5 Ways Our Marriage Improved Without Porn

Marriage and porn. There are so many ways pornography can infiltrate. In our case, my husband, Craig, brought it in. The addiction started in his teens. It was his own personal escape from the reality of life and a way he could run from his fears and pain. He thought getting married would change all that, but you probably know how the story goes.

In some marriages, partners use porn to help get the mood going for sex or to spice up the bedroom. In others, partners use porn instead of sex. Some users are husbands, but many wives now use it too. Some spouses are okay with it, at least on the surface. Many are not, but often don’t know how to root it out or express their feelings in a constructive manner. It took me years.

No matter how you feel about porn, or how your partner feels about it, would you consider that married life could be better without it? I can hear some of you shouting—OF COURSE! Others of you may be a little skeptical, but that’s okay. Part of the process is learning from others, to take in their stories and experiences.

Here are 5 ways our marriage improved without porn:

I feel chosen.

John Eldredge, an acclaimed Christian author, says that every woman has a question: Will I be chosen? Ultimately, the only person who will always answer “yes” is Jesus, but how a woman’s husband answers this question is exceedingly important.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Part of loving your wife means choosing your wife and sacrificing for her. Something absolutely comes alive inside a woman when she knows her husband chooses her.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller writes, “Marriage puts into your spouse’s hand a massive power to reprogram your own self-appreciation. He or she can overturn anything previously said about you, to a great degree redeeming the past. The love and affirmation of your spouse has the power to heal you of many of the deepest wounds. Why? If all the world says you are ugly, but your spouse says you’re beautiful, you feel beautiful.” Yes, God is the ultimate healer, but He also uses our spouse to speak His love, truth, and grace.

He knows he has what it takes.

Just as women have a question, so do men. The man’s question is this: Do I have what it takes?

Craig has always said that engaging in pornography enables a man to feel like a man without having to actually be one. Part of the reason he continually turned to pornography is because he was afraid the answer to the question would be “no.” After continually feeling like he couldn’t measure up, he simply stopped trying.

I remember when I’d ask him to build me something I saw in a magazine or to try to fix something for the house, he would put it off until it blew up into a big fight. As he began to engage with his recovery process, though, I noticed he would attempt more and more things. One day, I asked him to make me some mason jar holders. He completed the project three hours later. My jaw just hit the floor.

This wasn’t because I continually told him he could do things (though I am sure words of affirmation helped), but because he began to believe that God would help him accomplish all that needed to be done. He learned to take his question to God and God showed him that with Him, he can truly do all things.

There’s room for trust to grow.

With any addiction, there are bound to be relapses. But the more we engaged in Craig’s recovery process together, the more we were able to strengthen our relationship, even in spite of the relapses. It all came down to communication.

Before I allowed God into this addiction (because for years, I simply tried to control his behavior), I would make blanket assumptions as to why he was using: He was weak, I wasn’t good enough, he didn’t really love me, etc.

But as we uncovered the reasons behind the addiction, we were able to discover the triggers that often set off his desire to use. I’m not going to lie—it still hurt like hell when he used porn. But because I was involved in his healing, I understood this wasn’t really about me. I could see how he was working on himself and allowing God to work on him when he not only confessed, but self-discovered the reasons behind the relapse.

Related: How to Tell If Your Husband Is Really in Recovery

Better sex.

Numerous studies have correlated increase pornography use with a decreased drive to have sex with their partners. A 2015 study on high school seniors “found that Internet pornography use frequency correlated with low sexual desire. Of those who consumed Internet pornography more than once a week, 16% reported low sexual desire, compared with 0% in non-consumers (and 6% for those who consumed less than once a week).

Another 2015 study of men (average age 41.5) seeking treatment for hypersexuality, who masturbated (“typically with very frequent pornography use”) seven or more hours per week, found that 71% had sexual dysfunctions, with 33% reporting difficulty orgasming.”

Related: 4 Ways Porn Kills Great Sex in Marriage

In addition, continued porn use often escalates. It takes viewing harder, darker, and often more violent pornography to get the same effect they got when they first started. If this is what it takes to find sexual pleasure, many will not be able to create this experience (nor should they) in their own beds with their spouses.

I’m sure most women would say their desire to have sex with a husband actively engaged with porn is also significantly decreased (see reason #1). Sex for women is an emotional, intimacy-driven experience. It’s difficult to feel loved, safe, and cared for when pornography is a part of your partner’s life. If it is the female who is addicted, it flies directly in the face of the male’s question (see reason #2). Why would he risk trying to please his wife if she already has an unobtainable goal or fantasy?

Thankfully, the absence of pornography brings the promise of a brain that can rewire itself and a heart that can forgive and heal. We are living proof of this. Though it took time, our sex life is now better than it ever has been because it’s simply about us and our connection.

Related: 5 Ways Sex Gets Better After Giving Up Porn

We have healthy boundaries and priorities.

Anytime you go through addiction recovery and do the hard work, you come out knowing yourself (and often, God) more deeply. You understand your own weaknesses and your need for community.

No one truly overcomes addiction in a vacuum. This is by God’s design. He created us to need each other! As you become more familiar as to how your community supports you, you learn to prioritize those relationships and understand how certain boundaries must be held in order to keep you and those you love safe.

Your addiction has affected other people, namely your spouse, and s/he will begin to trust you and pursue intimacy when you are able to prioritize him/her and hold your boundaries. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but continuing to put forth effort and growing in your relationship with God lays a strong foundation for your marriage. Knowing that Craig was pursing his relationship with Jesus, other men, and me gave me hope and reassurance that he was willfully engaging in this recovery process.

It’s easy sometimes to look at your marriage and all the issues and wonder how anything will ever be untangled, resolved, and restored. But what’s so amazing is that God doesn’t want porn to be a part of your marriage and with His presence and healing, He will help you find ways to recover—both you and your spouse. Nothing is impossible with God.