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4 Kinds of Porn Users and 2 Ways Spouses Shouldn’t React

Last Updated: February 5, 2015

Kay Bruner

Kay Bruner has been married to her husband Andy for over 25 years. For 20 of those years, she served with him at Wycliffe Bible Translators, working in the Solomon Islands preparing a New Testament translation into the Arosi language. They have four children and two rescue dogs. They live in the Dallas area where Andy works for SIL International, Wycliffe’s sister organization. Kay is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Rapha Christian Counseling. She is the author of As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir. You can read more of her articles at kaybruner.com.

Every day on our blog, women post comments telling their stories and asking for help because their husbands use pornography. As I answer the comments, I’m noticing some common themes. I’d like to share what I’m seeing, because it may be helpful to other women as they evaluate and respond to their own situations.

  • The first theme is about pornography use: what are men doing?
  • The second theme is about a spouse’s response: what are women (spouses and partners) doing?

4 Kinds of Porn Users

A Spectrum of Unhealthy Pornography Users

From the stories women tell me, I see four general types of porn users. There may be more types, and variations of these types, but these are the types I hear about most often.

1. The Occasional User

I tend to hear about this guy from younger women who are dating, engaged, or newly married.

The Occasional User wants to stay free, but struggles with temptation at various times. He probably hasn’t been in treatment for porn, but he may not have done much toward preventing it yet, either.

The Occasional User’s biggest enemies: bad Internet habits, lack of accountability, secrecy, and shame.

2. The Serious User

I hear about the Serious User from a wife who’s recently discovered his porn use.

When confronted, the Serious User wants to change and takes action toward accountability and recovery. The Serious User makes progress in recovery, although he will likely experience slip-ups in the process. It may be 3 to 5 years before he feels truly free from porn.

The Serious User’s biggest enemies: bad Internet habits along with other negative life habits that support pornography use, discouragement at setbacks in the recovery process, secrecy, and shame.

3. The Recovery Addict

The Recovery Addict appears to sincerely repent, has been to therapists, has attended groups, has prayed and fasted and read the Bible at various times. However, he never seems to make much progress in recovery. When he slips up, he can’t seem to get back up again; he falls into the pit and stays there until sufficiently dramatic threats force him into recovery again.

When I see a Recovery Addict, I start thinking that maybe recovery is part of an addictive cycle. In his so-called “recovery” phase he may get chemical stimulation via the attention he receives, his tearful repentance, etc. Once the drama of recovery wears off, the addict needs porn again.

The Recovery Addict’s biggest enemy is probably a lack of insight.

4. The All-In Addict

The wife or partner of the All-In Addict is either very angry or very shut down emotionally. She may swing back and forth between those emotions regularly, depending on the addict’s behavior.

The couple may have been in therapy at various times, but now the All-In Addict may be very blatant about his porn use. He may have escalated to other behaviors, and he may have issues with erectile dysfunction, but nothing seems to shift his interest in porn.

The All-In Addict’s biggest enemy is the addiction itself, which has taken over his life.

So, how can you tell what kind of porn user you’re dealing with, outside of the user’s self-report?

Here’s the very best evaluation question I know.

Can your partner…

  • see the impact of his choices on you,
  • care about how his choices impact you, and then
  • work toward choices that are more healthy for the relationship?

If you say no to these—if your partner can’t see, doesn’t care, and refuses or is unable to work towards a healthy relationship—then I’d say you have some kind of addict on your hands. The Recovery Addict might appear to respond, but over time, you realize he just isn’t able to care about you very much. The All-In Addict may just say, “I don’t care.” That leaves you, I think, in a very sad and sobering situation. If you find yourself in that place today, I would encourage you to seek support immediately with a personal counselor.

A Spectrum of Unhealthy Spouse Responses

No matter where your partner falls on the spectrum—Occasional User, Serious User, Recovery Addict, or All-in Addict—you’ve got to decide how to respond.

Let’s face it: initally, most of us don’t respond in healthy ways. We don’t know what healthy ways would even look like. We’re just freaked out and doing whatever.

I think women tend to respond along a spectrum of two extremes: All or Nothing.

1. ALL

“All” says, “If you ever do this again, I will leave you.” The “All” person puts herself in charge of every device. “All” chooses the counselor, schedules the sessions, and drops off the spouse at group therapy. “All” is all about control.

2. NOTHING

“Nothing” says, “Well, I tried, and there’s nothing I can do except live with it.” The “Nothing” person may have been an “All” person before, but time has beaten her down, and she’s just given up on her partner ever changing. “Nothing” may have been told by her church that her husband will be “won without a word” so she should just do nothing and wait.

Let me say that I think it’s normal to be very upset and even traumatized by discovering a partner’s pornography use. I think it’s normal to do whatever you can think of to try and change the partner’s clearly unhealthy patterns of behavior, so that the relationship can be saved. Sometimes “All” makes sense to us; sometimes “Nothing” makes sense.

However, our unhealthy responses don’t do any good. They don’t make change, they just make crazy.

What Healthy Reactions Look Like

Our unhealthy responses are all directed at the other person, and as such those responses are destined to fail.

The reason is this: God did not put us in charge of our partner’s free choices.

God did not even put Himself in charge of our partner’s free will. Our partners are in charge of their own free will.

Change happens when our partners choose to cooperate with God toward healthy living, not when we somehow force, threaten, or manipulate things just right.

Our job, our only job, is to use our own free will in cooperation with God toward healthy living.

What does it look like to cooperate with God toward healthy living?

  • Have good boundaries (here’s a brief summary of boundaries).
  • Seek support for yourself, in personal counseling and/or group therapy like Celebrate Recovery.
  • Educate yourself in issues of male sexuality and pornography use in general.
  • Trust again only when you see trustworthy behavior over time.
  • Allow yourself to recover at your own pace, apart from your partner’s recovery pace.
  • Stop all behaviors that are directed toward changing the addict.
  • Stop all behaviors that are directed toward pacifying the addict.
  • Expect your partner to take responsibility for himself and his habits.
  • Expect to know and understand the steps he is taking in recovery.
  • Expect transparent conversations and openness.
  • Work toward understanding, and a growing ability to talk about recovery together.
  • Hang in there. Use your support network. Be smart. Keep your brain turned on at all times.
  • It can take several years to see full recovery; meanwhile, you should see progress. If you don’t see progress, maybe you’ve got an “all-in addict” instead of a user. In that case, expect the addict to take full and complete responsibility for recovery. Continue to access your support system. Guard your physical health from STDs with abstinence if necessary. Separate from the relationship if you need to.

Here’s a listing of other articles for spouses you may find helpful.

  • Comments on: 4 Kinds of Porn Users and 2 Ways Spouses Shouldn’t React
    1. Greg on

      “Change happens when our partners choose to cooperate with God toward healthy living, not when we somehow force, threaten, or manipulate things just right.”

      Kay, what you said above is key. I’m not trying to discount anything you’ve shared or spiritualize my own experience of God’s Hand of grace in rescuing me from ~15 years of pornography, but it seems to me that there are really only two kinds of addicts: repentant, and non-repentant.

      When God opens our eyes to the truth of our sin, and we begin praying, “Lord make me sick of this sin” that is when genuine renewal begins to occur. It can (and probably will) still take time (months, maybe years) for the healing to happen, but with a truly repentant heart and God’s power in the midst, it will.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Thanks, Greg. I agree that repentance is absolutely key. And then a whole bunch of good choices via the healthy exercise of the free will afterward!

      • Hey on

        You can write all you want and make seem men’s sexuality as an aberration, but until you take into account that women consistently withhold and negate sex with their husbands, also unbiblical and an aberration, porn will have a legitimate place. As men we took a bow of monogamy not celibacy. I would dare the author to comment on the sexual satisfaction her husband enjoys or at least write and article on how to deal with the sexless or withholding wife

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        “Legitimate place”? I wholeheartedly disagree.

        If one is a Christian—as Greg’s comment suggests—then porn never has a legitimate place. Does it have a place in the life of a single man? No. Using porn would be an act of lust, something clearly labeled as sin. To say that a man who is denied sex by his wife can legitimately use porn overlooks the fact that all lust, whether it is committed by married men or single men, is wrong.

