Dealing with Your Husband’s Porn Addiction

Dealing with Your Husband's Porn Addiction: Encouragement about where to startWe’re in the middle of a series on how to handle a husband’s porn addiction. I know this is such a difficult road for many women; I hope that these posts help.

Yesterday we began our series on what to do when you discover your husband’s using porn. Porn use is so dangerous; it rewires the brain so that what is arousing is an image, rather than a person, and can ruin a man’s sex drive. In fact, it’s the largest cause of a man not wanting sex. And it ruins any sense of spiritual intimacy when you make love. The effects of porn are so damaging to both the man and his wife, who is left to feel violated and betrayed.

I asked Vicki Tiede, author of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, to answer some questions that I know my readers have, because we get to talking about it in the comments section of this blog! And I have receive so many emails from readers in agony over this.

Yesterday we looked at discovering your husband is using porn. Today we’re going to look at what, practically, you should do about it.

Here’s what I asked Vicki:

Does dealing with your husband’s porn addiction require involving other people?

A woman is usually faced with determining whether her husband has a problem with / is addicted to pornography. If he has come to her and confessed it’s much easier. The situation is more difficult if she has “discovered” the pornography either on the computer or by walking in on him. Now she will wonder if he’s really sorry or if he’s just sorry he got caught.

If a man truly has a one-time exposure to porn and he is horrified, confesses, and absolutely never looks at it again, then you don’t have a problem. If however he describes himself as only looking at it “now and then,” you have an issue.

You can no more accept the “casual use of pornography” any more than you would accept the “casual adulterous affair.”

Both represent an infidelity. Both are disobedient to Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Now, here’s part two … when should you get other people involved? As soon as you have determined that this is more than a onetime event, you need to get others involved. (so glad Vicki said this! I wrote this, too, a while ago in this post, and it’s good to see we agree!)

Don’t miss this … I didn’t say you post this as a Facebook status or announce it to the world! I didn’t say you call your mother.

First, you take this to God. Pour out your heart and ask Him to direct you and your husband to whom you should tell. If your husband is eager to seek recovery and restoration, then I encourage you to make the decision together about who to tell and where to get help. Both you and your husband need safe sources of support, but you should not necessarily feel that you need to carry this load alone. I give a lot of information about this in my book, so I encourage you to read it to hear everything I have to say about choosing safe support, but some options to consider include a pastor*, a counselor for individual and joint therapy, a support group for wives/men, another couple who you know has gone through a similar experience. (*In the appendix of my book I talk about how to know if your pastor is a safe person to go to for help.) In my book, I also address why you might not want to go to a family member first.

You said that some women are too quick to forgive a husband’s porn addiction. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Many Christian women believe they must forgive almost immediately upon discovering their husband’s addiction/struggle. Here’s how that typically plays out…

She says she forgives her husband right away, then she wields the “pornography” club over her husband’s head and beats him with it on a regular basis. The goal of forgiveness is healing and growth. Fast forgiveness sabotages the healthy work that needs to be done to experience genuine, long-lasting restoration. Both the woman and her husband have work to be done. She needs to grieve her losses, and there are many! She needs to work through her anger; fears; inability to control this situation, her husband’s choices, and his recovery; and her guilt.

In my book, I wrote,

“Some Christian men may demand immediate forgiveness. This type of man is also apt to believe that, like an Etch-a-Sketch, his wife’s memory of his miserable choices has been turned over, shaken, and wiped clean so it’s good as new. He will become accusatory, withdrawn, or annoyed when she is depressed, angry, or inquisitive.”

Instead of quick forgiveness, I encourage women to go to the foot of the cross and meet with the Wonderful Counselor. She needs to allow Him to do the hard work of healing her wounded heart, so that she is able to stand ready to extend genuine, sold-out forgiveness when her husband seeks it and demonstrates that he is “turning from acts that lead to death” (Hebrews 6:1 NIV).

Sheila says: I found this part of the book fascinating, and I’ve been praying over it since I read it. I’m formulating a new post in my mind about forgiveness, and hopefully I’ll have it written next week! (Update: Here it is!)

The big theme of your book is that when dealing with our husband’s porn addiction, we have to trust in God, not in our husbands. You even said, “I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but we are talking about addiction here, and the likelihood of recurrence exists. As a result, you can’t base your hope on your husband.” How does a woman get to the point where she can even feel hope in God?

If my plane crashes in the middle of the ocean and I survive, I don’t want to hear about forgiveness or that I’m a child of God. No. I want to know that there is hope that God can and will rescue me from this situation. I need to know that He sees, and hears, and cares, and that He won’t leave me in this place of pain. That’s why I start the book out with hope. I believe the most pressing need we all share is to embrace the hope that the God is able and willing to rescue us, wash the filth that clings to our hearts and minds, and usher us to the next step of healing.

I think one thing that helps a woman begin to feel hope in God is to hear directly from Him through His Word. Trust me, this addiction may have come as a huge and ugly surprise to her, but He sees what’s being done in a darkened office or in the wee hours of the morning. This came as no surprise to Him.

