The Porn Habits Podcast: How Porn Affects Marriage

by | Dec 5, 2019 | Uncategorized | 47 comments

Podcast on Effects of Porn on his Marriage

How does porn use before marriage affect marriage afterwards?

I wrote a big post on how porn hurts your sex life earlier this week, and I felt like it was such an important subject (and we got so many comments) that I thought it was important to expand on it a bit and use it as the topic for this week’s Bare Marriage podcast. 

But first, here’s the podcast.

 

We need to stop telling wives that if they just have more sex, their husbands won’t watch porn.

As I explained in my post this week, that completely ignores the fact that, if you’ve been married for 20-25 years or less, chances are a porn habit pre-dated the marriage. That means that it likely changed how the guy copes with stress; how he sees sex; how he gets aroused; how he functions sexually; how he views intimacy; and so much more.

All of this came about because a reader wrote to me very concerned about a Focus on the Family broadcast that aired last week when, at the 16:21 mark, the host said that maybe the reason guys turn to porn is that wives don’t give them sex. I think it’s time to deconstruct that argument.

Here are some extra links that you may find helpful:

Other posts on porn that can help:

 

Posts on What Sex is Supposed to Be Like:

I also talked about understanding the complete picture of how God made sex, and these can help:

How to Have These Conversations Before Marriage

If you’re engaged and getting married soon, it’s important to talk about porn use before you get married, and to deal with its effects. It’s not enough to just quit porn; we also have to be open about how porn has reshaped our sex drive and expectations, and we have to be open to learning from scratch, from the beginning.

My honeymoon course is a great resource for that, with videos and discussion questions to help guide that discussion in a safe way before marriage–while also making sure that the discussion DOES happen. It matters. Plus it helps couples get ready for sex once they’re married, so that it can be a truly intimate experience from the get-go! Take a look at it here. 

Are you ready for the honeymoon you always dreamed of?

The Honeymoon Course is here to help you plan the perfect honeymoon and start your marriage (and your sex life!) off with laughter, joy and fun!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning! 

Finally, a personal note.

This has been a hard week for me as I’ve processed all this.  As I shared in the podcast, back in 2005 or 2006, if you had asked me, “will having sex a lot stop a man from watching porn?”, I would have likely agreed. Why would a guy go for an imitation if he could have the real thing with his wife?

But that’s largely a generational view. I got married before the epidemic of internet porn hit. And the world I grew up in is a very different world.

As I started getting email after email of wives married to men with no sex drives; with horrible sexual dysfunction; who demanded selfish things in bed; who were angry if wives didn’t like being used; I started to realize that something was very, very wrong. And so I read a ton, and learned a lot, and changed my views.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t seemed to have happened in the larger Christian world, and so many women are still getting this message–his porn use is your fault.

This pains me. It’s hurting so many women, and frankly, I just want that to matter. I don’t know why it doesn’t seem to. I don’t know why we’re so quick to blame women for this.

And here’s another thought: If we talked more about the effects of porn on your sex life, don’t you think it would be easier to help young men fight porn use? Instead, we tend to just talk about it as a sin (which it is as well). But if we gave guys the whole picture, I’d think it would be empowering.

Also, by blaming it on women not having sex, then we’re framing marriage as something that can cure a porn addiction! And that’s not true. But it makes men feel as if they don’t need to confess it before marriage; they don’t need to be free of it; it’s the wife’s job to get him over it. That’s not how it works. 

Incidentally, women are watching porn in greater numbers as well, and I’d like to do a podcast soon on that, too. But for today, just know that I’m sad, and I’m hoping that by speaking out, we can make a difference and help people to see that this issue is not the same as it was 30 years ago. And we need to get real about it.

Pass the podcast along if you appreciated it! I think it’s one that may help a lot of people.

Podcast: How His Porn Use Before Marriage Affects Marriage Today

I know we’ve already discussed the main part of this podcast already this week, but here’s another question I’ll throw out: Why do you think Christian organizations haven’t caught up to the secular world when it comes to understanding the dynamics of porn on relationships? What can we do to help and speed up this process?

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

Related Posts

You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Selfish Sex

God does not ask us to consent to selfish sex. In fact, one-sided intercourse is not sex. I can summarize The Great Sex Rescue by saying that sex is supposed to be MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH. That's what God intended. Sex is not merely intercourse...

Pastor’s Wives Tell All–And More Podcasts!

