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4 Things to Remember About Your Husband’s Porn Problem

Last Updated: May 9, 2018

Jen Ferguson

Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy. She’s also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

When dealing with the porn addiction of a spouse, it’s really easy to believe lies that make you feel inadequate. Here are the four most important things to remember about your husband’s porn problem.

Betrayed Wife Sits on Bed

1. It’s not because you aren’t attractive/fit/sexy/adventurous enough.

If you’ve seen the types of pictures and movies your spouse has been viewing, your first instinct might be resignation. You think to yourself, “I could never compete with that!” or “If that’s what he wants, why did he ever settle for me?” or “What have I been doing wrong?”

On the other hand, you might greet these physical bodies on the screen with a desire to rise to the challenge. You might think, “If that’s what he wants, that’s what I’ll try to give him.” You might overhaul your diet, start lifting weights, or measure your worth as a wife by the size of your jeans or the number on the scale.

I’ve been there. At first, I tried to compete. I lost weight by eating diet microwave dinners, joining a gym, and taking up running. I tried to be more exciting in the bedroom, even adding things with which I was uncomfortable. It had zero effect on my husband’s porn addiction.

Then, I went the other way. Realizing that I could not, especially after birthing two babies, look like the girls on the screen, I resigned myself as simply not enough. Not thin enough. Not voluptuous enough. Not exciting enough. Not pleasing enough. Wallowing in this lie also had zero effect on my husband’s porn addiction, but it did greatly affect my outlook on life and my own self-image in an extremely negative way.

While your marriage may have issues (because every marriage has issues at one point or another), you are not the reason your husband or wife decided turning to porn was a good idea. Chances are, porn was an issue for your spouse before you even entered the picture. Assuming blame for this problem will get your partner no closer to the real root of the issue and will only end up giving Satan a way to destroy how you see yourself.

2. You were not designed to fix this problem.

Craig’s (my husband) porn addiction came to light when I was still in my early twenties. I had no idea at that time in my life that people could be addicted to porn. I thought his porn viewing was a matter of self-control. If he put his mind to it, he could overcome it, especially after he saw my reaction when I caught him. What other kind of deterrent would he possibly need?

After I realized he didn’t have the self-discipline to overcome this problem on his own, I tried to make it harder for him to get to the porn. I told him I would constantly check his URL history. (I didn’t know about internet accountability and filtering like Covenant Eyes.) I turned his desk around so his computer screen faced the door to the room. I didn’t allow him to close the door to the study where the computer lived. I asked him if he had looked at porn or if he was struggling with temptation.

I built walls to try to protect him (and myself). But my efforts stemmed from my desire to control him, and he simply viewed them as obstacles to overcome. In full truth, there was a very real part of him that wanted healing from this addiction. But at this time, porn had been his crutch for so long, and he was scared to imagine a life without it. My parental measures made him feel like a kid who was trying to see how much he could get away with.

Even though some of these measures could have born fruit had they been a joint decision, true healing could only come with God. Your spouse’s porn addiction, though it affects you, is really between your partner and God. As Beth Moore said recently at a conference, “Discipline is an important thing, but it will not deliver you.” Jesus is the Savior who will deliver your spouse to freedom.

Though it can be so painful to sit back and watch, you are not without a role. You are the prayer warrior, the encourager, the helper, and friend. (And to do this, you need a safe place to vent your frustrations, anger, and hurt. Checking into a support group, counseling, and/or trusted friends/pastors are a must.)

3. Porn is not about sex. It’s about fantasy.

This is exactly why changing your external appearance will not lure your spouse from his or her porn addiction. Your spouse doesn’t turn to porn because he needs more or better sex. Your spouse most likely turns to porn because he wants to get lost in a fantasy world. While this might not make you feel better at first (because you can still go down the path of “Is life that bad with me?”), think of it in terms of a coping mechanism. Your spouse is overwhelmed, stressed out, afraid, etc., so he or she turns to porn to get away from it all and release some feel-good hormones. Some people drink too much. Some use drugs. Some use food to comfort themselves. Others work themselves to death.

Related: What Your Sexual Fantasies (Might) Say About You

We can all fall in a trap of being consumed by the trials of life and looking for a way out. None of these behaviors are healthy. Not one of them provides any long-lasting solutions or comfort, and all of them have far-reaching consequences.

Craig needed God to show him that in a real relationship with Him, God would always love him. He would never be rejected and wasn’t meant to handle this life’s stress on his own. Only after this revelation was he able to trade the crutch and comfort of porn for something that truly does show a way out of hard circumstances and situations–a relationship with God.