        You are correct that a wife who denies her husband sex is sinning against him, but to respond to sin by sinning is never a “legitimate” answer.

      • Hey on

        Luke,

        Sex is a biological need. The definition of a living thing is inherent in its need to procreate, defecate and eat. So you can equate going number one to a man’s sex drive. Yes porn is a sin, but a satisfied individual does not need porn and if women took up responsability for that generic dissatisfaction ( within healthy norms) men would not need that the release of porn. However if that release is not there then porn serves the release as many men would rathermasturbate to porn than cheat or go to a prostitute. Sexuality if not optional it is compulsory and that compulsion is expressed in the bible, however women have ” gotten away” with rescinding on their duty as a spouse and you can see this on all sexuality research and effectively blaming men for needing to have sex by labeling us as deviants and sinners. I am not defending porn, but denouncing sexists articles as these. This woman should invite her readers to examine themselves and see if they are leading a healthy sexual life, not just writing out of their @&$ fictitious categories on porn users. Most porn user are healthy well adjusted men that lov their wifes, but are not being reciprocated by their spouses and their spouses are getting away with it by classifying their husbands as sinners. Thatis a cop out. I again challenge the writer to invite an introspective look at the problem rather than casting the first stone.

        Again, as me we take a vow of monogamy not celibacy and most women fail to look at themselves and admit the damage they cause by denying themselves to their husbands.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        If the overall thrust of your point is, “Men who look at porn and women who spitefully withhold sex from their husbands are both guilty of their own kind of sexual sin,” then I agree with you. I think there is a far better way to say that, however.

        I would question whether sex is a biological need, at least in a certain sense. Certainly, sex is a biological need for a species that requires sex for procreation. Without sex, the species dies out. In this sense, human beings as a collective need sex to accomplish their God-given function of subduing the earth and being God’s image-bearers on the earth.

        But this does not mean sex is a need for each and every individual the same way it is a need for humanity collectively. I, personally, do not “need” to procreate the same way the human race needs procreation corporately. And, it should also go without saying, even if I am one who procreates, I do not “need” to procreate at all times, in all circumstances, and without regard for other goals.

        This all may sound obvious, but I think the language of “need” is ambiguous and unhelpful in these discussions for this very reason. When we speak of needs, it is easy to equate this notion with other physical needs like air, water, food, etc. If sex is a need, it is merely a relative need for a specific end, but when it is equated with these physical needs, this elevates the importance of sex to a ridiculously high plane. For example, I need air; if I am suddenly thrust into a hole without much breathable air, my very survival depends on me getting out. The same cannot be said of sex. Men and women can go their whole lives and never have sex.

        To say one needs to release sperm doesn’t necessitate a specific mechanism for that release. Nocturnal emissions are a perfectly natural way for the body to do this. In addition, it is one thing to say one needs to masturbate as an act of physical release (I deal with that in another article), but this does not equate a need to look at porn or a need to lust to accomplish it.

        You are correct that there is a serious problem going on when there is sexual neglect in a marriage. I do wish the church would take this problem as seriously as Paul did (1 Cor. 7:3-5). But at the same time, those who feel neglected should can’t equate their sexless life as something necessitating sin.

        Furthermore, I have yet to hear you say why an article like this is “sexist.” If you are referring to Kay sticking to a specific topic, then I suppose one could mistakenly read it that way. When I read articles like this and the author neglects to cover another related aspect of a large problem, I normally don’t make much of the omission. After all, nobody can say everything, and when people occasionally try to say everything they end up saying nothing. She is just addressing a specific issue on a blog. She’s not writing a magnum opus.

        If you want articles about women needing to keep their marriage bed alive while their husband works through his porn issues, I would recommend finding articles on that topic specifically. Here are some on our blog:

        1. Don’t Ignore Your Marriage After Sexual Addiction is Discovered
        2. Husband Struggle with Porn? 3 Ways to Rebuild Your Sex Life
        3. Why Marital Sex is Better Than Porn

      • Wendy on

        Porn is cheating. It’s that simple. There are no excuses for it. Not the so-called sex withholding wife, not the ever popular “it’s not cheating if nothing physical happened”. None of that justifies any married person, male of female participating in any sort of porn. It’s cheating on one’s spouse no matter how you slice it.

    2. Ok on

      Kay you are deluding yourself in many ways. These “user types” are bogus.

      The reality is that the women who do porn are very good looking. Much better looking than the average woman. In fact, women in porn are on average 47 pounds lighter than the average woman. If a man is looking at porn, he is doing it for a reason. More than likely he is either in a sexless relationship, his partner has become unattractive or the sex is boring as heck. Then there is the nagging wife catalyst or bible thumper catalyst. A nagging wife can drive a man to porn. A wife who is a bible thumper can do it easily too. The reality is human beings love sex. When a person does not get enough of it or it is not what he or she wants, then that person is going to look elsewhere. I assure you of this. They will look elsewhere. People will also always look at attractive people. There is a lot of proven science behind this. I can assure you when I was with an attractive woman who was having a lot of sex with me, porn was the last thing on my mind.

      Boredom, nagging, a lack of sex, a lack of affection — drives people to porn. Being alone drives people to porn. You never once mentioned that possibly the spouse should ask herself — am I doing anything to drive my husband to porn? Go talk to an escort. Ask her why married man after married man will come see her. She will tell you why. It is the same reasons over and over again.

      Furthermore, few people feel shame from looking at porn. Frankly, everyone is pretty much looking at it. Even the people who say they aren’t, are looking at it. Website traffic reveals this quite well. This Puritan ideal that you have in your head simply is not realistic. It never has been realistic. It never will be realistic. In fact, that Puritan ideal has led to this mess. Whatever you repress will flourish — I assure you of this. What is funny is that the countries with healthier attitudes towards sex, look at porn the least. In fact, if you truly look at the numbers, conservatives look at the most porn. Other than California, the bible belt is watching the most porn. Why is this? Because of repression. That is why.

      Keep blaming the male if you want but here is another reality. There are tens of billions of porn pictures out there. There are webcam girls, hookers, escorts, strippers, homemade videos, professional videos, homemade porn, professional porn, etc. That is a helluva lot of women doing some form of porn. A helluva a lot. So until you hold your gender accountable for their actions this situation will never get better. But we never hold women accountable for anything now do we?

      But go ahead and keep blaming the male and ignoring the female role in all of this. See where it gets you. You will be 92 and writing the same article then as you are now. That is where it will get you. At the end of the day, you are fighting a losing battle. Not talking about the realities of the issue and only holding one gender accountable will not solve the problem. Becoming more Puritanical will not solve the problem because that is what got us into this mess. The genie is out of the bottle and he is not going back in.

      You want to know your best chance for a relationship to survive? People should do these things: Stay in shape, make sure you are compatible sexually, live below your means, don’t go crazy with religion, and do not be negative. I am very serious when I say that. Not doing these things destroys relationships. I have seen it countless times.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Something like 60% of divorces these days involve a partner with an obsessive use of porn. Perhaps in your experience, porn is a great thing, but many, many people would disagree with you, and those are the people who write in to this blog every single day, asking for help in how to deal with something they hate and don’t want in their relationships anymore.

        Those people all have the right to choose how their individual relationships function. If they want to be vegetarian, they can. If they want to vote Democrat, they can. If they want to shop at Wal-Mart, they are welcome to do so.

        And if they don’t want porn in their relationships, then by all that we hold dear in America, THAT IS THEIR CHOICE.

        Hopefully, readers will understand that I’m asking women to take responsibility for themselves, to decide what boundaries are appropriate for themselves, and to act accordingly. We can’t be responsible for the choices of others–not other women, not our husbands–only for ourselves.

        And if we don’t want to be in a relationship that includes porn, we don’t have to. We have other choices to pursue.

        That is not laying blame. That is being an adult and taking responsibility for our own lives.

      • John on

        This is directed towards the post Kay replied to, the poster by the name “Ok”

        I could not disagree with you more. People aren’t DRIVEN to porn, people look at porn because they WANT to look at porn. Lust is intentional. Every time.

