5 minute read

Help! My “Christian” Husband Secretly Watches Porn

Last Updated: April 11, 2015

April Mabrey

April Mabrey is a wife, a corporate mom to twins, homeschooler, speaker, and Covenant Eyes blogger. April loves to share the story of how God has dramatically redeemed her past and restored her marriage.

Recently we received this comment from one of our readers:

Hi. This is hard for me, as I have never posted something like this before..but here goes.

I have been married since Aug 2009, and my husband has been watching porn since. He actually told me before we got married and said it was in the past, and so I decided to trust him. I am completely devastated. I have found out he has been watching and contacting other girls (real and far away fantasy ones) over and over again. I try to forgive him, but his “reformed cleanness” never lasts more than a single month.

And now, the worst part (for this kind of situation) is I’m pregnant. I never imagined living this kind of marriage with a child! My own father had this horrible addiction, with many other issues, and it tore me and my family to pieces. I have seen first-hand what it can do. And now my husband has the same problem! I experienced a lot of pain as a child and teenager,dealing with a lot of warped family issues, and God miraculously healed my broken heart. He gave me joy, life, and hope for my own life and future.

But then why, how could He let me marry this “Christian” man?

But I don’t think I love my husband enough anymore to endure more pain. It’s too much. I can’t raise a child with a man who is not willing to be a man. He has apologized every time after he is caught. I usually feel it before I find proof on the computer. I do not want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to feel trapped now, especially because of the baby.

You’ve taken the first step

I’m so glad that you’ve finally reached out and asked for help. This is the beginning, you know: seeing yourself write it down, reading it, saying it out loud.

I wonder if you’re like me: not wanting anyone to know the shortcomings of your marriage and the fact that you’ve married a man with the kind of flaws you don’t discuss with others. I lived under this dark blanket of fear for 8 years, it is a very lonely existence, so I’m excited that you’ve taken this first step.

My mistake was not telling anyone. If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would be to tell the world, allow others to help me, and pray that God would give me the faith to trust Him. I believe that God wanted to unveil the guilt and shame in my husband’s life, but because of my own pride of what others might think of me (or of my husband), I continued to hide inside the cloak of our secrets. As a child, I was used to having secrets and knowing how to keep them, what was one more?

Ephesians 5:8-14 is a great Scripture to meditate on. I love the way it ends, “…For light is capable of showing everything for what it really is. It is even possible for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also.” My life story is a living testimony that this scripture is true…amazingly true.

His honesty is good, his addiction is real

I know this may seem strange, but the fact that he shared this with you prior to your marriage is huge, in my opinion.

He didn’t (and probably still doesn’t) understand that this is an addiction. I believe that he wanted out then, and he wants out now. The problem is that he is not equipped to defeat his sexual addiction alone within the privacy of his own home.

I want you to pray that he Lord will help you appreciate your husband’s attempt to be real and open and honest with you prior to marriage. When I married my husband, I had no idea that he had been using pornography since he was 12 years old. After being married four years and accidentally discovering thousands of sites on his computer, I remember feeling like someone had shot me in the stomach.

I haven’t experienced a physical addiction. So, in my mind I felt like my husband should just be able to stop. I used many things as reward or punishment in order to “help him” modify his behavior. Let me assure you none of them worked (and I’m a really creative person and I hatched many plans and schemes over those eight years before admitting defeat).

It’s not about behavior modification; it’s about heart transformation. I took it very personally that my husband wasn’t willing or able to cease and desist this disgusting and degrading ritual. He knew what kind of childhood I had endured, what kind of father I had growing up, yet he continued to participate.

It wasn’t until I was educated that this was a true addiction, and that it was bigger than both of us, that my expectations started to change. My unattainable expectations mixed with his shame and guilt of not meeting those expectations put our marriage on a roller coaster of fear, resentment, disappointment, and anger.

What your husband meant for evil, God meant for good

First, congratulations on your pregnancy! Second, you are asking a great question.

I’ve asked myself and screamed the question at God a million times. Why? Why? Why?

