Should You Marry Someone Who Uses Porn?

by | Jan 28, 2019 | Marriage, Pornography, Uncategorized | 42 comments

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What should you do if your fiance watches porn?

Quite frankly, Porn destroys marriage.

It rewires the brain so that what becomes arousing is an image, rather than a person. And it distorts people’s sexuality, so that we concentrate solely on the physical aspects of sex, and not on the emotional and spiritual connection. Not just that, but it can make us very selfish lovers, too. And so on this blog I’ve spoken out quite a bit about the negative effects of pornography (and against the female version of porn as well).

Probably because of that I receive plenty of emails from women whose boyfriends are addicted to porn, or who are engaged to guys who watch porn, and one common theme I get is, “should I marry my boyfriend if he uses porn?” Because I get so many of these, I thought it may be useful to write the answer in a post.

When I receive emails from women whose marriages are in turmoil, 90% of the time that trouble was brewing even during their engagement. They saw warning signs but they ignored them. So you have to beware of red flags when you’re engaged (or dating!) Just because you’re dating or engaged does not mean that you need to go through with a wedding if you feel reservations. Listen to God about it. Pray hard. And if you don’t feel peace, don’t do it.

But at the same time, I don’t think porn use should NECESSARILY mean that you call off the wedding.

It’s really a matter of the heart.

In my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that around two-thirds of men (and one quarter of women) admitted to seeking out porn in the past, including a majority of pastors. So just because people have sought out porn does not mean that they will be horrible husbands. Lots of people have looked at porn, repented, and then tried to stop.

There is a world of difference between someone who is tempted but who has fought the temptation and someone who has consistently given into that temptation and doesn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it.

Here, for instance, are two letters, both of which have fiances who use porn. But I would have very different responses to the women writing. Letter #1:

Reader Question

We will be getting married next year but I find it hard to process that my fiance watches porn. He confessed to me when we dated about his struggle but about how he’s tried stopping & desires to stop. We pray, fast, & talked to our pastor. It hurts so bad because in the time we’ve been together he’s viewed some things and i feel so betrayed. i know he’s a good man and he fears God & this is a learned behavior from his childhood that has gotten him addicted. He doesn’t practice it often but in times of weakness he gives into it.

So what do we learn about her fiance?

  • He’s struggled since childhood (which is quite common. A lot of guys are exposed to porn when they are so young, and they don’t have enough maturity to turn it off. And they fall into a downward spiral).
  • He confessed to his fiancee and he willingly told his pastor.
  • He is willing to pray about it, to fast about it, and to try to stop.
  • He still struggles and sometimes falls.

Here’s a man who is dedicated to stopping. He doesn’t want to be in bondage. And he is allowing others to hold him accountable.

Here’s Letter #2:

Reader Question

I’m really worried and I don’t know what to do. When I was playing around on my fiance’s computer recently, I found a bunch of porn sites. I confronted him about it but he told me I was crazy and that it must have been a virus or his roommate or something. Meanwhile he will never let me see his phone, and he won’t let me on his computer anymore. He doesn’t like to have long conversations, and all he ever seems to want to do is make out. I really love him, but I’m worried that he has a porn addiction.

This letter sends up major red flags to me.

  • He doesn’t admit he has a problem.
  • He’s secretive.
  • He turns her questions back on her, instead of dealing with them.
  • He seems to have an unhealthy obsession with sex.

If your boyfriend will not let you see his computer history or his phone, then that’s a problem.

Yes, we all need a little privacy, but before you make a decision to cement your life together with someone, you need to make sure that your boyfriend is who he says he is. And if he won’t let you see his phone, and is defensive if you ask him about porn, that’s a major warning sign.

 

There is a major difference between someone who is tempted but fights the temptation and someone who consistently gives into that temptation and doesn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it.

If a your boyfriend doesn’t watch porn, he should be able to show you his phone. A guy who isn’t into porn will say to you, “I really wouldn’t do that to you, but I want you to trust me. I don’t want you to have doubts. So if you need to look at my computer to put your mind at ease, go ahead.” A guy who won’t admit that you may have a reason to worry is likely someone who would give you a reason to worry.

I find other red flags in this email, too–he isn’t interested in sharing his heart, for instance. But I do believe that a man who uses porn before he is married, and who is not honest about it and does not think that it is a big deal, is one who will continue to use it once he is married. And things ALWAYS deteriorate from there.

