5 minute read

When Porn Turns Your Husband into a Stranger

Last Updated: August 7, 2018

Sherry Allchin

Sherry Allchin has been in some form of ministry for nearly fifty years, first as the wife of a youth pastor, then as a mother of three and a Christian school teacher. She now lives in Charleston, SC working at the Low Country Biblical Counseling Center. She completed her M.A. in Biblical Counseling and has been counseling individuals and families for over twenty years. Their adult children and seven grandchildren serve the Lord across the country. Sherry is a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Her passion is helping others to grow in their faith and to make life count for eternity!

I don’t even recognize my husband! The kind, gentle man I thought I married is gone and in his place is an angry, accusing man I don’t know. Porn turned him into a stranger.”  

This dear lady just wants to be loved and valued by the man she married, but she discovered too late that his porn addiction was long term and deeply rooted.

In Proverbs 6, the strange woman is one who has turned away from her God and her spouse. In the modern world, the man involved in porn is the male counterpart, estranged from his God and his spouse. His sin has led him down a path that ends in destruction for him and for his marriage apart from true repentance and change (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).

When Porn Turns Your Husband Into a Stranger

What to Do When He Looks at Porn

The day of discovery is vividly and permanently etched into your memory. You believe it can never get better for you, that your marriage will never recover and that your sanity will never return! But there is hope for you even amidst the devastation you feel right now!

You are not guilty for his sin, no matter what his accusations. Even if he never changes, God has made a way for you to deal with his sin without adding your own sinful response to the mix. That is His promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13-14, which not only applies to your husband’s ability to escape the sinful addiction, but to your ability to escape a sinful response to his sin as you honor God by acting like Christ.

Your first response is likely anger toward your husband and maybe toward God for not controlling him better, for letting His wayward child pull off this great deception that is now affecting your marriage. Ephesians 4:26-27 confirms that it’s not sin to get angry—even Jesus got angry at the right time for the right reason. However, when our angry responses lead to sinful destruction rather than to solutions, that is the real problem with much of our anger.

True solutions come out of true compassion. Jesus always had compassion for the sinner, though He rebuked the sin. Galatians 6:1-5 encourages us to help the one who is struggling and your husband is struggling both vertically and horizontally whether he recognizes that or not. One of the ways to help is to confront the sin by letting him know how it is affecting you and your marriage, and how that will impact him in the long run. Do this first privately, appealing to him to get help because it is very rare that any man overcomes his addiction to pornography without help.

Shame makes us want to keep this a secret sin, but openness brings possibilities for help (Proverbs 28:13). He will need the support. You may want to also have a small circle of trusted friends who will support you and encourage you in your own walk with the Lord. This is not time to talk about your husband and his sin, but to encourage you to walk faithfully during this trial.

The best help you can give your husband is to pray for him daily. Let him know you are praying for him to have victory. Pray for his overall growth, and pray for him specifically in the area of sexual temptations (James 5:16). And if all else fails, pray some more! Praying will keep your heart soft toward him, maturing you in compassion and a gracious spirit. You will change and mature through this trial (James 1:2-4) as you trust God to ultimately bring healing in your marriage. Learning to trust God, not your husband, is the real key. Your husband may fail many more times, but God never fails (Philippians 1:6)!

Encourage him to connect to a group of godly men who can hold him accountable. These connections are vital! If he continues to stumble, he has a small group to intervene. When warranted, continue the process to church discipline if he is resisting those who are trying to help him in his struggle with sinful idolatry (Matthew 18:15-20). The goal of good church discipline is always reconciliation of sinners to Christ and to those against whom they have sinned.

What If He Won’t Change?

What about cases when the husband is an unbeliever? If you are a wife who is a believer but your husband is not, you are still under the protective authority of your local church. Your church leadership should be encouraging you to stand strong against his porn addiction, but to stand strong in gentle love, trying to win him (1 Peter 3:1-6). Your focus must be to hate the sin but to love the sinner, praying for God’s love to flow through you. Love must be tough (not harsh!) and solution focused, always seasoned with grace. God promises wisdom and grace to deal with difficult circumstances.