        For you say Kay is blaming men for this, you seem to in turn absolve men of the blame and place it on women. I’m not sure how it’s not okay for her to blame men (which she isn’t), but it’s ok for you to blame women for not being “in shape” or not “giving” their husbands enough sex.

        Also, you are making women responsible for themselves (their looks and their willingness to have loads of wild sex with their husbands) and making them responsible for their husbands (so they won’t be “driven” to porn), all the while leaving the men responsible for nothing. Life doesn’t work that way.

      • Rob on

        OK, I imagine you are really hurting and have received a boat load of shame and guilt for sexual sin. I agree that Kay misses something, but I don’t think the miss is blaming women or anybody for being overweight. I think the miss is the deep pain and struggles that drive a person to false intimacy. I believe porn use is often symptomatic of a wounded heart that desires to be accepted, loved, respected and encouraged. Those are holy desires and they will only be met in a deep relationship with Christ. And a relationship with Christ is the one thing that crushes the power of shame and guilt and allows you and me to own how messed up we are and yet still know we are His beloved.

        OK, Adam said, “it’s that woman you gave me.” It wasn’t the woman’s fault that the man sinned, though she certainly had her own sin. She claimed to be a victim (and some are today). The problem with both is they thought they could find satisfaction, joy, knowledge and more, apart from God. Their disbelief caused them to step out on God and step into a pile of spit.

        The cure isn’t Covenant Eyes … though it is helpful in setting boundaries and checking behaviors. The cure is the love and forgiveness Jesus Christ affords us by grace alone. The cure is he forgives repentant sinners, he loves broken, messed up men and women, he cares for the hearts and hurts and hopes of his children and he works for our good, even when our circumstances suck.

        When I get this deep deep love and acceptance, I don’t look to a fantasy for fleeting satisfaction.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Right on, Rob. Thanks. Yes, the real deal is the deep relationship! The good behavior is a fine beginning, but if it never goes deeper, you never get those deep needs met and you’re always searching.

      • Kaye on

        Okay, I am just sick to death of the excuses for men. Is there anywhere on any of these blogs that has had a response about a Man going to the Wife and discussing a problem? No! I just see a lot of complaining men (maybe some women?) about how they are supposed to be so in tune with a porn using husband. What is wrong with a man growing a spine and speaking up if there is a problem. This just offends me more than words can say. Women are bogged down by everyday living just as much as the rationalizing porn abuser. Maybe, just maybe they are unaware of a problem. No, I am just sure this is an all out excuse and I am not buying into it. Quit whining! admit that you may have a mental malfunction.

      • Cg on

        Nice defection, how is living in denial working for you?

      • Ray on

        Lots of chatter about men and boys…the price of their toys.
        I was married for 40 years. I was usually the initiator for sex and I was happy to satisfy my best friend…thru 4 pregnancies…2 surgeries
        Etc. Then he had foot surgery and became addicted to Oxy. Over several months he adamantly refused my advances claiming something hurt, he was tired, the Oxy just kicked in…until that awful day I found his history included hard core marathons with porn…orgies and torture of young girls…so in one day I fell from a Christian chic trying to keep her hubby happy to a self harmer attempting suicide. Porn kills us. Kills the user with tortuous imaginations and the partner who never has another moment of peace. Jabber all you want but until porn is eradicated from earth, there will be porn induced suicides.

      • Kay Bruner on

        I am so, so sorry for the pain you are suffering. I hope you’ll find help for yourself immediately. Find a therapist who can help you process this pain and work on healthy boundaries. Here, here, and here are some articles on healthy boundaries. We are not slaves to anybody’s sin, and especially not our husband’s. If he isn’t able to be healthy, YOU can still choose to be healthy and whole. Peace, Kay

      • Brandon on

        I know this is 4 years old, but I had to respond to it. I started watching porn at a very young age after discovering what it was at a friends house. His parents were never home (and never paid attention to the direct tv bill I’m assuming). Over the next several years, I went from watching it 1-2 times a month when I was at his house, to getting my hands on videos to bring home and hide from my parents and watching in my room late at night, to a full fledge addict with a smart phone at 18. I watched it every day. I met my wife when I was 24. She is stunningly beautiful, ( I was in the military when we met, I always say man in a uniform helped me, because she is way out my league ha). Her sex drive was high when we started having sex, and is just as high now 9 years later. By what your saying, I had no reason to ever go back to porn. But I did. And I hid it, and lied by telling her I didn’t, and still went back to it. I nearly lost my wife and 2 children (both girls) over my inability to stop watching porn. I made the same excuses that most addicts do. It’s not a big deal, I could stop if I wanted to, but since it’s not a big deal, I’ll just hid it from her, it’s just something that men do, and a hundred others. When my wife walked in on me masturbating watching porn, she left to go to her mothers. It wasn’t until this happened that I finally shook of the it’s not a big deal mentality and actually started reading into how to change. I was basically living 2 lives. 1 in secret, and 1 that everyone else saw. What pleasure I was getting in life, was coming from my secret life. The life everyone saw was a shell of a person with no emotions just waiting to get back to the secret life. I’m sure most people on this site have seen the chart depicting how the brain works when addicted to porn. How by watching porn (and most of the time masturbating), over and over, the release of dopamine in the brain row-routes your brain. What used to give you pleasure and fulfillment doesn’t any longer. I’ve said all that to say this, it was in no way my wife’s fault. I started that addiction long before I met her. But when she did find out, she was devastated. She wanted to know why I wasn’t satisfied with her, she became more self conscious of her looks. And she’s always the most beautiful woman in the room, no matter where we go! Luckily for me, she decided to give me another chance. So to whoever may be battling a porn addiction, here’s some advice. It is a big deal, don’t let your mind, or “the guys” tell you it’s not. If your battling a porn addiction and in a relationship, tell that person you have something you want to tell them, something you need their help with. If your in a relationship and your other finds out (either by telling them, or by them finding out on their own), forget about YOUR privacy as far as devices, internet, etc. If your lucky enough that they stayed, you don’t need privacy! Do download covenant eyes, even if YOU think you don’t need it. Having covenant eyes on my phone was the 1 thing that kept me from giving in to weakness when all others had failed on several occasions. If you significant other has just found out (and especially if it was after you lying about it), their trust in you is gone. Like gone with wind gone! It can be frustrating at times if a change is made, and you have truly stopped to be questioned. Don’t get upset, just remember that you caused this, and their lack of trust. They have a right to question you if they make the decision to stay. Count yourself lucky for that alone! Give your other easy access to your devices, without them having to ask for it. “Forget” and leave it at home when you go to work, or leave it and go take a walk. Therapy and SAA may be useful/needed for both of you. I did attend some therapy and SAA but not over a long period. I did a lot of reading both with my wife and alone. Amazon bookstore has tons of books to read. And if your partner doesn’t know everything, tell them. One of the worst things you can do is tell them some of, but not all of what has happened, only for them to find out later. It makes it extremely difficult for them to trust you again (Coming from experience on my part). But coming from someone that started watching porn at a young age. I never truly learned the pleasures of life until I stopped. My wife and family makes me happy. Being more intimate with my wife makes me happy. Sex is intimate now, where before it seldom was. I was not emotionally connected to her because of what I was doing. I had setbacks from the first time I stopped (one was a serious one). Most people do have some sort of setback. Learn from it and keep moving forward. But don’t find excuses for it, and don’t make your actions someone else’s fault, especially your partner! It gets easier as time passes to not think about it! And it’s definitely worth it to not have the secrets, the double life. Just wanted to share!

