For the Women Who Love the Men Who Love Porn

Bill was a hard-working, family man, a guy who took his daughters on dates, led family devotions and remembered his wedding anniversary. So when his wife, Carol, found a rash of 900 numbers listed on their phone bill, she had no idea what she was looking at. She called the first number, and that’s when she learned the family budget was supporting Bill’s phone sex habit. It came out of the blue, and it nearly destroyed her.

Unfortunately, pornography and sex addiction are growing phenomena in the digital age, and mature, Christian men are not exempt from their pull. While resources are becoming more available to support and provide accountability for these men, their wives are often left in the lurch, furious and confused about who they can tell or how to go forward. If you happen to be one of them, let’s talk. There are a few things I’d like you to know.

It’s Not Your Fault

Even if it’s not a conscious thought, most women in your situation eventually wonder why they weren’t enough, and whether their husbands would have turned to porn if they were doing everything right. Please notice this insidious lie when it rears its ugly head. It’s not your fault. Even if you have been withholding sex entirely (which I am not condoning unless it is part of an open and progressive plan toward healing), even then, it is not your fault. Your husband has a responsibility before God to remain faithful in his mind, his heart and his actions, whether he is married or single, satisfied or not. If you need to work on sexuality in your marriage, do that work because you want to please the Lord, not because you want to manipulate your husband – even to ‘keep him faithful.’ That responsibility doesn’t belong to you.

It’s Not Personal

Every wife I have ever worked with in this situation, believes that her husband has aimed his sin as a weapon directly at her. Every porn-addicted man I have ever worked with has told me it has nothing to do with his wife, personally. It’s not about whether he loves you or finds you attractive. The sexual instinct of a male gets triggered many times every day, often in innocuous circumstances; this has nothing to do with the person he loves at home. He is not consciously trying to betray you when he looks too long at the bartender’s cleavage or watches that video late at night. Does he realize you would not like what he is doing? Probably. But it’s not about you as a person any more than sneaking out of the office early is about the man or woman who owns the corporation.

Processing Betrayal

Perhaps you think I am excusing what your husband has done or minimizing it in some way. I do not intend to. What your husband has done is a deep sin which goes to the heart of his masculinity, his relationship with Christ and his relationship with his family. He has deceived you. Christ calls the sin of lust every bit as bad as adultery itself. Your husband’s love for God must result in a real, humble, heartfelt and determined repentance. And it is part of your healing process to grieve and repudiate his sin which has broken your innocence, your trust and your dreams. Just as God, Himself, feels angry with evil and grieves all our sins (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 4:30), both anger and mourning are a valid part of your journey. It can be helpful to use a workbook or see a counselor to help you work through those feelings.

Finding Support

I wish I could tell you there are lots of good options for women in your situation. If you live in certain parts of the country, you may be able to find a support group you can connect with, but in many cases that will not be available. If you cannot find one, you could create your own. I don’t mean you should start asking strangers if their husbands look at porn, but you may already know someone you could share with. If he is in recovery, your husband may also be able to help you find one or two other, healthy wives a little farther down the road. If you are in an intimate, safe small group, that might be an option, too. Please involve your husband in this decision if you are working toward healing together.

Prayer support is essential. That can be as simple as turning in a prayer request at church: “Please pray for my family while we wrestle with some hard things.” But if you have praying friends you can share some or all with, that is even better. You may be able to ask your pastor to pray for and with you, but, again, involve your husband, if possible. I hope you and your husband can pray together about this issue, too. I’d encourage you to keep it on the table for a long time.

Where Do You Go from Here?

In part, where you go from here depends on your husband’s willingness to get help and be honest with at least a few others. But there are things you can do, in any case.

  • Find a good, Christian counselor or an experienced, empathetic pastor and talk through your feelings and your options with them.
  • Consider reading a Christian book about pornography addiction to gain a better understanding of what your spouse is doing and going through.
  • Connect with at least one other person who cares about you and your marriage to encourage you and pray for you.
  • Dig deep into your relationship with God. Find your worth, your strength and your wisdom in Him in new ways as you pass through this valley. Cling to His promises to work all things for good for those He calls (Rom. 8:28), and meditate on the inability of sin or circumstances to separate you from His love (Rom. 8:35).

It took Bill a while to admit he couldn’t overcome his addiction alone, but he now meets weekly with a group of men who hold him accountable and support him in the struggle. He and Carol started seeing a counselor who helped them talk about the damage to their marriage and where to begin healing. Carol has put a few boundaries in place to help her rebuild the trust she’s lost, and with Bill’s blessing, she has a few good friends who support her in prayer. They are also talking about starting a small group in their church which would minister to the men and women impacted by pornography. They realize it will start small, but one thing they have learned is that keeping this demon in the dark only gives it more power. Working together to overcome pornography has, ironically, been good for their marriage. In fact, Carol thinks there might be a few more areas which could use the same level of attention. Bill has learned that covering over sin doesn’t make it go away, but facing it together just might.

