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Husband Struggle with Porn? 3 Ways to Rebuild Your Sex Life

Last Updated: July 29, 2015

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Want to write for the Covenant Eyes blog? Share the story of your journey to freedom from pornography. Let us know how you overcame porn or how Covenant Eyes has made a difference in your life or the lives of those you love.

One of my regular speaking gigs is talking to teenagers in the public school system about abstinence.

A goal of the program is to help young people see that sex isn’t just physical. Our thoughts, among other aspects, also play a role. What we think about sex matters.At this point, I get brutally real about the devastating impact of pornography—and what happens when someone fills their mind with illicit and unrealistic images of sex.

I share with the young men especially that if they fix their eyes upon such skewed sexual content, they likely will encounter horrendous pain down the road. Those images carry the potential to wreak havoc in their sexual intimacy with their future wife, the woman they will have vowed to protect and cherish.

But what if you are that wife right now… the one whose husband has either looked at porn in the past or struggles with looking at it now? He has expressed he wants to change his ways and has been repentant, but he still is trying to find his footing in rebuilding trust. He’s not quite there. And you, more than anyone, know it.

Is there any redeeming hope for having sex with this man you married, this man who has entertained the illicit images of other women?

What an excruciating mess. It would be an understatement of monumental proportions to say that a married couple doesn’t pay a deep toll when pornography has arrived on the scene.

And yet, they still must navigate this matter of sex in the marriage bed.

My guess is that if you are that wife, the one who is cringing from the sting of compromised trust, your gut reaction is to avoid sex altogether.

I humbly encourage you to inch toward the side of hope, though.

If there is any hope for you making love to the man who has betrayed you through pornography use, I believe it must be rooted in these 3 things:

1. The truth of God’s Word that we all must give account

This seems like a strange place for me to start, doesn’t it? Well, as a woman who blogs about sex, I receive many e-mails and comments from people suffering from their spouse’s sexual carelessness. And where do I often arrive when they are pleading for insight? At Hebrews 4:13.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13, NIV)

Just as your husband will have to give account to the Lord for his pornography use, you too will have to give account for how you handle sex in your marriage.

Before you think I’m sounding overly righteous, please hear my heart. In my first marriage, I was incredibly indifferent to sex, which was a contributing factor to my then husband divorcing me. Yes, he had his flaws and sin as well, but I cannot sugar coat my flagrant and subtle mishandling of our sexual intimacy.

Ten years and a second marriage have given me a richer understanding of God’s gift of sex. He implores us to each individually do what we can to take His commands about sex to heart.

You cannot be responsible for your husband’s steps (or missteps, as the case may be). But you can pay close attention to your own.

When you make love to your husband, you are not excusing or overlooking his sin. You are looking into the heart of God and agreeing that His plan for marital intimacy is sacred. This is the same God, after all, who sees every one of your tears and understands better than anyone the depth of your pain.

It takes courage to err on the side of trusting God, when the reminder of betrayed trust sleeps next to you. Much of faith, though, is about taking God’s side when it seems like the most illogical thing to do.

2. The refusal to let Satan have any more ground in your marriage

Your husband’s immoral decisions have cast a long shadow over his good qualities. And Satan would like nothing more than for you to react to the pain by withholding sex indefinitely.

Why?

Because Satan knows that without sex, a marriage is increasingly vulnerable to division. I know it’s hard to believe anything at this point could make your marriage more vulnerable, but Satan is crafty. He wants you blind to anything that is decent in your husband’s character.

This isn’t about pretending the pornography use isn’t an issue. My encouragement is that you continue to seek support and healing for yourself, as well as pray that your husband too will walk the path of restoration.

In that process, do not give Satan any more ammunition than he already is using. Withholding sex is a definite way to load up his stockpile.

3. The reality that you are still married

If ever there was a place where we have to wrestle out our faith, marriage may be it. And as long as you are still married, you are constantly reconciling in your heart and mind about what marriage really entails.

Try as we may to justify otherwise, we will never be able to dismiss that sex is a significant part of marriage.

I recognize that restoring sexual intimacy when it has been so compromised is not a simple process. But a marriage without sex doesn’t exactly seem like a good alternative.

