Tag Archives: recovering from porn addiction

Q&A with J: “My Husband Is Addicted to Porn”

Today’s question is an important one. And it’s very straightforward. Here’s what the wife asks:

My husband is addicted to porn. I have no one to talk to — where do I go?

Q&A with J- My Husband Is Addicted to Porn - sad woman with hands over face

Even in this short question, I can sense the pain, urgency, and despair. When it comes to pornography, let’s be clear about two things:

  1. Too many men battle this temptation and feel trapped by a horrible habit that they don’t want to continue, yet feel insufficient to overcome.
  2. It’s cheating on your marriage. What was supposed to remain entirely within marriage — sexual pleasure and satisfaction — is being met elsewhere.

As much as I feel for the addicted porn viewer and their struggle, it’s no wonder that wives who discover their husband’s porn use feel betrayed. According to Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

...it's no wonder that wives who discover their husband's porn use feel betrayed. Click To Tweet

Porn isn’t the stray glance or public temptation of scantily dressed women; it’s the intentional consumption of sexually charged materials for the purpose of lusting and receiving sexual pleasure.

Yet for some, many perhaps, it is also like an addiction. As I said, they know it’s bad, often they want to quit, but the temptation is so strong. If you’ve ever been addicted to anything — drugs, smoking, coffee, soda, etc. — you understand how the head knowledge and the heart desire to quit something are constantly battling with the baser need you have to feed the hungry beast. You’ve experienced the longing, followed by the dopamine and adrenaline rush, and your body tells you to keep that loop going.

The point is that when one spouse is habitually using porn, both of you are suffering. Your marriage is suffering. It’s easy to feel like you’re on opposite sides. So one major goal you need to have is to get on the same sideIt will take both of you working together on this issue and your marriage. He needs to do his part, and you need to support him.

To the question: I have no one to talk to — where do I go? The best response I think I can give is to point you to resources. Following are a few great posts addressing the issue of a husband’s use of porn.

First Steps in Battling Pornography from OysterBed7

Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Use from To Love Honor and Vacuum (guest post from Hopeful Wife Today)

What Should You Do If Your Husband Looks at Porn? from Authentic Intimacy

Pornography Destroys These Things In A Wife from Unveiled Wife

Unveiled Wife also has a list of Resources to Educate Yourself on Pornography

Q&A with J: When Your Husband Falls Off the Porn Wagon here on my blog

You should also look into filtering software, such as Covenant Eyes. By the way, Covenant Eyes has a blog with helpful articles as well.

As far as talking to someone and getting real help as the wife of a porn-addicted husband, XXXchurch provides many resources for overcoming porn addiction and walking through that experience with your spouse. They have small groups you can participate in online, as well as an entire program for wives called Recover. (If someone has been through this program, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.)

Some of the churches in your area might also offer programs for porn recovery, including outreach to spouses. Check around and see what’s available; you might be surprised to discover useful resources in your own neck-of-the-woods.

I don’t know whether your husband confessed the porn addiction or you simply discovered it, whether he is remorseful or recalcitrant, and whether he wants to seek help or you feel alone in this matter. Of course, this will all be easier if he is repentant and willing to reach out for help.

If he is not cooperative, you need to be willing to bring it up to someone in your church congregation. Of course this is difficult, and scary, but you cannot allow your marriage to disintegrate. Nor is it any favor to your husband to allow him to continue in sin. Likely he recognizes that his porn habit is taking a toll on himself and his marriage, even if he doesn’t admit it right away.

Many Christians steeped in pornography have a hard time getting help because they feel such shame even admitting their problem. It’s hard to bring out in the open the worst parts of ourselves and ask for help and healing.

But Luke 8:17 says: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

God already sees and knows. As long as you hide, however, you cannot be healed. Consider it like this: Would you want a life-saving operation to be conducted by your surgeon in the dark? We have to step into the light so that all our struggles can be seen and our Healer can make us, and our marriage, whole again.

Be wise about whom you bring into your confidence. But consider that this may be a step you need to take.

I pray that the resources I provided will point you in the right direction. And may God bring you strength, comfort, and hope.