Jeremiah 32:17 assures us that “nothing is too hard for (Him).” THAT is something a woman in this situation needs to hear.

Might I just add that this is the enemy’s first line of attack? He wants her to feel a spirit of hopelessness. He will try to discourage her when her husband experiences a slip (Slight Lapse In Progress) in his recovery. That’s why her hope and happiness must not be dependent on the choices her husband makes every day.

My prayer for the women who would read my books was that this passage would be a living testimony of their own healing: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Thanks, Vicki, for sharing that with us!

Vicki Tiede is the author of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, a step-by-step road to healing for you as well as a game plan for what to do.

She writes: I am an author and speaker who has a passion for opening the Scriptures and pointing women to their true source of grace and faithfulness. For the past ten years, I have been honored to speak for numerous women at conferences, retreats, and women’s events. I am the author of three books including When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography (2012), Plug Me In and Let Me Charge Overnight (2009), and Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years (coming January 2013). I live in Rochester, Minnesota, with my husband Mike, daughter, and two sons. Visit her on the web.

Tomorrow in our Wifey Wednesday post I’ll do a summary of 4 things to do when you discover your husband’s porn use.



Comments

  1. I have some concerns about a couple of things in this post. First of all, the point about involving other people as soon as you discover the porn use. How is this biblical? Matthew 18 instructs us that if someone sins against us we should go to that person first. Only if the person refuses to repent are we to get others involved. How is it okay to skip that first step in this situation? That seems like a betrayal of your husband, to immediately run and tell someone (even a pastor or counselor) about the problem before giving your husband a chance to repent on his own first. Yeah, I know he has betrayed you by looking at porn, but that doesn’t give you a right to betray him.

    Secondly, the part about not forgiving immediately. Again, how is this biblical? I totally agree that a woman needs to give herself time to heal, time to work through her anger, hurt and feelings of betrayal. But that doesn’t change the fact that Christ commands us to forgive others. He doesn’t say “forgive those who sin against you… after you’ve had time to be upset with them for a while.” I think we often don’t understand what forgiveness really means. It doesn’t mean you act like the sin never happened or that it wasn’t a big deal. We forgive because God forgave us. As terrible as it is for a husband to betray his wife by looking at porn, the sins we’ve all committed against God our even more terrible. Yet God forgives us. You can forgive your husband, yet still deal with your emotions. Forgiving him doesn’t mean you immediately go back to being happy and normal as if nothing ever happened. It’s simply realizing that you are no better than him and have no right to hold it against him, because God doesn’t hold our sins against us.

    I think the overall theme of hoping in God and not in our husband’s ability to conquer his sin is absolutely great and exactly what our focus should be in these situations. I’m just concerned that it seems like the author is using a lot of human wisdom rather than biblical principles to make her arguments. What she says sounds great from an earthly perspective, but it just doesn’t match up with the word of God.

    • Mrs. P, I think if you read her book you’ll see what she means about the forgiveness issue, which she spends quite a bit of time on. She says that the problem is many women say, “I completely forgive you”, before the husband has even repented or changed his behaviour. And this means that he has no incentive to. Then these men have no accountability and fall back into it.

      What God wants is that when we are in moral difficulty we do the hard work involved in coming back to him, not that someone completely lets us off the hook of having to do any of that work. But I won’t speak for Vicki here; you’d have to read it more to see.

      As for Matthew 18, if you have told your husband and confronted him, and he is doing nothing about it, then you should get others involved, exactly as Vicki is saying. She isn’t saying you go to the others first; you talk to your husband about it, which is confronting him. And if he refuses to admit it or deal with it, then you must go to someone else. Personally, I think this fits Matthew 18 exactly!

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Okay here’s what the post says:

        “Instead of quick forgiveness, I encourage women to go to the foot of the cross and meet with the Wonderful Counselor. She needs to allow Him to do the hard work of healing her wounded heart, so that she is able to stand ready to extend genuine, sold-out forgiveness when her husband seeks it and demonstrates that he is “turning from acts that lead to death” ”

        Notice she says the wife needs to be ready to extend forgiveness “when her husband seeks it.” I get what the author and you, Sheila, are saying. But what if your husband doesn’t repent? Do you never forgive him? Forgiveness is not some reward we offer to our husbands in return for repenting. The bible instructs us to forgive, period. It seems the author is treating forgiveness as something to use as leverage to get our husbands to repent. Like if we give it away too easily our husbands won’t have any incentive to repent, so we have to withhold it until he does what we want.

        Here’s what the post says about involving others:

        “when should you get other people involved? As soon as you have determined that this is more than a onetime event, you need to get others involved.”

        Maybe it’s just worded in a way that doesn’t make sense to me, but it sounds like she’s saying that as soon as you realize your husband has a porn problem (versus a one time incident), you need to get others involved. She doesn’t mention bringing it to your husband first and giving him a chance to repent, then only getting others involved if he continues to sin. Yes, it’s obvious that if you’ve determined he has an addiction, you’ve probably talked to him about it already. But it’s sounds like she’s saying that as soon as he admits his fault, you start figuring out who you’re going to tell about it, instead of asking him to repent and waiting to see if he does. Matthew 18 instructs us to involve others only if the sinner refuses to repent.

