15 minute read

True Story: His Porn. Her Pain. Healed.

Last Updated: February 14, 2018

Ron DeHaas

Ron DeHaas is the president and co-founder of Covenant Eyes. Ron has a BS and an MS in Geology from The Ohio State University and attended the University of Michigan as a Ph.D. candidate. Ron pioneered the concept of Accountability Software and founded Covenant Eyes in the spring of 2000. Today, nearly half a million subscribers enjoy the Screen Accountability that Covenant Eyes provides. Ron also founded Nehemiah Ministries, a 160-acre retreat and counseling center in south-central Michigan for pastors and missionaries.

Every Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. we’ve been doing a Facebook Live interview. During this interview, we had the privilege of hearing from Jay and Lori Pyatt as they shared their story of Jay’s porn use, the pain Lori experienced as a result, and the amazing transformation that has now happened in their marriage and ministry. Watch their Facebook Live interview below or read the transcription of their story. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page so you can be notified when we go live next

RON: We’ve been doing a weekly Facebook Live on Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. EST. And this week, I’d like to introduce to you Lori and Jay Pyatt.  We’ve got a lot to talk about today, so I’m going to dive right in. Jay, could share your story with us?

JAY: Thanks for inviting us to come in, Ron. My story really starts when I was five years old in first grade. One day I had a fever, my dad and my brother had already left for work and school and my mom had a part-time job and at the time there was not daycare, there wasn’t anyone she could leave me with. She didn’t have anyone to leave me with, so she said, “Stay here, don’t do anything foolish. If you need something go up and see the neighbor.”

And as a five year old kid, I think I lasted in front of the TV for what seemed like an eternity, which might have been five or ten minutes. And I began to explore my house. This was the  first time I’d ever been home alone. In exploring my father’s desk I found a couple of magazines in his desk drawer. And that began a thirty-eight year relationship with pornography that over time I battled in many different ways.

As a five-year-old, I didn’t know God yet. I met God when I was ten. But I still had some real struggles with this. At eleven years old, my parents divorced, which led to even more time on my own. Porn kind of became my relief from boredom or loneliness. Instead of having healthy relationships, I had a relationship with pornography. Even between age five and eleven, I sometimes pursued porn if I had time to myself. As a teenager, I became sexually active. The Internet didn’t exist yet, but I could walk into any R-rated movie I wanted to because I was six foot tall at age 14.

During college, I started going back to church and had a really good connection with God. I felt like I had been delivered for a period of about six months from pornography. I took it all from my room, threw it in the garbage, and walked away from it thinking I’d never go back to porn again. But six months later, I returned to it because I didn’t understand the dynamic of why I was free or how I could fill in the gaps its absence left.

I got married shortly after I graduated college to my first wife. We were married for all of twenty-two months. Pornography was part of that marriage, but there were times there that I didn’t struggle. Toward the end of 1992 after coming out of a bad marriage, the Army letting me go, and some other things, I had an opportunity to look at my life. What do I do now? I have no job, I have debt, and my wife just recently left. I went back to a church with a good friend who really showed me a different side of God. I continued to struggle off and on in trying to get clean. In 1994, I met Lori and really wanted to have a relationship with her eventually. We didn’t necessarily like each other right off the bat. I had a very stiff personality and was a little difficult to engage with. We started dating in September and got married the following March, so about six months between our first date and being married.

LORI: I do not suggest it.

JAY: Yeah, it was a bit of a whirlwind. And I had convinced her that porn wouldn’t be a problem when we got married.

RON: Did you believe that yourself? Because I suspect that a lot of young men think this problem won’t follow them into marriage.

JAY: Oh, I believed that because I really connected my porn use with sexual activity. I was twenty-eight year old. I wrote a post on that very thing once I started thinking about it. And the reason why is all of those times that I should have been learning how to relate to another person, I was learning how to relate to pornography. Every time I ran into a challenge with Lori, I lacked the wiring or understanding of how to resolve those issues and instead chose to act out with pornography. I did all the right things. I talked to my pastor, went to therapy and counseling with Lori, read books, went on men’s retreats, met with accountability partners, attended prayer meetings, and so much more. But I still struggled of and on. In our twenty-two year history, I’ve only confessed to using porn once. It’s most often been her figuring it out and asking me about it which is not optimal.

Between 2000 and 2006, I was walking relatively clean. I had my accountability partners, but it was more of a white-knuckle approach to staying away from porn. In 2006 I had a big career change. I lost my sense of direction again and fell back into pornography. This time, broadband started becoming more common place.

