I have received many emails regarding christian wives who are coping with their husbands addiction to pornography. Although I have addressed each email individually, I thought writing a blog on the subject would be beneficial to other women who are ashamed to seek help and to the husbands who may struggle in this area. ***Pornography is not only an issue with men but I want to focus today on the wife's perspective of her husbands struggle because this is where I have experience.***
Let’s talk TRUTH!
I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.
For many women ESPECIALLY Christian women, discovering that their husbands have been viewing pornography is similar to uncovering an extramarital affair. As a result, they experience a variety of emotions: anger, hurt, sadness, betrayal, and rejection. They believe their husbands would rather be with the women they view in pornography rather than their wives. Often they feel that they have been replaced by a computer image. The woman on the computer screen is “the other woman.” Because of this, many women are devastated when they discover their husbands have been looking at porn.
For many wives, their husbands’ use of pornography is a violation of marital trust. When a man and woman marry, they vow to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. Viewing pornography breaks these vows because they are in no way a sign of a man’s love, honor and respect for his wife. For some women, the violation of trust is so deep that they question if they can go on with their marriage. While they might be able to forgive their husbands, rebuilding trust can be extremely difficult.
Pornography invading the home can also lead a wife to feel old, unattractive and sexually undesirable. A man who is addicted to pornography can become so accustomed to being sexually aroused by the “perfect” women in pornography that he can eventually find it difficult to perform sexually with his own wife. A mind trained for fantasy will find reality dull, no matter how supposedly stunning that reality is.
Not only does porn present a higher level of sexual excitement than married sex, it also allows a man to have sex on his terms. Porn is always available, never too busy and always inviting. It doesn’t criticize, doesn’t require foreplay or patience, isn’t dependent on “feeling close” and never has a headache. When a guy is engaged in this type of sexual outlet, his sexuality becomes centered on his immediate needs and demands. The prospect of working through the messy issues of marital intimacy is pretty unattractive.
Whether she been married just a few months or for more than 25 years, her worst fears are realized when she discovers hidden sexual sin. Every moment of joy, satisfaction, and intimacy she has known with the man of her dreams seems to have been shattered. What was real now seems unreal. What was true intimacy now feels like false intimacy. What was a trusting relationship is now filled with paralyzing mistrust. This relational mistrust becomes the main element between her and her husband in the struggle to move forward.
***Porn Invites Comparison***
I use to feel inadequate. When you know your husband is stimulated by “perfection”, on my best day I didn’t measure up. Even when we were intimate, I wasnt sure if I was really in the equation. I would look at what I thought he liked trying to measure up. I did this by changing my look and behavior. He had no clue in what I was trying to do. He only saw it as me being weird. I felt like that if I could just learn what he liked and be that then everything would be better. I wasted a lot of time due to my spiritual immaturity! He was so engulfed in his struggle that he couldn’t see me. And by the way….YES, I was a Christian!!!
***Porn Encourages Lies***
It was hard to forgive. he would say sorry, then do it again! The sad part about it is that I was hoping that with each sorry and I won’t do it again, the struggle would go away. My husband was very upfront with me (sometimes). I wasn't sure if he was taunting me because I was weak and because he knew I wouldn’t leave him or if he really wanted help. All I know is that it didn’t make me feel ANY better to hear of all the offenses. In his mind, he was confessing. In my mind, he was a cheater. I got to the point where I told him to NOT to tell me anything else even though I would still do my own investigations. I would rather him lie and keep it from me than for him to tell me he cheated again! I NOW know what I really wanted was for him to be set free! Lies opened many other doors to our relationship that were detrimental.
*** Porn Lowers Self-Worth***
I felt inadequate! I couldn’t seem to get through to him by being compassionate or understanding. I was dying on the inside. Trust was ALL the way gone and I wanted to feel better. I found myself willing to lower my standards to feel better. I decided if you can’t beat them, join them!! This is what the enemy wanted. He wanted me so defeated and out-of-place that I could now be consumed. I was still heartbroken. Taking that route did not fix ANYTHING. Trying to accept it went against everything within me because I was a child of God and BELIEVED it to be wrong. I couldn’t fight that even though I tried. Intimacy was a struggle. I knew my husband. I knew when he was present with me and when he wasn’t. I felt so defeated and worthless. I NOW know that his struggle had NOTHING to do with me!
***The Heart Of The Problem***
Within each person, God has placed a fundamental need for intimacy. We see this clearly in creation, when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). This desire for emotional intimacy is normally filled through healthy relationships with one’s parents, siblings, friends, and spouse. For various reasons, however, some people struggle to connect with others and have difficulty developing close relationships. When people feel empty on the inside, this emotional vacuum can be easily filled with a counterfeit intimacy – selfish sexual gratification. True intimacy satisfies this God-given need, but fantasies leave people feeling empty, worthless, and trapped in a vicious cycle. The more they use pornography, the more it separates them from others and hinders their ability to develop healthy relationships. The more alone they feel, the greater their desire for intimacy, and the more they are driven to fill the void with pornography. Freedom comes by dealing with the heart – the deepest inner-core of our being.
***Freedom came to my family and you can be free too***
These steps brought freedom to my family.
1. Turn To Jesus!
People struggling with sin may think, “I’ll turn to God after I clean up my act, but I’m not good enough to come to Him yet.” Here’s the plain truth: you can never clean yourself up enough for God
2. Spend Time With God Daily
It’s absolutely essential that we look to God for strength and wisdom each day. Spend time reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures daily.
3. Choose Your Allies
Although we certainly must go directly to God, confess our sin, and receive forgiveness, there are times that we really need the Body of Christ. Many who have been freed from pornography say they could not win the battle alone.
4. Count The Consequences
Take time to carefully examine your life and think about what is most precious to you. Then ask yourself, Am I really willing to risk it all?
5. Identify Your Triggers
It’s important to identify exactly what situations trigger you to stumble and fall into addicting activities. Once you know your weak points, you must be very methodical about avoiding these situations and figure out a HEALTHY way to deal with what you can’t avoid such as anger and feelings of rejection.
6. Dig Out The Roots
Another way to gain victory in the future is to examine your past. If you have never forgiven certain people for hurting you, take time to do it right now! Lack of forgiveness hinders the flow of God’s power in our lives.
7. Pray Continually
Prayer is our lifeline to the Savior, who can rescue us from every trial, temptation and addiction.
8. Take Authority Over Your Eyes
One book we recommend is Every Man’s Battle, by Arterburn, Stoeker and Yorkey. It contains practical hints about how to win over sexual temptation. The authors suggest developing the habit of immediately “bouncing your eyes” away from anything that tempts you. If you’re watching a great football game on TV and a sexy beer commercial comes on – zap it with your remote instantly! If you’re at work and notice that a co-worker’s blouse is too low or her skirt is too high, turn away immediately – or look her squarely in the eyes, and nowhere else. Just as you developed a habit of impure thoughts, you can now develop a habit of purity, with God’s help.