and I have a hard time even getting myself to get to bed at a reasonable time every night. If I had enough willpower to follow such a routine, I’d likely have enough willpower to stop my addiction to pornography and masturbation. It’s also difficult because of the randomness that caring for a baby brings.
I’d love to hear any thoughts or ideas that anyone has. Thank you for your time in reading my plight.