4 Things You Must Do if Your Husband Uses Porn

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Pornography, Uncategorized | 49 comments

4 Things You Must do if Your Husband Uses Porn

What should you do if your husband watches porn?

This month our theme is pornography use–how to understand the effects of porn; how to defeat porn and recover from porn; how to help the future generation not get hooked.

We’ve also already talked about how women can use porn as well.

One of my biggest posts in the past, that I point to all the time, was one on what to do if your husband uses porn. I wanted to revamp it and rerun it, since it’s 6 years since I last wrote it, because it is probably one of the most important posts on this blog. So many of you have arrived here because of this problem. So let’s get real about what porn does to marriage.

1. You Must Grieve Your Husband’s Porn Use

It’s going to come as a major sucker punch. You’ll feel betrayed, and dirty, and angry. That’s natural. Likely you knew something was wrong, and you suspected something, but you couldn’t put your finger on it.

Now you know, and very likely the feelings are overwhelming. People often arrive on this blog the night they discover their husband watching porn, and they find posts talking about pornography use and pour out their hurt in the comments. That hurt is raw and very real.

That’s okay. Give yourself some grace to be upset. Give yourself some time to yell at God about it, to wrestle this through, and to cry. You don’t have to fix anything overnight, and sometimes if we try too hard to fix it right now we do more damage. At times, when we first find out something so devastating, we’re tempted to say, “it’s okay, I know you didn’t mean it, let’s just forget it and go back to normal” because we’re afraid to face what this might mean.

But we need to admit brokenness. Rushing forgiveness isn’t wise. If we don’t admit it, it can’t be fixed. And it could be that what God is going to make out of the pieces of your heart and your relationship, will be different from what you started with, but that doesn’t mean it won’t also be beautiful. Grieve, and give God time to work. Don’t deny the gravity of the hurt. And don’t deny the gravity of the effects of porn on a marriage, either!

At the same time, if I can offer some reassurance, so many marriages have emerged on the other side. And one thing that helps is that, after that initial grief is over, you realize that you are on the same page, fighting an evil together.

Now, this only applies if your husband honestly wants to put the porn in the past as well. There’s a huge difference between a husband who admits he has used porn and wants to stop, and a husband who was caught using porn and is just trying to get away with it. We’ll deal with the second scenario in a minute.

But if your husband honestly wants to stop, then just remember that you have the same goal. Don’t let porn come between you; instead, decide to fight together to defeat your husband’s porn addiction.

Most Christian husbands desperately want to stop watching porn. They don’t want to be doing this. It enslaves them. If you can be an ally, you both will move forward so much more easily.


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2. You Must Live in the Light and Not Keep His Porn Use a Secret

Porn thrives on secrecy. In her book, When Your Husband Is Addicted to Pornography, Vicki Tiede recounts the words of one woman, married 45 years, who discovered her husband’s masturbation habit two years into this marriage. “if it ever got out, I’d kill myself,” he told her. And so she didn’t say a word, and lived with it. For 45 years. Can you imagine?

Vicki doesn’t believe that staying in darkness is the answer. As I’ve said before, you need to bring these things to light.

As a church, we need to bring this to light.

There is so much ignorance around the whole pornography problem. It truly does ensnare people, making it almost impossible for them to function normally sexually with a human being. What becomes arousing is an image, and they become so focused on masturbation and pornography that a relationship isn’t sexy anymore. It’s too much work! Once you start using porn, too, it rarely stays with the tame stuff. People will seek out more and more hard core stimulation. Eventually, they may even act things out. This isn’t people just looking at something to get their jollies; this is something that can all too easily turn into an addiction.

And that’s why you must bring light to it. You can’t let it stay a secret. Your husband needs help, but so do you. Many wives of porn addicted husbands actually show symptoms of PTSD.

So if, when you discover your husband’s porn use, he apologizes profusely but then refuses to tell anyone, or if he doesn’t even apologize and tell you that it’s none of your business, you do not have to remain silent. PLEASE do not remain silent.

I have seen so many people say “cute” things on Facebook about never saying anything bad about your husband to anyone else, but that doesn’t apply in a situation with a husband and porn. Your husband is hurting himself. He is hurting you. He is participating in sex trafficking (for that is what you do when you use porn). For his own good, and for yours, he needs to stop. If he is not willing to stop, then you need to seek help so that others can influence him as well and say, “porn use is not acceptable.”

Your problem is not bigger than God; and if you are honest before God, His strength is more than sufficient to see you through.

3. You Must Get Help and Accountability for Your Husband’s Porn Recovery

It is not enough for a husband to apologize and promise never to do it again. You wouldn’t accept that of an alcoholic; you would ask him or her to go to AA meetings. The same goes for porn use. There’s such shame involved with pornography because it’s sexual, but the admonition from the Bible doesn’t change.

James 5:16 says, “confess your sins one to another”. Confession should be a regular part of the Christian life. If a husband admits he watches porn, apologizes, but then asks that his wife not say anything and is unwilling himself to seek any help, then he hasn’t really repented. He’s not sorry he used porn; he’s only sorry he got caught using porn.

True repentance is always accompanied by true humility, and that means that someone will seek help.

