It is easy to look at my own addiction and think of the person it is effecting most, ME!
Or is it me?
Maybe I am the perpetrator and my wife is the victim. She didn’t do anything wrong and yet she suffers for what I have done. She has to deal with the feelings of inadequacy: the question, “If I looked better, maybe he wouldn’t look at porn.” She is the one who feels the pressure to maintain the impossible body that Hollywood projects. She’s the one who feels in her heart that her husband’s straying mind means she isn’t worth much to him. Maybe even not worth much at all.
Yes, my wife was the real victim.
This article is for you, the real victims. The wives of the men who continue to look at pornography over your objections. I hope to offer you a little comfort, a little understanding, a little advice, and a little hope.
First off, your husband’s pornography problem is not your fault. He may blame you, but this is a darkness that lives in his heart. You are a victim of his behavior and it is OK to be hurt by his behavior. He owes you a serious and sincere apology for what he has done to you.
Second, no matter how good you looked, he would have this problem. I have known many men with beautiful wives who have profound pornography problems. I know this is very hard to believe: it feels so backwards. The most important man in your life who should be looking at you is instead looking to the photoshopped girls on the web. I want to say it loud and clear, Your are beautiful because God made you beautiful. The reason he is looking at other women is because HE IS A FOOL! God provided the grace to look at you and only you. Your husband has not taken God up on the offer.
Third and most importantly, Jesus loves you. He is your real husband. Jesus has eyes only for his Church and that is you. There is grace for you today. There is justice for what is being done to you.
So what do you do? Here are some practical things you can do to serve your husband and help him be free. Jesus has some guidelines as to how you should pursue this.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17
Let’s pay careful attention to Jesus and let Him do the work.
1. Pray for him.
Your husband is trapped. He may even want to do the right thing but sees no way out. The Holy Spirit is his only hope (and what an amazing hope He is). Pray for him. Tell God how much it hurts you and pray that he will set your husband free. A warning for you though, the grace of God for men like me is usually to beat us until we submit to Him. It is the rough hands of a loving Father.
2. Confront Him.
Confront him about his sin. Be gentle and firm, but most of all be firm. He is sinning against you and it is OK to press him to stop sinning against you.
It is important to know your husband as you approach him. Consider what would be effective in helping him be honest with you. Again, gentle and firm. Remember that he will need to take some actions to demonstrate his repentance. Maybe he can follow the steps in my article How do I stop looking at Porn. It is OK to point him to help and resources, but give him room to choose his own path. Usually, the first few times he is caught he will try to do it alone and it won’t work. Have patience with him.
There are two responses that warrant escalating the situation. The first is that he is defiant that it is OK for him to look at porn and that you should understand. It’s time to move on to the next step.
The second response is more common in Christian communities which is to promise to stop looking at porn and then repeatedly fail AND fail to try getting support. If he simply will not join a group and keeps failing, treat that as him saying he won’t change. Then it is time to move onto the next step.
3. Confront Him with Support
Jesus was serious about bringing in a brother. If you know someone who has struggled with porn in the past and particularly someone who is involved in the recovery process, bring in that guy. Otherwise find someone you both know and trust and bring that man (probably not a good idea for this person to be a woman) with you to confront your husband. An elder or pastor from your church would be a good choice as well. If you have the option, find someone who is a straight shooter. Your husband needs things to be made crystal clear.
Confront your husband again. Your husband will react badly to this, so be prepared. This is scary for him, but redemptive. Reaffirm that you love him and that you want him to be free. Let the other man press him.
If your husband is defiant or passively not taking action after this meeting. Go to the next step.
4. Bring in the Elders of Your Church
Yes, you read that right. Your husband is in willful sin and is not pursuing overcoming that sin. He needs to be held accountable by the body of Christ. This is not God’s punishment of him. This is God’s grace to him. A loving Father is correcting his son. He uses his church and He is using you. Have the courage to love your husband like Jesus does.
Remember that loving your husband is to fight the sin in his life. This sin is a cancer eating out his soul. Love him enough to fight for him even when he won’t fight for himself. Bring in men who will press him hard and correct his foolishness. Love him enough.
5. Submit to the Church
Depending on how strong the leadership of your church is, this process may not be something they are ready for. Even if they handle the situation poorly, submit to their authority. God doesn’t require us to be right, just to be faithful. Your husband may talk his way out of it. Your pastors might turn out to be wimps.
Even if the church wimps out (which will be common), know that you have also shown your husband how seriously you take his sin. If he is a true believer, then the Holy Spirit in him will be beating him from the inside out.
Should the local church fail you, what then? Keep pressing on your husband firmly and gently. Keep pulling in men who can keep pressing your husband to repentance. Your faithfulness is the grace of God for your husband.
6. Find a Woman Who Has Gone through This
You are not alone. Look for a woman has had similar struggles. This is a messy business and you need support. She can be hard to find but keep looking for her. There is grace for you in walking with someone who has gone through what you are going through.
7. Have Hope
I can’t tell you how this will turn out. It may be that it all goes badly for you. Remember that your only true and lasting hope is in Jesus. Whatever the church does, be faithful to Jesus. Whatever your husband does, be faithful to Jesus. God has placed you here right now. He appointed this suffering for you and He loves you. Cling to Him and let’s watch together what He is going to do.
I want to say one more time that this is NOT YOUR FAULT. The preceding paragraphs could feel like it is your responsibility to change your husband. It is not. He is responsible to respond to the Holy Spirit and seek repentance. It is your job to be faithful to Jesus and love your husband enough to push him. There are no guarantees except that there is a loving Father watching you and giving you the grace you need to carry this heavy burden.