I had made Lori my primary accountability partner. (I think the wife can be an accountability partner, and I know Michael Leahy and I are going to have a talk about this, but she needs to know whether or not he’s behaving or not.) And the reality was, every morning I told her, “I won’t use pornography today,” and then at night I would tell her, “I didn’t use pornography today.” For four solid years, I lied every day to the woman I love. If someone else had done that to my wife, that guy would be in a lot of trouble. But because it was me, I gave myself license to abuse my wife’s trust, abuse our relationship, and cause her harm.

When she confronted me in 2010, I had been trying to get clean. I had the mindset that I need one more day before I tell her. I had been clean for maybe a couple of months when she confronted me. All the lies came out. It was devastating. My sister-in-law lost her house to a tornado a few years ago, and her house was in better shape than our relationship was after this confession.

On July 4th, 2010, we had a conversation, and it was the last time I put on my record that I had any attachment to pornography. Since then I’ve focused on putting my relationship back together, learning all of those skills that I didn’t already learn, and rebuilding her trust. You cannot lie to somebody for four straight years and expect them to believe a word that comes out of your mouth. In 2016 I left my job, and we talked about to do next.  We decided to help men and women heal from the damage of pornography, rebuild trust, have great relationships, and live bigger lives. We’ve been doing this for more than the last year. It’s not been the easiest road, but compared to some of the other stuff I’ve done, this has been pretty much a cake-walk.

RON: Lori, so now you’re on the other side of this. And it sounds like you landed in the middle of a battlefield when you married Jay that you didn’t even know was a battlefield, that it was already laid down with land mines. Could you share your side of the story?

LORI: I can’t say I went into it blind. He was very upfront with his struggle before we got married. However, he lied to me about it not being an issue in his first marriage at all. When he told me it wouldn’t be an issue in our future marriage because it hadn’t been an issue in his last marriage, I believed him. I appreciated his honesty and willingness to talk about it. I thought as long as we can talk about it we can get through anything. We couldn’t though.

Right off the bat after we got married, it went from him confessing and being honest to resistance and a fight. I kept trying to bring it up. All the conversations meant to get us somewhere only took us further behind. Eventually I learned talking to him about it only made it worse. I sat on it for years and years. I confronted him about it at year two, three, five, and ten of our marriage, and he came clean. Every conversation seemed to be similar, “I have been struggling. You’re right. You have been picking up on something. I have been struggling, but this is what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to add this or that, start going to this group, or have an accountability partnership with so-and-so.”

Honestly that’s like water to parched ground for a woman. I thought I’m glad you’re doing something. Unfortunately he didn’t know how hard the addiction was to get rid of. If books could work, then a lot more guys would be free. If accountability partnerships by themselves could work, a lot more guys would be free. It basically takes a different approach. He didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. Any time he said, “Well, I’m going to add one more thing,” I thought the problem was going to be gone. It didn’t work that way.

Still a hot topic between us, I knew I had to confront him differently at fifteen years of marriage. I didn’t even know if I liked him enough to stay with him. I really wrestled with God on it. However I realized because the problem of pornography was so pervasive, that if I wanted to be with any guy, I would probably run into it again. I decided I might as well figure it out with a guy who actually wants to be free of it. Because he did. I knew he did. But a part of him really loved it and wanted to keep going back to it.

I knew I had to do things differently. I’ve always been fairly quiet and accommodating, let me meet your needs, and see if that doesn’t draw you back out. So I did it differently, and it was hard. For anybody starting to deal with this, it’s going to be a real storm at first. It was for us. Even counselors will say any major breakdown takes about three to five years to get through. I wish I had known that because it was a roller coaster. At first it was one stop forward, two steps back. And then it was one step forward, one step back. We finally started making actual progress. It took a lot of effort and research–on pornography addiction, healthy relationship, intimacy, etc. It was tough, but I’m glad we got through it. He was resistant for quite some time, but over time he realized he wanted a great relationship too. Then he started investing more and being more open to something bigger than we had before.

RON: So after hearing your story, Jay, what advice would you have for a wife whose husband says either there’s nothing wrong with pornography or they won’t address the issue for some reason?

JAY: Well, I would tell her that there’s no reason why your husband should have his cake and eat it too. If she’s asking him to stop and he’s not hearing it, then he needs to hear it through a little bit more personal pain–which may be sleeping in the other room, sleeping outside, sleeping on a buddy’s couch. The wife needs to be empowered to communicate, “This hurts, and I expect it to change.”

I just recently read a book called The Dance Connection that talks about the idea that the woman needs to communicate in a way that the man hears it or the very last communication will be, “I’m done with this. I’m so sick of this. You won’t do anything.” She needs to be empowered, and she needs a group of supporting people who will empower her in a balanced way. “I want to maintain the relationship with my husband, but I want to set clear boundaries. I need him to go sleep on the couch tonight.” And her friends to say “Yes, that’s the right way to go,” without saying, “Well, set the couch on fire too.” We want them to have a good relationship, but it needs to be balanced.