Related Material:

A real-life story from CRU
A real-life story from The Gospel Coalition
Pastors and porn
Free spouse support groups in the St. Louis area
Fee-based spouse support groups
Do I have an addiction?

What Draws You Away from God?

Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction. Job 36:21

Jan* was on her way home from the trip of a lifetime. She and her mother had just spent ten days in Tahiti, courtesy of Jan’s job with a major airline. As her mother snoozed in the seat beside her, Jan broke into desperate tears, realizing that she remembered astonishingly few details of the natural and cultural beauty of the island. Woman in depressionInstead of reveling in her experiences, she had escaped the stress of being with her mother by living almost entirely in fantasies inside her head. For Jan, this moment of despair was the beginning of real change because she finally realized that she had an addiction.

What is it that draws you farther from God? For some of us it is a frantic schedule which keeps us moving from one urgent situation to the next. For others it is disappointment with our circumstances or our panicked attempts to change them. Perhaps it’s the negative voices which tell us we aren’t worth God’s time or that we haven’t yet racked up the necessary bonus points for an audience with the Most Holy. But for some of us, it is the allure of an addiction.

Addiction comes in many forms, some of them classic, and some of them much more subtle. In addition to the obvious culprits like drugs, alcohol, food and pornography, a person can be addicted to romance, to social media, to exercise and to a myriad of coping mechanisms which help us escape from stressors inside and out. Ask yourself right now, “When I am feeling really insecure, when the world around me seems to be attacking, what would I most like to go off by myself and do?” Then ask yourself how often you do that thing and whether it might not be drawing you away from God.

When you escape from pressure by using the same method over and over again, it becomes an automatic response which shuts out the rest of the world. Indeed, that is part of the appeal. When you shut out the world, is it to pursue God or to shut Him out, too? Do you rely on something other than His grace and goodness for your well-being? Please understand, I am not saying that reading a biography or watching a movie is cause for alarm. But if you read to replace real relationships or if you watch so many movies that you are short on sleep, then you might have a problem. Which would you rather give up – your prayer life or your soothing habit?

I’m writing this post to introduce a new handout called Do I Have an Addiction?, so if you are the least bit curious about the process of addition, please take a look. (If you are not aware, we have many other free handouts available on our Resources page.) This new handout will guide you through some diagnostic questions, explain the addiction cycle and give you a few suggestions if you find yourself where Jan was a few years ago. I’m happy to report that she is now a vibrant, happy woman who has not missed a day of her own life for a long time.  And it all started with that one good cry.

 


* (Details disguised to protect confidentiality.)

Old Habits

Conquering Addiction One Step at a Time


Syringe and drugs with out of focus female addict

Dear Christian Counselor,

 

I’ve asked Jesus to be my Savior, and I have the Holy Spirit in my heart. But I still give in to my addictions daily. Is it possible to be a Christian and a drug addict?

 

Bird


Dear Bird,

 

I am not at all surprised to hear that as a new believer you are giving in to your addictions. I did. It is a process, and being born again is just the beginning. You already are a new creation in Christ, and now you are in the process of living that out. Jesus Christ is a joy greater than our addictions. He is our Creator, our redeemer, someone who, by living in us, makes us righteous. He has already started you on this path. He is our greater desire, and He is able and faithful to give us what we need. As humans we were created to be dependent so that we would become attached to God. However we settle for lesser gods that do not satisfy or have the power to deliver. Ed Welch says in his addiction workbook called Crossroads, “Addicts know the deeper reality that life is set up according to kingdoms. Addicts know that there isn’t one square inch of neutral territory. Everyone is on their way to one kingdom or the other: for God or against Him. The central question is, Who will I worship? Who will I bow to?” Romans 6:19 says, “I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”

 

Change will come, and you may be tempted to give up. If you take yourself out of the battle, the addiction will win. So start asking for help. Find someone in the body of Christ who can disciple you or a good Christian counselor who understands addictions. Find a group like Celebrate Recovery where you will find an accepting community of fellow strugglers. I’d also recommend reading the first nine chapters of Proverbs. We all will continue to sin as believers; however, God is doing a new work in you, changing the desires of your heart toward Him and not toward your addiction.

 

I personally know this road well and know how hard it can be; but I also testify that every inch moved in the direction of Christ is so very worth it. You will find the satisfaction and purpose in life with the Lord that you are looking for.

 

~Karen


Related Articles:

On Being a Struggler

Why Christians Make Miserable Addicts –Huffington Post

Our Free Handout, “What Do I Do Now?”