Yesterday I asked the question, “Is Porn Cheating”?
That was an interesting discussion, but one comment that really stood out with me was left by a Christian man who had been addicted to porn and had emerged on the other side. I’d like to post that comment pretty much in its entirety here, because it’s so good and I want to make sure that you all see it. Then I’ll add my own thoughts to the end. So here we go:
I have been a Christian since I was 8 and grew up in a good Christian home but pornography can get to anyone. I am a Christian husband that struggled with pornography. I could have been considered an occasional user. I could go days and even weeks without any issues, but eventually that temptation came back.
Let me first say to the wives, this is hurting your husband more than you will ever know, especially if they are trying to be a strong and obedient follower of Christ.
Also know, it is NOT your fault for him using. It is their sin and their responsibility. They are defiling themselves and the marriage bed by using it. As a Christian, I was so ashamed and embarrassed by the fact that I was caught up in pornography. I tried to hide it and this was the worst thing that I could have done. I didn’t feel like a good man or a good Christian. I hated the fact that I could not stop and I felt so disgusted with myself that I was using that junk. I have been going through a separation and now divorce for nearly 2 years now and I took over a year to figure out what was wrong with me. I had family, friends, pastors, a good Christian counselors, and an accountability partner by my side. Once this sin was in the open, the desire to use pornography slowly just disappeared.
The biggest thing I learned was that as a man, I had no clue what intimacy was.
As a man, I saw intimacy and sex as the same thing. This is false and a complete lie from Satan. Sex cannot meet the man’s need for intimacy. I can see how there are so many men that were never taught what true intimacy is, and I believe this is the responsibility of a father to teach their sons. My relationship with my father was a huge barrier my entire life until this occurred. I thought getting married and having sex with my wife would resolve all my issues, when in fact, it made it worse. When my expectations were not met, I turned to pornography instead of opening up to my wife. I didn’t know how to open up to her, I didn’t know how to be intimate with her, and I didn’t know how to be her best friend. I thought a man holds things in and deals with it himself, another lie from Satan. That is not a man. More importantly, I didn’t know how to have an intimate relationship with Christ. This is where it all starts.
Before a man can be a good husband and strong man, he has to learn how to be intimate with God.
I read dozens of books and studied the bible to figure out what it takes to be a man of God, a Godly husband, and a Godly father. This changed my life forever. Only God can give me strength to be a man and overcome my failures. I am only strong in Him. A man that uses pornography or any addiction is weak and he needs to be broken. He needs to humble himself to God to get back on the path to righteousness.
Women, take this advice. Help your husbands become the man he is called to be. In this situation, love has to be tough. Do not let him become a selfish and immature man that is out for his own desires. If he will not stop using for you, tell someone immediately no matter how upset he may become. Do not think of it as hurting him, believe me, you are helping him more than you will ever know. Tell a close friend of his to confront him, or tell a pastor to confront him. He needs help. Now that I am free from the bondage of pornography, I feel unbelievable. With pornography, I felt like I was a little boy trapped in a cage trying to become a man. Without pornography, I am free to give everything to God. I am free to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I am free to love others and be the sacrificial man I am called to be. I want to love my wife and sacrifice everything for her more than anything, but I have lost her. I have three children that I can give freely too and love with everything I have. I have not lost them and praise God for that.
I promise you, if your husband is truly a Christian who wants to be obedient, he will thank you down the road for speaking up and stopping the sin that is in his life.
Remember, pornography is a purely selfish act to meet his own needs.
He is not thinking of your needs, his family’s needs, or anybody else needs. A man is to sacrifice everything for his wife and family. Pornography is the complete opposite. Pornography destroys a man’s heart and mind. He ends up living in a fantasy world. Wives, save your husbands before they are in to deep and they end up in a world they cannot get out of. Thank God, I never got to that point.
That’s the voice of a Christian man who has truly found healing from porn because He turned to God. I hope that this can give women encouragement that healing for their own situation can also come. But let me highlight a few key things:
1. A Husband’s Porn Use Is Not About You
As I said yesterday, over and over again, when men break the porn habit, they will say that it wasn’t because of their wives that they turned to porn. It’s not because you’re not beautiful enough, or not sexy enough. Of course, if you never have sex with your husband, he may turn to porn because he’s frustrated (though this is still wrong). But that’s the minority of the cases. In most cases, it’s because something was broken inside of him.
So if you find out that your husband is involved in porn, know that you don’t have to compete. You don’t have to try kinkier things, or buy racy lingerie, or become a size 2. Even if you did, that wouldn’t solve the problem. It is something that has sucked him in, and the way out is not by you competing or changing. It’s just by healing from God.
