Awhile ago we received an email from a wife who wanted some support in her marriage. She has been growing in her sexual relationship with her husband and has been trying new things, but all the while she didn’t realize that he was involving himself with pornography. Things seemed to improve for a while, but then he started using pornography again and doesn’t see why there is anything wrong with it. At one point they were enjoying some private erotic videotaping, but she is starting to feel bad about those times:
I am wondering. I am finding that I don’t like making these movies. I feel like he is trying to turn me into a type of porn girl. I find I am getting angry. Something about him, I don’t like. I just don’t know exactly why I don’t like it. I just feel sick. I feel like the feeling you get when you watch a porn movie. Sadly, now, I don’t know how to tell him.
This is a multi-layered problem. To begin with, most likely the photography sessions are about him trying to make you into his fantasy and not about celebrating who you already are and that is why you are feeling uncomfortable. Now, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some fantasy, but if he can not enjoy you without it then it has grown to an unhealthy level.
Similarly, he is viewing you now on every level through the lens of pornography. That anyone could believe that we can separate sexual images into compartments and save the porn ones just for porn and the marriage ones just for marriage is a great deception. The only way we can be free from those images and memories is that God would cleanse them from us. It requires us to come to Him in humility so if a person is still living in their sin without acknowledging it for what it truly is, you should not be convinced by any promises that their pornography doesn’t affect you or your relationship.
My recommendation is that if your husband is living in the sin of pornography you not be afraid of sounding like a “nag” by dealing with the issue. That doesn’t mean you talk about it constantly, but if something needs to be discussed, don’t be afraid to talk about it. On the other hand, I have another friend who reached a certain point that she was done talking and needed her husband to want to deal with it. The point is that she didn’t stop talking about it because she was afraid. It was because she needed to see that it was important to her husband. And while she waited for him to initiate a conversation about it, they did not have sex.
I recently wrote an article on Living with a Refuser and in it I mentioned that there are limited situations where I believe it is appropriate to withhold sex in a marriage. A spouse who is living in sexual sin falls into this category. While I don’t think a husband who occasionally gives in to temptation to look at porn should automatically be refused sex, I do think that it is appropriate to consider it when they are viewing it regularly without repentance or accountability.
These are the steps I would take if my husband had a pornography addiction that he was not dealing with.
1. PRAY PRAY PRAY. And get other trusted mentors to pray with you. Be selective about who you ask to support you, but it is reasonable to need someone to stand with you. He needs a heart change if he thinks there is nothing wrong with looking at porn. God is the only one who can change him. When God changes his heart, his behavior with follow. Ask God for wisdom. Ask God to open his eyes to see this sin as He does. And guard your heart against bitterness. Connect deeply to the heart of God and find your identity in Him.
2. Be clear with him about why it is damaging to me and our relationship. While the porn problem isn’t about you, it does most certainly affect you. He would have the problem with or without you, but the influence of pornography on his sexual relationship with you is going to cause pain and keep the two of you from experiencing all that God has for you. Tell him that, your own feelings aside, his problem keeps him from being able to receive what God has for him in his relationship with Jesus. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
3. Tell a godly man in his life about the problem. Talk to a pastor or other godly man because your voice can not be the only voice he hears that tells him he needs to get free from this. This is not a betrayal. Your husband is the one who is not honoring his vows to you.
Note: These next steps may not work unless the man has had a heart change and wants to be free from pornography’s grasp on him. They will only be band-aid solutions until that time.
4. Require him to get into accountability relationships. He needs men who will mentor him to live with sexual integrity. These men and your husband will need to be willing to ask and answer tough questions and meet on a regular basis.
5. Have a filter installed on the computer.There are a variety of different filters you could opt to use, but one of the ones I liked the best in my brief research is Covenant Eyes. It will not only block out pornographic images on websites, but it also keeps a log of the web history which can be emailed to an accountability partner. A free filter that some people are using is K9. You might consider that one too.
So much of our culture screams at men that it is normal to look at porn. The truth is that it robs us from experiencing a more exciting sexual relationship in our marriage. It is a very common battle for Christian men to try to break free from pornography’s grasp on them. I pray that the women who read our blog who are married to such men, that today you would have greater strength, greater peace and that your husband would have a greater breakthrough. Love ya sisters!