Encourage him to join an accountability group or recovery group. Encourage him to seek out a friend that he will meet with regularly, who will ask him the hard questions about whether he’s looked at porn (and whom he can ask those questions of, too). And you need to get help for yourself as well! This is a huge burden to bear and a huge thing to process. Don’t try to do it alone.

I’m not saying tell everyone you know. I’m saying you should do this:

  1. Each of you find your “one person”. Your husband needs one person he can call to take him out for coffee periodically and look him in the eyes and challenge him on whether he’s been watching porn or not. Pray with him and for him about who that one person should be, but it’s okay to make it a condition of recovering your marriage that he has such a person. And then find one person for you, too. One person that you can pour your heart out to, and can help guide you as you deal with this, move on to forgiveness, and rebuild.
  2. Require him to join a recovery group.
  3. Consider seeing a licensed counselor, both individually, and together. (I HIGHLY recommend this). I know it’s expensive. But in the end it is much cheaper to deal with this well, now, then to have this fester for years of unhealed wounds.

Find freedom from porn!

Your marriage, and your thought life, do not need to be held captive to pornography.

There is freedom. 

Beat porn–together!

4. You Must Set Boundaries around the Porn Use

Finally, if you don’t want this to happen again,  you must set boundaries. That isn’t being vengeful; it’s just being smart. If your husband had an affair at work, you’d likely want him to find another job. You’d want something to change so that he won’t fall into it again.

And this should be the same thing. I don’t know what those boundaries will look like for your family; they could involve computer controls to filter pornography, or getting rid of the internet temporarily. They could mean choosing to share computers and cell phones so that there is no longer any secrecy. Maybe it might mean setting “technology free” hours at home, where all screens go off at 9:00 pm, so that it’s relationship time and you know you have his attention.

One warning about boundaries, though. It is must easier to build trust again if you know that there is someone else helping your husband set those boundaries, and someone else holding him accountable. It’s not a good situation to feel as if you have to monitor your husband’s every move. That sets up a very unhealthy dynamic, where you’re constantly on the watch for him to mess up.

But for the men reading this, know that your wife will be able to trust you easier if you have an accountability partner (Covenant Eyes is a great way to organize this; use the code “TLHV” for a free month!). So don’t shy away from finding someone to talk to!

Rebuilding trust and rebuilding your sex life after porn takes time, but it is possible. But it is only possible if you admit the gravity of the problem, get some help, and truly repent and become humble before God. You both need God’s help. You both need outside help. And you both will need some time.

In my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I share the story of Anna and Paul. Anna discovered her husband watching porn years into their marriage; she was devastated, and he was mortified to be found out. But in the end, it was the best thing to happen to their marriage. Paul had been living in secret shame for so long, and now he was able to deal with the problem. And their marriage has been rebuilt.

God loves to rebuild, and He loves to reconcile. He doesn’t force anyone, though. People can still choose to do the wrong thing. But God also loves to work in people’s hearts, and I pray that, as  you and your husband deal with this, God will help your husband see the destruction porn does through Jesus’ eyes, and I pray that He can help you rebuild.

Later this month, I’ll be sharing more about what recovery looks like long-term. But today I just wanted to share these first four steps that I believe every couple must take when a husband’s porn use is disclosed. Deal with it fully. Don’t rush forgiveness. Don’t keep it a secret. Get help. And build boundaries.

Once all that is in place, then, and only then, will we start to see healing!

If you’ve ever discovered your husband using porn, or if your spouse has ever learned of your porn use, leave a comment (anonymously if you have to) and let us know your story. 

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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49 Comments

  1. Recovering from betrayal

    I believe with all my heart, Sheila, that you are working so very hard to help women who are dealing with this and much of your post is good information. Please revise number three . There are strong words there that just aren’t what is recommended by porn use/addiction groups and organizations. It is extremely important that the one using/abusing porn be the one to seek help. The spouse cannot do this for them. The spouse has been the victim of betrayal is in no way responsible for finding the resources for the porn user’s recovery. This is part of the over functioning that is most likely already in the relationship. Number 3 needs to be about the betrayed spouse finding support if their spouse is using porn. The spouse can encourage the recovery but is not in any way required to seek out those resources. Part of owning the issue is finding the help.
    There are times in a healthy relationship that either spouse seeks out help for the other one. But repetitive porn use and deception marks that a spouse isn’t functioning as a part of a healthy relationship. And therefore some things that sound good in a healthy relationship can actually be detrimental to a recovering one. Spouses who have been betrayed by their spouses porn use have absolutely no responsibility to seek out the recovery resources for the Porn using spouse. That would be the same as telling someone who has been beaten that they must find a recovery program for their abuser.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Point taken! I’ve changed it. I really meant what you said, but I didn’t word it right. My broader point is that it’s okay to require him to seek help if you’re going to rebuild the marriage. It’s okay to say, “you need to show me that you’re serious about beating this.” And if he won’t deal with his porn use, or if he would rather keep it secret, it’s okay to pull in a third party to talk to him with you and say, “this stops now.” But I’ve taken out the wording that makes it sound like she’s responsible for him doing that, and I’ve made it clear that it’s okay if she requires him to do this to rebuild their marriage.

