Rebuild Your Marriage discouraged woman
Rebuild Your Marriage 5 minute read

3 Reasons Deception Is More Destructive than Porn for Your Wife

Last Updated: February 15, 2019

“I can’t keep doing this!” she screams with bulging eyes and face wrenched in a tormented mix of anger, fear, and pain. “I can’t keep going through this again and again. I feel like I am going crazy! How can I stay married to a man I can’t trust?”

This is the scene I encounter every week in my office as a counselor working with men and marriages devastated by pornography. Her hair is on fire, and he is in panic mode. Overwhelmed by his wife’s anger and pain, he resorts to the oldest trick in the Book (literally) in an attempt to fix the situation. He lies, minimizes, and blames. Adam did it in the Garden, and we have been doing it ever since–with grave consequences.

When I tell a couple that lying and deception are more damaging than looking at porn, the response is shockingly predictable.

The wife looks up to catch my eyes in an “a-ha moment.” “That’s it! You nailed it on the head!” She felt this truth but couldn’t put it into words. She is relieved to have someone understand this realization resonating inside of her.

He looks, well, shocked and confused. He gives me the head cocked “cocker spaniel” look, letting me know this is all Greek to him. “How can that be?” he asks. “I was just trying to protect her from details that would only hurt her more.” Another half truth no one really believes.

Here is what I share with the men and marriages in my office about why deception is worse than looking at pornography.

Violated trust cracks the foundation of your marriage.

A fundamental breech of trust in a marriage brings everything into question. Wholeheartedly trusting someone to love and protect your heart and to act in your best interest is foundational for marriage. Having that trust violated is an act of intimate betrayal.

“Et Tu, Brute?”

The violation of lusting after other women is painful enough. Lying about it makes things worse. Now she wonders if she can trust you about anything.

Read that last statement a few times, and let it sink in.

She isn’t just afraid you are lying about looking at pornography, she is afraid she can’t trust you about anything. The naive trust is gone–it is like a death. Now she questions if you are really at the store, at the gym, or if you were actually checking work email on your phone. It understandably creates a state of paranoia, and she feels like her hair is on fire

Related: Your Wife Has Triggers Too

She feels like she lost her best friend. Now your wife’s best friend, her most intimate companion, is simultaneously the person she fears the most. Wives tell me they feel like they are going crazy when this happens. It is torturous, and there is nothing you can say or do to make it all better in the moment.

Interestingly, the part of the brain that processes relationships is the same part of the brain that processes life and death experiences. Whether you hold a gun to my head, or my wife tells me she is leaving me, I will feel the same thing.

This gives you an idea of what your wife is feeling when you lie, deceive, or blame her to take the focus off of yourself. It feels like she has a gun to her head–it is horrifying. Solomon nailed it on the head when he wrote, “An honest answer is like a kiss on lips” (Prov. 24:26).

Lying after your first disclosure amplifies the betrayal.

Relapse is a part of recovery. This is hard for wives to understand, so they are predictably angry and hurt that you acted out again.

Relapse may take you back to square one, but lying, deceiving or blaming takes you to square negative 100. If you want to make a bad situation worse, this is a great way to do it. Lying after the first disclosure is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

When this process of relapse, deception, and getting busted plays out over and over again, it gets pretty raw for both of you. She is more angry and hurt, and he is tired of the emotional explosions.

Whether it is out of pride or fear, the worst type of deception is the fearful counterattack. Knowing your wife’s suspicions–that you have been looking again even though she doesn’t have the evidence–are dead on, your best defense becomes a good offense.

Attacking your wife and calling her “crazy.” Accusing her of never forgiving you. Thinking “you’ll never trust me, so why try.” These are toxic responses to an already bad situation.

The problem is your wife will take these words to heart and actually question her reality. Even if she doesn’t tell you or show you she is doing this, it is happening. When she questions her grip on reality, it is another experience of free fall–out of control and hopeless.

When, not if, she later finds out she was right and allowed herself to doubt what she knew to be true, the sense of betrayal is magnified. This isn’t pretty for either one of you.

Please, do not go down this road. If you have been doing this, stop it now. It is psychological abuse, and you are better than that.

Related: How can I prepare for my husband’s next relapse?

Repeated deception is death by 1000 cuts.

Listen closely to what I am about to say: when your wife first finds out you have been looking at pornography, she is in shock. This means she is not feeling the full extent of the pain and betrayal.

This is the best and most loving time to tell her everything and to really come clean. Shock is God’s anesthesia, so spill the beans and spill all the beans at once.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted. –Prov. 27:6

Every time you go through the process of rebuilding trust then lying to her again, it deepens the wound. Wives in my office repeatedly tell me, “If I let my guard down, I’ll just be devastated again. It is easier not to trust or to care anymore.” Hearing your wife feels this way is terrifying. It is hard to find much hope in those words, even if she doesn’t completely feel that way.

Related: Therapeutic Disclosure–What It Is and How It Can Help Your Marriage Heal

This trickling out of the truth is torturous–literally death by 1000 cuts.  Today, a wife whose husband has repeatedly gone back to porn put it this way, “I’ve been cut so many times that I don’t have any more blood to give.”

