Strike Back at Porn

strikebackby Lisa Hall-Wilson and Emily Taylor

Porn has always been a private addiction. Secretly indulged in and now easier to access than ever before, many men convince themselves that they’re not hurting anyone. This fallacy can only survive for so long. We know. Our men confessed to eight and 10-year porn addictions respectively. Our relationships survived, but both of us were ready to walk away at different points. Here are the key questions men are (or should be) asking about how porn effects their relationship with their wives or fiancés.

My porn addiction has nothing to do with her. Why do I need to tell her?

When a man views porn, his woman thinks it’s her fault, while her man argues that it has nothing to do with her. Men, your porn addiction has everything to do with your wife, and your wife needs to understand that this addiction really doesn’t have anything to do with her. Let us explain.

When a woman learns that her man is involved with or addicted to porn, it cuts to the very core of her self-confidence because she assumes you’ve made this choice due to her lack. Every woman knows she can’t compete with the Photoshop- and surgically-enhanced women who pose for porn.

Your wife clings to the belief that you are the one man on Earth who finds her irresistible. In her mind, if you’re looking at porn it’s inevitable that you’ve compared her to them and she falls short. She thinks you’re choosing porn because she isn’t good enough.

In a guy’s mind, viewing porn doesn’t have anything to do with her (usually), but it may be a very long time before she believes that.

However, your porn addiction has everything to do with your relationship with her. This is not a victimless sin. No marriage or other close relationship will survive the lies, secrecy, guilt and self-loathing that a porn addiction brings. Many women feel ignored and abandoned, get yelled at for no reason and are lonely. They’re living with one foot out the door emotionally.

Don’t make excuses, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you’re involved with porn. Whatever you’re into, whether websites, catalogues, magazines, movies or massage parlours and strip clubs, she will find out eventually. It is better to come clean. And that confession brings freedom. You need to apologize and she needs to forgive (eventually) so that the relationship can move on without the secrets.

I’ve decided that I need to confess my involvement. What’s the best way to break it to her? What should I expect when I do?

Admitting your involvement with porn to the most important woman in your life without knowing how she’ll react is tough. Reconciliation is never easy, but this is a positive first step.

First, you need to be focussed on God. If your sole intention in confessing is to minimize the damage so she won’t leave or to get clean because she’s threatening to leave, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Becoming the man God wants you to be must be your priority—whether she stays or leaves.

When you decide to confess, don’t hold anything back. She won’t want an itemized list of websites, but be specific and forthright. Women are like bulletproof glass: They can stand major blows and keep on chugging, but multiple successive blows will shatter them. You need to create a foundation of truth on which to rebuild.

Be honest. Be sincere. Be sensitive to the fact that she’s hurting. We can’t predict exactly how she’ll react, but do more than listen—actually hear her. Be prepared for her to tell you that porn is cheating. We hear your protests: It’s not like you slept with another woman or even formed an emotional attachment. You’re missing the point! Choosing to focus your time, energy and desires on another woman, real or otherwise, equals adultery. Take the hit on this one.

Consider her reasons for feeling like you’ve cheated on her. You’re spending time with porn that otherwise would have been hers. You’re pouring out desire on porn that otherwise would have been spent on her. You’re indulging in mental fantasies—imagining yourself in intimate situations and acting on those fantasies privately. Jesus said: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

When you come clean be sure to have a plan. Your credibility is already dirt, but if you continually relapse because you haven’t got a plan to end this behaviour, she might leave. If you relapse once and don’t share that you’ve fallen, the cycle of guilt and shame will begin again and you’ll be right back where you started. And let us give you a heads up on this one: Part of the plan had better be quitting cold turkey and getting rid of any stashes you have hidden. Immediately.

I know I’ve hurt her, but I can’t beat this without her. What do I do now?

She’ll question what you say, where you go, monitor where your eyes wander. She believed all your lies before and now feels like the world’s biggest fool. Her lack of trust is going to sting. You might want to push her to trust you again and you might feel insulted when she says she can’t, but your words have no credibility right now. Help her learn to trust you again. Show her that things are going to be different. Let your actions demonstrate your sincere desire to change and rebuild the relationship.

She doesn’t have to trust you initially to be your biggest ally, though that’s hard to imagine. She does love you and wants you to overcome this. Hold on to that for now.

Install an Internet filter with a password on the computer (but don’t forget the iPhone, blackberry, PSP, cell phone, etc). Let her set the filter parameters. Don’t argue when the filter blocks things that you see nothing wrong with—that’s likely what got you into trouble in the first place. Do you need to cancel the satellite or cable or install a filter there too?

Don’t flirt with it. Determine what triggers you to seek porn out. Is it boredom? Stress? Have a plan for those situations. Go to bed with your spouse and get up when she does. If videos and magazines are a temptation, stop shopping where they’re sold.

If you doubt you’re strong enough in the beginning to keep from secretly buying new porn after destroying the old, give her access to all the bank accounts and credit card records, show her all your receipts. All this sound like a hassle? Isn’t the inconvenience worth it to break your addiction and have her love, trust and respect back?

But your action plan has to be more than just avoidance of the old behaviours that got you into trouble. You need to fill the void (time, thoughts and energy) with something positive.

Dive into God’s Word. Get involved in church. Make reading Scripture a part of your daily routine—no exceptions. Do devotions and pray with her, if she’s willing. Ask God for His forgiveness and His help in overcoming your sin.

Find a male accountability partner who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions and who can handle hearing honest answers. (Yes, that means telling someone else.) You need a brother-in-arms for this one. Your wife is your biggest ally, but she can’t be your accountability partner. She’s not ready to hear about every stray thought or casual glance. You do, however, need to tell her if you’re struggling in a given situation.

Don’t assume she knows. She’s probably oblivious to the bouncing cleavage and short skirts that you can’t help but notice. Your openness will help her understand that this is a daily struggle with malls, bikini-clad beaches and billboards, not just with websites and dirty magazines. Because she loves you, she’ll try to be sensitive to that once she knows.

It might take her awhile to tell you, but you’ll earn her respect by working hard to beat this, for being proactive in wanting to change and for never giving up. Being a warrior with tarnished, bloodstained armour doesn’t mean you’ve lost. It means you’ve been in a fierce fight that you’re determined to win. One day you’ll be her hero again.

Remember you’re not alone. Statistically, there are several others in your church struggling with this same issue. Some days you’re going to feel like giving up, but hang in there for the long haul. King David was a sinner who screwed up big, but because he was repentant and turned away from his sins he is called a man after God’s own heart.


The article above was featured in the May 2010 issue of SEVEN magazine.