        I don’t know, am I just getting to caught up in the details of her wording? These issues just totally jumped out to me when I read the post, but maybe I’m just obsessing too much over her specific wording. I just think it’s important that we look to scripture as our guide in these issues, and I got the impression that scripture wasn’t given priority here.

        • If you were to read her book, you’d see that she backs everything up with a lot of Scripture, which I really appreciated.

          I think the issue with getting others involved, though, is a difficult one, so let me give my perspective.

          If he has totally repented, he will want an accountability partner. If he doesn’t want an accountability partner, he hasn’t realized the gravity of his sin, or he hasn’t really repented. And thus I think if a man uses porn, then getting some outside help is essential. We can’t just say, “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, I sincerely repent”, but then at the same time say, “I don’t need any help, and no one needs to know.”

          James 5:16 says to confess our faults one to another, and I think that applies in this case.

          Obviously if a guy once gave in to temptation and searched on the internet, you don’t need to get someone involved. But a guy who has been using porn regularly needs someone else, in the same way that Alcoholics Anonymous says that you can’t get over alcohol alone.

          We absolutely must, as a church, get behind couples and help them get the accountability and help they need when porn is involved, and that includes finding safe people for couples to talk to–people who will help, hold couples accountable, pray, but not blab to everyone.

          That’s very much a biblical model, and I do think it needs to be followed.

          As for her comments on forgiveness, they’re really at length in the book and it would take a long time for me to summarize them. But I thought she made some interesting scriptural points I hadn’t thought of before, and I think I may write a longer follow-up post about it. The gist of it: God always stands ready to forgive, but he doesn’t forgive until we repent. (1 John 1:9). He asks us to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

          My quick take: we should never hold on to bitterness and anger; those are to be left at the foot of the cross, and it is for God to deal out judgment and vengeance, not us. But God is not reconciled to a person until that person repents, and likewise we need to be careful we don’t seek reconciliation too quickly, before real repentance is done and has worked its way through the relationship.

        • Mrs. P,
          I’m grateful that you took the time to read my interview and share your thoughts. I’m sure you can appreciate how challenging it is to boil down what took me an entire book to explain into a 100 word answer. Though I tried to be clear, it seems I left doors open for confusion to enter. My apologies. As Sheila has already done, I encourage you to read the entire book and I think the mist you are experiencing will clear. In the mean time, I’ll see if I can clear some fog too …

          You are right to bring up Matthew 18 as our model for reconciliation. On pages 242 – 243, I take a woman step by step through Matthew 18: 15-17 with regard to what she might do in the case of a husband addicted to pornography. For example:

          I encourage her to initially go alone to confront her husband with love and grace about his porn issue. Tell him his choice is sinful and it’s hurting you and your family, not to mention that it violates God’s plan for marriage. Assure him you are eager and ready to forgive and work toward restoration as soon as he confesses and repents before the Lord, asks for forgiveness from you, and demonstrates sincere, obvious intentions to seek help. Mrs. P., I’m telling you, if right then and there he demonstrates sincere brokenness, repents on the spot to his Savior, begs forgiveness, and calls a counselor for his first appointment, then 1) praise God and count yourself blessed and 2) you forgive. Period.

          If he doesn’t own his pornography addiction, sees nothing wrong with porn, tells you he could stop any time, but he’ll do so on his own terms and when he’s good and ready … (you get the picture) … then you likely need to share what’s going on with 2-3 others. Those others need to be mature Christians who are willing and able to support both of you and are prepared to confront him about his behavior and choices.

          Do you see how this lines up with Scripture?

          If a husband never takes these steps, as you suggested, you do what you need to do so that you are able to truly stand ready to forgive and you are able to treat your husband with a spirit of forgiveness regardless of his daily choices. If you are behaving with a spirit of forgiveness then you are no longer angry, fearful, controlling, manipulative, co-dependent, enabling, etc., and you are contributing to an environment of healing that may or may not result in a changed of heart on his part, but you can stand before your Savior without sin.

          If a husband never repents, then as a Christian woman you have the responsibility to behave in a Christ-like manner. How did Christ forgive? Did He offer carte blanche forgiveness? If that were the case, then He didn’t really need to die on the cross, did He? That’s cheap grace … cheap forgiveness. If you study how Christ forgave, He consistently forgave those who repented and turned from their sin. “Go, and sin no more.” were his instructions to the woman in John 8:11.

          Take a gander at Matthew 3:6 and John’s preaching ministry. It says, “And they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.” [Note: Confess your sins. If you aren't willing to voice something ... a confession ... that says a lot about how sincere you are. Repent of your sins. You must make a spiritual 180 degree turn. Confession without repentence is useless. It's a form of mocking God.] Then if you go down to verse 8 it says, “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.” [There must be evidence of a changed life.] Verse 9 goes on to warn not to try claiming special status. Basically, you don’t get grandfathered into the family of God. Verse 10 warns that the judgment is near. Yes, this is John, not Jesus, but this is also how Jesus forgave. Forgiveness came after confession, repentence, and changed behavior.