    3. S.L.P. on

      Personally, I think we make life out to be more than it is. People have delusions of grandeur. But for most people, all life really is about is going to work at a job you really aren’t interested in and then you go home at home you eat, sleep, and have sex if you are lucky. That is all it really is. We make out our lives to be some higher calling. But is it really that? Nah. Not really. Then we kid ourselves and say it isnt about sex when half the things we do is all about getting mate to have sex with. You know why prostitution is the world’s oldest profession? Because it really is what humans do. We are hardwired for it. The whole porn issue is not a big deal. You wont change things. Sorry. I notice you talk about celebrate recovery. I have found that therapists and many church programs have people running them who have more problems than the people going to them. I once went to a celebrate recovery program. It is a bunch of people reciting the same BS over and over again. Heck the program give you a complex even if you have dont have one. No one talks about the real issues and real questions and real causes. Take the porn issue for example. Many people watch porn because they are alone. Men and women. I know men and women who pray their entire lives for love, yet it never comes to them. Now, obviously those people need love or they would not have prayed for it during their entire lives. So if God knows all that we need, why doesn’t he help? Why? After all, love is not a bad thing, so why doesn’t he help? If he can part seas, I am sure he can figure out a way to help a person with love. Then the average Christian always uses the convenient answer card. Well — God works in mysterious ways or God truly knows what you need or some other BS answer. At the end of the day, the porn issue is small. The real issue is people all over the place are losing faith in God. Because he isn’t helping much and frankly, Christ should have never left in the first place. Then there is the fact of why is life so hard anyway? Why the hell am I paying for the sins of adam and eve? Why does he even let the devil influence people? Why is the communication only one way? Let’s face facts. America is a nation of addicts. From drugs to alcohol to food to sex to porn to even religion —- we are a nation of addicts. Why do people become addicted? To escape the pain of life. That is why. It is funny. Nothing ever changes in America. Christians are always on witch hunts. The only difference is the types of witches change over time. The bottom line with porn is that if you dont want to look at it then dont look at it. Dont be surprised if others are looking at it. As I said, for 99% of the people …. all life really is about is working, eating, sleeping, and sex. If you are lucky, you have a family. But even then, life is nothing more than working, eating, sleeping, and sex.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I really agree with you that we use all kinds of things to escape pain. And I definitely think that porn use can be an escape from loneliness and pain.

        You’ve asked several deep theological questions that books and books and books have been written about. But of course the cognitive answers to those questions aren’t really the answer to the pain.

        The more I read your comment, the more it sounds like you’re feeling pretty hopeless right now. Do you have some people around to talk to? Because I think meaningful relationships are a really big help with pain. We get hurt in relationships, we get healed in relationships. Maybe CR was a bad fit for you, but a personal counselor might help you process through some of that hurt. I’d love to see that happen!

        blessings Kay

    4. Feminist Issue on

      The porn issue is a feminist issue. Problem is that women are the ones doing the most pushing of sex in society. Doubt this? Go look for yourself. Chart the rise of feminism and chart the destruction of the family unit and our society. With feminists came the empowered woman. Yeah, empowered to take off their clothes and make money doing it. I am woman. Hear me roar. Watch me take off my clothes and claim I am a victim. So Kay, why don’t you address the fact that if women didnt do porn there woudn’t be any porn for men to look at? Tons of jobs out their Kay. Tons of them. Women dont have to do porn. But they do. Tempting is just as big of a sin as lust. Maybe even more so because you are using a person’s weakness against them. It is like the police doing drug stings. The police know the people are addicts. They know it is an addiction. Yet, they set people up. Destroy lives. Doing that is a much worse sin than being an addict. In fact, it is exactly what the devil would do. Tempt a person and go after a person’s weakness. That is true evil. Make no mistake about it. The really sad part is if can take the time to setup the downfall of another person. You can take the time to lift a person up. I have a feeling when people die and face God, things we think are so moral might now be so moral. Many sinners are going to go into heaven before the righteous.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        My hope is that readers will be able to understand that I’m asking men and women to each take responsibility for themselves. Men, take responsibility for your choices. Women, take responsibility for yours.

        To me, that’s the core of feminism: we are all adults, equally responsible for ourselves, regardless of the sex organs we happen to possess.

        “Other people, out there” will always be doing things we don’t like (making porn, voting Republican, eating at McDonald’s) but what WE do, within our own lives, is OUR OWN responsibility.

        My purpose in writing this article is to encourage women to understand what may be happening within their marriages, and to help them consider how they can take responsibility for what they do and do not want to have in their lives.

        Here’s what I’m trying to encourage women toward:

        I am an adult. It is my responsibility to behave fully as an adult. God gave me a free will, and I am going to exercise it in the service of a healthy, happy life for myself and my family.

        This being America, THAT is a choice I get to make. And when women write in, asking me how they can make healthy, happy lives for themselves and their families, by golly, I’m going to give them every bit of the help I can.

    5. Greg on

      @ Ok, S.L.P., and Feminist Issue:

      Yes, as men we find the female form to be fascinating, arousing, and deeply appealing, and we crave sexual intimacy. We would be liars if we didn’t state that up front. I don’t know why God made men to be so utterly captivated (and why He gave us testosterone levels roughly 15 times that of women)–I sure would like to know what His reason(s) were. Frankly, it’s more frustrating and a burden than a gift or blessing. I’ve heard other men say it, and could write a small book about that.

      But the bottom line is that while we can’t control the fact that we notice and are captivated by female beauty (and even envy them), we do have a choice in where it takes us from there. That takes ongoing intentional work, and respecting women for who they are–including accepting the truth that they are much more than their body–as beautiful and desirable as it is.

      Porn simply doesn’t equate either to love, respect, or true beauty. It sells off the soul so it can profit from the body.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Thank you, Greg.

    6. Greg on

      Just a quick quote from a secular author that you may find interesting:

      “I don’t think I would ever write a book with what anybody could call pornography in it, because I feel that pornography is a cheat. It is an attempt to provide sexual experience by secondhand means. Now sex is a thing which has to be experienced firsthand, if you are really going to understand it, and pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars. It’s not the same thing. Sex is primarily a question of relationships. Pornography is a do-it-yourself kit—a twenty-second best.” — Robertson Davies

      Reply
    7. David on

      Thanks Kay for this article and kudos to you for your sound and level headed responses to some of these awful comments.

      I think I am a Serious Addict with a bit of a Recovery Addict mixed in. Reading that it may be 3 to 5 years to feel truly free from porn hit me like a minor revelation even though I probably have heard that before, I’m trying to take that in now. I have been struggling for many years, I don’t even know how to judge how many years. I think I felt free for a time but I have fallen back into it and have been seriously fighting my addiction for at least 3 years now.
      I wonder if there are any resources directed specifically towards the type of addict that I am.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey David. Well, you do realize that I totally made these categories up, right? It’s just what I keep seeing, and I’m trying to make sense of what happens and why! People may or may not like it or find it helpful, and that’s fine.

        My husband was, I think, a serious user. He used for 6 years before getting into recovery, and he confirms that the 5-year mark was pretty true for him. The stuff he has found helpful is Pure Desire. He likes the Pure Desire book a whole lot, and then we found that there’s a men’s group in our area that uses Pure Desire materials, so he visited that and liked it. Pure Desire has all kinds of resources, so dig around and see what looks good. He also recently read Surfing for God and liked that a lot. We have also found the whole 12-step world to be helpful, so you might look for a Celebrate Recovery in your area.

        Blessings and let me know what you think.

    8. Dean on

      Porn destroys life , it doesnt build it , the industry is a whore , the people who watch porn or go to physical legnths to hire a prostitute are slaves to this SIN. There is nothing good that comes from it. I am a recovering light occasional porn user. My wife is devasted , 10 years on and off behind her back and trying to deal with God and asking Him to fogive and heal me. Telling her was the worst fear I had in our relationship. Now the healing begins. We must all stand before God and give an account of our life one day. Those who are bashing this issue and taking it lightly : Please tell God its all right to look at porn and cheat on your wife. Tell that to His face. Rest assured you will be in for the greatest shock of your eternity. Seriously , the prophecies of the bible are all TRUE , people dont give a hoot about holiness and are lovers of themselves , no fear of God , $$$$$$ money money money god , porn is now some kind of christian sub culture. I refuse all these lies and am willing to put my life on scripture TRUTH. If I walk down the street with a sign that says PORN IS AN EVIL SIN , or , HOMOSEXUALITY is an ABOMINATION to THE LORD , I will get arrested , charged with a hate crime , and even before that happens get publicly abused by the mob. The day will come where we all will have to make a drastic stand , PORN almost destroyed my marriage because she is holy and sensitive to SIN , a True christian . I want Jesus , I want freedom , that means get rid of all SIN with the help of The Holy Spirit. I am broken , and grieved by those who take SIN lightly. May God help us all in this last hour before the great shaking of all things.

