Rebuild Your Marriage
Rebuild Your Marriage 4 minute read

My Husband’s Porn Addiction: I wish I knew then what I know now . . .

Last Updated: April 15, 2015

My husband Jeff and I just recently hit a new stage in marriage recovery that our counselor refers to as “maintenance.” While I know there is still a lot of work to be done, this new chapter feels like a huge victory for me.

Two and a half years ago our world imploded after Jeff was caught using pornography on a computer at work. I vividly recall how hopeless and alone we felt those first few months as we tried to process all that was happening. Because Jeff was a pastor, not only did he lose his job, but we also lost the support system of our church and many of our Christian friends. We moved to another state to rebuild our lives and I dove into marriage recovery, determined to become a “normal” family again.

During that tumultuous time, I learned a number of important truths about marriage, intimacy, pornography and addiction. I only wish I could have known then, in those painful early days of our crisis, what I know now. Perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so alone in my grief, or been so surprised when we experienced a setback, or wondered what was the “right” thing to do as we faced valleys and turned corners.

These are just a few of those important truths I uncovered along the way:

  • I’m not the only woman in this battle. At first, I was too embarrassed to talk with anyone other than our counselor about what we were dealing with in our marriage. But as I began to share with those I trusted, I learned that many other couples were also struggling in silence. I also learned that by sharing our secret, our secret could no longer isolate us. I ministered to other wives and they ministered to me. We shared resources and offered encouragement. We cried together and rejoiced together. As I began to live authentically, I no longer wanted to pretend my marriage and family were perfect. My quest to regain my “normal” marriage no longer seemed appropriate. I didn’t want that old marriage back. Instead, I wanted a redeemed marriage built on authenticity and holy intimacy.
  • My emotions can deceive me. I experienced a gamut of emotions during the first several months of our crisis. At times I felt like I was never going to stop being sad. I questioned whether I could ever enjoy romantic love with my husband. I was certain that I would feel better if I were single again. All lies. All temporary feelings that came and went. I shudder to think where I would be today if I had actually acted on any of those feelings. Because my emotions can deceive me, I learned that I needed to be surrounded by truth. I had to be in God’s Word. I need to be around people who can speak God’s counsel into my life. I have to actively guard my mind from lies, as my emotions leave me vulnerable to accepting lies as truth.
  • This was not my husband’s problem. While Jeff’s pornography addiction was not my fault, I came to understand that I would need to play an integral role in the marriage recovery process. I could not do my own thing and expect counselors to fix my husband’s problem. We had to work together on communication, respect, trust, and intimacy. I had to be willing to go outside my comfort zone and be stretched, just as Jeff was. It is hard work, but it is the only way to experience the marriage Christ intended for us to enjoy.
  • God has a plan. I often say, the day Jeff got caught was both the worst day and the best day of my life. While the consequences were devastating and far-reaching, getting caught was the first step towards our recovery. While it is very tempting to shake our fists at God for letting our world fall apart, I came to understand that the most loving thing He could do was tear down our “normal life” and begin the process of marriage recovery.
  • God has a timetable. Because Jeff was repentant and we were both eager to work on developing healthy intimacy, I assumed recovery would happen quickly. It didn’t. The more we uncovered, the more we realized how deeply we were wounded. We experienced setbacks, stagnation and disappointments along the way. We still do. In the beginning, our goal was to get through recovery so we could get back to ministry. I realize now that recovery is not something you get through. You walk in it slowly, daily and for the rest of your marriage. There are no short-cuts and you do not set the course. Instead, you follow in the footsteps of a Master Counselor who leads you by still waters, encourages you to hang out to learn important skills and lessons and then moves you on to another field that He has prepared in advance for you.
  • God can turn our mess into a masterpiece. A year ago, Jeff and I were so amazed by the recovery resources we were finding, that we felt burdened to put all the resources in one place to make it easier for others to find. We started playing around with a website, calling it PornToPurity.com . We had no idea how popular this site would become. We get messages from people around the world, thanking us for sharing our story. It amazes me. We are not even capable of dreaming the big dreams that God intends for us, if we only yield ourselves to him.

I imagine that a year from now, there will be a new series of truths that I will uncover as we embark on this next stage of recovery. While I understand that many of those truths I need to experience and discover on my own, I do pray that God will put women in my life who are further along in this journey. I would benefit so much from their perspective on the road ahead. We do such a disservice to the body of Christ when we hide our stories of addiction and recovery. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than a redeemed marriage.

  1. I was introduced to pornography in my early teens (12 – 14). Those early days of porn mags lead to the internet, pwhich brough about chat rooms, chat programs, webcam chats…it destroyed my 11 year marriage to a beautiful, Godly woman. I am now well on my way to walking free after 10+ months of couselling, attending a ‘Valiant Man’ course, drawing closer to God and focusing on my walk with Him, and being ruthless about the things (and people) that have and continue to lure me back…

    Unfortunately the geniune repentance and steps taken to finally break free have not been enough to save my marriage. Breaks my heart because I lost a beautiful wife, and I don’t get to see my children every day :-(

    People say God will honour and redeem the right choices I am now making. The hardest part of this to accept is that that honouring or redemption may not apply to this marriage or this lifetime :(

    • Luke Gilkerson

      Marco, thanks for sharing your story with us. It breaks my heart to hear about the damage porn can cause in a marriage. It is great to hear, however, that God has worked in your life to remove you from pornography. Remember, God can restore the years the locust have eaten. In this life or the next, your scars from this will be marks of beauty.

  2. michael

    Hi there,True love, while it does last forever, does not always remain unchanging. To expect differently is unrealistic. There is an old addage that addresses this a little bit. A woman marries a man expecting that he will change, an man marries a woman expecting that she will not. (and both are usually wrong in the end).

    MichaeL

  3. Daniel

    I liked the point raised about temporary emotions and how we can be led astray by them. Additionally, I wonder if the majority of the time the problem is we are just too impatient. If it is not necessarily the emotions themselves that are deceptive, but our interpretation of them and our haste to end the unpleasant ones, rather than trust God and ride the wave. Hence the importance of His guidance, just as was stated!

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