When Your Husband Says “My Porn Addiction Isn’t About You”

Husband Uses Porn
Today’s guest post is from Mike Genung, who unpacks 5 action steps for you in dealing with a hard reality.

It hit the fan today.

Your husband confessed that he’s addicted to pornography. You’re sick to your stomach, furious, and deeply hurt. Perhaps you assume his problem is about you: “I must not be enough for him; what am I doing wrong? Maybe I’m not good enough in bed… how can I compare to the twenty-year olds he’s lusting after?”

You bite hard on doubt, fear and insecurity: It must be true; what else could it be? I’m the only one he’s having sex with and he’s looking elsewhere; I must be the problem. Maybe if I was a better wife, or prettier he wouldn’t do that anymore.

You ask him what you need to change to fix his problem, and he quietly says “It’s not about you.”

“Then what is the problem?” you ask.

In your husband’s place, allow me to unpack what’s going on.

1. Men are wired differently than women. Where many women need emotional connection to warm up to sex, men are physically geared for it. This means when you’re walking on the street you may not give the slightest thought to the hunk that just passed by, while his lust-meter just shot up because a young co-ed entered his field of vision. The sexually explicit imagery found in pornography has a powerful effect on him, and, if he continues to indulge in it, can draw him into an addictive cycle of binge, shame, and binge again to “fix” the shame.

2. He’s addicted to a sin that will never satisfy. Every time he acts out with porn it leaves him emptier and more miserable than before, with an ever increasing desire for “more and better.” You could have a perfect body with the perfect personality and it wouldn’t satisfy or resolve his lust-craving.

In spite of your husband’s problem, the truth is that you are the right, and only woman for him because God put you two together. You and your husband are the perfect match; your weaknesses compliment his strengths, and visa-versa. The problem is that he’s in bondage to sin and is not caring for his wife as God called him to.

3. Lust warps a man’s character and twists him emotionally into a blind, sex and self-obsessed fool; I know because I was in bondage to it for many years. In such a state, it’s going to be difficult for him to grasp the truth. He won’t understand how valuable you are to him and that you’re his best friend and gift from God, just as I didn’t see that my wife Michelle was when I was in that place. Sexual sin causes emotional blindness; your husband is in a dark pit from which he may not know the way out.

4. You can’t fix your husband. Wives can’t remove sin from their husband’s hearts; that’s God’s work. If you go on a “campaign to fix my husband,” the chances are high it will blow up in your face. This is because sexual sin is very shaming; when a man is pushed into getting help – as opposed to wanting and reaching out for it on his own – he will withdraw into his shell which will make him more prone to slips. Lust breeds in isolation.

By now you may be asking “then what should I do?”

Here are 5 action steps to consider:

1. Explain to your husband that you are his bride and your expectation is that he will reserve sex only for the two of you. Don’t allow him to justify his behavior, which many men (including Christians) try to do. Re-iterate the standards God set in His word if you have to.

2. Instead of trying to control him, put the ball on his court by asking him what he’s going to do to get help. If he hedges, politely refuse to let him off the hook. He needs to take action to break free, which can include going to an accountability group, books, counseling, porn blocking software, or shutting off the cable TV service. Freedom from bondage to sexual sin never happens on its own. If he says he’s going to take action but doesn’t follow through, be prepared to set consequences. If he doesn’t take action it means he’s choosing his sin of adultery (which porn is) over you. You can’t control your husband, but you can set boundaries and define what is acceptable behavior in your marriage.

3. Ask him how you can help. Try to position your relationship so you’re fighting with him, not against him. Pray for and with him daily. Although it may feel like it, your husband is not your enemy. Fighting together against the true enemy will make a positive difference in your marriage.

4. Express your feelings to him. What he does hurts you, deeply; he needs to understand that his actions have a profound impact on you. If you need to, go to marriage counseling together so you can talk through the thorny issues in a safe environment. Sometimes the safety of working through hot button issues with a counselor is needed to navigate the road to healing.


5. Take care of yourself. Eat right, and exercise. Spend time with God every day, and allow Him to minister to you. Meet weekly with a close, safe friend you can trust, or a counselor so you can express your feelings to someone outside of the marriage and get support. Don’t try to go this alone; stuffing your feelings is one of the worst things you can do.