Here’s what I’ve come to understand. What if God took an abused, tortured, fearful little girl and paired her with a man whose very DNA carried the sin that would force her to run into God’s arms? What if God was more interested in healing that little girl and drawing her near to Him than He was with her perfect marriage or her personal image? What if the God of all Creation knew that the little girl would desire to make her husband into her savior, but adored her enough to knock the man off his pedestal and replace him with the God of the Angel Armies?

God wants to work on us, my friend. Those fears and resentments that we harbor, the abandonment and rejection that we’ve faced as children…that’s the stuff He wants to free us from. Should we question the means He uses to get our attention? Genesis 50:20 is a good Scripture to pray through on this topic of how God can change our hearts through the sin of others.

You can take practical steps

God will lead you through all the decisions that need to be made. One suggestion I would give you is to seek professional counseling from a Christian counselor who specializes in sexual addiction. Also, seek out a recovery program in your area that will help you walk through your past.

Our pasts stole our childhoods: don’t give it the power to steal your present and your future. Continue to reach out, talk to your family, talk to your husband’s family.

Be careful not to throw him under the bus, because long after you’ve forgiven him, and this time in your life is a dark, distant memory, it may be difficult for others to follow suit. Stay respectful toward him, but have boundaries.

Most of all, work through your anger with the Lord.

God has brought you to this place for a reason. Seek that reason with all your mind, will and emotion. He will meet you there. The temptation will be to reject the pain and run from it. I’ve been running from the pain of the realization of my own sinfulness and imperfection. It seems better to just endure the pain of sin and avoid the light altogether, but that is not His best for us (Philippians 1:6).

I pray that you meet your Savior like you’ve never met him before through this trial, and allow his all consuming fire heal you in places that will change you forever. You’re not alone.

  • Comments on: Help! My “Christian” Husband Secretly Watches Porn
    1. Jo on

      My dear sister,
      This is truly tortuous.
      My personal experience says ask for STD checks and ensure you have no unpleasant gifts from your husband. Secondly, sometimes the answer to the prayers for your marriage is to leave.
      Lastly, this is not about you or anything you have to learn. You may have to forgive and let go but I don’t believe God put you in this situation to learn something. You wandered into something inadvertently believing the best in someone. They lied.
      God will however turn all things to good. Seek some trauma counselling and do not consider marriage counselling while he is still hiding things from you.

      Reply
      • Kate on

        Jo, I think you are beyond wrong. Did you not read the article? Do you not trust God to take control of the sin and lies in this woman’s life? I think you are a fool to discourage her from marriage counseling. Her husband seems to be struggling, and seems to want to stop. Why else would he confess his discretions to her? I say let God glorify himself in this relationship. Marriage was not designed to make us happy, but to make us holy.

