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My Husband Watches Porn: Handling a Spouse’s Porn Addiction

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

If your husband watches porn, you’re not alone. Statistics show that MANY husbands are regularly watching pornography. Up to two-thirds of men, including married men, consume porn habitually.1 Read these comments on our blog:

“I overheard my husband watching porn in the room, when I entered he hid his phone under the pillow and pretended to be sleeping. What does that mean? Why did he do that?”

“My husband developed erectile dysfunction at age 52 and I just assumed it was because of his long history of high blood pressure and/or blood pressure medications … I didn’t know he was still addicted to his porn for over 25 years!”

“I loved my husband. Never refused sex and eagerly participated and initiated. I greeted him at the door with a smile … I read books and articles on how to be a loving and respectful wife. I did my best not to complain. I lost all my baby weight and kept my figure … And he still looked at porn and refused me sex.”

These are just a few of many. Whether you caught your husband watching porn or you’re just trying to understand why he uses it, keep reading.

woman with a question

Should I be concerned my husband watches porn?

If you ask the internet, you’ll find many people trying to convince you that porn is no big deal, that everyone uses it, and that you just need to understand why he does it, accept it, or maybe even join him watching.

But we’ve heard from enough wives to know that this answer doesn’t cut it. Furthermore, we’ve spoken with THOUSANDS of men who recognize they shouldn’t be watching porn, who feel bad about it, and really want to stop (even if they feel like they can’t).

Even if you don’t have a moral problem with pornography, you should be aware of the effects. For more, see Porn In Marriage: Its Harmful Effects on Relationships (And How to Heal).

I’m angry my husband watches porn—is this justified?

If you’re a Christian, the Bible actually teaches that porn using porn is a form of adultery. If you’re angry about your husband’s porn use, you’re not being old-fashioned or unreasonable. Pornography isn’t a normal part of relationships. You probably feel hurt and confused as to why he would want to do this.

If your husband lies about his porn use, that’s also concerning. A strong marriage requires trust and honest communication. You can’t have that if someone is lying.

My husband watches a lot of porn. Is he addicted?

If you’re concerned that your husband might be addicted to porn, here are a few signs to watch out for.

Disinterested in Sex

A common sign of porn addiction is a lack of interest in real sex. While some psychologists argue that men watch porn because of a hyperactive sex drive, researchers who study the issue—as well as the painful experience of thousands of wives—recognize the very different reality. The comment we saw earlier from a wife whose husband refused sex represents this.

In many cases, this disinterest comes from porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Many men who have watched porn for an extended amount of time actually lose the ability to perform sexually without porn. For more, see Why Does My Husband Prefer Porn to Sex With Me?

Emotionally Distant and Withdrawn

When people are hooked on porn, they often become emotionally distant and tend to withdraw from the people around them, especially their spouses. Some men default toward emotional distance, and there may be a variety of reasons for this other than porn. However, porn often contributes to this behavior.

Different Sexual Preferences

Numerous studies show that pornography can change sexual preferences and may encourage an interest in violence, fetishes, or other extreme sexual behaviors. If your husband pressures you to perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with, this could be porn’s influence.

For a more complete list, check out 10 Signs of Porn Addiction: Do these describe your husband?

What to Remember if You Catch Your Husband Watching Porn

Maybe this is the first time you’ve caught him using pornography. Maybe you’ve caught him many times and have finally reached the breaking point. Maybe he’s even gone so far as acting out and having an affair. Maybe he’s belligerent, insisting, “It’s no big deal” or “It’s your fault I need it.” Or maybe he claims to be repentant but doesn’t seem to be taking steps to stop.

Remember you are not the problem.

If you are a woman married to a man who compulsively uses pornography, one of the best things you can do for yourself is acknowledge that you are not the root of the problem. One of the best things he can do for himself and for his marriage is to start getting to the real roots of the problem.

Often the wives of men who regularly look at porn will write to us and ask “What’s wrong with me?” This cutting question can be difficult to answer in the midst of a highly emotional situation. Often these women are convinced that if they were simply prettier or met a certain physical standard, their husbands wouldn’t be drawn to porn. Often women get these impressions directly from their husbands.

However, your husband’s porn is not your fault. There are many examples of men married to world-renowned beauties who were still addicted to porn. Christie Brinkley and Tea Leoni are celebrities famous worldwide for their physical appearance, and both were married to alleged porn addicts.

Pornography does condition a man (or woman) to objectify others and to rate them according to the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts. But you could be a world-famous super-model, and you’d still be unable to compete with the constant variety and novelty available through porn.

Get help for yourself, then focus on your husband’s behavior.

