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One Wife Speaks: My Husband’s 40-Year Addiction to Porn

Last Updated: April 13, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

I recently read this testimony from a woman on the blog, A Good Husband. It is a candid testimony of a woman whose husband has been going through a 40-year addiction to pornography. It was a sobering testimony to read. Many thanks to the anonymous woman behind these words:

– – – –

I have been married to a creative, talented, intelligent, funny (I could go on) guy for 30+ years. When we were engaged he told me he had been involved in both soft-pornography and masturbation for (in his terms) a short period of time, but that he had stopped and wanted to stay stopped. As well, he said he had spoken to someone about the “problem,” as he did not feel great about it, and he told me who it was.

As married life went on it became clear—to me, but not to him—he had emotional stuff going on. At about 8 years of marriage an event occurred with his anger while he was home with our kids, and it became clear it was not my imagination, and the kids were a little scared. But he was in denial, and that continued. By the time they were in their teens, it was pretty tense, and I discovered for the first time that the pornography use had continued.

Mind you, this was not nonstop use, nor was it violent pornography. He would try and try and try to not pick up pornography (before we had a computer at home) but would finally break down and go on a small “spree.” Then there would be a period of abstinence.

At about year 20 of our marriage he went to a clergyman for help; the individual told him not to tell his wife. That was a mistake. Working together has been the only way out. Together we would have solved the problem years earlier, and with far less anguish. He finally actually began to almost have emotional meltdowns at work; he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and at one time had suicidal thoughts.

It is an addiction of such subtlety and is almost impossible for the sufferer to know that thoughts and feelings have been replaced with thoughts and feelings of other kinds. He did not know that he had become a very different person from the man I married, though I knew that guy was still in there, somewhere.

I must have have some help from a source outside myself. I was able to discover resources to help. Those included meetings for SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), Covenant Eyes software, and many, many other helps. Our clergy were not able to help, unfortunately, and that was very hard. My husband is a courageous man, and embarked upon recovery with everything he had. But addictions fight for their own “survival,” and he became abusive for a period of time, and for several brief periods I was unable to live in my own home, for my own safety.

He has been involved in pornography since his early teens (initiated by family), making it some 40 years of use, and the longest he has made it without pornography is 13 months. He tells me that when this came out in the open between us (4 years ago), his feelings were, regardless of what they looked like at any time in the past, that he hated me during the whole of our marriage. That is a terrible shock to hear from someone you love with your whole heart and have shared a life and a family with, and THAT is one—and only one—of the effects of pornography.

He is, like an alcoholic, taking it one day at a time. What he alone has gone through is not worth thinking about. What I have gone through, and what we together have been through, is worth lifetimes of pain. Please, do not make the mistake of thinking it is just about finding a way to have a “healthy” fantasy world in a non-repressed way and has no effect on real life. The particular effect that sexual feelings have are such that they change how we feel and think in every area of life, even affecting how memory and logic are processed. These feelings affect the root of our lives, and you may not be aware of the changes. Be very careful of what you do with your feelings: they are powerful. Lust and love may look like the same thing, but their effects are worlds apart from each other.

My husband and I are just coming out of a dark universe, back into the land of the living. We know.

  • Comments on: One Wife Speaks: My Husband’s 40-Year Addiction to Porn
    1. Lisa S. on

      i can SO relate…and find little stories about “continued addiction” like hers, and mine…and i still can’t find grace for not being able to bear up underneath it all anymore.

      After exposure of it all to my teen daughter, i’ve had to ask my husband to leave, agreeing not to move forward with anything legal until the Lord told me what to do, thinking that so much has died over the years of trying, striving, forgiving, reaching out, going through programs and feeling devalued, feeling guilty day by day that my love was dying and the hope defered of ever being loved…

      when is enough…ENOUGH?! Where is the church? Why are they not helping women like me, why are they not standing by me, why are they not calling continued addiction ADULTRY, where is GRACE for my heart. I’m SO tired of people telling me to get my healing so i can support my husband who doesn’t follow through on anything or any help aid, tired of christians telling me to “deal with my pride’ as if i’m never to be hurt or offended by being overlooked by my husband as his fantasy world has wasted 17 years of my life.

