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Rebuild Your Marriage 6 minute read

Hope After Porn: Our Marriage Would Never Be the Same

Last Updated: January 30, 2023

The following is chapter 1 of the book, Hope After Porn: 4 Women’s Tales of Heartbreak and How Their Marriages Were Saved.


It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

After the trauma of preterm labor, a month of bedrest, and a three-day long delivery, I was a new mom who had to hold, nurse, or pump milk for our premature daughter. The around-the-clock care didn’t ease up after the first couple of weeks like they said it would. I was exhausted. You might know the feeling.

I could tell our marriage was strained and I felt compelled to check my husband’s computer. In the past, when I was sick, weak, or occupied with something else, Ryan would struggle more intensely with pornography. We had gone around and around with this problem for the full three years of our young marriage. No amount of disappointment, anger, conviction, or counseling had solved the problem. The solutions we had tried only lasted until the temptation crept up again. This time around, I felt too drained to admit Ryan might be looking at pornography. I thought, I can’t take care of another person’s problems; he’s supposed to be strong for me.

And yet the prompting continued. Check your husband’s computer.

When I finally scanned the history on Ryan’s computer, I found some images he had recently viewed. I felt hurt, again, and betrayed. I felt the familiar rush of jealousy, of wanting to study every image to discover what she had that I didn’t have, what she did that I didn’t do, or what she was that I couldn’t be. I felt like Ryan was wasting our time, energy, and resources on pornography while I was working so hard to take care of our family.

Making a Crisis Out of It

I held our precious baby in my arms as I sat at our kitchen table and wondered what I should do next. Then it dawned on me, Why should I sit here with a pit in my stomach while he waltzes through the day without a care in the world? I picked up the phone. When Ryan answered, I simply said, “You have to stop looking at pornography.” He could hear the finality in my voice. I could not fight this losing battle anymore. I needed to make a crisis out of it.

Five minutes later, Ryan pulled into the driveway and gushed every apology and every “I’ll try harder.” I had heard it all before. Unlike the past, I would not offer suggestions, solutions, or sympathy. (The pattern had always been the same: when I initiated a solution, he never followed through.) This time, he would find a solution. I decided to retreat with our daughter to my parents’ home. I needed time (and distance) to heal, rest, and consider my response. I needed my mother and my sisters, who would help me to take care of the baby. And I needed a good night’s sleep.

Tears streamed down my face as I packed my bags. In my flurry of mourning and moving, I knew I would not return to the same man. Our marriage would never be the same. It was either time for me to end the relationship or time for both of us to change. In general, I believe it’s wise to keep healthy boundaries between our marriages and our immediate family, but this particular time, I needed their physical help. My parents wanted to see us work it out; they didn’t coddle me or judge Ryan. He had stuck with me through tough times in the past, and they encouraged me to stick with him through this.

The Making of a New Man

Ryan lived with our friend, Mark, and his family for 40 days while I got my bearings and calmed down enough to consider our restoration. Mark spent hours with Ryan—at the breakfast table, under the stars by the fire pit, on the porch, on the phone—praying with him, asking him tough questions and teaching him how to be an honest man. Every morning, Mark would remind Ryan to rely on and follow Jesus’ example of sacrificial love. If Ryan wanted our marriage to thrive—and he did—he had to “die to himself.” This meant asking God for the enabling grace to do whatever it took to resist the temptation to look at porn. Tough stuff.

Another dear friend (also named Mark) joined in the battle and helped Ryan to see the character qualities weakening his resolve against lust. “The Marks” (as we came to call them) taught Ryan how to grow in virtues like faithfulness, wisdom, and honesty. They didn’t overlook anything. They noticed and addressed things in Ryan I didn’t have the courage to address. They called out the best in him. To this day, I don’t know all the details as the Marks helped Ryan to see his need for God’s forgiveness and grace, but I do know the work they did was fruitful.

At the same time, two friends were counseling me, too. They prayed for us and reminded me that nothing is impossible with God! At first, I asked them to give me book suggestions. I was ready to learn everything I could about how to recover from this. But instead of giving me a list of resources, they advised me to open my Bible and ask, “What should I do with my heart today, God?” I am so glad my friends ushered me into God’s presence and into His Word! He worked mightily in my heart during those private devotional times. These dear friends provided sympathy and support, but they also pointed out how I could be more supportive, respectful, and loving towards Ryan. I had been responding to him as if I were his mother instead of his wife. I was self-righteous and lacking compassion. While I was coping with the challenges of new-motherhood, Ryan was taking care of everything else: cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, yard work, preparing the nursery, and more. (Ryan insists this is not an excuse for his use of pornography—and I agree—but I wish I had respected everything he was doing to keep us afloat!)