Ladies, I am not talking here about husbands who are into prostitution and other sexual sins that will endanger your health as well as theirs. There is a different protocol for your protection that is not addressed here if that is your circumstance. Immediately get help in how to deal with his sin for your protection.

Also, I am in no way minimizing his sin of pornography. Sin is sin (Matthew 5:27-28), but there are different consequences to different sins. Murder equals jail time, though hatred may in time lead to murder and jail. Unrepentant adultery creates a hard heart that may lead to divorce, and viewing pornography may lead to acting out on it and therefore in time to divorce. Pornography is sin, but so is gossip and backbiting. We must be careful to not become the judge of our husband’s sin, no matter what sin that may be (James 4:11-12). God has given us ways to deal with another’s sin against us through intervention by the local church and civil government.

There are times when it may be necessary to call on civil authorities to step in to help you (Romans 13). If your husband’s pornography addiction has led him into increased anger and even abuse toward you or the children, or to illegal activity, you can take steps to involve the police or to get an order of protection.

What If I Am Still Afraid?

I want to strongly communicate that his sin is never your fault. He will stand alone before God to give account (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10-12).

And you are not responsible to change him—that is the work of the Holy Spirit. If you focus on your own sin issues and the changes God wants you to make rather than focusing on his sin, I can guarantee you that you will come out stronger as a godly woman and wife, and very likely you will see some good changes in your husband as well.

This is not to minimize his sin, but rather to put the responsibility for it right where it belongs—back on him. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict him of sin and of his need to change. Then it is the Father that follows through with the appropriate consequences (Heb 12:5-13).

Your job as his wife is to love him, to pray for him, and to insist that he follows through with the help he needs. Trust God to give you the wisdom and the grace to navigate these difficult waters without resentment and bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).

Lean on Proverbs 3:5-8 for guidance and healing. The Lord will be your comforter and strength, for He alone is worthy of our complete trust. With time and healing, your marriage can once again experience the true intimacy God designed for you and your husband, and you will be strangers no more!

  • Comments on: When Porn Turns Your Husband into a Stranger
    1. Again on

      From time to time I come to covenant eyes to see if the tone of the articles have changed and yet again, I am disappointed. It is always the same thing. The innocent wife. The evil husband. I think this woman’s sentence is very telling: “…. anger towards God for not controlling him better….” referring to the husband. Is that what marriage is? That a man should be controlled so he can conform to his wife’s ideas of what a marriage is all about? Sounds like it. I never knew when married I was now relegated to a controllable asset that must cater to my wife.

      Also, your advice to call the “civil authorities” is crazy. Go ahead and do that. See where it gets you. Your civil authorities are the police. Doing so may get you a felony charge because contrary to what people think — that state presses charges and not the “victim”. I have seen men get ten year sentences for throwing dishes on the floor in a domestic dispute because the DA chose to prosecute. The man’s life is destroyed. The marriage goes with it. So does the family. If by chance it all survives, people are plunged into poverty because any charge now follows you for life and just try to get a job. So many people are so clueless as to how the legal system really works. Trust me, it isn’t like your “Law and Order” television show.

      I understand the writers on this site are true believers. They are in permanent Sunday school. I mean my God, this is all so pie in the sky. So accusatory actually. Look at the tone of this article. It is never the fault of the woman, the holy spirit must convict, and the father must punish. Sorry but that is not life. Blame is often not 100% assigned to one party. Many women fail at their marital duties. They get out of shape. The sex stops. The nagging starts. Contrary to popular belief this will drive a man to porn.

