i remember the day like it was yesterday. james and i had been dating for almost a year and he had been out of a job for a while. i had asked him several times if he was getting bored sitting at home applying for jobs and if he was looking at things he shouldn’t be. his answer was always, “no way!” so, i trusted him. one evening, we were hanging out at his parents’ house (where he lived) and this weird feeling came over me. it was a strong feeling that told me i needed to look at his browsing history. now, many years later, i know that “feeling” was the holy spirit and discernment. james was being pretty protective of his computer that night, but after much pleading, he got out of his office chair (angrily i might add) and proceeded to try to distract me by shooting me in the butt with an air soft gun. it was in that very moment that i knew what i was going to find. i took a deep breath, clicked on his browsing history and saw hundreds of links leading to porn. being the person i am, i clicked on a couple links for proof and saw images of women i wish i had never seen. i screamed at him, said “how could you lie to me?!” left and drove to a trusted friends house.
trust was broken.
maybe you can relate or have a similar story. i’m not an expert on this topic, nor is it something i enjoy talking about; however, it is a part of our story and many people’s stories.
when i was faced with the reality that my husband was a sex addict, it was a hard pill to swallow. i never thought addiction would be a part of my relationship or marriage, let alone sex addiction, but throughout our journey i realized that it’s something that many men (and women) struggle with and i wasn’t the only wife battling alongside her husband to save our relationship.
for many women, discovering that their husbands (even a boyfriend or fiance) have been viewing pornography is similar to uncovering an affair. as a result, we experience a variety of emotions: anger, hurt, sadness, betrayal, and rejection. we believe our men would rather be with the women they view in pornography rather than with us. often we feel that we have been replaced by a computer image.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.
our husbands’ use of pornography is a violation of marital trust. when a man and woman marry, we vow to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. viewing porn is like breaking these vows because they are in no way a sign of a man’s love, honor and respect for his wife. for us, the men we married all of a sudden seem like strangers. many women feel like a fool for ever having trusted their husbands and for some, 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. it’s no secret that most porn stars are just over 18 years old. and thanks to plastic surgery, makeup and digital photographic enhancement, most of the women in porn movies do not exist in real life. they are too “perfect.” a wife in her mid-thirties, who has had children, might be very beautiful; however, she does not look like a 19 year old. because of this, she may think, “how can I compete with the young girls in porn?” this can lead her to feel ugly, undesirable and rejected by her husband. this is further compounded by the effects pornography can have on a man’s sexual performance. 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.
i once knew a gal who fell in love and married her prince charming, lived happily together for only a couple months before she realized how addicted to porn he was. their marriage ended up in divorce because her husband no longer wanted to have sex with her…his own wife. my heart broke when she told me her story. this was years ago and i still remember that conversation. i was shocked to find out that sex addiction could be that devastating. years later, after having been married for only a couple months myself and finding out that james was having inappropriate conversations with other women, it hit me…sex addiction could rip a marriage, my marriage, apart in just moments.
as a wife, we know that our men crave respect. sex addiction robs men of this basic need. pornography use almost always leads us women to lose respect for our husbands. this can be very painful for us because it inhibits our ability to love, honor and respect our husbands. men were created to be the leaders, providers and protectors for us and our families. porn and sex addiction prevent men from being able to fulfill these roles, leads them to isolate and neglect their wives and children. this deepens the trust wound in the marriage.
sex addiction can also have physical ramifications. when a man becomes addicted to pornography, he eventually develops a tolerance to it. what was once sexually arousing becomes boring and uninteresting. thus, he can go from viewing soft porn to hardcore porn. after a while, even this is not enough. he may develop a desire to perform the sexual acts he has seen in pornography which can lead to using prostitutes or engaging in anonymous sex. this is where i can relate. it was one of the most painful moments in my life when james confessed to me that he was sleeping with other women. even though we were dating, i knew i was going to marry this man and now he’s telling me that he wanted other women?! his addiction was so strong that his craving turned into him getting women he met to sleep with him. aside from my parents’ divorce, it was the most horrific, nightmarish season of life.
it truly is by the grace of god that we’re married now and that james has walked through so much healing. one of the best decisions we’ve ever made was to put accountability and filtering on his computer. we’ve also made sure it’s on all devices in our home that he can access the internet. we’ve chosen to use covenant eyes ever since i found porn on his computer when we were dating. he has two men that get the reports (they can receive the reports weekly or monthly) and keep track of what he is looking at on the internet. another great decision we made was for me not to receive the reports. i’m nosy and controlling and for the longest time i wanted to know what james was looking at throughout the day…but i made the decision years ago to release that control over to other men who can hold james accountable and to the lord. as a wife we do have the responsibility to keep our husbands accountable, but i have found that simply asking hard questions and communication has been effective in our marriage. just the other night i asked james if he had been tempted to look at porn and it was a really great conversation about where his heart is at.
rebuilding broken trust is a long journey and takes dedication from both parties involved. men (or women), if you are struggling with porn addiction, tell someone. the biggest lie is that you can “just not look” or that “you’re not addicted, you just look every once in a while.” porn is devastating and brings no life, hope, respect, or love to a relationship or marriage. prove to your wife that you are a trustworthy man. it’s your duty to protect your marriage. dear friend, you are beautiful and lovely and the images that your husband is looking at is fantasy. you are a child of god, he created you for a purpose, but sin has its way in the lives of our loved ones and it causes death and darkness. communicate, ask your husband hard questions, be willing to walk through healing with him, forgive…as hard as it is. remember that no sin is greater than another, but some sins have bigger consequences. set up accountability on your computers and any device that can access the internet. protect your marriage, the covenant you made with the person you love. protect your sex life with your spouse.
you can do it. we did. it was so hard, but now there is light in our lives and in james’ heart, he hasn’t looked at porn in a really long time, and our marriage has a solid foundation.
“light is painful to the eyes long accustomed to darkness. but soon the light brings great joy for the soul perceives deliverance from the evils which it mourned.” C.H. Spurgeon