5 Horrible Ways to Tell Your Wife About Your Porn Addiction

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably wrestled with this question many times before: “How do I tell my wife?” When you couldn’t come up with a good answer, you waited. She still doesn’t know. Your attachment to porn is getting worse. When she finds out, it will only hurt her more because you waited longer to be honest.

There is not a “good” way to tell your wife–if by “good” you mean she won’t feel hurt. But there are ways to tell your wife that are “bad”–meaning they exacerbate the damage of your sin by how you communicate the information. The purpose of this post is help you avoid five common mistakes in talking to your wife.

1. Silently

This is the #1 mistake. Disclosure–voluntarily acknowledging your sin–communicates integrity and that you value your marriage more than your reputation. Discovery–waiting until your wife finds out–communicates selfishness and cowardice. I do not mean these two words as insults. But to prolong your pleasure at the expense of your wife’s emotional pain is the epitome of selfishness, and to delay a disclosure that would allow your marriage to be marked by honor because of fear is cowardly.

The fact that you’re reading this means you want to take this important step of selfless courage.

2. Partially

This is the #1B mistake.  If you tell the truth, but only part of the truth, you destroy more trust than you built in the initial step of disclosure. Marriages that are destroyed by pornography usually die “the death of a thousand confessions.” When you leave out important aspects of your sin, you are teaching your wife that “good news” only means “there is more to the story.” You are training her to mistrust and will be tempted to use her mistrust as reason to under-disclose in the future.

This raises many questions about the extent to which it is beneficial to detail your sin, which I address in another post.

3. One-And-Done

Do not dump your burden on your wife. You know the weight of this information; don’t transfer it from your back to hers. When you disclose your pornography usage you are starting a conversation, not making a one-time statement. She will need time to assimilate this new information into her understanding of the marriage. Your struggle is part of her story, as your wife, too. Allow her to ask questions and be patient as she takes this important pre-forgiveness step (understanding the offense is vital to healthy forgiveness).

If the two of you need guidance on this, consult Steps 1-3 of the False Love (for you) and True Betrayal (for her) seminars on how to give and receive a full disclosure.

4. Blame-Shifting

In your disclosure, you are telling your wife what you have done and the nature of your struggle–not what you need from her or what you believe she should be doing better. If you struggled with pornography before marriage (which is the vast majority of instances), there is no logical way you can blame your wife for your current struggle. Furthermore, taking ownership for your actions is a vital part of maintaining purity. Do not undermine this aspect of recovery in your initial step towards purity.

If you struggle with thinking a better sex life would resolve your pornography struggle, it won’t.

Related: Will a Better Sex Life Keep Porn at Bay? 

5. Crudely

Crude language reveals that you are still treating something precious (God’s gift of sex) casually. This is the equivalent of giving your children an expensive game system for Christmas and seeing them use the console as a stepping box to steal cookies from the pantry. They are damaging a good gift to obtain a much lesser pleasure while lying and stealing in the process. Crude language reveals this kind of heart attitude towards sex. Honor for sex does not have to be prudish. Allow your disclosure and follow up conversations with your wife to be a time when you begin to redeem the language with which you speak about sex.

If you are uncertain what wholesome, conversational language about sex sounds like, sections 4 and 5 of the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy Seminar provides an example of a clear discussion of sex that builds excitement, allows for humor, and honors both spouses.