Q&A with J: When Your Husband Falls Off the Porn Wagon

It’s Q&A with J time! Today’s question comes from a wife married for 16 years to a husband with many sexual troubles.

My husband has struggled with sexual issues since he was a teenager, going to strip clubs, prostitutes, gay hangouts and a porn addiction. He has had at least two affairs and would video chat often with others and masturbate with them online. Of course I didn’t know about this when we married even though it has been an issue for him since before we met. Twice in the past I had caught him out in one of these things and we sought counselling and stayed together. Last year, I caught him out a third time and when his behaviour did not stop, we separated. Since then, he has had individual counselling, we have had marriage counselling and I have had individual counselling also. His behaviour has changed a lot, he has worked hard to rebuild trust and a few months ago he moved back in with the kids and I. We were working hard on our marriage and ourselves and things were improving.

Then I discovered that he was somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and when I asked how things were going he lied and said everything was fine and he wasn’t struggling at all. After I told him I knew where he had been, he also admitted to searching for pictures of boobs on the internet recently. Since then, I have been really struggling. I have not kicked him out of the house again, but the trust we had been rebuilding has gone once more. I cannot be intimate with him, I don’t even know how to be affectionate towards him. I don’t believe that God wants us to separate permanently or divorce (I would have done that already if God had not been telling me to keep my marriage together), but I just don’t know how to move forward from this point. What should I do?

Q&A with J: When Your Husband Falls Off the Porn Wagon

Plenty of us enter marriage with sexual baggage, but it seems like your husband brought in a U-Haul of issues. That’s not going to be cleared out quickly. But it can be done. If the Hoarders TV crew can help people find their furniture, I sincerely believe God in His infinite power can help you find your covenant intimacy past all the baggage your husband dragged through the door into your marriage.

Here are some very positive things from your story:

  • You know what you’re dealing with. The secrets are out. Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
  • When your husband continued in his bad behavior, you did not enable his sin. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
  • When faced with real consequences, your husband sought help and worked to rebuild trust. This is huge, because it requires confession, humbling, and commitment. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  • Your marriage was improving.  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

And now he screwed up. Big time.

Because — and hey, hubbies, listen up to this one — not only did he seek out porn again, he lied about it. Which makes a gal wonder what else he’s lying about and why he won’t just come clean and let you help him deal with the issue already!

But let me tell you a little story. I smoked in college. (Thank goodness my parents don’t read this blog. Don’t anyone tell them, please.)  A couple of years later, I committed to never smoking again. Have a kept that promise? Oops. I ended up with a pack of cigarettes one time for a totally different reason and smoked half of one. (Oh great, I just realized my husband will be reading this. Oh well, confession is good for the soul and all…) Did I tell anyone? As you can see, no, I did not. Why? Because I was thoroughly disappointed in myself and utterly ashamed.

We should tell our secrets. But sometimes it isn’t because we’re trying to hide our sin from others so much as we are weighed down with the shame of what we’ve done.

So, while I’m absolutely not excusing his lying (so please don’t anyone comment that I am), I understand why someone who “falls off the wagon” would have a really hard time fessing up. Your husband may have rationalized that he didn’t want to hurt you or have been worried that you’d kick him out again for messing up.

What you and he need to establish is a No More Secrets rule. No matter how bad the infraction is, if his demons take hold again and he screws up, he needs to immediately come to you and ask for forgiveness.

Realistically, many who struggle with an addiction, or simply with sin itself, will get off track and sin again. But you need to communicate that there is a difference between stumbling off the path and getting right back on and veering way off the path so that you’re breaking the whole marriage covenant. Visually, it’s like this:

Stumbling vs Leaving the Path

There is a big difference between these two — both to God and for your marriage. If your husband just messed up, he needs to know that you are there for him, that you will stand behind him in his fight against the pull of porn, that you will not abandon him so long as he is seeking righteousness. But if your husband is falling back into patterns of ongoing porn use and lying, that’s a different story. And you simply cannot enable that sin.

As far as what you should do to figure out which one you’re dealing with, you need to start with that conversation. Explain to your husband that you’re not only hurt by his actions of seeking out porn, but by his lying which erodes your trust. Tell him you’re in his corner, and if he messes up, it’s not the end but he must come clean.

