4 minute read

Blaming the Mrs.

Last Updated: April 10, 2015

Joe Dallas
Joe Dallas

Joe Dallas is the Program Director of Genesis Counseling. He is also the author of several books, including, The Game Plan: The Men's 30-Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity. He is a pastoral counselor and a popular conference speaker. For more than three years Joe taught and conducted the nationally recognized Every Man’s Battle conference as the originating Program Director, and from 1991 to 1993, he served as the President of Exodus International. Joe and his wife Renee reside in Orange County, California, with their two sons.

Adding Injustice to Injury

Sex scandals and car accidents have much in common—injured parties, public spectacle, and charges hurled every which way amidst an abrupt, life changing tragedy. They both attract and repel us as we drive by, shaking our disapproving heads even as we crane our necks to see more. It’s been, in fact, a bit of a national pastime, this business of surveying the wreckage, whether it’s the aftermath of the 1987 PTL scandal or our former President’s ill advised encounters with an intern.

Small wonder, then, that former Governor Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, Tiger Woods‘ philandering, John Edwards‘ affair, and Ted Haggard’s liaisons with a male prostitute continue to fascinate the American public, often relegating much weightier world events to Page 2.

But in recent years a wrinkle was added to the fuss when a prominent talk show host and advice-giver appearing on the Today Show had this to say about wives whose husband’s have committed adultery:

“When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs. The cheating was his decision to repair what’s damaged, and to feed himself where he’s starving.”

Whew! The Mrs. didn’t try hard enough, so the malnourished man simply had to locate another partner who’d provide a bit of supplemental hero worship. The predictable outrage from talking heads and the general public following these comments indicate that many of us simply aren’t buying the notion that, if the husband strays, the wife’s the villain.

But truth be told, the myth of an adulterer’s wife being somehow responsible for her husband’s sin is painfully common. I’ve seen it repeatedly as couples, shattered by indiscretion, have come to my office asking who’s to bless or blame. Often, to the Church’s shame, wives have been told by Christian family members, friends, and, yes, pastors, that their shortcomings as women contributed to, if not caused, their husband’s downfall.

The question thus shifts in a woman’s  mind from “Why did he do wrong?” to “What did I do wrong?” A couple of sadly misguided conclusions the wife comes to look something like this:

“I must not be attractive enough for him.”

“If I were less like this or more like that, would he still have cheated on me?” This is a question often coming from the wife who caught her husband looking at porn—a wife who’s seen first hand the type of women he privately ogles. Or perhaps she compares herself to the call girl, stripper or masseuse her husband dallies with—the surgically enhanced body in the exotic outfits—and cries “uncle,” assuming she can’t hope to compete.

Yet one remembers the ghastly murder of actress Sharon Tate, the stunningly beautiful wife of director Roman Polanski, at the hands of the Charles Manson cult. After her death Polanski publicly admitted to frequent adulteries with numerous partners, all the while asserting his love for Sharon and praising both her beauty and tenderness as a wife. Clearly, one couldn’t impugn the looks of Miss Tate (one of the most exquisite figures Hollywood ever featured) because of Polanski’s behavior. Nor should anyone, especially a betrayed spouse, assume a wife’s appearance can either prevent or contribute to an adulterous act. Adultery, in short, is more a statement of what a man is rather than what his wife isn’t.

“I wasn’t attentive enough to him, so he cheated.”

Let’s not too hastily dismiss the first half of the statement. In fact, let me get this off my chest before going any further: Some wives are indeed getting away with murder.

Not all. Most, I believe, are loving, strong partners in grace with their men. But I’ve seen more than a few Christian ladies grow comfortable screaming at their husbands, undermining them to their children, humiliating them in public, complaining regularly about their real or perceived shortcomings, and, in general, treating them like dirt. Their husbands, in turn, are expected to obey Paul’s admonishment to “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” But just try quoting the other half of that command—“Wives, submit to your husbands” —and watch the outrage at such an archaic, sexist notion.

That said, let’s not unduly muddy the waters. The wife who is inattentive, indifferent or downright abusive is responsible for her sins, not his. No woman, no matter how odious, makes her man commit adultery, so if a wife sins, let her account. But let her account for her sins alone.