      Reply
    9. elizabeth on

      can anybody advise on what to do with a ‘recovery addict ‘ and if there is any real hope once the drama wears off?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Elizabeth, I think your best bet with a “recovery addict” is serious boundaries. I know it’s his issue, but it impacts you hugely and you’re going to have to decide what you’re going to do to be healthy. You would do well to go to therapy FOR YOURSELF, and to attend a 12-step group like SANON FOR YOURSELF if you can find it in your area. Celebrate Recovery might also be a good alternative, as it’s 12-step based and will get you grounded in those ideas about codependency and boundaries that you’ll need as you make hard choices. Boundaries in Marriage would be a good book to read, and you might also appreciate our free download, Hope After Porn, where several women tell their stories of boundaries and recovery. Let me know what you think. Blessings, Kay

    10. elizabeth on

      i’ve had almost 3 years of therapy during our marriage recovery, its always the same, he is adament it will never happen again and makes all these changes then when things settle to normal and i finally trust him after a couple of years, thats exactly when he tends to relapse and i believe its because he also relaxes when i trust him and then there is no adrenalin. After being discovered there is zero chance of relapse for at least 6 months but the damage to me is simply that fact, that by then i have processed and begun to heal and to trust. I just dont know if i can take another bout in the ring with this. I just need to know if there is any hope at all i suppose. i cant go though another few years and find out “i didnt quite get the root but this time i will” :( He is always miraculously ‘delivered’ after discovery. It has just never been permanent and the whole cycle of discovery and purging the guilt seems as significant as the pornography use itself. It leaves me a really unstable foundation to try to rebuild trust on.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Yes. The whole “miraculous deliverance” model is highly suspect the first time around, much less when you’ve seen it over and over. It’s so discouraging as the spouse to invest in the process only to find yourself back at square one! Has he read any of the Pure Desire materials? I think those have a really well-rounded recovery perspective, way on beyond “miraculous deliverance.”

        I hope that the therapy you’ve been in has been supporting YOU well? Sometimes therapy around this issue can get so focused on the addict’s issues that the spouse doesn’t get adequate care.

        I don’t know if these articles will help at all, but I’ve written about knowing how my husband and I were on the same team, and how he learned to turn toward me instead of turning toward porn.

        Real recovery is not just an absence of a porn habit. Real recovery is a vital relationship. I think a lot of our recovery efforts get focused on “don’t look”–which is a fine place to start! But if it never goes beyond that into a deep connection–then falling back into porn is almost inevitable, I’d say.

        Have a look at those articles and let me know what you think… Kay

    11. Ross on

      I’m at a loss as to how to navigate the next steps in my marriage. I was addicted to porn before I met my wife and stopped using about a month before she and I started dating. I still had struggles with wanting to use and I allowed myself free rein to lust. I didn’t realize it at the time because I had become so used to it.
      We were separated two years ago this month at the recommendation of our pastors. The purpose of the separation was to be “restorative.” The separation lasted one month. During that time apart, I found work (I had been unemployed for approximately 20 months which I’m sure didn’t help things either). The man I stayed with was very encouraging and pointed me towards God no matter the situation. I also spent several months attending my church’s addiction recovery group – The Most Excellent Way. Along with that, I spent time in Biblical counseling dealing with the issue of life dominating sins and attending counseling with another counselor. I’m glad to say, with God’s help (1 Cor. 10:13) that I have not sought out any kind of porn for over a year now. The last time was September of 2013.
      There are several boundaries in place, from not going into grocery stores due to the magazines and not watching previews on movies. We don’t even go to movies in the theater. All that being said, I feel like I’m doing my part in staying clean and honoring God with my mind and eyes as well as my wife.
      A few weeks ago, we were getting ready to go shopping at Costco. My wife informed me that she doesn’t like going shopping there because the wife of the couple we meet there doesn’t pay attention to when she bends down and cleavage shows. I told my wife that I don’t deal with it but move away. My wife said to me, with the preface that she was not accusing me but that it was one of the reasons she does not open up to me, because I may see something. That threw me for a loop. One of my thoughts later was “Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.” We spoke about this comment later in the week after I wrote her a letter explaining my feelings and thoughts on this. Her response to me was that it still brings up painful memories and she has to deal with them everyday. I let her know that I was sorry she had to deal with them everyday.
      As we continued in this conversation, that became more heated as time went along, she tried to show me by an example of her ideal compared to my ideal. She said that my ideal would be to be able to have sex with her and touch her anytime while her ideal is that I would be devoted to her. She often says to me that she wants me to listen with my heart. I feel like I am devoted to her by my actions as I have continually worked on this sin over the past several years. It took a month long separation for me to get my head out of the sand.
      Those things being said, are you able to offer any encouragement about how I might be able to show my wife that I am devoted to her as well as help me deal with the boundaries that have been put in place. The aforementioned boundaries are her idea because she has stated it will help her learn to trust me more. That has not happened and I can attest to this because of the fact that she still finds it difficult to open up to me. Our physical interaction leaves much to be desired. How can I communicate with her in such a way that it shows that I am working on honoring God in my actions, that I am in charge of my choices and she is not? I’m fairly certain that if I were to go against one of these boundaries, such as going into a grocery store, she would get upset with me. How can she and I work together to have a more fulfilling marriage that will bring us together, not only as a married couple and as friends but also as intimate partners? That aspect of our marriage is severely lacking and I get it that part of the reason is my past actions but since I’ve moved on from that pattern of living and am living in victory, that is, learning to battle the temptations and not allow them to grow into and give birth to sin. I learned this week that God is with us in our temptations and is glorified when we battle those temptations and give him the credit he deserves.

      Thanks for your thoughts/encouragement regarding these things.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Ross. I’m so sorry for all the pain that you and your wife have been through the past few years. I think you’re finding something so vital here: there is SO much more to recovery than not looking at porn. There’s more for you–you want the “intimate partner” relationship back. And there’s more for your wife, beyond simple “behavioral trust” and making sure that you follow her rules. THE RULES ARE NOT ENOUGH. (And isn’t that the deepest truest part of the Christian story!)

        You have to get beyond good behavior and into a relationship that nourishes and sustains you both. And that requires both of you working through your stuff.

        From everything you say here, it sounds like you’ve been doing your part, which is so good to hear. I know that’s been a lot of work and commitment on your part. But it sounds like she’s still got a lot of pain that she hasn’t processed through yet. My question is, what kind of help has she gotten for her own healing? Has she been able to go to a group and to personal counseling? Sometimes the focus is so much on resolving the porn user’s problems that the spouse’s needs get pushed aside. I would say that she needs a lot of healing attention yet, and groups and personal counseling could be really helpful to her. Sounds like you guys have done a good job of accessing that in your area, so I’m sure you know where to turn for that.

        I think what you can do is keep doing the right things. You are responsible for YOU. Don’t get distracted from your primary job: your responsibility before God for yourself!

        I think you can keep being patient with her, too. Try to be open to hearing out her emotions. I think she’s scared and sad and it comes out as control and mistrust. I think you can keep turning toward her and listening. You don’t have to agree with how she feels. You don’t have to think it’s rational. But you do need to listen so that you can understand.

        I’ve written some other blogs about being on the same team and rebuilding trust beyond just behavior. Here’s the link to all my articles. Have a look through there and let me know what you think.

        I’ve heard that it takes 5 years for a guy to be really, really off the gerbil wheel with porn, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it takes at least that long for a marriage to really feel safe to a woman again.

        And here’s a link to the very best book I know about marriage, by Dr. John Gottman.

