Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Addiction

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This blog focuses on marriage, and so, tragically, it’s only natural for the subject of pornography to come up. So many of you send me hurting emails about discovering your husband’s porn use. I received an email just yesterday from a woman who has just left her marriage after three years without sex because her husband spent hours on porn every night. This is a horrible evil that is rampaging so many families. We need to take it seriously.

And so I’ve asked Vicki Tiede to join us for a few days, because I thought it’s time we delve into this topic in a bit more detail. Vicki is the author of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, and I’ve read her devotional book, and sent her questions that I know you readers have. Today and tomorrow we’re going to go through those questions, and then on Wifey Wednesday I’m going to do a wrap up myself.

So let’s jump in!

Has your house ever been infested by termites? You don’t notice at first. They gnaw away at the insides, and on the outside everything can look perfect. But it’s not. There’s rot deep within, and eventually that rot is going to become apparent. It can’t hide forever.

Vicki says that’s what porn is like. He may keep it secret, but it rots away at your marriage. It rots at your relationship, it rots at his relationship with God, it rots at your intimacy, and it rots at your sex life.

And so she’s written a book for women who discover their husband’s porn use. She says, “It’s not a handbook for fixing your husband.”Instead, she walks you through Scripture to help you deal with this on an emotional and spiritual level first, and then to help you get in the right frame of mind to take the practical steps that are necessary to protect yourself and your marriage (if possible), and to seek help.

I sent her these questions:

1. When a woman finds out that her husband is using porn, it feels like such a betrayal. Can you talk to our readers and help them understand the nature of this addiction–and that it honestly has nothing to do with their bodies, or their sexual ability in bed?

Let me preface my answer by telling you that my book is about helping the woman experience healing through Christ and I don’t promote myself as an expert on pornography. However, I’ve spoken with many who are experts on this issue and they have explained that pornography is an intimacy issue for both the man who is using pornography and (don’t shoot me) for his wife. Often the husband experienced emotional detachment from one or both parents. As a result, sex addicts have four mistaken core beliefs according to Dr. Patrick Carnes:

1. I am unlovable
2. If someone really knew me they wouldn’t love me
3. No one can meet my needs so I must meet them on my own
4. Sex is my greatest need. (this can come in the form of not wanting sex too–that would be an avoidant attachment style).

The acting out is not about the wife. That means she is not in competition with digitally enhanced images of other women. This is not about her appearance, her sexual availability, or her competence in the bedroom. She does not need to be a size 8, get a tummy tuck, or engage in sexual acts that make her uncomfortable.

Though the acting out is not about the wife, how they share intimacy (emotional connection) is. There is a reason she was attracted to an addict. This reason is different for everyone, so it’s important for a woman to seek counseling to understand what this is for her. Carnes believes wives carry the same mistaken core beliefs as the addict (listed above). They are more neatly packaged though–harder to crack and convince to the wife as she has been majorly betrayed and is wounded deeply/to her core by her spouse. She can always pull the ‘you hurt me’ card, which in reality holds a lot power.

2. You said, “remember that YOU did nothing to drive your husband to pornography.” Is that really true? Because we’ve had a ton of men on this blog commenting that they started using porn because their wives wouldn’t have sex. Is that a cop out?

The sexual availability question is trickier than you might first think. In an extremely small number of cases, I hear a woman admit that she almost never has sex with her husband, so he turns to porn because he’s frustrated. Note: It’s still wrong, so to answer your questions, yes, it’s a cop out. However, Scripture is pretty clear on this one. In such a situation it would appear that both of them have sin issues that need to be addressed. Counseling is probably in order. Answering this question requires me to walk a fine line as those who want her to share the blame for the pornography are going to read this differently than those who want to understand what might be contributing to her choice to withhold intimacy. This is not the subject of my book and therefore I do not spend a great deal of time on the issue. Again, this scenario is very rare. Having said that, on more than one occasion I let my reader know that it’s not biblical to get into a pattern of withholding intimacy from her husband or using the gift God has given her as a means of wreaking vengeance on her husband.

What I usually hear (and research supports this) is that women are more than willing to be intimate with their husbands, but their husband isn’t interested because of the porn. You see, when men regularly engage in porn use, their interest in real relationships decreases and their appetite for more porn increases. In fact, more than 50% of people involved in cybersex eventually lost interest in intimacy with a loved one.

I’m not interested in playing the blame game in my book, so you won’t find me ever pointing fingers at the wife and suggesting that she is equally responsible for the sin. How would that promote healing in the name of Christ? In the end, we are all responsible for our own choices. Whether or not she was as sexually available as she would have liked, he still had a choice.