That’s a fairly big if, though, considering the many women who’ve shown more than reasonable affection and concern for their spouses who cheated nonetheless. King David, for example, had countless wives and concubines at his disposal when he committed his notorious adultery with Bathsheba. Does anyone really believe a harem of palace wives and concubines didn’t know how to show the King all due attention? And what constitutes “enough attention” anyway? None of us, in moments of brutal honesty, will deny we at times wish for more love, notice, or affection from our spouses. But will any of us then have the chutzpah to conclude we’re entitled to sin because we feel sinned against?

The wreckage of the Wood’s, Haggard’s, and Edward’s crises is still being cleared, and time will tell how effectively they repair the damage. But should the guilty husband involved decide to apply himself to restoring trust with his bruised wife, then his work is surely cut out for him.

  • He’ll need to acknowledge the nature of his betrayal, making no excuses, no rationalizations.
  • He’ll need to express due remorse, showing The Mrs. he not only recognizes his failure, but privately feels ongoing pain over it as well.
  • He’ll need to then give her room to express her own pain, allowing him an education in the emotional holocaust a woman experiences when her man violates her in such an intimate yet cruelly public way.
  • And he’ll surely need to establish some structure of accountability and treatment by which he can assure her this behavior will never be repeated.

Meanwhile, let’s suspend public speculations about what role (if any) this injured woman had in the agony she’s enduring. Let the sinner repent and the system exercise fairness in its judgment. Let the Church be a healing agent, and let the prayers of believers everywhere continue for all involved, thus refraining from adding insult, much less injustice, to such a devastating and needless injury.

  • Comments on: Blaming the Mrs.
    1. Kristin

      Great article.

      • love challenged wife

        My husband& I been married 17 years. I e need that, if he had me? I would ask myself. Over the years I learned his addiction to porn was filling a gap for his need for love that he never received from his upbringing.
        I have learned I’m not the greatest at it either. My upbringing was similar to his… no closeness (hugs, “I love you s”, etc), no tenderness from parents, no praise, none of that. Just “provision love”.
        So I’ve been numb to love, distance. Sure we had sex, that was easy. But after I kept catching him, sex became less, incidents became more frequent. I didn’t want him anymore because of his “adultery” with the ladies on the porn sites. I felt cheated every time.
        Then we had our first child, over the years, waves of catching him, confessing, catching him, then him confessing was getting old, sex became less. But we still had it. Had another child. He was still bringing porn images to bed (using them to make sex successful). I’m not fat, but not skinny either.
        He definitely hates his addiction, he is a warrior for God, I’ll give him that. This has been a life struggle for him.

        17 years, 4 kids later, it’s now to the point he is blaming me for his “relief” he turns to. Yes, I was pregnant and “not there”, but he never made moves as well. It’s been a year of no sex. Yup, it’s that bad. He says he has always been the one to make the moves over the years, to love on me, hug, say “I love you”, etc. It’s true, I’m not good at it (my upbringing).
        Yes, we have accountability on devices. But he’s bought another phone with no service to use with Wifi. Again, breaking trust.
        Again blaming me not “being the wife I am to be for my husband”. Whenever I made attempts to be affectionate to him (his desires are mostly non sexual, he wants more intimacy/closeness/tenderness from me more than anything)… but it’s never enough. He explains it is like he’s thirsty in a desert and I hand him a thimble of water to last him a week. Ok, sure. I may have rubbed his back (not the easiest thing for me to do) and say “I love you” and then weeks go by with nothing really. Then he “messes up” I find out, then he says it wasn’t enough. Knowing full well that’s not something I am good at doing. Thus stomping on my efforts. I’m not mean to him, I don’t nag at him. I’m honestly tired & busy being a mom. Yes, I know i do need to love the husband I married, but I’m not good at showing him I guess. But I will NOT accept the blame for his sin. I can’t.

    2. Sioned

      This is very interesting article.

      I am sad to say, that none of those final bulletpoints have happened nor are they in the works yet for our marriage.

