We hear it a lot. A husband and wife are trying to recover and rebuild trust after his porn use has been discovered. But they’re both new to this whole Internet accountability concept, and they both want to know: What’s reported? What isn’t? What should we watch for on the Accountability Reports?
And, perhaps most importantly, wives want to know: What are the loopholes? How can I be absolutely sure he’s not looking for porn?
Technology changes fast. Apps and websites can change, add, or remove functions in just a matter of days. Their popularity cycles as well. Right now, for example, apps like SnapChat and YikYak are popular, but their popularity isn’t guaranteed. Remember Formspring? Remember MySpace?
Rather than providing wives a list of apps and sites with loopholes (thereby giving husbands a list of apps and sites with loopholes to exploit), we’ve found it’s better to give wives and accountability partners a set of principles, and help them make their own judgement calls.
So, where should wives and accountability partners start?
The first thing to do is do a survey of the husband’s phone and tablet. (If he has an accountability partner, the three of you should probably sit down to do this together.) If the app involves looking at or sharing unmonitored images (like Snapchat), you may want to uninstall it outright. Same thing with apps for chatting and apps that allow browsing, like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, have your hubby open those sites through a monitored browser.
That leads to the next step. You need to install accountability software on his phone. The Covenant Eyes iPhone app is a web browser that you use in place of Safari. The Android app monitors many major web browsers, and also reports what other apps were used. Both apps are free as part of your subscription to our Internet Accountability service. This accountability and protection is critical for his healing, and your own as you build trust. (Remember, it’s not about spying. It’s about bringing transparency and honesty to his Internet use.)
Together, you should also lock down his ability to install apps without approval. On iPhone, this is built into the system preferences. On Android, the Covenant Eyes Android app includes this ability.
If he still seems to find loopholes, remember: they do still make dumb phones. He may need to switch to a stripped-down phone for a season or two, just to remove a source of temptation.
Oh, and if he’s acted out physically, you may even need to clean out his contacts on his phone. Only let him keep the contact info of trusted people or work colleagues.
If you haven’t figured it out already, you need some form of monitoring and reporting software. This will help your husband break Internet temptations. As he recovers and stops watching porn, it will help you start to trust him again.
You do need to be aware that, especially early on or if he doesn’t want to stop, he may look for loopholes. Two big ones are chat forums and anonymizers, which allow people to browse secretly. Have a conversation with your husband about them too…but remember, even if he has a legitimate use for these sites, as his wife you have the right to ask him to stop, at least until he’s proven himself trustworthy again.
On wives holding husbands accountable
By the way, you may have noticed references to your husband’s other accountability partner. We recommend having at least one additional accountability partner, and in many cases, especially during the recovery process, we actually recommend that the wife is not an accountability partner at all. As Dr. Doug Weiss explains,
Reporting every inappropriate thought is accountability only another guy should hear, because an addict’s thought-life can be overwhelming for a wife. This much information doesn’t benefit either the man or the wife in the relationship.
This doesn’t mean that wives should be excluded from his recovery, of course. Wives have a right to know what they want to know about what he’s done online. But holding the husband accountable by herself will only open the wife up to more hurt.
Wives, don’t be your husband’s babysitter. Be his cheerleader. Encourage him to do better than he is. Help him strive to be the man you know he can be. You don’t have to excuse his sin (nor should you), but you don’t have to be the one who does the dirty work to bring him to purity.