Hope After Porn

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5 thoughts on “How to Gain Trust and Respect When You Deserve Less

  1. I am the wife of a porn addict. We have been married 23 years. I found out about his porn habit about 5 years into the marriage. We had three very small children at the time. I have discovered his porn use continually throughout our marriage and always received an apology and promise to be better. He has been looking at porn for 40 years. The porn use has devastated me personally and profoundly affected our marriage. Our sex life turned into infrequent occasions, no intercourse, and just mutual masturbation. In January, 2015, I insisted that he seek therapy for his porn addiction. He has been seeing a certified sex addiction therapist ever since. Unfortunately, he continued to view porn and act out. He never confessed his acting out to me once in all these years, except in November 2015. That was the first time. He says he hasn’t acted out since then. We began seeing a marital therapist in January 2016 as the marriage was really in trouble. I have brought up the porn in therapy and how profoundly isolated I feel as his therapy is kept private, just like his secret life he has been leading all of these years. He tells me that he doesn’t trust me to share what he discusses in therapy or what his “program” is because he thinks I will react poorly. He says I need to be patient with him as he wants to have more time under his belt. Meanwhile, he continues to masturbate, just not to porn. When I asked if he told his therapist he is masturbating, he said no. I said that he’s continuing to go outside of our marriage and self satisfy. He said that he has needs and if we are not being physically intimate, I can’t expect him to go without. I don’t trust that he isn’t acting out with or without porn. I don’t know that I will ever be able to be physically intimate with him without wondering who he thinking about. He has always kept his eyes closed when we are together. What suggestions do you have for a wife that is this devastated and not sure I can go on?

    • I am so, so sorry for all the years of pain you’ve experienced in your marriage.

      It sounds to me like your husband still has a lot of the entitled thinking that goes with an addiction; he blames you for his secret-keeping; to say nothing of the fact that he’s lying to his therapist. In the language of alcoholism, there’s a thing called being “a dry drunk.” It means that the person doesn’t drink any more, but they haven’t dealt with any of the emotional/spiritual problems that either drove the addiction or developed during the addiction. They reduce recovery to “not drinking” and ignore the deep relationship issues that are actually much more important!

      Unfortunately, since your husband’s addiciton has gone on for so long, this may be where he finds himself now.

      And I think you need to trust yourself, know what you’re seeing, and then consider what healthy boundaries will look like for you now.

      You mention his therapist and you mention marriage therapy, but I haven’t heard you say anything about trauma-focused recovery for yourself? I find that many, many times the recovery of the spouse is almost totally neglected in the push to stop porn and save the marriage. I wonder if this has happened to you? And if so, I’d encourage you to find a trauma-focused recovery specialist for yourself, who can help you process your emotions and think about healthy boundaries.

      Frankly, I think there are times when you are no longer required to go on in a marriage where your spouse is so deeply damaging to you. Here’s an article Luke Gilkerson wrote a while back about when divorce is appropriate in the case of porn addiction.

      For myself as a therapist, I am interested in the trauma of the victim more than whether the specific behavior of the addict meets some criteria that allows divorce. When we parse out specific behavoirs as allowable without considering the impact to the victim, we will find abusers who very carefully walk inside the line that protects them from the consequence of divorce, while allowing them to continually abuse their spouses and still be seen as righteous. I think we spend so much time weighing out our dill, cumin, and mint that we completely overlook what is justice and mercy for victims who have suffered for years. (Matthew 23:23)

      I don’t know specifically if this is what’s happening for you, but I’d encourage you to trust your own perceptions of what’s happening, determine what boundaries are healthy for you, and find a good counselor who can support you through this difficult situation, whatever you decide.

      Peace to you, Kay

  2. My wife demanded that I out Covenant Eyes on my phone. She already installed it on the hoe computer and made herself my accountability partner. She made her own father, her accountability partner. (He is a minister, as well). I said that I would not put it on my phone unless she added me as her accountability partner. Well a month or so went by and she saw sometime on my phone that indicated possible porn. She demanded I put it on there. I told her it was an old history file and sometime “add-ons” and ads pop on computers and phones without the user knowing. So I put C.E. on my phone and put her as my accountability partner. She has still not added me has hers. She says that she does not trust me. I get that, but trust is a 2 way street as well. Now she is obsessed with viewing the C.E. reports and detailed viewing log. and questions me about everything that I do on my phone. I need some advice on what I should do. As yes, I have looked at porn several times over the past 30 years.

    • David, I would suggest that as a gesture of good faith, you find yourself a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and attend counseling on a regular basis. I would also suggest that you attend a group, like Pure Desire.

      Recovery takes time–5 years is the number I’ve seen. And you’re unlikely to realize how porn has impacted your thoughts and beliefs over the years without some help from people who’ve been down this road before you.

      You might appreciate this article I wrote a while back, about how my husband rebuilt trust in our marriage. The research of John Gottman is so helpful, when you’re really wanting to make marriage work.

      Peace to you, Kay

  3. Hello David. I agree with Kay on finding a good Christian Counselor. A certified counselor who embraces the biblical truths as a solid foundation for counseling. A good Christian Counselor is worth their weight in gold.

    Trust is re-earned and not expected to be re-earned quickly. I generally do not recommend wive’s be CE report receivers as it can be create all kinds of unintended tensions and challenges. Another man, whom your wife should have full permission to speak with, is best to receive that report.

    I would also recommend you find an accountability partner you can meet with on a weekly basis. You cannot win this battle alone and your wife should not be your primary accountability partner. She has wounds to heal and being the first to experience any potential stumble you may have is not the best. That said, you need to tell her if you stumble, but having someone else receive the report first, gives you a chance to do what’s right and confess to her.

    I’ve walked the path of 30 years of porn use and abuse and the path of rebuilding trust in our marriage. Kay is right on in stating recovery and trust rebuilding takes time. I’m not one to put a number or years on it, as each person and couple are a different, and make room for the grace of God to do what men & women can’t.

    We at Be Broken Ministries have a variety of tools available on our website. Much of it is free and you may consider checking out our Gateway to Freedom workshops. Gatewaymen.com

    Please let me know how I can be of further help, David. Praying for you and your wife!

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