Rebuild Your Marriage
Rebuild Your Marriage 3 minute read

Should my wife be my accountability partner?

Last Updated: July 30, 2021

We have a lot of husbands who use our accountability software. They want to make sure that someone is holding them accountable for where they go online. Some of them have really struggled in the past with viewing pornography online, and they are doing all they can to protect their eyes and their hearts from lustful images. Some husbands have not struggled with Internet porn, so they use our software to make sure they never do.

Should a man’s wife be one of his accountability partners when it comes to Internet use?

The Case For Spouse Accountability

There are many good reasons why accountability is healthy for marriage. Marriage thrives on openness, honesty, and vulnerability. In contrast, when husbands and wives are in the habit of keeping secrets from each other, this deteriorates communication and trust.

Accountability is also important for Internet use. The Internet is a virtual mine field of sensual images. The Internet can also sap tons of our time and attention. When we surf the Web in solitude and secrecy, away from our families, we run the risk of spending countless hours wasting time, and possibly bonding with women made of pixels rather than bonding with our wives.

There definitely should be expectations communicated with regard to time spent on the Internet. If time in front of the computer is getting in the way of time together, this needs to be communicated. Husbands and wives ought to have an open door policy (literally) when it comes to Internet surfing: to build trust and integrity, the office or bedroom door needs to stay unlocked and opened when you are online. When a husband closes the office door and gives his wife the impression that time on the Internet is “his time,” this might breed suspicion.

Certainly some men can spend long hours on the computer for legitimate work-related reasons. Again, expectations need to be communicated. If a man needs to spend a few extra hours on the computer, there should be an open discussion about that with his wife so that she understands his reasons for being online.

The point of all of this communication is to build trust.

Some men who use our software make sure that their Internet accountability reports are sent to their wives. This, they say, is a great deterrent from viewing pornography: when men know that their wives will see when a porn site comes up on the report, they stay far away from those sites. The last people they want to hurt are their wives.

Some wives prefer to see their husband’s report for themselves. As they see a consistent track record of clean and porn-free surfing, this builds trust.

The Case Against Spouse Accountability

All this being said, there are many cases where we advise that a wife not be a husband’s accountability partner.

If a husband has just been caught or just confessed to a habit of viewing porn, this can be devastating to a wife. Feelings of rejection, resentment, anger, and fear can be overwhelming. There will also likely be confused thoughts, a sense of craziness or even hopelessness that sets in. Couples in this situation must face the broken trust, broken communication, and broken intimacy that has resulted from his secret life of lust.

These feelings are natural and common for a woman in this situation. These feelings can also cause potential problems down the road if either the husband or the wife insists on having the wife act as the husband’s accountability partner.

  • If she sees a highly rated site appear on his Internet report, regardless of the reason, this can be like picking at a scab, uncovering the raw emotions all over again. This can cause a sense of panic, even if the high rating on his report is a result of an advertisement, a pop-up window, or just a random highly rated link on an otherwise safe Web page. Because she is so emotionally invested in his purity, she may not be able to think clearly through an accountability report to discern his intentions.
  • What the husband needs in an accountability partner is not just someone to look over his shoulder when he’s online, but someone who can help him to get to the root of his porn habit. At times, because of the breach of trust in the marriage, a wife may not be the best person to help him get to the bottom of his addiction. He needs another man, probably an older, wiser man, who can counsel him with wisdom, who can help him navigate through this difficult season of his life.

In these difficult emotional situations, it may be best to find a man or a group of men to hold the husband accountable. These men should also be people that the wife can trust to do their part in helping her husband though his sin.

More Help for Wives

My suggestion: Be involved in a church. Find a good church, a good community of Christians who have strong, godly leaders with integrity. When a marriage goes through hard times, when husbands and wives sin against each other, in the church they can find counsel and godly mentoring to help them through tough times.

I highly recommend reading the three-part story written by Laura Booz. She tells the story about how her own husband confessed his porn addiction, how he found accountability, how they navigated through the rough waters, and how their church was instrumental in bringing them through.

