When people hear that their child or spouse has a problem with pornography the first thing they do is to ask questions:
“Was there more I could have done?”
“Is it my fault?”
“How could I have let this happen?”
It doesn’t take long though for these unanswered questions to turn into anger. Anger is an understandable reaction upon hearing that your child or spouse is viewing pornography, but I hope that this article causes us to rethink that response. Anger doesn’t do anything to stop/solve the problem and it may actually cause the issue to get much worse. Here’s why:
It Causes the Person to Close Up
The hardest thing someone struggling with pornography can do is open up and be honest about their struggle. Anger makes it even harder for that person to open up.
Let’s look at anger as a response to porn addiction. When the person who opens up to you is met with anger this often causes them to close up which in turn 1) prevents them from getting the help they need and 2) leads to further usage of pornography.
In short, no one likes being yelled at and if your spouse/kids are responded to in this way it will cause them to close up and never talk to you about their issue again. That is the opposite of what you want.
It Causes the Person to Feel Hopeless
When someone comes to you confession their struggle with porn addiction I can guarantee you one thing: they feel worthless. Seriously. What that person needs in that moment isn’t anger or shame, they need grace. The person struggling with pornography addiction doesn’t need to hear that they will go to Hell for their sin if they don’t stop, he/she needs to hear that it can be overcome through the grace of Jesus Christ.
How to Respond
I didn’t want to write an article explaining why anger wasn’t the way to respond and then provide you with nothing to do in the event that this happens to you. Here are a couple of ways to respond when you hear that someone struggles with pornography addiction.
With patience. Time helps all kinds of wounds to heal, even wounds that are caused by pornography. The person struggling needs time to overcome what they’re dealing with. They may really want to quit, but stopping cold turkey is very difficult. This isn’t an excuse of course, I’m simply saying that them going back to watch a video doesn’t mean they lied to you about wanting to quit it just means they’re really struggling with it. Be patient, work with them, talk with them, and put them in a position to succeed.
With hope. Tell them often that they can overcome this. Tell them that the grace of God covers this. Tell them that you forgive them. Give the person struggling with pornography hope. If they’re going to overcome this issue they need to be able to envision a life without porn. Give them a vision of that hope and they’ll gravitate towards it.
It’s easy and often standard to react with anger it’s announced that your child/spouse has a problem with pornography. Instead of anger, try responding with patience and hope. These actions help create an environment where openness is cultivated and that leads to homes where pornography isn’t a problem.