      IS THIS GOD’S BEST?! I’m separated and my prayer partner says this is not God’s desire for us and that I am in sin.

      i have no place to rest…no place to stand…and I’m tired.
      please pray for me,
      lisa S.

      Reply
    2. Weary Wife on

      I am just seeing this and so relate to Lisa’s comment.

      My husband has been addicted to porn around 20 years. I am still not certain of how often he accessed it over the 20 years, but it started that long ago. We have been married 13 years. He lost a job back in 2006 and I just NOW found out it was because of porn viewing. God showed him such mercy and grace in providing him another job, same pay, but better houts. Despite his sinful addiction, God showed him extreme mercy. When he lost the job, I knew. I just knew that was why, but he insisted to me that he was just surfing the web. I found out recently he told his parents someone else accessed porn under his username.

      A few weeks ago, I found out he had been accessing porn for hours daily on his smartphone while at work. He is not allowed to have his phone during work hours, and wouldn’t carry it even when the kids were sick… but he was fine with carrying it for porn viewing. The addiction has hit a critical point now. He was searching for sex stories of daddies and daughters, older men and teen/younger women, and all kinds of stuff that makes me sick to my stomach because we have two girls. :.(

      I am now hyper vigilant concerning him and the girls. He is never home alone with them. I take them EVERYWHERE and as a stay at home/homeschool mom, I am exhausted. I keep praying and asking God to calm me but I can’t shake my concern for my girls. And while my husband didn’t access actual child porn, he did everything but. And the only reason he didn’t access it is my brother and a friend’s brother both did prison time for possession of child porn. The one thing my husband swore to me was he’d never “go there”. Now I doubt everything about him.

      We’ve had great counsel from church folks and just had our first session with a counselor since this came out a few weeks ago. I am still catching him in lies. I am sick of living with an addict. He says he is fighting with everything he has. I don’t believe he will succeed. I hate that I have such little faith in my husband. It has been 20 years, and we have been together for 17 years. He hasn’t shaken it yet. I will say now one of the pastors knows, so I have a glimmer of hope… but I worry what about our girls. They will turn into women someday. I’m terrified.

      One day I want a divorce and the next day I feel hope. I can’t have sex with him because all I can think of is the names of the story sites he saw and the horrible, unthinkable titles of those sites. I feel starved for intimacy and affection and my heart is broken. I am guarded and angry. I cannot handle more heartbreak. He appears to be working on this, but I still can’t shake the thought I want him to go live elsewhere. I do not work and couldn’t make it on my own. I am scared. I also homeschool, and if we do separate or divorce, our kids lives change in amazing and shocking ways. This is not air. This sucks.

      I have found myself craving attention from men and reading into interactions with them. I know this is wrong and I am praying hard and seeking counsel from a mentor at church. But it’s hard. I feel ugly, cheap, used… and disgusting. My husband gets angry when I don’t believe him. He is an addict plain and simple. I am so hurt, scared and feel so lonely. Are there any men who don’t struggle with porn addictions?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi Weary,

        Yes, there are men who aren’t addicted to porn. True blue “addiction” is not as common as you think, but there are many, many men who watch porn on a regular basis. Consuming porn (especially among men) is very common.

        Your story is an awful one. To be living with a man this long who has such a deeply rooted habit of looking at porn sounds exhausting and more than any person is meant to bear. It breaks my heart to hear it.

        I am very encouraged you are meeting with a counselor. I pray your counselor has some skill in this area. He needs help unearthing the sins that drive his addiction. You will need help letting God heal the tremendous pain in your heart. Both of you will need help repairing your marriage and the intimacy you both crave.

        As you go to counseling, I highly encourage you to take a little time each day to watch a series by Brad Hambrick, a biblical counselor, called True Betrayal. It is one of the best resources I’ve seen on this subject and it is geared toward women in your position. Brad is not only a friend of mine, but he is a recognized expert in the counseling world, and he speaks with real tenderness and compassion. As you listen, take notes and use the truths you learn to both pray for yourself and your husband, and to talk to your counselor in person.

        You are right to be cautious about your girls around their father. He has not demonstrated trustworthy behavior at all.

        I pray you find the hope you need.

    3. GODSPEACH on

      Is there any way you can move out? A lot of us have been trapped financially, but those precious Angels must be safe. What about him leaving while he works things out?

      Reply

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