RON: You made two great points: this hurts and it needs to change. I think a lot of men don’t realize how much it hurts the woman or see the need for change. Lori, I want to turn to what you’re doing now.

LORI: I’ve become a certified mentor through Michael Leahy’s BraveHearts mentorship certification program, and I’ve also gone through the trauma training for partners through APSATS, which takes a different approach. Typically a woman hears, “You’re co-dependent. You need to clean up your side of the street. You have no influence on your spouse.” Neither partner can say anything about what the other person’s doing. And from what I’ve seen in my own life and the lives of others, this typically doesn’t work. She could clean up her side of the street and have everything put away neatly in boxes, but if they’re close and truly one, then his side of the street is her side of the street. His mess impacts her. But if all she’s told is, “Well, you need to clean up your side. Deal with your stuff,” it kind of blames her. I felt that blame. When women hear this, they do whatever they can to clean up their side of the street. They will do anything to make the pain stop. But they can’t because it’s not their stuff to clean up. So I’ve gone through that training so I could help women realize they’ve been traumatized, and it’s not about them being a co-dependent. When they hear this shift, suddenly it’s something she can deal with and get healing for. So, that’s what I help women with and what I hope to help more women with.

RON: Jay, are you involved in this mentoring program as well? Do you work with couples together or separately? How does that work?

JAY: Yeah, Lori and I were the first couple to be certified mentors with Michael Leahy through this program.

LORI: We can work with both individuals and couples. Jay works with people and guys whose wives don’t work with me and vice versa.  Typically, we’ll work one-on-one individually for probably two to three months–I’ll work with the wife, he’ll work with the husband. We want to make sure everything is stabilized–meaning they’re thinking about it differently which reframes the way they communicate about it and somebody’s attending to and legitimizing her pain. For example, your angry? Your anger’s legitimate. I would be angry too. I was angry too. Most women are. Let’s use that as fuel to propel you into a better relationship and a better life. If he says he doesn’t want to change, let’s test that and see if it’s true. If he still is resistant, we may talk through the pros and cons of staying.

If they’re willing to work as a couple, then after that two or three month period, we’ll come together every other conversation, every other week two-on-two, and then we’ll do one-on-one, and then two-on-two, to get them to start working together on this. The mentoring can be done remotely.

RON: What is the best resource to find you at?

LORI: My website is called His Porn. Your Pain. Healed.

JAY: Mine is Porn Is Killing Me.

RON: You’ve got both sides of the issue.

JAY: Yeah, we’re subtle too. I mean, we tried to be very subtle in how we worded everything.

RON: Does accountability still play a role in your mentorships?

JAY: It’s integral. I want to see the report of the guy, and I want to get permission to let his wife know. Michael Leahy and I agree that she doesn’t need to know the specifics, but to some extent, she needs to know if it’s a thumbs up or thumbs down. So if I’m looking at his report, I can let her know, he’s thumbs up and we’re okay. Or I can say, no, we need to have a different conversation.

LORI: Because she does need to know what’s really going on.

RON: I agree. She needs to know. I also like the model of mentoring that you present. In my experience with accountability, it works best within the context of a loving relationship that already exists. It may not be a husband and wife. It may be a person and his pastor, priest, a friend, parent and child as well, but nevertheless, that relationship. And when that relationship is broken down that’s where mentoring and perhaps counseling is necessary to overcome the obstacles that have been built up in that relationship.

Here’s a question that came in. There are a lot of filtering programs without accountability, and my experience is that filtering programs are quite easy to circumvent. How do you find healing and freedom from this addiction so that you no longer desire to find a way around the filters? How do you find freedom from this issue?

JAY: You upgrade your addiction. When I was addicted to porn, I lived such a tiny little life. I would travel for business and spend almost my entire time in a hotel room watching porn. What a wonderful life. That’s what I thought as a kid. I want to grow up and be a guy that sits in his hotel room and watches porn.

My addiction now–or not even my addiction, but the healthy way of living– is finding a bigger life, having relationships with people and somebody who matters. It’s going out and exploring an absolutely amazing world that God made for us, even if sometimes you’re just sitting in a park or sitting still. Watching the wind and the leaves can be so much more amazing than pornography ever was for me.

Freedom also comes from getting behind somebody who’s also been through this and navigated this course, thus the mentoring model. I describe it as you’re in a dark maze, and you have no idea how to get out. You run into this wall and that wall and this wall. Because I’ve gotten out of the maze, I go back in to find guys and say, “Give me your hand. This is the way we’re going.” Michael calls it a sherpa guide–somebody who can go up the mountain with you and knows how to navigate the terrain.

