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Advice for Marriages Plagued by Porn

Last Updated: April 22, 2015

Guest Author

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Dear Husband and Wife,

One of the most common comments we receive is from wives who believe that their feelings do not matter to their porn-addicted husbands. Almost every day we hear from a wife whose husband continues to use pornography and then lie about it. These women frequently tell us that their husbands attempt to play the blame shifting game. “If you had done this or that, I wouldn’t feel the need to use pornography.” Or, “If you would get your weight under control, I’d stop.”

The most common form of blame-shifting that we hear is when the husband says, “You’re just insecure. All men do it.” In just seven words, he manages to shift the blame twice. First he shifts the blame for his wife’s own pain onto her. “You’re just insecure.” Then he blames society for making it okay. “All men do it.” With two sentences–two lies–the man never stops to consider that he is drilling holes into his bride’s heart.

Owning the Addiction

As is the case with any addiction, it is absolutely imperative that the addict “owns” his addiction. All of the blame-shifting tactics in the world will not change the fact that his behavior belongs to him and him alone. Even if the marriage is one that is wrought with other unspoken problems – problems that make intimacy difficult – the wife’s refusal to participate sexually with her husband is never a legitimate reason (though it may be taken as an excuse) to go outside the marriage and use porn for sexual satisfaction.

First remember: porn never satisfies. It may give the illusion that it satisfies, but the reality is that it never satisfies the need that is at the root of the pornography use problem. It only sparks the desire for more of the same.

Second, going to porn again and again shows how weak the husband is. A life of purity requires far more diligence and strength than does a life of indiscretion.

“Why does he continue to hurt me?”

The question arises, “Why, if he knows he is hurting me so deeply, does my husband continue to use pornography?” The simplified answer is that he may not know he is hurting you. He can see the tears and hear the yelling and screaming. He may even notice when his wife retreats into her own world, yet never absorb the reality of the wife’s pain into his mind and heart. Deep-seated emotional sins can act as blinders, prohibiting his seeing anything but what lies directly in front of him – his neurochemically-based need for more pornography.

“He makes me feel so worthless”

A woman’s need for intimacy, emotional stability, and self-worth are very real. Wives, do yourselves a great service and learn that your self-esteem or self-worth does not come from within nor from their husbands.

Contrary to some popular teaching, we are not God. We did not create ourselves and have no ability to create worth within ourselves. Although a man’s continued illicit behavior may cause the wife to feel like less of a human, she needs to understand that her self-worth does not originate in him, and therefore cannot be taken by him. We have value, not because some human says we do, but because our Creator saw value in us before we were born. To be sure, the people with whom we have relationships can reinforce that sense of self-worth and they may even help us to feel a loss of self-worth, but they can never remove our actual value.

Wives, whether you have been beaten, verbally abused, or raped at the hands of a man whose heart and mind have been rotted by pornography, or if you have been hugged on, loved and nourished, your intrinsic value is the same in the eyes of God. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, God loved you so much that He sent His son to die on a cross just so He could have loving relationship with you. No man can match that love. Nor can any man do any more than that to instill in you a sense of value.

Do all guys watch porn?

Husbands, please do yourselves a favor and get over the notion that “all men use porn.” It’s simply not true. And even if all your friends do use pornography, it is no excuse for you to willingly commit adultery (Matthew 5:28) against your bride. Your friends’ approval doesn’t make it okay.

Husbands need to understand that, whether they like it or not, whether they believe it or not, their insistence on using pornography is a great source of pain and sorrow to most wives. Their behavior is degrading to both them and their spouses. There is nothing macho about a man stepping out on his wife, if only through the medium of pornography. We are called to be leaders—the prophets, priests, and kings—in our homes. Nothing does more to decrease the effectiveness of those roles than to allow an invasion of pornography into the heart, mind, and family.

Is there hope?

So, if the husband doesn’t know he is hurting his bride, and if the wife believes her husband has destroyed her value as a human, is there hope for the marriage? Absolutely! But only if both partners realize that they are traveling two-way streets. The husband must grasp the reality that his actions are destructive to his wife and toward the marriage in general. The wife should stop expecting affirmation from a husband who is simply not capable of giving it with the current condition of his mind and heart, and begin to look to her Creator, instead.