Around 75% of the time, the wife discovers pornography rather than the husband confessing on his own. Repeated deceptions drive home her belief: “I can only trust what I discover, and I am convinced there is always more to discover.”

Honesty really is the best policy. Not just for your wife and her recovery–it is in your best interest. Being honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly actually re-builds trust with your wife and helps her heal. That means less time on the emotional roller coaster of recovery.

Think of it this way: honesty creates emotional safety for your wife (and therefore for you). Emotional safety is the foundation for any type of close relationship. Honesty and transparency actually help repair a cracked foundation (i.e. using tools like Covenant Eyes and letting her see your phone, email, texts, and iPad without pouting).

I can’t overstate how powerful it is to tell your wife the truth, even when it is painful. Every wife I have worked with emphatically tells me how helpful and healing it is when her husband tells her the truth. It is a literal and visceral relief for her.

Even if she is upset because of what you are telling her, she will respect you and be more able to forgive you if you are honest with her. I beg you… no, I dare you, to try it.

The next time you feel the reflexive urge to lie to save your own skin, or “protect your wife” from further pain, picture yourself standing over a camp fire with a bucket of full of gasoline. What you are about to do will not help anyone. If you want to keep your eyebrows, I recommend telling her the truth.

  1. Ashley

    My husband has not only lied, his, and deceived me about porn for years, but also his use of tobacco products, money spent, and God knows what else.

    • Kay Bruner

      I’m so sorry, Ashley. I hope you are finding support for your healthy boundaries with these betrayals. Here, here, and here are some articles that should help. You’ll also appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women: forums and good courses you can take for your own health. Of course, a therapist just for you is always a good idea at a time like this as well. No matter what your husband chooses, you can choose to be healthy and whole. Peace, Kay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Rebuild Your Marriage

Editor's Picks

Happy couple at the beach.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Rebuilding Trust in Marriage Through Boundaries

In situations where a marriage has been affected by pornography use, it’s…

5 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Happy family of six.

Rebuild Your Marriage

From Secret Addiction to Full Transparency

After being married for eight years, I came home unexpectedly one afternoon…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Phil Robertson discussing The Blind with Covenant Eyes.

Rebuild Your Marriage

4 Reasons You Should Watch “The Blind”

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently made the trip DEEP into the…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A mother with her teenage daughters.

Rebuild Your Marriage

How Porn Shattered My Life: A Betrayed Partner’s Perspective

I was 36, married for 15 years, serving in our Church, attending…

5 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A picture of Dave and Ashley Willis.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Porn Counterfeits Naked Marriage: With Dave and Ashley Willis

What is “naked marriage” all about? We sat down with popular podcasters…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Rebuild Your Marriage

4 Words of Wisdom From Al and Lisa Robertson

What does the famous Duck Dynasty Clan have to say to Covenant…

3 minute read

Read Post

Related in Rebuild Your Marriage

Happy couple at the beach.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Rebuilding Trust in Marriage Through Boundaries

In situations where a marriage has been affected by pornography use, it’s…

In situations where a marriage has been affected by pornography use, it’s common for one person to feel responsible for the healing process, while the other doesn’t take enough responsibility. This dynamic can lead to…

5 minute read

0 comments

Happy family of six.

Rebuild Your Marriage

From Secret Addiction to Full Transparency

After being married for eight years, I came home unexpectedly one afternoon…

After being married for eight years, I came home unexpectedly one afternoon to find out that my husband had a pornography addiction. I was defeated, brokenhearted, and overwhelmed. I was a young, stay-at-home mom with…

4 minute read

0 comments

Phil Robertson discussing The Blind with Covenant Eyes.

Rebuild Your Marriage

4 Reasons You Should Watch “The Blind”

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently made the trip DEEP into the…

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently made the trip DEEP into the heart of Louisiana to meet with Phil and Kay Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, and to talk about their new movie, The Blind.…

4 minute read

0 comments

A mother with her teenage daughters.

Rebuild Your Marriage

How Porn Shattered My Life: A Betrayed Partner’s Perspective

I was 36, married for 15 years, serving in our Church, attending…

I was 36, married for 15 years, serving in our Church, attending life group and sending our girls to a Christian school to help raise them in the ways of the Lord. I thought pornography…

5 minute read

4 comments

A picture of Dave and Ashley Willis.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Porn Counterfeits Naked Marriage: With Dave and Ashley Willis

What is “naked marriage” all about? We sat down with popular podcasters…

What is “naked marriage” all about? We sat down with popular podcasters Dave and Ashley Willis to find out, and we learned an important message about God’s design for sex and how porn counterfeits it.…

3 minute read

0 comments

Rebuild Your Marriage

4 Words of Wisdom From Al and Lisa Robertson

What does the famous Duck Dynasty Clan have to say to Covenant…

What does the famous Duck Dynasty Clan have to say to Covenant Eyes? We wanted to know, so our podcast team sat down with Al and Lisa Robertson to talk about their shows and other…

3 minute read

0 comments