          I do encourage you to get my book and read it. You will discover that it is saturated in God’s Word and that I loathe eisegesis, so there is no manipulation of the Word of God to fit my writing needs. :)

          I love what Peacemakers says about forgiveness, which just happens to fit what I teach on the subject. They say that forgiveness may be described as a decision to make 4 promises:

          1.”I will not dwell on this incident.”

          2.”I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”

          3.”I will not talk to others about this incident.”

          4.”I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”

          If forgiveness is granted in the biblical manner that I teach in my book, then all of these promises can be made and kept.

          I hope this helps. You can find more information on my website, http://www.vickitiede.com

        • Mommyoftwo says:

          As someone who have experienced the shock of finding out of my husband’s porn use everything that is written in blog post is a sound advice. I personally have made a mistake by not telling anyone, when I first discovered it at the beginning of our marriage, 12 years ago. Do you know that porn use doesn’t go away even if you confront your husband on multiple occasions? The author is right – a husband needs an accountability partner. I never thought about it. I also thought that I just need to forgive him and that’s all. But it isn’t, as I have found out over the years. I don’t know if you personally experienced living with this issue? However, there’s no need to read into every letter and totally miss the message of a wonderful and strength filling post. It’s the overall message that counts!

          • Thanks for that comment. I hope your husband has that partner and that you’re on your way to real healing!

    • LovingWife says:

      Mrs. P-In response to your first post “First of all, the point about involving other people as soon as you discover the porn use” and then the biblical scripture after. That is correct but, the article does mention to determine with the husband on who to share the experience with. “Pour out your heart and ask Him to direct you and your husband to whom you should tell.” WHen I discovered my husband using, I sought counsel with a Christian woman who had been through the same experience and moved past it. TOgether, we then found a christian pastor who he knew and my husband was willing to meet with him. Community with one another greatly helps healing and he needed the accountability and being able to discuss with a man who understood him better than I could. We each found someone to confide in. I think this was a great article and I’m so glad for Sheila and the information she posts on healing through this.

  2. @Mrs. P, I think that telling other people isn’t so much a lack of faith in your husband’s ability to repent, as much as it is taking pornography VERY VERY seriously. It is something that he will need help and accountability with if he is to recover and a wife can’t provide that accountability without undermining her respect for her husband. I also don’t think the wife should find the people, I think she should ask her husband to find his own accountability friends who he trusts and feels safe with, but it is something that needs to be done. God never intended for us to battle sin on our own, He gives us Himself, friends, and the church to help us. Trying to fight pornography on your own is a losing battle, it has a very strong pull, is secretive, and it doesn’t “feel” that bad.
    Sis recently posted…Holy WomenMy Profile

    • I would agree, Sis, with one caveat. If your husband is using porn, and if he refuses to stop, and if he refuses counseling, then I think the wife has little choice but to involve someone else, even if he doesn’t agree. So, yes, on the whole I’d agree that you should seek out someone that your husband feels comfortable with as an accountability partner. But sometimes you actually need an intervention, even if he’s not willing, and I think that’s what Matthew 18 is referring to and giving us a model for!

  3. Mrs. P…have you personally dealt with this type of situation in where your husband tells you (or you find out) that he is addicted to porn? I get where your questions are coming from but having walked this path myself I totally agree with what the author is saying.

    Other people have to be involved, but it needs to be the right people…people who won’t judge but will help the husband. Trust me, the wife is grieving and trying to come to terms with everything…and her husband needs Godly men to come alongside him and help him and keep him accountable.

    As for forgiveness, yes, we need to forgive but there is a lot of hurt and damage to deal with before true forgiveness can happen. I still loved my husband after finding out about his addiction but I couldn’t just forgive and sweep everything under the rug…I’m only human and I was devastated by the things I was learning and discovering.

  4. Sandy in Los Angeles says:

    My marriage was VERY difficult from 2004 to 2006. My Christian husband of 20 years (at the time) stopped talking to me short of discussing who was going to pick up the kids…etc. Stopped all intimacy and rejected me in every way. I am a pretty secure person, so at first, I just said “whatever” and went about my life as just a roommate, knowing I was right before God and thinking he would come around eventually. As time went on, however, the rejection REALLY got to me. Toward the end of this time I was always on the verge of tears. I honestly did not realize how deeply rejection by my spouse would affect me. In 2006 I discovered he was using porn. When this whole thing started (2004), we were fighting a lot about a serious financial issue and he just shut down. So, I do not believe porn was the cause of the rejection initially, but I think not having sex contributed to decision to use porn. When I made the discovery, I couldn’t sleep and prayed all night about how to react to this. I researched Christian websites that talked about how to react, and in the morning I confronted him. I said I believed he was totally trapped. I told him I knew he probably felt really guilty and didn’t know how to get out of it. I said I wanted to help him. Remember, we had not been speaking for almost two years about anything of significance. The next day he e-mailed me and said that if I really wanted to help him, I needed to go to the e-mail address where he was hiding his porn e-mails etc. and go in and change the password for him. He gave me the current password and I did just that.

