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

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.

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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.