5 Steps to take if you find your husband using porn

There is always hope for your relationship with your husband when God is involved, just like there is always hope for your relationship with God.

Hey lovely ladies,

So recently I’ve had this small voice telling me that I’ve been neglecting the issue of pornography here on Living the Sweet Wife. I mean, I write for marriages, and porn is kind of a big issue. I guess I’ve just been putting off opening Pandora’s box for a while. But, to be honest, I haven’t neglected it completely. I actually dedicate a whole chapter (plus some) to the issue of pornography in my new ebook Repurposed Marriage.

Anyway, before the comments come in, I’d like to say that I realize men aren’t the only ones who view pornography (I talk about that in my book too). But it many marriages it is that case if either a husband or wife seeks out porn, it will most likely be the husband. Many wives upon finding out that their husband uses porn (understandably) feel betrayed, embarrassed, as if their husband doesn’t see them as “good enough”, and possibly like a failure as a wife. Along with all these feelings, resentment and anger can easily build up and create a wall between you and your husband.

There are several different angles we could take when confronting the issue of porn in a marriage, but in this post I’m going to assume that your husband calls himself a Christian and knows that seeking out porn is- if anything- regretful.

Ok, let’s start here.

1 Pray

As a wife finding out that your husband uses porn, you’re sifting through a lot of emotions right now! Anger, for one. Sadness and insecurity are probably a couple others. And don’t forget resentment. All are probably happening in a bitter rotation that you’re not sure what to do with and/or who to go to.

Growing up in the church, I always heard things like “Go go God with your problems!” and a little part of me would think, “Ok, and then after I do that, how do I actually deal with them?” The thing is, we can’t begin to actually address our problems in a way that is honoring to God until we go to Him and ask Him to take control of the situation before we attempt to do anything in our own power. With emotions and human nature getting in the way, it’ll be pretty tough to make any decisions that will actually be constructive and helpful in a godly way.

2 Forgive

Remember what Christ did for you

Trying to forgive someone who has hurt you, especially someone so close to you like your husband, would take loads of willpower, unless you realize how much sense it makes to forgive when you remember how much we, ourselves, have already been forgiven. So even if you’re thinking that your husband doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, well, frankly, neither did you. Or I. Romans 5:8 says this:

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”

Christ, who lived a much better life than any of us (ahem, a perfect one), chose to die for people who, we would say, are much worse than us. If Christ gives hope and forgiveness to those people, we imperfect wives can take some of that hope and forgiveness and extend it to our husbands, even when they don’t deserve it.

3 Confront

Have you read my post about whether or not Christian wives need to put up with their husband’s crap? You can read that here. As wives, we are given the responsibility to serve our husbands, but that doesn’t mean agreeing with or allowing everything they do! Not at all. Sometimes the serving-est thing we can do for our husband is confront him and challenge him to live a more godly life! (Not forgetting the grace and forgiveness we talked about in the first couple points).

Pornography is an issue, yes. Not only does it build a wall smack in the middle of you and your husband’s intimacy garden, it also slaps God’s gift of sex and his creation in the face! If we as Christians believe that God is the most beautiful thing and the ultimate prize in life, the one for whom we lived, would we be worshiping (yes worshiping) something that both disrespects His creation (sex and people made in His image) and disregards Christ as our ultimate prize? I don’t think so.

These points need to be made clear to your husband. If he is a Christian, he should at least want to honor God with his life and want to have a relationship with Him that is unhindered by sin. If neither of those things matter to your husband, then I would say we have a bigger issue on our hands: dealing with whether or not your husband is truly a Christian to begin with. But let’s assume that those things are true.

4 Reconcile

When Christ died for us so that we could be forgiven, he didn’t just stop there. He gave us His Holy Spirit so that we could be reconnected and reconciled to God. If/when your husband seeks forgiveness after using pornography, two instances of reconciliation need to happen:

Your husband and God

If your husband is a Christian, then he already has the grace of God covering his sins; yes, even the ones he just committed. There’s no waiting period to be truly forgiven by God. If your husband is a Christian, though, he will feel remorse for seeking something out that doesn’t honor Christ and will still seek out forgiveness for that.

