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Hope After Porn – “Forsaking All Others”

Last Updated: June 21, 2021

Cindy Beall

Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker and mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris’ infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry. Through God’s grace they have inspired thousands of people and have returned to full-time ministry where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at www.lifechurch.tv. Cindy serves as the Sisters Women’s Ministry leader for their campus. Her first book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, was published in 2011 through Harvest House Publishers.

The following is chapter 3 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.


I’ll never forget the first time I walked in on my husband looking at Internet pornography. Immediately my heart sank, and I remember this sick feeling wash over me. The thought that began to plague my mind instantly was, “How will I ever be able to compete with her?”

If I think about that day I can remember exactly what the woman looked like. How she was posing and what her facial expression was. I would tell you what she was wearing but that’s just it…she wasn’t wearing anything. She was very well endowed and made me look like I was just about to get my first training bra. Her long, gorgeous, blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders but not enough to cover up anything.

I knew my husband, Chris, struggled with lust because we’d been married for five years. His admissions seemed to be vulnerable and honest but I’d later find it was just a smokescreen. I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me to walk in on him in the middle of him fulfilling his lustful moment. I guess I was okay with his sin being “out of sight, out of mind.”

Faith and Filth

Chris’ introduction to pornography came when he was merely eight years old. He didn’t ask for his sin to begin at that age, but it did. And for a growing, curious boy the desire to see more only grew throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence. The hunger could be satiated by an occasional look at a National Geographic if you weren’t picky about the kind of naked women you’d see. His newfound addiction didn’t totally bombard his life as a youngster simply because to obtain such racy material meant that you had to know someone who could buy a Playboy or a Penthouse from the local convenience store.

It wasn’t until Chris became a follower of Christ at the age of 19 that he really realized he had a problem. I mean, it’s fairly normal for any man, regardless of his age, to want to look at naked women. Most of the world doesn’t feel bad about doing something that “all men do.” So he didn’t see anything wrong with it until one July day in 1991 when the gospel of Jesus Christ was presented to him in a small town diner in a way that he could truly understand. Chris accepted that Jesus Christ paid the price for his sins, and from that day forward it was apparent that God had changed his heart. Chris was different. One day he was a womanizer, dabbling in illegal drugs. The next day he was praying, worshipping God, and starting to tell others about this Jesus he just met. After a short time he even decided that one day he would like to enter into full-time ministry.

Now, I wish I could tell you that his newfound faith in Jesus zapped any desire from him to look at pornography. The truth is that he still struggled with it but seemed to have a handle on it until a little thing called the Internet showed up. And that, my friends, was like putting gas on a smoldering fire.

Only I had no idea how bad it was until one awful day: February 19, 2002.

The Devastating Confession

The date is indelibly written in my mind. I will never forget what I was doing when Chris walked in the door that Tuesday morning. We’d been in our new home in our new town for less than a week when he dropped the biggest bomb on me. After asking me to join him on the sofa, he proceeded to tell me that he’d been unfaithful to me many times with many different women over a period of about two-and-a-half years. In the midst of my immediate reeling, devastation, and line of questioning, he admitted that he was a full-blown porn addict.

In the early days, looking at pictures of naked women was enough to satisfy his craving. But, over time, looking at pictures turned into watching videos, which eventually turned into chatting with women who were just as messed up as he was. And before long, the unthinkable occurred: His online fantasy became a reality with a woman.

As he shared with me how this once small addiction spiraled out of control, I learned that these horrendous actions weren’t because he didn’t love me but because he was unable—or unwilling—to get free from his addiction. It sure didn’t feel like he loved me but eventually I realized that the bondage that took over his life was more than he could handle. So he acted out.

Stipulations for Change

Within minutes of his confession we were in the company of people who really cared for us. Our pastor and several church staff members came to our aid and truly wanted to help us. We needed this badly because we hardly knew anyone in our church. But our church leaders told us if we really wanted help restoring our marriage, Chris would have some strict stipulations placed upon him. And some of these stipulations would inconvenience me. Was I ready for that?

