2 minute read

Facing the Fire of a Husband’s Porn Addiction

Last Updated: August 5, 2021

Ashley Weis

Ashley Weis is a wife and mother who has a pain-filled past that no longer haunts her. After discovering her husband’s pornography addiction she thought she’d never heal, much less have a “good” marriage again. God has shown her that without rain, beauty never grows. Now, with a beautiful marriage and a heart that knows the radiance of hope, Ashley reaches out to other women through books about recovering from pornography.

Tears. Every day. They saturated my pillows. George didn’t know I cried myself to sleep every night. He didn’t know I imagined those women all day and night, even in my dreams. He didn’t know the torment I went through because telling him only made it worse. So I suffered alone and grew more depressed by the day.

His porn struggle killed me. It absolutely burned me to ashes. But I am so thankful for the burning. I am so thankful that part of me has died. I am so thankful for George’s porn addiction. Yes, of course I wish it never happened. I wish for no sin in our lives, but the truth is, it looms. And because of George’s sin I have been transformed.

A big part of my healing was that I had to learn to see my suffering as something to embrace, instead of something to get rid of in the blink of an eye. The suffering is what changed me…when I stopped running.

I sort of liken it to a fire. Fires hurt, right? Of course. No one wants to be burned. But we need to be. In this world we are so accustomed to creating these “false selves.” We create a version of us that we want to be, but it’s not who we are. So we try to live up to this false self our entire lives. We don’t even know who we are anymore. So, God takes us through the fire. He allows us to be burned because he loves us too much to see our true selves weighed down by lies and masks.

It hurts IMMENSELY. But as each layer is burned off another layer of our masks will turn to ashes. Over time, it hurts less and less. Until finally, every layer is burned away and there it is…your true self, underneath all the layers, it’s so absolutely blindingly beautiful and bright and humble that the flames cannot even match it. The flames aren’t hot to burn you anymore. And your true self, that beautiful self underneath the layers of masks, becomes its own flame. It is so bright and powerful that the beauty of your own flame will then work to burn the layers off other people. And so on and so on.

It’s horribly painful. Horribly. You literally have to die to yourself. Old Ashley was horribly bitter, insecure, impatient, negative, self-centered, and not exactly the most enjoyable person to be around. That Ashley is fading as I stand in the fire, as uncomfortable as it is, and allow God’s light to burn off my masks. I’m still burning.

Those negative thoughts you dwell on may always plague you, but you don’t have to give into them. Just as a man who is recovering from lust must take his thoughts captive to Christ, so must you. Every instance you want to dwell on an image of a woman (covetousness) or a thought of what he did to you (self-centeredness and self-pity), give the thought to Christ, tell the thought it has no place in your mind, and worship God with all that you are, leaving no room for lies.

The more layers you burn off, the less these things will even come to your mind. You’ll be concerned with other things so much more that you just won’t think about it. But for now, it takes dedication, perseverance, and faithfulness. You have to stop these thoughts when they come up, instead of dwelling in them. It’s so easy to dwell and be in a state of self-pity, but it’s going to kill you. Instead of conversing and consenting to negative thoughts, keep them away from your mind and heart. When you are tempted, flee. You must embrace the pain and allow yourself to go through the flames. God is teaching you to not rely on your beauty. Your reliance on physical beauty is one of the many layers keeping you from being who your are. It’s keeping your flame dim. He wants you to look at Him and worship His beauty. It’s only through His beauty that any of us are beautiful anyway. Seek His beauty and allow your flame to grow bright.

  • Comments on: Facing the Fire of a Husband’s Porn Addiction
    1. María on

      thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the beautiful words you have chosen to comfort our aching hearts, because it hurts and I don’t how to live one more day with this pain.