Right now, your emotions are probably dominated by alternating feelings of anger and helplessness and numbness, and your thoughts are dominated by his use of pornography.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the first step is to look for help and encouragement—for you. Find an encouraging support group, a trustworthy friend, or a counselor. Better yet, get all three!

3 Recovery Stages That Spouses of Porn Users Often Experience

(This section is adapted from our free ebook, Porn and Your Husband).

Just as there are five stages to the grieving process, researchers have identified three distinct stages in the recovery process for a marriage broken by betrayal.

1. Impact Stage

  • In this first stage, you will search for an understanding of why this happened.
  • Your feelings may be constantly in flux. They may include fear, hurt, anger, numbness, and disbelief.
  • You may second-guess your husband’s motive for every behavior, even habitual ones (like checking email first thing in the morning).
  • Your husband may not be able to distinguish between appropriate shame for wrongdoing and his pathological sense of toxic shame.
  • Your interactions with your husband may be chaotic or intensely negative, leading to more frustration and anger with each other rather than resolution.
  • You may begin to re-establish barriers and boundaries (such as sleeping in a different room).
  • You both may feel like the balance of power has shifted. You may feel like your husband has proven his power by ruining your relationship, and may lash out destructively against him to regain a sense of control. Your husband may feel like he has no negotiating power.

2. Meaning Stage

  • You will begin to search for a more thorough understanding of why the betrayal occurred, such as whether this was a habit from childhood, or whether a traumatic event in the past makes him fear intimacy with you.
  • You will look for the necessary information to determine the next steps for your marriage.
  • You will begin searching for ways to rebuild trust and intimacy.

3. Moving On Stage

  • You will begin moving forward with a new set of beliefs about your relationship and start putting the event behind you.
  • You will come to terms with what forgiveness means for you, and how it is connected to reconciliation with your husband.
  • You may be required to make changes to your relationship with your husband so that it can continue (or end it, if necessary).
  • You may still get flashbacks, but they will be less severe and disruptive, and you will recover more rapidly from them.

What to do next when your husband watches porn

1. Pray, seeking God’s wisdom and comfort.

Jen Ferguson is a wife who faced the pain of her husband’s porn addiction. She writes:

“God doesn’t want prayer to be our last resort. He desires to be at the forefront of our marriages, and prayer keeps Him in this rightful space. It also keeps us in our rightful place—the place where we’re not the ones in control, but He is.”

Don’t make prayer a last resort! Pray for yourself, your husband, and your marriage. God can do incredible things.

2. Find a supportive community.

As a wife whose husband watches porn, you need to know that you are not alone. There are many hundreds of thousands of other women who have faced the exact same struggles. We said this already but it bears repeating: Take the steps to connect yourself to a group of like-minded women who can encourage and support you on the journey.

3. Take advantage of free educational resources.

A spouse’s porn problem can be confusing and complicated, but fortunately, it’s no longer difficult to learn more. At Covenant Eyes, we’re committed to equipping you with resources for the journey.

Check out our free ebook, Porn and Your Husband (linked below). It’s packed full of information about porn addiction, along with practical encouragement and more detailed steps you can take to help yourself and your husband.

4. Talk to your husband and ask questions.

If you haven’t already, you need to talk to your husband, but these conversations can be challenging. Be prepared to do two things. First, tell him how you feel. Explain how his porn use affects you and how it hurts your relationship.

Second, ask him questions and be prepared to listen. Some questions you might ask are:

  • When were you first exposed to pornography?
  • How long has this been a struggle?
  • What steps are you going to take to be accountable?

5. Establish healthy boundaries.

Your husband’s porn addiction isn’t your fault, and that should encourage you. But it also means you can’t fix him or force him to change. While you can certainly encourage him and establish consequences, ultimately, he needs to decide for himself that he needs to quit porn. This means healthy boundaries are a must!

Counselor Kay Bruner offers some helpful advice in her article on Boundaries for Couples Facing Porn Addiction.


1Proven Men Porn Survey (conducted by Barna Group), located at  https://www.provenmen.org/2014PornSurvey/ accessed May 23, 2022.

  1. CK

    My husband watches porn and denys that he watches it more than what I know.
    I’m becoming a mess. I think of ways to intrude him when I think he’s watching porn, I can’t go out with my son and leave hubby at home because he might watch porn – mentally this is breaking me.
    He said, all men do it. He said he doesn’t like his wife, me to initiate sex, which I have done and he has turned me down.
    I really don’t know what to do. I’m laying in bed while he’s down stairs purposely staying up just in case he goes bathroom and is a long time. Pretty sad right?

    • Moriah Bowman

      Hi CK,

      I am so sorry that you are going through this. Please know that this is not your fault. You are strong and beautiful, and only God can change your husband’s heart.

