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My Husband Has PIED: What Do I Do?

Last Updated: January 6, 2021

Chris McKenna

Chris McKenna is a guy with never-ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. He is the founder of Protect Young Eyes, a leading digital safety organization. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, podcasts, and most recently on Capitol Hill for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation that could radically change online child protection laws. With expertise in social media usage, parental controls, and pornography use in young people, Chris is highly sought after as a speaker at schools and churches. Since 2016, Chris has worked with Covenant Eyes creating educational resources to help individuals and families overcome porn. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, and candy.

Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction Is Crushing Marriages

In a recent survey sent to over 70,000 Covenant Eyes friends, we asked for their input about what types of questions they wanted answered related to porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED). We were surprised at the number of responses we received from wives, many that went like this:

Question: What’s the one thing you want to see addressed in a book about PIED?

Answer: “[Please tell] the truth about the way it makes a wife feel when being intimate with her husband.”

Answer: “What this is doing not only to men with their problems, but also what it’s doing to their wives. I agreed to stay with my husband through this, and it’s been hell for both of us! I can’t live with this!”

Answer: “Porn interferes with natural sexual feelings. The guilt and shame caused my husband to not be able to perform. Even red-hot marital sex can’t compete with porn, cause that’s what he was getting. Be sure to tell other women that it isn’t her fault that he chooses porn over her.”

This is just a sample of the gut-wrenching responses we received from women who are in the midst of the fall-out from a porn-addicted husband. Covenant Eyes has written extensively about ways women can protect themselves during his recovery. Because, let’s be honest, even though everyone sees it as his recovery, it’s also very much your recovery.

Disclaimer: This blog does not provide a diagnosis or treatment of any type and is not a substitute for psychiatric advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for treatment.

Whenever a husband is looking at porn, there are typically a number of questions that go through the mind of his wife. A few might include:

  • I’m right here. Why does he keep looking at porn?
  • Why does he prefer porn over sex with me?
  • How can he watch porn and say he loves me?
  • Why am I not enough?
  • Is this my fault?
  • Is this it for our marriage?

This blog post is not going to answer all of these, but we’ve written an ebook that does called Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives. In this blog post, we want to provide actionable, practical steps wives can take if they suspect their husband suffers from porn-induced ED. We’ve also written extensively about the science behind porn-induced ED in other blogs on our site.

What Specific Steps Can a Wife Take During Her Husband’s PIED Recovery?

I asked our Covenant Eyes friend and frequent blog contributor Kay Bruner to offer some advice to a wife who is struggling to find her way while her husband is dealing with porn-induced erectile dysfunction:

  1. Think about your boundaries. What do you like, want, and need in the relationship? Does this relationship meet your needs as a whole person: mind, soul, spirit, and body? If not, what needs are left unmet? Have you been compromising your boundaries in the relationship, doing things that you don’t like or want? Doing things that cause you harm? If so, why? What would your healthiest, happiest, best relationship-life look like?
  2. Process your emotions. Research says that when you’re working through a difficult issue, journaling 20 minutes per day is a great tool for emotional processing. Notice throughout the day how you are feeling: sad, mad, scared, happy? Set aside time each day to identify one emotion you’d like to process, and free-write about that for 20 minutes.
  3. Care for your physical body. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are great for your physical self-care. Best exercise the research says you can do for your emotional self in recovery?  YOGA. Find a restorative yoga class, or look around YouTube for practices that address anxiety, trauma, or heart-break.
  4. Educate yourself on what makes healthy, successful relationships work. Understand that emotional trust is the basis for a healthy relationship, and learn what it takes to build that trust, so you’ll know if it’s happening or not in your relationship. Read The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman. Invite your significant other to read the book with you; there are many discussion questions included.
  5. Find community. Find a therapist, just for you. Find a trauma-informed support group. Use the online resources at Bloom for Women. You are NOT alone!
  6. Remember that you are NOT your significant other’s sex toy. He has to work on his own recovery and solve this problem for himself. Stay in your own lane with healthy boundaries, good self-care, and plenty of support.
  7. Tell yourself the truth. Be wise about recovery, and don’t re-engage sexually until YOU are ready.

We are grateful for Kay’s wise words. If you are married to someone who suffers from porn-induced ED, we hope that they are a salve to your wounded heart.

Learn More About Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

To learn more, check out our in-depth blogpost on Porn-Induced ED or the 10-day RecoverED email challenge. Both our great places to get more information on why PIED occurs and the path to recovery.