I know you feel so angry, and so used, and so degraded, and so rejected. But, as much as possible, try to transfer your anger onto the porn industry and not on your husband. I’ve known men who have been sucked in as children. They saw it inadvertently, or they were shown it by a friend. And they found the images exciting, so they kept seeking them out. Picture your own son at 9 or 10 being exposed to it. You wouldn’t be angry at him; you would be horrified. And the problem is that once they’re exposed, it’s so hard to stop.
Many of these guys have been on that road for that long. They want to stop. They don’t like the dirty feeling they have, either. I know what they’re doing is wrong, but if you can become their ally in helping them stop and in upholding them in prayer, rather than attacking them, I think you’ll find you can get through this together much better.
2. A Husband’s Porn Use Can’t Be Ignored
If your husband is using porn, you cannot ignore it. It won’t just go away. All the people that I have talked to who have been healed of porn were healed because they sought outside help (or their wives forced it on them). One woman who commented yesterday, and whose story I know, called her brothers who came over, had a stern talking to with the husband, and then announced that they were disconnecting the satellite and the internet. The man had been addicted to porn since he was 8, and this was the beginning of healing. He was a Christian just like this commenter was, and he felt so terrible about it.
So confront your husband about it, and if he won’t stop, seek out a mentor (just one!) who is wise whom you can talk to about next steps. But I firmly believe that in most cases, those next steps likely include asking a good friend of his to confront him, or asking a pastor to confront him. I’d go with the friend first, before the pastor, because you don’t want to endanger his relationship at the church. But as this commenter says, “tell someone immediately no matter how upset he may become.” Do not let the admonition to be submissive keep you from confronting sin, or make you enable sin. It won’t get better on its own.
I’m a big fan of the Christian group Celebrate Recovery. It can help with all kinds of addiction issues, and chances are a church in your area hosts such a group. But there are also twelve-step programs that work with porn users. If your husband doesn’t just use porn, but also tries to contact women in real life, uses prostitutes, or chats online, chances are he needs more intervention.
3. Healing from Porn Use Needs Forgiveness
The other thing that stands out to me in this comment is that this man came to a genuine place of healing and forgiveness, and has found wholeness, and yet his wife has left him anyway. I find that heartbreaking.
I know another couple where something similar happened. The husband had been involved in porn, and had also had some one night stands. But he had been going to counselling, and he had been working at things. But the wife had been walking through these problems for so many years, and she was tired. And one day she met another man who made her feel alive again.
So she left her husband. She claimed she had grounds–he had committed adultery, and he had used porn. The problem, though, was that these things had been in the past. Even the porn use, if he had slipped, was getting better and he was seeking help. So she had stayed with him through the worst, but as he was getting counselling and getting better she chose to leave.
This is actually quite common. During the worst times the wife is so downtrodden and so depressed that she doesn’t have the energy or self-esteem to leave. But as the counselling progresses, and she starts to get healing, and he starts to get better so that she’s not just focused on survival mode anymore, she often leaves.
So let me say very clearly: you cannot claim a past sin that has been dealt with is grounds to leave your husband. If he has confessed his sin and is trying to work towards God, then you can’t just up and leave.
This is a really touchy subject, because I don’t want people to take what I said yesterday that “sometimes you have to separate” to mean that anyone can just divorce because of this. Lots of women want out, and they see this as justification. It’s not. Sometimes you have to separate if life has become unbearable just to protect yourself and the kids and to jolt him into seeking healing. And if that separation doesn’t work, and he chooses to stay away from you, I think there are times divorce may be okay. But this is the vast minority of cases, and this is NEVER the case if the man is seeking healing.
The Christian story is beautiful not because people can be holy in Christ, but because Christ can take vessels that are filthy and dirty and redeem them so that they become the most beautiful and the most useful. It is often those who have gone through the most who are the most anointed by the Spirit. When Christ heals in a big way, there is little else more beautiful in this world. Do you not want to be a part of that?
My commenters’ kids must be hurting so much. When you leave your husband, the kids bear the brunt of it. Please don’t do that to them lightly. And if your husband is seeking healing, support him in that. Do not let your anger at him or your fear or your shame make you break up a family. The most dangerous time for you will be when your husband seeks healing, because up until then God had you and the devil had your husband. The devil isn’t going to be happy, and he’s going to turn to you. You’ve come so far as a couple already. Don’t let the devil win.
So please, when healing is happening, work through your own issues so that you can forgive your husband and rebuild. I know that healing isn’t present for everyone, and my heart aches for those of you who so long for it. But I pray that you will listen to these commenters’ words, shed light on your husband’s problem, and then see what God can do. And even if God never heals your husband, remember that He can still heal you.
My book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, has a whole section on how to reclaim your sex life after a porn addiction–and lots of stories of people who have come through to the other side! Check it out here.