We also noticed that while I was on bedrest, Ryan and I had stopped going to church. The lack of fellowship, biblical preaching, and accountability had left us vulnerable to temptation. Since then, staying connected to a local church and has been a powerful support to our marriage.

Finding Real Accountability

Once Ryan and I were speaking again, we shared the important lessons we had learned during our period of separation. Ryan told me about the power of being accountable to other men. He can be open and honest with friends who agree about pornography’s destructive effect and who want the best for him. James 5:16 encourages us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Ryan saw this happen in real time.

He also downloaded Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability software on our devices. His accountability group received full reports of his online activity. Covenant Eyes helps both of us to abstain from pornography. It reminds us of the cost of sin and the benefits of guarding our hearts and minds. In the past, I had always been the one looking over Ryan’s shoulder and “catching him” from time to time. It was exhausting, not to mention humiliating. Ryan and I were both relieved to find a reliable way for him to discuss and pray about these issues with male friends. These friends were glad to find Ryan, too. He has been a great support to them over the years. As of today, they have logged 12 years of weekly meetings for coffee, conversation, and brotherly support.

I still remember one afternoon during the restoration process when a friend challenged me to tell Ryan I respected him. And why. She said it would mean the world to him. That evening, I thought about what I could say. Finally, I blurted out, “Um, Ryan, I respect you for… taking this so seriously.” After disrespecting him for so long, I was surprised to have come up with something on the spot. I was even more surprised to mean what I said: I did respect the way Ryan was investing himself into our restoration process. I respected the way he was being honest and doing whatever it took to regain my trust. When Ryan heard my words, his face lit up with a grateful smile. He said, “Thank you. I am taking this seriously. I love you.”

Your Marriage is Worth It

More than sixteen years have passed since the dramatic crisis through which God restored our marriage. With every anniversary, Ryan and I marvel at God’s willingness to strengthen us and keep us together. I marvel at the way God has transformed my heart about it all. I marvel at Ryan’s devotion to choose me and our marriage over pornography. He has made countless good choices and has witnessed God’s transforming power in his own heart and mind. He has taken this seriously and he is my hero.

God is interested in freeing you and your husband from pornography, too. Do not be afraid to let the light shine on your marriage, even if it is embarrassing, uncomfortable, or frightening. Every time God exposes someone’s sin, He is doing so out of love. He is treating us as His precious children and teaching us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness. If you have discovered pornography in your home or marriage, take heart: God may very well be inviting you and your husband out of darkness and into His marvelous light. He is with you. Open your hands in surrender and ask Him to do His good work in your life.

I have a theory: when a man walks in daily victory over pornography, he seems to become a new man. His face, body, and stature seem stronger. His voice, attitude, and outlook seem lighter. He doesn’t have to lie or cover his tracks. He is no longer a slave to porn. He is free to enjoy the life Christ purchased for him on the cross!

Take a moment to catch a vision for the man your husband could be without pornography weighing him down. If your husband is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believe this for him when he struggles to believe it about himself, pray for him, and help him to pursue God’s will in every area of his life. If your husband is not a Christian yet, pray for his salvation and encourage him to abstain from pornography for his own well-being and the health of your marriage. And, in all things, take heart in Christ’s perfect love and faithfulness to you both.

Do not be afraid. The Lord is with you. Nothing is impossible with Him! You have every reason to ask God to make you a new woman with a new marriage to a new man.

  1. Ygal

    Seeing the testimonies of what women go through because of our self-destructive behavior scares me a whole lot. As a young adult with marriage ambitions and struggling with porn addiction, I must say that this Convenant eyes’ 40 days challenge has opened my mind in many ways and particularly in the fact that porn can be inevitably lethal to a marriage relationship and that viewing porn is deep-rooted in our sinful nature of selfishness, hidden anger, jealousy, fear, insecurity, etc. Porn viewing is the real manifestation of sin living in us, sin enslaving us, sin telling us what to do, sin having the last word.
    One article had helped me in tearing apart the grip that this sin had on me; the story of St. Augustine with the prostitute symbolizing sin to whom he calmly told after she told him to reassure him “it’s me” that “I know, but it’s not me!”. This reopened my eyes that every time sin knocks on the door of my heart, it has to know that I no longer obey it but that I am free from its bonds because someone paid a higher price for my freedom. I say it out loud often “YOU ARE NOT MY MASTER ANYMORE AND I’M NOT DOING WHAT YOU ARE SAYING TO ME” and it works, the Lord makes it work. Knowing that viewing pornography increases the demand for more novelty negatively affecting innocent lives and encouraging human-trafficking while reducing the worth and value of those in the industry has been of a tremendous help in distancing myself with this soft-killing evil.
    If God blesses me with a family in the future, the one thing I want to do is to hold its value above myself (abandon myself and fully giving myself to my wife and children) in order to fully experience the pure happiness that the Lord has kept for those who truly love Him in Spirit. The Bible says “Walk by the Holy Spirit and you will not accomplish the desires of the flesh.” By this I know that there is hope, and you can defeat porn. I don’t know what kind of wife the Lord will give me but I trust Him to bring to me the person I need in my life, a person who will contribute to my building, who will seek after God’s kingdom to find God’s purpose for us and not superficial materialistic happiness.
    May God heal all those families that are wounded because of Pornography, may they find relief not in their complaining but in running to God for help through choosing to trust Him. May He give healing to men and women struggling with pornography.
    God bless Convenant eyes.
    God bless His Church.
    You are a winner, not a loser.