    12. Jean on

      I can’t read anymore stories of how men are using porn and masturbating, when their married and supposedly have a relationship with God. if you raised your children to know God and go to church and youth group, all that goes with knowing God in a family. How can this not be sin?
      The second day of my marriage started with me finding my husband masturbating in the bathroom in the hotel. he sweet talked me into staying and promised nit to do it again. NOT! I believed him, cried. I stayed. I caught him again and again, through 40 years. when I caught him in porn and masturbating, I would leave, call him names, I was just so hurt. over and over. we would go to the elders at church, who also admitted to doing the same thing. yes elders. pastors even. we would get told to pray more, try harder, have more sex. I even had a Pastor tell me to look clean and pretty for my husband. he also said if I went to court and said iwas divorcing over my husband having porn and masturbating. that I would be laughed out of court. yes a pastor said that. I felt so humiliated. now this family is well known in the world of Christianity.
      now I found his porn again after 40 years of it. I left, and didn’t call him names, nor yelled, and went on and on. he wasn’t home when I found it. I felt like a knife fell out of my heart and right to the floor. I left 2 days later. I have been gone for 7 months now. I am in counseling, and he is counseling with Pure Desire Ministry. he’s told me he’s changed and God is working in him. ALL of which I have heard over and over and over. when I left and got on the train, the Lord told me. Let him go and I will take care of him. my love for my husband had been diminishing for the last 3 years, as he never took me out, or was intiment with me either. he was very controlling, and manipulating, and spiritually abusing. he was going to be retiring soon and didn’t want to spend my retirement years sitting in a chair watching tv or reading, and him in the office on the computer. he is now retired, the house is sold, he lives with his mother and I live 130miles away. I am done. I can’t take anymore. even though he’s getting help, because I’ve heard it all and all the scriptures too. to have had all the pastors and elders just make me go back, has made me not want to go to them again. my pastor where I was attending with my husband and where I was a tithe paying member, never tried to call me or ask if he could pray for me, nor how was i doing? my husband told him he watched a questionable movie, and was masturbating. my husband told him I left him and I had issues from my childhood and needed counseling. so to this day, I have heard nothing from the pastor. blows me away. I have told my counselor I do not want reconciliation. I am done. I am Gods precious Daughter, and I don’t believe He wants me be treated like that anymore. I am filing for divorce now. he will be served next week. he has tried to take my health insurance away, my car insurance, he said he didn’t owe me anything. but I gave him 40 years of my life. AND I never said no to sex, even when I was in bed sick or recovering from major surgery. never! he tells my kids hes changing, but he lies. I have had emails and text, that say different. I would like to send them to his counselor, and pastor.
      I have not seen him for 7months now. I don’t miss him at all. I hope the baest for him, and I feel when the divorce is final, that I will be able to completely forgive him. forgiveness in this situation is a process. it doesn’t happen overnight. he thinks it should. I have read a lot of books, talked to Christian counselors, pastors, Christian friends. no one has told me what to do. they been very loving, considerate of what I’ve been through for 40 years.
      my husband comes from a well know Christian family. he’s trying to safe face, by not telling the truth about why we aren’t together. he has told people I left him and I have childhood issues I am getting counseling for. he does tell some people that he was at fault, but not all of it.
      I will get on with my life. I have rebuilt my heart for Jesus. where I had lose my own identity in Christ. Henis my husband, counselor, provider, my go place for peace.
      my husband also feels it isn’t adultery, nor has he broken any vows, nor do I have a biblical right to divorce him.
      I guess I have just had enough and I have felt Gods peace in my decision.
      thanks for listening. feel free to comment. Jae

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m so glad you’ve finally found peace with your own boundaries.

        I hope your husband does find healing for himself, but it sounds like your trust in him is well and truly broken. I think we can’t underestimate the damage that a 40-year porn habit does to a brain, to rational though processes, and to the ability to connect intimately in any way with a spouse. When you’ve been lied to so many times, and when there is such a lack of concern for your welfare within the marriage, it would be unwise to trust, I think. It makes me sad to say that, but I think it’s a reality.

        I’m so sorry that he wasn’t able to get help earlier, I’m so sorry that the church became part of the problem, and mostly I’m just so sorry for the pain you’ve been in all this time.

        I pray healing for you in the counseling process and in your recovery. Blessings, Kay

    13. Sweetz on

      Jean,
      It is wonderful that God supports you in your decision to remove yourself from this charade of a “marriage”. God is the One who “puts asunder” and it seems as though He has made it clear that it is what is needed in your situation. Hold on to His peace and move forward in your new life ahead. The forgiveness will come over time, you cannot rush it. You will go through all the “stages of grief”…and that’s okay too. Just remember this dear one…NONE of your love, your suffering, your sacrifice was wasted through the WHOLE 40 years. God has seen it all, has it all, and will reward you in eternity for your faithfulness. You are precious.
      At the end of this year, the Lord has told me that if I do not see REAL fruit of repentance from my husband that I may file for divorce also. The Lord led me to Luke chapter 13…the Parable of the Fig Tree (which bore no fruit). Read it. God expects for Christians to bear fruit rather than toy around with sin and no one is fooling Him even if they are able to fool us. My husband is a “serial luster”…has not touched Porn for awhile, but is now involved in a emotional affair with a woman twenty years younger than me. He uses his fantasies regarding her in order to sexually function with me so he appears to be faithful. But it is just another insidious way for him to get away with sin in his heart. So I am waiting to see if God is able to do anything for him until the end of this year. Then will move forward. We are in our 60’s now. It is time.

      God Bless You. Remember, nothing you suffered is wasted. Your soul was martyred on the alter of your husbands sexual idolatry.

      Reply
    14. Sweetz on

      By the way Jean…I would have actually PREFERRED if my husband would have used masterbation when lusting for other women. Instead, he chooses to DEFILE me in my own marriage bed, using my body as a substitute for what he cannot have (the forbidden). He simply pretends that I am someone else. I can always tell when he has been lusting for others because when he gets home from work, he has a sudden urge to have sex out of the blue when there is NOTHING going on between us otherwise. Then I later find out that he has been watching movies/youtube sleazy stuff on his computer at work which coincides with the days he wants to have sex. I go to his business once a week and now he hides the “history” after I confronted him about some of the stuff on the computer.
      There is ZERO trust…he has shattered my confidence as a woman on every level, made me feel unworthy…when in fact, he is the one who is not worthy of what marriage is supposed to represent in God’s eyes. Soon, I will no longer have to sacrifice my body for him to use…I feel as if Satan if hovering over me laughing all the while.
      Yes, God is our husband, protector, and provider…and does not want us to live in our husband’s shame any longer.

      Do not fall for any lies or “false reconciliation”. Your husband OWNS this, not you. Do not let Pastors blame shift your husband’s problem on to you or make you responsible on any level for his recovery. Ask God to show you PROOF that is undeniable (if your husband ever gets there, and if you are willing at that time). Settle for nothing less than what YOU gave. Marriage should make you feel SAFE and cherished. You should not have to be the “marriage police”…your husband needs to police his own heart.

      Yes, the worst of this is how it slowly degrades even our own relationship with God. RECLAIM THAT! :)

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I think you said something so important here–the idea that sex is not a thing to be USED. In a healthy relationship, sex is a thing that you share, a thing that expresses your love and respect for one another, a thing that strengthens the relationship.

        I think that a lot of boundaries get crossed with porn. Men stop taking responsibility for themselves. Women start believing that men are responsible to make them beautiful and happy. One of the things that brings healing is all of us stepping back into our own spaces with God, and finding peace and safety there, men and women alike.