  1. ChristyM

    My husband of 18 years has had this porn addiction throughout most of our marriage. I first discovered his addiction in our first year of marriage. I have discovered many more instances throughout the 18 years. We went 10 years with me being completely oblivious to the fact that he was still addicted. We have four children and this has completely crushed me and taken away any love I had for him. He now has an “accountability partner” and has signed up for Covenant Eyes, and the reports only go to his AP. This AP is his buddy, his age, and we’ve only known him for a year. It was a friend and it has ruined my relationship with him and his wife.

    I recently discovered through seeing a text that a bad report had been sent to the accountability partner. My husband never said anything about it nor did the AP. I saw where he had denied it to the AP and covered it up. I just confronted my husband about it yesterday and he swears up and down that it was a mistake and did not happen. I guess my question is…how do I believe him and how do I trust that the AP will actually keep him accountable and not believe the lies and cover ups? Should I have a conversation with the AP? Should I find a different AP? And my other question…at what point should the AP let me know there’s a red flag? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • Dan Armstrong

      Hi, and thanks for your question. Would your husband be open to having more than one accountability partner?

  2. AnnaJ

    My boyfriend has asked if I would like to receive the emails that will also be going to his accountability partner.
    I’m just really not sure! I want to but I don’t want to.

    • Chris McKenna

      Hi, Anna – then follow your gut. There’s nothing that says you should. For now, maybe you don’t, and trust that as long as he has a process in place with Accountability, relationships, regular conversations with you, and that’s enough. I know that my wife (married 19 years) does not want to receive my reports. Her heart just isn’t wired to handle the responsibility of policing me and being my loving wife at the same time. For her, that doesn’t work! For some it does, but that’s completely your call.

      God bless,
      Chris

  3. Traditional accountability has a huge problem, you are only as accountable as you want to be. So one asks the “tuff”questions, than asks, “Have you just lied to me. Have you just lied to me about lying to me?” If a wife is an accountability partner, it offen feels like a parole officer married to a parolee. That leads to relational problems, only to feed the temptation for false intimacy. The fact that 2 sinners always say “I do,” requires one anothering, in the marriage, and in the church. So, the betrayed wife can also ask, “Do you see me facing my relational weaknesses with you?”

  4. John Water

    I have a friend who is struggling with participating in homosexual promiscuous activities. He has encounterances with other men at gym clubs in steam rooms. He has a girlfriend who is a christian and he is a christian as well. He tells me its his hormones and sin at the root and that he doesn’t want to have sex with his girlfriend because he wants to wait til marriage and feels it will complicate things further. He’s seeking help from a professional christian counselor as well. Im not sure what to tell him frankly.

    • Lisa Eldred

      It’s great to hear that he’s seeking help! Keep encouraging him to seek professional assistance, rejoice with him over his victories, mourn with him when he falters, and keep praying for him.

  5. Sarah

    As a female addict it hurts to see comments such as ‘female point of view’ (as a partner of an addict) and ‘For many men, years of solo-sex….’. I would hope someday professionals such as yourself would realize the lure and hold of p and lust knows no boundaries and yes women can have lost painful childhoods and turn to p and mb as a savior when none other seems to exist.

    I have been an addict for 37 years and began lusting when I saw a man sunbathing naked in the yard behind ours. Yes I lusted flesh with my female eyes; yes I searched and found porn in music, magazines, and many mainstream forms of media until I could obtain real porn. Yes when I watched porn I mb-ed many times a day in a dark room in front of a computer, yes I am turned on at the ‘drop of a dime’ and yes I have a female form of E.D. and cannot have sex unless I fantasize about porn scenes. I do not care to kiss or hug or enjoy intimacy beyond gaining my means. Yes continuous porn viewing changed my view of the world and I see others as objects, yes or no he is worthy of sex, and yes I undress men every time I see a ‘worthy’ one.
    I am a man’s fantasy but wait; I am just as much of a selfish, sick, uncompassionate, angry, aggressive, immature person as any male addict the idea of a female addict is not all one might wish.