    This was the beginning of the healing of our marriage. I started praying for him out loud while he was laying in bed, before I got up for the day. After about 2 weeks of him hearing my heart as I poured it out to the Lord, he started to respond. As time went on things got better and better. God has totally restored our marriage and it is better than it has EVER BEEN! Even better than the beginning. We have an active sex life and are experiencing true intimacy. He is affectionate during the day, tells me he loves me and so many other things I thought would never be a part of my marriage.

    I say all of this to ask this question. Do I really need to be concerned about continued porn use? He shows no signs of this being a problem anymore.

    • Sandy, it sounds like your marriage really has been healed, so no, I wouldn’t worry about it! That’s a wonderful story of what God can do. And that’s so wonderful that your husband took the initiative and gave you the passwords right off the get go. I think you’re now experiencing real intimacy again; if that ever were to stop, you’d know. And then you could do something about it. But I’d just continue forward now, rejoicing in God’s grace and renewing of your relationship.

  5. Love my wife says:

    I agree porn is absolutely damaging to a wife and marriage, and a sin. And a man struggling needs to get right. With that said….. And what I say is not an excuse, but I encourage a wife to look in the mirror before casting the first stone or bringing someone else into the situation. It’s no less lusting, even if you don’t see them with their clothes off to be dreaming about your favorite actor in your favorite show, movie or fantasizing about the man in your romance book & it’s no less loyal than reading your favorite marriage blog by a man (or a leader at church) and saying “I wish my husband was like that guy.” In doing any of those things you are being just as disloyal & hurtful to your husband. Porn sets off all the alarms in Christian circles, and well it should but as many things in modern culture there tends to be a feminine slant on things these days. These things I mention don’t seem to set off the same alarms, but they should…they are no less damaging. I see way to many Christian women whose actions, words, thoughts, etc show their husband doesn’t have all of their hearts and yet they are amazed and hurt that a husband could let his mind not be all of his wife’s. Again, Porn is WRONG! Just be willing to work with your husband, love your husband, forgive your husband, work thru this with your husband because you have sinned just as much against God and him at sometime in your marriage…it’s the very rare few who haven’t.

  6. I have been married for 30 years, and have been separated for six months. My husband isn’t ‘addicted’ to porn, or so he says, but I have no idea what place it has in his life right now. I was in my early 20′s when we married, and he is almost 10 years older than me. Within weeks of our wedding, he brought home a rented dvd player and movies, and told me that watching porn was something that married couples could do together, that is was “fun.’ I always, always felt horrible. I was a new Christian with weak faith and not a lot of knowledge. Over the years of our marriage he would bring these movies out just a few times a year. I told him that they made me feel inferior, empty, like a whore, etc. I even covered my eyes while he watched and then just became a receptacle. I was a DOORMAT. In that way and also many others. He has been emotionally abusive, financially irresponsible, stopped attending church. He offers no parenting except to do fun things with the kids, things that we can’t afford. He is completely unrepentant, defends his use of porn–he remembers it as a fun enhancement to our sex life and ‘doesn’t remember’ my pleadings. As little as a month ago I talked to him about installing filters on our computers so that our teenage boys’ activity could be monitored, and he said that ‘being exposed to some porn is a normal rite of passage into manhood.’ He then also admitted that he is “occasionally looking at internet porn” because I am ‘not having sex with him anymore.’ He has absolutely no shame. He says he is a Christian but there is not a thing about him that would make anyone think so. I have confided all of this to two Christian women, one of whom works with her husband, a recovering porn addict, in mentoring marriages. These believers are encouraging me to take 2-3 and make the confrontation, but I am AFRAID to do so. This is not the only issue in our very damaged marriage but I feel it is one of the root issues. My husband is unrepentant in every area, in denial, and stated more than once that he “is who he is” and does not want to change. I am ready to file for divorce. My parents want to help me financially to enable me to do so–they know of the financial problems, the emotional abuse (having witnessed it firsthand) but don’t even know about the porn issue. I tried moving back in temporarily to honor my Christian vows and try to give my children a 2-parent home, but 10 days of anxiety attacks and insomnia left me physically unable to continue. Our 2-parent family doesn’t really look like any loving example of marriage anyway. Is divorce is this instance wrong?

    • Scarlett,
      I am so sorry for your husband’s lack of repentance. It is time for an intervention! None of this is ok. He’s turning it all back on you and it’s not your fault! Porn is not a rite of passage for a teenage boy. Please hear me in this, you don’t want your sons to continue on his path. It’s a dangerous slippery slope that can lead them into darkness. You must stop the cycle. My husband’s first encounter with pornography was at the age of 11. He’s been hooked since. He’s now repentant but lived in the darkness of sin for 25 years, including 12 years of our marriage. The absolute last thing I ever want is for my two boys, 12 and 9, to be introduced to pornography. Sin thrives in the darkness of secrecy, it cannot thrive in the light. You must bring trusted Christian mentors into your situation. If he continues to be unrepentant, you have the Biblical right to protect yourself and your children from his sin. I pray that God will convict your husband’s heart and he will see this as sin, truly repent and seek help. He cannot do this on his own, nor can you. New Life Ministries offers countless tools for this spiritual battle. Please check them out. Our marriage is a testament to the healing that can come with their help!