With that said, I want to share this thought with you and I’m going to quote directly from my book (p. 67) on this one. Before you read this, I want you to know that this comes directly from the chapter that addresses surrendering guilt. When you read this out of context, it may sound like I’m shaming the wife. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I hate to break it to you, but you have not been the perfect wife. The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Before you let this revelation get you all worked up, I want you to know that it was unrealistic to assume that you always had to be the perfect wife. There. That feels better, right? However, it doesn’t let you off the hook. You still need to do some constructive self-examination to determine if you have done things to contribute to your husband’s addiction. (Remember, he is still ultimately responsible for the choices he makes. You are not.) If you are being honest with yourself, there are certainly things you may have done that contributed to the problem you are dealing with today. Every time you make a decision to act or react to your husband’s addiction, you are choosing to feed the problem (pornography addiction) or feed the solution (actions that promote healing).”

Sheila says: I so agree with Vicki here! Honestly, I have scads of women who write to me in agony because their husbands never want sex, but they’re into porn all the time. As I said in a comment on a Reader Question post recently, in general, I have found far more marriages are sexless because the husband uses porn, rather than the husband uses porn because the marriage is sexless. This is especially true for younger women. So many women marry guys who have used porn all throughout their childhood. For a few weeks of the marriage they have sex a lot, and then it suddenly comes to a stop, because the guy turns back to porn.

I do believe that a woman can feed a habit (in Vicki’s words) by withholding sex, though this isn’t an excuse for her husband using porn. But I think far more marriages find that sex comes to a standstill because of the husband’s porn use, rather than the sex comes to a standstill so the husband uses porn. Neither are right; but let’s not assume that when the husband uses porn, the wife drove him to it.

Tomorrow: Dealing with Your Husband’s Porn Addiction

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.

 Sheila says: ladies, this is a HUGE problem in so many marriages, and the women don’t know what to do about it. Can you share this post on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter? Do it like this: “I know porn is a huge problem in many marriages, and here’s a post that deals with it.” That way it doesn’t look like you’re announcing “my husband uses porn!” You’re just saying, here’s a resource many people need. Thank you!



Comments

  1. I think a very important question to ask a potential husband is “When was the last time you viewed porn?” Since so many have used it, a woman intending to marry has every right to know if her potential future husband is addicted or how often he views it.

    We just mentored a couple and the wife knew beforehand he was using porn. He told her he wasn’t any longer but he is still very addicted two years after getting married. It’s absolutely a struggle for both of them but at least he is confessing it to his wife and my husband and wants accountability.

    But young women, make sure you ask, or better yet, have your dad ask him by having a frank discussion with a guy who may be your husband. Your dad can probably tell if he is lying or not.
    Lori recently posted…Sunday InspirationMy Profile

    • Completely agree, Lori! I wrote a post a while back about what to do if your fiance is using porn, for those who are in this situation. It’s right here.

    • Karen leahy says:

      this whole thing is blaming even some of it on the wife is BS… the guy has a problem and it is his alone to deal with .. the wife did nothing to cause this.. not the wife… you gotta be kidding me… just because some ahole husband decides to cheat on his wife .. that is HIS problem and sin… the wife has NOTHING to do with is.. what BS

  2. Yes, there may be something we wives did/do to help temptation come knocking, but I hate the idea of blame being held over my head and walking in eggshells, terrified that I say or do something that’ll drive him back to s 2 dimensional affair. My hubby dabbled in porn when I was put on pelvic rest and bed rest during the latter part of my pregnancy. He also engaged in an ego boosting friendly attraction to a teenage girl in our church. Despite my pregnancy difficulties, I did my best to be the best wife I could be…loving him, serving him, building friendship, and offering to take care of his sexual needs through other methods than intercourse. So, how do you explain that?

    Fact is, men don’t have to seek porn. It is practically handed to them on silver platters these days. And men with phenomenal wives still get in the trap…..and now women are too. Men from all backgrounds, not just those from cruddy childhoods.

  3. This case is worse…..pls help, I use porn. I recently separated from hubby….. I’ve prayed a lot about it but I stll fall. I used it today and I feel totally rotten, sometimes I think I’ve overcome it even after a few weeks and then I go back. Please help me

  4. Thank you Sheila for posting this series…it will help those who are having to deal with this issue in their marriage and also for those who may be helping/supporting someone dealing with this issue.

  5. This is a great article. Unfortunately porn is often a hush hush thing in Christian circles and yet so many men struggle with this. I agree that women are not responsible for their husband’s behaviour in a direct manner but I also know that God says we should come together often with our husbands otherwise they will be tempted. And that temptation can come in the form of pornography or an affair. As wives we need to ensure that we meet our husbands needs unselfishly and stop excusing our lack of intimacy with well worn out excuses.
    I know there are so many days where intimacy is the last thing on my mind – and then I am reminded of how important it is to them and then all I can do is pray. I pray Lord – help me:) Help me to want intimacy. And guess what, with a little encouragement, it happens. Who knew LOL?
    Melanie Grant recently posted…Christmas on a BudgetMy Profile

