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The Relationship Café

Myself, My Wife and Porn

I was reluctant to write another column on pornography, however, the emails keep coming in about the absolutely devastating impact this addiction has on marriages.

In my book, Breaking Everyday Addictions I note how sexual addictions are more rampant than anyone realizes. From men who have serial affairs, to those who are addicted to pornography, sexual addictions are particularly malignant and destructive to marriages. 

As with all forms of addictions, sexual addictions become secretive, are fraught with denial and minimization, and are progressive. Destructive behavior continues in spite of the positive intentions of the addicted person. No longer free to choose their behavior, they are instead driven by secret, shameful compulsions.

One of the most difficult aspects of sexual addictions concerns the issue of “coming clean.” The spouse of the sexual addict often wants to know the full extent of the addiction, and because of the very secretive nature of the addict, that information is either not forthcoming, or is not believed. The couple is left with rampant distrust.

Consider this recent email on the issue:

Dear Dr. Hawkins.  I am forty years old and have been married to the same woman for twenty years.  I went in and out of pornography for the first fifteen years of our marriage and was caught repeatedly at it.  I finally had victory over it because a friend of mine and I formed an accountability group.  That helped me immensely.  However, people stopped attending the group and it sort of fell apart.

Unfortunately, my oldest son got hooked on it, brought it into the house and the subject of porn became a constant subject between my wife and me.  We ended up asking him to leave the house.  But the temptation started again and I started viewing it on the web.  For six weeks I would view it, save sites and then erase the whole thing.  I even viewed bondage porn.  My wife caught me and as can be expected it was like dropping a hand grenade into our marriage.  I ended up going for counseling, contacting a very strong Christian man and asking him to allow me to be accountable to him, to which he agreed and put a Covenant Eyes program on my laptop to track what sites I looked at.  That all happened at the end of April.  The man who agreed to make me accountable told me that I had to put up with whatever she wanted to dish out for six weeks, the approximate time I'd spent dipping into and out of porn sites.  I did.  However, since then, she has vented in loud screaming, swearing at me, throwing books and plates, not at me, but across rooms and even now we have arguments that last for a day or two.  I was reading your articles on 'Crazymakers' and I think that some of the characteristics apply to both of us.  However, we just don't seem to be able to communicate calmly or respectfully.  She claims that I'm not interested in what she has to say. My perspective is she wants to be able to say anything, whether it is true or not, and not let me have a say.  She clings to every mistake I make and then whips me with it.  I know that I probably do the same things she does, but our arguments sometimes last for days and I feel emotionally drained. Help!

First things first. You need to deal with your sexual addiction. Take whatever steps are necessary, including the possibility of an inpatient program, or a community-based program such as Sexual Addicts Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery to deal effectively with your sexual addiction. You found some success with an accountability partner but this is not likely enough. Consider taking dramatic steps to recover from this serious problem. Until you do, your wife will remain distrusting, angry and resentful. 

Once you have dealt honestly with your addiction, complete with accountability, then you can work on your marriage. You cannot expect your wife to act rationally when there is incredible chaos, deception and destruction occurring in your home.
I’m also concerned that you talk as if you’re the victim, while expecting your wife to act like nothing terrible is occurring. She is the victim of incredible betrayal, deception and disrespect. You have relapsed again and again, undoubtedly making her feel betrayed again and again. Part of your recovery will be to make amends to her for your actions and assuring her you are serious about recovery.

This principle, incidentally, fits for any addiction. Wherever there is addiction—and our homes are plagued with everyday addictions—there is deception, excuse-making, rationalizing and other forms of unhealthy communication. Addiction breeds bondage, idolatry and “crazymaking.”

After you have fully faced the severity of your addiction, and taken steps toward healing, then I recommend marriage counseling to learn effective communication and conflict resolution skills. There is absolutely no reason to be fighting for days. Your wife may need to be involved in her own recovery program as well, simultaneous to your program.

Unfortunately, finding psychologists and specialists in this field may be somewhat difficult. Don’t give up. As you suggested, you may have to start your own chapter of SAA. Remember, half measures don’t change anything.
Addiction impacts everyone in the family. Both of you need to heal from the years of betrayal, and develop strategies for keeping your home free from pornography in the future. Understand that it will take time for your wife to trust you again, and she may need her own counseling to recover from your addiction and unhealthy patterns of communication she has learned. Thankfully, you both can recover and your marriage can be restored if you want it badly enough.