      Reply
      • Frieda

        I have been married for 37 years. Dealt with my husband’s porn for the first 15years including domestic violence. Experienced healing and restoration after separation. One year ago caught him again involved. We are 60yrs old. He is “sorry”, but I do not sense a spirit of repentance. There is a spirit of shame, secrecy. Went for a bit of counselling with me pushing then things went downhill several months following. He feels not that he doesn’t need counselling. He will “love me and wait as long as it takes”. I am experiencing PTSD symptoms and have shut down. I could “require” him to go for counselling, but if he doesn’t recognize the need, it will not last. I went for counselling, but have quit as I feel like I cannot move forward when he is not fighting for our marriage. 😪

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, Frieda, I’m sorry. That’s awful. And the fact that he was also abusive is a major problem. It may be worth seeing the counselor not to save your marriage but to give you some coping mechanisms and to help you become strong so you can decide what to do. Licensed counselors can be very helpful to help you clarify things.

          Reply
          • Hannah

            I just found that my husband was watching it. I feel betrayed. I have known that something isn’t right. He’s been known to outright lie about some things. He doesn’t know that I know. How do I bring this up? It seems like he even has subscribed to see certain things. It just makes me sick.

        • Girly

          Wow! This is me right now. Lots of tears.

          Reply
      • Alice

        We were 10+ years into our relationship when I found out that my husband “casually” watches porn. I was ripped apart. It’s something I never expected him to do, especially since he knew how I felt about it. I did some digging on his phone and found some things he watched. They were next level just like your blog said—things no normal people do!
        He immediately apologized and said he would never do it again.
        That was 9 months ago and we’ve become stronger through it, but he still has sex like he’s in a porno. He rarely kisses me and gets bored easily. I’m not sure what to do 🥺 he refuses to seek a counselor, and his friends are terrible influences.
        I’m still hurt and it hurts the worst to think back to our “honeymoon” phase when I was so in love and he’s all I could think about…meanwhile he’s doing THAT.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m so sorry, Alice. That is such a betrayal, and especially how it’s changed his view of what sex should be like.
          Have you worked through 31 Days to Great Sex with him? It talks about how porn warps your view of sex, how to rebuild trust, and how to experience sex as a passionate, loving thing and not just a taking. You may find that it’s a far easier way to have some of these important conversations!

          Reply
    • Natalie

      “ This is part of the over functioning that is most likely already in the relationship. Number 3 needs to be about the betrayed spouse finding support if their spouse is using porn. The spouse can encourage the recovery but is not in any way required to seek out those resources. Part of owning the issue is finding the help.”
      1,000,000% this!!! And this applies to all addiction, really. Based on what I’ve read in my years of research and trying to find support online, it does seem like when one spouse is an addict, the other spouse is almost always over-functioning just to keep the relationship ship afloat. When they’re not, they’ve checked out and it’s a dead marriage that might as well be a separation /divorce imo.
      You can’t force someone to change, ever. You can’t do all the heavy lifting and hope that they’ll just do their 10% of work to complete the “recovery” process. That isn’t how this works. A real, deep, true change of the heart and soul and mind is what it takes to change for good. And only God can show your spouse that truth imo. For spouses of addicts, I think the best course of action is to 1) take it to God and strengthen your personal relationship with Him, 2) find support outside your marriage and talk about it with other trusted sources, & 3) draw your boundaries/consider separation or even divorce if that’s what it takes. Not all marriages are salvageable when addiction is in the picture, though many can be saved through God’s grace.
      My husband is/was a food addict with some porn habit tendencies as well. He’s renewed and really revived his relationship with the Lord (thanks coronavirus! Nothing like a pandemic to give you the good shaking you needed to wake up, lol), started seeing a great therapist who’s also a solid believer, and I literally cannot describe how much better our marriage is!!! It’s like I’m married to a different person, but all the best bits of the man I originally fell in love with! It’s incredible! God really can redeem things that just seemed so lost and like a waste of time and effort before!
      And I should note: all this took place AFTER I realized I couldn’t make my husband change, and decided to step back from everything and, honestly, just kinda check out, give it to God, and focus on myself and my own growth instead. I think me over-functioning for so many years actually delayed the growth my husband needed to do for himself.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Natalie, I’m so happy to hear that update about your husband! That’s wonderful. I’m so glad.

        Reply
    • Carol

      My husband and I are both older. He’s 73 and I’m 62. We’ve only been married since July. His computer crashed once while we was dating. I asked him if he’d been looking at porn and he denied it. After we got help to repair it, he had me erase his history. Needless to say, all these erotica sites showed up. He got real defensive then and said he’d only looked at them after his wife died. Idiot me, believed him. Between Covid, wedding plans, moving, and etc, I stuck my head in the sand and ignored all the feelings of something not being quite right. I’d prayed so long for a good Christian man, I didn’t want to believe I’d struck out again.
      Plus, my current living conditions weren’t the best and I wanted to get away from that. So when he proposed, I said yes.
      The other day he said he was going to get on the computer to look at Christmas presents. I walked back there 3 or 4 times and he was looking at normal things. Then the last time I popped my head in the door, he was looking at Asian erotica. I was crushed, heart broken, mad, defeated, and so terribly sad. I went ahead and got ready for bed. I was broken and crushed inside. I still prayed with him by the bed, told him I loved him, and kissed him goodnight. All the time, I felt numb and outside of myself. He apologized, told me he loved me, and swore he loved only me and would never look at that stuff again. This evening he was looking at “harmless” articles that never really showed anything. He just liked the article. He wants to be all loving again and make love. I’m just not feeling it and it angers me that he thinks that’s all he has to do. I don’t know how to go on. I’ve been praying and praying, but I doubt my ability to hear clearly what God wants me to do. I’m, obviously, such a failure in that area.
      Please pray for us.