He really needs an accountability partner as well, not just you. Men often report that a key factor of getting off porn is having another man check in regularly and ask how it’s going. With an accountability partner (who is also male), your husband can explain the particulars of his offense. the temptations he’s facing, the emotional struggle, and strategies for staying on track.

When one spouse has cheated, it’s also important that they get in the habit of opening up their lives to their mate. If someone uses their phone and computer to commit adultery (extensive porn use is adultery, because it involves a third person), then they don’t get privacy with their phone and computer. Frankly, everything you do should be viewable by your spouse. I’ve never cheated, but if my husband wanted to look at my phone, he could go right ahead because there’s nothing there to warrant concern.

This also means that your husband should give you an accounting of where he is, what he’s doing, and when he will be home. I know people can feel like this is authoritarian monitoring, but really, it’s just good manners. “Hey, sweetheart, the guys and I are finishing up on Hole 9, running by Starbucks for a coffee, and I should be home by 6:00 p.m.” What’s the big deal about that? Nothing. Just show a little courtesy to each other. And it has the added benefit of keeping you honest.

You two should also install software to protect your husband, like Covenant Eyes. That will provide additional accountability and help him to avoid dangerous websites. Just like recovering alcoholics shouldn’t hang out in a bar, porn addicts shouldn’t hang out at online sites where the temptation is. Build a reasonable barrier to keep that enticement out of your home.

Consider returning to counseling. If it worked before, you might want to keep going on a less regular basis. Even after things have improved, it could be helpful to continue for a while, perhaps once a month. That atmosphere could be more comfortable for you to discuss what issues still remain or what temptations he’s still facing.

Rebuild trust on your end. I completely understand you not wanting to be intimate with your husband after he returned to the mud pit, wallowed a bit, and lied about it. But ultimately, to have a healthy marriage, you both need to make an effort to rebuild trust. For specifics on how, I suggest this post: Rebuilding Trust in the Bedroom.

Together, and with God’s redemption, you can foster new and deeper intimacy in your marriage. But it will take time. Continue on the path you’ve already started, and ask for God’s hand along the way.

Q&A: His Past Porn Habit Makes It Hard to Know What’s Okay

We’re back to another Summer of Q&A with J question. I guarantee this one affects more wives than the one woman who sent it in:

My husband is working very hard by the Lord’s grace to overcome a pornography and masturbation addiction. He has come so far, but we are not out of the woods yet. I struggle with what sexual things I should or shouldn’t do in order to encourage his healing. As an example, is my giving him a hand job triggering the wrong kind of desires in his mind, or is it okay because it comes from me?

Fist bump for you two working through that struggle. With God’s grace indeed, this couple is on its way to experiencing more intimate and God-honoring sexual intimacy.

The question remains: What’s okay and what’s not for a husband who’s had a porn and masturbation habit? Are certain activities best omitted because they remind or tempt hubby toward sin?

Q&A: His Past Porn Habit Makes It Hard to Know What's Okay

I had some immediate thoughts, but spent more time in the Word of God to clarify my approach.

The past is past, but it can still rear its ugly head. 1 John 1:6-7 says, “If we claim to have fellowship with [God] and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Pornography is a dark sin, and the answer to dealing with this addiction or problem is light. Your husband has brought this sin into the light, and Jesus can purify him, meaning that sin — while remembered — essentially goes poof! and it’s gone. This verse also addresses that fellowship with one another is affected; many marriages know how porn negatively impacted their relationship and sexual intimacy and how healing brought a positive impact.

But the past is past, a done deal. Those sins, once confessed, brought into the light, and washed by Jesus’ blood…are forgiven. Does this mean a switch is flipped, and everything’s a-okay? No one who’s walked such a path would argue that. Nor does the Bible. One chapter later, John says: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” John’s talking to Christians, and he basically admits they’re going to mess up.

Yet sinning is not living in sin. We know the difference. Let me first assure you that if you do something in your marriage bed that unintentionally causes porn memories to rear their ugly head, that does not mean a return to pornography permeating your marriage. You and your husband still have an advocate in Jesus Christ, who is working in your lives to lead you further and further into the light.