      I just wish more writers would freaking get realistic about this topic. Sometimes I think Christians live in a delusion. This world is hell. Also, they cherry pick the goodness of God. I have seen children drink out of mud puddles. There is something wrong with this planet and for the life of me, what kind of God would let that happen. As I get older and older, the more I feel this is all nonsense. Christians are so fond of quoting generic bible verses and making those generic stretch to mean anything in any situation. They give so few real answers. Also, let me tell you about so called “Godly” men. I worked at a prison. There was an officer who had a Christian radio program on the weekend. During the week, he would beat the crap out of inmates and falsify reports to cover up his actions. So many people thought he was “Godly”. Heck, there are “Godly” men who sentence people to the hell of prison for smoking an herb. I can assure anyone who reads this, the person doing the sentencing did more harm to a human soul than anyone who ever smoked an herb did. If you doubt this, go lock yourself in a prison, saddle yourself with a felony for life, live in poverty, and when the time comes, contemplate suicide because life is so hard. I assure you —- the Godly men sentencing people to that hell are demons in disguise that do nothing Christ asks of them. Nothing. As you can tell, this nonsense of talking about Godly people ticks me off because what you see is often not the freaking truth. Christians most of all should know this because Christ was a freaking convict and the Godly men of that time sentenced him to death.

      Reply
      • Jeanie on

        Dear Again, It’s not always as you see it. I am a wife who tried my absolute best to stay in shape, and I was always ready and willing to please my husband, in all marital ways. Often, I went above and beyond my marital call of duty. But still…I was hurt by my husband turning to porn, instead of me. Covenant Eyes is not referring to wives who shirk all of their marital duties, and still expect their husbands to only have eyes for them. Covenant Eyes is relating to women who have done their best as wives, and sexually…and still we have lost our husbands to porn. Some of the most beautiful women in the world, who were fantastic wives, have watched their husbands go down the porn tube, and never come back. That’s what this is about…not the slovenly lazy wife, who could care less about pleasing her husband. A wife who does not please her husband, has her own issues to be dealt with. Covenant Eyes is here to help the women who are trying very hard in their marriage, and getting nothing byt a selfish, self-consummed porn addict in return. I thank God for Covenant Eyes.

      • Helen on

        The system is definitely flawed but I’ve never heard of these flaws you talk about…”men getting ten year sentences for throwing dishes on the floor”. You are correct that there are several flawed Godly Men also. It is the world we live in. We are flawed beings. Truly why we need Christ. Women may be angry when discovering their husband’s pornography addiction. This would be a healthy natural response. Their anger may be misplaced towards God. Maybe they were taught if they were faithful God would bless them and keep them from these things. Who knows but they can feel whatever they feel. Terrible choices destroy marriages. These choices/behaviors can come from either side. Men and women can become violent and any counselor would recommend protection from civil authorities in such a case. Not sure why this article is so disappointing. It is specifically written to help a woman who is angry, hurt, confused, sad, depressed, numbed, traumatized, shocked, paranoid, anxious, and feeling helpless and hopeless because her husband is lost, captivated by pornograghy. He is no longer the man she thought he was. Sad senerio. You don’t sound like you fit that criteria so I’m not sure why this would stir any emotion up for you if it’s not something you are experiencing. When you are in the position you might find the advice encouraging or enlightening. Knowing there are choices. That you yourself can draw closer to God even as your spouse is turning from Him. It is possible. The best part of your discussion is how you reiterated that we can’t always trust Godly men, the legal system, or our spouses for that matter but we can TRUST GOD ALWAYS!!!

      • Dwayne Marlborough on

        I hear you loud and clear. You hear or read people talking about one thing, but in the real world you see something completely different.
        You mention poor children having to drink from mud puddles, and ask how a loving God can allow this to happen. It goes back to God allowing man to have free will to love Him (or not). After all, if love isn’t freely given, it’s not really love, is it? The poor, the hurt, the imprisoned are indeed all affected by people acting unjustly. There is enough food produced on this planet to feed everyone well. But when food shipments to a country from compassionate people are intercepted by the military at war with (or within) that country, the acts of the evil seem to win.
        Let me ask you, though. When have you felt the mossy inclination to ask God for help? To really look for His presence in your life? When things are going well, or when things seem to be going bad? A reporter in Haiti described what he saw in this poorest country in the hemisphere when it was devastated by an earthquake. Expecting the night to be dead silent, since power, transportation, and people’s daily lives were destroyed, he was surprised. From his vantage point, he could see small fires that people lit (as one might expect), but the night was not silent at all. He heard, even from a distance, in every direction, people *singing*. And what they were singing were hymns. Hymns about God’s love and mercy. Why does God allow humans to create poverty? I have no idea. Does He abandon the poor? Absolutely not.