Finally, for healing to take place in the marriage, both partners must place their pots of selfishness on the back burner. While the Bible makes it very clear that we should feel free to ask for the things we need—a pure marriage, for example—it also makes it clear that we are to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We are to esteem others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

When prayers are prayed with an unselfish heart attitude, change will begin to take place. If the husband prays that his wife’s needs will be met, whether he understands them or not, he will begin to see change in himself. He will see this change because her needs within the marriage cannot and will not be met until he husband changes and becomes the man that God created him, and called him, to be. Her needs cannot be met within the marriage without him changing.

Likewise, when the wife prays, not just for her desire for a sense of self-worth, but for her husband’s needs to be met, she will see change in her own life. When her husband’s need for a relationship with the Heavenly Father is met, she will find her need for a meaningful relationship with her husband being met. When the relationship between the husband and wife is as God intended it to be, he won’t need his pornography, and she won’t have the sense that her self-esteem has drifted away.

They will have found that holes in the heart can be mended.

Yours In Christ,
Man on the Road

  • Comments on: Advice for Marriages Plagued by Porn
    1. John on

      A Christian aid to getting this demon off my back. It is not an easy one. I am the adult survivor of sexual and emotional abuse. I have struggled off and on with attraction to young men and gay porn. I have never approached young men, never will. I am married to the nicest woman I know, nicest person I know. I pray constantly, but drag myself into this world of filth. I want freedom and know I need others to help me help myself.

      Reply
    2. chip on

      John, Do not have the Gay struggle but had many others. Found away out 4.5 years ago and have been free since. What we have not done in the past qualifies as a “yet” if we do not become willing to go to any length to get help. Haven’t done that “yet”. We all have to determine what our any lenth looks like. Mine consisted of two back to back stents in treatment to overcome 38 years of this addiction. Then putting it into action helping others do the same. Involved in 12 step recovery and Christian based sex addiction recovery. Wishing the best for you and family.

      Reply
    3. Sandi on

      What is a wife to do when the husband is not willing to get help?

      Reply
      • Tari on

        May need to divorce him. Porn addiction is a user friendly term. It is really self sex. Your husband is having sexcapades with himself and is just using the photos to arouse himself. He is having sex with someone other than you. ITS HIMSELF!

    4. Becky on

      To Sandi,
      Pray. We can do nothing without God, and He gave us a clear avenue to Him through prayer. While we may not be able to change our husband’s hearts, God definitely can.

      Reply
    5. C on

      I agree with Sandy… Praying, frankly, hasn’t helped AT ALL – there has been no change. Hubby has been using porn for our ENTIRE marriage and takes NO RESPONSIBILITY whatsoever for his porn use. It has come to the point where I myself have LOST FAITH IN GOD, because I grew up in a home where my step-father was addicted to porn and damaged my mother irrevocably because of it. While I no longer “blame God” for my situation, I am ANGRY that he ALLOWED ME to marry someone who would do the EXACT SAME THING my step-father did.

      Reply
    6. kapil on

      I am a Hindu and don’t think that God ought to or does grant all of your wishes. It’s like he as given you hands so that you could work and earn a living but instead you sat down praying and asked him to feed you. The same way he has given you a Thinking Brain so that you could make the right choices for yourself. Get to know your Boyfriends before you marry them. Don’t marry people that aren’t compatible with you. I am sorry to be saying this but if the Husband himself doesn’t belive that he is doing something wrong then there really isn’t much that can be done.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @kapil – I agree with you. God does not grant all our wishes. He gives us abilities to make wise choices. Unfortunately many men keep their struggles with pornography a secret through dating and courtship and many wives are surprised to find out about the struggle later in marriage.

    7. Erin on

      I / We are currently seeking advise and help for our marriage due to porn addiction. He has been caught before, but this time it cost him. Costed him a lot of money, which he paid for the internet porn, he lost his trust of his wife and he betrayed his wife and childern. He has come to the realization that he needs help and has sought it out on his own. I was tempted to leave, he begged me to say and help him through this and see help as well. I have never felt so inadaquate, angry and hurt as I have the past week. I am trying to find faith in god and faith in myself to over come this huge hurdle in my life.

