About the author, Coach Sarah

Coach Sarah is a Certified Professional, Relationship, and Partner Coach at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, trained by the Association of Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS). She is passionate about using her story and her training to help people heal from the devastation of betrayal trauma and the effects of gaslighting. Working alongside therapists, Sarah provides support and care through individual coaching, group work, classes and workshops. She’s also a mom to two amazing kids. Sarah lives with her daughter and son in Austin, TX.

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Porn and Your Husband

Parenting the Internet Generation Ebook Cover

Did you catch your husband watching porn? Learn the answers to common questions, tips to productive conversations, steps to setting boundaries, and how to determine the next steps for your marriage.

13 thoughts on “How to Restore Your Self-Worth After Competing with Pixels

  1. My hubby has been 3 years “sober”. He’s stopped choosing porn yet still chooses his female friends and not me. I thought that if he gave up porn (a 50 year habit), he’d choose me. Nope. He just doesn’t enjoy physical intimacy with me and doesn’t want to talk about it.

    • It sounds like your husband isn’t really sober, just that he’s found a new way to feed his addiction. In old-time 12-step circles, that’s called being a “dry drunk.” True recovery means that your husband should be able to build emotional trust with you. If he’s not emotionally trustworthy with you, then I would say that the lack of physical intimacy is simply a symptom of the problem that still exists for him. It sounds to me like he’s still using some kind of relationship with other women to meet his emotional needs, just like he did with porn. And in that case, I would consider what boundaries would be appropriate given the reality of your situation. Here, here, and here are some articles that might help you think that through. Peace to you, Kay

    • This is all very good but what if your married to a woman who has no interest in sex? I tried to save it for marriage I was not a virgin when I married. While trying to be affectionate on the wedding night I got a sharp elbow in the ribs. I’ve tried to talk to her but she says she’s satisfied I’m the one with the problem. We’ve gone almost a year without lovemaking. For an anniversary present I got a NASCAR baseball cap and T-shirt. How romantic I’ve prayed and talked to my pastor who had no answer.

    • Hi, Mike – I have no silver bullet answers here. This is a blog post from an expert on this topic. I can say with confidence that if you decide to tackle this issue, it’s going to be much harder before things get better. Cracking open whatever closets that might be contributing to your current situation could be painful. But, commit to persevere. And, surround yourself with a whole crew of wingmen who will support you through this because whatever dragons you try to slay will fight back and the enemy is going to want you to quit, divorce, cheat, prostitutes, dive into porn, etc. Get ready for a fight. But, maybe the blog post will encourage you to know that you’re not alone.

      Chris

  2. I would like to put a biblical twist on this author’s excellent article on self-worth. Who am I? I am a child of God who has been redeemed, restored and forgiven in Jesus Christ. When I get defensive I say, “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able.” When I get timid I say, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” When I get fearful I say, “The Lord is with me at all times; I have no need to fear.” When I feel inadequate I say, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God in Christ.” When a low self-image comes over me I say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The redeemed of the Lord are to say what He says about us. When I feel weak I say, “I am strong.” There is nothing inferior about me because I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. In spite of my past experiences, “I am strong.” This is the language of faith, the language of victory! “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

    • Well written Stephen. That is the most positive advice I have read here. I am a child of God fearfully and wonderfully made. These are positive thoughts I need to focus on. Through His help I will overcome this trial He has allowed in my life. A counselor friend has helped my husband come back to the Lord.
      I would not allow myself to give up. What seemed so bad has been deemed for good.

    • Hi Charity,

      Well, HE rebuilds the trust. The person who broke the trust rebuilds the trust by trustworthy behavior over time. He gets his internet filtered, blocked, and accounted for. He goes to therapy. He goes to group. He has actual human beings that he talks to when he fails–not just you. He reads books about his problem and seeks to understand it. He takes the initiative, and he keeps taking it throughout the process of recovery. He’ll be doing all those things without a lot of pushing and shoving from you.

      Aside from those kinds of behavioral trust-building behaviors, he will be emotionally trustworthy. He will care about how you feel. He will make time to listen. He will not shame or blame you for your emotions. He will be patient with your process.

      Here’s an article I wrote a while back about those two kinds of trust. Hope it helps you evaluate how things are going.

      If he’s not trustworthy in both areas, then consider what healthy boundaries will look like for you: here, here, and here are some articles.

      You might also appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women.

      Peace to you,
      Kay

  3. Dear sisters who feel low self worth. I am in no way judging or belittling your circumstances, as I too have many shortcomings in this regard, but I think these experiences are a wake up call to get our love, confirmation, purpose of life, whatever it is we need from only God, the Creator. It doesn’t say anything about you at all what other people do, how they behave, even what they think of you. People will betray you, so it’s not the right place to put our hearts. It’s also not gonna lead to us truly being compassionate. Because if we’re only treating others good desiring some good treatment ourselves then it’s not really giving anything at all. It’s being dependent on others. Truly loving someone is loving someone despite their stupidity and unfair treatment of you. Though in a marital relation ofcourse that shouldn’t be tolerated out of wisdom. There should indeed be clear expectations of fidelity in a relationship. BUT all I’m saying is our spirit’s eyes really need to look elsewhere. God has always existed and He is All Knowing. He has always known about you specifically, your name, your person, your true self. He created you. He gave you eternal life. How could you then place your dependence on anyone else for feeling worth it? Rather the one who is mistreating you in a relationship, you should feel sorry for them that they are looking in the wrong place, and lead by example. May God guide you and lead you to all success in this world and the next.