A few practical suggestions while rebuilding sexual intimacy:

Make love in the light. Sure, no one wants an overhead light blaring in his or her eyes, but some light in the room is better than complete darkness. Why? Darkness is more conducive to thoughts wandering, which is the last thing you need at such an intimate moment.

Keep your eyes open—and ask him to keep his open—as much as possible during sex. Why? It’s a basic law of nature that when we are visually focused on what is right in front of us, it is more difficult to think of other things.

Talk during sex. Why? It is good for you and your husband to associate authentic intimacy with the sound of each other’s voice. Voice is a distinctive trait that can offer so much to a sexual experience.

As you heal from the destructive path of pornography, don’t lose sight of sexual connection in your marriage bed. Foster conversation that not only assesses the damage, but also resolves to create something better beyond it.

. . . .

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two sons and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer dog who refuses to stay in the fence.

  • Comments on: Husband Struggle with Porn? 3 Ways to Rebuild Your Sex Life
    1. Tom Cox on

      Thank you for your candor. What an excellent article. I am sharing this on my Facebook wall in hopes that folks will read it.

      Reply
    2. sapphire on

      Making love, and talking in the LIGHT & TALKING just might HELP with a mans or womans porn issues, havent thought about that one before..but it makes sense; sounds like a good way to fight.

      Reply
    3. Kim on

      Thank you for that! As a wife who has struggled through this, it is hard to find those who maintain scriptural integrity when dealing with the issue. Bad judgement doesn’t change the fact that our bodies are no longer ours, but were given to our spouses in order to become one flesh. To keep it to ourselves as punishment or out of hurt goes against what marriage was intended for, intimacy. Striving toward Christ and his likeness through forgiveness and prayer will create healing. We serve a God who changes hearts and attitudes…..start with your wifey and let God take care of the rest :-) Great read! thanks!

      Reply
    4. Mrs. Woods on

      Thank you. It is still a few days fresh of his honesty and confessing to lying about the issue in the past. This gives me something tangible.

      Reply
    5. Bridgit Smith on

      Thank you for this post!

      Our marriage has been restored and healed from this addiction. I appreciate your wisdom for wives who are navigating the waters after the pornography has come to light. You are right on as far as leaving the light on and keeping eyes open. And I love how you started with HOPE. Because there is hope, healing and restoration through Christ Jesus.

      If I may add my “two cents.” Wife’s need to realize these steps are for couples in which the pornography addiction has come to “light.” If the husband is not seeking the healing that only comes from God it is not possible for the couple to experience the kind of intimacy God designed us to have. In my experience, sexual intimacy in a Christian marriage is almost impossible if the husband is still in denial or has not been honest with the wife. We have to be careful in our mentoring of women that they understand there are things which the husband asks as far as sex, that are more perverse than what God’s design is for sexual intimacy in a Christian marriage bed. Especially when the husband has yet to admit the porno issue! I am of the believe that is the issue isn’t out…it needs to be! Confronting in love can help the healing begin.

      We had pastors/counselors over the years who heaped undeserving guilt on my head. The pornography addiction is not the wife’s fault. Many times the roots of this addiction start long before the couple has even met or dated.

      In my experience, sexual intimacy in a Christian marriage is almost impossible if the husband is still in denial or has not been honest with the wife. Regardless of whether or not the wife is fulfilling her scriptural responsibility.

      ~b

      Reply
    6. Lindsay on

      Thank you so much for this. I really needed to read this, and I plan on applying what I’ve read in my marriage, as we are working through this issue.

      Reply
    7. Corwin on

      This is a WONDERFUL article, and without discounting ANY of the good advice in this article I want to say: I am a wife who is about 2.5 years past the initial SHOCK of the sexual sin and porn and confession etc. We have an “ok” sex life, and he is working diligently on his sexual integrity and staying PURE! Hallelujah! A LOT to be thankful for. However I would ADD a VERY VERY VERY enthusiastic addition to this article: WORK ON THE EMOTIONAL STUFF twice as hard as the physical sexual intimacy. You might take baby steps in both areas, but if you don’t work on the emotional spiritual stuff TOO, you will find yourself RESENTFUL, empty, and going no where. My husband and I are still not anywhere NEAR where we need to be emotionally and and spiritually and it is taking a HUGE toll on our sexual relationship. BOTH are essential! Blessings!

