It’s not uncommon for a feeling of hopelessness to accompany the realization that your husband has an addiction to pornography. After the initial feelings of worthlessness and depression many wives begin to wonder if their husband will ever be able to break free of his pornography addiction. They can, but they’ll need some help.
Where to Begin
First things first, your husband is going to need to want to get better. It doesn’t matter what you do, if he doesn’t want to fix his problem, he won’t. For most guys, the devastation that this sin brings to their wife is enough to elicit the desire to change. The healing process can’t begin unless the patient wants to get better. If your husband wants to get better, that’s a big victory and an enormous first step to the healing process. From here on out, the two of you are taking this journey together as husband and wife, patient and supporter. Remember you’re not the doctor, only God can bring about healing, you are the supportive wife challenging and cheering your husband on while the Doctor works on him.
As You Move Forward
If your husband has said “I’m so sorry and I want to change” trust him. I know trust is a hard thing to come by right now especially since he’s been essentially “cheating” on you with digital women. That being said, if you’re husband is apologizing and expressing the desire to change he probably, legitimately feels bad and the worst thing you can do is beat him into the ground by reminding him how terrible his actions have been. He needs you and he needs your support. As hard as it may be, help him carry his sin (Gal. 6:1-2).
There are a number of practical actions you can take to help safeguard your husband from falling back into this temptation, and be aware, he probably will. This is not because he isn’t actually sorry, it’s because his brain is literally telling him to go back to porn. In the same way that a drug addict has to fight to avoid drugs, the porn addict has to fight against his brain telling him to consume pornography. When your husband slips, help him up, he isn’t going to make it to the end of the road without you.
Before we list the practical steps you can take to help your husband as he recovers, I want to take one last detour. Wives, it’s okay to feel sad. It’s alright to feel hurt and disgusted and betrayed. What’s not okay is turning your back on him. Pornography wrecks marriages but it doesn’t have to wreck yours. If you respond to him in the same way he treated you it’ll result in broken families and a destroyed marriage, but if you respond to him, even in your pain, with a hand outstretched to help him, you could make your marriage stronger than it was before. You have every right to be angry about your husband’s addiction, but don’t let anger win out by letting it destroy your marriage.
Practical Steps to Reach Your Destination
Pornography, like any sin, thrives in the darkness. One of the best things you can do is set up a system of accountability. This can function in two ways. First, you can keep him accountable by setting up software that will alert you at the first sign of danger (here are some of our recommendations). I recommend installing two programs instead of just one so that they’re harder to get around. Don’t install this software behind your husband’s back. If he feels like he’s being spied on, it’ll make it harder for him to open up in the future.
Second, you can keep him accountable by having him open up to someone in real life. This can be, but doesn’t have to be, you. You need to be involved in his healing process, but you don’t have to be the one he goes to every time he feels worried that he’s going to slip up. It’s easier for someone who isn’t emotionally involved in the situation, like an elder, preacher, or one of his guy friends, to stay calm when discussing this subject. I recommend putting yourself in charge of monitoring his internet travels, and finding someone else he can open up to on a regular basis (this however is just my opinion).
Another step you can take to help him with this addiction is to help him discover and correct the reasons behind his addiction. Most guys don’t turn to pornography because they’re perverted, they turn to it because they’re stressed, worried, overworked, tired, sad, etc. Talk with him and find out why he turned to pornography and look for ways to correct the root of the problem. For example, if he’s overworked, take some things off of his plate until he can handle them again. For a lot of guys pornography is nothing more than an attempt to feel better while they’re struggling with something else.
A third step you can take to help your husband with his addiction is to be patient with him in talking about the subject. The practical steps I’ve laid out are all contingent on his cooperation. Your husband needs to talk about this problem, but I promise you he won’t want to. If he truly feels sorry then a discussion on pornography will kill him inside. Be patient with him and gently breach the subject. Set up a time each week to discuss with him how he’s doing. Random, or continual bombardment about his shortcomings will result in your husband feeling like he’s worthless and he may push you away.
Wives, your husband’s pornography addiction isn’t “okay” and it certainly isn’t your fault. His addiction is also not something the both of you have to be saddled with for the rest of your marriage. His addiction can be cured, but it’ll take time, his cooperation, and a lot of help from you.
Father, I pray for those women whose husband’s have fallen prey to the temptation of pornography. I pray that these women will be strengthened by you and will bear up under the pain to be the supporter that their husband needs. I pray for the men trapped in this addiction, and that they’d see it for the waste that it is. Lastly, I pray that we’d see Your healing power in every addiction, knowing that You are greater than all our sins. Amen.
We serve a God who is greater than all sins, even the sin of pornography and He is able to deliver us out of any temptation. I pray that, as husbands and wives, we’ll keep fighting against pornography, and fighting for our marriages.