The good news is that God heals marriages; I know because mine is one of them.

There is hope. My prayer is that the Lord will set your husband free and provide healing to your heart.

Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, a ministry to the sexually broken and their spouses, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net.

Comments

  1. This is fabulous advice! I think all of us need accountability in battling our sins. The closer we walk to Jesus and in obedience to Him, the better life becomes and the greater light we are to society around us.
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  2. Great post and advice, I liked how he should seek help, that way it isn’t on your shoulders to hold him accountable. Men should help men.

  3. This article is true for half the men out there and very well written if it applies to that half of the men. The other half are trying to fill a need that isn’t being filled in their lives. I will disagree with the article in that the other half of of men (maybe it’s 40%) are turning to porn instead of leaving their wives or finding a mistress…sorry that’s the cold hard truth. Sex isn’t a want for most men, it’s a need. And when we are caring, providing, loving and sleep right next to her each night but she’s off limits you can be that is going somewhere. I know I won’t be agreed with but tough. I can attest to it in my own marriage. The day my wife went on testorone treatments and actually got a libido is the day I stopped cold turkey (wasn’t a heavy user before). Women often advise themselves to have friends, talk and be relational with other women as there is no chance your husband can meet all your emotional needs. Well, you are supposed to be our only outlet for sex. You close that outlet for a long enough time….and then don’t be shocked. So it can be about you….if you are refusing you are just as much in sin as he is.

    I can’t remember the last sleep with your man blog post on here, but there’s been at least 4 porn posts since then…I think balance is needed yet again.

  4. Sounds like Anonymous is bitter and blaming a physical problem (which is not a sin) for his justification for his real sin. It is wonderful that things have gotten better. Just as men feel that sex is a “need”, women “need” emotional connection to make love. If there is no connection, then it is just sex. And most women don’t want that because then it makes us feel like a prostitute.

    • Beth,
      I was loving my wife every way possible. 99% of wives would of called me a great husband. I was emotionally loving her. But very few women will understand what a decade of not having a need met does (even months). I can understand your point of view, but you will never understand mine until you have been inside a male’s body. I am not trying to justify anything, what I did was a sin and I was wrong to do it. What I am pointing to is reality….my wife could have gone to the doctor nine years earlier. My wife could have actually made it thru one Christian sex book without tossing it across the room 1/8 of the way thru. She chose not to. I continued to love her. My wife was in her 20’s. Sex didn’t cause her pain. She just didn’t love me enough…. or understand enough.

      I’m not trying to say it isn’t a sin. It very much is. However, you are being delusional if you think your husband is going to do nothing getting 10-30% of what he needs…

      • Beth,
        I just want to make sure I understand, because if we follow your reasoning a women’s hormones causing her to do something equals no sin. A man’s hormones causing him to do something equals sin.

        My wife is healthy now and my best friend, and the most amazing lover so I”m not bitter. What I am trying to do is help some folks who may be in the same circumstances. There seems to be a culture of the reasoning in this article right now in the church…it’s always the man’s fault. And while I’d agree 100% that the man is sinning…what drives him to sin is not always his fault. My wife knows & understands now that I’m a 48 hour kind of guy. If I haven’t been with her in 48 hours I start getting on edge and my mind wanders (and to be honest I’m not the extreme, I’m probably average). Can you imagine if you did all the things you do for your husband, loving and taking care of him in all the ways that you do and then for 10+ years he doesn’t talk to you or if he does talk to you he obviously doesn’t want to or even makes it known this is not what he wants? I would die for my wife, today, not questions asked…gladly in a heartbeat (would have back then too) but if my wife stopped sleeping with me tommorrow I can tell you that there has to be some outlet for my sex drive…and that isn’t putting it strong enough. If someone held a gun to my kids head and said you can choose for them to live or not have sex again. I’d choose for them to live and then I’d go out and castrate myself because I wouldn’t make it a month.
        I don’t think a great many women understand how strong a sex drive is in most men or what sex means to them, emotionally, physically or love wise.