I've had some amazing podcasts drop recently, and I wanted to make sure I shared them with you. After getting our manuscript for our mothers of daughters book in last Friday, I'm taking a little bit of down week, getting some things done I've been putting off (I got...

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

47 Comments

  1. Phil

    Sheila – Thank you so much for this. Your podcast is spot on. One thing that has always mesmerized me is the fact that you speak the language of people who are in recovery for sex addiction. Until I came here after some 14 years in sex addiction recovery I never was able to hear or speak with anyone who knows it unless they are effected by it. So thank you for all your work to get this right. I so appreciate it and honestly I so wish I could help you some how some way with your message. I will add this to your words. You danced around this a bit on the podcast. What internet porn does is beyond just the user wanting and able to see different. What internet porn does is it takes the person wherever they want and they can really live out their fantasy. What this does is it effects the brain even more so in the rewiring process. Internet porn is the crack cocaine or meth of all porn. The user can get whatever they want in whatever capacity and there is not much to stop them…even illegal content that they may have never even considered had they not had the internet. Personally I totally get your message and wish I could live it out better with my wife. She is such an awesome part of my life and I absolutely am dependent upon here. She is the glue that keeps our life and family together. Sex is such a beautiful thing when we can come together how your message (and the correct message I will add also) tells us to. It really is work though to make that happen. Especially after recovering from a porn addiction. I have been at this now for 16 years and while I am long way down the road my marriage did take a toll and while everything is great today it is still work within my marriage to make sex what it’s supposed to be. I can’t help but blame myself for this in some part for sure. I am blessed and grateful that we survived my sex addiction past and there is hope as you say. I would tell the lady with her great question to pray and pray with him. She is in a tough position for sure. What I have found is that God answers prayers. He really does. If you trust him and you ask him to show you he will. Thank you for reading and God Bless.

    Reply
    • Phil

      Oh and to answer the question from topic today – I think some Christian organizations have the wrong message because: They have old answers that are just passed on – as you say which was good insight. They also don’t talk enough about it. They also don’t do enough research. Sex is taboo Shiela. That is the worldly view and I believe our Christian brothers and sisters carry that in many Church’s You know what the conversation on sex is like in my son’s Youth Group? ZERO. That is just as unhealthy as giving the wrong message because that leaves the worldly message for them to find. The Church needs to bring the correct message from within. I don’t know how the message is delivered from within. But I would say whatever that is is being passed on with out the research for most.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Maybe that is it. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just naive because I honestly don’t have a hard time talking about this stuff, so it’s hard for me to imagine Christian organizations that do. But when a Christian organization is dedicated towards marriage ministry–well, it seems like this is a pretty important thing to get right.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Phil! And what you’re saying about illegal content is so true. People don’t start out at age 13 (at least the vast majority don’t) wanting to see uber-violent porn or child porn or anything like that. But when it’s so readily available, you can stumble upon it. That impacts your fantasies. And that makes you seek it out all the more. It is really dangerous.

      Reply
  2. Lindsey

    In response to your final question, I think there are a lot of dynamics that come into play. The first of which is that it is simply human nature to blame others for our sins – we all are prone to it, men and women alike.

    Additionally, many pastors and teachers are of the older generation of which you spoke.

    Many may not have a porn habit/addiction and so they noticed the temptation towards lust was higher FOR THEMSELVES during a “dry spell”, and incorrectly assumed that this was the problem with the majority of marriages.

    But I think the reason that the Christian community is usually so far behind the secular one in issues such as these comes down to humility and power structures. If you’ve taught something for decades it’s pretty difficult and takes real humility to come out and make a change – especially when you have set yourself up as some sort of spokesperson for God because of hierarchy and power dynamics. Also, as complementation men, there is much to lose as far as the power dynamics they’ve established within a marriage. This is the same reason that in some cultures parents never apologize to children (even adult children).

    These are just the thoughts that strike me as I have seen this sort of pride and dysfunction for years now in the church community, and I’ve finally called it quits.

    Anyways, looking forward to the podcast whenever I get a moment to listen.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Lindsey. So good! And I think this is really true: “Many may not have a porn habit/addiction and so they noticed the temptation towards lust was higher FOR THEMSELVES during a “dry spell”, and incorrectly assumed that this was the problem with the majority of marriages.”