So many teen boys have been exposed to porn that to eliminate anyone as a potential mate who is tempted by it or who has sought it out is to likely eliminate 90% of the young male population. And let’s not forget that everybody struggles with something, and God is big enough to help those who earnestly seek Him to get over these temptations.

The key, though, is that the guy must earnestly seek Him.

If your boyfriend watches porn, or has watched porn in the past, and is earnestly seeking help and is admitting he has a problem, he is likely on the road to recovery. On the other hand, a man who watches porn but does not humble himself before God will likely fall even further. A fiance who will not admit that it is wrong and will not willingly enter into some kind of accountability partnership with another guy is a danger sign.

In short: if your fiance has watched porn, what matters now is the heart and the attitude.

If your fiance has watched porn but is repentant, determined to stay pure, and dedicated to accountability, that’s good. If your fiance watches porn now and covers up sin, that isn’t.

And I’d also direct people back to a column I wrote a while ago: the four things you need in a husband. One of those things: you must be able to pray with him. If you can pray about temptations with your fiance, he’s likely a good guy. If you can’t pray with him, I’d tread very, very carefully.

Your sex life CAN recover from a porn addiction!

Porn makes sex about power, control, and taking from someone rather than love, passion, and giving to someone.

It wrecks what God made.

But God wants to restore it! And in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I lay out how you can establish intimacy again, even after porn use.

Should you marry someone who uses porn? The dangers of marrying a porn user.

What do the rest of you say? Have any of you had experience with a boyfriend who watches porn? Let us know!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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42 Comments

  1. Kate

    This is the deal i have made as a single lady. If the Christian guy i’m dating hasn’t put a block on his porn sites (covenant eyes) within a year, then i’ll break up with him unless he has a Godly reason as to why he hasn’t blocked it by now. I hear men wanting prayers for their porn use all the time, but don’t turn their faith into action. Faith without works (fruits) is dead! Pray all you want but if you’re not producing fruit, you’re like the pagans who pray to their dead idols who aren’t able to help them. Our God is alive and he’s given you a way out of your sins.

    I struggled with porn. Similarly, i did the whole, pray for me thing, and when i got home watched it again. Until the Holy Spirit confronted me on my hypocrisy! I blocked it 2 years ago and i have an accountability partner. Do something about it. Like you do with everything in your life. If you’re hungry, you get up and cook, you don’t sit and pray for it day after day. In addition to the tips you have written here, this is a personal requirement of mine.

    I also LOVE, the Sacred Search. As an avid reader, i’m not lying when i say this is the BEST book i have read in my life! It gave me the courage to go ahead and try online dating (which i’m doing). I had felt guilty about it since most Christians meet at church or private Christian schools. My family was to poor to afford private education in any form let alone a Christian one. I know any man who’s doing online dating is probably also watching porn. I pray i’ll find one who’s genuinely willing to change.

    I’ll understand his struggles because it was a struggle for me too. And the people who understand you the best are the ones who have walked in your shoes. Thank you Sheila for your articles. You’re my FAVORITE blogger on the net.

    Reply
    • Sheep

      Hi Kate,

      You don’t have to relegate yourself to hoping you will find a man that is willing to change. Yes, being willing to change and wanting to change are good things, but there are some of us out there that, like you, have repented and done the hard work to reject porn in their lives and remain porn free! 🙂

      Reply
      • Kate

        Thanks for that encouragement, Sheep. 🙂 I know men like you are out there, because the males in my family are like that too. But you’re a few and far in between. But i praise God for you guys though. Keep it up, i know it’s hard.

        Reply
  2. Phil

    Sheila – do you have any documentation that would support this statement that comes from my experience in dealing with this topic? Men who watch porn most likely are doing more than just watching porn. Masturbation is typically a large aspect of men watching porn which seems to me a large contributor to the re-wiring process. Meaning climax helps change and re-enforce the re-wiring. From my unofficial survey results from all the men I deal with, typically there is something else going on besides just watching porn. Masturbation at a minimum to the sky’s the limit. I can not speak for the woman side. All that being said, the question then becomes for the woman to ask her boyfriend; Is there more to the equation than just watching porn?