      A little background. Our marriage is Biblical, started out that way and we have continued that way. I seek to submit to and honor my husband as God calls me to, he seeks to love me as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. We made our own vows and those verses were in them, by each of our own choosing.

      This is a tough road obviously, but living, truly, by the Bible always is, in action. And not appreciated by this “world”, mostly condemned instead.

      That being said, my husband has said to me in response to his online porn use, that if I gave him more frequent intimacy, he wouldn’t need to look at porn.

      In our case, I can understand this. So, it was easy to forgive the first time. And for me to try harder to meet all his needs. I feel I do that to the best of my abillity.

      That ability might not be enough for him. Does this mean I hold no responsibility for his actions, his sin. I have been trained to believe just the opposite. That I am to blame in some way, by my family, by my church upbringing, by my husband, by myself wanting to be accountable for my actions or lack there of.

      I do not think the injured party should take on undue criticism, but are we wrong to think that we have SOMETHING to do with it and that we should be held accountable for OUR actions as well.

      I am struggling to understand how to proceed with my communication and steps in regards to my husband’s porn issue. I have felt very empowered by some articles I have read here. But now, I’m getting confused again. This sounds a little like the pro-feminism going on in this world that I feel very against.

      Let me know what you think….

      In Christ,
      Confused Wife

      • Hello Confused Wife. First, let me say, in reading all of your comments on this blog, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. The more comments like this I read, the more I am reminded about how devastating pornography is to a marriage. What is worse is that many Christian women talk about the harms pornography brings to trust and intimacy. To be sure, you are not alone, but I know this doesn’t make your situation any better.

        In reading this post I believe Joe’s main point is that a wife is not “responsible” for her husband’s sins, just as none of us are responsible for another’s sin. Even if we sin against another person (which we may often do), their sinful response is theirs to own, not ours. Joe states here a wife is most certainly responsible for her own sins towards her husband.

        Does his full responsibility mean a wife has nothing to do with her husband’s behavior? No. We are all guilty of sin and we are all sinned against. The issue isn’t responsibility but influence. No marriage is perfect. No husband or wife is perfect. We all carry some influence on others, but we bear responsibility for our own sins.

        You might like the interview we did Jeff and Marsha Fisher about his addiction to porn. Part 3 is particularly instructive to wives. You might also like Part 2 of our interview with Tray and Melody Lovvorn. Both Marsha and Melody talk some about how their husbands’ sins revealed sins in her own heart.

        Thanks again for your comment. You have our prayers today.

      • Michelle Brown

        Your husbands porn issue may have a lot to d with how his fater was probably more then you realize.
        Tiger’s dad was a ladys man so often it is learned behavior.
        Pray… too it is the most powerful tool we have!


    3. Kev

      One crucial thing that I remind myself is that by our own lusts and desires our we enticed and ultimately fall. There is a place for regular, consistent healthy sex. But I can tell you from experience, that a man who feeds into porn, creates an appetite that will never be satisfied. The only way for him to be satisfied is to starve it out, kill it off, and create a pure appetite, one that God intends a man to have. It can be done. I have experienced the mercy and love of God in this area. Porn creates an idea of sexual relations that simply does not exist in real life. And when you begin to desire unrealistic sex and it never comes, you’re left unsatisfied, searching anywhere. I have come to understand, through my own struggles, what is obvious: marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship to the church. But I never gave much thought to something else.. sex has to be symbolic too. It is symbolic of Christ and His people becoming one, just as Christ is one with God. I never knew how bad I was perverting this wonderful display until I gave heed to this. Your husband must begin to understand these things to overcome. You are accountable for how you handle this from here on out. Remember, it’s a process, and God will give both of you understanding of Himself through this time. He won’t just remove it, he will do much much more.

    4. You mention “due remorse” and “allow her to express her own pain”.

      My husbands porn use started long before me. I have realized that it’s not about me. In fact the gnawling feeling that I wasn’t enough for him, should have been one of the first signs of his problem. I didn’t know of the addiction but I knew I wasn’t enough, no matter what I did….how much I exercised, how skinny I became, what “pretties” I tried. In fact learning of the addiction, painful as it was, freed me from the constant battle to try to be enough. Don’t get me wrong, I pray constantly for God to show me my part in this, and beg God to help me be the wife He/God calls me to be to my husband.