      I’ve challenged some good men who write and speak about marriage to reframe how they talk about lust, because I do think they’re speaking from their own perspective when they haven’t been porn addicts, and they assume the dynamic’s the same when it’s not.

      As an aside, totally agree with you about apologizing to kids. Why do adults think that’s so bad? It’s actually one of the healthiest things you can do. I shared in my weekly email (if you’re not signed up yet, those of you reading this, you can do so right here!) a few weeks ago about watching a family member apologize to his 6-year-old son for not playing with him after school. He had planned his morning badly, didn’t get everything done, and after school he had to finish up some work, but it was his fault for not planning better. So at dinner, he looked his son straight in the eye, told him he was sorry, and then after dinner they built a bridge of blocks. It was so simple, and it was lovely, and I don’t know why we all don’t do that more.

      Reply
    • G

      I agree with the power structures and lack of humility. The idea of anything “new” that could mean they were “wrong” is just so damaging to the power. It’s the same reason that all the abuse in the church is covered up. What’s the reason given so often? “It will damage the church’s reputation to expose it.” What’s the reality? That it damages far more to cover it up. I listened to another podcast last week that I believe may have hit the nail on the head (Patrick Doyle as a guest on Flying Free). The nugget I took away from that one was that modern Christianity in North America has become more about conformity of beliefs than about relationships. So churches and leaders fight so hard for what was passed down without the humility to examine it. And people are sacrificed in order to uphold beliefs. Porn is condoned or blamed on wives, abuse is covered up, women are degraded, racial prejudice is tolerated and propagated, harsh discipline of children is encouraged- the list goes on and on.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Very true. It’s also so interesting, because Jesus said that they will know us by our love. He also said that whoever loves Him will do as He says. It’s about actions, not beliefs (I’m not saying beliefs don’t matter; they do. But as James said, even the demons believe!). What matters is our fruit. And yet we have made Christianity only into a set of beliefs rather than a way to live life, glorify God, and approach relationships.

        Reply
      • Lea

        As some parts of the church have become more focused on ‘comp’ as an essential, they don’t listen to women’s perspective on this – so it’s all about what men want, need, etc. That’s never going to lead to a balanced perspective on sex, imo.

        Reply
  3. Nathan

    > > the host said that maybe the reason guys turn to porn is that wives don’t give them sex.

    From my (admittedly limited) research on this, such men do indeed exist, but they’re a very small minority. For example, Phil has commented that this pretty much never comes up with the men that he works with about porn.

    Now, in those cases, I feel for the men, but porn is still the wrong solution. It must be given up, the watcher must own his actions, understand how it hurts and betrays the spouse, THEN they can address the sexless marriage issue.

    Most often, though, this site is correct. Porn use often pre-dates the marriage or possibly the couple has a great sex life, and the husband gets addicted to porn anyway.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan.

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    > > I started getting email after email of wives married to men with no sex drives;

    This is what surprised me the most when I started looking into this. My own history with porn is very minimal (once in a great while, stopped in 2001 when I met my wife), but I just always assumed that porn was for single guys or married men in a sexless marriage.

    Then I showed up here (various reasons), and I saw post after post of wives who literally BEG their husbands to please, please have sex with them, but they won’t because they would rather watch porn on a screen than be with a real women (which also astonished me). That’s truly heartbreaking (and just as a disclaimer, it’s sad in either gender direction).

    Reply
  5. Nathan

    And porn use before a marriage can of course affect it. We’ve seen that extensive porn use can alter the way in which we see and treat people.

    Many people have said (before internet porn) that they used to have a box of magazines in their basement, but nobody ever knew about it, so it was okay. Besides the fact that this would alter their actions (even if nobody knew about it), my guess is that many wives at that time DID know about the magazines, they just didn’t want to force a confrontation.

    Reply
  6. Nathan

    > > “It will damage the church’s reputation to expose it.”

    This is a very disturbing attitude. Isaac Asimov once called that “the skins of officialdom”, the idea that the image of the organization is more important than the people who are part of it.

    Also, it’s not biblical. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, be kind to each other, love one another, etc. I don’t recall him saying anything close to “Build a giant bureaucracy and make sure that IT comes first”.

    Reply
  7. Sarah O

    Why is the church so far behind?

    Complex question. My thoughts:

    1) Church on the defensive: as the culture becomes increasingly hedonistic there is pressure on Christians to endorse and participate in activities at odds with their beliefs. As a result, we batten down the hatches and are extremely resistant to any reform or constructive criticism.