    • Thanks for this perspective! I agree with you that finding our true value will lead us into healthy behaviors. Rather than looking to another person to define our value and worth, we can accept our inherent worth and then make choices that reflect who we truly are: GOOD BOUNDARIES! We love those around here! Here, here, and here are some articles on how good boundaries can reflect our inherent worth.

  4. Where do I as a man go for this kind of encouragement? I was lied to for years about why my wife was so angry and sexually unavailable. I discovered she had many sexual relationships prior to our marriage which included two abortions. None of this was revealed to me until we had been married five years.

    When it comes to porn and men, there seems to be a lot of clarity: Shame and accountability for the man who must be made to face his sin and blame. Encouragement and support for the betrayed wife who is beautiful and wonderful and blameless.

    Reverse the sexes and the circumstances, however, and suddenly the clarity gets less. My wife went through abortion recovery and was told she was wonderful and beautiful and forgiven. But there was no recovery for me. My wife got the encouragement and I was told nothing. Nobody to tell me how beautiful and wonderful I was. Nobody to tell me how wrong it was that my wife lied to me for years. Nobody to tell me that I was not wrong to expect regular sexual relations in marriage. Nobody to heal my hurts.

    I went to Promise Keepers and it was all about how I needed to change and be good enough for my wife. I have gone to mens ministries that are all about how I married over my head and how I need to love my wife as Christ loved the church. Duty and sacrifice and putting her first and making sure she is always happy. If she is not happy then it is my fault because I am not good enough. If she threatens divorce during times of financial stress then it means I am a failure because my job doesn’t pay enough.

    I am a promise keeper. I am there to help with the kids and the chores. I try not to expect sex “whenever I want it” but it seems she never wants it. Do I just wait forever? Does anybody have a ministry for me? Is there a counseling or recovery program for me?

  5. I struggle…a lot…with poor self-image. This has always been a battle for me, but it has spiralled downward after marriage.

    We were both virgins when married, but my husband was a porn addict for 3 years about 5 years before we got married. He told me this before we started dating seriously. I forgave him….but this has become SO hard to deal with after marriage.

    I didn’t know much about masturbation and found out he had battled that until 2 years prior to our marriage. That came up our wedding night.

    Before I say more – understand he is a true warrior in this. He is truly free from the addiction and committed to loving both God and myself, believing merely looking at a woman with lust itself is adultry. We discuss my in security and low self image and he is understanding and wants to love me well. He guards his heart carefully. I respect this about him…

    But I really struggle with believing he could love me or find me beautiful after all he has seen. He has seen perfect beauty – and I am nothing close to that. He has also seen experienced performance and pleasure he gave himself at that time (masturbation). How can my perfomance please him? How could he be satisfied? How could he truly believe I am the most beautiful woman (to him) or most desirable? And even if satisfied now, how can he after I have postpartum weight or am wrinkled and gray?

    He says that he doesn’t compare me – that our intimacy is incomparable and his porn experience is associated with dark, lonely enslavement. But he still very occassionally (once every other week or once a month) has flashbacks- even during our intimate time. But he strongly declares he is in a spiritual war and always instantly throws those involuntary thoughts out of his mind.

    I trust him….yet fear that could change. Especially as we grow old together. My self image has become and idol that if I look good enough, I can guarantee he will never go back to porn or lust after other women.

    And I feel a part of me wants to grieve that he has seen so many perfectly beautiful, naked women and their experienced performance. Why do I feel this way when this happened before we were dating or married? Is this expected or am I being unforgiving and ungracious? I was never truly betrayed!

    Please help me understand why I struggle with this. I am afraid this will drive a wedge between us and ruin our relationship.

    • Hey Claire,

      Well, I think a lot of our problems as women come from the ideas we are taught: that it’s our job to be beautiful, perfect sexual performers, small in size, young until we die, wrinkle-free, etc etc etc, or else we have no value as human beings. We women are taught to measure their worth relative to what a man wants. Unless we fit some perfect male-approved physical image, we’re just worthless.

      I want to tell you that this is a lie. You are a valuable, precious, worthwhile, loveable human being regardless of your physical state: fat/thin, young/old, loud/quiet, WHATEVER.

      Your husband’s job is to deal with his maladaptive coping skills.

      Your job is to ditch the lies and live fully into the self that God created you to be. You might want to find a therapist who can help you address this, and to grow into the real you that’s not tied to your appearance. Because you know we are all just getting older every day, and physical appearance cannot be our measure of worth: it will only fail us. And even if you do manage to get to some state of physical perfection, you can never stop and rest! You always have to be obsessed to maintain it. How exhausting is that!

      Also, it’s okay to be in a process of rebuilding trust with your husband, even if the behaviors were previous to your marriage. He does have work to do, and he needs to demonstrate that he’s doing it. Trust is built by trustworthy behavior over time.

      Peace to you,
      Kay

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