      My husband is always blaming me for something. I’m constantly trying to have a “sanity check” to figure out what I should take blame for and what I shouldn’t.
      However when it comes to remorse….whenever it is obviously clear that he’s “using” (I know he lies about it regularly), and we have to come face to face with the issue, he “cries in remorse”. However, I’ve found that remorse to be hallow….since eventually the cycle has always started over again. If he really has remorse, he’d do the other items on your list; specifically be serious about accountability and tx.

      In my case, my husband is very depressed and has been for many years. He actually has moved on to calling himself mentally ill. I struggle to know when it’s safe to let him see any of my pain. I hold way back in that area. I try very hard to give it to God, and let go and let God. I know that God’s handling of my pain and the issue is way better that what I could do. However, when my pain appears in any way to my husband, he usually increases in anger, guilt, remorse, or other expressions of his “mental” pain. I can’t be responsible for any of my pain pushing him over the edge, so I battle with this issue. While I do truly believe, I must take it all to God, where is the balance? The balance in worldly terms would be called “co-dependency” issues. Where is the balance in the reality of him seeing the truth of the pain? vs me “protecting him” from seeing the pain because my pain would hurt him so deeply?

      I’m asking this question, but also, continuing to take it to God daily. The best book I’ve read of all on porn addiction and on marriage was ‘THRIVING DESPITE A DIFFICULT MARRIAGE’. I’m trying to ‘thrive’ but his blaming, depression, anger, pain, and hateful behavior towards me is sometimes almost more than I can bear. Wait–I do know that God will not give me more than I can bear. In those moments despite the “falling over” in pain and anguish, despite the stuggle to function, I know God is carryhing me through. I continually strive to find forgiveness and healing in God.

      He blames the “mental health”…the depression came first” he says, but the porn started in those “forming teen years”….and the depression did not show it’s face until the reality of the addiciton surfaced and he started dealing with the guilt more openly. (meaning, i think he had guilt for the 10 years before I knew, but when he had to face it with others knowing…I believe the guilt began turing into depression, and now about 15 years after that, he calls it mental illness. The “world” is no help here….for the “world” is quick to cover “sin and it’s consequences” with psychiatric names….depression, borderline personality disorder, mental illness. I know that there are biological causes. My husband constantly focus on the “illness” and the biology…but in the mean time he’s using that as a crutch to continue the sin, rather than finding freedom from the sin. Sin also causes physical, biological and mental health problems. Our world today, even the church tries to deny that. Of couse I cannot state any of this thinking of my to my husband/addict. For he who blames me constantly would say that I “don’t understand, am blaming him, or not taking responsibility for me.”

      So I contine to stand by, asking God to show me my part, seeking regular “sanity checks”, asking God to show me how to show love to my spouse in some little way each day (he now pushes me away most of the time–so all i can do some days is rub his feet, rub his back, make his lunch, have a good dinner.) I pray for and see that God does allow moments when I can speak truth to my husband. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has allowed moments of truth. So I continue to with that truth, quietly speak to my husband, that “I still love you, I’m still here for you”. However, lately he’s fighting that too….”I’m still here too you know” he recently said. (yep he is, still here, still using, still blaming, still attacking, still hating, still lying, still angry, still raging, still depressed, still crying,…….still paying the bills, still being the dad, still going to work, still telling me what to do, still going to church, still walking the dog, still ………still agonizing over life……….still God’s child whom I’m praying will find healing.)

      • Sherry

        An abuser will continue their abuse if allowed. I recently told my husband of 30 years he had to leave if he didn’t get help for his porn addictiom.

        I have learned and lived the “person who is trying to do the right thing”, who is too quick to forgive, who continually looks past problems and behaviors becomes angry & resentful, I know I have.

        Trully, does God want such undending suffering, joylessness and sacrifice in the name of love? Where in this picture is love? I believe God is about love, and where in this picture is there any love?

        Best of luck. I know I’ll need it but I won’t back down.