      Reply
    8. Fran. on

      I heartily agree that the emotional and spiritual stuff must be worked on first. Sexual intimacy is an outgrowth (or ought to be) of emotional intimacy. Porn is the opposite of this. Pornography allows a person to create sexual intimacy for himself with no emotional intimacy. I was told recently that enmeshment and codependency is NOT intimacy. While enmeshment isn’t always a factor in marriages where pornograpy is a problem, it often is. The whole sense of one’s self and bringing that self into emotional intimacy with another autonomous self needs to be developed in order for sexual intimacy to be what God designed.

      Reply
    9. Elizabeth on

      Is it unhealthy that upon hearing my husband’s confession to struggling with porn, I cling to him all the more and want to make love despite my devastation? I feel like it’s essential in healing what’s been broken and that withholding sex could destroy our marriage. But maybe I’m co-dependent? Why don’t I have the “typical” reaction of pulling away from him?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I think this revolves around the issue of motives. There is nothing wrong with forging a stronger intimacy with your husband through sex; on the contrary it is good to desire that and good to strive toward it. Sex shouldn’t be used to manipulate someone, however. If your conscience is clear in this, I’m not sure I’d worry too much about it. But keep an eye on your heart at all times.

    10. Hope on

      This website has been a fantastic resource for me as a wife and am asking my husband to listen to some of the podcasts with me. We have committed to a sexual fast (possibly 90 days) and this article is very helpful. Although I have to say that I am finding not having sex very frustrating I hope that the long-term reward will be worth the effort. I am looking for advice an encouragement around a sexual fast and what to do when starting our sex life again, so any advice on this would be much appreciated!

      Reply
    11. Thankful Wife on

      I have run the gamut of emotions since finding out about a month ago that my husband was still battling a porn addiction. We have been intimate every day for the last 5 days… before that we had not had sex in over a month. I had ZERO sex drive for many years but now I want it all the time. We are in counseling, and the counselor saw my intense desire for my husband as a good thing since our intimacy has improved in other areas. I don’t know what to think sometimes because my drive is crazy high right now. I just love sitting next to him, holding hands, and touching him even in non-sexual ways. I have not felt like this since we got married 13 years ago, or maybe I did for a bit after we got married, but it’s been a LONG time.

      I wonder subconsciously if I think I can fix him… I know consciously I cannot give him enough sex to fix this.Over the last 13 years I have found out off and on about his porn use but really thought it was finally over. He just learned to hide better. Now he is being honest about his struggles, we are in counseling, and he’s been in close contact with one of the pastors at our church. I think he truly wants to leave it behind for the first time ever. Maybe all the hope I have makes me feel so much attraction to him. I don’t know. He is not complaining, but I just feel really strange to have such a strong drive after only maybe wanting it once a month or maybe even less for so long. Porn truly does completely ruin a good sex life!!! Ours is amazing right now. Everything seems so much more real.

      I had not read this blog until tonight, and I did not know about his porn use until a month ago… but anytime we had sex it was always in the dark. I always insisted on that. Now I don’t care. And I feel so much more connection to him. Maybe I knew something before… and subconsciously felt ashamed to show him my body? I don’t know. I find it very satisfying to make love with the lights on now where I did not before. I feel like I’m getting my real husband back. It’s amazing to experience the miracle God is working in our lives.

      There is hope… I was ready to walk out on my marriage, but God has done amazing things in my marriage and I know there is more to come!

      Reply
      • Warning on

        Husbands, please don’t make the mistake of pornography. It is destructive to your soul and murderous to your marriage. Only God can put the pieces back together. I am living proof.

    12. Richard on

      My wife watches porn, I never really thought that it was destructive until I started reading some of the posts. Should I ask her to stop watching it, maybe read some of these posts?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Richard. Well, I think it would be a conversation worth having. You could tell her just what you said here, that you never thought about it being destructive, but now you’re wondering. The two of you could look at it and think about it together. A conversation that helps you express yourself and understand her is always worthwhile.

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