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I’ve written a lot about what to do when you realize your husband watches porn, and why porn is so damaging to marriage–even if you watch it together. 

Today Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a Christian psychologist with tons of experience in actually treating porn addiction. Porn is not harmless, and it can wreak havoc on relationships. But it’s not impossible to quit a porn addiction–and if you or your spouse watches porn, I hope these steps can bring the two of you to a road of healing.

Here’s Wyatt:


How do you treat a porn addiction? Find your husband watching porn? Make sure to check out this post about treating porn addiction to bring healing and trust back into your marriage:

Since the beginning of time, men have wrestled with lust. King David is one of the best examples during Biblical times and most are familiar with his Bathsheba encounter in 2 Samuel 11: 2-4. He was up on his rooftop and spotted a beautiful woman in the village bathing naked. Does he turn away and repent of his lustful eyes? No, he calls her to his bedroom and has sex with her!

Many years later Jesus tells his audience “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NIV). Jesus wouldn’t warn his audience on a behavior unless it was something that happened often. Therefore, lust in the human heart is nothing new.

However, easy access to sexually explicit content through the internet is new. Now men have access to free pornography 24/7 right in their pocket on their phones. The combination of a lustful heart plus easy access has created an explosion of pornography addiction over the past few years that’s destroyed marriages, devastated families, wrecked employment, and in some cases even caused imprisonment. As most addiction specialist know, the three A’s to addiction are accessibility, affordability, and anonymity and porn provides all three. It’s accessible because it’s everywhere on the internet, it’s affordable because the majority of it is free, and it’s anonymous because you can view it without no one ever knowing.

Unfortunately, most men have no idea how addicting porn can be and how devastating the impact is. “Till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:23, NIV). Porn has been shown to be as addictive as heroin or crack cocaine because it lights up the same reward center in the brain.1 Combating porn is not as simple as just deciding to stop. It’s a neurological addiction akin to alcohol or drug addiction, making it very complicated.  

In addition, the Family Research Council reports that men who regularly view porn are more likely to feel dissatisfied with their wives and are at heightened risk for infidelity and divorce. As men consume porn filled with airbrushed bodies of women getting paid to be overly responsive, men often start preferring porn over real sex with their wife. Further, young people being raised with porn are becoming desensitized to it and view not recycling as more immoral than viewing pornography, according to a new study by Barna. Last, Barna reports that up to 64% of all Christian men are viewing pornography at least once a month. The power of pornography has infiltrated the church, filling men with shame, guilt, and powerlessness. Paul sums it up well when he says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. “(Romans 7:15-19, NIV).

Something must be done! Here’s a list of ideas for couples to get started on winning the war with pornography!

1. Men: tell her

Husbands who struggle with porn addiction must open up to their wives about it. Women are often much more hurt when they accidentally discover their husband’s porn use compared to if he voluntarily admits it. When the wife accidentally finds out, not only does it feel like sexual betrayal, but it’s also a major breach in trust because of the lying and deceit about it, which is often more painful than the porn use itself.

2. Wives: balance your reaction

Wives, try to balance your reaction by not over-reacting but also not under-reacting. A wife who over-reacts threatens divorce and has no empathy for her husband’s porn addiction. This type of reaction often encourages the husband to dive deeper into secrecy to ensure his wife never finds out again. At the same time, a wife who under-reacts is also detrimental. She responds by being a bit disappointed but knows it’s a “guy thing” and not that big of deal. This type of reaction often doesn’t create enough motivation for the man to stop looking at porn because it doesn’t seem to really bother his wife.

3. Become a unified front

Couples must learn to become a unified front on battling porn. I specialize in marriage counseling in Boulder, CO and porn is a common problem with couples I see. Often, the goal is helping the husband completely open up about his porn use and helping the wife work through her feelings of betrayal and understanding why it’s such a struggle for her husband.

Similar to discovering your husband is an alcoholic, wives must spend time understanding pornography as a neurological addiction, why it’s so powerful for their husband, what his triggers are, and what about their marriage may influence it. For example, husbands who feel sexually satisfied in their marriage often have a decreased risk of pornography. However, it’s never the wife’s fault that her husband looks at porn because it’s ultimately his choice to cross the line. But, chronic sexual dissatisfaction within marriage can certainly increase a man’s temptation to turn to porn for fulfillment. “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5, NIV).

My wife and I created a free, online porn addiction help seminar to help couples become a unified front by first understanding the power of pornography and second learning how to overcome the power of pornography together.