        And to be clear, I don’t want sex with other women, just my wife. Again, quit cold turkey the day she made sex important to her as well. That’s why I don’t think this article is 100% accurate.

  5. Terrific post on an issue that a few friends are having (and that I had to a far lesser degree), and because this comes from you, Mike, it makes a difference. Women can talk it, but we can’t KNOW it. I was a physically distant wife — for reasons my husband did not understand at the time. He had a logical “if-then” perspective, and so did I! If he would just get closer (emotionally) to me, then I could make it happen for him. He believed if I could just make it happen for him, then he could get closer emotionally. Classic. Textbook. Always the same disagreement. But, now, he can understand because we have both worked toward healing and truth and oneness. Those things rebuild the bridges and knock down the walls. We suffer at our own hands, and at the hands of our spouses because of blindness to what truth and oneness really mean.

    No matter how anyone justifies the behavior/choice, the sin is still a sin. We wives who have distanced ourselves justify that sin, the same as men who tried and kept failing to attract their wives justify their choices. Neither of us are right. And, once you come out of the darkness and get back to marriage in a godly direction, holding a grudge and standing firm on your stack of wrongs that he or she did to you doesn’t help a bit. It shows you still need to forgive and to heal.

    Your list of suggestions to help also can work for emotional/physical affairs and other addictions. All of the evils seem to fit a very distinct pattern, don’t they? Dependence on something we THINK we can control (recreational drugs, porn, connecting with someone else outside our marriage, oversharing our lives, etc.), and we depend on that something to help us through those things we can’t control (marriage, life, personal issues). Yet, when in these situations, people feel isolated, as if no one else in the world will understand.

    Thank you, Mike, for writing this, and to you, Sheila, for sharing it!
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  6. I think the article is fantastic and I have to agree with anonymous as well. Porn is a sin but so is not meeting our husband’s needs sexually. If we as wives went to our husbands and said, ‘if you have a need, bring it to me first before you turn to anything else, including masturbation or porn” I would bet most of the men out there 100% of the time would bring their needs willingly to their wives. If we as wives repeatedly turn our husbands down in this area then we are engaging in sin as much as they are and we have to deal with our own issues before attempting to pluck the plank out of our husband’s eye. My husband and I have openly communicated about this issue often because I do not want this sin brought into my marriage bed but 50% of it lies in my obedience of not withholding my body from him when he has needs.
    Jess recently posted…Does Forgiveness Equal Immediate Relief?My Profile

  7. Thanks for this great post. This is very helpful advice for many couples dealing with porn addiction. I especially like the advice to “put the ball in his court”. Instead of immediately taking control and trying to “fix” your husband, asking him “What are YOU going to do about this?” is a much better approach. It’s his sin, he has to deal with it. You can’t repent for him. But other than the Holy Spirit, the most important thing for a man struggling with porn addiction is to have a loving, supportive wife by his side during his battle with sin.

    I also agree with Anonymous that this post is great advice, but may not apply to every husband dealing with porn addiction. From what I’ve heard around the internet, there are many marriages where the wife has “closed up shop” so to speak and basically decided she won’t have sex with her husband anymore, or will only do it very seldom. This is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a husband viewing porn. No matter what his wife does, he still made a commitment to her and has no right to look upon another woman. But I think we have to face the reality that sometimes the reason a man seeks out porn is because he is being sexually starved by his wife. Again, that’s no excuse, but the point is that sometimes “it IS about you”. I like what Anonymous pointed out: a women’s hormones causing her to do something equals no sin, a man’s hormones causing him to do something equals sin. There’s definitely a double standard here.

    • “But I think we have to face the reality that sometimes the reason a man seeks out porn is because he is being sexually starved by his wife.”

      A decade ago I might have bought that, but Internet porn has changed things. You would be hard pressed to find a man under 30 who did not see more than a few porn images before marriage. This means the man who seeks it later is being pulled back to a sin he has already chosen in the past.

      Can sexual refusal increase the temptation? No doubt. But sadly most men have done more to put themselves in a place of temptation by age 20 than their wife could ever do.
      Paul H. Byerly recently posted…A romantic mealMy Profile

      • “This means the man who seeks it later is being pulled back to a sin he has already chosen in the past.”