Knowing the road ahead would be far from easy, Chris willingly said he would do anything and everything to get free. He said he was desperate for freedom. And even though a big part of me wanted to head for the hills and never look back, a bigger part of me wanted to see if this jacked-up marriage could be redeemed.

Chris resigned from his pastoral role at our church and immediately began to look for a new job. He has a college degree so how hard could it be to find something? The leadership team at our church told Chris that he could not get a job where he had access to a computer, was going to be alone with women, or had to travel. That left The Home Depot. Chris’ new “salary” was more than cut in half by taking this new job. Strict stipulation number one.

The team also came and removed our computer from our home for more than two months. They wanted to make sure that Chris had no access to pornography. Talk about inconvenient. We had to go to the public library to check our e-mail. Strict stipulation number two.

Chris also was not allowed to do things on his own for several weeks except drive to work and back. He was either with us or his mentor from church. The team didn’t want there to even be a hint of an opportunity to make a bad choice again. Strict stipulation number three.

Basically, the first few months after his “confession” were not easy even on the easiest days. It was inconvenient for both of us. Sometimes I would get frustrated that I had to deal with the consequences of his actions. But my pastor, Craig Groeschel, said that sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love more. Despite the crazy amount of hurt that my husband caused, I still loved him. The love I had for him didn’t just “go away” because he wounded me. I was willing to set aside “me” in order to see “us” be healed. Even though it was painful and oftentimes dreadful, it was the choice I made, and I do not have one regret for making it.

Hope After Porn - 4 StoriesAs much as I loved my husband, I loved God more. I made a commitment to God early on in my college years that I would follow Him and live for Him no matter what, that I was “His girl,” and that he could count on me even when things got rough. Well, things were rough, to say the least. However, even in the midst of my darkest hours, He was there comforting me because I leaned into Him instead of running from Him when the hurt, pain, and fear invaded my every thought.

As hard as the stipulations were, they were good. Necessary, even. I know that sounds contradictory to what I just wrote. The good didn’t necessarily happen during all of this but as a result of everything. I don’t believe that an addict can break free without a total abandonment of his or her drug. My husband certainly couldn’t. We knew that eventually we would have a computer in our home again. I can’t tell you the fear that struck in me. As much as I wanted the convenience of checking e-mail in my own home, I was frightened that my husband wouldn’t be able to handle having his “drug” so available.

That’s where Covenant Eyes came into play. Before the computer was brought back into our home, we made a plan to install the protection that Covenant Eyes Accountability software offers. Let me tell you, it was such a relief knowing that I would know every website that our computer went to. And when the day would come that Chris would have his own laptop for work, we would have that computer monitored as well.

Boundaries that Bring Freedom

Today—after years of counseling, accountability, and personal growth—Chris is back on staff at our church. He knows that every move he makes on his computer is monitored. Knowing that reports of his Internet activity are sent to his boss, his best friend, and to me help keep him free. Chris really doesn’t want to go back to the life he lived for 20+ years, but when temptation arises, he knows that we will all know if he fails. And he will tell you that knowing that helps him so much.

Some people might feel like they are in prison with this kind of Internet protection. Not Chris. He saw the boundaries as keeping him free! He desperately desired freedom from the monster that invaded his life for so long. It didn’t bother him that his every move was monitored. In fact, he thrived under this boundary!

Our world fell apart in 2002. It’s been quite a journey to say the least. Every Thursday I still get a Covenant Eyes report that tells me all of the websites my husband visits. Week after week, year after year, I see the same common websites that he visits. I see that he likes to read reviews on products before he buys them. I see that he enjoys catching up on some sports every so often. I see that he watches a few silly videos on YouTube from time to time. But you know what I don’t see?

Porn.