    I have no idea how to connect, be intimate, and enjoy sex for unselfish reasons. I am alone in my recovery, posing as a man on “no porn” sites so I can obtain support because so many people believe the female mind is not capable of such filth.

    BTW I have used your software in the early days of my recovery. Thank you for helping us addicts find a real life in real people.

    • Luke Gilkerson

      @Sarah – I hope you had a chance to look at more of our blog, because we have a whole category set aside for women who are struggling with pornography, a regular author who runs a ministry for women, and a special section on our “Struggling?” page with resources for women. This specific post was for men who struggle with the question of spousal accountability when they are struggling with lust, but we have many other posts that address questions from a female point of view. Each post has its own audience, and I hope among our resources you find something that can be of help to you.

      Thanks for sharing some of your story with us. It breaks my heart to read about it. Too few people see this as a problem among women and as a result so many women feel isolated. The truth is, it isn’t an isolated problem. Among today’s young women, around 16% seek out online sex on a weekly basis. You are most certainly not alone.

      I do recommend you find some community support at DirtyGirlsMinistries.com. They might have some great resources for you.

  6. NotSure

    I was addicted to pornogrophy and fornication, but through confession and accountability, I have been able to walk in freedom (a large portion of that is due to Covenant Eyes). My sin and dishonesty hurt my girlfriend very badly, but after I confessed she stuck by me and that was a deterrent for me getting into that mess again.

    I still struggle with being honest and sharing the specifics about my failures (masturbation, lustful thoughts, etc) with her because we’re now engaged and I know it would hurt her so much more. I have 3 accountability partners that get my CE Reports and those are the men that I meet with and open up to when I about my temptations and failures in that area. I have seen myself grow tremendously in those areas because of those relationships.

    I share some things with her, but at the bequest of one of my accountability partners try not to be specific because of further emotional damage that it would do to her. I still fight guilt at times for not sharing everything with her. Is that normal? How do I get past it?

    • Luke Gilkerson

      @NotSure – Great question, and one that I’ve wrestled with regarding confessing to my wife. This video with Christian counselor David Powlison talks about the “generic specificity” we should have when it comes to this topic. I encourage you to watch it.

      Speaking personally: I have overcome my feelings of guilt because of an agreement between my wife and I. We decided early in our marriage that it was very important for me to be involved in accountability and discipleship with an older man from our church that she and I both trust to offer me wise advice and a listening ear. She knows I meet weekly with him and she knows he is my “confessor,” the one I give the nitty-gritty details to. These are the details she doesn’t want or need to hear about (inappropriate thoughts, etc.). While I don’t talk with her about those struggles, she rests easy knowing I have the regular discipline of talking about these things with someone she trusts to be thorough with me.

Leave a Reply

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

Related in Rebuild Your Marriage

Editor's Picks

A couple facing one another, holding hands.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Forgiveness vs. Trust: Why Knowing the Difference is Essential

The first 8 years of Troy and Melissa’s marriage were horrible because…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A woman praying with her Bible.

Rebuild Your Marriage

How To (Biblically) Lament Your Husband’s Pornography Use

After I found out that my husband had been viewing pornography, I…

3 minute read

Read Post

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 (Scholarship Winner)

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

5 minute read

Read Post

Related in Rebuild Your Marriage

A couple facing one another, holding hands.

Rebuild Your Marriage

Forgiveness vs. Trust: Why Knowing the Difference is Essential

The first 8 years of Troy and Melissa’s marriage were horrible because…

The first 8 years of Troy and Melissa’s marriage were horrible because of Troy’s sexual addiction. As God healed them—Troy from his addiction and Melissa from betrayal trauma—they developed a passion for helping other couples.…

3 minute read

0 comments

A woman praying with her Bible.

Rebuild Your Marriage

How To (Biblically) Lament Your Husband’s Pornography Use

After I found out that my husband had been viewing pornography, I…

After I found out that my husband had been viewing pornography, I was devastated. As I processed my grief, one of my dearest friends posed this question to me: “What did you lose when your…

3 minute read

0 comments

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 (Scholarship Winner)

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