      • Great word, Lisa! Thanks so much.

        I totally agree: we must bring this into the light, and not into the darkness.

    • Oh, Scarlett, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, and that your husband has such a distorted and evil view of what intimacy is.

      I can’t comment on whether divorce is right or wrong because I don’t know you personally, but I would say that you’ve taken some very positive steps: you have some good mentors who are rooted in God who can guide you; you are trying to raise your boys right; you are working towards trying to do things in a biblical manner.

      I think that if your mentors are advising you to take 2-3 people to confront him, that likely is a good idea, since they know the situation and we don’t. I think all steps, including confrontation, should be taken before you take the drastic step of leaving (even if that ends up being necessary). He needs to feel the repercussions of his actions and understand the ramifications of what he’s doing. A great book for that is Love Must be Tough by James Dobson. It’s not about exactly this situation, but it does show you what to do if someone is endangering the marriage by their behaviour. And it shows you how not to be a doormat.

      So keep doing what you’re doing: pray a lot, and surround yourself with godly people who will walk alongside you and guide you. And then, if it feels right in your spirit, take their advice!

      I’ve said a prayer for you,
      Sheila.

  7. I am in the middle of a dark time regarding my husbands years of extremely secretive on-and-off porn use. I discovered it two months into our 8 year marriage, he reacted more angry at me than sorry, but made all the seemingly appropriate promises of stopping. I found yucky things on our computer a year after, confronted him again, and because I thought this was only the second time, foolishly demanded he stop (I was naive and young) or I’d leave. All of this time, he was a youth pastor so I was sworn to secrecy. I felt so so alone, and horrible about myself and life. Things quieted and years passed and our relationship was better than ever, I thought. Well, probably no surprise to you all, I found stuff again, this time on his phone a few days ago (we share a youtube acct that tattled on him). I confronted him from a calm, loving place and he received it fairly well. He said it’s been a problem his whole life, and he’s tried to stop. He earnestly tried to put a filter on his phone, but the product wasn’t effective (geared towards kids). When he’s at work, I cry my broken-betrayed-heart out to Jesus, and for the first time in my life, I feel very loved and connected to God. So here’s the problem, after quitting the ministry, he has no friends other than me. None. He barely has a relationship to his family. He now works 12 hour shifts as a RN, so he rarely makes it to church to start any connections there. We live in a SMALL town with no Christian counselors. And I don’t have a girlfriend I feel would be a safe option to share this with. How the heck do I proceed??? He basically thinks that because I’m not a wreck externally and haven’t talked about it, that all is well and his word is good enough for me again. And I have NO CLUE what to do besides pray all day and write this post (sorry it’s ridiculously long). I am going to buy the book mentioned above. Any women have a wise word?

    • K,
      We, too, have been in ministry and I was sworn to secrecy. It is so cold and lonely place to be. My husband attended an Every Man’s Battle Conference that saved our marriage. EMB meets in cities all over the US and have a workshop once a month. The men go, worship, meet in small groups and find out they are not the only one with this struggle. I highly suggest he join an accountability group from the conference. They have weekly phone calls which include a devotional and time to talk about their struggles and celebrate their triumphs. They are encouraged to call other guys in the group a couple of times a week and they can call another group member if they need to talk right away too.
      I attended a companion conference for women whose partner is struggling with sexual infidelity. It was amazing for me. I was able to meet other women who were going through similar situations, share my story in a safe environment, and gain strength from the other women. There is so much to each of these conferences that I don’t have the time to share right now, but please know there is hope. Go to http://www.newlife.com and search for the Every Man’s Battle Workshop and Women in the Battle. There’s an online community there as well that can offer support.
      K, please know you are not alone in this. There are countless others fighting this battle against pornography! Feel free to contact me if you need to talk or have any questions about my personal experience with the conferences.
      Lisa

      • Thank you so much, Lisa. I will go do some research at newlife.com right away. I really appreciate you offering a kind word and a good starting place. I’ll pop back over if/when I have a question.
        K

        • Lisa,
          Do you recall the approximate cost of the conference weekend? It doesn’t say anywhere on the site, and have two little ones that make calling tricky. I wanna get the facts before I present this option to my husband.
          K