      Reply
      • Leese on

        I know the pain. It twists my heart, wrenches it, mutilates it. Trusting another is hard for me, because I’ve been lied to so many times…But in an amazing way, God reaches out. God is closest to those with broken hearts. A poem always entered my head, everyday, with my broken heart, it was like a re-run from a depressing movie. ” I can embrace myself, hold my own hand, love me – but I can’t gaze into my own eyes and feel my own soul lift me up.” But the movie wasn’t on screen. It was in me, around me, it was my life. It consumed me. I became angry, depressed, and above all, empty. There’s not much else in this world that can distort your appearance in the mirror when the most trusted person in your life…breaks it with such a depravity as pornography. I’m still picking up the pieces…little by little, and while the pieces are sharp and leave bleeding cuts, they become scars. I would say they are battle scars. Because we have to fight. If the devil has any victory, its when we wave the white flag. I believe, we have the blood of Jesus Christ, we have the strength THROUGH HIM, and we are not helpless under His wings; we are given power to overcome; we are warriors, and He is our Champion.

        So put down the white flag, and raise the one red with the blood of Jesus Christ, and know, that He raises his sword to cut down the evil one, and shields us in His presence, and His light that forever shines like a candle in the night.

        I am not alone, YOU are not alone. We have a Champion. Draw close to Him, He will draw close to you.

      • Natasha on

        I read your posts and comments and feel I am at a similar place as you all are. I feel insecure and bitter when I am with my husband and I see a pretty woman with tight shirt, yoga pants, cleavage, etc. around. They are everywhere. Even at iur church we have several members (and a staff) who sometimes leave no room for imagination. Then I turn against my husband “are you OK?” “Please don’t look that way!” Or “Did you think she was pretty”? I feel devastated not just becase I am deminishing these women to the point of their provokative bodies (ignoring God’s image in them) but to attack my husband who sometimes tells me he honestly did not see “it” because he bounced his eyes. His eyes looks sad. Sometimes he shivers from humiliation. But he believes he deserves it because once he was an addict (he has been in the recovery program for two yesrs now). I feel shame because I feel I deserve it cos I am attacking normal human beings like me– sinner who Christ died for. I feel we all are stuck in the web if hate and shame. A vicious circle? Who is going to save us from this body of death? Out LORD Jesus Christ. My husband and I prayed with each other to pray every time we feel attacked by some of the images in the public. To pray blessing for the women and ourseleves. To pray the church, the kingdome of God flourish. To pray the LORD fill all of us are yearning for in our searches our our and each other bodies… it seems hard. It is counter natural for I prefer to stay in the web of shame and hurt. To gate my neighbor and myself then blame God for it. Please pray for God’s love and truth to prevail. I hear the chains are falling… holy holy holy is the lamb…

      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Natasha, I would suggest that you and your husband might do some work on building emotional trust within your relationship. My suggestion is that you go through The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman, and try to expand the emotional scope of your relationship beyond the pain of the betrayal, now that he’s been in recovery for a while.

    2. Ashley Weis on

      hey lovely … i know. the pain is unbearable sometimes. but the more you cling to God, the more you will see pain as something to embrace, something He uses for good, and your heart will be cleared of all thoughts pointing to “i don’t know how to live one more in this pain,” because you will know that His grace, albeit hard to “feel” sometimes, is sufficient, and no matter how much it feels like He has forsaken you … He is right there with you.

      Reply
    3. Julia on

      Thank you. I’ve been dwelling on the pain but it wont go away. Trying to be the beautiful woman I think he wants. I realize I can’t compete with those images. I don’t want to be angry and full of self-pity. But I want my husband to understand how he’s hurt me and know the pain he’s caused. You’re article helps me to realize that I just need to find out who I really am. I’ve tried to please my husband for 30 years and I’ve failed. He prefers others. So I need to find out who I am. Not who I think my husband wants me to be.

      Reply
    4. eva on

      I salute you for being so tough to embrace those pains. you are really one of a kind and your husband is so lucky to have you as her wife. God bless you always! Thank’s for sharing your story, you really inspired me a lot.

