Note: This post specifically addresses questions we have received from wives wondering what they can do to help their husbands overcome porn use. If you are a woman looking for answers or a husband trying to help his wife, please review the resources linked at the bottom of the blog post.

 

Porn use has become so normalized in our world that few anticipate the toll it can take on a marriage. At Authentic Intimacy, we frequently hear from wives who don’t know how to address their husband’s porn use. If this is your situation, I am so sorry. I understand you may be working through anger, grief, and fear, particularly if your husband hid his struggle from you.

Unfortunately, your journey may be further complicated by harmful advice on how to support (or not support) your husband through his struggle. On the one extreme, wives may be told that they can “cure” porn use by being more seductive or sexually available. The other extreme of wrong advice are blogs and friends who tell you, “Men are pigs. They never change.”

This morning, I read a passage in Galatians 6 that jumped off the page for me, giving very clear and practical wisdom on how to address someone who is in sin. I believe this teaching from Paul can encourage and instruct you as you navigate addressing your husband’s involvement with pornography or other sexual sin.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load… Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:1-5, 7-8.

1. Nurture your own spiritual maturity. The context of Paul’s teaching in this letter to the Galatian church is this: we will either live by what our flesh demands or walk surrendered to the Holy Spirit. As you think about your husband’s battle with sin, you can respond either in your flesh or by the power of the Holy Spirit. Friend, in my own relationships, I’ve done both. Often, I’ve needed time to process my own feelings of anger and fear before I’ve been in the position to have a helpful conversation with someone I love who is in sin. You may also find that you vacillate between being driven by your emotions and in the place of trusting God. This is normal! But remember that you will be most effective in confronting your husbands’ sin when you are depending on the Lord for strength and wisdom.

2. Confront with gentleness. These two words “confront” and “gentleness” don’t often go together. People who are more prone to gentleness often have a fear of conflict. If this is you, you may avoid confronting your husband’s sexual sin. Other women are good at confrontation but not so skilled in the gentleness department. Healthy confrontation addresses the problem without minimizing it but does so with a spirit of compassion–with an invitation to healing and restoration.

3. Watch that you don’t fall into sin. The specific sin Paul mentions here is pride. Looking at what your husband has done and how he has hurt you brings about righteous anger. However, when that anger stays in your heart, it sours into bitterness and self-righteousness. Your own sin will appear less significant as you focus in on your husband’s. Instead, ask the Lord to show you how He may want to use this painful journey to purify and grow your own faith.

4. Maintain healthy boundaries of responsibility. Galatians 6 is one of few statements in the Bible that seems to contradict itself. Paul says to bear each other’s burdens and then says to make sure each one carries their own burden. Which is it? Actually, it’s both. There are some specific ways that God wants you to walk with your husband through his struggle. 

  • Pray with him and for him.
  • Be willing to go to counseling. 
  • Encourage him to seek accountability. 
  • Be open to working toward forgiveness, restoration, and rebuilding sexual intimacy in your marriage when the time is right. 

There are other ways that you need to step back and let your husband carry the burden of seeking freedom from sin. 

  • Pursuing mentoring, accountability, and counseling. 
  • Addressing the wounds and patterns that play into his porn use. 
  • Taking responsibility for his choices. 

In the real life journey of healing, his responsibility and yours may seem muddled. This is where resources, ministries, and counseling can help. (See the list of recommended resources below.)

5. Don’t give up in doing what is right. I wish I could tell you that your husband’s porn use will magically disappear in a week if you follow three simple steps. That’s not how this works. Your husband likely was exposed to porn as a child or young teen. Over time, he has learned to cope with life using the drug of sex and porn. Experts assert that pornography can be even more addictive than cocaine. Healing and freedom are possible! I’ve met hundreds of couples who have that story. But in every single situation, it was a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate the little “wins” and trust God for the journey.

I also know wives who were married to men who refused to change. While their marriages did not survive, their faith in the Lord has. This is why you may need to hear, “Don’t grow weary in doing what is right.”  Connect with other women who are a few steps ahead of you, giving you counsel and encouragement in how to walk with God each day. 

I know you are surrounded by voices telling you to stay angry, to ignore your husband’s sin to keep the peace, or to just give up on your marriage. Keep seeking the Lord, my friend! No one can promise you that your husband will stop looking at porn or that God is going to save your marriage (although He certainly may!). But God does promise He will reward your consistent desire to walk with the Spirit and do the right thing. Some of those rewards may be in this lifetime; others far more significant will be eternal when you see Christ face to face.

 

Website: Fight for Love Ministries

Book: Fight for Love by Rosie Makinney

Group: Pure Desire Support Groups

Group: Wives Care from Be Broken Ministries

Java with Juli: #211 Understanding Pornography Addiction

Java with Juli: #503 Lies, Pornography and Sex Addiction Almost Ended Their Marriage, Now They Help Others Find Hope

 

Image by Adrian Ordonez via Unsplash