    Reply
    • Tjajka

      Watching porn without masturbating, for both men and women, seems rather pointless. Don’t think you need documentation to support that, it’s sort of a given. 😛

      Reply
      • Phil

        touche’

        Reply
  3. Teresa

    As a 53 year old woman who has been married for over 30 years to a man addicted to porn since childhood, I would say run like the wind to letter writer 2. I do agree that we all struggle with something and we need to really ask God to show us someone’s heart before marriage. I did not do that and I have had a difficult lifetime of being married to someone who struggles with porn and intimacy. It wasn’t until I separated from him a couple of years ago and he was on the verge of losing everything that he admitted his addiction to others and is for the first time doing everything he can to break the bonds of this sin. From my personal experience, my husband thought the problems in our marriage caused by his porn use (and yes, masturbation), were really MY problems of insecurity and control. The culture we live in today tells us that we can watch porn and it won’t impact our lives in a negative way. That is a huge lie from Satan and don’t believe it for a minute. If your partner is not doing everything in his/her power to abstain from porn use and being open about the struggle, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of hurt and disappointment.

    Reply
  4. Natalie

    I married someone who used porn. I knew he used it while we were dating/engaged sometimes, but didn’t know how frequently it actually happened. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it because every guy I knew used it to some extend in his life, even guys I knew from church. It just seemed like something guys in general struggle with/do, kind of like how girls look at well-toned men with their shirts off at the beach. (Plus, I was told and believes the lie about guys having an “urge” that needed to be relieves that women just didn’t have, and that we as women needed to be understanding of that, especially when we weren’t married to them and couldn’t yet supply our men with sex on a regular basis. LIES!) Several years after we were married, I finally understood the full extent to which it happened: he was using porn and masturbating daily, sometimes twice a day, particularly when I was in the latter stages of pregnancy and sex was too difficult, and also during the 6 weeks recovery after birth (which ended up being more like 3 months because I was so scared of reopening my incision from the emergency c-section I had at only 37 weeks gestation). Keep in mind, this was all before I found Sheila’s books and blog.

    When I confronted him about it and how his use had gotten way too frequent, he said that every guy uses porn and that it was my fault anyway because I wasn’t giving him enough sex (which was true since we usually had sex once every week to every month). But when we did have sex, it never felt good for me / was boring anyway, always ended when he ejaculated, when he’d try to touch me he wouldn’t warm me up and would just start rubbing away at my dry clit which made it way too sensitive and sore and ticklish, and entailed no foreplay and very little kissing and cuddling afterwards (all a big part of why I’d never really been super stoked on sex and why I wasn’t super anxious to start sex back up after baby).

    After several google searches, I came across Sheila’s blog and read her articles about porn. I learned that porn use wasn’t only something that NOT every guy did (as we women are so often told), but that porn rewires men’s brains and affects their behaviors and marriages. I showed those articles to my husband, and thankfully, he took them to heart too. He’d been lied to too about his own sexuality, and thought that porn was a normal part of growing up in a sinful culture and world. We installed Covenant Eyes and haven’t looked back since. We’ve noticed a huge change in how we both view sex and our roles in our sex life as a couple. He’s more caring, patient and understanding in life in general. He’s more motivated at work… So many benefits to quitting porn!

    Also also, when I speak to my husband about his past porn use now, he doesn’t think he ever actually had an addiction because of how easy it was for him to quit and how little withdrawal he actually experienced. He thinks it was more a habit, which I think is what a lot of guys experience, especially those who aren’t into the really hardcore, degrading, violent porn yet. I just wanted to tell our story because I think so many men, both those raised in Christian homes and those not (like my husband) are lied to about their own sexuality, sex drive, and the role porn does or does not play. As long as the man is willing to install software inhibiting him from watching porn and other erotic material and start living a porn-free life, I think that’s what matters more than whether or not he’s ever looked at porn in his life. Cuz like you said, Sheila, if that were the case, there’d be basically no eligible men for all the porn-free single ladies to marry. 😉

    Reply
    • Phil

      Natalie – thank you for sharing your story. It is so important for people like myself to be reminded about what not to do and then to hear the story of hope for healing. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Ann

      [Editor’s Note: A commenter is writing in making the point that some people can get around Covenant Eyes, which is true. However, it’s still better than nothing, and it does add another mental check before you look at porn–you do have to do it deliberately, which can make people think twice and reduce some of the temptation.