        It sounds like you’re assuming that ALL men have sinned with pornography before marriage. I know probably 99% of men have at least stumbled upon porn in their youth (it happened to me a couple times when I clicked a weird link or ad), but that doesn’t mean all those men purposely sought out or “chose” porn.

        Anyway, my point was merely that SOME men who seek porn do it because their wives have cut them off sexually. That’s no excuse for their sin, I’m just saying that that is sometimes the motive. We keep saying “it’s not about you”, which is true most of the time. But I believe there are cases where it is at least partially about the wife’s refusal. That’s all I’m saying.

        • Mrs. P – A short time ago someone wanted to do a study of college men who viewed porn and those who did not. They could not find a single man on campus who said he did not view porn. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are now VERY rare.

          As saying some men seek porn BECAUSE their wife cuts them off, I would say some men CHOOSE to seek porn because their wife cuts them off.
          Paul H. Byerly recently posted…A romantic mealMy Profile

          • After talking to my husband, thinking through my last comment and what you have said, I realize I was being rather naive about how pervasive porn is in our culture. You are right in saying that the vast majority of men have struggled with this issue to one extent or another.

            I think we’re totally in agreement on the second part of your last comment. I didn’t mean to make it sound like these men are FORCED to seek porn because their wives cut them off. It’s totally their choice and definitely sinful.

          • Mrs. P – I did not think you were saying they were forced, just don’t want to give anyone any wiggle room.
            And for what it’s worth, I wish porn were far less pervasive!
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  8. Yes, she needs to understand it is not about her, and he needs to understand that it does effect her.
    Paul H. Byerly recently posted…A romantic mealMy Profile

    • Anonymous says:

      Paul,
      Sorry to disagree. Sometimes it is about her though…that’s the thing. Even if a husband has viewed porn before marriage. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have years distance from it. Can I ask you then, using that same logic. A woman that has premartial sex in her teen years. Goes years without, gets married and then is totally ignored by her husband. She has an affair. Is it the sex as a teenager what brought this about? No, it’s not. The logic doesn’t hold true when flipped does it?
      Yes, it’s a sin. It’s still wrong. But the refusal has gotten the point, where the man leaves, has an affair or views porn…that’ the reality (not the right or wrong) but the reality. He can very much be about her. Yes, he is wrong no doubt but to say it’s not about her/their relationship is nuts!

      • Anonymous – It’s not about her, it’s about how he chooses to react to her sin against him.

        As for porn being a substitute for leaving one’s wife or getting a mistress, I know some men feel that way, but I don’t get it. Porn is not sex, not in the way that what we do with a flesh and blood woman is sex. Using porn to fill our sex needs seems to me like reading a cookbook while eating grass takes the place of real food.
        Paul H. Byerly recently posted…A romantic mealMy Profile

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree Porn is not sex, but it’s as close as you can get without actually physically cheating. It’s McDonalds’ food. It’s not real food. But if you are starving, actually starving well it tastes pretty good. It’s what some men who are put in a bad spot choose as the lesser of two evils. Again, I’m not saying it’s not a sin and I’m not saying that he’s not choosing/reacting. What I am saying is that unless you have a very low sex drive or a very, very close relationship with our heavenly father (and most would say that I had one at the time) a wife has influence in this.

  9. As a married woman who has had her share of health issues, I have always acknowledged the closeness and bonding that takes place when intimacy happens. I’ve always been the one who had the higher sex drive and for some reason my husband chose to seek his fulfillment in addition to our sex life through the Internet. Even if I wasn’t feeling 100% I made sure I prayed and sought The Lord so that I could enjoy the gift he gives to a married couple.

    I always and still sometimes wonder, “why?” There are moments, memories etc that “take me back” to when he was seeking fulfillment elsewhere when he had a woman of 16 years who was more than ready & willing to become intimate. Whenever we have sex it is beyond amazing, other than hanging from a trapeze I don’t know what else I could have done to keep him from straying.

