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Porn is a HUGE problem for many marriages today. Nearly every day, I receive messages from husbands and wives who are heartbroken over their spouse’s porn habit. They are desperate to figure out what to do next to help their spouse break their habit and restore the trust and intimacy that has been lost in their relationship. I am no stranger to this situation, as I have shared with you in other blogs many times. So, what are we supposed to do when we find out our spouse has a porn habit? Well, it’s a process, and these six steps are a good start:
1. Try to stay calm.
"Calm your anger and abandon wrath. Don’t be angry— it only leads to evil." (Psalm 37:8)
When you find out that your spouse has been looking at porn, it’s easy to want to freak out on them. But, that won’t get us very far; in fact, it will only make things worse. Sure, we have every reason to be upset and angry, and it’s healthy to let tears flow. However, we can’t allow rage to get ahold of us by staying angry. Instead, we must pray and ask God to give us peace that surpasses understanding. We must also ask God to give us the words to talk to our spouse about this issue and ask Him to prepare our spouse’s heart and mind to be ready to confess and address their porn habit. When we pray, God calms our spirit and gives us a clearer view of how we need to approach a situation.
So, please know that it is okay to be angry and heartbroken over this. What your spouse has done is wrong and goes against your marriage. However, your ability to calmly address the issue will pave the path for their recovery and the restoration of your marriage.
2. Recognize that porn is an enemy to your marriage, and address the issue as soon as possible.
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)
The porn industry is a juggernaut. They bring in more revenue than all the major television networks combined. And, they’ve got sinful human nature on their side. Any of us can fall to this temptation if we aren’t careful. For years, the porn industry has tried to convince the world that porn is simply a way to spice things up in your relationship or a means to satisfy your sexual appetite. They want us to believe that it is harmless, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Studies have shown that porn desensitizes us over time, and therefore, it takes more and more to satisfy our sexual appetite. That is precisely why it is detrimental to our marriage. We are nearly incapable of being sexually satisfied by our spouse when our porn habit rules us.
So, if you find porn on your spouse’s computer, and they confess to having a porn addiction, both of you must call porn what it is–sin and an enemy to your marriage. You can’t brush it off and act like it will go away on its own. A porn habit left unchecked often becomes a full-blown addiction. Therefore, you both must address it head-on and work together to get your spouse the help they need to overcome the habit.
3. FORGIVE your spouse quickly.
"You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you." (Colossians 3:12-13)
It was St. Augustine, who said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Isn’t that the truth? When we refuse to forgive, we are the ones who hurt the most. Consequently, our relationships remain stagnant. For healing to take place, we must forgive.
Your spouse broke your trust by looking at porn, but holding it over their head won’t heal them or your marriage. Forgiveness is what makes healing possible.
Forgiving your spouse for their porn habit doesn’t mean that you are okay with what they did. It just means that you are willing to pursue healing over vengeance. You are willing to give them a chance to rebuild your trust.
4. Help your spouse to have accountability.
"Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22)
This step is essential to breaking a porn habit or addiction. My husband and I are big fans ofXXXChurch.comwhich offers amazing resources and accountability software to help people recover from their porn habit and heal their relationship. There are also a lot of resources for those trying to cope with their spouse’s porn habit and recovery. You can even talk to someone on the phone who can walk you through this by enrolling in online support groups.
Whatever you do, make sure you both take measures to hold them accountable when it comes to their porn addiction. This may mean that your spouse doesn’t have access to their smartphone or home computer for a time. Your spouse may need to join a support group for those trying to recover from a porn habit. They may even need to start seeing a Christian counselor regularly, as well. Any or all of these steps will help your spouse to move towards healing, and as their spouse, you can encourage them to get the help they need.
5. Know that your spouse’s porn habit is NOT your fault.
"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." (James 1:14)
When I found porn on my husband’s computer many years ago, I was shocked and heartbroken. I couldn’t believe that he was looking at those disgusting sites. I was so angry and hurt, and I started to feel inadequate. I wondered why he had felt the need to look at porn, and I felt like I was the one to blame. All these negative thoughts started filling my mind telling me that I wasn’t pretty enough, or sexy enough, or good enough to satisfy my husband. I blamed myself.
As I have talked with many women in this same predicament over the years, I’ve realized this is a common sentiment. As spouses, we so long to be desirable to one another. So, when we find out that our spouse has sought out sexual satisfaction through pornography, we feel completely undesirable. It stings deeply. Sometimes, we need to sit down and talk to a counselor to process.
Please know that you did nothing wrong. You did not lead your spouse to develop a porn addiction. It’s not your fault–it’s sin. We live in a sex-saturated world full of sinful opportunities, and your spouse, like mine, fell for it. As human beings, we aren’t perfect. At times, we are easily tempted, and we fail miserably. We get caught in webs we didn’t even know we were actively weaving before we’re completely entangled with no easy way out. The good news is, we serve a God of second chances. He doesn’t leave us to suffer in shame and despair. He offers us forgiveness, healing, and new life through Jesus.
6. Remember that recovery and healing takes time, prayer, and patience–but, it will come when you both refuse to give up.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)
Though it’s not easy, you must try your very best to be patient with your spouse’s recovery process and your emotional healing. You may have mixed feelings about being intimate with your spouse after finding out that they have a porn habit, and that is understandable. Take it little by little. Talk to your spouse about how you are feeling, and ask them how they are feeling, too. Keep the dialogue going, and this will help you both to stay connected and move towards healing. There is hope for your spouse to recover from porn. Your heart will heal, and your marriage and intimacy will be restored through prayer, patience, and persistence to pursue healing through these steps. You are not alone.
By Ashley Willis
Minister of "MarriageToday"