      I do think the commenter makes a good point, but it was a bit of a personal comment towards another commenter, and I’d just prefer to rewrite it like this.]

      Reply
  5. A

    I am a woman who married a man who fights pornography at times. I did so with much prayer, wise counsel, and careful consideration. We have a great, healthy, Jesus-centered marriage, and I’d love to share some of what went into my conscious decision to move forward in marriage, knowing this was a battle in his life.

    First of all, he was very open with me early in our relationship about his pre-Christian past and his ongoing battle with pornography. He guarded my heart in what he shared, but I was able to get a sense of what kind of images they were and how frequently this might be an issue, even though he hadn’t looked at pornography in our relationship.

    Additionally, I sought advice from my mentor, a godly older woman who had extensive counseling experience, including other young women & wives with whom this was an issue. She had a solid grasp of the seriousness of pornography and it’s impact. She did not sugarcoat it with me, but told me point blank “pornography will affect your marriage.” She talked about it’s addictive tendencies, how men often under-report their use to their girlfriends/fiancée/wives, and how it might surface in times of stress. She also talked about how it can affect men spiritually, and how to look for an open, tender heart towards the Lord vs a heart that is hiding something.

    My man had a very open countence and heart towards both me and the Lord, plus other godly men in his own life. We were able to share deeply and pray together. All of these were essential and good signs.

    As dire as my mentor had been in our conversation (she had gone on to meet him and confirmed what I shared above), it was still scary to look this issue in the face and make the decision to marry him. I had to take some long looks at Jesus first – at His power to save, to transform hearts, & rewire brains and desires.

    In the end, I stepped forward in hope & trust in the Lord, and I do not believe that my hope or trust were naive.

    We’ve been married for a number of years now. There have been seasons, particularly in stressful times, when the temptation is stronger & the battles more frequent. There have been other long stretches of freedom. He remains open & honest with me. I am not his accountability partner, neither of us want that, but I have asked for him to let me know when the battle surfaces. As his wife, I am not his Holy Spirit, but I am one of his closest helps and I take my role in prayer and physical support seriously.

    We have a great sex life, where we are mutually learning, growing & enjoying together.

    I am a wife of a man who battles pornography, and I believe this with all my heart: there is a special jewel in heaven, or reward if you will, for the men who love Jesus and who fight and overcome the pornography that is so prevalent in our day, even if it means fighting to their last breath. The fight is worth it.

    Standing next to him in the fight!

    Reply
  6. Tjajka

    Thank you for a very thoughtful response to the question Sheila! I think you are spot on when you say “it’s a matter of the heart”. I think that is true when it comes to any sin. Be careful around people who defend their sin, be gracious toward people who recognise their sin and long for God.

    Reply
  7. Ashley

    I would definitely say there’s a lot more hope in the first letter. But I still would say don’t marry him until he has it beat. It’s totally OK to say, “ I love you, and I want you to succeed in this, but we can’t get married until you have a handle on things.” Porn IS cheating. And what if he never gets a real grip on it, even though he is trying? This really does destroy lives.

    Reply
    • Tjajka

      Porn is not so much cheating as it is training yourself to be selfish. You want sexual satisfaction without having to be considerate of another person. You want the ease, not the person(s) involved in the porn.

      That in turn of course has repercussions in your marriage, but you are not sexually intimate with anyone else, ie not cheating (in my book, based on personal experience)

      Reply
      • Phil

        I have to disagree with you 100%. Watching porn IS cheating. 1st you are cheating God. 2nd you are cheating yourself. 3rd you are cheating your spouse. And if you have a family then you are cheating them as well. There are different forms of cheating that I am referring to here. The one I believe that is most important is FIDELITY. If you watch porn you are being unfaithful to your spouse. There is no question on this one. THIS IS CHEATING. Here is one of many biblical backings for this argument. Hebrews 13:4 ESV Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

        Reply
        • Tjajka

          Would you consider all forms of masturbation cheating? In that case I can follow your reasoning, ie all forms of sex outside of marriage is infidelity/cheating.

          I don’t see it that way myself. Immoral yes, infidelity/cheating no. It’s sinful in lots of ways, but I wouldn’t call it cheating. It’s ok to disagree with me on this one, I won’t keep arguing my point, I just think calling it cheating is an unnecessary exaggeration that adds to resentment.