    2) Women’s issues conflated with gender/Alternative sexuality issues. Every time a complementarian church discusses women’s issues, they quickly jump to the slippery slope of “if we allow women we have to allow homosexuals”. This is confusing to me. There was also the recent case in Canada where a women’s rape crisis center lost government funding because they did not include or employ trans women. Why can we never talk specifically about women? Biological women really need our own space because we have very specific challenges that are 100% biology based. We need to talk about Gods design for women because we have bad theology that needs examination, but we can never bring it up without bringing up these other smaller and far more divisive issues.

    3) Shame and lack of humility. The apostles boasted about their past sins and made it part of their testimony. We have a celebrity culture where we need people to be heroes, so we try to “move past”, “get over” or “cover” our past sins. Most of us have made sexual sins. Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about confession and repentance and what God has done for us because of who He is, not because of who we are.

    These three things keep us insisting that these are “other people” problems, not ours and certainly not our churches.

    Reply
  8. Angela

    Thank you Sheila for sharing your insight into these devastating and harsh realities of the day in which we live. I hope and pray that your words will help many women that deal with the effects of porn in their marriage everyday. And thank you for standing up to the lies about a husband’s porn use being the wife’s fault and responsibility to deal with it.
    I have been married for 20 years and found out 15 years ago that my husband was using/addicted to porn. In my experience, I believe the porn use has fueled my husband’s desire/need to be controlling. Have you come across this issue through your study of porn use and the effects it has on men? I find myself wondering if the control fueled the porn use or if the porn use has fueled the control. Is he mistrusting of others because he feels he can’t control his desires and how he responds to them?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that’s definitely a factor as well. The rate of emotional abuse in marriages with porn habits is far higher, and it makes sense. Porn teaches men that they are “masters of their own domain”, so to speak. And they’re giving their body actual reinforcement of this because they’re masturbating to orgasm (with all the hormonal/chemical reactions that has) to a stimulus that tells them that they should be in charge. It really does warp personality, and it’s awful.

      Thank you for your encouragement, too. And I’m so, so sorry for what you’ve had to endure. Is he willing to get counseling? Attend a recovery group?

      Reply
      • Angela

        I told my husband I was looking for a counselor to try to deal with our marriage issues from my side. He had been asking if there was some kind of abuse in my past that I wasn’t aware of and dealing with (the last couple of years have been quite rocky). He has blamed it on the emotional roller coaster (as he calls it) that I am on.
        His response to my looking for a counselor was to ask our pastor for help. Our pastor asked if I would be willing to see him after the initial visit with my husband so he could hear both sides of the story. I shared my thoughts and concerns, which included telling him about my husbands porn use and that my husband’s father was an alcoholic, both of which my husband did not share. Our pastor told my husband that he needs to stop controlling me and micro-managing my life, to which my husband responds rather negatively. He sees that as me using those things as an excuse to leave his authority covering that God has put in place (in a healthy marriage) to do anything that I want to do. Our pastor has also told him he needs to let go and let God take care of things, to which I feel he is unwilling to let go of his control and trust that God can be my covering.

        I have found some resources (besides tlhv) that have been very encouraging to me and opened my eyes to what is going on in our marriage. I realize that the greatest things I can do is pray for God to deal with his heart and to set boundaries.

        So, to answer your question, is he willing to get counseling…he has but I feel that at this time he is not serious about wanting to change and deal with the root of the his porn use.

        So sorry for the long response, but I hope that this may be able to help someone else see that our husband’s porn use is not our fault. It has been a very difficult road for me to walk, but I feel that God can use these things to teach us great truths that we can apply to our lives. For me, I believe God has been teaching me to not look to my husband for what I need to look to God for. I cannot rely on my husband to stand in the gap between me and God.

        Thank you for your willingness to teach on such difficult issues 💝

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Angela, that is just so wrong that your husband is using the Bible in that way to avoid working on his issues. I’m so sorry. That is such a cop-out, and I know that it must make God really angry. It sounds like your husband really didn’t want to see an actual counselor, but just a pastor who would presumably back up your husband as head of your home (and I’m glad that your pastor didn’t do that). However, it really does sound like you need a trained marriage counselor, and not just a pastor. It’s okay to insist on it. Your husband sounds like he’s being controlling, and the porn use is very wrong, and this does need to be properly dealt with. I pray that your husband’s heart will soften, and if not, that you’ll be able to stand up with courage for what’s right.

