Hope After Porn: Our Marriage Would Never Be the Same

The following is chapter 1 of the book, Hope After Porn: 4 Women’s Tales of Heartbreak and How Their Marriages Were Saved. Download the whole e-book for free right now.


It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

After the trauma of preterm labor, a month of bed-rest, and a three-day long delivery, I was a new mom who had to constantly hold, nurse, or pump milk for our premature daughter. The around-the-clock care didn’t ease up after the first couple of weeks like they said it would. I was so exhausted that I felt delirious. You might know the feeling.

To top it all off, I could tell our marriage was strained and I felt compelled to check my husband’s computer. I knew that in the past, when I had been sick, weak, or occupied with something else, Ryan would struggle more intensely with pornography. We had been going around and around with this problem for the full three years of our young marriage. No amount of disappointment, hurt, anger, conviction, or counseling had solved the problem. The solutions we had tried only lasted until the temptation crept up again. I ignored the internal warning several times. I felt too drained to admit that Ryan might be looking at pornography while I was caring for the baby or enjoying any moments of sleep that came my way. I thought, I can’t take care of another person’s problems; he’s supposed to be strong for me.

And yet the prompting continued. Check your husband’s computer.

When I finally scanned the history on Ryan’s computer, I found some images that he had recently viewed. Even though I wasn’t surprised, I did feel freshly hurt and betrayed. I felt the familiar rush of jealousy, of wanting to look intently at every two-dimensional woman to discover what she had that I didn’t have, what she did that I didn’t do, or what she was that I couldn’t be. I clenched my jaw and set my heart in disgust towards my husband: my heart was filled with bitterness toward this man who wasted our time, energy, and resources on lust while I worked so hard to take care of our family.

Making a Crisis Out of It

I held our precious baby in my arms as I sat at our kitchen table and wondered what I should do next. Then it dawned on me, Why should I sit here with a pit in my stomach while he waltzes through the day without a care in the world? I picked up the phone. When Ryan answered, I simply said, “You need to stop looking at pornography.” I knew that he could hear the finality in my voice; I knew that somehow, he got the message that I would not fight this losing battle anymore. I wanted him to sweat this one out. I wanted to make a crisis out of this so that it would not be a part of our lives anymore.

Five minutes later, Ryan pulled into the driveway and gushed every apology and every “I’ll try harder” he could concoct in an effort to appease me. I had heard it all before. I told him that unlike the past, I would not offer suggestions, solutions, or sympathy. The pattern had always been the same: when I initiated a solution, he never followed through. This time, he had to figure something out what would actually change the pattern. And he had to figure it out himself. I decided to retreat with our daughter to my parents’ home. I needed time and distance to heal, rest, and consider my appropriate response. I needed my mother and my sisters, who would help me to take care of the baby, and I needed a good night’s sleep.

Tears streamed down my face as I packed my bags. In my flurry of mourning and moving, I knew I would not return to the same man. I knew that our marriage would never be the same. It was either time for me to end the relationship or time for both of us to change. By going to my parents’ home, I knew I was making a risky move. Once a woman is married, she’s wise to keep healthy boundaries between her relationship with her husband and her relationship with her immediate family. But this particular time, I needed their physical help. My parents wanted to see us work it out; they weren’t coddling me or damning Ryan. They knew that he had walked through some tough times with me, and that I could walk through this with him.

What made the situation even more powerful were the friends who came to our rescue.

The Making of a New Man

For 40 days after my discovery of Ryan’s ongoing struggle—while I got over my initial desire to kill him—Ryan lived with our friend, Mark and his family. Mark spent hours with Ryan—at the breakfast table, under the stars by the fire pit, on the porch, on the phone, etc.—asking him all of the tough questions, kicking his behind, and teaching him how to be an honest man. Every morning, Mark would remind him that, in order to love me and our children well, he had to “die to himself.” This meant giving up every selfish, immature notion and behavior and replacing them with sacrificial love. Tough stuff.

Another dear friend (also named Mark) joined in the battle and helped Ryan to see the character qualities that weakened a man’s resolve against lust. They also taught him how to grow in the virtues that would help him to be faithful, wise, and honest. “The Marks” (as we came to call them) didn’t overlook anything. They noticed and jumped on parts of Ryan’s personality and perspective that I wouldn’t have had the discernment or courage to address. Men seem to have a special knack for nailing each other. To this day, I don’t know all of the details that went on as the Marks beat Ryan down and built him back up again, but I do know that we will always tell our children and our children’s children about the friends who did the hard work of instilling manliness and goodness in Ryan.