          Reply
        • Sarah O

          Thank you for saying this Phil. I agree 100%.

          The vow is to reserve all sexual expression and desire for the spouse only. Porn is absolutely cheating/adultery.

          The continuing perception and message that porn is somehow “less real” “not as bad” or “sub-sin” since there’s a pesky screen in the way is a HUGE part of its power. I know it might be easy to see it that way from the outside of you’ve never had to confront it in your life, but real people get exploited, with AND without consent, real people get corrupted by and addicted to its use, and there are very real physical, mental, and emotional consequences, up to and including destruction of the marital relationship and family.

          I think Sheila’s take on this issue is the best answer you can give on a hard question.

          Reply
        • teresa

          Phil, I couldn’t agree more that porn is cheating in the ways you listed and it’s refreshing to hear the words of truth. I think the problem in our society is that so many people don’t want to believe it’s cheating and that gives people an out to not change the behavior. When a person chooses to masturbate with images of someone besides their spouse, that is making a mental and emotional choice to engage in a selfish act that is meant for intimacy and not self gratification. This degrades the marriage even further when the addicted spouse chooses having sex by himself (or herself) and not engaging in a sexual and intimate relationship with their spouse, or not even being able to without the help of stimulating images. Worse yet is what the statistics show of escalating behavior of porn addicts who refuse to seek help. I’ve asked my husband if he would enjoy having sex with me while I was fantasizing about someone else or if he would be ok with the fact that I had had sex on my own leaving nothing for him. It was a definite no response and that helped him to see how harmful his behavior has been. The statistics alone of ruined marriages and porn being a huge factor tells us that even if we don’t want to call it cheating out loud, it certainly is having that impact on the ruined marriages.

          Reply
  8. Tjajka

    “I know it might be easy to see it that way from the outside of you’ve never had to confront it in your life, but real people get exploited, with AND without consent, real people get corrupted by and addicted to its use, and there are very real physical, mental, and emotional consequences, up to and including destruction of the marital relationship and family.”

    I totally agree on this one and I have no wish to minimize the sin in using porn. But the sin is more about exploiting people and tempting others to keep sinning (for instance making it profitable to enable greed in others) than betraying your partner. And porn use before marriage is also sinful, but can’t really be labelled cheating, can it?

    I know a lot of women feel unloved and cheated on when it comes to porn use, but the truth is that porn use has very little to do with you as a partner. It’s not a rejection of you as a person, it’s not about not being good enough or good looking enough. It’s about self soothing, anxiety reduction and fear of intimacy mostly. It’s getting what you want without the effort and outside of God’s gifts. So, sinful in many ways, and harmful, but different from actual cheating. (Unless you’re sexting or engage in web cam sex etc), that is actual cheating)

    Sorry, I broke my promise not to argue rather quickly. 😕

    Reply
    • Kate

      Porn is actually worse than cheating, it’s adultery in the eyes of God! “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28

      It doesn’t matter if it feels like cheating to us, in the eyes of God, it will damn your soul to hell. Those women in porn are someone else’s, daughters, mothers, wives, sisters, that you’re ejaculating to, no different than the female on the street you undress with your eyes. Finding sexual pleasure in any women outside of your wife is adultery. The Bible is clear on that. Now, asking is porn a divorce-able action is another question all together.

      But what matters are the sins we commit against God not men.

      Reply
      • John Yates

        “It doesn’t matter if it feels like cheating to us, in the eyes of God, it will damn your soul to hell.” Only if 2 things are true: (1) orthodox, bible-only Christianity is true, and (2) the person you’re talking about isn’t saved.

        Reply
    • Phil

      Tjajka – Why not let’s not use the word argue but use the words let’s understand each other? Actually, let me introduce myself. I am Phil – I have been hanging around here for about 2 years. I identify as a sex addict and I am bipolar. I found Jesus about a year and half ago although I have been a Christian all my life. I believe I have seen you around here on occasion. How do you pronounce your name? I have a busy evening tonight so please bear with me as I will respond further in several hours. Thanks – nice to meet you.

      Reply
      • Tjajka

        Thank you Phil, that was very kind of you.