      • Regina

        To hopealways,
        What an inspiration your post is. I realize that I’m just now reading it almost a year after it was written, but it still breaths hope. To the person that says “where is the love”…..I would say this is a wonderful example of the love that Jesus has for us. Was Jesus treated fairly, did people not use Him & abuse Him, did they not brutally kill Him in the end? And yet what did He do? He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.” He still chose to lay down His life for us, even though many times we ignore Him & put every other thing before Him. I’m not saying that someone should stay in an abusive situation, but I am saying that we made an oath before God on our wedding day………..”for better or worse”.

        hopealways, you are being that example for Christ that your husband needs right now. And even though you don’t seem to be seeing any results of your faithfulness we know that God’s word never returns void. I’m sure the world will continue to tell you that you’re stupid, that your being used, why do you stay with him, etc. But, I say, hang in there girl! You don’t have to be joyless even though your husband is not there for you right now. Your joy doesn’t have to be dependent on circumstances but can always be found in your precious savior, Jesus Christ! I recently read an article about a woman who did just that. She stuck by her God first & then by her man through many difficult seemingly loveless years, until finally her husbands defenses were broken down, he accepted Christ & there marriage was reborn. I wish I could remember the name of the woman & I would share it with you.
        Best of love to you my sister,

    5. Michelle Brown

      I agree!

      I am about to walk on my marriage because my husband thinks porn is perfectly fine.
      I do not want to be angry and resentful.

    6. Serena

      My husband and I have only been married for 3 and a half years. In past relationships I did not mind my partner watching porn, as long as they made me feel good about myself. However, the first time I caught my husband watching porn was when I was 6 months pregnant, and I have emotionally shut down to him. His excuse is always every guy does it, Im not doing anything wrong. After I caught my husband the first time I have been very insecure with him to the point where I do not feel comfortable making love to him. The whole time I am thinking about all my faults. I do have chronic pelvic pain and sometimes i am unable to have intercourse with my husband because of that pain, however I think that I would be more apt to making love to him if he wasnt still (3 years later of me begging him to stop because it hurts me and makes me insecure) watching it. At this point I have threatened everything and he is still watching porn and of course my threats at this point have been unfulfilled. I do scream at him, and we do fight constantly because his porn addiction has made me resent him for everything. I am at a loss of what to do. He will not get help because he believes watching these videos is normal. He even now favorites specific videos on his phone internet. I do not know how much more I can take : (

    7. Pam

      Thank you! Amen!

    8. Mrs.S.

      I adore my husband. I go out of my way to show him that he is loved, respected, and appreciated. I make myself available to him for intimacy any time… but he rarely wants me. I am slowly amassing screenshot evidence of an extensive online porn obsession, Google searches for filthy and very specific topics, teen porn, video messages from porn sites, and now sexually explicit text conversations with a coworker. He could have all the sex he wanted with the wife who loves him, but he prefers the excitement of his fantasies. He hasn’t taken communion at church in months, and says he just doesn’t feel close to God any more. Well, I guess NOT!

      So now I’m trying to decide when and how to confront him, or if I should just pack up the kids and leave him to his texting and Googling.

      I truly love my husband. If there is any way to save my marriage, I would love to find it. But it’s going to have to come from him. I am worth his faithfulness, and I’m not willing to share him with all these other women. My heart is broken.

      I will be buying a subscription to Covenant Eyes in the very near future and installing it on every computer in this house to protect my boys. If my husband won’t make that commitment, then I may just take it as a sign that our marriage can’t be resurrected. :-(

      • Kay Bruner

        You are worth his faithfulness, and you shouldn’t have to share.

        I would suggest a couple of things. One, find a counselor just for yourself, who can help you process your emotions and decide on healthy boundaries. Two, find a group, either locally or online, to give you support and community.

        You might want to take a look at our free download, Hope After Porn, where several women talk about their own walk through recovery.

        You’re right: it’s up to him to decide if he wants his family or his fantasy. And some men DO make the healthy choice and recover. You can offer that to him! Meanwhile, make sure that YOU are taking care of YOU and being healthy, no matter what he chooses.