      Reply
  2. Nathan

    I can personally attest to the fact that an accountability partner and Covenant Eyes are great tools!
    The road to forgiveness and rebuilding can be a long and difficult one, but if both partners are committed, it can be worth it.
    There does need to be genuine remorse, repentance, ownership (the devil didn’t make you do it), and a willingness to put it behind you forever.

    Reply
    • Natalie

      Yes! Covenant Eyes is great! While my husband didn’t have a true porn addiction as bad as some men have it, he did have a very deeply engrained porn habit that he was using as a self-soothing tool, making it extremely difficult for him to break. Covenant Eyes is what did the trick for him. 👍🏼

      Reply
  3. Ina

    Yes, yes,yes! This is all so good!
    I want to double down on finding someone to talk to. This is so vital! I didn’t have anyone I felt like I could bring my pain to. My best friend is my mother and I tell her everything, but this was one thing I didn’t feel right about discussing with her. Instead of finding someone else, I didn’t talk to anyone. Even my husband. I cried in the shower. I asked him once a month for updates stoically because I didn’t want him to “feel bad.” This stunted my healing even as he was gaining his. It would have been so much better for me to have both found someone to help me process and also to have let my husband see me grieve. Once those things finally came into place, it really felt like me and him fighting something as a team and not us pitched against eachother.
    I said something to this awhile ago, but I feel like there can never be enough encouragement. Healing is definitely possible. On the other side, we’re still best friends, emotionally healthier than ever before, pro communicators, and very happily married raising three daughters.

    Reply
    • Ina

      The only thing I would add to this (you did allude to it) would be pray. Pray hard and pray fierce . Pray for eachother. Pray over eachother. There is a war waging and Satan knows that if he can hit us in our sexuality and marriages he has got us where it hurts. This isn’t trying to say that you pray hard and all problems go away like magic or that if you end up divorcing you “didn’t pray hard enough.” Whether you pull through together or are healing from a broken marriage on your own, pray. Do all these things. Get help. But also PRAY.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, absolutely!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so glad you’re out the other side! That’s wonderful, Ina. Really wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
    • Heartbroken

      My husband and I have been married for 7 years, but been together for 13 years.
      When we were dating, he showed me a porn video, that he obviously hoped I would enjoy with him. I think he realized I wasn’t that into it, as he never showed it to me again.
      At that time, I did not think anything of it, as I felt all men probably watch porn. It is normal.
      When I wanted to be baptized into Christ, my now husband and I spoke about porn, sexual sin, etc and I thought that meant that he would not watch it anymore, because we were on a new path. Not wanting to live in sin.
      Problem is this: since married, I have caught my husband a minimum of 3 times a year watching porn. Each time he says he is sorry, he says he is ashamed, he doesn’t want to tell anyone at church because he is embarrassed by it. He will stop.
      Each time I catch him, I tell him how much it hurts me, how betrayed I feel, that I feel this is the same as cheating, that I feel undesirable. Best part is I “just know” when he is engaging in porn again, I get a feeling, based on his behavior, and it’s always right.
      I feel as if I am partly to blame. Our sex life (though amazing in the moment) has never been regular. We can literally go months without being intimate. At first I thought that this was reason enough for him to watch porn BUT when we have had times when we are intimate regularly, I have still caught him watching porn. This somehow made me feel even worse, that I am still not enough, even after having regular intercourse.
      Now I am 8 weeks postpartum with our 2nd baby. During pregnancy my husband and I were not intimate – I am pretty sure he was just not attracted to my pregnant body. I caught him mid organism, watching porn again. To explain how heartbroken I am, is impossible.
      I have been more than understanding, forgiving over and over again, yet this continues and never stops. I have told my husband that I want him to go for counseling, and that I don’t want to still be dealing with this, and feeling this way when we are 60 or 70. What if our boys find him masturbating one day, or find his porn on his phone – he isn’t even careful about it anymore. I think he takes it for granted that I will be the ever understanding and forgiving wife.
      I am at a loss at what to do. On one hand I know God forgives all our sins, and I need to understand that my husband is only human. On the other hand, this is so traumatic every time I go through this. I know it sounds dramatic, but I feel a sense of trauma when this happens.
      I have decided that I need counseling, even if he won’t have it. But I cannot live like this anymore. The cycle of catching him, him apologizing, getting better for a while, and reverting is making me feel despondent. Is it possible that he does not actually want help, and is just saying he will stop to get me off his back? Am I being foolish and naive?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Hi Heartbroken,
        First, I am so, so sorry. What you are feeling is betrayal trauma, and it is real.
        Second, it isn’t going to get better on its own. It won’t get better until you honestly decide not to tolerate it anymore. I know that’s really tough, but I would go to counseling yourself to a licensed therapist and help walk you through the steps of setting up some boundaries. And your husband is very unlikely to get better without some help. I hope you find the other posts in this series helpful, and again, I am so, so sorry.

