My husband, age 53, married 28 years, has been frequenting porn sites on the internet, but insists that he is “not addicted.” (As if that makes it all right…) Up until a year ago he was a faithful Christian, daily quiet time, consistent church attendance, Bible study, etc. We met while working for a missions organization. Now he has stopped going to church or Bible study. He refuses to discuss spiritual things with me.
My question is, what is my moral obligation with respect to his porn problem? Do I wait patiently and hope it goes away while I pray for him? Do I confront him? Do I withhold sex?
I am ready to take a stand and even force him to choose — me or porn. But I am not convinced that is the best approach. What do you advise?
Your husband is a classic case of how porn poisons a man and robs him of everything he once held dear. Heâ€™s also a classic addict, in that he denies having a problem and is in desperate need of an intervention. Since he has refused to hear you, do as the bible says and take one or two others from the church (such as your pastor and his wife) with you.
If your church doesnâ€™t have adequate experience dealing with porn addictions, you may want to visit the following page http://www.intervention911.com/intervention911_porn_info.htm and consider calling their number for a free consultation on conducting an intervention. Note I have no relationship with these people and cannot vouch for them.
Another page, with information on interventions, is: http://www.addictionintervention.com/intervention/what_is_int_fa.asp
A page with more specific information:
This last one was written with substance abuse problems in mind, but many of the same principles apply to this kind of addiction as well.
Lastly, a specifically Christian resource: http://www.truthminers.com/truth/help_for_porn_addicts.htm
Another Christian resource with information on porn addiction: http://www.xxxchurch.com/index2.htm
Note itâ€™s designed to make porn addicts mad by tricking them onto the page.
I have to agree with them, your husband needs counseling to overcome this addiction, and you both will need counseling for your marriage to survive, and you have every right to make getting that counseling a prerequisite, although to warn you, using the language of an ultimatum tends to backfire with most men, so youâ€™ll need to be careful with how you word it and say it. Gentle, loving, but firm. You need your brothers and sisters in Christ, and His Spirit, to accomplish that.
I donâ€™t blame you one bit for being squeamish about sleeping with him at this time. Heâ€™s committing adultery with a fantasy woman. Jesus made no bones about that, â€œWhoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart..â€ (Matthew 5:28, Modern KJV) Heâ€™s also already broken his vows in his heart.
Pray for him no matter what, but it wonâ€™t go away on itâ€™s own. If your heart is telling you spiritual adultery isnâ€™t sufficient cause for divorce, the sad truth is, heâ€™ll likely give you cause soon enough, if he doesnâ€™t first admit he has a problem and get help, as this will grow worse and worse until he acts on his fantasies. Depending on what heâ€™s viewing, acting out his fantasies could rightfully land him in a jail cell as well as in divorce court.
Some reading this are wondering: How does a godly, Christian man end up in such a trap? Before you question his ever having been seriously committed to Christ, remember men are visual creatures, the sight of a woman in any state of undress is as stimulating for them as loving caress is for a woman. Those images tend to stick in the memory indefinitely and are hard to get rid of. Most men are first introduced to pornographic images quite by accident, perhaps in a place as seemingly innocent as the lingerie section of a department store, and too often they first are fed this poison as young boys, with the image lying dormant for years only to be triggered again some time after puberty. Some of our men successfully brandish their swords and shields and dodge this too-common fiery dart of the enemy. Others are hit and fall before it, as this husband has, tearing apart his household in the process.
Because this is such a terrible weakness for men, I must add that way too much of the attire modern society approves of falls into the category of undress, as young women have been taught to be stumbling stones to our poor men. Every young woman reading this column should carefully and prayerfully examine her wardrobe, lest she, in fact, be the first â€œpornographic imageâ€ to take root in her Christian brotherâ€™s soul. Anything that accentuates and shows off your feminine figure could be a gateway to a dark, unending nightmare for a man and his family. While the world flaunts it, may the women of God save it for their husbands eyes, lest she cause her brother to stumbleâ€”not to mention damage her own witness. Men donâ€™t take objects of their lust too serious, last I checked.
I know what you’re thinking, Ladies, I’ve had the same thoughts. I plead with you as Sisters in the Lord, for once, cut the excuses and put our brothers’ weakness ahead of your freedom.
Love in Christ,
Trackposted to Adam’s Blog,Rightwing Guy, Perri Nelson’s Website, third world county, The Random Yak, The Hill Chronicles, Stuck On Stupid, The Bullwinkle Blog, Dumb Ox News, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Andrea, I was unaware of your great site. Being a Christian myself I really appreciate what you are doing. God bless you and thank you. I am bookmarking your site so my readers will visit you and heed your wise advise, because it is biblically based.
