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My husband is addicted to porn! What did I do wrong?

Last Updated: June 25, 2015

Dann Aungst

Dann Aungst is a recovering sex addict and the author of the book From One Addict to Another. Dann is passionately involved in educating and helping others become free from porn and sex addiction in faith-based recovery. Dann has spoken at men’s conferences and is the president of Road to Purity, a non-profit organization that educates men on authentic godly relationships and understanding true purity, providing tools for recovery in live workshops as well. Dann also does addiction recovery coaching and is in the process of becoming certified through the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapists. Dann lives in Colorado and is a member of a local Catholic church. Like him on Facebook!

I have heard both first-hand and second-hand statements from countless women who ask themselves what they could have done differently so their husbands wouldn’t look at porn. They even blame themselves when their husband has an affair or is caught seeing prostitutes. “Should I have given him more sex?” “Did I love him enough?” “Should I have given in to more of the bedroom games he wanted?”

My husband is addicted to porn

But underneath all of the self doubt, you feel betrayed, rejected, used, discarded, and simply disgusted. You likely bounce from being angry and resentful to feeling humiliated and hurt. You may even want to run, thinking it will erase the source of pain. You feel like you don’t know who this person is anymore. How could you ever trust him again?

All of these feelings and reactions are expected and justified. In reality, these underlying feelings tell the true story. Bottom line: you have been the unfair victim of a serious problem that has nothing to do with you.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

While I have not personally experienced the feelings that you have, I have been where your male partner, husband, or boyfriend is now.

The most important thing I can tell you is that while his actions drastically affect and have critically wounded you and your relationship, his behavior is not about you. It is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this, nor is there anything you did to cause this. It’s not because you didn’t love him enough, not because you didn’t give him enough sex, not because he wanted to hurt you, and not because he doesn’t love you.

It is about him, his wounds, and ultimately his selfishness—a selfishness that is out of control. He is trying to fill a void in his heart that cannot be filled with things of this world. Even your love, as great as it has been, cannot fill this void he carries.

This is entirely his problem and his responsibility to fix. As an addict, he cannot control it out of sheer willpower. And he cannot recover from his problem alone. He needs counseling, support groups, and most of all, a relationship with God.

His Deepest Healing

If you choose to move forward with him, your relationship and trust needs to be re-established and healed. It’s important that you understand, too, that while preventative actions such as imposing Internet filters or TV blocks can help, they will not solve the problem—just like taking the drink away will not solve the underlying problem for an alcoholic.

An addict is craving intimate, unconditional love, a love that no human can supply. All of us desire this, but for some, that the desire consumes us. Most of the time, we don’t even know it. Only by him doing the work to discover why he acts out, why the insatiable craving exists, and giving those cravings to God can he begin to heal and develop a healthy understanding of what sex is all about. When this happens, he will be a better husband and a better man in many ways.

Your Deepest Healing

Whatever you do, do not downplay your pain and, most of all, do not bury or ignore it. You have been seriously wounded and that wound needs attention. Whether you continue in the relationship or not, it’s important that you work through your feelings about his sex addiction and the damage it has caused. These feelings need to be resolved. You do not deserve to be stuck with the anger and bitterness that you likely have. It will destroy your life.

Seek specialized counseling to work through what he has done to you. Even if you choose to leave the relationship, counseling can provide healing that is critical for you to live a life without resentment and anger, which will destroy your happiness and ultimately take a toll on you physically. Although only a small number currently exist, women’s support groups can also be very helpful.

Forgiving Him?

In time, when are ready, the ultimate gift to yourself is forgiving him. Forgiving him does not excuse the behavior; it does not sweep it under the rug; it does not mean you turn your back on what he does from now on; and it does not give him permission to repeat the addictive acts. He still needs to be accountable for what he has done, both to you and to God.

When you forgive him, you are in essence releasing him from having power over you and thus causing your pain. Forgiving frees you.

With the proper help, a lot of work, and serious changes in his life, he can change. Even if he doesn’t, you can heal.

She Forgave Me

In my book, From One Addict to Another, I share my candid story of where I came from and how I found freedom. I published it with my real name as I felt it necessary to be honest and upfront with fellow addicts. It’s the hiding in this addiction that creates the power over us. Blunt honesty is part of my own path to healing and freedom.

