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Porn and Your Husband: Your Questions Answered (Part 1 of 3)

Last Updated: April 15, 2015

Anger. Betrayal. Mistrust. Loneliness.

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 watch it.” Or maybe he claims to be repentant but doesn’t seem to be taking steps to stop.

Regardless of the actions he is taking, your husband has betrayed your trust. 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. Recovery may seem impossible.

The problem is not just in your head. In a 2012 analysis of five different studies, researchers concluded more pornography consumption is associated with a more weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner.

The good new is this: recovery is possible.

Episode 144

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Porn and Your Husband – Your Questions Answered

In this episode of our weekly podcast, we interview Christian counselor Kay Bruner. She answers some of the most common questions we receive from woman on this subject. In this interview, she addresses two key questions wives have about men and porn addiction: (1) How can a woman build her self-esteem and a sense of confidence when she feels constantly compared to pornography? and (2) How should a wife handle her husband’s relapses?

Show Notes:

0:44 – Why Kay wrote her book, As Soon As I Fell

8:19 – What is the book, Porn and Your Husband, all about?

9:12 – How can a woman build her self-esteem?

18:42 – How should a wife handle her husband’s relapses?

Stay tuned for part 2 of Kay’s interview next week.

Check out more of our podcasts on iTunes.

Porn and Your Husband (Free Book)

Three years ago we released Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives. Since that time, tens of thousands of women have downloaded the book, and many have told us how helpful it is to them.

We recently updated and rereleased the book. In the book we address…

  • Common questions wives have about pornography use: How can he look at porn and say he loves me? Why does he prefer porn to sex with me? Why am I not enough?
  • Three stages of recovering from betrayal
  • Tips on having productive conversations with a your spouse
  • Rebuilding trust through healthy boundaries
  • Lists of additional resources: books, intensive counseling, and software

Give us your e-mail to get the book!

Enter the Giveaway!

Because this information is critical for many marriages, we want to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. That’s why, for one week only, we are giving away four $25 gift cards to Amazon.

To enter our drawing, either download the book or leave a comment below answering this question: Why is pornography bad for marriages? Do both to get two entries in the giveaway. (You must use a valid e-mail address to be eligible. E-mail addresses will not be published.)

Thanks to all who entered! The giveaway is now closed, and the winners have been notified.

Official Contest Rules:

  • Maximum two entries per person (one comment and one book download).
  • All entries must be received before 12 a.m. April 2, 2015.
  • Four winners will be selected randomly and notified via e-mail no later than April 3.
  • Due to our blog commenting policy, comments must be pre-approved to appear. All comments submitted before 12 a.m. EST will be entered into the giveaway.
  1. Anne

    Unfortunately, my husband didn’t wake up until we separated in our home. We now have CE on our puters.

    But, it will be a LONG time before I can love and trust him….if ever. I am scared to give him my heart after he’s had so many relapses over the last decade.

    • Kay Bruner

      Yeah, I think trust is a thing that you’re wise to give to a trustworthy person. If your husband hasn’t been trustworthy yet, then it makes sense not to trust. It sounds like he’s got a lot of work to do, to get past the constant “relapse” and into serious recovery. Blessings on your healing journey, Kay

  2. Jean

    Luke, it is possible for a 45 year Christian sex addict to be fully recovered from sex addiction in 8-11 months under personal counseling? My husband who has been under counseling with Pure Desire, has told me he is totally cured of sex addiction now. That he has changed greatly and others see his Change too. ( which I know he has changed). But I don’t trust him. Others have not walked in my shoes nor have they lived the betrayal, the adultery, the control, or manipulation. Nor do they know the whole story. I haven’t read anywhere, that an addict will totally be cured of this addiction. I have not read any stories ,or had any women tell me their husband were totally cured. Please help me with this?

    Jean

    • Excellent question, Jean.

      First, as to whether your husband can be truly “cured” I think is up for debate. It really depends what he thinks that means. While addiction acts a lot like a disease, it isn’t like getting a virus. When I get the flu and then get better and no longer experience flu symptoms, I am “cured.” But addictions are more complex than this.

      So let’s take the “cured” language out of the picture for now. Can a man be a sex addict, go to counseling for less than a year, and no longer be acting out? Sure. I know a lot of men who do this. A lot of it depends on other factors: How much was he working on the problem prior to the counseling? How deep and secretive was his addiction? What were some of the underlying factors that shaped his addictive behaviors?

      But I also know a lot of guys (myself included) whose recovery is like peeling away the layers of an onion: just when you think you’ve reached the last layer, there’s one more. When you start the recovery process, you don’t really know how deep the rabbit hole goes, and it is easy to claim “freedom” when there’s so much more of a wonderful journey in store.

      All of this aside, I think both you and your husband need to understand something critical: his self-proclaimed “cured” status does not mean trust is now due. In her book, When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography, Vicki Tiede writes this:

      “You will choose to trust your husband when you are ready. Don’t worry—trusting and forgiving are not the same thing. Rebuilding trust will probably take much longer than it will take to forgive. You will know it’s time to trust when your heart helps you to choose to believe that he will make the right choices. His behaviors will become your trust barometer.”

