Communication

How Do I Bring Up His Porn Use?

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How do you bring up his porn use?

With self-control, evidence, and love.

Easy to say, hard to do. When you think (or KNOW) that your husband is looking at pornography, you get this really sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and fear consumes you. And as you try to put your case together before you confront him, you start out feeling hurt and confused, but as you obsess over the situation you become enraged and your emotions become overwhelming. At least that was my experience.

Before our big crisis of truth, my husband had been “caught” a couple times when I found evidence on our computer of questionable search items. Things that were hurtful to me but were pretty easy for him to explain away. I confronted him in a crying rage and it was a very emotionally driven interchange.  Not much came of it except a pounding headache, swollen eyes, and worldly sorrow from my husband as he promised he was a changed man; that it would never happen again. Of course, he wasn’t fully repentant at those times and he made promises he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep.

Then came our big crisis of truth. That moment when there is undeniable evidence and there’s no way he could explain it away. The moment when you’re alone and your husband is at work or in my case at the court playing ball, when you have plenty of time to consider the situation and make a plan of attack.

I was done with this crying game and him being “sorry” and explaining or justifying what he had done.
I was tired of his lies.
So I decided that I would attempt this final interchange with more self-control, with evidence, and in love.

I made copies of emails and history reports (because his go to move in the past was to wipe-out the computer immediately so that I couldn’t find any more evidence) and then I spent about 45 minutes praying and worshipping God. I know, sounds crazy. But I knew that I was not going to give up on my husband and I was going to fight. Not fight him, but fight FOR him. So I did. When he came home that night I was calm (don’t be fooled, I had that loud-sobbing-hyperventilating-cry before he came home!) and I was ready. As he sat on the couch I told him what I knew. At first he lied and denied but then I had all the evidence right there. He couldn’t deny that.  I kept my composure for the most part. I had tears in my eyes and a quiver in my voice, he knew I was hurting. But I was not in a fit of rage, run by my emotions. I was self-controlled and was able to articulate my feelings, thoughts, and plans with him much more clearly than I ever had before.

I told him that I was done with this. I would no longer be part of a marriage where I played second place to pornography. Where our children were ignored and our family was destroyed because of his choices. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I would stay with him this time, even if he was “sorry” and that I was going to consider divorce. We had always made a promise to each other and to God that we would never divorce, no matter what, that we would always work through whatever the circumstance was. But this night I wasn’t sure if I could. And I told him that. When he saw that I was composed, serious, and thinking clearly as I told him these things, it was like his eyes were opened. He had been so blinded by his sin that he was never able to see how much it hurt me. And in the past when we’d have those raging fights where I became this crying, screaming, monster, it was easy for him to right it all off on being “emotional” or “needy”. But this time was different and he knew it. He immediately called a pastor friend of ours and the change began THAT NIGHT. It was incredible to watch God work so quickly. My husband repented of his sexual sins and has been over 3 years sober since then.

Now, am I saying that he was repentant because I had evidence and self-control when I confronted him? No. Obviously it is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring a man to repentance, not mine. But I will say that the way I handled the situation helped him come to that moment where the Holy Spirit was able to open his eyes and let him see where his life was headed. That there was going to be nothing left for him but a cold computer screen and an empty house. My husband changed drastically in just a few short weeks as he repented to Jesus of all the sexual sins he’d been hiding for so many years and he began pursuing counseling, accountability, and support. After he repented I saw a huge change in his demeanor towards our children, he became a more present and active father. His attitude towards me changed. He began to pursue me and find a deeper love for me as he kept his eyes and heart only for me. And it rocked our marriage, but in a good way.  Sure that first year of sobriety was difficult as we worked through the intense pain and insecurity that accompany sexual betrayal. But he remained repentant and our marriage was transformed.

That is what worked for me. It may not work for you, but I can only go by my own experience and by Scripture. Believe it or not, God gives us the ability to have self-control even in the most difficult situations. “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). This word fear here is not fear like “ahhh I’m so scared!” but more like being timid. God didn’t give us a timid spirit but gives us boldness, to act and speak in power and love and self-control. In Timothy , this verse is referring to the Apostle Paul telling young Timothy not to be timid when it comes to church discipline and calling people on their sin. Not to be timid in rebuking false teachers and false doctrine. So in your case, as a wife who need to confront her husband with a porn issue, the Apostle Paul would say, “Don’t be timid. God is with you; He has given you power, love, and self-control to confront the problem. Don’t be timid!” In any case, I hope that you would take time to pray and ask the Lord to help you as you confront your husband about his porn use. It’s definitely not an easy task and you will need help. But it’s not impossible. The Lord can help you and will give you everything you need to fight for your husband.

This article was originally published here and is used with permission.

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  • Jordan

    I fear that my husband is watching pornography again. He has a very long past of porn addiction. (like 11 years old staying up late watching HBO and timing his parents being gone to use the computer) He has over 15 years of dealing with this addiction. I didn’t know this was in his past when we married. Shortly after we married (about 3 months) I caught him. I did exactly what you did in this article. I was calm, educated, and approached the situation with love. He was very receptive and told me he was going to be down with it now knowing how it made me feel. I could really tell he was being honest.

    Recently (so 2 years after this first discussion) I have noticed him acting very similar toward his electronics and me as in the past. I just don’t know what to do. I can’t MAKE him stop. That has to be his choice but what I want to know is, is it possible for someone who has had a porn addiction for over 15 years over come it? Can they stop? How to approach a marriage where one person hides such a huge part of themselves?

  • Justin

    Hi my name is Justin and I am addicted to porn. For me it got really bad after my divorce and acquisition of a smart phone. I realized I had “pocket porn” anywhere I wanted and did not cost a monetary dime. I am a very sexual animal and have begun to use it more often. I’m sure my wife knows this and I know it is wrong. I can excuse it in any number of ways most notably the fact that when we first got married I stopped for the most part and should then have taken every chance to avoid it. We use to make love 5-6 times a week for 2-3 hours. As time passed (1 1/2 years) she became increasingly “tired” and it is like pulling eye teeth most of the time. It was/is just easier to watch it and take care of business than to fight with her about how she is “tired” every night. It has for the most part become bland and boring with on the rare occasion we actually do something it feels like I’m being told just hurry up so I can to sleep. I feel unappreciated, unwanted, unneeded, and I know I have been betrayed by another whispering in her ear to leave me that I thought I had a good relationship with. Wrong again I guess. I had all but entirely stopped but when one is as hyper sexual as I can be and almost every time you hear “”I’m tired,” it just gets to a point you just quit trying and find that release elsewhere because it’s just not worth the fight over it. She used to worry if she would be “enough” for me and I assured her she was more than enough. That also was based on not having to practically beg for attention from my wife. I feel guilty doing it but that guilt fails to override the hatred of the fight that I know will ensue if I press the issue. I try to be an attentive lover and thought I was making her happy and pleased in that area but I guess it is me that’s just not enough and I don’t know how to fix it. I have tried talking to her but it’s always the same line, “I’m tired,” or “I have to work in the morning.” I use to be more important to her than sleep but I guess I screwed that up too.