        Just to clarify, I’m not angry or upset in any way. When I use the word argue I mean as in “argue a point”, not as in “having a fight”. English is not my first language, so I may be using it wrong. Anyway, it was my mistake for taking up so much space with something so off topic to Sheila’s post, so I will just drop it now.

        Reply
        • Phil

          Tjajka – thank you for your reply and understanding. I dont think you are off topic at all. I think it is important to help you understand. I would like to help you understand where me and these ladies are coming from with regard to your comment that watching porn is not cheating. You make a good point that watching porn is not sinless. Would you agree that cheating is a sin? I know sometimes there are not the same words available in some languages that have the same meaning as others. I certainly agree that watching porn is selfish. But if your selfishness hurts someone else is that not sin? If you read the responses from many of the women here they talk about the immense pain and hurt that they have from their husband watching porn. They arent making this up! Adultery is painful to the spouse. One woman quoted the gospel of Mathew 5:28 which I had been thinking of that states even if we think lustfull thoughts we have already commited adultery. Certainly you can not say that when you watch porn you are not being lustful. So therefore it must be adultery or what we would call cheating. I think it is very important to have this discussion as if you would re-consider your thoughts it may help you in your marriage or maybe just to see the opposite sex in God’s intended way. Thanks for talking and I wish you the best, take care and hope to see you around.

          Reply
    • Ashley

      Sex before marriage period isn’t cheating, for that matter. It’s simply sexual sin. What makes it cheating, or adultery, is the fact that sexual sins are done in marriage. One partner looking outside their marriage for their sexual satisfaction.

      Reply
    • Sarah O

      Hi Tjajka – thank you for engaging and explaining further. I think it’s good to talk because your opinion is definitely not a minority (even if it looks that way in this particular comment strand). I also think its excellent that you recognize that porn is really not about what the partner does or doesn’t do – it took me a long time to actually come to terms with that.

      I still think it is very important – both for hurting spouses and those who are engaging in porn, to include porn as cheating/adultery. I’m not really out to convince you personally at this time, but writing for others that may be reading.

      I agree that porn is not about the spouse – but I would argue those same motives can be true for adultery. Many times cheaters – and especially serial cheaters – have great and loving spouses at home. It’s not about the quality of their partner relationship. Usually, if the real issue is the partner relationship, we are talking divorce/remarriage, not adultery. Adultery means “I am going to give parts of myself that I promised to reserve for you alone to other people. Additionally, I am going to take from other people things that I was only going to get from you, which disrespects both you and the people I’m using. But I’m not going to leave you because I still want you and all the benefits of the marriage (key indicator that the problem is not the spouse). My behavior 100% prevents me from the intimacy and unity that is really THE POINT of marriage, but additionally, it prevents YOU, my partner, who has done me no wrong, from attaining intimacy and unity.”

      Adultery is called cheating because of the “cheat”. It’s partaking any “extra” outside of marriage that cheats the partner out of the marriage contract . So really, how that manifests, whether porn, physical sex, emotional relationship, etc – is really immaterial. The partner has been cheated out of their union. I think making distinctions can only really minimize that reality, even if that’s not the intention (and I know that’s not your intention, Tjajka).

      Anyway, we don’t have to agree here and I know we might be getting off the topic of the post anyway. Just wanted to clarify my position.

      Reply
    • Greg

      Tjajka, just letting you know that I absolutely agree with your viewpoint on porn and how it’s used and viewed. Also, as an atheist, about 3 years ago I helped my brother kick his porn addiction and now, as they say, he is no longer burdened. There was no praying or anything like that, he was only accountable to me.

      Reply
  9. Rebecca

    My husband struggled with porn as a teenager and young adult, but I didn’t find out until we had been married for 3 years.

    He confessed it all to me one day, which was a huge shock to me, as we’d duscussed porn previously and he’s assured me he’d never been into it. I was probably naive to take his word for it, but I did.

    He had been able to stop when we first got married, but started again when I was pregnant and continued after our son was born. Partly due to stress at work as well as the strain a new baby can put on a relationship.

    When he told me about it, he explained that even though I was usually willing (and keen! ;-)) to have sex, he just wanted to switch off rather than connect. The porn & masturbation was an escape for him. Even though I didn’t know it was happening at the time, it still damaged our relationship and I wondered where my husband had gone!