I am grateful for our path. Not because of the pain, but because of what the pain has brought about in our lives. My marriage is one of the healthiest I’ve ever seen. Trust has been restored in amazing ways because my husband and I have no secrets. We are truly best friends who want to keep our marriage strong. In order for that to happen, we do whatever it takes.

  • Comments on: Hope After Porn – “Forsaking All Others”
    1. ann on

      This entire post makes this woman sound crazy! Seriously?! Your husband cheated on you, divorce him! Don’t blame the internet and porn… it was he thst did it! This is just crazy

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi Ann,

        While many people would appreciate your perspective, I think Cindy looks back and sees that she made a choice that has richly blessed her life now. Her husband is a new man and she is living a vibrant and healthy marriage. She not only found the ability to forgive him, but through the work he did, she found the ability to trust him, too.

    2. Sweetz on

      I realize that women and men need “success” stories to encourage them. I also have come to understand that those who make it through to the other side are those whose husbands give unsolicited full confessions without the wife having to catch and pull it out of them.

      After years of this dance, a few days ago I went to my husband’s small business and my eyes were opened once again. By Divine providence, a woman he had mentioned many times came into the store while I was there (I am rarely there). I introduced myself since she plopped herself down on a stool and it was obvious she intended to stay…and the first words out of her mouth was “Oh! You are a beautiful woman”! I had heard how much “fun” she was and heard that she was also struggling with her father’s death ect…I could not make her comfortable and tried many ways to draw her into conversation because she said she had to wait for her car to be fixed and chose to wait at my husband’s store. The air was “thick”, and my husband was very uncomfortable, making me feel like an intruder into their private relationship. She had inherited a vast sum of money and had purchased a house in another state…but since meeting my husband decided not to move. She rented a house in town instead. Hmmm…why? My husband says she is a Christian too…but she is vulnerable from the loss of her father, thus, so I can see her being easy “prey”.

      I had always asked him to not get personal with our female customers…especially those he found sexually attractive. I also asked him to never allow a woman behind the counter and into the back room of our store. If they needed to use a bathroom, there is a public one across the street. Turns out that he has been having lunch in the back room with him on Saturdays when our son is off of work. I found her hairbrush in the back bathroom…so she had been “primping” whilst visiting him for hours.

      This is my husband’s method of operation: Zero in on an attractive vulnerable woman…start personal conversation (non-business related)…flirt…get them into a more private/comfortable setting…begin complimenting/seducing and making a bond…then ??? I do not know how far he has gone because he NEVER confesses to anything, and minimizes anything when I catch him. How much do you think I trust him LOL?!!

      I clearly see that the Lord must have intervened this time and put a stop to further progress with this woman simply by placing me in her line of sight. I am now “real” whereas before, it was just an idea that he was married…easy to ignore when being seduced. This sort of thing has been going on for decades. He comes home already aroused and ready for sex…yet we have not seen each other the entire day, and he basically ignores me all evening otherwise. So he is getting “primed” by others that he finds more desirable.

      I cannot do this anymore. I cannot and do not “police him”…although I do accidently run into some of the things he does. He has not surrendered entirely to the Lord, nor does he display any brokenness or shame from the heart. I told him that my body is no longer his to use until the Lord tells/shows me that my husband is well into recovery and this INCLUDES full confessions. My husband is fine with that…meaning he will “white knuckle” his loss of sex with me rather than confess. He is a 62 year old man btw…and his view of women has always been sexual. The porn is no longer in our house, but I cannot know the same regarding what he does at work…however, if he was really wanting to repent, he would take the necessary actions HIMSELF rather than my demanding it. Up until now, he has been having the best of both worlds…lusting for others while “finishing” with me…so there is no reason to repent since he feels no shame in doing that.

      Yes, shame is a good thing, a good start towards brokenness and repentance, no matter what others tell you. Shame and consequences are perhaps the ONLY ways a man will begin to yield to God since his love for his wife and the loss he will suffer is not enough.