          Reply
          • Angela

            Thank you Sheila. We live in Sk and I have not found a counselor. Do you have any suggestions that do counseling online or over the phone?

        • Recovering from betrayal

          Angela- arm yourself with truth. Your healing isn’t dependent on him. Even if he won’t deal with his issues, you can become whole yourself. There are some wonderful resources out there for betrayal recovery. Your sexually addicted spouse by means and Steffens is a great place to start. Podcasts like flying free and betrayal trauma recovery. Learn, heal, rest in God, advocate for yourself. There is help to be found.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Amen!

          • Angela

            Thank you! I have come across Flying Free and some other resources that deal with these issues. I have started on the road to recovery no matter what he decides for his life. I have shared with a few people close to me to help in the recovery process and am not willing to hide the truth to protect him anymore. I realize that is causing too much damage to me and our family to keep on that way.

          • Tiffany

            I agree and recommend “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” it was my first step of healing.

    • wifeofasexaddict

      Dear Angela,

      Your husband is not your “covering”. There is no such thing as a person “covering” another person. He is also not your authority. Jesus is your authority and all the “covering” you need.

      Your husband is mistreating you. Don’t fall for his lies to keep you under his control.

      Try looking for a Pure Desire/Betrayal and Beyond group in your area. I believe you can join an online group if there isn’t one in your area. B&B has been a big help to me, dealing with my own trauma, making a Safety Action Plan, and empowering me to make demands and set boundaries.

      You don’t need marriage counseling. You need separate counseling. Marriage counseling right now could further abuse and traumatize you. Counseling is also available through Pure Desire, including online. They are very good about holding men accountable and not letting them abuse their wives. Also, sounds like your pastor is doing a pretty good job, but his pastoral counseling should not be a substitute for a certified counselor. He would be in over his head. PLEASE do not try to have marriage counseling with him. It would be a disaster.

      PS Sheila, you can feel free to put Angela in touch with me, if desired.

      Reply
  9. Nathan

    Angela, it seems like your husband wants counselling, but only to validate what he does, or at least redirect the blame so that it’s not his fault and he gets to keep control.

    I’ll pray that God moves his heart to accept what he does as his choice and respsonsibility.

    Reply
    • Angela

      Thank you. It is comforting to know there are people praying.

      Reply
  10. Sue

    Great podcast on so many levels!! I discovered your blog about 4 years ago when a porn addiction was revealed in my family, and I was desperate to understand (having no previous experience with porn addiction) what that meant. To say I was clueless was an understatement. This information needs to get out there! I’ve been following you these past 4 years, have learned so much, and so appreciate your heart in sharing scriptural and real life truths. Some day I hope to be courageous enough to share on this subject, to honor God by using the hard life experiences to help others. This topic has wounded deeply in our family, but my heart also hurts for the younger generations getting exposed to internet porn, and I just pray somehow the right message gets to parents to be attentive, get Covenant Eyes software, do whatever you can to protect children early! It’s so easy to not pay attention until you discover it’s already a problem. And so so hard to watch the destruction an addiction can have. God bless and Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Sue! I’m glad you found me.

      My heart aches for the next generation, too. I’m especially getting scared about girls, because the rates of teenage girls using porn are really accelerating, and I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. What will happen to marriages when BOTH spouses don’t understand intimacy? When both have sexual addictions? We need to stop treating this only as a sin issue but also as a public health issue, and talking to teens about the effects of porn, not just the morality of porn.

      Reply
      • Sue

        Yes yes YES!! Totally agree!

        Reply
  11. Nathan

    Very true, Sheila. If the rate of girls and women watching porn continues to increase, that could lead to big trouble down the road.

    And Sue, you make a good point about Covenant Eyes. It works not only for spouses but also children.

    I learned about that here, as well as the concept of an “accountability partner”. I came here at first helping out some very close friends after the wife came home from work early one day and caught him watching porn on the computer.

    We got them on Covenant Eyes and I’m his partner. He asked me to put it on my computer as well. My own internet browsing is pretty boring, but I felt it would be a good show of faith for BOTH of our households to have this. We all get together once a month to talk about how things are going. This has an added benefit since after moving across town we didn’t see each other very often. Now we make time to do so.