    Interestingly, to him he felt that the masturbation was worse, because it was a harder habit for him to break, whereas I was much more hurt by the porn use. He didn’t really understand why I was so upset at first, because to him it wasn’t the same thing as a real woman. It was just pictures to him, and in his mind real life was completely different. But to me, him seeking out images of women was completely shattering to my sense of worth as a wife. I felt that I had trusted him with my body and he hadn’t valued that. Instead he sought out images of other women’s bodies for a momentary thrill.

    He tried quite a few times to stop, but it wasn’t until he cried out to God for help that he was able to break the habit. It was after this that he felt that he should confess to me also.

    We have been committed to keeping communication open, this meant that I have had to put my hurt aside at times and realise that it’s not about me. It’s not a reflection on me as a wife/lover. Through God’s grace I was able to forgive him almost immediately, because I could see he was so broken over his sin and for causing me pain. I don’t think he expected me to be as hurt as I was, but it really did feel like a betrayal to me. Even though I had forgiven him, it took me about a year to work through all my feelings and hurt.

    I have been intentional about encouraging him to talk to me if he ever feels tempted/weak. Exhaustion or stress are huge triggers for him. He has confided in a male friend also.

    I have also let him know that if he lets me know that he is struggling, that won’t hurt me. I am here to encourage him and build him up and pray for him. What would hurt me is if he was struggling and hid it from me. So he feels safe now to tell me if he’s feeling drawn to it and we can pray together.

    I am his safe place and he is mine.

    It’s made me realise that we can’t really protect our sons from exposure to porn. It’s all around us, in advertising, on Instagram, etc. Not just what we generally think of as porn, but also the images of scantily clad women that we see everywhere. I wonder how protect my own son, and give him the tools to resist/fight the temptation before it becomes an addiction.

    Reply
    • Sarah O

      Rebecca -thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it must be hard to try and put all the pain into words, and it’s especially difficult to revisit when you’re in a place of recovery – it almost feels disrespectful somehow!

      But stories like yours are hugely needed, and I really think people need to know that marriage do indeed overcome and come out on the other side.

      I am not really ready to share our story in full, but I can tell you that our marriage it actually BETTER than it would have been because of having to confront this challenge early on. Recovery forced us to be more transparent and vulnerable than we wanted to be, and helped us develop some very real conflict resolution skills. We are both rather private people, and I think we absolutely needed our facades shattered in order to get where we are today.

      God really does work all things together for good. Thank you for being transparent about your struggle.

      Reply
      • Rebecca

        Our marriage is definitely better and stronger now, not just because of things, but through other difficulties that we’ve gone through together.

        Reply
        • Flo

          I completely agree. I used to mourn the fact that my husband was using porn during the first two years of our marriage. Things were very difficult when he told me the truth and started quitting for real. But the two of us fighting this fight together made our marriage so much stronger, eventually. Brought us closer together, helped us understand each other better. It made him very committed to purity.

          Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Even with the first reader question, I would say to be cautious. Porn use and lying often go together. Confession isn’t the same thing as repentance. I have posted in the past about my spouses victory over porn but I now know that it wasn’t true. Trust shouldn’t be given to the untrustworthy. Grace and mercy and love and kindness- yes. But not trust.

    I would encourage visiting the resources of Brad Hambrick especially “False Love” for porn and adultery and “True Betrayal” for the spouse dealing with the sexual sin of the partner.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I would agree. I think they need to rebuild trust, which would involve getting some sort of accountability, identifying the triggers that led to the porn use, and also addressing the emotional issues that they have covered up or refused to deal with, channelling that instead into porn. If they’re willing to do that, though, then I think that they can find victory.

      Reply
  11. Alicia

    As a wife who learned the full extent of my husband’s porn use (a full blown addiction) after 20 years of marriage and 8 children, I would say NO, you should NEVER marry a man that is actively using porn with any regularity. Would you marry someone who just used “a little” heroin? Would you say it was ok to marry as long as they realized it was wrong and were willing to talk to someone about it? I hope not. Porn is the new drug, just as addictive as heroin, and just as damaging. I would encourage both of these women to break their engagements, separate from these men, and invite them to begin a new relationship once they have a year of sobriety and a full recovery plan in place. This is not like your fiancé got a terminal illness and they had no control over it, this is a willful choice they are making, it will destroy them if they do not change, and if you marry them, it will destroy you.

