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Do’s and Don’ts for Shepherding the Wife of a Sexual Struggler

Last Updated: September 8, 2021

Marsha Fisher
Marsha Fisher

Marsha Fisher is a professional communicator and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Marsha and her husband Jeff launched PornToPurity.com in 2009, and she continues to write blogs for the website and participate in podcasts.  Marsha was also a contributing author to Love Is a Flame: Stories of What Happens When Love Is Rekindled, and Covenant Eyes e-book, Internet Pornography: A Ministry Leader's Handbook.

It happened again. I met with a wife of a sexual struggler who shared a story that is becoming all too familiar. After discovering her husband had been viewing pornography, she went to her pastor seeking counsel. But what she received instead was an uncomfortable lesson on testosterone levels and her responsibilities as a wife. The pastor promised to talk to her husband and reminded her that she needs to be forgiving as Christ has forgiven her. She left confused. Her broken heart was once again shattered, first by her husband and then by her shepherd leader.

Many pastors successfully counsel hurting wives with the compassion and skill they desperately need. However, an alarming number of ministers seem ill prepared to deal with the growing number of couples battling pornography in the home. It is estimated that somewhere around 47% of marriages in church pews are struggling with pornography (Family Safe Media, 2003). Because that number is expected to grow as the channels to pornography become more intrusive (think Smartphone, tablet, video consoles), ministers have to prepare themselves for the day when a church member’s spouse shares that she found pornography on her husband’s computer. What will you say? What resources will you give her? Will you be prepared?

Here are a few tips to help get you started.

Read the rest of Marsha’s article on Pastors.com…

  • Comments on: Do’s and Don’ts for Shepherding the Wife of a Sexual Struggler
    1. zipporah

      WOW… hmmm I wonder if the PASTOR HIMSELF is struggling with PORN…in that case, he is in no condition to counsel. Some pastors have their shortcomings: like the one in Crystal Springs MS who refused to marry a black couple because he was afraid of what some ‘powerful ‘ people in the congregation would think..& he would lose his job

      • Annie

        Throughout our courtship and marriage, I have heard the same exact declarations from him at crossroads of being caught in his pornographic sin. I have seen the visual posture of a sad and deeply “wounded” Derry. (my husband) I have held him as he cried “truly repentant tears” and begged for forgiveness.

        I recall the “horror” when we were first dating and I discovered his mountain of Playboys and educated him that these were someone’s daughters and sisters. Exactly word for word as he has spoken now, he expressed his shame at his behavior which led to him declaring his salvation in Christ — that he was a new creature and all of this was put behind him. He wanted to be baptized and make a public confession — which didn’t happen, but he did become the drummer and arranger for the church ‘worship’ team :-)

        Five years later, while serving on a church worship team, fellowshipping with strong believers, it comes out that he was going to a local magazine store — Shinders — heading to the back room on his lunch hour to looking at porn, then heading back to work to masturbate and at the end of lunch, calling home to check in on me and the children.

        Once discovered, Derry was again “horrified” at his sin and his disrespect to women and towards me. We sought counseling (that Derry now claims was ineffective) and Derry met up with men to form accountability partners and attended Promise Keepers. He cried deep tears of repentance, assuring me that he was never going to turn back to that ugly sin. He really had committed his life to the Lord this time and was going to be baptized.

        Pastors and friends alike shamed me for not getting over it — after all Derry was sincere and contrite. How dare I remind him of his sin! Move on! He is a new creature in Christ… and all the same scriptures stated last night were crammed into my heart until guilt for not being a loving and forgiving Christian wife overwhelmed me.

        I walked away from this church because people kept calling Derry — come play drums — we don’t hold you accountable — your a repentant man! But I was broken and all they did was shame me.
        You’d think a broken individual would cause those who call themselves after Christ to stop shooting the wounded! No. They turned from me indicating now I WAS THE PROBLEM for not fully and lovingly forgiving him and welcoming him back into my life. So I did, with a beaten down spirit, and eventually fell back to loving my husband and becoming one.

        Ten years later, Derry re-enters the world of lust, hard core adult and teen porn, adding to it prostitution, strip clubs, emotional affairs, and living a duel life of perfect loving husband and adulterer for seven years until he is caught in the mire of his sin. He caused me to be subjected to major brain surgery as I passed out so many times over the six months It took him confess his sins — some of which I am certain I shall never know the depth of.

        BUT!!!!! Once again he is deeply contrite, truly aware in horror that his sin has propagated the abuse of women, unbelievably sorry that he betrayed his wife and family, wishes he could go back and not make those choices — etc. etc. etc.
        But — hey everyone —this time he’s really and truly given his heart over to Christ and he is really and truly repentant and will never enter this cesspool of sexuality again. He’s attending 12 Step programs, meets with you all, And he really wants to be baptized this time!

        And the pastors rejoice once again and wonder what’s wrong with me for not being joyful for him.

    2. Annie – your experience is shared by so many wives. That cycle of repentance, victory and relapse is vicious. Much attention is given to the sexual struggler, but the healing journey the wife needs to take is too often overlooked or rushed.

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