        Peace to you, Kay

    9. CW Miller

      “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” But just try quoting the other half of that command—“Wives, submit to your husbands” —and watch the outrage at such an archaic, sexist notion.”
      I have no trouble submitting AS UNTO THE LORD, not AS IF HE IS THE LORD, if he sincerely loves me in the manner of God’s design for marriage, as we women must also follow God’s design for marriage.
      I for one WILL NOT settle for any man who feels forced to love me in spite of myself because God says so.
      I am not an odious woman in the sense as described in this article.
      Face the truth; MOST men are purely carnal, and act like they’re doing you a favor by staying married to you!
      I say; do me a favor, don’t do me no favors!!

    10. AJ

      Porn has been ongoing in our relationship and now marriage for years! Everytime he says he will change. He never seeks help, so he doesn’t change. I got him setup for a counseling session with a volunteer counselor(since he can’t afford a paying one). He went today. I’m proud of that. I told him I realized why I can’t bring myself to be with him as much as he’d like. It’s because of my lack of trust with him. He says he wouldn’t have to turn to porn if we had it more. Then why did he turn to it one day when we we made, what I thought was love, that same morning?! There so much, it’s so complicated. I’m so hurt. He actually says he views me as asexual. He says even if he didn’t view porn I would still not have sex with him alot, or as much as he’d like to because I have a low sex drive. He hurt me further by saying he views oral sex in porn because I am not comfortable doing that with him. I go to speak with the same male Christian counselor tomorrow. I literally dread it. I fear his mindset will be the same as my husband’s. “Well, if you had more sex with him he would stop viewing other women sexually.”…”have sex with him, even if you don’t trust him because you know by intuition he’s still viewing porn”. I’m so lost, confused, and devastated. he just told me this morning that none of this was my fault, but tonight he changes his tune. He said I must have a f****ed up mind.

      • Kay Bruner

        Hi AJ,
        I am so, so sorry for what you are going through. I think a lot of what your husband says to you is gaslighting, a form of mental abuse where facts are twisted to favor the abuser and make the victim doubt their own experiences and reality. Here’s a short animation that explains more about gaslighting.

        You are never, ever required to take part in any sex acts if you don’t want to. Sex should always be consensual: YOU should want to have sex, in other words!

        And I think physical intimacy is a representation of the emotional intimacy in a relationship. If there’s no emotional intimacy, if there is instead abuse and addiction, then you can’t expect a healthy sex life.

        When you go to the counselor, you should feel safe. You should feel respected. You should feel heard. You should not feel talked down to, ignored, lectured, or in any way diminished as a person. If you don’t like the counselor, DON’T GO BACK!

        I always advise wives to find a counselor just for themselves, someone they feel safe with, someone who can help them process their own pain and build healthy boundaries. I do not see porn addiction as a couples’ problem. I think men need to get themselves into treatment and do their work separately from the traumatized spouse. Later on, if he does enter into recovery and do his work, couples’ therapy might become appropriate.

        Peace to you,

    11. Ken

      In response to the article, Matthew 18, Luke 17, and Romans 14 all say that it is possible to cause someone to sin or rather according to Strong’s put a stumbling block in their path.

      In my case, my wife refuses me sexually for months at a time and I have no legitimate way to satisfy my sexual appetite. It’s not like people who are dating in the world that can just break up and find someone else to have sex with. I’m locked into a marriage covenant with the only person who can meet my sexual desire and who sees nothing wrong with that behavior even after being told for eight years.

      That is a stumbling block or a willful offense that can cause me to sin. I won’t go into the disrespect and other unreasonable behaviors that don’t make sense. But to the world around us, she’s a saint so if things completely fall apart, they’ll say “he really messed up” “look what he did to her” “she deserves better” and no one would believe the truth if I told them. It’s like in proverbs that you have the wise woman who builds up her house and you have the foolish woman who tears hers down with her own hands. You may not be able to make your spouse sin but you can sure trip them up and back them in such a corner that when they are weak enough, they will sin.

      • Kay Bruner

        The Bible does not excuse you from personal responsibility. Your choices belong to you, regardless of what your wife does or does not do. “The woman that thou gavest me” is the oldest excuse in the book. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Find a good marriage therapist and do the work that it takes to repair the relationship.