        As for porn, in my experience, it’s true that men use it, and it makes no difference if – like me- their wife is beautiful, exciting, and frankly, the best lover I can imagine. The male brain and body work in such a manner that porn and it’s pervasiveness allow many of the relationships you tag about here to happen exactly that way. It’s harmful to my wife and my marriage, and she has every right to not put up with it. She and I are not asking for God to “control me. ” But think about it. Who or what would encourage such behavior as to drive men into secretive, family destroying behavior? Yeah. That being that doesn’t want people to believe he exists. And while I willingly gollow God through His son, I refuse to be controlled by the evil one through my misguided lust.

        You mention the “godly” radio host who beats inmates. He is struggling, or at least caught up in, the same sinful behavior. He gets some rush from doing what he knows is evil, and he will do it until he is forced to do otherwise and get help to change his ways. But have you noticed that quiet guy from some goofy “ministry” who comes and talks about bible verses work prisoners who only listen because they want to get out of their cells? How much time and energy is he giving, with no apparent reward, just in the Hope that one phrase will stick in one inmate’s mind and cause him to look for God, and turn away from the sinful life he is now in? THAT is the godly man. You just haven’t seen him.
        I dare you to do something right, for no reward or recognition at all.

      • Allie on

        I can’t believe that Martha Peace’s book or views for that matter are quoted in this article. Talk about sending women back to the Stone Ages! There are so many better alternatives than that.

    2. Kerri on

      Um, Again….really? My turn to chime in from guys like you who keep insisting that these articles are one sided. Let me share a little something with you. My husband started using porn at least a decade before we ever met. When we married, I would classify myself as ‘pretty’…not the model type, but 5’8″,, 124 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes. And we had lots of sex. Every day. And, without me finding out until 7 months into our marriage, he was heavily (**heavily**) using porn. As for the control part? Maybe you need to take a class on reading comprehension? I say that without any attitude, I am serious. You have obviously NOT been on the receiving end of being cheated on, or your spouse indulging in porn, having your children see it, and them loosing their job because of it. I can assure you, you would be wondering why God didn’t stop your spouse from that kind of damage to themselves and your family. The author was clearly not talking about control the way you are. The wives that I know don’t want to control their husbands for their pleasure. They want to go through life enjoying the gifts of God, growing together. I do however know too many women who have had very controlling husbands (I fall into that category).

      For the sake of those recovering, trying to change (the husbands and wives), go elsewhere. Why would you come here to see if the articles have changed? When I come across a site I do not agree with, I LEAVE. I don’t leave a comment, I don’t waste my time, I just leave and move on with my day. Easy peasy. Please do yourself a favor and find a like minded group to converse with, it may brighten your day, instead of dragging you down.

      And as for the content itself. Hmmm. I know you are correct in what you write, but I will say actually pulling that off is another thing entirely. I did the above, and it was hell on earth. I truly went into it with no expectations of my actions changing my husband. BUT what I wasn’t prepared for was that he got worse…very much so! I was soooooo not expecting that. He kept degrading until I had to put my foot down (he wanted to go drinking with his buddies, which lead him to a one night stand not a couple of years prior. My husband can not handle alcohol.) Anyways, I would not say it is ok to be bitter and angry, but that is exactly where I have found myself. I do know that the closer I am walking with the Lord the easier it is to respond in a Godly way.

      Please understand what I am saying next is just from MY experience of dealing with a husband for 20 years into porn….find help. And keep seeking help that actually HELPS you. I can not begin to tell you all of the ‘counseling’ we got, most specifically from pastors, that did NOT help in anyway. I think there is a huge lack in church leadership to be equipped with this problem. We had two qualified counselors who really helped us make progress. Unfortunately, at that time, once we started to make progress my husband wanted everything to go back to normal, and move on with life, and would quit the counseling. That of course just led us back to the path we were on, not the one we should have been on. Sigh. Needless to say, please, please do NOT wait 20 years to put your foot down.

