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Save My Marriage: Counseling the Wife of a Porn Addict (Part 2 of 3)

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

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Whenever I am able to give wives a biblical perspective of their husband’s sex/porn problem, I witness a ray of hope beginning to shine into the midst of their hopelessness. You see, it’s not uncommon for the wife to blame herself for her husband’s sin, or for the husband to blame his wife for his behavior. Sadly, well-meaning pastors or counselors may have blamed the wife for her husband’s sin as well. In many cases she has been told that unresolved issues from her past likely led her to marry someone with this issue, or that her husband sinned because he was not getting enough sex at home. While some of these statements may have some validity, it is important to show her, based on the Scriptures, what the Word of God has to say about the problem.

This is why it is vital for counselors to maintain a personal commitment to having quality time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study every day. I have found in my own life that the more time I have in the Word of God, the more the Holy Spirit works through me to give these ladies what they need when they express their inner struggles in counseling. A vibrant devotional life is essential if there is to be life and power in the words you share in counseling. Furthermore, routine interaction with the Word enables you to assign relevant homework that will help the wife with her specific struggles and guards against giving routine, cookie-cutter responses.

Getting Started: What Does She Believe About God?

At the outset of counseling it is wise to find out what the wife has been struggling with since the revelation of her husband’s sin. A data-gathering questionnaire given to the wife preceding counseling can offer valuable information. At Pure Life Ministries (PLM), we also ask the wife to provide a written testimony. This information will also help in planning future counseling sessions.

Some of the things I look for on the data-gathering sheet and testimony are: What does she believe about God in her trial? Is she struggling with why God would allow her to go through something like this? Is she questioning how long God wants her to endure in this relationship? Does she believe God has abandoned her? Does she think He is punishing her for some past sin? Does she have fears of her husband returning to his sin? Does she wonder how she can ever trust her husband again? Has she lost sight of the Lord in her suffering? (A data-gathering form is part of the application packet for the PLM Overcomers At-Home Program, available at PureLifeMinistries.org.)

When my husband was in his sin, my thinking about God was all wrong. I saw Him as a God who was punishing me for choices I had made in my past. I didn’t understand why He was allowing me to go through this. I needed someone to help me see things right, and I desperately needed to know God’s love in a very real way as I worked through these struggles.

As counselors, we need to help the wife see that God is not against her but for her. He hasn’t forsaken her; He has been there with her all the way.

Going Deeper: What is Her Focus?

If the wife is struggling emotionally, it is beneficial to focus on her walk with the Lord and to keep pointing her to Calvary. If she keeps her eyes on Jesus and what He did at the Cross for her, He is able to soften her heart and give her eyes to see this situation from His perspective. I have seen this happen many times in counseling. As Colossians 1:28 tells us, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”Leading the wife into a deeper relationship with Christ should be the primary goal in counseling.

As we continue to counsel the wife, it is also necessary to examine whether she has become so consumed with her husband’s sin that he is an idol in her life. (An idol is anyone or anything that begins to capture our hearts, minds and affections more than God.) You’ll want to ask her if she is willing to seek and obey God regardless of her husband’s choices. Many times I have seen the Lord use the wife’s situation to shake her out of her own complacency in her relationship with Christ. Most importantly, we want to encourage her to be a godly example to her husband in the midst of this trial.

When I gained an eternal perspective of what I was going through and how God was using it for good in my heart, being a godly example to my husband wasn’t nearly as difficult. With help, I learned to embrace the cross of sexual sin and allow God to crucify my flesh so that Christ’s love could come forth out of my life. Ultimately, this change in me had a tremendous effect on my husband and was a key tool the Lord used to bring my husband to his senses.

If the wife is struggling with anger you might assign her to keep an anger journal, which asks the following questions: What were the circumstances that led her to become angry? What was she thinking when she was angry? What did she want, desire, or long for when anger arose in her heart? What does the Bible say about what she wanted when she was angry? What does the Bible say about how she should have responded to that situation? Did she respond the way God wanted her to respond? If not, how can she respond in a biblical way to her present situation? As she continues to do this assignment, you can monitor her progress from week to week to see if she is living based on her emotions or whether she is allowing the Word of God to rule in her heart. If the wife is struggling with bitterness or resentment, you can use the anger journal format to help her work through these sinful attitudes as well.

If unforgiveness is an issue, you could use the parable of the unjust servant in Matthew 18:23-35. You might have her read this chapter with you during your counseling session and ask her where she sees herself in this story. You can also read Matthew 5:21-26 and 6:14-15 with her and share the dangers of not walking in forgiveness toward someone who has sinned against her. (For more examples on homework assignments, see From Ashes to Beauty by my husband, Jeff Colón.)

Read Part 1 and Part 3

. . . .

Rose Colón has been the Director of Women’s Counseling at Pure Life Ministries (PLM) since 1996. A certified biblical counselor, she also serves as mentor to female counselors-in-training for PLM. Originally from New York City, Rose has a Masters of Ministry in Biblical Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity and holds certification from the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC).

  • Comments on: Save My Marriage: Counseling the Wife of a Porn Addict (Part 2 of 3)
    1. T on

      Rose,

      You talk about the dangers of unforgiveness. How do you balance encouraging wives towards forgiveness with their need to openly admit and acknowledge their anger? I ask because so much of what is done in the church to try to encourage people to forgive seems functionally to push them toward pretending to forgive to avoid punishment/judgment, rather than dealing with deep sin and hurt with their whole hearts.

      Thanks for your wisdom.

      Reply
    2. Beryl on

      I was very disallusioned after reading this article. I am somewhat dismayed by the number of times I have read articles that blamed the wives for the husbands’ sins. Here again we are telling the wives that if they are perfect, then the husbands will do the right thing. Why must we continue to give that kind of advice to women?
      Please correct me if I read the article wrong. 7-5-13

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        The beginning of the article states the exact opposite:

        You see, it’s not uncommon for the wife to blame herself for her husband’s sin, or for the husband to blame his wife for his behavior. Sadly, well-meaning pastors or counselors may have blamed the wife for her husband’s sin as well. In many cases she has been told that unresolved issues from her past likely led her to marry someone with this issue, or that her husband sinned because he was not getting enough sex at home. While some of these statements may have some validity, it is important to show her, based on the Scriptures, what the Word of God has to say about the problem.

        The whole article is focused on how the wife can take care of her own soul amidst the process of counseling, not how she is to blame for her husband’s sin.

    3. Beryl on

      Again, my take is that the woman is always blamed. The comment about what the Word of God says, should be clear, in that husbands and wives must not commit adultery, must become one with the other, and must not lust after another. If only we could be fai and balnced and admit that men are selfish and want what they want when they want it.
      Lastly, sex is not in the smae category with our need for food and water. What do you all think men do in prison and jail? We must be fair, realistic, and most of all respect women/wives.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        The woman is sadly often blamed, yes. And yes, the problem is at its core the selfishness of those who choose to put their desires above the covenant they’ve made with another person.

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