  6. This an issue that I believe is prevalent in many marriages, both Christian and non-Christian. And certainly the points made about why men do turn to porn are valid. As one who has struggled with this in the past, I would like to say that the reason I chose to indulge porn was in fact because of feeling unloved by my wife, but the reason I choose not to has nothing to do with my wife or marriage. I choose not to based entirely on understanding that Christ died for those sins and I can’t bear to think of adding to that burden. With regard to my wife and porn, i can tell you in a man’s mind in many cases he is NOT doing it to hurt his wife because he feels unloved,at least most men I’ve known. I looked at it as a means to satisfy my needs (which it really doesn’t) without burdening my wife with my insecurities. It is an insidious lie from Satan this “I’m unlovable”. In my case it was not so much that we didn’t have sex as much as my wife simply often was only having sex because I wanted to. This only served to validate in my mind that I was unloved.I want to make it clear I’m not trying to justify myself. I started this to try and explain that even if the wife is holding back sex ,or the marriage is in total shambles it is NOT the cause for porn use, and has little to do with the wife at all.She can affect the level of use (frequency),but it is more about the man’s belief that he is unlovable. Too many wives take this as a person rejection of them rather than the exact opposite. most men going into porn use consider that they are being kind to their wives by not forcing their desires on them. They do not consider that the deceit hurts the emotional intimacy,

  7. “This is a horrible evil that is rampaging so many families. We need to take it seriously.”

    Definitely–IMO the church hasn’t even scratched the surface of how bad this is and how deep it runs within the church. Its consequences affect not just marriages, but whole families, Christian leadership and witness, etc.

    Thank you for speaking out about this!

  8. ButterflyWings says:

    Sheila please offer me some advice.

    My husband confessed to me earlier on in our relationship, even before we got engaged that he had had a porn problem. He explained that he knew it was an issue but that he was seeing his pastor about it and discussing it regularly with his pastor who was holding him accountable and he was no longer looking at porn.

    Up until our wedding, he told me ever so often that he was sticking to that and I believe him – I’ve never caught him out lying about anything else, in fact he can brutally honest about things. We didn’t live together before we got married and he is an IT genius so if he was using porn again, I would never know, even if I checked his computer because he has the technical ability to hide anything from me – I’m above average in my knowedge of computers but his ability with them is off the scale. So basically, there would be no way for me to check up on him if was looking at porn but I do believe him.

    I say until the wedding for a reason. Our wedding night was absolutely amazing. He was a virgin and my only experience is with my first husband who I lost 6 years ago and honestly it felt every bit as much of a “first time” as it did on the wedding night with my first husband. Actually for me, it felt even more special because my first husband had done a lot of sleeping around before he became a christian so that took away from the experience a little and he was a selfish lovemaker. My wedding night with my second husband was truly amazing – we were nervous and didn’t exactly know what to do at first but we worked it out.

    The whole first weekend was amazing. Then suddenly around the fourth day of our honeymoon, my new husband just went totally cold. I’ve wracked my brain, wondering if there was anything at all I could have done to put him off and I cannot think of a thing. At that stage we hadn’t any disagreements, we’d excitedly explored where we were staying, we’d basically had a really, really nice time. Not a single care in the world, just the two of us, having fun. And then four days in he just went totally cold.

    Before we got married, we didn’t have sex, but we did do the normal things couples do – hold hands, hug, kiss. We discussed our expectations of sex same as we discussed our expections of marriage in general like our expectations of finances, whether I’d work or not, where we’d live, how would we run the household, how we’d raise my daughter from my first marriage. We explored everything in candid honest detail about what we expected. The message he gave me about his feelings on sex were he was really attracted to me but doesn’t believe in sex outside of marriage (same way I feel) so he won’t act on that attraction but he deeply looked forward to the day when he could act on that attraction and looked forward to lots of times of intimacy. Added to the fact that he was the one always initiating hugging and kissing (not that I didn’t want to, but after a decade with my first husband, it took me over a year to even hold hands with my second husband and even longer to kiss because it just felt so uncomfortable that it wasn’t my first husband I was doing it with – I was worried I was going to feel the same way about the wedding night with my second husband but I saw a christian sex therapist and worked through my issues and was really excited about the wedding night after working with the therapist).

    So anyway, I was totally stunned when he suddenly went cold and didn’t want any form of intimacy – not kissing, not hugging and not even holding hands. I admit, I have a high sex drive for a woman. I love sex. Which is why I cannot understand my first husband – I lost him to a sex addiction. He knew he could come home any time of the day or night and I was there for him, but that wasn’t enough for him. He had a mental illness and wouldn’t take his medications and his way of dealing with his low self esteem was to seek out sex with as many women as possible to try and make himself feel lovable. Having the love of one woman who adored him wasn’t enough. Even when he had me, and had three long term mistresses two of which he was “engaged” to at the same time and foolishly honestly believed that they loved him but that still wasn’t enough for him – he kept having casual sex with other women and even men to try and convince himself he was loveable.