      Reply
    5. Susie on

      My brain agrees. But my heart is broken and I can’t breathe! I understand the concept of redemptive suffering and I know it’s a chance to be closer to Jesus and His suffering on the Cross. God didn’t save His own Son from pain… and I know it’s a trial by fire thing. But what am I supposed to do about the FEELINGS?!? I WANT to forgive… to refocus… to learn and move forward. But it hurts so bad to move, or to look at him, or to talk to people that I can’t imagine ever feeling happy or safe or loved again. I don’t WANT to feel this way; I have babies to take care of, for Pete’s sake! But even though I pray, I can’t quit crying. Pray for me, please!!! And if there’s a secret to bringing my emotions into alignment with my will then please clue me in!

      Reply
      • Ashley Weis on

        hey love — i think that’s the beauty of true love — that it doesn’t base itself off feelings. that even through pain it loves anyway. like Jesus when He obviously wanted the cup to be taken from Him, but He drank anyway, regardless of His feelings, because He knew that God had purpose in the pain.

        emotions may not always be in line with wisdom. just like what you want may not always line up with what you need. but doing what’s right even when you don’t feel like it — that’s beautiful. THAT is true beauty.

    6. Naomi on

      I am in the same boat as Susie. i dont know what to do anymore. my brother and his wife had gone through the same thing with porn. they have been a tremondous comfort. but the key word is comfort. just stick with it, pray, same everyting all the time. but i dont actually believe the pain will go away,, or the trust will ever return. how do i find it within myself to trust someone who has betrayed me in such a way? all the lies, everything involved with it, how do i allow myself to trust him again? i know it had nothing to do with me as a woman that he was watching it. but i cant commpletly acccept that is true. how am i not supposed to feel like an ugly beast when he needed other woman to be sastisfied. i read a few articles and do feel more discouraged then before. are all men liars? now that his issue is out in the open and he knows he cant be doing it anymore will that make him want it all the more? to just be more secretive? will he just become better at hididng it, and covering his tracks? i am having such a hard time praying. i try to give my fiance to God every day. but i just get so angry when i try to pary for him. what do i do?

      Reply
      • Ashley Weis on

        Hey Naomi… first I’ll answer your questions, simply based off my own experience.

        how do i find it within myself to trust someone who has betrayed me in such a way? all the lies, everything involved with it, how do i allow myself to trust him again?
        i think the key is to stop focusing so much on trying to trust him again, and focus on trying to love God more than you love your husband or anything on this earth. trust God with your heart, and know that even the trials he brings into your life are meant to bring you closer to Him… you will naturally trusty our husband when the time is right. it’s not something you can force. just focus on loving God and loving your husband through the overflow of that love. your relationship will take time to mend.

        how am i not supposed to feel like an ugly beast when he needed other woman to be sastisfied.
        as i say in my book “beyond the mirror” every garden has an array of flowers. that’s what makes God’s garden beautiful. however, some people trample through God’s garden, running over daisies to get to the roses. they disregard one beauty for the other. then, they chop the rose down, bring it home, and sit it on a vase in their dining room. sure, it looks nice, but the rose was meant to live… to be a part of the garden… not to simply sit on a table and be stared at…. if you try to live your life in a way that constantly wants to please people who trample some flowers to capture others for their own self-pleasure, you will always fail. you can’t please lust. lust will always want a different flower, something else… it doesn’t settle. if you try to please the lust of men you will have to change your appearance based on the man you ask. every man’s lust thinks certain flowers are less attractive than others. but purity… purity knows better. purity knows that all flowers are beautiful because the hand of God made them. seek to please God and purity, not lust and the world.

        are all men liars?
        i may be among the minority when i say this, but i think we are all liars. we all hide our sins, hide our flaws, and strive to be something “perfect” in our own eyes, something admirable or praiseworthy, something worth worshiping. we not only create false selves, but we worship our false selves. we love ourselves to the point of not being able to love others unless they love us perfectly in return. when men lie about porn, they are lying just like we all do. trying to hide their flaws to appear perfect.