4. Your spouse’s porn use is not okay.

There are many people in our society who see absolutely nothing wrong with pornography. But if we look at the facts, we realize this isn’t just a spiritual issue that threatens your marriage. This is a societal and moral issue, as well.

There is an abundance of research that shows porn is harmful to our psyches and to our ability to relate to people on deep and intimate levels. It destroys healthy sex-drives and impacts how we view women. Porn pumps money into the sex-trafficking industry and makes very few people rich, while most of the actors, actresses, and models are left with very little money, drug addictions, STDs, and a very short life span.

There are multiple reasons why working toward freedom from porn is essential. Satan will try to convince you that it’s harmless, but you can arm yourself with secular and spiritual truth so you don’t fall for his lies.

Recovering from porn addiction is possible. The restoration of your spouse and your marriage is possible! Keeping yourself immersed in prayer, scripture, and within a good support system is vital so that the truth stays central in your life. As Jesus says in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

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  • Comments on: 4 Things to Remember About Your Husband’s Porn Problem
    1. "...elevated above fantasy" on

      Very well written, there is “so” much truth to what you stated. I do like to read what the woman’s view is when they have had experience in this area first hand. You are correct, at least with me, whenever my wife would try to emulate anything I saw in porn, I was “not” turned on. Again, this is my view, but like you stated, it was “fantasy” and I could not cross over to reality…I could not perform at all. For me, I felt dirty even though what we did was nothing compared to what I had seen. I just could not relate my wife to what I saw, she meant more to me than lust. I do not lust after my wife, I love my wife and want to share my body with her. With porn it was selfish and all about me, those were just images on a screen that could not react or respond back…it was a one sided event, she (on the screen) was my slave for an “attempted” gratification that never gave me satisfaction.

      To date, I am 30 days porn clean. What is helping me? Definitely Covenant Eyes software, this has been a “huge” tool. I don’t feel as scared logging on because I know sites have been blocked. I gave in many times in the past because I felt helpless to the temptation, but knowing I can’t gives me a confidence that has reached beyond my own home. Also, I have stepped up my Bible studies.

      No, my wife could never be equal to the women on the screens because those women could never have the respect that I have learned to have towards my wife. “She” is elevated above fantasy because she is reality. I never want to go back to where I was, it was so empty, alone and frustrating….what a horrible pit, what a waste of time.

      Thank you for an awesome article, there’s much truth in where you speak.

      Reply
      • Jen Ferguson on

        Wow! I am rejoicing with you, not only for your 30 days porn free, but also the incredible way you have come to view your wife. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story!!

    2. Jillene stoner on

      Wow! These reminders are right on time for me. It was enlightening to read that my role is to be the prayer warrior. It just clicked!!! The roller coaster of emotions that come with a spouse’s porn addiction are beautifully articulated in this article. Thank u for your bravery to speak out on such an unspoken issue. I know there are many women that these words are just perfect for! I am one of them! Thank u

      Reply
      • Jen Ferguson on

        Thank you, Jillene! Prayer is so powerful and God is so mighty! Blessings to you in your walk with God and in your marriage!

    3. Gray on

      Jen,
      I would kindly disagree the offended spouse does need to put down boundaries which often are viewed by the offender as being “controlling”. As Marsha Means explains in her book “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” having boundaries gives the wife the sense of safety & security she needs as part of her healing. If a husband is really working his recovery he will be more than willing to agree to these boundaries to show (with actions) not just words he is serious about his purity. Although filters are good many addicts can find ways around them easily. On most computers there is the option where the wife can have the “sign-on” & password so that if her husband wants to use the computer she is the only one that can sign him on, otherwise he can’t log on. If necessary take the computer out of the home. I counsel wives to decide with God’s wisdom along with much prayer & the help of a good therapist & her friends to put in place what SHE needs to feel safe & have security in her home again. If the husband balks a good resource I recommend is “Worthy of Her Trust”. Jason speaks bluntly to men. I read recently a man that still had Godly sorrow 30 years later for the pain he caused his wife due to his sexual sin. Although their marriage survived & is thriving just the fact that when he thinks of his past & has that “kind” of sorrow shows a man whose heart has truly been changed by God.

      Thank you Jen for sharing your painful story. May God bring the healing you need as you & your husband continue on your journey.