In my ebook I talk about how my husband, Josh, and I both struggled with seeking out pornography in the past. But by God’s grace, we have been able to overcome our struggles with ponrography. Before we were married, I thought that the only reason we struggled with lust was because we had built up sexual tension (or whatever you want to call it), and that’s what made it so difficult to keep our minds and eyes away from porn.

What we later found, after pornography was still an issue after we got married (which is the case for many many Christian and non Christian marriages), was that it wasn’t about built up sexual tension at all. But rather a lack of desire for God. The times when Josh and I struggled with pornography the most were when our apathy towards God was at its strongest. It was when we had a huge, complacent, “Eh” attitude towards God that pornography seemed the most OK.

Truly desiring Christ and seeing Him as the most beautiful thing in life will be the only thing that will keep you from returning to a pronography addiction. Simply trying really hard won’t cut it.

You and your husband

While you can pray for your husband and his reconciliation with God, that is going to be very much his own thing to work out. However, your reconciliation with your husband is when the ball is truly in your court. Yes, he has the chance to “make it up to you” but you have the ability to do whatever you want with that. You can take it, shove it back in his face, or take it but still hold on to bad memories and wisps of resentment popping in to your mind without notice.

Being able to reconcile with your husband will not happen until you are able to forgive him. Which, by the way, usually happens before you feel like doing it. Also remember, that there is always hope for your relationship with your husband when God is involved, just like there is always hope for your relationship with God. Be open both with God and your husband about any residual feelings you have of hurt and insecurity, being careful not to hold them over your husband’s head.

5 Accountability

I’m not going to say that accountability softwares are pointless. I think it can help some people. But the thing is, if your husband wants to look at porn and the software is implemented as a babysitter, he’s going to find a way around it. The only thing that will make change happen is when your husband desires God more than the feeling he gets when he views porn. Plain and simple.

That being said, accountability, in the personal sense, has tremendous value. In Acts 2, Peter preaches a sermon where he calls non believers to repent and come to Christ:

“‘Repent,’ Peter said to them, ‘and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

After these people repented, found forgiveness, and now called themselves followers of Christ, we see how they lived their lives:

“Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.”

These believers, once they repented from their sins, chose to live life together. How does this apply to us Christians today? By seeking out other Christians to share life with. That doesn’t just mean sharing the good times together (like all the happy moments we share on Facebook or Instagram) but sharing real life together. Asking your husband to meet with humble, Jesus-loving, men from your church to hold him accountable will be what makes a real difference when the next time comes that he is tempted to view porn.

So ladies, I hope these points help you in taking the first steps towards a hopeful and joyful future with your hubby, even after a pornography addiction. Of course, these steps require willings parties on both sides. In the future I’ll be writing about what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a pornography addiction.

I’d love to hear your own stories in the comments below! Have you reconciled with your husband after pornography or something else that was extremely hurtful? What steps did you take to repair the relationship? What steps do you do now to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

All my love,

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    Comments

    Mom2Many

    I appreciate this post. I think it’s always a good thing for every wife to know. And I wanted to share a fraction of my story.

    I’ve been with my husband for nearly 2 decades. To this day, he’s the only man I’ve ever loved. We dated for a few years before marrying. Right before getting married, I came across his porn stash. Videos, magazines…his cherished treasures. I was completely shocked and hurt and outraged. We talked about it and he agreed that he had an addiction and would seek help. He wanted to change. He said that he’s always hated that part of himself.

    We got married. We started our family. I thought that everything was wonderful.