  8. Maybe you’ll be covering this in the days to come, but I have been seeking out some answers. My husband is over a year out of a pornography addiction. My self-esteem, which was fragile to say the least before finding this out and other things, is pretty rocky. There has only been one time when we were sexually intimate that I haven’t thought about the other women, real and pornographic. Anytime those thoughts come in my head during love making, I send up a prayer that God take these hurtful images away and help me to enjoy my husband in the moment and not dwell on this pain. How can I lessen these obvious enemy attacks on my self-esteem and our intimacy? I know the enemy wants to keep me in this place and keep me hurting.
    My other question is about the other pain I have with all of this. Pornography had a hold of our relationship from two months into our relationship to 14 months ago (we’ve been together for eight years). In all of that time, my husband denied sex to me over 1000 times. I was a virgin when we met, but he was not, so I’ve never experienced a healthy sexual relationship. Whenever he puts up road blocks to us being intimate or denies me now, all of the pain from those other times rushes over me. I really want us to have a healthy sexual relationship. I have always wanted that. It has been so disappointing that I have been a willing sexual wife and my husband has denied me so many times. I do bring up these subjects and he is trying, but because he had a porn addiction for 20 years, undoing the automatic reaction of “no” takes time. Meanwhile, convincing my husband to be intimate with me when my self-esteem is already low is hurtful. We have come so far already and I know I should be grateful for all of our progress: for allowing God to enter our relationship and restore it from betrayal. Maybe I’m not being forgiving or patient enough.
    Now before people jump on me, please read: I am clearly very vulnerable and really putting myself out there. It is hurtful for people to say, “I wish my husband would leave me alone. He wants sex all the time.” I’ve heard this for the last eight years. So please be kind in your responses. I need help!

    • Hi Gabi,

      I totally understand what you’re saying, and you are not alone. I’ve heard your story many time from women–just because a guy quits porn doesn’t mean he becomes sexually healthy. There’s often a period where he still isn’t really aroused by a person, because his arousal is tied to an image, a fantasy.

      I do have a few posts on how to rebuild your sex life after porn. Here’s one on hitting the reset button on your sex life, and here’s one on rebuilding your sex life afterwards. I also have quite a bit on this in my book 31 Days to Great Sex, which helps people understand why porn hurts your libido and your sex drive, and helps start to unpack that so that sex can be intimate again. I do hope those help!

      • Thanks so much, Sheila. After I wrote this comment and read a ton of your articles about this area. We had a few productive conversations about how the rejection made made me feel even though all of the sin was over now. It was a first. We have fought about this at least 1500 (not exaggerating) times in our marriage and it is a tender subject. He told me that he really doesn’t want to reject me anymore. This, with lots of prayer and assessing the situation before I get upset, should start to heal our intimate relationship :) Thanks again for your important articles!!! I was wondering, did you decide on a name for the marriage commenters. My idea was Marriage Warriors, which I thought was kinda cool :). Maybe?

  9. starla Traina says:

    My husband openly watches porn and brings it into the bedroom. It has caused our relationship to pretty much diminish. He said he is getting older (57) and has diabetes and needs the help. Well that made me feel pretty horrible. He has been watching porn since the age of 14. When he got into college he would trade movies with his parents. He told me after a we had a bad experience in the bedroom after he brought his computer in the bed for me to take care of him while he watched other women that I had a bad look on my face and it was hard fro him to enjoy himself. I said, what am I suppose to do look happy that my husband is looking at other women while I am taking care of him. He said, I am not worth all this trouble and from now on he will take care of himself and I can so whatever I need to do. He said, he has always watched porn and he always will. He said he will not give it up got anyone not even God. So ever since that night about three months ago he has not approached me. It is a very sad thing. I love the man and I don’t really know why? I want to stay married. I have cried so many tears and tried to tell him how this makes me feel but he is not sympathetic to how I feel, He said he does not want to hear all this biblical stuff. I don’t even tell him the biblical stuff I just tell him how I feel and because he is so addicted he can’t hear what he is doing to my heart. He said I am trying to take his man hood away from him. So, it is as easy as me finding my husband watching porn and him asking forgiviness and asking for help, he is saying he watches it and always will. What do I do now? Help

    • Starla, I’m so sorry. Ultimately you have to decide if you can live like this. I’d recommend talking to a third party and getting some advice or help, and then telling your husband that he has to choose. Sometimes that’s the only thing that can jolt him into realizing what he’s doing. James Dobson’s book Love Must Be Tough is great for explaining this. I hope that helps!

  10. Soveryconfused says:

    I have been married for 10 years. My husband was very open about his porn struggles before we were married but had experienced a great deal of “victory” in that area the year before we met. Fast forward to 3 days ago. I found out that once again he downloaded smut to his computer.He hadn’t had a chance to watch it yet as I found it first. Any time he feels like he is out of accountabilities sight he fails in the area of purity. It has happened countless times since we were married. I have always been very quick to forgive him ( I mean really forgive him, not just say it). This time something has changed in me. I don’t feel like I am incapable of forgiving him in the sense that I want him to be released from any guilt he may feel (he is always repentant). I don’t believe however, that I ever want to make myself vulnerable to him again. I feel like the intimacy in our marriage has been broken every time this has happened but this time it feels shattered. How many times does a wife subject herself to the hurt? How many times does she go through the roller coaster of fear, anger, self loathing, and ultimately surrendering to the fact that she is just not enough? God forgave the Israelites in the old testament many times but there were often consequences. What if one of the consequences is that these men cannot have the intimacy back with their wives? What if the consequence it that they forfeit their right to that wife after choosing other women over her so many times? I am so very confused. I feel like my love for God and my understanding of Christ’s work on the cross for me pushes me toward forgiveness. It feels so very forced though. I don’t want to be his second choice to porn ANYMORE! So very confused.