      Reply
      • Jen Ferguson on

        I think boundaries are really good, but Craig had to be in a place where he really wanted the boundaries. And I had to be in a place that I could still forgive him if he crossed the boundaries. I needed to trust God with Craig’s healing instead of using boundaries to heal him or myself to save him. My point here is that we can get so focused on boundaries that it is easy to place our security in those instead of God. Once Craig got to a place where he wanted to be safe, we could create boundaries together, ones that we still follow today. For example, if we are watching a movie that has unexpected sexual content and I feel it needs to be turned off, he will turn it off without argument. I am always free to check his phone or ask questions about what I find. He also has the right to ask me why I am fearing things and to keep me in check when I become controlling. Thank you for getting me to a place where I could clarify this!

    4. Michelle on

      Help

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Michelle. I’m not sure what you’re looking for specifically, but let me link you to a blog post we put up a while back, that lists many resources for wives. Have a look through those and if you have specific questions, please feel free to leave those in the comment sections so we can respond.

        You might also want to look for a counselor in your area, or a group like Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, or S Anon. Know that whatever your husband or partner chooses, YOU can make healthy choices to find support as you move forward.

        Blessings, Kay

    5. Amanda on

      This as a womandealing with her spouses porn problem really hit home with me. Can someone clarify what is the fine line between “control” and “encouragement”? I don’t want to be controlling or feel like the “policeman” but I want to encourage. Yes, I do pray, and try to be helpful. This was a good one for us women in how to deal with fine points of control/encouragement. I would also like to reiterate what someone said a few days ago in another blog response about CE providing the means to “blacklist” certain words (not just websites) since this is also a big problem. But thank you Covenant Eyes for all the good work you are doing. We are slowly making progress. and we need these additional blogs (beyond the 40 day challenge) to keep us going in new patterns of thinking

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey Amanda. This is such a good question! I do think you absolutely need to know what’s going on with your husband in his process, and I agree that being the policeman is a disaster for everyone involved. I think the key is for him to concentrate on his stuff, and for you to concentrate on yours. Each of you take responsbility for yourselves.

        He concentrates on his part by filtering his internet, having accountability, going to a group, seeing a CSAT therapist, etc. Whatever he finds is helpful to him in his process, he needs to take responbility for those things and do them consistently. You should be able to ask him how it’s going and listen. You should be working toward the ability to have calm, rational conversations about how it’s going for him.

        You can concentrate on your part by seeing a counselor, going to a group–whatever it takes to help you process your emotions and work on healthy boundaries. Your main job should be YOUR OWN healing, rather than checking up on him.

        I find that the more we work on ourselves, the more we’re able to be supportive to others without needing to control them. When we find ourselves drifting over into control, we can course-correct by taking a time out to work on the emotions we’re experiencing and decide what healthy ways we’d rather deal with those emotions instead of trying to control others.

        Blessings, Kay

      • Jen Ferguson on

        Kay has so many wonderful suggestions! I would add that when you feel like saying something about his addiction and don’t know if it will come across and encouraging or policing, it would be a good time to get quiet with God. So many times, He helped me figure out if what I was doing/saying was motivated by fear or love. And even if it is fear, that doesn’t mean you can’t say anything. So many times, I said to Craig something like, “I don’t necessarily think you’re looking at porn, but my insecurities are way high right now. Can you help me process through this?” Sometimes all I needed was affection from him, but in my mind I translated his distance automatically as his porn use, even though there could have been a myriad of other things.

    6. Kim McHugh on

      Excellent articl . Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
    7. Brokenhearted on

      No matter how I try to help, my husband always tells me in being his mom. He says he want to stop hurting me and get over this but he won’t speak to anyone about his addiction. And he had promised me he would tell me when he had failed so I could pray for him and give forgiveness but it’s been a couple of months since he’s told me anything so I naively thought that things were getting better but I kept having a nagging feeling in the back of my head and in my heart that he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to the other day I looked through his phone and found things that broke my heart all over again and he told me that it was too painful for him to tell me but it hurt me way more finding it than it did when he was honest with me I don’t understand what else I can do I’ve prayed and prayed but it still hurts too bad

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there. I think what needs to happen here is you need to take care of YOU. Whatever your husband chooses, YOU find the support you need in this situation. We can’t control his choices, but we can do something about our own choices!

        Find a counselor who can help you process your emotions and build healthy boundaries.

        Join the online community at Bloom, where women are supported in recovery from marriage betrayal through private forums, classes, and other resources.

        Find a support group in your community.

        Whatever he chooses, YOU choose to be healthy.