    And then one day, I caught him cheating with it again. I wanted to take our baby and leave immediately. My mom pulled me aside and listened to me wail about him and his lies, his sneaking around. She begged me to forgive him, as Jesus forgave me. To keep my family together. And that is truly what I wanted more than anything. So I did. It was difficult, but I did. Again, he deeply apologized to me, and said his addiction came back. He would seek help.

    Fast forward to today, and my life is just a mess. We ended up having 5 children together. Over the years, his porn addiction, lies, sneaking around, has magnified. Each time, he proclaimed repentance afterwards and had to do bigger and bigger dramas to show how sorry he was. He has tried to seduce my sister, detailing his feelings for her in a long love letter and sending her expensive gifts signed as “a secret admirer”. He ‘helped’ her set up a new personal email address for her, and there he kept tabs on all of her emails, stalking her to find out if she would ever write about him to any of her friends. Crazy stuff. When I found out about it, no one tried to talk me into staying with him. My whole family was absolutely disgusted with him. His actions separated my family and we no longer got invited to family events. It was super awkward.

    I stayed loyal to him and his abuse. His cheating, lying, and sneaking around grew worse and worse. One day, he abandoned me and our children for a woman at work. I wanted to believe him when he told me all of the things I wanted to hear about how he wanted to be the best husband and father, but in the end, he’s chosen his addictions. He came home after this 6 month affair when that girlfriend dumped him. He gave me a terrible STD. Things were never the same between us after that. He continued to connect with slutty women on Twitter and keep his secrets. I discovered more porn again on his computer. No more. I told him to leave after 1.5 years of trying desperately to repair and salvage what little marriage we had left.

    I’ve been a single mom now for a couple of years. It’s really, really hard. But at least I don’t have to worry about being cheated on again. I don’t have to worry about getting another painful STD or worse. I can be here for my children as much as possible and raise them in the right way.

    If you are dating a man and you find out that he’s used porn, run far in the other direction. Study up on this mess. Men who use it NORMALLY cannot stay away from it. Counselors say that it causes a much worse addiction than heroine. And it always – ALWAYS gets worse and worse as time goes on.

    My life has been such a mess, but God is redeeming – making beauty from the ashes.

      Chelsea

      Hi Mom2many,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. It truly is so saddening how destructive pornography can be as many wives believe that if their husband’s just look a little but, it’s fine. They have no idea the long term effects pornography use has. It completely distorts a person’s view of reality. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry about everything that happened with your husband but I’m encouraged by how you tried very hard to stay with him even when it was difficult. I hope that you’ve reconnected with your family and that it isn’t awkward anymore. Porn is such a big deal and even a little bit is not ok.

      Kristen

      My heart goes out to you as my husband has done some of the same things to me. Every time he gets caught, he’ll deny it until I have physical proof. Then beg me to forgive him & promise it’ll never happen again, but it does. He just gets better at hiding it & sneaking around. Your story made me cry. Because I forgave him, but I’m constantly waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me again. Every time he texts someone, every time he’s late coming home. I have some major mental illnesses that don’t help the situation either. Why do they do this to us when they promised to love us & protect us? He was the only person I trusted until now. Now I have no one.

    The Newlywed

    Hey Chelsea,

    First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for writing about this. Pornography is one of those shameful mistakes that can remain hidden from others, but that often times just makes it worse.

    My husband and I have been married for a little over three months now. About two months ago he came to me, broken hearted, and told me he had had an episode with pornography. This rocked my world. I was in shock. This wasn’t supposed to be MY life. We’re newlyweds and it’s supposed to be magical right? Almost as soon as he told me what had happened, to no attribution of myself, my heart forgave him. I knew it wasn’t me because honestly that’s not my personality. But I looked at him, saw his pain, and my heart went out to him. We both grew up members of the LDS church and I know that the lessons I had learned and the relationship I had developed with my Heavenly Father over the years is what allowed that immediate forgiveness. I told him I needed a minute, went into the bathroom, and cried in the shower like I had never cried before. My heart hurt, I was scared. What was I supposed to do?? I prayed, pleaded with God… and my answer, clear as if it was written on the wall, was this: “Love him. Just love him. With the eternal love you promised to him and God the day you were married.”