4. Men must understand their past

Men must understand their story to understand what drives their porn addiction. They should make a timeline from childhood to current on all of their sexual encounters. When did they first see a naked women, what was their first sexual encounter, what was their sexual experiences like in high school and college, what was their relationship like with their mother, were they ever abused, etc.

These types of questions tend to reveal a lot about a man’s sexual story. For example, some men who struggle with porn may have had a mother who was cold and rejecting and looking at porn provides a woman’s attention they never received. Another example may be a man who never felt like he was successful with girls in high school compared to all his buddies but in porn he can finally feel like the alpha. Still others may have been the alpha male growing up with lots of sexual encounters and now they are married but porn allows them to keep that feeling alive.

Men must learn their history and what led to their porn addiction because it’s often fueled by something other than just the rush of seeing a naked woman. The Fight of Your Life by Clinton and Laasar is an excellent resource for this.

5. Eradicate it on the outside and inside

Men must develop a battle plan to start eradicating lust from their life both internally and externally. One of the first things men should do to eradicate porn externally is download a filter onto all of their devices, such as Covenant Eyes. This type of software will save them from themselves because even if they have a weak moment and desire porn the filter will block it for them.

For men who struggle with porn, if they have access to it somewhere, it’s usually just a matter of time before they view it. Similarly, an alcoholic trying to recover would never leave a bottle of Jack Daniels in the closet. In addition, it’s important to have the man’s wife set up the password for their account so they’re never tempted to login and disable the filter. Also, it’s ideal to set up their wife as their accountability partner to receive a weekly report with all of their online activity. Knowing their buddy who also struggles with porn will receive their accountability report may increase motivation some but knowing their wife will receive a report of all their online activity will send their motivation through the roof.

Next, men must pay attention to all of the subtle ways they’re fuelling their lust. They may not be looking at porn anymore, but how much do they view programs with sensuality, look at articles about the hottest celebs, stare at women’s breasts every time they see them in public, etc. Each man must track how they are feeding their lust and strive towards purity instead. Rather than seeing how much they can get away with before crossing the line, they must see how holy they can become so there’s not “even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3, NIV).

Next, to eradicate lust from their life internally one of the most important things is to prioritize time with God daily. Men need time to get filled with His presence and power to help them overcome their lustful bent. Also, memorizing Scripture pertaining to lust is important so when temptation hits, they can counter it with the Word, similar to how Jesus rebuked Satan in the desert with Scripture.

Next, men must identity their maladaptive beliefs about women and learn to modify them. For example, after deep reflection and discussion, one man I worked with uncovered his belief that experiencing a woman’s breasts was the most important goal in life. Once he was able to articulate this belief, he then could critique and modify it. He eventually changed it to say, “Experiencing a woman’s breasts is not the most important goal in life and to think so is immature, the most important goal in life is honoring God, my family, and my career.” He put this new belief on his phone to meditate on it daily so it could slowly replace his original perspective. Doing so eventually helped him become less obsessed with women’s breasts and to keep them in proper perspective rather than as an idol in his life.

6. Relearning sex

Men should consider having a sex fast with no masturbation each time they fall into pornography for a period of time they and their wife agree upon. Doing so can serve as a natural consequence and provide an opportunity for them to regain mastery over their sexual behavior because it has just mastered them.

It also can provide time for their wife to heal from the breach in trust. In addition, men must learn how to have intimacy oriented sex rather than body oriented sex. Porn viewing makes men overly focused on body parts and sexual encounters become more about them getting their “high” than becoming one with their wife. Instead, men need to learn how to connect with their wives emotionally through sex. One excellent way to facilitate this is for men to share some of their loving feelings toward their wife before sex, focus on her pleasure during sex, and look into her eyes occasionally during the encounter and especially during orgasm. Eye contact will help men connect to their wife’s soul rather than just to her body.

Remember, overcoming porn addiction is often a journey and not a destination. There’s going to be setbacks so expect them. However, putting these steps into practice can send you well on your way to victory!

wyattfisherbio

Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a licensed psychologist. He and his wife lead Christian marriage retreats and he also runs a Christian dating site.

 

 

 


References:

1-Judith Reisman, Jeffrey Sanitover, Marry Anne Layden, and James B. Weaver, “Hearing on the brain science behind pornography addiction and the effects of addiction on families and communities,” Hearing to U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Nov. 18, 2004.

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