No Greater Joy Ministries has a booklet called “Pornography: Road to Hell” that may be of use on this subject. Michael Pearl gets right to the point and is pretty hard hitting, which is probably necessary for many men who are “stuck in the muck” so to speak.
Here’s a link to the booklet page: http://shop.nogreaterjoy.org/product_info.php/cPath/2_18/products_id/64
I don’t agree with the Pearls on a lot of things but they do have some great resources for family discipleship.
Thank you for the encouragement, Layla. Your kind words are like a cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Thanks for the bookmark, too 🙂
Jonas: Thanks for the resource. I didn’t come across that one.
I was searching for some “Counsel” on this subject myself, and found it comforting to find your comments and advice on the effects of pornography on a marriage relationship. I have also had this issue affect my life for the past six years. A few months into our marriage I discovered my husband was looking at porn in the internet. I was shocked since he had portrayed himself to be a very dedicated Christian man when I married him, and I believed our sex life was awesome. He also had never admitted he had an addiction to the porn and has never admitted to how often he visits these sites. I know of dozens of times because of finding evidence in our internet history. As the years went by the sites he visited were more and more “hard-core”. Yet he never admitted he was “addicted”. He continued to go to church and appear to be a devoted Christian husband and leader to the outside world. It has affected how I see him as a husband and a man. It has affected me sexually, because I do feel like he has cheated on me. We have gone to two different counselors, and each time I hoped it would stop. It didn’t. He became more clever in covering his tracks. And it is true that he also had other areas in his life that Satan was also able to infiltrate. He is very emotionally and sometimes verbally abusive to me. He has often made me feel like I am to blame for his actions. Even though he now claims he no longer looks at porn, I don’t believe him because nothing has changed in the way he treats me. And he has never shown any remorse for what he did and has never really agreed to ways to become more accountable by putting “blocks” on his computer or by seeking intensive counseling for addiction (which he wouldn not do since he doesn’t believe he ever had an addiction to it). At this point I feel like my relationship and faith in him has been damaged to the point that I no longer want to be his wife. I do feel that our marriage bed has been defiled, and his claims that he no longer looks at porn does not suffice to mend any damage done, especially when he continues to have this hot/cold attitude toward me. As a Christian woman I feel especially betrayed, because I believed I was married to a man of God, whom I could trust. And now, being a Christian woman, I suffer with guilt for wanting to divorce him…..yet I know I cannot endure the mental anguish this causes for me being his wife.
Dear, you can’t handle this alone. Talk to your pastor, other women who have been through this. Give counseling one last chance before you give up on him. Let him know as quietly and gently as possible, if he doesn’t take his problem serious and get help, he will lose you.
And for the record, it’s not your fault. The addiction feeds itself. No real woman can compare to the fantasy porn creates. Porn warps a man’s mind to view all women as sex objects, and most fail to measure up to the fantasy. He may or may not have stopped, the poison remains in the man’s system long after he’s quit feeding new images into his brain. If he has stopped, though, nagging and continued distrust will be used as an excuse to go back.
Try explaining to him how this has broken your trust and that you need help from a third party to regain it and would like him to go with you to counseling. Emphasizing how this has effected you and your need may make it easier for him, and the counselor may be able to help him take more responsibility for what he’s done.
What it comes down to is this–if after serious prayer, you reach peace that what he has done is adultery and you are free from your vows–before you take that step, let him know what’s coming and give him a chance to make things right.
But you must remain calm and use non-accusatory language (I feel I can’t trust you, rather than you’ve broken my trust.) Hysterics and statements like, “You never…” and “You always…” , while understandable, will put most men on the defensive and ultimately backfires
Another great page I came across, that may help: http://www.firesofdarkness.com/DearHearts.htm
And here’sa support group for those affected by a friend or relative’s sexual addiction: http://www.sanon.org/SANON.HTM
And you might be interested in the Christian Wives of Addicts which has a forum for wives of porn addicts.
By the way, if you decide to confront him again, try practicing by “role playing” with a trusted friend until you know you can say what needs said and remain calm.