I am not a licensed counselor nor an educated professional in the field, but am willing to be a guide and a coach as best as I can for anyone truly seeking to break the chains of this addiction.

As a bit of hope, I will tell you that I and my wife of 25 years are still together. We don’t have the perfect marriage, but it is better than it has ever been. I love her for the woman God made her to be, the gift and the angel He gave to me.

Photo credit: rankingfuuta
  • Comments on: My husband is addicted to porn! What did I do wrong?
    1. Tom on

      Seriously, this topic is really important. I was very impressed about your thoughts until you brought up “God”. How dissapointing. I am actually disgusted. So typical of religion, to go to the poor, the needy, the vulnerable and brainwash them with this load of crap of a man in the clouds. Fortunately, the statistics of Christian followers are misleading and much lower than stated. There is still hope in the human intelligence.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Interesting opinion. What leads you to believe the God of Christianity isn’t real?

      • Mia Bradley on

        I agree, this is a serious topic. And it has nothing to do with God. Praying and reading the bible will not stop a person from watching porn. Self control will!

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Why do you say this has nothing to do with God, as if God has nothing do with self-control. Many people would beg to differ with you.

      • Joyce on

        My husband of 38 years and 3 years before is addicted to porn
        When we were dating there was a pile of magazines in the bathroom of naked women
        I would sit outside waiting for him for 1/2 hrs while he masturbated to these women
        It continued when we were married he would lock himself in bathroom each morning and masturbate. He told me many times I was not enough. He continued with videos and now on his phone each day. It sickens me. I’ve read he is replacing some pain in his life. If we have sex I always think who is he screwing? He feels there is nothing wrong with this…9

      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Joyce, I think that defense mechanisms like rationalization are really common when someone’s got a behavior like this going on. It’s really hard for them to face up to the damage they’re going to themselves and to others, so they tell themselves there’s nothing wrong with it.

        You can’t argue with defense mechanisms, but you can choose boundaries that are healthy for you.

        Here and here are two articles on boundaries. You might also like to read Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. We’ve also got a free download, Hope After Porn, where several women tell their stories in recovery which include healthy boundaries.

        I’m imagining that after 38+ years of this, there’s been some damage done to you as a person. So I’d suggest that you find a therapist to work with, someone who can help you process the pain and work on what’s healthy for you going forward.

        I don’t know if you saw this article that Luke Gilkerson wrote recently, about how he thought that porn use was not a biblical reason for divorce until his master’s thesis research changed his mind. It’s powerful and freeing.

        Blessings, Kay

      • Beatriz on

        Good Lord why is it when someone post something Godly that another doesn’t believe in it’s always expressed with so much ANGER what happened to the days of agree to disagree and move on. If you read the last paragraph it clearly states, “Dann is passionately involved in educating and helping others become free from porn and sex addiction in faith-based recovery.” “FAITH-BASED” recovery. If it was an Atheist it would have been written in his/her point of view from an Atheist’s experience. It does not mean you have to purchase it, read it or even believe it. If you don’t like his personal experience and how he’s choosing to help others then find someone else that suits you. But don’t sit in front of your keyboard and criticize a man for sharing something from his personal life that was and is clearly something extremely difficult to go through, let alone go through it publicly and with his wife and in doing so helping others that may be going through the same. I commend him for having the courage to do so. GOD BLESS and I pray your experience will continue to help others Dann Aungst.

    2. Truth on

      Actually, it is kind of the girls fault. A girl who is too reserved, too timid, and too predictable can drive a man to look for excitement in his sex life. Sure there are some guys who are actual addicts, but the majority of men watch porn to escape an otherwise boring bedroom relationship. He may love you still, but his sex life obviously is lacking.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Not sure where you’re getting your facts about “the majority of men.” If the women who comment here on a daily basis are any indication, this is not the case.

      • C on

        A man’s porn is NEVER a woman’s fault!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    3. Mel on

      Well said Dann! A real man bows down to authority and we are all accountable to God!!!!
      Thank you for humbling yourself for us all in hopes of helping somebody.
      Keep on fighting the good fight!!