    his cheating was not why we seperated, we seperated because he bashed our 5 year old daughter in a drug induced psychotic rage, I asked him to move out and stay with family until he could get a rehab place for his drug addiction and mental illness, instead I discovered several days later that he’d moved in with a woman whose husband had just dumped her for her affair with my husband and then after that, his many affairs all came out and while he believed his mistresses were madly in love with him, I knew two of them very well – the other one he had proposed to while still telling me we were happily married had been one of my best friends – I knew all too well from comments the first one had said that she was just using him to try and get pregnant for child support and welfare benefits. When he didn’t impregnate her within a year of him moving in, she dumped him for a younger man she’d started sleeping with long before she dumped him. My former best friend made it very clear to me all she saw in him was his paycheck and that sleeping with married men and convincing them to leave their wives for her was a thrill – that she believed if a guy left his wife to be with her, then it made her “better” than the wife. She also had serious mental health issues, I just didn’t realise how deep until I found out about their affair and found out she’d been telling my husband to bash me and my daughter to try and break us up. And after I found out about their affair, she started threatening physical violence against my daughter. Let me add, the police did nothing about this, and I was originally forced into a shared care arrangement because the courts where I live don’t consider wife bashing to be relevant to child custody, and they consider his attack on our daughter to be a one off occurrence and therefore also irrelevant, they said his illicit drug use was also irrelevant as long as he promises not to use drugs while our daughter was in his care – ignoring that he lied about his drug use in court for two years until he failed a drug use, said he was sorry for lying and promised he wouldn’t lie again, the court ignored the fact that illicit drug users are more dangerous when coming down off drugs then when they are high, or are with the drug he usually uses anyway.

    I’ve gone off track a little, but short version is, I am a sensitive person. A few years into my first marriage, my first husband turned violent. I used to do everything he wanted – before he turned violent because I loved him dearly, and after he became violent because I still loved him and because I was scared to do otherwise. The only time I ever withheld sex was two days after I had major surgery, just hours after I got out of hospital and was on complete bed rest and he raped me when I said I physically could not do it. Even after that, when I was hurt and confused, I never withheld sex, I even used to initiate it to show him that I loved him still and forgave him. And within around 6 months, I had emotionally healed enough to actually start enjoying it again. He never knew in those six months I didn’t enjoy it. To this day he doesn’t. But other than one time, I never denied him, and I knew how much he liked sex (and so did I other than that six month period) so I frequently initiated it. But it was never enough and he rejected me for his mistresses. I should have realised something was wrong when he’d get home at night “after work”and never wanted to do it. I also have some evidence he was going to the brothel near his work on his lunchbreak (missing money, receipts I found etc, all point to this). He still denies he cheated on me even though I found dozens of emails to and from one of his mistresses talking about their affair.

    So that brings me to my second husband. I went into the marriage believing from what he had said that he was interested in sex as much as I was. The first three days of the honeymoon pointed towards this being the case. Then he suddenly went cold. I wasn’t sure at first his distance from me including sex, so for the first couple of days I kept trying to initiate sex. Sometimes he’d outright reject me (no reason for the rejection, it wasn’t because he was tired because we weren’t doing anything, he never left the hotel room other than to go to the restaurant to eat) and other times he’d participate but I could see he wasn’t interested and a bunch of times he outright said he wasn’t interested but was doing it “just to please” me. I tried explain it to him that him not wanting to do it and his actions making it clear he didn’t want to be doing it wasn’t pleasing at all, it was a bit hurtful for him to be making it clear while doing it that he was hating participating and that it was a horrible chore to him to be doing it.

    The second week of our honeymoon I got my period, got second degree sunburn and severe food poisoning and was throwing most of the day every day. I didn’t want him to feel rejected, so despite how sick I was and how much pain I was in, I tried to initiate others forms of intimacy but after doing that once, he spent the next few days rejecting me over and over so I decided to take out time to get better physically – I was really unwell and being a nurse, I know I should have been in hospital for severe dehydration between the burns and vomitting but we were overseas and it was too hard to even find a hospital. Even though I stopped trying to initiate anything sexual, I did still try to be affectionate and hug and hold hands etc, but he rejected that too. I also tried to do activities with him, to bond with him, despite how badly sick I was and he just refused that too. Not because he was worried about me being too sick to – he knows I’m tough and that I really wanted to do things together on our honeymoon to make it memorable – but because he didn’t want to do anything … other than get on his computer.

    We had no internet access, but I know he could have porn buried in hidden folders on his computer and there would be no way I could find them no matter how deeply I looked. He would get up and be on his computer all night after I’d fallen asleep – some mornings he was still on his computer when I woke up and I was very sick so I didn’t wake up very early. So he’d have spent 12 hours or more some days on his computer while I slept overnight. I never saw him looking at porn – when I walked past he was always playing games, and I do know how much he loves computer games. it’s his favourite hobby and he plays overnight when he’s really stressed, but there is no logical reason he would be stressed.

    the wedding was over, the wedding itself went really well. our only life “problem” is working out me moving in with him which isn’t stressing him at all – I’m the one who has to single handedly pack up a whole house on my own and move a thousand kilometres to where he had to go for his job. he’s not worried about me moving at all – which actually stresses me out that he thinks it’s just an easy thing and that I don’t need his help. he was worried about finances because I’m leaving my job and I haven’t been able to line up another and he’s worried about how he’ll support my daughter and I but I think I’ve shown him over the last year, that I’m not expensive to keep. and even financially worries wouldn’t explain why he suddenly turned cold four days into our honeymoon.

