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Stop, Look, Listen – a plan of action for wives who discover their husband’s porn addiction

Last Updated: April 28, 2015

A casual exploration of the Internet will show how pornography is affecting marriages across the country.

It seems that many people coming from a variety of faith backgrounds are talking about how pornography is hurting relationships in their ranks, everyone from Catholics to Protestants to Jews to Muslims. Even those approaching this issue from a secular perspective acknowledge the negative effects of pornography on male sexuality, and thus on male-female relationships.

Covenant Eyes has a new resource to help wives who have just discovered their husbands’ “secret sin.” Read on to find out more …

At times, it is the secrecy of pornography use that shocks wives the most.

One website I came across, called Her Story Lives, is dedicated to telling the stories of women whose lives have been changed by pornography addiction in their families. One of the contributors, a woman whose husband has fought with a porn addiction for years, writes:

“For the first time in 20 years I find that I don’t want him to touch me anymore. It feels dirty. . . . I realized he has compared me to his fantasy women and I indeed have come up short. He has rejected me but doesn’t have the courage or manhood to tell me that he has chosen paper/ink and t.v. whores over the woman who gave her life for him. The pain I feel is indescribable.”

I also recently read an article, Perturbed By Pornography. In the beginning of the article a woman is quoted saying:

“I just found out that my husband has been looking at pornographic pictures of other women on the internet. He says it’s no big deal, but I don’t feel comfortable with it at all. In fact, I think it’s disgusting. It’s hurting our relationship. Every time he’s with me, I’m wondering if he’s thinking about the other women. It makes me feel ugly. What can I do?”

Stop, Look, Listen

The initial shock of finding out that our significant other has a “secret life” can be emotionally traumatizing. This is why our Ministry Resource Director, Jim Rose, has published a paper called “The Stop, Look and Listen Plan.” I pulled Jim aside today to ask about this paper.

Jim, your “Stop, Look, and Listen” paper starts with a story of a woman who discovers a pornographic DVD under the front seat of her husband’s car and all the ensuing emotions she feels at that moment, feelings of rejection, fear, and anger. You say, “I can guarantee you something similar has been played out hundreds of times in real life.” As Ministry Resource Director for Covenant Eyes do you see this scenario often?

Actually, that was based on a real event I dealt with recently. In that situation, it was the 10-year-old daughter who found it. She was confused and afraid of the cover and so she took it to her mom. “Mom, what is this?” The Mom knew exactly what it was and totally melted down. A long nightmare began for that family. She didn’t know what to do next. Her husband had been living this lie for ten years. She had even asked him periodically if he ever struggled with porn and he would look her straight in the eyes and say, “No.” My heart was broken for her and others like her. In those first moments after they discover a secret life, they need something to help them “stop, look and listen.”

Who are you hoping will read it?

Obviously, the example in the story is a wife. I was thinking about wives who find out about their husband’s secret life. But it can work the other way too. I recently talked to a woman who has been leading a secret life and she has, so far, failed to tell her husband about it. When that husband finds out, he will go through much of the same panic and confusion. The same is true with parents who discover that one of their children is living a lie.

In the paper you describe how the exposure of a husband’s “secret life” breaks down trust, communication, and intimacy in a marriage. If a husband wants to re-establish these foundations after his secret is out, how would you suggest he start that process?

This is the toughest question you could ask me, Luke! Let me give it a try.

Trust is like a “bridge” between two people. I call it the “Trust Bridge.” You can picture it in your mind like an old wood plank foot bridge. I used to walk across one of these when I was a kid. When the secret life is exposed, it’s like planks on that bridge are broken. Now, depending on how many of the planks are broken, it may be virtually impossible to take any steps onto the bridge until repairs are made.

Yet that’s the problem. When trust planks are broken, how can she believe her husband again? He’s been lying to her—possibly for years. If he insists he is now telling the truth, how can she believe him? I deal with people in this situation all the time and, again I say, it’s not easy to rebuild the bridge once it’s broken. I think women have a much harder time rebuilding trust than men, but this is only an opinion.

One thing that can help in rebuilding is to understand the process of how relationships are built and maintained in the first place. Many people don’t think much about it. But in order to have a solid relationship with someone, certain things have to be in place—trust is just one of those. We have another resource on our website that discusses this. It’s a four-part video series called Building Integrity in Relationships. I would encourage everyone to go through the videos and take notes.

  1. Alicia

    I am a wife of a recovering addict and we went to a christian counselor and we went several times and I really felt that everything was going well. I am now 31 weeks pregnant. We tried for three years with five miscarriages and after test upon test I was told by two different doctors that I was normal. So this past Christmas I sent my doctors cards and told them that we would be taking no more tests and that we were going to Let GO and Let GOD. A week later I was pregnant with my miracle child. God has been so good to us and the hard time that I have with all of this is the fact that he could do this to me at such a vunerable time as pregnancy after all that we have been through. I know he has a sickness and I know that I have to do spiritual warfare in order to gain victory in all of this and trust my Lord that he will rip this desire for filth from him and in essence me too because we are one flesh. I found a wonderful free filter called K-9 web filter which allows me to view what is being viewed on our computer and allows me to control when the computer can be accessed and it gives me a custom setting so I can block what I want to block or you can just let K-9 block for you. The choice is yours. Recently, my husband tried to go into my yahoo account and he went into the spam emails and tried to download some emails to some sexually explicit sites. I never click on these sites so with K-9 I knew while I was sitting at work that he had tried to download and I confronted him and asked him did he and he said yes and that he was not trying to hide it. The first time I caught him I was around 8 weeks pregnant and I was so devastated. He was on a online swingers site looking at naked women. Not only that but black women and Russian Mail Order brides which infuriated me due to human trafficking. This time he just brought all that anger back and it has not been but a few weeks and he was seeing a christian counselor but he went away for the summer months and he talked so much to him about God’s grace that he neglected to talk about the wife I think. So I have pretty much told my husband that he needs to get help and fast and that I was not going to keep putting up with this and that he needs to find an accountablilty partner. I am not going to have this in my home with my child. No way and No how. I told him as a child of divorce myself that he needs to think of what this would do to our child if he can not stop his selfish addiction and I asked him, What do I need to do put up a picture of our child on the computer to make you stop and think? I thank God for K-9 because if it were not for the blocking of these sites from our computer than he would be up to his old tricks again and now that I have control of the computer that is not possible. Not only did I install this for my peace of mind but the peace of mind when my daughter gets old enough I will not have to worry about what site she is on because I can block all chat rooms as well. Not only that but I can download this program for free on any computer. Laptops also. I hope that this helps some of you out there dealing with the same problems as I. I am so pleased to find someone willing to not charge for something that works better than the programs out there that you get charged for. I just wanted to share this for had it not been for K-9 I do not want to think where my husband would have gone. He is now going to start counseling with a new counselor and I pray that this one will hold him accountable. God Bless!

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