Tag Archives: porn recovery

Q&A with J: “He’s Going Into His ‘Spank Bank’ “

Today’s question is a frustrating one. Yet another example of the terrible effects pornography can have on how we view sex and our ability to enjoy it in marriage the way God intended. Please say a prayer for this wife today. Here’s her question:

I get incredibly shy in bed with my husband. When I am on top, unless I have had like a bottle of wine, I get so much anxiety. I forget how to even be on top and it feels awkward.

I know I don’t have to feel embarrassed to tell you this. My husband has had a past with porn and we are still in the process of dealing with it. Because of the porn, he can’t stay hard sometimes, and I can see him closing his eyes and going into his ‘spank bank’ to try and get hard again. This is traumatizing to me and makes getting on top even more anxiety ridden. Do you have any advice for me?

 

Q&A with J: "He's Going into His 'Spank Bank' "

I see four issues in this short question.

1. Anxiety about being on top. I don’t know exactly why this wife feels shy about the on-top position. Maybe it’s the full view her husband’s getting of her, and she struggles with body issues. Maybe it’s the feeling that she’s in the dominant sexual position, and she feels uncomfortable being “in charge.” Maybe it’s a lack of experience and not feeling like she knows what she’s doing. Maybe it’s just physically hard to make things happen (it can wear on a gal’s knees).

Whatever the issue, some things are awkward when you first do them in the marriage bed. The first time, the second time . . . even the fifth time. But if you continue doing something with positive results, it gets easier and easier. Your comfort level increases.

To relax about any position, just pay attention to your breathing, making sure it’s steady and soothing. Lean into the pleasure you feel in that moment. Ask for feedback from your husband about what he enjoys of what he’s seeing and experiencing.

Remember that all sex is a little awkward. You never just suddenly find yourself in that position with your legs apart and hiked up or sprawling over your husband’s lap. You’re aiming for the pleasure that you get from pushing a little outside that comfort zone and connecting with one another in a way you don’t with anyone else, ever. But over time, that intimacy can become the most comfortable thing in the world.

2. Dealing with anxiety by grabbing the wine. I’m personally not opposed to a glass of wine. But I have concerns about dealing with anxiety in the marital bedroom by grabbing alcohol. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage had an excellent post about this topic called Need a Few Drinks to Get in the Mood for Sex?

By using wine to deal with the anxiety, you’re likely evading the process of getting comfortable with being on top. You’re priming your brain and body to feel okay about it only when alcohol is involved. Remove the alcohol, and the anxiety is back.

Rather, trust that you can find ways to enjoy the experience without relying on alcohol or any other crutch.

3. Her husband’s porn past. Once again, porn rears its ugly head. You can also label this Satan, because he is all too happy to steal healthy intimacy in marriage by tempting people with a twisted version of sexuality. Remember who your real enemy is.

I’m so glad that you’re dealing with this porn past. That should include taking tangible steps to keep the temptation out of your home and off his phone and him getting support from others through accountability partners or ministry groups. Very few people who used porn much in the past simply say, “Not using porn anymore,” and stop altogether. You need a more involved strategy to conquer this evil.

However, it has obviously affected his ability to get aroused. Unfortunately, more young men now struggle with maintaining an erection because of the prevalence of porn. Viewing those images distorts how our brains register arousal and satisfaction. Sex becomes a two-dimensional, self-serving act, rather than the face-to-face, we-focused intimacy God intended.

The way to overcome this challenge is to unlearn bad habits and learn good ones instead. Not only does he need to throw off the porn, but you should both accept that he needs to awaken the arousal that comes from being with a real person — you. It may take some time for his body to change how it views stimulation, but with time and patience you can figure it out. God created his body to respond that way.

4. He’s going into his ‘spank bank.’ For those who don’t know what a “spank bank” is, that’s a colloquialism for a collection of mental images you can access to become sexually stimulated or to heighten arousal. In this case, it’s stored memories of pornographic pictures.

First off, that’s sin. Just to be clear here: There’s no justification for lusting after other people while making love to your spouse. Or at any other time. (See Matthew 5:28, Hebrews 13:4, Job 31:1, Proverbs 6:25.) Your sexual energy should be focused entirely on your covenant mate. It matters what happens not only with our bodies, but in our minds and in our hearts. (See Jeremiah 17:10.) Part of getting over this porn past is your husband retraining his mind. And you can help.

Explain to your husband that those images are another obstacle to your sexual intimacy — that they are prolonging the problems by maintaining that brain connection of two-dimensional images and sexual arousal. I get that it’s frustrating for him to have erection difficulties (not that I know what that’s like, but I can imagine); however, the long-term answer is to establish your one-on-one connection.

Be willing to set some boundaries. You can tell him, “If I see you going into your ‘spank bank,’ I cannot continue making love. It just doesn’t feel like you’re making love to me, but to those images. So if you go there, I’m going to ask you to stop and refocus on me. If you don’t stop, I’ll have to discontinue our sexual encounter until you can pay attention to me.” Reiterate that you’re not trying to punish him, but rather help him. You are on his side. But you also aren’t going to settle when you know that God has loving sexual intimacy awaiting you both for your marriage. You want your husband to be fully involved with you, and you want to be fully involved with him.

You may need to reassure him many times of your support and your love, because this is a difficult struggle. Yet you have every right to expect his respect in the bedroom — meaning he doesn’t get to bring other women in there. In reality or mentally.

[I wanted to add a great point that commenters have called me on. Rightly so. I’m not infallible, and I missed the very real possibility that this husband isn’t recalling past porn images at all. When he closes his eyes and concentrates, he could be regaining his focus on the moment with his wife. Rather than assuming you know what’s going on in your husband’s mind, ask. We should extend grace and believe the best about our spouses, rather than choosing the worst possible assumption. Anyway, I apologize if I got this one wrong. If he accessing past images, my advice stands. But, if not,…]

Your issues aren’t likely going to be settled in a week or even a month. But step-by-step, with intentionality and love, I am confident you two can move toward far more fulfilling sexual experiences. One or two years down the road, you might be amazed by the beauty and pleasure you’ve discovered in the marriage bed.

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?