    • Hi Soveryconfused,

      I meant to write to you sooner, I’m sorry. I know how frustrating and hopeless it can seem. I don’t feel very qualified to give you the answers you need, but I have experienced mess ups and forgiveness and then mess ups and then forgiveness and over and over again. Trust broken, again. Forgiveness and healing again. I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I’m so sorry this happens to any of us. Why? Because the enemy hates love, marriage, unity, intimacy, and purity. He wants nothing more than to hurt God’s children and he’s found a successful one in this particular sin. I’ve tried to think, how many times will I put up with this? My dear friend and her husband have been doing this back and forth for twenty years! When my husband first admitted to struggling with this addiction (and many others), I told him, “I am NOT doing this for twenty years.” Well, several mess ups, confessions, forgivenesses, and healings later, I am still here. I am NOT a door mat because I chose to love, forgive, and look to Christ for my example and strength. And my friend isn’t either. She said to me one day, “When I stand before God, He won’t say, ‘How did your husband behave?’ Rather He will say, ‘How did you behave?’ I am so grateful I don’t have to make a twenty year decision today. No human being can do that. My friend made her choices one at a time. And sometimes when things are really disappointing for her, she remembers the perfect marriage she will have with Christ in Heaven. He will (and does now) adore and cherish her. He will be, and is, faithful to her completely. These words were helpful to me and I hope they are comforting to you in some way. She also said that she would rather ere on the side of love and forgiveness, to be wronged, than to close off her heart. She also told me that when the prodigal son returned the father didn’t say, “Well, I will give you the cloak and the left shoe. Maybe in a couple months when you’re doing better you can have the right shoe, the ring, and the party.” He gave his son all of the parts. Now, please don’t think I’m sitting on my high horse saying that all of these things like I’m doing great. No way! I feel sexually and physically insecure. I look nothing like the things that he has been looking at. I started our relationship with many insecurities and about the time those things were starting to heal, my whole world came crashing down. I struggle with doubting God. Why would want me to hurt after I have chosen to forgive again and again and again? Every time I have come up against a hard wall that seems impassible, however, He has provided the strength I needed to get through that one day and many times a scripture, encouraging word from a friend, or a song that helps me to move past it. I hope that He has provided those for you as well. I would encourage you to keep talking to him. Cry, yell, question Him, He can handle it. Just don’t turn away and think He doesn’t care. I would be happy to share more of my story with you if you need support. My heart breaks for you :(. I will be praying for you as well.

  11. My husband and I are very young (21 and 20), we married 2 years ago. We have battled betrayal for the past 3yrs, yes even before we were married. One time was flirting and talking (nothing sexual) the other times were porn related. I’ve caught him 3 or 4 times, sometimes while I am sleeping next to him. We have battled hard, talked to a counselor, and we are now going to attempt getting rid of access (Iphone). The church groups we have tried to join we are completely out of place. There are hardly any married couples our age, let alone ones that are battling porn addiction or even think of porn as a destructive thing. I am struggling to be a godly-wive and help him through. I truly truly want to I just don’t know how. I would like to try and find a blog or online group of people (even if they are older) that can help us through this. We both know that we need a support group that we can talk to. I also have noticed that since I have decided to stay by my husbands side that Satan as been attacking my heart and making me lust after other men. I have NOT acted on any of this and will NOT every betray my husband but I don’t know how to get Satan out of my head. I feel very discouraged about the fact that we are going through such awful trials and we are at the beginning of our marriage, which is suppose to be the happiest. We are at a loss for ideas and need help.

    • Gabi M. says:

      I know just how you feel, Dallyse. I don’t always have the right words, but you can read some of my story above. I know what you mean about Satan attacking with lusting after other men and I have heard it from two other women friends going through the same thing. It’s so weird because it wasn’t there before. I have a friend who helps me be accountable and I pray and avert my eyes when temptations come. I would be happy to talk to you if you want to meet me over on Facebook. My name is Gabi Martin. I know that people support has really helped me a lot.

  12. My husband wants to change and had set up covenant eyes for our computer. Which also works for our smart tv. He thinks this is solving the problem, I just say it’s only time till he finds an outlet and it’s a problem again. I told him I want to go to counseling for ME. I need straight help. I am falling apart. But won’t let me. He has too much pride to let someone else know about his addiction. I know I need counseling, I know HE need counseling. But what do I do if he won’t let me get it?
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  1. [...] to Pornography. We looked at what to do when you discover your husband’s using porn, and how to deal with your husband’s porn use. Today I thought I’d sum up what we’ve discussed and add some of my own [...]

  2. [...] while ago I reviewed Vicki Tiede’s book When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, and she said something very [...]

  3. [...] Tomorrow: Dealing with Your Husband’s Porn Addiction [...]

  4. […] worrisome, sexual incompatibility could be a sin issue. If a husband is heavily involved in pornography, or a wife in erotica, then you can start to want things that are just not right, or you can […]

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