  10. I agree, as well, that it is often about “you”, the wives. Doesn’t make it any less of a sin, but, God made men extremely sexually driven, we as their wives need and should fulfill this desire. I do believe that often porn is viewed out of a revengeful spirit, wife says no over and over again, husband seeks revenge and a sort of “I don’t need you” attitude ,and a vicious cycle starts. Wives can VERY easily fall into this as well. It’s always a man’s problem but if a wife is feeling neglected or hurt in any sort of way and feels like she can “get back at her husband” with porn, I do believe it becomes a revengeful tactic for her as well.
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    • Anonymous says:

      Jess,
      I think you are right on here with your thoughts…I think there is a difference between being single & being married (at least for men) and not having those needs met. When you are married you are still trying to uphold your end of things, still loving, giving, working, sacrificing etc and then you lay down at night and the very thing you desire most in the world at that moment is inches away but not available…it’s just not about unmet needs but the hurt that accompanies it. The keep trying to fill up someone else’s love tank when your’s is not just unfilled, but in a way purposely unfilled…I don’t think folks that have lived through that know what they are speaking to.

  11. Anonymous says:

    JL,
    Your husband didn’t know what he had! I’m sorry for you pain. Hopefully, it’s been clear…I think the majority (I”d put it at 60%) have this addiction to the digital. I can’t explain that as I would always rather have my wife, always (and that the other 40% I was speaking to). I do know the digital brings no pressure, no rejection, no wonder if she thinks I’m a perv…and that’s about the only upside i can see to it and about a thousand more important downside to it. And I don’t know how accurate my numbers are, that’ just been my experience through talking to men and couples from my time in the ministry. Maybe it’s to small of sample size but I believe it’s accurate. Again, sorry for your hurt. Hope things are better now. God bless you-

  12. Newsflash, Mr. Anonymous, Jesus said that if a man even LOOKS at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery. My husband has had every opportunity to have fulfilling sex with ME, his wife, and he still chooses porn at least once every 2 months. I have *never* in our entire married life, refused him sexually and for a LONG time though that i must be some kind of freak because he refused me ALL THE TIME!! Even after I had our first 2 children, I gave him oral sex and hand jobs while I recovered, because it was all I had to give. So don’t give me this bunk about “oh, it’s as close as he can get without cheating”!! It IS cheating!! And I sincerely hope that your wife never found out about your disgusting choices, because just as we are not men, YOU are not a woman and YOU have NO IDEA what it does to us to have our husbands constantly cheating with different women that we could never compete with because we bear all the dang stripes of bearing THEIR children!!!!!! Not to mention the mental anguish over the possibility of my husband’s sins being passed down to my sons!!!! I don’t care what your wife did or did not do for you. Put on your big boy pants and be faithful. Two sinners don’t make a saint. Period.

  13. Anonymous,

    I have worked very hard at forgiving him and we are still married. We’ve talked about this openly (even though he’d probably wish we didn’t). I helped him get to the “root” of his choices & pray that he as well as many men with this “sin” be released by the bondage. It’s a part of his walk & testimony as well as so many others.

  14. I love how women are so quick to point the finger at other women. Smh. Until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes, keep your pointer fingers where they belong. My husband *chooses* porn because, in his own words, “it’s just easier sometimes”. Easier than what, I do not know, because I have never refused him, at any time, or even acted like sex with him was a chore. He makes a choice, and we both get the fun of living with the consequences. Blaming the wife for a choice her husband makes when you have no idea of their situation is absolutely shameful is no different than murdering a child because his father was a rapist. It’s shameful that there are people in the church who have this attitude. Smh.

    • TLW,
      I’m sorry for your pain and the choices your husband made/makes. I can only imagine how tough that is. And in no way am a saying it makes the choice of porn okay/not sinful. And the first thing you should read in my post is a realize that 60% of men are like your husband, I was speaking to the other 40%…I was not speaking to your husband. And while I won’t try to comprehend your pain, please don’t mine. I wasn’t making a point that it makes it okay, what I did say was a wife can have a large influence over this, it can be about her 40% of the time. And that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