    2. Maureen on

      I full identify with the women in these blogs. I found out my Christian husband was secretly watching porn approximately 18 months ago and I was devastated. What made it worse that we had already spent much time, anguish and heartache struggling with his son’s addiction to porn. His son lived with us for 6 years before he moved in with friends of ours, due to his constant emotional abuse of me. His son has been addicted since he was 9 years old and is now 15. I thought once he left that things were on the up and up. But a few months later discovered that my Christian husband was also watching porn. He had been lying to me, going onto dating websites, taking secret photos to show his new ‘friends’ and watching stuff that made me feel degraded. I am from a strong Christian and church background, my parents have counselled for many years and all my family attend church, with one married to a pastor. I had very high moral standards and was proud that I was a virgin when I married at the age of 45. . What hurt me the most was the lying and the promises that he never kept. Once I realised how addicted he was I knew that it was the end of us fostering children or doing other children’s work from our home. I cant take the risk that they or their parents find what he has been doing.. There were many times I rang my mother up in tears wanting to leave him but I never have. My parents have been fantastic and given us full support and help. The huge break through came when my husband admitted to our senior pastor about his struggle. At no time was he judged or made to feel terrible about his addiction. Instead our pastor has been mentoring him and keeping him accountable though have said that he is not to be alone with any of the church children and he cant be in a leadership position. I am in leadership in church with responsibility for the 3-5 year olds and the church leadership continue to allow me to be in the position without judgement.. It has been a painful, difficult journey but I am determined not to let the devil destroy our marriage. In every other way my husband loves the Lord, he regularily puts on worship music and sings to the Lord, he has been a wonderful support during my recent injury (a broken rib) and gave up his son to save our marriage. He loves church, attend men’s prayer group and enjoys helping me in Children’s Church. However very few people know about his addiction because we know many people will judge.. Yes it would have been easy to leave him but the Christian life is not meant to be easy. God restores all things and he is in the process of restoring my husband. He has restored me and healed me and I am much more at peace. I don’t like it and my husband knows how much I hate it, but we are working together with the Lord, our pastor and my parents. We will come through.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Maureen. I’m glad to hear that your husband is working at his recovery. I think that is the real key to whether a marriage survives this issue: will the addict take responsibility for his recovery, and do the long-term work that is required? One thing you didn’t mention here is what kind of support you’ve gotten for yourself in this? I’m asking, because I often find that so much effort and attention is put into the husband’s recovery that many many times the wife is left on her own to work things out. Given the kind of trauma that women often suffer in relationships like this, and given the emotional abuse you mentioned, I hope you’ve been able to find a good therapist to help you work through those various issues. Blessings, Kay

      • vivi on

        What do you mean, “gave up his son to save our marriage?”

      • Amelia garcia on

        I need help my name is amy rangel and my husband is addicted to porn,lies and Facebook what should I do ? His always blaming me for everything. I am just in tears he doesn’t pay attention to me only his phone and his friends.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re experiencing in this relationship. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for porn addicts to blame their spouses for everything; a growing sense of entitlement is really common. It sounds like it’s time to consider what your boundaries need to be in this situation. You can’t control your husband’s choices, but you can be responsible for yourself. Here, here, and here are some articles that will help you think through your boundaries. I also think it would help to get some support for yourself, perhaps a group or a therapist. Definitely look into the online resources at Bloom for Women. Whatever your husband chooses is a reflection of simply that: his own choices. Whatever he chooses, you can choose to be healthy and whole. Peace to you, Kay

    3. Mary on

      This is a big question I have. At the time of the discovery I was pregnant and I felt extremely unsafe to the point of loosing my mind with claustrophobia and a feeling of being trapped. I have been pregnant before and to trust the dad is an absolute must for me, the pregnancies were normal before.
      Since the discovery of porn and the birth of that baby I have felt extremely unsafe, and I want another baby but not with an addict. He is my husband though, and an addict, working on it but still.
      I got pregnant and lost a baby since and I felt panicked from beginning to end, I feel I cannot afford to be weak and vulnerable and in need (pregnant) because I have to be strong and ready for the worst, in case. Plus I feel like it is not good for children to have a sex addict dad.
      To me this is not a marriage, when you can’t trust enough to have a baby.
      However we get along well and he is working on it.
      I know we desire a baby but the trust is broken: part of it is still there, but the trust in him to the point of having a baby with him is not there.
      I would like to know if there are women out there who had babies after the discovery and good pregnancies (mentally and spiritually). I never came across an example yet.
      To trust to the point of having a baby after the discovery is to me the biggest challenge and when I do, I know it will mean we have a marriage again because I really trust him, and the child will grow up with both parents, etc…
      Help?
      Inspirations?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Mary.

        It’s really, really important that you get help and support in recovery. It is very, very common for women to meet the clinical criteria for PTSD when their marriages are threatend by porn, and I wonder if you are experiencing that kind of normal reaction to this very difficult situation. It’s great that your husband is working on his side of things, but as you’re discovering, your level of anxiety interferes with your ability to move forward in life. Before you try for another child, I would suggest that you find a counselor who is experienced in the treatment of trauma and work on healing for yourself. Once you are feeling safer within yourself, I think you will feel more equipped to make the important decisions you’re considering here.