        now that his issue is out in the open and he knows he cant be doing it anymore will that make him want it all the more? to just be more secretive?
        perhaps, or perhaps not. either way, even if he decided to lust for the rest of your life…and let’s say you were already married and didn’t want to divorce… you need to ask yourself if you are willing to look to God and discover why He put you in His garden, and be content as the flower He created you to be, regadless of what any man thinks of you… or if you want to spend your life trying to please men.

        for me, i finally found freedom when i looked to God and sought contentment from Him only.

    7. Sarah on

      I don’t think of myself as someone who cries easily, but when I caught my husband of 10 years on the internet looking at porn, all I could do was cry for a week straight! It’s interesting to me to see that so many who have posted also had the same thing…tears, tears, tears. I couldn’t control my tears. It’s been 8 months and I don’t cry as much, but the pain is still there. Im struggling with my thoughts and every time my husband wants to be intimate my mind goes to all the images he’s seen.
      One of the things I’ve always appreciated about my husband is that he’s always made me feel like Im the only one he looks at. I know men are wired visually but I’ve never been able to even catch his eye looking at another woman walking by in a short skirt or something.
      Im self concious about my body – especially my breasts but my husband has always convinced me how he loves that part of me. Now knowing what I know – I feel so ugly compared to what he’s seen. I don’t even want to undress in front of him. Why would he want to think about my body when he has all those other images of perfect bodies to think about?
      It hurts so much.

      Reply
    8. Michelle on

      Hi Sarah,

      I am sad to hear your story. So many people in our society see porn as “harmless” that it can be hard to share your pain with others. I wish those people, particularly those who are cheating on their partners with porn could experience a day in the life of a wife whose been shattered by her husbands porn use. Perhaps then they would learn the truth – porn causes immense pain and suffering.

      Three months after discovering my husbands porn use I still cry at least once or twice most days. I feel so alone, hurt and humiliated. My husband cannot understand why I am so reluctant to share what has happened with my friends or other people. He simply doesn’t understand the depth of my pain.

      I discovered my husbands porn use while he was at work. Fortunately, my toddler was having a nap at the time so he didn’t see my initial anger and total devastation. I sent some angry text messages to my husband who responded in kind. In fact, he later admitted that he masturbated to porn in the toilets at work to get back at me because he was so angry about my reaction to his porn use.

      On the night of the discovery, my husband tried to justify his porn use and to blame it on me. He said some extremely hurtful things about his dissatisfaction with our sex lives and my sexual performance. He also admitted to looking at some pictures of average women to try to keep his dissatisfaction with my post baby body in perspective.

      Although he has since apologised, confessed his sins and appears to be trying to overcome his porn habit I am plagued by doubt and distrust. He feels frustrated because he doesnt think that I am giving him credit for the changes which he has made. The thing is that I dont know for sure that he has changed. As little as a month ago, he looked at some naked women on an art website whilst at work. I had a feeling that something had happened because he stayed back at work without negotiating with me about this first. I asked him directly if he had looked at anything inappropriate (we have discussed what this means in detail on several occassions). He looked me straight in the eye and said that he hadnt. A few days later he confessed but I cant forgot how convincing he was when he looked me in the eye and lied on the night when it happened. My husband thinks that I am overlooking the positives (i.e. that it wasnt actual porn & he eventually confessed) but I’m struggling with how easy it is for him to lie to me.

      I dont enjoy our sex life any more because I am tormented by thoughts about his porn use. He recently told me that he misses watching porn and is curious about what his favourite porn stars have been upto over the past few months but says he has not acted on this temptation. The thing is, hearing that he has “favourite porn stars” has increased my agony. There is a part of me that wants to know their names so that I can see how these women are who my husband prefers over me. I feel ugly and rejected. I am six months pregnant and growing bigger each day. I couldnt compete with these women and their perfect bodies even before my first pregnancy, what chance do I have know??