The easiest way to get free of porn is just don’t quit until you’re free. It’s not easy though when you don’t have a big goal or a big reason, which again is a good reason for the wife to say go sleep in the other room. It’s motivating.

RON: Yeah, that would be motivating. It sounds like this mentoring program is an essential type of program. I’m not aware of a lot of mentoring programs out there. I know Michael Leahy has one. If people are interested in actually becoming certified at this, they can contact Michael Leahy.

Some of our listeners may actually be in this trap. They’re in a  relationship in trouble or even broken by this issue. Maybe their motivation isn’t even to just get out of pornography, but they want that relationship back and recognize that pornography is part of that obstacle. For them to have someone to turn to and talk to like you two would be so valuable. If you are one of those people or you know someone who is trapped in a relationship broken by porn, contact Jay and Lori Pyatt and get into the mentoring programs.

RON: So, Lori, what advice would you have for women who are now, right now, they are perhaps either new to this issue or new to recovery? What advice would you have for women?

LORI: I would say first there really is a lot of hope. I know the typical advice is to avoid saying or doing anything. But the opposite advice of go all out and do whatever you can can also be damaging. All the tools are out there–you just need to know how to balance them and stay on top of it. It’s going to be one of the hardest things you ever do.

The more betrayal cycles–when he promises to get better, but doesn’t, and then he confesses or you confront, and it gets worse– you go through it, the more difficult it will be to get through this on your own. You really need a strong support network. With that network, find safe people. If they start sentences with, “At least it wasn’t,” then keep looking. If you talk to them for a long time and you end up feeling like you’re still misunderstood or you’re still blamed in some way, then keep looking. Because your support system will want to support you, they want to quickly get you a solution because they see how much pain you’re in. They’ll say whatever comes to mind, yet without knowing a little bit more about the dynamics involved they can end up doing more harm than good.

RON: I’m going to throw a question at you from left field. Let’s say a husband or spouse absolutely refuses to stop watching pornography and doesn’t want to break free, even after the wife says something is wrong, I’m hurt, and this needs to change. What would you say to that?

LORI: I would say number one, that’s super common.

Number two, when I work with women, we try to find out whether or not that’s true. As women, we can do it in a really sweet way that brings him out and attracts him to us because he’s looking for something that we can provide. It’s just a matter of doing it in a way that doesn’t sell ourselves out, that doesn’t cause us to say “My pain doesn’t matter. All that matters is meeting your needs.” Because when that happens, resentment builds. He ends up feeling it, and then it’s just the same old distance that they had before. I think you can skillfully see if that’s true for him or not.

If he is just blatant about it, then you have some decisions to make. And there are ways to really methodically go through those decisions. When is good timing for that? If I stay, how do I deal with the backlash that society or my friends will give me? I’m in pain, but I’m staying. How do you stand in that?

And then it’s about drawing boundaries which are some of the hardest things. It’s so easy to say you just start drawing boundaries, but it’s so hard to maintain healthy ones in a way that brings you life and possibly gets his attention to say, “Okay, what’s going on here? I want to know this woman.”

RON: So, even if a wife is in that position where her husband absolutely refuses, you’re still somebody to talk to and at least give them some hope that there’s even a choice. They might not even realize there’s a decision to make here.

LORI: Oh, yeah

JAY: Yeah. What Lori told me was, “Jay, I’m going to go live a great life. You’re welcome to join me.”

LORI: And that was kind of after he had resisted quite a lot. He was saying I want this, but then there would end up being resistance. There are things that partners can do within the relationship to see if he can start being drawn out.

RON: If there’s someone like that listening, I would hope that perhaps the wife could even get her husband to come talk to Jay, because Jay can give him the statistics on the effects on the body and the brain, as well as share about the devastation porn caused in your own life and relationships.

LORI: Right. And while many people who do this work help the individual get free, Jay adds a unique element and says, “Oh, when your wife said that, she meant this. So, this is what you tell her. And this is how you work out this issue in relationships.” We rebuilt our relationship using a ton of different techniques we found, and now we can share those with others.  Even if the guy’s just there for himself, they inevitably bring up their relationship, and Jay can speak to that.

RON: Well, Jay and Lori Pyatt, I appreciate you coming. There’s so much concentration of resources on the man and not much out there for women. That’s one reason we’re trying to incorporate women in these discussions. Women need to hear hope exists for complete recovery, choices exist and can be made, and there is actually a life ahead. If you or your spouse are struggling with pornography, I encourage you to contact Jay and Lori. They’re someone to talk to and be mentored by. Thank you for your ministry. I look forward to hearing great results from what you’re doing.