  15. TLW,
    One more thought and please don’t think I’m trying to be mean…last thing in the world I want to be as I can tell you are hurting. That sermon where Jesus tells us the man who even looks upon a women lustfully…read the whole sermon. Jesus was telling us all there is no way to get to heaven but through grace. We ALL have committed adultery in our hearts at some point….that’s how high the bar is, that’s how wholly God is. It doesn’t excuse what your husband did, what I did, what my wife did, what you’ve done….that fact is we are all sinners. By the rules of God everyone has committed adultery….unless you happen to be the one women in america that hasn’t read a romance novel, watched the latest “hunk” movie or glimpsed it in the check out line on a magazine and thought to yourself, “oh goodness” OR like many women in the church see the godly husband or minister and go I wish he was my husband. What I’m trying to say is your husband’s actions are WRONG, but I wouldn’t view them thru the faultless lenses of your ownself…we all need grace. I had to do this in my own marriage and you talk about difficult. My wife had/has a condition (speaking of humbling this condition pops up every now and then and this happens to be a bad month where no matter how much she loves me she turns cold as….well you get it. All this talk of porn…we’ll let’s just say I’ve been doing a lot of praying.) where I could tell you stories that would make yourhusband seem like a saint, and yet I’ve had to learn that as hard as I was trying, as much as I was loving her, as much as I was “sacrificing” I was still doing wrong, could have been doing better, still wasn’t meeting her needs as I didn’t understand them (she has special emotional needs). Hang in there. You’ll be in my prayers-

  16. You know, Mr. Anonymous, I see what you’re saying and I still find it to be wrong.

    1. I never said that I didn’t/don’t sin. In fact, I have sinned A LOT, but this isn’t about me. It’s about you trying to justify yourself and I find it hilarious that you would tell me to read the whole sermon when you sit there and *continue* to justify your past sins. I don’t make excuses and blame my husband for *any* wrong choice that I make. If you knew me, you could ask him, and he would attest to that as fact.

    2. I didn’t say that what your wife was doing wasn’t painful for you, nor did I attempt to comprehend it. I spoke the truth. Your choices are YOURS, and you would do well to accept that no matter what she does, at the end of the day, you answer to God for YOU, not her. She will answer for the things that she did that were sinful, and I still find it disgusting that you would use her choices to justify your own. As I said, two sinners don’t equal a saint.

    3. No matter how angry or hurt I am, I do *not* ever wish that my husband were someone else, look lustfully upon other men, or read romance novels. Period. My husband is a blessing from God that I know I could not live without. Oh, I have sins, and plenty of them, being quick to anger being the worst and most prevalent in my life, but because I am keenly aware of the ever present threat of satan shredding my marriage, I make a *choice* to not engage in conversations, books, movies, pictures, or friendships that could be destructive to my relationship with my husband. Period. You have/had that choice as well, and you made a different one, and the fault for that lays solely at your feet. Your wife did not have anything to do with it, and I still find it shameful that you, and other women would point the finger at your wife, who did not make your awful choices for you.

    4. I also find it disgusting that you would post crap like that here, and make it seem like a viable excuse for men making the choice to rip their wife’s heart out and stomp on it through the use of pornography. Your wife, *no matter what* is a GIFT FROM GOD, and NOTHING that she says, does, or has done in the past, is an acceptable excuse for you to engage in defiling your marriage bed. Just as YOU are her gift, and nothing that you say, do, or have done in the past is justification for her to defile your marriage bed. Period. So, as I said before, put on your big boy pants, and BE FAITHFUL. If you do, God WILL honor and bless you and your choice. If you don’t, you may destroy yourself and your marriage.

    • I think what’s happening here is that people who are very hurt from two different perspectives are perhaps reading things into the other person’s comments that aren’t there.

      First, Anonymous very clearly said that he believed what he did was sin, and that he was ashamed of it. He was not EXCUSING the sin; I think what he was doing was trying to explain why it’s a temptation for so many men. And I absolutely agree that withholding sex can make the temptation worse. When a man is weakened, he will be more vulnerable to temptation. That’s simply a fact, and one that I would agree with. It is a sin to withhold sex, and many men who are on this blog have had wives withhold for a period of months if not years. They are really hurting. And when a woman is consistently withholding sex, he will be more vulnerable–to porn, to potential affairs, to everything.