        Reply
  4. Wife

    Several years ago, my husband went through this addiction. Here’s what I learned. Some of the points are a bit different than what you you wrote.
    1. It wasn’t about me. I didn’t cause it. I also didn’t have the power to fix it. In our case, it had nothing to do with me or my husband’s love for me. The most that I was able to do was be supportive as HE got help.
    2. In many ways, it’s wasn’t even really about sex, although that was the form that the addiction took. Focusing on that, and the shame associated with it, ended up making things worse instead of better.
    3. In my husband’s case, what he was doing was what I call “splitting”. He was and is a wonderful man. He has a profession where he helps people and they rely on him. He is great to his family. He’s not perfect, however, because nobody is perfect. For him, this was a source of intense stress. His persona to the outside world was someone who was perfect, but inside he felt unworthy and like a fraud, and worried that people would find out what he was really like and reject him.
    4. He sought out porn in part for stress relief, and then in part because he saw it as something bad. A cycle started where he felt that he couldn’t live up to his perfect image, so he sort of developed a shadow “bad” persona who would do the things that the “perfect” persona wouldn’t. Then, he would feel immense guilt, make endless confessions to me and vows to change, declare that he hated everything the “bad” persona did, and it would just fuel the cycle even more.
    5. It finally escalated to the point that it went beyond just porn use, and into activities that were completely unacceptable and risky. It was almost like he was trying to get caught or self-destruct. This coincided with him going through a very serious complaint against him in his professional life (for something totally unrelated).
    6. The solution for us was NOT to focus on porn being bad. He already felt that way. It wasn’t for me to force or police anything, because it wasn’t my issue. Instead, it was for him to get counseling, not a religious lecture, that allowed him to dig deep into the self-destructive behavior. Most importantly, he needed to take ownership of his actions! He needed to acknowledge that he wasn’t perfect and that was ok. He needed to admit that the things done by his bad persona were still things that he did and were under his control.
    7. After the addiction was addressed, we needed to address some things. We had to gradually communicate so that he could acknowledge his sexual desires and not relegate that to an alter ego, but also so that I could gradually acknowledge how I felt and not just dismiss how I was feeling out of fear that he was too fragile or too guilty or that I had already forgiven. That was the final step in taking ownership.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good! Thank you for sharing.
      And I totally agree that we shouldn’t be the ones ultimately to police our husbands. But it’s also okay to say, “I will not tolerate this. You need to stop. And stopping means getting help and dealing with this.” Then it’s up to them to decide whether they really want to stop or not.
      Many women have discovered their husband’s porn use, and then their husband has said, “I’ll deal with it,” but the husband has done nothing. It’s okay for a wife to insist on seeing real change if the marriage is to stay together.
      I agree with you, by the way, about the religious lecture. No, they don’t need a lecture. But, yes, they do need accountability and to be in recovery with a counselor or therapist, and preferably a licensed one. And I do think that bringing God into the healing process, and understanding the need people have to be perfect, and the shame, and the guilt, and all of that can all be helped through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about God making you feel guilty; it’s about God helping you be free.
      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  5. Susanna Musser

    Bravo, Sheila. Thank you so much. This will be a post I share often with hurting women.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Great article Sheila! #2 is VERY IMPORTANT. Secrecy is a room where no one can challenge the devil’s lies.
    Again, don’t shout it from the rooftops, use discretion, but tell SOMEONE – for both your sakes. Here are some things that made me feel conflicted on this point:
    1) My husband was so ashamed and embarassed.
    2) I was concerned that outing his problem was dishonoring my husband. In some regards I still struggle with this.
    3) Fear that the problem would be minimized or tolerated. It’s so widespread that the seriousness of it hides behind the commonality of it. During the initial stage, I could not have weathered someone staring back blankly and saying something like, “So? That’s completely normal.”
    My husband and I are egalitarian, so thankfully I didn’t struggle with this last concept, but I know A LOT of women who do:
    -Telling undermines your husband’s “authority” and to tell against his wishes is lack of submission-
    THE TRUTH IS WHAT SETS YOU FREE. Privacy and secrecy allowed my husband to minimize and justify what he was doing without challenge. Having to look another human being in the face and say it out loud was an immediate gear shift for my husband – first talking to me about it after I discovered it, and then talking to our LICENSED counselor, who also happened to be Christian and our pastor.
    TELL SOMEONE.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen!

      Reply
  7. Another sad wife

    I’m afraid it’s too late to save my marriage, but I would like to encourage the wives to “find their voice” and speak to their husbands. You might be met with anger, denial and gas lighting, but it has to be done. Do this over and over, no matter how much he doesn’t like it. He needs to feel your pain. Blessings to all.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you. And I’m so sorry about your marriage. I really am.