Please share your experience with this problem. Let others know what has been helpful to you. Are you aware of other programs helpful for sexual addicts and their mates? Feel free to contact me through my website for more information.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Thursday, August 28, 2008 4:41 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

Please help me my husband has been struggling with this addiction for years and always saids that he does not have a problem. I dont want to embarass him at our local church, but we need help. I need tools please help I want my marriage to survie, but I dont know how long I feel like this.


sickofporn
Left by shannonellis on Sep 17, 2008 1:00 PM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

Hello,I am also having a really hard time. I just found out my husband has been visiting porn sites on the internet for(4yrs)!I am sooo angry and hurt. It feels like he had an affair with a live person.Although I wonder if it wouldnt be easier to deal with then this!I feel betrayed!I feel worthless!My feelings are soo mixed up I cant seem to think straight.Im so angry with him and want to never let him touch me again yet I want him to hold me more than I did before.Am I sick or what? He is trying.We started counseling.He says he isnt addicted.Because he has only done it periodically when I didnt want to have sex.So he isnt as addicted as others.Is this true?I have a hard time believing it.If you view it over and over then I think you have a problem.Id still like for him to do the Celebrate Recovery at our church.Am I asking to much?Can we really beat this with just counseling together?My heart hurts.Im crying out to God daily and minute to minute.Im so confused by this.What do we do?
Left by lvn4god on Oct 02, 2008 10:25 AM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

I can so relate to the post above. My husband is addicted to lust, but has never had a physical affair.I've been married to him for 31 years! Am I codependent or what! I feel like his first love is his fantasy world..I'm at the bottom. His eyes never stop scanning..talk about alone in a crowd..I'm sick of it.He works sporadically on his issue, but digs in his heels when pushed. I don't know what to do..
Left by godishope on Jan 01, 2009 2:44 AM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

the man doesn't realize the depth of his wife's pain. To her, it's as if he's having affairs. And in her mind, he's still doing it because he relapses.

He needs to let her throw things and rage, without saying anything. Then the Holy Spirit will convict her of her bahavior, and she'll listen and stop, embarrassed of losing her dignity and acting crazy.

But if the man voices his objection with anger, which I suspect he's doing because 1)it's a natural response, and 2)he's a man, then she will feel persecuted and justified in her behavior and buck her husband's wishes.
Left by SusieChan on Feb 11, 2009 11:46 PM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

What an awesome email that was so transparent in regards to porn. OK, my advise to the husband of 20 years who can't kick his porn addiction is...GET DELIVERED...I know there are 12 step programs, but I also know that you are in desperate need of an experience. A delivering experience. Get with a man of God who will act Apostolic and rebuke that mess out of you. You have no idea what you mess with when you begin to entertain bondage porn... you can talk to that... you have yell at it in Jesus Name! The only reason your wife is sooo upset is because she is sooo in love with you. My advise to husbands tampering with filth is... Do whatever you have to do to get rid of it...it's truly bloody warfare. I believe in programs later but first things first, you have to have a lil Apostolic Authority when dealing with perversion. I knew a man who got saved at an Apostolic altar and then went home and hid his pornography in his closet... not the mentality we need... there must be NO NO NO room!
Left by Joseph81 on Mar 26, 2009 7:59 PM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

My husband is a porn addict. We've been married for 11 years and have 3 children. I have taken the steps to confront him and follow through. Believe it or not I started a lens on squidoo to journal publicly about it. It's may sound crazy but I believe it will help me be accountable not to stay in the enable/addict cycle. Its helping me confront this demon and begin my healing. If your spouse is a porn addict know you are not alone. I felt alone in my plight for years. Until a woman Ive know for a few years told me porn destroyed her husband and her marriage. Her husband got so sucked into lust that he began to sleep with prostitues. She has been a mentor to me, to help break the cycle. What a devistating addiction. It's real and it destroys families. A little is NOT ok. If you are a man reading my post guard your mind. The enemy wants to destroy man. Porn is a sheep in wolves clothes run
Left by unbroke_hope on Apr 19, 2009 8:22 AM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

My husband and I have been married for 35 years. I had no clue he was addicted to porn until one day he brought home a magazine. That is when I started to feel somthing was wrong with me. I have been saved for almost two years now and it has taken time for me to keep looking at Jesus for help. My husband does not realize how it has hurt me or our marriage even though I have told him over and over. I now have the faith that God will heal him of this sickness. I know our oldest son also looks and his wife claims it is ok, but I know different. Our youngest son used to look but his wife told him 'them' or me (which I tried with my husband but he chooses the porn on the internet as #1 in his life). Our youngest has quit, his wife is more important to him. I pray for my husband and sons, and for all those involved with doing porn and posing nude. I pray they, too, will find the Lord. I thank the Lord for my new found strenhht in Him.
Left by Anonymous on May 07, 2009 6:23 PM

# RE: Myself, My Wife and Porn

My husband and I married 7 months ago. He is a type 1 diabetic. He claims that he found out he is impotent after we married. We have only tried intimacy four times during the 7 month marriage. He refuses to try again. He even told me that he does not want to kiss me because that would lead to me getting excited. He made the mistake of leaving his e-mail open one night and I found a massive amount of porn. All related to Submissive and Dominance. He has been e-mailing three women from 2007 to March of 2010 (5 months into the marriage). I even found where he subscribed online to one of the sites that send fantasy wrightings. I confronted him and he blew up accusing me of invading his privacy. He is 50yrs old. He told me that it was research and I am crazy. I am a Christian and meet him at a Church Singles gathering. He is an usher in a large Pentecostal Church. This hurts me like a knife cutting very deep. Please pray that the Lord will convict him and save our marriage.
Left by Navy Mom on May 08, 2010 2:35 PM