My husband and I have been married for 3 years now. [Moderator: Lengthy detail of past adulteries deleted by the blood of the lamb] … I now understand that what I did was so very wrong. I am very very sorry for what I did. I prayed and asked God for forgiveness. and I know he forgive if you mean it. And I really really do. The past few days have been the worst. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep over this. I want to tell him because I can’t live like this. But I know if I tell him he will break up with me for sure. Lately things have been going so well for us! And he is the guy I want to spend my life with and have a family with. I even think I am pregnant now. I know if I tell him he will break up with me and maybe even more. He has such a anger and rage in him, and I’m scared that he may even try to kill himself. He has once before because he said that he thought I didn’t love him. We had a talk the other day and said we were sorry for everything in our relationship, and things are great between us. But I know if I tell him I may regret it. What my question is is that, I asked God for forgiveness and I know he forgive me because he loves me. Do I have to ask my husband for forgiveness also. I don’t want to loose him and I don’t want him to hurt himself if I tell him. IM just so scared and confused, and need advice. Will God not forgive me if I don’t ask my Husband for forgiveness? I know he has done things and may even have cheated on me. And he has never once told me that he has done them, but I know he has. I don’t care if he has cheated on me in the past. Things are sooo well right now. He just applied for a supervisor job but didn’t get. And I know he is upset about that. He feels things in his life are not happening for him. And I feel this will really push him over the edge and he will hurt himself. I dont’ know what to do, and I need help. Please help me.
I’m sorry to say it, but I think you do need to tell him. Usually, when youâ€™ve sinned against someone or hurt someone, it is necessary to go and seek forgiveness, if you are able (meaning theyâ€™re alive and you have access to them.) Itâ€™s part of repentance oftentimes, and skipping this step can create a blockage between you and God. It’s a heavy weight around your ankle and bad for your spiritual health in that it drives a wedge between you and god that could potentially pull you away from Him. Now, it doesnâ€™t matter whether they actually forgive you or not. Youâ€™ll have done your part and be clear before God. Their unforgiveness will hurt them more than it does you, and thatâ€™s something theyâ€™ll have to answer to God on.
Besides that, the truth has a way of coming out, sooner or later. Scripture says, â€œthe truth will set you freeâ€ and when youâ€™re in youâ€™re situation, that can be hard to believe, until you realize how much of a struggle it is to hide from the truth. Even a lie of omission quickly becomes a chain around your soul and the only way to be free from the bondage is to admit the truth. I know the power of fear. I also know you canâ€™t understand the freedom of confession until youâ€™ve followed your heartâ€™s conviction in spite of the fear.
I donâ€™t think it would be wise to tell him this sort of thing alone, or in front of a large group of witnesses. I would suggest a marriage counselor, clergy, or Christian counselor, or other person experienced at moderating such confrontations and helping you through it. A marriage counselor would be ideal, most will have tons of experience helping couples heal and reestablish trust. To get him in, just tell him you need help and need him to go with you.
IF that doesnâ€™t work, or is cost-prohibitive, write him a letter. A written confession may or may not be appropriate, but you can still pen it on paper and rehearse until you can speak gently. A letter can also be helpful, though, in getting all your thoughts out. Including how much you love him, how sorry you are, how much his behavior has hurt you, and how much you want to make this marriage work. Those things, minus his mistakes, should sandwich the confession.
In your case, while your fear is understandable, and double standards existent, he is in no moral position to condemn you, and is spiritually required to forgive you before he can be forgiven for his own adultery.
Even if he leaves, better a clear conscience and right relationship with God than a marriage slowly dying under the weight of unresolved issues.
But I agree that it would be unwise to confront him with this alone. But it would also be unhealthy to keep a secret like this. If at all possible, please get a mediator of some sort (local, preferably one with experience) to assist you. But no TV audiences, please! A marriage counselor would be ideal, you both have baggage, and a good, godly marriage counselor could be the ticket to saving your marriage.
Again, remember, youâ€™re not responsible for your husband. But you are responsible for yourself. The folks at http://www.familylife.com/marriage.asp are good. Iâ€™ve been to their marriage conferences and found them trustworthy.
Considering your recent conversation, one tack you could take is to first let him vent his frustrations, then move to the postive things you have to say about your relationship, your hopes for the future and such. After that,opening up about your fears and what’s bothering you in general, non-specific terms, and let him know that while you both apologized in general terms, you feel like you both have done things you’re afraid to confess, but that it’s weighing on you (yourself) terribly. Let him know you love the way things have been lately and want to keep things that way–which is why you want to see a marriage counselor so the past doesn’t come back to bite you. It has a way of doing that.
In Christâ€™s Love,
â€œNeither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.â€
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, â€œI am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.â€
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