      I came to my breaking point, all hope, love and the like was gone. I caught him, again (just over a year after losing his job because of porn), and I wasn’t angry, I didn’t fuss, nothing. All feelings were completely gone. It was almost scary. He started to go to CR, but kept acting totally, TOTALLY the same, all the while demanding that I see he was a changed man. Um, nope. So I drew the line. He had to leave. Most people do not agree with what I did, but for my husband, it was the only thing to know that I was serious. I was not going to let our children deal with this any more. I was not going to deal with the consequences of his porn use any more. It was time for us both to get help.

      It was needed because he was stuck in this delusion (though they call it codependency) that WE did everything, made all decisions together. Which was far from the truth. He wanted me to tell him what steps he should take to stop (not that I hadn’t told him one thousand times before that day…just a symptom of non-repentance), he wanted me to take the responsibility for things he clearly agreed to take care of, then blaming me for things going wrong. It was time for the madness to stop.

      Again, that is just MY experience. But after 20 years of getting no where, it was time for there to be a change. And for us that is what it took. Please look into the idea of setting boundaries. Most of the counseling I had gotten was completely against boundaries. I was supposed to totally submit and love my husband no matter that our kids were seeing this stuff and he was putting us in financial danger. There is a time for patience, and a time for action. In the case of porn, I would say it is a time for action.

      Blessings!

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Kerri, Well, I’m sorry you got such terrible advice early on in the course of this problem. I agree, it’s a thing that many churches are not prepared to deal with very well. Women are often told to submit and have sex, as if that will take care of the problem–and of course that isn’t the answer at all. The only thing any of us can ever do is to take responsibility for ourselves, our own boundaries, and our own choices toward a healthy life. I’m glad you were were able to finally set those boundaries. Blessings on your healing journey–Kay

    3. Jack on

      Stop trolling on articles meant to help hurt people desperate to save what’s left of their spouse.

      Reply
    4. Joleen on

      Well I’m not beautiful but cute, and I’m 8 lbs over weight, 5’2″ 138 lbs, 54 yrs old. I’ve had 4 major back surgeries and it hurts for me to have sex in any position. My husband is scared he’s going to hurt me and so am I. I believe intimacy and love along with HONESTY is extremely important in any relationship.
      He’s been viewing porn on a regular basis for the past few years. At first I blamed myself but God set me straight on that one and I don’t claim the blame anymore. Through the past few years I have caught my husband in lies and deciet because of his viewing of porn. I hate saying I caught him because it makes him sound like a child but he’s 55 yrs old. The only reason he was caught was because of our data on the cell phone being an extra $122.00, again!
      We are both believers and right now my anger and hurt believes I should leave him. But, my heart and my father in heaven tells me to forgive, love, talk and pray. I’m having a hard time giving this to God and not just walking out.
      I’m very hurt and confused right now. I am glad that this popped up on my phone when I did my search for help. This is a very touchy and embarrassing subject to discuss with anyone I know. I feel it makes me a failure and him a bad christian in many eyes of others.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Joleen, I’m glad you found us, and I hope the resources here at Covenant Eyes can be a help to you. Let me give you a few links to check out. First, our free download Hope After Porn, where several women talk about their experiences in recovery. Second, a couple of links to articles on boundaries and how those boundaries can help in recovery.

        I actually think that we have a much more robust process of assertiveness and forgiveness than the church tends to talk about. Jesus in Matthew 18 gives us an outline of the process: confront the sin, take it to the church, treat him as a pagan if he refuses to repent. I don’t know how exactly we got into this mindset of “forgive and do nothing” when someone is in serious sin, but I think it’s really not what Jesus had in mind at all. It’s not helpful to the victims of that sin (you and the other women exploited in the porn industry) and it’s not helpful to your husband, either. As much as he may be enjoying his sin, it will destroy his life.

        One other thing I’d encourage you to do is find a personal counselor and a group like Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, S Anon, or xxxChurch, where you can be supported in a safe place. One of the things I find that’s very common in recovery is that wives get little or not support. As you say, it’s a tough thing to talk about, even though statistically we know that a majority of people are dealing with this. We still don’t talk about it much, and that leaves wives feeling isolated when in fact there is a great deal of help available.

        Blessings, Kay

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