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If you haven’t already read Pornography & Marriage: Is it really that bad? (Part 1) then I recommend clicking here and reading that first. 🙂 It will help with background information on what I’m about to talk about in this post.
As you’ve read in part 1, I talked about the severe effects pornography has on marriage. It can be destructive whether or not it is an addiction and it can get out of hand.
It interferes with yours and your husband’s most intimate time together – the most fragile time as you are both vulnerable to each other. It is also one of the most powerful times together as you become one, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Pornography prevents that from happening.
It prevents the true intimacy that God created for husband and wife.
So how do you find healing in a marriage when the wife or husband is battling pornography?
Dr. Juli Slattery in No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage talks about different ways to address the issue in marriage whether it be the husband viewing pornography or the wife viewing pornography.
Confronting “His” Problem
Dr. Slattery starts out by reminding us of the biblical story of the woman caught in the middle of adultery and about to be stoned by people since that was the punishment back then. Jesus asked the men who were ready to throw the stones, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw the stone at her.” Then after every single accuser left, Jesus said, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
When she acknowledged that they were all gone, Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11).
Dr. Slattery suggests you let this example guide you when it comes to addressing the problem and also forgiving your husband.
Wives need to understand the sexual temptation that men face, but we also absolutely cannot enable the sin either. It’s a delicate balance. We need to be understanding, yet firm about the issues it causes in our marriage. She uses King David as an example for us to realize that very committed and godly men even struggle with sexual temptation! That “his moral failure existed alongside his passion to serve the Lord and to be a faithful King.”
She also points out that:
For your husband, sexual temptation may be the daily thorn that taunts him. Feelings of shame and failure in this area may run so deep that he separates it from every other part of his existence. Although his behavior is a breach of trust that must be addressed, lean on what you know to be right and true about him as a bridge. Your husband is neither all good nor all bad. He’s a fallen man who battles sin and the desire for integrity.
Wow! If only I had found this book years ago when I first encountered the issue of pornography in my marriage. Those words right there would have helped me so much! It is so easy to be quick to jump down our husband’s throat when they fall into the stereotypical category of having weakness in sexual temptation. But who are we to be the first ones to cast the stone? I know I’m guilty of gossip, pride, dishonesty, etc. God gives us consequences for our sins as a lesson but also extends his love to us despite our sins as well. Let us do that to our husbands who suffer from this terrible addiction! Soften your heart towards your husband if he is struggling with pornography.
Dr. Slattery says that as important as it is for us as wives to confront the sin and not enable it, it’s also equally as important to understand the temptation and empathize with your husband’s addiction.
James 1:19 calls us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” This is extremely important in confronting a situation like this.
She also points out that when couples come to her for counseling (she’s a Christian psychologist) that she almost expects the man to either be viewing or addicted to pornography because men don’t have to even look for it, sex is looking for them. It’s everywhere! It’s brought into our homes or at work on pop-up ads on our phones or in movies, or especially on the internet. One of the best ways she put it into perspective is when she mentioned, “Although your husband is responsible for his choice, his sexuality is a target for the Enemy.”*
Romans 12:2 says:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Dr. Slattery makes sure to point out, “While empathizing with and understanding your husband’s struggle is a great help to him, excusing immoral behavior enables his demise. For your sake and his, insist on purity.”*
This is a parallel of how God loves us, too. He empathizes with us and understands our temptations on a daily basis and extends grace and forgiveness, but our purity is most important to Him (and is also what is best for us)! He expects us to continually strive to better ourselves and live the way He created us to.
Only then will we find true happiness in life.
The same goes for marriage, when we keep striving for purity and following God’s Word, only then will our marriages find healing!
1 Corinthians 7:5 says:
Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.
You are an instrument in your husband’s purity in your marriage! And he is an instrument in yours.
You are NOT responsible for your husband’s behavior just as he is not responsible for yours. Dr Slattery says:
While not enabling [your husband] to cling to an excuse, do your best not to contribute to a reason for engaging in pornography.
I’m sure many of you who read this are appalled at this idea and are insulted that I would even say such a thing. But think about it! I was taken back by this at first as well, I admit. But the more I thought about it and read about it, the more it just makes sense!
Sex is a physical need for men, yes, and when those needs are not met, he may turn to other ways for those needs to be met if it is long enough.
But sex is also SO much more than that, it runs deeper than just the physical! When you don’t have sex regularly with your husband, his emotional and spiritual needs are not met. Which, I’m assuming if you aren’t having sex regularly, then your emotional and spiritual needs as a wife aren’t being met by your husband either.
Sex creates a connection between husband and wife.
That is one of the main reasons God created it! He created it so you could be in tune with your spouse. So you could be aware of each other’s needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc.
Without it, the connection fades and you become less in tune with each other’s needs, you probably care less about each other’s needs, and hurt usually follows. Pornography is definitely one of those breaches of trust in marriage.