      He has no shame. Sex is mechanical, we have never “made love”…I understand he is in a “stronghold” of the devil…but I cannot do anything except fast and pray for him. I will not give myself to him any longer, as he is married to the world already. I am kind and sweet to him otherwise…but he mistakes that for taking freedoms that he should not have.

      This is a work of the Holy Spirt…not mine. I will protect myself now.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there, I hope you find my reply to your previous comments on another article. I just wanted to say again, though, that I think you are absolutely right in that he must take responsibility for himself, and you’ve got to have boundaries against his sexual addiction. Boundaries in Marriage is a real go-to for me that might provide some support to you as well.

      • Lady Anon on

        Sweetie, read about Narcissistic Abuse, Sociopaths, Borderline Personality Disorder and get help. This man doesn’t function typically and lacks empathy, he is ruthless and remorseless. Read Martha Stout’s book. Marriage vows are for two normal, well intentioned people and they are bondage/imprisonment when dealing with abusive personalities. I pray that knowledge will set you free.

    3. Sweetz on

      Just to clarify, we own a small Jewelry store in one town which he and his son run, and I run another in the town we live in. Transactions consist of a woman selecting an item, paying for it and leaving…unless of course, she is given a “reason” to linger….which would be my husband pulling her into personal conversation…he is good at that. This business is not complicated sales requiring many hours of contact with a customer. My husband’s son works the store with him except on Saturdays…apparently, this is the day of the week when he would invite this woman into the back room. Very private, unnecessary and uncalled for. We have had conversations about his behavior at work many times in the past…so he understands how this accomplishes nothing more than setting the stage for physical/emotional adultery.

      This latest incident has happened at a time in our lives when things between us are the BEST, calmest and sweetest, when we have been blessed in nearly every way. So if he cannot keep his lust under control during the best of times, then what will happen should something “bad” befall us? Porn has been in his life for decades, he used to stay 2 or 3 hours after closing the store to “play poker” on the computer at work (after his son left for the day) because I removed the computer from our home after finding more porn on it. I would come home to a dark house not knowing when to prepare dinner. After 7 months of no computer at home, he agreed to come home when the store closes, and be on the computer ONLY when I was home or awake (he would stay on until 4 or 5am prior to me removing it) going to work around noon after his son had already opened the store. It has always been in our living room, but he would stay on it long after I went to bed. Flirting/adultery spans both our marriage as well as his last marriage (which ended in divorce due to physical adultery it turns out).

      He needs the computer at work because of business. I am sure he does not watch porn while his son is there, but his son is not there on Saturdays. This man cannot be satisfied, and I do not want to be used anymore. He does not masterbate (thinks it is a sin). He uses women to get himself aroused, then uses me to “finish”…bringing his excitation/imaginations with others into the bedroom with him, which is evident by the way sex is conducted and suddenly comes out of the blue. He is also frustrated because I refuse anal sex…which I feel is disgusting and an unnatural desire coming from porn exposure. I will no longer be treated sexually as a slab of meat.

      I am tired of catching him. I think that he needs the Lord to “break him” and he needs to confess his sins without my running into things…and that would just be a good start. Several years ago while I was in the shower, I was wondering to myself “why does my husband never get Victory”. The Lord heard my musings, and surprised me with the answer “because he loves being in the battle too much”. In other words, my husband loves the excitement and game more than what he thinks he would get if he had peace of victory. What can you do with THAT?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        And you know, for some people, the cycle of addiction does provide some of the same chemical high that the addiction provides. Porn provides a chemical hit. But like all drugs, the brain becomes habituated to that chemical and requires more of it. That’s why porn addiction escalates: more chemicals for the brain. Then sometimes viewing porn is not enough, and the addict escalates into other behaviors with live people. And then even being discovered and having a big emotional blow-out over it can bring a chemical high as well.

        So maybe you being tired of the whole mess is a good thing. Check out some of those boundary resources and let me know what you think. Kay

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