    12. BWD57

      I lost my husband to suicide in 2012. He was a wonderful, creative, godly man who struggled with self-esteem and chemical depression.He had troubles with porn at different times during our almost 27-year marriage. In the early 1990s he discovered our middle-school aged son was viewing some of his favorite sites; we installed Net Nanny and moved our computer into our bedroom so I could have more oversight. There weren’t as many resources or as much knowledge about porn addiction back then. My husband had an affair in 1998 that I believe was the result of his addiction; that was when he was finally diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. He went on medication, we got into counseling, and we recovered and actually had a wonderful 10 years together before the recession and his business folded in 2009, and then it started all over again. I tried the same approach – he agreed to go back to his doctor and a psychiatrist, we went into marital counseling and he was seeing a depression counselor. But his porn addiction was raging and he exposed me to it and I WENT ALONG WITH IT for a short time. He made me believe it was my fault, that he was normal and I was a prude, that it is “normal” for men. Gaslighting, definitely. And then the day after we tried to be intimate and it failed (because of new medication for his depression, I believe), he took his own life. A year later my daughter-in-law revealed to me that my son was addicted, and she blamed me for the suicide and for not confronting the sin in our home. I had NO idea — there was never any new evidence found in my son’s room, in the laundry, or on our computer. I never caught him, so how was I to know? Our relationship has been difficult ever since. As a suicide loss survivor and SP advocate now, I know guilt feelings are a huge part of this loss and suicide is not the choice of a healthy person — he had a brain disease. As a Christian, I struggle with my own role in what happened — specifically my co-dependence issues that may have thwarted a firm confrontation. I also know there were things I did try and some I had not YET tried but certainly would have if he had just stayed alive. I never got the chance. He was in so much anguish and pain he couldn’t see any other way out. Nearly seven years later I am more informed, have learned that addiction and depression make each other worse, things I wish I had known then. I asked my son and DIL for forgiveness for not being a more diligent parent once I knew my son had been looking at porn in those early years. I should have remained alert, I told them, my mistake. My DIL says she has “forgiven” me for “the suicide” and I assume my son’s addiction (I should challenge the first statement but I haven’t) but it doesn’t feel that way — she and I don’t communicate. My son is in recovery; I have no idea how it’s going. They say they are fine. But our relationship has been damaged severely. I have asked God for forgiveness yet I struggle with forgiving myself. These days I cling to Maya Angelou’s quote, “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it,” still trying to actually do this. If I could do it over again, I would have given my husband an ultimatum: get help for the porn addiction or I would leave. I would have called in help from our church and our family (he was a lay leader at our church and begged me not to tell anyone), and I would have tried to educate myself more. Not sure if this helps anyone on this site but the old me can certainly can serve as an an example of how NOT to handle this. All I can do is move forward, and share my story and pray it helps others. That’s the only way to redeem a loss like this. Thank you for this post and for addressing this issue. Prayer and blessings to all of you struggling with this.

      • Kay Bruner

        Thank you for so bravely sharing your heartbreak with us here. May your words be a blessing and the beginning of healing for others.

    13. Kay

      My husband of 36 years has been looking at porn even before our marriage and still continues. He blames me for this everytime. Says it’s my sin withholding from him. I have a lot of physical ailments. Severe pelvic pain incurable. Plus he was abusive for our first 15 yrs of marriage and blamed me for that too. He quotes the Bible at me and says my withholding is a sin and somehow that blaming is justified. This makes me resent him even more and it’s hard to have sex when I feel this oppression from him. So vicious circle. He probably won’t go to counseling cause of money and he doesn’t like or trust our pastor. I’m so tempted to leave but have no where to go

      • Moriah Dufrin

        Hi Kay!

        Thank you for sharing your struggles. I imagine that you are quite discouraged and feeling hopeless, and I would encourage you to cling to God during this time and hold fast. We serve a mighty God who has the full power to restore and heal. If you are looking for words of hope and encouragement, feel free to download and read out ebook “Hope After Porn.” May God meet you in your time of despair. Blessings!


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