      He is wrong when he says “all men do it.” Many men (and women) do watch porn, but certainly not all, and this cannot be his “excuse” for continuing to use pornography. He is caught up in his own passions and desires, and even something like initiating sex isn’t going to change him.

      Now – for a word of hope, because there IS hope! If you have talked to him about this (it sounds like you have) and he still refuses to address the issue, I would highly recommend you reach out to a counselor/mentor or church leader (if you attend church). Couples counseling can be a great place to start, but if your husband refuses, I encourage you to attend anyways! A counselor will be able to help you process the betrayal you are feeling, along with suggesting ways to heal.

      Does your husband have a close friend or relative who could talk to him? It should definitely be another guy, specifically someone who is not addicted to pornography. Perhaps hearing from another man would help him to see his need to quit.

      As you seek to work through the mental trauma of this situation, check out the resources at Bloom for Women. I pray they are a blessing to you. Be strong and courageous! Healing and freedom ARE possible! I am praying for you and your family.

      Blessings,
      Moriah

    • Mercy

      This sounds like exactly what I’m going through. My husband initially blamed me for never wanting it (I work 40-60 hours a week, he’s a stay home Dad). I committed to making a change. I bought lingerie. I made it a point to initiate sex at least once a day. He’s still doing it and blaming me. He turns me down about 2/3 of the time I try to be intimate saying he’s not in the mood. He can barely get hard and stay hard when we are making love. He pushes me away if I try to use oral or give him a hand job.
      I would love to say stay strong, we can make it through this. But I’m just about done taking the blame (it’s been 15 years off and on). I’m seriously considering separation, or possibly divorce. The only thing preventing me from that final step is our kids. But is it worse for them to live with the stress and tension? I don’t know. All I know is I feel very alone. He’s isolated me from all my friends and family. I have turned back to self-harm (which was an issue when I was a teen). I don’t sleep. I don’t want to eat. I just want to give up.

    • Kay Bruner

      Oh Mercy.

      I am so, so sorry for the pain that you’re going through. It breaks my heart to hear that you’re struggling with self-harm. I think it’s just evidence that you can’t hold this marriage together on your own. Whatever is going on with your husband, he has to do his part. You can’t carry both sides. You can only do your part. He has to do his.

      I would really encourage you to find a therapist, just for you, someone who can help you process through your emotions and support you as you make decisions about your future. Especially with the self harming factor, the loss of appetite, and feeling like giving up, this seems urgent to me.

      Whatever your husband chooses, I hope you will choose to find support and help for yourself. You are worth caring for in every way.

      Peace to you,
      Kay

  2. I am a 53 year old man who started watching porn at the age of around 6 years old. It started with magazines then later in my teenage I started with beta video and later vhs. I found such enjoyment in masterbating and became addicted right away. I don’t really know how it affected my 2 prior long relationships but it seemed as though it was no big deal to them. When the internet came about it was a porn addicts paradise. Every fetish to be explored . There came a time when I did want to stop and I prayed to God for help. I got married a year ago to a very Christian woman. When she first saw me looking at porn she became very disgusted with me. I Love her and have tried to stop watching it. When I’m alone it comes and plays on my mind. Pictures and video clips I’ve seen so much it is hard to deal with it. My wife has had dreams of me when I do watch porn and doesn’t talk to me for days saying I know your still doing that and even telling me what sites I visit. Not in a computer but my cell and she doesn’t know the password. Plus she also has dreams telling her how I feel about her and even a label I started putting on her. And I only spoke to 2 people at work about her. Two people who she doesn’t know or are friends with. I though the possibility of one of them telling her or maybe she bugged my cell or she has cameras in the house but nothing can tell her what’s in my head other than God and she has told me some thoughts I’ve had and kept a secret to myself. I think God chose her as my wife to help along with my purge of porn. I’m doing very good progress probably have seen porn 3 times this year. I still get thoughts of the vast porn I’ve seen over my life. But I succeed to dismiss it and think of something else. Prayer has worked for me and confessing it to a spiritual leader at church. And this for the ladies going through this with their husbands, I’m not justifying this but I wanted you to know that it’s his addiction and it’s his mental state, you could be a princess with a smoking body your husband will still watch porn. It’s about self gratification and selfishness about his needs. In his eyes, he loves you and your beautiful but his addiction interferes and he finds himself falling into porn. And a lot of times the woman were watching are much less attractive than our wives. At least that’s how I know and dealt with porn.

    • Kay Bruner

      Hey Jerry,

      Thank you for your honesty and your words about personal responsibility. We often see comments from men here that blame their wives for their choices, so thank you for standing against that kind of toxicity. I can see that you deeply value your wife and her insights. On behalf of all women here, thank you for seeing her and speaking about that here. So many women desire to be that kind of light to their husbands, and are instead blamed, shamed, and abused for their efforts.