    His progress is slow but steady. You don’t get over this in a day or even a year, and I know for a fact that his porn use predates him getting married or even meeting his wife, but I think he can conquer it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great that you’re helping him, Nathan! That’s what we should be doing–working in community together. I love it.

      Reply
  12. Nathan

    Well, he’s an old and cherished friend. I’m glad to help them out.

    Funny thing, though. I first met him in 1992 when he answered an ad from another friend about a room to rent. I was there when he drove up, and the first things he brought inside the apartment were a case of beer and a box of “adult” magazines. I thought it was funny back then, but hopefully I’ve grown a bit since those days.

    Reply
  13. wifeofasexaddict

    Sheila, you are 99.9% right here. But i have to offer a word of correction. 6-12 months of sobriety is not enough. It takes 3-5 years for an addict to achieve full sobriety and be considered a RECOVERING addict. And they will always be a recovering addict. To the woman who asked that question: believe his actions, not his words. If you’re worried about it, ask him to take a polygraph, and repeat it annually. If you have ANY doubt, don’t get married. 4 years could be enough, if he is telling the truth. But just talking to an accountability partner isnt usually effective in overcoming an addiction. I’d go the polygraph route before marrying him.

    Sorry to be the voice of discouragement, but this is the reality. This is the advice I wish I had gotten (and followed- I probably would have been too scared to require this of him back then) before I married my husband.

    Reply
    • This is a Pseudonym

      I want to echo what you’re saying: I loved this podcast episode, but 6 months to a year of sobriety doesn’t mean much. I would be hesitant to marry someone that has struggled with porn that recently. You need to know that his brain is most likely still wired for it, and it can take 5 years to rewire from it. You may be willing to take that risk and marry them anyway, but you need to be realistic about what they’re going to be dealing with and have clear boundaries. Also, as you and Sheila talked about, sobriety is not the same as recovery. You can be sober for many years and then relapse if you haven’t done actual recovery work.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think it really depends on the degree of porn use and how much it’s affected him. There’s a big difference, for instance, between someone who has never gone to sleep without porn for years, and someone who has binge watched a few times a year. So it really depends on a case-by-case basis. The big thing I’d say is, “is he being completely honest? Has he got guys he can go to for support? Is he willing and open to let you see his devices/phones? Is he willing to talk about how porn may have changed his sexuality?” It also depends on whether we’re talking about mild porn with general intercourse or much more violent stuff.

        With some guys with only mild porn habits, I think a wait on the lower end of the range is okay, because a lot of the work can only be done after marriage when he sees how it’s affected him. With guys on the other end, I think you’d need a much longer time because they’ve never been without. So I think it just depends. There are guys I’d be comfortable with 6 months, and there are guys that may need more than a year. I’m just uncomfortable saying it must always be a long amount of time if the porn use wasn’t that engrained in him. Does that make sense?

        But I’m sorry I didn’t spell all of this out in the podcast!

        Reply
  14. Anonymous

    As a high-drive wife, I can assure you that more sex has little to do with his porn addiction. Some of the times we had the most sex, my husband was struggling the worst. As my husband always says (and like Sheila pointed out) it has nothing to do with me or the amount of sex we’re having and everything to do with coping and habits.

    Reply
  15. wifeofasexaddict

    Sheila, one more thing I want to mention. You danced around it, and came close to saying it, and I think you know it, but I want to say it explicitly. To say that a wife having more sex with her husband will keep him from temptation is just a “legal” way of using a woman. It’s the same mindset as porn. THE SAME. My husband married because he thought having legal sex would let him quit porn. Didn’t work, and I have just been used for 24 years. (His porn use started at puberty, before the internet, and it still had this effect.)

    As to why FotF and other orgs don’t get this, I think your answers are right. Their leadership is old, all male, and they have been the answer source for decades. They think they have the answers and don’t need to learn more. On a related note, could you link to the studies you mentioned? I have been hearing people challenging the idea that porn is bad. Are they scientific studies? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, exactly, and that’s what I want to talk about in my new book, The Great Sex Rescue. Sex is designed to be about intimacy, the ultimate “knowing” of each other. But they’re making sex transactional. It’s using the wife so that the husband won’t sin. It’s not just duty sex; it’s actually coercive sex. There’s an implicit (even explicit?) threat there. That’s not intimacy.