Your sexual intimacy can provide protection against his temptation. That’s what 1 Corinthians 7:5 says: “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.” Also, in Proverbs 5, a chapter devoted to warning against adultery, the husband is advised to “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.” That means have sex with your own wife! It’s one way of protecting against the pull of adultery.

For wives whose husbands have engaged in pornography, the emotional pain for these women is deep. I understand why they would not feel safe in the marriage bed and worry that sexual activities could stir up past imagery. However, while the initial reaction for many wives is to retreat from the marriage bed, God’s prescription is the opposite. You may need a short break to grieve, but in the long run fostering sexual intimacy protects your marriage and wards against outside temptation.

This includes activities that your husband might have seen in porn, but that also occur regularly enough without that example. For example, oral sex might be shown in porn, but plenty of couples have oral sex without the inspiration of porn. Likewise, hand jobs could be associated with a man self-stimulating while watching porn, but it’s also fairly common in the marriage bed.

As you engage in various sexual activities together, you’re rewriting the script. Instead of your husband associating manual arousal with pornographic imagery, it can become something special and intimate between husband and wife. Will this happen after one time? I shoot straight on my blog, so I’m going to say probably not. It’s more like a balance of scales, and over time you add more and more weight to the side of godly sexuality and marital intimacy, so that the scales tip. Eventually, the other side means nothing, and godly sexual intimacy is the way you both view sex.

An activity may be too close to a porn memory and should be left out. Sexual activities should not automatically thrown out because they also occur in porn; however, some activities could truly be triggers for your husband. How can you distinguish?

Since porn addicts struggle with attaching sexuality to imagery, I advise staying away from similar imagery for a while, even if it’s of you. Your husband needs to retrain his body to react to physical interaction with his wife as an all-five-senses and 3-D experience. While a wife giving her hubby a naked or suggestive photo of herself doesn’t strike me as sin, it could be unwise for someone on the road to recovery from a porn addiction. Because it’s still in line with attaching sexuality to imagery.

James 1:14-15 says: “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Apparently, there’s a space before sin that involves desire, and to avoid birthing sin, we should aim for aligning our desires with God’s. A porn addict needs intentional time to get back on track with sexuality being linked to physical interaction, intimacy with a covenant wife, and the layered experience of sex as God designed it. Things that smack of two-dimensional arousal would be off my list for a while.

Other activities, including that hand job, might or might not be triggers. The only way to know is to ask. While building your trust in other areas, build your repertoire of conversation and honesty.  Before you engage in an activity, ask your husband outright what effect it will have on his mind. If your husband’s heart is in the right place — and it sounds like it is — he’ll admit if something is too close to a porn memory and should be avoided.

A few things might need to come off the table (or the bed, if you will), at least for a while. Don’t concentrate, though, on what you can’t do. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Ask your Heavenly Father to help you forge a new reality. How about praying before your lovemaking? Or memorizing scriptures about God being on your side and creating something fresh and beautiful?

Here’s a personal testimony. I had some bad memories from my premarital promiscuous past, and a particular one made me feel very ashamed. Years ago, I began to pray to God to help me renew my mind, even asking him to remove the memories. That memory went away, just gone. I can’t tell you what it was. And I have no other explanation than God erasing it from my memory bank. Had He not removed it, He would have had a reason for leaving it there. But in my specific case, God relieved me of this shameful memory, which allowed me to focus more on godly marital intimacy.

Pray for the healing of your husband’s mind and your own. Here’s an example from Isaiah 65: 18-19:

“Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the one true God; –– In the name of our one true God, we invoke Your blessing in our land of marriage.
whoever takes an oath in the land will swear by the one true God. — We take an oath to honor our marriage bed.
For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes. — You have forgotten the sins of pornography and hidden them from Your eyes, and we praise You.
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. — Create a new intimacy in our marriage that honors You.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. — As we make love, help us to not remember the former things, and keep any sinful thoughts from coming to mind.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Or more simply: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, KJV).

For those who’ve been down this road, what advice would you give to this reader and others trying to recover from porn addiction in their marriage?