        Peace to you, Kay

    8. S-mom on

      Our story did not have a happy ending. After fighting porn for years – even pre-Internet – my husband decided he didn’t want to fight it any more. And he didn’t want me any more either. At some point he crossed into having lots of sex with lots of other women and just gave into the addiction. Now, at sixty, after almost forty years together, and in the church, I am struggling to make a new life for myself in a new country.
      Why are so many Christians loath to address this issue? It’s an epidemic! And shocking to find at least three Free view TV channels here in the UK that are beaming open, shameless porn into every household every night. No internet required. No one says anything. No church objects.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I am so, so sorry for all the years of pain you’ve been through.

        The church is run mostly men who use porn, and the church is mostly run by men–some 60% of whom are currently using porn, according to the Barna group. I’ve been involved with big Christian ministries (thousands of members) who know that their membership has a porn epidemic. But the problem is just too big, so they’ve basically stopped trying to deal with it.

        I’m sorry that you’re having to start over, but I suspect that someday you’ll see the “happy ending” in a different light, as you’re free from being linked to addiction. May you find healing and hope. May your future be full of light and life, freedom and peace.

        Peace to you,
        Kay

    9. Grace on

      I’m so glad I found this article. My husband of almost 20 years has been addicted to porn since before we even started dating. I always assumed that it was about me, when he refused to stop his porn use when we got married. Some how I thought that once we were married, and had a real partner to have sex with, that he’d forget all about his fantasy life. After all, in my mind, being with an actual partner would far out weigh the fantasy life he had been endulging. Not so! I noticed he would turn me down when I would initiate sex, claiming he was tired or not in the mood. After years of rejection, I just accepted that maybe his drive was just a lot lower than mine. When I stopped initiating sex, our frequency dropped to once or twice per month, and I always felt he was disengaged and really not enjoying the experience. I had thought that for the few times a month he initiated sex, that he would be totally into it! Long story short, this total neglect really had a bad effect on our marriage. I actually filed for divorce about 3 years ago. Although we ended up reconciling and deciding to stay together, shortly after the reconciliation he returned to his old habits of just not being interested. Recently, I discovered that his porn use was frequent and had been frequent throughout our entire marriage. My husband, with the low sex drive, had a much larger drive for fantasy then he did for having sex with me. As this realization hit me, I had all the typical reactions of a wife who has discovered that her husband watches porn. I thought I wasn’t enough. I thought I was boring. Unattractive. Undesirable. I tried to compete. Became self conscious. Tried to lose weight. And all the while he told me that I was beautiful and that he loves me. I could not reconcile this in my head and my heart. I felt so displaced and passed over and was sure that if someone younger came along that showed interest in my husband, he’d leave me in a heartbeat. We had many arguments, and many nights where I cried myself to sleep. I sought pastoral counseling, and my very wise and wonderful pastor had a very open conversation with me about my husband’s porn use. She reiterated many of the things that my husband had been trying to tell me, but in a way that made sense to my brain, much like this article. She assured me that my husband’s issue with porn was not about sex with me or even sex at all, but something he had learned to use as a quick, impersonal, and easy way to feel good fast. Visually stimulated, men sometimes can develop a need for the visual stimulation of porn to achieve orgasm. Sex… isn’t porn. Sex in my household involves a 44 year old mother of 4 and a 54 year old father of 4…. both who have seen better days as far as physical appearance goes. It isn’t airbrushed or perfect, and doesn’t involve being a third party viewing the act. It involves give and take, being uncomfortable sometimes with asking and telling, and sex DOES involve work. As much as I hated that thought, because I didn’t want to think that my husband viewed sex with me as a “chore”, it really does involve work. Unlike the fantasy world of porn. My husband had told me that porn was faster and easier. But what he said next, even though it took a while to sink in, made sense. He said that it was faster and easier but he never said that it was more satisfying. So the negotiation of actual sex, may not be fast or easy at all times, but as husband and wife, it leaves us feeling filled. My husband is six weeks porn free. I love him for his choice. I know that when the stress of work and family press in, that he may struggle or even slip. But I also know that we are committed to one another and will overcome this obstacle. We have God on our side. And if God is for us, who can stand against us? Thank you so much for this article.

      Reply
    10. Lynn on

      Wow. Your story is my story. I’m 31 years in. Really tired of the battle. In my case, hubby doesn’t seem to understand the devastation he’s caused. Seems to have the “she’s not going anywhere attitude.” I’m disgusted and angry. I’m starting counseling tomorrow. He’s not, he’s “still reading up on it.”

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Good for you, Lynn. That anger is speaking important truth into your life! Hear it well! It’s a beautiful thing when, as the poet Mary Oliver says, we become determined to save the only life we can: our own. We cannot change another person, we cannot be responsible for their choices. We can only be responsible for ourselves. Peace to you on your healing journey, Kay

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