        Also, I think you might appreciate this article on restoring trust during the recovery process. If you get along well, and he really is working on the problem, then you may find it’s worthwhile to work on the restoration of trust. Every situation is different, and you are the best judge of what’s happening with you. I would never, ever encourage a woman to stay in a relationship where she is being abused or mistreated in any way. However, restoration of the relationship and the trust absolutely is possible; I saw it happen in my own marriage.

        If you are both interested in working on the marriage, I would suggest you look at the research of John Gottman. His book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, is the best resource out there for working on the real, positive steps toward a healthy relationship. You can do this work DURING recovery, as long as your husband really is doing his part! You don’t have to wait for perfect sobriety to strengthen your relationship.

        Peace to you, Kay

      • Debra on

        I can’t hold it in any longer. I feel I am going to have a nervous brake down. I thought I did everything right. A Christian courtship. Waiting till marriage. A year engagement. 6 mounts pre martial counseling. I thought I arrived. Wrong the very day we got married it was like the mask came off and the work was over for him. The next day on our Honeymoon their was a play boy convention with beautiful woman on the beach. First thing he says “just my luck as soon as I get married my dreams come true. He wanted me to go to a strip club to watch him look and get excited looking at other woman. He even went as far to say he alway thought he would be with a woman like them that it was probably better to have a plan Jane no Maintenance woman. The miss universe pageant was also taking Place. He was jumping up and down. Telling me they are the most beautiful woman in the world. I have been asked to model do porn be in pageants. I am a ballerina. I choose ballet. I have absolutely never had no desire for those other careers. Yet many offers with no temptation even throw offered good money. My soul is not for sale. I heard annulment in my head. I was so confused and hurt. We had all ready bought a house. I moved in first then after the honeymoon he moved in. He wanted a baby. I gave him one. 7 months later I was carrying his second born. I honestly had a dream I had VD. I went to my mid wife. She said it was a dream that she would test me anyway. I week latter I got a call. HERBIES AND CLAMIDIA. I fell apart. To this day he denies going out on me. At this same time period I came home from work early to discover my husband was doing born. His excuse was my breast were saggy. I was pregnant with one child. Nursing another teaching ballet and fitness. Then I caught him on dating sites. I Loveling said we need to go to the brothers he said “I would do that to the family?” He took my phone and keys and shamed me. I have lived in silence. When I confronted him with the cheating sites he has never been aroused by me again I would work endlessly to try to arouse him give up walk out of the room to see him immediately turn to his phone look up other woman and master bate to them. He says he is doing noting wrong. It’s now 23 years of marriage. 14 years of me having no sexual needs meet. The last two weeks I found used rubbers in the car. After a lot of questioning he said he hired a 21 year old girl at a casino to give him a blow job and she stole his phone like I was supposed to feel sorry for him. The day he got the BJ I was in the hospital having a major surgery. My daughter could not get a hold of him because his phone was stolen. I was out of town this last weekend. I came home and could see my items had been moved. I found two pairs of dirty underwear that are not mine. He denies everything . Tell me I am a insecure Jelouse bitch. That he only did the blow job once. It’s not a big deal that he is not going anywhere. His history shows he is not only opposed with porn. He seeks out porn teens with big breast. Young breast. Teens being rapped. I have not told the elders or any friends. I have made his sin mine. He shows me no compassion blows me off and says he is doing nothing wrong. He does not have me on any bank accounts. And has sabotaged every job I get and chases away any people I meet. I don’t leave the house and have no one I can talk to not to mention I do not know what he would do in private if I tell the elders. Everyone thinks he is a nice guy. He is a cars sales men and can some how make people believe what he says is the truth. He doesn’t consider oral sex cheating on me and swears that he has never been with anyone but me then punishes me when I confront him( How do I protect myself from loosing it?

      • Kay Bruner on

        Debra,

        I am so, so sorry for the suffering you’ve endured in this marriage. Everything you’ve related here is one form of abuse or another. The pornography and sexual abuse are just the most obvious and immediately troubling symptoms of a larger abusive system where he has isolated you from any system of support.