      As I read your comment, I wondered if you have ever had any help for your early childhood exposure to porn? As a therapist, I see that early exposure as abuse. There’s no way a 6 year old accessed magazines without an adult being involved in some way along the line. I appreciate that prayer and confession have been useful to you, but as you describe the way that this plays out in your head, it strikes me as intrusive thoughts that may be trauma related, and that working with a trauma-informed therapist, especially someone who is certified in EMDR therapy, might give you some relief from these images. Here’s a link to Psychology Today, where you can search via your zip code, and then narrow your search to therapists who are EMDR certified.

      Again, thank you so much for the work you are doing, and I hope that this might be helpful to your ongoing healing,
      Kay

  3. Bfal

    Even with or without a filter app, accountability partner, or counseling, the Spiritual Leader might even be setting up his family for out of the norm spiritual attacks. There’s a man who’s wife was in a car accident three years ago and whose back was injured enough that their “special times” were limited. She had to go on strong pain meds which made her moody, so he (selfishly with self pity) occasionally turned to porn. His excuse (which he himself confesses as dead wrong also) was “blocking out faces on the screen and imagining it was him and his wife”. Later the unthinkable happened. She was also once the victim of a rape at age 18 (a few years before her husband met her) and for the car wreck‘s back injury went to a massage therapist. It was there that the therapist in the midst of the session tried to molest her (which classified as a sexual assault too), and it retriggered PTSD from the 20 year ago rape. Her husband of course was shocked, angered, grief stricken, and almost went insane but went to both Christian and psychological counseling. He is not sure yet, but he believes his failures might have given the enemy an opening for an attack.
    Men, you don’t know how, when, or where, but understand ITS NOT WORTH IT. You should know sometime and someday you’ll regret it and you cannot choose the severity or nature of the consequences NO MATTER HOW “JUST A LITTLE BIT” it is or was. Get right with God. Confess your sin. Get counseling and accountability ANY WAY YOU CAN, and STAY AWAY AS FAR AND FAST AS YOU CAN.

  4. Patti

    Good morning,
    Good article, I did Bloom for women years ago, private therapy and now in an amazing program that is helping me with myself once again.
    I am done trying with my husband, 33 years of porn, it started when he was a teen. I threw his large collection away when we were dating and told him to choose me or porn. Soon after we were married I found a “porn she’d” on the back of our property. Pictures cut out and hanging on the walls. Notebook categorizing the magazines and what pages each girl was in. As years progressed technology changed how he viewed, always finding new ways. Recently found 1,000 videos he had viewed in a matter of days.
    He has gone to therapy tried (or said he did now he says he can’t remember) tried Convent Eyes. We have gone to weekend retreats for porn addiction help, now he says he is doing Covenant Eyes again. I believe the lies are the worst, he also uses porn when he wants to get back at me. He is so emotionally immature only operating in his sub conscious mind and not his conscious self.
    I believe there is a point that it is over with. I have to move on and take myself out of this forever.

    • Kay Bruner

      Patti,

      I am so sorry for the pain you’ve been in for so many years. You are not required to be abused, ever. When you are ready to be free, be free. Thank you for sharing this brave moment with us.

      Peace to you,
      Kay

  5. Che

    This article has been the best post I have ever ever come across.
    I have been fighting my husbands porn addiction for 13 years.
    Always believing I was not enough, 3 kids, stretch marks, extra 20kg and saggy boobs.
    We have had many many fights about it, often with him saying “it’s the freedom of it” “I’ll try stop” “it’s not you” blah blah blah
    His porn addiction turned me into a worthless woman with no power.
    But this post has given me a new outlook on life.
    I AM WORTHY
    I HAVE GOALS
    I AM POWERFUL
    I honestly am not even going to worry about what he thinks about me any more, I am tired of following him around like a sick puppy dog wanting to make life easier and more pleasant for him…. Why, hes never gone to 10% of the trouble I have.
    He’s blatantly told me before that he won’t quit it unless I quit a habit of mine (Which happened to be me keeping peace in the house between him and the kids) :/
    BUT I am a knew person after this, I’m going to print this article and read it every time I feel inadequate!
    I am my own best friend, I shouldn’t rely on him to make me happy – that’s my job, how I see myself is what counts, for peets sake – I spent 27 months growing fully functioning little adults in my stomach – theres no way in heck that just returns to porn state (Gah!)
    I am just the way God wants me to be and that’s who I will be now.

    • Kay Bruner

      Hey there Che!

      I’m so glad you’re feeling empowered to separate yourself from your husband’s choices. I love it! If you feel like you need support in that, check out the online resources at Bloom for Women. You might also appreciate reading some about boundaries: here, here, and here are some articles. The only way to healing is for each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and do our own emotional work.

      Peace,
      Kay

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