      I pray to God for healing every day but a part of me doubts if I will ever recover from this even if my husband never watches porn again. Sometimes I doubt whether our marriage is going to survive the hurt, anger and mistrust.

      Reply
    9. jamie on

      Sometimes I feel like I am crazy but after reading this I know I am not alone. I am never alone in my sadness. I can’t believe my husband has been the person to make me so sad and hurt

      Reply
    10. Emma on

      Fires? Peeling back layers? What a load of rubbish! My friend’s marriage has been devastated by her Internet-sex addicted husband, who has sacrificed his marriage and surrendered his responsibilities as a father (to two little children under 10). She is the one who has taken action – going to counseling with supposedly Christian counsellors who told her his pornography addiction isn’t adultery, so she has to stay in a loveless, miserable situation with her sick husband and continue to show him grace. Rubbish! Codswallop! God’s grace is nit a place to wipe your feet. The husband’s behaviour is completely adulterous – it involves continual BETRAYAL, DECEPTION, MANIPULATION. The ‘Christian’ psychologist told him to list every sordid site he has accessed, every filthy sex act he has committed, to this poor, weary woman; yes, to tell her in graphic detail about his filthy behaviour. She feels completely defiled by HIS sinful choices – none of which she would choose herself. I don’t believe for a minute that God tolerates this abuse against my friend. The husband has committed continual adultery against her. She is free to leave (and try to rebuild her shattered self).

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        It sounds like your friend needs a new counselor! Have her call other counselors and ask about how they treat pornography use – as a normal behavior, or as an adulterous, addictive behavior.

        As a note of encouragement, we’ve heard a number of stories of wives who have fought for their marriages even when their husbands have acted out through affairs…and their marriages wound up being even stronger in the end. (You can read four of those stories here.)

      • Emily on

        Emma, I agree with you here. Lisa is only concerned with the idea that saving marriages are the ultimate glory to God. Frankly, your friend’s husband may never meet Christ and hit rock bottom until she has taken the kids, abandoned him and stopped staying around to enable him. Covenant Eyes and evangelicals need to stop warping theology and making marriage an idol. God never means for anyone to knowingly continue in an abusive situation. Men who are porn addicted are emotionally abusers. That’s the bottom line. They have knowingly fallen into emotionally terrorizing their wives and children. . . Even when they think their sin is secret, God gives women an instinct. She knows something is wrong, for example, when her husband of 3 years not even 45 yet, goes flaccid and limp in the middle of intercourse. She knows when he starts bending her limbs into new positions and can tell by the look on his face. She can tell something is wrong in the way he withdraws or only bothers to show her attention and care when she is wearing a tight t-shirt. She knows, men, something is wrong. Even when she isn’t sure it’s porn.

        I am tired of churchy counsel acting like it’s a badge of honor to stand by an abusive man who irrationally dragged his wife and kids into the very desert of hell without their permission, cries save me! and receives mercy while his wife and children are left to drag themselves back through the fires of hell.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Thank you, Emily. I agree 100% that the church has to stop enabling and encouraging the abuse of women. The worship of an institution over the human beings being harmed in that institution is an evil that breaks the heart of God. Here’s a great article entitled, A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce. We share it often around here and hope it makes a positive impact on women who never, never deserve to be treated with disrespect. Peace, Kay

    11. Emily on

      This article is helping me decide to divorce my husband. God does not want any woman to embrace this “fire” as a means to make her stronger and more beautiful. This counsel only encourages men to take a chance and have no fear of consequences of wiping their filthy porn boogers on a wife and making her carry consequences of his sin she had no choice over the matter. (How cowardly.)

      This writing is nothing but a balm to moral midget males everywhere who want to have their porncake drenched in wifey syrup too.

      Ladies, you should never have to walk through an abusive fire.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Amen, my friend. Thank yoy for speaking the truth.

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