        You know the truth, and it’s clear that he is not willing to face the truth in any way. When you try to talk about reality, he gaslights you.

        I think you protect yourself from losing it by getting away from this abusive person. Your safety matters most.

        Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline and have them assist you with support and resources.

        Peace to you,
        Kay

    4. Mary on

      Thank you that’s very helpful. My experience is that I went to a christian psychiatrist who thought I should take a pill because I was the depressed one (you don’t get depressed for that, I am just a depressed person and the husband is not depressed, although what he does is not great)… no mention of therapy, and the pill should help the moods in case of getting pregnant.
      I didn’t listen to him, took the pill but tried to look for more and to not get pregnant. It just seemed wrong to me.
      I found another psychiatrist, who gave me really great therapy as well. On that central point (central for me) of porn addiction though, he thinks my beliefs are the cause of my sadness and fear. If I change my beliefs about it and look at it from a different angle (everybody does it and it doesn’t have to be bad for the relationship), then I will not react with fear and sadness.
      This issue is still central for me and my beliefs are what they are and I can’t change them and get better. Now am scared of trusting and being vulnerable (like in pregnancy), but I am stronger in myself. I feel I didn’t find help for that one important issue. I still get panic attacks (and they started at the time of discovery).
      I know how to manage them thanks to therapy.
      I don’t know who to turn to really to fix that part of anxiety, but will read and inform myself and my husband.
      Thanks for everything.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Mary. I’m encouraged to hear that you’ve kept working to find help that works for you! It’s interesting that you were told to just change your belief system and you’ll be fine… Hmm. While I do think that purity culture in the church has done a great deal of harm when it comes to how we think about sex–and I do think that purity culture causes shame and guilt around sex that drives the porn machine even harder–it’s also true that non-religious professionals are seeing the harm that porn does. The Gottman Institute used to suggest some light porn use to get your engine going, and just recently they came out against porn. Even Time magazine recently dedicated their entire issue to the harm caused by porn! When porn is a substitute for relationship, and if your husband becomes caught up in the objectification of women that’s so common in porn, then YES porn harms your relationship in real ways, and no amount of re-thinking on your part is going to stop that! Many, many women will meet the criteria for PTSD in situations like this, and I’m glad you’ve gotten help with the panic attacks. You might appreciate the new online resource, Bloom, which takes a trauma-informed approach to recovery for wives, and an attachment approach for marriage recovery. There are forums, classes, and other resources that you might find helpful. Peace to you, Kay

    5. Mary on

      Bloom has been, is, and will be a life saver. I didn’t know this website. Thank you a million times for recommending it.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I’m so glad! It’s such a great resource!

    6. Brittiney S. on

      Hello! I really need help. I have been praying and reading the Bible to find the answers to my struggles within my heart and mind. First, to start with a bit of a backround story. I come from an extremely broken family and was raised by my athiest father who always had bad things to say about Christ and the Father. So I am a babe in faith and don’t trust my own feeling completely. I was introduced to the faith at a very young age by my grandmother but that ended when my parents seperated.
      I married a man who was raised in the faith but stopped going to church and things after he left his household and his stepfather and mother fell from grace.
      So this is my thorn:
      I have felt suspicious of my husband due to his behavior. Ive asked about porn and if he watches it on multiple occasions and he has always said that we’ve already talked about it and if I can’t remember he’s not going to keep answering me. The thing is though is that i never remember getting an actual answer. He would get angry and frustrated when I would ask until I let it go. I was catching him in not little but not big lies. He was staying late at work when he really didnt need too. So I got a spy app on his phone and found that he was looking at porn almost every morning. I never say no to intimate times with him and am always open to new things between us intimately. So there was no need for him to look at this. It killed me when i found out. He blew it off. I told him that i felt that looking at porn was cheating. He rolled his eyes. Then i see that he and his friend Tony were joking about his friend Tony cheating on his wife. My husband is the one who started the jokes. He talks about this man standing in righteousness! Im confused.Then I see that he allows a woman whom he works with call him love. She works in florida and we live in Nevada. So he says its nothing. But i disagree. After our conversation he looked at porn again and I found it. He said he was sorry but i was still hurt. He was very angry that I couldn’t let it go. I know that he uses bing incognito so his search history cant be traced. He also deletes texts and phone calls. I dont know what to do! I just recently found a text from him to someone sending photos. I’m fighting with the though of looking in his phone to see who the number is and what the photos are. Should I? I dont know what God would want me to do. I haven’t found the answer.