      Does that mean that she is responsible if he sins? No, it does not. But at the same time, we are told in Scripture that we should do our utmost to not lead another into temptation, and to not put up a stumbling block for anybody. So I absolutely DO think that it’s incumbent upon wives to examine ourselves and make sure that we are truly loving our husbands as we should.

      Now, at the same time, there’s the other side of it: the woman who has been hurt because her husband uses porn. And in this case, I would say that Anonymous’ 60% to 40% is a little wrong. I understand that this is his experience, but if you look at women, especially young wives (let’s say in their twenties and early thirties), the vast majority of those wives whose husbands use porn are using it BECAUSE they started far earlier. And the porn use is causing THEM to stop wanting sex, not causing the women to withhold. Porn is the number one reason for lower male libido. I get dozens of emails every week from young women saying, “I married a Christian guy and yet he doesn’t ever want to have sex!” This is a HUGE problem.

      So I think the fact that so many people assume that if a guy uses porn it’s because he’s been sex starved is a problem in itself. It shows that we truly don’t understand how much porn is ravaging marriages and relationships. Most men turn to porn when they are young, and it damages their sexuality so much that they have a difficult time achieving intimacy with their wives.

      I know many readers think that I have been spending too much time talking about porn lately, but honestly, it is so, so common. You people really should see all the emails I get, and what happens when I address it at conferences. This is absolutely and horribly heart-breaking, and it is becoming more common by the day.

      In general, today, men who use porn started when they were younger, and it doesn’t have anything to do with their marriage.

      Are there exceptions? Sure, like Anonymous. But even when I did my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, the men who answered who used porn primarily wrote that they started when they were younger, not that they turned to it later.

      So the takeaway: women, examine ourselves and make sure that we are not making a temptation that our husbands face worse than it already is. But for the rest of us: be alert and realize how porn is affecting marriages today–especially marriages of upstanding Christian people in their twenties. This is horrific, and we have to address it and do something about it.

  17. For the record, Sheila, that is exactly my demographic you described. I am 29 and my husband just turned 30. We’ve been married almost 8 years, started dating the week after I graduated highschool, and he hid it from me for the entire time we were dating and the first 5 years of our marriage. I thought there was something wrong with me, because I was a virgin when we got married, but I *really* enjoyed intimacy with him. I still crave it with the intensity most people crave foods, and I still get denied. When he finally came clean, 5 1/2 years into our marriage, I thought that was the end of it. I thought that since he had told me the truth and I forgave him, and I did everything I could to satisfy him sexually, he would just stop. And he does… For awhile. I have literally done everything I can, short of denying him sexually, to keep him interested in me only, and nothing works. I have done everything I can to try and heal as well. Counseling with my pastor and a pro, read all kinds of books, done the Love Dare twice, and kept forgiving him over and over and over. Nothing works, because every couple of months he rips open my wounds again. I feel like Jesus promised me a fairy tale, and I ended up in a nightmare! I don’t understand why, or what I did wrong and I don’t know what else to do. I have done all the things suggested by Christian sites like this, including all the things that this article suggests. I don’t bother telling him how much it hurts anymore because he feels guilty and says he’s sorry, but he still goes back to it. What’s the point anymore? I’ve come to a place where I no longer make any attempt to feel anything about his choice, all I care about is that his actions are going to affect my two sons. I am terrified that they will fall into this trap and someday do to my beautiful daughter in laws what my husband has done to me. I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy.

    • Tlw,

      I’m so, so sorry, and I am so sad to say that your story is not rare, nor am I surprised. This is just horrible what is happening to marriages.

      I will say that couples HAVE gotten over this, and so do not give up hope. Keep your hope in Jesus, and know that He will get you and your little boys through.

      I will also say that it is very unlikely that your husband will be able to quit without telling someone and getting an accountability partner. It sounds like you have had counseling, but I’m not sure from your comment whether he has or not. I would suggest going to your church and insisting that they get a partner for him, and then telling your husband in no uncertain terms that he needs to go talk to this partner.