    I even considered it might have been because we headed overseas three days into the honeymoon and that was the problem, but he was even colder when we got back. By the time we got back, we hadn’t sex for 10 days (this is only 17 days after we got married) and hadn’t been intimate at all in 8 days and he was heading back home to his new place 1000km away the next day and knew I wouldn’t see him for another four weeks and yet still flat out rejected me.

    I’ve tried everything – I always dress nicely around him, I put on nice things that he said on the frst few days of the honeymoon that he really liked to see me in. I was worried it might have been performance worries and i’ve reassured him over and over he’s really good in that way. I’ve told him constantly I love him and think he’s a great husband. but his still has totally shut me out.

    If it was going back to looking at porn, why would he suddenly do that in the middle of the honeymoon when everything had been going great, emotionally and sexually? why would he suddenly go back to porn after years of not using it when we weren’t having any problems at all and I was showing him and telling him I loved him and I wanted him sexually and that any time at all he wanted to, I was ready, willing and able (or able to do something intimate even in the second week when actual sex was out).

    I admit, by the end of the second week we did start arguing. I tried to gently broach the subject of why he was constantly rejecting me sexually and why he was refusing to spend any time at all with me – he’d just sit in the corner of the room with his computer, sometimes not even acknowledging me when I tried talking to him. He took it as a personal attack and got really angry and threw his computer and walked out. He apologised greatly for throwing the computer but he still gets upset if I try to talk about the fact he is totally not interested in sex despite the fact that we just got married.

    We haven’t even got to the point where I’ve been able to ask him if he’s looking at porn again, because no matter how I try to bring up the subject gently and lovingly, he gets angry and accuses me of “attacking” him if I try to raise the issue of him not wanting to have sex. if I started the conversation asking straight up if he was using porn again, he’d take that as a huge attack whether he was or wasnt.

    he wasn’t like this before we got married. we could talk about anything openly and he wouldn’t get angry if it was a negative topic. i’ve never seen this side of him and it has been stunned and hurting. maybe I did do something that triggered him to reject sex suddenly but I can’t imagine what. we really weren’t having any problems or disagreements or stress when it started. that all started a week later when I tried to bring up the topic of him spending every waking moment on his computer and refusing to spend any time with me doing anything.

    I’m not sure how to fix this. We’ve only been married five weeks and I’m deeply depressed – I had PTSD for years due to the abuse in my first marriage, and had only just gotten over it when I met my second husband, and even though my second husband is nothing like the first and he would never abuse me, the rejection has brought back the PTSD. I’m having panic attacks, flashbacks and crying all the time while my daughter is at school and when she’s asleep at night. I know I’m not ok, but I can’t get into a counsellor before christmas, and after christmas I’m moving interstate to be with my husband and struggling to find a counsellor where he lives. But christmas feels like an eternity away. I’ve spoken to a crisis counsellor but they weren’t much help. they did suggest relationship counselling, but we can’t do that either til after christmas because we’re not in the same state til the day before christmas.

    I know we have a serious problem and I don’t know what to do about it. His rejection of sex and even wanting to interact with me I can’t see any other reason other than he went back to porn but even then I don’t know why he’d do that when we were both so happy, whatever triggered it, something is a very serious problem on his side of things. and my PTSD symptoms and having such a severe reaction I know is a very serious problem on my side of things. Right now I don’t know what to do with us being so far apart.

    I spoke to one counsellor whose immediate reaction to explaining the problem (this is even before I tried to talk to him and he got mad and we’ve been arguing since) and her first comment was “is he into porn” from the details I gave. I spoke to a second counsellor yesterday, a local one now I’m home, and her only answer was “don’t move to be with him, away from where both your families and support network are, until he’s willing to discuss things” which I don’t see how that will work – how can we properly talk about things if we’re living 1000km apart?

    I’m so lost and confused.

    • FatherOf4 says:

      Sorry to hear of your difficulties in your marriage (#2 and #1). However, based on what I understand, your current husband isn’t viewing porn, but has a need to find his success and value in the gaming world. As you have found, it’s nearly as emotionally crushing as if he was looking at porn. However, my advice is the same for wives and husbands whose spouse is neglecting relational responsibilities. Help them find out what emotional need he/she is trying to fill (they may not know) and encourage them to learn to have it filled in Christ. Looking at porn, playing online games, working excessively, overeating, watching soaps, etc is a symptom of one trying to determine their value with [insert the activity], when the only “thing” which will satisfy is Christ.

    • I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this, especially when you’ve just gotten married! That must be so, so lonely.

      I’m glad you’ve got some counselors around you, though. Did you and your husband do premarital counseling? Because it might be good to go back to the person you did counseling with and explain the situation, and ask them to sit down with you and your husband.

