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.
We put CE on our desktop and he said there is a loophole by going igcognito. Doesn’t any website still go through CE anyway?
Thanks for your question.
Covenant Eyes works on the system level of your computer. Incognito mode will cause your browser to not keep a browser history, but that wont affect us. We still report in incognito mode.
And, I agree with the wife NOT being the main accountibility partner. When my H and I separated last year, I told him had had to get a sponsor. We changed Celebrate Recovery meetings so he’ll be getting another one soon. The last one didn’t really work out.
What about incognito mode? Does CE take care of that?
I can almost guarantee this. If I was married or dating, no amount of porn would make me leave my wife unless my wife got out of shape and the sex stopped. However, my wife pulling up reports on me and spying on my every step would make me leave her in a heartbeat.
You know the part of the bible that talks about a nagging wife? Well this is it. Also, I find it a bit offensive actually because women think about sex just as much as men. That is the reality of the human species. We are constantly thinking about sex. I often wonder about the validity of the bible. Why would god continually tempt us then tell us we are sinners because we succumb to that temptation? Much of the bible simply does not make sense. It just doesn’t.
Hey there, JC.
We would agree that a wife spying on her husband is a bad idea. We have several articles on our blog about this (here, here, here, here, and here).
Accountability is something people should do voluntarily; this is how our software is designed to be used.
I’m not sure what you find offensive about the article regarding a man’s sex drive vs. a woman’s sex drive, since that’s isn’t even discussed. Can you elaborate? The article is targeted to women whose husband’s use Covenant Eyes, not the other way around; but we, of course, have many women who use Covenant Eyes for themselves (that would just be a separate article).
I understand your frustrations when it comes to trying to understand the Bible. These are things I’ve had to wrestle with myself, over and over.
The textbook answer to your question is that God does not tempt us as it says in James 1: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (v.13-14). Thus, the way God enables us to overcome our temptations is by transforming our desires: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he transforms us from the inside out so that our new Spirit-born desires trump our desires for sin. Furthermore, He also releases us from any sense of guilt or shame about our sinful desires by absorbing the punishment that is due us: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
I realize these textbook answers may not satisfy, and that’s okay. I merely want to correct the notion that the Bible paints a bleak picture of our situation: the Bible is infused with incredible hope.
So what if he says he was stupid won’t ever do it again but then gets very defensive if I ask about phone numbers/websites ect and says he just wants it all to just go away because he was so stupid?
It would probably be helpful for him to get into some accountability/recovery structure where he can talk about these things without being afraid of hurting you/losing the relationship, etc.
You might try saying something like, “I understand if you’re too embarrassed to talk to me about this. But you do need to talk to someone about it so you can deal with it.” You could provide him with a list of groups in your area, (Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, Sex Addicts Anonymous, or online at xxxChurch). Here’s an article that can help him understand what recovery looks like, and the steps that he can take.
If he’s not willing to have accountability, then I’d say you’ve got to consider what your boundaries need to be in this situation. Here’s an article discussing boundaries. You might also like to read the book, Boundaries in Marriage, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
Ok, so when we get this software, should the account be created in the wife’s name so she has access to it? And then she just promises her husband she won’t check it a lot as to not be his accountability partner? Who should actually create the account?
Hi, Laura – the answer depends on your situation. The wife can be the accountability partner, but that carries a burden that many wives just aren’t comfortable carrying. I’m one who advocates for another, trusted man to hold a husband accountable. The wife might just need to know that her husband has a system of accountability in place that she knows about and can depend on. That’s the situation with my own wife. Other wives want more knowledge and receive the reports. It’s definitely up to you. This blog post poses some questions to consider.
Does Covenant Eyes report internet viewing through popular VPNs like ExpressVPN?
Hi, Erica – no, a VPN is an encrypted mask for the devices activity. We cannot see what occurs on the device unless you are using our new app with its own VPN.
Why do I keep receiving notices that no device activity..or activity missing?
Hi, Robin – that means that for someone you’re holding accountable, our system has not detected device activity from whatever devices he/she might have that also use Covenant Eyes. If this is different than your expectations because you know the person is using devices with CE, then something isn’t right and you might have to find out more through a conversation.
Any ideas on how to explain to my husband about this service. He denies there is a problem even though I’ve found these sites on his phone and woken up several times to him watching porn while I’m asleep. He feels that by saying he promises he won’t so it any more it should be enough.