    Reply
  12. Ari

    Ew I would not marry him, I don’t need that baggage.

    Reply
    • Mariposa

      A few months ago, my guy admitted to struggling with porn. I knew that it had been a struggle previously, but he had told me that he was no longer struggling with it. Long story short, he found a way to get around the blocks his mom has on every phone in the house (all the men in the family have a struggle with this, and when we get married she’s turning his phone over to me) and something happened that made him terrified that he would get caught. He told his parents, and told me. I was given the option to move on. The Holy Spirit moved my heart to say I would stick with him and that is what I have done so far. It has been so hard. I have not been the ideal partner most days but what has helped him the most is that I was willing to stick with him and help him to fight. I’m not going to lie; my heart was broken. But I don’t regret my decision and I’m thankful to God every day for keeping us together. Yes, he does have a lot of baggage. But so do I, I’m human. Everyone brings baggage into any relationship.

      Reply
  13. Curious

    What do you do as a Christian who is either dating or married to another Christian who admits to dabbling in child pornography?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YOU CALL THE POLICE!!! Immediately. Absolutely. That is illegal, and that is hurting kids, and if the police can get the images, they may be able to rescue those kids. And that guy needs to be in jail so that he doesn’t feed such an evil industry.

      Even if it’s your husband, you call the police. Even if it’s hard.

      Reply
      • Sarah O

        ^^^^^^^^

        The church and Christians are missing on this one BIG TIME.

        If there is criminal activity or even just possible criminal activity, it is not your responsibility to decide whether you believe it, what you believe about it, to figure out whether they are sorry, or to decide what they deserve. Your ONLY responsibility is to report it.

        God and the police are the only two parties with a responsibility to investigate and determine the path to justice when criminal behavior is concerned. Anyone else is grossly overstepping.

        Please report. People who abuse children this way are engaging in something far darker than lust. Research the writings of Dr. Laura Salter and Jimmy & Diana Hinton. Report.

        Reply
  14. Taylor ERICKSON

    My boyfriend shared with me his porn use after a year of dating. I kind of figured it was happening every once in awhile, but finally asked. He shared he has had moments of porn free living…the longest being a year and most often there were stints of 6 or 8 months. However, he recently relapsed into it. He shared its kind of a once a month thing when he’s extremely stressed. He seems genuinely repentant and wanting to quit because he feels so much guilt and shame and knows its a sin. However, he absolutely refuses to tell anyone but me. He says he doesn’t want anyone to lose respect for him or judge him and that he can do it alone.. And that bothers me. I want him to have an accountability partner but he says just seeing the way I reacted broke his heart enough to want go change on his own.
    Is it possible to do alone without telling another man? I’m just so confused and don’t know of i should continue the relationship with this.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      First of all, it’s so great you’re having these conversations now, that’s fantastic!

      Second, it’s great that he’s really dedicated to getting out of porn’s grip! That’s also fantastic! And frankly, I understand his fear about people losing respect/trust for him, especially since that is actually quite true in some circles, unfortunately.

      However, if he’s been trying to quit for a long time and it isn’t working because stress causes him to regress, he needs more help than just his own willpower. That’s why God gave us community. But community doesn’t need to mean going to an elder at church. What he may find more helpful/safe is talking to a licensed counsellor with experience in this area. He will need to learn coping skills, process the reasons why he’s been using porn, the way it’s affected his self-image and how he sees God/himself/his sexuality. These are all things best done in a protected, licensed setting. Plus, a counsellor is legally not allowed to tell anyone so that may help him feel safe, and the counsellor can then work through with him to figure out if/when he should be telling friends/mentors in his daily life who can help. 🙂

      I wish you all the best! It sounds like you have a great guy, but that he’s just really scared and ashamed. And those things do need to be addressed before you make more lasting commitments in my personal opinion.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Taylor, I think it’s often a good idea to get counseling through this or join a group. Can it be done alone? Theoretically, yes. But most people have far more success with partners. But also, if he’s saying that he doesn’t want them to know because they’ll lose respect for him, well, that’s pride. And true repentance requires humility. You want to marry someone who, if they were to mess up during marriage, would seek help. So I would say that, yes, this is a big enough deal to do something about.

      Reply

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