      Reply
    • Jen

      I have been married to my husband for 7 years and he told me upfront that he struggles with porn. So it’s been an on and off thing and I have just been quick to say I forgive you but have never really dealt with it and how I feel. We have accountability software and I am the only one that gets the report. When he looks at porn he usually confesses before I get the report so it’s not secret. Lately sex has felt like a responsibility I have to do for him, I don’t enjoy it and it often hurts. I told him how I feel and asked that we go to counseling but he is in counseling for mental health issues and said he didn’t know how he could fit more, which I understand that but also don’t know how to move forward and put healthy boundaries in place or how to just not close down more emotionally out of self preservation but at the same time we have a young daughter and I don’t want our marriage to get worse than it already is. Any tips for us?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Hi Jen! It sounds like you really need to read The Great Sex Rescue (my new book). It talks a lot about porn recovery and how we are not required to have sex to stop someone from watching porn. You feeling pain and not enjoying sex is NORMAL when you are being betrayed, and sex feels like you are being used. You do not have to consent to being used.
        I’d also advise reading Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick, and having your husband read it. Likely his mental health issues are related to the same underlying thing that’s contributing to porn use. Perhaps seeing a sex addiction counselor who can handle both things at once would be a better idea.

        Reply
  8. Nathan

    > > In many ways, it’s wasn’t even really about sex, although that was the form that the addiction took
    This is a subtle yet powerful point that some people miss. I know I did. When I first looked into this (and found this site), I thought that porn was used almost exclusively by men not in a relationship or married men whose wives wouldn’t have sex with them. These groups exist, but the reality is much, much bigger.
    > > It finally escalated to the point that it went beyond just porn use
    True, and one of the things that cancels out the fake excuses of “it’s just pictures” or “it’s just a cartoon” or “I’m just sending texts”. Things like this often start small (or small in the eye of the beholder) then can sometimes escalate into things that are truly bad or even dangerous.

    Reply
  9. The20%

    My husband and I have fought about sex for almost our whole marriage. I have always had the higher libido, and know now that a lot of it has stemmed from my wanting to know I am “enough,” loved, and desired. Last year, my husband admitted to having watched porn at several different intervals in our marriage. And then admitted that 5 different women had sent him nude pics and he had sent them pics of himself. We were on the brink of divorce, so I forgave him, but really struggled with forgiveness as the weeks went on, and I wondered how long this had gone on, and if his lack of desire for me was really not a libido issue. I have been doing a lot of research on mending my marriage, and realize how much my disrespect of him has been a turn-off as well. But I still wonder (we are on a non-consensual sex break right now for who knows how long as he decides if he still wants to be married to me after I confessed that I had shared concerns about his lack of desire for me again and had wondered what else he was doing. I have been faithful to him and pretty much never refused sex. I hate porn.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry! That’s just awful. Yes, if he’s been doing that, it’s very hard to respect him. I’d really recommend seeing a licensed therapist, if you can. Many will see you via Skype, even during COVID. It can help clarify things.

      Reply
  10. Kristen

    Thanks so much for this article! My discovery about my husband happened about 2 years ago, we were 2 years into our marriage. At the time I did set expectations before him. That he’d find an accountability partner, we’d find and settle on a church home we both agreed on), and that when we did, we would join a small group to get more support in general, and maybe that he’d join a men’s group. We also had an internet filter (I think netnanny?) But that didnt help with the main problem – cell phone usage and we just got rid of it. We havent talked to anyone about it. My husband said he had a childhood friend that he may be able to be accountability partners with but I havent heard a real update on that. We believe we’ve found a church we both can agree on, but very recently. My husband says it was never an addiction to begin with but from the history I could see that it was very habitual – nearly everytime we were apart he was on his phone googling. Anyhow, he more recently has said that it isn’t a problem anymore, that was 2 years ago. He has given me most of his passwords to emails, etc.. but I have not once been able to bring myself to “look” or check on him which I read is not my responsibility anyway. I guess my question is, what would be advised for me to do going forward? He seems to deny that it was at addiction level, and he wants to quickly get the conversation over with when I want to bring it up?? Thank you!!

    Reply
  11. Jenny

    I wish it were so easy. I can’t do any of the things on this list, except grieve. I know my husband uses porn but he won’t even talk about it, let alone get professional help for the problem. He doesn’t care how I feel about this issue nor any other. I cannot do anything about it. I homeschool our kids and have no way to support myself so I can’t see any way to separate. My husband’s income barely keeps food on the table as it is. So I just live in a sexless and loveless marriage. At least my kids get to stay in the home they’ve grown up in. I live for them – I ruined my life by marrying this man 20 years ago, but that had nothing to do with them and they shouldn’t have to suffer for my mistakes.

    Reply
  12. Gina

    I caught my husbands secret of porn use over 7 years ago. He never apologized. He’s never re-engaged in our marriage. I’ve waited. I’ve begged but he don’t look at me like he did the first 10 years of our marriage. He isn’t the same man I married. I can’t get him to want to be part of our marriage. He states “I come home after work don’t I”. I’m done. I feel worthless, unlovable, ugly, unwanted, like dirt and more. Life remains his way. His feelings and desires are paramount. My wishes don’t matter. I made him leave today. I want a divorce. He can’t /won’t treat me like a person with needs. I can’t live like this anymore.