      I think I’ll do a round-up post soon with links to all kinds of studies. That’s a good idea! I’ve got them all in a folder somewhere on my computer, but that would be good to get them out. And I know more have been coming out in the pediatric journals lately, too. My husband wants to write a blog post about how pediatricians need to start screening for porn use, just like they ask questions about drug use and sex and alcohol.

      Reply
  16. Uvilma

    Hi, this is a great post.

    I think pornography should be treated like every other sin in marriage in this sense: So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12, 2 Co 5:10, Ga 6:5). Every one should be accountable. Own sin is not other’s fault.

    In the same way, pornography should be addressed like any other sin: above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8, James 5:20) Obviously it hurts, forgiveness and healing can be slow, but we are not called to crucify the spouse who has sinned (any sin).

    It is sad a serious ministry like FOF can mislead marriages. Many times has been a blessing for my husband and me.
    I hope they can learn from other ministries like this one and xxxchurch, who addresses porn struggles in a godly, practical way.

    I love your books, blog and podcast.
    Blessings from Mexico!!

    Reply
  17. This is a Pseudonym

    Another way that the “If you just have enough sex with your husband he won’t lust/look at porn” teaching is damaging to women:

    If you’re a good little wife and have frequent sex and your husband still looks at porn, you’re left to believe that you must be REALLY broken/unlovable/ugly. That was me. It’s so hurtful when the church teaches that you have to compete with porn/other women. And when you do your best and it’s not enough, you despair.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a really good point. Absolutely.

      Reply
  18. shan

    I am new to the world of blogs but find your posts refreshing and real especially since you are addressing such personal issues that others prefer to avoid. My husband was and may still be addicted to porn . He certainly masturbates. I believe that he was already addicted before our marriage but did not tell me about it. Soon after our marriage it was obvious that he did not want sex as newly married husbands would want. He would start arguments frequently and accuse me of being very intense when I fought back or aggressive and not gentle as other women.

    He said that he does not want sex because he does not find me attractive and that I have no sex appeal. He refused counseling as he said nothing can change. So he made a unilateral decision that there was to be no sex in our marriage but he did not want a divorce either.

    I have received counseling on my own and I was advised that my husband was a highly manipulative and financially and emotionally controlling person and that it was highly probable that he married me to have a financially sound marriage where he did not have to contribute. I am earning well and have single-handedly paid for our mortgage, children’s education and all other expenses. I think I have done this only by the grace of God as I had serious health concerns. My husband on the other hand has not worked for the past 19 years but takes my money from our joint account each month,

    I stayed on in the marriage for the sake of the children. I have tried to talk to my husband about our finances but he refuses to give an account of expenditure. I no longer trust him and I don’t think he wants to work as a unit. For him marriage is raising our children and just being together like going for holidays and eating out etc. We are more of housemates.

    Because of the unique situation, and fearing for my future and also for my children, I started a nest egg which he knows nothing about. It is quite sizeable. If we remain as a family this will be for our mutual use but my concern is that if he has an affair he may even decide to divorce and claim my assets. He did have an affair a few years ago and he blamed my lack of appeal for his affair! I have read your post on joint savings and cannot agree with it since we don’t seem to have a normal marriage. His porn habit and neglect of me made me resent him and I no longer feel bound to him. I have a decent sum of money which I will leave to him in the event of my death, but the bulk of it (which he is not aware of) will go to my children.

    Would God regard my secretly putting away funds as sin, and would He expect me to nevertheless be honest and forthright with my husband over the finances? I am asking this as I just need a reassurance as the Bible does not really touch on such specific situations. Most Christian blogs just throw the line on honesty and couples being one flesh and needing to be transparent with each other. I shudder to think what power my husband will have over me if I tell him the truth.

    Reply
    • S

      Shan, it sounds to me that your husband broke your marriage covenant with you with his affair (and porn use), you are not bound in such cases. I don’t believe your nest egg being kept secret is a sin, you have every right to the money you earned. You are not one with your husband, it doesn’t even sound like he loves you, I’m sorry to say. Whatever you decide to do with your marriage and money is totally up to you and you will not be in the wrong, as he has already broken your marriage covenant, it is on him. Jesus said it’s ok to divorce in such cases. You are not bound by any means. I hope things have been better for you since when you posted your comment. And God bless you.

      Reply
  19. Lisa

    Shelia,

    I don’t have any research to support this (do you know of any?) but I fully believe that emotional growth is stunted by porn and by objectification of women and sex.

    Thank you for this important podcast. This information needs to become mainstream.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.