      Reply
    4. Nope on

      I call bullsh*t. I’m sorry, but it hardly has anything to do with the relationship. Men watch porn. About 80% of men do it. The average men in a relationship watches 15 minutes every day, and singles 40. Men just have a bigger need for sex, and instead of raping woman (like in medieval ages) they masturbate while watching porn. Normal as a walk trough the park. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, talk about it with him. And about the whole ‘forgiving him’ thing, he doesn’t have to take anything from you. Again, all men do it, it’s not a crime.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I’m not sure anyone here is calling using porn a “crime.” The point is that when a man and woman get married, and there is an expectation of “forsaking all others,” many women believe that also includes not sneaking away in the middle of the night to gratify yourself to images of other women on a laptop.

        It sounds like your argument is: “All men look at porn, so it should be assumed by any woman that this will be part of their marriage.” As far as the observation goes, you are correct that a woman shouldn’t be surprised that her man looks at porn if it is a subject they’ve never discussed. But as far as your idea about a man’s “need for sex,” I’m going to sharply disagree. There have been millions and millions of men who never saw porn a day in their life and never raped a woman because of his insatiable sex drive. You make it sound like before porn, 80% of men were just going around raping women. Do you really believe that?

      • Beatriz on

        Nope–I have to disagree. My ex-husband never looked at porn. My current husband however has a problem in which is causing a problem in our marriage. Yes the majority of men look at porn, I agree. But when it is something that begins to consume your marriage, day to day life and your intimacy with your husband/wife, it’s a huge problem. I can say more but you get the idea. It’s not so black and white.

      • B Johnson on

        It might not be a crime. But it sure as hell damages a woman and they she see herself and thinks.

    5. Rick on

      After 31 years in a basically sexless marriage (e.g it has been 6-1/2 years since my wife last agreed to it, and I doubt we’ve made love even a hundred times within the entire marriage – that’s less than 3 times per year, averaged out) and given that nobody gets married to change the other person (well, she actually has changed me, I’ve really come to realize that I’m truly barking up the wrong tree, and this leopard will not change her spots), what is there left but the imagination (aided by something I’ll never experience in the flesh again) provided by the internet?
      My word and my commitment to my wife, our marriage and our family means something. I made a covenant to love and cherish her, and I do every day. The difference is that her definition of a loving marriage doesn’t include any reference to being physically close (that “one flesh” bit, taken somewhat less allegorically). A bit of a conundrum.

      Frankly, I’m not proud of looking to porn occasionally, but aside from cheating, which I will not do, there isn’t much else available in the face of a woman who’s far more vigorously committed to ensuring she’s not inconvenienced by something she doesn’t see as necessary, than I am committed to trying to have a physical aspect to our marriage.

      Please don’t talk to me about praying on it, or asking her to pray on it – God made her the way she is, and has been watch all this all along. If it were intended to be different, it would be. This is one of those topics (like money) one cannot talk about without getting into an argument and a freeze-out that only makes things worse for months.

      Final solution: I gave up, realized there’s nothing that can possibly be done about things; I look after my own needs myself, and my wife is very happy at not being “pestered”. And make no mistake, I love her beyond all reason – I simply wish she could understand that for a man, physical love is a powerful statement of love.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I’m sorry to hear you have a sexless marriage. I’m sorry to hear that your wife is not willing to learn to be more sexual with you, since in doing that she’s denying both you and herself a wonderful gift.

        Since it sounds like you’re not wanting advice, I’ll only state this as question for you to ponder: What does God expect single men to do?

        The reason I’m asking is because the conclusions people come to have important implications for how we understand God. We could start with the assumption that sex is a profound and deeply rooted need. If God, then, expects single men to never lust and never masturbate, then the conclusion we come to is that God is a cruel maker, creating with a craving that he expects us to starve. Or if we have this need, we could come to the conclusion that God doesn’t mind that we lust or masturbate on occasion to fulfill it, making all that the Bible says about lust incorrect. In other words, if we start with the assumption that sex is a deeply rooted need, we either come to the conclusion that God is cruel or the Bible is flawed. Neither of these conclusions are sustainable to me.

        If, however, sex is not a need but rather a good desire, then we can see it in the light of other desires in our life, in the light of God’s Word, in light of the power God gives us to overcome sin, in the light of our life and situation, and we can make that desire a servant to His will.