Try to get to the bottom of the issue. Is it because you’ve been exhausted and have been saying “not tonight, honey” for 3 months now? Or is it a deeper issue than that in which your husband may need counseling?
Again, Dr. Slattery emphasizes:
there’s never an excuse for him to sexually act out, even if there is a reason…. Just as it’s a sin for him to lust after another woman, it’s also a sin for you to withhold sex from your husband, except for the purpose of seeking the Lord’s intervention.
Confronting “his” problem with pornography may lead to some open wounds in your marriage but only when you acknowledge these wounds can you begin the process of healing! Put it at God’s feet. Pray to Him about your every worry! Place your marriage in His hands and He WILL help you and your husband. Whether it be through talking with your husband or him going to counseling if needed.
There is no problem in this world that is too big for Him to handle. 🙂
Confronting My Problem
According to a study done in 2008 involving women ages 18-26, one-third admitted to using some sort of pornography within the past 12 months.* But Dr. Slattery points out that the actual percentages are probably higher because women are embarrassed and humiliated when they suffer from this type of addiction, that fewer women will admit to viewing it compared to men. Pornography for women is becoming bigger in the industry now – they create pornography with relationships and emotions to lure women in.
It also doesn’t help that there is not much Christian material out there to help women struggling with this because most women aren’t able to speak up about it. But don’t give up! God knows your heart. He knows your struggles and He hears your cries and He CAN help you!
Seeking accountability can help tremendously! In her book, Dr. Slattery mentions:
By keeping [your struggle with pornography] a secret, you not only prevent yourself from getting help and seeking accountability, but you also intensify your feelings of loneliness and shame. The Lord most often uses relationships to heal brokenness. The Enemy would love to keep you quarantined with your computer, believing lies that you’re unlovable and ultimately alone.
When you seek accountability and tell someone about your struggle and they respond with love, it is a BIG step towards healing! You are no longer confined to your secret and the lies of the Enemy telling you you are unworthy of God’s love or your husband’s love.
Share your struggle with another woman and/or your husband because it will be the first step in finally releasing yourself from the chains of this sin!
Along with what I said about if someone’s husband is struggling with pornography, you may also need to seek Christian counseling. Dr. Slattery uses this analogy to distinguish between accountability and seeking professional help:
When you’re battling cancer, a bottle of vitamins from your friend will only go so far.
Seeking professional help through a Christian psychologist or counselor, especially with a vulnerable or abusive sexual past, can get to a deeper root in the cause of the issue and begin the process of healing as well.
Again, remember, there is no problem too big for our God!
Making it “Our” Problem
This does not mean wives are responsible for their husband’s actions or vice versa, it means that as a married couple, you work together to find healing in your marriage regardless of who’s at fault because the temptation and the sexual sin affects both of you.
A lot of experts suggest against having your spouse as your primary accountability partner, that someone of the same gender should fill that role. But it is obviously also important to share your confessions and your healing process with your spouse so you can both heal together. Dr. Slattery suggests in her book:
Battle as one [against temptations], striving toward maturity in your love for each other and your passion for the Lord.
She also points out:
Involvement with porn and other sexually explicit material can either destroy intimacy or be a call toward seeking the Lord together at a new level. The grace of God is bestowed not on those who have it all together but the broken who humbly cry out for help.
Finally, she ends the chapter on the destruction of pornography in marriage with these two quotes:
When a couple moves past their pride, selfishness, blame, and shame to cry out together for God’s grace and healing, the Lord will answer!
If you and/or your husband struggle with sexual sin, be encouraged that the very thing Satan uses to destroy, God can use to redeem. If you’re willing to listen, forgive, confess, love, and strive for purity, your journey together toward wholeness can forge you together unlike anything else.
The hope in those two statements is extremely comforting.
God loves you no matter what you do. God loves your husband no matter what he does.
When you humbly ask for forgiveness and beg for mercy on your knees for God to save you and save your marriage, God will honor that! He wants nothing more than to heal a broken marriage. Marriage is a living reflection of His love for us.
I know I’ve said this in other posts but it is relevant again: God does not promise that we will not suffer. He does not promise we will not be hurt. This is part of living in our fallen world. He DOES promise to be with us through every step of the way, though! We never go through ANYTHING alone!
How you come out at the other end of this brokenness relies on how you handle it. Handle it with love, compassion, forgiveness if it is your husband who is suffering the addiction. And handle it with humility and repentance if you are the one suffering the addiction.
God. Can. Heal!
If you are suffering from this in your marriage, whether it be you or your husband, or even both at the same time, please take the first step in seeking help. You and your marriage deserve happiness!
*Resource used in this post: No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage by Dr. Juli Slattery
**Keep an eye our for my book review on Dr. Slattery’s book No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage. With the book reviews that I do, I ask that you read and comment on the review on my website and you will automatically entered into a drawing to win a FREE COPY of that book! 🙂 **