      • Jean Iverson on

        Sweetz, thank you for your comments, and encouragement. I needed that, as my husband was served and has taken the credit card away, and closed our joint acct. he is allowing me 600 in and acct that I can draw out of on the 5th of every month til the dicorce is final. he had said he would pay for only half of the root canal I had done, but when I went to pay for it the card was declined. he wrote me and email that same day and told me he was strongly erged to pull all the finances from me. come to find out he didn’t have a lawyer. he says a legal counsel told him too. lie as always. when my lawyer reviewed the email, she said he does have a lawyer, cuz a lawyer would not have advised a husband with a disabled wife and him being the soul provider, to pull it all from me. when the divorce is final then I will be on my own.
        yes I have felt like all these 40 years I submitted to him and served my 2 kids, was for what? my daughter already said she’d put me in a home. my son is married too and his wife does want me around either, cuz she has enough on her hands with 5 kids still at home. not that I need help now, as I aM only 61. I don’t know what will happen to me if something medical happens, but my trust is in the Lord.
        I won’t say it doesn’t hurt, cuz my husband has been telling my daughter everything. but never the whole of thisnwhole mess. just what saves his face. she is close to him and believes it all. she let me know last week she wasn’t happy with my decision to divorce her dad, cuz she doesn’t see it as adultery. her and her husband are they pastors. they don’t think I have a biblical right to divorce.
        I don’t need her approval. I am doing what God has lead me to do. she hasn’t lived my life. if I loose my daughter and her 3 children, my grandkids, then I do. cuz going back to to that life, even though he’s getting healing. I can’t live under the addition. I can’t go back and be told I have to give him another chance to fall back, or slip back, and hurt me all over again. the majority of sex addicts do have a slip up. sure ya don’t want to believe of that or look for it, but I just can’t anymore. and it’s not just the addiction, its the controlling, manipulating, and spiritual abuse. he is starting to see the light now. but he admitted he has a ways to go in recovery.
        well, this to shall come to past. I give all the honor and glory to Jesus.
        thanks again for your concerns. I know iam not alone. Gods best for you too. be safe.

    15. Sweetz on

      Kay,
      So maybe you can do an article on what EXACTLY it looks like to “step back into our own spaces” while porn/cheating is ruling the marriage? HOW does a wife step back into her space without cutting off the sex entirely? Only THEN would she be remotely in “her own space”, because then she would no longer be part of the “usage” that is happening in the marital bed. Clearly, that wont fly because then she will be blamed for any further acting out that her husband may do…the focus will then be on HER withholding rather than on the reason why she does not want to cooperate any longer. I think a woman needs to clearly hear from God if she employes this because it will likely mean the end of the “marriage”.

      If a woman does this, she had better be prepared for THAT consequence regardless of her right standing before God.

      While I do not expect for my husband to “make” me feel beautiful and happy…I surely also do not like him making me feel ugly and heartbroken in his eyes either. Each time he grabs himself “some” from me while fantazing about other women, that is exactly the effect it has and I LOATHE the entire act. I KNOW I am attractive and do not need his validation…however, this is no excuse for him to USE me in this manner…I am not just a “hole”. Devalue, degrade and destroy. THIS is what has happened in our marriage bed.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Yeah, it’s tough. I think “stepping back into our own spaces” is so incredibly personal. I don’t think there are hard-and-fast rules for this. And the consequences can be very serious indeed. Which is why women keep staying and hating the situation they’re in. It’s a painful and frightening place to be.

        The sad thing is, there is no EXACTLY! I wish that there were! There’s nothing we can really do to GUARANTEE he’s going to stop the behavior and get healthy, whether you have sex with him or not. Really, no matter what you do, it’s going to be HIS JOB to deal with HIS STUFF. And that is really hard for all of us to hear, I think. We want some formula that will make it all right again, and that just doesn’t exist. We all have our free will and we just run wild with it.

        I think the issue of sex as USING is extremely, extremely important. If sex is about USING, then it’s not healthy. The idea of “withholding” also carries the idea of sex as a commodity as well.
        I think that’s what you’re hating about sex right now: it’s not about relationship, it’s just you supplying him with something he demands in order to stay/keep the habit under control.

        He’s not taking responsibility for himself, so there’s this blame that falls on you for not being enough. That blame is a complete lie, but it’s a very common one in situations like this. Men in porn addiction believe that their happiness can be supplied by someone or something else, and if you don’t do what he wants, then it’s your fault.

        Getting back into your own space means that you stop living inside that lie. Instead, you live in the truth that you are precious, created in the image of God with a free will and the capacity to choose life and health and joy and peace for yourself, even if your husband chooses to continue to lies. This may indeed impact your sexual choices, when you stop participating in being used and instead make your sexual choices as a free and beloved child of God.

        Devalue, degrade, and destroy in NO WAY reflects who you are as God’s Beloved. Of course you hate that.

        I know this is a tough, tough place to be, and I hope you’re finding support for this? I wonder if you’ve read our free download, Hope After Porn? Several women tell their stories of recovery, and some of them made some really bold choices about their boundaries. That might help you see how it’s looked in real life for other women.

        I’d also suggest counseling, because I know you’ve got a lot of hurt to deal with and some important decisions to make.

        Let me know what you think.

        Blessings, Kay

    16. Jean Iverson on

      KAY, I wanted to ask you if you felt my 40 years situation with my sex addict husband,, is concidered adultery and biblical right for divorce? thank you, Jean

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there, Jean. What a tough question. And what a tough situation for you to be in for so long. I’m so, so sorry.

        Not too long ago, we had a blog post about this. You can find it here. There’s a link from there to a paper by Brad Hambrick that may help you think through that question. I really appreciate the way that he works through the ideas, but I don’t agree with his conclusion. You’ll have to read it and see what you think. I think he’s genuinely trying to be kind and helpful, but I think there’s a better way.

        My perspective on this is more big-picture. I don’t have a Bible Verse That Clearly Says. I think about the Jesus who said that if anyone sins against a child, he should just go ahead and tie a big stone around his neck and jump into the sea. I think about the Jesus who told the mob gathered around the woman taken in adultery that the sinless person should cast the first stone. I think about the Jesus who got into trouble all the time for breaking the rules, for healing on the Sabbath, for hanging out with sinners and prostitutes. I think about the Jesus who was here to heal and to save.

        The other part of the picture for me is that I work with women all the time, and my first commitment, by law is safety for my client. Physical safety is my first concern, but emotional and spiritual safety and well-being count, too. I see women being incredibly traumatized by pornography and sexual addiction in marriage. Many, many women meet the criteria for PTSD when the porn discovery is made, just like women who have been physically assaulted. When I see the level of harm to women in these situations, “he didn’t actually have sex with anybody yet” is not a good enough answer for me. I don’t think that’s a Jesus answer, frankly.

        Not only does staying in the situation harm the woman, IT HARMS THE MAN, TOO. It allows him to continue with the facade that he’s fine, when he’s not and hasn’t been for years! Somehow in the church I think we’ve gotten way more concerned with saving marriages than with saving the people inside those marriages!

        Jesus says that if you look at a woman in lust, that’s adultery. To me, that says it doesn’t really matter which particular parts of your body are involved in sexual sin, your brain or your penis. It’s like every other sin; it starts in your mind, and you have a choice what you do with it: deal with it, or let it run wild.

        Like every other sin, what matters is this: is the man willing to repent (CHANGE), take responsibility for himself, and work toward the original design for marriage: “one flesh.” And I don’t just mean having sex. I mean, is he willing to stop being totally into his own wants, and is he willing to become emotionally connected, a loving, nurturing husband, like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her?

        Or, is he just skating inside the lines of the rules–“Hey, I’ve never had sex with anybody else, so I’m fine.” And if that’s the case, then I think he falls into that category Jesus is talking about: he’s committing adultery.

        I don’t know if that helps at all, or just muddies the waters further. Let me know what you think.

        Blessings,
        Kay

    17. Jean on

      Kay, I have always felt it was adultery. every time I caught him, it was that it wasn’t adultery, and there wasn’t biblical rights to divorcing him. He always has had such control of the financial parts of our marriage. Even though hes in recovery. I feel that I don’t have to give him another chance to fall back, or slip up. I just can’t take the hurt anymore. Also, because he has lied to me and our friends, family. And has never really sent me any heart warming e mails and text. I feel that because the sin was against me, that the trust is so gone. If I went back to him, I could look at him the same way. the memories are so awful. i will never get those visions out of my head. and yes my staying with him, just enabled him to continue. I know thats why God told me to leave, and He would take car of my husband. Even if I lose my daughter and grandkids, for a while. it’s not worth me going back and live in the marriage with no trust. my counselor says to just say; not for now, maybe later your daughter will come to see the truth.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me Kay.
      Blessings in Him, Jean

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I really appreciate your asking the question, Jean, because I think it’s so important! You made me think through it all again, and I ended up writing a whole blog post about it. (If it doesn’t fit here at Covenant Eyes, I’ll put it up on my own blog.) It’s taken me a long time to see past “the letter of the law” that I have been taught so long, to understand that we have a higher calling, to justice and mercy. And we get to make decisions based on justice and mercy, not on the old Mosaic law! I love that word that God will take care of your husband. Because as much as justice and mercy is for you, it’s for him too. It’s not your job to make it happen, though: God’s got it. Blessings on your journey: healing, hope, wholeness, freedom. Kay

    18. Anne on

      I like the part to where you state that every woman has to heal at her own pace. I think that’s key. My H and I are separated in our home for going on 9 months now. He’s had so many relapses the past 8 years. I don’t feel that I love him anymore.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        And I think you have to choose to trust when someone is trustworthy. It’s a painful reality that sometimes the people we’d like to trust the most are just not worthy of our trust. Only time and experience will tell! Blessings, Kay

    19. sweetz on

      Update: About 7 weeks ago, my husband came home from work wanting to have sex right away…two days in a row he did this. He usually only wants sex about every two/three weeks…unless he is lusting for someone he talked to or saw prior to coming home. We had just had our “usual” sex four days prior to this two day attempt of his…so I was suspicious about what was prompting it. Come to find out…BOTH days he was watching a video of his ex wife (whom he compared me to sexually) and who he tried to get back together with twice (unsuccessfully) during our ten year marriage. His ex is “smoking hot”… (his words).