    Reply
  13. SAP

    Hi Sheila! Thank you for your constant insight and helpfulness. I found your site about a year ago and about a week and a half ago I approached my husband with an innocent question that led him to tell me about his porn addiction for the first time. I am 7 weeks postpartum now with our second child. He has two accountability partners that he has started meeting up with on Sunday nights, we purchased a phone blocker app, and we started therapy again yesterday which will also be once a week reoccurring. I have been talking with two of my trusted friends and am excited about therapy to continue. I have been grieving the lies my husband told and the betrayal of him keeping this from me. Now that everything is out in the open and I see he is willing to get help and attack the root I’m finally able to feel less emotional for the past two days. How long do you suggest before we wait to have sex again? Last week I told him I wanted to take a break from sex. We have not been sexually active during these past 7 weeks postpartum and it is getting even harder for me to wait. I feel tempted to masturbate but I do NOT want to and have been successfully fighting against it. Will we interfere the healing process or will my husband think that he doesn’t have to earn my trust again if we have sex?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s such a hard question, because there are so many factors. Can you ask your therapist, who has a better view of where the two of you are at? I’d say it needs to be long enough so that he can experience frustration and not turn to porn or blame you for it; and it needs to be long enough that you can trust him again; but sometimes you also just need to connect and cement a new view of sex for him. There isn’t a particular time line; it depends where you’re both at.

      Reply
  14. Maria

    What to do Sheila when husband is willing to see a counselor but doesn’t want to share that he watches pornography?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      If you’re going to counseling with him, tell the counselor. If you’re not, then ask if you can sit in to one of the sessions, and tell the counselor!

      Reply
  15. WK

    My wife simply doesn’t do sex, it’s only for procreation, otherwise a painful nuisance. We were fortunate to have 2 girls but sex dried up afterwards. As a Christian husband, I’ve told her she is my only sexual outlet but to no avail. She would orgasm but then have terrible pelvic cramps afterward so sex stopped. I’ve had to self-pleasure to get any built up release for many years. We’ve been sexless for 44 years with no sex at all the last 15. As I married, I looked forward to a normal sex life but have been hugely disappointed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wk, I’m so sorry! Have you ever sought out a licensed counselor to talk this over with? Has she ever seen a doctor about this condition? 44 years seems a long time to not seek help for these things. Have you ever asked anyone for help?

      Reply
  16. Margie

    I have been married for almost 22 years. My spouse masturbates to porn. I walk into the spare room where his office is for a work at home and he is going at it. I tell him he is disgusting. He says he does it because: I’m a man that enjoys making love to my wife but I don’t force myself on anyone so I deal with my frustrations and don’t belittle you or try to make you feel bad or less of a woman. So I take care of it myself. End of comment…I have medical issue…I keep getting yeast, and UTI from sexual contact. I am a diabetic…I cannot seem to get rid of them and I am under medical care. He knows this and continues to do this. I am thinking of filing for divorce. I am just that fed up with his excuses.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I understand, Margie. I’m so sorry. Can you talk with him first about how porn affects him and contributes to sex trafficking? And then say that you will not tolerate it. And you do want to get medical help and find balance in your body, but porn is still not tolerated regardless?

      Reply
  17. Heart shattered

    Hi Sheila.
    I’m in such a hard situation right now. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been with my husband for 22 years. We got together when I was 17 years old and had just came out of a physiologically abusive and neglectiveful childhood. We were both very broken.
    4 years into our relationship I discovered his porn usage. It felt like I had been stabbed. It has been a huge wedge ever since. He is unapologetic about it. He is unsaved and along with porn lives a very world life. He neglects me and our children by leaving the house often to drink, do drugs, and just hang out with his party friends. He actually always did this way before we had kids and it hurt bad that his friends were such a bigger priority then me. I would beg and plead with him to hang out with me and he didn’t care. I was so ignorant to it all and instead of leaving him early on, I tolerated his behavior and of course over these years it has only gotten worse. He is a severe alcoholic and drug abuser. He also had deep seaded anger issues, which has often led to domestic violence and verbal abuse. I can’t even get away from him as our local legal system is very twisted. It is my house we live in as it was inherited to me, but since his stuff is here I can’t ask him to leave. I can’t legally separate unless we both file with the courts and he refuses to separate, but he also refuses to change.
    I got so sick of his porn a year ago that I stopped sleeping with him. Not only is he unapologetic but he makes all these excuses why he can do whatever he wants. I have tried to explain until I was blue in the face how much it deeply hurt me. His response is that all men do it and it was something he did before we got together so there is no reason he needs to stop. It’s my problem that it effects me so much.
    So I got so fed up I stopped sleeping with him. He still plays the victim. Our marriage is basically destroyed and he places all blame on me completely blind to what his porn usage, alcoholism, drug usage, and anger is doing to it. Our sex life was never good as he spent so much time watching porn that I was only there for when he was bored and wanted real life interaction. It’s so sickening.
    He will ask me to massage him often and I’m so disgusted by his porn use that I don’t want to touch him. I know God commands us to honor and respect our husbands no matter what, but does that mean I am obligated to sleep with him and massage him? I’m about at the end of my rope with my marriage.
    And the icing on the cake is he unapologetically watches porn and still expects to be massaged and expects me to sleep with him whenever he is bored with his other porn girls. He says I’m lucky that he doesn’t sleep with other women as lots of men cheat on their wife. When I tell him he does in fact cheat, as he has a sexual experience with women who are not his wife, he tells me those women are on a screen and not real and it isn’t cheating at all and repeats that I’m lucky he doesn’t cheat!
    So sorry for the novel. I appreciate your response and council.
    God bless.