      Marriage is a huge adjustment; he could simply be feeling overwhelmed. He has a new wife and a child to look after, too. I don’t think splitting up with him when you haven’t really spent time together is the answer. Often marriage takes a year or two to get into a groove and figure out what you want.

      If he has used porn in the past that will still affect him today, even if he’s not using it now. So it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s turning to it again.

      I think the most important things for you to do would be to get a mentor couple who can talk to both of you. And then a counselor for you. Find a good church where you’ll be living and get plugged in so you have some help. Have people over for dinner so you get to know some other people and so that you and your husband can start functioning like a family. And keep talking to a counselor or another couple. But don’t assume the worst in him quite yet; I have seen many men suddenly withdraw after marriage because they’re overwhelmed with the new responsibility and the new role and they don’t know what to do. If you’re then starting to have panic attacks, that could easily add to his stress, too. So you’re both in a difficult adjustment right now, and you need to give it time and get some help.

      But honestly, think baby steps. Just do little baby steps. Try to find small things you can do to show him that you love him. Figure out his love language. And just act like a family. Don’t worry about whether he’s reciprocating yet or not; you just do small things to show you love him, no strings attached. Start the cycle of goodwill.

      So get some help. Show him love. Surround yourself with a positive support system. And pray that God will show both of you how to love each other well.

      I wish you all the best, and I’ve said a prayer for you!

      • ButterflyWings says:

        Hi Sheila,

        He has a good church he goes to. His pastor did our premarital counselling and we’re looking into going back to him. Still faced with the fact that that would mean the earliest we could do counselling would be in five weeks minimum.

        We both have the same main love language – words of encouragement. It’s just difficult because it feels like I’m always telling him how great I think in all the different ways I think he is great – especially trying to tell him how good he is sexually on the few occasions we’ve done it. But I desperately crave some reassurance and all I seem to get is the opposite. The only feedback I’ve got is I’m doing a few tiny things wrong but they don’t matter, sex is ok. It’s not really fair because he’s good looking and hot and I’m overweight and ugly, but I wish he could say something that makes me feel like he wants to be with me physically and there isn’t one thing he’s ever said that makes me feel that.

        He didn’t even say I was beautiful on our wedding day. I mean, I don’t want him to lie to me and say things he doesn’t think, but I just wish he thought I was beautiful once in a while.

        I did briefly tell him about one panic attack when we were trying to talk and it only ended up an argument and my neighbours ended up having a huge domestic with things being smashed and yelling and swearing all through the night. But I haven’t told him how my panic attacks have happened quite a bit. I know he knows I’m depressed but I’m not sure he understands how serious it gets. I take medication for the PTSD but it’s a real struggle at the moment. It’s so hard because he’s the one person who makes me feel better when I’m down and stressed and right now when I’m the most down and stressed since finding out about my first husband and former best friend’s affair and the pair of them started a campaign of stalking that took three years to end, and I can’t turn to him (second husband) because his actions are why I feel so hurt.

        I can’t get into a professional myself to talk things over with (been relying on crisis phone counselling when things are really bad) and even though I attend church, I don’t have a regular one ever since the church I attended for 30 years shut down about 18 months ago – I go to different ones with friends but don’t have anyone in a church I feel comfortable talking to.

  9. Such great information and a great resource for people having porn addiction issues. Thanks!
    Vantage Point Counseling recently posted…A Secret LifeMy Profile

  10. Hi, I am in desperate need of some advice.

    I am a 21 year old female who has been dating a 24 year old man for 1.5 years. We are both strong Christian and live by christian principles in our lives. We are both virgins and have not kissed each other because we want a pure and godly relationship.

    Last September I found out my boyfriend was a porn addict. He fell into porn at the age of 10 and since then had looked a porn/masterbated for many years. I was so disgusted and hurt when I found out. I felt so betrayed. I couldn’t believe that such a godly man could do something so disgusting. He told me he felt immense shame and this is something he had struggled with for a really long time. Because the depth of his addiction, I told him I could not date him any more as I did not want to marry someone who was impure. This broke my heart as I did love him, but I couldnt stay with him.

    We broke up, and after 3 weeks we decided to meet up just to see how things were going for him. He told me about all of the things he was doing in his life now. He hadnt used porn in three weeks, put locks on his computer, read a purity book and was spending more time with every day. He told me he was so sorry he hurt me and felt devastated that he put me through this. Because of his intentions to change, and because I really did love him I decided I would continue the relationship again on the condition of NO porn use.

    Fast forward 6 months, he has told me over the 6 months that he has been porn free but still faces temptations. Once or twice he told me that he still isnt pure but I didnt know what that meant. All I saw was that he was porn free for 6 months. Then 1 month ago to my horror I found that he downloaded sports illustrated swimsuit edition on his phone. I talked to him about it, and he said that he was porn free however he still looked at clothed women (or barely clothed women) and still lusted/masterbated. He told me he looked at women exercising, couples dancing sexy, pole dancing ( as long as women were clothed) and anything else as long as the women weren’t naked. I was again broken hearted and disgusted. I love this man I want to marry him. But I dont understand why he keeps doing this. He is a godly man and excellent match for me in every area but his purity. In his mind he knew porn was not okay but bent the rules to make lusting/masterbating after clothed women okay. He knew porn would cost him this relationships so he stopped porn but not other things. He knows how much he hurt me again and tells me that he is so sorry and want to be a pure godly man. He is very sincere and tells me the truth about his issues/slip ups.