  • Comments on: My Husband Has PIED: What Do I Do?
    1. Brenda Sonderegger on

      My husband knows I’m aware of his porn use, yet he refuses to talk about it or admit that it’s an issue in our relationship. I’m not sure the extent of it I just know it’s not good and he suffers from PIED. Don’t know where to go with this.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Brenda,
        I would say, find a therapist just for you, someone who can help you process your emotions and choose healthy boundaries for yourself. Find a group to help support you. And check out the online resources at Bloom. Whatever your husband chooses, you choose to pursue health and wholeness.
        Peace to you,
        Kay

    2. A concerned wife on

      Being in our mid-sixties, and with my husband having indulged in porn, dating sites, etc., for a couple of decades, resulting in PIED, I don’t have a lot of hope that we will ever be able to have a satisfying sex life like we had prior to internet porn invading our lives. It’s been over 2 years since d-day and he is 11 months porn and inappropriate fantasy free, and he now says that he hates sex, and wants to puke when he thinks of it, because of the damage that it has done. So now he has gone from believing the lies that “porn isn’t so bad” and “nobody’s being hurt” to believing the lie that “sex is bad”, and I’m still being hurt!!! I reminded him that God created sex to be a blessing and it’s the perversion that he should hate. He is a retired pastor and has studied the Bible extensively and knows it’s truths, so why is he still believing lies??? I am at a loss as I doubt that he will even bother reading this blog, as he now prefers spending many hours on the net looking at cars, rv’s, cell phones, stocks, etc. (he calls these “hobbies”, but nothing is being accomplished), and refuses to do any kind of research on his own that would better our relationship. I believe he thinks that I will eventually just “get over it”, resulting in spending the rest of our lives together in a mediocre marriage. He tells me that I am the most important person in his life, but I believe that the internet is still his priority most of the time. When I tell him my needs for him to research ways to rebuild trust and our marriage, his come-back is “I’m trying!!!” God help us…… Thank you for providing space for me, and others, to vent. I pray that God will expand your ministry, and its influence will help many people be set free, and marriages saved.

      Reply
      • David on

        I was shown porn magazines by my older brother. 40 plus years later I’m struggling to get away from it. I can’t understand it, but when I found out I was a Dopamine addict, that the superhiway in my brain had been hijacked by porn. That was my Aha moment. I was tired frequently. I decided to stop. I finally confessed this issue in my life to a Christian Brother. I’ve known of Jesus’s healing power, and I praise Him now for real FREEDOM. I’m quit now for about 3 weeks COLD TURKEY, NO TURNING BACK.

    3. Robert Natale on

      I am a 62 year old male who’s wife and marriage were destroyed because of my internet porn use that led to my having a one-time affair. I also had PIED and while I was watching an acting out to porn I was not able to perform with my wife. She was frustrated and I was frustrated neither one of us knew why. I didn’t understand until I got into recovery. I have not watched porn in 20 months but my marriage is over. I have my own recovery website now as I have been in recovery since January 2016 and all the research I have done leads me to believe that if I find another woman to share my life with that I am confident that I will be able to resume normal sexual relations. Healthy and centered in Christ.

      Any man who is actively watching porn and does not think it is affecting his life, his relationship with God or his relationship with his wife has his head anchored in cement. He is in denial or uneducated and needs help. If you are a wife and are not ready to give up on your husband or marriage yet there is help out there for you. You should at least find a registered sex therapist for counseling. Because of what I have done to my wife the fact that I still love her has led me to a very compassionate and caring Spirit towards other women who are dealing with this.

      Pornography is Satan’s number one tool that he is using to destroy marriages, families and the church in today’s society. It destroyed my marriage and broke up my family but it is not destroying my life. God has a purpose for my life.

      Reply
      • Ken Guthrie on

        Robert:

        You are so correct Abba Father has a purpose of all our life’s. I like you lost a wife of 35 years because of many factors. I have been clean for several years I have many accountablity guys around me. I learned that Covenant Eyes is the Most important thing to be able to give your Beloved. Now I just have to wait my time for Abba Father to bring the new Mrs. G. into my life so she will KNOW I only have eyes for her which for me means have the type of Covenant marriage Abba Father wants all of us to have. Be Blessed my brother stand strong Job 31:1-8 & Matt 5:28 is always my first line of defense in the battle for a clean heart.

    4. Steven Terrell on

      I am 2 weeks free of Porn so far, because I have made up no in my mind that I won’t be a slave to the devil no more, 67 years old and hurting, but I know that God loves me and is with me in this battle. Sex is so Beautiful the way God intended, I now am striving to be the Man God wants me to be, got a long way to go. Please Pray for me.

      Reply
    5. A.k on

      One of the few reasons might be the skin sensitivity related dysfunction. From my own personal experience the hand stimulation masturbation combined with visual porn experience might really cause loss of sensitivity over the corpus of male genital. The overlaying skin does not go along with that much pressure after some time. And every next time you will need more force for the feeling without actually realizing it. For those over addicted to that might experience loss of sense due to increased sensitivity threshold on the skin. There has to be skin-nerve innervation related study of this case. And the psychological facts as we see above are just sad. Very important website for the information. Thanks to everyone.

      Reply
    6. CHARLES WANDALO on

      Steven Terrell, Praying for you

      Reply

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