    Reply
  18. Frustrated

    I just heard you on a podcast and feel like I have so many resources after finding this site! Thank you!! This topic is the first one I went to. My husband is open with me about his problem with porn and knows he needs to stop but I think struggles majorly with the embarrassment of it. He has talked to our pastor about it in the past but feels he doesn’t really know how to give him advice because of the generational difference (magazines/vhs vs. smartphone 24/7). I don’t think he’d ever go to a counselor as that would be a stranger and “weird” to him and I can’t think of anyone in our rural area he could go to as an accountability partner. I want to help him/us but he would be so angry if I told anyone without his permission such as a spiritual leader that doesn’t live around us. I don’t know how to help?!?

    Reply
  19. H

    My husband and I are in our mid-twenties. We have been married for 6 months. Two months after our wedding, after countless nights of crying for him to please tell me why he refused sex with me, and continued to reject me, I discovered his daily porn habit. It was my birthday, I had just found out that my chronic illness meant I likely wouldn’t live past 60, and I attempted suicide.
    I spent some time in a mental health facility, and for the last 4 months we’ve both been in individual and couples counseling. I’m still so broken. I have a history of an eating disorder and low self confidence, and have been on a steroid to treat my chronic illness for over 2 years. As a result, I’ve gained close to 70 pounds. He cited this as a reason for reverting to his decade-old porn habit, and told me he’s going to do everything he can to try to find ‘some semblance of desire’ for me.
    We’ve been doing okay. Him having been away from porn for so long now has helped him realize just how broken his view of women and the world really is. But while he’s healing, I feel like I’m getting worse.
    Just today he came home from work and confessed that he realized a coworker was flirting with him, and as a result he indulged in a lengthy mental fantasy about her. He was able to pull himself out of it in the moment, and is speaking with his therapist about it next week. He also apologized and asked how he can make it up to me. I had no idea what to say.
    That was 10 hours ago, and I’ve been in bed crying since. The hurt doesn’t stop, it seems. I’m glad he told me and is remaining vigilant and accountable, but I just wanted so desperately to feel like I was ‘enough’. And I fear I’ll never have that.

    Reply
  20. Patrick

    I’m sorry to be the man that breaks it to all the wives, but all of your husbands, if they have any sex drive at all, watch porn. It’s not at all personal. If you are thinking about divorce, you shouldn’t because you won’t find a sexual man that doesn’t watch it, even occasionally. Unfortunately, the internet has made it as accessible as water. For most men, it’s a stress reliever. Most men do not escalate beyond just watching it. Since it’s a newer phenomenon, there’s not much precedent on it, but you are going to have to accept it and not judge him, or be single and alone. It doesn’t even matter how much srx you have. It’s not personal. I’m just being real, from a man’s perspective.

    Reply
  21. Catie

    Dear Sheila,
    You mentioned that you would address the unrepentant husband in this post. The husband who doesn’t demonstrate remorse (even says he can’t feel/experience it) and says he doesn’t have a problem with pornography (it’s a lifetime problem but he says he had victory over for a couple of years and can stop when he wants – I recently caught him in the act again after he lied).
    In fact he has no problem lying to me whenever it suits him. It doesn’t afflict his conscience. But it does afflict my trust in him ( I don’t trust anything he says or does). After 20 years of marriage and he is unrepentant what do you do. I never want to be his accountability ever.
    The marriage is broken. Is it over? What does a Christian wife do?
    Thanks Sheila.

    Reply
  22. Sunflower

    I for the first time noticed a porn site where it says “,pin reading” at the top of the task bar on the right side of our desktop computer. I also checked his downloads – I discovered several pics of topless women…I am devastated & shocked. He says he has no idea how they got there…I’m assuming he HAD to have downloaded this stuff…am I right??

    Reply
  23. Noel Marie

    I just found out that my husband had been watching porn for the last few years. He told me that after getting very sick he got bored when he wasn’t working and that’s when it started. We haven’t had sex in 7 years. I knew something was wrong and asked him to get counseling. He says he’s been clean for a year, yet he doesn’t approach me for any intimacy at all. I feel like his roommate. We’ve talked about trying to reconnect and I want to believe that he wants to make our marriage work. I don’t think he will agree to any counseling. I have access to an EAP at work that we can go to. I feel so hurt and betrayed. I wonder if he really still loves me. He says it and sometimes shows it but it’s not the same. We’ve been married for 27 years. I’m not looking for fireworks, just a restart at tenderness and hoping the rest will follow. I wonder if porn gave him PIED and how I can help him if it did.

    Reply

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