        My goal in saying this is not to frustrate you, but the last thing I want people to do is justify sin because they start with wrong assumptions.

        I’m not unsympathetic to your situation, Rick. You’ve spoken at length with your wife about this to no avail, correct? It grieves me to hear about marriages like yours because to deny a spouse sex is sinful (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). I do hope that your situation changes, despite the three-decade track record, but I hope more that you can come to the Bible with new eyes and find the help you need to kill all forms of lust.

    6. Rick on

      I appreciate the caring behind your words on this, though I don’t share your hope that things can change… if a woman can’t bring herself to be interested in sex when she’s young and all the normal “juices” are (at least theoretically) able to flow, really what are the odds she’s going to suddenly change in her late 50’s?
      My take on this, and the thing that gets me through life now is that I have come to the conclusion it is better to live without hope than it is to have that hope die each and every night over thousands of nights. There’s a a sad peace in resignation in the face of an unconquerable problem. I cannot change her, but I can change myself.
      I consider myself to be an intensely spiritual person, but not wedded to the Christian Bible any more than any of the other beautiful books of wisdom God has inspired people around the world to write. There is great wisdom in all of them, many of them having very parallel stories, parables and lessons to the Bible, many having worthwhile lessons not found (or not readily found) in the Bible. I will take a look at the reference you have provided, but I don’t think an appeal to scripture to get her to change will get much traction, despite her being a good Catholic.

      Reply
    7. George on

      Porn is the most wonderful invention ever!
      It saved my life, it saved my marriage, it heals my depression and it inspires and motivates me to go on. In fact, it is a representation of grace of God that gave Himself for the sins of man, in the same way women in porn give the most precios them selfs for the pleasure if unknown men. Most righteous wives on the other hand, don’t give a damn about man who give their very life to to love and support them!

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Interesting. So, if I understand you correctly, you think that when porn stars give their bodies for the production of porn, they are performing a loving, Christlike act?

        I would challenge you to ask the porn stars themselves why they do porn. My friend Donny Pauling used to produce porn for 9 years, and he has a much different perspective.

        As for what “most righteous wives” feel, I think you’re grossly exaggerating. How could you possibly know that to be true?

    8. Wow on

      If Christianity has a problem with porn and the sexual nature of men, instead of opting for a lifelong struggle, self-hatred and unhappiness, seek to integrate porn into your actual sex lives or pick another religion that isn’t so brain-dead when it comes to human sexuality. I struggled with my nature from the time I was 16 years old. The church taught me I was sinful and I was going to hell because I was attracted to women. Fortunately by the time I was 19 years old and had been to college, I stepped out of the mental circle of destruction and judgment. I accept myself and I have found a partner that ALSO enjoys viewing porn. Many women automatically assume that porn is a substitute for THEM and it isn’t. Sometimes men just need to get the poison out of their system without the heavy lifting many women require in a “relationship”. I found a woman a year and a half ago that matches my libido and is sexually adventurous, and consequently my porn viewing became secondary. You simply have to find a person with whom you have chemistry. And if you don’t, then you leave of you compromise. I personally believe my libido is there for the enjoyment of me and my partner, but it is NOT theirs to neglect, control, or force into a box. Porn is not a relationship, it is not Love, it isn’t even cheating any more than chick porn novels that build on the imagination. It is simply a shallow visual stimulation. The alternative is for him to masturbate to the thought of an actress he saw on TV, your best friend, your sister, whoever. You can’t even KNOW a man doesn’t think about another woman while he’s having sex with YOU. So its a little bit junior high IMO for a woman to try to get into his head and change the way he works. Honestly if a man wasn’t attracted to women generally, he would never have wanted to screw his partner in the first place. Women want to HEAR that they are the ONLY woman in the world for him, but that’s naive, and you better believe if you leave him he’ll find someone else and so will you. So rather than trying to make him ashamed and control his sexuality, maybe attempt to EXPLORE it with him, figure out what pushes his buttons and channel this into something you can both enjoy. Hitting him over the head with “God hates you because you masturbate” is just going to destroy your relationship.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Your thoughts work very well as long as it is true that God is alright with lust (or as long as there is no God at all).

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