      I went upstairs and cried out to the Lord because I did not want to give my body to this man anymore…Scriptures or not…you know, the Scriptures that tell us not to deny our bodies because the devil might get a hold yada yada yada. Well, the devil HAS been in our marriage bed the ENTIRE ten years.

      Kay, you speak about the “spirit of the law” vs. “the letter of the law”…THIS is what the Lord said to me when I cried out to Him:

      “There is a season for everything under the sun…a time to embrace, and a time to withhold from embracing”….
      Ecclesiastes. So there it was…the Lord’s answer to my need for “space” and peace of mind.

      We have slept in separate rooms ever since. We are very civil, talk like we always did, a hello kiss, a goodbye kiss…. We read the Bible together every night…just NO SEX…and no more “I love you’s”. My husband understands that I will NEVER go back to the way things were…he knows that the Lord is the only One who can “fix” us at this point. If my husband gets frustrated and leaves…so be it.

      It took 10 painful years for the Lord to tell me that it was now OK to NOT have sex with this man. TEN years! My, the Lord is patient indeed! I am happy now. I am not afraid of the future…if Jean can trust the Lord…so can I. And I do.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I’m so sorry the pain continues in your marriage, but I’m encouraged that you’ve been able to recognize the signs of use, and that you’ve been able to put some boundaries in place. Grace and peace to you! Kay

    20. Jessica on

      My husband WAS the occasional user. He hates himself for it and cries everyday when we talk about it. I have not been able to get over what it has done to me. I married him for specific reasons, most of which consisted of the fact that he was not “that guy”. Finding out that they are ALL that guy has been pretty alarming to me. He has had the form of godliness but denying the powerf thereof- as I believe power from God only comes through purity. I feel stuck because he lied for so long and straight to my face and so many times. Our relationship was wonderful when we were dating but he wasn’t using porn at that point- I believe that’s why we felt so close. But shortly after our wedding he started again (he used to when he was young) and continues until 2 years ago. He has been fighting this demon on his own for 2 years. And he has been clean throughout that time, or so he says. But we have had covenant eyes for that amount of time and I am really leaning towards believing him. My struggle is I have no feeling left. I have suffered many ailments, difficult pregnancies, sick children, and my best friend and mother passing away. During all of these trials the only person I had was the Lord because my husband was not capable of any type of emotional intimacy. SINCERELY NOT CAPABLE. So I have spent most of our 10 year marriage dying inside- I have been a ghost in my house until I decided to speak up hut at those moments I was told to get my heart right or not talk about negative things or be more spiritual. I was so hurt by the pain of him telling me about his addiction that I lost heat in my body and shook uncontrollably for 2 days. I am still having a hard time concentrating and not I feel as though I CANT feel. He has ignored me for so long that him following me around like a lost puppy dog is disgusting to me. I don’t know what do. He has implemented an abstinence challenge for us because he is hoping it will heal our hearts and minds together. He wants to be intimate emotionally but have you ever felt as though you have nothing left? You have no more energy to try because you tried so hard for so long that there is now just nothing- emptiness. I love the Lord and have been reading Scripture, praying, listening to Godly music and sermons and I still feel hopeless. Please help! I have NO ONE To talk to. We are in the ministry and I am totally alone right now and afraid of losing everything but at the same time don’t want to stay.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Jessica, I’m so glad you wrote in. I’m sorry for the pain you’re experiencing and the isolation that comes with trying to deal with this when you’re in ministry.

        My husband and I were missionaries overseas when I discovered his porn use, so I know the additional pressure that puts on your situation. I’ve written a book about our experiences, As Soon As I Fell, and that’s up at Amazon if you want to have a look. I also have a blog where I process my own journey, and you’re very welcome to visit there. My author page here at Covenant Eyes probably has some things you can relate to as well.

        I understand exactly what you’re saying about your husband being incapable of emotional intimacy. I could have written those exact words myself 12 years ago. Today, we have the marriage I wanted and never knew I could have. The journey from there to here was through a huge mess, our lives being completely blown up–BUT GOD. We run out of options, but God never does.

        The thing that’s encouraging to me in your story here is that your husband sounds like he really wants out. Of course good intentions are NOT enough, and stopping the behavior (while helpful!) is just the tip of the iceberg. He needs help to work through all the underlying issues. In my experience, that emotional incapacity can be one of the reasons porn has such a grip: it’s the only way he can deal with his emotions. He has to figure out healthier habits. I think he needs counseling right away, and probably for a long time.

        Surfing For God and Pure Desire are two resources my husband really likes, both available at Amazon. Here at Covenant Eyes, Your Brain on Porn is a free download that might help him understand what’s going on in his brain, and how recovery is going to work.

        It’s totally normal for you to have the painful emotional experience you are describing. Many, many women in this situation will meet the clinical criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

        I know it feels like there is no one you can talk to, but the truth is this: here is CONFIDENTIAL HELP available to you. With the kinds of symptoms you’re describing, I would recommend that you see your doctor, talk through all of the symptoms, and follow his recommendations for your care. Secondly, I think you need a counselor, NOW! Here’s an article I wrote recently about how to choose your best-fit counselor. Whatever your husband chooses to do about all this, YOU can make healthy choices for YOU.

        Blessings, Kay

    21. Jessica on

      Unfortunately Kay we do not have health insurance or the type of income that can facilitate counseling that costs any money. I covet your prayers and appreciate the prompt response.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Jessica, check around and ask for help! Many, many Christian counselors and church-based counseling centers operate on a “sliding scale” system which is income-based. If there is a Family Advocacy Center in your area, you may find services there. Meanwhile, most groups are free and you can get wonderful help there. Blessings!

    22. Amanda on

      If I’m having sex with my husband at least 3 to 4x per week and he STILL is looking at porn when I consider it cheating and he considers it sinning against God, and he conceals or lies to me about it….is it OK for me to deny sex until he is “clean” for an extended period of time? He was refusing to go back to therapy for it until I said I was done with sex until he could be faithful for 6 months. Now he is angry that Im denying him. I told him I’m never enough anyways and I don’t want to be a party to his sin or be on the emotional roller-coaster of being intimate with him only to find out the very next day he is using pornography.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Dear Amanda,

        Sex is something you do together because you want to, not because he demands it: that’s rape.

        Sex is an expression of intimacy in a relationship, and if there is no intimacy in the relationship, then sex is not appropriate.

        Your body belongs to you, and you choose when and where and how you would like to have sex with your own body. He does not own your body. It is your own. You can’t “deny” him your body, because it is not his.

        If you don’t want to have sex with him, don’t have sex with him.

        If he’s not interested in treating you with respect in every single way, most especially around the sanctity of your own body and sexual consent, then this is an abusive marriage and his pornography use is only one symptom of that.

        Here’s a good article, called A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce.

        You deserve to be treated with the greatest respect, always, in every way. If not, you have many options to pursue and refusing to have sex with someone who mistreats you is just one of many.

        Peace to you,
        Kay

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