Rebuild Your Marriage A mother with her teenage daughters.
Rebuild Your Marriage 5 minute read

How Porn Shattered My Life (Scholarship Winner)

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

The following is the winner of the 2023 Kenneth Bowen Scholarship. See here for more on the Covenant Eyes scholarships.

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 was something non-believers looked at. I didn’t really know what it entailed. I never imagined it was about to play a starring role in my life.

I grew up in an evangelical home where my perspective of the world was binary. I had a simplified way of viewing the world as either right or wrong and had very little room for nuance or complexity. Obedience, discipline, and self-control were highly touted. I had never spent time thinking about what pornography was or why it was dangerous. Truth be told, I don’t think the word entered my vocabulary until well into my marriage. Certainly, Christians didn’t struggle with this. Porn was a secular choice that people intentionally pursued. In hindsight, I was very naive.

How Pornography Changed My Life

My whole world changed in November 2021 when I discovered a questionable post on my husband’s phone. This led to a series of devastating revelations of adult phone lines, chat rooms, cyber relationships, in-person encounters, and prolific pornography use. It turns out, my husband had been keeping decades of secrets which all stemmed from early exposure to pornography. He had engaged in many of these behaviors before he was old enough to drive a car. I can hardly articulate the sense of shock, the incomprehensibility of the person I built a life with being involved in a world at complete odds with our values. It was like watching a fantastic movie when there’s a crazy perspective shift that you didn’t see coming, knocks your socks off and leaves you reeling. Except that this wasn’t fiction. This was my new reality.

I have now become educated on what pornography encompasses. How it dehumanizes women, glorifies abuse, and exploits the vulnerable. I am grieved to know that the multi-billion dollar industry intentionally targets young viewers and that the vast majority of exposure to pornography occurs when children are 8-10 years old. I found it enlightening to explore the neurochemistry of why this is so addictive. Porn capitalizes on our God-given reward centers in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone designed beautifully to foster deeper bonding between covenant lovers while dopamine floods our brains with pleasurable sensations and leaves users searching for their next rush. Pornography has infiltrated millions of marriages while men and women in the Church are entangled in its snares and left battered by its aftermath.

I have experienced the fallout and destruction pornography and sex addiction has left in its wake. The rupture of trust by the person you hold closest to you in the world causes intense pain. I have struggled with betrayal trauma. For me, this manifested as physical symptoms like the inability to eat, extremely distressing nightmares, anxiety around completely mundane tasks, and a pervasive feeling of danger. I learned to cope with flashbacks, insecurity, difficulty trusting myself, and tortuous intrusive thoughts. I still struggle with the pain it has caused our children. Their lives were drastically upended while their father was absent attending 90-day residential treatment and now, as we navigate being separated. There have been countless relationships damaged. Financial consequences. A marriage destroyed and attempting to be rebuilt from the ashes.

How I Live With Integrity

I am having victory in coping with triggers from the trauma and overcoming the shame of both being a betrayed partner and the shame of considering rebuilding after infidelity. The Lord is opening doors and creating spaces where people feel safer to be authentic with their struggles and wounds. My partner and I recently celebrated a milestone of 18 months of being free from pornography! Personally, the Lord has humbled me. I see this as an enormous victory. He is slowly shifting my attitude of condemnation to curiosity. He has gently been exposing my wounds and tenderly piecing me back together, a more Christ-like person than I was before this transpired. He has revealed so much of His character to me through this painful journey and I know in a more authentic way the meaning of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Integrity can be defined as thinking and behaving in a way that is congruent with the values we profess to hold dear. When we consider the challenge and allure of the internet, it provides endless novelty and instant accessibility. It is an avenue where users can remain anonymous and allows a duplicitous existence and compartmentalize their fractured selves. This dichotomy between proclaimed values and lived experience is the hallmark of a life lacking integrity.

I believe living with integrity in our current age requires us to move from isolation and secrecy to inviting others to know the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. It involves intentionally building community and accountability in our inhabited world and our digital one so we are able to live authentically.

We should be challenged to think critically about the media we consume and if it aligns with the values we proclaim. Does it pass the high bar posed to us by Paul in Philippians 4:8? Is this true, is it noble, is it right, is it pure, is it lovely, is it admirable?

I Offer Hope and Healing

Covenant Eyes protects my young girls from inadvertently viewing something that could be indelibly stamped in their developing minds. It reduces their chances of seeing content that is both arousing and potentially shame-filled. It will be an additional safeguard when my partner is permitted to use a computer without supervision or if he eventually returns to having data on his phone. Internet accountability software will be one of the facets of our recovery check-ins with each other and our groups. I’m not sure which company led me to the other, Covenant Eyes or Pure Desire, where we found fantastic resources that have been integral to our personal recovery journeys.

I went through Betrayal & Beyond, our church is now leading Sexual Integrity 101, and I am hopeful more people will begin their journey to find lasting freedom & healing. It has equipped me to embrace the challenge of sexually discipling our children and hopefully prepare them to live a life of authenticity and integrity. I have been thrust into a place I never envisioned being and now feel a call on my life to offer hope and healing to people struggling with sexual integrity, abuse, and betrayal trauma. It has opened my eyes to a huge group of hurting people whom the Church has historically not served very well. I hope to partner with churches to offer biblically-based, trauma-informed therapy and journey with people as they submit their sexuality under the Lordship of Christ. I hope to be a part of cultures of grace and safety where we can bring our brokenness before others in community and trust Jesus to redeem and restore us.

  1. Grace

    Can you share how your partner found a treatment program? And your support groups? My husband and I are in the same position you found yourself in, and I am struggling to find the right support.

    • Angela

      Grace, look for a local Men Of Redemption group. That’s the group my husband has been part of for 3 years now. Praying for you.

    • Kirsten

      Hi Grace,
      I’m truly sorry for the pain you’re going through right now.

      My partner went to a centre that primarily deals with substance abuse, but it was selected as it was faith based. The Genesis material (Michael Dye) seemed to really resonate with him.

      I attended a secular weekend intensive for betrayal trauma at Bridges in Sacramento. I’m from Canada and couldn’t find anything similar up here. It was so neat how the Lord brought a number of Christian women together there. The group still supports one another regularly.

      I’m a big fan of Authentic Intimacy a ministry by Juli Slattery (Biblically based and Clinical Psychologist). They run online book studies and offer coaching for betrayed partners.

      Shelly Martinkus (redemptive living) offers retreats for betrayed women, online coaching and subject-specific classes. Her husband is a clinically trained therapist and coaches men. He has lived experience himself. They have a fantastic podcast titled, Redemptive Living. I haven’t attended any of her live activities but can vouch her workbook and podcast are top notch.

      Pure Desire also offers clinically informed Biblical counselling for both parties. They also support both parties through disclosure. I haven’t used their therapy myself but have heard testimonies of others who have. Their groups for men and betrayed women are excellent.

      I’ll be praying the Lord directs you both to supports and that He tenderly applies his healing balm to you. Your sister in Christ,
      Kirsten

Leave a Reply

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

Related in Rebuild Your Marriage

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 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

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 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