    Since then, it’s been hard for me to figure out where we are in our relationship. Walls went up, the resentment comes and goes, I think I’ve finally stopped crying about it. We have gotten some well recommended books to help us both understand more about the issue. We pray together every night. And we’re honest and trano parent about it. If he has a hard day, we talk about it. If I need some reassurance, I ask him about it.

    Here are some lessons I’ve learned.
    -Without God, it might be impossible to forgive someone you love for doing something like this. With God, it’s still hard, but when you ask Him to fill your heart.. to help you see your spouse through His eyes.. it’s loads easier.
    -You can’t go back to how things used to be. Stop trying to go back. It’s not going to happen. You can,however, move forward. Things will be good again. Whatever the outcome.
    -These obstacles and trials can be used to grow. In a very strange way, I look at this as a blessing. My husband and I have traveled to deeper places in our relationship because of it. We’ve opened up more lines of communication. It’s taught us how to talk to each other. How to understand each other. How to love each other despite our flaws.

    I know I’m blessed to have a husband that wants to work through this just as much as I do. I know that there are repercussions that stretch far deeper than anything others might understand.. but I also know that our Savior is in every corner and crevice of our lives and that He knows the depth… because He’s been there.

    Katie

    Many things in life happen and it isn’t our fault. It is hard to go through a trail when it wasn’t something we were doing but we have to consequences. I have a husband who was addicted to pornography, I didn’t find out until we were married for awhile. There were things I would find but he would always have an answer. It wasn’t until my husband lost his job and almost lost me and our boys that he finally excepted help. He had to go into counseling so that he could figure out why and what triggered his actions. There were questions that he tried to explain to me but I just couldn’t understand. It make me feel so little as a wife. I did learn that it is differently an addiction and can get a hold of anyone. We are very religious people and I know that only through him wanted to change and the help he received were we able to get past this. We have grown so much together and because of our trials we have learned. We are better today then any other time in our marriage. No to say that it is always fun and happy. I also have a 15 year old that has had a problem with this also. It will be a never ending problem for our family. We need to always be aware of what is going on in our homes and families. Open communication is the key to helping those around us. Praying for help and following our instincts. Don’t be afraid to talk about something you think is going on. Pornography is so easily available because of the internet.

    Nealy

    I appreciate what this article has to say and the message, but I think one thing not being addressed is what we women can put into action to help our men. From talking to many men and women in this situation I find that this a 2 way street more than we (women) like to admit. Are we helping our men in the bedroom, making sure their needs and fantasies are met? Are we working to look good and be healthy for our husbands? I understand that there are some men that are so controlled by their desires there is nothing to be done, but are we really doing our best to make sure they don’t get to that point? When it comes to issues in my marriage I look at myself first and then to my spouse. This has helped us more than I could have imagined.
    Thank you again for this article, I appreciate you dealing with the hard issues. I would be really interested in your thoughts.

      Shannon

      I am just sad that anyone would blame the wife in any husband turning toward porn. It is him with the problem and not what we do or don’t do in the bedroom should not depend upon if he turns to porn. It is his choice and I will not sit back and let his choice cause me to feel guilty over his sin. Forgiveness is a private matter for each of us as his porn is for him. Never blame the woman just as you don’t blame the child being forced into child abuse.

    Melissa

    What do u do if u catch your guy and his not christian? He doesnt want to have a relationship with god and just wants you to accept him as is? How am i to forgive a man who doesn’t feel he needs to be forgiven or give up the act because ( his a man) and its “normal”. ? My self esteem is at a low and i feel like a failure. Am i suppose to understand and be ok with it?

      Chelsea

      Hi Melissa, I’m sorry you’re going through that. Let me ask, is he your husband?

    @chelsealeighdamon