  2. Jason

    Hm…..

    This is what I will say. Pornography can destroy all involved. As much as it its tragic for the wife to go through many men also share in the torment. Without grace, understanding, and support then both parties are surely doomed. It is as simple as this- God is with us in our darkest moments and puts a ring on our hand even when we sold everything and ran away. If God so loves us in our darkest moments with a deep pursuing love then shouldn’t we all do the same with each other ( Luke 15:11-32) ? I am certainly not excusing sinful behavior; however, what doesn’t work is alienating someone (and, or) punishing them for their behavior especially when that other person is an adult.

    Regarding Mark’s relationship with Ryan. I obviously do not have the full picture; however, it did not sit with me very well that Mark “taught” Ryan how to be a man in essence. I do agree that we all need relationships to challenge us but if I were to think that my wife needed another to teach her how to be a woman vice versa then you can be sure that we truly haven’t accepted our partner for who they are ( the good, bad, ugly, and in between). I was however encouraged that both parties ( husband, and wife ) were able to discern their own weaknesses through this all.

    The short of my opinion is this. Porn is something that we should not have within a marriage; however, porn does not have to destroy the marriage. Often times ( as it is with most things ) its is a misunderstanding between the sexes. She doesn’t understand that his struggle with Porn isn’t because of her, and he doesn’t understand that she may not grasp that. There is a stigma behind it as a “unforgivable” sin that as soon as the darkness of Pornography happens in ones marriage this so called “mountain” becomes impassable. This is not true; in fact, we can be mature in our responses to each other and seek to work together as oppose to accuse each other ( not saying they accused each other per say). As the husband and wife work together to communicate because ( for better for worse, sick, poorer, porn or not ) then the addiction can be controlled and with Gods help overcome.

    I’ll leave it with a paraphrased quote from Brennan Manning… ” God loves you as you are and not as you should be…because no one is as they should be”, and in that perspective wouldn’t it be nice if we all sought to see each other that way?

  3. Chris

    Wow this really has opened my eyes even more for me personally I struggle viewing porn and am a young woman I had no idea how serious and detrimental it really is. I am currently taking a Freedom Class living Free thru my church I want to be set free and delivered from this stronghold addiction in my life. I’ve turned to porn for number of reasons and recognize that yes its very destructive and affects me and others in different ways.

    • Zac

      “Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless. Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

      FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED [and be faithfully devoted] TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].”
      ‭‭EPHESIANS‬ ‭5:25-29, 31-33‬ ‭AMP‬‬

  4. Jessica

    Continued..

    I forgot to mention that when I tell him that I will leave him, he says ” ok then”

    • Kay Bruner

      I’d say, take him up on it and leave. If he’s not prepared to be committed to the relationship, it’s broken. Accept that reality, and decide what is healthy for you, given the truth of the situation. We can’t control the choices of others, but we can always choose to be healthy ourselves.

  5. Jessica

    Please please help.

    I first caught my husband watching porn almost a year ago. He swore to god he would never do it again as he saw how hurt I was. 2 months ago I found out that he has never stopped looking at it. I am broken for the porn use and for ALL THE LIES.

    However, the worst thing is that he doesnt recognize that he is an addict and he WONT do the steps that our counselor is telling him to do in order to rebuild my trust. He is going to counseling, but he refuses to do all the counselors suggestions. I tell him I am leaving him if he is not willing to do what the counselor says ( he tells my husband to use convenant eyes, get an accountatbility partner, not be alone with his phone, read the ” every mans battle book”….) but my husband refuses all of that.

    I dont know if I should leave him.. I want to leave him as he is not willing to get my trust back :(

    • Kay Bruner

      It’s definitely time to think about healthy boundaries, given the fact that he’s not doing his part. Here, here, and here are some articles that should be helpful to you. When someone isn’t willing to participate in their own recovery, it’s okay to let them have the consequences of their choices. That’s terribly painful and difficult, and not the reason you got married, I know. But we can’t force people into recovery. They have to go there for themselves. And we get to be healthy, no matter what they choose. Peace to you, Kay

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