      I have a post earlier on Are You a Spouse or Are You an Enabler which talks about how sometimes we have to take a hard line with both our church and our spouse. Also, I’d suggest checking out Mark’s book, A Road to Grace, which is linked in the post above. It really is very good, and will be helpful for you, but also for your husband if he were to read it.

      I hope that helps!
      Blessings!
      Sheila.

  18. just read some/most of these. what really strikes me is the sadness in which all these situations are gripped. I have been the one that has been refused – and yes I understand all too well the torment suffered by not having my husband love me through sexual intimacy – once a year was standard, twice a year was good, more often was victory. He is connected to addictions because of his heart, not mine. I have tried every approach, including medical assistance and nothing worked to entice him. I know of a lot of sexless marriages – men that simply are not interested in pursuing or satisfying their wives – most of these men are not addicted to porn – they simply arent interested. These wives (and unfortunately I know many) are living very deprived and yet we dont seek out porn. I wonder why that is? are we still loving on our husbands in practical ways eventhough they turn us away sexually? I believe so. What then would be the difference?

  19. FWIW, homosexual men have very high levels of sexual activity with their partners, yet pornography is a major aspect of that lifestyle. They generally aren’t monogamous for any length of time, either. Whether straight or gay, male or female, it’s a lust problem, not a partner problem.

  20. Thank you for this. I was looking for a post on your site about pornography, and somehow I had missed this one when you posted it. It really helps right now. Something my husband and I have both learned in dealing with our struggles and dealing with the struggles of one another is that marriage has to be a shame-free zone. Anytime we mess up, or are tempted, we need to be able to go to the other person and confess it without the fear of shame or accusations or anger. This helps us to be accountable and to be stronger in the future, by witnessing Christ’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness in one another. We have a rule that being hurt is natural and ok, but acting out or speaking in anger is not ok. It has truly made our marriage stronger.
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  21. I have been in the same boat, almost… My husband has just gotten back from rehab (alcohol) and has been sober almost two months now. The one and only time we have made love was the day he got back, nothing since. I have a high sex drive and he has a healthy appetite as well. So this situation is a bit different, and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I knew something was off after the first week, but I have been giving him plenty of excuses because of him being in recovery. Just today I found what I suspected, porn in his internet history, so now know that’s what he’s been doing instead. Tried bringing it up gently, but he flat out denied everything, and said he was just done with the conversation, and shut down. So sad, I pray that wet can get through this.

  22. TrustingGod says:

    Sheila,
    thank you for the information you have posted here. My husband has secretly dealt with porn since he was a teen, and I didn’t know until 2 years into our marriage. He first told me when he was seriously ill, and felt that was what God wanted of him. I was too quick to forgive, stuffed my feelings for awhile- then exploded later because of the immense pain. I attacked him verbally, lashed out and voiced all of my hurt, disappointment, etc.. we cried and prayed and forgave and I naively thought it was over. Almost 4 years later, I have stumbled upon it 5-6 more times, and the pain is always just as deep, but the wedge between us is worse each time. something in my heart towards him has shut down, and I feel like our marriage is a façade so much of the time. I don’t trust him with my heart anymore, and although we share the same bed and have sex several times a week, still- that’s all it is, just sex. And I am so tired of it, tired of playing the good, loving, serving wife, never telling him my needs that need met, but always trying to meet his. After the first time that I reacted so harshly, I have tried to handle it better, but how do I not let him know my hurt? I’ve quit telling him how I feel, and although I love him dearly and know he loves me, I feel so much distance between us. I know he is ashamed of it, he is a Christian that wants to live right, but cant get free of this. He is involved in ministry and I don’t know anyone I can talk to about it without ruining him. I thought he was doing better and then I accidently found it on the computer yesterday- again devastated. But this time I don’t even want to lash out and scream and hurt him back, I just want him to be free. Free to be who I know he wants to be, and who me and my 4 little boys need him to be. I haven’t talked to him about it yet- don’t know how to deal with it anymore, since its not a first time offense.. and it never gets better. He just works way harder to do everything he can to be a great husband to me so I forget about this part of it.. He wont allow any real conversation about us or our feelings anymore, and I’m sure I’m to blame for that because of how badly I handled it before. I just need to know how to handle this. I need God to fix us.

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