    I am still in a relationship with him now. For the month he has slipped 2 times (once looking at a naked women pop-up) but fighting his urge to masterbate and closing it after 1 min, and once lingering at popups of skanky women however not masterbating to them. I can see he is fighting for his purity, he took internet off of his phone, and now I control the parental locks to his computer (by his request).

    I told him now I will only stay in a relationship with him if he makes progress. This means no porn, no lusting after dressed women, and no lingering at skanky popups on his computer. He has come a long way (first no porn), but at the same time he has still hurt me by covering up that he was lusting after fully clothed women. I am deeply hurt by his actions, however I do love him.and dont want to loose him. I also dont want to marry an impure man, so i am trying to be smart. Besides this one problem he would be an excellent and godly man to marry. He treats me so well otherwise and truly is a trying to beat this.

    I want to offer the forgiveness and love of God to him, and I dont want our relationship to end. I need honest advice though, is it a good idea to stay in this relationship. I dont want my love for him to cloud my rational decision making. I have prayed to God and I dont feel as if God is telling me to leave him, however I think that my own thoughts could possible drown out God’s thoughts. I am needing some godly advice. We have stict rules in our relationship now and he know if he doesnt make progress I dont want to marry him because I dont want to have an impure man for a husband! We have said that if he is a pure man for 6 months then we can talk about getting married. I do want to marry him.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • ButterflyWings says:

      I’m not sure I can help much but I have a few thoughts.

      Is there any sin you struggle with that you find it hard to let go? Just about everyone on earth does. When you are thinking “I don’t want to marry an impure man” keep in mind we are all impure, just in different ways.

      It’s complicated – if you were married, I would say definitely stay in the relationship but dating or engaged? I’m not sure. When I was an early teenager, I’d have said get out of there without a second thought, that it’s a terrible thing. By the time I was in my late teens and married to my first husband, I’d have said don’t be silly – porn is wrong but nothing compared to other things, I realise both views are wrong and truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s not the unforgivable sin, but it is still a very serious thing.

      If he is genuinely trying to fix this – and that includes not looking at anything that triggers his lustful thoughts at all – I’d say hang in there. But also not to rush into marriage.

      My first husband was a heavy porn addict and he outright didn’t care. He claimed if he wasn’t having sex with other women, there was nothing wrong with it. And that is where the slippery slope comes in. Eventually he slept with hundreds of women during our marriage. I’m not saying your boyfriend is like that, but if he’s justifyinglooking at women with clothing on now, he may start feeling it’s ok to look at women without clothes on as long as he’s not touching other women. Maybe he’s not like that at all.

      People who struggle with porn do one of two things – they get better or they get worse. My second husband admitted to me not long after we got engaged that he used to struggle with porn years earlier, but got himself out of that life and that mindset. There are consequences of course… I believe it’s part of what has caused his lack of interest in sex – but he genuinely has totally overcome his porn interest. He is accountable to both his pastor and to me, and he’s always been totally open. He has aspergers so lying is not his thing. In the whole time I’ve known him, the only time I’ve known him to lie is a few days ago when he told his mum he’s not depressed and then admitted after that it was because he didn’t want to worry her. But when it comes to anything sin related that he’s done, he’s been brutally honest.

      Is your boyfriend being totally honest with you now? That to me is the defining thing about whether you can make a future marriage work. Total utter complete honesty. And lots of hard work. If he can show you total honesty, telling you about what he does without it being pushed out of him, and being committed to working on it, then I’d say give the relationship a chance. Don’t rush into marriage, don’t guarantee marriage yet, but I’d suggest giving it a chance.

      Just my thoughts anyway…

    • Hi Abby, I’ve actually written about exactly this situation before, and you can read that here: Should You Marry Someone Who is Using Porn: http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/10/should-you-marry-someone-who-uses-porn/?

      Honestly, I’d say that he needs to be clean of it for at least a year before you step down the aisle–clear of the compulsion to masturbate, and clear of the need for images to fuel his sexual appetites. If he can’t get rid of these things now, marriage will not help. And you will find that sex is something that separates you and makes you feel dirty, rather than something that brings you together.

      I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I get so many emails from women saying, “I knew he used porn when we were engaged, but I thought he’d stop”, and now their marriages are in turmoil.

      Perhaps what he needs is a kick in the pants to truly get some help and get his life back on track now, before he goes further down this road.

      • Hi, thanks for the replies.
        Sheila, thanks for the link to the article. After reading it I do find he displays many good qualities that you mention. He has confessed to me about his porn issue, along with telling his family and getting prayer for his addiction. He is very honest with me, lets me view his history, and is really fighting hard in this battle. He took the Internet off his cell phone and limits Internet usage ( while having parental locks on at all times ). He is very honest with me and is the type who feels very convicted by the Spirit when in sin.