All this time, I too was being helped and counseled by two dear friends. They provided sympathy and support, but they also gave me a lot of wisdom about ways in which I could be more supportive, respectful, and loving towards Ryan. I hadn’t noticed that I was behaving more like the “mother” and the “maid” rather than the “wife.” I also hadn’t noticed that while I was stressed with pre-term labor and bed- rest, everything else had fallen on Ryan’s shoulders: cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, yard work, preparing the nursery, and so on. Ryan insists that this is not an excuse—and I agree—but I sure didn’t respect the fragility of a tired man. My friends pointed out that we had stopped going to church and hadn’t seen our friends in many weeks. Since then, being closely connected to a local church and being vibrantly committed to God and the Bible have actually been huge factors in our kindness and faithfulness to one another.

Finding Real Accountability

Once Ryan and I were speaking again, we shared the important lessons we had learned. Ryan told me about the power of being accountable to other men. Although Ryan firmly believes that he ultimately answers to God, it sure helps to be open and honest with friends who agree that pornography is destructive and who want the best for him. He told me that he had downloaded Covenant Eyes Accountability on all of our computers and that a small group of men he trusted would receive full reports of all his online activity. Until this point, I had been the one looking over Ryan’s shoulder and “catching him” from time to time. It was exhausting, not to mention humiliating. Now that his friends were by his side, I could step back and allow Ryan to develop his own internal passion to resist temptation. You can imagine my relief.

My husband’s career is in technology and he works on the computer every day. He says that after a life-long addiction to pornography, working on the computer is like a recovering alcoholic walking around with a flask of vodka all day, every day. Quite honestly, having Covenant Eyes on his computers has been a wonderful encouragement to him as he sets his mind to avoid pornography. Covenant Eyes is so helpful in making him think ten times about his online choices. His friends ask him hard questions about his Internet reports, and they’ve developed very deep relationships because of it. I’ve come to appreciate Ryan’s willingness to protect our marriage with this software tool.

I still remember one afternoon during the restoration process when a friend challenged me to tell Ryan that I respected him and to specify why. She said it would probably mean the world to him and put some wind in his sails. That evening, I thought about what I could possibly say. Finally, I blurted out, “I respect you for taking this so seriously.” I was shocked that I had come up with something on the spot. I was even more shocked that I actually meant what I said: I did respect the way that Ryan seemed to be investing his full heart into the restoration process. I respected the way he was being honest and doing whatever it took to regain my trust. When Ryan heard my words, his face lit up with a grateful smile as he said, “Thank you. I am taking this seriously. I love you.”

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Your Marriage Is Worth It

It’s been over ten years since that dramatic crisis that required many, many changes in our marriage. Maybe someday I’ll write a book about it all. But for now, I want to come along your side and encourage you. If pornography is a part of your life, you are worth its removal, once and for all. Don’t tell yourself that it’s not so bad; don’t try to overlook the offense; don’t use it to justify your own bad habits. Your hurt feelings are completely valid. Pornography is insidious and destructive. No one is exempt from its effects and no one can handle it well. When you married your husband, you both vowed to “forsake all others.” When that vow is broken, hearts break, too.

Your husband is also worth its removal. When a man walks in daily victory over pornography, he literally becomes a different man. His face, body, and stature become more manly than ever. His voice, attitude, and outlook lighten and brighten. He experiences true and contented manhood because he doesn’t have to lie about his time, struggles, or character. You might be furious at your husband right now, but take a moment to catch a vision for the man he could be without the perversion of pornography
weighing him down.

Do not be afraid to take action: exercise tough love and take a firm stand against pornography in your marriage.

Do not be afraid to let the light shine on your marriage, even if it is embarrassing, uncomfortable, or frightening. In fact, the blazing light is a good sign: it means that God is near and that He is at work in your lives.

You have every reason to believe that once pornography is removed, you will be a new woman with a new marriage to a new man.


Laura BoozLaura Booz is the author of Blogger Behave. She and her husband Ryan live on a farm in Pennslyvania with their three children. Laura and her family enjoy homesteading, homeschooling, and ministering to their community. She blogs at 10millionmiles.com.