      Reply
    7. MegC on

      Two weeks ago, while on vacation, I went to charge my husband’s phone and saw a youtube notification. I clicked on it and it brought up a very overtly sexual video. For fear that it would show up in his history I went to clear it out and found many many more…he had been watching videos (ranging from NSFW nudity based videos to semi-naked women twerking) for the entirety of our marriage (10 months as of yesterday). I confronted him about it and called it pornography (as I feel it is), which is something he had openly told me prior to our marriage that he struggled with previously but had stopped watching and I had told him I cannot compete with. He does not see it as such and thinks it is no big deal. He has told me that he will stop watching them. My issue and the reason for my commenting here: I don’t trust him, and I’m constantly worried about leaving him alone for any extended period of time (he his home sick today). I’ve struggled with being enough for anyone my entire life and now I feel hurt by the one person who said I was all he wanted for forever. Additionally we started trying for a baby a little over a month ago and now im not sure we are truly ready for that. I’m struggling and would appreciate prayers for me and my husband as we try to navigate our way through this. God is able to create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us, my prayer is that we will BOTH allow Him to do so.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Meg!

        I would encourage you read our blog post: How Broken Trust Regrows. It lays out a ten-stage progression of restoring trust in marriage. I pray that you find wisdom in it. Blessings!

        Moriah

    8. Katie Griffith on

      I feel for all the wives on here, been married under 2 years , found out he opened a private instagram account and was watching other women.. when confronted caused a big blow out … later on we continued to pray started ready our Bible together and he became more attentive in our relationship.
      He had to go out of state for work before the holidays. When he returned he asked me to look up a text on his phone with an address of a gathering we were going to… there was a hot mail group text of a woman going live and having sex with the text people telling her what they wanted… I then looked into his Google history to see that he has been watching porn daily since before he had left for his trip… sick to my stomach to say the least … I’ve asked him he completely denies watching porn and swears up and down that he stopped when I asked him to.. he’s dad has a porn addiction and also goes on dating sites while married… my husband says he loves me and wouldn’t dare watch porn or lie to me…. how dose he look me in my eyes lies so easily.. then grabs my hands every morning and prays to our lord Jesus… then back watching porn , not just once but several times in the day …

      I’m so lost, saddened, confused…

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Katie,

        I am so sorry for the emotional ups and downs you have been experiencing. I feel like the betrayal is even more devastating when a spouse claims to stop watching porn and spend time in Scripture but is still using porn behind your back. Although I do not know the full scope of the story, based on what you wrote, it seems like your husband wants to preserve your marriage but is just completely trapped in the shackles of porn (SO many are, and he is not the only one). That being said, I want to encourage you with a few “action” steps.

        First, pray! Ask God to give you the strength to address this issue, and ask him to open your husband’s eyes to change. Keep diving into Scripture as your source of hope and peace. I also think that if your husband is still watching porn and lying to you about it, you should pursue marriage counseling. I recommend looking for a Christian counselor – someone who can get to the heart of the issue and suggest faith-based ways to heal. Your husband, if he truly wants to quit, needs to find a trusted friend (perhaps a church leader?) to hold him accountable for his actions. He will struggle to overcome this on his own, and I don’t necessarily think it’s healthy for you to be his accountability partner.

        For your own healing, please check out the resources at Bloom for Women. And know that even if your husband does want to change and quit using porn, he will still find himself tempted and trapped at times. BUT, finding freedom IS possible, and your marriage can be restored.
        I am praying for you!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

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