        I can see that it would be smart to wait 1 year to get married and that is good advice. Just to clarify a couple things, would it be a bad idea to get engaged before 1 year of him being clean? For instance we talked about him being clean for 6 months and then getting engaged ( so by the time we get married it would be a year). What are your thoughts on that.

        Finally you mention that perhaps he might need a kick in the pants… What does this mean for me? Should I leave him to give him a kick in the pants? Should I stay with him over these 6 months as he fights for purity?

        Thank you so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated as this is a scary issue for me. I don’t want to willinging choose a lifetime of heart ache. Thank you!

  11. My husband and I have been married four years. At first it was great but, once we got married we both obtained jobs in which we are separated 3-8 months out of the year. While he was gone he would use porn and it is normal for him now, it seeped in while we are home together over the last two years as well. Our sex life has drastically declined simultaneously. I have always enjoyed our sex life and have never turned him down. I initiate quite often and have gotten several little outfits to try to grab his attention. It works sometimes but most times it does not. I’ve tried talking to him a year ago about how I would like more physical interaction and also i have requested he not use porn while at home. It was a loving and open conversation and I thought he had been honest with me. I noticed he began to hide it, take his phone in the bathroom or look on the computer while I’m not around and then head to the bathroom. Our sex life did not improve its only gotten worse and anytime I bring up sex with me or pornography he gets irate. I don’t know what to do. He doesn’t think he has a problem with it and he can’t cleanse it out of his life completely. That is what all the guys do he deploys with, he’s surrounded by it. I love him deeply but I feel isolated and alone in our marriage.

  12. When my wife caught me in porn 6 years ago, She was devastated, and I was relieved. I started almost 30 years earlier, and had nothing to do with my wife. I tried to stop so many times, but the addiction is so severe. Granted, my wifes refusing sex was an additional catalyst to stay in it, she was not the cause.
    Since that night, she has all but turned away from me physically, and sexually. Through counselling, I see how much I have hurt her, and have tried to earn her trust back, but, I feel that will never happen.
    Problem now is because she is even more cold to me sexually, I feel the draw of porn daily. She has no idea how difficult it is, and how little it would take from her to keep me from it. But this topic is an open grave, and to try to say she needs to put out more in the sex department to keep me pure, will cause more problems. See, she does not see she is at fault in any way regardless of how often she shuts me down.
    Porn, is evil, and it takes three (God, wife, and husband) to fight it.

    • Brad, I like what you said about “fighting it”. I think often we forget that (especially women). It is a battle. And we need to ENGAGE in that battle. Too often Christians think that the way out of sin is just to eliminate the temptation. The goal, though, is not to eliminate the temptation; it’s to fight against it so that we can withstand it. And as wives, we need to engage in this battle with our husbands. Great point!

      And I do pray that you and your wife will one day experience real intimacy. I know that this is so hard, and that you have to fight more than most men perhaps do. May God be your strength,
      Sheila.

    • Please stop blaming your wife. You need to deal with your problem, she has no responsibility to do that. Keep trying to earn her trust which will be difficult if you keep blaming her.

  13. I recently found porn saved on our computer by accident. My husband denies having saved it. I have had no reasons to suspect him using it neither before nor after the discovery (he has had no changes in his behavior whatsoever and our sex life is fine). I don’t understand how else it could’ve gotten on our computer…is my husband just a good actor?

  14. And, brad, quit blaming yourself for what is obviously sexual withholding and a use from your wife.

  15. Since porn use destroys the intimacy between the husband and wife, why is it a sin to “withhold” sex from their husband. To call that a sin is unfair to the wife. If she does not feel emotionally connected to her husband, telling her she must have sex with him is wrong. The husband is responsible for his own choices and there is consequence for sin.

  16. As a guy, my first thought was how childish his actions were. Having an affair to get even? What is that? I am not saying what you did is OK, but you both need to take a step back and work through the meaning of the word forgive. Only God can forgive and forget, but if we can truly forgive each other, then the rebuilding can begin. You both have to remember that there are no degrees of sin. adultery is adultery. Now, who is going to be the first to put the stones down, and start the reconciliation process?

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Yesterday we began our series on what to do when you discover your husband’s using porn. [...]

  2. [...] Tiede, author of When Your Husband is Addicted 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 [...]

  3. […] And in this case, I would start with a separation, not a divorce. Divorce is really only a last resort, because even if you are justified, your children will be hurt by it, and the far better outcome is reconciliation. Nevertheless, as James Dobson says in his book Love Must be Tough, sometimes the only route to a healthy marriage is to have the offending spouse feel the consequences of his actions. So this must be a last resort, taken only when you have asked a mentor for good counsel, and only after a lot of prayer. This isn’t something you do the night that you discover he’s been using porn. […]

  4. […] husband was addicted to porn. I would catch him, and he’d say he was sorry, but then I’d catch him again. Recently […]

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