      Reply
    8. Mark W. Gaither on

      Erin,

      Everything you’re feeling reflects the reality you are facing. He did betray you and your children, and your family is under attack. It is not your responsibility to reform your husband (only the Holy Spirit can do that as your husband submits to Him), but you do stand in a very potent position of influence–one that could prompt your husband to do what is right to get help, get clean, and save his family from years of sorrow.

      Please see my article on this forum , and begin following the steps with the help of a qualified Christian counselor. (The counselor is for you as an individual. Counseling for you as a couple can come later, once your husband has taken appropriate steps to deal with the immediate crisis.)

      Begin following the steps of this “tough love” encounter, not only for the sake of your husband and your marriage, but for you and your children.

      As for your husband, he should seek help on his own. Unfortunately, he won’t if you let too much time pass. He needs to see you take a no-tolerance policy against porn in your home right now. And that may include a temporary time of his being out of the home. Otherwise, he’ll promise to do better and then slide back into his old routine. The article, “Tough Love Must Stand Firm” explains why.

      You might also read “Confronting Sexual Impurity Intelligently“, which includes links to practical resources and programs to match the level of sexual dysfunction you observe in your husband.

      The information in these articles, put together, should help you formulate a responsible, compassionate-yet-tough, reasonable plan of action. God has given you the strength to see you through this. It’s in you. Trust His provision, toughen up, reach out to godly, wise people around you, and stand strongly against this threat to your family.

      As I press “Submit Comment,” I am praying for you.

      Reply
    9. T on

      C,
      I am praying for you. Satan wants to pierce our hearts with his assaults, many times wounding us in the same place we have been wounded so deeply before. BUT GOD LOVES US. He is not tempted, nor does he tempt. He does not lie, he cannot, because HE is truth and LIFE. Let him touch you more DEEPLY with his love than the pain you’ve experienced. Psalm 45:10-11 “Listen O daughter, consider and give ear. Forget your people and your father’s house. The King is enthralled by your beauty, Honor Him, He is your Lord!” Love you sister.

      Reply
    10. Jody on

      I have been with my husband for 10 years. He continues to lie to me about pot use and internet “indiscretions”. I know he looks at porn, but he also has gotten accounts and set up profiles on sites like match.com, adultfriendfinder.com, and finally on Tuesday I found out about a site called ashleymadison.com that he has had at least two accounts on. Mind you, these are only the things I have discovered on my own. Who knows what he is doing that no one knows about. He also had a 2 1/2 year long emotional affair and I found sexually flirtatious emails that uncovered that one. After finding his account on ashleymadison, I am devastated. He says it’s becuase he is “unsatisfied”. Ashleymadison is a website specifically for people looking to have an affair. The tag line is:”life is short, have an affair”. I do not know what to do. I will never ever trust him again. It’s been broken too many times and he is not willing to follow up on getting help for himself. He always just wants to deal with stuff on his own. What should I do? My gut instinct tells me to leave.

      Reply
    11. Mark W. Gaither on

      Jody,

      You are facing one of the most difficult, soul-rending decisions any married person can face. Your church, your family, and your own conscience shout with one voice, “Divorce is wrong.” Yet, deep down, everyone knows that it’s equally wrong to do nothing in response to this obvious pattern of infidelity and complete disregard for for you and your marriage.

      Let me assure you that filing divorce papers at this point would not make you guilty of ending the marriage. Remember: a decree of divorce doesn’t kill a marriage; unrepentant sin destroys a marriage.

      Clearly, divorce is biblically defensible in your situation; nevertheless, you undoubtedly feel the inner call to do everything you can to restore your fallen mate and to keep together what God has joined. Let me affirm and praise your obedience. Well done! The Spirit of Christ is alive and well in you! Now, how can we honor that inner call AND take a strong stand against sin. That call to save your marriage cannot and must not lead to a passive response. Love does not stand idly by while sin destroys someone we love.

