12 Secret (and not-so-secret) Ways Porn Changed Our Marriage

I will never say I’m grateful for pornography or that my husband, Craig, brought it into our marriage. However, I am grateful that God used his addiction to refine us and give us the marriage He desires us to have. It still astounds me at times that He was able to take something so contrary to His plan and character to grow us in ways we didn’t even know were possible. Like anything, though, we still experience some of the repercussions of our choices and are still walking out the healing process in some ways.

12 Secret (and not-so-secret) Ways Porn Changed Our Marriage

Whether you’ve made it through the storm and you’re still struggling with some of those ramifications or you’re in the thick of it now, here are some ways that porn has changed our marriage. There is hope. First, healing is possible and second, it’s okay if you’re still not feeling perfectly whole, even after you’ve experienced freedom from pornography.

I know that trying to control him doesn’t work.

This doesn’t mean that I still don’t try at times. It was my default behavior for so long and it’s easy for it to rear its head, especially when I feel insecure about the circumstances of my life or myself.

He has learned how to be more open.

Part of Craig’s issue is that he thought it was better to either a) stuff his emotions or b) handle everything himself. Journeying through his porn addiction helped him to understand that God did not design us to be fully independent creatures. We need relationships to grow­—spiritually and emotionally. When he started sharing things, from the mundane to vitally important, he recognized how burden sharing is not only helpful, but by God’s design. Though opening us can still feel risky for him at times, he’s learned that the greater risk is in keeping everything inside.

Our communication has improved.

Learning to communicate effectively when emotions run high and hearts are hurt is a process—one that we still don’t carry out perfectly. But the more we have hard conversations, the better we’ve become and the deeper our relationship has grown. Many times he’s had to persevere when he wanted to throw in the towel. Other times, I’ve had to accept that he needs a breather in order to continue productively.

We’ve identified and learned to look for triggers.

This goes both ways. I know that Craig’s feeling overwhelmed with life when he starts playing games on his phone or other electronic device more than normal. He knows something is up with me when I start cleaning obsessively or become very regimented about stupid stuff. We can point out these behaviors in each other and then begin to ask the deeper questions about what’s going on below the surface.

Related: Your Wife Has Triggers Too

When things seem impossible in our relationship, we turn to God.

Porn addiction was a significant hurdle for us to overcome and there were some dark times when I was unsure if living free was a true reality for Craig. There were also times when I thought for sure if I did x, y, or z, he would be cured. Imagine the disappointment!

But through the darkness and the failures, we learned that when we cannot see a way out of the mess, God already has a plan. It takes surrendering our own will, though, before He can reveal it to us. 

I have involuntary feelings of panic—still.

Sometimes I wake up and my body floods with panic if Craig isn’t in bed with me. My body re-experiences the trauma of catching him looking at porn in the dark of another room. I often have to get up and find him (usually in the bathroom) until I am assured that he’s okay. He hasn’t looked at porn in years, and yet, I still struggle with past memories from time to time.

Related: Betrayal Trauma–The Side of Porn Use No One Talks About

We screen movies and television shows before we watch them.

Here’s the thing: I am now much more uncomfortable with sexual content than I used to be, partly because I’m afraid of what may affect Craig. Even if he’s genuinely okay with the reviews (or unanticipated scenes that pop up), if I’m uncomfortable, we turn it off.

We check in more often.

Craig has recognized that I have a high need for security. Again, this is not solely due to porn, but it certainly didn’t help. He’s open to me asking about temptations and his relationship with God. He’s not always great at letting me know when he’s going to be late, but he’s getting better. What has made this work is that he understands it doesn’t come from a heart that wants to control, but one that desires security.

He’s sensitive to my trust level of him.

It took a long time to rebuild the trust after it was broken. We both had to understand that this process of healing and rebuilding takes time and patience. We had to learn how to be sensitive to each other’s needs and not take personally when the other was seeking reassurance.

I still doubt my physical appearance.

In no way do I think this is solely due to porn addiction. My own junk and pressure from media to look a certain way definitely play a role in this too. But knowing what Craig has seen sometimes affects the way I see myself. Even though he’s not given me reason to, I doubt from time to time if I can really be pleasing to him.

We tell our story without shame.

In an age where everyone puts their best “Facebook-foot forward,” it can be challenging to be real about the problems you’ve faced (and the ones we currently have). But we’ve found that people can only see the power of Jesus to save and heal if we’ve shared that we needed saving and healing. It takes revealing our brokenness to see how He has made us whole.

We understand that marriage doesn’t work without Jesus.

It takes both of us pursuing relationships with Jesus to make our relationship great. When one of us has neglected that area of our growth and development, it’s almost immediately recognizable in our marriage. Only with Jesus are we able to be routinely selfless, kind, generous, and truly loving to each other.

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