      Let’s assume for the moment that your husband’s demonstrative struggle with sex addiction is over—I don’t know that, of course, but let’s just say it is. His work to rebuild your trust is still not over. It took him 45 years to build a life of sex addiction with all its perversions and secrets, and 8-11 months of good behavior—even if it is completely real and genuine—simply may not be enough for your heart to really trust that the change is real. That’s completely understandable.

      Now, of course, the ideal is that his behavior does warm your heart to trust him again and that your marriage really begins to thrive again. I pray he will show trustworthy behavior and your heart will allow you to choose trust again as time goes on. But for the time being, this is the road you are on. Your husband’s struggle in this moment—aside from the continued maintenance of his new life of purity—is to have patience while his marriage is rebuilt brick by brick. Your struggle is to establish the right kind of boundaries in your relationship with him that will demonstrate to your heart, over time, that his change is real, and to never use “lack of trust” as a front for revenge or spite. We talk about those boundaries in our book, Porn and Your Husband (which you can download for free if you haven’t already).

      In the end, it most important that you and your husband get on the same page about this. Celebrate just how “cured” he feels with him, but remember building trust is a bigger project. If you both can celebrate the day by day victories and mutually work to rebuild trust, this will go a long way.

  3. Jean

    Luke,
    Thanks for the advice and info. I have read that download myself. 3times. I learn something every time I’ve read it. Sometime I think because there are such strong emotions going on that I cry and then I miss the next thought.
    Of course they don’t want to have to listen about their parents sex life. But on the same hand, listening to only one side of the issue, especially when he’s not telling the whole truth or lying, has distanced my Daughter from me. When I’ve tried to tell her anything, she says; stop playing the victim Mom. Really? It’s just been hard to have my Daughter and her husband who are pastors, treat me like this. But for now I guess this is how it will be. I just keep praying for all of us to get through it. I didn’t cause this. But staying as many years as I did just enabled him to continue the behavior. Churches don’t know how to handle sex addicts. They tell the wive to go back home and try harder, pray harder, and have more sex. It’ s so so so wrong. I hope more churches get help in counseling couples who have this curse in their family. Make those that have been keeping the sinful secret covered up, come to the light. And leave this earth knowing they’ve left their children a blessing and not a curse of sexual sin. The sin in the darkness will come to light. That’s what I have to believe for my children and grandchildren. I want what God wants too. I am a precious Daughter of our Heavenly Father, and I am leaning everyday how much He loves me. I know I can’t take the hurt of my husband falling back, or slipping up again. I’ve done it for 40 years. God said: let go and I will take care of my husband. That’s the peace I know is true inside me.
    Thanks again for listening, Jean

    • You might try engaging your daughter in some constructive dialogue. Ask her, “Under what conditions would a woman in my position actually be a victim in your eyes? What kind of sexual sin would a man have to be guilty of in order for a wife like me to legitimately feel victimized? Is there a sense in which you believe I’m culpable? How so? I really just want to understand where you are coming from.” And then just listen. Granted, what she says may be full of lies, but at least it will help you and her get to the bottom of her beliefs.

  4. Jean

    Luke, I want to ask you. How can I get my grown children to read and understand their Father sexual addiction. He is a 40 plus year user and is in recovery, but I am divorcing him. It is hard for my kids too. I know they don’t really understand what I have lived with all these 40 years. My daughter doesn’t speak to me anymore. But my Son is very understanding and loves me. I want them to read up about it. How can I lead them to understand the sexual sin?
    Thanks, Jean

    • Great question, Jean.

      Your main goal, if I understand you correctly, is you want your children to really understand the nature of sexual addiction so they understand both their father’s wrongdoings and internal strife, as well as the suffering you have endured. Is that right?

      Have they expressed a resistance to learning about this in the past? Some don’t want to learn about sexual addiction for a number of reasons. For instance, some hate the term “sexual addiction” because they have a conception in their minds that addiction is a disease and therefore something excusable. They don’t want to believe this about someone who they should be held accountable for their actions. Some people don’t want to learn about sex addiction because the whole thing makes them uncomfortable, especially when they think about a parent going through it. Are either of these scenarios true of your children?

      I would start by being honest with them. Simply be real with them: “I have started to learn a lot more about sex addiction, and it has really helped me to understand your father. I am so happy he is getting help, and I certainly hold him responsible for the ways he has hurt me. But just like the wife of an alcoholic, it really helps me to understand what drugs like alcohol or visual stimuli like porn do to a person’s brain and body, because it helps me to understand why this has been such a terrible, long, drawn-out experience. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does help me to understand why I felt so powerless over the last 40 years.”

      From there you might invite them to read more information about the subject. For instance, we have a free book you can download called The Porn Circuit. It really addresses the brain chemistry aspect of porn addiction, and could give your children an deeper understanding of the problem.

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