      Jody, I wrote Redemptive Divorce to address circumstances exactly like yours. I have walked this path myself, and many have found the redemptive divorce process to be the best means of confronting sinful, unrepentant partners with tough, uncompromising love.

      Stand strong and take action. This is not only a fight for what God has ordained to be a blessing to couples, it is a chance to regain the dignity God intended you to have as a wife and as a woman.

      Praying for you,
      Mark

      Reply
    12. TheTimGuy on

      Why is it that every time a man watches porn he is instantly labeled a “sex addict” or a he is “porn addicted”. This nonsense would never happen if a man drank a few beers at dinner, not everyone would jump up and down and go on about what an alcoholic he is. If a woman takes a xanax after a hard day with the kids is she “addicted to pills”??? No of course not, so why then must people lump all people who use porn with those who may have a legitimate addiction. And just an FYI there is no standard in medical terms for “porn addiction.”
      I say if a man is using porn instead of having sex with his wife then he may have a problem but if a man is using porn because his wife withholds sex (a huge problem for many men) then he just has a bad wife and then it is on her.

      Reply
    13. Rena on

      The potential for entrapment is what is so important to keep in mind here. The images of illicit behavior produce a physiological response that chemically creates a “bonding” effect. The arousal over time takes more intense stimuli for the same response. Then, the potential that your spouse can not compete with these type of stimuli is very high. So the impact on your marriage is then very real. As you mentioned the withholding of sex from a partner as a reason to use porn, my guess is that porn doesn’t end up increasing the sexual connection between partners. Exploring the root cause of the sexual distance through some counseling would help open the door to authentic increased intimacy, not only sexually, but emotionally as well.

      Reply
    14. springtimegirl on

      My husband of 17 years has struggle a lot with porn. We have five children and during the pregnancy of the last one 13 months ago he charged up porn fees again when I was 7 month pregnant. We are baptized Christians yet fail on our daily walk commitments which I do know makes us vulnerable. Recently I have been out of town caring for his terminally ill father. This has been the longest I have been away from my husband, and now I find myself tempted sexually toward porn. I stumbled onto it a few days ago and I am finding myself going back for more and more…I myself am nearly forty and have never experienced in such a way the power of such “lusting” before. It has opened my eyes to the fact that I understand the power of porn on men. I being female…less visual am drawn to it as well. It feels wrong, yet so powerful in its allure. I can see how it can capture you and now I have these images in my mind. I feel like I want to talk with my husband about this but am scared…I am unsure where to begin. I am so tired of shame being at the center of our marriage…I have shamed him for so long and now look at me…no better. Shame that does not heal can just as easily destroy a marriage as the acts that started it all in the first place.. Obviously there is a lot of things happening in our lives that are stressful right now. I long to be close with him spiritually and physically. And I know I did not look at porn myself to hurt him in anyway. It is unfortunate cyber porn is so easy to access, because other wise I think most folks would not go out of their way to get it. Words of advice please.

      Reply
      • Ashley Weis on

        hey springtimegirl — thank you for being so open and honest, really that is the first step. being able to recognize your issues and “own” them as this article states. you know, i think the bigger issue here isn’t so much porn as it is “self.” a porn-addiction is a product of a “self-addiction.” being addicted to the pleasures of this world, the things that make us feel good, even if only temporary. we use things all the time and don’t even realize it, porn is just another one of those things that we turn to when we are in a state of “self-addiction.” the only cure for this addiction of self is to turn to God and focus all of your heart, mind, and soul on loving Him. Not being loved by Him, which is undoubtedly true, but loving Him.

        i remember when i first met george… we were so passionately in love that we would stay up until 4am talking and then wake up 3 hours later for work. we were a little tired, but got through the day because we knew we had each other. if only we loved God with as much passion. the passion to not even want to fall asleep because we desperately want to talk to Him, more and more. the passion to wake up every morning excited to talk to Him again. He is all we think about, all we need to go on.

        isn’t that beautiful? now, that is the true problem with porn, lust, insecurities, pride, selfishness — we don’t love God enough. if we did… if we loved Him with as much passion as we often love things in this world… i think we would a lot less pride and a lot more love. what do you think?

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